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´╗┐Title: Rezanov
Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948
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 "Rezanov" ***

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REZANOV


BY

GERTRUDE ATHERTON



With an Introduction by

WILLIAM MARION REEDY



INTRODUCTION

A long list of works Gertrude Atherton has to her credit as a writer.
She is indisputably a woman of genius.  Not that her genius is
distinctively feminine, though she is in matters historical a
passionate partisan.  Most of the critics who approve her work agree
that in the main she views life with somewhat of the masculine spirit
of liberality.  She is as much the realist as one can be who is
saturated with the romance that is California, her birthplace and her
home, if such a true cosmopolite as she can be said to have a home.  In
all she has written there is abounding life; her grasp of character is
firm; her style has a warm, glowing plasticity, frequently a rhythm
variously expressive of all the wide range of feeling which a writer
must have to make his or her books living things.  She does no less
well in the depiction of men than in the portraiture of women.  All
stand out of their vivid environment distinctly and they are all
personalities of power--even, occasionally, of "that strong power
called weakness."  And they all wear something of a glory imparted to
them by the sympathy of their creator and interpreter.  High upon any
roster of our best American writers we must enroll the name of Mrs.
Atherton.

Of all her books I like best this "Rezanov," though I have not found
many to agree with me. It is not so pretentious as others more
frequently commended.  It is a simple story, almost one might say an
incident or an anecdote.  It is not literally sophisticated.  For me
that is its unfailing charm. I find in it not a little of the strange,
primeval quality that makes me think of "Aucassin and Nicolette."  For
it is not so much a novel as an historical idyl, not to be read without
a persisting suffusion of sympathy and never to be remembered without a
recurring tenderness.  Remembered, did I say?  It is unforgettable.
There are few books of American origin that resist so well the passing
of the years, that take on more steadily the glamour of "the
unimaginable touch of time."  "Rezanov" is a classic, or I miss my
guess.  This, though it was first published so recently as 1906.

The story has the merit of being, to some extent historically, and
wholly artistically, true.  For the matter-of-facts Mrs. Atherton
provides a bibliography of her authorities.  Those authorities I have
not read, nor should others.  Sufficient unto me is the authority of
the novel itself splendidly demonstrated and established in the high
court of the reader's head and heart by the author's visualizing
veritism.  Not twenty pages have you turned before you know this
Rezanov, privy councilor, grand chamberlain, plenipotentiary of the
Russo-American company, imperial inspector of the extreme eastern and
northwestern dominions of his imperial majesty Alexander the First,
emperor of Russia--all this and more, a man.  He comes out of mystery
into the softly bright light of California, in strength and shrewdness
and dignity and personal splendor.  And there is amidst it all a pathos
upon him.  He commands your affection even while suggesting a doubt
whether the man may not be overwhelmed in the diplomat, the intriguer.
The year is 1806.  The monstrous apparition of Napoleon has loomed an
omen of the doom of ancient authority and the shattering of nations in
Europe. That faithless, incalculable idealist Alexander, plans he knows
not what of imperial glory in the Eastern and Western world.  Rezanov
is his servant, a man of ambition, perhaps in all favor at court,
desirous of doing some great service for his master.  He dreams of
dominion in this sun-soaked land so lazily held in the lax grasp of
Spain.  He has come from failure.  He had been to Japan with presents
to the emperor, was received by minor officials with a hospitality that
poorly concealed the fact that he was virtually a prisoner, and then
dismissed without admission to the audience he sought with the mikado.
He had gone then to bleak, inhospitable Sitka, to find the settlement
there in a plague of scurvy and starvation only slightly mitigated by
vodka.  Down the coast then he sailed to the Spanish settlement for
food for the settlement. He comes to that place where in his vision he
sees arise that city of the future which we know now as San Francisco.
Masterful man that he is, he feels that here some great thing awaits
him.  The Spaniards are wary of him.  They will not trade with him, but
they receive him courteously and they are fascinated by his
self-possessed, well-poised but withal so gracious personality.  The
life there at the time is a sort of lotus-eating existence.  It is a
piece of Spain translated to a more luscious, a lovelier land,
overlooking beautiful seas and perilous.  Into the dolce far niente
Rezanov enters with some surrender to its softening spell, but with the
courtier's prudence.

And he meets the girl, Concha Arguello.  He sees her in the setting of
burning and sweet Castilian roses--a girl who has had the benefit of
education, who keeps the graces of old Madrid in this realm beyond sea,
a burgeoning bud of womanhood, daughter of the commandante.  The doom
of both is upon them at once.  They have drunk the poisoned cup.
Rezanov resists the first approaches of the delightful delirium,
remembering Russia, his duty, his ambition, the poor starving men of
the Sitka factory.  At a party he dances with Concha and they both know
that for each there is none other.  So in that setting so wild, so
strange, so remote, so lovely for the old world grace that is made
native there by this bright, deep, fond girl, the high gods proceed to
have their will upon the two.  The little community life pulses around
them the faster because they are there.  Their love becomes a motive in
the diplomatic drama which has for end, first, the securing of food for
those famishing folk at Sitka, and beyond that, possibly the seizing of
the region for Russia, lest that new young power of the West, the
United States, preempt the rich domain.  Concha would help the Russian
to those ends immediate which he reveals to her, and succeeds.  He
tells her of Russia and his mighty position there.  He would have her
for his wife, his helper in the vast imperial affairs at the Russian
capitol, his princess in his palace, augmenting his official and
personal distinction.  She shares his vision, rising to all the heights
it unfolds in a splendid future.  Child she is, but she is transformed
into a woman by the prospect not of her own pleasure, but of
participation in splendid achievement with this man so keen, so supple,
yet so firm in high purpose.  And as the prospect opens to her desire
and his there looms the obstacle.  They cannot marry, for Rezanov is a
heretic.  And now the passion flames.  This child woman will go with
him. Ah, but the church, the king of Spain, will they permit?  And the
Czar!  Rezanov will see to it that the Czar will clear the way for them
through power exercised at Rome and at Madrid.  Conditioned upon this,
the girl's parents consent.

These lovers prate very little of love.  Their desire runs too deep for
mere speech.  It is a desire made up of as much spiritual as carnal
fire.  It is fierce but steady in ecstacy and agony, indistinguishable
the one from the other.  Rezanov, man of the great world, it purifies.
Concha it strengthens and makes indomitable.  They will abide delay.
They will endure in faith and hope--the faith and hope both dimmed by
the vague and unshakable intuition or premonition that fate has marked
them for derision.  Nevertheless, they will endure.

There is a meeting on a path that overlooks where the white seas strike
their tents.  It is a meeting of little action, of few words.  It is
tense with the almost inexpressible, but at its end, confronting the
doubtful future, realizing that when Rezanov goes he may not return,
this girl tells him: "I will give myself to you forever, how much or
little that may mean here on earth.  Forever!"  And then that scene in
the moonlight amid the scent of the Castilian roses, when Concha, as
signal of her trust in her lover, lifts the little wisps of hair that
conceal her ears and shows them to him--it throbs with passionate
purity in memory yet.

Rezanov sails away to Sitka with provisions, thence to Siberia, and
then begins the long ride over endless versts of land, across streams
in icy flood, in rain and cold and snow towards the capitol and the
Czar.  Delays, disasters to vehicles and horses and the maddening
lengthening of time.  From drenchings and freezing comes the fever that
calls for more speed.  Krasnoiarsk is reached.  The fever mounts, the
traveler must stop and rest and be cared for.  His visions commingle
his objective and his memories ... CONCHA! ...  The snowy steppes and
the inky rivers....  His servant enters the room in the inn ...  Why
... "Where has Jon found Castilian roses in this barren land?" ... "and
his unconquerably sanguine spirit flared high before a vision of
eternal and unthinkable happiness" ... Castilian roses!  Concha
Arguello waits among them, immortal, sainted in her purity and
fidelity, ministering to her poor Indians, her face alight with
unquenchable memory and with surety of an eventual everlasting tryst.
Those Castilian roses!  They perfume forever one's memories of this
pair, puissant in faith, in this novel that is a poem and a shrine of
that love which lives when death itself is dead.

WILLIAM MARION REEDY



REZANOV



I

As the little ship that had three times raced with death sailed past
the gray headlands and into the straits of San Francisco on that
brilliant April morning of 1806, Rezanov forgot the bitter
humiliations, the mental and physical torments, the deprivations and
dangers of the past three years; forgot those harrowing months in the
harbor of Nagasaki when the Russian bear had caged his tail in the
presence of eyes aslant; his dismay at Kamchatka when he had been
forced to send home another to vindicate his failure, and to remain in
the Tsar's incontiguous and barbarous northeastern possessions as
representative of his Imperial Majesty, and plenipotentiary of the
Company his own genius had created; forgot the year of loneliness and
hardship and peril in whose jaws the bravest was impotent; forgot even
his pitiable crew, diseased when he left Sitka, that had filled the
Juno with their groans and laments; and the bells of youth, long still,
rang in his soul once more.

"It is the spring in California," he thought, with a sigh that curled
at the edge.  "However," life had made him philosophical; "the moments
of unreasonable happiness are the most enviable no doubt, for there is
neither gall nor satiety in the reaction. All this is as enchanting
as--well, as a woman's promise.  What lies beyond?  Illiterate and
mercenary Spaniards, vicious natives, and boundless ennui, one may
safely wager.  But if all California is as beautiful as this, no man
that has spent a winter in Sitka should ask for more."

In the extent and variety of his travels Rezanov had seen Nature more
awesome of feature but never more fair.  On his immediate right as he
sailed down the straits toward the narrow entrance to be known as the
Golden Gate, there was little to interest save the surf and the masses
of outlying rocks where the seals leapt and barked; the shore beyond
was sandy and low.  But on his left the last of the northern mountains
rose straight from the water, the warm red of its deeply indented
cliffs rich in harmony with the green of slope and height. There was
not a tree; the mountains, the promontories, the hills far down on the
right beyond the sand dunes, looked like stupendous waves of lava that
had cooled into every gracious line and fold within the art of
relenting Nature; granted ages after, a light coat of verdure to clothe
the terrible mystery of birth.  The great bay, as blue and tranquil as
a high mountain lake, as silent as if the planet still slept after the
agonies of labor, looked to be broken by a number of promontories,
rising from their points far out in the water to the high back of the
land; but as the Juno pursued her slanting way down the channel Rezanov
saw that the most imposing of these was but the end of a large island,
and that scattered near were other islands, masses of rock like the
castellated heights that rise abruptly from the plains of Italy and
Spain; far away, narrow straits, with a glittering expanse beyond;
while bounding the whole eastern rim of this splendid sheet of water
was a chain of violet hills, with the pale green mist of new grass here
and there, and purple hollows that might mean groves of trees crouching
low against the cold winds of summer; in the soft pale blue haze above
and beyond, the lofty volcanic peak of a mountain range. Not a human
being, not a boat, not even a herd of cattle was to be seen, and
Rezanov, for a moment forgetting to exult in the length of Russia's
arm, yielded himself to the subtle influence abroad in the air, and
felt that he could dream as he had dreamed in a youth when the courts
of Europe to the boy were as fabulous as El Dorado in the immensity of
ancestral seclusions.

"It is like the approach to paradise, is it not, Excellency?" a
deferential voice murmured at his elbow.

The plenipotentiary frowned without turning his head.  Dr. Langsdorff,
surgeon and naturalist, had accompanied the Embassy to Japan, and
although Rezanov had never found any man more of a bore and would
willingly have seen the last of him at Kamchatka, a skilful dispenser
of drugs and mender of bones was necessary in his hazardous voyages,
and he retained him in his suite.  Langsdorff returned his polite
tolerance with all the hidden resources of his spleen; but his
curiosity and scientific enthusiasm would have sustained him through
greater trials than the exactions of an autocrat, whom at least he had
never ceased to respect in the most trying moments at Nagasaki.

"Yes," said Rezanov.  "But I wonder you find anything to admire in such
unportable objects as mountains and water.  I have not seen a living
thing but gulls and seal, and God knows we had enough of both at Sitka."

"Ah, your excellency, in a land as fertile as this, and caressed by a
climate that would coax life from a stone, there must be an infinite
number of aquatic and aerial treasures that will add materially to the
scientific lore of Europe."

"Humph!" said Rezanov, and moved his shoulder in an uncontrollable
gesture of dismissal.  But the spell of the April morning was broken,
although the learned doctor was not to be the only offender.

The Golden Gate is but a mile in width and the swift current carried
the Juno toward a low promontory from the base of which a shrill cry
suddenly ascended.  Rezanov, raising his glass, saw that what he had
taken to be a pile of fallen rocks was a fort, and that a group of
excited men stood at its gates. Once more the plenipotentiary on a
delicate mission, he ordered the two naval officers sailing the ship to
come forward, and retired to the dignified isolation of the cabin.

The high-spirited young officers, who would have raised a gay hurrah at
the sight of civilized man had it not been for the awe in which they
held their chief, saluted the Spaniards formally, then stood in an
attitude of extreme respect; the Juno was directly under the guns of
the fort.

One of the Spaniards raised a speaking trumpet and shouted:

"Who are you?"

No one on the Juno, save Rezanov, could speak a word of Spanish, but
the tone of the query was its own interpreter.  The oldest of the
lieutenants, through the ship's trumpet, shouted back:

"The Juno--Sitka--Russian."

The Spanish officer made a peremptory gesture that the ship come to
anchor in the shelter given by an immense angle of the mainland, of
which the fort's point was the western extreme.  The Russians, as
befitted the peaceful nature of their mission, obeyed without delay.
Before their resting place, and among the sand hills a mile from the
beach, was a quadrangle of buildings some two hundred feet square and
surrounded by a wall about fourteen feet high and seven feet thick.
This they knew to be the Presidio.  They saw the officers that had
hailed them gallop over the hill behind the fort to the more ambitious
enclosure, and, in the square, confer with another group that seemed to
be in a corresponding state of excitement.  A few moments later a
deputation of officers, accompanied by a priest in the brown habit of
the Franciscan order, started on horseback for the beach.  Rezanov
ordered Lieutenant Davidov and Dr. Langsdorff to the shore as his
representatives.

The Spaniards wore the undress uniform of black and scarlet in which
they had been surprised, but their peaked straw hats were decorated
with cords of gold or silver, the tassels hanging low on the broad
brim; their high deer-skin boots were gaily embroidered, and bristled
with immense silver spurs.  The commanding officer alone had invested
himself with a gala serape, a square of red cloth with a bound and
embroidered slit for the head. Leading the rapid procession, his left
hand resting significantly on his sword, he was a fine specimen of the
young California grandee, dark and dashing and reckless, lithe of
figure, thoroughbred, ardent. His eyes were sparkling at the prospect
of excitement; not only had the Russians, by their nefarious
appropriation of the northwestern corner of the continent and a recent
piratical excursion in pursuit of otter, inspired the Spanish
Government with a profound disapproval and mistrust, but a rumor had
run up the coast that made every sea-gull look like the herald of a
hostile fleet.  This was young Arguello's first taste of command, and
life was dull on the northern peninsula; he would have welcomed a
declaration of war.

Davidov and Langsdorff had come to shore in one of the JUNO'S canoes.
The conversation was held in Latin between the two men of learning.

"Who are you and whence come you?" asked the priest.

Langsdorff, who had been severely drilled by the plenipotentiary as to
text, replied with a profound bow: "We are Russians engaged in
completing the circumnavigation of the globe.  It was our intention to
go directly to Monterey and present our official documents, as well as
our respects, to your illustrious Governor, but owing to contrary winds
and a resultant scarcity of provisions, we were under the necessity of
putting into the nearest harbor. The Juno is navigated by Lieutenant
Davidov and Lieutenant Khovstov, of the Imperial Navy of Russia; by
gracious permission associated with the Marine of the Russo-American
Company."  He paused a moment, and then swept out his trump card with a
magnificent flourish: "Our expedition is in command of His Excellency,
Privy Counsellor and Grand Chamberlain Baron Rezanov, late Ambassador
to the Court of Japan, Plenipotentiary of the Russo-American Company,
Imperial Inspector of the extreme eastern and northwestern American
dominions of His Imperial Majesty, Alexander the First, Emperor of all
the Russias, whose representatives in these waters he is."

The Spaniards were properly impressed as the priest translated with the
glibness of the original; but Arguello, who announced himself as
Commandante ad interim of the Presidio of San Francisco during the
absence of his father at Monterey, nodded sagely several times, and
then held a short conference in Spanish with the interpreter.  The
priest turned to the Russians with a smile as diplomatic as that which
Rezanov had drilled upon the ugly ingenuous countenance of his medicine
man.

"Our illustrious Governor, Don Jose Arrillaga, received word from the
court of Spain, now quite two years ago, of the sailing in 1803 from
Kronstadt of the ships Nadeshda and Neva, in command of Captain
Krusenstern and Captain Lisiansky, the former having on board the
illustrious Ambassador to Japan, the Privy Counsellor and Chamberlain
de Rezanov.  It was expected that these ships would touch at more than
one of His Most Holy Catholic Majesty's vast dominions, and all
viceroys and gobernador proprietarios were alike instructed to receive
the exalted representatives of the mighty Emperor of Russia with
hospitality and respect.  But we cannot understand why his excellency
comes to us so late and in so small a ship, rather than in the state
with which he sailed from Europe."

"The explanation is simple, my father.  The original ships, from a
variety of circumstances, were, upon our arrival at Kamchatka, at the
conclusion of the embassy to Japan, under the necessity of returning at
once to Europe.  His Imperial Majesty, Alexander the First, ordered the
Chamberlain and plenipotentiary, the representative of imperial power
in the Russo-American possessions, to remove to the Juno for the
purpose of visiting the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, Kadiak and the
northwestern coast of America."  The Tsar had never heard of the Juno,
but as Rezanov was practically his august self in these far-away
waters, there was enough of truth in this statement to appease the
conscience of a subordinate.

The Spaniards were satisfied.  Lieutenant Arguello begged that the
emissaries would return to the ship and invite the Chamberlain and his
party to come at once to the Presidio and do it the honor to partake of
the poor hospitality it afforded.  An officer galloped furiously for
horses.

A few moments later they were still more deeply impressed by the
appearance of their distinguished visitor as he stood erect in the boat
that brought him to shore.  In full uniform of dark green and gold
lace, with cocked hat and the splendid order of St. Ann on his breast,
Rezanov was by far the finest specimen of a man the Californians,
themselves of ampler build than their European ancestors, had ever
beheld.  Of commanding stature and physique, with an air of highest
breeding and repose, he looked both a man of the great world and an
intolerant leader of men.  His long oval face was thin and somewhat
lined, the mouth heavily moulded and closely set, suggestive of sarcasm
and humor; the nose long, with arching and flexible nostrils. His eyes,
seldom widely opened, were light blue, very keen, usually cold.  Like
many other men of his position in Europe, he had discarded wig and
queue and wore his short fair hair unpowdered.

It was a singularly imposing but hardly attractive presence, thought
young Arguello, until Rezanov, after stepping on shore and bowing
formally, suddenly smiled and held out his hand.  Then the
impressionable Spaniard "melted like a woman," as he told his sister,
Concha, and would have embraced the stranger on either cheek had not
awe lingered to temper his enthusiasm.  But Rezanov never made a
stauncher friend than Louis Arguello, who vowed to the last of his days
that the one man who had fulfilled his ideal of the grand seigneur was
he that sailed in from the North on that fateful April morning of 1806.



II

As Rezanov, heading the procession with young Arguello, entered the
wide gates of the Presidio, he received an impression memorably
different from that which led earlier travelers to describe it
inclemently as a large square surrounded by mud houses, thatched with
reeds.  It is true that the walls were of adobe and the roofs of tule,
nor was there a tree on the sand hills encircling the stronghold. But
in this early springtime--the summer of the peninsula--the hills showed
patches of verdure, and all the low white buildings were covered by a
network of soft dull green and archaic pink.  The Castilian rose, full
and fluted, and of a chaste and penetrating fragrance, hung singly and
in clusters on the pillars of the dwellings, on the barracks and
chapel, from the very roofs; bloomed upon bushes as high as young
trees.  The Presidio was as delicately perfumed as a lady's bower, and
its cannon faced the ever-changing hues of water and island and hill.

As the party approached, heads of all ages appeared between the vines,
and there was a low murmur of irrepressible curiosity and delight.

"We do not see many strangers in this lonely land," said Arguello
apologetically.  "And never before have we had so distinguished a guest
as your excellency.  It was always a gala day when ever a Boston
skipper came in with a few bales of goods and a complexion like the
hides we sold him.  Now, alas! they are no longer permitted to enter
our ports.  Governor Arrillaga will have none of contraband trade and
slaying of our otter.  And as for Europeans other than Spaniards, save
for an English sea captain now and then, they know naught of our
existence."

But Rezanov had not come to California on the impulse of a moment.  He
replied suavely: "There you are mistaken.  Your illustrious father, Don
Jose Mario de Arguello, is well known to us as the most respected,
eminent and influential character in the Californias.  It was my
intention, after paying a visit of ceremony to his excellency, Governor
Arrillaga, to come to San Francisco for the sole purpose of meeting a
man whose record has inspired me with the deepest interest.  And we
have all heard such wonderful tales of your California, of its beauty,
its fertility, of the beneficent lives of your missionaries--so
different from ours--and of the hospitality and elegance of the
Spaniards, that it has been the objective point of my travels, and I
have found it difficult to curb my impatience while attending to
imperative duties elsewhere."

"Ay! senor!" exclaimed the young Californian. "What you say fills me
with a pride I cannot express, and I can only regret that the reports
of our poor habitations should be so sadly exaggerated. Such as our
possessions are, however, they are yours while you deign to remain in
our midst.  This is my father's house.  I beg that you will regard it
as your own.  Burn it if you will!" he cried with more enthusiasm than
commonly enlivened the phrases of hospitality.  "He will be proud to
know that a lifetime of severe attention to duty and of devotion to his
King have won him fame abroad as well as at home.  He has risen to his
present position from the ranks, but he is of pure Spanish blood, not a
drop of Indian; and my mother was a Moraga, of the best blood of
Spain," he added artlessly.  "As to the beauty and variety of our
country, senor, of course you will visit our opulent south; but--"
They had dismounted at the Commandante's house in the southeast corner
of the square. Arguello impulsively led Rezanov back to the gates and
pointed to the east.  "I have crossed those mountains and the mountains
beyond, Excellency, and seen fertile and beautiful valleys of a vast
extent, watered by five rivers and bound far, far away by mountains
covered with snow and gigantic trees. The valley beyond the southern
edge of the bay, where the Missions of Santa Clara and San Jose are, is
also rich, but those between the ranges is an empire; and one day when
the King sends us more colonists, we shall recompense Spain for all she
has lost."

"I congratulate you!"  Rezanov, indifferent to his host's ancestral
tree, had lifted an alert ear.  His quick incisive brain was at work.
"I should like to stretch my legs over a horse for a week at a time,
and even to climb your highest mountains.  You may imagine how much
exercise a man may get on a vessel of two hundred and six tons, and it
is thirty-two days since I left Sitka.  To look upon a vast expanse of
green--to say nothing of possible sport--after a winter of incessant
rain and impenetrable forests--what a prospect!  I beg you will take me
off into the wilderness as soon as possible."

"I promise you the Governor shall not withhold his consent--and there
are bear and deer--quail, wild duck--your excellency will enjoy that
beautiful wild country as I have done."  Arguello was enchanted at the
prospect of fresh adventure in the company of this fascinating
stranger.  "But we are once more at our poor abode, senor.  I beg you
to remember that it is your own."

They ascended the steps of the piazza, suddenly deserted, and it seemed
to Rezanov that every sense in his being quivered responsively to the
poignant sweetness of the Castilian roses.  He throbbed with a sudden
exultant premonition that he stood on the threshold of an historic
future, with a pagan joy in mere existence, a sudden rush of desire for
the keen wild happiness of youth.  Such is the elixir of California in
the north and the spring.

They entered a long sala typical of its day and of many to come;
whitewashed walls hung with colored prints of the Virgin and saints;
horsehair furniture, matting, deep window seats; and a perennial
coolness.  The Chamberlain (his court title and the one commonly
attached to his name) made himself as comfortable as the slippery chair
would permit, and Arguello went for his mother.

Langsdorff, who had lingered on the piazza with the priest, entered in
a moment.

"The good padre tells me that this rose of Castile is the only imported
flower in California," he cried, with enthusiasm, for although not a
botanist, there was a bump between his eyes as big as a child's fist
and he had a nose like the prow of a toy ship.  "Many cuttings were
brought from Spain--"

"What difference does it make where it came from?" interrupted Rezanov
testily.  "Is it not enough that it is beautiful, but it must have a
pin stuck through it like some poor devil of a butterfly?"

"Your excellency has also the habit to probe into things he deems
worthy of his attention," retorted the offended scientist; but he was
obliged to closet his wrath.  An inner door opened and the host
reappeared with his mother and a fair demonstration of her virtues.
She was a very large woman dressed loosely in black, but she carried
herself with an air of complete, if somewhat sleepy, dignity, and it
was evident that her beauty had been great.  Her full face had lost its
contours, but time had spared the fine Roman nose and the white skin,
that birthright of the high-bred Castilian.  Arguello presented his
family ceremoniously as the guest of honor rose and bowed with formal
deference.

"My mother, Dona Ignacia Arguello, your excellency, who unites with me
in praying that you will regard our home as yours during your sojourn
in the north.  My sister, Maria de la Concepcion Marcella Arguello, and
my little sisters, Ana Paula and Gertrudis Rudisinda.  My brothers:
Gervasio--soldado distinguido of the San Francisco Company; Santiago, a
cadet in the same company; Francesco and Toribio, whose presence at the
table I beg you will overlook, for when we are so fortunate as to be
all together, senor, we cannot bear to be separated.  My oldest
brother, alas--Ignacio--is studying for holy orders in Mexico, and my
sister Isabel visits at the Presidio of Santa Barbara.  I beg that you
will be seated, Excellency."  And he continued the introduction to the
lesser luminaries, with equal courtesy but fewer periods.

Rezanov exchanged a few pleasant words with his smiling hostess before
she returned to her distracted maids preparing the dinner; but his eyes
during Arguello's declamation had wandered with a singular fidelity to
the beautiful face of the eldest daughter of the house.  She had
responded with a humorous twinkle in her magnificent black eyes and not
a hint of diffidence.  As she entered the room his brain had flashed
out the thought: "Thank heaven for a pretty girl after these three
abominable years!"  Possibly his pleasure would have been salted with
pique had he guessed that her thought was the twin of his own.  He was
the first man of any world more considerable than the petty court of
the viceroy of Mexico that had visited California in her time, and
excellent as she found his tall military figure and pale cold face, the
novelty of the circumstance fluttered her more.

Dona "Concha" Arguello was the beauty of California, and although her
years were but sixteen her blood was Spanish, and she carried her tall
deep figure and fine head with the grace and dignity of an accomplished
woman.  She had inherited the white skin and delicate Roman-Spanish
profile of the Moragas, but there was an intelligent fire in her eyes,
a sharp accentuation of nostril, and a full mobility of mouth,
childish, half-developed as that feature still was, that betrayed a
strong cross-current forcing the placid maternal flow into rugged and
unexplored channels, while assimilating its fine qualities of pride and
high breeding.  Gervasio and Santiago resembled their sister in
coloring and profile, but lacked her subtle quality of personality and
divine innocence.  Luis was more the mother's son than the
father's--saving his olive skin; a grandee, modified by the
simplicities of a soldier's life, amiable and upright. Dona Ignacia
recognized in Concha the quintessence of the two opposing streams, and
had long since ceased to impose upon a girl who had little else but her
liberties, the conventional restrictions of the Spanish maiden.  Concha
had already received many offers of marriage and regarded men as mere
swingers of incense.  Moreover, her cultivated mind was filled with
ideals and ideas far beyond anything California would yield in her day.

As Rezanov, upon Dona Ignacia's retreat, walked directly over to her,
she smilingly seated herself on a sofa and swept aside her voluminous
white skirts.  She was not sure that she liked him, but in no doubt
whatever of her delight at his advent.

Her manners were very simple and artless, as are the manners of most
women whom Nature has gifted with complexity and depth.

"It is now two years and more that we have been excited over the
prospect of this visit," she said.  "But if you will tell me what you
have been doing all this time, I, at least, will forgive you; for you
will never be able to imagine, senor, how I long to hear of the great
world.  I stare at the map, then at the few pictures we have.  I know
many books of travel by heart; but I am afraid my imagination is a poor
one, for I cannot conjure up great cities filled with people--thousands
of people!  DIOS DE MI ALMA!  A world where there is something besides
mountains and water, grain fields, orchards, forests, earthquakes, and
climate?  Will you, senor?"

"For quite as many hours as you will listen to me.  I propose a
compact.  You shall improve my Spanish.  I will impart all I know of
Europe--and of Asia--if your curiosity reaches that far."

"Even of Japan?"  There was a wicked spark in her eye.

"I see you already have some knowledge of the cause of my delay."  His
voice was even, but a wound smarted.  "It is quite true, senorita, that
the first embassy to Japan, from which we hoped so much, was a
humiliating failure, and that I was played with for six months by a
people whom we had regarded as a nation of monkeys.  When my health
began to suffer from the long confinement on shipboard--we had
previously been fourteen months at sea--and I asked to be permitted to
live on shore while my claims to an audience were under consideration,
I was removed with my suite to a cage on a strip of land nearly
surrounded with water, where I had less liberty and exercise than on
shipboard.  Finally, I had a ridiculous interview with a 'great man,'
in which I accomplished nothing but the preservation of what personal
dignity a man may while sitting on his heels; the superb presents of
the Tsar were returned to me, and I was politely told to leave.  Japan
wanted neither the friendship of Russia nor her gimcracks.  That,
senorita, is the history of the first Russian Embassy--for the
tentative visit of Adam Lanxmann, twelve years before, can be dignified
by no such title--to Oriental waters. It is to be hoped that Count
Golofkin, who was to undertake a similar mission to China, has met with
a better fate."

Underneath the polished armour of a man who was a courtier when he
chose and the dominating spirit always, he was hot and quick of temper.
His light cold eyes glowed with resentment at the dancing lights in
hers, as he cynically gave her a bald abstract of the unfortunate
mission.  He reflected that commonly he would have fitted a different
mask to the ugly skull of fact, but this young barbarian, as he chose
to regard her, excited the elemental truth in him, defying him to
appear at his worst.  He was astonished to see her eyes suddenly soften
and her mouth tremble.

"It must have been a hateful experience--hateful!"  Her voice,
beginning on its usual low soft note, rose to a hoarse pitch of
indignation.  "I should have killed somebody!  To be a man, and strong,
and caressed all one's life by fortune--and to be as helpless as an
Indian!  Madre de dios!"

"I shall take my revenge," said Rezanov shortly; but the wound closed,
and once more he became aware of the poignant sweetness of Castilian
roses. Concha wore one in her soft dusky hair, and another where the
little round jacket of white linen, gaily embroidered with pink, met on
her bosom. But if sentiment tempted him he was quickly poised by her
next remarks.  She uttered them in a low tone, although the animated
conversation of the rest of the party would have permitted the two on
the sofa to exchange the vows of love unheard.

"But what a practice for your diplomatic talents, Excellency!  Poor
California!  At least let me be the first to hear what you have come
for?"  Her voice dropped to a soft cooing note, although her eyes
twinkled.  "For the love of God, senor!  I am so bored in this life on
the edge of the world!  To see the seams and ravelings of a diplomatic
intrigue!  I have read and heard of many, but never had I hoped to link
my finger in anything subtler than a quarrel between priest and
Governor, or the jealousy of Los Angeles for Monterey.  I even will
help you--if you mean no harm to my father or my country.  And I am not
a friend to scorn, senor, for my blessed father is as wax in my hands,
the dear old Governor adores me, and even Padre Abella, who thinks
himself a great diplomat, and is watching us out of the corner of his
eye, while I make him believe you pay me so many compliments my poor
little head turns round--Bueno senor!"  As she raised her voice she
plucked the rose from her dress and tossed it to Rezanov.  Then she
lifted her chin and pouted her childish lips at the ironical smile of
the priest.

Rezanov was close to betraying his surprise; but as he cherished a
belief that the souls of all pretty women went to school to the devil
before entering upon earthly enterprise, he wondered that he had been
open to the illusion of complete ingenuousness in a descendant of one
of the oldest and subtlest civilizations of earth.  Within that
luminous shell of youth there were, no doubt, whispering memories of
men and women steeped in court intrigue from birth, of triumphant
beauties that had lived for love and their power over the passions of
men as ardent as himself.  It was quite possible that she might be as
useful as she desired.  But his impulses were in leash.  He merely
looked and murmured his admiration.

"Better ask, what chance have I, a defenceless man, who has not seen a
charming woman for three years, against such practised art?  If you can
hoodwink a Spanish priest, and manipulate a Governor who has won the
confidence of the most suspicious court in Europe, what fortune for a
barbarian of the north?  Less than with Japan, I should think."

He divested the rose of its thorns and many tight little buds, and
thrust the stem underneath the star of St. Ann.  She lifted her chin
again and tossed her head.

"You do not trust me, but you will.  I fancy it will be before
long--for it is quite true that the Californians are not so easily
outwitted.  And--even did I not help you, I would not--I vow,
senor!--betray you.  Is it true that Russia is at war with Spain?"

"What?"

"Have you not heard?  It was for that we were all so excited this
morning.  We thought your ship might be the first of a fleet."

"I have heard no such rumor, and you may dismiss it.  Russia is too
much occupied with Napoleon Bonaparte, who has had himself crowned
Emperor, and by this time is probably at war with half Europe--"

She interrupted him with flashing eye.  The pink in her cheeks had
turned red.  The thin nostrils of her pretty Roman nose fluttered like
paper.  "Ah!" she exclaimed, again with that note of hoarseness in her
voice.  "There is a great man, not a mere king on a throne his
ancestors made for him.  Papa hates him because he has seized a throne.
AY YI! DIOS, but you should hear the words fly when we go to war
together.  But I do not care that"--she snapped her firm white
fingers--"for all the Bourbons that are in Europe.  Bonaparte!  Do you
know him?  Have you seen him?"

"I have seen him insult poor Markov, our ambassador to France, when I
can assure you that he looked like neither a demi-god nor a gentleman.
When you have improved my Spanish I will tell you many anecdotes of
him.  Meanwhile, am I to assume that you reserve your admiration for
the man that carves his career in defiance of the rusty old machinery?"

"I do!  I do!  My father was of the people, a poor boy.  He has risen
to be the most powerful of all Californians, although the King he
adores never makes him Gobernador Proprietario.  I tell him he should
be the first to recognize the genius and the ambitions of a Bonaparte.
The mere thought horrifies him.  But in me that same strong plebeian
blood makes another cry, and if my father had but enough men at his
back, and the will to make himself King of the Californias--Madre de
Dios! how I should help him!"

"At least I know her better than she knows me," thought Rezanov, as the
inner door was thrown open and another bare room with a long table
laden with savory food on a superb silver service was revealed.  "And
if I know anything of women, I can trust her--for as long as she may be
necessary, at all events."



III

"Santiago!" whispered Concha.  "Do not go down to the ship.  Take me
for a walk.  I have much to say."

Santiago, who had not been asked to form one of the escort upon the
return of the Russians to the Juno for the night, felt injured and
sulky and deigned no reply.

"If you do not, I'll not braid your hair to-morrow," said his sister,
giving his arm a little shake; and he succumbed.  The luxuriant tresses
of the male Arguellos were combed and braided and tied with a ribbon
every morning by the women of the family, and Concha's fingers were the
gentlest and deftest.  And Concha and Santiago were more intimate than
even the rest of that united family.  They had studied and read
together, were equally dissatisfied with their narrow existence,
ambitious for a wider experience.  Santiago consoled himself with cards
and training roosters for battle, and otherwise as a man may.  He was
but fifteen, this haughty, severe-looking young hidalgo, but while in
some respects many years older than his sister, in others he was
younger, for he possessed none of her illuminating instinct.

She led him through a postern gate, round the first of the dunes, and
they were alone in a waste of sand.  She demanded abruptly:

"What do you think of our illustrious visitor?"

"I like him.  He would wring your neck if you got in his way, but has a
kind heart for those that call him master.  I like that sort of a man.
I wish he would take me away with him."

"He shall--one of these days.  Santiago mio, let me whisper--"  She
pulled his ear down to her lips.  "He will marry me.  I feel it.  I
know it. He has talked to me the whole day.  He has told me grave
secrets.  Not even to you would I reveal them.  So many have loved
me--why should not he?  I shall live in St. Petersburg, and see all
Europe!--thousands of people--Dios mio!  Dios mio!"

