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Title: Soldiers of Fortune
Author: Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Soldiers of Fortune" ***

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SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE


BY

RICHARD HARDING DAVIS



  TO
  IRENE AND DANA GIBSON



SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE



I

"It is so good of you to come early," said Mrs. Porter, as Alice
Langham entered the drawing-room.  "I want to ask a favor of you.  I'm
sure you won't mind.  I would ask one of the debutantes, except that
they're always so cross if one puts them next to men they don't know
and who can't help them, and so I thought I'd just ask you, you're so
good-natured.  You don't mind, do you?"

"I mind being called good-natured," said Miss Langham, smiling. "Mind
what, Mrs. Porter?" she asked.

"He is a friend of George's," Mrs. Porter explained, vaguely. "He's a
cowboy.  It seems he was very civil to George when he was out there
shooting in New Mexico, or Old Mexico, I don't remember which.  He took
George to his hut and gave him things to shoot, and all that, and now
he is in New York with a letter of introduction.  It's just like
George.  He may be a most impossible sort of man, but, as I said to Mr.
Porter, the people I've asked can't complain, because I don't know
anything more about him than they do.  He called to-day when I was out
and left his card and George's letter of introduction, and as a man had
failed me for to-night, I just thought I would kill two birds with one
stone, and ask him to fill his place, and he's here. And, oh, yes,"
Mrs. Porter added, "I'm going to put him next to you, do you mind?"

"Unless he wears leather leggings and long spurs I shall mind very
much," said Miss Langham.

"Well, that's very nice of you," purred Mrs. Porter, as she moved away.
"He may not be so bad, after all; and I'll put Reginald King on your
other side, shall I?" she asked, pausing and glancing back.

The look on Miss Langham's face, which had been one of amusement,
changed consciously, and she smiled with polite acquiescence.

"As you please, Mrs. Porter," she answered.  She raised her eyebrows
slightly.  "I am, as the politicians say, 'in the hands of my friends.'"

"Entirely too much in the hands of my friends," she repeated, as she
turned away.  This was the twelfth time during that same winter that
she and Mr. King had been placed next to one another at dinner, and it
had passed beyond the point when she could say that it did not matter
what people thought as long as she and he understood.  It had now
reached that stage when she was not quite sure that she understood
either him or herself.  They had known each other for a very long time;
too long, she sometimes thought, for them ever to grow to know each
other any better. But there was always the chance that he had another
side, one that had not disclosed itself, and which she could not
discover in the strict social environment in which they both lived.
And she was the surer of this because she had once seen him when he did
not know that she was near, and he had been so different that it had
puzzled her and made her wonder if she knew the real Reggie King at all.

It was at a dance at a studio, and some French pantomimists gave a
little play.  When it was over, King sat in the corner talking to one
of the Frenchwomen, and while he waited on her he was laughing at her
and at her efforts to speak English.  He was telling her how to say
certain phrases and not telling her correctly, and she suspected this
and was accusing him of it, and they were rhapsodizing and exclaiming
over certain delightful places and dishes of which they both knew in
Paris with the enthusiasm of two children.  Miss Langham saw him off
his guard for the first time and instead of a somewhat bored and clever
man of the world, he appeared as sincere and interested as a boy.

When he joined her, later, the same evening, he was as entertaining as
usual, and as polite and attentive as he had been to the Frenchwoman,
but he was not greatly interested, and his laugh was modulated and not
spontaneous.  She had wondered that night, and frequently since then,
if, in the event of his asking her to marry him, which was possible,
and of her accepting him, which was also possible, whether she would
find him, in the closer knowledge of married life, as keen and
lighthearted with her as he had been with the French dancer.  If he
would but treat her more like a comrade and equal, and less like a
prime minister conferring with his queen!  She wanted something more
intimate than the deference that he showed her, and she did not like
his taking it as an accepted fact that she was as worldly-wise as
himself, even though it were true.

She was a woman and wanted to be loved, in spite of the fact that she
had been loved by many men--at least it was so supposed--and had
rejected them.

Each had offered her position, or had wanted her because she was fitted
to match his own great state, or because he was ambitious, or because
she was rich.  The man who could love her as she once believed men
could love, and who could give her something else besides approval of
her beauty and her mind, had not disclosed himself.  She had begun to
think that he never would, that he did not exist, that he was an
imagination of the playhouse and the novel.  The men whom she knew were
careful to show her that they appreciated how distinguished was her
position, and how inaccessible she was to them.  They seemed to think
that by so humbling themselves, and by emphasizing her position they
pleased her best, when it was what she wanted them to forget.  Each of
them would draw away backward, bowing and protesting that he was
unworthy to raise his eyes to such a prize, but that if she would only
stoop to him, how happy his life would be.  Sometimes they meant it
sincerely; sometimes they were gentlemanly adventurers of title, from
whom it was a business proposition, and in either case she turned
restlessly away and asked herself how long it would be before the man
would come who would pick her up on his saddle and gallop off with her,
with his arm around her waist and his horse's hoofs clattering beneath
them, and echoing the tumult in their hearts.

She had known too many great people in the world to feel impressed with
her own position at home in America; but she sometimes compared herself
to the Queen in "In a Balcony," and repeated to herself, with mock
seriousness:--

    "And you the marble statue all the time
      They praise and point at as preferred to life,
      Yet leave for the first breathing woman's cheek,
      First dancer's, gypsy's or street balladine's!"

And if it were true, she asked herself, that the man she had imagined
was only an ideal and an illusion, was not King the best of the others,
the unideal and ever-present others?  Every one else seemed to think
so.  The society they knew put them constantly together and approved.
Her people approved.  Her own mind approved, and as her heart was not
apparently ever to be considered, who could say that it did not approve
as well?  He was certainly a very charming fellow, a manly, clever
companion, and one who bore about him the evidences of distinction and
thorough breeding.  As far as family went, the Kings were as old as a
young country could expect, and Reggie King was, moreover, in spite of
his wealth, a man of action and ability.  His yacht journeyed from
continent to continent, and not merely up the Sound to Newport, and he
was as well known and welcome to the consuls along the coasts of Africa
and South America as he was at Cowes or Nice.  His books of voyages
were recognized by geographical societies and other serious bodies, who
had given him permission to put long disarrangements of the alphabet
after his name.  She liked him because she had grown to be at home with
him, because it was good to know that there was some one who would not
misunderstand her, and who, should she so indulge herself, would not
take advantage of any appeal she might make to his sympathy, who would
always be sure to do the tactful thing and the courteous thing, and
who, while he might never do a great thing, could not do an unkind one.

Miss Langham had entered the Porters' drawing-room after the greater
number of the guests had arrived, and she turned from her hostess to
listen to an old gentleman with a passion for golf, a passion in which
he had for a long time been endeavoring to interest her.  She answered
him and his enthusiasm in kind, and with as much apparent interest as
she would have shown in a matter of state.  It was her principle to be
all things to all men, whether they were great artists, great
diplomats, or great bores.  If a man had been pleading with her to
leave the conservatory and run away with him, and another had come up
innocently and announced that it was his dance, she would have said:
"Oh, is it?" with as much apparent delight as though his coming had
been the one bright hope in her life.

She was growing enthusiastic over the delights of golf and
unconsciously making a very beautiful picture of herself in her
interest and forced vivacity, when she became conscious for the first
time of a strange young man who was standing alone before the fireplace
looking at her, and frankly listening to all the nonsense she was
talking.  She guessed that he had been listening for some time, and she
also saw, before he turned his eyes quickly away, that he was
distinctly amused.  Miss Langham stopped gesticulating and lowered her
voice, but continued to keep her eyes on the face of the stranger,
whose own eyes were wandering around the room, to give her, so she
guessed, the idea that he had not been listening, but that she had
caught him at it in the moment he had first looked at her.  He was a
tall, broad-shouldered youth, with a handsome face, tanned and dyed,
either by the sun or by exposure to the wind, to a deep ruddy brown,
which contrasted strangely with his yellow hair and mustache, and with
the pallor of the other faces about him.  He was a stranger apparently
to every one present, and his bearing suggested, in consequence, that
ease of manner which comes to a person who is not only sure of himself,
but who has no knowledge of the claims and pretensions to social
distinction of those about him.  His most attractive feature was his
eyes, which seemed to observe all that was going on, not only what was
on the surface, but beneath the surface, and that not rudely or
covertly but with the frank, quick look of the trained observer.  Miss
Langham found it an interesting face to watch, and she did not look
away from it. She was acquainted with every one else in the room, and
hence she knew this must be the cowboy of whom Mrs. Porter had spoken,
and she wondered how any one who had lived the rough life of the West
could still retain the look when in formal clothes of one who was in
the habit of doing informal things in them.

Mrs. Porter presented her cowboy simply as "Mr. Clay, of whom I spoke
to you," with a significant raising of the eyebrows, and the cowboy
made way for King, who took Miss Langham in.  He looked frankly
pleased, however, when he found himself next to her again, but did not
take advantage of it throughout the first part of the dinner, during
which time he talked to the young married woman on his right, and Miss
Langham and King continued where they had left off at their last
meeting.  They knew each other well enough to joke of the way in which
they were thrown into each other's society, and, as she said, they
tried to make the best of it.  But while she spoke, Miss Langham was
continually conscious of the presence of her neighbor, who piqued her
interest and her curiosity in different ways.  He seemed to be at his
ease, and yet from the manner in which he glanced up and down the table
and listened to snatches of talk on either side of him he had the
appearance of one to whom it was all new, and who was seeing it for the
first time.

There was a jolly group at one end of the long table, and they wished
to emphasize the fact by laughing a little more hysterically at their
remarks than the humor of those witticisms seemed to justify.  A
daughter-in-law of Mrs. Porter was their leader in this, and at one
point she stopped in the middle of a story and waving her hand at the
double row of faces turned in her direction, which had been attracted
by the loudness of her voice, cried, gayly, "Don't listen.  This is for
private circulation.  It is not a jeune-fille story."  The debutantes
at the table continued talking again in steady, even tones, as though
they had not heard the remark or the first of the story, and the men
next to them appeared equally unconscious.  But the cowboy, Miss
Langham noted out of the corner of her eye, after a look of polite
surprise, beamed with amusement and continued to stare up and down the
table as though he had discovered a new trait in a peculiar and
interesting animal.  For some reason, she could not tell why, she felt
annoyed with herself and with her friends, and resented the attitude
which the new-comer assumed toward them.

"Mrs. Porter tells me that you know her son George?" she said. He did
not answer her at once, but bowed his head in assent, with a look of
interrogation, as though, so it seemed to her, he had expected her,
when she did speak, to say something less conventional.

"Yes," he replied, after a pause, "he joined us at Ayutla.  It was the
terminus of the Jalisco and Mexican Railroad then.  He came out over
the road and went in from there with an outfit after mountain lions.  I
believe he had very good sport."

"That is a very wonderful road, I am told," said King, bending forward
and introducing himself into the conversation with a nod of the head
toward Clay; "quite a remarkable feat of engineering."

"It will open up the country, I believe," assented the other,
indifferently.

"I know something of it," continued King, "because I met the men who
were putting it through at Pariqua, when we touched there in the yacht.
They shipped most of their plant to that port, and we saw a good deal
of them.  They were a very jolly lot, and they gave me a most
interesting account of their work and its difficulties."

Clay was looking at the other closely, as though he was trying to find
something back of what he was saying, but as his glance seemed only to
embarrass King he smiled freely again in assent, and gave him his full
attention.

"There are no men to-day, Miss Langham," King exclaimed, suddenly,
turning toward her, "to my mind, who lead as picturesque lives as do
civil engineers.  And there are no men whose work is as little
appreciated."

"Really?" said Miss Langham, encouragingly.

"Now those men I met," continued King, settling himself with his side
to the table, "were all young fellows of thirty or thereabouts, but
they were leading the lives of pioneers and martyrs--at least that's
what I'd call it.  They were marching through an almost unknown part of
Mexico, fighting Nature at every step and carrying civilization with
them.  They were doing better work than soldiers, because soldiers
destroy things, and these chaps were creating, and making the way
straight.  They had no banners either, nor brass bands.  They fought
mountains and rivers, and they were attacked on every side by fever and
the lack of food and severe exposure.  They had to sit down around a
camp-fire at night and calculate whether they were to tunnel a
mountain, or turn the bed of a river or bridge it.  And they knew all
the time that whatever they decided to do out there in the wilderness
meant thousands of dollars to the stockholders somewhere up in God's
country, who would some day hold them to account for them.  They
dragged their chains through miles and miles of jungle, and over flat
alkali beds and cactus, and they reared bridges across roaring canons.
We know nothing about them and we care less.  When their work is done
we ride over the road in an observation-car and look down thousands and
thousands of feet into the depths they have bridged, and we never give
them a thought.  They are the bravest soldiers of the present day, and
they are the least recognized.  I have forgotten their names, and you
never heard them.  But it seems to me the civil engineer, for all that,
is the chief civilizer of our century."

Miss Langham was looking ahead of her with her eyes half-closed, as
though she were going over in her mind the situation King had described.

"I never thought of that," she said.  "It sounds very fine. As you say,
the reward is so inglorious.  But that is what makes it fine."

The cowboy was looking down at the table and pulling at a flower in the
centre-piece.  He had ceased to smile.  Miss Langham turned on him
somewhat sharply, resenting his silence, and said, with a slight
challenge in her voice:--

"Do you agree, Mr. Clay," she asked, "or do you prefer the
chocolate-cream soldiers, in red coats and gold lace?"

"Oh, I don't know," the young man answered, with some slight
hesitation.  "It's a trade for each of them.  The engineer's work is
all the more absorbing, I imagine, when the difficulties are greatest.
He has the fun of overcoming them."

"You see nothing in it then," she asked, "but a source of amusement?"

"Oh, yes, a good deal more," he replied.  "A livelihood, for one thing.
I--I have been an engineer all my life.  I built that road Mr. King is
talking about."


An hour later, when Mrs. Porter made the move to go, Miss Langham rose
with a protesting sigh.  "I am so sorry," she said, "it has been most
interesting.  I never met two men who had visited so many inaccessible
places and come out whole.  You have quite inspired Mr. King, he was
never so amusing.  But I should like to hear the end of that adventure;
won't you tell it to me in the other room?"

Clay bowed.  "If I haven't thought of something more interesting in the
meantime," he said.

"What I can't understand," said King, as he moved up into Miss
Langham's place, "is how you had time to learn so much of the rest of
the world.  You don't act like a man who had spent his life in the
brush."

"How do you mean?" asked Clay, smiling--"that I don't use the wrong
forks?"

"No," laughed King, "but you told us that this was your first visit
East, and yet you're talking about England and Vienna and Voisin's.
How is it you've been there, while you have never been in New York?"

"Well, that's partly due to accident and partly to design," Clay
answered.  "You see I've worked for English and German and French
companies, as well as for those in the States, and I go abroad to make
reports and to receive instructions.  And then I'm what you call a
self-made man; that is, I've never been to college.  I've always had to
educate myself, and whenever I did get a holiday it seemed to me that I
ought to put it to the best advantage, and to spend it where
civilization was the furthest advanced--advanced, at least, in years.
When I settle down and become an expert, and demand large sums for just
looking at the work other fellows have done, then I hope to live in New
York, but until then I go where the art galleries are biggest and where
they have got the science of enjoying themselves down to the very
finest point.  I have enough rough work eight months of the year to
make me appreciate that.  So whenever I get a few months to myself I
take the Royal Mail to London, and from there to Paris or Vienna.  I
think I like Vienna the best.  The directors are generally important
people in their own cities, and they ask one about, and so, though I
hope I am a good American, it happens that I've more friends on the
Continent than in the United States."

"And how does this strike you?" asked King, with a movement of his
shoulder toward the men about the dismantled table.

"Oh, I don't know," laughed Clay.  "You've lived abroad yourself; how
does it strike you?"

Clay was the first man to enter the drawing-room.  He walked directly
away from the others and over to Miss Langham, and, taking her fan out
of her hands as though to assure himself of some hold upon her, seated
himself with his back to every one else.

"You have come to finish that story?" she said, smiling.

Miss Langham was a careful young person, and would not have encouraged
a man she knew even as well as she knew King, to talk to her through
dinner, and after it as well.  She fully recognized that because she
was conspicuous certain innocent pleasures were denied her which other
girls could enjoy without attracting attention or comment.  But Clay
interested her beyond her usual self, and the look in his eyes was a
tribute which she had no wish to put away from her.

"I've thought of something more interesting to talk about," said Clay.
"I'm going to talk about you.  You see I've known you a long time."

"Since eight o'clock?" asked Miss Langham.

"Oh, no, since your coming out, four years ago."

"It's not polite to remember so far back," she said.  "Were you one of
those who assisted at that important function?  There were so many
there I don't remember."

"No, I only read about it.  I remember it very well; I had ridden over
twelve miles for the mail that day, and I stopped half-way back to the
ranch and camped out in the shade of a rock and read all the papers and
magazines through at one sitting, until the sun went down and I
couldn't see the print.  One of the papers had an account of your
coming out in it, and a picture of you, and I wrote East to the
photographer for the original.  It knocked about the West for three
months and then reached me at Laredo, on the border between Texas and
Mexico, and I have had it with me ever since."

Miss Langham looked at Clay for a moment in silent dismay and with a
perplexed smile.

"Where is it now?" she asked at last.

"In my trunk at the hotel."

"Oh," she said, slowly.  She was still in doubt as to how to treat this
act of unconventionality.  "Not in your watch?" she said, to cover up
the pause.  "That would have been more in keeping with the rest of the
story."

The young man smiled grimly, and pulling out his watch pried back the
lid and turned it to her so that she could see a photograph inside.
The face in the watch was that of a young girl in the dress of a
fashion of several years ago.  It was a lovely, frank face, looking out
of the picture into the world kindly and questioningly, and without
fear.

"Was I once like that?" she said, lightly.  "Well, go on."

"Well," he said, with a little sigh of relief, "I became greatly
interested in Miss Alice Langham, and in her comings out and goings in,
and in her gowns.  Thanks to our having a press in the States that
makes a specialty of personalities, I was able to follow you pretty
closely, for, wherever I go, I have my papers sent after me.  I can get
along without a compass or a medicine-chest, but I can't do without the
newspapers and the magazines. There was a time when I thought you were
going to marry that Austrian chap, and I didn't approve of that.  I
knew things about him in Vienna.  And then I read of your engagement to
others--well--several others; some of them I thought worthy, and others
not.  Once I even thought of writing you about it, and once I saw you
in Paris.  You were passing on a coach.  The man with me told me it was
you, and I wanted to follow the coach in a fiacre, but he said he knew
at what hotel you were stopping, and so I let you go, but you were not
at that hotel, or at any other--at least, I couldn't find you."

"What would you have done--?" asked Miss Langham.  "Never mind," she
interrupted, "go on."

"Well, that's all," said Clay, smiling.  "That's all, at least, that
concerns you.  That is the romance of this poor young man."

"But not the only one," she said, for the sake of saying something.

"Perhaps not," answered Clay, "but the only one that counts. I always
knew I was going to meet you some day.  And now I have met you."

"Well, and now that you have met me," said Miss Langham, looking at him
in some amusement, "are you sorry?"

"No--" said Clay, but so slowly and with such consideration that Miss
Langham laughed and held her head a little higher. "Not sorry to meet
you, but to meet you in such surroundings."

"What fault do you find with my surroundings?"

"Well, these people," answered Clay, "they are so foolish, so futile.
You shouldn't be here.  There must be something else better than this.
You can't make me believe that you choose it. In Europe you could have
a salon, or you could influence statesmen.  There surely must be
something here for you to turn to as well.  Something better than
golf-sticks and salted almonds."

"What do you know of me?" said Miss Langham, steadily.  "Only what you
have read of me in impertinent paragraphs.  How do you know I am fitted
for anything else but just this?  You never spoke with me before
to-night."

"That has nothing to do with it," said Clay, quickly.  "Time is made
for ordinary people.  When people who amount to anything meet they
don't have to waste months in finding each other out. It is only the
doubtful ones who have to be tested again and again.  When I was a kid
in the diamond mines in Kimberley, I have seen the experts pick out a
perfect diamond from the heap at the first glance, and without a
moment's hesitation.  It was the cheap stones they spent most of the
afternoon over.  Suppose I HAVE only seen you to-night for the first
time; suppose I shall not see you again, which is quite likely, for I
sail tomorrow for South America--what of that?  I am just as sure of
what you are as though I had known you for years."

Miss Langham looked at him for a moment in silence.  Her beauty was so
great that she could take her time to speak.  She was not afraid of
losing any one's attention.

"And have you come out of the West, knowing me so well, just to tell me
that I am wasting myself?" she said.  "Is that all?"

"That is all," answered Clay.  "You know the things I would like to
tell you," he added, looking at her closely.

"I think I like to be told the other things best," she said, "they are
the easier to believe."

"You have to believe whatever I tell you," said Clay, smiling. The girl
pressed her hands together in her lap, and looked at him curiously.
The people about them were moving and making their farewells, and they
brought her back to the present with a start.

"I'm sorry you're going away," she said.  "It has been so odd. You come
suddenly up out of the wilderness, and set me to thinking and try to
trouble me with questions about myself, and then steal away again
without stopping to help me to settle them. Is it fair?"  She rose and
put out her hand, and he took it and held it for a moment, while they
stood looking at one another.

"I am coming back," he said, "and I will find that you have settled
them for yourself."

"Good-by," she said, in so low a tone that the people standing near
them could not hear.  "You haven't asked me for it, you know, but--I
think I shall let you keep that picture."


"Thank you," said Clay, smiling, "I meant to."

"You can keep it," she continued, turning back, "because it is not my
picture.  It is a picture of a girl who ceased to exist four years ago,
and whom you have never met.  Good-night."

Mr. Langham and Hope, his younger daughter, had been to the theatre.
The performance had been one which delighted Miss Hope, and which
satisfied her father because he loved to hear her laugh.  Mr. Langham
was the slave of his own good fortune.  By instinct and education he
was a man of leisure and culture, but the wealth he had inherited was
like an unruly child that needed his constant watching, and in keeping
it well in hand he had become a man of business, with time for nothing
else.

Alice Langham, on her return from Mrs. Porter's dinner, found him in
his study engaged with a game of solitaire, while Hope was kneeling on
a chair beside him with her elbows on the table. Mr. Langham had been
troubled with insomnia of late, and so it often happened that when
Alice returned from a ball she would find him sitting with a novel, or
his game of solitaire, and Hope, who had crept downstairs from her bed,
dozing in front of the open fire and keeping him silent company.  The
father and the younger daughter were very close to one another, and had
grown especially so since his wife had died and his son and heir had
gone to college.  This fourth member of the family was a great bond of
sympathy and interest between them, and his triumphs and escapades at
Yale were the chief subjects of their conversation. It was told by the
directors of a great Western railroad, who had come to New York to
discuss an important question with Mr. Langham, that they had been
ushered downstairs one night into his basement, where they had found
the President of the Board and his daughter Hope working out a game of
football on the billiard table.  They had chalked it off into what
corresponded to five-yard lines, and they were hurling twenty-two
chess-men across it in "flying wedges" and practising the several
tricks which young Langham had intrusted to his sister under an oath of
secrecy.  The sight filled the directors with the horrible fear that
business troubles had turned the President's mind, but after they had
sat for half an hour perched on the high chairs around the table, while
Hope excitedly explained the game to them, they decided that he was
wiser than they knew, and each left the house regretting he had no son
worthy enough to bring "that young girl" into the Far West.

"You are home early," said Mr. Langham, as Alice stood above him
pulling at her gloves.  "I thought you said you were going on to some
dance."

"I was tired," his daughter answered.

"Well, when I'm out," commented Hope, "I won't come home at eleven
o'clock.  Alice always was a quitter."

"A what?" asked the older sister.

"Tell us what you had for dinner," said Hope.  "I know it isn't nice to
ask," she added, hastily, "but I always like to know."

"I don't remember," Miss Langham answered, smiling at her father,
"except that he was very much sunburned and had most perplexing eyes."

"Oh, of course," assented Hope, "I suppose you mean by that that you
talked with some man all through dinner.  Well, I think there is a time
for everything."

"Father," interrupted Miss Langham, "do you know many engineers--I mean
do you come in contact with them through the railroads and mines you
have an interest in?  I am rather curious about them," she said,
lightly.  "They seem to be a most picturesque lot of young men."

"Engineers?  Of course," said Mr. Langham, vaguely, with the ten of
spades held doubtfully in air.  "Sometimes we have to depend upon them
altogether.  We decide from what the engineering experts tell us
whether we will invest in a thing or not."

"I don't think I mean the big men of the profession," said his
daughter, doubtfully.  "I mean those who do the rough work.  The men
who dig the mines and lay out the railroads.  Do you know any of them?"

"Some of them," said Mr. Langham, leaning back and shuffling the cards
for a new game.  "Why?"

"Did you ever hear of a Mr. Robert Clay?"

Mr. Langham smiled as he placed the cards one above the other in even
rows.  "Very often," he said.  "He sails to-morrow to open up the
largest iron deposits in South America.  He goes for the Valencia
Mining Company.  Valencia is the capital of Olancho, one of those
little republics down there."

"Do you--are you interested in that company?" asked Miss Langham,
seating herself before the fire and holding out her hands toward it.
"Does Mr. Clay know that you are?"

"Yes--I am interested in it," Mr. Langham replied, studying the cards
before him, "but I don't think Clay knows it--nobody knows it yet,
except the president and the other officers."  He lifted a card and put
it down again in some indecision.  "It's generally supposed to be
operated by a company, but all the stock is owned by one man.  As a
matter of fact, my dear children," exclaimed Mr. Langham, as he placed
a deuce of clubs upon a deuce of spades with a smile of content, "the
Valencia Mining Company is your beloved father."

"Oh," said Miss Langham, as she looked steadily into the fire.

Hope tapped her lips gently with the back of her hand to hide the fact
that she was sleepy, and nudged her father's elbow.  "You shouldn't
have put the deuce there," she said, "you should have used it to build
with on the ace."



II

A year before Mrs. Porter's dinner a tramp steamer on her way to the
capital of Brazil had steered so close to the shores of Olancho that
her solitary passenger could look into the caverns the waves had
tunnelled in the limestone cliffs along the coast. The solitary
passenger was Robert Clay, and he made a guess that the white palisades
which fringed the base of the mountains along the shore had been forced
up above the level of the sea many years before by some volcanic
action.  Olancho, as many people know, is situated on the northeastern
coast of South America, and its shores are washed by the main
equatorial current.  From the deck of a passing vessel you can obtain
but little idea of Olancho or of the abundance and tropical beauty
which lies hidden away behind the rampart of mountains on her shore.
You can see only their desolate dark-green front, and the white caves
at their base, into which the waves rush with an echoing roar, and in
and out of which fly continually thousands of frightened bats.

The mining engineer on the rail of the tramp steamer observed this
peculiar formation of the coast with listless interest, until he noted,
when the vessel stood some thirty miles north of the harbor of
Valencia, that the limestone formation had disappeared, and that the
waves now beat against the base of the mountains themselves.  There
were five of these mountains which jutted out into the ocean, and they
suggested roughly the five knuckles of a giant hand clenched and lying
flat upon the surface of the water.  They extended for seven miles, and
then the caverns in the palisades began again and continued on down the
coast to the great cliffs that guard the harbor of Olancho's capital.

"The waves tunnelled their way easily enough until they ran up against
those five mountains," mused the engineer, "and then they had to fall
back."  He walked to the captain's cabin and asked to look at a map of
the coast line.  "I believe I won't go to Rio," he said later in the
day; "I think I will drop off here at Valencia."

So he left the tramp steamer at that place and disappeared into the
interior with an ox-cart and a couple of pack-mules, and returned to
write a lengthy letter from the Consul's office to a Mr. Langham in the
United States, knowing he was largely interested in mines and in
mining.  "There are five mountains filled with ore," Clay wrote, "which
should be extracted by open-faced workings.  I saw great masses of red
hematite lying exposed on the side of the mountain, only waiting a pick
and shovel, and at one place there were five thousand tons in plain
sight.  I should call the stuff first-class Bessemer ore, running about
sixty-three per cent metallic iron.  The people know it is there, but
have no knowledge of its value, and are too lazy to ever work it
themselves.  As to transportation, it would only be necessary to run a
freight railroad twenty miles along the sea-coast to the harbor of
Valencia and dump your ore from your own pier into your own vessels.
It would not, I think, be possible to ship direct from the mines
themselves, even though, as I say, the ore runs right down into the
water, because there is no place at which it would be safe for a large
vessel to touch.  I will look into the political side of it and see
what sort of a concession I can get for you.  I should think ten per
cent of the output would satisfy them, and they would, of course, admit
machinery and plant free of duty."

Six months after this communication had arrived in New York City, the
Valencia Mining Company was formally incorporated, and a man named Van
Antwerp, with two hundred workmen and a half-dozen assistants, was sent
South to lay out the freight railroad, to erect the dumping-pier, and
to strip the five mountains of their forests and underbrush.  It was
not a task for a holiday, but a stern, difficult, and perplexing
problem, and Van Antwerp was not quite the man to solve it.  He was
stubborn, self-confident, and indifferent by turns.  He did not depend
upon his lieutenants, but jealously guarded his own opinions from the
least question or discussion, and at every step he antagonized the
easy-going people among whom he had come to work.  He had no patience
with their habits of procrastination, and he was continually offending
their lazy good-nature and their pride.  He treated the rich planters,
who owned the land between the mines and the harbor over which the
freight railroad must run, with as little consideration as he showed
the regiment of soldiers which the Government had farmed out to the
company to serve as laborers in the mines.  Six months after Van
Antwerp had taken charge at Valencia, Clay, who had finished the
railroad in Mexico, of which King had spoken, was asked by telegraph to
undertake the work of getting the ore out of the mountains he had
discovered, and shipping it North.  He accepted the offer and was given
the title of General Manager and Resident Director, and an enormous
salary, and was also given to understand that the rough work of
preparation had been accomplished, and that the more important service
of picking up the five mountains and putting them in fragments into
tramp steamers would continue under his direction.  He had a letter of
recall for Van Antwerp, and a letter of introduction to the Minister of
Mines and Agriculture.  Further than that he knew nothing of the work
before him, but he concluded, from the fact that he had been paid the
almost prohibitive sum he had asked for his services, that it must be
important, or that he had reached that place in his career when he
could stop actual work and live easily, as an expert, on the work of
others.

Clay rolled along the coast from Valencia to the mines in a
paddle-wheeled steamer that had served its usefulness on the
Mississippi, and which had been rotting at the levees in New Orleans,
when Van Antwerp had chartered it to carry tools and machinery to the
mines and to serve as a private launch for himself.  It was a choice
either of this steamer and landing in a small boat, or riding along the
line of the unfinished railroad on horseback.  Either route consumed
six valuable hours, and Clay, who was anxious to see his new field of
action, beat impatiently upon the rail of the rolling tub as it
wallowed in the sea.

He spent the first three days after his arrival at the mines in the
mountains, climbing them on foot and skirting their base on horseback,
and sleeping where night overtook him.  Van Antwerp did not accompany
him on his tour of inspection through the mines, but delegated that
duty to an engineer named MacWilliams, and to Weimer, the United States
Consul at Valencia, who had served the company in many ways and who was
in its closest confidence.

For three days the men toiled heavily over fallen trunks and trees,
slippery with the moss of centuries, or slid backward on the rolling
stones in the waterways, or clung to their ponies' backs to dodge the
hanging creepers.  At times for hours together they walked in single
file, bent nearly double, and seeing nothing before them but the
shining backs and shoulders of the negroes who hacked out the way for
them to go.  And again they would come suddenly upon a precipice, and
drink in the soft cool breath of the ocean, and look down thousands of
feet upon the impenetrable green under which they had been crawling,
out to where it met the sparkling surface of the Caribbean Sea.  It was
three days of unceasing activity while the sun shone, and of anxious
questionings around the camp-fire when the darkness fell, and when
there were no sounds on the mountain-side but that of falling water in
a distant ravine or the calls of the night-birds.

On the morning of the fourth day Clay and his attendants returned to
camp and rode to where the men had just begun to blast away the sloping
surface of the mountain.

As Clay passed between the zinc sheds and palm huts of the
soldier-workmen, they came running out to meet him, and one, who seemed
to be a leader, touched his bridle, and with his straw sombrero in his
hand begged for a word with el Senor the Director.

The news of Clay's return had reached the opening, and the throb of the
dummy-engines and the roar of the blasting ceased as the
assistant-engineers came down the valley to greet the new manager.
They found him seated on his horse gazing ahead of him, and listening
to the story of the soldier, whose fingers, as he spoke, trembled in
the air, with all the grace and passion of his Southern nature, while
back of him his companions stood humbly, in a silent chorus, with
eager, supplicating eyes.  Clay answered the man's speech curtly, with
a few short words, in the Spanish patois in which he had been
addressed, and then turned and smiled grimly upon the expectant group
of engineers.  He kept them waiting for some short space, while he
looked them over carefully, as though he had never seen them before.

"Well, gentlemen," he said, "I'm glad to have you here all together.  I
am only sorry you didn't come in time to hear what this fellow has had
to say.  I don't as a rule listen that long to complaints, but he told
me what I have seen for myself and what has been told me by others.  I
have been here three days now, and I assure you, gentlemen, that my
easiest course would be to pack up my things and go home on the next
steamer.  I was sent down here to take charge of a mine in active
operation, and I find--what?  I find that in six months you have done
almost nothing, and that the little you have condescended to do has
been done so badly that it will have to be done over again; that you
have not only wasted a half year of time--and I can't tell how much
money--but that you have succeeded in antagonizing all the people on
whose good-will we are absolutely dependent; you have allowed your
machinery to rust in the rain, and your workmen to rot with sickness.
You have not only done nothing, but you haven't a blue print to show me
what you meant to do.  I have never in my life come across laziness and
mismanagement and incompetency upon such a magnificent and reckless
scale.  You have not built the pier, you have not opened the freight
road, you have not taken out an ounce of ore.  You know more of
Valencia than you know of these mines; you know it from the Alameda to
the Canal.  You can tell me what night the band plays in the Plaza, but
you can't give me the elevation of one of these hills.  You have spent
your days on the pavements in front of cafés, and your nights in
dance-halls, and you have been drawing salaries every month.  I've more
respect for these half-breeds that you've allowed to starve in this
fever-bed than I have for you.  You have treated them worse than they'd
treat a dog, and if any of them die, it's on your heads.  You have put
them in a fever-camp which you have not even taken the trouble to
drain.  Your commissariat is rotten, and you have let them drink all
the rum they wanted.  There is not one of you--"

The group of silent men broke, and one of them stepped forward and
shook his forefinger at Clay.

"No man can talk to me like that," he said, warningly, "and think I'll
work under him.  I resign here and now."

"You what--" cried Clay, "you resign?"

He whirled his horse round with a dig of his spur and faced them.

"How dare you talk of resigning?  I'll pack the whole lot of you back
to New York on the first steamer, if I want to, and I'll give you such
characters that you'll be glad to get a job carrying a transit.  You're
in no position to talk of resigning yet--not one of you.  Yes," he
added, interrupting himself, "one of you is MacWilliams, the man who
had charge of the railroad.  It's no fault of his that the road's not
working.  I understand that he couldn't get the right of way from the
people who owned the land, but I have seen what he has done, and his
plans, and I apologize to him--to MacWilliams.  As for the rest of you,
I'll give you a month's trial.  It will be a month before the next
steamer could get here anyway, and I'll give you that long to redeem
yourselves.  At the end of that time we will have another talk, but you
are here now only on your good behavior and on my sufferance.
Good-morning."

As Clay had boasted, he was not the man to throw up his position
because he found the part he had to play was not that of leading man,
but rather one of general utility, and although it had been several
years since it had been part of his duties to oversee the setting up of
machinery, and the policing of a mining camp, he threw himself as
earnestly into the work before him as though to show his subordinates
that it did not matter who did the work, so long as it was done.  The
men at first were sulky, resentful, and suspicious, but they could not
long resist the fact that Clay was doing the work of five men and five
different kinds of work, not only without grumbling, but apparently
with the keenest pleasure.

He conciliated the rich coffee planters who owned the land which he
wanted for the freight road by calls of the most formal state and
dinners of much less formality, for he saw that the iron mine had its
social as well as its political side.  And with this fact in mind, he
opened the railroad with great ceremony, and much music and feasting,
and the first piece of ore taken out of the mine was presented to the
wife of the Minister of the Interior in a cluster of diamonds, which
made the wives of the other members of the Cabinet regret that their
husbands had not chosen that portfolio.  Six months followed of hard,
unremitting work, during which time the great pier grew out into the
bay from MacWilliams' railroad, and the face of the first mountain was
scarred and torn of its green, and left in mangled nakedness, while the
ringing of hammers and picks, and the racking blasts of dynamite, and
the warning whistles of the dummy-engines drove away the accumulated
silence of centuries.

It had been a long uphill fight, and Clay had enjoyed it mightily.  Two
unexpected events had contributed to help it.  One was the arrival in
Valencia of young Teddy Langham, who came ostensibly to learn the
profession of which Clay was so conspicuous an example, and in reality
to watch over his father's interests.  He was put at Clay's elbow, and
Clay made him learn in spite of himself, for he ruled him and
MacWilliams of both of whom he was very fond, as though, so they
complained, they were the laziest and the most rebellious members of
his entire staff.  The second event of importance was the announcement
made one day by young Langham that his father's physician had ordered
rest in a mild climate, and that he and his daughters were coming in a
month to spend the winter in Valencia, and to see how the son and heir
had developed as a man of business.

The idea of Mr. Langham's coming to visit Olancho to inspect his new
possessions was not a surprise to Clay.  It had occurred to him as
possible before, especially after the son had come to join them there.
The place was interesting and beautiful enough in itself to justify a
visit, and it was only a ten days' voyage from New York.  But he had
never considered the chance of Miss Langham's coming, and when that was
now not only possible but a certainty, he dreamed of little else.  He
lived as earnestly and toiled as indefatigably as before, but the place
was utterly transformed for him.  He saw it now as she would see it
when she came, even while at the same time his own eyes retained their
point of view.  It was as though he had lengthened the focus of a
glass, and looked beyond at what was beautiful and picturesque, instead
of what was near at hand and practicable.  He found himself smiling
with anticipation of her pleasure in the orchids hanging from the dead
trees, high above the opening of the mine, and in the parrots hurling
themselves like gayly colored missiles among the vines; and he
considered the harbor at night with its colored lamps floating on the
black water as a scene set for her eyes.  He planned the dinners that
he would give in her honor on the balcony of the great restaurant in
the Plaza on those nights when the band played, and the senoritas
circled in long lines between admiring rows of officers and caballeros.
And he imagined how, when the ore-boats had been filled and his work
had slackened, he would be free to ride with her along the rough
mountain roads, between magnificent pillars of royal palms, or to
venture forth in excursions down the bay, to explore the caves and to
lunch on board the rolling paddle-wheel steamer, which he would have re
painted and gilded for her coming.  He pictured himself acting as her
guide over the great mines, answering her simple questions about the
strange machinery, and the crew of workmen, and the local government by
which he ruled two thousand men.  It was not on account of any personal
pride in the mines that he wanted her to see them, it was not because
he had discovered and planned and opened them that he wished to show
them to her, but as a curious spectacle that he hoped would give her a
moment's interest.

But his keenest pleasure was when young Langham suggested that they
should build a house for his people on the edge of the hill that jutted
out over the harbor and the great ore pier.  If this were done, Langham
urged, it would be possible for him to see much more of his family than
he would be able to do were they installed in the city, five miles away.

"We can still live in the office at this end of the railroad," the boy
said, "and then we shall have them within call at night when we get
back from work; but if they are in Valencia, it will take the greater
part of the evening going there and all of the night getting back, for
I can't pass that club under three hours. It will keep us out of
temptation."

"Yes, exactly," said Clay, with a guilty smile, "it will keep us out of
temptation."

So they cleared away the underbrush, and put a double force of men to
work on what was to be the most beautiful and comfortable bungalow on
the edge of the harbor.  It had blue and green and white tiles on the
floors, and walls of bamboo, and a red roof of curved tiles to let in
the air, and dragons' heads for water-spouts, and verandas as broad as
the house itself.  There was an open court in the middle hung with
balconies looking down upon a splashing fountain, and to decorate this
patio, they levied upon people for miles around for tropical plants and
colored mats and awnings.  They cut down the trees that hid the view of
the long harbor leading from the sea into Valencia, and planted a
rampart of other trees to hide the iron-ore pier, and they sodded the
raw spots where the men had been building, until the place was as
completely transformed as though a fairy had waved her wand above it.

It was to be a great surprise, and they were all--Clay, MacWilliams,
and Langham--as keenly interested in it as though each were preparing
it for his honeymoon.  They would be walking together in Valencia when
one would say, "We ought to have that for the house," and without
question they would march into the shop together and order whatever
they fancied to be sent out to the house of the president of the mines
on the hill.  They stocked it with wine and linens, and hired a volante
and six horses, and fitted out the driver with a new pair of boots that
reached above his knees, and a silver jacket and a sombrero that was so
heavy with braid that it flashed like a halo about his head in the
sunlight, and he was ordered not to wear it until the ladies came,
under penalty of arrest.  It delighted Clay to find that it was only
the beautiful things and the fine things of his daily routine that
suggested her to him, as though she could not be associated in his mind
with anything less worthy, and he kept saying to himself, "She will
like this view from the end of the terrace," and "This will be her
favorite walk," or "She will swing her hammock here," and "I know she
will not fancy the rug that Weimer chose."

While this fairy palace was growing the three men lived as roughly as
before in the wooden hut at the terminus of the freight road, three
hundred yards below the house, and hidden from it by an impenetrable
rampart of brush and Spanish bayonet. There was a rough road leading
from it to the city, five miles away, which they had extended still
farther up the hill to the Palms, which was the name Langham had
selected for his father's house.  And when it was finally finished,
they continued to live under the corrugated zinc roof of their office
building, and locking up the Palms, left it in charge of a gardener and
a watchman until the coming of its rightful owners.

It had been a viciously hot, close day, and even now the air came in
sickening waves, like a blast from the engine-room of a steamer, and
the heat lightning played round the mountains over the harbor and
showed the empty wharves, and the black outlines of the steamers, and
the white front of the Custom-House, and the long half-circle of
twinkling lamps along the quay. MacWilliams and Langham sat panting on
the lower steps of the office-porch considering whether they were too
lazy to clean themselves and be rowed over to the city, where, as it
was Sunday night, was promised much entertainment.  They had been for
the last hour trying to make up their minds as to this, and appealing
to Clay to stop work and decide for them.  But he sat inside at a table
figuring and writing under the green shade of a student's lamp and made
no answer.  The walls of Clay's office were of unplaned boards,
bristling with splinters, and hung with blue prints and outline maps of
the mine.  A gaudily colored portrait of Madame la Presidenta, the
noble and beautiful woman whom Alvarez, the President of Olancho, had
lately married in Spain, was pinned to the wall above the table.  This
table, with its green oil-cloth top, and the lamp, about which winged
insects beat noisily, and an earthen water-jar--from which the water
dripped as regularly as the ticking of a clock--were the only articles
of furniture in the office.  On a shelf at one side of the door lay the
men's machetes, a belt of cartridges, and a revolver in a holster.

Clay rose from the table and stood in the light of the open door,
stretching himself gingerly, for his joints were sore and stiff with
fording streams and climbing the surfaces of rocks. The red ore and
yellow mud of the mines were plastered over his boots and
riding-breeches, where he had stood knee-deep in the water, and his
shirt stuck to him like a wet bathing-suit, showing his ribs when he
breathed and the curves of his broad chest.  A ring of burning paper
and hot ashes fell from his cigarette to his breast and burnt a hole
through the cotton shirt, and he let it lie there and watched it burn
with a grim smile.