"Indeed!"  Santiago, still unamiable, responded to this confidence with
a sneer.  "You aspire very high for a little girl of the wilderness,
without fortune, and only half a coat-of-arms, so to speak.  Do you
know that this Rezanov--Dr. Langsdorff has told us all about him--is a
great noble, one of the ten barons of Russia, and a Chamberlain in
accordance with a decree of Peter the Great that court titles should be
bestowed as a reward for distinguished services alone?  He got a
fortune in his youth by marriage with a daughter of Shelikov--that
Siberian who founded the Russian colonies in America.  The wife died
almost immediately, but the Baron's influence remained with
Shelikov--for his influence at court was even greater--and after the
older man's death, with his mother-in-law, who is uncommonly clever.
Shelikov's schemes were but little sketches beside Rezanov's, who from
merely a courtier and a gay blood about town developed into a great man
of business, with an ambition to correspond.  It was he who got the
Imperial ukase that gave the Russian-American Company its power to
squeeze all the other fur hunters and traders out of the northeast, and
made Rezanov and everybody belonging to it so rich your head would swim
if I told you the number of doubloons they spend in a year.  Nobody has
ever been so clever at managing those old beasts of autocrats as he.
They think him merely the accomplished courtier, a brilliant
dilettante, a condescending patron of art and letters, a devotee of
pleasure, and all the time he is pulling their befuddled old brains
about to suit himself. The Tsar Paul was a lunatic and they murdered
him, but meanwhile he signed the ukase.  The Tsar Alexander, who is not
so bad nor so silly as the others, thinks there is no man so clever as
Rezanov, who addresses him personally when sending home his reports.
Do you know what all that means? Your plenipotentiary is not only a
Chamberlain at court, a Privy Councillor, and the Tsar himself on this
side of the world, but when his inspections and reforms are concluded,
and he is one of the wealthiest men in Russia, he will return to St.
Petersburg and become so high and mighty that a princess would snap at
him.  And you aspire!  I never heard such nonsense."

"His excellency told me much of this," replied Concha imperturbably.
"And I am sure that he cares nothing for princesses and will marry whom
he most admires.  He would not say, but I know he cared nothing for
that poor little wife, dead so long ago.  It was a mariage de
convenance, such as all the great world is accustomed to.  He will love
me more than all the fine ladies he has ever seen.  I feel it.  I know
it!  And I am quite happy."

"Do you love him?" asked Santiago, looking curiously at his sister's
flushed and glowing face. It seemed to him that she had never looked so
young.  "Many have loved you.  I had begun to think you had no heart
for men, no wish for anything but admiration.  And now you give your
heart in a day to this Russian--who must be nearly forty--unasked."

"I have not thought of my heart at all.  But I could love him, of
course.  He is so handsome, so kind, so grand, so gay!  But love is for
men and wives--has not my mother said so?  Now I think only of St.
Petersburg! of Paris! of London! of the beautiful gowns and jewels I
shall wear at court--a red velvet train as long as a queen's, and all
embroidered with gold, a white veil spangled with gold, a head-dress a
foot high studded with jewels, ropes of diamonds and pearls--I made him
tell me how the great ladies dressed.  Ah! there is the pleasure of
being a girl--to think and dream of all those beautiful things, not of
when the wife must live always for the husband and children.  That
comes soon enough.  And why should I not have all!--there is so little
in life for the girl.  It seems to me now that I have had nothing.
When he asks me to marry him he will tell me of the fine things I shall
have and the great sights I shall witness--the ceremonies at court, the
winter streets--with snow--snow, Santiago!--where the great nobles
drive four horses through the drifts like little hills, and are wrapped
in furs like bears!  The grand military parades--how I shall laugh when
I think of our poor little Presidios with their dozen officers
strutting about--"  She stopped abruptly and bursting wildly into tears
flung herself into her brother's arms.  "But I never could leave you!
And my father! my mother! all! all!  Ay, Dios de mi alma! what an
ingrate I am!  I should die of homesickness!  My Santiago!  My
Santiago!"

Santiago patted her philosophically.  "You are not going to-morrow," he
reminded her.  "Don't cross your bridges until you come to them.  That
is a good proverb for maids and men.  You might take us all with you,
or spend every third year or so in California.  No doubt you would need
the rest. And meanwhile remember that the high and mighty Chamberlain
has not yet asked for the honor of an alliance with the house of
Arguello, and that your brother will match his best fighting cock
against your new white lace mantilla from Mexico, that he is not
meditating any project so detrimental to his fortunes.  Console
yourself with the reflection that if he were, our father and the
priests, and the Governor himself, would die of apoplexy.  He is a
heretic--a member of the Greek Church!  Hast thou lost thy reason,
Conchita?  Dry your eyes and come home to sleep, and let us hear no
more of marriage with a man who is not only a barbarian of the north
and a heretic, but so proud he does not think a Californian good enough
to wash his decks."



IV

It was long before Rezanov slept that night.  The usual chill had come
in from the Pacific as the sun went down, and the distinguished visitor
had intimated to his hosts that he should like to exercise on shore
until ready for his detested quarters; but Arguello dared not, in the
absence of his father, invite the foreigner even to sleep in the house
so lavishly offered in the morning; although he had sent such an
abundance of provisions to the ship that the poor sailors were deep in
sleep, gorged like boa-constrictors; and he could safely promise that
while the Juno remained in port her larder should never be empty.  He
shared the evening bowl of punch in the cabin, then went his way
lamenting that he could not take his new friends with him.

Rezanov paced the little deck of the Juno to keep his blood in stir.
There was no moon.  The islands and promontories on the great sheet of
water were black save for the occasional glow of an Indian camp-fire.
There was not a sound but the lapping of the waves, the roar of distant
breakers.  The great silver stars and the little green stars looked
down upon a solitude that was almost primeval, yet mysteriously
disturbed by the restless currents in the brain of a man who had little
in common with primal forces.

Rezanov was uneasy on more scores than one. He was annoyed and
mortified at the discovery--made over the punch bowl--that the girl he
had taken to be twenty was but sixteen.  It was by no means his first
experience of the quick maturity of southern women--but sixteen!  He
had never wasted a moment on a chit before, and although he was a man
of imagination, and notwithstanding her intelligence and dignity, he
could not reconcile properties so conflicting with any sort of feminine
ideal.

And the pressing half of his mission he had confided to her!  No man
knew better than he the value of a tactful and witty woman in the
political dilemmas of life; more than one had given him devoted
service, nor ever yet had he made a mistake. After several hours spent
in the society of this clever, politic, dissatisfied girl he had come
to the conclusion that he could trust her, and had told her of the
lamentable condition of the creatures in the employ of the
Russian-American Company; of their chronic state of semi-starvation, of
the scurvy that made them apathetic of brain and body, and eventually
would exterminate them unless he could establish reciprocal trade
relations with California and obtain regular supplies of farinaceous
food; acknowledged that he had brought a cargo of Russian and Boston
goods necessary to the well-being of the Missions and Presidios, and
that he would not return to the wretched people of Sitka, at least,
without a generous exchange of breadstuffs, dried meats, peas, beans,
barley and tallow.  Not only had he no longer the courage to witness
their misery, but his fortune and his career were at stake.  His entire
capital was invested in the Company he had founded, and he had failed
in his embassy to Japan--to the keen mortification of the Tsar and the
jubilation of his enemies.  If he left the Emperor's northeastern
dominions unreclaimed and failed to rescue the Company from its
precarious condition, he hardly should care to return to St. Petersburg.

Dona Concha had listened to this eloquent harangue--they sat alone at
one end of the long sala while Luis at the other toiled over letters to
the Governor and his father advising them of the formidable honor of
the Russian's visit--in exactly the temper he would have chosen.  Her
fine eyes had melted and run over at the moving tale of the sufferings
of the servants of the Company--until his own had softened in response
and he had impulsively kissed her hand; they had dilated and flashed as
he spoke of his personal apprehensions; and when he had given her a
practical explanation of his reasons for coming to California she had
given him advice as practical in return.

He must withhold from her father and the Governor the fact of his
pressing need; they were high officials with an inflexible sense of
duty, and did all they could to enforce the law against trading with
foreigners.  He was to maintain the fiction of belting the globe, but
admit that he had indulged in a dream of commercial relations--for a
benefit strictly mutual--between neighbors as close as the Spanish and
Russians in America.  This would interest them--what would not, on the
edge of the world?--and they would agree to lay the matter, reinforced
by a strong personal plea, before the Viceroy of Mexico; who in turn
would send it to the Cabinet and King at Madrid.  Meanwhile, he was to
confide in the priests at the Mission.  Not only would their sympathies
be enlisted, but they did much trading under the very nose of the
government.  Not for personal gain--they were vowed to a life of
poverty; but for their Indian converts; and as there were twelve
hundred at the Mission of San Francisco, they would wink at many things
condemnable in the abstract.  He had engaged to visit them on the
morrow, and he must take presents to tempt their impersonal cupidity,
and invite them to inspect the rest of his wares--which the Governor
would be informed his Excellency had been forced to buy with the Juno
from the Yankee skipper, D'Wolf, and would rid himself of did
opportunity offer.

Rezanov had never received sounder advice, and had promptly accepted
it.  Now, as he reflected that it had been given by a girl of sixteen,
he was divided between admiration of her precocity and fear lest she
prove to be too young to keep a secret.  Moreover, there were other
considerations.

Rezanov, although in his earlier years he had so far sacrificed his
interests and played into the hands of his enemies, in avoiding the too
embarrassing partiality of Catherine the Great, had nevertheless held a
high place at court by right of birth, and been a man of the world
always; rarely absent from St. Petersburg during the last and least
susceptible part of the imperial courtesan's life, the brief reign of
Paul, and the two years between the accession of Alexander and the
sailing of the Nadeshda.  Moreover, there was hardly another court of
importance in Europe with which he was not familiar, and few men had
had a more complete experience of life. And the life of a courtier, a
diplomat, a traveller, noble, wealthy, agreeable to women by divine
right, with active enemies and a horde of flatterers, in daily contact
with the meaner and more disingenuous corners of human nature, is not
conducive to a broad optimism and a sweet and immutable Christianity.
Rezanov inevitably was more or less cynical and blase', and too long
versed in the ways of courts and courtiers to retain more than a
whimsical tolerance of the naked truth and an appreciation of its
excellence as a diplomatic manoeuvre. Nevertheless, he was by nature
too impetuous ever to become under any provocation a dishonest man, and
too normally a gentleman to deviate from a certain personal code of
honor.  He might come to California with fair words and a very definite
intention of annexing it to Russia at the first opportunity, but he was
incapable of abusing the hospitality of the Arguellos by making love to
their sixteen-year-old daughter.  Had she been of the years he had
assumed, he would have had less scruple in embarking upon a flirtation,
both for the pastime and the use he might make of her.  A Spanish
beauty of twenty, still unmarried, would be more than his match.  But a
child, however precocious, inevitably would fall in love with the first
uncommon stranger she met; and Rezanov, less vain than most men of his
kind, and with a fundamental humanity that was the chief cause in his
efforts to improve the condition of his wretched promuschleniki, had no
taste for the role of heart-breaker.

But the girl had proved her timeliness; would, if trustworthy, be of
further use in inclining her father and the Governor toward such of his
designs as he had any intentions of revealing; and, weighing carefully
his conversations with her, he was disposed to believe that she would
screen and abet him through vanity and love of intrigue.  After the
dinner, in the seclusion of the sala, he had taken pains to explore for
the causes of her mental maturity.  Concha had told him of Don Jose
Arguello's ambition that his children in their youth should have the
education he had been forced to acquire in his manhood; he had taught
them himself, and notwithstanding his piety and the disapproval of the
priests, had permitted them to read the histories, travels, and
biographies he received once a year from the City of Mexico.  Rezanov
had met Madame de Stael and other bas bleus, and given them no more of
his society than politeness demanded, but although astonished at the
amount of information this young girl had assimilated, he found nothing
in her manner of wearing her intellectual crown to offend his
fastidious taste.  She was wholly artless in her love of books and of
discussing them; and nothing in their contents had disturbed the
sweetest innocence he had ever met.  Of the little arts of coquetry she
was mistress by inheritance and much provocation, but her unawakened
inner life breathed the simplicity and purity of the elemental roses
that hovered about her in his thoughts.  Her very unsusceptibility made
the game more dangerous; if it piqued him--and he aspired to be no more
than human--he either should have to marry her, or nurse a sore spot in
his conscience for the rest of his life; and for neither alternative
had he the least relish.

He dismissed the subject at last with an impatient shrug.  Perhaps he
was a conceited ass, as his English friends would say; perhaps the
Governor would be more amenable than she had represented.  No man could
forecast events.  It was enough to be forearmed.

But his thoughts swung to a theme as little disburdening.  His needs,
as he had confided to Concha, were very pressing.  The dry or frozen
fish, the sea dogs, the fat of whales, upon which the employees of the
Company were forced to subsist in the least hospitable of climes, had
ravaged them with scorbutic diseases until their numbers were so
reduced by death and desertion that there was danger of depopulation
and the consequent bankruptcy of the Company.  Since June of the
preceding year until his departure from New Archangel in the previous
month, he had been actively engaged in inspection of the Company's
holdings from Kamchatka to Sitka: reforming abuses, establishing
schools and libraries, conceiving measures to protect the fur-bearing
animals from reckless slaughter both by the promuschleniki and
marauding foreigners; punishing and banishing the worst offenders
against the Company's laws; encouraging the faithful, and sharing
hardships with them that sent memories of former luxuries and pleasures
scurrying off to the realms of fantasy.  But his rule would be
incomplete and his efforts end in failure if the miserable Russians and
natives in the employ of the Company were not vitalized by proper food
and cheered with the hope of its permanence.

In Santiago's story of the Russian visitor's achievements and status
there was the common mingling of truth and fiction the exalted never
fail to inspire.  Rezanov, although he had accomplished great ends
against greater odds, was too little of a courtier at heart ever to
have been a prime favorite in St. Petersburg until the accession of a
ruler with whom he had something in common.  A dissolute woman and a
crack-brained despot were the last to appreciate an original and
independent mind, and the seclusion of Alexander had been so complete
during the lifetime of his father that Rezanov barely had known him by
sight.  But the Tsarovitz, enthusiastic for reform and a passionate
admirer of enterprise, knew of Rezanov, and no sooner did he mount his
gory throne than he confirmed the Chamberlain in his enterprise, and
two years later made him a Privy Counsellor, invested him with the
order of St. Ann, and chose him for the critical embassy to the verdant
realm with the blind and gateless walls.

Rezanov had conquered so far in life even less by address than by the
demonstration of abilities very singular in a man of his birth and
education.  When he met Shelikov, during the Siberian merchant-trader's
visit to St. Petersburg in 1788, he was a young man with little
interest in life outside of its pleasures, and a patrimony that enabled
him to command them to no great extent and barely to maintain the
dignity of his rank.  Shelikov's plan to obtain a monopoly of the fur
trade in the islands and territories added by his Company to Russia,
possibly throughout the entire possession, thus preventing the
destruction of sables, seals, otters, and foxes by small traders and
foreigners, interested him at once; or possibly he was merely
fascinated at first by the shrewd and dauntless representative of a
class with which he had never before come in contact.  The accidental
acquaintance ripened into intimacy, Rezanov became a partner in the
Shelikov-Golikov Company, and married the daughter of his new friend.
After the death of his father-in-law, in 1795, his ambitions and
business abilities, now fully awake, prompted him to obtain for himself
and his partners rights analogous to those granted by England to the
East India Company.  Shelikov had won little more than half the power
and privileges he had solicited of Catherine, although he had
amalgamated the two leading companies, drawn in several others, and
built ships and factories and forts to protect them.  And if the
regnant merchants made large fortunes, the enterprise in general
suffered from the rivalries between the various companies, and above
all from lack of imperial support.

Rezanov, his plans made, brought to bear all the considerable influence
he was able to command, called upon all his resources of brain and
address, and brought Catherine to the point of consenting to sign the
charter he needed.  Before it was ready for the imperial signature she
died.  Rezanov was forced to begin again with her ill-balanced and
intractable son.  Natalie Shelikov, his famous mother-in-law, the old
shareholders of the Company, and the many new ones that had subscribed
to Rezanov's ambitious project, gave themselves up to despair. For a
time the outlook was dark.  The personal enemies of Rezanov and the
bitter and persistent opponents of the companies threw themselves
eagerly into the scale with tales of brutality of the merchants and the
threatened extirpation of the fur-bearing animals.  Paul announced his
attention to abolish all the companies and close the colonies to
traders big and little.

But the enemy had a very subtle antagonist in Rezanov.  Apparently
dismissing the subject, he applied himself to gaining a personal
ascendancy over the erratic but impressionable Tsar.  No one in the
opposing camp could compare with him in that fine balance of charm and
brain which was his peculiar gift, or in the adroit manipulation of a
mind propelled mainly by vanity.  He studied Paul's moods and
character, discovered that after some senseless act of oppression he
suffered from a corresponding remorse, and was susceptible to any plan
that would increase his power and add lustre to his name.  The
commercial and historic advantages of prosperous northeastern
possessions were artfully instilled.  At the opportune moment Rezanov
laid before him a scheme, mature in every detail, for a great company
that would add to the wealth of Russia, and convince Europe of the
sound commercial sense and immortal wisdom of its sovereign.  Without
more ado he obtained his charter.

This momentous instrument granted to the "Russian-American Company
under our Highest Protection," "full privileges, for a period of twenty
years on the coast of northwestern America, beginning from latitude 55
degrees north, and including the chain of islands extending from
Kamchatka northward, and southward to Japan; the exclusive right to all
enterprises, whether hunting, trading, or building, and to new
discoveries; with strict prohibition from profiting from any of these
pursuits, not only to all parties who might engage in them on their own
responsibility, but also to those who formerly had ships and
establishments there, except those who have united with the new
Company."  All private traders who refused to join the Company were to
be allowed to sell their property and depart in peace.

Thus was formed the first of the Trusts in America; and the United
States never has had so formidable a menace to her territorial
greatness as this Russian nobleman who paced that night the wretched
deck of the little ship he had bought from one of her skippers.
Perturbed in mind at his recent failures and immediate prospects, he
was no less determined to take California from the Spaniards either by
absorption or force.

On his way from New Archangel to San Francisco he had met with his
second failure since leaving St. Petersburg.  It was his intention to
move the Sitkan colony down to the mouth of the Columbia River; not
only pressed by the need of a more beneficent soil, but as a first
insidious advance upon San Francisco Bay.  Upon this trip it would be
enough to make a survey of the ground and bury a copper plate
inscribed: "Possession of the Russian Empire."  The Juno had
encountered terrific storms.  After three desperate attempts to reach
the mouth of the river, Rezanov had been forced to relinquish the
enterprise for the moment and hasten with his diseased and almost
useless crew to the nearest port.  It was true that the attempt could
be made again later, but Rezanov, sanguine of temperament, was
correspondingly depressed by failure and disposed to regard it as an
ill-omen.

An ambassador inspired by heaven could have accomplished no more with
the Japanese at that mediaeval stage of their development than he had
done, and the most indomitable of men cannot yet control the winds of
heaven; but sovereigns are rarely governed by logic, and frequently by
the favorite at hand.  The privilege of writing personally to the Tsar,
in his case, meant more and less than appeared on the surface.  It was
a measure to keep the reports of the Company out of the hands of the
Admiralty College, its bitterest enemy, and always jealous of the Civil
Service.  Nevertheless, Rezanov knew that he had no immediate reason to
apprehend the loss of Alexander's friendship and esteem; and if he
placed the Company, in which all the imperial family had bought shares,
on a sounder basis than ever before, and doubled its earnings by
insuring the health of its employees, he would meet, when in St.
Petersburg again, with practically no opposition to his highest
ambitions.  These ambitions he deliberately kept in a fluid state for
the present. Whether he should aspire to great authority in the
government, or choose to rule with the absolute powers of the Tsar
himself these already vast possessions on the Pacific--to be extended
indefinitely--would be decided by events.  All his inherited and
cultivated instincts yearned for the brilliant and complex
civilizations of Europe, but the new world had taken a firm hold upon
his humaner and appealed more insidiously to his despotic.  Moreover,
Europe, torn up by that human earthquake, Napoleon Bonaparte, must lose
the greater half of its sweetness and savor.  All that, however, could
be determined upon his return to St. Petersburg in the autumn.

But meanwhile he must succeed with these Californians, or they might
prove, toy soldiers as they were, more perilous to his fortunes than
enemies at court.  He could not afford another failure; and news of
this attempt and an exposition of all that depended upon it were
already on the road to the capital of Russia.

He had known, of course, of the law that forbade the Spanish colonies
to trade with foreign ships, but he had relied partly upon the use he
could make of the orders given by the Spanish King at the request of
the Tsar regarding the expedition under Krusenstern, partly upon his
own wit and address. But although the royal order had insured him
immediate hospitality and saved him many wearisome formalities, he had
already discovered that the Spanish on the far rim of their empire had
lost nothing of their connate suspicion.  Rather, their isolation made
them the more wary.  Although they little appreciated the richness and
variousness of California's soil, and not at all this wonderful bay
that would accommodate the combined navies of the world, pocketing
several, the pious zeal of the clergy in behalf of the Indians, and the
general policy of Spain to hold all of the western hemisphere that
disintegrating forces would permit, made her as tenacious of this vast
territory she had so sparsely populated as had she been aware that its
foundations were of gold, conceived that its climate and soil were a
more enduring source of wealth than ever she would command again.  If
Rezanov was not gifted with the prospector's sense for ores--although
he had taken note of Arguello's casual reference to a vein of silver
and lead in the Monterey hills--no man ever more thoroughly appreciated
the visible resources of California than he.  Baranhov, chief-manager
of the Company, had talked with American and British skippers for
twenty years, and every item he had accumulated Rezanov had extracted.
To-day he had drawn further information from Concha and her brothers;
and their artless descriptions as well as this incomparable bay had
filled him with enthusiasm.  What a gift to Russia!  What an
achievement to his immortal credit!  The fog rolled in from the Pacific
in great white waves and stealthily enfolded him, obliterated the sea
and the land.  But he did not see it.  Apprehension left him.  Once
more he fell to dreaming. In the course of a few years the Company
would attract a large population to the mouth of the Columbia River, be
strong enough to make use of any favorable turn in European politics
and sweep down upon California.  The geographical position of Mexico,
the arid and desolate, herbless and waterless wastes intervening, would
prohibit her sending any considerable assistance overland; and, all
powerful at court by that time, he would take care that the Russian
navy inspired Spain with a distaste for remote Pacific waters.  He had
long since recovered from the disappointment induced by the orders
compelling him to remain in the colonies.  The great Company he had
heretofore regarded merely as a source of income and a means of
advancing his ambitions, he now loved as his child. Even during the
marches over frozen swamps and mountains, during the terrible winter in
Sitka when he had become familiar with illness and even with hunger,
his ardor had grown, as well as his determination to force Russia into
the front rank of Commercial Europe.  The United States he barely
considered.  He respected the new country for the independent spirit
and military genius that had routed so powerful a nation as Great
Britain, but he thought of her only as a new and tentative civilization
on the far shores of the Atlantic.  After some experience of travel in
Siberia, and knowing the immensity and primeval conditions of
north-western America, he did not think it probable that the little
cluster of states, barely able to walk alone, would indulge in dreams
of expansion for many years to come.  He had heard of the projected
expedition of Lewis and Clarke to the mouth of the Columbia,
but--perhaps he was too Russian--he did not take any adventure
seriously that had not a mighty nation at its back.  And as it was
almost the half of a century from that night before the American flag
flew over the Custom House of Monterey, there is reason to believe that
Russian aggression under the leadership of so energetic and resourceful
a spirit as Nicolai Petrovich de Rezanov was in a fair way to make
history first in the New Albion of Drake and the California of the
incompetent Spaniard.



V

The Russians were to call at the house of the Commandante on their way
to the Mission, and Concha herself made the chocolate with which they
were to be detained for another hour.  It was another sparkling
morning, one of the few that came between winter and summer, summer and
winter, and made even this bleak peninsula a land of enchantment before
the cold winds took the sand hills up by their foundations and drove
them down to Yerba Buena, submerging the battery and every green thing
by the way; or the great fogs rolled down from the tule lands of the
north and in from the sea, making the shivering San Franciscan forget
that not ten miles away the sun was as prodigal as youth.  For a few
weeks San Francisco had her springtime, when the days were warm and the
air of a wonderful lightness and brightness, the atmosphere so clear
that the flowers might be seen on the islands, when man walked with
wings on his feet and a song in his heart; when the past was done with,
the future mattered not, the present with its ever changing hues on bay
and hill, its cool electrical breezes stirring imagination and pulse,
was all in all.

And it was in San Francisco's springtime that Concha Arguello made
chocolate for the Russian to whom she was to give a niche in the
history of her land; and sang at her task.  She whirled the molinillo
in each cup as it was filled, whipping the fragrant liquid to froth;
pausing only to scold when her servant stained one of the dainty
saucers or cups.  Poor Rosa did not sing, although the spring attuned
her broken spirit to a gentler melancholy than when the winds howled
and the fog was cold in her marrow.  She had been sentenced by the last
Governor, the wise Borica, to eight years of domestic servitude in the
house of Don Jose Arguello for abetting her lover in the murder of his
wife.  Concha, thoughtless in many things, did what she could to
exorcise the terror and despair that stared from the eyes of the Indian
and puzzled her deeply.  Rosa adored her young mistress and exulted
even when Concha's voice rose in wrath; for was not she noticed by the
loveliest senorita in all the Californias, while others, envious and
spiteful to a poor girl no worse than themselves, were ignored?

Concha's cheeks were as pink as the Castilian roses that grew even
before the kitchen door and were quivering at the moment under the
impassioned carolling of a choir of larks.  Her black eyes were full of
dancing lights, like the imprisoned sun-flecks under the rose bush, and
never had indolent Spanish hands moved so quickly.

"Mira!  Mira!" she cried to the luckless Rosa. "That is the third time
thou hast spilt the chocolate. Thy hands are of wood when they should
be of air.  A soft bit of linen to clean them, not that coarse rag.
Dios de mi alma!  I shall send for Malia."

"For the love of Mary, senorita, have pity!" wailed Rosa.
"There--see--thanks to the Virgin I have poured three cups without
spilling a drop.  And this rag is of soft linen.  Look, Dona Concha, is
it not true?"

"Bueno; take care thou leavest not one drop on a saucer and I will
forgive thee--do not kiss my hand now, foolish one!  How can I whirl
the molinillo?  Be always good and I will burn a candle for thee every
time I go to the Mission.  The Russians go to the Mission this morning.
Hast thou seen the Russians, Rosa?"

"I have seen them, senorita.  Did I not serve at table yesterday?"

"True; I had forgotten.  What didst thou think of them?"

"What matters it to such great folk what a poor Indian girl thinks of
them?  They are very fair, which may be the fashion in their country;
but I am not accustomed to it; and I like not beards."

"His excellency wore no beard--he who sat on my mother's right and
opposite to me."

"He is very grand, senorita; more grand than the Governor, who after
all has red hair and is old.  He is even grander than Don Jose, whom
may the saints preserve; or than the padres at the mission. Perhaps he
is a king, like our King and natural lord in spain. (El rey nuestro y
senor natural.) Is he a king, senorita?"

"No, but he should be.  Rosa, thou mayest have my red cloak that came
from Mexico--last year. I have a new one and that is too small.  I had
intended to give it to Ana Paula, but thou art a good girl and should
have a gay mantle for Sunday, like the other girls.  I have also a red
ribbon for thy hair--"

Rosa spilt half the contents of the chocolate pot on the floor and
Concha gave her a sound box on the ear.  However, she did not dismiss
her, a sentence for which the trembling girl prepared herself.

"Make more--quickly!" cried the lady of caprice. "They come.  I hear
them.  But this is enough for the first.  Make the rest and beat with
the molinillo as I have done, and Malia will bring all to the corridor."

She ran to her room and her mirror.  Both were small, the room little
more luxurious than the cell of a nun.  But the roses hung over the
window, the birds had built in the eaves, and over the wall the sun
shone in.  In one corner was an altar and a crucifix.  If the walls
were rough and white, they were spotless as the hands that shook out
and then twisted high the fine dusky masses of hair. When a fold had
been drawn over either ear, in the modest fashion of the California
maid and wife, and the tall shell comb had fastened the rest, Concha
instead of finishing the headdress with her long Spanish pins, divested
the stems of two half-blown roses of their thorns and thrust them
obliquely through the knot.  Her dress was of simple white linen made
with a very full skirt and little round jacket, but embroidered by her
own deft fingers with the color she loved best.  She patted her frock,
rolled down her sleeves, and went out to the "corridor" to stand
demurely behind her mother as the Russians, escorted by Father Ramon
Abella, rode into the square.

Rezanov had intended merely to pay a call of ceremony upon the
hospitable Arguellos, but after he had dismounted and kissed the hands
of the smiling senora and her beautiful daughter he was nothing loath
to linger over a cup of chocolate.

It was served out there in the shade of the vines. Rezanov and Concha
sat on the railing, and the man stared over his cup at the girl with
the roses touching her cheeks and ruffling her hair.

"Do you like chocolate, senor?" asked Concha, who was not in the
intellectual mood of yesterday. "I made it myself--I and my poor Rosa."

"It is the most delectable foam I have ever tasted. I am interested to
know that it has the solid foundation of a name.  What is the matter
with your Rosa?"

"She is an unfortunate.  Her lover killed his wife, and it is said that
she is not innocent herself. The lover serves in chains for eight
years, and she is with us that we may make her repent and keep her from
further sin.  She is unhappy and will marry the man when his punishment
is over.  I am very sorry for her."

"Fancy you living close to a woman like that! I find it detestable."

"Why?--if I can do her good--and make her happy, sometimes?"

"Does she ever talk about her life--before she came here?"

"Oh, no; she is far too sad.  Once only, when I told her I would pray
for her in the Mission Church, she asked me to burn a candle that her
lover might serve his sentence more quickly and come out and marry her.
Will you light one for her to-day, senor?"

"With the greatest pleasure; if you really want your maid to marry a
man who no doubt will murder her for the sake of some other woman."

"Oh, surely not!  He loves her.  I know that many men love more than
once, but when they are punished like that, they must remember."

"Is it true that you are only sixteen?  Is that an impertinent
question?  I cannot help it.  Those years are so few, and so much
wisdom has gone into that little head."

"Sixteen is quite old."  Concha drew herself up with an air of offended
dignity.  "Elena Castro, who lives on the other side, is but eighteen
and she has three little ones.  The Virgin brought them in the night
and left them in the big rosebush you see before the door--one at a
time, of course.  Only the old nurse knew; the Virgin whispered it
while she was saying a prayer for Elena; and early in the morning she
came and found the dear little baby and put it in Elena's arms.  I am
the godmother of the first--Conchitita.  In Santa Barbara, where we
lived for some years, Anita Amanda Carillo, the friend of Ana Paula, is
married, although she is but twelve and sits on the floor all day and
plays with her dolls.  She prays every night to the Virgin to bring her
a real baby, but she is not old enough to take care of it and must
wait.  Twelve is too young to marry."  Concha shook her head.  Her eyes
were wise, and Rezanov noted anew that her mouth alone was as young as
her years.  "My father would not permit such a thing.  I am glad he is
not anxious we should marry soon.  I should love to have the babies,
though; they are so sweet to play with and make little dresses for.
But my mother says the Virgin does not bring the little ones to good
girls--poor Rosa had one but it died--until their parents find them a
husband first.  I have never wanted a husband--"  Concha darted a swift
glance over her shoulder, but Santiago was in the clutches of the
learned doctor and wishing that he knew no Latin; "so I go every day
and play with Elena's babies, which is well enough."

Rezanov listened to this innocent revelation with the utmost gravity,
but for the first time in many years he was conscious of a novel
fascination in a sex to which he had paid no niggard's tribute.  In his
world the married woman reigned; it was doubtful if he had ever had ten
minutes' conversation with a young girl before, never with one whose
face and form were as arresting as her crystal purity. He was
fascinated, but more than ever on his guard. As he rode over the sand
hills to the Mission she clung fast to his thoughts and he speculated
upon the woman hidden away in the depths of that lovely shell like the
deep color within the tight Castilian buds that opened so slowly.  He
recalled the personalities of the young officers that surrounded her.
They were charming fellows, gay, kindly, honest; but he felt sure that
not one of them was fit to hold the cup of life to the exquisite young
lips of Concha Arguello.  The very thought disposed him to twist their
necks.



VI

The Mission San Francisco de Assisi stood at the head of a great valley
about a league from the Presidio and facing the eastern hills.  Behind
it, yet not too close, for the priests were ever on their guard against
Indians more lustful of loot than salvation, was a long irregular chain
of hills, breaking into twin peaks on its highest ridge, with a lone
mountain outstanding.  It was an imposing but forbidding mass, as steep
and bare as the walls of a fortress; but in the distance, north and
south, as the range curved in a tapering arc that gave the valley the
appearance of a colossal stadium, the outlines were soft in a haze of
pale color.  The sheltered valley between the western heights and the
sand hills far down the bay where it turned to the south, was green
with wheat fields, and a small herd of cattle grazed on the lower
slopes.  The beauty of this superbly proportioned valley was further
enhanced by groves of oaks and bay trees, and by a lagoon,
communicating with an arm of the bay, which the priests had named for
their Lady of Sorrows--Nuestra Senora de los Dolores.  The little sheet
of water was almost round, very green and set in a thicket of willows
that were green, too, in the springtime, and golden in summer.  Near
its banks, or closer to the protecting Mission--on whose land grant
they were built--were the comfortable adobe homes of the few Spanish
pioneers that preferred the bracing north to the monotonous warmth of
the south.  Some of these houses were long and rambling, others built
about a court; all were surrounded by a high wall, enclosing a garden
where the Castilian roses grew even more luxuriantly than at the
Presidio.  The walls, like the houses, were white, and on those of Don
Juan Moraga, a cousin of Dona Ignacia Arguello, the roses had been
trained to form a border along the top in a fashion that reminded
Rezanov of the pink edged walls of Fiesole.

The white red-tiled church and the long line of rooms adjoining were
built of adobe with no effort at grandeur, but with a certain noble
simplicity of outline that harmonized not only with the lofty reserve
of the hills but with the innocent hope of creating a soul in the
lowest of human bipeds.  The Indians of San Francisco were as
immedicable as they were hideous; but the fathers belabored them with
sticks and heaven with prayer, and had so far succeeded that if as yet
they had sown piety no higher than the knees, they had trained some
twelve hundred pairs of hands to useful service.

On the right was a graveyard, with little in it as yet but rose trees;
behind the church and the many spacious rooms built for the consolation
of virtue in the wilderness was a large building surrounding a court.
Girls and young widows occupied the cells on the north side, and the
work rooms on the east, while the youths, under the sharp eye of a lay
brother, were opposite.  All lived a life of unwilling industry:
cleaning and combing wool, spinning, weaving, manufacturing chocolate,
grinding corn between stones, making shoes, fashioning the simple
garments worn by priest and Indian.  Between the main group of
buildings and the natural rampart of the "San Bruno Mountains" was the
Rancheria, where the Indian families lived in eight long rows of
isolated huts.

In spite of vigilance an Indian escaped now and again to the mountains,
where he could lie naked in the sun and curse the fetich of
civilization.  As the Russians approached, a friar, with deer-skin
armor over his cassock, was tugging at a recalcitrant mule, while a
body-guard of four Indians stood ready to attend him down the coast in
search of an enviable brother.  The mule, as if in sympathy with the
fugitive, had planted his four feet in the earth and lifted his voice
in derision, while the young friar, a recruit at the Mission, and far
from enamored of his task, strained at the rope, and an Indian pelted
the hindquarters with stones.  Suddenly, the mule flung out his heels,
the enemy in the rear sprawled, the rope flew loose, the beast with a
loud bray fled toward the willows of Dolores.  But the young priest was
both agile and angry.  With a flying leap he reached the heaving back.
The mule acknowledged himself conquered.  The body-guard trotted on
their own feet, and the party disappeared round a bend of the hills.

Rezanov laughed heartily and even the glum visage of Father Abella
relaxed.

"It is a common sight, Excellency," he said.  "We are thankful to have
a younger friar for such fatiguing work.  Many a time have I belabored
stubborn mules and bestrode bucking mustangs while searching for one of
these ungrateful but no doubt chosen creatures.  It is the will of God,
and we make no complaint; but we are very willing, Father Landaeta and
I, that youth should cool its ardor in so certain a fashion while we
attend to the more reasonable duties at home."

They were dismounted at the door of the church. The horses were led off
by waiting Indians.  The soldiers on guard saluted and stepped aside,
and the party entered.  Two priests in handsome vestments stood before
the altar, but the long dim nave was empty.  The Russians had been told
that a mass would be said in their honor, and they marched down the
church and bent their knees with as much ceremony as had they been of
the faith of their hosts.  When the short mass was over, Rezanov
bethought himself of Concha's request, and whispering its purport to
Father Abella was led to a double iron hoop stuck with tallow dips in
various stages of petition.  Rezanov lit a candle and fastened it in an
empty socket.  Then with a whimsical twist of his mouth he lit and
adjusted another.

"No doubt she has some fervent wish, like all children," he thought
apologetically.  "And whether this will help her to realize it or not,
at least it will be interesting to watch her eyes--and mouth--when I
tell her.  Will she melt, or flash, or receive my offering at her
shrine as a matter of course? I'll surprise her to-night in the middle
of a dance."

He deposited a gold piece among the candles on the table and followed
Father Abella through a side door.  A corridor ran behind the long line
of rooms designed not only for priests but for travellers always sure
of a welcome at these hospitable Missions.  Father Abella shuffled
ahead, halted on the threshold of a large room, and ceremoniously
invited his guests to enter.  Two other priests stood before a table
set with wine and delicate confections, their hands concealed in their
wide brown sleeves, but their unmatched physiognomies--the one lean and
jovial, the other plump and resigned--alight with the same smile of
welcome.  Father Abella mentioned them as his coadjutor Father Martin
Landaeta, and their guest Father Jose Uria of San Jose; and then the
three, with the scant rites of genuine hospitality, applied themselves
to the tickling of palates long unused to ambrosial living.  Responding
ingenuously to the glow of their home-made wines, they begged Rezanov
to accept the Mission, burn it, plunder it, above all, to plan his own
day.

"I hope that I am to see every detail of your great work," replied the
diplomatic guest of honor.  "But at your own leisure.  Meanwhile, I beg
that you will order one of your Indians to bring in the little presents
I venture to offer as a token of my respect. You may have heard that
the presents of his Imperial Majesty were refused by the Mikado of
Japan.  I reserved many of them for possible use in our own
possessions, particularly a piece of cloth of gold.  This I had
intended for our church at New Archangel, but finding the priests there
more in need of punishment than reward, I concluded to bring it here
and offer it as a manifest of my admiration for what the great
Franciscan Order of the Most Holy Church of Rome has accomplished in
the Californias.  Have I been too presumptuous?"

The priests all wore the eager expressions of children.

"Could we not see them first?" asked Father Landaeta of his superior;
and Father Abella sent a servant with an order to unload the horse and
bring in the presents.

Not a vestige of reserve lingered.  Priests and guests sat about the
table eating and drinking and chatting as were they old friends
reunited, and Rezanov extracted much of the information he desired.
The white population--"gente de razon"--of Alta California, the
peculiar province of the Franciscans--the Jesuits having been the first
to invade Baja California, and with little success--numbered about two
thousand, the Christianized Indians about twenty thousand.  There were
nineteen Missions and four Presidial districts--San Diego, close to the
border of Baja California, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco.
Each Mission had an immense grant of land, or rancho--generally fifteen
miles square--for the raising of live stock, agricultural necessities,
and the grape. At the Presidio of San Francisco there were some seventy
men, including invalids; and the number varied little at the other
military centres, Rezanov inferred, although there was a natural effort
to impress the foreigner with the casual inferiority of the armed force
within his ken.  Cattle and horses increased so rapidly that every few
years there was a wholesale slaughter, although the agricultural yield
was enormous.  What the Missions were unable to manufacture was sent
them from Mexico, and disposed of the small salaries of the priests;
the "Pious Fund of California" in the city of Mexico being
systematically embezzled.  The first Presidio and Mission were founded
at San Diego in July of 1769; the last at San Francisco in September
and October of 1776.

Rezanov's polite interest in the virgin country was cut short by the
entrance of two Indians carrying heavy bundles, which they opened upon
the floor without further delay.

The cloth of gold was magnificent, and the padres handled it as
rapturously as had their souls and fingers been of the sex symbolized
while exalted by the essence of maternity, in whose service it would be
anointed.  Rezanov looked on with an amused sigh, yet conscious of
being more comprehending and sympathetic than if he had journeyed
straight from Europe to California.  It was not the first time he had
felt a passing gratitude for his uncomfortable but illuminating sojourn
so close to the springs of nature.

The priests were as well pleased with the pieces of fine English cloth;
and as their own homespun robes rasped like hair shirts, they silently
but uniformly congratulated themselves that the color was brown.

Father Abella turned to Rezanov, his saturnine features relaxed.

"We are deeply grateful to your excellency, and our prayers shall
follow you always.  Never have we received presents so timely and so
magnificent. And be sure we shall not forget the brave officers that
have brought you safely to our distant shores, nor the distinguished
scholar who guards your excellency's health."  He turned to Langsdorff
and repeated himself in Latin.  The naturalist, whose sharp nose was
always lifted as if in protest against oversight and ready to pounce
upon and penetrate the least of mysteries, bowed with his hand on his
heart, and translated for the benefit of the officers.

"Humph!" said Davidov in Russian.  "Much the Chamberlain will care for
the prayers of the Catholic Church if he has to go home with his cargo.
But he has a fine opportunity here for the display of his diplomatic
talents.  I fancy they will avail him more than they did at
Nagasaki--where I am told he swore more than once when he should have
kowtowed and grinned."

"I shouldn't like to see him grin," replied Khostov, as they finally
started for the outbuildings.  "If he could go as far as that he would
be the most terrible man living.  Were it not for the fire in him that
melts the iron just so often he would be crafty and cruel instead of
subtle and firm.  He is a fortunate man!  There were many fairies at
his cradle! I have always envied him, and now he is going to win that
beautiful Dona Concha.  She will look at none of us."

"We will doubtless meet others as beautiful at the ball to-night," said
Davidov philosophically. "You are not in love with a girl who has
barely spoken to you, I suppose."

"She had almost given me a rose this morning, when Rezanov, who was
flattering the good Dona Ignacia with a moment of his attention, turned
too soon.  I might have been air.  She looked straight through me.
Such eyes!  Such teeth!  Such a form! She is the most enchanting girl I
have ever seen. And he will monopolize her without troubling to notice
whether we even admire her or not.  Pray heaven he does not break her
heart."

"He is honorable.  One must admit that, if he does fancy his own will
was a personal gift from the Almighty.  Perhaps she will break his.  I
never saw a more accomplished flirt."

"I know women," replied the shrewder Khostov.  "When men like Rezanov
make an effort to please--"  He shrugged his shoulders.  "Some men are
the offspring of Mars and Venus and most of us are not.  We can at
least be philosophers. Let us hope the dinner will be excellent."



VII

It proved to be the most delicate and savory repast that had excited
their appetites this side of Europe. The friars had their consolations,
and even Dona Ignacia Arguello was less gastronomic than Father
Landaeta.  Rezanov, whose epicurianism had survived a year of dried
fish and the coarse luxuries of his managers, suddenly saw all life in
the light of the humorist, and told so many amusing versions of his
adventures in the wilderness, and even of his misadventure with Japan,
that the priests choked over their wine, and Langsdorff, who had not a
grain of humor, swelled with pride in his chance relationship to a man
who seemed able to manipulate every string in the human network.

"He will succeed," he said to Davidov.  "He will succeed.  I almost
hoped he would not, he is so indifferent--I might almost say so
hostile--to my own scientific adventures.  But when he is in this mood,
when those cold eyes brim with laughter and ordinary humanity, I am
nothing better than his slave."

Rezanov, in reply to an entreaty from Father Uria to tell them more of
his mission and of the strange picture-book country they had never
hoped to hear of at first hand, assumed a tone of great frankness and
intimacy.  "We were, with astounding cleverness, treated from the first
like an audience in a new theatre.  After we had solemnly been towed by
a string of boats to anchor, under the Papen mountains, all Nagasaki
appeared to turn out, men, women and children.  Thousands of little
boats, decorated with flags by day and colored lanterns by night, and
filled with people in gala attire, swarmed about us, gazed at us
through telescopes, were so thick on the bay one could have traversed
it on foot.  The imperial sailors were distinguished by their uniforms
of a large blue and white check, suggesting the pinafores of a
brobdingnagian baby. The barges of the imperial princes were covered
with blue and white awnings and towed to the sound of kettledrums and
the loud measured cries of the boatmen.  At night the thousands of
illuminated lanterns, of every color and shade, the waving of fans, the
incessant chattering, and the more harmonious noise that rose
unceasingly above, made up a scene as brilliant as it was juvenile and
absurd. In the daytime it was more interesting, with the background of
hills cultivated to their crests in the form of terraces, varied with
rice fields, hamlets, groves, and paper villas encircled with little
gardens as glowing and various of color as the night lanterns.  When,
at last, I was graciously permitted to have a residence on a point of
land called Megasaki, I was conveyed thither in the pleasure barge of
the Prince of Fisi.  There was place for sixty oarsmen, but as one of
the few tokens of respect, I was enabled to record for the comfort of
the mighty sovereign whose representative I was, the barge was towed by
a long line of boats, decorated with flags, the voices of the rowers
rising and falling in measured cadence as they announced to all Japan
the honor about to be conferred upon her.  I sat on a chair of state in
the central compartment of the barge, and quite alone; my suite
standing on a raised deck beyond.  Before me on a table, marvellously
inlaid, were my credentials.  I was surrounded by curtains of sky-blue
silk and panels of polished lacquer inwrought with the Imperial arms in
gold.  The awning of blue and white silk was lined with a delicate and
beautiful tapestry, and the reverse sides of the silken partitions were
of canvas painted by the masters of the country.  The polished floor
was covered by a magnificent carpet woven with alarming dragons whose
jaws pointed directly at my chair of state.  And such an escort and
such a reception, both of ceremony and of curiosity, no Russian had
ever boasted before. Flags waved, kettledrums beat, fans were flung
into my very lap to autograph.  The bay, the hills, were a blaze of
color and a confusion of sound.  The barracks were hung with tapestries
and gay silks.  I, with my arms folded and in full uniform, my features
composed to the impassivity of one of their own wooden gods, was the
central figure of this magnificent farce; and it may be placed to the
ever-lasting credit of the discipline of courts that not one of my
staff smiled.  They stood with their arms folded and their eyes on the
inlaid devices at their feet.

"When this first act was over and I was locked in for the night and
felt myself able to kick my way through the flimsy walls, yet as
completely a prisoner as if they had been of stone, I will confess that
I fell into a most undiplomatical rage; and when I found myself played
with from month to month by a people I scorned as a grotesque mixture
of barbarian and mannikin, I was alternately infuriated, and consumed
with laughter at the vanity of men and nations."

His voice dropped from its light ironical note, and became harsh and
abrupt with reminiscent disgust.  "And the end of it all was failure.
The superb presents of the Tsar were rejected.  These presents: coats
of black fox and ermine, vases of fossil ivory and of marble, muskets,
pistols, sabers, magnificent lustres, table services of crystal and
porcelain, tapestries and carpets, immense mirrors, a clock in the form
of an elephant, and set with precious stones, a portrait of the Tsar by
Madame le Brun, damasks, furs, velvets, printed cotton, cloths,
brocades of gold and silver, microscopes, gold and silver watches, a
complete electrical machine--presents in all, of the value of three
hundred thousand roubles, were returned with scant ceremony to the
Nadeshda and I was politely told to leave.

"But the mortification was the least of my worries.  The object of the
embassy was to establish not only good will and friendship between
Russia and Japan, for which we cared little, but commercial intercourse
between this fertile country and our northeastern and barren
possessions.  It would have been greatly to the advantage of the
Japanese, and God knows it would have meant much to us."

Then Rezanov having tickled the imaginations and delighted the
curiosity of the priests, began to play upon their heartstrings.  His
own voice vibrated as he related the sufferings of the servants of the
Company, and while avoiding the nomenclature and details of their
bodily afflictions, gave so thrilling a hint of their terrible
condition that his audience gasped with sympathy while experiencing no
qualms in their own more fortunate stomachs.

He led their disarmed understandings as far down the vale of tears as
he deemed wise, then permitted himself a magnificent burst of
spontaneity.

"I must tell you the object of my mission to California, my kind
friends!" he cried, "although I beg you will not betray me to the other
powers until I think it wise to speak myself.  But I must have your
sympathy and advice.  It has long been my desire to establish relations
between Russia and Spain that should be of mutual benefit to the
colonies of both in this part of the western hemisphere.  I have told
you of the horrible condition and needs of my men.  They must have a
share in the superfluities of this most prodigal land.  But I make no
appeal to your mercy.  Trade is not founded on charity.  You well know
we have much you are in daily need of.  There should be a bi-yearly
interchange."  He paused and looked from one staring face to the other.
He had been wise in his appeal.  They were deeply gratified at being
taken into his confidence and virtually asked to outwit the military
authorities they detested.

Rezanov continued:

"I have brought the Juno heavy laden, my fathers, and for the
deliberate purpose of barter. She is full of Russian and Boston goods.
I shall do my utmost to persuade your Governor to give me of his corn
and other farinaceous foods in exchange.  It may be against your laws,
and I am well aware that for the treaty I must wait, but I beg you in
the name of humanity to point out to his excellency a way in which he
can at the same time relieve our necessities and placate his
conscience."

"We will!  We will!" cried Father Abella. "Would that you had come in
the disguise of a common sea-captain, for we have hoodwinked the
commandantes more than once.  But aside from the suspicion and distrust
in which Spain holds Russia--with so distinguished a visitor as your
excellency, it would be impossible to traffic undetected.  But there
must be a way out.  There shall be!  And will your excellency kindly
let us see the cargo?  I am sure there is much we sadly need: cloth,
linen, cotton, boots, shoes, casks, bottles, glasses, plates, shears,
axes, implements of husbandry, saws, sheep-shears, iron wares--have you
any of these things, Excellency?"

"All and more.  Will you come to-morrow?"

"We will! and one way or another they shall be ours and you shall have
breadstuffs for your pitiable subjects.  We have as much need of Europe
as you can have of California, for Mexico is dilatory and often
disregards our orders altogether.  One way or another--we have your
promise, Excellency?"

"I shall not leave California without accomplishing what I came for,"
said Rezanov.



VIII

Concha boxed Rosa's ears twice while being dressed for the ball that
evening.  It was true that excitement had reigned throughout the
Presidio all day, for never had a ball been so hastily planned. Don
Luis had demurred when Concha proposed it at breakfast; officially to
entertain strangers not yet officially received exceeded his authority.
Concha, waxing stubborn with opposition, vowed that she would give the
ball herself if he did not.  Business immediately afterward took the
Commandante ad. in. down to the Battery at Yerba Buena.  Before he left
he gave orders that the large hall in the barracks, where balls usually
were held, should be locked and the key given up to no one but himself.
He returned in the afternoon to find that Concha had outwitted him.
The sala of the Commandante's house was very large.  The furniture had
been removed and the walls hung with flags, those of Spain on three
sides, the Russian, borrowed by Santiago from the ship, at the head of
the room.  Concha laughed gaily as Luis stormed about the sala rasping
his spurs on the bare floor.

"Whitewashed walls for guests from St. Petersburg!" she jeered, as Luis
menaced the flags.  "We have little enough to offer.  Besides--what
more wise than to flaunt our flag in the face of the Russian bear?
Their flag, of course, is a mere idle compliment.  Let me tell you two
things, Luis mio: this morning I invited the Russians to dance
to-night, and told Padre Abella to ask all our neighbors of the Mission
besides; and Rafaella Sal helped me to drape every one of those flags.
When I told her you might tear them down, she vowed that if you did she
would dance all night with the Bostonian."

Luis lifted his shoulders and mustache to express an attitude of
contemptuous resignation, but his face darkened, and a moment later he
left the room and strolled up the square to the grating of Rafaella Sal.

Concha well knew that the frank gray eyes of the Bostonian--all
citizens of the United States were Bostonians in that part of the
world, for only Boston skippers had the enterprise to venture so
far--were for no one but herself.  But his face was bony and freckled,
and his figure less in height and vigor than her own.  He was rich and
well-born, but shy and very modest.  Concha Arguello, La Favorita of
California, was for some such dashing caballero as Don Antonio Castro
of Monterey, or Ignacio Sal, the most adventurous rider of the north.
Meanwhile he could look at her and adore her in secret, and Dona
Rafaella Sal was very kind and danced as well as himself.  He never
dreamed that he was being used as a stalking horse to keep alive in the
best match in the Californias the jealous desire for exclusive
possession that had animated him in 1800 when he had applied through
the Viceroy of Mexico for royal consent to his marriage with the
Favorita of her year.  That was six years ago and never a word had come
from Madrid.  Luis was faithful, but men were men, and girls grew older
every day.  So the wise Rafaella was alternately indifferent and
alluring, the object of more admiration than a maid could always repel,
yet with wells of sentiment that only one man could discover.  And the
American was patient, and even had he known, would not in the least
have minded the use she made of him.  He still could look at Concha
Arguello.

William Sturgis had sailed in one of his father's ships, now six years
ago, from Boston in search of health.  The ship in a dense fog had gone
on the rocks in the straits between the Farallones and the Bay of San
Francisco.  He alone, and after long hours of struggle with the wicked
currents, not even knowing in what direction land might be, was flung,
senseless, on the shore below the Fort. For the next month he was an
invalid in the house of the Commandante.  Fortunately, his papers and
money were sewn in an oilskin belt and his father's name was well known
in California.  Moreover, there never was a more likable youth.  His
illness interested all the matrons and maids of the Presidio in his
fate; when he recovered, his good dancing and unselfishness gave him a
permanent place in the regard of the women, while his entire absence of
beauty, and his ability to hold his own in the mess room, established
his position with the men.

In due course word of his plight reached Boston, and a ship was
immediately despatched, not only to bring the castaway home, but with
the fine wardrobe necessary to a young gentleman of his station. But
the same ship brought word of his father's death--his mother had gone
long since--and as there were brothers enamored of the business he
hated, he decided to remain in the country that had won his heart and
given him health.  For some time there was demur on the part of the
authorities; Spain welcomed no foreigners in her colonies. But Sturgis
swore a mighty oath that he would never despatch a letter uninspected
by the Commandante, that he would make no excursions into the heart of
the country, that he would neither engage in traffic nor interfere in
politics.  Then having already won the affections of the Governor, he
was permitted to remain, even to rent an acre of land from the Church
in the sheltered Mission valley, and build himself a house.  Here he
raised fruit and vegetables for his own hospitable table, chickens and
game cocks.  Books and other luxuries came by every ship from Boston;
until for a long interval ships came no more.  One of these days, when
the power of the priests had abated, and the jealousy which would keep
all Californians landless but themselves was counterbalanced by a great
increase in population, he meant to have a ranch down in the south
where the sun shone all the year round and he could ride half the day
with his vaqueros after the finest cattle in the country.  He should
never marry because he could not marry Concha Arguello, but he could
think of her, see her sometimes; and in a land where a man was neither
frozen in winter nor grilled in summer, where life could be led in the
open, and the tendency was to idle and dream, domestic happiness called
on a feebler note than in less equable climes.  In his heart he was
desperately jealous of Concha's favored cavaliers, but it was a
jealousy without hatred, and his kind, earnest, often humorous eyes,
were always assuring his lady of an imperishable desire to serve her
without reward.  Of course Concha treated him with as little
consideration as so humble a swain deserved; but in her heart she liked
him better than either Castro or Sal, for he talked to her of something
besides rodeos and balls, racing and cock-fights; he had taught her
English and lent her many books.  Moreover, he neither sighed nor
languished, nor ever had sung at her grating.  But she regarded him
merely as an intelligence, a well of refreshment in her stagnant life,
never as a man.

"Rose," she said, as she caught her hair into a high golden comb that
had been worn in Spain by many a beauty of the house of Moraga, and
spiked the knot with two long pins globed at the end with gold, while
the maid fastened her slippers and smoothed the pink silk stockings
over the thin instep above; "what is a lover like?  Is it like meeting
one of the saints of heaven?"

"No, senorita."

"Like what, then?"

"Like--like nothing but himself, senorita.  You would not have him
otherwise."

"Oh, stupid one!  Hast thou no imagination? Fancy any man being well
enough as he is!  For instance, there is Don Antonio, who is so
handsome and fiery, and Don Ignacio, who can sing and dance and ride as
no one else in all the Californias, and Don Weeliam Sturgis, who is
very clever and true.  If I could roll them into one--a tamale of corn
and chicken and peppers--there would be a man almost to my liking.  But
even then--not quite.  And one man--what nonsense!  I have too much
color to-night, Rosa."

"No, senorita, you have never been so beautiful. When the lover comes
and you love him, senorita, you will think him greater than our natural
king and lord, and all other men poor Indians."

"But how shall I know?"

"Your heart will tell you, senorita."

"My heart?  My father and my mother will choose for me a husband whom I
shall love as all other women love their husbands--just enough and no
more.  Then--I suppose--I shall never know?"

"Would you marry at your parents' bidding, like a child, senorita?  I
do not think you would."

Concha looked at the girl in astonishment, but with a greater
astonishment she suddenly realized that she would not.  Even her little
fingers stiffened in a rush of personality, of passionate resentment
against the shackles bound by the ages about the feminine ego.  Her
individuality, long budding, burst into flower; her eyes gazed far
beyond her radiant image in the mirror with a look of terrified but
dauntless insight; then moved slowly to the girl that sat weeping on
the floor.

"I know not what thy sin was," she said musingly. "But I have heard it
said thou didst obey no law but thine own will--and his.  Why should
the punishment have been so terrible?  Thou hast sworn to me thou didst
not help to murder the woman."

"I cannot tell you, senorita.  You will never know anything of sin; but
of love--yes, I think you will know that, and before very long."

"Before long?"  Concha's lips parted and the nervous color she had
deprecated left her cheeks. "What meanest thou, Rosa?"  Her voice rose
hoarsely.

And the Indian, with the insight of her own tragedy, replied: "The
Russian has come for you, senorita.  You will go with him, far away to
the north and the snow.  These others never could win your heart; but
this man who looks like a king, and as if many women had loved him, and
he had cared little--  Oh, senorita, Carlos was only a poor Indian, but
the men that women love all have something that makes them
brothers--the Great Russian and the poor man who goes mad for a moment
and kills one woman that he may live with another forever.  The great
Russian is free, but he is the same, senorita--he too could kill for
love, and such are the men we women die for!"

Concha, ambitious and romantic, eager for the brilliant life the advent
of this Russian nobleman seemed to herald, had assured Santiago that he
would love her; but they had been the empty words of the Favorita of
many conquests; of love and passion she had known, suspected, nothing.
As she watched Rosa, huddled and convulsed, little pointed arrows flew
into her brain.  Girls in those old Spanish days went to the altar with
a serene faith in miracles, and it was a matter of honor among those
that preceded their friends to abet the parents in a custom which
assuredly did not err on the side of ugliness.  Concha had a larger
vocabulary than other Californians of her sex, for she had read many
books, and if never a novel, she knew something of poetry.  Sturgis had
filled the sala with the sonorous roll of his favorite masters and it
had pleased her ear; but the language of passion had been so many
beautiful words, neither vibrating nor lingering in her consciousness.
But the rude expression of the miserable woman at her feet, whose sobs
grew more uncontrollable every moment, made it forever impossible that
she should prattle again as she had to Santiago and Rezanov in the last
day and night; and although she felt as if straining her eyes in the
dark, her cheeks burned once more, and she rose uneasily and walked to
the window.

She returned in a moment and stood over Rosa, but her voice when she
spoke had lost its hoarseness and was cold and irritated.

"Control thyself," she said.  "And go and bathe thine eyes.  Wouldst
look like a tomato when it is time to pass the dulces and wines?  And
think no more of thy lover until he can come out of prison and marry
thee."  She drew herself away as the woman attempted to clutch her
skirts.  "Go," she said.  "The musicians are tuning."



IX

"The sash, Excellency?" Jon longed to see his master in full regalia
once more, and after all, was not this an embassy of a sort?  But
Rezanov, who already regarded his reflection with some humor, shook his
head.

"I'll go as far as decency permits, for no one is so impressed by
external magnificence as the Spaniard.  But full dress uniform and
orders are enough; an ambassador's sash and they might suspect I took
them for the children they are.  Children are not always fools.  My
stock is too tight.  Remember that I am to dance, and am too tall for
most women's pretty little ears.  And I doubt if an ear is less thirsty
for being so provocatively screened."

Jon, a "prince" whose family had fallen upon evil days long since, but
whose thin, clever fingers were no mean inheritance, unwound and
readjusted the folds of soft batiste, that most becoming neck vesture
man has ever worn.  He fain would have pressed the matter of the sash,
but Rezanov, most indulgent of masters to this devoted servant, was
never patient of insistence.  Jon also regretted the powdered wig and
queue, which he privately thought more befitting a fine gentleman than
his own hair, even though the latter were thick and bright.  He said
tentatively:

"I notice these Californians still wear the hair long; and with their
gay ribbons and showy hats look much better no doubt than if they
followed a fashion of which it would seem they had not heard--and
perhaps do not admire.  I ventured to pack two of your excellency's
wigs when we were leaving St. Petersburg--"

"Good heavens, no!" cried Rezanov, rising to his feet and casting a
last impatient glance at the mirror.  "When a man has escaped from a
furnace does he run back of his own accord?  My brain would cook under
a wig in this climate, and I need all my wits--for more reasons than
one."  And he went up on deck.

There, while awaiting his horses and escort, he had another glimpse of
the happy Arcadian life of the Californians.  Over the sand hills
through which he had floundered twice that day rode young men in gala
attire, a maiden, her attire as brilliant as the sunset along the
western summits, on the saddle before them.  These saddles were heavy
with silver, the blanket beneath was embroidered with both silver and
gold.  Gay light laughter floated out on the cool evening breeze to the
little ship in the harbor.

"It has been a good day," thought Rezanov, lowering his glass.  "It is
like her to arrange so charming a finale."

When he arrived at the Presidio the guitars were tinkling and the sala
was full of eager and somber faces.  The Californians had come early,
determined to witness the arrival of the Russians.  Very pretty most of
the girls were, and by no means a bevy of brunettes.  There was hair of
every shade of brown, looped over the ears, drawn high and confined by
the high comb and the long pins; and Rafaella Sal, with her red hair
and gray eyes, was still celebrated as a beauty, although no longer in
her first youth--she was twenty-two, and should have been a matron and
mother long since!  But she looked very handsome and coquettish in her
daring yellow frock that no other red head would have dared to wear,
and she displayed three ropes of Baja California pearls; one strand
being the common possession.  The matrons, young and old, wore heavy
satins or brocades, either red or yellow, but the maids were in
flowered silks, sometimes with coquettish little jacket, generally with
long pointed bodice and full flowing skirt.  Concha's frock was made in
this fashion, but quite different otherwise; an aunt in the City of
Mexico being mindful at whiles of the cravings of relatives in exile.
It was of a soft shimmering white stuff covered with gold spangles and
cut to reveal her young neck and arms. She stood at the head of the
room with her mother as Rezanov entered, and he noticed for the first
time how tall she was.  She held herself proudly; mischievous twinkle,
nor child-like trust, nor flashing coquetry possessed her eyes; these,
even more star-like than usual, nevertheless looked upon her guests
with a dignified composure.  Her lips, her skin, were luminous.  In
this well-cut evening gown he saw that her figure was superb; and that
she could command stateliness as well as vivacity moved her toward a
pedestal in his regard that had been occupied by few and never for long.

Rezanov, in his splendid uniform and blazing orders, filled the sala
with his presence as he walked past the rows of bright critical eyes
toward his hostesses.  The young lips of the maids parted with delight
and the men frowned.  For the first time William Sturgis felt the
sickness of jealousy instead of its not unagreeable pain.  Davidov and
Khostov, both handsome and well-bred young men, were also in full naval
uniform, and by no means ignored; while Langsdorff, in the severe black
of the scholar, was an admirable foil.

Rezanov, wondering at the subtle change in Concha, bowed ceremoniously
and murmured: "You will give me the first dance, senorita?"

"Certainly, Excellency.  Are you not the guest of honor?"

She motioned to the Indian musicians, fiddles and guitars fairly leaped
to position, and in a moment Rezanov enjoyed the novel delusion of
encircling a girl's floating wraith.

"We can waltz, you see!  Are you not surprised?"

"It is but one accomplishment the more.  I feared a preference for your
native dances, but ventured to hope you would teach me."

"They are easy to learn.  You will watch us dance the contra-danza
after this."

"With whom do you dance it?"

Her black eyelashes were very thick; he barely caught the glance she
shot him.

"The Russian bear growls," she said lightly. "Did you expect to dance
every dance with me?"

"I came for no other purpose."

"You would have several duels to fight to-morrow."

"I have no objection."

"You have fought others, then?"  Her voice was the softer with the
effort to turn its edge.

"No more than most men, I suppose.  May I ask how many have been fought
for you?"

"My memory is no better than yours.  Why should I burden it with
trifles?"

"True.  It doubtless is charged with matters far more serious than the
desires of mere men.  Tell me, senorita, what is your dearest wish?"
He had bent his head and fixed his powerful gaze on her stubborn
lashes.  As he hoped, she raised startled eyes in which an angry
glitter dawned.

"My dearest wish?  If I had one should I tell you?  Why do you ask me
such a question?"

"Because I lit a candle at the Mission to-day that you might realize
it," he answered, smiling.

To his surprise he saw a flash of terror in her eyes before she dropped
them, and felt her shiver. But she answered coldly:

"You have wasted a candle, senor.  I have never had a wish that was not
instantly gratified.  But I thank you for the kind thought.  Will you
finish this waltz with my friend, and the fiancee of Luis, Rafaella
Sal?  She has quarrelled with Luis, I see; Don Weeliam is dancing with
Carolina Xime'no, and she cares to waltz with no one else.  Pardon me
if I say that no one has ever waltzed as well as your excellency, and I
must not be selfish."

"I will release you if you are tired, but otherwise I shall do myself
the honor to waltz with your friend later."

"I must look after my other guests," she said coldly; and he was led
with what grace he could summon to the fair but sulky Rafaella.

"How am I to help flirting with that girl?" he thought as he
mechanically guided another light and graceful partner through the
crowded room.  "If she were one girl I might resist.  But since eleven
o'clock yesterday morning she has been three.  And if she was twenty
yesterday, twelve this morning, she is twenty-eight to-night, and this
might be a court ball in Madrid.  I shall leave the day after I bring
the Governor to terms."

He sat beside Dona Ignacia during the contra-danza and found the scene
remarkably brilliant and animated considering the primitive conditions.
In addition to the bright flags on the wall and the vivid colors of the
women, the officers of the Presidio and forts wore full dress uniform,
either white coats with red velvet vest, red pantaloons and sash, or
white trousers and scarlet coat and waistcoat faced with green.  The
young men from the Mission wore small clothes of a black silk, fastened
at the knee with silver buckles, and white silk stockings; two
gentlemen from Monterey wore the evening costume of the capital,
dove-colored small clothes, with white silk waistcoat and stockings,
and much fine lawn and lace.  The room was well lighted by many wicks
stuck in lumps of tallow.  The Indian musicians, soldiers recruited
from a superior tribe in the Santa Clara valley, were clad almost
entirely in scarlet, and danced sometimes as they played; and Indian
girls, in short red skirts and snow-white smocks open at the throat,
their long hair decorated with flowers and ribbons, already passed
about wine and dulces.  The windows were open.  The sweet night air
blew in.

The contra-danza was not unlike the square dances of England except
that it was far more graceful, and the men rivalled the women in their
supple glidings and bendings, doublings and swayings.  Concha danced
with Ignacio Sal, Rafaella with William Sturgis; their pliant grace, as
facile as grain rippling before the wind, would have put the best
ballet in Europe to the blush.  Concha's skirts swept Rezanov's feet,
her little slippers twinkled before his admiring eyes, and he lost no
sinuous turn or undulation of her beautiful figure; but she never
vouchsafed him a glance.

When the dance finished his host introduced him to the prettiest of the
girls and he paid them as many compliments as their heads would stand.
He even took some trouble to talk to them, if only to fathom the
sources of their unlikeness to Concha Arguello. He concluded that the
gulf that separated her from these charming, vivacious, shallow young
girls was not dug by education alone.  Individualities were rare enough
in Europe; out here, in earthly, but sparsely settled paradises, they
must be rarer still; but that one had wandered into the lovely shell of
Concha Arguello he no longer doubted.  The fact that it had developed
haphazardly, with little or no help from her sentience, and was still
fluid and uncertain, but multiplied her in interest and charm. The
women to whom he was accustomed knew themselves, consequently were no
riddle to a man of his experience, but here he had an odd sense of
having entered into a compact in the dark with a girl who might one day
symbolize some high and impassioned ideal he had cherished in the days
before ideals had been cast aside with the negative virtues that bred
them.

As he coolly studied the good looks of the young caballeros and the
plain intellectual face and slight little figure of the Bostonian,
noted the utter indifference with which they were treated by the
Favorita of Presidio and Mission, he felt a sudden rush of arrogance, a
youthful tingling of nerves, the same prophetic sense of imminent
happiness and power that his first contact with the light electrical
air and the beauty of the country had induced. After all, he was but
forty-two.  Life on the whole had been very kind to him.  And, although
he did not realize it as yet, his frame, blighted by the rigors of the
past three years, was already sensible to a renewal of juice and sap.
He admitted that he was more interested than he had been for many
years, and that if he was not in love, he tingled with a very natural
masculine desire for an adventure with a pretty girl.

But he was by no means a weak man, and his mind counted the cost even
while his imagination hummed.  He had almost decided to bid Dona
Ignacia an abrupt good-night, pleading fatigue, which his pallor
indorsed, when the door of the dining-room was thrown open to the
liveliest of fiddling, and a white hand with a singular suggestion of
tenacity both in appearance and clasp took possession of his arm.

"My mother has gone to Gertrudis Rudisinda, who is crying," said
Concha.  "It is my pleasure to lead your excellency in to supper."

They sat side by side at the head of the long table almost covered by
the massive service of silver and loaded with evidences of Dona
Ignacia's generosity and skill; chickens in red rice and gravy,
oysters, tamales, dulces, pastries, fruits and pleasant drinks.  Luis,
with Rafaella Sal dimpling and sparkling at his side, and now quite
resigned to the semi-official nature of the ball, rose and drank the
health of the distinguished guest in long and flowery praises.  Rezanov
responded in briefer but no less felicitous vein, and concluded by
remarking that the only rift in the lute of his present enchanting
experience was the fear that whereas he had nearly died of starvation
several times during the past three years, he was now threatened with a
far more ignominious end, so delicious and irresistible were the
temptations that beset the wayfarer in this most hospitable land.  Both
speeches were gaily applauded, the conversation became animated and
general, and Concha dropped her voice to the attentive ear beside her.

"You were very successful to-day at the Mission, Excellency."

"May I ask how you know?"

"I never saw anything so serenely--arrogantly, perhaps would be a truer
description--triumphant as your bearing when you walked down our humble
sala to-night.  You looked like Caesar returned from Gaul; but I
suppose that all great conquests are merely the sum of many small ones."

"I do not regard the friendship of so shrewd a man as Father Abella a
trifling conquest.  And according to yourself, dear senorita, it is
essential to the success of a mission upon which many lives and my own
honor depend."

"Is it really so serious?" she asked with a faint sneer.

He drew himself up stiffly and his light eyes glowed with anger.  "It
is a subject I never should have thought of introducing at a festivity
like this," he said suavely.  "May I be permitted to compliment you,
senorita, upon your marvellous grace in the contra-danza?  It quite
turned my head, and I am delighted to hear that you will dance alone
after supper."

Her face had flushed hotly.  She dropped her eyes and her voice
trembled as she replied: "You humiliate me, senor, and I deserve it.
I--my poor Rosa told me something of her great tragedy while dressing
me, and for the moment other things seemed unimportant.  What is hunger
and court favor beside a broken heart and a desolate life? But that of
course is the attitude of an ignorant girl."  She raised her eyes.
They were soft, and her voice was softer.  "I beg that you will forgive
me, senor.  And be sure that I take an even deeper interest in your
great mission than yesterday.  I have thought much about it, and while
I have told my mother nothing, I have expressed certain peevish hopes
that a ship would not come all the way from Sitka without taking a hint
more than one Boston skipper must have given, and brought us many
things we need.  She is quite excited over the prospect of a new shawl
for herself, and of sending several as presents to the south; besides
many other things: cotton, shoes, kitchen utensils.  Have you any of
these things, Excellency?"

Rezanov stared at her face, barely tinted with color, dully wondering
why it should be so different from the one roguish, pathetically
innocent, that had haunted him all day.  He asked abruptly:

"Which is the friend whose little ones you envy? You have made me wish
to see them and her?"

"That is Elena--beside Gervasio."  She indicated a young woman with
soft, patient, brown eyes, the dignity of her race and the sweetness of
young motherhood, who would have looked little older than herself had
it not been for an already shapeless figure.  "I can take you to-morrow
to see them if you wish."

She had cast down her eyes and her face was white.  Still he groped on.

"Pardon me if I say that I am surprised your parents should permit such
a woman as this Rosa to attend you.  Why should your happy life be
disturbed by the lamentations of an abandoned creature--who can do you
no good, and possibly much harm?"

Still Concha did not raise her eyes.  "I do not think poor Rosa would
do anyone harm.  But perhaps it were as well she went elsewhere.  We
have had her long enough.  I have taken a dislike to her. I reproach
myself bitterly, but I cannot help it.  I should like never to see her
again."

"What has she told you?"  Concha glanced up swiftly.  His eyes were
blazing.  She felt quite certain that he rolled a Russian oath under
his tongue, and she made a slight involuntary motion toward him, her
lips trembling apart.

"Nothing," she murmured.  "I do not know--I do not know.  But I no
longer wish her near me. She--life is very strange and terrible, senor.
You know it well--I, so little."

Rezanov felt his breath short and his hands cold. For a moment he made
no reply.  Then he smiled charmingly and said in the conventional tone
that was ever at his command: "Of course you know little of life in
this Arcadia.  One who hopes to be numbered among the best of your
friends prays that you never may.  Yes, senorita, life is
strange--strangely commonplace and disillusionizing--but sometimes
picturesque.  Believe me when I say that nothing stranger has ever
befallen me than to find out here on the lonely brink of a continent
nearly twenty thousand versts from Europe, a girl of sixteen with the
grand manner, and an intellect without the detestable idiosyncrasies of
the fashionable bas bleus I have hitherto had the misfortune to
encounter."