"I wanted to see," he explained, catching the look of listless
curiosity in MacWilliams's eye, "whether there was anything hotter than
my blood.  It's racing around like boiling water in a pot."

"Listen," said Langham, holding up his hand.  "There goes the call for
prayers in the convent, and now it's too late to go to town.  I am
glad, rather.  I'm too tired to keep awake, and besides, they don't
know how to amuse themselves in a civilized way--at least not in my
way.  I wish I could just drop in at home about now; don't you,
MacWilliams?  Just about this time up in God's country all the people
are at the theatre, or they've just finished dinner and are sitting
around sipping cool green mint, trickling through little lumps of ice.
What I'd like--" he stopped and shut one eye and gazed, with his head
on one side, at the unimaginative MacWilliams--"what I'd like to do
now," he continued, thoughtfully, "would be to sit in the front row at
a comic opera, ON THE AISLE.  The prima donna must be very, very
beautiful, and sing most of her songs at me, and there must be three
comedians, all good, and a chorus entirely composed of girls.  I never
could see why they have men in the chorus, anyway.  No one ever looks
at them.  Now that's where I'd like to be.  What would you like,
MacWilliams?"

MacWilliams was a type with which Clay was intimately familiar, but to
the college-bred Langham he was a revelation and a joy. He came from
some little town in the West, and had learned what he knew of
engineering at the transit's mouth, after he had first served his
apprenticeship by cutting sage-brush and driving stakes.  His life had
been spent in Mexico and Central America, and he spoke of the home he
had not seen in ten years with the aggressive loyalty of the confirmed
wanderer, and he was known to prefer and to import canned corn and
canned tomatoes in preference to eating the wonderful fruits of the
country, because the former came from the States and tasted to him of
home.  He had crowded into his young life experiences that would have
shattered the nerves of any other man with a more sensitive conscience
and a less happy sense of humor; but these same experiences had only
served to make him shrewd and self-confident and at his ease when the
occasion or difficulty came.

He pulled meditatively on his pipe and considered Langham's question
deeply, while Clay and the younger boy sat with their arms upon their
knees and waited for his decision in thoughtful silence.

"I'd like to go to the theatre, too," said MacWilliams, with an air as
though to show that he also was possessed of artistic tastes.  "I'd
like to see a comical chap I saw once in '80--oh, long ago--before I
joined the P. Q. & M.  He WAS funny.  His name was Owens; that was his
name, John E. Owens--"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, MacWilliams," protested Langham, in dismay;
"he's been dead for five years."

"Has he?" said MacWilliams, thoughtfully.  "Well--" he concluded,
unabashed, "I can't help that, he's the one I'd like to see best."

"You can have another wish, Mac, you know," urged Langham, "can't he,
Clay?"

Clay nodded gravely, and MacWilliams frowned again in thought. "No," he
said after an effort, "Owens, John E. Owens; that's the one I want to
see."

"Well, now I want another wish, too," said Langham.  "I move we can
each have two wishes. I wish--"

"Wait until I've had mine," said Clay.  "You've had one turn. I want to
be in a place I know in Vienna.  It's not hot like this, but cool and
fresh.  It's an open, out-of-door concert-garden, with hundreds of
colored lights and trees, and there's always a breeze coming through.
And Eduard Strauss, the son, you know, leads the orchestra there, and
they play nothing but waltzes, and he stands in front of them, and
begins by raising himself on his toes, and then he lifts his shoulders
gently--and then sinks back again and raises his baton as though he
were drawing the music out after it, and the whole place seems to rock
and move.  It's like being picked up and carried on the deck of a yacht
over great waves; and all around you are the beautiful Viennese women
and those tall Austrian officers in their long, blue coats and flat
hats and silver swords.  And there are cool drinks--" continued Clay,
with his eyes fixed on the coming storm--"all sorts of cool drinks--in
high, thin glasses, full of ice, all the ice you want--"

"Oh, drop it, will you?" cried Langham, with a shrug of his damp
shoulders.  "I can't stand it.  I'm parching."

"Wait a minute," interrupted MacWilliams, leaning forward and looking
into the night.  "Some one's coming."  There was a sound down the road
of hoofs and the rattle of the land-crabs as they scrambled off into
the bushes, and two men on horseback came suddenly out of the darkness
and drew rein in the light from the open door.  The first was General
Mendoza, the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and the other, his
orderly.  The General dropped his Panama hat to his knee and bowed in
the saddle three times.

"Good-evening, your Excellency," said Clay, rising.  "Tell that peon to
get my coat, will you?" he added, turning to Langham.  Langham clapped
his hands, and the clanging of a guitar ceased, and their servant and
cook came out from the back of the hut and held the General's horse
while he dismounted.  "Wait until I get you a chair," said Clay.
"You'll find those steps rather bad for white duck."

"I am fortunate in finding you at home," said the officer, smiling, and
showing his white teeth.  "The telephone is not working.  I tried at
the club, but I could not call you."

"It's the storm, I suppose," Clay answered, as he struggled into his
jacket.  "Let me offer you something to drink."  He entered the house,
and returned with several bottles on a tray and a bundle of cigars.
The Spanish-American poured himself out a glass of water, mixing it
with Jamaica rum, and said, smiling again, "It is a saying of your
countrymen that when a man first comes to Olancho he puts a little rum
into his water, and that when he is here some time he puts a little
water in his rum."

"Yes," laughed Clay.  "I'm afraid that's true."

There was a pause while the men sipped at their glasses, and looked at
the horses and the orderly.  The clanging of the guitar began again
from the kitchen.  "You have a very beautiful view here of the harbor,
yes," said Mendoza.  He seemed to enjoy the pause after his ride, and
to be in no haste to begin on the object of his errand.  MacWilliams
and Langham eyed each other covertly, and Clay examined the end of his
cigar, and they all waited.

"And how are the mines progressing, eh?" asked the officer, genially.
"You find much good iron in them, they tell me."

"Yes, we are doing very well," Clay assented; "it was difficult at
first, but now that things are in working order, we are getting out
about ten thousand tons a month.  We hope to increase that soon to
twenty thousand when the new openings are developed and our shipping
facilities are in better shape."

"So much!" exclaimed the General, pleasantly.

"Of which the Government of my country is to get its share of ten per
cent--one thousand tons!  It is munificent!"  He laughed and shook his
head slyly at Clay, who smiled in dissent.

"But you see, sir," said Clay, "you cannot blame us.  The mines have
always been there, before this Government came in, before the Spaniards
were here, before there was any Government at all, but there was not
the capital to open them up, I suppose, or--and it needed a certain
energy to begin the attack.  Your people let the chance go, and, as it
turned out, I think they were very wise in doing so.  They get ten per
cent of the output. That's ten per cent on nothing, for the mines
really didn't exist, as far as you were concerned, until we came, did
they? They were just so much waste land, and they would have remained
so.  And look at the price we paid down before we cut a tree. Three
millions of dollars; that's a good deal of money.  It will be some time
before we realize anything on that investment."

Mendoza shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.  "I will be frank
with you," he said, with the air of one to whom dissimulation is
difficult.  "I come here to-night on an unpleasant errand, but it is
with me a matter of duty, and I am a soldier, to whom duty is the
foremost ever.  I have come to tell you, Mr. Clay, that we, the
Opposition, are not satisfied with the manner in which the Government
has disposed of these great iron deposits.  When I say not satisfied,
my dear friend, I speak most moderately.  I should say that we are
surprised and indignant, and we are determined the wrong it has done
our country shall be righted.  I have the honor to have been chosen to
speak for our party on this most important question, and on next
Tuesday, sir," the General stood up and bowed, as though he were before
a great assembly, "I will rise in the Senate and move a vote of want of
confidence in the Government for the manner in which it has given away
the richest possessions in the storehouse of my country, giving it not
only to aliens, but for a pittance, for a share which is not a share,
but a bribe, to blind the eyes of the people.  It has been a shameful
bargain, and I cannot say who is to blame; I accuse no one.  But I
suspect, and I will demand an investigation; I will demand that the
value not of one-tenth, but of one-half of all the iron that your
company takes out of Olancho shall be paid into the treasury of the
State.  And I come to you to-night, as the Resident Director, to inform
you beforehand of my intention.  I do not wish to take you unprepared.
I do not blame your people; they are business men, they know how to
make good bargains, they get what they best can.  That is the rule of
trade, but they have gone too far, and I advise you to communicate with
your people in New York and learn what they are prepared to offer
now--now that they have to deal with men who do not consider their own
interests but the interests of their country."

Mendoza made a sweeping bow and seated himself, frowning dramatically,
with folded arms.  His voice still hung in the air, for he had spoken
as earnestly as though he imagined himself already standing in the hall
of the Senate championing the cause of the people.

MacWilliams looked up at Clay from where he sat on the steps below him,
but Clay did not notice him, and there was no sound, except the quick
sputtering of the nicotine in Langham's pipe, at which he pulled
quickly, and which was the only outward sign the boy gave of his
interest.  Clay shifted one muddy boot over the other and leaned back
with his hands stuck in his belt.

"Why didn't you speak of this sooner?" he asked.

"Ah, yes, that is fair," said the General, quickly.  "I know that it is
late, and I regret it, and I see that we cause you inconvenience; but
how could I speak sooner when I was ignorant of what was going on?  I
have been away with my troops.  I am a soldier first, a politician
after.  During the last year I have been engaged in guarding the
frontier.  No news comes to a General in the field moving from camp to
camp and always in the saddle; but I may venture to hope, sir, that
news has come to you of me?"

Clay pressed his lips together and bowed his head.

"We have heard of your victories, General, yes," he said; "and on your
return you say you found things had not been going to your liking?"

"That is it," assented the other, eagerly.  "I find that indignation
reigns on every side.  I find my friends complaining of the railroad
which you run across their land.  I find that fifteen hundred soldiers
are turned into laborers, with picks and spades, working by the side of
negroes and your Irish; they have not been paid their wages, and they
have been fed worse than though they were on the march; sickness and--"

Clay moved impatiently and dropped his boot heavily on the porch.

"That was true at first," he interrupted, "but it is not so now.  I
should be glad, General, to take you over the men's quarters at any
time.  As for their not having been paid, they were never paid by their
own Government before they came to us and for the same reason, because
the petty officers kept back the money, just as they have always done.
But the men are paid now.  However, this is not of the most importance.
Who is it that complains of the terms of our concession?"

"Every one!" exclaimed Mendoza, throwing out his arms, "and they ask,
moreover, this: they ask why, if this mine is so rich, why was not the
stock offered here to us in this country?  Why was it not put on the
market, that any one might buy?  We have rich men in Olancho, why
should not they benefit first of all others by the wealth of their own
lands?  But no! we are not asked to buy.  All the stock is taken in New
York, no one benefits but the State, and it receives only ten per cent.
It is monstrous!"

"I see," said Clay, gravely.  "That had not occurred to me before.
They feel they have been slighted.  I see."  He paused for a moment as
if in serious consideration.  "Well," he added, "that might be
arranged."

He turned and jerked his head toward the open door.  "If you boys mean
to go to town to-night, you'd better be moving," he said.  The two men
rose together and bowed silently to their guest.

"I should like if Mr. Langham would remain a moment with us," said
Mendoza, politely.  "I understand that it is his father who controls
the stock of the company.  If we discuss any arrangement it might be
well if he were here."

Clay was sitting with his chin on his breast, and he did not look up,
nor did the young man turn to him for any prompting.  "I'm not down
here as my father's son," he said, "I am an employee of Mr. Clay's.  He
represents the company.  Good-night, sir."

"You think, then," said Clay, "that if your friends were given an
opportunity to subscribe to the stock they would feel less resentful
toward us?  They would think it was fairer to all?"

"I know it," said Mendoza; "why should the stock go out of the country
when those living here are able to buy it?"

"Exactly," said Clay, "of course.  Can you tell me this, General?  Are
the gentlemen who want to buy stock in the mine the same men who are in
the Senate?  The men who are objecting to the terms of our concession?"

"With a few exceptions they are the same men."

Clay looked out over the harbor at the lights of the town, and the
General twirled his hat around his knee and gazed with appreciation at
the stars above him.

"Because if they are," Clay continued, "and they succeed in getting our
share cut down from ninety per cent to fifty per cent, they must see
that the stock would be worth just forty per cent less than it is now."

"That is true," assented the other.  "I have thought of that, and if
the Senators in Opposition were given a chance to subscribe, I am sure
they would see that it is better wisdom to drop their objections to the
concession, and as stockholders allow you to keep ninety per cent of
the output.  And, again," continued Mendoza, "it is really better for
the country that the money should go to its people than that it should
be stored up in the vaults of the treasury, when there is always the
danger that the President will seize it; or, if not this one, the next
one."

"I should think--that is--it seems to me," said Clay with careful
consideration, "that your Excellency might be able to render us great
help in this matter yourself.  We need a friend among the Opposition.
In fact--I see where you could assist us in many ways, where your
services would be strictly in the line of your public duty and yet
benefit us very much.  Of course I cannot speak authoritatively without
first consulting Mr. Langham; but I should think he would allow you
personally to purchase as large a block of the stock as you could wish,
either to keep yourself or to resell and distribute among those of your
friends in Opposition where it would do the most good."

Clay looked over inquiringly to where Mendoza sat in the light of the
open door, and the General smiled faintly, and emitted a pleased little
sigh of relief.  "Indeed," continued Clay, "I should think Mr. Langham
might even save you the formality of purchasing the stock outright by
sending you its money equivalent.  I beg your pardon," he asked,
interrupting himself, "does your orderly understand English?"

"He does not," the General assured him, eagerly, dragging his chair a
little closer.

"Suppose now that Mr. Langham were to put fifty or let us say sixty
thousand dollars to your account in the Valencia Bank, do you think
this vote of want of confidence in the Government on the question of
our concession would still be moved?"

"I am sure it would not," exclaimed the leader of the Opposition,
nodding his head violently.

"Sixty thousand dollars," repeated Clay, slowly, "for yourself; and do
you think, General, that were you paid that sum you would be able to
call off your friends, or would they make a demand for stock also?"

"Have no anxiety at all, they do just what I say," returned Mendoza, in
an eager whisper.  "If I say 'It is all right, I am satisfied with what
the Government has done in my absence,' it is enough.  And I will say
it, I give you the word of a soldier, I will say it.  I will not move a
vote of want of confidence on Tuesday.  You need go no farther than
myself.  I am glad that I am powerful enough to serve you, and if you
doubt me"--he struck his heart and bowed with a deprecatory smile--"you
need not pay in the money in exchange for the stock all at the same
time.  You can pay ten thousand this year, and next year ten thousand
more and so on, and so feel confident that I shall have the interests
of the mine always in my heart.  Who knows what may not happen in a
year?  I may be able to serve you even more.  Who knows how long the
present Government will last?  But I give you my word of honor, no
matter whether I be in Opposition or at the head of the Government, if
I receive every six months the retaining fee of which you speak, I will
be your representative.  And my friends can do nothing.  I despise
them.  _I_ am the Opposition.  You have done well, my dear sir, to
consider me alone."

Clay turned in his chair and looked back of him through the office to
the room beyond.

"Boys," he called, "you can come out now."

He rose and pushed his chair away and beckoned to the orderly who sat
in the saddle holding the General's horse.  Langham and MacWilliams
came out and stood in the open door, and Mendoza rose and looked at
Clay.

"You can go now," Clay said to him, quietly.  "And you can rise in the
Senate on Tuesday and move your vote of want of confidence and object
to our concession, and when you have resumed your seat the Secretary of
Mines will rise in his turn and tell the Senate how you stole out here
in the night and tried to blackmail me, and begged me to bribe you to
be silent, and that you offered to throw over your friends and to take
all that we would give you and keep it yourself.  That will make you
popular with your friends, and will show the Government just what sort
of a leader it has working against it."

Clay took a step forward and shook his finger in the officer's face.
"Try to break that concession; try it.  It was made by one Government
to a body of honest, decent business men, with a Government of their
own back of them, and if you interfere with our conceded rights to work
those mines, I'll have a man-of-war down here with white paint on her
hull, and she'll blow you and your little republic back up there into
the mountains.  Now you can go."

Mendoza had straightened with surprise when Clay first began to speak,
and had then bent forward slightly as though he meant to interrupt him.
His eyebrows were lowered in a straight line, and his lips moved
quickly.

"You poor--" he began, contemptuously.  "Bah," he exclaimed, "you're a
fool; I should have sent a servant to talk with you. You are a
child--but you are an insolent child," he cried, suddenly, his anger
breaking out, "and I shall punish you.  You dare to call me names!  You
shall fight me, you shall fight me to-morrow.  You have insulted an
officer, and you shall meet me at once, to-morrow."

"If I meet you to-morrow," Clay replied, "I will thrash you for your
impertinence.  The only reason I don't do it now is because you are on
my doorstep.  You had better not meet me tomorrow, or at any other
time.  And I have no leisure to fight duels with anybody."

"You are a coward," returned the other, quietly, "and I tell you so
before my servant."

Clay gave a short laugh and turned to MacWilliams in the doorway.

"Hand me my gun, MacWilliams," he said, "it's on the shelf to the
right."

MacWilliams stood still and shook his head.  "Oh, let him alone," he
said.  "You've got him where you want him."

"Give me the gun, I tell you," repeated Clay.  "I'm not going to hurt
him, I'm only going to show him how I can shoot."

MacWilliams moved grudgingly across the porch and brought back the
revolver and handed it to Clay. "Look out now," he said, "it's loaded."

At Clay's words the General had retreated hastily to his horse's head
and had begun unbuckling the strap of his holster, and the orderly
reached back into the boot for his carbine.  Clay told him in Spanish
to throw up his hands, and the man, with a frightened look at his
officer, did as the revolver suggested. Then Clay motioned with his
empty hand for the other to desist. "Don't do that," he said, "I'm not
going to hurt you; I'm only going to frighten you a little."

He turned and looked at the student lamp inside, where it stood on the
table in full view.  Then he raised his revolver.  He did not
apparently hold it away from him by the butt, as other men do, but let
it lie in the palm of his hand, into which it seemed to fit like the
hand of a friend.  His first shot broke the top of the glass chimney,
the second shattered the green globe around it, the third put out the
light, and the next drove the lamp crashing to the floor.  There was a
wild yell of terror from the back of the house, and the noise of a
guitar falling down a flight of steps.  "I have probably killed a very
good cook," said Clay, "as I should as certainly kill you, if I were to
meet you.  Langham," he continued, "go tell that cook to come back."

The General sprang into his saddle, and the altitude it gave him seemed
to bring back some of the jauntiness he had lost.

"That was very pretty," he said; "you have been a cowboy, so they tell
me.  It is quite evident by your manners.  No matter, if we do not meet
to-morrow it will be because I have more serious work to do.  Two
months from to-day there will be a new Government in Olancho and a new
President, and the mines will have a new director.  I have tried to be
your friend, Mr. Clay. See how you like me for an enemy.  Goodnight,
gentlemen."

"Good-night," said MacWilliams, unmoved.  "Please ask your man to close
the gate after you."

When the sound of the hoofs had died away the men still stood in an
uncomfortable silence, with Clay twirling the revolver around his
middle finger.  "I'm sorry I had to make a gallery play of that sort,"
he said.  "But it was the only way to make that sort of man understand."

Langham sighed and shook his head ruefully.

"Well," he said, "I thought all the trouble was over, but it looks to
me as though it had just begun.  So far as I can see they're going to
give the governor a run for his money yet."

Clay turned to MacWilliams.

"How many of Mendoza's soldiers have we in the mines, Mac?" he asked.

"About fifteen hundred," MacWilliams answered.  "But you ought to hear
the way they talk of him."

"They do, eh?" said Clay, with a smile of satisfaction. "That's good.
'Six hundred slaves who hate their masters.' What do they say about me?"

"Oh, they think you're all right.  They know you got them their pay and
all that.  They'd do a lot for you."

"Would they fight for me?" asked Clay.

MacWilliams looked up and laughed uneasily.  "I don't know," he said.
"Why, old man?  What do you mean to do?"

"Oh, I don't know," Clay answered.  "I was just wondering whether I
should like to be President of Olancho."



III

The Langhams were to arrive on Friday, and during the week before that
day Clay went about with a long slip of paper in his pocket which he
would consult earnestly in corners, and upon which he would note down
the things that they had left undone.  At night he would sit staring at
it and turning it over in much concern, and would beg Langham to tell
him what he could have meant when he wrote "see Weimer," or "clean
brasses," or "S. Q. M." "Why should I see Weimer," he would exclaim,
"and which brasses, and what does S. Q. M. stand for, for heaven's
sake?"

They held a full-dress rehearsal in the bungalow to improve its state
of preparation, and drilled the servants and talked English to them, so
that they would know what was wanted when the young ladies came.  It
was an interesting exercise, and had the three young men been less
serious in their anxiety to welcome the coming guests they would have
found themselves very amusing--as when Langham would lean over the
balcony in the court and shout back into the kitchen, in what was
supposed to be an imitation of his sister's manner, "Bring my coffee
and rolls--and don't take all day about it either," while Clay and
MacWilliams stood anxiously below to head off the servants when they
carried in a can of hot water instead of bringing the horses round to
the door, as they had been told to do.

"Of course it's a bit rough and all that," Clay would say, "but they
have only to tell us what they want changed and we can have it ready
for them in an hour."

"Oh, my sisters are all right," Langham would reassure him; "they'll
think it's fine.  It will be like camping-out to them, or a picnic.
They'll understand."

But to make sure, and to "test his girders," as Clay put it, they gave
a dinner, and after that a breakfast.  The President came to the first,
with his wife, the Countess Manuelata, Madame la Presidenta, and
Captain Stuart, late of the Gordon Highlanders, and now in command of
the household troops at the Government House and of the body-guard of
the President.  He was a friend of Clay's and popular with every one
present, except for the fact that he occupied this position, instead of
serving his own Government in his own army.  Some people said he had
been crossed in love, others, less sentimental, that he had forged a
check, or mixed up the mess accounts of his company.  But Clay and
MacWilliams said it concerned no one why he was there, and then
emphasized the remark by picking a quarrel with a man who had given an
unpleasant reason for it.  Stuart, so far as they were concerned, could
do no wrong.

The dinner went off very well, and the President consented to dine with
them in a week, on the invitation of young Langham to meet his father.

"Miss Langham is very beautiful, they tell me," Madame Alvarez said to
Clay.  "I heard of her one winter in Rome; she was presented there and
much admired."

"Yes, I believe she is considered very beautiful," Clay said. "I have
only just met her, but she has travelled a great deal and knows every
one who is of interest, and I think you will like her very much."

"I mean to like her," said the woman.  "There are very few of the
native ladies who have seen much of the world beyond a trip to Paris,
where they live in their hotels and at the dressmaker's while their
husbands enjoy themselves; and sometimes I am rather heart-sick for my
home and my own people.  I was overjoyed when I heard Miss Langham was
to be with us this winter.  But you must not keep her out here to
yourselves.  It is too far and too selfish.  She must spend some time
with me at the Government House."

"Yes," said Clay, "I am afraid of that.  I am afraid the young ladies
will find it rather lonely out here."

"Ah, no," exclaimed the woman, quickly.  "You have made it beautiful,
and it is only a half-hour's ride, except when it rains," she added,
laughing, "and then it is almost as easy to row as to ride."

"I will have the road repaired," interrupted the President. "It is my
wish, Mr. Clay, that you will command me in every way; I am most
desirous to make the visit of Mr. Langham agreeable to him, he is doing
so much for us."

The breakfast was given later in the week, and only men were present.
They were the rich planters and bankers of Valencia, generals in the
army, and members of the Cabinet, and officers from the tiny war-ship
in the harbor.  The breeze from the bay touched them through the open
doors, the food and wine cheered them, and the eager courtesy and
hospitality of the three Americans pleased and flattered them.  They
were of a people who better appreciate the amenities of life than its
sacrifices.

The breakfast lasted far into the afternoon, and, inspired by the
success of the banquet, Clay quite unexpectedly found himself on his
feet with his hand on his heart, thanking the guests for the good-will
and assistance which they had given him in his work.  "I have tramped
down your coffee plants, and cut away your forests, and disturbed your
sleep with my engines, and you have not complained," he said, in his
best Spanish, "and we will show that we are not ungrateful."

Then Weimer, the Consul, spoke, and told them that in his Annual
Consular Report, which he had just forwarded to the State Department,
he had related how ready the Government of Olancho had been to assist
the American company.  "And I hope," he concluded, "that you will allow
me, gentlemen, to propose the health of President Alvarez and the
members of his Cabinet."

The men rose to their feet, one by one, filling their glasses and
laughing and saying, "Viva el Gobernador," until they were all
standing.  Then, as they looked at one another and saw only the faces
of friends, some one of them cried, suddenly, "To President Alvarez,
Dictator of Olancho!"

The cry was drowned in a yell of exultation, and men sprang cheering to
their chairs waving their napkins above their heads, and those who wore
swords drew them and flashed them in the air, and the quiet, lazy
good-nature of the breakfast was turned into an uproarious scene of
wild excitement.  Clay pushed back his chair from the head of the table
with an anxious look at the servants gathered about the open door, and
Weimer clutched frantically at Langham's elbow and whispered, "What did
I say? For heaven's sake, how did it begin?"

The outburst ceased as suddenly as it had started, and old General
Rojas, the Vice-President, called out, "What is said is said, but it
must not be repeated."

Stuart waited until after the rest had gone, and Clay led him out to
the end of the veranda.  "Now will you kindly tell me what that was?"
Clay asked.  "It didn't sound like champagne."

"No," said the other, "I thought you knew.  Alvarez means to proclaim
himself Dictator, if he can, before the spring elections."

"And are you going to help him?"

"Of course," said the Englishman, simply.

"Well, that's all right," said Clay, "but there's no use shouting the
fact all over the shop like that--and they shouldn't drag me into it."

Stuart laughed easily and shook his head.  "It won't be long before
you'll be in it yourself," he said.

Clay awoke early Friday morning to hear the shutters beating viciously
against the side of the house, and the wind rushing through the palms,
and the rain beating in splashes on the zinc roof.  It did not come
soothingly and in a steady downpour, but brokenly, like the rush of
waves sweeping over a rough beach.  He turned on the pillow and shut
his eyes again with the same impotent and rebellious sense of
disappointment that he used to feel when he had wakened as a boy and
found it storming on his holiday, and he tried to sleep once more in
the hope that when he again awoke the sun would be shining in his eyes;
but the storm only slackened and did not cease, and the rain continued
to fall with dreary, relentless persistence.  The men climbed the muddy
road to the Palms, and viewed in silence the wreck which the night had
brought to their plants and garden paths.  Rivulets of muddy water had
cut gutters over the lawn and poured out from under the veranda, and
plants and palms lay bent and broken, with their broad leaves
bedraggled and coated with mud.  The harbor and the encircling
mountains showed dimly through a curtain of warm, sticky rain.  To
something that Langham said of making the best of it, MacWilliams
replied, gloomily, that he would not be at all surprised if the ladies
refused to leave the ship and demanded to be taken home immediately.
"I am sorry," Clay said, simply; "I wanted them to like it."

The men walked back to the office in grim silence, and took turns in
watching with a glass the arms of the semaphore, three miles below, at
the narrow opening of the bay.  Clay smiled nervously at himself, with
a sudden sinking at the heart, and with a hot blush of pleasure, as he
thought of how often he had looked at its great arms out lined like a
mast against the sky, and thanked it in advance for telling him that
she was near.  In the harbor below, the vessels lay with bare yards and
empty decks, the wharves were deserted, and only an occasional small
boat moved across the beaten surface of the bay.

But at twelve o'clock MacWilliams lowered the glass quickly, with a
little gasp of excitement, rubbed its moist lens on the inside of his
coat and turned it again toward a limp strip of bunting that was
crawling slowly up the halyards of the semaphore.  A second dripping
rag answered it from the semaphore in front of the Custom-House, and
MacWilliams laughed nervously and shut the glass.

"It's red," he said; "they've come."

They had planned to wear white duck suits, and go out in a launch with
a flag flying, and they had made MacWilliams purchase a red cummerbund
and a pith helmet; but they tumbled into the launch now, wet and
bedraggled as they were, and raced Weimer in his boat, with the
American flag clinging to the pole, to the side of the big steamer as
she drew slowly into the bay.  Other row-boats and launches and
lighters began to push out from the wharves, men appeared under the
sagging awnings of the bare houses along the river-front, and the
custom and health officers in shining oil-skins and puffing damp cigars
clambered over the side.

"I see them," cried Langham, jumping up and rocking the boat in his
excitement.  "There they are in the bow.  That's Hope waving.  Hope!
hullo, Hope!" he shouted, "hullo!" Clay recognized her standing between
the younger sister and her father, with the rain beating on all of
them, and waving her hand to Langham.  The men took off their hats, and
as they pulled up alongside she bowed to Clay and nodded brightly.
They sent Langham up the gangway first, and waited until he had made
his greetings to his family alone.

"We have had a terrible trip, Mr. Clay," Miss Langham said to him,
beginning, as people will, with the last few days, as though they were
of the greatest importance; "and we could see nothing of you at the
mines at all as we passed--only a wet flag, and a lot of very friendly
workmen, who cheered and fired off pans of dynamite."

"They did, did they?" said Clay, with a satisfied nod. "That's all
right, then.  That was a royal salute in your honor. Kirkland had that
to do.  He's the foreman of A opening.  I am awfully sorry about this
rain--it spoils everything."

"I hope it hasn't spoiled our breakfast," said Mr. Langham. "We haven't
eaten anything this morning, because we wanted a change of diet, and
the captain told us we should be on shore before now."

"We have some carriages for you at the wharf, and we will drive you
right out to the Palms," said young Langham.  "It's shorter by water,
but there's a hill that the girls couldn't climb today. That's the
house we built for you, Governor, with the flag-pole, up there on the
hill; and there's your ugly old pier; and that's where we live, in the
little shack above it, with the tin roof; and that opening to the right
is the terminus of the railroad MacWilliams built.  Where's
MacWilliams?  Here, Mac, I want you to know my father.  This is
MacWilliams, sir, of whom I wrote you."

There was some delay about the baggage, and in getting the party
together in the boats that Langham and the Consul had brought; and
after they had stood for some time on the wet dock, hungry and damp, it
was rather aggravating to find that the carriages which Langham had
ordered to be at one pier had gone to another.  So the new arrivals sat
rather silently under the shed of the levee on a row of cotton-bales,
while Clay and MacWilliams raced off after the carriages.

"I wish we didn't have to keep the hood down," young Langham said,
anxiously, as they at last proceeded heavily up the muddy streets; "it
makes it so hot, and you can't see anything.  Not that it's worth
seeing in all this mud and muck, but it's great when the sun shines.
We had planned it all so differently."

He was alone with his family now in one carriage, and the other men and
the servants were before them in two others.  It seemed an interminable
ride to them all--to the strangers, and to the men who were anxious
that they should be pleased.  They left the city at last, and toiled
along the limestone road to the Palms, rocking from side to side and
sinking in ruts filled with rushing water.  When they opened the flap
of the hood the rain beat in on them, and when they closed it they
stewed in a damp, warm atmosphere of wet leather and horse-hair.

"This is worse than a Turkish bath," said Hope, faintly. "Don't you
live anywhere, Ted?"

"Oh, it's not far now," said the younger brother, dismally; but even as
he spoke the carriage lurched forward and plunged to one side and came
to a halt, and they could hear the streams rushing past the wheels like
the water at the bow of a boat.  A wet, black face appeared at the
opening of the hood, and a man spoke despondently in Spanish.

"He says we're stuck in the mud," explained Langham.  He looked at them
so beseechingly and so pitifully, with the perspiration streaming down
his face, and his clothes damp and bedraggled, that Hope leaned back
and laughed, and his father patted him on the knee.  "It can't be any
worse," he said, cheerfully; "it must mend now.  It is not your fault,
Ted, that we're starving and lost in the mud."

Langham looked out to find Clay and MacWilliams knee-deep in the
running water, with their shoulders against the muddy wheels, and the
driver lashing at the horses and dragging at their bridles. He sprang
out to their assistance, and Hope, shaking off her sister's detaining
hands, jumped out after him, laughing.  She splashed up the hill to the
horses' heads, motioning to the driver to release his hold on their
bridles.

"That is not the way to treat a horse," she said.  "Let me have them.
Are you men all ready down there?" she called. Each of the three men
glued a shoulder to a wheel, and clenched his teeth and nodded.  "All
right, then," Hope called back. She took hold of the huge Mexican bits
close to the mouth, where the pressure was not so cruel, and then
coaxing and tugging by turns, and slipping as often as the horses
themselves, she drew them out of the mud, and with the help of the men
back of the carriage pulled it clear until it stood free again at the
top of the hill.  Then she released her hold on the bridles and looked
down, in dismay, at her frock and hands, and then up at the three men.
They appeared so utterly miserable and forlorn in their muddy garments,
and with their faces washed with the rain and perspiration, that the
girl gave way suddenly to an uncontrollable shriek of delight.  The men
stared blankly at her for a moment, and then inquiringly at one
another, and as the humor of the situation struck them they burst into
an echoing shout of laughter, which rose above the noise of the wind
and rain, and before which the disappointments and trials of the
morning were swept away.  Before they reached the Palms the sun was out
and shining with fierce brilliancy, reflecting its rays on every damp
leaf, and drinking up each glistening pool of water.

MacWilliams and Clay left the Langhams alone together, and returned to
the office, where they assured each other again and again that there
was no doubt, from what each had heard different members of the family
say, that they were greatly pleased with all that had been prepared for
them.

"They think it's fine!" said young Langham, who had run down the hill
to tell them about it.  "I tell you, they are pleased. I took them all
over the house, and they just exclaimed every minute.  Of course," he
said, dispassionately, "I thought they'd like it, but I had no idea it
would please them as much as it has.  My Governor is so delighted with
the place that he's sitting out there on the veranda now, rocking
himself up and down and taking long breaths of sea-air, just as though
he owned the whole coast-line."

Langham dined with his people that night, Clay and MacWilliams having
promised to follow him up the hill later.  It was a night of much
moment to them all, and the two men ate their dinner in silence, each
considering what the coming of the strangers might mean to him.

As he was leaving the room MacWilliams stopped and hovered uncertainly
in the doorway.

"Are you going to get yourself into a dress-suit to-night?" he asked.
Clay said that he thought he would; he wanted to feel quite clean once
more.

"Well, all right, then," the other returned, reluctantly. "I'll do it
for this once, if you mean to, but you needn't think I'm going to make
a practice of it, for I'm not.  I haven't worn a dress-suit," he
continued, as though explaining his principles in the matter, "since
your spread when we opened the railroad--that's six months ago; and the
time before that I wore one at MacGolderick's funeral.  MacGolderick
blew himself up at Puerto Truxillo, shooting rocks for the breakwater.
We never found all of him, but we gave what we could get together as
fine a funeral as those natives ever saw.  The boys, they wanted to
make him look respectable, so they asked me to lend them my dress-suit,
but I told them I meant to wear it myself.  That's how I came to wear a
dress-suit at a funeral.  It was either me or MacGolderick."

"MacWilliams," said Clay, as he stuck the toe of one boot into the heel
of the other, "if I had your imagination I'd give up railroading and
take to writing war clouds for the newspapers."

"Do you mean you don't believe that story?" MacWilliams demanded,
sternly.

"I do," said Clay, "I mean I don't."

"Well, let it go," returned MacWilliams, gloomily; "but there's been
funerals for less than that, let me tell you."

A half-hour later MacWilliams appeared in the door and stood gazing
attentively at Clay arranging his tie before a hand-glass, and then at
himself in his unusual apparel.

"No wonder you voted to dress up," he exclaimed finally, in a tone of
personal injury.  "That's not a dress-suit you've got on anyway.  It
hasn't any tails.  And I hope for your sake, Mr. Clay," he continued,
his voice rising in plaintive indignation, "that you are not going to
play that scarf on us for a vest. And you haven't got a high collar on,
either.  That's only a rough blue print of a dress-suit.  Why, you look
just as comfortable as though you were going to enjoy yourself--and you
look cool, too."

"Well, why not?" laughed Clay.

"Well, but look at me," cried the other.  "Do I look cool?  Do I look
happy or comfortable?  No, I don't.  I look just about the way I feel,
like a fool undertaker.  I'm going to take this thing right off.  You
and Ted Langham can wear your silk scarfs and bobtail coats, if you
like, but if they don't want me in white duck they don't get me."

When they reached the Palms, Clay asked Miss Langham if she did not
want to see his view.  "And perhaps, if you appreciate it properly, I
will make you a present of it," he said, as he walked before her down
the length of the veranda.

"It would be very selfish to keep it all to my self," she said.

"Couldn't we share it?"  They had left the others seated facing the
bay, with MacWilliams and young Langham on the broad steps of the
veranda, and the younger sister and her father sitting in long bamboo
steamer-chairs above them.

Clay and Miss Langham were quite alone.  From the high cliff on which
the Palms stood they could look down the narrow inlet that joined the
ocean and see the moonlight turning the water into a rippling ladder of
light and gilding the dark green leaves of the palms near them with a
border of silver.  Directly below them lay the waters of the bay,
reflecting the red and green lights of the ships at anchor, and beyond
them again were the yellow lights of the town, rising one above the
other as the city crept up the hill.  And back of all were the
mountains, grim and mysterious, with white clouds sleeping in their
huge valleys, like masses of fog.

Except for the ceaseless murmur of the insect life about them the night
was absolutely still--so still that the striking of the ships' bells in
the harbor came to them sharply across the surface of the water, and
they could hear from time to time the splash of some great fish and the
steady creaking of an oar in a rowlock that grew fainter and fainter as
it grew further away, until it was drowned in the distance.  Miss
Langham was for a long time silent.  She stood with her hands clasped
behind her, gazing from side to side into the moonlight, and had
apparently forgotten that Clay was present.

"Well," he said at last, "I think you appreciate it properly. I was
afraid you would exclaim about it, and say it was fine, or charming, or
something."

Miss Langham turned to him and smiled slightly.  "And you told me once
that you knew me so very well," she said.

Clay chose to forget much that he had said on that night when he had
first met her.  He knew that he had been bold then, and had dared to be
so because he did not think he would see her again; but, now that he
was to meet her every day through several months, it seemed better to
him that they should grow to know each other as they really were,
simply and sincerely, and without forcing the situation in any way.

So he replied, "I don't know you so well now.  You must remember I
haven't seen you for a year."

"Yes, but you hadn't seen me for twenty-two years then," she answered.
"I don't think you have changed much," she went on. "I expected to find
you gray with cares.  Ted wrote us about the way you work all day at
the mines and sit up all night over calculations and plans and reports.
But you don't show it.  When are you going to take us over the mines?
To-morrow?  I am very anxious to see them, but I suppose father will
want to inspect them first.  Hope knows all about them, I believe; she
knows their names, and how much you have taken out, and how much you
have put in, too, and what MacWilliams's railroad cost, and who got the
contract for the ore pier.  Ted told us in his letters, and she used to
work it out on the map in father's study.  She is a most energetic
child; I think sometimes she should have been a boy.  I wish I could be
the help to any one that she is to my father and to me.  Whenever I am
blue or down she makes fun of me, and--"

"Why should you ever be blue?" asked Clay, abruptly.

"There is no real reason, I suppose," the girl answered, smiling,
"except that life is so very easy for me that I have to invent some
woes.  I should be better for a few reverses."  And then she went on in
a lower voice, and turning her head away, "In our family there is no
woman older than I am to whom I can go with questions that trouble me.
Hope is like a boy, as I said, and plays with Ted, and my father is
very busy with his affairs, and since my mother died I have been very
much alone.  A man cannot understand.  And I cannot understand why I
should be speaking to you about myself and my troubles, except--" she
added, a little wistfully, "that you once said you were interested in
me, even if it was as long as a year ago. And because I want you to be
very kind to me, as you have been to Ted, and I hope that we are going
to be very good friends."

She was so beautiful, standing in the shadow with the moonlight about
her and with her hand held out to him, that Clay felt as though the
scene were hardly real.  He took her hand in his and held it for a
moment.  His pleasure in the sweet friendliness of her manner and in
her beauty was so great that it kept him silent.

"Friends!" he laughed under his breath.  "I don't think there is much
danger of our not being friends.  The danger lies," he went on,
smiling, "in my not being able to stop there."

Miss Langham made no sign that she had heard him, but turned and walked
out into the moonlight and down the porch to where the others were
sitting.

Young Langham had ordered a native orchestra of guitars and reed
instruments from the town to serenade his people, and they were
standing in front of the house in the moonlight as Miss Langham and
Clay came forward.  They played the shrill, eerie music of their
country with a passion and feeling that filled out the strange tropical
scene around them; but Clay heard them only as an accompaniment to his
own thoughts, and as a part of the beautiful night and the tall,
beautiful girl who had dominated it.  He watched her from the shadow as
she sat leaning easily forward and looking into the night.  The
moonlight fell full upon her, and though she did not once look at him
or turn her head in his direction, he felt as though she must be
conscious of his presence, as though there were already an
understanding between them which she herself had established.  She had
asked him to be her friend.  That was only a pretty speech, perhaps;
but she had spoken of herself, and had hinted at her perplexities and
her loneliness, and he argued that while it was no compliment to be
asked to share another's pleasure, it must mean something when one was
allowed to learn a little of another's troubles.

And while his mind was flattered and aroused by this promise of
confidence between them, he was rejoicing in the rare quality of her
beauty, and in the thought that she was to be near him, and near him
here, of all places.  It seemed a very wonderful thing to
Clay--something that could only have happened in a novel or a play.
For while the man and the hour frequently appeared together, he had
found that the one woman in the world and the place and the man was a
much more difficult combination to bring into effect.  No one, he
assured himself thankfully, could have designed a more lovely setting
for his love-story, if it was to be a love-story, and he hoped it was,
than this into which she had come of her own free will.  It was a land
of romance and adventure, of guitars and latticed windows, of warm
brilliant days and gorgeous silent nights, under purple heavens and
white stars.  And he was to have her all to himself, with no one near
to interrupt, no other friends, even, and no possible rival.  She was
not guarded now by a complex social system, with its responsibilities.
He was the most lucky of men.  Others had only seen her in her
drawing-room or in an opera-box, but he was free to ford
mountain-streams at her side, or ride with her under arches of the
great palms, or to play a guitar boldly beneath her window.  He was
free to come and go at any hour; not only free to do so, but the very
nature of his duties made it necessary that they should be thrown
constantly together.

The music of the violins moved him and touched him deeply, and stirred
depths at which he had not guessed.  It made him humble and deeply
grateful, and he felt how mean and unworthy he was of such great
happiness.  He had never loved any woman as he felt that he could love
this woman, as he hoped that he was to love her.  For he was not so far
blinded by her beauty and by what he guessed her character to be, as to
imagine that he really knew her.  He only knew what he hoped she was,
what he believed the soul must be that looked out of those kind,
beautiful eyes, and that found utterance in that wonderful voice which
could control him and move him by a word.

He felt, as he looked at the group before him, how lonely his own life
had been, how hard he had worked for so little--for what other men
found ready at hand when they were born into the world.

He felt almost a touch of self-pity at his own imperfectness; and the
power of his will and his confidence in himself, of which he was so
proud, seemed misplaced and little.  And then he wondered if he had not
neglected chances; but in answer to this his injured self-love rose to
rebut the idea that he had wasted any portion of his time, and he
assured himself that he had done the work that he had cut out for
himself to do as best he could; no one but himself knew with what
courage and spirit.  And so he sat combating with himself, hoping one
moment that she would prove what he believed her to be, and the next,
scandalized at his temerity in daring to think of her at all.