She was tapping the table slowly with her fork, and he noted that her
soft, childish mouth was set. "No doubt you are quite right to put me
off," she said finally, and in a voice as even as his own.  "And my
intellect would do me little good if it did not teach me to ignore
mysteries I can never hope to fathom.  There is no such thing as life
in your sense in this forgotten corner of the world, nor ever will be
in my time.  If you come back and visit us twenty years hence you will
find me fat and worn like Elena, and busy every minute like my
mother--unless, indeed, I marry Don Weeliam Sturgis and become a great
lady in Boston.  It would not be so mean a fate."

Rezanov darted a look of angry contempt at the pale young man who was
eating little and miserably watching the handsome pair at the head of
the table.  "You will not marry him!" he said briefly.

"I could do far worse."  Concha's lashes framed an adorable glance that
sent the blood to the hair of the sensitive youth.  "You have no idea
how clever and good he is.  And--Madre de Dios!--I am so tired of
California."

"But you are a part of it--the very symbol of its future, it seems to
me.  I wish I had a sculptor in my suite.  I should make him model you,
label the statue 'California,' and erect it on the peak of that big
island out there."

"That is very poetical, but after all, you are only saying that I am a
pretty savage with an education that will be more common in the next
generation. It is little consolation for an existence where the most
exciting event in a lifetime is the arrival of a foreign ship or the
inauguration of a governor." And once more she smiled at Sturgis.  He
raised his glass impulsively, and she hers in gay response.  A moment
later she gave the signal to leave the table. Rezanov followed her back
to the sala chewing the cud of many reflections.



X

Concha had eaten no supper.  As she entered the sala she clapped her
hands, the guests ranged themselves against the wall, the musicians,
livelier than ever, flew to their instruments; with the drifting,
swaying movement she could assume at will, she went slowly, absently,
to the middle of the room. Then she let her head drop backward, as if
with the weight of her hair, and Rezanov, vaguely angry, expected one
of those appeals to the senses for which Spanish women of another sort
were notorious.  But Concha, after tapping the floor alternately with
the points and the wooden heels of her slippers, for a few moments,
suddenly made an imperious gesture to Ignacio Sal.  He sprang to her
side, took her hand, and once more there was the same monotonous
tapping of toes and heels. Then they whirled apart, bent their lithe
backs until their brows almost touched the floor in a salute of mock
admiration, and danced to and from each other, coquetry in the very
tilt of her eyebrows, the bare semblance of masculine indulgence on his
eager, passionate face.  Suddenly to the surprise of all, she snapped
her fingers directly under his nose, waved her hand, turned her back,
and made a peremptory gesture to that other enamoured young swain,
Captain Antonio Castro of Monterey.  Don Ignacio, surprised and
discomfited, retired amidst the jeers of his friends, and Concha, with
her most vivacious and gracious manner, met Castro half way, and,
taking his hand, danced up and down the sala, slowly and with many
improvisations.  Then, as they returned to the center of the room and
stepped lightly apart before joining in a gay whirl, she snapped her
fingers under HIS nose, made a gesture of dismissal over her shoulder,
and fluttered an uplifted hand in the direction of Sturgis.  Again
there was a delighted laughter, again a discomforted knight and a
triumphant partner.

"Concha always gives us something we do not expect," said Santiago to
Rezanov, whose eyes were twinkling.  "The other girls dance El Son and
La Jota very gracefully--yes.  But Conchita dances with her head, and
the musicians and the partner, when she takes one, have all they can do
to follow. She will choose you, next, senor."

Rezanov turned cold, and measured the distance to the door.  "I hope
not!" he said.  "I should hate nothing so much as to make an exhibition
of myself. The dances I know--that is all very well--but to
improvise--for the love of heaven help me to get out!"

But Santiago, who was watching his sister intently, replied: "Wait a
moment, Excellency.  I do not think she will choose another.  I know by
her feet that she intends to dance El Son--in her own way, of
course--after all."

Concha circled about the room twice with Sturgis, lifted him to the
seventh heaven of expectancy, dismissed him as abruptly as the others.
Lifting her chin with an expression of supreme disdain for all his sex,
she stood a moment, swaying, her arms hanging at her sides.

"I am glad she will not dance with Weeliam," muttered Santiago.  "I
love him--yes; but the Spanish dance is not for the Bostonian."

Rezanov awaited her performance with an interest that caused him some
cynical amusement. But in a moment he had surrendered to her once more
as a creature of inexhaustible surprise.  The musicians, watching her,
began to play more slowly. Concha, her arms still supine, her head
lifted, her eyes half veiled, began to dance in a stately and measured
fashion that seemed to powder her hair and dissolve the partitions
before an endless vista of rooms.  Rezanov had a sudden vision of the
Hall of the Ambassadors in the royal palace at Madrid, where, when a
young man on his travels, he had attended a state ball.  There he had
seen the most dignified beauties of Europe dance at the most formal of
its courts.  But Concha created the illusion of having stepped down
from the throne in some bygone fashion to dance alone for her subjects
and adorers.

She raised her arms, barely budding at the top, with a gesture that was
not only the poetry of grace but as though bestowing some royal favor;
when she curved and swayed her body, again it was with the lofty
sweetness of one too highly placed to descend to mere seductiveness.
She glided up and down, back and forth, with a dreamy revealing motion
as if assisting to shape some vague impassioned image in the brain of a
poet.  She lifted her little feet in a manner that transformed boards
into clouds.  There were moments when she seemed actually to soar.

"She is a little genius!" thought Rezanov enthusiastically.  "Anything
could be made of a woman like that."

It was not her dancing alone that interested him, but its effect on her
audience.  The young men had begun with audible expressions of
approval.  They were now shouting and stamping and clapping. Suddenly,
as once more she danced back to the very center of the room, her bosom
heaving, her eyes like stars, her red lips parted, Don Ignacio, long
since recovered from his spleen, invaded his pocket and flung a handful
of silver at her feet.  It was a signal.  Gold and silver coins,
chains, watches, jewels, bounced over the floor, to be laughingly
ignored.  Rezanov looked on in amazement, wondering if this were a part
of the performance and if he should follow suit.  But after a glance at
the faces of the young men, lost to everything but their passionate
admiration for the unique and beautiful dancing of their Favorita, and
when Sturgis, after wildly searching in his pockets, tore a large pearl
from the lace of his stock, he doubted no longer--nor hesitated.
Fastened by a blue ribbon to the fourth button of his closely fitting
coat was a golden key, the outward symbol of his rank at court.  He
detached it, then made a sudden gesture that caught her attention.  For
a moment their eyes met.  He tossed her the bauble, and mechanically
she lifted her hand and caught it.  Then she laughed confusedly,
shrugged her shoulders, bowed graciously to her audience, and signalled
to the musicians to stop.  Rezanov was at her side in a moment.

"You must be tired," he said.  "I insist that you come out on the
veranda and rest."

"Very well," she said indifferently; "it is quite time we all went out
to the air.  Santiago mio, wilt thou bring my reboso--the white one?"

Santiago, more flushed than his sister at her triumphs, fetched the
long strip of silk, and Rezanov detached her from her eager court and
led her without.  Elena Castro followed closely, yet with a cavalier of
her own that her friend might talk freely with this interesting
stranger.  The night air was cool and stimulating.  The hills were
black under the sparks of white fire in the high arch of the California
sky.  In the Presidio square were long blue shadows that might have
been reflections of the smoldering blue beyond the stars.  Rezanov and
Concha sat on the railing at the end of the "corridor."

"It is a custom--all that very material admiration?" he asked.

"A very old one, but not too often followed. Otherwise we should not
prize it.  But when some Favorita outdoes herself then she receives the
greatest reward that man can think of--gold and silver jewels.  We do
not dare to return the tributes in common fashion, but they have a way
of appearing where they belong as soon as their owners are supposed to
have forgotten the incident.  As you are not a Californian, senor, I
take the liberty of returning this without any foolish subterfuge."
She handed him his contribution.  "I thank you all the same.  It was a
spontaneous act, and I am very proud."

He accepted the key awkwardly, not daring to press it upon her, with
the obvious banalities.  But he felt a sudden desire to give her
something, and, nothing better offering, he gathered half a dozen roses
and laid them on her lap.

"I was disappointed that you did not wear your roses to-night," he
said.  "I associate them with you in my thoughts.  Will you put one in
your hair?"

She found a place for two and thrust another in the neck of her gown.
The rest she held closely in her hands.  Then he noticed that she was
very white, and again she shivered.

"You are cold and tired," he murmured, his eyes melting to hers.  "It
was entrancing, but I hope never to see you give so much of yourself to
others again."  His hand in arranging the reboso touched hers.  It
lingered, and she stared up at him, helplessly, her eyes wide, her lips
parted.  She reminded him of a rabbit caught in a trap, and he had a
sudden and violent revulsion of feeling.  He rose and offered his arm.
"I should be a brute if I kept you talking out here.  Slip off and go
to bed.  I shall start the guests, for I am very tired myself."



XI

He did not talk with her again for several days.  He called in state,
but remained only a few moments. His officers went to several impromptu
dances at the Presidio and Mission, but he pleaded fatigue, natural in
the damaged state of his constitution, and left the ship only for a
gallop over the hills or down the coast with Luis Arguello.

But he had never felt better.  At the end of a week his pallor had
gone, his skin was tanned and fresh.  Even his wretched crew were
different men. They were given much leave on shore, and already might
be seen escorting the serving-women over the hills in the late
afternoon.  Rezanov gave them a long rope, although he knew they must
be germinating with a mutinous distaste of the Russian north; he kept
strict watch over them and would have given a deserter his due without
an instant's pause.

The estafette that had gone with Luis' letters to Monterey had taken
one from Rezanov as well, asking permission to pay a visit of ceremony
to the Governor.  Five days later the plenipotentiary received a polite
welcome to California, and protest against another long journey; the
humble servant of the King of Spain would himself go to San Francisco
at once and offer the hospitality of California to the illustrious
representative of the Emperor of all the Russias.

Rezanov was not only annoyed at the Governor's evident determination
that he should see as little as possible of the insignificant military
equipment of California, but at the delay to his own plans for
exploration.  He knew that Luis would dare take him upon no expedition
into the heart of the country without the consent of the Governor, and
he began to doubt this consent would be given.  But he was determined
to see the bay, at least, and he no sooner read the diplomatic epistle
from Monterey than he decided to accomplish this part of his purpose
before the arrival of the Governor or Don Jose.  He knew the material
he had to deal with at the moment, but nothing of that already, no
doubt, on its way to the north.

Early in the morning after the return of the courier he wrote an
informal note to Dona Ignacia, asking her to give him the honor of
entertaining her for a day on the Juno, and to bring all the young
people she would.  As the weather was so fine, he hoped to see them in
time for chocolate at nine o'clock.  He knew that Luis, who was
pressingly included in the invitation, had left at daybreak for his
father's rancho, some thirty miles to the south.

There was a flutter at the Presidio when the invitation of the
Chamberlain was made known.  The compliment was not unexpected, but
there had been a lively speculation as to what form the Russian's
return of hospitality would take.  Concha, whose tides had thundered
and ebbed many times since the night of her party, submerging the happy
inconsequence of her sixteen years, but leaving her unshaken spirit
with wide clarified vision, felt young to-day from sheer reaction.  She
would listen to no protest from her prudent mother and smothered her
with kisses and a torrent of words.

"But, my Conchita," gasped Dona Ignacia, "I have much to do.  Thy
father and his excellency come in two days.  And perhaps they would not
approve--before they are here!--to go on the foreign ship!  If Luis
were not gone!  Ay yi!  Ay yi!"

"We go, we go, madre mia!  And his excellency will give you a shawl.  I
feel it!  I know it!  And if we go now we disobey no law.  Have they
ever said we could not visit a foreign ship when they were not here?
We are light-headed, irresponsible women.  And if they should not let
us go!  If the Governor and the Russian should disagree!  Now we have
the opportunity for such a day as we never have had before.  We should
be imbeciles.  We go, madre mia, we go!"

So it proved.  At a few minutes before nine the Senora Arguello, clad
in her best black skirt and jacket, a red shawl embroidered with yellow
draped over her bust with unconquerable grace, and a black reboso
folded about her fine proud head, rode down to the beach with Ana Paula
on the aquera behind and Gertrudis Rudisinda on her arm.  The boys
howled on the corridor, but the good senora felt she could not too
liberally construe the kind invitation of a chamberlain of the Russian
Court.

Behind her rode Concha, in white with a pink reboso; Rafaella Sal,
Carolina Xime'no, Herminia Lopez, Delfina Rivera, the only other girls
at the Presidio old enough to grace such an occasion; Sturgis, who
happened to have spent the night at the Presidio, Gervasio, Santiago
and Lieutenant Rivera.  Castro had returned to Monterey, Sal was
officer of the day, and the other young men had sulkily declined to be
the guests of a man who looked as haughty as the Tsar himself and
betrayed no disposition to recognize in Spain the first nation of
Europe.  But no one missed them.  The girls, in their flowered muslins
and bright rebosos, the men in gay serapes and embroidered botas,
looked a fine mass of color as they galloped down to the beach and
laughed and chattered as youth must on so glorious a morning.  Even
Sturgis, always careful to be as nearly one with these people as his
different appearance and temperament would permit, wore clothes of
green linen, a ruffled shirt, deer-skin botas and sombrero.

Three of the ship's canoes awaited the guests, and as not one of the
women had ever set foot in a boat, there was a chorus of shrieks.  Dona
Ignacia murmured an audible prayer, and clutched Gertrudis Rudisinda to
her breast.

"Madre de Dios!  The water!  I cannot!" she muttered.  But Santiago
took her firmly by one elbow, Sturgis by the other, Davidov caught up
the children with a reassuring laugh, and in a moment she was trembling
in the middle of the canoe.  Concha had already leaped into the second
and waved a careless little salutation to the Juno.  Her eyes sparkled.
Her nostrils fluttered.  She felt indifferent to everything but the
certain pleasure of the day.  Rezanov was sure to be charming.  What
mattered the morrow, and possible nights of doubt, despair, hatred of
life and wondering self-contempt?

Rezanov awaited the canoes in the prow of the ship.  He wore undress
uniform and a cap instead of the cocked hat of ceremony which had
excited their awe.  He too tingled with a sense of youthful gaiety and
adventure.  As he helped his guests up the side of the vessel and
listened to the delightful laughter of the girls, saw the dancing eyes
of even the haughty and reserved Santiago, he also dismissed the morrow
from his thoughts.

As Dona Ignacia was hauled to the deck, uttering embarrassed apologies
for bringing the two little girls, Rezanov protested that he adored
children, patted their heads and told off a young sailor to amuse them.

Four tables on the deck were set with coffee, chocolate, Russian tea,
and strange sweets that the cook had fashioned from ingredients to
which his skilful fingers had long been strangers.

Dona Ignacia sat beside the host, and when she had tried both the tea
and the coffee and had demanded the recipe of the sweets, he said
casually: "After breakfast I shall ask you to go down to the cabin for
a few moments.  I bought the cargo with the Juno, and find there are
several articles which I shall beg as a great favor to present to my
kindest hostesses and the young girls she has been good enough to bring
to my ship.  Shawls and ells of cotton and all that sort of thing are
of no use to a bachelor, and I hope you will rid me of some of them."

Dona Ignacia lost all interest in the breakfast, and presently,
murmuring an excuse, was escorted by Langsdorff down to the cabin.
When the light repast was over, Rezanov made a signal to several
sailors who awaited commands, and they sprang to the anchor and sails.

"We are going to have a cruise," announced the host to his guests.
"The bay is very smooth, there is a fine breeze, we shall neither be
becalmed nor otherwise the sport of inclement waters.  I know that most
of you have never seen this beautiful bay and that you will enjoy its
scenery as much as I shall."

He moved to Concha's side and dropped his voice. "This is for you,
senorita," he said.  "You want change, variety, and I have planned to
give you all that I can in one day.  I expect you to be happy."

"I shall be," she said dryly, "if only in watching a diplomat get his
way.  You will see every corner of our bay, and I shall have the
delightful sensation of doing something for which I cannot be held
responsible."

He laughed.  "I am quite willing that you should understand me," he
said.  "But it is true that I thought as much of you as of myself."

In a few moments the ship was under way.  Santiago and Sturgis had gone
down to the cabin to reassure Dona Ignacia, who uttered a loud cry as
the Juno gave a preliminary lurch.  Gervasio and Rivera had opened
their eyes as Rezanov abruptly unfolded his plan, but dropped them
sleepily before the delight of the girls.  After all, it was none of
their affair, and what was a bay?  If they requested him, as a point of
honor, to refrain from examining the battery of Yerba Buena with his
glass, their consciences would be as light as their hearts.

As Rezanov stood alone with Concha in the prow of the ship and
alternately cast softened eyes on her intense, rapt face, and shrewd
glances on the ramifications of the bay, he congratulated himself upon
his precipitate action and the collusion of nature. They were sailing
east, and would turn to the north in a moment.  The mountain range bent
abruptly at the entrance to the bay, encircling the immense sheet of
water in a chain of every altitude and form: a long hard undulating
line against the bright blue sky; smooth and dimpled slopes as round as
cones, bare but for the green of their grasses; lofty ridges tapering
to hills in the curve at the north but with blue peaks multiplying
beyond.  There were dense forests in deep canyons on the mountainside,
bare and jagged heights, the graceful sweep of valleys, promontories
leaping out from the mainland like mammoth crocodiles guarding the bay.
The view of the main waters was broken by the largest of the islands,
but far away were the hills of the east and the soft blue peaks behind.
And over all, hills and valley and canyon and mountain, was a bright
opalescent mist.  Green, pink, and other pale colors gleamed as behind
a thin layer of crystal. Where the sun shone through a low white cloud
upon a distant slope there might have been a great globe of iridescent
glass illuminated within.  The water was a light, soft, filmy yet
translucent blue. Concha gazed with parted lips.

"I never knew before how wonderful it was," she murmured.  "I have been
taught to believe that only the south is beautiful, and when we had to
come here again from Santa Barbara it was exile. But now I am glad I
was born in the north."

"I have watched the light on these hills and islands, and what I could
see of the fine lines of the mountains ever since I came, and were
there but villas and castles, these waters would be far more beautiful
than the Lake of Como or the Bay of Naples.  But I am glad to see trees
again.  From our anchorage I had but a bare glimpse of two or three.
They seem to hide from the western winds. Are they so strong, then?"

"We have terrible winds, senor.  I do not wonder the trees crouch to
the east.  But I must tell you our names."  She pointed to the largest
of the islands, a great bare mass that looked as had it been, when
viscid, flung out in long folds from a central peak, concaving here and
there with its own weight. Its southern point was on a line with a
point of mainland far to the west, and its northern, from their vantage
looking to be but a continuation of the curve of the mainland, finished
an arc of almost perfect proportions, whose deep curve was a tumbled
mass of hills and one great mountain.  "That is Nuestra Senora de los
Angeles, and it opens a triple jaw, Luis has told me, at Point
Tiburon--you will soon see the straits between.  The big rock over
there is Alcatraz, and farther away still is Yerba Buena--that looks
like a camel on its knees."

But Rezanov was examining the scene before him.  The lines of this bay
within a bay were superb, and in its wide embrace, slanting from Point
Tiburon toward an inner point two miles opposite was another island, as
steep as Alcatraz, but long and waving of outline, with a glimpse of
trees on its crest.  Rezanov, while he lost nothing of the picturesque
beauty surrounding him, was more deeply interested in noting the many
foundations, sheltered and solid, for fortifications that would hold
these rich lands against the fleets of the world.  Never had he seen so
many strategic advantages on one sheet of water.  The islands farther
south he had examined through his glass from the deck of the Juno until
he knew every convolution they turned to the west.

Concha was directing his attention to the tremendous angular peak
rising above the tumbled hills. "That is Mount Tamalpais--the mountain
of peace. It was named by the Indians, not by us.  Sometimes it is like
a great purple shadow, and at others the clouds fight about it like the
ghosts of big sea gulls." They were sailing past the rounded end of the
western inner point of the little bay.  It was almost detached from the
bare ridge behind and half covered with oaks and willow trees.  "That
is Point Sausalito.  I have often looked at it through the glass and
longed for a merienda in the deep shade." She turned to Rezanov with
lips apart.  "Could we not--oh, senor!--have our dinner on shore?"

"It is only for you to select the spot.  We can sail many miles before
it is time for dinner, and you may find a place even more to your
liking.  I fancy we can not go far here.  It looks swampy and shallow.
Nothing could be less romantic than to stick in the mud."

"May I ask," said Concha demurely, "how you dare to run the risks of an
unknown sheet of water? I have heard it said that there is more than
one rock and shoal in this bay."

"I am not as rash as I may appear," replied Rezanov dryly, but smiling.
"In 1789 there was a chart of this bay, taken from a Spanish MSS.,
published in London; and I bought it there when I ran up from the
Nadeshda--anchored at Falmouth--three years ago.  Davidov, who, you may
observe, is steering, oblivious to the charms of even Dona Carolina,
knows every sounding by heart."

"Oh!"  Concha shrugged her shoulders.  "The Governor, too, is very
clever.  It will be a drawn battle.  Perhaps I shall remain neutral
after all.  It would be more amusing."  The ship was turning, and she
waved her hand to the island between the deep arc of the hilly coast.
"I have heard so much of the beauty of that island," she said, "that I
have called it La Bellissima, but I never hoped to see anything but the
back of its head, from which the wind has blown all the hair.  And now
I shall.  How kind of you, senor!"

"How easily you are made happy!" he said, with a sigh.  "You look like
a child."

"To-day I shall be one; and you the kind fairy god-father," she added,
with some malice.  "How old are you, senor?"

"Forty-two."

"That is twenty-six years older than myself.  But your excellency might
pass for thirty-five," she added politely.  "We have all said it.  And
now that you are not so pale you will soon look younger--and even more
triumphant than when you came."

"I have never felt so triumphant as on this morning, dear senorita.  I
had not hoped to give you so much pleasure."

Her cheeks were as pink as her reboso, her great black eyes were
dancing.  Her hands strained at the railing.  "I shall see La
Bellissima!  La Bellissima!" she cried.

They rounded the low broken point of the island, sailed through the
racing currents between the lower end of La Bellissima and "Our Lady of
the Angels," more slowly past what looked to be a perpendicular forest.
From water to crest the gulches and converging spurs of this hillside
in the sea were a dense mass of oaks, bays, underbrush; here and there
a tall slender tree with a bark like red kid and a flirting polished
leaf, at which Concha clapped her hands as at sight of an old friend
and called "El Madrono."  It was a primeval bit of nature, but sweet
and silent and peaceful; there was no suggestion either of gloom or of
discourteous beast.

"We shall have our dinner here, Excellency. There on that little beach;
and afterward we shall climb to the top.  See, there are trails!  The
Indians have been here."

They stood out through the straits between Point Tiburon and the Isle
of the Angels, where the tide ran fast.  Then, for the first time, was
Rezanov able to form a definite idea of the size and shape of this
great natural harbor.  To the south it extended beyond the peninsula in
an unbroken sheet for some forty English miles.  Ten miles to the north
there was a gateway between the lower hills which Luis had alluded to
as leading into the bay of Saint Pablo, another large body of
tidewater, but inferior in depth and beauty to the Bay of San Francisco.

The mist had dissolved.  The greens were vivid where the sun shone on
island and hill.  The woods of Bellissima, the groves of Point
Sausalito, the forests in the northern canyons, deepened to purple like
that of the great bare sweep of Tamalpais.  Only the farther peaks
remained a pale misty blue, and were of an indescribable floating
delicacy.

Concha pointed to the eastern double cone.  "That is Monte del Diablo.
Once they say it spouted fire, but that was long ago, and all our
volcanoes are dead.  But perhaps not so long ago.  The Indians tell the
strange story that their grandfathers remembered when this bay was a
valley covered with oak trees, and the rivers of the north flowed
through and emptied into Lake Merced and a rift by the Fort.  Then came
a tremendous earthquake and rent the mountains apart where you came
through--we call it the Mouth of the Gulf of the Farallones--the valley
sank, the sea flowed in, only these hills that are islands now keeping
their heads above the flood.  Perhaps it is true, for Drake was close
to this bay for a long while and never saw it, and it would have given
him a better shelter than the little harbor he found a few miles higher
on the coast.  I believe it was not here.  Madre de Dios, I hope
California shakes no more.  She would--is it not true, Excellency?--be
the most perfect country in all the world did she not have the devil in
her."

"Are you afraid of earthquakes?" asked Rezanov, who once more had
transferred his comprehensive gaze from battery sites to her face.

"I cross myself.  It is like feeling your grave turn over.  But I fancy
the poor old earth is like the people on her; she gets tired of being
good and is all the naughtier for having been sober too long. Don
Vincente Rivera is an example; he is cold, haughty, solemn, stern to
others and himself, as you see him; but once in a while--Madre de Dios!
The Presidio does not sleep for three nights!"

Rezanov laughed heartily, then turned abruptly away.  "Come," he said.
"I had almost forgotten. Will you ask the others to go to the cabin,
while I give orders that dinner shall be served on your island?"

In the cabin, Concha forgot him for a few moments.  Her mother, her
eyes dwelling fondly upon several shawls she hoped were intended for
herself alone, was hushing the baby to sleep in the deep chair of his
excellency.  Ana Paula was playing with an Alaskan doll she had
appropriated without ceremony.  Rezanov came in when his guests were
assembled, and he had a gift for each; curious objects of Alaskan
workmanship for the men, miniature totem poles and fur-bordered
moccasins; but silk and cotton, linen, shawls, and find handkerchiefs
for senora and maiden.

"They are trifles," he said, in response to an enthusiastic chorus.
"The cargo I was obliged to take over was a very large one.  You must
not protest.  I shall never miss these things."  And he knew that he
had sown the seeds of a rapacity similar to that implanted in the
worthy bosoms of the priests when they had paid him their promised
visit. If the Governor were insensible to diplomacy he would have
pressure brought to bear upon his official integrity from more quarters
than one.

"There are also many of the presents rejected by the Mikado,
somewhere," he added carelessly.  "But I could not find them.  They
must have found their way to the bottom of the hold during one of the
storms we encountered on our way from Sitka."

He certainly looked the fairy godfather, and quite impartial as he
distributed his offerings with a chosen word to each; his memory for
little characteristics was as remarkable as for names and faces. He had
taken off his cap on deck, and the breeze had ruffled his thick fair
hair, brought the blood to his thin cheeks.  The lines of his face, cut
by privation and anxiety and illness, had almost disappeared with the
renewed elasticity of the flesh, and his blue eyes were wide open, and
sparkling in sympathy with the pleasure of his guests and the success
of his own strategy.  These few insignificant Spaniards dislodged, a
half-dozen forts in this harbor, and the combined navies of the world
might be defied; while a great chain of hungry settlements fattened and
prospered exceedingly on the beneficence of the most fertile land in
all the Americas.



XII

The eastern mountains looked very close from the crest of La Bellissima
and of a singular transparency and variety of hue.  It was as if the
white masses of cloud sailing low overhead flung down great splashes of
color from prismatic stores stolen from the sun.  There was a vivid
pale green on the long sweep of a rounding slope, deep violet and pale
purple in dimple and hollow, red showing through green on a tongue of
land running down from the north; and on the lower ridges and little
islands, pale and dark blue, and the most exquisite fields of lavender.
This last tint was reflected in the water immediately below the ridge,
and farther out there were lakelets of pale green, as if the islands,
too, had the power to mirror themselves when the sea itself was glass.

Santiago, Davidov, Carolina Xime'no, Delfina Rivera, Concha and
Rezanov, had climbed to the ridge. The other young people had given out
halfway up the steep and tangled ascent and returned to the beach.
Dona Ignacia immediately after dinner had frankly asked her host for
the hospitality of his stateroom.  She and her little ones must have
their siesta, and the good lady was convinced that so high and mighty a
personage as the Russian Chamberlain was all the chaperon the
proprieties demanded.

Four of the party strayed along the crest in search of the first wild
pansies.  Rezanov and Concha looked under the sloping roof of brittle
leaves into dim falling vistas, arches, arbors, caverns, a forest in
miniature with natural terraces breaking the precipitous wall of the
island.

"I should like to live here," said Concha definitely.

"It would make a fine estate for summer life--or for a honeymoon."  He
smiled down upon his companion, who stood very tall and straight and
proud beside him.  "If you conclude to marry your little Bostonian no
doubt he will buy it for you," he said.

If he had hoped to see a look of blank dismay after his hours of
devotion he was disappointed. She made a little face.

"I do not think I could stand a desert island with the good Weeliam.
For that I should prefer one of my own sort--Ignacio, or Fernando.
Better still, I could come here and be a hermit."

"A hermit?"

"In some ways that would suit me very well.  All human beings become
tiresome, I find.  I shall have a little hut just below the crest where
I can look from my window right into the woods that are so quiet and
green and beautiful.  That is a thought that has always fascinated me.
And when I walk on the crest I can see all the beauty of mountain and
bay.  What more could I want?  What more have you in your world when
you know it too well, senor?"

"Nothing; but you might tire, too, of this."

"What of it?  It would be the gentle sad ennui of peace, not of
disillusion, senor.  How I wish you would tell me all you know of life!"

"God forbid.  And do not remind me of ennui and disillusions.  I have
forgotten both in California. Perhaps, after all, I shall not return to
St. Petersburg.  There is a vast empire here--"

"But it is not yours or Russia's to rule, Excellency," she interrupted
him softly.

He did not color nor start, but met her eyes with his deep amused
glance.  "I, too, can dream, senorita.  Of a great and wonderful
kingdom--that never will exist, perhaps.  I have always been called a
dreamer, but the habit has grown since I came to this lovely unreal
land of yours."

"Have you the intention to take it from us, Excellency?" she asked
quietly.

"Would you betray me if you thought I had?"

Her eyes responded for a moment to the magnetism of his, and then she
drew herself up.

"No, senor, I could not betray a man who had been our guest, and Spain
needs no assistance from a weak girl to hold her own against Russia."

"Well said!  I kiss your hands, as they say in Vienna.  But we must
sail again.  I told them to be ready at three o'clock."

Dalliance with the most alluring girl he had ever known was all very
well, but the day's work was not yet done.  When they returned to the
ship he deliberately engaged all the Spaniards in a game of cards,
ordered cigarettes and a bowl of punch for their refreshment, and then
the Juno steered south.

They sailed swiftly past Nuestra Senorita de los Angeles and the
eastern side of Alcatraz, Rezanov sweeping every inch with his glass;
more slowly past the peninsula where it came down in a succession of
rough hills almost in a straight line from the Presidio, ascending to a
high outpost of solid rock, whence it turned abruptly to the south in a
waving line of steep irregular cliffs, harsh, barren, intersected with
gullies.  Then the land became suddenly as flat as the sea, save for
the shifting dunes: the desert porch of the great fertile valley hidden
from the water by the waves of sand, but indicated by its rampart of
mountains.  The shallow water curved abruptly inward between the rocky
mass on the right and a gentler incline and point two miles below.  At
its head was the "Battery of Yerba Buena," facing the island from which
it took its name.  Rezanov scrupulously kept his word and did not raise
his glass, but one contemptuous glance satisfied his curiosity.  His
eye rolled over the steep hills that were designed to bristle with
forts, and, as sometimes happened, when he spoke again to Concha, whom
he kept close to his side, for the other girls bored him, his words did
not express the workings of his mind.

"Athens has no finer site than this," he said.  "I should like to see a
white marble city on these hills, and on that plain, when all the sand
dunes are leveled.  Not in our time, perhaps!  But, as I told you, I
have surrendered myself to the habit of dreaming."

Concha shrugged her shoulders and made no reply at the moment.  As they
sailed toward the east before turning south again, she pointed across
the great silvery sheet of water melting into the misty southern
horizon, to a high ridge of mountains that looked to be a continuation
of the San Bruno range behind the Mission, but slanting farther west
with the coast line.

"Those are behind our rancho, senor--Rancho El Pilar, or Las Pulgas, as
some prefer.  Perhaps my father will take you there.  I hope so, for we
love to go, and may not too often; my father is very busy here.  He is
one of the few that has received a large grant of land, and it is
because the clergy love him so much they oppose his wish in nothing.
Do you see those sharp points against the sky?  They are the tops of
lofty trees, like the masts of giant ships, and with many rigid arms
spiked like the pines. You saw a few of them in the hollow below
Tamalpais, but up on those mountains there are miles and miles of
mighty forests.  No white man has ever penetrated them, nor ever will,
perhaps.  We have no use for them, and even if you made this your
kingdom, senor, I suppose not many would come with you.  Far, far down
where the water stops are the Mission of Santa Clara and the pueblo of
San Jose; but I have heard you cannot approach within many miles of the
land in a boat."

When they had sailed south for a few moments the boat came about
sharply.  Concha laughed.  "I had forgotten the chart.  I rather hoped
you would run on a shoal."

But as they approached the cove of Yerba Buena again she caught his arm
suddenly, unconscious of the act, and the little dancing lights of
humor in her eyes went out.  "Your white city, senor!  Ay, Dios! what a
city of dreams that can never come true!"

The soft white fog that sometimes, even at this season, came in from
the sea, was rolling over the hills between the Battery and the
Presidio, wreathing about the rocky heights and slopes.  It broke into
domes and cupolas, spires and minarets.  Great waves rolled over the
sand dunes and beat upon the cliffs with the phantoms clinging to its
sides. Then the sun struggled with a thousand colors. The sun
conquered, the mist shimmered into sunlight, and once more the hills
were gray and bare.

Rezanov laughed, but his eyes glowed down upon her.  "I am not sure it
was there," he said.  "I have an idea your imagination and touch acted
as a sort of enchanter's wand.  The others evidently saw nothing."

"The others saw only fog and shivered.  But it was there, senor!  We
have had a vision.  A Russian city!  Ay, yi!"

But Rezanov had forgotten the city.  Her reboso had fallen and a strand
of her hair blew across his face.  His lips caught it and his eyes
burned.  They rounded a headland and the world looked green and young.

"Concha!" he whispered.

Her eyes flashed and melted, she lifted her chin; then burst into a
merry ripple of laughter.

"Senor!" she said, "if you make love to me, I shall have to compare you
with many others, and I might not like the Russian fashion.  You are
much better as you are--very grand seigneur, iron-handed and absolute,
haughty and arrogant, but the most charming person in the world, with
ends to gain, even from such humble folk as a handful of stranded
Californians.  But to sigh! to languish with the eye! to sing at the
grating!  I fear that the lightest headed of the caballeros you despise
could transcend you in all."

"Very likely!  I have not the least intention of sighing or languishing
or singing at gratings.  But if we were alone I certainly should kiss
you."

But her eyes did not melt again at the vision. She flushed hotly with
annoyance.  "I am a child to you!  Were it not that I have read a few
books, you would find me but a year older than Ana Paula.  Well!
Regard me as a child and do not attempt to flirt with me again.  Shall
it be so?"

"As you wish!"  Rezanov looked at her half in resentment, half
wistfully, then shrugged his shoulders, and called to Davidov to steer
for the anchorage.  She was quite right; and on the whole he was
grateful to her.



XIII

"Concha," said Sturgis abruptly, "will you marry me?"

Concha, who was sitting in the shade of the rose vines on the corridor
making a dress for Gertrudis Rudisinda, ran the needle into her finger.

"Madre de Dios!" she cried angrily.  "Who would have expected such
foolish words from you? and now I have pricked my finger and stained my
little frock.  It will have to be washed before worn, and is never so
pretty after."

"I am sorry," said Sturgis humbly.  "But it seems to me that if a man
wishes to marry a maid he should ask her in a straightforward manner,
with no preliminary sighs and hints and serenades--and all sorts of
insincere stage play.

"He should at least address her parents first."

"True.  I was wholly the American for the moment.  May I speak to Don
Jose and Dona Ignacia, Concha?"

"How can I prevent?  No, I will not coquet with you, Weeliam.  But I am
angry that you have thought of such nonsense.  Such friends as we were!
We have talked and read together by the hour, and my parents have
thought no more of it than if it had been Santiago.  There!  You have a
new book in your pocket.  Why did you not read it to me instead of
making love?  Let me see it."

"I brought it to read later if you wished, but I came to ask you to
marry me and to receive your answer.  I never expected to ask
you--but--lately--things have changed--life seems, somehow, more real.
The thought of losing you has suddenly become terrible."

"You have been drinking Russian tea," said Concha, stitching quietly
but flashing him a glance of amusement, not wholly without malice.

"It is true," he replied.  "I suppose I never really believed you would
marry Raimundo or Ignacio or any of the caballeros.  They think and
talk of nothing but horse-racing, gambling, cock-fighting, love and
cigaritos.  I thought of you always here, where at least I could look
at you or read with you.  But one must admit that this Russian is no
ordinary man.  I hate him, yet like him more than any I have ever met.
Last night I stayed to punch with him, and we talked English for an
hour.  That is to say, he did; I could have listened to him till
morning. Langsdorff says that he has the greatest possible command of
his native tongue, but he speaks English well enough.  I wish I could
despise him, but I do not believe I even hate him."

"Well?" demanded Concha.  She kept her eyes on her work (and the
delight that rose in her breast from her voice).

"Well?"

"Why should you hate him?"

"Do you ask me that, Concha, when he makes a fence of himself about
you, and his fine eyes--practised is nearer the mark--look at no one
else?"

"But why should that cause you jealousy?  He is a man of the world,
accustomed to make himself agreeable, and I am the daughter of the
Commandante."

"He is more in love with you than he knows."

"Do you think so, Weeliam?"  Still her voice was innocent and even,
although the color rose above the inner commotion.  "But even so, what
of it? Have not many loved me?  Am I to be won by the first stranger?"

"I do not know."

The tumult in Concha turned to wrath, and she lifted flashing eyes to
his moody face.  "Do you presume to say you are jealous because you
think I love him--a stranger I have known but a week--who looks upon me
as a child--who has never--never thought--"  But her dignity, flying to
the rescue, assumed control.  Her upper lip curled, her body stiffened
for a moment, and she went on with her stitching.  "You deserve I
should rap your silly little skull with my thimble.  You are no better
than Ignacio and Fernando.  Such scenes as I have had with them!  They
wanted to fight the Russian! How he would laugh at them!  I have
threatened they shall both be sent to San Diego if there is any more
nonsense."  Then curiosity overcame her. "You never had the least,
least reason to think I would marry you, and now, according to your own
words, you think you have less.  Then why, pray, did you address me?"

"Because I am a man, I suppose.  I could not sit tamely down and see
you go."

She looked at him with a slight access of interest. A man?  Perhaps he
was, after all.  And his well-bred, bony face looked very determined,
albeit the eyes were wistful.  Suddenly she felt sorry for him; and she
had never experienced a pang of sympathy for a suitor before.  She
leaned forward and patted his hand.

"I cannot marry you, dear Weeliam," she said, and never had he seen her
so sweet and adorable, although he noted with a pang that her mouth was
already drawn with a firmer line.  "But what matter?  I shall never
marry at all.  For many years--forty, fifty perhaps--I shall sit here
on the veranda, and you shall read to me."

And then she shivered violently.  But she set her mouth until it was
almost straight, and picked up the little dress.  "Not that, perhaps,"
she said quietly in a moment.  "I sometimes think I should like to be a
nun, that, after all, it is my vocation. Not a cloistered one, for that
is but a selfish life. But to teach, to do good, to forget myself.
There are no convents in California, but I could join the Third Order
of the Franciscans, and wear the gray habit, and be set aside by the
world as one that only lived to make it a little better.  To forget
oneself! That, after all, may be the secret of happiness.  I envy none
of my friends that are married.  They have the dear children, it is
true.  But the children grow up and go away, and then one is fat and
eats many dulces and the siesta grows longer and longer and the face
very brown.  That is life in California. I should prefer to work and
pray, and"--with a flash of insight that made her drop her work again
and stare through the rose-vines--"to dream always of some beautiful
thing that youth promised but never gave, and that given might have
ended in dull routine and a brain so choked with little things that
memory too held nothing else."

"But Concha," cried Sturgis eagerly, "I could give you far better than
that.  I could take you away from here--to Boston, to Europe.  You
should see--live your life--in the great cities you have dreamed
of--that you hardly believe in--that were made to enjoy.  I have told
you of the theater, the opera--you should go to the finest in the
world. You should wear the most beautiful gowns and jewels, go to
courts, see the great works of art--I am not trying to bribe you," he
stammered, flushing miserably.  "God forbid that I should stoop to
anything as mean as that.  But it all rushed upon me suddenly that I
could give you so much that you were made for, with this worthless
money of mine. And what happiness to be in Europe with
you--what--what--"

His voice trembled and broke, and he dared not look at her.  Again she
stared through the vines. A splendid and thrilling panorama rose beyond
them, her bosom heaved, her lips parted.  She saw herself in it, and
not alone.  And not, alas, with the honest youth whose words had
inspired it.  In a moment she shook her head and turned her eyes on the
flushed, averted face of her suitor.

"I shall never see Europe," she said gently, "and I shall never marry."

"Not if this Russian asks you?" cried Sturgis, in his jealous misery.

But Concha's anger did not rise again.  "He has no intention of asking
a little California girl to share the honors of one of the most
brilliant careers in Europe," she said calmly.  "Set your mind at rest.
He has paid me no more attention than is due my position as the
daughter of the Commandante, and perhaps of La Favorita.  If I flirt a
little and he flirts in response, that is nothing.  Is he not then a
man?  But he will forget me in a month.  The world, his world, is full
of pretty girls."

"A week ago you would not have said that," said Sturgis shrewdly.
"There has been nothing in your life to make you so humble."

"I cannot explain, but he seems to have brought the great world with
him.  I know, I understand so many things that I had not dreamed of a
week ago.  A week!  Madre de Dios!"

And Sturgis, who after all was a gallant gentleman, made no comment.



XIV

Governor Arrillaga, Commandante Arguello, and Chamberlain Rezanov sat
in the familiar sala at the Presidio content in body after a culinary
achievement worthy of Padre Landaeta, but perturbed and alert of mind.
Upon the arrival of the two California dignitaries in the morning,
Rezanov had sent Davidov and Langsdorff on shore to assure them of his
gratitude and deep appreciation of the hospitality shown himself, his
officers and men.  The Governor had replied with a fulsome apology for
not repairing at once to the Juno to welcome his distinguished guest in
person, and, pleading his age and the one hundred and seventy-five
English miles he had ridden from Monterey, begged him as a younger man
to waive informality, and dine at the house of the Commandante that
very day.  Rezanov had complied as a matter of course, and now he was
alone with the men who held his fate in their hands. The dark worn
rugged face of Don Jose, who had been skilfully prepared by his oldest
daughter to think well of the Russian, beamed with good-will and
interest, in spite of lingering doubts; but the lank, wiry figure of
the Governor, who was as dignified as only a blond Spaniard can be, was
fairly rigid with the severe formality he reserved for occasions of
ceremony--being a gentleman who loved good company and cheer--and his
sharp gray eyes were almost shut in the effort to penetrate the designs
of this deputy, this symbol, this index in cipher, of a dreaded race.
Rezanov smoked calmly, made himself comfortable on the slippery
horse-hair chair, though with no loss of dignity, and beat about the
bush with the others until the Governor betrayed himself at last by a
chance remark:

"What you say of the neighborly instincts of the Russian colonists for
the Spanish on this coast interests me deeply, Excellency, but if
Russia is at war with Spain--"

"Russia is not at war with Spain," said Rezanov, with a flash of
amusement in his half-closed eyes. "Napoleon Bonaparte is encamped
about half way between the two countries.  They could not get at each
other if they wished.  While that man is at large, Europe will be at
war with him, no two nations with each other."

"Ah!" exclaimed Arrillaga.  "That is a manner of reasoning that had not
occurred to me."

The Commandante had spat at the mention of the usurper's name and
muttered "Chinchosa!" and Rezanov, recalling his first conversation
with Concha, looked into the honest eyes of the monarchist with a
direct and hearty sympathy.

"No better epithet for him," he said.  "And the sooner Europe combines
to get rid of him the better.  But until it does, count upon a common
grievance to unite your country and mine."

"Good!" muttered the Governor.  "Good!  I am glad that nightmare has
lifted its bat's wings from our poor California.  Captain O'Cain's raid
two years ago made me apprehensive, for he took away some eleven
hundred of our otter skins and his hunters were Aleutians--subjects of
the Tsar.  A negro that deserted gave the information that they were
furnished the Bostonian by the chief manager of your
Company--Baranhov--whose reputation we know well enough!--for the
deliberate purpose of raiding our coast."

Rezanov shrugged his shoulders and replied indifferently: "I will ask
Baranhov when I return to Sitka, and write you the particulars.  It is
more likely that the Aleutians were deserters.  This O'Cain would not
be the first shrewd Bostonian to tempt them, for they are admirable
hunters and ready for any change.  They make a greater demand upon the
Company for variety of diet than we are always prepared to meet, so
many are the difficulties of transportation across Siberia.  When,
therefore, the time arrived that I could continue my voyage, I
determined to come here and see if some arrangement could not be made
for a bi-yearly exchange of commodities.  We need farinaceous stuffs of
every sort.  I will not pay so poor a compliment to your knowledge of
the northern settlements as to enlarge upon the advantages California
would reap from such a treaty."

The Governor, who had permitted himself to touch the back of his chair
after the dispersal of the war cloud, stiffened again.  "Ah!" he said.
"Ah!"  He looked significantly at the Commandante, who nodded.  "You
come on a semi-official mission, after all, then?"

"It is entirely my own idea," said Rezanov carelessly.  "The young Tsar
is too much occupied with Bonaparte to give more than a passing thought
to his colonies.  But I have a free hand.  Can I arrange the
preliminaries of a treaty, I have only to return to St. Petersburg to
receive his signature and highest approval.  It would be a great
feather in my cap I can assure your excellencies," he added, with a
quick human glance and a sudden curve of his somewhat cynical mouth.

"Um!" said the Governor.  "Um!"

But Arguello's stern face had further relaxed. After all, he was but
eleven years older than the Russian, and, although early struggles and
heavy responsibilities and many disappointments had deprived life of
much of its early savor, what was left of youth in him responded to the
ambition he divined in this interesting stranger.  Moreover, the idea
of a friendly bond with another race on the lonely coast of the Pacific
appealed to him irresistibly.  He turned eagerly to the Governor.

"It is a fine idea, Excellency.  We need much that they have, and it
pleases me to think we should be able to supply the wants of others.
Fancy any one wanting aught of California, except hides, to be sure.  I
did not think our existence was known save to an occasional British or
Boston skipper.  It is true we are here only to Christianize savages,
but even they have need of much that cannot be manufactured in this
God-forsaken land.  And we ourselves could be more comfortable--God in
heaven, yes!  It is well to think it over, Excellency.  Who knows?--we
might have a trip to the north once in a while.  Life is more excellent
with something to look forward to."

"You should have a royal welcome.  Baranhov is the most hospitable man
in Russia, and I might have the happiness to be there myself.  I see,
by the way, that you have not engaged in shipbuilding.  I need not say
that we should supply the ships of commerce, with no diminution of your
profits.  We build at Okhotsk, Petropaulovski, Kadiak, and Sitka.
Moreover, as the Bostonians visit us frequently, and as your laws
prohibit you from trading with them, we would see that you always got
such of their commodities as you needed.  They come to us for furs, and
generally bring much for which we have no use.  Captain D'Wolf, from
whom I bought the Juno, had a cargo I was forced to take over.  I
unloaded what was needed at Sitka, but as there was no boat going for
some months to the other islands, I brought the rest with me, and you
are welcome to it, if in exchange you will ballast the Juno with
samples of your agricultural products; while the treaty is pending, I
can experiment in our colonies and make sure which are the most
adaptable to the market.

"Um!" said the Governor.  "Um!"

Rezanov did not remove his cool direct gaze from the snapping eyes
opposite.

"I have not the least objection to making a trade that would fill my
promuschleniki with joy; but that was by no means the first object of
my voyage; which was partly inspired by a desire to see as much of this
globe as a man may in one short life, partly to arrange a treaty that
would be of incalculable benefit to both colonies and greatly redound
to my own glory.  I make no pretence of being disinterested.  I look
forward to a career of ever increasing influence and power in St.
Petersburg, and I wish to take back as many credits as possible."

"I understand, I understand!"  The Governor rested his lame back once
more.  "Your ambition is the more laudable, Excellency, since you have
achieved so much already.  I am not one to balk the honest ambition of
any man, particularly when he does me the honor to take me into his
confidence.  I like this suggested measure.  I like it much.  I believe
it would redound to our mutual benefit and reputation.  Is it not so,
Jose?"

The Commandante nodded vigorously.  "I am sure of it!  I am sure of it!
I like it--much, much."

"I will write at once to the Viceroy of Mexico and ask that he lay the
matter before the Cabinet and King.  Without that high authority we can
do nothing.  But I see no reason to doubt the issue when we, who know
the wants and needs of California, approve and desire.  We are doomed
to failure in this unwieldy land of worthless savages, but it is the
business of the wretched servants of a glorious monarch to do the best
they can."

Rezanov had an inspiration.  "You might remind the viceroy that Spain
and the United States of America have been on the verge of war for
years, and suggest the benefit of an alliance with Russia in the case
of the new country taking advantage of the situation in Europe to
extend its western boundaries--"

Arrillaga had bounced to his feet, his small eyes injected and blazing.
"Those damned Bostonians!" he shouted.  "I distrusted them years ago.
They have too much calculation in their bluntness.  They cheated us,
sold us short, traded under my very nose, stole our otters, until I
ordered them never to drop an anchor in California waters again.  If
their ridiculous upstart government dares to cast its eyes on
California we shall know how to meet them--the sooner they march on
Mexico and lose their conceit the better.  How they do brag!  Faugh!
It is sickening.  I shall remember all you say, Excellency; and thank
you for the hint."

Rezanov rose, and the Commandante solemnly kissed him on either cheek.
"Governor Arrillaga is my guest, Excellency," he said.  "I beg that you
will dine with us daily--unofficially--that you will regard California
as your own kingdom, and come and go at your pleasure.  And my daughter
begs me to remind you and your young officers that there will be
informal dancing every night."

"So far so good," thought Rezanov, as he mounted his horse to return to
the Juno.  "But what of my cargo?  I fancy there will be more
difficulty in that quarter."



XV

The Chamberlain was in a towering bad humor. As he made his appearance
at least two hours earlier than he was expected, he found the decks of
the Juno covered with the skins of sea-dogs, foxes, and birds.  He had
heard Langsdorff go to his cabin later than usual the night before, and
that his pet aversion was the cause of a fresh grievance, but hastened
the eruption of his smouldering resentment toward life in general.

"What does this mean?" he roared to the sailor on watch.  "Clear them
off--overboard, every one of them.  What are you staring at?"

The sailor, who was a "Bostonian," an inheritance with the ship, opened
his mouth in favor of the unfortunate professor, but like his mates, he
stood in much awe of a master whose indulgence demanded implicit
obedience in return.  Without further ado, he flung the skins into the
sea.

Rezanov, to do him justice, would not have acted otherwise had he risen
in the best of tempers.  He had inflicted himself with the society of
the learned doctor that he might always have a physician and surgeon at
hand, as well as an interpreter where Latin was the one door of
communication.  He should pay him handsomely, make him a present in
addition to the sum agreed upon, but he had not the least intention of
giving up any of the Juno's precious space to the vagaries of a
scientist, nor to submit to the pollution of her atmosphere.
Langsdorff was his creature, and the sooner he realized the fact the
better.

"Remember," he said to the sailor, "no more of this, or it will be the
worse for you--  What is this?"  He had come upon a pile of ducks,
gulls, pelicans, and other aquatic birds.  "Are these the cook's or the
professor's?"

"The professor's, Excellency."

"Overboard."  And the birds followed the skins.

Rezanov turned to confront the white and trembling Langsdorff.  The
naturalist was enfolded in a gorgeous Japanese dressing-gown, purple
brocade embroidered with gold, that he had surreptitiously bought in
the harbor of Nagasaki.  To Rezanov it was like a red rag to a bull;
but the professor was oblivious at the moment of the tactless garment.
His eyes were glaring and the extended tip of his nose worked like a
knife trying to leap from its sheath.  But although he occasionally
ventured upon a retort when goaded too far in conversation, he was able
to curb his just indignation when the Chamberlain was in a bad temper.
In that vague gray under winking stars in their last watch, Rezanov
seemed to tower six feet above him.

"Excellency," he murmured.

"Well?"

"My--my specimens."

"Your what?"

"The cause of science is very dear to me, Excellency."

"So it is to me--in its proper place.  Were those skins yours?"  His
voice became very suave.  "I am sorry you should have fatigued yourself
for nothing, but I am forced to remind you that this is not an
expedition undertaken for the promotion of natural history.  I am not
violating my part in the contract, I believe.  Upon our arrival at
Sitka you are at liberty to remain as my guest and make use of the
first boat that sails for this colony; but for the present I beg that
you will limit yourself to the requirements of your position on my
staff."

He turned his back and ordered a canoe to be lowered.  Since the
arrival of the Governor and Commandante, now three days ago, all
restrictions on his liberty had been removed, and the phrases of
hospitality were a trifle less meaningless.  He had been asked to give
his word to keep away from the fortifications, and as he knew quite as
much of the military resources of the country as he desired, he had
merely suppressed a smile and given his promise.

This morning he wanted nothing but a walk.  He had slept badly, the
blood was in his head, his nerves were on edge.  He went rapidly along
the beach and over the steep hills that led to the north-eastern point
of the peninsula.  But he had taken the walk before and did not turn
his head to look at the great natural amphitheater formed by the inner
slopes of those barren heights, so uninteresting of outline from the
water.  Once when Luis had left him to go down with an order to the
Battery of Yerba Buena, he had examined it critically and concluded
that never had there been so fine a site for a great city.  Nor a more
beautiful, with the broken line of the San Bruno mountains in the
distance and a glimpse of the Mission valley just beyond this vast
colosseum, whose steep imposing lines were destined by nature to be set
with palaces and bazaars, minarets and towers and churches, with a
thousand gilded domes and slender crosses glittering in the crystal air
and sunlight.  If not another Moscow, then an Irkutsk in his day, at
least.

But he did not give the chosen site of his city a glance to-day,
although in this gray air before dawn when mystery and imagination most
closely embrace, he might at another time have forgotten himself in one
of those fits of dreaming that slipped him out of touch with realities,
and sometimes precipitated action in a manner highly gratifying to his
enemies.

But much as he loved Russia, there were times when he loved his own way
more, and since the arrival of Governor Arrillaga he was beginning to
feel as he had felt in the harbor of Nagasaki.  Not a word since that
first interview had been said of his cargo; nor even of the treaty,
although nothing could have been more natural than the discussion of
details.  Whenever he had delicately broached either subject, he had
been met with a polite indifference, that had little in common with the
cordiality otherwise shown him.  He foresaw that he might be obliged to
reveal the more pressing object of his visit without further diplomacy,
and the thought irritated him beyond endurance.

Whether Concha were giving him her promised aid he had no means of
discovering, and herein lay another cause of his general vexation.  He
had dined every day at the Commandante's, danced there every night.
Concha had been vivacious, friendly--impersonal.  Not so much as a
coquettish lift of the brow betrayed that the distinguished stranger
eclipsed the caballeros for the moment; nor a whispered word that he
retained the friendship she had offered him on the day of their
meeting. He had not, indeed, had a word with her alone. But his
interest and admiration had deepened.  It was evident that her father
and the Governor adored her, would deny her little.  Her attitude to
them was alternately that of the petted child and the chosen companion.
As her mother was indisposed, she occupied her place at the table,
presiding with dignity, guiding the conversation, revealing the rare
gift of making everyone appear at his best.  In the evening she had
sometimes danced alone for a few moments, but more often with her
Russian guests, and readily learning the English country dances they
were anxious to teach.  Rezanov would have found the gay informality of
these evenings delightful had his mind been at ease about his Sitkans,
and Concha a trifle more personal.  He had begun by suspecting that she
was maneuvering for his scalp, but he was forced to acquit her; for not
only did she show no provocative favor to another, but she seemed to
have gained in dignity and pride since his arrival, actually to have
kissed her hand in farewell to the childhood he had been so slow in
divining; grown--he felt rather than analyzed--above the pettiness of
coquetry.  Once more she had stirred the dormant ideals of his early
manhood; there were moments when she floated before his inner vision as
the embodiment of the world's beauty. Nor ever had there been a woman
born more elaborately equipped for the position of a public man's mate;
nor more ingenerate, perhaps, with the power to turn earth into heaven.

He had wondered humorously if he were fallen in love, but, although he
retained little faith in the activities of the heart after youth, he
was beginning seriously to consider the expedience of marrying Concha
Arguello.  He had not intended to marry again, and it was this old and
passionate love of personal freedom that alone held him back, for
nothing would be so advantageous to the Russian colonies in their
present crisis as a strong individual alliance with California.  Concha
Arguello was the famous daughter of its first subject, and with the
powerful friends she would bring to her husband, the consummation of
ends dearer to his heart than aught on earth would be a matter of
months instead of years.  And he thrilled with pride as he thought of
Concha in St. Petersburg.  Two years of court life and she would be one
of the greatest ladies in Europe.  That he could win her he believed,
and without undue vanity.  He had much to offer an ambitious girl
conscious of her superiority to the men of this province of Spain, and
chafing at the prospect of a lifetime in a bountiful desert.  His only
hesitation lay in his own doubt if she were worth the loss of his
freedom, and all that word involved to a man of his position and
adventurous spirit.

He shrugged his shoulders at this argument; he had walked off some of
his ill-humor, and reverted willingly to a theme that alone had given
him satisfaction during the past few days.  At the same time he made a
motion as if flinging aside an old burden.

"It is time for such nonsense to end," he thought contemptuously.  "And
in truth these three years should have wrought such changes in me I
doubt I should have patience for an hour of the old trifling. My
greatest need from this time on, I fancy, is work.  I could never be
idle a month again.  And when a man is in love with work--and
power--and has passed forty--does he want a constant companion?  That
is the point.  At my time of life power exercises the most irresistible
and lasting of all fascinations.  A man that wins it has little left
for a woman."

He had reached the summit of the rocky outpost; the highest of the
hills where the peninsula turned abruptly to the south, and,
scrupulously refraining from a downward glance at the Battery of Yerba
Buena, stood looking out over the bay to the eastern mountains: dark,
almost formless, wrapped in the intense and menacing mystery of that
last hour before dawn.

"Senor!" called a low cautious voice.

Rezanov stepped hastily back from the point of the bluff and glanced
about in wonder, his pulses suddenly astir.  But he could see no one.

This time the direction was unmistakable, and he went to the edge of
the plateau facing the south and looked over.  Halfway down a shallow
and almost perpendicular gully, he saw a girl forcing a mustang up the
harsh, loose path.  The girl's white and oval face looked from the
folds of a black reboso like the moon emerging from clouds, and its
young beauty was out of place in that wild and forbidding setting.  She
reined in her horse as she caught his eye and beckoned superfluously;
then guided her mustang to a little ledge where he could plant his feet
firmly, permitting her to reassume her usual pride of carriage and
averting the danger of a sudden scramble or need of assistance.

As Rezanov reached her side, she gave him a grave and friendly smile,
but no opportunity to kiss her hand.

"I have followed your excellency," she said.  "I saw you leave the
Juno, and as I am often up at this hour, and as no one else ever is, my
father ignores the fact that I sometimes ride alone.  I have never come
as far as this before, but there is something I wish to say to you, and
there is no opportunity at home.  I asked Santiago to find me one last
night, but he was in a bad temper and would not.  Men!  However--I
suppose you have heard nothing of the cargo?"

"I have not," said Rezanov grimly, although acutely sensible that the
subject suited neither his mood nor the hour.

"But the Governor has!  Madre de Dios! all the women of the Presidio
and the Mission have pestered him.  They are sick with jealousy at the
shawls you gave us that day--those that did not go to the ship.  How
clever of your excellency to give us just enough for ourselves and
nothing for our friends!  And those that went want more and more. They
have called upon him--one, two, four, and alone.  They have wept and
scolded and pleaded.  I did not know until yesterday that your
commissary had also shown the things to the priests from San
Jose--Father Jose Uria and Father Pedro de la Cueva.  They and the
priests of San Francisco have argued with the Governor not once but
three times. Dios! how his poor excellency swore yesterday.  He
threatened to return at once to Monterey.  I flew into a great rage and
threatened in turn to follow with all the other girls and all the
priests--vowed he should not have one moment of peace until that cargo
was ours."

"Well?" asked Rezanov sharply, in spite of his amusement.

Concha shook her head.  "When he does not swear, he answers only: 'Buy
if you have the money.  I have never broken a law of Spain, and I shall
not begin in my old age.'  He knows well that we have no money to send
out of New Spain; but I have conceived a plan, senor.  It is for you,
not for me, to suggest it.  You will never betray that I have been your
friend, Excellency?"

"I will swear it if you wish," said Rezanov frigidly.

"Pardon, senor.  If I thought you could I should not be here.  One
often says such things.  This is the plan: You shall suggest that we
buy your wares, and that you buy again with our money.  The dear
Governor only wants to save his conscience an ache, for we have driven
him nearly distracted.  I am sure he will consent, for you will know
how to put it to him very diplomatically."

"But if he refused to understand, or his conscience remained obdurate?
I should then have neither cargo nor ballast."

"He would never trick a guest, nor would he let the money go out of the
country.  And he knows well how much we need your cargo and longs to be
able to state in his reports that he sold you a hold full of
breadstuffs.  Moreover, I think the time has come to tell him of the
distress at Sitka.  He is very soft-hearted and is now in that
distracted state of mind when only one more argument is required.  I
hope I have given you good advice, Excellency.  It is the best I can
think of.  I have given it much thought, and the terrible state of
those miserable creatures has kept me awake many nights.  I must return
now.  Will your excellency kindly remain here until I am well on my
way?--and then return by the beach?  I shall go as I came, through the
valley.  Neither of us can be seen from the Battery."

"I will obey all your instructions," said Rezanov. But he did not move,
nor could the mustang.  Concha smiled and pointed to the other side of
the cleft, which was about as wide as a narrow street.

"Pardon, senor, I cannot turn."

For a moment Rezanov stared at her, through her.  Then his heavy eyes
opened and flashed.  It seemed to him that for the first time he saw
how beautiful, how desirable she was, set in that gray volcanic rock
with the heavens gray above her, and the stars fading out.  It was not
the bower he would have imagined for the wooing of a mate, but neither
moonlight nor the romantic glades of La Bellissima could have awakened
in him a passion so sudden and final.  Her face between the black folds
turned whiter and she shrank back against the jagged wall: and when his
eyes flashed again with a wild eager hope she involuntarily crossed
herself.  He threw himself against the horse and snatched her down and
kissed her as he had kissed no woman yet, recognizing her once for all.

When he finally held her at arm's length for a moment he laughed
confusedly.

"The Russian bear is no longer a figure of speech," he said.  "Forgive
me.  I forgot that you are as tender as you are strong."

Her hands were tightly clasped against her breast and the breath was
short in her throat, but she made no protest.  Her eyes were radiant,
her mouth was the only color in that gray dawn.  In a moment she too
laughed.

"Dios de mi alma!  What will they say?  A heretic!  If Tamalpais fell
into the sea it would not make so great a sensation in this California
of ours where civilized man exists but to drive heathen souls into the
one true church."

"Will it matter to you?  Are you strong enough? It will be only a
question of time to win them over, if you are."

She nodded emphatically.  "I was born with strength.  Now--Dios!--now I
can be stronger than the King of Spain himself, than the Governor, my
parents and all the priests--  You would not become a Catholic?" she
asked abruptly.

He shook his head, although he still smiled at her. "Not even for you."

"No," she said thoughtfully.  "I will confess--what matters it?--I
often dreamed that this would come just because I believed it would
not.  But why should one control the imagination when it alone can give
us happiness for a little while?  I gave it rein, for I thought that
one-half of my life was to be passed in that unreal but by no means
niggardly world.  And I thought of everything.  To change your religion
would mean the ruin of your career; moreover, it is not a possibility
of your character. Were it I think I should not love you so much.  Nor
could I bear to think of any change in you.  Only it will be
harder--longer."  Then she stretched out her hand, and closed and
opened it slowly.  The most obtuse could not have failed to read the
old simile of the steel in the velvet.  "I shall win because it is my
nature--and my power--to hold what I grasp."

"But if they persistently refuse--"

"Dios!" she interrupted him.  "Do you think that your love is greater
than mine?  I was born with a thousand years of love in me and had you
not come I should have gone alone with my dreams to the grave.  I am
all women in one, not merely Concha Arguello, a girl of sixteen."  She
clasped her hands high above her head, lifting her eyes to the ashen
vault so soon to yield to the gay brush of dawn.

"Before all that great mystery," she said solemnly, "I give myself to
you forever, how much or how little that may mean here on earth.
Forever."



XVI

The Commandante of the San Francisco Company sat opposite Rezanov with
his mouth open, the lines of his strong face elongated and relaxed.  It
was the hour of siesta, and they were alone in the sala.

"Mother of God!" he exclaimed.  "Mother of God!  Are you mad,
Excellency?"

"No man was ever saner," said Rezanov cheerfully.  "What better proof
would you have than this final testimony to Dona Concha's perfections?"

"But it cannot be!  Surely, Excellency, you realize that?  The priests!
Ay yi!  Ay yi!"

"I think I understand the priests.  Persuade the Governor to buy my
cargo and they will look upon me as an amicus humani generis to whom
common rules do not apply.  And I have won their sincere friendship."

"You have won mine, senor.  But, though I say it, there is no more
devout Catholic in the Californias than Jose Arguello.  Do you know
what they call me?  El santo.  God knows I am not, but it is not for
want of the wish.  Did I give my daughter to a heretic, not only should
I become an outcast, a pariah, but I should imperil my everlasting soul
and that of my best beloved child.  It is impossible,
Excellency--unless, indeed, you embrace our faith."

"That is so impossible that the subject is not worth the waste of a
moment.  But surely, Commandante, in your excitement at this perfectly
natural issue you are misrepresenting yourself.  I do not believe,
devout Catholic as you are, that your soul is steeped in fanaticism.
You are known far and wide as the first and most intelligent of His
Catholic Majesty's subjects in New Spain.  When you have my word of
honor that your daughter's faith shall never be disturbed, it is
impossible you should believe that marriage with me would ruin her
chances of happiness in the next world.  But I doubt if your soul and
conscience will have the peace you desire if you ruin her happiness in
this.  What pleasure do you find in the thought of an old age
companioned by a heart-broken daughter?"

Don Jose turned pale and hitched his chair. "Other maids have been
balked when young, and have forgotten.  Concha is but sixteen--"

"She is also unique.  She will marry me or no one.  Of that I am as
certain as that she is the woman of women for me."

"How can you be so certain?" asked the Commandante sharply.  "Surely
you have had little talk alone with her?"

"The heart has a language of its own.  Recall your own youth, senor."

"It is true," said Don Jose, with a heavy sigh, as he had a fleeting
vision of Dona Ignacia, slim and lovely, at the grating, with a rose in
her hair.  "But this tremendous passion of the heart--it passes, senor,
it passes.  We love the good wife, but we sometimes realize that we
could have loved another good wife as well."

"That is a bit of philosophy I should have uttered myself,
Commandante--yesterday.  But there are women and women, and your
daughter is one of the chosen few who take from the years what the
years take from others.  I am not rushing into matrimony for the sake
of a pair of black eyes and a fine figure.  I have outlived the
possibility of making a fool of myself if I would.  Before I realized
how deeply I loved your daughter I had deliberately chosen her out of
all the women I have known, as my friend and companion for the various
and difficult ways of life which I shall be called upon to follow.
Your daughter will have a high place at the Russian Court, and she will
occupy it as naturally as if I had found her in Madrid and you in the
great position to which your attainments and services entitle you."

Don Jose, despite his consternation, titillated agreeably.  He
privately thought no one in New Spain good enough for his daughter, and
his weather-beaten self was not yet insensible to the rare visitation
of winged darts tipped with honey. But the situation was one of the
most embarrassing he had ever been called upon to face, and perhaps for
the first time in his direct and honest life his resolution was shaken
in a crisis.

"Believe me, your excellency, I appreciate the honor you have done my
house, and I will add with all my heart that never have I liked a man
more. But--Mother of God!  Mother of God!"

Rezanov took out his cigarette case, a superb bit of Russian enamel,
graven with the Imperial arms, and a parting gift from his Tsar.  He
passed it to his host, who had developed a preference for Russian
cigarettes.

"There are other things to consider besides the happiness of your
daughter and myself," he remarked.  "This alliance would mean the
consolidation of Spanish and Russian interests on the Pacific coast.
It would mean the protection of California in the almost certain event
of 'American' aggression.  And I hear that a courier brought word again
yesterday that the Russian and the Spanish fleets had sailed for these
waters.  I do not believe a word of it; but should it be true, I would
remind you of two things: that I have the powers of the Tsar himself in
this part of the world, and that the Russian fleet is likely to arrive
first."

Again the Commandante moved uneasily.  The news from Mexico had kept
himself and the Governor awake the better part of the night.  He fully
appreciated the importance of this powerful Russian's friendship.
Nothing would bind and commit him like taking a Californian to wife.
If only he had fallen in love with Carolina Xime'no or Delfina Rivera!
Don Jose had an uneasy suspicion that his scruples as a Catholic might
have gone down before his sense of duty to this poor California.  But a
heretic in his own family!  He was justly renowned for his piety.
Aside from the wrath of the church, the mere thought of one of his
offspring in matrimonial community beyond its pale made him sick with
repugnance.  And yet--California!  And he would have selected Rezanov
for his daughter out of all men had he been of their faith.  And he was
deeply conscious of the honor that had descended, however unfruitfully,
upon his house.  Madre de Dios!  How would it end?  Suddenly he felt
himself inspired.  In blissful ignorance of her subtle feminine rule,
he reminded himself that Concha's mind was the child of his own.  When
she saw his embarrassment, filial duty and woman's wit would extricate
them both with grace and avert the enmity of the Russian even though
the latter's more personal interest in California must die in his
disappointment.  He would make her feel the weight of the stern
paternal hand, and then indicate the part she had to play.

He rang a bell and directed the servant to summon his daughter, drew
himself up to his full height, and set his rugged face in hard lines.
As Concha entered he looked the Commandante, the stern disciplinarian,
every inch of him.

There was no trace of the siesta in Concha's cheeks.  They were very
white, but her eyes were steady and her mouth indomitable as she walked
down the sala and took the chair Rezanov placed for her.  Except for
her Castilian fairness, she looked very like the martinet sitting on
the other side of the table.  The Commandante regarded her silently
with brows drawn together.  Dimly, he felt apprehension, wondered, in a
flash of insight, if girls held fast to the parental recipe, or
recombined with tongue in cheek.  The bare possibility of resistance
almost threw him into panic, but he controlled his features until the
effort injected his eyes and drew in his nostrils.  Concha regarded him
calmly, although her heart beat unevenly, for she dreaded the long
strain she foresaw.

"My daughter," said Don Jose finally, his tones harsh with repressed
misgiving, "do you suspect why I have sent for you?"

"I think that his excellency wishes to marry me," replied Concha; and
the Commandante was so staggered by the calm assurance of her tone and
manner that his pent-up emotion exploded.

"Dios!" he roared.  "What right have you to know when a man wishes to
marry you?  What manner of Spanish girl is this?  Truly has his
excellency said that you are not as other women.  The place for you is
your room, with bread and water for a week.  Sixteen!"

"Ignacio was born when my mother was sixteen," said Concha coolly.

"What of that?  She married whom and when she was told to marry."

"I have heard that you serenaded nightly beneath her grating--"

"So did others."

"I have heard that when of all her suitors her father chose one more
highly born, a gentleman of the Viceroy's court, she pined until they
gave their consent to her marriage with you, lest she die."

"But I was a Catholic!  The prejudice against my birth was an unworthy
one.  I had distinguished myself.  And she had the support of the
priests."

"It is my misfortune that M. de Rezanov is not a Catholic, but it will
make no difference.  I shall not fall ill, for I am like you, not like
my dear mother--and the education you have given me is very different
from hers.  But I shall marry his excellency or no one, and whether I
marry him or live alone with the thought of him until the end of my
mortal days, I do not believe that my soul will be imperilled in the
least."

"You do not!" shouted the irate Spaniard.  "How dare you presume to
decide such a question for yourself?  What does a woman know of love
until she marries?  It is nothing but a sickening imagination before;
and if the man goes, the doctor soon comes."

"You may not have intended--but you have taught me to think for myself.
And I have seen others besides M. de Rezanov--the flower of California
and more than one fine gentleman from Mexico.  I will have none of
them.  I will marry the man of my choice or no one.  It may be that I
know naught of love.  If you wish, you may think that my choice of a
husband is determined by ambition, that I am dazzled with the thought
of court life in St. Petersburg, of being the consort of a great and
wealthy noble.  It matters not.  Love or ambition, I shall marry this
Russian or I shall never marry at all."

"Mother of God!  Mother of God!"  Don Jose's face was purple.  The
veins swelled in his neck.  He was the more wroth because he recognized
his own daughter and his own handiwork, because he saw that he
confronted a Toledo blade, not a woman's brittle will.  Concha regarded
him calmly.

"If you refuse your consent you will lose me in another way.  I may not
be able to marry as I wish, but I will have no worldly alternative.  I
shall join the Third Order of the Franciscans, and enter a convent as
soon as one is built in California.  To that you cannot withhold your
consent, or they no longer would call you El santo."

Don Jose leaped from his chair.  "Go to your room!" he thundered.  "And
do not dare to leave it without my permission--"

But Concha sprang forward and flung herself upon his neck.  She rubbed
her warm elastic cheek against his own in the manner he loved, and
softened her voice.  "Papacito mio, papacito mio," she pleaded.  "Thou
wilt not refuse thy Concha the only thing she has ever begged of thee.
And I beg!  I beg!  Papa mio!  I love him!  I love him!"  And she broke
into wild weeping and kissed him frantically, while Rezanov who had
followed her plan of attack and resistance in silent admiration, did
not know whether he should himself be moved to tears or further admire.

Don Jose pushed her from him with a heavy sob and hastily left the
room, oblivious in the confusion of his faculties of the boon he
conferred on the lovers.  Concha dried her eyes, but her face was
deathly pale.  It had not been all acting, by any means, and she was
beginning to feel the tyranny of sleepless nights; and the joy and
wonder of the morning had left her with but a remnant of endurance for
the domestic battleground.