The spell lifted as the music ceased, and Clay brought himself back to
the moment and looked about him as though he were waking from a dream
and had expected to see the scene disappear and the figures near him
fade into the moonlight.

Young Langham had taken a guitar from one of the musicians and pressed
it upon MacWilliams, with imperative directions to sing such and such
songs, of which, in their isolation, they had grown to think most
highly, and MacWilliams was protesting in much embarrassment.

MacWilliams had a tenor voice which he maltreated in the most villanous
manner by singing directly through his nose.  He had a taste for
sentimental songs, in which "kiss" rhymed with "bliss," and in which
"the people cry" was always sure to be followed with "as she goes by,
that's pretty Katie Moody," or "Rosie McIntyre."  He had gathered his
songs at the side of camp-fires, and in canteens at the first
section-house of a new railroad, and his original collection of ballads
had had but few additions in several years.  MacWilliams at first was
shy, which was quite a new development, until he made them promise to
laugh if they wanted to laugh, explaining that he would not mind that
so much as he would the idea that he thought he was serious.

The song of which he was especially fond was one called "He never cares
to wander from his own Fireside," which was especially appropriate in
coming from a man who had visited almost every spot in the three
Americas, except his home, in ten years.  MacWilliams always ended the
evening's entertainment with this chorus, no matter how many times it
had been sung previously, and seemed to regard it with much the same
veneration that the true Briton feels for his national anthem.

The words of the chorus were:

    "He never cares to wander from his own fireside,
      He never cares to wander or to roam.
      With his babies on his knee,
      He's as happy as can be,
      For there's no place like Home, Sweet Home."

MacWilliams loved accidentals, and what he called "barber-shop chords."
He used a beautiful accidental at the word "be," of which he was very
fond, and he used to hang on that note for a long time, so that those
in the extreme rear of the hall, as he was wont to explain, should get
the full benefit of it.  And it was his custom to emphasize "for" in
the last line by speaking instead of singing it, and then coming to a
full stop before dashing on again with the excellent truth that "there
is NO place like Home, Sweet Home."

The men at the mines used to laugh at him and his song at first, but
they saw that it was not to be so laughed away, and that he regarded it
with some peculiar sentiment.  So they suffered him to sing it in peace.

MacWilliams went through his repertoire to the unconcealed amusement of
young Langham and Hope.  When he had finished he asked Hope if she knew
a comic song of which he had only heard by reputation.  One of the men
at the mines had gained a certain celebrity by claiming to have heard
it in the States, but as he gave a completely new set of words to the
tune of the "Wearing of the Green" as the true version, his veracity
was doubted. Hope said she knew it, of course, and they all went into
the drawing-room, where the men grouped themselves about the piano. It
was a night they remembered long afterward.  Hope sat at the piano
protesting and laughing, but singing the songs of which the new-comers
had become so weary, but which the three men heard open-eyed, and
hailed with shouts of pleasure.  The others enjoyed them and their
delight, as though they were people in a play expressing themselves in
this extravagant manner for their entertainment, until they understood
how poverty-stricken their lives had been and that they were not only
enjoying the music for itself, but because it was characteristic of all
that they had left behind them.  It was pathetic to hear them boast of
having read of a certain song in such a paper, and of the fact that
they knew the plot of a late comic opera and the names of those who had
played in it, and that it had or had not been acceptable to the New
York public.

"Dear me," Hope would cry, looking over her shoulder with a despairing
glance at her sister and father, "they don't even know 'Tommy Atkins'!"

It was a very happy evening for them all, foreshadowing, as it did, a
continuation of just such evenings.  Young Langham was radiant with
pleasure at the good account which Clay had given of him to his father,
and Mr. Langham was gratified, and proud of the manner in which his son
and heir had conducted himself; and MacWilliams, who had never before
been taken so simply and sincerely by people of a class that he had
always held in humorous awe, felt a sudden accession of dignity, and an
unhappy fear that when they laughed at what he said, it was because its
sense was so utterly different from their point of view, and not
because they saw the humor of it.  He did not know what the word "snob"
signified, and in his roughened, easy-going nature there was no touch
of false pride; but he could not help thinking how surprised his people
would be if they could see him, whom they regarded as a wanderer and
renegade on the face of the earth and the prodigal of the family, and
for that reason the best loved, leaning over a grand piano, while one
daughter of his much-revered president played comic songs for his
delectation, and the other, who according to the newspapers refused
princes daily, and who was the most wonderful creature he had ever
seen, poured out his coffee and brought it to him with her own hands.

The evening came to an end at last, and the new arrivals accompanied
their visitors to the veranda as they started to their cabin for the
night.  Clay was asking Mr. Langham when he wished to visit the mines,
and the others were laughing over farewell speeches, when young Langham
startled them all by hurrying down the length of the veranda and
calling on them to follow.

"Look!" he cried, pointing down the inlet.  "Here comes a man-of-war,
or a yacht.  Isn't she smart-looking?  What can she want here at this
hour of the night?  They won't let them land.  Can you make her out,
MacWilliams?"

A long, white ship was steaming slowly up the inlet, and passed within
a few hundred feet of the cliff on which they were standing.

"Why, it's the 'Vesta'!" exclaimed Hope, wonderingly.  "I thought she
wasn't coming for a week?"

"It can't be the 'Vesta'!" said the elder sister; "she was not to have
sailed from Havana until to-day."

"What do you mean?" asked Langham.  "Is it King's boat?  Do you expect
him here?  Oh, what fun!  I say, Clay, here's the 'Vesta,' Reggie
King's yacht, and he's no end of a sport.  We can go all over the place
now, and he can land us right at the door of the mines if we want to."

"Is it the King I met at dinner that night?" asked Clay, turning to
Miss Langham.

"Yes," she said.  "He wanted us to come down on the yacht, but we
thought the steamer would be faster; so he sailed without us and was to
have touched at Havana, but he has apparently changed his course.
Doesn't she look like a phantom ship in the moonlight?"

Young Langham thought he could distinguish King among the white figures
on the bridge, and tossed his hat and shouted, and a man in the stern
of the yacht replied with a wave of his hand.

"That must be Mr. King," said Hope.  "He didn't bring any one with him,
and he seems to be the only man aft."

They stood watching the yacht as she stopped with a rattle of
anchor-chains and a confusion of orders that came sharply across the
water, and then the party separated and the three men walked down the
hill, Langham eagerly assuring the other two that King was a very good
sort, and telling them what a treasure-house his yacht was, and how he
would have probably brought the latest papers, and that he would
certainly give a dance on board in their honor.

The men stood for some short time together, after they had reached the
office, discussing the great events of the day, and then with cheerful
good-nights disappeared into their separate rooms.

An hour later Clay stood without his coat, and with a pen in his hand,
at MacWilliams's bedside and shook him by the shoulder.

"I'm not asleep," said MacWilliams, sitting up; "what is it? What have
you been doing?" he demanded.  "Not working?"

"There were some reports came in after we left," said Clay, "and I find
I will have to see Kirkland to-morrow morning.  Send them word to run
me down on an engine at five-thirty, will you? I am sorry to have to
wake you, but I couldn't remember in which shack that engineer lives."

MacWilliams jumped from his bed and began kicking about the floor for
his boots.  "Oh, that's all right," he said.  "I wasn't asleep, I was
just--" he lowered his voice that Langham might not hear him through
the canvas partitions--"I was just lying awake playing duets with the
President, and racing for the International Cup in my new centre-board
yacht, that's all!"

MacWilliams buttoned a waterproof coat over his pajamas and stamped his
bare feet into his boots.  "Oh, I tell you, Clay," he said with a grim
chuckle, "we're mixing right in with the four hundred, we are!  I'm
substitute and understudy when anybody gets ill.  We're right in our
own class at last!  Pure amateurs with no professional record against
us.  Me and President Langham, I guess!" He struck a match and lit the
smoky wick in a tin lantern.

"But now," he said, cheerfully, "my time being too valuable for me to
sleep, I will go wake up that nigger engine-driver and set his alarm
clock at five-thirty.  Five-thirty, I believe you said.  All right;
good-night."  And whistling cheerfully to himself MacWilliams
disappeared up the hill, his body hidden in the darkness and his legs
showing fantastically in the light of the swinging lantern.

Clay walked out upon the veranda and stood with his back to one of the
pillars.  MacWilliams and his pleasantries disturbed and troubled him.
Perhaps, after all, the boy was right.  It seemed absurd, but it was
true.  They were only employees of Langham--two of the thousands of
young men who were working all over the United States to please him, to
make him richer, to whom he was only a name and a power, which meant an
increase of salary or the loss of place.

Clay laughed and shrugged his shoulders.  He knew that he was not in
that class; if he did good work it was because his self-respect
demanded it of him; he did not work for Langham or the Olancho Mining
Company (Limited).  And yet he turned with almost a feeling of
resentment toward the white yacht lying calmly in magnificent repose a
hundred yards from his porch.

He could see her as clearly in her circle of electric lights as though
she were a picture and held in the light of a stereopticon on a screen.
He could see her white decks, and the rails of polished brass, and the
comfortable wicker chairs and gay cushions and flat coils of rope, and
the tapering masts and intricate rigging.  How easy it was made for
some men!  This one had come like the prince in the fairy tale on his
magic carpet.  If Alice Langham were to leave Valencia that next day,
Clay could not follow her.  He had his duties and responsibilities; he
was at another man's bidding.

But this Prince Fortunatus had but to raise anchor and start in
pursuit, knowing that he would be welcome wherever he found her. That
was the worst of it to Clay, for he knew that men did not follow women
from continent to continent without some assurance of a friendly
greeting.  Clay's mind went back to the days when he was a boy, when
his father was absent fighting for a lost cause; when his mother taught
in a little schoolhouse under the shadow of Pike's Peak, and when Kit
Carson was his hero.  He thought of the poverty of those days poverty
so mean and hopeless that it was almost something to feel shame for; of
the days that followed when, an orphan and without a home, he had
sailed away from New Orleans to the Cape.  How the mind of the
mathematician, which he had inherited from the Boston schoolmistress,
had been swayed by the spirit of the soldier, which he had inherited
from his father, and which led him from the mines of South Africa to
little wars in Madagascar, Egypt, and Algiers.  It had been a life as
restless as the seaweed on a rock.  But as he looked back to its poor
beginnings and admitted to himself its later successes, he gave a sigh
of content, and shaking off the mood stood up and paced the length of
the veranda.

He looked up the hill to the low-roofed bungalow with the palm-leaves
about it, outlined against the sky, and as motionless as patterns cut
in tin.  He had built that house.  He had built it for her.  That was
her room where the light was shining out from the black bulk of the
house about it like a star.  And beyond the house he saw his five great
mountains, the knuckles of the giant hand, with its gauntlet of iron
that lay shut and clenched in the face of the sea that swept up
whimpering before it.  Clay felt a boyish, foolish pride rise in his
breast as he looked toward the great mines he had discovered and
opened, at the iron mountains that were crumbling away before his touch.

He turned his eyes again to the blazing yacht, and this time there was
no trace of envy in them.  He laughed instead, partly with pleasure at
the thought of the struggle he scented in the air, and partly at his
own braggadocio.

"I'm not afraid," he said, smiling, and shaking his head at the white
ship that loomed up like a man-of-war in the black waters. "I'm not
afraid to fight you for anything worth fighting for."

He bowed his bared head in good-night toward the light on the hill, as
he turned and walked back into his bedroom.  "And I think," he murmured
grimly, as he put out the light, "that she is worth fighting for."



IV

The work which had called Clay to the mines kept him there for some
time, and it was not until the third day after the arrival of the
Langhams that he returned again to the Palms.  On the afternoon when he
climbed the hill to the bungalow he found the Langhams as he had left
them, with the difference that King now occupied a place in the family
circle.  Clay was made so welcome, and especially so by King, that he
felt rather ashamed of his sentiments toward him, and considered his
three days of absence to be well repaid by the heartiness of their
greeting.

"For myself," said Mr. Langham, "I don't believe you had anything to do
at the mines at all.  I think you went away just to show us how
necessary you are.  But if you want me to make a good report of our
resident director on my return, you had better devote yourself less to
the mines while you are here and more to us."  Clay said he was glad to
find that his duties were to be of so pleasant a nature, and asked them
what they had seen and what they had done.

They told him they had been nowhere, but had waited for his return in
order that he might act as their guide.

"Then you should see the city at once," said Clay, "and I will have the
volante brought to the door, and we can all go in this afternoon.
There is room for the four of you inside, and I can sit on the box-seat
with the driver."

"No," said King, "let Hope or me sit on the box-seat.  Then we can
practise our Spanish on the driver."

"Not very well," Clay replied, "for the driver sits on the first horse,
like a postilion.  It's a sort of tandem without reins.  Haven't you
seen it yet?  We consider the volante our proudest exhibit."  So Clay
ordered the volante to be brought out, and placed them facing each
other in the open carriage, while he climbed to the box-seat, from
which position of vantage he pointed out and explained the objects of
interest they passed, after the manner of a professional guide.  It was
a warm, beautiful afternoon, and the clear mists of the atmosphere
intensified the rich blue of the sky, and the brilliant colors of the
houses, and the different shades of green of the trees and bushes that
lined the highroad to the capital.

"To the right, as we descend," said Clay, speaking over his shoulder,
"you see a tin house.  It is the home of the resident director of the
Olancho Mining Company (Limited), and of his able lieutenants, Mr.
Theodore Langham and Mr. MacWilliams. The building on the extreme left
is the round-house, in which Mr. MacWilliams stores his three
locomotive engines, and in the far middle-distance is Mr. MacWilliams
himself in the act of repairing a water-tank.  He is the one in a suit
of blue overalls, and as his language at such times is free, we will
drive rapidly on and not embarrass him.  Besides," added the engineer,
with the happy laugh of a boy who had been treated to a holiday, "I am
sure that I am not setting him the example of fixity to duty which he
should expect from his chief."

They passed between high hedges of Spanish bayonet, and came to mud
cabins thatched with palm-leaves, and alive with naked, little
brown-bodied children, who laughed and cheered to them as they passed.

"It's a very beautiful country for the pueblo," was Clay's comment.
"Different parts of the same tree furnish them with food, shelter, and
clothing, and the sun gives them fuel, and the Government changes so
often that they can always dodge the tax-collector."

From the mud cabins they came to more substantial one-story houses of
adobe, with the walls painted in two distinct colors, blue, pink, or
yellow, with red-tiled roofs, and the names with which they had been
christened in bold black letters above the entrances.  Then the
carriage rattled over paved streets, and they drove between houses of
two stories painted more decorously in pink and light blue, with
wide-open windows, guarded by heavy bars of finely wrought iron and
ornamented with scrollwork in stucco.  The principal streets were given
up to stores and cafés, all wide open to the pavement and protected
from the sun by brilliantly striped awnings, and gay with the national
colors of Olancho in flags and streamers.  In front of them sat
officers in uniform, and the dark-skinned dandies of Valencia, in white
duck suits and Panama hats, toying with tortoise shell canes, which
could be converted, if the occasion demanded, into blades of Toledo
steel.  In the streets were priests and bare-legged mule drivers, and
ragged ranchmen with red-caped cloaks hanging to their sandals, and
negro women, with bare shoulders and long trains, vending lottery
tickets and rolling huge cigars between their lips.  It was an old
story to Clay and King, but none of the others had seen a
Spanish-American city before; they were familiar with the Far East and
the Mediterranean, but not with the fierce, hot tropics of their sister
continent, and so their eyes were wide open, and they kept calling
continually to one another to notice some new place or figure.

They in their turn did not escape from notice or comment.  The two
sisters would have been conspicuous anywhere--in a queen's drawing-room
or on an Indian reservation.  Theirs was a type that the caballeros and
senoritas did not know.  With them dark hair was always associated with
dark complexions, the rich duskiness of which was always vulgarized by
a coat of powder, and this fair blending of pink and white skin under
masses of black hair was strangely new, so that each of the few women
who were to be met on the street turned to look after the carriage,
while the American women admired their mantillas, and felt that the
straw sailor-hats they wore had become heavy and unfeminine.

Clay was very happy in picking out what was most characteristic and
picturesque, and every street into which he directed the driver to take
them seemed to possess some building or monument that was of peculiar
interest.  They did not know that he had mapped out this ride many
times before, and was taking them over a route which he had already
travelled with them in imagination. King knew what the capital would be
like before he entered it, from his experience of other South American
cities, but he acted as though it were all new to him, and allowed Clay
to explain, and to give the reason for those features of the place that
were unusual and characteristic.  Clay noticed this and appealed to him
from time to time, when he was in doubt; but the other only smiled back
and shook his head, as much as to say, "This is your city; they would
rather hear about it from you."

Clay took them to the principal shops, where the two girls held
whispered consultations over lace mantillas, which they had at once
determined to adopt, and bought the gorgeous paper fans, covered with
brilliant pictures of bull-fighters in suits of silver tinsel; and from
these open stores he led them to a dingy little shop, where there was
old silver and precious hand-painted fans of mother-of-pearl that had
been pawned by families who had risked and lost all in some revolution;
and then to another shop, where two old maiden ladies made a
particularly good guava; and to tobacconists, where the men bought a
few of the native cigars, which, as they were a monopoly of the
Government, were as bad as Government monopolies always are.

Clay felt a sudden fondness for the city, so grateful was he to it for
entertaining her as it did, and for putting its best front forward for
her delectation.  He wanted to thank some one for building the quaint
old convent, with its yellow walls washed to an orange tint, and black
in spots with dampness; and for the fountain covered with green moss
that stood before its gate, and around which were gathered the girls
and women of the neighborhood with red water-jars on their shoulders,
and little donkeys buried under stacks of yellow sugar-cane, and the
negro drivers of the city's green water-carts, and the blue wagons that
carried the manufactured ice.  Toward five o'clock they decided to
spend the rest of the day in the city, and to telephone for the two
boys to join them at La Venus, the great restaurant on the plaza, where
Clay had invited them to dine.

He suggested that they should fill out the time meanwhile by a call on
the President, and after a search for cards in various pocketbooks,
they drove to the Government palace, which stood in an open square in
the heart of the city.

As they arrived the President and his wife were leaving for their
afternoon drive on the Alameda, the fashionable parade-ground of the
city, and the state carriage and a squad of cavalry appeared from the
side of the palace as the visitors drove up to the entrance.  But at
the sight of Clay, General Alvarez and his wife retreated to the house
again and made them welcome.  The President led the men into his
reception-room and entertained them with champagne and cigarettes, not
manufactured by his Government; and his wife, after first conducting
the girls through the state drawing-room, where the late sunlight shone
gloomily on strange old portraits of assassinated presidents and
victorious generals, and garish yellow silk furniture, brought them to
her own apartments, and gave them tea after a civilized fashion, and
showed them how glad she was to see some one of her own world again.

During their short visit Madame Alvarez talked a greater part of the
time herself, addressing what she said to Miss Langham, but looking at
Hope.  It was unusual for Hope to be singled out in this way when her
sister was present, and both the sisters noticed it and spoke of it
afterwards.  They thought Madame Alvarez very beautiful and
distinguished-looking, and she impressed them, even after that short
knowledge of her, as a woman of great force of character.

"She was very well dressed for a Spanish woman," was Miss Langham's
comment, later in the afternoon.  "But everything she had on was just a
year behind the fashions, or twelve steamer days behind, as Mr.
MacWilliams puts it."

"She reminded me," said Hope, "of a black panther I saw once in a
circus."

"Dear me!" exclaimed the sister, "I don't see that at all. Why?"

Hope said she did not know why; she was not given to analyzing her
impressions or offering reasons for them.  "Because the panther looked
so unhappy," she explained, doubtfully, "and restless; and he kept
pacing up and down all the time, and hitting his head against the bars
as he walked as though he liked the pain.  Madame Alvarez seemed to me
to be just like that--as though she were shut up somewhere and wanted
to be free."

When Madame Alvarez and the two sisters had joined the men, they all
walked together to the terrace, and the visitors waited until the
President and his wife should take their departure.  Hope noticed, in
advance of the escort of native cavalry, an auburn-haired, fair-skinned
young man who was sitting an English saddle.

The officer's eyes were blue and frank and attractive-looking, even as
they then were fixed ahead of him with a military lack of expression;
but he came to life very suddenly when the President called to him, and
prodded his horse up to the steps and dismounted.  He was introduced by
Alvarez as "Captain Stuart of my household troops, late of the Gordon
Highlanders.  Captain Stuart," said the President, laying his hand
affectionately on the younger man's epaulette, "takes care of my life
and the safety of my home and family.  He could have the command of the
army if he wished; but no, he is fond of us, and he tells me we are in
more need of protection from our friends at home than from our enemies
on the frontier.  Perhaps he knows best.  I trust him, Mr. Langham,"
added the President, solemnly, "as I trust no other man in all this
country."

"I am very glad to meet Captain Stuart, I am sure," said Mr. Langham,
smiling, and appreciating how the shyness of the Englishman must be
suffering under the praises of the Spaniard. And Stuart was indeed so
embarrassed that he flushed under his tan, and assured Clay, while
shaking hands with them all, that he was delighted to make his
acquaintance; at which the others laughed, and Stuart came to himself
sufficiently to laugh with them, and to accept Clay's invitation to
dine with them later.

They found the two boys waiting in the café of the restaurant where
they had arranged to meet, and they ascended the steps together to the
table on the balcony that Clay had reserved for them.

The young engineer appeared at his best as host.  The responsibility of
seeing that a half-dozen others were amused and content sat well upon
him; and as course followed course, and the wines changed, and the
candles left the rest of the room in darkness and showed only the table
and the faces around it, they all became rapidly more merry and the
conversation intimately familiar.

Clay knew the kind of table-talk to which the Langhams were accustomed,
and used the material around his table in such a way that the talk
there was vastly different.  From King he drew forth tales of the
buried cities he had first explored, and then robbed of their ugliest
idols.  He urged MacWilliams to tell carefully edited stories of life
along the Chagres before the Scandal came, and of the fastnesses of the
Andes; and even Stuart grew braver and remembered "something of the
same sort" he had seen at Fort Nilt, in Upper Burma.

"Of course," was Clay's comment at the conclusion of one of these
narratives, "being an Englishman, Stuart left out the point of the
story, which was that he blew in the gates of the fort with a charge of
dynamite.  He got a D. S. O. for doing it."

"Being an Englishman," said Hope, smiling encouragingly on the
conscious Stuart, "he naturally would leave that out."

Mr. Langham and his daughters formed an eager audience.  They had never
before met at one table three men who had known such experiences, and
who spoke of them as though they must be as familiar in the lives of
the others as in their own--men who spoiled in the telling stories that
would have furnished incidents for melodramas, and who impressed their
hearers more with what they left unsaid, and what was only suggested,
than what in their view was the most important point.

The dinner came to an end at last, and Mr. Langham proposed that they
should go down and walk with the people in the plaza; but his two
daughters preferred to remain as spectators on the balcony, and Clay
and Stuart stayed with them.

"At last!" sighed Clay, under his breath, seating himself at Miss
Langham's side as she sat leaning forward with her arms upon the
railing and looking down into the plaza below.  She made no sign at
first that she had heard him, but as the voices of Stuart and Hope rose
from the other end of the balcony she turned her head and asked, "Why
at last?"

"Oh, you couldn't understand," laughed Clay.  "You have not been
looking forward to just one thing and then had it come true. It is the
only thing that ever did come true to me, and I thought it never would."

"You don't try to make me understand," said the girl, smiling, but
without turning her eyes from the moving spectacle below her.  Clay
considered her challenge silently.  He did not know just how much it
might mean from her, and the smile robbed it of all serious intent; so
he, too, turned and looked down into the great square below them,
content, now that she was alone with him, to take his time.

At one end of the plaza the President's band was playing native waltzes
that came throbbing through the trees and beating softly above the
rustling skirts and clinking spurs of the senoritas and officers,
sweeping by in two opposite circles around the edges of the tessellated
pavements.  Above the palms around the square arose the dim, white
facade of the cathedral, with the bronze statue of Anduella, the
liberator of Olancho, who answered with his upraised arm and cocked hat
the cheers of an imaginary populace.  Clay's had been an unobtrusive
part in the evening's entertainment, but he saw that the others had
been pleased, and felt a certain satisfaction in thinking that King
himself could not have planned and carried out a dinner more admirable
in every way.  He was gratified that they should know him to be not
altogether a barbarian.  But what he best liked to remember was that
whenever he had spoken she had listened, even when her eyes were turned
away and she was pretending to listen to some one else.  He tormented
himself by wondering whether this was because he interested her only as
a new and strange character, or whether she felt in some way how
eagerly he was seeking her approbation.  For the first time in his life
he found himself considering what he was about to say, and he suited it
for her possible liking.  It was at least some satisfaction that she
had, if only for the time being, singled him out as of especial
interest, and he assured himself that the fault would be his if her
interest failed.  He no longer looked on himself as an outsider.

Stuart's voice arose from the farther end of the balcony, where the
white figure of Hope showed dimly in the darkness.

"They are talking about you over there," said Miss Langham, turning
toward him.

"Well, I don't mind," answered Clay, "as long as they talk about
me--over there."

Miss Langham shook her head.  "You are very frank and audacious," she
replied, doubtfully, "but it is rather pleasant as a change."

"I don't call that audacious, to say I don't want to be interrupted
when I am talking to you.  Aren't the men you meet generally
audacious?" he asked.  "I can see why not--though," he continued, "you
awe them."

"I can't think that's a nice way to affect people," protested Miss
Langham, after a pause.  "I don't awe you, do I?"

"Oh, you affect me in many different ways," returned Clay, cheerfully.
"Sometimes I am very much afraid of you, and then again my feelings are
only those of unlimited admiration."

"There, again, what did I tell you?" said Miss Langham.

"Well, I can't help doing that," said Clay.  "That is one of the few
privileges that is left to a man in my position--it doesn't matter what
I say.  That is the advantage of being of no account and hopelessly
detrimental.  The eligible men of the world, you see, have to be so
very careful.  A Prime Minister, for instance, can't talk as he wishes,
and call names if he wants to, or write letters, even.  Whatever he
says is so important, because he says it, that he must be very
discreet.  I am so unimportant that no one minds what I say, and so I
say it.  It's the only comfort I have."

"Are you in the habit of going around the world saying whatever you
choose to every woman you happen to--to--" Miss Langham hesitated.

"To admire very much," suggested Clay.

"To meet," corrected Miss Langham.  "Because, if you are, it is a very
dangerous and selfish practice, and I think your theory of
non-responsibility is a very wicked one."

"Well, I wouldn't say it to a child," mused Clay, "but to one who must
have heard it before--"

"And who, you think, would like to hear it again, perhaps," interrupted
Miss Langham.

"No, not at all," said Clay.  "I don't say it to give her pleasure, but
because it gives me pleasure to say what I think."

"If we are to continue good friends, Mr. Clay," said Miss Langham, in
decisive tones, "we must keep our relationship on more of a social and
less of a personal basis.  It was all very well that first night I met
you," she went on, in a kindly tone.

"You rushed in then and by a sort of tour de force made me think a
great deal about myself and also about you.  Your stories of cherished
photographs and distant devotion and all that were very interesting;
but now we are to be together a great deal, and if we are to talk about
ourselves all the time, I for one shall grow very tired of it.  As a
matter of fact you don't know what your feelings are concerning me, and
until you do we will talk less about them and more about the things you
are certain of. When are you going to take us to the mines, for
instance, and who was Anduella, the Liberator of Olancho, on that
pedestal over there?  Now, isn't that much more instructive?"

Clay smiled grimly and made no answer, but sat with knitted brows
looking out across the trees of the plaza.  His face was so serious and
he was apparently giving such earnest consideration to what she had
said that Miss Langham felt an uneasy sense of remorse.  And, moreover,
the young man's profile, as he sat looking away from her, was very
fine, and the head on his broad shoulders was as well-modelled as the
head of an Athenian statue.

Miss Langham was not insensible to beauty of any sort, and she regarded
the profile with perplexity and with a softening spirit.

"You understand," she said, gently, being quite certain that she did
not understand this new order of young man herself. "You are not
offended with me?" she asked.

Clay turned and frowned, and then smiled in a puzzled way and stretched
out his hand toward the equestrian statue in the plaza.

"Andulla or Anduella, the Treaty-Maker, as they call him, was born in
1700," he said; "he was a most picturesque sort of a chap, and freed
this country from the yoke of Spain.  One of the stories they tell of
him gives you a good idea of his character."  And so, without any
change of expression or reference to what had just passed between them,
Clay continued through the remainder of their stay on the balcony to
discourse in humorous, graphic phrases on the history of Olancho, its
heroes, and its revolutions, the buccaneers and pirates of the old
days, and the concession-hunters and filibusters of the present.  It
was some time before Miss Langham was able to give him her full
attention, for she was considering whether he could be so foolish as to
have taken offence at what she said, and whether he would speak of it
again, and in wondering whether a personal basis for conversation was
not, after all, more entertaining than anecdotes of the victories and
heroism of dead and buried Spaniards.

"That Captain Stuart," said Hope to her sister, as they drove home
together through the moonlight, "I like him very much.  He seems to
have such a simple idea of what is right and good.  It is like a child
talking.  Why, I am really much older than he is in everything but
years--why is that?"

"I suppose it's because we always talk before you as though you were a
grown-up person," said her sister.  "But I agree with you about Captain
Stuart; only, why is he down here?  If he is a gentleman, why is he not
in his own army?  Was he forced to leave it?"

"Oh, he seems to have a very good position here," said Mr. Langham.
"In England, at his age, he would be only a second-lieutenant.  Don't
you remember what the President said, that he would trust him with the
command of his army?  That's certainly a responsible position, and it
shows great confidence in him."

"Not so great, it seems to me," said King, carelessly, "as he is
showing him in making him the guardian of his hearth and home. Did you
hear what he said to-day?  'He guards my home and my family.'  I don't
think a man's home and family are among the things he can afford to
leave to the protection of stray English subalterns.  From all I hear,
it would be better if President Alvarez did less plotting and protected
his own house himself."

"The young man did not strike me as the sort of person," said Mr.
Langham, warmly, "who would be likely to break his word to the man who
is feeding him and sheltering him, and whose uniform he wears.  I don't
think the President's home is in any danger from within.  Madame
Alvarez--"

Clay turned suddenly in his place on the box-seat of the carriage,
where he had been sitting, a silent, misty statue in the moonlight, and
peered down on those in the carriage below him.

"Madame Alvarez needs no protection, as you were about to say, Mr.
Langham," he interrupted, quickly.  "Those who know her could say
nothing against her, and those who do not know her would not so far
forget themselves as to dare to do it.  Have you noticed the effect of
the moonlight on the walls of the convent?" he continued, gently.  "It
makes them quite white."

"No," exclaimed Mr. Langham and King, hurriedly, as they both turned
and gazed with absorbing interest at the convent on the hills above
them.

Before the sisters went to sleep that night Hope came to the door of
her sister's room and watched Alice admiringly as she sat before the
mirror brushing out her hair.

"I think it's going to be fine down here; don't you, Alice?" she asked.
"Everything is so different from what it is at home, and so beautiful,
and I like the men we've met.  Isn't that Mr. MacWilliams funny--and he
is so tough.  And Captain Stuart--it is a pity he's shy.  The only
thing he seems to be able to talk about is Mr. Clay.  He worships Mr.
Clay!"

"Yes," assented her sister, "I noticed on the balcony that you seemed
to have found some way to make him speak."

"Well, that was it.  He likes to talk about Mr. Clay, and I wanted to
listen.  Oh! he is a fine man.  He has done more exciting things--"

"Who?  Captain Stuart?"

"No--Mr. Clay.  He's been in three real wars and about a dozen little
ones, and he's built thousands of miles of railroads, I don't know how
many thousands, but Captain Stuart knows; and he built the highest
bridge in Peru.  It swings in the air across a chasm, and it rocks when
the wind blows.  And the German Emperor made him a Baron."

"Why?"

"I don't know.  I couldn't understand.  It was something about plans
for fortifications.  He, Mr. Clay, put up a fort in the harbor of Rio
Janeiro during a revolution, and the officers on a German man-of-war
saw it and copied the plans, and the Germans built one just like it,
only larger, on the Baltic, and when the Emperor found out whose design
it was, he sent Mr. Clay the order of something-or-other, and made him
a Baron."

"Really," exclaimed the elder sister, "isn't he afraid that some one
will marry him for his title?"

"Oh, well, you can laugh, but I think it's pretty fine, and so does
Ted," added Hope, with the air of one who propounds a final argument.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," laughed Alice.  "If Ted approves we must all
go down and worship."

"And father, too," continued Hope.  "He said he thought Mr. Clay was
one of the most remarkable men for his years that he had ever met."

Miss Langham's eyes were hidden by the masses of her black hair that
she had shaken over her face, and she said nothing.

"And I liked the way he shut Reggie King up too," continued Hope,
stoutly, "when he and father were talking that way about Madame
Alvarez."

"Yes, upon my word," exclaimed her sister, impatiently tossing her hair
back over her shoulders.  "I really cannot see that Madame Alvarez is
in need of any champion.  I thought Mr. Clay made it very much worse by
rushing in the way he did.  Why should he take it upon himself to
correct a man as old as my father?"

"I suppose because Madame Alvarez is a friend of his," Hope answered.

"My dear child, a beautiful woman can always find some man to take her
part," said Miss Langham.  "But I've no doubt," she added, rising and
kissing her sister good-night, "that he is all that your Captain Stuart
thinks him; but he is not going to keep us awake any longer, is he,
even if he does show such gallant interest in old ladies?"

"Old ladies!" exclaimed Hope in amazement.

"Why, Alice!"

But her sister only laughed and waved her out of the room, and Hope
walked away frowning in much perplexity.



V

The visit to the city was imitated on the three succeeding evenings by
similar excursions.  On one night they returned to the plaza, and the
other two were spent in drifting down the harbor and along the coast on
King's yacht.  The President and Madame Alvarez were King's guests on
one of these moonlight excursions, and were saluted by the proper
number of guns, and their native band played on the forward deck.  Clay
felt that King held the centre of the stage for the time being, and
obliterated himself completely.  He thought of his own paddle-wheel
tug-boat that he had had painted and gilded in her honor, and smiled
grimly.

MacWilliams approached him as he sat leaning back on the rail and
looking up, with the eye of a man who had served before the mast, at
the lacework of spars and rigging above him.  MacWilliams came toward
him on tiptoe and dropped carefully into a wicker chair. "There don't
seem to be any door-mats on this boat," he said. "In every other
respect she seems fitted out quite complete; all the latest magazines
and enamelled bathtubs, and Chinese waiter-boys with cock-tails up
their sleeves.  But there ought to be a mat at the top of each of those
stairways that hang over the side, otherwise some one is sure to soil
the deck.  Have you been down in the engine-room yet?" he asked. "Well,
don't go, then," he advised, solemnly.  "It will only make you feel
badly.  I have asked the Admiral if I can send those half-breed engine
drivers over to-morrow to show them what a clean engine-room looks
like.  I've just been talking to the chief.  His name's MacKenzie, and
I told him I was Scotch myself, and he said it 'was a greet pleesure'
to find a gentleman so well acquainted with the movements of machinery.
He thought I was one of King's friends, I guess, so I didn't tell him I
pulled a lever for a living myself.  I gave him a cigar though, and he
said, 'Thankee, sir,' and touched his cap to me."

MacWilliams chuckled at the recollection, and crossed his legs
comfortably.  "One of King's cigars, too," he said.  "Real Havana; he
leaves them lying around loose in the cabin.  Have you had one?  Ted
Langham and I took about a box between us."

Clay made no answer, and MacWilliams settled himself contentedly in the
great wicker chair and puffed grandly on a huge cigar.

"It's demoralizing, isn't it?" he said at last.

"What?" asked Clay, absently.

"Oh, this associating with white people again, as we're doing now.  It
spoils you for tortillas and rice, doesn't it?  It's going to be great
fun while it lasts, but when they've all gone, and Ted's gone, too, and
the yacht's vanished, and we fall back to tramping around the plaza
twice a week, it won't be gay, will it?  No; it won't be gay.  We're
having the spree of our lives now, I guess, but there's going to be a
difference in the morning."

"Oh, it's worth a headache, I think," said Clay, as he shrugged his
shoulders and walked away to find Miss Langham.

The day set for the visit to the mines rose bright and clear.
MacWilliams had rigged out his single passenger-car with rugs and
cushions, and flags flew from its canvas top that flapped and billowed
in the wind of the slow-moving train.  Their observation-car, as
MacWilliams termed it, was placed in front of the locomotive, and they
were pushed gently along the narrow rails between forests of Manaca
palms, and through swamps and jungles, and at times over the limestone
formation along the coast, where the waves dashed as high as the
smokestack of the locomotive, covering the excursionists with a
sprinkling of white spray.  Thousands of land-crabs, painted red and
black and yellow, scrambled with a rattle like dead men's bones across
the rails to be crushed by the hundreds under the wheels of the
Juggernaut; great lizards ran from sunny rocks at the sound of their
approach, and a deer bounded across the tracks fifty feet in front of
the cow-catcher.  MacWilliams escorted Hope out into the cab of the
locomotive, and taught her how to increase and slacken the speed of the
engine, until she showed an unruly desire to throw the lever open
altogether and shoot them off the rails into the ocean beyond.

Clay sat at the back of the car with Miss Langham, and told her and her
father of the difficulties with which young MacWilliams had had to
contend.  Miss Langham found her chief pleasure in noting the attention
which her father gave to all that Clay had to tell him.  Knowing her
father as she did, and being familiar with his manner toward other men,
she knew that he was treating Clay with unusual consideration.  And
this pleased her greatly, for it justified her own interest in him.
She regarded Clay as a discovery of her own, but she was glad to have
her opinion of him shared by others.

Their coming was a great event in the history of the mines. Kirkland,
the foreman, and Chapman, who handled the dynamite, Weimer, the Consul,
and the native doctor, who cared for the fever-stricken and the
casualties, were all at the station to meet them in the whitest of
white duck and with a bunch of ponies to carry them on their tour of
inspection, and the village of mud-cabins and zinc-huts that stood
clear of the bare sunbaked earth on whitewashed wooden piles was as
clean as Clay's hundred policemen could sweep it.  Mr. Langham rode in
advance of the cavalcade, and the head of each of the different
departments took his turn in riding at his side, and explained what had
been done, and showed him the proud result.  The village was empty,
except for the families of the native workmen and the ownerless dogs,
the scavengers of the colony, that snarled and barked and ran leaping
in front of the ponies' heads.

Rising abruptly above the zinc village, lay the first of the five great
hills, with its open front cut into great terraces, on which the men
clung like flies on the side of a wall, some of them in groups around
an opening, or in couples pounding a steel bar that a fellow-workman
turned in his bare hands, while others gathered about the panting
steam-drills that shook the solid rock with fierce, short blows, and
hid the men about them in a throbbing curtain of steam.  Self-important
little dummy-engines, dragging long trains of ore-cars, rolled and
rocked on the uneven surface of the ground, and swung around corners
with warning screeches of their whistles.  They could see, on peaks
outlined against the sky, the signal-men waving their red flags, and
then plunging down the mountain-side out of danger, as the earth
rumbled and shook and vomited out a shower of stones and rubbish into
the calm hot air.  It was a spectacle of desperate activity and
puzzling to the uninitiated, for it seemed to be scattered over an
unlimited extent, with no head nor direction, and with each man, or
each group of men, working alone, like rag-pickers on a heap of ashes.

After the first half-hour of curious interest Miss Langham admitted to
herself that she was disappointed.  She confessed she had hoped that
Clay would explain the meaning of the mines to her, and act as her
escort over the mountains which he was blowing into pieces.

But it was King, somewhat bored by the ceaseless noise and heat, and
her brother, incoherently enthusiastic, who rode at her side, while
Clay moved on in advance and seemed to have forgotten her existence.
She watched him pointing up at the openings in the mountains and down
at the ore-road, or stooping to pick up a piece of ore from the ground
in cowboy fashion, without leaving his saddle, and pounding it on the
pommel before he passed it to the others.  And, again, he would stand
for minutes at a time up to his boot-tops in the sliding waste, with
his bridle rein over his arm and his thumbs in his belt, listening to
what his lieutenants were saying, and glancing quickly from them to Mr.
Langham to see if he were following the technicalities of their speech.
All of the men who had welcomed the appearance of the women on their
arrival with such obvious delight and with so much embarrassment seemed
now as oblivious of their presence as Clay himself.

Miss Langham pushed her horse up into the group beside Hope, who had
kept her pony close at Clay's side from the beginning; but she could
not make out what it was they were saying, and no one seemed to think
it necessary to explain.  She caught Clay's eye at last and smiled
brightly at him; but, after staring at her for fully a minute, until
Kirkland had finished speaking, she heard him say, "Yes, that's it
exactly; in open-face workings there is no other way," and so showed
her that he had not been even conscious of her presence.  But a few
minutes later she saw him look up at Hope, folding his arms across his
chest tightly and shaking his head.  "You see it was the only thing to
do," she heard him say, as though he were defending some course of
action, and as though Hope were one of those who must be convinced.
"If we had cut the opening on the first level, there was the danger of
the whole thing sinking in, so we had to begin to clear away at the top
and work down.  That's why I ordered the bucket-trolley.  As it turned
out, we saved money by it."

Hope nodded her head slightly.  "That's what I told father when Ted
wrote us about it," she said; "but you haven't done it at Mount
Washington."

"Oh, but it's like this, Miss--" Kirkland replied, eagerly. "It's
because Washington is a solider foundation.  We can cut openings all
over it and they won't cave, but this hill is most all rubbish; it's
the poorest stuff in the mines."

Hope nodded her head again and crowded her pony on after the moving
group, but her sister and King did not follow.  King looked at her and
smiled.  "Hope is very enthusiastic," he said.  "Where did she pick it
up?"

"Oh, she and father used to go over it in his study last winter after
Ted came down here," Miss Langham answered, with a touch of impatience
in her tone.  "Isn't there some place where we can go to get out of
this heat?"

Weimer, the Consul, heard her and led her back to Kirkland's bungalow,
that hung like an eagle's nest from a projecting cliff. From its porch
they could look down the valley over the greater part of the mines, and
beyond to where the Caribbean Sea lay flashing in the heat.

"I saw very few Americans down there, Weimer," said King.  "I thought
Clay had imported a lot of them."

"About three hundred altogether, wild Irishmen and negroes," said the
Consul; "but we use the native soldiers chiefly.  They can stand the
climate better, and, besides," he added, "they act as a reserve in case
of trouble.  They are Mendoza's men, and Clay is trying to win them
away from him."

"I don't understand," said King.

Weimer looked around him and waited until Kirkland's servant had
deposited a tray full of bottles and glasses on a table near them, and
had departed.  "The talk is," he said, "that Alvarez means to proclaim
a dictatorship in his own favor before the spring elections.  You've
heard of that, haven't you?" King shook his head.

"Oh, tell us about it," said Miss Langham; "I should so like to be in
plots and conspiracies."

"Well, they're rather common down here," continued the Consul, "but
this one ought to interest you especially, Miss Langham, because it is
a woman who is at the head of it.  Madame Alvarez, you know, was the
Countess Manueleta Hernandez before her marriage.  She belongs to one
of the oldest families in Spain.  Alvarez married her in Madrid, when
he was Minister there, and when he returned to run for President, she
came with him.  She's a tremendously ambitious woman, and they do say
she wants to convert the republic into a monarchy, and make her husband
King, or, more properly speaking, make herself Queen.  Of course that's
absurd, but she is supposed to be plotting to turn Olancho into a sort
of dependency of Spain, as it was long ago, and that's why she is so
unpopular."