"Go," she whispered, as he took her in his arms. "Return for the dance
to-night as if nothing had happened--  I forgot, there is to be a
bull-bear fight in the square.  So much the better, for it is in your
honor, and you could not well remain away. There is much trouble to
come, but in the end we shall win."



XVII

The muscles in Dona Ignacia's cheeks fell an inch as she listened,
dumbfounded, to the tale her husband poured out.  To her simple
aristocratic soul Rezanov had loomed too great a personage to dream of
mating with a Californian; and as her sharp maternal instinct had
recognized his personal probity, even his gallantries had seemed to her
no more consequent than the more catholic trifling of his officers.

"Holy Mary!" she whimpered, when her voice came back.  "Holy Mary!  A
heretic!  And he would take our Concha from us!  And she would go!  To
St. Petersburg!  Ten thousand miles! To the priests with her--now--this
very day!"

Concha had thrown herself on her bed in belated hope of siesta, when
Malia (Rosa had been sent to the house of Don Mario Sal in the valley)
entered with the message that she was to accompany her parents to the
Mission at once.  She rose sullenly, but in the manifold essentials of
a girl's life she had always yielded the implicit obedience exacted by
the Californian parent.  In a few moments she was riding out of the
Presidio beside her father. Dona Ignacia jolted behind in her carreta,
a low and clumsy vehicle, on solid wheels and springless, drawn by
oxen, and driven by a stable-boy on a mustang.  The journey was made in
complete silence save for the maledictions addressed to the oxen by the
boy, and an occasional "Ay yi!"  "Madre de Dios!"  "Sainted Mary, but
the sun bores a hole in the head," from Dona Ignacia, whose increasing
discomfort banished wrath and apprehension for the hour.

Don Jose did not even look at his daughter, but his face was ten years
older than in the morning. He had begun dimly to appreciate that she
was suffering, and in a manner vastly different from the passionate
resentment he had seen her display when the contents of a box from
Mexico disappointed her, or she was denied a visit to Monterey.  That
his best-loved child should suffer tore his own heart, but he merely
cursed Rezanov and resolved to do his best to persuade the Governor to
yield to his other demands, that California might be rid of him the
sooner.

Father Abella was walking down the long outer corridor of the Mission
reading his breviary, and praying he might not be diverted from
righteousness by the comforting touch of his new habit, when he looked
up and saw the party from the presidio floundering over the last of the
sand hills.  He shuffled off to order refreshments, and returned in
time to disburden the carreta of Dona Ignacia--no mean feat--volubly
delighted in the visit and the gossip it portended.  But as he offered
his arm to lead her into the sala, she pushed him aside and pointed to
Concha, who had sprung to the ground unassisted.

"She has come to confess, padre!" she exclaimed, her mind, under the
deep tiled roof of the corridor, readjusting itself to tragedy.  "I beg
that you will take her at once.  Padre Landaeta can give us chocolate
and we will tell our terrible news to him and receive advice and
consolation."

Father Abella, not without a glimmering of the truth, for better than
any one he understood the girl he had confessed many times, besides
himself having succumbed to the Russian, led the way to the
confessional in some perturbation of spirit.  He walked slowly, hoping
that the long, cool church, its narrow high windows admitting so scant
a meed of sunlight that no one of its worshippers had ever read the
legends on the walls, and even the stations were but deeper bits of
shade, would attune her mind to holy things, and throw a mantle of
unreality over those of the world.

He covered his face with his hand as she told her story.  This she did
in a few words, disjointed, for she was both tired and seething.  For a
few moments afterward there was a silence; the good priest was
increasingly disturbed and by no means certain of his course.  He was
astonished to feel a tug at his sleeve.  Before he could reprove this
impenitent child for audacity she had raised herself that she might
approach her lips more closely to his ear.

"Mi padre!" she whispered hoarsely, "you will take my part!  You will
not condemn me to a life of misery!  I am too proud to speak openly to
others--but I love this man more than my soul--more than my immortal
soul.  Do you hear?  I am in danger of mortal sin.  Perhaps I am
already in that state.  You cannot save me if he goes.  I will not
pray.  I will not come to the church.  I will be an outcast.  If I
marry him, I will be a good Catholic to the end of my days.  If I marry
him I can think of other things besides--of my church, my father, my
mother, my sisters, brothers.  If he goes, I shall pass my life
thinking of nothing but him, and if it be true that heretics are doomed
to hell, then I will live so that I may go to hell with him."

In spite of his horror the priest was thrilled by the intense passion
in the voice so close to his ear. Moreover, he knew women well, this
good padre, for even in California they differed little from those that
played ball with the world.  So he dismissed the horror and spoke
soothingly.

"What you have said would be mortal sin, my daughter, were it not that
you are laboring under strong and natural excitement; and I shall
absolve you freely when you have done the penance I must impose.  You
have always been such a good child that I am able to forgive you even
in this terrible moment.  But, my daughter, surely you know that this
marriage can never take place--"

"It shall!  It shall!"

"Control yourself, my daughter.  You cannot bring this man into the
true church.  His character is long since formed and cast--it is iron.
Even love will not melt it.  Were he younger--"

"I should hate him.  All young men are insufferable to me--always have
been.  I have found my mate, and have him I will if I have to hide in
the hold of his ship.  Ah, padre mio, I know not what I say.  But you
will help me.  Only you can.  My father thinks you as wise as a saint.
And there are other things--my head turns round--I can hardly
think--but you dare not lose the friendship of this Russian.  And my
marriage to him would be as much for the good of the Missions as for
California herself.  Champion our course, point out that not only would
it be a great match for me, but that many ends would be lost by ruining
my life. The Governor will find himself in a position to grant your
prayers for the cargo, particularly if you first persuaded my
father--so long they have been friends, the Governor could not resist
if he joined our forces.  What is one girl that she should be held of
greater account than the welfare of this country to which you are
devoting your life?  The happier are your converts, the more kindly
will they take to Christianity--which they do not love as yet!--the
more faithful and contented will they be, in the prospect of the
luxuries and the toys and the trinkets of the Russian north.  What is
one girl against the friendship of Russia for Spain?  Who am I that I
should weigh a peseta in the scale?"

"You are Concha Arguello, the flower of all the maidens in California,
and the daughter of the best of our men," replied Father Abella
musingly.  "And until to-day there has been no Catholic more devout--"

"It lies with you, mi padre, whether I continue to be the best of
Catholics or become the most abandoned of heretics.  You know me better
than anyone.  You know that I will not weaken and bend and submit, like
a thousand other women.  I could be bad--bad--bad--and I will be!  Do
you hear?"  And she shook his arm violently, while her hoarse voice
filled the church.

"My child!  My child!  I have always believed that you had it in you to
become a saint.  Yes, yes, I feel the strength and maturity of your
nature, I know the lengths to which it might lead another; but you
could not be bad, Conchita.  I have known many women.  In you alone
have I perceived the capacity for spiritual exaltation.  You are the
stuff of which saints and martyrs are made.  The violent will, the
transcendent passions--they have existed in the greatest of our saints,
and been conquered."

"I will not conquer.  I--  Oh, padre--for the love of heaven--"

He left the box hastily and lifted her where she had fallen and carried
her into the room adjoining the church.  He laid her on the floor, and
ran for Dona Ignacia, who, refreshed with wine and chocolate, came
swiftly.  But when Concha, under practical administrations and maternal
endearments, finally opened her eyes, she pushed her mother coldly
aside, rose and steadied herself against the wall for a moment, then
returned to the church, closing the door behind her.

When a woman has borne thirteen children in the lost corners of the
world, with scarce a thought in thirty years for aught else save the
husband and his comforts, it is not to be expected that her wits should
be rapiers or her vocabulary distinguished. But Dona Ignacia's
unresting heart had an intelligence of its own, and no inner convulsion
could alter the superb dignity of mien which Nature had granted her.
As she rose and confronted Father Abella he moved forward with the
instinct to kiss her hand, as he had seen Rezanov do.

"Mi padre," she said, "Concha is the first of my children to push me
aside, and it is like a blow on the heart; but I have neither anger nor
resentment, for it was not the act of a child to its parent, but of one
woman to another.  Alas! this Russian, what has he done, when her own
mother can give her no comfort?  We all love when young, but this is
more. I loved Jose so much I thought I should die when they would have
compelled me to marry another. But this is more.  She will not die, nor
even go to bed and weep for days, but it is more.  I should not have
died, I know that now, and in time I should have married another, and
been as happy as a woman can be when the man is kind.  Concha will love
but once, and she will suffer--suffer--  She may be more than I, but I
bore her and I know.  And she cannot marry him.  A heretic!  I no
longer think of the terrible separation.  Were he a Catholic I should
not think of myself again.  But it cannot be.  Oh, padre, what shall we
do?"

They talked for a long while, and after further consultation with Don
Jose and Father Landaeta, it was decided that Concha should remain for
the present in the house of Juan Moraga, where she could receive the
daily counsels of the priests, and be beyond the reach of Rezanov.
Meanwhile, all influence would be brought to bear upon the Governor
that the Russian might be placated even while made to realize that to
loiter longer in California waters would be but a waste of precious
time.



XVIII

There was no performance after all in the Presidio square that night,
for the bear brought in from the hills to do honor to the Russians died
of excitement, and it rained besides.  Rezanov made the storm his
excuse for not dining and dancing as usual at the house of the
Commandante.  But the relations between the Presidio and the Juno
during the next few days were by no means strained.  Davidov and
Khostov were always with the Spanish officers, drinking and card
playing, or improving their dancing and Spanish with the girls, whose
guitars were tuned for the waltz day and night.  The dignitaries met as
usual and conversed on all topics save those paramount in the minds of
each.  Nevertheless, there were three significant facts as well known
to Rezanov as had they been aired to his liking.

He had sought an interview with Father Abella, and tactfully ignoring
the question of his marriage, had persuaded that astute and influential
priest to make the proposition regarding his cargo that Concha had
suggested.  The priest, backed by his three coadjutors, had made it,
and been repulsed with fury.  From another quarter Rezanov learned that
during his absence little else was discussed in the house of the
Commandante save his formidable matrimonial project, and the supposed
designs to his country.  Troops had been ordered from the south to
reinforce the San Francisco garrisons, and were even now massed at
Santa Clara, within a day's march of the bay.

About a mile from the Presidio and almost opposite the Juno's anchorage
were six great stone tubs sunken in the ground and filled by a spring
of clear water.  Here, once a week, the linen, fine and heavy, of Fort
and Presidio was washed, the stoutest serving women of households and
barracks meeting at dawn and scrubbing for half a day. Rezanov had
watched the bright picture they made--for they wore a bit of every hue
they could command--with a lazy interest, which quickened to thirst
when he heard that they were the most reliable newsmongers in the
country.  In every Presidial district was a similar institution, and
the four were known as the "Wash Tub Mail."  Many of the women were
selected by the tyrants of the tubs for their comeliness, and each had
a lover in the couriers that went regularly with mail and official
instructions from one end of the Californias to the other.  All
important news was known first by these women, and much was discussed
over the tubs that was long in reaching higher but no less interested
circles; and domestic bulletins were as eagerly prized.  The sailor
that brought this information to Rezanov was a good-looking and
susceptible youth, already the victim of an Indian maiden from the
handsome tribe in the Santa Clara Valley, and sister of Dona Ignacia's
Malia.  Rezanov furnished him with beads and other trinkets and was at
no disadvantage thereafter.

There was nothing Rezanov would have liked better than to see a Russian
fleet sail through the straits, but he also knew that nothing was less
likely, and that from such rumors he should only derive further
annoyance and delay.  Two of his sailors deserted at the prospect of
war, and his hosts, if neutral, were manifestly alert.  Luis and
Santiago had been obliged to go to Monterey for a few days, and there
was no one at the Presidio in whom Rezanov could confide either his
impatience to see Concha or at the adjournment of his more prosaic but
no less pressing interests.  These two young men had been with him
almost constantly since his arrival, and demonstrated their friendship
and even affection unfailingly; but there was no love lost between
himself and Gervasio.  This young hidalgo had the hauteur and intense
family pride of Santiago without his younger brother's frank
intelligence and lingering ingenuousness.  With all the superiority and
inferiority, he had made himself so unpopular that his real kindness of
heart atoned for his absurdities only with those that knew him best.
Rezanov was not one of these nor aspired to be. Like all highly
seasoned men of the world, he had no patience with the small vanities
of the provincial, and although diplomatically courteous to all, in his
present precarious position, he had taken too little trouble to
conciliate Gervasio to find him of use in the absence of his friends.

At the end of three days Rezanov had forgotten his cargo, and would
have sent the Juno to the bottom for ten minutes alone with Concha.  He
had been on fire with love of her since the moment of his actual
surrender, and he was determined to have her if there were no other
recourse but elopement. All his old and intense love of personal
freedom had melted out of form in the crucible of his lover's
imagination.  That he should have doubted for a moment that Concha was
the woman for whom his soul had held itself aloof and unshackled was a
matter for contemptuous wonder, and the pride he had taken in his keen
and swift perceptive faculties suffered an eclipse.  Mind and soul and
body he was a lover, a union unknown before.

On the fourth morning, his patience at an end, he was about to leave
the Juno to demand a formal interview with Don Jose when he saw Luis
and Santiago dismount at the beach and enter the canoe always in
waiting.  A few moments later they had helped themselves to cigarettes
from the gift of the Tsar and were assuring Rezanov of their
partisanship and approval.

"We were somewhat taken aback at the first moment," Luis admitted.
"But--well, we are both in love--Santiago no less than I, although I
have had these six long years of waiting and am likely to have another.
And we love Concha as few men love their sisters, for there is no one
like her--is it not so, Rezanov?  And we quite understand why she has
chosen you, and why she stands firm, for we know the strength of her
character.  We would that you were a Catholic, but even so, we will not
sit by and see her life ruined, and we have called to assure you that
we shall use all our influence, every adroit argument, to bring our
parents to a more reasonable frame of mind.  They have already risen
above the first natural impulse of selfishness, and would consent to
the inevitable separation were you only a Catholic.  I have also talked
with the Governor--we arrived at midnight--and he flew into a terrible
temper--the poor man is already like a mad bull at bay--but if my
father yielded, he would--on all points.  This morning I shall ride
over and talk with Father Abella, who, I fancy, needs only a little
extra pressure--you may be sure Concha has not been idle--to yield; and
for more reasons than one.  I shall enlist Father Uria and Father de la
Cueva as well.  They also have great influence with my parents, and as
they return to San Jose in two days to prepare for the visit of the
most estimable Dr. Langsdorff, there is no time to lose.  I shall go
this morning.  One more cigarito, senor, and when that treaty is drawn
remember the conversion of your brother to Russian tobacco."

Rezanov thanked him so warmly, assured him with so convincing an
emphasis that with his fate in such competent hands his mind was at
peace, that the ardent heart of the Californian exulted; Rezanov, with
his splendid appearance, and typical of the highest civilizations of
Europe, had descended upon his narrow sphere with the authority of a
demigod, and he not only thirsted to serve him, but to fasten him to
California with the surest of human bonds.

As he dropped over the side of the ship, Rezanov's hand fell lightly on
the shoulder of Santiago.

"I can wait no longer to see your sister," he whispered, mindful of the
sterner responsibilities of the older brother.  "Do you think you
could--"

Santiago nodded.  "While Luis is at the Mission I shall go to my cousin
Juan Moraga's.  You will dine with us at the Presidio, and I shall
escort you back to the ship."



XIX

It was ten o'clock when Rezanov, who had supped on the Juno, met
Santiago in a sandy valley half a mile from the Presidio and mounted
the horse his young friend himself had saddled and brought. The long
ride was a silent one.  The youth was not talkative at any time, and
Rezanov was conscious of little else save an overwhelming desire to see
Concha again.  One secret of his success in life was his gift of
yielding to one energy at a time, oblivious at the moment to aught that
might distract or enfeeble the will.  To-night, as he rode toward the
Mission on as romantic a quest as ever came the way of a lover, the
diplomat, the anxious director of a great Company, the representative
of one of the mighty potentates of earth, were submerged, forgotten, in
the thrilling anticipation of his hour with the woman for whom every
fiber of his being yearned.

Nor ever was there more appropriate a setting for one of those
inaugural chapters in mating, half appreciated at the time, that
glimmer as a sort of morning twilight on mountain tops over the mild
undulations of matrimony.  The moon rode without a masking cloud across
the ambiguous night blue of the California sky, a blue that looks like
the fire of strange elements, where the stars glow like silver coals,
and out of whose depths intense shadows of blue and black fall; shadows
in which all the terrestrial world seems to float and recombine, where
houses are ghosts of ancient selves and men but the eidola of forgotten
dust.  To-night the little estate of Juan Moraga, the most isolated and
eastern of the settlement, surrounded by its high white wall, looked as
unreal and formless as the blue oval of water and black trees behind
it, but Rezanov knew that it enfolded warm and palpitating womanhood
and was steeped in the sweetness of Castilian roses.

The riders, who had taken a path far to the east of the Mission
dismounted and tied their horses among the willows, then, in their dark
cloaks but a part of the shadows, stole toward the wall designed to
impress hostile tribes rather than to resist onslaught; at the first
warning the settlement invariably fled to the church, where walls were
massive and windows high.

In three of Moraga's four walls was a grille, or wicket of slender iron
bars, whence the open could be swept with glass, or gun at a pinch; and
toward the grille looking eastward went Rezanov as swiftly as the
uneven ground would permit.  As Concha watched him gather form in the
moonlight and saw him jerk his cloak off impatiently, she flung her
soft body against the wall and shook the bars with her strong little
hands.  But when he faced her she was erect and smiling; in a sudden
uprush of spirits, almost indifferent.  She wore a white gown and a
rose in her hair.  A rosebush as dense as an arbor spread its prickly
arms between herself and the windows of the house.

"Good-evening," she whispered.

Rezanov gave the grill an angry shake.  (Santiago had considerately
retired.)  "Come out," he said peremptorily, "or let me in."

"There is but one gate, senor, and that is directly in front of the
house door, that stands open--"

"Then I shall get over the wall--"

"Madre de Dios!  You would leave your fine clothes and more on the
thorns.  My cousin planted those roses not for ornament, but to let the
blood of defiant lovers.  Not one has come twice--"

"Do you think I came here to talk to you through a grating?  I am no
serenading Spaniard."

His eyes were blazing.  Adobe is not stone. Rezanov took the light bars
in both hands and wrenched them out; then, as Concha, divided between
laughter and a sudden timidity, would have retreated, he dexterously
clasped her neck and drew her head through the embrasure.  As Santiago,
who had watched Rezanov from a distance with some curiosity, saw his
sister's beautiful face emerge from the wall to disappear at once
behind another rampart, he turned abruptly on his heel and could have
wept as he thought of Pilar Ortego of Santa Barbara.  But there was a
hope that he would be a cadet of the Southern Company before the year
was out, and his parents and hers were indulgent. Even as he sighed,
his own impending happiness infused him with an almost patronizing
sympathy for the twain with the wall between, and he concealed himself
among the willows that they might feel to the full the blessed
isolation of lovers.  His Pilar presented him with twenty-two hostages,
and he lived to enjoy an honorable and prosperous career, but he never
forgot that night and the part he had played in one of the poignant and
happy hours of his sister's life.

Day and night a great silence reigned in the Mission valley, broken
only by the hoot of the owl, the singing of birds, the flight of horses
across the plain.  Even the low huddle of Mission buildings and the few
homes beyond looked an anomaly in that vast quiet valley asleep and
unknown for so many centuries in the wide embrace of the hills.  Its
jewel oasis alone made it acceptable to the Spaniard, but to Rezanov
the sandy desert, with its close companionable silences, its cool night
air sweet with the light chaste fragrance of the roses, the simple,
almost primitive, conditions environing the girl, possessed a power to
stir the depths of his emotions as no artful reinforcement to passion
had ever done.  He forgot the wall.  His ego melted in a sense of
complete union and happiness.  Even when they returned to earth and
discussed the dubious future, he was conscious of an odd resignation,
very alien in his nature, not only to the barrier but to all the
strange conditions of his wooing.  He had felt something of this
before, although less definitely, and to-night he concluded that she
had the gift of clothing the inevitable with the semblance and the
sweetness of choice; and wondered how long it would be able to skirt
the arid steppes of philosophy.

She told him that she had talked daily with Father Abella.  "He will
say nothing to admit he is weakening, but I feel sure he has realized
not only that our marriage will be for the best interests of
California, but that to forbid it would wreck my life; and from this
responsibility he shrinks.  I can see it in his kind, shrewd, perplexed
eyes, in the hesitating inflections of his voice, to say nothing of the
poor arguments he advances to mine.  What of my father and mother?"

"They look troubled, almost ill, but nothing could exceed their
kindness to me, although they have pointedly given me no opportunity to
introduce the subject of our marriage again.  The Governor makes no
sign that he knows of any aspiration of mine above corn, but he
informed me to-day that California is doomed to abandonment, that the
Indians are hopeless, that Spain will withdraw troops before she will
send others, and that the country will either revert to savagery or
fall a prey to the first enterprising outsider.  As he was in
comparison cheerful before, I fancy he apprehends the irresistible
appeal of your father's surrender."

Concha nodded.  "If my father yields he will see that you have
everything else that you wish.  He may have advocated meeting your
wishes in other respects in order to leave you without excuse to
linger, but that argument is not strong enough for the Governor,
whereas if he made up his mind to accept you as a son he would throw
the whole force of his character and will into the scale; and when he
reaches that pitch he wins--with men.  I must, must bring you good
fortune," she added anxiously. "Marriage with a little California
girl--are you sure it will not ruin your career?"

"I can think of nothing that would advantage it more.  What are you
going to call me?"

"I cannot say Petrovich or Nicolai--my Spanish tongue rebels.  I shall
call you Pedro.  That is a very pretty name with us."

"My own harsh names suit my battered self rather better, but the more
Californian you are and remain the happier I shall be.  When am I to
see your ears?  Are they deformed, pointed and furry like a fawn's?  Do
they stand out?  Were all the women of California tattooed in some
Indian raid--"

Concha glanced about apprehensively, but not even Santiago was there to
see the dreadful deed. With a defiant sweep of her hands she lifted
both loops of hair, and two little ears, rosy even in the moonlight,
commanded amends and more from penitent lips.

"No man has ever seen them before--since I was a baby; not even my
father and brothers," said Concha, trembling between horror and rapture
at the tremendous surrender.  "You will never remind me of it.  Ay yi!
promise--Pedro mio!"

"On condition that you promise not to confess it.  I should like to be
sure that your mind belonged as much to me and as little to others as
possible.  I do not object to confession--we have it in our church; but
remember that there are other things as sacred as your religion."

She nodded.  "I understand--better than you understand Romanism.  I
must confess that I met you to-night, but Father Abella is too discreet
to ask for more.  It is such blessed memories that feed the soul, and
they would fly away on a whisper."



XX

The next morning Father Abella rode over to the Presidio and was
closeted for an hour with the Commandante and the Governor.  Then the
three rode down to the beach, entered a canoe, and paddled out to the
Juno.  Rezanov met them on deck with a gravity as significant as their
own, but led them at once to the cabin where wine, and the cigarettes
for which alone they would have counselled the treaty, awaited them.

The quartette pledged each other in an embarrassed silence, disposed of
a moment more with obdurate matches.  Don Jose inhaled audibly, then
lifted his eyes and met the veiled and steady gaze of the Russian.

"Senor," he said, "I have come to tell you that I consent to your
marriage with my daughter."

"Thank you," said Rezanov.  And their hands clasped across the table.

But this was far too simple for the taste of a Governor.  So important
an occasion demanded official dignity and many words.

"Your excellency," he said severely, sitting very erect, with one white
hand on the table and the other on the hilt of his sword (yet full of
courtesy, and longing to enjoy the cheer and conversation of his host);
"the peaceful monotony of our lives has been rudely shaken by a demand
upon three fallible human beings to alter the course of history in two
great nations.  That is a sufficient excuse for the suspense to which
we have been forced to subject you.  The marriage of a Russian and a
Spaniard is of no great moment in itself, but the marriage of the
Plenipotentiary of the Tsar himself with the daughter of Jose Mario
Arguello, not only one of the most eminent, respected, and
distinguished of His Most Catholic Majesty's subjects in New Spain, but
a man so beloved and influential that he could create a revolution were
he so minded--indeed, Jose, no one knows better than I how incapable
you are of treason"--as the Commandante gave a loud exclamation of
horror--"I merely illustrate and emphasize.  My sands are nearly run,
Excellency; it is to the estimable mind and strong paternal hand of my
friend that this miserable colony must look before long, would she
continue even this hand to mouth existence--a fact well known to our
king and natural lord.  When he hears of this projected alliance--"

"Projected?" exclaimed Rezanov.  "I wish to marry at once."

Father Abella shook his head vigorously, but he spoke with great
kindness.  "That, Excellency, alas, is the one point upon which we are
forced to disappoint you.  Indeed, our own submission to your wishes is
contingent.  This marriage cannot take place without a dispensation
from Rome and the consent of the King."

Rezanov looked at Don Jose.  "You, too?" he asked curtly.

The Commandante stirred uneasily, heaved a deep sigh; he thought of the
long impatience of his Concha.  "It is true," he said.  "Not only would
it be impossible for my conscience to resign itself to the marriage of
my daughter with a heretic--pardon, Excellency--without the blessing of
the Pope; not only would no priest in California perform the ceremony
until it arrived, but it would mean the degradation of Governor
Arrillaga and myself, and the ruin of all your other hopes.  We should
be ordered summarily to Mexico, perhaps worse, and no Russian would
ever be permitted to set foot in the Californias again.  I would it
were otherwise. I know--I know--but it is inevitable.  Your excellency
must see it.  Even were you a Catholic, Governor Arrillaga and the
President of the Missions, at least, would not dare to countenance this
marriage without the consent of the King."

Rezanov was silent for a few minutes.  In spite of the emotions of the
past few days he was astonished at the depth and keenness of his
disappointment.  But never yet had he failed to realize when he was
beaten, nor to trim his sails without loss of precious time.

"Very well," he said.  "I will go to St. Petersburg at the earliest
possible moment, obtain personal letters from the Tsar and proceed post
haste to Rome and Madrid.  At the same time I shall arrange for the
treaty with full authority from the Tsar.  Then I shall sail from Spain
to Mexico and reach here as soon as may be.  It will take a long while,
the best part of two years; but I have your word--"

"You have," the three asserted with solemn emphasis.

"Very well.  But there is one thing more.  I am not in a diplomatic
humor.  My Sitkans are starving.  I must leave here with a shipload of
breadstuffs."

Again the Governor drew up his slim soldierly figure; deposited his
cigarette on the malachite ash tray.  "You may be sure that we have
given that momentous question our deepest consideration. Father
Abella's suggestion that we buy your commodities for cash, and that
with our Spanish dollars you buy again of us, did not strike me
favorably at first, for it savored of sophistry.  I may have failed in
every attempt to benefit and advance this Godforsaken country, but at
least I have been the honest agent of my King.  But the circumstances
are extraordinary.  You are about to become one of us, to do our
unhappy colony the greatest service that is in the power of any mortal,
and personally you have inspired us with affection and respect.  I
have, therefore, decided that the exchange shall be made on these
terms, but that your cargo shall be received by Don Jose Arguello,
Commandante of the San Francisco Company, and held in trust until the
formal consent of the King to the purchase shall arrive."

Rezanov glowed to his finger tips.  Not even the assurance of his union
with the woman of his heart, which after all had met but the skeleton
of his desires, gave him the acute satisfaction of this sudden
fulfilment of his self-imposed mission.  He dropped his own official
demeanor and throwing himself across the table gripped the Governor's
hand while he poured out his thanks in a voice thick with feeling, his
eyes glittering with more than victory.  He did not lose sight of his
ultimate designs and pledge himself to external friendship, but he
unwittingly conveyed the impression that Spain had that day made a
friend she ill could afford to lose; and his three visitors rose well
pleased with the culmination of the interview.

"You must stay here no longer, Rezanov," said Don Jose, as they were
taking leave.  "My house is now literally your own.  It will be some
weeks before the large quantities of corn and flour and other stores
you wish can be got together--for we must lay a requisition on the
fertile Mission ranchos in the valleys--and you will exchange these
narrow quarters for such poor comfort as my house affords--I take no
denial.  Concha will remain at Juan Moraga's for the present."



XXI

Concha, after her father left her, sat for a long while in an attitude
of such complete repose that Sturgis, watching her miserably from the
veranda, remembered the consolations of his sketch book; and he was
able to counterfeit the graceful, proud figure, under the wall and
roses, before she stirred.

Concha had sent her father away deeply puzzled. When, after embracing
her with unusual emotion, he had informed her of his consent to her
marriage, she had received the news as a matter of course, her hopes
and desires having mounted too high to contemplate a fall.  Then the
Commandante, after dwelling at some length upon his discussions with
the Governor and the priests, and admonishing her against conceiving
herself too important a factor in what might prove to be an alliance of
international moment (she had laughed merrily and called him the most
callous of parents and subtlest of diplomats), had announced with some
trepidation and his most official manner that the consent of the Pope
and the King would be sought by Rezanov in person, involving a delay
and separation of not less than two years.  But to his surprise she did
not fling herself upon his neck with blandishments and tears. She
merely became quite still, her light high spirits retreating as a
breeze might before one of Nature's sudden and portentous calms.  Don
Jose, after a fruitless attempt to recapture her interest, mounted his
horse and rode away; and Concha sat down on a bench under the wall and
thought for an hour without moving a finger.

Her first sensation was one of bitter anger and disappointment with
Rezanov.  He had, apparently, in the first brief interview with their
tribunal, given his consent to this long delay of their nuptials.

Her thoughts since his advent had flown on many journeys and known
little rest.  She had been rudely awakened and stripped of her girlish
illusions in those days and nights of battle between pride and her
dazzled womanhood when, in the new humility of love, she believed
herself to be but one of a hundred pretty girls in the eyes of this
accomplished and fortunate Russian.  The interval had been brief, but
not long enough for the grandeur in her nature to awaken almost
concurrently with her passions, and she had planned a life, in which,
guided and uplifted by the star of fidelity, and delivered from the
frivolous and commonplace temptations of other women, she should devote
herself to the improvement and instruction not only of the Indians but
of the youth of her own class.  The schools founded by the estimable
and enterprising Borica had practically disappeared, and she was by far
the best educated woman in California.  For such there was a manifest
and an inexorable duty.  She would live to be old, she supposed, like
all the Arguellos and Moragas; but hidden in her unspotted soul would
be the flame of eternal youth, fed by an ideal and a memory that would
outlive her weary, insignificant body.  And in it she would find her
courage and her inspiration, as well as an unwasting sympathy for those
she taught.

Then had come the sudden and passionate wooing of Rezanov.  All other
ideals and aspirations had fled.  She had alternated between the tragic
extremes of bliss and despair.  So completely did the ardor of her
nature respond to his, so fierce and primitive was the cry of her ego
for its mate, that she cared nothing for the distress of her parents
nor the fate of California.  There is no love complete without this
early and absolute selfishness, which is merely the furious
determination of the race to accomplish its object before the spirit
awakens and the passions cool.

Last night life had seemed serious; she had been girlishly,
romantically happy.  It is true that her heart had thumped against the
wall as he kissed her, and that she had been full of a wild desire to
sing, although she could hardly shape and utter the words that danced
in her throbbing brain.  But she had been conscious through it all of
the romantic circumstance, of the lonely beauty of the night, of the
delightful wickedness of meeting her lover in the silence and the dark,
even with a wall ten feet high between them.  For the wall, indeed, she
had been confusedly and deliciously grateful.

And this was what a man's love came to: ardors by night and expedience
by day!  Or was it merely that Rezanov was the man of affairs always,
the lover incidentally?  But how could a man who had seemed the very
epitome of all the lovers of all the world but a few hours before,
contemplate, far less permit, a separation of years?  Poor Concha
groped toward the great unacceptable fact of life the whole, lit by
love its chief incident; and had a fleeting vision of the waste lands
in the lives of women occupied only with matrimony.  But she dropped
her lashes upon this unalluring vision, and as she did so, inevitably
she began to excuse the man.

None knew better than she every side of the great question that was
shaking not only her life but California itself.  Appeal from the
dictum of state and clergy would be a mere waste of time.  The only
alternative was flight.  That would mean the wreck of Rezanov's avowed
purposes in coming to this quarter of New Spain, and perhaps of others
she dimly suspected.  It would mean the very acme of misery for his
Sitkans, and an indefensible blow to the Company.  It might even prove
the fatal mistake in his career, for which his enemies were ever on the
alert.  He was not communicative about himself except when he had an
object in view, but he had told her something of his life, and his
officers and Langsdorff had told more.  He was no silly caballero
warbling and thrumming at her grating when she longed for sleep, but a
man in his forties whose passions were in the leash of a remarkably
acute and ambitious brain.  She even thrilled with pride in his
strength, for she knew how he loved her; and although his part was
action, her stimulated instincts taught her that she would rarely be
long from his mind.  And what was she to seek to roll stumbling blocks
into the career of a man like that? In this very garden, for four long
days, she had dreamed exalted dreams of the manifold gifts she should
develop for his solace at home and his worldly advancement.  She had
once felt all a girl's impatience when her mother's tears made her
father's departure on some distant mission more difficult than need be,
and although she knew now that her capacity for tenderness was as
great, she resolved to mould herself in a larger shape than that.

But she sighed and drooped a little.  The burden of woman's waiting
seemed already to have descended upon her.  Two years were long--long.
There might be other delays.  He might fall ill; he had been ill before
in that barbarous Russian north. And in all that time it was doubtful
if she received a line from him, a hint of his welfare.  The Boston and
British skippers came no more, and it was certain that no Russian ship
would visit California again until the treaty was signed and official
news of it had made its slow way to these uttermost shores.  She had
resented, in her young ambition and indocility, the chance that had
stranded her, equipped for civilization, on this rim of the world, but
never so much as in that moment, when she sat with arrested breath and
realized to the full the primitive conditions of a country thousands of
miles from the very outposts of Europe, and with never the sight of a
letter that did not come from Spain or one of her colonies.

"Would that we lived a generation later," she thought with a heavy
sigh.  "Progress is almost automatic, and to a land as fertile and
desirable as this the stream must turn in due course.  But not in my
time.  Not in my time."

She rose and leaned her elbows in the embrasure of the grille, where
Santiago had restored the bars, and looked out over the fields of grain
planted by the padres, the immense sand dunes beyond that shut the
lovely bay from sight; the hills embracing the primitive scene in a
frowning arc.  With all her imagination it was long before she could
picture a great city covering that immense and almost deserted space.
A pueblo in time, perhaps, for Rezanov had awakened her mind to the
importance of the harbor as a port of call.  Many more adobe homes
where the sand was not hot and shifting, a few ships in the bay when
Spain had been compelled to relax her jealous vigilance--or--who
knew?--perhaps!--a flourishing colony when the Russian bear had
devoured the Spanish lion.  She knew something and suspected more of
the rottenness and inefficiency of Spain, and, were Russia a nation of
Rezanovs, what opposition in California against the tide thundering
down from the north?  Then, perhaps, the city that had travelled from
the brain of the Russian to hers when the fog had rolled over the
heights; the towers and palaces and bazaars, the thousand little golden
domes with the slender cross atop; the forts on the crags and the
villas in the hollows, and on all the island and hills.  But when she
and her lover were dust.  When she and her lover were dust.

But she was too young and too ardent to listen long to the ravens of
the spirit.  Two years are not eternity, and in happiness the past
rolls together like a scroll and is naught.  She fell to dreaming.  Her
lips that had been set with the gravity of stone relaxed in warm
curves.  The color came back to her cheek, the light to her eyes.  She
was a girl at her grating with the roses poignant above her, and the
world, radiant, alluring, and all for her, swimming in the violet haze
beyond.



XXII

Rezanov in those days was literally lord and master at the Presidio.
If he did not burn the house of his devoted host he ran it to suit
himself.  He turned one of its rooms into an office, where he received
the envoys from the different Missions and examined the samples of
everything submitted to him, trusting little to his commissary.  His
leisure he employed scouring the country or shooting deer and quail in
the company of his younger hosts.  The literal mind of Don Jose
accepted him as an actual son and embryonic California, and, his
conscience at peace, revelled in his society as a sign from propitiated
heaven; rejoicing in the virtue of his years.  The Governor, testily
remarking that as California was so well governed for the present he
would retire to Monterey and take a siesta, rode off one morning, but
not without an affectionate: "God preserve the life of your excellency
many years."

But although Rezanov saw the most sanguine hopes that had brought him
to California fulfilled, and although he looked from the mountain
ridges of the east over the great low valleys watered by rivers and
shaded by oaks, where enough grain could be raised to keep the blood
red in a thousand times the colonial population of Russia, although he
felt himself in more and more abundant health, more and more in love
with life, it is not to be supposed for a moment that he was satisfied.
Concha he barely saw.  She remained with the Moragas, and although she
came occasionally to the afternoon dances at the Presidio, and he had
dined once at her cousin's house, where the formal betrothal had taken
place and the marriage contract had been signed in the presence of her
family and more intimate friends, the priests, his officers, and the
Governor, he had not spoken with her for a moment alone.  Nor had her
eyes met his in a glance of understanding.  At the dances she showed
him no favor; and as the engagement was to be as secret as might be in
that small community, until his return with consent of Pope and King,
he was forced to concede that her conduct was irreproachable; but when
on the day of the betrothal she was oblivious to his efforts to draw
her into the garden, he mounted his horse and rode off in a huff.