"Indeed?" interrupted Miss Langham, "I did not know that she was
unpopular."

"Oh, rather.  Why, her party is called the Royalist Party already, and
only a week before you came the Liberals plastered the city with
denunciatory placards against her, calling on the people to drive her
out of the country."

"What cowards--to fight a woman!" exclaimed Miss Langham.

"Well, she began it first, you see," said the Consul.

"Who is the leader of the fight against her?" asked King.

"General Mendoza; he is commander-in-chief and has the greater part of
the army with him, but the other candidate, old General Rojas, is the
popular choice and the best of the three. He is Vice-President now, and
if the people were ever given a fair chance to vote for the man they
want, he would unquestionably be the next President.  The mass of the
people are sick of revolutions.  They've had enough of them, but they
will have to go through another before long, and if it turns against
Dr. Alvarez, I'm afraid Mr. Langham will have hard work to hold these
mines.  You see, Mendoza has already threatened to seize the whole
plant and turn it into a Government monopoly."

"And if the other one, General Rojas, gets into power, will he seize
the mines, too?"

"No, he is honest, strange to relate," laughed Weimer, "but he won't
get in.  Alvarez will make himself dictator, or Mendoza will make
himself President.  That's why Clay treats the soldiers here so well.
He thinks he may need them against Mendoza.  You may be turning your
saluting-gun on the city yet, Commodore," he added, smiling, "or, what
is more likely, you'll need the yacht to take Miss Langham and the rest
of the family out of the country."

King smiled and Miss Langham regarded Weimer with flattering interest.
"I've got a quick firing gun below decks," said King, "that I used in
the Malaysian Peninsula on a junkful of Black Flags, and I think I'll
have it brought up.  And there are about thirty of my men on the yacht
who wouldn't ask for their wages in a year if I'd let them go on shore
and mix up in a fight.  When do you suppose this--"

A heavy step and the jingle of spurs on the bare floor of the bungalow
startled the conspirators, and they turned and gazed guiltily out at
the mountain-tops above them as Clay came hurrying out upon the porch.

"They told me you were here," he said, speaking to Miss Langham.  "I'm
so sorry it tired you.  I should have remembered--it is a rough trip
when you're not used to it," he added, remorsefully.  "But I'm glad
Weimer was here to take care of you."

"It was just a trifle hot and noisy," said Miss Langham, smiling
sweetly.  She put her hand to her forehead with an expression of
patient suffering.  "It made my head ache a little, but it was most
interesting."  She added, "You are certainly to be congratulated on
your work."

Clay glanced at her doubtfully with a troubled look, and turned away
his eyes to the busy scene below him.  He was greatly hurt that she
should have cared so little, and indignant at himself for being so
unjust.  Why should he expect a woman to find interest in that hive of
noise and sweating energy?  But even as he stood arguing with himself
his eyes fell on a slight figure sitting erect and graceful on her
pony's back, her white habit soiled and stained red with the ore of the
mines, and green where it had crushed against the leaves.  She was
coming slowly up the trail with a body-guard of half a dozen men
crowding closely around her, telling her the difficulties of the work,
and explaining their successes, and eager for a share of her quick
sympathy.

Clay's eyes fixed themselves on the picture, and he smiled at its
significance.  Miss Langham noticed the look, and glanced below to see
what it was that had so interested him, and then back at him again.  He
was still watching the approaching cavalcade intently, and smiling to
himself.  Miss Langham drew in her breath and raised her head and
shoulders quickly, like a deer that hears a footstep in the forest, and
when Hope presently stepped out upon the porch, she turned quickly
toward her, and regarded her steadily, as though she were a stranger to
her, and as though she were trying to see her with the eyes of one who
looked at her for the first time.

"Hope!" she said, "do look at your dress!"

Hope's face was glowing with the unusual exercise, and her eyes were
brilliant.  Her hair had slipped down beneath the visor of her helmet.

"I am so tired--and so hungry."  She was laughing and looking directly
at Clay.  "It has been a wonderful thing to have seen," she said,
tugging at her heavy gauntlet, "and to have done," she added.  She
pulled off her glove and held out her hand to Clay, moist and scarred
with the pressure of the reins.

"Thank you," she said, simply.

The master of the mines took it with a quick rush of gratitude, and
looking into the girl's eyes, saw something there that startled him, so
that he glanced quickly past her at the circle of booted men grouped in
the door behind her.  They were each smiling in appreciation of the
tableau; her father and Ted, MacWilliams and Kirkland, and all the
others who had helped him. They seemed to envy, but not to grudge, the
whole credit which the girl had given to him.

Clay thought, "Why could it not have been the other?"  But he said
aloud, "Thank YOU.  You have given me my reward."

Miss Langham looked down impatiently into the valley below, and found
that it seemed more hot and noisy, and more grimy than before.



VI

Clay believed that Alice Langham's visit to the mines had opened his
eyes fully to vast differences between them.  He laughed and railed at
himself for having dared to imagine that he was in a position to care
for her.  Confident as he was at times, and sure as he was of his
ability in certain directions, he was uneasy and fearful when he
matched himself against a man of gentle birth and gentle breeding, and
one who, like King, was part of a world of which he knew little, and to
which, in his ignorance concerning it, he attributed many advantages
that it did not possess.  He believed that he would always lack the
mysterious something which these others held by right of inheritance.
He was still young and full of the illusions of youth, and so gave
false values to his own qualities, and values equally false to the
qualities he lacked.  For the next week he avoided Miss Langham, unless
there were other people present, and whenever she showed him special
favor, he hastily recalled to his mind her failure to sympathize in his
work, and assured himself that if she could not interest herself in the
engineer, he did not care to have her interested in the man.  Other
women had found him attractive in himself; they had cared for his
strength of will and mind, and because he was good to look at.  But he
determined that this one must sympathize with his work in the world, no
matter how unpicturesque it might seem to her.  His work was the best
of him, he assured himself, and he would stand or fall with it.

It was a week after the visit to the mines that President Alvarez gave
a great ball in honor of the Langhams, to which all of the important
people of Olancho, and the Foreign Ministers were invited.  Miss
Langham met Clay on the afternoon of the day set for the ball, as she
was going down the hill to join Hope and her father at dinner on the
yacht.

"Are you not coming, too?" she asked.

"I wish I could," Clay answered.  "King asked me, but a steamer-load of
new machinery arrived to-day, and I have to see it through the
Custom-House."

Miss Langham gave an impatient little laugh, and shook her head. "You
might wait until we were gone before you bother with your machinery,"
she said.

"When you are gone I won't be in a state of mind to attend to machinery
or anything else," Clay answered.

Miss Langham seemed so far encouraged by this speech that she seated
herself in the boathouse at the end of the wharf.  She pushed her
mantilla back from her face and looked up at him, smiling brightly.

"'The time has come, the walrus said,'" she quoted, "'to talk of many
things.'"

Clay laughed and dropped down beside her.  "Well?" he said.

"You have been rather unkind to me this last week," the girl began,
with her eyes fixed steadily on his.  "And that day at the mines when I
counted on you so, you acted abominably."

Clay's face showed so plainly his surprise at this charge, which he
thought he only had the right to make, that Miss Langham stopped.

"I don't understand," said Clay, quietly.  "How did I treat you
abominably?"

He had taken her so seriously that Miss Langham dropped her lighter
tone and spoke in one more kindly:

"I went out there to see your work at its best.  I was only interested
in going because it was your work, and because it was you who had done
it all, and I expected that you would try to explain it to me and help
me to understand, but you didn't.  You treated me as though I had no
interest in the matter at all, as though I was not capable of
understanding it.  You did not seem to care whether I was interested or
not.  In fact, you forgot me altogether."

Clay exhibited no evidence of a reproving conscience.  "I am sorry you
had a stupid time," he said, gravely.

"I did not mean that, and you know I didn't mean that," the girl
answered.  "I wanted to hear about it from you, because you did it.  I
wasn't interested so much in what had been done, as I was in the man
who had accomplished it."

Clay shrugged his shoulders impatiently, and looked across at Miss
Langham with a troubled smile.

"But that's just what I don't want," he said.  "Can't you see? These
mines and other mines like them are all I have in the world.  They are
my only excuse for having lived in it so long. I want to feel that I've
done something outside of myself, and when you say that you like me
personally, it's as little satisfaction to me as it must be to a woman
to be congratulated on her beauty, or on her fine voice.  That is
nothing she has done herself.  I should like you to value what I have
done, not what I happen to be."

Miss Langham turned her eyes to the harbor, and it was some short time
before she answered.

"You are a very difficult person to please," she said, "and most
exacting.  As a rule men are satisfied to be liked for any reason.  I
confess frankly, since you insist upon it, that I do not rise to the
point of appreciating your work as the others do.  I suppose it is a
fault," she continued, with an air that plainly said that she
considered it, on the contrary, something of a virtue.  "And if I knew
more about it technically, I might see more in it to admire.  But I am
looking farther on for better things from you.  The friends who help us
the most are not always those who consider us perfect, are they?" she
asked, with a kindly smile.  She raised her eyes to the great ore-pier
that stretched out across the water, the one ugly blot in the scene of
natural beauty about them.  "I think that is all very well," she said;
"but I certainly expect you to do more than that.  I have met many
remarkable men in all parts of the world, and I know what a strong man
is, and you have one of the strongest personalities I have known.  But
you can't mean that you are content to stop with this.  You should be
something bigger and more wide-reaching and more lasting.  Indeed, it
hurts me to see you wasting your time here over my father's interests.
You should exert that same energy on a broader map.  You could make
yourself anything you chose.  At home you would be your party's leader
in politics, or you could be a great general, or a great financier.  I
say this because I know there are better things in you, and because I
want you to make the most of your talents.  I am anxious to see you put
your powers to something worth while."

Miss Langham's voice carried with it such a tone of sincerity that she
almost succeeded in deceiving herself.  And yet she would have hardly
cared to explain just why she had reproached the man before her after
this fashion.  For she knew that when she spoke as she had done, she
was beating about to find some reason that would justify her in not
caring for him, as she knew she could care--as she would not allow
herself to care.  The man at her side had won her interest from the
first, and later had occupied her thoughts so entirely, that it
troubled her peace of mind.  Yet she would not let her feeling for him
wax and grow stronger, but kept it down.  And she was trying now to
persuade herself that she did this because there was something lacking
in him and not in her.

She was almost angry with him for being so much to her and for not
being more acceptable in little things, like the other men she knew.
So she found this fault with him in order that she might justify her
own lack of feeling.

But Clay, who only heard the words and could not go back of them to
find the motive, could not know this.  He sat perfectly still when she
had finished and looked steadily out across the harbor.  His eyes fell
on the ugly ore-pier, and he winced and uttered a short grim laugh.

"That's true, what you say," he began, "I haven't done much. You are
quite right.  Only--" he looked up at her curiously and smiled--"only
you should not have been the one to tell me of it."

Miss Langham had been so far carried away by her own point of view that
she had not considered Clay, and now that she saw what mischief she had
done, she gave a quick gasp of regret, and leaned forward as though to
add some explanation to what she had said.  But Clay stopped her.  "I
mean by that," he said, "that the great part of the inspiration I have
had to do what little I have done came from you.  You were a sort of
promise of something better to me.  You were more of a type than an
individual woman, but your picture, the one I carry in my watch, meant
all that part of life that I have never known, the sweetness and the
nobleness and grace of civilization,--something I hoped I would some
day have time to enjoy.  So you see," he added, with an uncertain
laugh, "it's less pleasant to hear that I have failed to make the most
of myself from you than from almost any one else."

"But, Mr. Clay," protested the girl, anxiously, "I think you have done
wonderfully well.  I only said that I wanted you to do more.  You are
so young and you have--"

Clay did not hear her.  He was leaning forward looking moodily out
across the water, with his folded arms clasped across his knees.

"I have not made the most of myself," he repeated; "that is what you
said."  He spoke the words as though she had delivered a sentence.
"You don't think well of what I have done, of what I am."

He drew in his breath and shook his head with a hopeless laugh, and
leaned back against the railing of the boat-house with the weariness in
his attitude of a man who has given up after a long struggle.

"No," he said with a bitter flippancy in his voice, "I don't amount to
much.  But, my God!" he laughed, and turning his head away, "when you
think what I was!  This doesn't seem much to you, and it doesn't seem
much to me now that I have your point of view on it, but when I
remember!"  Clay stopped again and pressed his lips together and shook
his head.  His half-closed eyes, that seemed to be looking back into
his past, lighted as they fell on King's white yacht, and he raised his
arm and pointed to it with a wave of the hand.  "When I was sixteen I
was a sailor before the mast," he said, "the sort of sailor that King's
crew out there wouldn't recognize in the same profession.  I was of so
little account that I've been knocked the length of the main deck at
the end of the mate's fist, and left to lie bleeding in the scuppers
for dead.  I hadn't a thing to my name then but the clothes I wore, and
I've had to go aloft in a hurricane and cling to a swinging rope with
my bare toes and pull at a wet sheet until my finger-nails broke and
started in their sockets; and I've been a cowboy, with no companions
for six months of the year but eight thousand head of cattle and men as
dumb and untamed as the steers themselves.  I've sat in my saddle night
after night, with nothing overhead but the stars, and no sound but the
noise of the steers breathing in their sleep.  The women I knew were
Indian squaws, and the girls of the sailors' dance-houses and the
gambling-hells of Sioux City and Abilene, and Callao and Port Said.
That was what I was and those were my companions.  Why!" he laughed,
rising and striding across the boat-house with his hands locked behind
him, "I've fought on the mud floor of a Mexican shack, with a naked
knife in my hand, for my last dollar.  I was as low and as desperate as
that.  And now--" Clay lifted his head and smiled.  "Now," he said, in
a lower voice and addressing Miss Langham with a return of his usual
grave politeness, "I am able to sit beside you and talk to you.  I have
risen to that.  I am quite content."

He paused and looked at Miss Langham uncertainly for a few moments as
though in doubt as to whether she would understand him if he continued.

"And though it means nothing to you," he said, "and though as you say I
am here as your father's employee, there are other places, perhaps,
where I am better known.  In Edinburgh or Berlin or Paris, if you were
to ask the people of my own profession, they could tell you something
of me.  If I wished it, I could drop this active work tomorrow and
continue as an adviser, as an expert, but I like the active part
better.  I like doing things myself.  I don't say, 'I am a salaried
servant of Mr. Langham's;' I put it differently.  I say, 'There are
five mountains of iron. You are to take them up and transport them from
South America to North America, where they will be turned into
railroads and ironclads.'  That's my way of looking at it.  It's better
to bind a laurel to the plough than to call yourself hard names.  It
makes your work easier--almost noble.  Cannot you see it that way, too?"

Before Miss Langham could answer, a deprecatory cough from one side of
the open boat-house startled them, and turning they saw MacWilliams
coming toward them.  They had been so intent upon what Clay was saying
that he had approached them over the soft sand of the beach without
their knowing it.  Miss Langham welcomed his arrival with evident
pleasure.

"The launch is waiting for you at the end of the pier," MacWilliams
said.  Miss Langham rose and the three walked together down the length
of the wharf, MacWilliams moving briskly in advance in order to enable
them to continue the conversation he had interrupted, but they followed
close behind him, as though neither of them were desirous of such an
opportunity.

Hope and King had both come for Miss Langham, and while the latter was
helping her to a place on the cushions, and repeating his regrets that
the men were not coming also, Hope started the launch, with a brisk
ringing of bells and a whirl of the wheel and a smile over her shoulder
at the figures on the wharf.

"Why didn't you go?" said Clay; "you have no business at the
Custom-House."

"Neither have you," said MacWilliams.  "But I guess we both understand.
There's no good pushing your luck too far."

"What do you mean by that--this time?"

"Why, what have we to do with all of this?" cried MacWilliams. "It's
what I keep telling you every day.  We're not in that class, and you're
only making it harder for yourself when they've gone.  I call it
cruelty to animals myself, having women like that around.  Up North,
where everybody's white, you don't notice it so much, but down
here--Lord!"

"That's absurd," Clay answered.  "Why should you turn your back on
civilization when it comes to you, just because you're not going back
to civilization by the next steamer?  Every person you meet either
helps you or hurts you.  Those girls help us, even if they do make the
life here seem bare and mean."

"Bare and mean!" repeated MacWilliams incredulously.  "I think that's
just what they don't do.  I like it all the better because they're
mixed up in it.  I never took so much interest in your mines until she
took to riding over them, and I didn't think great shakes of my old
ore-road, either, but now that she's got to acting as engineer, it's
sort of nickel-plated the whole outfit.  I'm going to name the new
engine after her--when it gets here--if her old man will let me."

"What do you mean?  Miss Langham hasn't been to the mines but once, has
she?"

"Miss Langham!" exclaimed MacWilliams. "No, I mean the other, Miss
Hope.  She comes out with Ted nearly every day now, and she's learning
how to run a locomotive.  Just for fun, you know," he added,
reassuringly.

"I didn't suppose she had any intention of joining the Brotherhood,"
said Clay.  "So she's been out every day, has she?  I like that," he
commented, enthusiastically.  "She's a fine, sweet girl."

"Fine, sweet girl!" growled MacWilliams.  "I should hope so. She's the
best.  They don't make them any better than that, and just think, if
she's like that now, what will she be when she's grown up, when she's
learned a few things?  Now her sister.  You can see just what her
sister will be at thirty, and at fifty, and at eighty.  She's
thoroughbred and she's the most beautiful woman to look at I ever
saw--but, my son--she is too careful.  She hasn't any illusions, and no
sense of humor.  And a woman with no illusions and no sense of humor is
going to be monotonous.  You can't teach her anything.  You can't
imagine yourself telling her anything she doesn't know.  The things we
think important don't reach her at all.  They're not in her line, and
in everything else she knows more than we could ever guess at.  But
that Miss Hope!  It's a privilege to show her about.  She wants to see
everything, and learn everything, and she goes poking her head into
openings and down shafts like a little fox terrier. And she'll sit
still and listen with her eyes wide open and tears in them, too, and
she doesn't know it--until you can't talk yourself for just looking at
her."

Clay rose and moved on to the house in silence.  He was glad that
MacWilliams had interrupted him when he did.  He wondered whether he
understood Alice Langham after all.  He had seen many fine ladies
before during his brief visits to London, and Berlin, and Vienna, and
they had shown him favor.  He had known other women not so fine.
Spanish-American senoritas through Central and South America, the wives
and daughters of English merchants exiled along the Pacific coast,
whose fair skin and yellow hair whitened and bleached under the hot
tropical suns.  He had known many women, and he could have quoted

    "Trials and troubles amany,
        Have proved me;
      One or two women, God bless them!
        Have loved me."

But the woman he was to marry must have all the things he lacked.

She must fill out and complete him where he was wanting.  This woman
possessed all of these things.  She appealed to every ambition and to
every taste he cherished, and yet he knew that he had hesitated and
mistrusted her, when he should have declared himself eagerly and
vehemently, and forced her to listen with all the strength of his will.


Miss Langham dropped among the soft cushions of the launch with a sense
of having been rescued from herself and of delight in finding refuge
again in her own environment.  The sight of King standing in the bow
beside Hope with his cigarette hanging from his lips, and peering with
half-closed eyes into the fading light, gave her a sense of restfulness
and content.  She did not know what she wished from that other strange
young man.  He was so bold, so handsome, and he looked at life and
spoke of it in such a fresh, unhackneyed spirit.  He might make himself
anything he pleased.  But here was a man who already had everything, or
who could get it as easily as he could increase the speed of the
launch, by pulling some wire with his finger.

She recalled one day when they were all on board of this same launch,
and the machinery had broken down, and MacWilliams had gone forward to
look at it.  He had called Clay to help him, and she remembered how
they had both gone down on their knees and asked the engineer and
fireman to pass them wrenches and oil-cans, while King protested
mildly, and the rest sat helplessly in the hot glare of the sea, as the
boat rose and fell on the waves.  She resented Clay's interest in the
accident, and his pleasure when he had made the machinery right once
more, and his appearance as he came back to them with oily hands and
with his face glowing from the heat of the furnace, wiping his grimy
fingers on a piece of packing.  She had resented the equality with
which he treated the engineer in asking his advice, and it rather
surprised her that the crew saluted him when he stepped into the launch
again that night as though he were the owner.  She had expected that
they would patronize him, and she imagined after this incident that she
detected a shade of difference in the manner of the sailors toward
Clay, as though he had cheapened himself to them--as he had to her.



VII

At ten o'clock that same evening Clay began to prepare himself for the
ball at the Government palace, and MacWilliams, who was not invited,
watched him dress with critical approval that showed no sign of envy.

The better to do honor to the President, Clay had brought out several
foreign orders, and MacWilliams helped him to tie around his neck the
collar of the Red Eagle which the German Emperor had given him, and to
fasten the ribbon and cross of the Star of Olancho across his breast,
and a Spanish Order and the Legion of Honor to the lapel of his coat.
MacWilliams surveyed the effect of the tiny enamelled crosses with his
head on one side, and with the same air of affectionate pride and
concern that a mother shows over her daughter's first ball-dress.

"Got any more?" he asked, anxiously.

"I have some war medals," Clay answered, smiling doubtfully. "But I'm
not in uniform."

"Oh, that's all right," declared MacWilliams.  "Put 'em on, put 'em all
on.  Give the girls a treat.  Everybody will think they were given for
feats of swimming, anyway; but they will show up well from the front.
Now, then, you look like a drum-major or a conjuring chap."

"I do not," said Clay.  "I look like a French Ambassador, and I hardly
understand how you find courage to speak to me at all."

He went up the hill in high spirits, and found the carriage at the door
and King, Mr. Langham, and Miss Langham sitting waiting for him.  They
were ready to depart, and Miss Langham had but just seated herself in
the carriage when they heard hurrying across the tiled floor a quick,
light step and the rustle of silk, and turning they saw Hope standing
in the doorway, radiant and smiling.  She wore a white frock that
reached to the ground, and that left her arms and shoulders bare.  Her
hair was dressed high upon her head, and she was pulling vigorously at
a pair of long, tan-colored gloves.  The transformation was so
complete, and the girl looked so much older and so stately and
beautiful, that the two young men stared at her in silent admiration
and astonishment.

"Why, Hope!" exclaimed her sister.  "What does this mean?"

Hope stopped in some alarm, and clasped her hair with both hands.

"What is it?" she asked; "is anything wrong?"

"Why, my dear child," said her sister, "you're not thinking of going
with us, are you?"

"Not going?" echoed the younger sister, in dismay.  "Why, Alice, why
not? I was asked."

"But, Hope-- Father," said the elder sister, stepping out of the
carriage and turning to Mr. Langham, "you didn't intend that Hope
should go, did you?  She's not out yet."

"Oh, nonsense," said Hope, defiantly.  But she drew in her breath
quickly and blushed, as she saw the two young men moving away out of
hearing of this family crisis.  She felt that she was being made to
look like a spoiled child.  "It doesn't count down here," she said,
"and I want to go.  I thought you knew I was going all the time.  Marie
made this frock for me on purpose."

"I don't think Hope is old enough," the elder sister said, addressing
her father, "and if she goes to dances here, there's no reason why she
should not go to those at home."

"But I don't want to go to dances at home," interrupted Hope.

Mr. Langham looked exceedingly uncomfortable, and turned appealingly to
his elder daughter.  "What do you think, Alice?" he said, doubtfully.

"I'm sorry," Miss Langham replied, "but I know it would not be at all
proper.  I hate to seem horrid about it, Hope, but indeed you are too
young, and the men here are not the men a young girl ought to meet."

"You meet them, Alice," said Hope, but pulling off her gloves in token
of defeat.

"But, my dear child, I'm fifty years older than you are."

"Perhaps Alice knows best, Hope," Mr. Langham said.  "I'm sorry if you
are disappointed."

Hope held her head a little higher, and turned toward the door.

"I don't mind if you don't wish it, father," she said. "Good-night."
She moved away, but apparently thought better of it, and came back and
stood smiling and nodding to them as they seated themselves in the
carriage.  Mr. Langham leaned forward and said, in a troubled voice,
"We will tell you all about it in the morning.  I'm very sorry.  You
won't be lonely, will you? I'll stay with you if you wish."

"Nonsense!" laughed Hope.  "Why, it's given to you, father; don't
bother about me.  I'll read something or other and go to bed."

"Good-night, Cinderella," King called out to her.

"Good-night, Prince Charming," Hope answered.

Both Clay and King felt that the girl would not mind missing the ball
so much as she would the fact of having been treated like a child in
their presence, so they refrained from any expression of sympathy or
regret, but raised their hats and bowed a little more impressively than
usual as the carriage drove away.

The picture Hope made, as she stood deserted and forlorn on the steps
of the empty house in her new finery, struck Clay as unnecessarily
pathetic.  He felt a strong sense of resentment against her sister and
her father, and thanked heaven devoutly that he was out of their class,
and when Miss Langham continued to express her sorrow that she had been
forced to act as she had done, he remained silent.  It seemed to Clay
such a simple thing to give children pleasure, and to remember that
their woes were always out of all proportion to the cause.  Children,
dumb animals, and blind people were always grouped together in his mind
as objects demanding the most tender and constant consideration.  So
the pleasure of the evening was spoiled for him while he remembered the
hurt and disappointed look in Hope's face, and when Miss Langham asked
him why he was so preoccupied, he told her bluntly that he thought she
had been very unkind to Hope, and that her objections were absurd.

Miss Langham held herself a little more stiffly.  "Perhaps you do not
quite understand, Mr. Clay," she said.  "Some of us have to conform to
certain rules that the people with whom we best like to associate have
laid down for themselves.  If we choose to be conventional, it is
probably because we find it makes life easier for the greater number.
You cannot think it was a pleasant task for me.  But I have given up
things of much more importance than a dance for the sake of
appearances, and Hope herself will see to-morrow that I acted for the
best."

Clay said he trusted so, but doubted it, and by way of re-establishing
himself in Miss Langham's good favor, asked her if she could give him
the next dance.  But Miss Langham was not to be propitiated.

"I'm sorry," she said, "but I believe I am engaged until supper-time.
Come and ask me then, and I'll have one saved for you.  But there is
something you can do," she added.  "I left my fan in the carriage--do
you think you could manage to get it for me without much trouble?"

"The carriage did not wait.  I believe it was sent back," said Clay,
"but I can borrow a horse from one of Stuart's men, and ride back and
get it for you, if you like."

"How absurd!" laughed Miss Langham, but she looked pleased,
notwithstanding.

"Oh, not at all," Clay answered.  He was smiling down at her in some
amusement, and was apparently much entertained at his idea. "Will you
consider it an act of devotion?" he asked.

There was so little of devotion, and so much more of mischief in his
eyes, that Miss Langham guessed he was only laughing at her, and shook
her head.

"You won't go," she said, turning away.  She followed him with her
eyes, however, as he crossed the room, his head and shoulders towering
above the native men and women.  She had never seen him so resplendent,
and she noted, with an eye that considered trifles, the orders, and his
well-fitting white gloves, and his manner of bowing in the Continental
fashion, holding his opera-hat on his thigh, as though his hand rested
on a sword.  She noticed that the little Olanchoans stopped and looked
after him, as he pushed his way among them, and she could see that the
men were telling the women who he was.  Sir Julian Pindar, the old
British Minister, stopped him, and she watched them as they laughed
together over the English war medals on the American's breast, which
Sir Julian touched with his finger.  He called the French Minister and
his pretty wife to look, too, and they all laughed and talked together
in great spirits, and Miss Langham wondered if Clay was speaking in
French to them.

Miss Langham did not enjoy the ball; she felt injured and aggrieved,
and she assured herself that she had been hardly used.

She had only done her duty, and yet all the sympathy had gone to her
sister, who had placed her in a trying position.  She thought it was
most inconsiderate.

Hope walked slowly across the veranda when the others had gone, and
watched the carriage as long as it remained in sight.  Then she threw
herself into a big arm-chair, and looked down upon her pretty frock and
her new dancing-slippers.  She, too, felt badly used.

The moonlight fell all about her, as it had on the first night of their
arrival, a month before, but now it seemed cold and cheerless, and gave
an added sense of loneliness to the silent house.  She did not go
inside to read, as she had promised to do, but sat for the next hour
looking out across the harbor.  She could not blame Alice.  She
considered that Alice always moved by rules and precedents, like a
queen in a game of chess, and she wondered why.  It made life so tame
and uninteresting, and yet people invariably admired Alice, and some
one had spoken of her as the noblest example of the modern gentlewoman.
She was sure she could not grow up to be any thing like that.  She was
quite confident that she was going to disappoint her family.  She
wondered if people would like her better if she were discreet like
Alice, and less like her brother Ted.  If Mr. Clay, for instance, would
like her better?  She wondered if he disapproved of her riding on the
engine with MacWilliams, and of her tearing through the mines on her
pony, and spearing with a lance of sugar-cane at the mongrel curs that
ran to snap at his flanks. She remembered his look of astonished
amusement the day he had caught her in this impromptu pig-sticking, and
she felt herself growing red at the recollection.  She was sure he
thought her a tomboy.  Probably he never thought of her at all.

Hope leaned back in the chair and looked up at the stars above the
mountains and tried to think of any of her heroes and princes in
fiction who had gone through such interesting experiences as had Mr.
Clay.  Some of them had done so, but they were creatures in a book and
this hero was alive, and she knew him, and had probably made him
despise her as a silly little girl who was scolded and sent off to bed
like a disobedient child.  Hope felt a choking in her throat and
something like a tear creep to her eyes: but she was surprised to find
that the fact did not make her ashamed of herself.  She owned that she
was wounded and disappointed, and to make it harder she could not help
picturing Alice and Clay laughing and talking together in some corner
away from the ball-room, while she, who understood him so well, and who
could not find the words to tell him how much she valued what he was
and what he had done, was forgotten and sitting here alone, like
Cinderella, by the empty fireplace.

The picture was so pathetic as Hope drew it, that for a moment she felt
almost a touch of self-pity, but the next she laughed scornfully at her
own foolishness, and rising with an impatient shrug, walked away in the
direction of her room.

But before she had crossed the veranda she was stopped by the sound of
a horse's hoofs galloping over the hard sun-baked road that led from
the city, and before she had stepped forward out of the shadow in which
she stood the horse had reached the steps and his rider had pulled him
back on his haunches and swung himself off before the forefeet had
touched the ground.

Hope had guessed that it was Clay by his riding, and she feared from
his haste that some one of her people were ill.  So she ran anxiously
forward and asked if anything were wrong.

Clay started at her sudden appearance, and gave a short boyish laugh of
pleasure.

"I'm so glad you're still up," he said.  "No, nothing is wrong."  He
stopped in some embarrassment.  He had been moved to return by the fact
that the little girl he knew was in trouble, and now that he was
suddenly confronted by this older and statelier young person, his
action seemed particularly silly, and he was at a loss to explain it in
any way that would not give offence.

"No, nothing is wrong," he repeated.  "I came after something."

Clay had borrowed one of the cloaks the troopers wore at night from the
same man who had lent him the horse, and as he stood bareheaded before
her, with the cloak hanging from his shoulders to the floor and the
star and ribbon across his breast, Hope felt very grateful to him for
being able to look like a Prince or a hero in a book, and to yet remain
her Mr. Clay at the same time.

"I came to get your sister's fan," Clay explained.  "She forgot it."

The young girl looked at him for a moment in surprise and then
straightened herself slightly.  She did not know whether she was the
more indignant with Alice for sending such a man on so foolish an
errand, or with Clay for submitting to such a service.

"Oh, is that it?" she said at last.  "I will go and find you one."  She
gave him a dignified little bow and moved away toward the door, with
every appearance of disapproval.

"Oh, I don't know," she heard Clay say, doubtfully; "I don't have to go
just yet, do I?  May I not stay here a little while?"

Hope stood and looked at him in some perplexity.

"Why, yes," she answered, wonderingly.  "But don't you want to go back?
You came in a great hurry.  And won't Alice want her fan?"

"Oh, she has it by this time.  I told Stuart to find it.  She left it
in the carriage, and the carriage is waiting at the end of the plaza."

"Then why did you come?" asked Hope, with rising suspicion.

"Oh, I don't know," said Clay, helplessly.  "I thought I'd just like a
ride in the moonlight.  I hate balls and dances anyway, don't you?  I
think you were very wise not to go."

Hope placed her hands on the back of the big arm-chair and looked
steadily at him as he stood where she could see his face in the
moonlight.  "You came back," she said, "because they thought I was
crying, and they sent you to see.  Is that it?  Did Alice send you?"
she demanded.

Clay gave a gasp of consternation.

"You know that no one sent me," he said.  "I thought they treated you
abominably, and I wanted to come and say so.  That's all.  And I wanted
to tell you that I missed you very much, and that your not coming had
spoiled the evening for me, and I came also because I preferred to talk
to you than to stay where I was. No one knows that I came to see you.
I said I was going to get the fan, and I told Stuart to find it after
I'd left.  I just wanted to see you, that's all.  But I will go back
again at once."

While he had been speaking Hope had lowered her eyes from his face and
had turned and looked out across the harbor.  There was a strange,
happy tumult in her breast, and she was breathing so rapidly that she
was afraid he would notice it.  She also felt an absurd inclination to
cry, and that frightened her.  So she laughed and turned and looked up
into his face again.  Clay saw the same look in her eyes that he had
seen there the day when she had congratulated him on his work at the
mines.  He had seen it before in the eyes of other women and it
troubled him.  Hope seated herself in the big chair, and Clay tossed
his cloak on the floor at her feet and sat down with his shoulders
against one of the pillars.  He glanced up at her and found that the
look that had troubled him was gone, and that her eyes were now smiling
with excitement and pleasure.

"And did you bring me something from the ball in your pocket to comfort
me," she asked, mockingly.

"Yes, I did," Clay answered, unabashed.  "I brought you some bonbons."

"You didn't, really!" Hope cried, with a shriek of delight. "How absurd
of you!  The sort you pull?"

"The sort you pull," Clay repeated, gravely.  "And also a dance-card,
which is a relic of barbarism still existing in this Southern capital.
It has the arms of Olancho on it in gold, and I thought you might like
to keep it as a souvenir."  He pulled the card from his coat-pocket and
said, "May I have this dance?"

"You may," Hope answered.  "But you wouldn't mind if we sat it out,
would you?"

"I should prefer it," Clay said, as he scrawled his name across the
card.  "It is so crowded inside, and the company is rather mixed."
They both laughed lightly at their own foolishness, and Hope smiled
down upon him affectionately and proudly.  "You may smoke, if you
choose; and would you like something cool to drink?" she asked,
anxiously.  "After your ride, you know," she suggested, with hospitable
intent.  Clay said that he was very comfortable without a drink, but
lighted a cigar and watched her covertly through the smoke, as she sat
smiling happily and quite unconsciously upon the moonlit world around
them.  She caught Clay's eye fixed on her, and laughed lightly.

"What is it?" he said.

"Oh, I was just thinking," Hope replied, "that it was much better to
have a dance come to you, than to go to the dance."

"Does one man and a dance-card and three bonbons constitute your idea
of a ball?"

"Doesn't it?  You see, I am not out yet, I don't know."

"I should think it might depend a good deal upon the man," Clay
suggested.

"That sounds as though you were hinting," said Hope, doubtfully.  "Now
what would I say to that if I were out?"

"I don't know, but don't say it," Clay answered.  "It would probably be
something very unflattering or very forward, and in either case I
should take you back to your chaperon and leave you there."

Hope had not been listening.  Her eyes were fixed on a level with his
tie, and Clay raised his hand to it in some trepidation. "Mr. Clay,"
she began abruptly and leaning eagerly forward, "would you think me
very rude if I asked you what you did to get all those crosses?  I know
they mean something, and I do so want to know what.  Please tell me."

"Oh, those!" said Clay.  "The reason I put them on to-night is because
wearing them is supposed to be a sort of compliment to your host.  I
got in the habit abroad--"

"I didn't ask you that," said Hope, severely.  "I asked you what you
did to get them.  Now begin with the Legion of Honor on the left, and
go right on until you come to the end, and please don't skip anything.
Leave in all the bloodthirsty parts, and please don't be modest."

"Like Othello," suggested Clay.

"Yes," said Hope; "I will be Desdemona."

"Well, Desdemona, it was like this," said Clay, laughing.  "I got that
medal and that star for serving in the Nile campaign, under Wolseley.
After I left Egypt, I went up the coast to Algiers, where I took
service under the French in a most disreputable organization known as
the Foreign Legion--"

"Don't tell me," exclaimed Hope, in delight, "that you have been a
Chasseur d'Afrique!  Not like the man in 'Under Two Flags'?"

"No, not at all like that man," said Clay, emphatically.  "I was just a
plain, common, or garden, sappeur, and I showed the other
good-for-nothings how to dig trenches.  Well, I contaminated the
Foreign Legion for eight months, and then I went to Peru, where I--"

"You're skipping," said Hope.  "How did you get the Legion of Honor?"

"Oh, that?" said Clay.  "That was a gallery play I made once when we
were chasing some Arabs.  They took the French flag away from our
color-bearer, and I got it back again and waved it frantically around
my head until I was quite certain the Colonel had seen me doing it, and
then I stopped as soon as I knew that I was sure of promotion."

"Oh, how can you?" cried Hope.  "You didn't do anything of the sort.
You probably saved the entire regiment."

"Well, perhaps I did," Clay returned.  "Though I don't remember it, and
nobody mentioned it at the time."

"Go on about the others," said Hope.  "And do try to be truthful."

"Well, I got this one from Spain, because I was President of an
International Congress of Engineers at Madrid.  That was the ostensible
reason, but the real reason was because I taught the Spanish
Commissioners to play poker instead of baccarat.  The German Emperor
gave me this for designing a fort, and the Sultan of Zanzibar gave me
this, and no one but the Sultan knows why, and he won't tell.  I
suppose he's ashamed.  He gives them away instead of cigars.  He was
out of cigars the day I called."

"What a lot of places you have seen," sighed Hope.  "I have been in
Cairo and Algiers, too, but I always had to walk about with a
governess, and she wouldn't go to the mosques because she said they
were full of fleas.  We always go to Homburg and Paris in the summer,
and to big hotels in London.  I love to travel, but I don't love to
travel that way, would you?"

"I travel because I have no home," said Clay.  "I'm different from the
chap that came home because all the other places were shut.  I go to
other places because there is no home open."

"What do you mean?" said Hope, shaking her head.  "Why have you no
home?"

"There was a ranch in Colorado that I used to call home," said Clay,
"but they've cut it up into town lots.  I own a plot in the cemetery
outside of the town, where my mother is buried, and I visit that
whenever I am in the States, and that is the only piece of earth
anywhere in the world that I have to go back to."

Hope leaned forward with her hands clasped in front of her and her eyes
wide open.

"And your father?" she said, softly; "is he--is he there, too--"

Clay looked at the lighted end of his cigar as he turned it between his
fingers.

"My father, Miss Hope," he said, "was a filibuster, and went out on the
'Virginius' to help free Cuba, and was shot, against a stone wall.  We
never knew where he was buried."

"Oh, forgive me; I beg your pardon," said Hope.  There was such
distress in her voice that Clay looked at her quickly and saw the tears
in her eyes.  She reached out her hand timidly, and touched for an
instant his own rough, sunburned fist, as it lay clenched on his knee.
"I am so sorry," she said, "so sorry."  For the first time in many
years the tears came to Clay's eyes and blurred the moonlight and the
scene before him, and he sat unmanned and silent before the simple
touch of a young girl's sympathy.

An hour later, when his pony struck the gravel from beneath his hoofs
on the race back to the city, and Clay turned to wave his hand to Hope
in the doorway, she seemed, as she stood with the moonlight falling
about her white figure, like a spirit beckoning the way to a new
paradise.



VIII

Clay reached the President's Palace during the supper-hour, and found
Mr. Langham and his daughter at the President's table. Madame Alvarez
pointed to a place for him beside Alice Langham, who held up her hand
in welcome.  "You were very foolish to rush off like that," she said.

"It wasn't there," said Clay, crowding into the place beside her.

"No, it was here in the carriage all the time.  Captain Stuart found it
for me."

"Oh, he did, did he?" said Clay; "that's why I couldn't find it.  I am
hungry," he laughed, "my ride gave me an appetite." He looked over and
grinned at Stuart, but that gentleman was staring fixedly at the
candles on the table before him, his eyes filled with concern.  Clay
observed that Madame Alvarez was covertly watching the young officer,
and frowning her disapproval at his preoccupation.  So he stretched his
leg under the table and kicked viciously at Stuart's boots.  Old
General Rojas, the Vice-President, who sat next to Stuart, moved
suddenly and then blinked violently at the ceiling with an expression
of patient suffering, but the exclamation which had escaped him brought
Stuart back to the present, and he talked with the woman next him in a
perfunctory manner.

Miss Langham and her father were waiting for their carriage in the
great hall of the Palace as Stuart came up to Clay, and putting his
hand affectionately on his shoulder, began pointing to something
farther back in the hall.  To the night-birds of the streets and the
noisy fiacre drivers outside, and to the crowd of guests who stood on
the high marble steps waiting for their turn to depart, he might have
been relating an amusing anecdote of the ball just over.

"I'm in great trouble, old man," was what he said.  "I must see you
alone to-night.  I'd ask you to my rooms, but they watch me all the
time, and I don't want them to suspect you are in this until they must.
Go on in the carriage, but get out as you pass the Plaza Bolivar and
wait for me by the statue there."

Clay smiled, apparently in great amusement.  "That's very good," he
said.

He crossed over to where King stood surveying the powdered beauties of
Olancho and their gowns of a past fashion, with an intensity of
admiration which would have been suspicious to those who knew his
tastes.  "When we get into the carriage," said Clay, in a low voice,
"we will both call to Stuart that we will see him to-morrow morning at
breakfast."

"All right," assented King.  "What's up?"

Stuart helped Miss Langham into her carriage, and as it moved away King
shouted to him in English to remember that he was breakfasting with him
on the morrow, and Clay called out in Spanish, "Until to-morrow at
breakfast, don't forget."  And Stuart answered, steadily, "Good night
until to-morrow at one."

As their carriage jolted through the dark and narrow street, empty now
of all noise or movement, one of Stuart's troopers dashed by it at a
gallop, with a lighted lantern swinging at his side.  He raised it as
he passed each street crossing, and held it high above his head so that
its light fell upon the walls of the houses at the four corners.  The
clatter of his horse's hoofs had not ceased before another trooper
galloped toward them riding more slowly, and throwing the light of his
lantern over the trunks of the trees that lined the pavements.  As the
carriage passed him, he brought his horse to its side with a jerk of
the bridle, and swung his lantern in the faces of its occupants.

"Who lives?" he challenged.

"Olancho," Clay replied.

"Who answers?"

"Free men," Clay answered again, and pointed at the star on his coat.

The soldier muttered an apology, and striking his heels into his
horse's side, dashed noisily away, his lantern tossing from side to
side, high in the air, as he drew rein to scan each tree and passed
from one lamp-post to the next.

"What does that mean?" said Mr. Langham; "did he take us for
highwaymen?"

"It is the custom," said Clay.  "We are out rather late, you see."

"If I remember rightly, Clay," said King, "they gave a ball at Brussels
on the eve of Waterloo."

"I believe they did," said Clay, smiling.  He spoke to the driver to
stop the carriage, and stepped down into the street.

"I have to leave you here," he said; "drive on quickly, please; I can
explain better in the morning."

The Plaza Bolivar stood in what had once been the centre of the
fashionable life of Olancho, but the town had moved farther up the
hill, and it was now far in the suburbs, its walks neglected and its
turf overrun with weeds.  The houses about it had fallen into disuse,
and the few that were still occupied at the time Clay entered it showed
no sign of life.  Clay picked his way over the grass-grown paths to the
statue of Bolivar, the hero of the sister republic of Venezuela, which
still stood on its pedestal in a tangle of underbrush and hanging
vines.  The iron railing that had once surrounded it was broken down,
and the branches of the trees near were black with sleeping buzzards.
Two great palms reared themselves in the moonlight at either side, and
beat their leaves together in the night wind, whispering and murmuring
together like two living conspirators.

"This ought to be safe enough," Clay murmured to himself. "It's just
the place for plotting.  I hope there are no snakes."  He seated
himself on the steps of the pedestal, and lighting a cigar, remained
smoking and peering into the shadows about him, until a shadow blacker
than the darkness rose at his feet, and a voice said, sternly, "Put out
that light.  I saw it half a mile away."

Clay rose and crushed his cigar under his foot.  "Now then, old man,"
he demanded briskly, "what's up?  It's nearly daylight and we must
hurry."

Stuart seated himself heavily on the stone steps, like a man tired in
mind and body, and unfolded a printed piece of paper. Its blank side
was damp and sticky with paste.

"It is too dark for you to see this," he began, in a strained voice,
"so I will translate it to you.  It is an attack on Madame Alvarez and
myself.  They put them up during the ball, when they knew my men would
be at the Palace.  I have had them scouring the streets for the last
two hours tearing them down, but they are all over the place, in the
cafés and clubs.  They have done what they were meant to do."

Clay took another cigar from his pocket and rolled it between his lips.
"What does it say?" he asked.

"It goes over the old ground first.  It says Alvarez has given the
richest birthright of his country to aliens--that means the mines and
Langham--and has put an alien in command of the army--that is meant for
me.  I've no more to do with the army than you have--I only wish I had!
And then it says that the boundary aggressions of Ecuador and Venezuela
have not been resented in consequence.  It asks what can be expected of
a President who is as blind to the dishonor of his country as he is to
the dishonor of his own home?"

Clay muttered under his breath, "Well, go on.  Is it explicit? More
explicit than that?"

"Yes," said Stuart, grimly.  "I can't repeat it.  It is quite clear
what they mean."

"Have you got any of them?" Clay asked.  "Can you fix it on some one
that you can fight?"

"Mendoza did it, of course," Stuart answered, "but we cannot prove it.
And if we could, we are not strong enough to take him. He has the city
full of his men now, and the troops are pouring in every hour."

"Well, Alvarez can stop that, can't he?"

"They are coming in for the annual review.  He can't show the people
that he is afraid of his own army."

"What are you going to do?"

"What am I going to do?" Stuart repeated, dully.  "That is what I want
you to tell me.  There is nothing I can do now.  I've brought trouble
and insult on people who have been kinder to me than my own blood have
been.  Who took me in when I was naked and clothed me, when I hadn't a
friend or a sixpence to my name.  You remember--I came here from that
row in Colombia with my wound, and I was down with the fever when they
found me, and Alvarez gave me the appointment.  And this is how I
reward them.  If I stay I do more harm.  If I go away I leave them
surrounded by enemies, and not enemies who fight fair, but damned
thieves and scoundrels, who stab at women and who fight in the dark.  I
wouldn't have had it happen, old man, for my right arm! They--they have
been so kind to me, and I have been so happy here--and now!"  The boy
bowed his face in his hands and sat breathing brokenly while Clay
turned his unlit cigar between his teeth and peered at him curiously
through the darkness.  "Now I have made them both unhappy, and they
hate me, and I hate myself, and I have brought nothing but trouble to
every one.  First I made my own people miserable, and now I make my
best friends miserable, and I had better be dead.  I wish I were dead.
I wish I had never been born."

Clay laid his hand on the other's bowed shoulder and shook him gently.
"Don't talk like that," he said; "it does no good. Why do you hate
yourself?"

"What?" asked Stuart, wearily, without looking up.  "What did you say?"

"You said you had made them hate you, and you added that you hated
yourself.  Well, I can see why they naturally would be angry for the
time, at least.  But why do you hate yourself? Have you reason to?"

"I don't understand," said Stuart.

"Well, I can't make it any plainer," Clay replied.  "It isn't a
question I will ask.  But you say you want my advice.  Well, my advice
to my friend and to a man who is not my friend, differ. And in this
case it depends on whether what that thing--" Clay kicked the paper
which had fallen on the ground--"what that thing says is true."

The younger man looked at the paper below him and then back at Clay,
and sprang to his feet.

"Why, damn you," he cried, "what do you mean?"

He stood above Clay with both arms rigid at his side and his head bent
forward.  The dawn had just broken, and the two men saw each other in
the ghastly gray light of the morning.  "If any man," cried Stuart
thickly, "dares to say that that blackguardly lie is true I'll kill
him.  You or any one else.  Is that what you mean, damn you?  If it is,
say so, and I'll break every bone of your body."

"Well, that's much better," growled Clay, sullenly.  "The way you went
on wishing you were dead and hating yourself made me almost lose faith
in mankind.  Now you go make that speech to the President, and then
find the man who put up those placards, and if you can't find the right
man, take any man you meet and make him eat it, paste and all, and beat
him to death if he doesn't. Why, this is no time to whimper--because
the world is full of liars.  Go out and fight them and show them you
are not afraid. Confound you, you had me so scared there that I almost
thrashed you myself.  Forgive me, won't you?" he begged earnestly. He
rose and held out his hand and the other took it, doubtfully. "It was
your own fault, you young idiot," protested Clay. "You told your story
the wrong way.  Now go home and get some sleep and I'll be back in a
few hours to help you.  Look!" he said.  He pointed through the trees
to the sun that shot up like a red hot disk of heat above the cool
green of the mountains. "See," said Clay, "God has given us another
day.  Seven battles were fought in seven days once in my country.
Let's be thankful, old man, that we're NOT dead, but alive to fight our
own and other people's battles."

The younger man sighed and pressed Clay's hand again before he dropped
it.

"You are very good to me," he said.  "I'm not just quite myself this
morning.  I'm a bit nervous, I think.  You'll surely come, won't you?"

"By noon," Clay promised.  "And if it does come," he added, "don't
forget my fifteen hundred men at the mines."

"Good! I won't," Stuart replied.  "I'll call on you if I need them."
He raised his fingers mechanically to his helmet in salute, and
catching up his sword turned and strode away erect and soldierly
through the debris and weeds of the deserted plaza.

Clay remained motionless on the steps of the pedestal and followed the
younger man with his eyes.  He drew a long breath and began a leisurely
search through his pockets for his match-box, gazing about him as he
did so, as though looking for some one to whom he could speak his
feelings.  He lifted his eyes to the stern, smooth-shaven face of the
bronze statue above him that seemed to be watching Stuart's departing
figure.

"General Bolivar," Clay said, as he lit his cigar, "observe that young
man.  He is a soldier and a gallant gentleman.  You, sir, were a great
soldier--the greatest this God-forsaken country will ever know--and you
were, sir, an ardent lover.  I ask you to salute that young man as I
do, and to wish him well."  Clay lifted his high hat to the back of the
young officer as it was hidden in the hanging vines, and once again,
with grave respect to the grim features of the great general above him,
and then smiling at his own conceit, he ran lightly down the steps and
disappeared among the trees of the plaza.



IX

Clay slept for three hours.  He had left a note on the floor
instructing MacWilliams and young Langham not to go to the mines, but
to waken him at ten o'clock, and by eleven the three men were galloping
off to the city.  As they left the Palms they met Hope returning from a
morning ride on the Alameda, and Clay begged her, with much concern,
not to ride abroad again.  There was a difference in his tone toward
her.  There was more anxiety in it than the occasion seemed to justify,
and he put his request in the form of a favor to himself, while the day
previous he would simply have told her that she must not go riding
alone.

"Why?" asked Hope, eagerly.  "Is there going to be trouble?"

"I hope not," Clay said, "but the soldiers are coming in from the
provinces for the review, and the roads are not safe."

"I'd be safe with you, though," said Hope, smiling persuasively upon
the three men.  "Won't you take me with you, please?"

"Hope," said young Langham in the tone of the elder brother's brief
authority, "you must go home at once."

Hope smiled wickedly.  "I don't want to," she said.

"I'll bet you a box of cigars I can beat you to the veranda by fifty
yards," said MacWilliams, turning his horse's head.

Hope clasped her sailor hat in one hand and swung her whip with the
other.  "I think not," she cried, and disappeared with a flutter of
skirts and a scurry of flying pebbles.

"At times," said Clay, "MacWilliams shows an unexpected knowledge of
human nature."

"Yes, he did quite right," assented Langham, nodding his head
mysteriously.  "We've no time for girls at present, have we?"

"No, indeed," said Clay, hiding any sign of a smile.

Langham breathed deeply at the thought of the part he was to play in
this coming struggle, and remained respectfully silent as they trotted
toward the city.  He did not wish to disturb the plots and counterplots
that he was confident were forming in Clay's brain, and his devotion
would have been severely tried had he known that his hero's mind was
filled with a picture of a young girl in a blue shirt-waist and a
whipcord riding-skirt.

Clay sent for Stuart to join them at the restaurant, and MacWilliams
arriving at the same time, the four men seated themselves conspicuously
in the centre of the café and sipped their chocolate as though
unconscious of any imminent danger, and in apparent freedom from all
responsibilities and care.  While MacWilliams and Langham laughed and
disputed over a game of dominoes, the older men exchanged, under cover
of their chatter, the few words which they had met to speak.

The manifestoes, Stuart said, had failed of their purpose.  He had
already called upon the President, and had offered to resign his
position and leave the country, or to stay and fight his maligners, and
take up arms at once against Mendoza's party. Alvarez had treated him
like a son, and bade him be patient.  He held that Caesar's wife was
above suspicion because she was Caesar's wife, and that no canards
posted at midnight could affect his faith in his wife or in his friend.
He refused to believe that any coup d'etat was imminent, save the one
which he himself meditated when he was ready to proclaim the country in
a state of revolution, and to assume a military dictatorship.

"What nonsense!" exclaimed Clay.  "What is a military dictatorship
without soldiers?  Can't he see that the army is with Mendoza?"

"No," Stuart replied.  "Rojas and I were with him all the morning.
Rojas is an old trump, Clay.  He's not bright and he's old-fashioned;
but he is honest.  And the people know it.  If I had Rojas for a chief
instead of Alvarez, I'd arrest Mendoza with my own hand, and I wouldn't
be afraid to take him to the carcel through the streets.  The people
wouldn't help him.  But the President doesn't dare.  Not that he hasn't
pluck," added the young lieutenant, loyally, "for he takes his life in
his hands when he goes to the review tomorrow, and he knows it.  Think
of it, will you, out there alone with a field of five thousand men
around him!  Rojas thinks he can hold half of them, as many as Mendoza
can, and I have my fifty.  But you can't tell what any one of them will
do for a drink or a dollar.  They're no more soldiers than these
waiters.  They're bandits in uniform, and they'll kill for the man that
pays best."

"Then why doesn't Alvarez pay them?" Clay growled.

Stuart looked away and lowered his eyes to the table.  "He hasn't the
money, I suppose," he said, evasively.  "He--he has transferred every
cent of it into drafts on Rothschild.  They are at the house now,
representing five millions of dollars in gold--and her jewels,
too--packed ready for flight."

"Then he does expect trouble?" said Clay.  "You told me--"

"They're all alike; you know them," said Stuart.  "They won't believe
they're in danger until the explosion comes, but they always have a
special train ready, and they keep the funds of the government under
their pillows.  He engaged apartments on the Avenue Kleber six months
ago."

"Bah!" said Clay.  "It's the old story.  Why don't you quit him?"

Stuart raised his eyes and dropped them again, and Clay sighed. "I'm
sorry," he said.

MacWilliams interrupted them in an indignant stage-whisper. "Say, how
long have we got to keep up this fake game?" he asked.  "I don't know
anything about dominoes, and neither does Ted.  Tell us what you've
been saying.  Is there going to be trouble?  If there is, Ted and I
want to be in it.  We are looking for trouble."

Clay had tipped back his chair, and was surveying the restaurant and
the blazing plaza beyond its open front with an expression of cheerful
unconcern.  Two men were reading the morning papers near the door, and
two others were dragging through a game of dominoes in a far corner.
The heat of midday had settled on the place, and the waiters dozed,
with their chairs tipped back against the walls.  Outside, the awning
of the restaurant threw a broad shadow across the marble-topped tables
on the sidewalk, and half a dozen fiacre drivers slept peacefully in
their carriages before the door.

The town was taking its siesta, and the brisk step of a stranger who
crossed the tessellated floor and rapped with his knuckles on the top
of the cigar-case was the only sign of life.  The newcomer turned with
one hand on the glass case and swept the room carelessly with his eyes.
They were hard blue eyes under straight eyebrows.  Their owner was
dressed unobtrusively in a suit of rough tweed, and this and his black
hat, and the fact that he was smooth-shaven, distinguished him as a
foreigner.

As he faced them the forelegs of Clay's chair descended slowly to the
floor, and he began to smile comprehendingly and to nod his head as
though the coming of the stranger had explained something of which he
had been in doubt.  His companions turned and followed the direction of
his eyes, but saw nothing of interest in the newcomer.  He looked as
though he might be a concession hunter from the States, or a Manchester
drummer, prepared to offer six months' credit on blankets and hardware.

Clay rose and strode across the room, circling the tables in such a way
that he could keep himself between the stranger and the door.  At his
approach the new-comer turned his back and fumbled with his change on
the counter.

"Captain Burke, I believe?" said Clay.  The stranger bit the cigar he
had just purchased, and shook his head.  "I am very glad to see you,"
Clay continued.  "Sit down, won't you?  I want to talk with you."

"I think you've made a mistake," the stranger answered, quietly.  "My
name is--"

"Colonel, perhaps, then," said Clay.  "I might have known it. I
congratulate you, Colonel."

The man looked at Clay for an instant, with the cigar clenched between
his teeth and his blue eyes fixed steadily on the other's face.  Clay
waved his hand again invitingly toward a table, and the man shrugged
his shoulders and laughed, and, pulling a chair toward him, sat down.

"Come over here, boys," Clay called.  "I want you to meet an old friend
of mine, Captain Burke."

The man called Burke stared at the three men as they crossed the room
and seated themselves at the table, and nodded to them in silence.

"We have here," said Clay, gayly, but in a low voice, "the key to the
situation.  This is the gentleman who supplies Mendoza with the sinews
of war.  Captain Burke is a brave soldier and a citizen of my own or of
any country, indeed, which happens to have the most sympathetic
Consul-General."

Burke smiled grimly, with a condescending nod, and putting away the
cigar, took out a brier pipe and began to fill it from his
tobacco-pouch.  "The Captain is a man of few words and extremely modest
about himself," Clay continued, lightly; "so I must tell you who he is
myself.  He is a promoter of revolutions.  That is his business,--a
professional promoter of revolutions, and that is what makes me so glad
to see him again.  He knows all about the present crisis here, and he
is going to tell us all he knows as soon as he fills his pipe.  I ought
to warn you, Burke," he added, "that this is Captain Stuart, in charge
of the police and the President's cavalry troop.  So, you see, whatever
you say, you will have one man who will listen to you."

Burke crossed one short fat leg over the other, and crowded the tobacco
in the bowl of his pipe with his thumb.

"I thought you were in Chili, Clay," he said.

"No, you didn't think I was in Chili," Clay replied, kindly. "I left
Chili two years ago.  The Captain and I met there," he explained to the
others, "when Balmaceda was trying to make himself dictator.  The
Captain was on the side of the Congressionalists, and was furnishing
arms and dynamite. The Captain is always on the winning side, at least
he always has been--up to the present.  He is not a creature of
sentiment; are you, Burke?  The Captain believes with Napoleon that God
is on the side that has the heaviest artillery."

Burke lighted his pipe and drummed absentmindedly on the table with his
match-box.

"I can't afford to be sentimental," he said.  "Not in my business."

"Of course not," Clay assented, cheerfully.  He looked at Burke and
laughed, as though the sight of him recalled pleasant memories.  "I
wish I could give these boys an idea of how clever you are, Captain,"
he said.  "The Captain was the first man, for instance, to think of
packing cartridges in tubs of lard, and of sending rifles in
piano-cases.  He represents the Welby revolver people in England, and
half a dozen firms in the States, and he has his little stores in Tampa
and Mobile and Jamaica, ready to ship off at a moment's notice to any
revolution in Central America.  When I first met the Captain," Clay
continued, gleefully, and quite unmindful of the other's continued
silence, "he was starting off to rescue Arabi Pasha from the island of
Ceylon.  You may remember, boys, that when Dufferin saved Arabi from
hanging, the British shipped him to Ceylon as a political prisoner.
Well, the Captain was sent by Arabi's followers in Egypt to bring him
back to lead a second rebellion. Burke had everybody bribed at Ceylon,
and a fine schooner fitted out and a lot of ruffians to do the
fighting, and then the good, kind British Government pardoned Arabi the
day before Burke arrived in port.  And you never got a cent for it; did
you, Burke?"

Burke shook his head and frowned.

"Six thousand pounds sterling I was to have got for that," he said,
with a touch of pardonable pride in his voice, "and they set him free
the day before I got there, just as Mr. Clay tells you."

"And then you headed Granville Prior's expedition for buried treasure
off the island of Cocos, didn't you?" said Clay.  "Go on, tell them
about it.  Be sociable.  You ought to write a book about your different
business ventures, Burke, indeed you ought; but then," Clay added,
smiling, "nobody would believe you." Burke rubbed his chin,
thoughtfully, with his fingers, and looked modestly at the ceiling, and
the two younger boys gazed at him with open-mouthed interest.

"There ain't anything in buried treasure," he said, after a pause,
"except the money that's sunk in the fitting out.  It sounds good, but
it's all foolishness."

"All foolishness, eh?" said Clay, encouragingly.  "And what did you do
after Balmaceda was beaten?--after I last saw you?"

"Crespo," Burke replied, after a pause, during which he pulled gently
on his pipe.  "'Caroline Brewer'--cleared from Key West for Curacao,
with cargo of sewing-machines and ploughs--beached below
Maracaibo--thirty-five thousand rounds and two thousand rifles--at
twenty bolivars apiece."

"Of course," said Clay, in a tone of genuine appreciation.  "I might
have known you'd be in that.  He says," he explained, "that he assisted
General Crespo in Venezuela during his revolution against Guzman
Blanco's party, and loaded a tramp steamer called the 'Caroline Brewer'
at Key West with arms, which he landed safely at a place for which he
had no clearance papers, and he received forty thousand dollars in our
money for the job--and very good pay, too, I should think," commented
Clay.

"Well, I don't know," Burke demurred.  "You take in the cost of leasing
the boat and provisioning her, and the crew's wages, and the cost of
the cargo; that cuts into profits.  Then I had to stand off shore
between Trinidad and Curacao for over three weeks before I got the
signal to run in, and after that I was chased by a gun-boat for three
days, and the crazy fool put a shot clean through my engine-room.  Cost
me about twelve hundred dollars in repairs."

There was a pause, and Clay turned his eyes to the street, and then
asked, abruptly, "What are you doing now?"

"Trying to get orders for smokeless powder," Burke answered, promptly.
He met Clay's look with eyes as undisturbed as his own.  "But they
won't touch it down here," he went on.  "It doesn't appeal to 'em.
It's too expensive, and they'd rather see the smoke.  It makes them
think--"

"How long did you expect to stay here?" Clay interrupted.

"How long?" repeated Burke, like a man in a witness-box who is trying
to gain time.  "Well, I was thinking of leaving by Friday, and taking a
mule-train over to Bogota instead of waiting for the steamer to Colon."
He blew a mouthful of smoke into the air and watched it drifting toward
the door with apparent interest.

"The 'Santiago' leaves here Saturday for New York.  I guess you had
better wait over for her," Clay said.  "I'll engage your passage, and,
in the meantime, Captain Stuart here will see that they treat you well
in the cuartel."

The men around the table started, and sat motionless looking at Clay,
but Burke only took his pipe from his mouth and knocked the ashes out
on the heel of his boot.  "What am I going to the cuartel for?" he
asked.

"Well, the public good, I suppose," laughed Clay.  "I'm sorry, but it's
your own fault.  You shouldn't have shown yourself here at all."

"What have you got to do with it?" asked Burke, calmly, as he began to
refill his pipe.  He had the air of a man who saw nothing before him
but an afternoon of pleasant discourse and leisurely inactivity.

"You know what I've got to do with it," Clay replied.  "I've got our
concession to look after."

"Well, you're not running the town, too, are you?" asked Burke.

"No, but I'm going to run you out of it," Clay answered. "Now, what are
you going to do,--make it unpleasant for us and force our hand, or
drive down quietly with our friend MacWilliams here?  He is the best
one to take you, because he's not so well known."

Burke turned his head and looked over his shoulder at Stuart.

"You taking orders from Mr. Clay, to-day, Captain Stuart?" he asked.

"Yes," Stuart answered, smiling.  "I agree with Mr. Clay in whatever he
thinks right."

"Oh, well, in that case," said Burke, rising reluctantly, with a
protesting sigh, "I guess I'd better call on the American minister."

"You can't.  He's in Ecuador on his annual visit," said Clay.

"Indeed!  That's bad for me," muttered Burke, as though in much
concern.  "Well, then, I'll ask you to let me see our consul here."

"Certainly," Clay assented, with alacrity.  "Mr. Langham, this young
gentleman's father, got him his appointment, so I've no doubt he'll be
only too glad to do anything for a friend of ours."

Burke raised his eyes and looked inquiringly at Clay, as though to
assure himself that this was true, and Clay smiled back at him.

"Oh, very well," Burke said.  "Then, as I happen to be an Irishman by
the name of Burke, and a British subject, I'll try Her Majesty's
representative, and we'll see if he will allow me to be locked up
without a reason or a warrant."

"That's no good, either," said Clay, shaking his head.  "You fixed your
nationality, as far as this continent is concerned, in Rio harbor, when
Peixoto handed you over to the British admiral, and you claimed to be
an American citizen, and were sent on board the 'Detroit.'  If there's
any doubt about that we've only got to cable to Rio Janeiro--to either
legation.  But what's the use? They know me here, and they don't know
you, and I do. You'll have to go to jail and stay there."

"Oh, well, if you put it that way, I'll go," said Burke. "But," he
added, in a lower voice, "it's too late, Clay."

The expression of amusement on Clay's face, and his ease of manner,
fell from him at the words, and he pulled Burke back into the chair
again.  "What do you mean?" he asked, anxiously.

"I mean just that, it's too late," Burke answered.  "I don't mind going
to jail.  I won't be there long.  My work's all done and paid for.  I
was only staying on to see the fun at the finish, to see you fellows
made fools of."

"Oh, you're sure of that, are you?" asked Clay.

"My dear boy!" exclaimed the American, with a suggestion in his speech
of his Irish origin, as his interest rose.  "Did you ever know me to go
into anything of this sort for the sentiment of it? Did you ever know
me to back the losing side?  No.  Well, I tell you that you fellows
have no more show in this than a parcel of Sunday-school children.  Of
course I can't say when they mean to strike.  I don't know, and I
wouldn't tell you if I did.  But when they do strike there'll be no
striking back.  It'll be all over but the cheering."

Burke's tone was calm and positive.  He held the centre of the stage
now, and he looked from one to the other of the serious faces around
him with an expression of pitying amusement.

"Alvarez may get off, and so may Madame Alvarez," he added, lowering
his voice and turning his face away from Stuart.  "But not if she shows
herself in the streets, and not if she tries to take those drafts and
jewels with her."

"Oh, you know that, do you?" interrupted Clay.

"I know nothing," Burke replied.  "At least, nothing to what the rest
of them know.  That's only the gossip I pick up at headquarters.  It
doesn't concern me.  I've delivered my goods and given my receipt for
the money, and that's all I care about. But if it will make an old
friend feel any more comfortable to have me in jail, why, I'll go,
that's all."

Clay sat with pursed lips looking at Stuart.  The two boys leaned with
their elbows on the tables and stared at Burke, who was searching
leisurely through his pockets for his match-box.  From outside came the
lazy cry of a vendor of lottery tickets, and the swift, uneven patter
of bare feet, as company after company of dust-covered soldiers passed
on their way from the provinces, with their shoes swinging from their
bayonets.

Clay slapped the table with an exclamation of impatience.

"After all, this is only a matter of business," he said, "with all of
us.  What do you say, Burke, to taking a ride with me to Stuart's
rooms, and having a talk there with the President and Mr. Langham?
Langham has three millions sunk in these mines, and Alvarez has even
better reasons than that for wanting to hold his job.  What do you say?
That's better than going to jail. Tell us what they mean to do, and who
is to do it, and I'll let you name your own figure, and I'll guarantee
you that they'll meet it.  As long as you've no sentiment, you might as
well fight on the side that will pay best."

Burke opened his lips as though to speak, and then shut them again,
closely.  If the others thought that he was giving Clay's proposition a
second and more serious thought, he was quick to undeceive them.

"There ARE men in the business who do that sort of thing," he said.
"They sell arms to one man, and sell the fact that he's got them to the
deputy-marshals, and sell the story of how smart they've been to the
newspapers.  And they never make any more sales after that.  I'd look
pretty, wouldn't I, bringing stuff into this country, and getting paid
for it, and then telling you where it was hid, and everything else I
knew?  I've no sentiment, as you say, but I've got business instinct,
and that's not business.  No, I've told you enough, and if you think
I'm not safe at large, why I'm quite ready to take a ride with your
young friend here."

MacWilliams rose with alacrity, and beaming with pleasure at the
importance of the duty thrust upon him.

Burke smiled.  "The young 'un seems to like the job," he said.

"It's an honor to be associated with Captain Burke in any way," said
MacWilliams, as he followed him into a cab, while Stuart galloped off
before them in the direction of the cuartel.

"You wouldn't think so if you knew better," said Burke.  "My friends
have been watching us while we have been talking in there for the last
hour.  They're watching us now, and if I were to nod my head during
this ride, they'd throw you out into the street and set me free, if
they had to break the cab into kindling-wood while they were doing it."

MacWilliams changed his seat to the one opposite his prisoner, and
peered up and down the street in some anxiety.

"I suppose you know there's an answer to that, don't you?" he asked.
"Well, the answer is, that if you nod your head once, you lose the top
of it."

Burke gave an exclamation of disgust, and gazed at his zealous guardian
with an expression of trepidation and unconcealed disapproval.  "You're
not armed, are you?" he asked.

MacWilliams nodded.  "Why not?" he said; "these are rather heavy
weather times, just at present, thanks to you and your friends.  Why,
you seem rather afraid of fire-arms," he added, with the intolerance of
youth.

The Irish-American touched the young man on the knee, and lifted his
hat.  "My son," he said, "when your hair is as gray as that, and you
have been through six campaigns, you'll be brave enough to own that
you're afraid of fire-arms, too."



X

Clay and Langham left MacWilliams and Stuart to look after their
prisoner, and returned to the Palms, where they dined in state, and
made no reference, while the women were present, to the events of the
day.

The moon rose late that night, and as Hope watched it, from where she
sat at the dinner-table facing the open windows, she saw the figure of
a man standing outlined in silhouette upon the edge of the cliff.  He
was dressed in the uniform of a sailor, and the moonlight played along
the barrel of a rifle upon which he leaned, motionless and menacing,
like a sentry on a rampart.

Hope opened her lips to speak, and then closed them again, and smiled
with pleasurable excitement.  A moment later King, who sat on her
right, called one of the servants to his side and whispered some
instructions, pointing meanwhile at the wine upon the table.  And a
minute after, Hope saw the white figure of the servant cross the garden
and approach the sentinel.  She saw the sentry fling his gun sharply to
his hip, and then, after a moment's parley, toss it up to his shoulder
and disappear from sight among the plants of the garden.

The men did not leave the table with the ladies, as was their custom,
but remained in the dining-room, and drew their chairs closer together.

Mr. Langham would not believe that the downfall of the Government was
as imminent as the others believed it to be.  It was only after much
argument, and with great reluctance, that he had even allowed King to
arm half of his crew, and to place them on guard around the Palms.
Clay warned him that in the disorder that followed every successful
revolution, the homes of unpopular members of the Cabinet were often
burned, and that he feared, should Mendoza succeed, and Alvarez fall,
that the mob might possibly vent its victorious wrath on the Palms
because it was the home of the alien, who had, as they thought, robbed
the country of the iron mines.  Mr. Langham said he did not think the
people would tramp five miles into the country seeking vengeance.

There was an American man-of-war lying in the harbor of Truxillo, a
seaport of the republic that bounded Olancho on the south, and Clay was
in favor of sending to her captain by Weimer, the Consul, and asking
him to anchor off Valencia, to protect American interests.  The run
would take but a few hours, and the sight of the vessel's white hull in
the harbor would, he thought, have a salutary effect upon the
revolutionists.  But Mr. Langham said, firmly, that he would not ask
for help until he needed it.

"Well, I'm sorry," said Clay.  "I should very much like to have that
man-of-war here.  However, if you say no, we will try to get along
without her.  But, for the present, I think you had better imagine
yourself back in New York, and let us have an entirely free hand.
We've gone too far to drop out," he went on, laughing at the sight of
Mr. Langham's gloomy countenance. "We've got to fight them now.  It's
against human nature not to do it."

Mr. Langham looked appealingly at his son and at King.

They both smiled back at him in unanimous disapproval of his policy of
non-interference.

"Oh, very well," he said, at last.  "You gentlemen can go ahead, kill,
burn, and destroy if you wish.  But, considering the fact that it is my
property you are all fighting about, I really think I might have
something to say in the matter."  Mr. Langham gazed about him
helplessly, and shook his head.

"My doctor sends me down here from a quiet, happy home," he protested,
with humorous pathos, "that I may rest and get away from excitement,
and here I am with armed men patrolling my garden-paths, with a lot of
filibusters plotting at my own dinner-table, and a civil war likely to
break out, entirely on my account.  And Dr. Winter told me this was the
only place that would cure my nervous prostration!"

Hope joined Clay as soon as the men left the dining-room, and beckoned
him to the farther end of the veranda.  "Well, what is it?" she said.

"What is what?" laughed Clay.  He seated himself on the rail of the
veranda, with his face to the avenue and the driveway leading to the
house.  They could hear the others from the back of the house, and the
voice of young Langham, who was giving an imitation of MacWilliams, and
singing with peculiar emphasis, "There is no place like Home, Sweet
Home."

"Why are the men guarding the Palms, and why did you go to the Plaza
Bolivar this morning at daybreak?  Alice says you left them there.  I
want to know what it means.  I am nearly as old as Ted, and he knows.
The men wouldn't tell me."

"What men?"

"King's men from the 'Vesta'.  I saw some of them dodging around in the
bushes, and I went to find out what they were doing, and I walked into
fifteen of them at your office.  They have hammocks swung all over the
veranda, and a quick-firing gun made fast to the steps, and muskets
stacked all about, just like real soldiers, but they wouldn't tell me
why."

"We'll put you in the carcel," said Clay, "if you go spying on our
forces.  Your father doesn't wish you to know anything about it, but,
since you have found it out for yourself, you might as well know what
little there is to know.  It's the same story. Mendoza is getting ready
to start his revolution, or, rather, he has started it."

"Why don't you stop him?" asked Hope.

"You are very flattering," said Clay.  "Even if I could stop him, it's
not my business to do it as yet.  I have to wait until he interferes
with me, or my mines, or my workmen.  Alvarez is the man who should
stop him, but he is afraid.  We cannot do anything until he makes the
first move.  If I were the President, I'd have Mendoza shot to-morrow
morning and declare martial law. Then I'd arrest everybody I didn't
like, and levy forced loans on all the merchants, and sail away to
Paris and live happy ever after.  That's what Mendoza would do if he
caught any one plotting against him.  And that's what Alvarez should
do, too, according to his lights, if he had the courage of his
convictions, and of his education.  I like to see a man play his part
properly, don't you?  If you are an emperor, you ought to conduct
yourself like one, as our German friend does.  Or if you are a
prize-fighter, you ought to be a human bulldog. There's no such thing
as a gentlemanly pugilist, any more than there can be a virtuous
burglar.  And if you're a South American Dictator, you can't afford to
be squeamish about throwing your enemies into jail or shooting them for
treason.  The way to dictate is to dictate,--not to hide indoors all
day while your wife plots for you."

"Does she do that?" asked Hope.  "And do you think she will be in
danger--any personal danger, if the revolution comes?"

"Well, she is very unpopular," Clay answered, "and unjustly so, I
think.  But it would be better, perhaps, for her if she went as quietly
as possible, when she does go."

"Is our Captain Stuart in danger, too?" the girl continued, anxiously.
"Alice says they put up placards about him all over the city last
night.  She saw his men tearing them down as she was coming home.  What
has he done?"

"Nothing," Clay answered, shortly.  "He happens to be in a false
position, that's all.  They think he is here because he is not wanted
in his own country; that is not so.  That is not the reason he remains
here.  When he was even younger than he is now, he was wild and
foolish, and spent more money than he could afford, and lent more money
to his brother-officers, I have no doubt, than they ever paid back.  He
had to leave the regiment because his father wouldn't pay his debts,
and he has been selling his sword for the last three years to one or
another king or sultan or party all over the world, in China and
Madagascar, and later in Siam.  I hope you will be very kind to Stuart
and believe well of him, and that you will listen to no evil against
him.  Somewhere in England Stuart has a sister like you--about your
age, I mean, that loves him very dearly, and a father whose heart aches
for him, and there is a certain royal regiment that still drinks his
health with pride.  He is a lonely little chap, and he has no sense of
humor to help him out of his difficulties, but he is a very brave
gentleman.  And he is here fighting for men who are not worthy to hold
his horse's bridle, because of a woman.  And I tell you this because
you will hear many lies about him--and about her.  He serves her with
the same sort of chivalric devotion that his ancestors felt for the
woman whose ribbons they tied to their lances, and for whom they fought
in the lists."

"I understand," Hope said, softly.  "I am glad you told me.  I shall
not forget."  She sighed and shook her head.  "I wish they'd let you
manage it for them," she said.

Clay laughed.  "I fear my executive ability is not of so high an order;
besides, as I haven't been born to it, my conscience might trouble me
if I had to shoot my enemies and rob the worthy merchants.  I had
better stick to digging holes in the ground. That is all I seem to be
good for."

Hope looked up at him, quickly, in surprise.

"What do you mean by that?" she demanded.  There was a tone of such
sharp reproach in her voice that Clay felt himself put on the defensive.

"I mean nothing by it," he said.  "Your sister and I had a talk the
other day about a man's making the best of himself, and it opened my
eyes to--to many things.  It was a very healthy lesson."

"It could not have been a very healthy lesson," Hope replied, severely,
"if it makes you speak of your work slightingly, as you did then.  That
didn't sound at all natural, or like you.  It sounded like Alice.  Tell
me, did Alice say that?"

The pleasure of hearing Hope take his part against himself was so
comforting to Clay that he hesitated in answering in order to enjoy it
the longer.  Her enthusiasm touched him deeply, and he wondered if she
were enthusiastic because she was young, or because she was sure she
was right, and that he was in the wrong.

"It started this way," Clay began, carefully.  He was anxious to be
quite fair to Miss Langham, but he found it difficult to give her point
of view correctly, while he was hungering for a word that would
re-establish him in his own good opinion.  "Your sister said she did
not think very much of what I had done, but she explained kindly that
she hoped for better things from me. But what troubles me is, that I
will never do anything much better or very different in kind from the
work I have done lately, and so I am a bit discouraged about it in
consequence. You see," said Clay, "when I come to die, and they ask me
what I have done with my ten fingers, I suppose I will have to say,
'Well, I built such and such railroads, and I dug up so many tons of
ore, and opened new countries, and helped make other men rich.'  I
can't urge in my behalf that I happen to have been so fortunate as to
have gained the good-will of yourself or your sister.  That is quite
reason enough to me, perhaps, for having lived, but it might not appeal
to them.  I want to feel that I have accomplished something outside of
myself--something that will remain after I go.  Even if it is only a
breakwater or a patent coupling.  When I am dead it will not matter to
any one what I personally was, whether I was a bore or a most charming
companion, or whether I had red hair or blue.  It is the work that will
tell.  And when your sister, whose judgment is the judgment of the
outside world, more or less, says that the work is not worth while, I
naturally feel a bit discouraged.  It meant so much to me, and it hurt
me to find it meant so little to others."

Hope remained silent for some time, but the rigidity of her attitude,
and the tightness with which she pressed her lips together, showed that
her mind was deeply occupied.  They both sat silent for some few
moments, looking down toward the distant lights of the city.  At the
farther end of the double row of bushes that lined the avenue they
could see one of King's sentries passing to and fro across the roadway,
a long black shadow on the moonlit road.

"You are very unfair to yourself," the girl said at last, "and Alice
does not represent the opinion of the world, only of a very small part
of it--her own little world.  She does not know how little it is.  And
you are wrong as to what they will ask you at the end.  What will they
care whether you built railroads or painted impressionist pictures?
They will ask you 'What have you made of yourself?  Have you been fine,
and strong, and sincere?' That is what they will ask.  And we like you
because you are all of these things, and because you look at life so
cheerfully, and are unafraid.  We do not like men because they build
railroads, or because they are prime ministers.  We like them for what
they are themselves.  And as to your work!" Hope added, and then paused
in eloquent silence.  "I think it is a grand work, and a noble work,
full of hardships and self-sacrifices.  I do not know of any man who
has done more with his life than you have done with yours."  She
stopped and controlled her voice before she spoke again.  "You should
be very proud," she said.

Clay lowered his eyes and sat silent, looking down the roadway. The
thought that the girl felt what she said so deeply, and that the fact
that she had said it meant more to him than anything else in the world
could mean, left him thrilled and trembling. He wanted to reach out his
hand and seize both of hers, and tell her how much she was to him, but
it seemed like taking advantage of the truths of a confessional, or of
a child's innocent confidences.

"No, Miss Hope," he answered, with an effort to speak lightly, "I wish
I could believe you, but I know myself better than any one else can,
and I know that while my bridges may stand examination--_I_ can't."

Hope turned and looked at him with eyes full of such sweet meaning that
he was forced to turn his own away.

"I could trust both, I think," the girl said.

Clay drew a quick, deep breath, and started to his feet, as though he
had thrown off the restraint under which he had held himself.

It was not a girl, but a woman who had spoken then, but, though he
turned eagerly toward her, he stood with his head bowed, and did not
dare to read the verdict in her eyes.

The clatter of horses' hoofs coming toward them at a gallop broke in
rudely upon the tense stillness of the moment, but neither noticed it.
"How far," Clay began, in a strained voice, "how far," he asked, more
steadily, "could you trust me?"

Hope's eyes had closed for an instant, and opened again, and she smiled
upon him with a look of perfect confidence and content. The beat of the
horses' hoofs came now from the end of the driveway, and they could
hear the men at the rear of the house pushing back their chairs and
hurrying toward them.  Hope raised her head, and Clay moved toward her
eagerly.  The horses were within a hundred yards.  Before Hope could
speak, the sentry's voice rang out in a hoarse, sharp challenge, like
an alarm of fire on the silent night.  "Halt!" they heard him cry. And
as the horses tore past him, and their riders did not turn to look, he
shouted again, "Halt, damn you!" and fired.  The flash showed a splash
of red and yellow in the moonlight, and the report started into life
hundreds of echoes which carried it far out over the waters of the
harbor, and tossed it into sharp angles, and distant corners, and in an
instant a myriad of sounds answered it; the frightened cry of
night-birds, the barking of dogs in the village below, and the
footsteps of men running.

Clay glanced angrily down the avenue, and turned beseechingly to Hope.

"Go," she said.  "See what is wrong," and moved away as though she
already felt that he could act more freely when she was not near him.

The two horses fell back on their haunches before the steps, and
MacWilliams and Stuart tumbled out of their saddles, and started,
running back on foot in the direction from which the shot had come,
tugging at their revolvers.

"Come back," Clay shouted to them.  "That's all right.  He was only
obeying orders.  That's one of King's sentries."

"Oh, is that it?" said Stuart, in matter-of-fact tones, as he turned
again to the house.  "Good idea.  Tell him to fire lower next time.
And, I say," he went on, as he bowed curtly to the assembled company on
the veranda, "since you have got a picket out, you had better double
it.  And, Clay, see that no one leaves here without permission--no one.
That's more important, even, than keeping them out."

"King, will you--" Clay began.

"All right, General," laughed King, and walked away to meet his
sailors, who came running up the hill in great anxiety.

MacWilliams had not opened his lips, but he was bristling with
importance, and his effort to appear calm and soldierly, like Stuart,
told more plainly than speech that he was the bearer of some invaluable
secret.  The sight filled young Langham with a disquieting fear that he
had missed something.

Stuart looked about him, and pulled briskly at his gauntlets. King and
his sailors were grouped together on the grass before the house.  Mr.
Langham and his daughters, and Clay, were standing on the steps, and
the servants were peering around the corners of the house.

Stuart saluted Mr. Langham, as though to attract his especial
attention, and then addressed himself in a low tone to Clay.

"It's come," he said.  "We've been in it since dinner-time, and we've
got a whole night's work cut out for you."  He was laughing with
excitement, and paused for a moment to gain breath.  "I'll tell you the
worst of it first.  Mendoza has sent word to Alvarez that he wants the
men at the mines to be present at the review to-morrow.  He says they
must take part.  He wrote a most insolent letter.  Alvarez got out of
it by saying that the men were under contract to you, and that you must
give your permission first.  Mendoza sent me word that if you would not
let the men come, he would go out and fetch them in him self."

"Indeed!" growled Clay.  "Kirkland needs those men to-morrow to load
ore-cars for Thursday's steamer.  He can't spare them. That is our
answer, and it happens to be a true one, but if it weren't true, if
to-morrow was All Saints' Day, and the men had nothing to do but to lie
in the sun and sleep, Mendoza couldn't get them.  And if he comes to
take them to-morrow, he'll have to bring his army with him to do it.
And he couldn't do it then, Mr. Langham," Clay cried, turning to that
gentleman, "if I had better weapons.  The five thousand dollars I
wanted you to spend on rifles, sir, two months ago, might have saved
you several millions to-morrow."

Clay's words seemed to bear some special significance to Stuart and
MacWilliams, for they both laughed, and Stuart pushed Clay up the steps
before him.

"Come inside," he said.  "That is why we are here. MacWilliams has
found out where Burke hid his shipment of arms. We are going to try and
get them to-night."  He hurried into the dining-room, and the others
grouped themselves about the table. "Tell them about it, MacWilliams,"
Stuart commanded.  "I will see that no one overhears you."

MacWilliams was pushed into Mr. Langham's place at the head of the long
table, and the others dragged their chairs up close around him.  King
put the candles at the opposite end of the table, and set some
decanters and glasses in the centre.  "To look as though we were just
enjoying ourselves," he explained, pleasantly.

Mr. Langham, with his fine, delicate fingers beating nervously on the
table, observed the scene as an on-looker, rather than as the person
chiefly interested.  He smiled as he appreciated the incongruity of the
tableau, and the contrast which the actors presented to the situation.
He imagined how much it would amuse his contemporaries of the Union
Club, at home, if they could see him then, with the still, tropical
night outside, the candles reflected on the polished table and on the
angles of the decanters, and showing the intent faces of the young
girls and the men leaning eagerly forward around MacWilliams, who sat
conscious and embarrassed, his hair dishevelled, and his face covered
with dust, while Stuart paced up and down in the shadow, his sabre
clanking as he walked.