The truth was that Concha liked the present arrangement no better than
himself, and knowing that her own appeal against the proprieties would
result in a deeper seclusion, she determined to goad him into using
every resource of address and subtlety to bring about a more human
state of affairs.  And she accomplished her object.  Rezanov, at the
end of a week was not only infuriated but alarmed.  He knew the
imagination of woman, and guessed that Concha, in her brooding
solitude, distorted all that was unfortunate in the present and dwelt
morbidly on the future.  He knew that she must resent his part in the
long separation, no doubt his lack of impulsiveness in not proposing
elopement.  There was a priest in his company who, although he ate
below the salt and found his associates among the sailors, could have
performed the ceremony of marriage when the Juno, under full sail in
the night, was scudding for the Russian north.  It is not to be denied
that this romantic alternative appealed to Rezanov, and had it not been
for the starving wretches so eagerly awaiting his coming he might have
been tempted to throw commercial relations to the winds and flee with
his bride while San Francisco, secure in the knowledge of the Juno's
empty hold, was in its first heavy sleep.  It is doubtful if he would
have advanced beyond impulse, for Rezanov was not the man to lose sight
of a purpose to which he had set the full strength of his talents, and
life had tempered his impetuous nature with much philosophy.  Moreover,
while his conscience might ignore the double dealing necessary to the
accomplishment of patriotic or political acts, it revolted at the idea
of outwitting, possibly wrecking, his trusting and hospitable host.
But the mere fact that his imagination could dwell upon such an issue
as reckless flight, inflamed his impatience, and his desire to see
Concha daily during these last few weeks of propinquity.  Finally, he
sought the co-operation of Father Abella--Santiago was in Monterey--and
that wise student of maids and men gave him cheer.

On Thursday afternoon there was to take place the long delayed Indian
dance and bull-bear fight; not in the Presidio, but at the Mission, the
pride of the friars inciting them to succeed where the military
authorities had failed.  All the little world of San Francisco had been
invited, and it would be strange if in the confusion between
performance and supper a lover could not find a moment alone with his
lady.

The elements were kind to the padres.  The afternoon was not too hot,
although the sun flooded the plain and there was not a cloud on the
dazzling blue of the sky.  Never had the Mission and the mansions
looked so white, their tiles so red.  The trees were blossoming pink
and white in the orchards, the lightest breeze rippled the green of the
fields; and into this valley came neither the winds nor the fogs of the
ocean.

The priests and their guests of honor sat on the long corridor beside
the church; the soldiers, sailors, and Indians of Presidio and Mission
forming the other three sides of a hollow square.  The Indian women
were a blaze of color.  The ladies on the corridor wore their
mantillas, jewels, and the gayest of artificial flowers.  There were as
many fans as women.  Rezanov sat between Father Abella and the
Commandante, and not being in the best of tempers had never looked more
imposing and remote.  Concha, leaning against one of the pillars, stole
a glance at him and wondered miserably if this haughty European had
really sought her hand, if it were not a girl's foolish dream.  But
Concha's humble moments at this period of her life were rare, and she
drew herself up proudly, the blood of the proudest race in Europe
shaking angrily in her veins.  A moment later, in response to a power
greater than any within herself, she turned again. The attention of the
hosts and guests was riveted upon the preliminary antics of the Indian
dancers, and Rezanov seized the opportunity to lean forward unobserved
and gaze at the girl whom it seemed to him he saw for the first time in
the full splendor of her beauty.  She wore a large mantilla of white
Spanish lace.  In the fashion of the day it rose at the back almost
from the hem of her gown to descend in a point over the high comb to
her eyes. The two points of the width were gathered at her breast,
defining the outlines of her superb figure, and fastened with one large
Castilian rose surrounded by its mass of tiny sharp buds and dull green
leaves.  As the familiar scent assailed Rezanov's nostrils they tingled
and expanded.  His lids were lifted and his eyes glowing as he finally
compelled her glance, and her own eyes opened with an eager flash; her
lips parted and her shoulders lost their haughty poise.  For a moment
their gaze lingered in a perfect understanding; his ill-humor vanished,
and he leaned back with a complimentary remark as Father Abella
directed his attention to the most agile of the Indians.

The swart natives of both sexes with their thick features and long hair
were even more hideous than usual in bandeaux of bright feathers, scant
garments made from the breasts of water-fowls, rattling strings of
shells, and tattooing on arm and leg no longer concealed by the
decorous Mission smock.  Rezanov had that day sent them presents of
glass beads and ribbons, and in these they took such extravagant pride
that for some time their dancing was almost automatic.

But soon their blood warmed, and after the first dance, which was
merely a series of measured springs on the part of the men and a
beating of time by the women, a large straw figure symbolizing an
entire hostile tribe was brought in, and about this pranced the men
with savage cries and gestures, advancing, attacking, retreating,
finally piercing it with their arrows and marching it off with sharp
yells of triumph that reverberated among the hills; the women never
varying from a loud monotonous chant.

There was a peaceful interlude, during which the men, holding bow and
arrow aloft, hopped up and down on one spot, the women hopping beside
them and snapping thumb and forefinger on the body, still singing in
the same high measured voice.  But while they danced a great bonfire
was laid and kindled.  The gyrations lasted a few minutes longer, then
the chief seized a live ember and swallowed it. His example was
immediately followed by his tribe, and, whether to relieve discomfort
or with energies but quickened, they executed a series of incredible
handsprings and acrobatic capers.  When they finally whirled away on
toes and finger tips, another chief, in the horns and hide of a deer,
rushed in, pursued by a party of hunters.  For several moments he
perfectly simulated a hunted animal lurking and dodging in high grass,
behind trees, venturing to the brink of a stream to drink, searching
eagerly for his mate; and when he finally escaped it was amidst the
most enthusiastic plaudits as yet evoked.

After an hour of this varied performance, the square was enlarged by
several mounted vaqueros galloping about with warning cries and much
flourishing of lassos.  They were the cattle herders of the Mission
ranch just over the hills, and were in gala attire of black glazed
sombrero with silver cord, white shirt open at the throat, short black
velvet trousers laced with silver, red sash and high yellow boots.
Four, pistol in hand, stationed themselves in front of the corridor,
while the others rode out and in again, dragging a bear and a bull,
with hind legs attached by two yards of rope.  The captors left the
captives in the middle of the square, and without more ado the serious
sport of the day began.  The bull, with stomach empty and hide
inflamed, rushed at the bear, furious from captivity, with such a roar
that the Indian women screamed and even the men shuffled their feet
uneasily.  But neither combatant was interested in aught but the other.
The one sought to gore, his enemy to strike or hug.  The vaqueros
teased them with arrows and cries, the dust flew; for a few moments
there was but a heaving, panting, lashing bulk in the middle of the
arena, and then the bull, his tongue torn out, rolled on his back, and
another was driven in before the victor could wreak his unsated
vengeance among the spectators.  The bear, dragging the dead bull,
rushed at the living, who, unmartial at first, stiffened to the
defensive as he saw a bulk of wiry fur set with eyes of fire, almost
upon him. He sprang aside, lowered his horn and caught the bear in the
chest.  But the victor was a compact mass of battle and momentum.  His
onslaught flung the bear over backward, and quickly disengaging himself
he made another leap at his equally agile enemy.  This time the battle
was longer and more various, for the bull was smaller, more active and
dexterous.  Twice he almost had the bear on his horns, but was rolled,
only saving his neck and back from the fury of the mountain beast by
such kicking and leaping that both combatants were indistinguishable
from the whirlwind of dust.  Out of this they would emerge to stand
panting in front of each other with tongues pendant and red eyes
rolling.  Finally the bear, nearly exhausted, made a sudden charge, the
bull leaped aside, backed again with incredible swiftness, caught the
bear in the belly, tossed him so high that he met the hard earth with a
loud cracking of bone.  The vaqueros circled about the maddened bull,
set his hide thick with arrows, tripped him with the lasso.  A wiry
little Mexican in yellow, galloping in on his mustang, administered the
coup de grace amidst the wild applause of the spectators, whose
shouting and clapping and stamping might have been heard by the envious
guard at the Presidio and Yerba Buena.

As the party on the corridor broke, Rezanov found no difficulty in
reaching Concha's side, for even Dona Ignacia was chattering wildly
with several other good dames who renewed their youth briefly at the
bull-fight.

"Did you enjoy that?" he asked curiously.

"I did not look at it.  I never do.  But I know that you were not
affronted.  You never took your eyes from those dreadful beasts."

"I am exhilarated to know that you watched me. Yes, at a bull-fight the
primitive man in me has its way, although I have the grace to be
ashamed of myself afterward.  In that I am at least one degree more
civilized than your race, which never repents."

The door of one of the smaller rooms stood open, and as they took
advantage of this oversight with a singular concert of motive, he
clasped both her hands in his.  "Are you angry with me?" he asked
softly.  He dared not close the door, but his back was square against
it, and the other guests were moving down to the refectory.

"For liking such horrid sport?"

"We have no time to waste in coquetry."

Her eyes melted, but she could not resist planting a dart.  "Not now--I
quite understand: love could never be first with you.  And two years
are not so long.  They quickly pass when one is busy.  I shall find
occupation, and you will have no time for longings and regrets."

They were not yet alone, women were talking in their light, high voices
not a yard away.  The hindrance, and her new loveliness in the soft
mantilla, the pink of the roses reflected in her throat, the
provocative curl of her mouth, sent the blood to his head.

"You have only to say the word," he said hoarsely, "and the Juno will
sail to-night."

Never before had she seen his face so unmasked. Her voice shook in
triumph and response.

"Would you?  Would you?"

"Say the word!"

"You would sacrifice all--the Company--your career--your Sitkans?"

"All--everything."  His own voice shook with more than passion, for
even in that moment he counted the cost, but he did not care.

But Concha detected that second break in his voice, and turned her head
sadly.

"You would not say that to-morrow.  I hate myself that I made you say
it now.  I love you enough to wait forever, but I have not the courage
to hand you over to your enemies."

"You are strangely far-sighted for a young girl." And between
admiration and pique, his ardor suffered a chill.

"I am no longer a young girl.  In these last days it has seemed to me
that secrets locked in my brain, secrets of women long dead, but of
whose essence I am, have come forth to the light.  I have suffered in
anticipation.  My mind has flown--flown--I have lived those two years
until they are twenty, thirty, and I have lived on into old age here by
the sea, watching, watching--"

She had dropped all pretence of coquetry and was speaking with a
passionate forlornness.  But before he could interrupt her, take
advantage of the retreating voices that left them alone at last, she
had drawn herself up and moved a step away.  "Do not think, however,"
she said proudly, "that I am really as weak and silly as that.  It was
only a mood.  Should you not return I should grieve, yes; and should I
live as long as is common with my race, still would my heart remain
young with your image, and with the fidelity that would be no less a
religion than that of my church.  But I should not live a selfish life,
or I should be unworthy of my election to experience a great and
eternal passion. Memory and the life of the imagination would be my
solace, possibly in time my happiness, but my days I should give to
this poor little world of ours; and all that one mortal, and that a
woman, has to bestow upon a stranded and benighted people.  It may not
be much, but I make you that promise, senor, that you will not think me
a foolish, romantic girl, unworthy of the great responsibilities you
have offered me."

"Concha!"  He was deeply moved, and at the same time her words chilled
him with subtle prophecy, sank into some unexplored depth of his
consciousness, meeting response as subtle, filling him with impatience
at the mortality of man.  He glanced over his shoulder, then took her
recklessly in his arms.

"Is it possible you doubt I will come back?" he demanded.  "My faith?"

"No, not that.  But such happiness seems to me too great for this life."

He remembered how often he had been close to death; he knew that during
the greater part of the next two years he should see the glimmer of the
scythe oftener yet.  For a moment it seemed to him that he felt the
dark waters rise in his soul, heard the jeers of the gods at the vanity
of mortal will.  But the blood ran strong and warm in his veins.  He
shook off the obsession, and smiled a little cynically, even as he
kissed her.

"This is the hour for romance, my dear.  In the years to come, when you
are very prosaically my wife with a thousand duties, and grumbling at
my exactions, your consolation will be the memory of some moment like
this, when you were able to feel romantic and sad.  I wish I could
arrange for some such set of memories for myself, but I am unequal to
your divine melancholy.  When I cannot see you I am cross and sulky;
and just now--I am, well--philosophically happy.  Some day I shall be
happier, but this is well enough.  And I can harbor no ugly
presentiments.  As I entered California I was elated with a sense of
coming happiness, of future victories; and I prefer to dwell upon that,
the more particularly as in a measure the prophetic hint has been
fulfilled.  So make the most of the present.  I shall see you daily
during this last precious fortnight, for I am determined this
arrangement shall cease; and you must exorcise coquetry and abet me
whenever there is a chance of a word alone."

She nodded, but she noted with a sigh that he said no more of sudden
flight.  She would never have consented to jeopardize the least of his
interests, but she fain would have been besought. The experience she
had had of the vehemence and fire in Rezanov made her long for his
complete subjugation and the happiness it must bring to herself.  But
as he smiled tenderly above her she saw that his practical brain had
silenced the irresponsible demands of love, and although she did not
withdraw from his arms she stiffened her head.

"I fancy I shall return home to-morrow," she said.  "My mother tells me
that she can live without me no longer, and that Father Abella has
reminded her that if I stay in the house of Elena Castro I shall be as
free from gossip as here.  I infer that he has rated my two parents for
making a martyr of me unnecessarily, and told them it was a duty to
enliven my life as much as possible before I enter upon this long
period of probation.  The grating of my room at Elena's is above a
little strip of Garden, and faces the blank wall of the next house.
Sometimes--who knows?"  She shrugged her shoulders and gave a gay
little laugh, then stood very erect and moved past him to the door.
She had recognized the shuffling step of Father Abella.

"Is supper ready, padre mio?" she asked sweetly. "His excellency and I
have talked so much that we are very hungry."

"There is no need to deceive me," said Father Abella dryly.  "You are
not the first lovers I have known, although I will admit you are by far
the most interesting, and for that reason I have had the wickedness to
abet you.  But I fancy the good God will forgive me.  Come quickly.
They are scattered now, but will go to the refectory in a moment and
miss you.  Excellency, will you give your arm to Dona Ignacia and take
the seat at the head of the table?  Concha, my child, I am afraid you
must console our good Don Weeliam.  He is having a wretched quarter of
an hour, but has loyally diverted the attention of your mother."

"That is the vocation of certain men," said Concha lightly.



XXIII

Life was very gay for a fortnight.  An hour after the Commandante's
surrender he had despatched invitations to all the young folk of the
gente de razon of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego,
and to such of the older as would brave the long journeys.  The
Monterenos had arrived for the Mission entertainment, and during the
next few days the rest poured over the hills: De la Guerras, Xime'nos,
Estudillos, Carrillos, Este'negas, Morenos, Cotas, Estradas, Picos,
Pachecos, Lugos, Orte'gas, Alvarados, Bandinis, Peraltas, members of
the Luis, Rodriguez, Lopez families, all of gentle blood, that made up
the society of Old California; as gay, arcadian, irresponsible, yet
moral a society as ever fluttered over this planet.  Every house in the
Presidio and valley, every spare room at the Mission, opened to them
with the exuberant hospitality of the country. The caballeros had their
finest wardrobes of colored silks and embroidered botas, sombreros
laden with silver, fine lawn and lace, jewel and sash, velvet serape
for the chill of the late afternoon.  The matrons brought their stiff
robes of red and yellow satin, the girls as many flowered silks and
lawns, mantillas and rebosos, as the family carretas would hold.  The
square of the Presidio was crowded from morning until midnight with the
spirited horses of the country, prancing impatiently under the heavy
Mexican saddle, heavier with silver, made a trifle more endurable by
the blanket of velvet or cloth.  No Californian walked a dozen rods
when he had a horse to carry him.

But the horses were not always champing in the square.  There was more
than one bull-bear fight, and twice a week at least they carried their
owners to the hills of the Mission ranch, or the rocky cliffs and
gorges above Yerba Buena, the Indian servants following with great
baskets of luncheon, perhaps roasting an ox whole in a trench.  This
the Californians called barbecue and the picnic merienda.

There was dancing day and night, the tinkling of guitars, flirting of
fans.  Rezanov vowed he would not have believed there were so many fans
and guitars in the world, and suddenly remembered he had never seen
Concha with either.  The lady of his choice reigned supreme.  Many had
taken the long blistering journey for no other purpose than to see the
famous beauty and her Russian; the engagement was as well known as if
cried from the Mission top.  The girls were surprised and delighted to
find Concha sweet rather than proud and envied her with amiable
enthusiasm.  The caballeros, fewer in number, for most of the men in
California at that period before a freer distribution of land were on
duty in the army, artfully ignored the unavowed bond, but liked Rezanov
when he took the trouble to charm them.

Khostov and Davidov watched the loading of the Juno with a lively
regret.  Never had they enjoyed themselves more, nor seen so many
pretty girls in one place.  Both had begun by falling in love with
Concha, and although they rebounded swiftly from the blow to their
hopes, it happily saved them from a more serious dilemma; unwealthed
and graceless as they were, they would have been regarded with little
favor by the practical California father.  As it was, their pleasures
were unpoisoned by regrets or rebuffs.  When they were not flirting in
the dance or in front of a lattice, receiving a lesson in Spanish
behind the portly back of a duena, or clasping brown little fingers
under cover of a fan when all eyes were riveted on the death struggle
of a bull and a bear, they were playing cards and drinking in the
officers' quarters; which they liked almost as well. It is true they
sometimes paid the price in a cutting rebuke from their chief, but the
rebukes were not as frequent as in less toward circumstances, and were
generally followed by some fresh indulgence.  This, they uneasily
guessed, was not only the result of the equable state of his
excellency's temper, but because he had a signal unpleasantness in
store, and would not hazard their resignation.  They had taken
advantage of an imperial ukase to enter the service of the
Russian-American Company temporarily, and they knew that if they evaded
any behest of Rezanov's their adventurous life in the Pacific would be
over.  Therefore, although they resented his implacable will, they
pulled with him in outward amity; and indeed there were few of the
Juno's human freight that did not look back upon that California
springtime as the episode of their lives, commonly stormy or
monotonous, in which the golden tide flowed with least alloy.  Even
Langsdorff, although impervious to female charms and with scientific
thirst unslaked, enjoyed the Spanish fare and the society of the
priests.  The sailors received many privileges, attended bull-fights
and fandangos, loved and pledged; and were only restrained from
emigration to the interior of this enchanted land of pretty girls and
plentiful food by the knowledge of the sure and merciless vengeance of
their chief.  Had the rumor of war still held it might have been
otherwise, but that raven had flown off to the limbo of its kind, and
the Commandante let it be known that deserters would be summarily
captured and sent in irons to the Juno.

In the mind of Concha Arguello there was never a lingering doubt of the
quality of that fortnight between the days of torturing doubts and
acute emotional upheaval, and the sailing away of Rezanov. It was true
that what he banteringly termed her romantic sadness possessed her at
times, but it served as a shadow to throw into sharper relief an almost
incredible happiness.  If she seldom saw Rezanov alone there was the
less to disturb her, and at least he was never far from her side.
There were always the delight of unexpected moments unseen, whispered
words in the crowd, the sense of complete understanding, broken now and
again by poignant attacks of unreasoning jealousy, not only on her part
but his; quite worth the reconciliation at the lattice, while Elena
Castro, gentle duena, pitched her voice high and amused her husband so
well he sought no opportunity for response.

Then there was more than one excursion about the bay on the Juno,
dinner on La Bellissima or Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, a long return
after sundown that the southerners might appreciate the splendor of the
afterglow when the blue of the water was reflected in the lower sky, to
melt into the pink fire above, and all the land swam in a pearly mist.

Once the Commandante took twenty of his guests, a gay cavalcade, to his
rancho, El Pilar, thirty miles to the south: a long valley flanked by
the bay and the eastern mountains on the one hand, and a high range
dense with forests of tall thin trees on the other.  But the valley
itself was less Californian than any part of the country Rezanov had
seen. Smooth and flat and free of undergrowth and set with at least ten
thousand oaks, it looked more like a splendid English park, long
preserved, than the recent haunt of naked savages.  There were deer and
quail in abundance, here and there an open field of grain.  Long beards
of pale green moss waved from the white oaks, wild flowers, golden red
and pale blue, burst underfoot.  There were hedges of sweet briar,
acres of lupins, purple and yellow.  Altogether the ideal estate of a
nobleman; and Rezanov, who had liked nothing in California so well,
gave his imagination rein and saw the counterpart of the castle of his
ancestors rise in the deep shade of the trees.

Don Jose's house was a long rambling adobe, red tiled, with many
bedrooms and one immense hall. Beyond were a chapel and a dozen
outbuildings. Dinner was served in patriarchal style in the hall, the
Commandante--or El padrone as he was known here--and his guests at the
upper end of the table; below the salt, the vaqueros, their wives and
children, and the humble friar who drove them to prayer night and
morning.  The friar wore his brown robes, the vaqueros their black and
silver and red in honor of the company, their women glaring
handkerchiefs of green or red or yellow about their necks, even pinned
back and front on their shapeless garments; and affording a fine
vegetable garden contrast to the delicate flower bed surrounding the
padrone.

There was a race track on the ranch and many fine horses.  After siesta
the company mounted fresh steeds and rode off to applaud the feats of
the vaqueros, who, not content with climbing the greased pole,
wrenching the head of an unfortunate rooster from his buried body as
they galloped by, submitting the tail of an oiled pig in full flight to
the same indignity, gave when these and other native diversions were
exhausted, such exhibitions of riding and racing as have never been
seen out of California.  As lithe as willow wands, on slender horses as
graceful as themselves, they looked like meteors springing through
space, and there was no trick of the circus they did not know by
instinct, and translate from gymnastics into poetry.  Even Rezanov
shared the excitement of the shouting, clapping Californians, and
Concha laughed delightedly when his cap waved with the sombreros.

"I think you will make a good Californian in time," she said as they
rode homeward.

"Perhaps," said Rezanov musingly.  His eyes roved over the magnificent
estate and at the moment they entered a portion of it that deepened to
woods, so dense was the undergrowth, so thick the oak trees.  Here
there was but a glimpse, now and again, of the mountains swimming in
the dark blue mist of the late afternoon, the moss waved thickly from
the ancient trees; over even the higher branches of many rolled a
cascade of small brittle leaves, with the tempting opulence of its
poisonous sap.  The path was very abrupt, cut where the immense
spreading trees permitted, and Rezanov and Concha had no difficulty in
falling away from the chattering, excited company.

"Tell me your ultimate plans, Pedro mio," said Concha softly.  "You are
dreaming of something this moment beyond corn and treaties."

"Do you want that final proof?" he asked, smiling.  "Well, if I could
not trust you that would be the end of everything, and I know that I
can.  I have long regarded California as an absolutely necessary field
of supplies, and since I have come here I will frankly say that could
I, as the representative of the Tsar in all this part of the world,
make it practically my own, I should be content in even a permanent
exile from St. Petersburg.  I could attract an immense colony here and
in time import libraries and works of art, laying the foundation of a
great and important city on that fine site about Yerba Buena.  But now
that these kind people have practically adopted me I cannot repay their
hospitality by any overt act of hostility.  I must be content either
slowly to absorb the country, in which case I shall see no great result
in my lifetime, or-and for this I hope--what with the mess Bonaparte is
making of Europe, every state may be at the others' throat before long,
including Russia and Spain.  At all events, a cause for rupture would
not be far to seek, and it would need no instigation of mine to
despatch a fleet to these shores.  In that case I should be sent with
it to take possession in the name of the Tsar, and to deal with these
simple, kind--and inefficient people, my dear girl--as no other Russian
could.  They cannot hold this country.  Spain could not--would not, at
all events, for she has not troops enough here to protect a territory
half its size--hold it against even the 'Americans,' should they in
time feel strong enough to push their way across the western
wilderness.  It is the destiny of this charming Arcadia to disappear;
and did Russia forego an opportunity to appropriate a domain that
offers her literally everything except civilization, she would be
unworthy of her place among nations.  Moreover--a beneficent triumph
impossible to us otherwise--with a powerful and flourishing colony up
and down this coast, and sending breadstuffs regularly to our other
possessions in these waters until the natives, immigrants, and exiles
were healthy, vitalized beings, it would be but a question of a few
years before we should force open the doors of China and Japan."  He
caught Concha from her horse and strained her to him in the mounting
ardor of his plunge down the future.  "You must resent nothing!" he
cried.  "You must cease to be a Spanish woman when you become my wife,
and help me as only you can in those inevitable years I have mapped
out; and not so much for myself as for Russia.  My enemies have sought
to persuade three sovereigns that I am a visionary, but I have already
accomplished much that met with resentment and ridicule when I broached
it.  And I know my powers!  I tingle with the knowledge of my ability
to carry to a conclusion every plan I have thought worth the holding
when the ardor of conception was over.  I swear to you that death
alone--and I believe that nothing is further aloof--shall prevent my
giving this country to Russia before five years have passed, and within
another brief span the trade of China and Japan.  It is a glorious
destiny for a man--one man!--to pass into history as the Russian of his
century who has done most to add to the extent and the wealth and the
power of his empire!  Does that sound vainglorious, and do you resent
it?  You must not, I tell you, you must not!"

Concha had never seen him in such a mood.  Although he held her so
closely that the horses were angrily biting each other, she felt that
for once there was nothing personal in his ardor.  His eyes were
blazing, but they stared as if a great and prophetic panorama had risen
in this silent wood, where the long faded moss hung as motionless as if
by those quiet waters that even the most ardent must cross in his time.
She felt his heart beat as she had felt it before against her soft
breast, but she knew that if he thought of her at all it was but as a
part of himself, not as the woman he impatiently desired. But she was
sensible of no resentment, either for herself or her race, which,
indeed, she knew to be but a wayfarer in the wilderness engaged in a
brief chimerical enterprise.  For the first time she felt her
individuality melt into, commingle with his: and when he lowered his
gaze, still with that intensity of vision piercing the future, her own
eyes reflected the impersonalities of his; and in time he saw it.



XXIV

"We should all wear black for so mournful an occasion," said Rafaella
Sal, spreading out her scarlet skirts.

"Father Abella is right.  The occasion is sad enough without giving it
the air of a funeral."

"Sad!  Dios de mi alma!  Will he return?"

Elena Castro shook her wise head.  She was nearly twenty, and four
years of matrimony had made her sceptical of man's capacity for
romance. "Two years are long, and he will see many girls, and become
one again of a life that is always more brilliant than our sun in May.
His eyes will be dazzled, his mind distracted, full to the brim.  To
sit at table with the Tsar, to talk with him alone in his cabinet, to
have for the asking audience of the Pope of Rome and the King of Spain!
Ay yi!  Ay yi!  Perhaps he will be made a prince when he returns to St.
Petersburg and all the beautiful princesses will want to marry him.
Can he remember this poor little California, and even our lovely
Concha?  I doubt!  Valgame Dios, I doubt!"

"Concha has always been too fortunate," said Rafaella with a touch of
spite, for years of waiting had tried her temper and the sun always
freckled her nose.  The flower of California stood on the corridor of
the Mission and before the church awaiting the guest of honor and his
escort.  A mass was to be said in behalf of the departing guests; the
Juno would sail with the turn of the afternoon tide. Men and women were
in their gayest finery, an exotic mass of color against the rough
white-washed walls, chattering as vivaciously as if the burden of their
conversation were not regret for the Chamberlain and his gay young
lieutenants.  Concha, alone, wore no color; her frock was white, her
mantilla black.  She stood somewhat apart, but although she was pale
she commanded her eyes to dwell absently on the shifting sand far down
the valley, her haughty Spanish profile betraying nothing of the
despair in her soul.

"Yes, Concha has always been too fortunate," repeated Rafaella.  "Why
should she be chosen for such a destiny--to go to the Russian court and
wear a train ten yards long of red velvet embroidered with gold, a
white veil spangled with gold, a headdress a foot high set so thick
with jewels her head will ache for a week--Madre de Dios!  And we stay
here forever with white walls, horsehair furniture, Baja California
pearls and three silk dresses a year!"

"No one in all Russia will look so grand in court dress as our
Conchita," said Elena loyally.  "But I doubt if it is the dress and the
state she thinks of losing to-day.  She will not talk even to me of
him--  Ay yi! she grows more reserved every day, our Concha!--except to
say she will wed him when he returns, and that I know, for did not I
witness the betrothal?  She only mocks me when I beg her to tell me if
she loves him, languishes, or sings a bar of some one of our beautiful
songs with ridiculous words.  But she does.  She did not sleep last
night.  Her room is next to mine.  No, it is of Rezanov she thinks, and
always.  Those proud, silent girls, who jest when others would weep and
use many words and must die without sympathy--they have tragedy in
their souls, ay yi!  And you think she is fortunate?  True she is
beautiful, she is La Favorita, she receives many boxes from Mexico, and
she has won the love of this Russian. But--I have not dared to remind
her--I remembered it only yesterday--she came into this world on the
thirteenth of a month, and he into her life but one day before the
thirteenth of another--new style! True some might say that it was an
escape, but if he came on the twelfth, it was on the thirteenth she
began to love him--on the night of the ball; of that I am sure."

Rafaella shuddered and crossed herself.  "Poor Concha!  Perhaps in the
end she will always stand apart like that.  Truly she is not as others.
I have always said it.  Thanks be to Mary it was Luis that wooed me,
not the Russian, for I might have been tempted.  True his eyes are
blue, and only the black could win my heart.  But the court of St.
Petersburg!  Dios de mi vida!  Did I lie awake at night and think of
Concha Arguello in red velvet and jewels all over, I should hate her.
But no--to-day--I cannot.  Two years!  Have I not waited six?  It is
eternity when one loves and is young."

"They come," said Elena.

The cavalcade was descending the sand hills on the left, Rezanov in
full uniform between the Commandante and Luis Arguello and followed by
a picked escort of officers from Presidio and Fort. The Californians
wore full-dress uniform of white and scarlet, Don Jose a blue velvet
serape, embroidered in gold with the arms of Spain.

As they dismounted Rezanov bowed ceremoniously to the party on the
corridor, and they returned his salutation gravely, suddenly silent.
He walked directly over to Concha.

"We will go in together," he said.  "It matters nothing what they
think.  I kneel beside no one else."

And Concha, with the air of leading an honored guest to the banquet,
turned and walked with him into the dark little church.

"Why did you not wear a white mantilla?" he whispered.  "I do not like
that black thing."

"I am not a bride.  I knew we should kneel together--it would have been
ridiculous.  And I could not wear a colored reboso to-day."

"I should have liked to fancy we were here for our nuptials.  Delusions
pass but are none the less sweet for that."

They knelt before the altar, the Commandante, Dona Ignacia, Luis,
Santiago, Rafaella Sal and Elena Castro just behind; the rest of the
party, their bright garments shimmering vaguely in the gloom, as they
listened; and enough fervent prayers went up to insure the health and
safety of the departing guests for all their lives.

Rezanov, who had much on his mind, stared moodily at the altar until
Concha, who had bowed her head almost to her knees, finished her
supplication; then their eyes turned and met simultaneously.  For a
moment their brains did swim in the delusion that the priest with his
uplifted hands pronounced benediction upon their nuptials, that
probation was over and union nigh.  But Father Abella dismissed all
with the same blessing, and they shivered as they rose and walked
slowly down the church.

Dona Ignacia took her husband's arm, and muttering that she feared a
chill, hurried the others before her.  The priests had gone to the
sacristy. Before they reached the door Rezanov and Concha were alone.

His hands fell heavily on her shoulders.

"Concha," he said, "I shall come back if I live.  I make no foolish
vows, so idle between us.  There is only one power that can prevent our
marriage in this church not later than two years from to-day. And
although I am in the very fulness of my health and strength, with my
work but begun, and all my happiness in the future, and even to a less
sanguine man it would seem that his course had many years to run, still
have I seen as much as any man of the inconsequence of life, of the
insignificance of the individual, his hopes, ambitions, happiness, and
even usefulness, in the complicated machinery of natural laws.  It may
be that I shall not come back.  But I wish to take with me your promise
that if I have not returned at the end of two years or you have
received no reason for my detention, you will believe that I am dead.
There would be but one insupportable drop in the bitterness of death,
the doubt of your faith in my word and my love.  Are you too much of a
woman to curb your imagination in a long unbroken silence?"

"I have learned so much that one lesson more is no tax on my faith.
And I no longer live in a world of little things.  I promise you that I
shall never falter nor doubt."

He bent his head and kissed her for the first time without passion, but
solemnly, as had their nuptials indeed been accomplished, and the
greater mystery of spiritual union isolated them for a moment in that
twilight region where the mortal part did not enter.

As they left the church they saw that all the Indians of the Mission
and neighborhood, in a gala of color, had gathered to cheer the
Russians as they rode away.  Concha was to return as she had come,
beside the carreta of her mother, and as Rezanov mounted his horse she
stood staring with unseeing eyes on the brilliant, animated scene.
Suddenly she heard a suppressed sob, and felt a touch on her skirt.
She looked round and saw Rosa, kneeling close to the church.  For a
moment she continued to stare, hardly comprehending, in the intense
concentration of her faculties, that tangible beings, other than
herself and Rezanov, still moved on the earth.  Then her mind relaxed.
She was normal in a normal world once more.  She stooped and patted the
hands clasping her skirts.

"Poor Rosa!" she said.  "Poor Rosa!"


Over the intense green of islands and hills were long banners of yellow
and purple mist, where the wild flowers were lifting their heads.  The
whole quivering bay was as green as the land, but far away the
mountains of the east were pink.  Where there was a patch of verdure on
the sand hills the warm golden red of the poppy flaunted in the
sunshine.  All nature was in gala attire like the Californians
themselves, as the Juno under full sail sped through "The Mouth of the
Gulf of the Farallones."  Fort San Joaquin saluted with seven guns; the
Juno returned the compliment with nine.  The Commandante, his family
and guests, stood on the hill above the fort, cheering, waving
sombreros and handkerchiefs.  Wind and tide carried the ship rapidly
out the straits.  Rezanov dropped the cocked hat he had been waving and
raised his field-glass.  Concha, as ever, stood a little apart.  As the
ship grew smaller and the company turned toward the Presidio, she
advanced to the edge of the bluff.  The wind lifted her loosened
mantilla, billowing it out on one side, and as she stood with her hands
pressed against her heart, she might, save for her empty arms, have
been the eidolon of the Madonna di San Sisto.  In her eyes was the same
expression of vague arrested horror as she looked out on that world of
menacing imperfections the blind forces of nature and man had created;
her body was instinct with the same nervous leashed impotent energy.



XXV

The white rain clouds, rolling as ever like a nervous intruder over the
great snow peaks behind the steep hills black with forest that rose
like a wall back of the little settlement of Sitka, parted for a
moment, and the sun, a coy disdainful guest, flung a glittering mist
over what Nature had intended to be one of the most enchanting spots on
earth, until, in a fit of ill-temper--with one of the gods, no
doubt--she gave it to Niobe as a permanent outlet for her discontent.
When it does not rain at Sitka it pours, and when once in a way she
draws a deep breath of respite and lifts her grand and glorious face to
the sun, in pathetic gratitude for dear infrequent favor, comes a wild
flurry of snow or a close white fog from the inland waters; and, like a
great beauty condemned to wear a veil through life, she can but stare
in dumb resentment through the folds, consoling herself with the
knowledge that could the world but see it must surely worship.
Perhaps, who knows? she really is a frozen goddess, condemned to the
veil for infidelity to him imprisoned in the great volcano across the
sound--who sends up a column of light once in a way to dazzle her
shrouded eyes, and failing that batters her with rock and stone like
any lover of the slums.  One day he spat forth a rock like a small
hill, and big enough to dominate the strip of lowland at least,
standing out on the edge of the island like a guard at the gates, and
never a part of the alien surface.  Between this lofty rock and the
forest was the walled settlement of New Archangel, that Baranhov, the
dauntless, had wrested from the bloodthirsty Kolosh but a short time
since and purposed to hold in the interest of the Russian-American
Company.  His log hut, painted like the other buildings with a yellow
ochre found in the soil, stood on the rock, and his glass swept the
forest as often as the sea.

As Rezanov, on the second of July, thirty-one days after leaving San
Francisco, sailed into the harbor with its hundred bits of volcanic
woodland weeping as ever, he gave a whimsical sigh in tribute to the
gay and ever-changing beauties of the southern land, but was in no mood
for sentimental reminiscence.  Natives, paddling eagerly out to sea in
their bidarkas to be the first to bring in good news or bad, had given
him a report covering the period of his absence that filled him with
dismay. There had been deaths from scurvy; one of the largest ships
belonging to the Company had been wrecked and the entire cargo lost; of
a hunting party of three hundred Aleuts in one hundred and forty
bidarkas, which had gone from Sitka to Kadiak in November of the
preceding year, not one had arrived at its destination, and there was
reason to believe that all had been drowned or massacred; and the
Russians and Aleuts at Behring's Bay settlement had been exterminated
by one of the native tribes.