"Well, it happened like this," MacWilliams began, nervously, and
addressing himself to Clay.  "Stuart and I put Burke safely in a cell
by himself.  It was one of the old ones that face the street.  There
was a narrow window in it, about eight feet above the floor, and no
means of his reaching it, even if he stood on a chair.  We stationed
two troopers before the door, and sent out to a café across the street
for our dinners.  I finished mine about nine o'clock, and said 'Good
night' to Stuart, and started to come out here. I went across the
street first, however, to give the restaurant man some orders about
Burke's breakfast.  It is a narrow street, you know, with a long
garden-wall and a row of little shops on one side, and with the
jail-wall taking up all of the other side.  The street was empty when I
left the jail, except for the sentry on guard in front of it, but just
as I was leaving the restaurant I saw one of Stuart's police come out
and peer up and down the street and over at the shops.  He looked
frightened and anxious, and as I wasn't taking chances on anything, I
stepped back into the restaurant and watched him through the window.
He waited until the sentry had turned his back, and started away from
him on his post, and then I saw him drop his sabre so that it rang on
the sidewalk.  He was standing, I noticed then, directly under the
third window from the door of the jail.  That was the window of Burke's
cell.  When I grasped that fact I got out my gun and walked to the door
of the restaurant.  Just as I reached it a piece of paper shot out
through the bars of Burke's cell and fell at the policeman's feet, and
he stamped his boot down on it and looked all around again to see if
any one had noticed him.  I thought that was my cue, and I ran across
the street with my gun pointed, and shouted to him to give me the
paper.  He jumped about a foot when he first saw me, but he was game,
for he grabbed up the paper and stuck it in his mouth and began to chew
on it.  I was right up on him then, and I hit him on the chin with my
left fist and knocked him down against the wall, and dropped on him
with both knees and choked him till I made him spit out the paper--and
two teeth," MacWilliams added, with a conscientious regard for details.
"The sentry turned just then and came at me with his bayonet, but I put
my finger to my lips, and that surprised him, so that he didn't know
just what to do, and hesitated.  You see, I didn't want Burke to hear
the row outside, so I grabbed my policeman by the collar and pointed to
the jail-door, and the sentry ran back and brought out Stuart and the
guard.  Stuart was pretty mad when he saw his policeman all bloody.  He
thought it would prejudice his other men against us, but I explained
out loud that the man had been insolent, and I asked Stuart to take us
both to his private room for a hearing, and, of course, when I told him
what had happened, he wanted to punch the chap, too.  We put him
ourselves into a cell where he could not communicate with any one, and
then we read the paper.  Stuart has it," said MacWilliams, pushing back
his chair, "and he'll tell you the rest."  There was a pause, in which
every one seemed to take time to breathe, and then a chorus of
questions and explanations.

King lifted his glass to MacWilliams, and nodded.

"'Well done, Condor,'" he quoted, smiling.

"Yes," said Clay, tapping the younger man on the shoulder as he passed
him.  "That's good work.  Now show us the paper, Stuart."

Stuart pulled the candles toward him, and spread a slip of paper on the
table.

"Burke did this up in one of those paper boxes for wax matches," he
explained, "and weighted it with a twenty-dollar gold piece.
MacWilliams kept the gold piece, I believe."

"Going to use it for a scarf-pin," explained MacWilliams, in
parenthesis.  "Sort of war-medal, like the Chief's," he added, smiling.

"This is in Spanish," Stuart explained.  "I will translate it. It is
not addressed to any one, and it is not signed, but it was evidently
written to Mendoza, and we know it is in Burke's handwriting, for we
compared it with some notes of his that we took from him before he was
locked up.  He says, 'I cannot keep the appointment, as I have been
arrested.'  The line that follows here," Stuart explained, raising his
head, "has been scratched out, but we spent some time over it, and we
made out that it read:  'It was Mr. Clay who recognized me, and ordered
my arrest. He is the best man the others have.  Watch him.'  We think
he rubbed that out through good feeling toward Clay.  There seems to be
no other reason.  He's a very good sort, this old Burke, I think."

"Well, never mind him; it was very decent of him, anyway," said Clay.
"Go on.  Get to Hecuba."

"'I cannot keep the appointment, as I have been arrested,'" repeated
Stuart.  "'I landed the goods last night in safety.  I could not come
in when first signalled, as the wind and tide were both off shore.  But
we got all the stuff stored away by morning.  Your agent paid me in
full and got my receipt. Please consider this as the same thing--as the
equivalent'--it is difficult to translate it exactly," commented
Stuart--"'as the equivalent of the receipt I was to have given when I
made my report to-night.  I sent three of your guards away on my own
responsibility, for I think more than that number might attract
attention to the spot, and they might be seen from the ore-trains.'
That is the point of the note for us, of course," Stuart interrupted
himself to say.  "Burke adds," he went on, "'that they are to make no
effort to rescue him, as he is quite comfortable, and is willing to
remain in the carcel until they are established in power.'"

"Within sight of the ore-trains!" exclaimed Clay.  "There are no
ore-trains but ours.  It must be along the line of the road."

"MacWilliams says he knows every foot of land along the railroad," said
Stuart, "and he is sure the place Burke means is the old fortress on
the Platta inlet, because--"

"It is the only place," interrupted MacWilliams, "where there is no
surf.  They could run small boats up the inlet and unload in smooth
water within twenty feet of the ramparts; and another thing, that is
the only point on the line with a wagon road running direct from it to
the Capital.  It's an old road, and hasn't been travelled over for
years, but it could be used. No," he added, as though answering the
doubt in Clay's mind, "there is no other place.  If I had a map here I
could show you in a minute; where the beach is level there is a jungle
between it and the road, and wherever there is open country, there is a
limestone formation and rocks between it and the sea, where no boat
could touch."

"But the fortress is so conspicuous," Clay demurred; "the nearest
rampart is within twenty feet of the road.  Don't you remember we
measured it when we thought of laying the double track?"

"That is just what Burke says," urged Stuart.  "That is the reason he
gives for leaving only three men on guard--'I think more than that
number might attract attention to the spot, as they might be seen from
the ore-trains.'"

"Have you told any one of this?" Clay asked.  "What have you done so
far?"

"We've done nothing," said Stuart.  "We lost our nerve when we found
out how much we knew, and we decided we'd better leave it to you."

"Whatever we do must be done at once," said Clay.  "They will come for
the arms to-night, most likely, and we must be there first.  I agree
with you entirely about the place.  It is only a question now of our
being on time.  There are two things to do.  The first thing is, to
keep them from getting the arms, and the second is, if we are lucky, to
secure them for ourselves. If we can pull it off properly, we ought to
have those rifles in the mines before midnight.  If we are hurried or
surprised, we must dump them off the fort into the sea."  Clay laughed
and looked about him at the men.  "We are only following out General
Bolivar's saying 'When you want arms take them from the enemy.' Now,
there are three places we must cover.  This house, first of all," he
went on, inclining his head quickly toward the two sisters, "then the
city, and the mines.  Stuart's place, of course, is at the Palace.
King must take care of this house and those in it, and MacWilliams and
Langham and I must look after the arms.  We must organize two parties,
and they had better approach the fort from here and from the mines at
the same time. I will need you to do some telegraphing for me, Mac;
and, King, I must ask you for some more men from the yacht.  How many
have you?"

King answered that there were fifteen men still on board, ten of whom
would be of service.  He added that they were all well equipped for
fighting.

"I believe King's a pirate in business hours," Clay said, smiling.
"All right, that's good.  Now go tell ten of them to meet me at the
round-house in half an hour.  I will get MacWilliams to telegraph
Kirkland to run an engine and flat cars to within a half mile of the
fort on the north, and we will come up on it with the sailors and Ted,
here, from the south.  You must run the engine yourself, MacWilliams,
and perhaps it would be better, King, if your men joined us at the foot
of the grounds here and not at the round-house.  None of the workmen
must see our party start.  Do you agree with me?" he asked, turning to
those in the group about him.  "Has anybody any criticism to make?"

Stuart and King looked at one another ruefully and laughed.  "I don't
see what good I am doing in town," protested Stuart. "Yes, and I don't
see where I come in, either," growled King, in aggrieved tones.  "These
youngsters can't do it all; besides I ought to have charge of my own
men."

"Mutiny," said Clay, in some perplexity, "rank mutiny.  Why, it's only
a picnic.  There are but three men there.  We don't need sixteen white
men to frighten off three Olanchoans."

"I'll tell you what to do," cried Hope, with the air of having
discovered a plan which would be acceptable to every one, "let's all
go."

"Well, I certainly mean to go," said Mr. Langham, decidedly.  "So some
one else must stay here.  Ted, you will have to look after your
sisters."

The son and heir smiled upon his parent with a look of affectionate
wonder, and shook his head at him in fond and pitying disapproval.

"I'll stay," said King.  "I have never seen such ungallant conduct.
Ladies," he said, "I will protect your lives and property, and we'll
invent something exciting to do ourselves, even if we have to bombard
the Capital."

The men bade the women good-night, and left them with King and Mr.
Langham, who had been persuaded to remain overnight, while Stuart rode
off to acquaint Alvarez and General Rojas with what was going on.



XI

There was no chance for Clay to speak to Hope again, though he felt the
cruelty of having to leave her with everything between them in this
interrupted state.  But their friends stood about her, interested and
excited over this expedition of smuggled arms, unconscious of the great
miracle that had come into his life and of his need to speak to and to
touch the woman who had wrought it.  Clay felt how much more binding
than the laws of life are the little social conventions that must be
observed at times, even though the heart is leaping with joy or racked
with sorrow.  He stood within a few feet of the woman he loved, wanting
to cry out at her and to tell her all the wonderful things which he had
learned were true for the first time that night, but he was forced
instead to keep his eyes away from her face and to laugh and answer
questions, and at the last to go away content with having held her hand
for an instant, and to have heard her say "good-luck."

MacWilliams called Kirkland to the office at the other end of the
Company's wire, and explained the situation to him.  He was instructed
to run an engine and freight-cars to a point a quarter of a mile north
of the fort, and to wait there until he heard a locomotive whistle or
pistol shots, when he was to run on to the fort as quickly and as
noiselessly as possible.  He was also directed to bring with him as
many of the American workmen as he could trust to keep silent
concerning the events of the evening.  At ten o'clock MacWilliams had
the steam up in a locomotive, and with his only passenger-car in the
rear, ran it out of the yard and stopped the train at the point nearest
the cars where ten of the 'Vesta's' crew were waiting.  The sailors had
no idea as to where they were going, or what they were to do, but the
fact that they had all been given arms filled them with satisfaction,
and they huddled together at the bottom of the car smoking and
whispering, and radiant with excitement and satisfaction.

The train progressed cautiously until it was within a half mile below
the fort, when Clay stopped it, and, leaving two men on guard, stepped
off the remaining distance on the ties, his little band following
noiselessly behind him like a procession of ghosts in the moonlight.
They halted and listened from time to time as they drew near the ruins,
but there was no sound except the beating of the waves on the rocks and
the rustling of the sea-breeze through the vines and creepers about
them.

Clay motioned to the men to sit down, and, beckoning to MacWilliams,
directed him to go on ahead and reconnoitre.

"If you fire we will come up," he said.  "Get back here as soon as you
can."

"Aren't you going to make sure first that Kirkland is on the other side
of the fort?" MacWilliams whispered.

Clay replied that he was certain Kirkland had already arrived. "He had
a shorter run than ours, and he wired you he was ready to start when we
were, didn't he?" MacWilliams nodded.

"Well, then, he is there.  I can count on Kirk."

MacWilliams pulled at his heavy boots and hid them in the bushes, with
his helmet over them to mark the spot.  "I feel as though I was going
to rob a bank," he chuckled, as he waved his hand and crept off into
the underbrush.

For the first few moments the men who were left behind sat silent, but
as the minutes wore on, and MacWilliams made no sign, they grew
restless, and shifted their positions, and began to whisper together,
until Clay shook his head at them, and there was silence again until
one of them, in trying not to cough, almost strangled, and the others
tittered and those nearest pummelled him on the back.

Clay pulled out his revolver, and after spinning the cylinder under his
finger-nail, put it back in its holder again, and the men, taking this
as an encouraging promise of immediate action, began to examine their
weapons again for the twentieth time, and there was a chorus of short,
muffled clicks as triggers were drawn back and cautiously lowered and
levers shot into place and caught again.

One of the men farthest down the track raised his arm, and all turned
and half rose as they saw MacWilliams coming toward them on a run,
leaping noiselessly in his stocking feet from tie to tie.  He dropped
on his knees between Clay and Langham.

"The guns are there all right," he whispered, panting, "and there are
only three men guarding them.  They are all sitting on the beach
smoking.  I hustled around the fort and came across the whole outfit in
the second gallery.  It looks like a row of coffins, ten coffins and
about twenty little boxes and kegs.  I'm sure that means they are
coming for them to-night.  They've not tried to hide them nor to cover
them up.  All we've got to do is to walk down on the guards and tell
them to throw up their hands. It's too easy."

Clay jumped to his feet.  "Come on," he said.

"Wait till I get my boots on first," begged MacWilliams.  "I wouldn't
go over those cinders again in my bare feet for all the buried treasure
in the Spanish Main.  You can make all the noise you want; the waves
will drown it."

With MacWilliams to show them the way, the men scrambled up the outer
wall of the fort and crossed the moss-covered ramparts at the run.
Below them, on the sandy beach, were three men sitting around a
driftwood fire that had sunk to a few hot ashes.  Clay nodded to
MacWilliams.  "You and Ted can have them," he said. "Go with him,
Langham."

The sailors levelled their rifles at the three lonely figures on the
beach as the two boys slipped down the wall and fell on their hands and
feet in the sand below, and then crawled up to within a few feet of
where the men were sitting.

As MacWilliams raised his revolver one of the three, who was cooking
something over the fire, raised his head and with a yell of warning
flung himself toward his rifle.

"Up with your hands!" MacWilliams shouted in Spanish, and Langham,
running in, seized the nearest sentry by the neck and shoved his face
down between his knees into the sand.

There was a great rattle of falling stones and of breaking vines as the
sailors tumbled down the side of the fort, and in a half minute's time
the three sentries were looking with angry, frightened eyes at the
circle of armed men around them.

"Now gag them," said Clay.  "Does anybody here know how to gag a man?"
he asked.  "I don't."

"Better make him tell what he knows first," suggested Langham.

But the Spaniards were too terrified at what they had done, or at what
they had failed to do, to further commit themselves.

"Tie us and gag us," one of them begged.  "Let them find us so.  It is
the kindest thing you can do for us."

"Thank you, sir," said Clay.  "That is what I wanted to know. They are
coming to-night, then.  We must hurry."

The three sentries were bound and hidden at the base of the wall, with
a sailor to watch them.  He was a young man with a high sense of the
importance of his duties, and he enlivened the prisoners by poking them
in the ribs whenever they moved.

Clay deemed it impossible to signal Kirkland as they had arranged to
do, as they could not know now how near those who were coming for the
arms might be.  So MacWilliams was sent back for his engine, and a few
minutes later they heard it rumble heavily past the fort on its way to
bring up Kirkland and the flat cars.  Clay explored the lower chambers
of the fort and found the boxes as MacWilliams had described them.  Ten
men, with some effort, could lift and carry the larger coffin-shaped
boxes, and Clay guessed that, granting their contents to be rifles,
there must be a hundred pieces in each box, and that there were a
thousand rifles in all.

They had moved half of the boxes to the side of the track when the
train of flat cars and the two engines came crawling and twisting
toward them, between the walls of the jungle, like a great serpent,
with no light about it but the glow from the hot ashes as they fell
between the rails.  Thirty men, equally divided between Irish and
negroes, fell off the flat cars before the wheels had ceased to
revolve, and, without a word of direction, began loading the heavy
boxes on the train and passing the kegs of cartridges from hand to hand
and shoulder to shoulder.  The sailors spread out up the road that led
to the Capital to give warning in case the enemy approached, but they
were recalled before they had reason to give an alarm, and in a half
hour Burke's entire shipment of arms was on the ore-cars, the men who
were to have guarded them were prisoners in the cab of the engine, and
both trains were rushing at full speed toward the mines.  On arriving
there Kirkland's train was switched to the siding that led to the
magazine in which was stored the rack-arock and dynamite used in the
blasting.  By midnight all of the boxes were safely under lock in the
zinc building, and the number of the men who always guarded the place
for fear of fire or accident was doubled, while a reserve, composed of
Kirkland's thirty picked men, were hidden in the surrounding houses and
engine-sheds.

Before Clay left he had one of the boxes broken open, and found that it
held a hundred Mannlicher rifles.

"Good!" he said.  "I'd give a thousand dollars in gold if I could bring
Mendoza out here and show him his own men armed with his own
Mannlichers and dying for a shot at him.  How old Burke will enjoy this
when he hears of it!"

The party from the Palms returned to their engine after many promises
of reward to the men for their work "over-time," and were soon flying
back with their hearts as light as the smoke above them.

MacWilliams slackened speed as they neared the fort, and moved up
cautiously on the scene of their recent victory, but a warning cry from
Clay made him bring his engine to a sharp stop. Many lights were
flashing over the ruins and they could see in their reflection the
figures of men running over the same walls on which the lizards had
basked in undisturbed peace for years.

"They look like a swarm of hornets after some one has chucked a stone
through their nest," laughed MacWilliams.  "What shall we do now?  Go
back, or wait here, or run the blockade?"

"Oh, ride them out," said Langham; "the family's anxious, and I want to
tell them what's happened.  Go ahead."

Clay turned to the sailors in the car behind them.  "Lie down, men," he
said.  "And don't any of you fire unless I tell you to.  Let them do
all the shooting.  This isn't our fight yet, and, besides, they can't
hit a locomotive standing still, certainly not when it's going at full
speed."

"Suppose they've torn the track up?" said MacWilliams, grinning.  "We'd
look sort of silly flying through the air."

"Oh, they've not sense enough to think of that," said Clay. "Besides,
they don't know it was we who took their arms away, yet."

MacWilliams opened the throttle gently, and the train moved slowly
forward, gaining speed at each revolution of the wheels.

As the noise of its approach beat louder and louder on the air, a yell
of disappointed rage and execration rose into the night from the fort,
and a mass of soldiers swarmed upon the track, leaping up and down and
shaking the rifles in their hands.

"That sounds a little as though they thought we had something to do
with it," said MacWilliams, grimly.  "If they don't look out some one
will get hurt."

There was a flash of fire from where the mass of men stood, followed by
a dozen more flashes, and the bullets rattled on the smokestack and
upon the boiler of the engine.

"Low bridge," cried MacWilliams, with a fierce chuckle.  "Now, watch
her!"

He threw open the throttle as far as it would go, and the engine
answered to his touch like a race-horse to the whip.  It seemed to
spring from the track into the air.  It quivered and shook like a live
thing, and as it shot in between the soldiers they fell back on either
side, and MacWilliams leaned far out of his cab-window shaking his fist
at them.

"You got left, didn't you?" he shouted.  "Thank you for the
Mannlichers."

As the locomotive rushed out of the jungle, and passed the point on the
road nearest to the Palms, MacWilliams loosened three long triumphant
shrieks from his whistle and the sailors stood up and cheered.

"Let them shout," cried Clay.  "Everybody will have to know now.  It's
begun at last," he said, with a laugh of relief.

"And we took the first trick," said MacWilliams, as he ran his engine
slowly into the railroad yard.

The whistles of the engine and the shouts of the sailors had carried
far through the silence of the night, and as the men came hurrying
across the lawn to the Palms, they saw all of those who had been left
behind grouped on the veranda awaiting them.

"Do the conquering heroes come?" shouted King.

"They do," young Langham cried, joyously.  "We've got all their arms,
and they shot at us.  We've been under fire!"

"Are any of you hurt?" asked Miss Langham, anxiously, as she and the
others hurried down the steps to welcome them, while those of the
'Vesta's' crew who had been left behind looked at their comrades with
envy.

"We have been so frightened and anxious about you," said Miss Langham.

Hope held out her hand to Clay and greeted him with a quiet, happy
smile, that was in contrast to the excitement and confusion that
reigned about them.

"I knew you would come back safely," she said.  And the pressure of her
hand seemed to add "to me."



XII

The day of the review rose clear and warm, tempered by a light breeze
from the sea.  As it was a fete day, the harbor wore an air of unwonted
inactivity; no lighters passed heavily from the levees to the
merchantmen at anchor, and the warehouses along the wharves were closed
and deserted.  A thin line of smoke from the funnels of the 'Vesta'
showed that her fires were burning, and the fact that she rode on a
single anchor chain seemed to promise that at any moment she might slip
away to sea.

As Clay was finishing his coffee two notes were brought to him from
messengers who had ridden out that morning, and who sat in their
saddles looking at the armed force around the office with amused
intelligence.

One note was from Mendoza, and said he had decided not to call out the
regiment at the mines, as he feared their long absence from drill would
make them compare unfavorably with their comrades, and do him more harm
than credit.  "He is afraid of them since last night," was Clay's
comment, as he passed the note on to MacWilliams.  "He's quite right,
they might do him harm."

The second note was from Stuart.  He said the city was already wide
awake and restless, but whether this was due to the fact that it was a
fete day, or to some other cause which would disclose itself later, he
could not tell.  Madame Alvarez, the afternoon before, while riding in
the Alameda, had been insulted by a group of men around a café, who had
risen and shouted after her, one of them throwing a wine-glass into her
lap as she rode past.  His troopers had charged the sidewalk and
carried off six of the men to the carcel.  He and Rojas had urged the
President to make every preparation for immediate flight, to have the
horses put to his travelling carriage, and had warned him when at the
review to take up his position at the point nearest to his own
body-guard, and as far as possible from the troops led by Mendoza.
Stuart added that he had absolute confidence in the former.  The
policeman who had attempted to carry Burke's note to Mendoza had
confessed that he was the only traitor in the camp, and that he had
tried to work on his comrades without success. Stuart begged Clay to
join him as quickly as possible.  Clay went up the hill to the Palms,
and after consulting with Mr. Langham, dictated an order to Kirkland,
instructing him to call the men together and to point out to them how
much better their condition had been since they had entered the mines,
and to promise them an increase of wages if they remained faithful to
Mr. Langham's interests, and a small pension to any one who might be
injured "from any cause whatsoever" while serving him.

"Tell them, if they are loyal, they can live in their shacks rent free
hereafter," wrote Clay.  "They are always asking for that.  It's a
cheap generosity," he added aloud to Mr. Langham, "because we've never
been able to collect rent from any of them yet."

At noon young Langham ordered the best three horses in the stables to
be brought to the door of the Palms for Clay, MacWilliams, and himself.
Clay's last words to King were to have the yacht in readiness to put to
sea when he telephoned him to do so, and he advised the women to have
their dresses and more valuable possessions packed ready to be taken on
board.

"Don't you think I might see the review if I went on horseback?" Hope
asked.  "I could get away then, if there should be any trouble."

Clay answered with a look of such alarm and surprise that Hope laughed.

"See the review!  I should say not," he exclaimed.  "I don't even want
Ted to be there."

"Oh, that's always the way," said Hope, "I miss everything.  I think
I'll come, however, anyhow.  The servants are all going, and I'll go
with them disguised in a turban."

As the men neared Valencia, Clay turned in his saddle, and asked
Langham if he thought his sister would really venture into the town.

"She'd better not let me catch her, if she does," the fond brother
replied.

The reviewing party left the Government Palace for the Alameda at three
o'clock, President Alvarez riding on horseback in advance, and Madame
Alvarez sitting in the State carriage with one of her attendants, and
with Stuart's troopers gathered so closely about her that the men's
boots scraped against the wheels, and their numbers hid her almost
entirely from sight.

The great square in which the evolutions were to take place was lined
on its four sides by the carriages of the wealthy Olanchoans, except at
the two gates, where there was a wide space left open to admit the
soldiers.  The branches of the trees on the edges of the bare parade
ground were black with men and boys, and the balconies and roofs of the
houses that faced it were gay with streamers and flags, and alive with
women wrapped for the occasion in their colored shawls.  Seated on the
grass between the carriages, or surging up and down behind them, were
thousands of people, each hurrying to gain a better place of vantage,
or striving to hold the one he had, and forming a restless, turbulent
audience in which all individual cries were lost in a great murmur of
laughter, and calls, and cheers.  The mass knit together, and pressed
forward as the President's band swung jauntily into the square and
halted in one corner, and a shout of expectancy went up from the trees
and housetops as the President's body-guard entered at the lower gate,
and the broken place in its ranks showed that it was escorting the
State carriage.  The troopers fell back on two sides, and the carriage,
with the President riding at its head, passed on, and took up a
position in front of the other carriages, and close to one of the sides
of the hollow square.  At Stuart's orders Clay, MacWilliams, and
Langham had pushed their horses into the rear rank of cavalry, and
remained wedged between the troopers within twenty feet of where Madame
Alvarez was sitting.  She was very white, and the powder on her face
gave her an added and unnatural pallor.  As the people cheered her
husband and herself she raised her head slightly and seemed to be
trying to catch any sound of dissent in their greeting, or some
possible undercurrent of disfavor, but the welcome appeared to be both
genuine and hearty, until a second shout smothered it completely as the
figure of old General Rojas, the Vice-President, and the most dearly
loved by the common people, came through the gate at the head of his
regiment.  There was such greeting for him that the welcome to the
President seemed mean in comparison, and it was with an embarrassment
which both felt that the two men drew near together, and each leaned
from his saddle to grasp the other's hand.  Madame Alvarez sank back
rigidly on her cushions, and her eyes flashed with anticipation and
excitement.  She drew her mantilla a little closer about her shoulders,
with a nervous shudder as though she were cold.  Suddenly the look of
anxiety in her eyes changed to one of annoyance, and she beckoned Clay
imperiously to the side of the carriage.

"Look," she said, pointing across the square.  "If I am not mistaken
that is Miss Langham, Miss Hope.  The one on the black horse--it must
be she, for none of the native ladies ride.  It is not safe for her to
be here alone.  Go," she commanded, "bring her here to me.  Put her
next to the carriage, or perhaps she will be safer with you among the
troopers."

Clay had recognized Hope before Madame Alvarez had finished speaking,
and dashed off at a gallop, skirting the line of carriages.  Hope had
stopped her horse beside a victoria, and was talking to the native
women who occupied it, and who were scandalized at her appearance in a
public place with no one but a groom to attend her.

"Why, it's the same thing as a polo match," protested Hope, as Clay
pulled up angrily beside the victoria.  "I always ride over to polo
alone at Newport, at least with James," she added, nodding her head
toward the servant.

The man approached Clay and touched his hat apologetically, "Miss Hope
would come, sir," he said, "and I thought I'd better be with her than
to go off and tell Mr. Langham, sir.  I knew she wouldn't wait for me."

"I asked you not to come," Clay said to Hope, in a low voice.

"I wanted to know the worst at once," she answered.  "I was anxious
about Ted--and you."

"Well, it can't be helped now," he said.  "Come, we must hurry, here is
our friend, the enemy."  He bowed to their acquaintances in the
victoria and they trotted briskly off to the side of the President's
carriage, just as a yell arose from the crowd that made all the other
shouts which had preceded it sound like the cheers of children at
recess.

"It reminds me of a football match," whispered young Langham,
excitedly, "when the teams run on the field.  Look at Alvarez and Rojas
watching Mendoza."

Mendoza advanced at the front of his three troops of cavalry, looking
neither to the left nor right, and by no sign acknowledging the fierce
uproarious greeting of the people. Close behind him came his chosen
band of cowboys and ruffians. They were the best equipped and least
disciplined soldiers in the army, and were, to the great relief of the
people, seldom seen in the city, but were kept moving in the mountain
passes and along the coast line, on the lookout for smugglers with whom
they were on the most friendly terms.  They were a picturesque body of
blackguards, in their hightopped boots and silver-tipped sombreros and
heavy, gaudy saddles, but the shout that had gone up at their advance
was due as much to the fear they inspired as to any great love for them
or their chief.

"Now all the chessmen are on the board, and the game can begin," said
Clay.  "It's like the scene in the play, where each man has his sword
at another man's throat and no one dares make the first move."  He
smiled as he noted, with the eye of one who had seen Continental troops
in action, the shuffling steps and slovenly carriage of the half-grown
soldiers that followed Mendoza's cavalry at a quick step.  Stuart's
picked men, over whom he had spent many hot and weary hours, looked
like a troop of Life Guardsmen in comparison.  Clay noted their
superiority, but he also saw that in numbers they were most woefully at
a disadvantage.

It was a brilliant scene for so modest a capital.  The sun flashed on
the trappings of the soldiers, on the lacquer and polished metal work
of the carriages; and the Parisian gowns of their occupants and the
fluttering flags and banners filled the air with color and movement,
while back of all, framing the parade ground with a band of black, was
the restless mob of people applauding the evolutions, and cheering for
their favorites, Alvarez, Mendoza, and Rojas, moved by an excitement
that was in disturbing contrast to the easy good-nature of their usual
manner.

The marching and countermarching of the troops had continued with
spirit for some time, and there was a halt in the evolutions which left
the field vacant, except for the presence of Mendoza's cavalrymen, who
were moving at a walk along one side of the quadrangle.  Alvarez and
Vice-President Rojas, with Stuart, as an adjutant at their side, were
sitting their horses within some fifty yards of the State carriage and
the body-guard.  Alvarez made a conspicuous contrast in his black coat
and high hat to the brilliant greens and reds of his generals'
uniforms, but he sat his saddle as well as either of the others, and
his white hair, white imperial and mustache, and the dignity of his
bearing distinguished him above them both.  Little Stuart, sitting at
his side, with his blue eyes glaring from under his white helmet and
his face burned to almost as red a tint as his curly hair, looked like
a fierce little bull-dog in comparison.  None of the three men spoke as
they sat motionless and quite alone waiting for the next movement of
the troops.

It proved to be one of moment.  Even before Mendoza had ridden toward
them with his sword at salute, Clay gave an exclamation of
enlightenment and concern.  He saw that the men who were believed to be
devoted to Rojas, had been halted and left standing at the farthest
corner of the plaza, nearly two hundred yards from where the President
had taken his place, that Mendoza's infantry surrounded them on every
side, and that Mendoza's cowboys, who had been walking their horses,
had wheeled and were coming up with an increasing momentum, a flying
mass of horses and men directed straight at the President himself.

Mendoza galloped up to Alvarez with his sword still in salute. His eyes
were burning with excitement and with the light of success.  No one but
Stuart and Rojas heard his words; to the spectators and to the army he
appeared as though he was, in his capacity of Commander-in-Chief,
delivering some brief report, or asking for instructions.

"Dr. Alvarez," he said, "as the head of the army I arrest you for high
treason; you have plotted to place yourself in office without popular
election.  You are also accused of large thefts of public funds.  I
must ask you to ride with me to the military prison.  General Rojas, I
regret that as an accomplice of the President's, you must come with us
also.  I will explain my action to the people when you are safe in
prison, and I will proclaim martial law.  If your troops attempt to
interfere, my men have orders to fire on them and you."

Stuart did not wait for his sentence.  He had heard the heavy beat of
the cavalry coming up on them at a trot.  He saw the ranks open and two
men catch at each bridle rein of both Alvarez and Rojas and drag them
on with them, buried in the crush of horses about them, and swept
forward by the weight and impetus of the moving mass behind.  Stuart
dashed off to the State carriage and seized the nearest of the horses
by the bridle.  "To the Palace!" he shouted to his men.  "Shoot any one
who tries to stop you.  Forward, at a gallop," he commanded.

The populace had not discovered what had occurred until it was
finished.  The coup d'etat had been long considered and the manner in
which it was to be carried out carefully planned.  The cavalry had
swept across the parade ground and up the street before the people saw
that they carried Rojas and Alvarez with them.  The regiment commanded
by Rojas found itself hemmed in before and behind by Mendoza's two
regiments.  They were greatly outnumbered, but they fired a scattering
shot, and following their captured leader, broke through the line
around them and pursued the cavalry toward the military prison.

It was impossible to tell in the uproar which followed how many or how
few had been parties to the plot.  The mob, shrieking and shouting and
leaping in the air, swarmed across the parade ground, and from a dozen
different points men rose above the heads of the people and harangued
them in violent speeches.  And while some of the soldiers and the
citizens gathered anxiously about these orators, others ran through the
city calling for the rescue of the President, for an attack on the
palace, and shrieking "Long live the Government!" and "Long live the
Revolution!"  The State carriage raced through the narrow streets with
its body-guard galloping around it, sweeping down in its rush stray
pedestrians, and scattering the chairs and tables in front of the
cafés.  As it dashed up the long avenue of the palace, Stuart called
his men back and ordered them to shut and barricade the great iron
gates and to guard them against the coming of the mob, while
MacWilliams and young Langham pulled open the carriage door and
assisted the President's wife and her terrified companion to alight.
Madame Alvarez was trembling with excitement as she leaned on Langham's
arm, but she showed no signs of fear in her face or in her manner.

"Mr. Clay has gone to bring your travelling carriage to the rear door,"
Langham said.  "Stuart tells us it is harnessed and ready.  You will
hurry, please, and get whatever you need to carry with you.  We will
see you safely to the coast."

As they entered the hall, and were ascending the great marble stairway,
Hope and her groom, who had followed in the rear of the cavalry, came
running to meet them.  "I got in by the back way," Hope explained.
"The streets there are all deserted. How can I help you?" she asked,
eagerly.

"By leaving me," cried the older woman.  "Good God, child, have I not
enough to answer for without dragging you into this? Go home at once
through the botanical garden, and then by way of the wharves.  That
part of the city is still empty."

"Where are your servants; why are they not here?" Hope demanded without
heeding her.  The palace was strangely empty; no footsteps came running
to greet them, no doors opened or shut as they hurried to Madame
Alvarez's apartments.  The servants of the household had fled at the
first sound of the uproar in the city, and the dresses and ornaments
scattered on the floor told that they had not gone empty-handed.  The
woman who had accompanied Madame Alvarez to the review sank weeping on
the bed, and then, as the shouts grew suddenly louder and more near,
ran to hide herself in the upper stories of the house.  Hope crossed to
the window and saw a great mob of soldiers and citizens sweep around
the corner and throw themselves against the iron fence of the palace.
"You will have to hurry," she said.  "Remember, you are risking the
lives of those boys by your delay."

There was a large bed in the room, and Madame Alvarez had pulled it
forward and was bending over a safe that had opened in the wall, and
which had been hidden by the head board of the bed. She held up a
bundle of papers in her hand, wrapped in a leather portfolio.  "Do you
see these?" she cried, "they are drafts for five millions of dollars."
She tossed them back into the safe and swung the door shut.

"You are a witness.  I do not take them," she said.

"I don't understand," Hope answered, "but hurry.  Have you everything
you want--have you your jewels?"

"Yes," the woman answered, as she rose to her feet, "they are mine."

A yell more loud and terrible than any that had gone before rose from
the garden below, and there was the sound of iron beating against iron,
and cries of rage and execration from a great multitude.

"I will not go!" the Spanish woman cried, suddenly.  "I will not leave
Alvarez to that mob.  If they want to kill me, let them kill me."  She
threw the bag that held her jewels on the bed, and pushing open the
window stepped out upon the balcony.  She was conspicuous in her black
dress against the yellow stucco of the wall, and in an instant the mob
saw her and a mad shout of exultation and anger rose from the mass that
beat and crushed itself against the high iron railings of the garden.
Hope caught the woman by the skirt and dragged her back.  "You are
mad," she said.  "What good can you do your husband here?  Save
yourself and he will come to you when he can.  There is nothing you can
do for him now; you cannot give your life for him.  You are wasting it,
and you are risking the lives of the men who are waiting for us below.
Come, I tell you."

MacWilliams left Clay waiting beside the diligence and ran from the
stable through the empty house and down the marble stairs to the garden
without meeting any one on his way.  He saw Stuart helping and
directing his men to barricade the gates with iron urns and garden
benches and sentry-boxes.  Outside the mob were firing at him with
their revolvers, and calling him foul names, but Stuart did not seem to
hear them.  He greeted MacWilliams with a cheerful little laugh.
"Well," he asked, "is she ready?"

"No, but we are.  Clay and I've been waiting there for five minutes.
We found Miss Hope's groom and sent him back to the Palms with a
message to King.  We told him to run the yacht to Los Bocos and lie off
shore until we came.  He is to take her on down the coast to Truxillo,
where our man-of-war is lying, and they will give her shelter as a
political refugee."

"Why don't you drive her to the Palms at once?" demanded Stuart,
anxiously, "and take her on board the yacht there?  It is ten miles to
Bocos and the roads are very bad."

"Clay says we could never get her through the city," MacWilliams
answered.  "We should have to fight all the way. But the city to the
south is deserted, and by going out by the back roads, we can make
Bocos by ten o'clock to-night.  The yacht should reach there by seven."

"You are right; go back.  I will call off some of my men.  The rest
must hold this mob back until you start; then I will follow with the
others.  Where is Miss Hope?"

"We don't know.  Clay is frantic.  Her groom says she is somewhere in
the palace."

"Hurry," Stuart commanded.  "If Mendoza gets here before Madame Alvarez
leaves, it will be too late."

MacWilliams sprang up the steps of the palace, and Stuart, calling to
the men nearest him to follow, started after him on a run.

As Stuart entered the palace with his men at his heels, Clay was
hurrying from its rear entrance along the upper hall, and Hope and
Madame Alvarez were leaving the apartments of the latter at its front.
They met at the top of the main stairway just as Stuart put his foot on
its lower step.  The young Englishman heard the clatter of his men
following close behind him and leaped eagerly forward.  Half way to the
top the noise behind him ceased, and turning his head quickly he looked
back over his shoulder and saw that the men had halted at the foot of
the stairs and stood huddled together in disorder looking up at him.
Stuart glanced over their heads and down the hallway to the garden
beyond to see if they were followed, but the mob still fought from the
outer side of the barricade.  He waved his sword impatiently and
started forward again.  "Come on!" he shouted. But the men below him
did not move.  Stuart halted once more and this time turned about and
looked down upon them with surprise and anger.  There was not one of
them he could not have called by name.  He knew all their little
troubles, their love-affairs, even.  They came to him for comfort and
advice, and to beg for money.  He had regarded them as his children,
and he was proud of them as soldiers because they were the work of his
hands.

So, instead of a sharp command, he asked, "What is it?" in surprise,
and stared at them wondering.  He could not or would not comprehend,
even though he saw that those in the front rank were pushing back and
those behind were urging them forward.  The muzzles of their carbines
were directed at every point, and on their faces fear and hate and
cowardice were written in varying likenesses.

"What does this mean?" Stuart demanded, sharply.  "What are you waiting
for?"

Clay had just reached the top of the stairs.  He saw Madame Alvarez and
Hope coming toward him, and at the sight of Hope he gave an exclamation
of relief.

Then his eyes turned and fell on the tableau below, on Stuart's back,
as he stood confronting the men, and on their scowling upturned faces
and half-lifted carbines.  Clay had lived for a longer time among
Spanish-Americans than had the English subaltern, or else he was the
quicker of the two to believe in evil and ingratitude, for he gave a
cry of warning, and motioned the women away.

"Stuart!" he cried.  "Come away; for God's sake, what are you doing?
Come back!"

The Englishman started at the sound of his friend's voice, but he did
not turn his head.  He began to descend the stairs slowly, a step at a
time, staring at the mob so fiercely that they shrank back before the
look of wounded pride and anger in his eyes. Those in the rear raised
and levelled their rifles.  Without taking his eyes from theirs, Stuart
drew his revolver, and with his sword swinging from its wrist-strap,
pointed his weapon at the mass below him.

"What does this mean?" he demanded.  "Is this mutiny?"

A voice from the rear of the crowd of men shrieked:  "Death to the
Spanish woman.  Death to all traitors.  Long live Mendoza," and the
others echoed the cry in chorus.

Clay sprang down the broad stairs calling, "Come to me;" but before he
could reach Stuart, a woman's voice rang out, in a long terrible cry of
terror, a cry that was neither a prayer nor an imprecation, but which
held the agony of both.  Stuart started, and looked up to where Madame
Alvarez had thrown herself toward him across the broad balustrade of
the stairway.  She was silent with fear, and her hand clutched at the
air, as she beckoned wildly to him.  Stuart stared at her with a
troubled smile and waved his empty hand to reassure her.  The movement
was final, for the men below, freed from the reproach of his eyes,
flung up their carbines and fired, some wildly, without placing their
guns at rest, and others steadily and aiming straight at his heart.

As the volley rang out and the smoke drifted up the great staircase,
the subaltern's hands tossed high above his head, his body sank into
itself and toppled backward, and, like a tired child falling to sleep,
the defeated soldier of fortune dropped back into the outstretched arms
of his friend.

Clay lifted him upon his knee, and crushed him closer against his
breast with one arm, while he tore with his free hand at the stock
about the throat and pushed his fingers in between the buttons of the
tunic.  They came forth again wet and colored crimson.

"Stuart!" Clay gasped.  "Stuart, speak to me, look at me!" He shook the
body in his arms with fierce roughness, peering into the face that
rested on his shoulder, as though he could command the eyes back again
to light and life.  "Don't leave me!" he said.  "For God's sake, old
man, don't leave me!"

But the head on his shoulder only sank the closer and the body
stiffened in his arms.  Clay raised his eyes and saw the soldiers still
standing, irresolute and appalled at what they had done, and awe-struck
at the sight of the grief before them.

Clay gave a cry as terrible as the cry of a woman who has seen her
child mangled before her eyes, and lowering the body quickly to the
steps, he ran at the scattering mass below him.  As he came they fled
down the corridor, shrieking and calling to their friends to throw open
the gates and begging them to admit the mob.  When they reached the
outer porch they turned, encouraged by the touch of numbers, and halted
to fire at the man who still followed them.

Clay stopped, with a look in his eyes which no one who knew them had
ever seen there, and smiled with pleasure in knowing himself a master
in what he had to do.  And at each report of his revolver one of
Stuart's assassins stumbled and pitched heavily forward on his face.
Then he turned and walked slowly back up the hall to the stairway like
a man moving in his sleep.  He neither saw nor heard the bullets that
bit spitefully at the walls about him and rattled among the glass
pendants of the great chandeliers above his head.  When he came to the
step on which the body lay he stooped and picked it up gently, and
holding it across his breast, strode on up the stairs.  MacWilliams and
Langham were coming toward him, and saw the helpless figure in his arms.

"What is it?" they cried; "is he wounded, is he hurt?"

"He is dead," Clay answered, passing on with his burden.  "Get Hope
away."

Madame Alvarez stood with the girl's arms about her, her eyes closed
and her figure trembling.

"Let me be!" she moaned.  "Don't touch me; let me die.  My God, what
have I to live for now?"  She shook off Hope's supporting arm, and
stood before them, all her former courage gone, trembling and shivering
in agony.  "I do not care what they do to me!" she cried.  She tore her
lace mantilla from her shoulders and threw it on the floor.  "I shall
not leave this place.  He is dead.  Why should I go?  He is dead.  They
have murdered him; he is dead."

"She is fainting," said Hope.  Her voice was strained and hard.

To her brother she seemed to have grown suddenly much older, and he
looked to her to tell him what to do.

"Take hold of her," she said.  "She will fall."  The woman sank back
into the arms of the men, trembling and moaning feebly.

"Now carry her to the carriage," said Hope.  "She has fainted; it is
better; she does not know what has happened."

Clay, still bearing the body in his arms, pushed open the first door
that stood ajar before him with his foot.  It opened into the great
banqueting hall of the palace, but he could not choose.

He had to consider now the safety of the living, whose lives were still
in jeopardy.

The long table in the centre of the hall was laid with places for many
people, for it had been prepared for the President and the President's
guests, who were to have joined with him in celebrating the successful
conclusion of the review.  From outside the light of the sun, which was
just sinking behind the mountains, shone dimly upon the silver on the
board, on the glass and napery, and the massive gilt centre-pieces
filled with great clusters of fresh flowers.  It looked as though the
servants had but just left the room.  Even the candles had been lit in
readiness, and as their flames wavered and smoked in the evening breeze
they cast uncertain shadows on the walls and showed the stern faces of
the soldier presidents frowning down on the crowded table from their
gilded frames.

There was a great leather lounge stretching along one side of the hall,
and Clay moved toward this quickly and laid his burden down.  He was
conscious that Hope was still following him.  He straightened the limbs
of the body and folded the arms across the breast and pressed his hand
for an instant on the cold hands of his friend, and then whispering
something between his lips, turned and walked hurriedly away.

Hope confronted him in the doorway.  She was sobbing silently. "Must we
leave him," she pleaded, "must we leave him--like this?"

From the garden there came the sound of hammers ringing on the iron
hinges, and a great crash of noises as the gate fell back from its
fastenings, and the mob rushed over the obstacles upon which it had
fallen.  It seemed as if their yells of exultation and anger must reach
even the ears of the dead man.

"They are calling Mendoza," Clay whispered, "he must be with them.
Come, we will have to run for our lives now."

But before he could guess what Hope was about to do, or could prevent
her, she had slipped past him and picked up Stuart's sword that had
fallen from his wrist to the floor, and laid it on the soldier's body,
and closed his hands upon its hilt.  She glanced quickly about her as
though looking for something, and then with a sob of relief ran to the
table, and sweeping it of an armful of its flowers, stepped swiftly
back again to the lounge and heaped them upon it.

"Come, for God's sake, come!" Clay called to her in a whisper from the
door.

Hope stood for an instant staring at the young Englishman as the
candle-light flickered over his white face, and then, dropping on her
knees, she pushed back the curly hair from about the boy's forehead and
kissed him.  Then, without turning to look again, she placed her hand
in Clay's and he ran with her, dragging her behind him down the length
of the hall, just as the mob entered it on the floor below them and
filled the palace with their shouts of triumph.

As the sun sank lower its light fell more dimly on the lonely figure in
the vast dining-hall, and as the gloom deepened there, the candles
burned with greater brilliancy, and the faces of the portraits shone
more clearly.

They seemed to be staring down less sternly now upon the white mortal
face of the brother-in-arms who had just joined them.

One who had known him among his own people would have seen in the
attitude and in the profile of the English soldier a likeness to his
ancestors of the Crusades who lay carved in stone in the village
church, with their faces turned to the sky, their faithful hounds
waiting at their feet, and their hands pressed upward in prayer.

And when, a moment later, the half-crazed mob of men and boys swept
into the great room, with Mendoza at their head, something of the
pathos of the young Englishman's death in his foreign place of exile
must have touched them, for they stopped appalled and startled, and
pressed back upon their fellows, with eager whispers.  The
Spanish-American General strode boldly forward, but his eyes lowered
before the calm, white face, and either because the lighted candles and
the flowers awoke in him some memory of the great Church that had
nursed him, or because the jagged holes in the soldier's tunic appealed
to what was bravest in him, he crossed himself quickly, and then
raising his hands slowly to his visor, lifted his hat and pointed with
it to the door.  And the mob, without once looking back at the rich
treasure of silver on the table, pushed out before him, stepping
softly, as though they had intruded on a shrine.



XIII

The President's travelling carriage was a double-seated diligence
covered with heavy hoods and with places on the box for two men. Only
one of the coachmen, the same man who had driven the State carriage
from the review, had remained at the stables.  As he knew the roads to
Los Bocos, Clay ordered him up to the driver's seat, and MacWilliams
climbed into the place beside him after first storing three rifles
under the lap-robe.

Hope pulled open the leather curtains of the carriage and found Madame
Alvarez where the men had laid her upon the cushions, weak and
hysterical.  The girl crept in beside her, and lifting her in her arms,
rested the older woman's head against her shoulder, and soothed and
comforted her with tenderness and sympathy.

Clay stopped with his foot in the stirrup and looked up anxiously at
Langham who was already in the saddle.

"Is there no possible way of getting Hope out of this and back to the
Palms?" he asked.

"No, it's too late.  This is the only way now."  Hope opened the
leather curtains and looking out shook her head impatiently at Clay.
"I wouldn't go now if there were another way," she said.  "I couldn't
leave her like this."

"You're delaying the game, Clay," cried Langham, warningly, as he stuck
his spurs into his pony's side.

The people in the diligence lurched forward as the horses felt the lash
of the whip and strained against the harness, and then plunged ahead at
a gallop on their long race to the sea.  As they sped through the
gardens, the stables and the trees hid them from the sight of those in
the palace, and the turf, upon which the driver had turned the horses
for greater safety, deadened the sound of their flight.

They found the gates of the botanical gardens already opened, and Clay,
in the street outside, beckoning them on.  Without waiting for the
others the two outriders galloped ahead to the first cross street,
looked up and down its length, and then, in evident concern at what
they saw in the distance, motioned the driver to greater speed, and
crossing the street signalled him to follow them.  At the next corner
Clay flung himself off his pony, and throwing the bridle to Langham,
ran ahead into the cross street on foot, and after a quick glance
pointed down its length away from the heart of the city to the
mountains.

The driver turned as Clay directed him, and when the man found that his
face was fairly set toward the goal he lashed his horses recklessly
through the narrow street, so that the murmur of the mob behind them
grew perceptibly fainter at each leap forward.

The noise of the galloping hoofs brought women and children to the
barred windows of the houses, but no men stepped into the road to stop
their progress, and those few they met running in the direction of the
palace hastened to get out of their way, and stood with their backs
pressed against the walls of the narrow thoroughfare looking after them
with wonder.

Even those who suspected their errand were helpless to detain them, for
sooner than they could raise the hue and cry or formulate a plan of
action, the carriage had passed and was disappearing in the distance,
rocking from wheel to wheel like a ship in a gale.  Two men who were so
bold as to start to follow, stopped abruptly when they saw the
outriders draw rein and turn in their saddles as though to await their
coming.

Clay's mind was torn with doubts, and his nerves were drawn taut like
the strings of a violin.  Personal danger exhilarated him, but this
chance of harm to others who were helpless, except for him, depressed
his spirit with anxiety.  He experienced in his own mind all the
nervous fears of a thief who sees an officer in every passing citizen,
and at one moment he warned the driver to move more circumspectly, and
so avert suspicion, and the next urged him into more desperate bursts
of speed.  In his fancy every cross street threatened an ambush, and as
he cantered now before and now behind the carriage, he wished that he
was a multitude of men who could encompass it entirely and hide it.

But the solid streets soon gave way to open places, and low mud cabins,
where the horses' hoofs beat on a sun-baked road, and where the
inhabitants sat lazily before the door in the fading light, with no
knowledge of the changes that the day had wrought in the city, and with
only a moment's curious interest in the hooded carriage, and the grim,
white-faced foreigners who guarded it.

Clay turned his pony into a trot at Langham's side.  His face was pale
and drawn.

As the danger of immediate pursuit and capture grew less, the carriage
had slackened its pace, and for some minutes the outriders galloped on
together side by side in silence.  But the same thought was in the mind
of each, and when Langham spoke it was as though he were continuing
where he had but just been interrupted.

He laid his hand gently on Clay's arm.  He did not turn his face toward
him, and his eyes were still peering into the shadows before them.
"Tell me?" he asked.

"He was coming up the stairs," Clay answered.  He spoke in so low a
voice that Langham had to lean from his saddle to hear him. "They were
close behind; but when they saw her they stopped and refused to go
farther.  I called to him to come away, but he would not understand.
They killed him before he really understood what they meant to do.  He
was dead almost before I reached him.  He died in my arms."  There was
a long pause.  "I wonder if he knows that?" Clay said.

Langham sat erect in the saddle again and drew a short breath. "I wish
he could have known how he helped me," he whispered, "how much just
knowing him helped me."

Clay bowed his head to the boy as though he were thanking him. "His was
the gentlest soul I ever knew," he said.

"That's what I wanted to say," Langham answered.  "We will let that be
his epitaph," and touching his spur to his horse he galloped on ahead
and left Clay riding alone.

Langham had proceeded for nearly a mile when he saw the forest opening
before them, and at the sight he gave a shout of relief, but almost at
the same instant he pulled his pony back on his haunches and whirling
him about, sprang back to the carriage with a cry of warning.

"There are soldiers ahead of us," he cried.  "Did you know it?" he
demanded of the driver.  "Did you lie to me?  Turn back."

"He can't turn back," MacWilliams answered.  "They have seen us.  They
are only the custom officers at the city limits.  They know nothing.
Go on."  He reached forward and catching the reins dragged the horses
down into a walk.  Then he handed the reins back to the driver with a
shake of the head.

"If you know these roads as well as you say you do, you want to keep us
out of the way of soldiers," he said.  "If we fall into a trap you'll
be the first man shot on either side."

A sentry strolled lazily out into the road dragging his gun after him
by the bayonet, and raised his hand for them to halt.  His captain
followed him from the post-house throwing away a cigarette as he came,
and saluted MacWilliams on the box and bowed to the two riders in the
background.  In his right hand he held one of the long iron rods with
which the collectors of the city's taxes were wont to pierce the
bundles and packs, and even the carriage cushions of those who entered
the city limits from the coast, and who might be suspected of smuggling.

"Whose carriage is this, and where is it going?" he asked.

As the speed of the diligence slackened, Hope put her head out of the
curtains, and as she surveyed the soldier with apparent surprise, she
turned to her brother.

"What does this mean?" she asked.  "What are we waiting for?"

"We are going to the Hacienda of Senor Palacio," MacWilliams said, in
answer to the officer.  "The driver thinks that this is the road, but I
say we should have taken the one to the right."

"No, this is the road to Senor Palacio's plantation," the officer
answered, "but you cannot leave the city without a pass signed by
General Mendoza.  That is the order we received this morning.  Have you
such a pass?"

"Certainly not," Clay answered, warmly.  "This is the carriage of an
American, the president of the mines.  His daughters are inside and on
their way to visit the residence of Senor Palacio.  They are
foreigners--Americans.  We are all foreigners, and we have a perfect
right to leave the city when we choose.  You can only stop us when we
enter it."

The officer looked uncertainly from Clay to Hope and up at the driver
on the box.  His eyes fell upon the heavy brass mountings of the
harness.  They bore the arms of Olancho.  He wheeled sharply and called
to his men inside the post-house, and they stepped out from the veranda
and spread themselves leisurely across the road.

"Ride him down, Clay," Langham muttered, in a whisper.  The officer did
not understand the words, but he saw Clay gather the reins tighter in
his hands and he stepped back quickly to the safety of the porch, and
from that ground of vantage smiled pleasantly.

"Pardon," he said, "there is no need for blows when one is rich enough
to pay.  A little something for myself and a drink for my brave
fellows, and you can go where you please."

"Damned brigands," growled Langham, savagely.

"Not at all," Clay answered.  "He is an officer and a gentleman.  I
have no money with me," he said, in Spanish, addressing the officer,
"but between caballeros a word of honor is sufficient.  I shall be
returning this way to-morrow morning, and I will bring a few hundred
sols from Senor Palacio for you and your men; but if we are followed
you will get nothing, and you must have forgotten in the mean time that
you have seen us pass."

There was a murmur inside the carriage, and Hope's face disappeared
from between the curtains to reappear again almost immediately.  She
beckoned to the officer with her hand, and the men saw that she held
between her thumb and little finger a diamond ring of size and
brilliancy.  She moved it so that it flashed in the light of the guard
lantern above the post-house.

"My sister tells me you shall be given this tomorrow morning," Hope
said, "if we are not followed."

The man's eyes laughed with pleasure.  He swept his sombrero to the
ground.

"I am your servant, Senorita," he said.  "Gentlemen," he cried, gayly,
turning to Clay, "if you wish it, I will accompany you with my men.
Yes, I will leave word that I have gone in the sudden pursuit of
smugglers; or I will remain here as you wish, and send those who may
follow back again."

"You are most gracious, sir," said Clay.  "It is always a pleasure to
meet with a gentleman and a philosopher.  We prefer to travel without
an escort, and remember, you have seen nothing and heard nothing."  He
leaned from the saddle, and touched the officer on the breast.  "That
ring is worth a king's ransom."

"Or a president's," muttered the man, smiling.  "Let the American
ladies pass," he commanded.

The soldiers scattered as the whip fell, and the horses once more
leaped forward, and as the carriage entered the forest, Clay looked
back and saw the officer exhaling the smoke of a fresh cigarette, with
the satisfaction of one who enjoys a clean conscience and a sense of
duty well performed.

The road through the forest was narrow and uneven, and as the horses
fell into a trot the men on horseback closed up together behind the
carriage.

"Do you think that road-agent will keep his word?" Langham asked.

"Yes; he has nothing to win by telling the truth," Clay answered.  "He
can say he saw a party of foreigners, Americans, driving in the
direction of Palacio's coffee plantation.  That lets him out, and in
the morning he knows he can levy on us for the gate money.  I am not so
much afraid of being overtaken as I am that King may make a mistake and
not get to Bocos on time.  We ought to reach there, if the carriage
holds together, by eleven. King should be there by eight o'clock, and
the yacht ought to make the run to Truxillo in three hours.  But we
shall not be able to get back to the city before five to-morrow
morning.  I suppose your family will be wild about Hope.  We didn't
know where she was when we sent the groom back to King."

"Do you think that driver is taking us the right way?" Langham asked,
after a pause.

"He'd better.  He knows it well enough.  He was through the last
revolution, and carried messages from Los Bocos to the city on foot for
two months.  He has covered every trail on the way, and if he goes
wrong he knows what will happen to him."

"And Los Bocos--it is a village, isn't it, and the landing must be in
sight of the Custom-house?"

"The village lies some distance back from the shore, and the only house
on the beach is the Custom-house itself; but every one will be asleep
by the time we get there, and it will take us only a minute to hand her
into the launch.  If there should be a guard there, King will have
fixed them one way or another by the time we arrive.  Anyhow, there is
no need of looking for trouble that far ahead.  There is enough to
worry about in between.  We haven't got there yet."

The moon rose grandly a few minutes later, and flooded the forest with
light so that the open places were as clear as day.  It threw strange
shadows across the trail, and turned the rocks and fallen trees into
figures of men crouching or standing upright with uplifted arms.  They
were so like to them that Clay and Langham flung their carbines to
their shoulders again and again, and pointed them at some black object
that turned as they advanced into wood or stone.  From the forest they
came to little streams and broad shallow rivers where the rocks in the
fording places churned the water into white masses of foam, and the
horses kicked up showers of spray as they made their way, slipping and
stumbling, against the current.  It was a silent pilgrim age, and never
for a moment did the strain slacken or the men draw rein.  Sometimes,
as they hurried across a broad tableland, or skirted the edge of a
precipice and looked down hundreds of feet below at the shining waters
they had just forded, or up at the rocky points of the mountains before
them, the beauty of the night overcame them and made them forget the
significance of their journey.

They were not always alone, for they passed at intervals through
sleeping villages of mud huts with thatched roofs, where the dogs ran
yelping out to bark at them, and where the pine-knots, blazing on the
clay ovens, burned cheerily in the moonlight.  In the low lands where
the fever lay, the mist rose above the level of their heads and
enshrouded them in a curtain of fog, and the dew fell heavily,
penetrating their clothing and chilling their heated bodies so that the
sweating horses moved in a lather of steam.

They had settled down into a steady gallop now, and ten or fifteen
miles had been left behind them.

"We are making excellent time," said Clay.  "The village of San Lorenzo
should lie beyond that ridge."  He drove up beside the driver and
pointed with his whip.  "Is not that San Lorenzo?" he asked.

"Yes, senor," the man answered, "but I mean to drive around it by the
old wagon trail.  It is a large town, and people may be awake.  You
will be able to see it from the top of the next hill."

The cavalcade stopped at the summit of the ridge and the men looked
down into the silent village.  It was like the others they had passed,
with a few houses built round a square of grass that could hardly be
recognized as a plaza, except for the church on its one side, and the
huge wooden cross planted in its centre. From the top of the hill they
could see that the greater number of the houses were in darkness, but
in a large building of two stories lights were shining from every
window.

"That is the comandancia," said the driver, shaking his head.  "They
are still awake.  It is a telegraph station."

"Great Scott!" exclaimed MacWilliams.  "We forgot the telegraph.  They
may have sent word to head us off already."

"Nine o'clock is not so very late," said Clay.  "It may mean nothing."

"We had better make sure, though," MacWilliams answered, jumping to the
ground.  "Lend me your pony, Ted, and take my place.  I'll run in there
and dust around and see what's up. I'll join you on the other side of
the town after you get back to the main road."

"Wait a minute," said Clay.  "What do you mean to do?"

"I can't tell till I get there, but I'll try to find out how much they
know.  Don't you be afraid.  I'll run fast enough if there's any sign
of trouble.  And if you come across a telegraph wire, cut it.  The
message may not have gone over yet."

The two women in the carriage had parted the flaps of the hoods and
were trying to hear what was being said, but could not understand, and
Langham explained to them that they were about to make a slight detour
to avoid San Lorenzo while MacWilliams was going into it to
reconnoitre.  He asked if they were comfortable, and assured them that
the greater part of the ride was over, and that there was a good road
from San Lorenzo to the sea.

MacWilliams rode down into the village along the main trail, and threw
his reins over a post in front of the comandancia.  He mounted boldly
to the second floor of the building and stopped at the head of the
stairs, in front of an open door.  There were three men in the room
before him, one an elderly man, whom he rightly guessed was the
comandante, and two younger men who were standing behind a railing and
bending over a telegraph instrument on a table.  As he stamped into the
room, they looked up and stared at him in surprise; their faces showed
that he had interrupted them at a moment of unusual interest.

MacWilliams saluted the three men civilly, and, according to the native
custom, apologized for appearing before them in his spurs.

He had been riding from Los Bocos to the capital, he said, and his
horse had gone lame.  Could they tell him if there was any one in the
village from whom he could hire a mule, as he must push on to the
capital that night?

The comandante surveyed him for a moment, as though still disturbed by
the interruption, and then shook his head impatiently.  "You can hire a
mule from one Pulido Paul, at the corner of the plaza," he said.  And
as MacWilliams still stood uncertainly, he added, "You say you have
come from Los Bocos.  Did you meet any one on your way?"

The two younger men looked up at him anxiously, but before he could
answer, the instrument began to tick out the signal, and they turned
their eyes to it again, and one of them began to take its message down
on paper.

The instrument spoke to MacWilliams also, for he was used to sending
telegrams daily from the office to the mines, and could make it talk
for him in either English or Spanish.  So, in his effort to hear what
it might say, he stammered and glanced at it involuntarily, and the
comandante, without suspecting his reason for doing so, turned also and
peered over the shoulder of the man who was receiving the message.
Except for the clicking of the instrument, the room was absolutely
still; the three men bent silently over the table, while MacWilliams
stood gazing at the ceiling and turning his hat in his hands.  The
message MacWilliams read from the instrument was this:  "They are
reported to have left the city by the south, so they are going to Para,
or San Pedro, or to Los Bocos.  She must be stopped--take an armed
force and guard the roads.  If necessary, kill her.  She has in the
carriage or hidden on her person, drafts for five million sols.  You
will be held responsible for every one of them.  Repeat this message to
show you understand, and relay it to Los Bocos.  If you fail--"

MacWilliams could not wait to hear more; he gave a curt nod to the men
and started toward the stairs.  "Wait," the comandante called after him.

MacWilliams paused with one hand on top of the banisters balancing
himself in readiness for instant flight.

"You have not answered me.  Did you meet with any one on your ride here
from Los Bocos?"

"I met several men on foot, and the mail carrier passed me a league out
from the coast, and oh, yes, I met a carriage at the cross roads, and
the driver asked me the way of San Pedro Sula."

"A carriage?--yes--and what did you tell him?"

"I told him he was on the road to Los Bocos, and he turned back and--"

"You are sure he turned back?"

"Certainly, sir.  I rode behind him for some distance.  He turned
finally to the right into the trail to San Pedro Sula."

The man flung himself across the railing.

"Quick," he commanded, "telegraph to Morales, Comandante San Pedro
Sula--"

He had turned his back on MacWilliams, and as the younger man bent over
the instrument, MacWilliams stepped softly down the stairs, and
mounting his pony rode slowly off in the direction of the capital.  As
soon as he had reached the outskirts of the town, he turned and
galloped round it and then rode fast with his head in air, glancing up
at the telegraph wire that sagged from tree-trunk to tree-trunk along
the trail.  At a point where he thought he could dismount in safety and
tear down the wire, he came across it dangling from the branches and he
gave a shout of relief.  He caught the loose end and dragged it free
from its support, and then laying it across a rock pounded the blade of
his knife upon it with a stone, until he had hacked off a piece some
fifty feet in length.  Taking this in his hand he mounted again and
rode off with it, dragging the wire in the road behind him.  He held it
up as he rejoined Clay, and laughed triumphantly.  "They'll have some
trouble splicing that circuit," he said, "you only half did the work.
What wouldn't we give to know all this little piece of copper knows,
eh?"

"Do you mean you think they have telegraphed to Los Bocos already?"

"I know that they were telegraphing to San Pedro Sula as I left and to
all the coast towns.  But whether you cut this down before or after is
what I should like to know."

"We shall probably learn that later," said Clay, grimly.

The last three miles of the journey lay over a hard, smooth road, wide
enough to allow the carriage and its escort to ride abreast.

It was in such contrast to the tortuous paths they had just followed,
that the horses gained a fresh impetus and galloped forward as freely
as though the race had but just begun.

Madame Alvarez stopped the carriage at one place and asked the men to
lower the hood at the back that she might feel the fresh air and see
about her, and when this had been done, the women seated themselves
with their backs to the horses where they could look out at the moonlit
road as it unrolled behind them.

Hope felt selfishly and wickedly happy.  The excitement had kept her
spirits at the highest point, and the knowledge that Clay was guarding
and protecting her was in itself a pleasure.  She leaned back on the
cushions and put her arm around the older woman's waist, and listened
to the light beat of his pony's hoofs outside, now running ahead, now
scrambling and slipping up some steep place, and again coming to a halt
as Langham or MacWilliams called, "Look to the right, behind those
trees," or "Ahead there!  Don't you see what I mean, something
crouching?"

She did not know when the false alarms would turn into a genuine
attack, but she was confident that when the time came he would take
care of her, and she welcomed the danger because it brought that solace
with it.

Madame Alvarez sat at her side, rigid, silent, and beyond the help of
comfort.  She tortured herself with thoughts of the ambitions she had
held, and which had been so cruelly mocked that very morning; of the
chivalric love that had been hers, of the life even that had been hers,
and which had been given up for her so tragically.  When she spoke at
all, it was to murmur her sorrow that Hope had exposed herself to
danger on her poor account, and that her life, as far as she loved it,
was at an end.  Only once after the men had parted the curtains and
asked concerning her comfort with grave solicitude did she give way to
tears.

"Why are they so good to me?" she moaned.  "Why are you so good to me?
I am a wicked, vain woman, I have brought a nation to war and I have
killed the only man I ever trusted."

Hope touched her gently with her hand and felt guiltily how selfish she
herself must be not to feel the woman's grief, but she could not.  She
only saw in it a contrast to her own happiness, a black background
before which the figure of Clay and his solicitude for her shone out,
the only fact in the world that was of value.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the carriage coming to a halt, and a
significant movement upon the part of the men.  MacWilliams had
descended from the box-seat and stepping into the carriage took the
place the women had just left.

He had a carbine in his hand, and after he was seated Langham handed
him another which he laid across his knees.

"They thought I was too conspicuous on the box to do any good there,"
he explained in a confidential whisper.  "In case there is any firing
now, you ladies want to get down on your knees here at my feet, and
hide your heads in the cushions.  We are entering Los Bocos."

Langham and Clay were riding far in advance, scouting to the right and
left, and the carriage moved noiselessly behind them through the empty
streets.  There was no light in any of the windows, and not even a dog
barked, or a cock crowed.  The women sat erect, listening for the first
signal of an attack, each holding the other's hand and looking at
MacWilliams, who sat with his thumb on the trigger of his carbine,
glancing to the right and left and breathing quickly.  His eyes
twinkled, like those of a little fox terrier.  The men dropped back,
and drew up on a level with the carriage.

"We are all right, so far," Clay whispered.  "The beach slopes down
from the other side of that line of trees.  What is the matter with
you?" he demanded, suddenly, looking up at the driver, "are you afraid?"

"No," the man answered, hurriedly, his voice shaking; "it's the cold."

Langham had galloped on ahead and as he passed through the trees and
came out upon the beach, he saw a broad stretch of moonlit water and
the lights from the yacht shining from a point a quarter of a mile off
shore.  Among the rocks on the edge of the beach was the "Vesta's"
longboat and her crew seated in it or standing about on the beach.  The
carriage had stopped under the protecting shadow of the trees, and he
raced back toward it.

"The yacht is here," he cried.  "The long-boat is waiting and there is
not a sign of light about the Custom-house.  Come on," he cried.  "We
have beaten them after all."

A sailor, who had been acting as lookout on the rocks, sprang to his
full height, and shouted to the group around the long-boat, and King
came up the beach toward them running heavily through the deep sand.

Madame Alvarez stepped down from the carriage, and as Hope handed her
her jewel case in silence, the men draped her cloak about her
shoulders.  She put out her hand to them, and as Clay took it in his,
she bent her head quickly and kissed his hand.  "You were his friend,"
she murmured.

She held Hope in her arms for an instant, and kissed her, and then gave
her hand in turn to Langham and to MacWilliams.

"I do not know whether I shall ever see you again," she said, looking
slowly from one to the other, "but I will pray for you every day, and
God will reward you for saving a worthless life."

As she finished speaking King came up to the group, followed by three
of his men.

"Is Hope with you, is she safe?" he asked.

"Yes, she is with me," Madame Alvarez answered.

"Thank God," King exclaimed, breathlessly.  "Then we will start at
once, Madame.  Where is she?  She must come with us!"

"Of course," Clay-assented, eagerly, "she will be much safer on the
yacht."

But Hope protested.  "I must get back to father," she said. "The yacht
will not arrive until late to-morrow, and the carriage can take me to
him five hours earlier.  The family have worried too long about me as
it is, and, besides, I will not leave Ted.  I am going back as I came."

"It is most unsafe," King urged.

"On the contrary, it is perfectly safe now," Hope answered. "It was not
one of us they wanted."

"You may be right," King said.  "They don't know what has happened to
you, and perhaps after all it would be better if you went back the
quicker way."  He gave his arm to Madame Alvarez and walked with her
toward the shore.  As the men surrounded her on every side and moved
away, Clay glanced back at Hope and saw her standing upright in the
carriage looking after them.

"We will be with you in a minute," he called, as though in apology for
leaving her for even that brief space.  And then the shadow of the
trees shut her and the carriage from his sight. His footsteps made no
sound in the soft sand, and except for the whispering of the palms and
the sleepy wash of the waves as they ran up the pebbly beach and sank
again, the place was as peaceful and silent as a deserted island,
though the moon made it as light as day.

The long-boat had been drawn up with her stern to the shore, and the
men were already in their places, some standing waiting for the order
to shove off, and others seated balancing their oars.

King had arranged to fire a rocket when the launch left the shore, in
order that the captain of the yacht might run in closer to pick them
up.  As he hurried down the beach, he called to his boatswain to give
the signal, and the man answered that he understood and stooped to
light a match.  King had jumped into the stern and lifted Madame
Alvarez after him, leaving her late escort standing with uncovered
heads on the beach behind her, when the rocket shot up into the calm
white air, with a roar and a rush and a sudden flash of color.  At the
same instant, as though in answer to its challenge, the woods back of
them burst into an irregular line of flame, a volley of rifle shots
shattered the silence, and a score of bullets splashed in the water and
on the rocks about them.

The boatswain in the bow of the long-boat tossed up his arms and
pitched forward between the thwarts.

"Give way," he shouted as he fell.

"Pull," Clay yelled, "pull, all of you."

He threw himself against the stern of the boat, and Langham and
MacWilliams clutched its sides, and with their shoulders against it and
their bodies half sunk in the water, shoved it off, free of the shore.

The shots continued fiercely, and two of the crew cried out and fell
back upon the oars of the men behind them.

Madame Alvarez sprang to her feet and stood swaying unsteadily as the
boat leaped forward.

"Take me back.  Stop, I command you," she cried, "I will not leave
those men.  Do you hear?"

King caught her by the waist and dragged her down, but she struggled to
free herself.  "I will not leave them to be murdered," she cried.  "You
cowards, put me back."

"Hold her, King," Clay shouted.  "We're all right.  They're not firing
at us."

His voice was drowned in the noise of the oars beating in the rowlocks,
and the reports of the rifles.  The boat disappeared in a mist of spray
and moonlight, and Clay turned and faced about him.  Langham and
MacWilliams were crouching behind a rock and firing at the flashes in
the woods.

"You can't stay there," Clay cried.  "We must get back to Hope."

He ran forward, dodging from side to side and firing as he ran. He
heard shots from the water, and looking back saw that the men in the
longboat had ceased rowing, and were returning the fire from the shore.

"Come back, Hope is all right," her brother called to him.  "I haven't
seen a shot within a hundred yards of her yet, they're firing from the
Custom-house and below.  I think Mac's hit."

"I'm not," MacWilliams's voice answered from behind a rock, "but I'd
like to see something to shoot at."

A hot tremor of rage swept over Clay at the thought of a possibly fatal
termination to the night's adventure.  He groaned at the mockery of
having found his life only to lose it now, when it was more precious to
him than it had ever been, and to lose it in a silly brawl with
semi-savages.  He cursed himself impotently and rebelliously for a
senseless fool.

"Keep back, can't you?" he heard Langham calling to him from the shore.
"You're only drawing the fire toward Hope.  She's got away by now.  She
had both the horses."

Langham and MacWilliams started forward to Clay's side, but the instant
they left the shadow of the rock, the bullets threw up the sand at
their feet and they stopped irresolutely.  The moon showed the three
men outlined against the white sand of the beach as clearly as though a
searchlight had been turned upon them, even while its shadows sheltered
and protected their assailants. At their backs the open sea cut off
retreat, and the line of fire in front held them in check.  They were
as helpless as chessmen upon a board.

"I'm not going to stand still to be shot at," cried MacWilliams.
"Let's hide or let's run.  This isn't doing anybody any good."  But no
one moved.  They could hear the singing of the bullets as they passed
them whining in the air like a banjo-string that is being tightened,
and they knew they were in equal danger from those who were firing from
the boat.

"They're shooting better," said MacWilliams.  "They'll reach us in a
minute."

"They've reached me already, I think," Langham answered, with
suppressed satisfaction, "in the shoulder.  It's nothing."  His
unconcern was quite sincere; to a young man who had galloped through
two long halves of a football match on a strained tendon, a scratched
shoulder was not important, except as an unsought honor.

But it was of the most importance to MacWilliams.  He raised his voice
against the men in the woods in impotent fury.  "Come out, you cowards,
where we can see you," he cried.  "Come out where I can shoot your
black heads off."

Clay had fired the last cartridge in his rifle, and throwing it away
drew his revolver.

"We must either swim or hide," he said.  "Put your heads down and run."

But as he spoke, they saw the carriage plunging out of the shadow of
the woods and the horses galloping toward them down the beach.
MacWilliams gave a cheer of welcome.  "Hurrah!" he shouted, "it's Jose'
coming for us.  He's a good man.  Well done, Jose'!" he called.

"That's not Jose'," Langham cried, doubtfully, peering through the
moonlight.  "Good God!  It's Hope," he exclaimed. He waved his hands
frantically above his head.  "Go back, Hope," he cried, "go back!"

But the carriage did not swerve on its way toward them.  They all saw
her now distinctly.  She was on the driver's box and alone, leaning
forward and lashing the horses' backs with the whip and reins, and
bending over to avoid the bullets that passed above her head.  As she
came down upon them, she stood up, her woman's figure outlined clearly
in the riding habit she still wore. "Jump in when I turn," she cried.
"I'm going to turn slowly, run and jump in."

She bent forward again and pulled the horses to the right, and as they
obeyed her, plunging and tugging at their bits, as though they knew the
danger they were in, the men threw themselves at the carriage.  Clay
caught the hood at the back, swung himself up, and scrambled over the
cushions and up to the box seat.  He dropped down behind Hope, and
reaching his arms around her took the reins in one hand, and with the
other forced her down to her knees upon the footboard, so that, as she
knelt, his arms and body protected her from the bullets sent after
them.  Langham followed Clay, and tumbled into the carriage over the
hood at the back, but MacWilliams endeavored to vault in from the step,
and missing his footing fell under the hind wheel, so that the weight
of the carriage passed over him, and his head was buried for an instant
in the sand.  But he was on his feet again before they had noticed that
he was down, and as he jumped for the hood, Langham caught him by the
collar of his coat and dragged him into the seat, panting and gasping,
and rubbing the sand from his mouth and nostrils.  Clay turned the
carriage at a right angle through the heavy sand, and still standing
with Hope crouched at his knees, he raced back to the woods into the
face of the firing, with the boys behind him answering it from each
side of the carriage, so that the horses leaped forward in a frenzy of
terror, and dashing through the woods, passed into the first road that
opened before them.

The road into which they had turned was narrow, but level, and ran
through a forest of banana palms that bent and swayed above them.
Langham and MacWilliams still knelt in the rear seat of the carriage,
watching the road on the chance of possible pursuit.

"Give me some cartridges," said Langham.  "My belt is empty. What road
is this?"

"It is a private road, I should say, through somebody's banana
plantation.  But it must cross the main road somewhere.  It doesn't
matter, we're all right now.  I mean to take it easy." MacWilliams
turned on his back and stretched out his legs on the seat opposite.

"Where do you suppose those men sprang from?  Were they following us
all the time?"

"Perhaps, or else that message got over the wire before we cut it, and
they've been lying in wait for us.  They were probably watching King
and his sailors for the last hour or so, but they didn't want him.
They wanted her and the money.  It was pretty exciting, wasn't it?
How's your shoulder?"

"It's a little stiff, thank you," said Langham.  He stood up and by
peering over the hood could just see the top of Clay's sombrero rising
above it where he sat on the back seat.

"You and Hope all right up there, Clay?" he asked.

The top of the sombrero moved slightly, and Langham took it as a sign
that all was well.  He dropped back into his seat beside MacWilliams,
and they both breathed a long sigh of relief and content.  Langham's
wounded arm was the one nearest MacWilliams, and the latter parted the
torn sleeve and examined the furrow across the shoulder with
unconcealed envy.

"I am afraid it won't leave a scar," he said, sympathetically.

"Won't it?" asked Langham, in some concern.

The horses had dropped into a walk, and the beauty of the moonlit night
put its spell upon the two boys, and the rustling of the great leaves
above their heads stilled and quieted them so that they unconsciously
spoke in whispers.

Clay had not moved since the horses turned of their own accord into the
valley of the palms.  He no longer feared pursuit nor any interruption
to their further progress.  His only sensation was one of utter
thankfulness that they were all well out of it, and that Hope had been
the one who had helped them in their trouble, and his dearest thought
was that, whether she wished or not, he owed his safety, and possibly
his life, to her.

She still crouched between his knees upon the broad footboard, with her
hands clasped in front of her, and looking ahead into the vista of soft
mysterious lights and dark shadows that the moon cast upon the road.
Neither of them spoke, and as the silence continued unbroken, it took a
weightier significance, and at each added second of time became more
full of meaning.

The horses had dropped into a tired walk, and drew them smoothly over
the white road; from behind the hood came broken snatches of the boys'
talk, and above their heads the heavy leaves of the palms bent and
bowed as though in benediction.  A warm breeze from the land filled the
air with the odor of ripening fruit and pungent smells, and the silence
seemed to envelop them and mark them as the only living creatures awake
in the brilliant tropical night.

Hope sank slowly back, and as she did so, her shoulder touched for an
instant against Clay's knee; she straightened herself and made a
movement as though to rise.  Her nearness to him and something in her
attitude at his feet held Clay in a spell.  He bent forward and laid
his hand fearfully upon her shoulder, and the touch seemed to stop the
blood in his veins and hushed the words upon his lips.  Hope raised her
head slowly as though with a great effort, and looked into his eyes.
It seemed to him that he had been looking into those same eyes for
centuries, as though he had always known them, and the soul that looked
out of them into his.  He bent his head lower, and stretching out his
arms drew her to him, and the eyes did not waver.  He raised her and
held her close against his breast.  Her eyes faltered and closed.

"Hope," he whispered, "Hope."  He stooped lower and kissed her, and his
lips told her what they could not speak--and they were quite alone.



XIV

An hour later Langham rose with a protesting sigh and shook the hood
violently.

"I say!" he called.  "Are you asleep up there.  We'll never get home at
this rate.  Doesn't Hope want to come back here and go to sleep?"

The carriage stopped, and the boys tumbled out and walked around in
front of it.  Hope sat smiling on the box-seat.  She was apparently far
from sleepy, and she was quite contented where she was, she told him.

"Do you know we haven't had anything to eat since yesterday at
breakfast?" asked Langham.  "MacWilliams and I are fainting. We move
that we stop at the next shack we come to, and waken the people up and
make them give us some supper."

Hope looked aside at Clay and laughed softly.  "Supper?" she said.
"They want supper!"

Their suffering did not seem to impress Clay deeply.  He sat snapping
his whip at the palm-trees above him, and smiled happily in an
inconsequent and irritating manner at nothing.

"See here!  Do you know that we are lost?" demanded Langham,
indignantly, "and starving?  Have you any idea at all where you are?"

"I have not," said Clay, cheerfully.  "All I know is that a long time
ago there was a revolution and a woman with jewels, who escaped in an
open boat, and I recollect playing that I was a target and standing up
to be shot at in a bright light.  After that I woke up to the really
important things of life--among which supper is not one."

Langham and MacWilliams looked at each other doubtfully, and Langham
shook his head.

"Get down off that box," he commanded.  "If you and Hope think this is
merely a pleasant moonlight drive, we don't.  You two can sit in the
carriage now, and we'll take a turn at driving, and we'll guarantee to
get you to some place soon."

Clay and Hope descended meekly and seated themselves under the hood,
where they could look out upon the moonlit road as it unrolled behind
them.  But they were no longer to enjoy their former leisurely
progress.  The new whip lashed his horses into a gallop, and the trees
flew past them on either hand.

"Do you remember that chap in the 'Last Ride Together'?" said Clay.

    "I and my mistress, side by side,
        Shall be together--forever ride,
      And so one more day am I deified.
        Who knows--the world may end to-night."

Hope laughed triumphantly, and threw out her arms as though she would
embrace the whole beautiful world that stretched around them.

"Oh, no," she laughed.  "To-night the world has just begun."

The carriage stopped, and there was a confusion of voices on the
box-seat, and then a great barking of dogs, and they beheld MacWilliams
beating and kicking at the door of a hut.  The door opened for an inch,
and there was a long debate in Spanish, and finally the door was closed
again, and a light appeared through the windows.  A few minutes later a
man and woman came out of the hut, shivering and yawning, and made a
fire in the sun-baked oven at the side of the house.  Hope and Clay
remained seated in the carriage, and watched the flames springing up
from the oily fagots, and the boys moving about with flaring torches of
pine, pulling down bundles of fodder for the horses from the roof of
the kitchen, while two sleepy girls disappeared toward a mountain
stream, one carrying a jar on her shoulder, and the other lighting the
way with a torch.  Hope sat with her chin on her hand, watching the
black figures passing between them and the fire, and standing above it
with its light on their faces, shading their eyes from the heat with
one hand, and stirring something in a smoking caldron with the other.
Hope felt an overflowing sense of gratitude to these simple strangers
for the trouble they were taking.  She felt how good every one was, and
how wonderfully kind and generous was the world that she lived in.

Her brother came over to the carriage and bowed with mock courtesy.

"I trust, now that we have done all the work," he said, "that your
excellencies will condescend to share our frugal fare, or must we bring
it to you here?"

The clay oven stood in the middle of a hut of laced twigs, through
which the smoke drifted freely.  There was a row of wooden benches
around it, and they all seated themselves and ate ravenously of rice
and fried plantains, while the woman patted and tossed tortillas
between her hands, eyeing her guests curiously.  Her glance fell upon
Langham's shoulder, and rested there for so long that Hope followed the
direction of her eyes. She leaped to her feet with a cry of fear and
reproach, and ran toward her brother.

"Ted!" she cried, "you are hurt! you are wounded, and you never told
me!  What is it?  Is it very bad?" Clay crossed the floor in a stride,
his face full of concern.

"Leave me alone!" cried the stern brother, backing away and warding
them off with the coffeepot.  "It's only scratched. You'll spill the
coffee."

But at the sight of the blood Hope had turned very white, and throwing
her arms around her brother's neck, hid her eyes on his other shoulder
and began to cry.

"I am so selfish," she sobbed.  "I have been so happy and you were
suffering all the time."

Her brother stared at the others in dismay.  "What nonsense," he said,
patting her on the shoulder.  "You're a bit tired, and you need rest.
That's what you need.  The idea of my sister going off in hysterics
after behaving like such a sport--and before these young ladies, too.
Aren't you ashamed?"

"I should think they'd be ashamed," said MacWilliams, severely, as he
continued placidly with his supper.  "They haven't got enough clothes
on."

Langham looked over Hope's shoulder at Clay and nodded significantly.
"She's been on a good deal of a strain," he explained apologetically,
"and no wonder; it's been rather an unusual night for her."

Hope raised her head and smiled at him through her tears.  Then she
turned and moved toward Clay.  She brushed her eyes with the back of
her hand and laughed.  "It has been an unusual night," she said.
"Shall I tell him?" she asked.

Clay straightened himself unconsciously, and stepped beside her and
took her hand; MacWilliams quickly lowered to the bench the dish from
which he was eating, and stood up, too.  The people of the house stared
at the group in the firelight with puzzled interest, at the beautiful
young girl, and at the tall, sunburned young man at her side.  Langham
looked from his sister to Clay and back again, and laughed uneasily.

"Langham, I have been very bold," said Clay.  "I have asked your sister
to marry me--and she has said that she would."

Langham flushed as red as his sister.  He felt himself at a
disadvantage in the presence of a love as great and strong as he knew
this must be.  It made him seem strangely young and inadequate.  He
crossed over to his sister awkwardly and kissed her, and then took
Clay's hand, and the three stood together and looked at one another,
and there was no sign of doubt or question in the face of any one of
them.  They stood so for some little time, smiling and exclaiming
together, and utterly unconscious of anything but their own delight and
happiness.  MacWilliams watched them, his face puckered into odd
wrinkles and his eyes half-closed.  Hope suddenly broke away from the
others and turned toward him with her hands held out.

"Have you nothing to say to me, Mr. MacWilliams?" she asked.

MacWilliams looked doubtfully at Clay, as though from force of habit he
must ask advice from his chief first, and then took the hands that she
held out to him and shook them up and down.  His usual confidence
seemed to have forsaken him, and he stood, shifting from one foot to
the other, smiling and abashed.

"Well, I always said they didn't make them any better than you," he
gasped at last.  "I was always telling him that, wasn't I?"  He nodded
energetically at Clay.  "And that's so; they don't make 'em any better
than you."

He dropped her hands and crossed over to Clay, and stood surveying him
with a smile of wonder and admiration.

"How'd you do it?" he demanded.  "How did you do it?  I suppose you
know," he asked sternly, "that you're not good enough for Miss Hope?
You know that, don't you?"

"Of course I know that," said Clay.

MacWilliams walked toward the door and stood in it for a second,
looking back at them over his shoulder.  "They don't make them any
better than that," he reiterated gravely, and disappeared in the
direction of the horses, shaking his head and muttering his
astonishment and delight.

"Please give me some money," Hope said to Clay.  "All the money you
have," she added, smiling at her presumption of authority over him,
"and you, too, Ted."  The men emptied their pockets, and Hope poured
the mass of silver into the hands of the women, who gazed at it
uncomprehendingly.

"Thank you for your trouble and your good supper," Hope said in
Spanish, "and may no evil come to your house."

The woman and her daughters followed her to the carriage, bowing and
uttering good wishes in the extravagant metaphor of their country; and
as they drove away, Hope waved her hand to them as she sank closer
against Clay's shoulder.

"The world is full of such kind and gentle souls," she said.

In an hour they had regained the main road, and a little later the
stars grew dim and the moonlight faded, and trees and bushes and rocks
began to take substance and to grow into form and outline.  They saw by
the cool, gray light of the morning the familiar hills around the
capital, and at a cry from the boys on the box-seat, they looked ahead
and beheld the harbor of Valencia at their feet, lying as placid and
undisturbed as the water in a bath-tub.  As they turned up the hill
into the road that led to the Palms, they saw the sleeping capital like
a city of the dead below them, its white buildings reddened with the
light of the rising sun.  From three places in different parts of the
city, thick columns of smoke rose lazily to the sky.

"I had forgotten!" said Clay; "they have been having a revolution here.
It seems so long ago."

By five o'clock they had reached the gate of the Palms, and their
appearance startled the sentry on post into a state of undisciplined
joy.  A riderless pony, the one upon which Jose' had made his escape
when the firing began, had crept into the stable an hour previous,
stiff and bruised and weary, and had led the people at the Palms to
fear the worst.

Mr. Langham and his daughter were standing on the veranda as the horses
came galloping up the avenue.  They had been awake all the night, and
the face of each was white and drawn with anxiety and loss of sleep.
Mr. Langham caught Hope in his arms and held her face close to his in
silence.

"Where have you been?" he said at last.  "Why did you treat me like
this?  You knew how I would suffer."

"I could not help it," Hope cried.  "I had to go with Madame Alvarez."

Her sister had suffered as acutely as had Mr. Langham himself, as long
as she was in ignorance of Hope's whereabouts.  But now that she saw
Hope in the flesh again, she felt a reaction against her for the
anxiety and distress she had caused them.

"My dear Hope," she said, "is every one to be sacrificed for Madame
Alvarez?  What possible use could you be to her at such a time?  It was
not the time nor the place for a young girl.  You were only another
responsibility for the men."

"Clay seemed willing to accept the responsibility," said Langham,
without a smile.  "And, besides," he added, "if Hope had not been with
us we might never have reached home alive."

But it was only after much earnest protest and many explanations that
Mr. Langham was pacified, and felt assured that his son's wound was not
dangerous, and that his daughter was quite safe.

Miss Langham and himself, he said, had passed a trying night. There had
been much firing in the city, and continual uproar. The houses of
several of the friends of Alvarez had been burned and sacked.  Alvarez
himself had been shot as soon as he had entered the yard of the
military prison.  It was then given out that he had committed suicide.
Mendoza had not dared to kill Rojas, because of the feeling of the
people toward him, and had even shown him to the mob from behind the
bars of one of the windows in order to satisfy them that he was still
living.  The British Minister had sent to the Palace for the body of
Captain Stuart, and had had it escorted to the Legation, from whence it
would be sent to England.  This, as far as Mr. Langham had heard, was
the news of the night just over.

"Two native officers called here for you about midnight, Clay," he
continued, "and they are still waiting for you below at your office.
They came from Rojas's troops, who are encamped on the hills at the
other side of the city.  They wanted you to join them with the men from
the mines.  I told them I did not know when you would return, and they
said they would wait.  If you could have been here last night, it is
possible that we might have done something, but now that it is all
over, I am glad that you saved that woman instead.  I should have
liked, though, to have struck one blow at them.  But we cannot hope to
win against assassins.  The death of young Stuart has hurt me terribly,
and the murder of Alvarez, coming on top of it, has made me wish I had
never heard of nor seen Olancho.  I have decided to go away at once, on
the next steamer, and I will take my daughters with me, and Ted, too.
The State Department at Washington can fight with Mendoza for the
mines.  You made a good stand, but they made a better one, and they
have beaten us.  Mendoza's coup d'etat has passed into history, and the
revolution is at an end."

On his arrival Clay had at once asked for a cigar, and while Mr.
Langham was speaking he had been biting it between his teeth, with the
serious satisfaction of a man who had been twelve hours without one.
He knocked the ashes from it and considered the burning end
thoughtfully.  Then he glanced at Hope as she stood among the group on
the veranda.  She was waiting for his reply and watching him intently.
He seemed to be confident that she would approve of the only course he
saw open to him.

"The revolution is not at an end by any means, Mr. Langham," he said at
last, simply.  "It has just begun."  He turned abruptly and walked away
in the direction of the office, and MacWilliams and Langham stepped off
the veranda and followed him as a matter of course.

The soldiers in the army who were known to be faithful to General Rojas
belonged to the Third and Fourth regiments, and numbered four thousand
on paper, and two thousand by count of heads. When they had seen their
leader taken prisoner, and swept off the parade-ground by Mendoza's
cavalry, they had first attempted to follow in pursuit and recapture
him, but the men on horseback had at once shaken off the men on foot
and left them, panting and breathless, in the dust behind them.  So
they halted uncertainly in the road, and their young officers held
counsel together. They first considered the advisability of attacking
the military prison, but decided against doing so, as it would lead,
they feared, whether it proved successful or not, to the murder of
Rojas.  It was impossible to return to the city where Mendoza's First
and Second regiments greatly outnumbered them.  Having no leader and no
headquarters, the officers marched the men to the hills above the city
and went into camp to await further developments.

Throughout the night they watched the illumination of the city and of
the boats in the harbor below them; they saw the flames bursting from
the homes of the members of Alvarez's Cabinet, and when the morning
broke they beheld the grounds of the Palace swarming with Mendoza's
troops, and the red and white barred flag of the revolution floating
over it.  The news of the assassination of Alvarez and the fact that
Rojas had been spared for fear of the people, had been carried to them
early in the evening, and with this knowledge of their General's safety
hope returned and fresh plans were discussed.  By midnight they had
definitely decided that should Mendoza attempt to dislodge them the
next morning, they would make a stand, but that if the fight went
against them, they would fall back along the mountain roads to the
Valencia mines, where they hoped to persuade the fifteen hundred
soldiers there installed to join forces with them against the new
Dictator.

In order to assure themselves of this help, a messenger was despatched
by a circuitous route to the Palms, to ask the aid of the resident
director, and another was sent to the mines to work upon the feelings
of the soldiers themselves.  The officer who had been sent to the Palms
to petition Clay for the loan of his soldier-workmen, had decided to
remain until Clay returned, and another messenger had been sent after
him from the camp on the same errand.

These two lieutenants greeted Clay with enthusiasm, but he at once
interrupted them, and began plying them with questions as to where
their camp was situated and what roads led from it to the Palms.

"Bring your men at once to this end of our railroad," he said.  "It is
still early, and the revolutionists will sleep late.  They are drugged
with liquor and worn out with excitement, and whatever may have been
their intentions toward you last night, they will be late in putting
them into practice this morning.  I will telegraph Kirkland to come up
at once with all of his soldiers and with his three hundred Irishmen.
Allowing him a half-hour to collect them and to get his flat cars
together, and another half-hour in which to make the run, he should be
here by half-past six--and that's quick mobilization. You ride back now
and march your men here at a double-quick. With your two thousand we
shall have in all three thousand and eight hundred men.  I must have
absolute control over my own troops.  Otherwise I shall act
independently of you and go into the city alone with my workmen."

"That is unnecessary," said one of the lieutenants.  "We have no
officers.  If you do not command us, there is no one else to do it.  We
promise that our men will follow you and give you every obedience.
They have been led by foreigners before, by young Captain Stuart and
Major Fergurson and Colonel Shrevington. They know how highly General
Rojas thinks of you, and they know that you have led Continental armies
in Europe."

"Well, don't tell them I haven't until this is over," said Clay.  "Now,
ride hard, gentlemen, and bring your men here as quickly as possible."

The lieutenants thanked him effusively and galloped away, radiant at
the success of their mission, and Clay entered the office where
MacWilliams was telegraphing his orders to Kirkland.  He seated himself
beside the instrument, and from time to time answered the questions
Kirkland sent back to him over the wire, and in the intervals of
silence thought of Hope.  It was the first time he had gone into action
feeling the touch of a woman's hand upon his sleeve, and he was fearful
lest she might think he had considered her too lightly.

He took a piece of paper from the table and wrote a few lines upon it,
and then rewrote them several times.  The message he finally sent to
her was this:  "I am sure you understand, and that you would not have
me give up beaten now, when what we do to-day may set us right again.
I know better than any one else in the world can know, what I run the
risk of losing, but you would not have that fear stop me from going on
with what we have been struggling for so long.  I cannot come back to
see you before we start, but I know your heart is with me.  With great
love, Robert Clay."

He gave the note to his servant, and the answer was brought to him
almost immediately.  Hope had not rewritten her message: "I love you
because you are the sort of man you are, and had you given up as father
wished you to do, or on my account, you would have been some one else,
and I would have had to begin over again to learn to love you for some
different reasons.  I know that you will come back to me bringing your
sheaves with you.  Nothing can happen to you now.  Hope."

He had never received a line from her before, and he read and reread
this with a sense of such pride and happiness in his face that
MacWilliams smiled covertly and bent his eyes upon his instrument.
Clay went back into his room and kissed the page of paper gently,
flushing like a boy as he did so, and then folding it carefully, he put
it away beneath his jacket.  He glanced about him guiltily, although he
was quite alone, and taking out his watch, pried it open and looked
down into the face of the photograph that had smiled up at him from it
for so many years. He thought how unlike it was to Alice Langham as he
knew her.  He judged that it must have been taken when she was very
young, at the age Hope was then, before the little world she lived in
had crippled and narrowed her and marked her for its own.  He
remembered what she had said to him the first night he had seen her.
"That is the picture of the girl who ceased to exist four years ago,
and whom you have never met."  He wondered if she had ever existed.

"It looks more like Hope than her sister," he mused.  "It looks very
much like Hope."  He decided that he would let it remain where it was
until Hope gave him a better one; and smiling slightly he snapped the
lid fast, as though he were closing a door on the face of Alice Langham
and locking it forever.

Kirkland was in the cab of the locomotive that brought the soldiers
from the mine.  He stopped the first car in front of the freight
station until the workmen had filed out and formed into a double line
on the platform.  Then he moved the train forward the length of that
car, and those in the one following were mustered out in a similar
manner.  As the cars continued to come in, the men at the head of the
double line passed on through the freight station and on up the road to
the city in an unbroken column. There was no confusion, no crowding,
and no haste.

When the last car had been emptied, Clay rode down the line and
appointed a foreman to take charge of each company, stationing his
engineers and the Irish-Americans in the van.  It looked more like a
mob than a regiment.  None of the men were in uniform, and the native
soldiers were barefoot.  But they showed a winning spirit, and stood in
as orderly an array as though they were drawn up in line to receive
their month's wages.  The Americans in front of the column were
humorously disposed, and inclined to consider the whole affair as a
pleasant outing.  They had been placed in front, not because they were
better shots than the natives, but because every South American thinks
that every citizen of the United States is a master either of the rifle
or the revolver, and Clay was counting on this superstition.  His
assistant engineers and foremen hailed him as he rode on up and down
the line with good-natured cheers, and asked him when they were to get
their commissions, and if it were true that they were all captains, or
only colonels, as they were at home.

They had been waiting for a half-hour, when there was the sound of
horses' hoofs on the road, and the even beat of men's feet, and the
advance guard of the Third and Fourth regiments came toward them at a
quickstep.  The men were still in the full-dress uniforms they had worn
at the review the day before, and in comparison with the
soldier-workmen and the Americans in flannel shirts, they presented so
martial a showing that they were welcomed with tumultuous cheers.  Clay
threw them into a double line on one side of the road, down the length
of which his own marched until they had reached the end of it nearest
to the city, when they took up their position in a close formation, and
the native regiments fell in behind them.  Clay selected twenty of the
best shots from among the engineers and sent them on ahead as a
skirmish line.  They were ordered to fall back at once if they saw any
sign of the enemy.  In this order the column of four thousand men
started for the city.

It was a little after seven when they advanced, and the air was mild
and peaceful.  Men and women came crowding to the doors and windows of
the huts as they passed, and stood watching them in silence, not
knowing to which party the small army might belong. In order to
enlighten them, Clay shouted, "Viva Rojas."  And his men took it up,
and the people answered gladly.

They had reached the closely built portion of the city when the
skirmish line came running back to say that it had been met by a
detachment of Mendoza's cavalry, who had galloped away as soon as they
saw them.  There was then no longer any doubt that the fact of their
coming was known at the Palace, and Clay halted his men in a bare plaza
and divided them into three columns.  Three streets ran parallel with
one another from this plaza to the heart of the city, and opened
directly upon the garden of the Palace where Mendoza had fortified
himself.  Clay directed the columns to advance up these streets,
keeping the head of each column in touch with the other two.  At the
word they were to pour down the side streets and rally to each other's
assistance.

As they stood, drawn up on the three sides of the plaza, he rode out
before them and held up his hat for silence.  They were there with arms
in their hands, he said, for two reasons: the greater one, and the one
which he knew actuated the native soldiers, was their desire to
preserve the Constitution of the Republic. According to their own laws,
the Vice-President must succeed when the President's term of office had
expired, or in the event of his death.  President Alvarez had been
assassinated, and the Vice-President, General Rojas, was, in
consequence, his legal successor.  It was their duty, as soldiers of
the Republic, to rescue him from prison, to drive the man who had
usurped his place into exile, and by so doing uphold the laws which
they had themselves laid down.  The second motive, he went on, was a
less worthy and more selfish one.  The Olancho mines, which now gave
work to thousands and brought millions of dollars into the country,
were coveted by Mendoza, who would, if he could, convert them into a
monopoly of his government.  If he remained in power all foreigners
would be driven out of the country, and the soldiers would be forced to
work in the mines without payment. Their condition would be little
better than that of the slaves in the salt mines of Siberia.  Not only
would they no longer be paid for their labor, but the people as a whole
would cease to receive that share of the earnings of the mines which
had hitherto been theirs.

"Under President Rojas you will have liberty, justice, and prosperity,"
Clay cried.  "Under Mendoza you will be ruled by martial law.  He will
rob and overtax you, and you will live through a reign of terror.
Between them--which will you choose?"

The native soldiers answered by cries of "Rojas," and breaking ranks
rushed across the plaza toward him, crowding around his horse and
shouting, "Long live Rojas," "Long live the Constitution," "Death to
Mendoza."  The Americans stood as they were and gave three cheers for
the Government.

They were still cheering and shouting as they advanced upon the Palace,
and the noise of their coming drove the people indoors, so that they
marched through deserted streets and between closed doors and sightless
windows.  No one opposed them, and no one encouraged them.  But they
could now see the facade of the Palace and the flag of the
Revolutionists hanging from the mast in front of it.

Three blocks distant from the Palace they came upon the buildings of
the United States and English Legations, where the flags of the two
countries had been hung out over the narrow thoroughfare.

The windows and the roofs of each legation were crowded with women and
children who had sought refuge there, and the column halted as Weimer,
the Consul, and Sir Julian Pindar, the English Minister, came out,
bare-headed, into the street and beckoned to Clay to stop.

"As our Minister was not here," Weimer said, "I telegraphed to Truxillo
for the man-of-war there.  She started some time ago, and we have just
heard that she is entering the lower harbor. She should have her
blue-jackets on shore in twenty minutes.  Sir Julian and I think you
ought to wait for them."

The English Minister put a detaining hand on Clay's bridle.  "If you
attack Mendoza at the Palace with this mob," he remonstrated, "rioting
and lawlessness generally will break out all over the city.  I ask you
to keep them back until we get your sailors to police the streets and
protect property."

Clay glanced over his shoulder at the engineers and the Irish workmen
standing in solemn array behind him.  "Oh, you can hardly call this a
mob," he said.  "They look a little rough and ready, but I will answer
for them.  The two other columns that are coming up the streets
parallel to this are Government troops and properly engaged in driving
a usurper out of the Government building.  The best thing you can do is
to get down to the wharf and send the marines and blue-jackets where
you think they will do the most good.  I can't wait for them.  And they
can't come too soon."

The grounds of the Palace occupied two entire blocks; the Botanical
Gardens were in the rear, and in front a series of low terraces ran
down from its veranda to the high iron fence which separated the
grounds from the chief thoroughfare of the city.

Clay sent word to the left and right wing of his little army to make a
detour one street distant from the Palace grounds and form in the
street in the rear of the Botanical Gardens.  When they heard the
firing of his men from the front they were to force their way through
the gates at the back and attack the Palace in the rear.

"Mendoza has the place completely barricaded," Weimer warned him, "and
he has three field pieces covering each of these streets.  You and your
men are directly in line of one of them now.  He is only waiting for
you to get a little nearer before he lets loose."

From where he sat Clay could count the bars of the iron fence in front
of the grounds.  But the boards that backed them prevented his forming
any idea of the strength or the distribution of Mendoza's forces.  He
drew his staff of amateur officers to one side and explained the
situation to them.

"The Theatre National and the Club Union," he said, "face the Palace
from the opposite corners of this street.  You must get into them and
barricade the windows and throw up some sort of shelter for yourselves
along the edge of the roofs and drive the men behind that fence back to
the Palace.  Clear them away from the cannon first, and keep them away
from it.  I will be waiting in the street below.  When you have driven
them back, we will charge the gates and have it out with them in the
gardens.  The Third and Fourth regiments ought to take them in the rear
about the same time.  You will continue to pick them off from the roof."

The two supporting columns had already started on their roundabout way
to the rear of the Palace.  Clay gathered up his reins, and telling his
men to keep close to the walls, started forward, his soldiers following
on the sidewalks and leaving the middle of the street clear.  As they
reached a point a hundred yards below the Palace, a part of the wooden
shield behind the fence was thrown down, there was a puff of white
smoke and a report, and a cannon-ball struck the roof of a house which
they were passing and sent the tiles clattering about their heads.  But
the men in the lead had already reached the stage-door of the theatre
and were opposite one of the doors to the club.  They drove these in
with the butts of their rifles, and raced up the stairs of each of the
deserted buildings until they reached the roof.  Langham was swept by a
weight of men across a stage, and jumped among the music racks in the
orchestra.  He caught a glimpse of the early morning sun shining on the
tawdry hangings of the boxes and the exaggerated perspective of the
scenery.  He ran through corridors between two great statues of Comedy
and Tragedy, and up a marble stair case to a lobby in which he saw the
white faces about him multiplied in long mirrors, and so out to an iron
balcony from which he looked down, panting and breathless, upon the
Palace Gardens, swarming with soldiers and white with smoke.  Men
poured through the windows of the club opposite, dragging sofas and
chairs out to the balcony and upon the flat roof.  The men near him
were tearing down the yellow silk curtains in the lobby and draping
them along the railing of the balcony to better conceal their movements
from the enemy below.  Bullets spattered the stucco about their heads,
and panes of glass broke suddenly and fell in glittering particles upon
their shoulders.  The firing had already begun from the roofs near
them.  Beyond the club and the theatre and far along the street on each
side of the Palace the merchants were slamming the iron shutters of
their shops, and men and women were running for refuge up the high
steps of the church of Santa Maria. Others were gathered in black
masses on the balconies and roofs of the more distant houses, where
they stood outlined against the soft blue sky in gigantic silhouette.
Their shouts of encouragement and anger carried clearly in the morning
air, and spurred on the gladiators below to greater effort.  In the
Palace Gardens a line of Mendoza's men fought from behind the first
barricade, while others dragged tables and bedding and chairs across
the green terraces and tumbled them down to those below, who seized
them and formed them into a second line of defence.

Two of the assistant engineers were kneeling at Langham's feet with the
barrels of their rifles resting on the railing of the balcony.  Their
eyes had been trained for years to judge distances and to measure
space, and they glanced along the sights of their rifles as though they
were looking through the lens of a transit, and at each report their
faces grew more earnest and their lips pressed tighter together.  One
of them lowered his gun to light a cigarette, and Langham handed him
his match-box, with a certain feeling of repugnance.

"Better get under cover, Mr. Langham," the man said, kindly. "There's
no use our keeping your mines for you if you're not alive to enjoy
them.  Take a shot at that crew around the gun."

"I don't like this long range business," Langham answered.  "I am going
down to join Clay.  I don't like the idea of hitting a man when he
isn't looking at you."

The engineer gave an incredulous laugh.

"If he isn't looking at you, he's aiming at the man next to you. 'Live
and let Live' doesn't apply at present."

As Langham reached Clay's side triumphant shouts arose from the
roof-tops, and the men posted there stood up and showed themselves
above the barricades and called to Clay that the cannon were deserted.

Kirkland had come prepared for the barricade, and, running across the
street, fastened a dynamite cartridge to each gate post and lit the
fuses.  The soldiers scattered before him as he came leaping back, and
in an instant later there was a racking roar, and the gates were
pitched out of their sockets and thrown forward, and those in the
street swept across them and surrounded the cannon.

Langham caught it by the throat as though it were human, and did not
feel the hot metal burning the palms of his hands as he choked it and
pointed its muzzle toward the Palace, while the others dragged at the
spokes of the wheel.  It was fighting at close range now, close enough
to suit even Langham.  He found himself in the front rank of it without
knowing exactly how he got there.  Every man on both sides was playing
his own hand, and seemed to know exactly what to do.  He felt neglected
and very much alone, and was somewhat anxious lest his valor might be
wasted through his not knowing how to put it to account.  He saw the
enemy in changing groups of scowling men, who seemed to eye him for an
instant down the length of a gun-barrel and then disappear behind a
puff of smoke.  He kept thinking that war made men take strange
liberties with their fellow-men, and it struck him as being most absurd
that strangers should stand up and try to kill one another, men who had
so little in common that they did not even know one another's names.
The soldiers who were fighting on his own side were equally unknown to
him, and he looked in vain for Clay.  He saw MacWilliams for a moment
through the smoke, jabbing at a jammed cartridge with his pen-knife,
and hacking the lead away to make it slip.  He was remonstrating with
the gun and swearing at it exactly as though it were human, and as
Langham ran toward him he threw it away and caught up another from the
ground.  Kneeling beside the wounded man who had dropped it and picking
the cartridges from his belt, he assured him cheerfully that he was not
so badly hurt as he thought.

"You all right?" Langham asked.

"I'm all right.  I'm trying to get a little laddie hiding behind that
blue silk sofa over there.  He's taken an unnatural dislike to me, and
he's nearly got me three times.  I'm knocking horse-hair out of his
rampart, though."

The men of Stuart's body-guard were fighting outside of the breastworks
and mattresses.  They were using their swords as though they were
machetes, and the Irishmen were swinging their guns around their
shoulders like sledge-hammers, and beating their foes over the head and
breast.  The guns at his own side sounded close at Langham's ear, and
deafened him, and those of the enemy exploded so near to his face that
he was kept continually winking and dodging, as though he were being
taken by a flashlight photograph.  When he fired he aimed where the
mass was thickest, so that he might not see what his bullet did, but he
remembered afterward that he always reloaded with the most anxious
swiftness in order that he might not be killed before he had had
another shot, and that the idea of being killed was of no concern to
him except on that account.  Then the scene before him changed, and
apparently hundreds of Mendoza's soldiers poured out from the Palace
and swept down upon him, cheering as they came, and he felt himself
falling back naturally and as a matter of course, as he would have
stepped out of the way of a locomotive, or a runaway horse, or any
other unreasoning thing.  His shoulders pushed against a mass of
shouting, sweating men, who in turn pressed back upon others, until the
mass reached the iron fence and could move no farther.  He heard Clay's
voice shouting to them, and saw him run forward, shooting rapidly as he
ran, and he followed him, even though his reason told him it was a
useless thing to do, and then there came a great shout from the rear of
the Palace, and more soldiers, dressed exactly like the others, rushed
through the great doors and swarmed around the two wings of the
building, and he recognized them as Rojas's men and knew that the fight
was over.

He saw a tall man with a negro's face spring out of the first mass of
soldiers and shout to them to follow him.  Clay gave a yell of welcome
and ran at him, calling upon him in Spanish to surrender.  The negro
stopped and stood at bay, glaring at Clay and at the circle of soldiers
closing in around him.  He raised his revolver and pointed it steadily.
It was as though the man knew he had only a moment to live, and meant
to do that one thing well in the short time left him.

Clay sprang to one side and ran toward him, dodging to the right and
left, but Mendoza followed his movements carefully with his revolver.

It lasted but an instant.  Then the Spaniard threw his arm suddenly
across his face, drove the heel of his boot into the turf, and spinning
about on it fell forward.

"If he was shot where his sash crosses his heart, I know the man who
did it," Langham heard a voice say at his elbow, and turning saw
MacWilliams wetting his fingers at his lips and touching them gingerly
to the heated barrel of his Winchester.

The death of Mendoza left his followers without a leader and without a
cause.  They threw their muskets on the ground and held their hands
above their heads, shrieking for mercy.  Clay and his officers answered
them instantly by running from one group to another, knocking up the
barrels of the rifles and calling hoarsely to the men on the roofs to
cease firing, and as they were obeyed the noise of the last few random
shots was drowned in tumultuous cheering and shouts of exultation,
that, starting in the gardens, were caught up by those in the streets
and passed on quickly as a line of flame along the swaying housetops.

The native officers sprang upon Clay and embraced him after their
fashion, hailing him as the Liberator of Olancho, as the Preserver of
the Constitution, and their brother patriot.  Then one of them climbed
to the top of a gilt and marble table and proclaimed him military
President.

"You'll proclaim yourself an idiot, if you don't get down from there,"
Clay said, laughing.  "I thank you for permitting me to serve with you,
gentlemen.  I shall have great pleasure in telling our President how
well you acquitted yourself in this row--battle, I mean.  And now I
would suggest that you store the prisoners' weapons in the Palace and
put a guard over them, and then conduct the men themselves to the
military prison, where you can release General Rojas and escort him
back to the city in a triumphal procession.  You'd like that, wouldn't
you?"

But the natives protested that that honor was for him alone. Clay
declined it, pleading that he must look after his wounded.

"I can hardly believe there are any dead," he said to Kirkland.

"For, if it takes two thousand bullets to kill a man in European
warfare, it must require about two hundred thousand to kill a man in
South America."

He told Kirkland to march his men back to the mines and to see that
there were no stragglers.  "If they want to celebrate, let them
celebrate when they get to the mines, but not here.  They have made a
good record to-day and I won't have it spoiled by rioting.  They shall
have their reward later.  Between Rojas and Mr. Langham they should all
be rich men."

The cheering from the housetops since the firing ceased had changed
suddenly into hand-clappings, and the cries, though still
undistinguishable, were of a different sound.  Clay saw that the
Americans on the balconies of the club and of the theatre had thrown
themselves far over the railings and were all looking in the same
direction and waving their hats and cheering loudly, and he heard above
the shouts of the people the regular tramp of men's feet marching in
step, and the rattle of a machine gun as it bumped and shook over the
rough stones.  He gave a shout of pleasure, and Kirkland and the two
boys ran with him up the slope, crowding each other to get a better
view.  The mob parted at the Palace gates, and they saw two lines of
blue-jackets, spread out like the sticks of a fan, dragging the gun
between them, the middies in their tight-buttoned tunics and gaiters,
and behind them more blue-jackets with bare, bronzed throats, and with
the swagger and roll of the sea in their legs and shoulders.  An
American flag floated above the white helmets of the marines.  Its
presence and the sense of pride which the sight of these men from home
awoke in them made the fight just over seem mean and petty, and they
took off their hats and cheered with the others.

A first lieutenant, who felt his importance and also a sense of
disappointment at having arrived too late to see the fighting, left his
men at the gate of the Palace, and advanced up the terrace, stopping to
ask for information as he came.  Each group to which he addressed
himself pointed to Clay.  The sight of his own flag had reminded Clay
that the banner of Mendoza still hung from the mast beside which he was
standing, and as the officer approached he was busily engaged in
untwisting its halyards and pulling it down.

The lieutenant saluted him doubtfully.

"Can you tell me who is in command here?" he asked.  He spoke somewhat
sharply, for Clay was not a military looking personage, covered as he
was with dust and perspiration, and with his sombrero on the back of
his head.

"Our Consul here told us at the landing-place," continued the
lieutenant in an aggrieved tone, "that a General Mendoza was in power,
and that I had better report to him, and then ten minutes later I hear
that he is dead and that a General Rojas is President, but that a man
named Clay has made himself Dictator. My instructions are to recognize
no belligerents, but to report to the Government party.  Now, who is
the Government party?"

Clay brought the red-barred flag down with a jerk, and ripped it free
from the halyards.  Kirkland and the two boys were watching him with
amused smiles.

"I appreciate your difficulty," he said.  "President Alvarez is dead,
and General Mendoza, who tried to make himself Dictator, is also dead,
and the real President, General Rojas, is still in jail.  So at present
I suppose that I represent the Government party, at least I am the man
named Clay.  It hadn't occurred to me before, but, until Rojas is free,
I guess I am the Dictator of Olancho.  Is Madame Alvarez on board your
ship?"

"Yes, she is with us," the officer replied, in some confusion. "Excuse
me--are you the three gentlemen who took her to the yacht?  I am afraid
I spoke rather hastily just now, but you are not in uniform, and the
Government seems to change so quickly down here that a stranger finds
it hard to keep up with it."

Six of the native officers had approached as the lieutenant was
speaking and saluted Clay gravely.  "We have followed your
instructions," one of them said, "and the regiments are ready to march
with the prisoners.  Have you any further orders for us--can we deliver
any messages to General Rojas?"

"Present my congratulations to General Rojas, and best wishes," said
Clay.  "And tell him for me, that it would please me greatly if he
would liberate an American citizen named Burke, who is at present in
the cuartel.  And that I wish him to promote all of you gentlemen one
grade and give each of you the Star of Olancho.  Tell him that in my
opinion you have deserved even higher reward and honor at his hands."

The boy-lieutenants broke out into a chorus of delighted thanks. They
assured Clay that he was most gracious; that he overwhelmed them, and
that it was honor enough for them that they had served under him.  But
Clay laughed, and drove them off with a paternal wave of the hand.

The officer from the man-of-war listened with an uncomfortable sense of
having blundered in his manner toward this powder-splashed young man
who set American citizens at liberty, and created captains by the
half-dozen at a time.

"Are you from the States?" he asked as they moved toward the
man-of-war's men.

"I am, thank God.  Why not?"

"I thought you were, but you saluted like an Englishman."

"I was an officer in the English army once in the Soudan, when they
were short of officers."  Clay shook his head and looked wistfully at
the ranks of the blue-jackets drawn up on either side of them.  The
horses had been brought out and Langham and MacWilliams were waiting
for him to mount.  "I have worn several uniforms since I was a boy,"
said Clay.  "But never that of my own country."

The people were cheering him from every part of the square. Women waved
their hands from balconies and housetops, and men climbed to awnings
and lampposts and shouted his name.  The officers and men of the
landing party took note of him and of this reception out of the corner
of their eyes, and wondered.

"And what had I better do?" asked the commanding officer.

"Oh, I would police the Palace grounds, if I were you, and picket that
street at the right, where there are so many wine shops, and preserve
order generally until Rojas gets here. He won't be more than an hour,
now.  We shall be coming over to pay our respects to your captain
to-morrow.  Glad to have met you."

"Well, I'm glad to have met you," answered the officer, heartily.
"Hold on a minute.  Even if you haven't worn our uniform, you're as
good, and better, than some I've seen that have, and you're a sort of a
commander-in-chief, anyway, and I'm damned if I don't give you a sort
of salute."

Clay laughed like a boy as he swung himself into the saddle.  The
officer stepped back and gave the command; the middies raised their
swords and Clay passed between massed rows of his countrymen with their
muskets held rigidly toward him.  The housetops rocked again at the
sight, and as he rode out into the brilliant sunshine, his eyes were
wet and winking.

The two boys had drawn up at his side, but MacWilliams had turned in
the saddle and was still looking toward the Palace, with his hand
resting on the hindquarters of his pony.

"Look back, Clay," he said.  "Take a last look at it, you'll never see
it after to-day.  Turn again, turn again, Dictator of Olancho."

The men laughed and drew rein as he bade them, and looked back up the
narrow street.  They saw the green and white flag of Olancho creeping
to the top of the mast before the Palace, the blue-jackets driving back
the crowd, the gashes in the walls of the houses, where Mendoza's
cannonballs had dug their way through the stucco, and the silk
curtains, riddled with bullets, flapping from the balconies of the
opera-house.

"You had it all your own way an hour ago," MacWilliams said, mockingly.
"You could have sent Rojas into exile, and made us all Cabinet
Ministers--and you gave it up for a girl.  Now, you're Dictator of
Olancho.  What will you be to-morrow?  To-morrow you will be Andrew
Langham's son-in-law--Benedict, the married man.  Andrew Langham's
son-in-law cannot ask his wife to live in such a hole as this,
so--Goodbye, Mr. Clay.  We have been long together."

Clay and Langham looked curiously at the boy to see if he were in
earnest, but MacWilliams would not meet their eyes.

"There were three of us," he said, "and one got shot, and one got
married, and the third--?  You will grow fat, Clay, and live on Fifth
Avenue and wear a high silk hat, and some day when you're sitting in
your club you'll read a paragraph in a newspaper with a queer Spanish
date-line to it, and this will all come back to you,--this heat, and
the palms, and the fever, and the days when you lived on plantains and
we watched our trestles grow out across the canons, and you'll be
willing to give your hand to sleep in a hammock again, and to feel the
sweat running down your back, and you'll want to chuck your gun up
against your chin and shoot into a line of men, and the policemen won't
let you, and your wife won't let you.  That's what you're giving up.
There it is.  Take a good look at it.  You'll never see it again."



XV

The steamer "Santiago," carrying "passengers, bullion, and coffee," was
headed to pass Porto Rico by midnight, when she would be free of land
until she anchored at the quarantine station of the green hills of
Staten Island.  She had not yet shaken off the contamination of the
earth; a soft inland breeze still tantalized her with odors of tree and
soil, the smell of the fresh coat of paint that had followed her
coaling rose from her sides, and the odor of spilt coffee-grains that
hung around the hatches had yet to be blown away by a jealous ocean
breeze, or washed by a welcoming cross sea.

The captain stopped at the open entrance of the Social Hall. "If any of
you ladies want to take your last look at Olancho you've got to come
now," he said.  "We'll lose the Valencia light in the next quarter
hour."

Miss Langham and King looked up from their novels and smiled, and Miss
Langham shook her head.  "I've taken three final farewells of Olancho
already," she said: "before we went down to dinner, and when the sun
set, and when the moon rose.  I have no more sentiment left to draw on.
Do you want to go?" she asked.

"I'm very comfortable, thank you," King said, and returned to the
consideration of his novel.

But Clay and Hope arose at the captain's suggestion with suspicious
alacrity, and stepped out upon the empty deck, and into the
encompassing darkness, with a little sigh of relief.

Alice Langham looked after them somewhat wistfully and bit the edges of
her book.  She sat for some time with her brows knitted, glancing
occasionally and critically toward King and up with unseeing eyes at
the swinging lamps of the saloon.  He caught her looking at him once
when he raised his eyes as he turned a page, and smiled back at her,
and she nodded pleasantly and bent her head over her reading.  She
assured herself that after all King understood her and she him, and
that if they never rose to certain heights, they never sank below a
high level of mutual esteem, and that perhaps was the best in the end.

King had placed his yacht at the disposal of Madame Alvarez, and she
had sailed to Colon, where she could change to the steamers for Lisbon,
while he accompanied the Langhams and the wedding party to New York.

Clay recognized that the time had now arrived in his life when he could
graduate from the position of manager-director and become the
engineering expert, and that his services in Olancho were no longer
needed.

With Rojas in power Mr. Langham had nothing further to fear from the
Government, and with Kirkland in charge and young Langham returning
after a few months' absence to resume his work, he felt himself free to
enjoy his holiday.

They had taken the first steamer out, and the combined efforts of all
had been necessary to prevail upon MacWilliams to accompany them; and
even now the fact that he was to act as Clay's best man and, as Langham
assured him cheerfully, was to wear a frock coat and see his name in
all the papers, brought on such sudden panics of fear that the
fast-fading coast line filled his soul with regret, and a wilful desire
to jump overboard and swim back.

Clay and Hope stopped at the door of the chief engineer's cabin and
said they had come to pay him a visit.  The chief had but just come
from the depths where the contamination of the earth was most evident
in the condition of his stokers; but his chin was now cleanly shaven,
and his pipe was drawing as well as his engine fires, and he had
wrapped himself in an old P. & O. white duck jacket to show what he had
been before he sank to the level of a coasting steamer.  They admired
the clerk-like neatness of the report he had just finished, and in
return he promised them the fastest run on record, and showed them the
portrait of his wife, and of their tiny cottage on the Isle of Wight,
and his jade idols from Corea, and carved cocoanut gourds from Brazil,
and a picture from the "Graphic" of Lord Salisbury, tacked to the
partition and looking delightedly down between two highly colored
lithographs of Miss Ellen Terry and the Princess May.

Then they called upon the captain, and Clay asked him why captains
always hung so much lace about their beds when they invariably slept on
a red velvet sofa with their boots on, and the captain ordered his
Chinese steward to mix them a queer drink and offered them the choice
of a six months' accumulation of paper novels, and free admittance to
his bridge at all hours. And then they passed on to the door of the
smoking-room and beckoned MacWilliams to come out and join them.  His
manner as he did so bristled with importance, and he drew them eagerly
to the rail.

"I've just been having a chat with Captain Burke," he said, in an
undertone.  "He's been telling Langham and me about a new game that's
better than running railroads.  He says there's a country called
Macedonia that's got a native prince who wants to be free from Turkey,
and the Turks won't let him, and Burke says if we'll each put up a
thousand dollars, he'll guarantee to get the prince free in six months.
He's made an estimate of the cost and submitted it to the Russian
Embassy at Washington, and he says they will help him secretly, and he
knows a man who has just patented a new rifle, and who will supply him
with a thousand of them for the sake of the advertisement.  He says
it's a mountainous country, and all you have to do is to stand on the
passes and roll rocks down on the Turks as they come in.  It sounds
easy, doesn't it?"

"Then you're thinking of turning professional filibuster yourself?"
said Clay.

"Well, I don't know.  It sounds more interesting than engineering.
Burke says I beat him on his last fight, and he'd like to have me with
him in the next one--sort of young-blood-in-the-firm idea--and he
calculates that we can go about setting people free and upsetting
governments for some time to come.  He says there is always something
to fight about if you look for it. And I must say the condition of
those poor Macedonians does appeal to me.  Think of them all alone down
there bullied by that Sultan of Turkey, and wanting to be free and
independent.  That's not right.  You, as an American citizen, ought to
be the last person in the world to throw cold water on an undertaking
like that.  In the name of Liberty now?"

"I don't object; set them free, of course," laughed Clay. "But how long
have you entertained this feeling for the enslaved Macedonians, Mac?"

"Well, I never heard of them until a quarter of an hour ago, but they
oughtn't to suffer through my ignorance."

"Certainly not.  Let me know when you're going to do it, and Hope and I
will run over and look on.  I should like to see you and Burke and the
Prince of Macedonia rolling rocks down on the Turkish Empire."

Hope and Clay passed on up the deck laughing, and MacWilliams looked
after them with a fond and paternal smile.  The lamp in the wheelhouse
threw a broad belt of light across the forward deck as they passed
through it into the darkness of the bow, where the lonely lookout
turned and stared at them suspiciously, and then resumed his stern
watch over the great waters.

They leaned upon the rail and breathed the soft air which the rush of
the steamer threw in their faces, and studied in silence the stars that
lay so low upon the horizon line that they looked like the harbor
lights of a great city.

"Do you see that long line of lamps off our port bow?" asked Clay.

Hope nodded.

"Those are the electric lights along the ocean drive at Long Branch and
up the Rumson Road, and those two stars a little higher up are fixed to
the mast-heads of the Scotland Lightship. And that mass of light that
you think is the Milky Way, is the glare of the New York street lamps
thrown up against the sky."

"Are we so near as that?" said Hope, smiling.  "And what lies over
there?" she asked, pointing to the east.

"Over there is the coast of Africa.  Don't you see the lighthouse on
Cape Bon?  If it wasn't for Gibraltar being in the way, I could show
you the harbor lights of Bizerta, and the terraces of Algiers shining
like a café chantant in the night."

"Algiers," sighed Hope, "where you were a soldier of Africa, and rode
across the deserts.  Will you take me there?"

"There, of course, but to Gibraltar first, where we will drive along
the Alameda by moonlight.  I drove there once coming home from a mess
dinner with the Colonel.  The drive lies between broad white
balustrades, and the moon shone down on us between the leaves of the
Spanish bayonet.  It was like an Italian garden.  But he did not see
it, and he would talk to me about the Watkins range finder on the lower
ramparts, and he puffed on a huge cigar.  I tried to imagine I was
there on my honeymoon, but the end of his cigar would light up and I
would see his white mustache and the glow on his red jacket, so I vowed
I would go over that drive again with the proper person.  And we won't
talk of range finders, will we?

"There to the North is Paris; your Paris, and my Paris, with London
only eight hours away.  If you look very closely, you can see the
thousands of hansom cab lamps flashing across the asphalt, and the open
theatres, and the fairy lamps in the gardens back of the houses in
Mayfair, where they are giving dances in your honor, in honor of the
beautiful American bride, whom every one wants to meet.  And you will
wear the finest tiara we can get on Bond Street, but no one will look
at it; they will only look at you.  And I will feel very miserable and
tease you to come home."

Hope put her hand in his, and he held her finger-tips to his lips for
an instant and closed his other hand upon hers.

"And after that?" asked Hope.

"After that we will go to work again, and take long journeys to Mexico
and Peru or wherever they want me, and I will sit in judgment on the
work other chaps have done.  And when we get back to our car at night,
or to the section house, for it will be very rough sometimes,"--Hope
pressed his hand gently in answer,--"I will tell you privately how very
differently your husband would have done it, and you, knowing all about
it, will say that had it been left to me, I would certainly have
accomplished it in a vastly superior manner."

"Well, so you would," said Hope, calmly.

"That's what I said you'd say," laughed Clay.  "Dearest," he begged,
"promise me something.  Promise me that you are going to be very happy."

Hope raised her eyes and looked up at him in silence, and had the man
in the wheelhouse been watching the stars, as he should have been, no
one but the two foolish young people on the bow of the boat would have
known her answer.

The ship's bell sounded eight times, and Hope moved slightly.

"So late as that," she sighed.  "Come.  We must be going back."

A great wave struck the ship's side a friendly slap, and the wind
caught up the spray and tossed it in their eyes, and blew a strand of
her hair loose so that it fell across Clay's face, and they laughed
happily together as she drew it back and he took her hand again to
steady her progress across the slanting deck.

As they passed hand in hand out of the shadow into the light from the
wheelhouse, the lookout in the bow counted the strokes of the bell to
himself, and then turned and shouted back his measured cry to the
bridge above them.  His voice seemed to be a part of the murmuring sea
and the welcoming winds.

"Listen," said Clay.

"Eight bells," the voice sang from the darkness.  "The for'ard light's
shining bright--and all's well."





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