But the Juno was received with salvos of artillery from the fort, and
cheered by the entire population of the settlement, crowded on the
beach. Baranhov, looking like a monkey with a mummy's head in which
only a pair of incomparably shrewd eyes still lived, his black wig
fastened on his bald, red-fringed pate with a silk handkerchief tied
under his chin, stood, hands on hips, shaking with excitement and
delight.  The bearded, long-haired priests, in full canonicals of black
and gold, were beside the Chief-Manager, ready to escort the
Chamberlain to the chapel at the head of the solitary street, where the
bells were pealing and a mass of thanksgiving was to be said for his
safe return.

But it was some time before Rezanov could reach the chapel or even
exchange salutations with Baranhov.  As he stepped on shore he was
surrounded, almost hustled by the shouting crowd of Russians,--many of
them convicts--Aleuts and Sitkans, who knelt at his feet, endeavored to
kiss his hand, his garments, in their hysterical gratitude for the food
he had brought them.  For the first time he felt reconciled to his
departure from California, and Concha's image faded as he looked at the
tearful faces of the diseased, ill-nourished wretches who gave their
mite of life that he might live as became a great noble of the Russian
Empire.  But although he tingled with pleasure and was deeply moved, he
by no means swelled with vanity, for he was far too clear-sighted to
doubt he had done more than his duty, or that his duty was more than
begun. He made them a little speech, giving his word they should be
properly fed hereafter, that he would make the improvement of their
condition as well as that of all the employees of the Company
throughout this vast chain of settlements on the Pacific, the chief
consideration of his life; and they believed him and followed him to
the chapel rejoicing, reconciled for once to their lot.

After the service Rezanov went up to the hut of the Chief-Manager, a
habitation that leaked winter and summer, and was equally deficient in
light, ventilation and order.  But Baranhov in the sixteen years of his
exile had forgotten the bare lineaments of comfort, and devoted his
days to advancing the interests of the Company, his nights, save when
sleep overcame him, to potations that would have buried an ordinary man
under Alaskan snows long since.  But Baranhov had fourteen years more
of good service in him, and rescued the Company from insolvency again
and again, nor ever played into the hands of marauding foreigners; with
brain on fire he was shrewder than the soberest.

He listened with deep satisfaction to the Chamberlain's account of his
success with the Californians and his glowing pictures of the country,
nodding every few moments with emphatic approval. But as the story
finished his wonderful eyes were two bubbling springs of humor, and
Rezanov, who knew him well, recrossed his legs nervously.

"What is it?" he asked.  "What have I done now?  Remember that you have
been in this business for sixteen years, and I one--"

"How many measures of corn did you say you had brought, Excellency?"

"Two hundred and ninety-four," replied Rezanov proudly.

"A provision that exceeds my most sanguine hopes.  The only thing that
mitigates my satisfaction is that there is not a mill in the settlement
to grind it."

Rezanov sprang to his feet with a violent exclamation, his face very
red.  There was no one whose good opinion he valued as he did that of
this brilliant, dissipated, disinterested old genius; and he felt like
a schoolboy.  But although he started for the door, he recovered
half-way, and reseating himself joined in the laughter of the little
man who was rocking back and forth on his bench, his weazened leg
clasped against his shrunken chest.

"How on earth was I to know all your domestic arrangements?" he said
testily.  "God knows I found them limited enough last winter, but it
never occurred to me there was any mysterious process involved in
converting corn into meal.  Is it quite useless, then?"

"Oh, no, we can boil or roast it.  It will dispose of what teeth we
have left, but that will serve the good purpose of reminding us always
of your excellency's interest in our welfare."

Rezanov shrugged his shoulders.  "Give the corn to the natives.  It is
farinaceous at all events.  And you can have nothing to say against the
flour I have brought, and the peas, beans, tallow, butter, barley,
salt, and salted meats--in all to the value of twenty-four thousand
Spanish dollars."

The Chief-Manager's head nodded with the vigor and rapidity of a
mechanical toy.  "It is a God-send, a God-send.  If you did no more
than that you would have earned our everlasting gratitude.  It will
make us over, give us renewed courage in this cursed existence.  Are
you not going to get me out of it?"

Rezanov shook his head with a smile.  "Literally you are the whole
Company.  As long as I live here you stay--although when I reach St.
Petersburg I shall see that you receive every possible reward and
honor."

Baranhov lifted his shoulders to his ears in quizzical resignation.  "I
suppose it matters little where the last few years left me are spent,
and I can hang the medals on the walls to console me when I have
rheumatism, and shout my titles from the top of the fort when the
Kolosh are yelling at the barricades."

"You must make yourself more comfortable," said Rezanov emphatically.
"You are wrong to carry your honesty and enthusiasm to the point of
living like the promuschleniki.  Take enough of their time to build you
a comfortable dwelling, and I will send you, on my own account, far
more substantial rewards than orders and titles.  Build a big house,
for that matter.  I shall be here more or less--when I am not in
California."  And he told Baranhov of his proposed marriage with the
daughter of Don Jose Arguello.

The Chief-Manager listened to this confidence with an even livelier
satisfaction than to the list of the Juno's cargo.

"We shall have California yet!" he cried, his eyes snapping like live
coals under the black thatch of wig.  "Absorption or the bayonet.  It
matters little. Ten years from now and we shall have a line of
settlements as far south as San Diego.  My plan was to feel my way down
the northern coast of California with a colony, which should buy a
tract of land from the natives and engage immediately in otter
hunting--somewhere between Cape Mendocino and Drake's Bay.  The Spanish
have no settlements above San Francisco and are too weak to drive us
out.  They would rage and bluster and do nothing.  Then quietly push
forward, building forts and ships.  But you have taken hold in the
grand manner and will accomplish in ten years what would have taken me
fifty.  Marry this girl, use your advantage over the entire
family--whose influence I well know--and that great personal power with
which the Almighty has been so lavish, and you will have the whole
weakly garrisoned country under your foot before they know where they
are, and the Russian settlers pouring in.  Spain cannot come to the
rescue while this devil Bonaparte is alive, and he is young, and like
yourself a favorite of destiny.  Those damned Bostonians inherit the
grabbing instincts of the too paternal race they have just rejected,
but there are thousands of miles of desert between California and their
own western outposts, hundreds of savage tribes to exterminate. By the
time they are in a position to attempt the occupation of California we
shall be so securely entrenched they will either let us alone or send
troops that would be half dead by the time they reach us.  As to ships,
we could soon build enough at Okhotsk and Petropaulovsky for our
purpose.  For the matter of that, if your gifted tongue impressed the
Tsar with the riches of California there would always be war ships on
her coast."  He leaned forward and caught the strong shoulders above
him in hands that looked like a tangle of baked nerves, and shook them
vigorously.  "You are a great boy!" he said with a sort of quizzical
solemnity.  "A great boy.  This damned, God-forsaken, pestilential,
demoralizing, brutalizing factory for enriching a few with the very
life blood and vitals of thousands that will suffer and starve and
never be heard of" (all his language cannot be recorded), "will make
two or three reputations by the way.  Mine will be one, although I'll
get nothing else.  Shelikov is safe; but you will have a monument.
Well, God bless you.  I grudge you nothing.  Not even the happiness you
deserve and are bound to have--for when all is said and done, Rezanov,
you are a lucky dog, a lucky dog!  Any man may see that, even when
these infernal snows have left him with but half an eye.  To quarrel
with a destiny like yours would be as great a waste of time as to
protest that California is warm and fertile, while this infernal North
is like living in a refrigerator with the deluge to vary the monotony.
Now let us get drunk!"

But Rezanov laughingly extricated himself, and sending a message to
Davidov and Khostov to come to him immediately, walked toward the tent
he had ordered erected on the edge of the settlement; only the worst of
weather drove him indoors in these half-civilized communities.

As he was passing the chapel, followed again by the employees of the
Company, to whom he had granted a holiday, he suddenly found his hand
taken possession of, and looked up to see himself confronted by a
dissipated-looking person in plain clothes.  His hand became so limp
that it was dropped as if it had put forth a sting, and he narrowed his
eyes and demanded with a bend of his mouth that brought the blood to
the face of the intruder:

"And who are you, may I ask?"

The man threw back his head defiantly.  "I am Lieutenant Sookin of the
Imperial Navy of Russia," he said in a loud, defiant tone.

"And I am Chamberlain of the Russian Court and Commander of all
America," replied Rezanov coolly.  "Now go to your quarters, dress
yourself in your uniform, and present your report to me an hour hence."

The officer, concentrating in his injected eyes all the lively hatred
and jealousy of his service for the Russian-American Company in this
region where it reigned supreme and cared no more for the Admiralty
than for some native chieftain covered with shells and warpaint, glared
at its plenipotentiary as if calling upon his deeper resources of
insolence; but the steady, contemptuous gaze of the man who had dealt
with his kind often and successfully overcame his sodden spirit, and he
turned sulkily and slouched off to his quarters to console himself with
more brandy.  Rezanov shrugged his shoulders and went on to his tent.

There was no furniture in it as yet, and he was obliged to receive
Davidov and Khostov standing, but this he preferred.  They followed him
almost immediately, apprehensive and nervous, and before speaking he
looked at them for a moment with his strong, penetrating gaze.  He well
knew the power of his own personality, and that it was immeasurably
enhanced by the fact that of all with whom he had to do in these
benighted regions his will alone was never weakened by liquor.  These
young men, clever, high-bred, with an honorable record not only in
Russia, but in England and America, looked upon a hilarious night as
the just reward of work well done by day.  Brandy was debited to their
account by the "bucket" (a bucket being a trifle less than two
gallons), and they found little fault with life. But the profligacy
gave a commanding spirit like Rezanov's an advantage which they did not
under-estimate for a moment; and they alternately hated and worshiped
him.

"I think you have an inkling of what I am going to ask you to do."  The
Chamberlain brought out the euphemism with the utmost suavity.  "I have
made up my mind not to ignore the indignity to which Russia was
subjected last year by Japan, but to inflict upon it such punishment as
I find it in my power to compass.  It was my intention to build a
flotilla here, but owing to the diseased condition and reduced numbers
of the employees, that was impossible, and I shall be obliged to
content myself with the Juno and the Avos, whose keel, as you know, was
laid in November, and is no doubt finished long since.  These I shall
fit with armaments in Okhotsk.  I shall place the enterprise I have
spoken of in your charge, sailing with you from Sitka five days hence.
From Okhotsk I desire that you proceed to the Japanese settlements in
the lower Kurile Islands, take possession of them and bring all stores
and as many of the inhabitants as the vessels will accommodate, to
Sitka, where Baranhov will see that they are comfortably established on
that large island in the harbor--which we shall call Japonsky--and
converted into good servants of the Company.  The excuse for this
enterprise is that those islands were formally taken possession of by
Shelikov; and although abandoned later, the fact remains that the
Russian flag was the first to float over them.  The stores captured may
not be worth much and the islands are of no particular use to us, but
it is wise that Japan should have a taste of Russian power; and the
consequences may be salutary in more ways than one.  I hope you will do
me this great favor, for there is no one of your tried probity and
skill to whom I can trust so delicate an enterprise.  I am doing it
wholly upon my own responsibility, for although I wrote tentatively to
the Tsar on this subject before I sailed for California, it is not yet
time for a reply.  However, I take the consequences upon my own
shoulders.  You shall not suffer in any way, for your orders are to
obey mine while you remain in these waters."

He paused a moment, and then suddenly smiled into the unresponsive
faces before him.  He held out his hand and shook their limp ones
warmly.

"Let me thank you here for all your inestimable services in the past,
and particularly during our late hazardous voyages.  Be sure that
whether you succeed in this enterprise or not, your rewards shall be no
less for what you have already done.  I shall make it a personal matter
with the Tsar.  You shall have promotion and a substantial increase in
pay, besides the orders and Imperial thanks you so richly deserve.
Lest anything happen to me on my homeward journey, I shall write to St.
Petersburg before I leave."

The lieutenants, overcome as ever when he chose to put forth his full
powers, assured him of their fidelity and, if with misgivings, vowed to
mete out vengeance to the Japanese.  And although their misgivings were
not unfounded, and they paid a high price in suffering and
mortification, they accomplished their object and in due course
received the rewards the Chamberlain had promised them.

They did not retire, and Rezanov, noting their sudden hesitation and
embarrassment, felt an instant thrill of apprehension.

"What is it?" he demanded.  "What has happened?"

"Life has moved slowly in Sitka during your absence, Excellency,"
replied Davidov.  "There has been little work done on the Avos.  It
will not be finished for a month or six weeks."

Then, had the young men been possessed by a not infrequent mood, they
would have glowed with a sense of just satisfaction.  Rezanov felt
himself turn so white that he wheeled about and left the tent.  A month
or six weeks!  And the speed and safety of his journey across Siberia
depended upon his making the greater part of it before the heavy autumn
rains swelled the rivers and flooded the swamps.  Winter or summer the
journey from Okhotsk to St. Petersburg might be made in four months;
with the wealth and influence at his command, possibly in less; but in
the deluge between he was liable to detentions lasting nearly as long
again, to say nothing of illness caused by inevitable exposure.

He stood staring at the palisades for many minutes.  The separation
must be long enough, the dangers numerous enough if he started within
the week, but at least he had in a measure accustomed himself to the
idea of not seeing Concha again for "the best part of two years," and
the sanguineness of his temperament had led him to hope that the time
might be reduced to eighteen months.  If he delayed too long, only by
means of an unprecedented run of good fortune would he reach St.
Petersburg but a month behind his calculations. And the chances were in
favor of four, or three at the best!  Never since the morning that the
real nature of his feeling for Concha had declared itself had he
yearned toward her as at that moment; never since the dictum of what
she called their "tribunal" had he so rebelled against the long delay.
And yet he hesitated.  To leave Japan unpunished for the senseless
humiliations to which it had subjected Russia in his person was not to
be thought of, and yet did he leave without seeing the Avos finished,
the two boats supplied with armaments at Okhotsk, and under way before
he started across Siberia, he knew it was doubtful if the expedition
took place before his return; in that case might never take place, for
these two young men might have drifted elsewhere, and he knew no one
else to whom he could entrust such a commission.  In spite of their
idiosyncrasies he could rely upon them implicitly--up to a certain
point.  That point involved keeping them in sight until exactly the
right moment and leaving nothing to their executive which could be
certainly accomplished by himself alone.  Did he sail five days hence
on the Juno one of the officers would be exposed for an indeterminate
time to the temptations of Okhotsk, the ship, perhaps, at the mercy of
some sudden requirement of the Company.  His authority was absolute
when enforced in person, but it was a proverb west of the Ural: "God
reigns and the Tsar is far away."  If the Juno were wanted the manager
of Okhotsk would argue that two years was a period in which an ardent
servant of the Company would find many an excuse to justify its seizure.

And here in Sitka it was doubtful if the work on the Avos proceeded at
all.  Baranhov was not in sympathy with the enterprise against the
Japanese, fearing the consequences to himself in the event of the
Tsar's disapproval, and resenting the impressment of the promuschleniki
into a service that deprived him of their legitimate work.  Moreover,
although he loved Rezanov personally, he had enjoyed supreme power in
the wilderness too long not to chafe under even the temporary
assumption of authority by his high-handed superior.  With the best of
intentions Davidov could make little headway against the passive
resistance of the Chief-Manager, and those intentions would be weakened
by the consolidations the Company so generously afforded.

The result was hardly open to doubt.  If he left Sitka before the
completion of the Avos, Russia would go unavenged for the present.  Or
himself? Rezanov, sanguine and imaginative as he was, even to the point
of creating premises to rhyme with ends, was very honest fundamentally.
He turned abruptly on his heel, and calling to the officers that he
would announce his decision on the morrow, ordered the sentry to open
the gate and passed out of the enclosure.

He crossed the clearing and entered the forest. The warlike tribes
themselves had trodden paths through the dense undergrowth of young
trees and ferns.  Rezanov, despite Baranhov's warning, had tramped the
forest many times.  It was the one thing that reconciled him to Sitka,
for there are few woods more beautiful.  In spite or because of the
incessant rains, it is pervaded by a rich golden gloom, the result of
the constant rotting of the brown and yellow bark, not only of the
prostrate trees, but of the many killed by crowding and unable to seek
the earth with the natural instinct of death.  And above, the green of
hemlock and spruce was perennially fresh and young, glistening and
fragrant.  Here and there was a small clearing where the clans had
erected their ingenious and hideous totem poles, out of place in the
ancient beauty of the wood.

The ferns brushed his waist, the roar of the river came to his ears,
the forest had never looked more primeval, more wooing to a man
burdened with civilization, but Rezanov gave it less heed than usual,
although he had turned to it instinctively.  He was occupied with a
question to which nature would turn an aloof disdainful ear.  Was his
own wounded vanity at the root of his desire to humiliate Japan? Russia
was too powerful, too occupied, for the present at least, greatly to
care that her overtures and presents had been scorned.  Upon her
ambassador had fallen the full brunt of that wearisome and incomparably
mortifying experience, and unfortunately the ambassador happened to be
one of the proudest and most autocratic men in her empire. No man of
Rezanov's caliber but accommodates that sort of personal vanity that
tenaciously resents a blow to the pride of which it is a part, to the
love of power it feeds.  As well expect a lover without passion, a
state without corruption.  Rezanov finally shrugged his shoulders and
admitted the impeachment, but at the same time he recognized that the
desire for vengeance still held, and that the tenacity of his nature, a
tenacity that had been no mean factor in the remodeling of himself from
a voluptuous young sprig of nobility into one of the most successful
business men and subjugator of other men that the Russian Empire could
show, was not likely to weaken when its very roots had been stiff with
purpose for fifteen months.  Power had been Rezanov's ruling passion
for many years before he met Concha Arguello, and, although it might
mate very comfortably with love, it was not to be expected that it
would remain submerged beyond the first enthusiasm, nor even assume the
position of the "party of the second part."  Rezanov was Rezanov. He
was also in that interval between youth and age when the brain rules if
it is ever to rule at all.  That the ardor of his nature had awakened
refreshed after a long sleep was but just proved, as well as the
revival of his early ideals and capacity for genuine love; but the
complexities, the manifold interests and desires of the ego had been
growing and developing these many years; and no mere mortal that has
given up his life for a considerable period to the thirst for dominance
can ever, save in a brief exaltation, sacrifice it to anything so
normal as the demands of sex and spirit.  For good or ill, the man who
has burned with ambition, exulted in the exercise of power, bitterly
resented the temporary victories of rivals and enemies, fought with all
the resources of brain and character against failure, is in a class
apart from humanity in the mass.  Rezanov loved Concha Arguello to the
very depths of his soul, but he had lived beyond the time when even she
could engage successfully with the ruthless forces that had molded into
immutable shape the Rezanov she knew.  Her place was second, and it is
probable that she would have loved him less had it been otherwise; she,
in spite of her fine intellect and strong will, being all woman, as he,
despite his depth of intuition, was all man.  Equality is possible in
no relation or condition of life.  When woman subjugates man the
conquered will enjoy a sense of revenge proportionate to the meanness
of his state.

It is possible that had Concha awaited Rezanov in St. Petersburg her
attraction would have focused his desires irresistibly; but his mind
had resigned itself to the prospect of separation for a definite
period, and while it had not relegated her image to the background, her
part in his life had been settled there among many future
possibilities, and all the foreground was crowded with the impatient
symbols of the intervening time.  Moreover, he well knew that the savor
would be gone from his happiness with the woman were the taste of
another failure acrid in his mouth.

As he realized that the die was cast, the sanguineness of his
temperament rushed to do battle against apprehension and self-accusing.
After all, he was rarely balked of his way, accustomed to ride down
obstacles, to the amiable cooperation of fate.  He could arrive in
Okhotsk late in September or early in October.  Captain D'Wolf, who had
been detained at Sitka during his absence by the same indifference that
had operated against the completion of the Avos, would precede him and
order that all be in readiness at Okhotsk both for the ships and his
journey to Yakutsk.  He could proceed at once; and, no doubt, with
twice the number or horses needed, would make the first and most
difficult stage of the journey in the usual time, and with no great
embarrassment from the rains.  From Yakutsk to Irkutsk the greater part
of the travel was by water in any case, and after that the land was
flat for the most part and bridges were more numerous.  The governor of
every town in Siberia would be his obsequious servant, the entire
resources of the country would be at his disposal.  He was sound in
health again, as resistant against hardships as when he had sailed from
Kronstadt.  And God knew, he thought with a sigh, his will and purpose
had never been stronger.



XXVI

Rezanov disembarked from the Juno at Okhotsk during the first days of
October.  Had it not been for a touch of fever that had returned in the
filth and warm dampness of Sitka, he would have felt almost as buoyant
in mind and body as in those days when California had gone to his head.
The Juno had touched at Kadiak, Oonalaska, and others of the more
important settlements, and he had found his schools and libraries in
good condition, seals and otters rapidly increasing, in their immunity
from indiscriminate slaughter, new and stronger forts threatening the
nefarious Bostonian and Briton.  At Okhotsk he learned that the embassy
of Count Golofkin to China had failed as signally as his own, and this
alone would have put him in the best of tempers even had he not found
his armament and caravan awaiting him, facilitating his immediate
departure.  He wrote a gay letter to Concha, giving her the painful
story of the naturalist attached to the Golofkin embassy, Dr. Redovsky,
who had remained in the East animated by the same scientific enthusiasm
as that of his colleague, the good Langsdorff; parted some time since
from his too exacting master.  Rezanov had written Concha many letters
during his detention in Sitka, and left them with Baranhov to send at
the first opportunity.  The Chief-Manager, deeply interested in the
romance of the mighty Chamberlain with whom he alone dared to take a
liberty, vowed to guard all that came to his care and sooner or later
to send them to California.  Rezanov had also written comprehensively
to the Tsar and the directors of the Russian-American Company, adroitly
placing his marriage in the light of a diplomatic maneuver, and
painting California in colors the more vivid and enticing for the
sullen clouds and roaring winds, the dripping forests and eternal snows
of that derelict corner of Earth where he had been stranded so long.
He had also, when Langsdorff announced his intention to start upon a
difficult journey in the interest of science, provided him not only
with letters of recommendation, but with all the comforts procurable in
a land where the word comfort was the stock in trade of the local
satirist.  But Langsdorff, although punctiliously acknowledging the
favors, never quite forgave the indifference of a mere ambassador and
chamberlain, rejoicing in the dignity of an honorary membership in the
St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, to the supreme division of natural
history.

The first stage of the journey--from Okhotsk to Yakutsk--was about six
hundred and fifty English miles, not as the crow flew, but over the
Stanovoi mountains in a southwesterly direction to the Maya, by this
river's wavering course to the Youdoma, then northwest to the Aldan,
and south beside the Lena.  The beaten track lay entirely alongside the
rivers at this season, upon their surface in winter; and in addition to
these great streams there were many too unimportant for the map, but as
erratic in course and as irresistible in energy after the first rains
of autumn.

Captain D'Wolf had proved himself capable and faithful, and a caravan
of forty horses had been in Okhotsk a week; twenty for immediate use,
twenty for relief, or substitutes in almost certain emergency.  As
there were but one or two stations of any importance between Okhotsk
and Yakutsk, and as a week might pass without the shelter of so much as
a hut, it was necessary to take tents and bearskin beds for the
Chamberlain, his Cossack guard, valet-de-chambre, cook and other
servants, one set of fine blankets and linen, cooking utensils, axes,
arms, tinder-boxes, provisions for the entire trip, besides a great
quantity of personal luggage.

Rezanov lost no time.  He had changed his original plan and dispatched
Davidov on the Avos from Oonalaska.  Guns and provisions awaited the
Juno at Okhotsk, and in less than a week after his arrival Rezanov was
able to start on his long journey with a mind at rest.  Although the
almost extravagant delight that his body had taken in the comforts of
his manager's home, after ten weeks on the Juno, warned him that he
might be in a better condition to begin a journey of ten thousand
versts, he hearkened neither to the hint nor to the insistence of his
host.  His impatient energy and stern will, combined with the
passionate wish to accomplish the double object of his journey,
returning in the least possible time to California with his treaty and
the consent of the Pope and King to his marriage, would have carried
him out of Okhotsk in forty-eight hours had disease declared itself.
Nor were there any inducements aside from a comfortable bed and refined
fare, in the flat, unhealthy town with its everlasting rattle of
chains, and the hideous physiognomies of criminals always at work to
the rumbling accompaniment of Cossack oaths.

For the first week the exercise he loved best and the long days in the
crisp open air renewed his vigor, and he even looked forward to the
four months of what was then the severest traveling in the world, in a
boyish spirit of adventure.  He reflected that he might as well give
his brain a relief from the constant revolving of schemes and plans for
the advancement of his country, his company, and himself, and let his
thoughts have their carnival of anticipation with the unparalleled
happiness and success that awaited him in the future.  There was no
possible doubt of the acquiescence and assistance of the Tsar, and no
man ever looked down a fairer perspective than he, as he galloped over
the ugly country, often far ahead of his caravan, splashing through
bogs and streams, fording rivers without ferries, camping at night in
forests so dense the cold never escaped their embrace, muffled to the
eyes in furs as he made his way past valleys whose eternal ice fields
chilled the country for miles about; sometimes able to procure a little
fresh milk and butter, oftener not; occasionally passing a caravan
returning for furs, generally seeing nothing but a stray reindeer for
hours together, once meeting the post and finding much for himself that
in nowise dampened his spirit.

But on the eighth day the rains began: a fine steady mist, then in
torrents as endless.  Wrapped in bearskins at night within the shelter
of a tent or of some wayside hut, and closely covered by day, Rezanov
at first merely cursed the inconvenience of the rain; but while
crossing the river Allach Juni, his guides without consulting him
having taken him miles out of his way in order to avoid the hamlet of
the same name where the small-pox was raging, but where there was a
government ferry, his horse lost his footing in the rapid, swollen
current and fell. Rezanov managed to retain his seat, and pulled the
frightened, plunging beast to its feet while his Cossacks were still
shouting their consternation.  But he was soaked to the skin, his
personal luggage was in the same condition, and they did not reach a
hut where a fire could be made until nine hours later. It was then that
the seeds of malaria, accumulated during the last three years in
unsanitary ports and sown deep by exceptional hardships, but which he
believed had taken themselves off during his six weeks in California,
stirred more vigorously than in Sitka or Okhotsk.  He rode on the next
day in a burning fever.  Jon, minding Langsdorff's instructions,
doctored him--not without difficulty--from the medicine chest, and for
a day or two the fever seemed broken.  But Jon, sick with apprehension,
implored him to turn back.  He might as well have implored the sky to
turn blue.

"How do you think men accomplish things in this world?" asked Rezanov
angrily.  "By turning back and going to bed every time they have a
migraine?"

"No, Excellency," said the man humbly.  "But health is necessary to the
accomplishment of everything, and if the body is eaten up with fever--"

"What are drugs for?  Give me the whole damned pharmacopeia if you
choose, but don't talk to me about turning back."

"Very well, Excellency," said Jon, with a sigh.

The next day he and one of the Cossack guard caught him as he fell from
his horse unconscious. A Yakhut hut, miserable as it was, offered in
the persistent downpour a better shelter than the tent. They carried
him into it, and his bedding at least was almost as luxurious as had he
been in St. Petersburg.  Jon, at his wits' end, remembered the'
practice of Langsdorff in similar cases, and used the lancet, a heroic
treatment he would never have accomplished had his master been
conscious.  The fever ebbed, and in a few days Rezanov was able to
continue the journey by shorter stages, although heavy with an
intolerable lassitude.  But his will sustained him until he reached
Yakutsk, not at the end of twenty-two days, but of thirty-three.  Here
he succumbed immediately, and although his sickbed was in the
comfortable home of the agent of the Company, and he had medical
attendance of a sort, his fever and convalescence lasted for eight
weeks.  Then, in spite of the supplications of his friends, chief among
whom was his faithful Jon, and the prohibition of the doctor, he began
the second stage of his journey.

The road from Yakutsk to Irkutsk, some two thousand six hundred versts,
or fifteen hundred and fifty English miles, lay for the most part
alternately on and along the river Lena in a southeasterly direction;
there being no attempt to cross Siberia at any point in a straight
line.  By this time the river was frozen, and the only concession
Rezanov would make to his enfeebled frame was an arrangement to cover
the entire journey by private sledge instead of employing the swifter
course of post sledge on the long stretches and horseback on the
shorter cuts.

The weather was now intensely cold, the river winding, the delays many,
but there were adequate stations for the benefit and accommodation of
travelers every hundred versts or less.  Rezanov felt so invigorated by
the long hours in the open after the barbarous closeness of his sick
room, that at the end of a fortnight he was again possessed with all
his old ardor of desire to reach the end of his journey.  He vowed he
was well again, abandoned his comfortable sledge, and pushed on in the
common manner.  In the wretched post sledges he was often exposed to
the full violence of a Siberian winter, and although the horseback
exercise stirred his blood and refreshed him for the moment, he
suffered in reaction and was several times forced to remain two nights
instead of one at a station.  But he was muffled in sables to his very
eyes, and the road was diverting, often beautiful, with its Gothic
mountains, its white plains set with villages and farms, the high thin
crosses above the open or swelling domes of the little churches.
Sometimes the Lena narrowed until its frozen surface looked like a mass
of ice that had ground its way between perpendicular walls or
overhanging masses of rock that awaited the next convulsion of nature
to close the pass altogether.  Then the dogs trotted past caves and
grottos, left the abrupt and craggy banks, crossed level plains once
more; where herds of cattle grazed in the summertime, now a vast
uncheckered expanse of white.  The Government and Company agents fawned
upon him, the best of horses and beds, food and wine, were eagerly
placed at the disposal of the favorite of the Tsar.  Rezanov's spirit,
always of the finest temper, suffered no eclipse for many days. He
reveled in the belief that his sorely tried body was regenerating its
old vigors.

From Wercholensk to Katschuk the journey was so winding by river that
it consumed more than twice the time of the land route, which although
only thirty versts in extent was one of the most difficult in Siberia.
Rezanov chose the latter without hesitation, and would listen to no
discussion from the Commissary of the little town or from his
distracted Jon: the journey from Yakutsk had now lasted five weeks and
the servant's watchful eye noted signs of exhaustion.

The hills were very high and very steep, the roads but a name in
summer.  Had not the snow been soft and thin, the horses could not have
made the ascent at all; and, as it was, the riders were forced to walk
the greater part of the way and drag their unwilling steeds behind
them.  They were twelve hours covering the thirty versts, and at
Katschuk Rezanov succumbed for two days, while Jon scoured the country
in search of a telega; as sometimes happened there was a long stretch
of country without snow, and sledges, by far the most comfortable
method of travel in Siberia, could not be used.  The rest of the
journey, but one hundred and ninety-six versts, must be made by land.
Rezanov admitted that he was too weary to ride, and refused to travel
in the post carriage.  On the third day the servant managed to hire a
telega from a superior farmer and they started immediately, the heavy
luggage having been consigned to a merchant vessel at Yakutsk.

Rezanov stood the telega exactly half a day. Little larger than an
armchair and far lighter, it was drawn by horses that galloped up and
down hill and across the intervening valleys with no change of gait,
and over a road so rough that the little vehicle seemed to be propelled
by a succession of earthquakes.  Rezanov, in a fever which he
attributed to rage, dismissed the telega at a village and awaited the
coming of Jon, who followed on horseback with the personal luggage.

It was a village of wooden houses built in the Russian fashion, and
inhabited by a dignified tribe wearing long white garments bordered
with fur. They spoke Russian, a language little heard farther north and
east in Siberia, and when Rezanov declined their hospitality they
dispatched a courier at once to the Governor-General of Irkutsk
acquainting him with the condition of the Chamberlain and of his
imminent arrival.  In consequence, when Rezanov drew rein two days
later and looked down upon the city of Irkutsk with its pleasant
squares and great stone buildings beside the shining river, the gilded
domes and crosses of its thirty churches and convents glittering in the
sun, the whole picture beckoning to the delirious brain of the traveler
like some mirage of the desert, his appearance was the signal for a
salute from the fort; and the Governor-General, privy counselor and
senator de Pestel, accompanied by the civil governor, the commandant,
the archbishop, and a military escort, sallied forth and led the guest,
with the formality of officials and the compassionate tenderness of
men, into the capital.

For three weeks longer Rezanov lay in the palace of the Governor.
Between fever and lassitude, his iron will seemed alternately to melt
in the fiery furnace of his body, then, a cooling but still viscous and
formless mass, sink to the utmost depths of his being.  But here he had
the best of nursing and attendance, rallied finally and insisted upon
continuing his journey.  His doctor made the less demur as the
traveling was far smoother now, in the early days of March, than it
would be a month hence, when the snow was thinner and the sledges were
no longer possible.  Nevertheless, he announced his intention to
accompany him as far as Krasnoiarsk, where the Chamberlain could lodge
in the house of the principal magistrate of the place, Counselor
Keller, and, if necessary, be able to command fair nursing and medical
attendance; and to this Rezanov indifferently assented.

The prospect of continuing his journey and the bustle of preparation
raised the spirits of the invalid and gave him a fictitious energy.  He
had fought depression and despair in all his conscious moments, never
admitted that the devastation in his body was mortal.  With but a
remnant of his former superb strength, and emaciated beyond
recognition, he attended a banquet on the night preceding his
departure, and on the following morning stood up in his sledge and
acknowledged the God-speed of the population of Irkutsk assembled in
the square before the palace of the Governor.  All his life he had
excited interest wherever he went, but never to such a degree as on
that last journey when he made his desperate fight for life and
happiness.



XXVII

The snow rarely falls in Krasnoiarsk.  It is a little oasis in the
great winter desert of Siberia.  Rezanov, his face turned to the
window, could see the red banks on the opposite side of the river.  The
sun transformed the gilded cupolas and crosses into dazzling points of
light, and the sky above the spires and towers, the stately square and
narrow dirty streets of the bustling little capital, was as blue and
unflecked as that which arched so high above a land where Castilian
roses grew, and one woman among a gay and thoughtless people dreamed,
with all the passion of her splendid youth, of the man to whom she had
pledged an eternal troth.  Rezanov's mind was clear in those last
moments, but something of the serenity and the selfishness of death had
already descended upon him.  He heard with indifference the sobs of
Jon, crouched at the foot of his bed. Tears and regrets were a part of
the general futility of life, insignificant enough at the grand
threshold of death.

No doubt that his great schemes would die with him, and were he
remembered at all it would be as a dreamer; or as a failure because he
had died before accomplishing what his brain and energy and enthusiasm
alone could force to fruition.  None realized better than he the
paucity of initiative and executive among the characteristics of the
Slav. What mattered it?  He had had glimpses more than once of the
apparently illogical sequence of life, the vanity of human effort, the
wanton cruelty of Nature.  He had known men struck down before in the
maturity of their usefulness, cities destroyed by earthquake or
hurricane in the fairest and most promising of their days: public men,
priests, parents, children, wantons, criminals, blotted out with equal
impartiality by a brutal force that would seem to have but a casual use
for the life she flung broadcast on her planets.  Man was the helpless
victim of Nature, a calf in a tiger's paws.  If she overlooked him, or
swept him contemptuously into the class of her favorites, well and
good; otherwise he was her sport, the plaything of her idler moments.
Those that cried "But why?"  "What reason?"  "What use?" were those
that had never looked over the walls of their ego at the great dramatic
moments in the career of Nature, when she made immortal fame for
herself at the expense of millions of pigmies.

And if his energies, his talents, his usefulness, were held of no
account, at least he could look back upon a past when he would have
seemed to be one of the few supreme favorites of the forces that shaped
man's life and destiny.  Until he had started from Kronstadt four years
before on a voyage that had humiliated his proud spirit more than once,
and undermined as splendid a physique as ever was granted to even a
Russian, he had rolled the world under his foot.  With an appearance
and a personal magnetism, gifts of mind and manner and character that
would have commanded attention amid the general flaccidity of his race
and conquered life without the great social advantages he inherited, he
had enjoyed power and pleasure to a degree that would have spoiled a
coarser nature long since. True, the time had come when he had cared
little for any of his endowments save as a means to great ends, when
all his energies had concentrated in the determination to live a life
of the highest possible usefulness--without which man's span was but
existence--his ambitions had cohered and been driven steadily toward a
permanent niche in history; then paled and dissolved for an hour in the
glorious vision of human happiness.

And wholly as he might realize man's insignificance among the blind
forces of nature, he could accept it philosophically and die with his
soul uncorroded by misanthropy, that final and uncompromising admission
of failure.  The misanthrope was the supreme failure of life because he
had not the intelligence to realize, or could not reconcile himself to,
the incomplete condition of human nature.  Man was made up of little
qualities, and aspirations for great ones.  Many yielded in the
struggle and sank into impotent discontent among the small material
things of life, instead of uplifting themselves with the picture of the
inevitable future when development had run its course, and indulgently
pitying the children of their own period who so often made life hateful
with their greed, selfishness, snobbery--most potent obstacle to human
endeavor--and injustice.  The bad judgment of the mass!  How many
careers it had balked, if not ruined, with its poor ideals, its mean
heroes, its instinctive avoidance of superior qualities foreign to
itself, its contemptible desire to be identified with a fashion.  It
was this low standard of the crowd that induced misanthropy in many
otherwise brave spirits who lacked the insight to discern the divine
spark underneath, the persistence, sure of reward, to fight their way
to this spark and reveal it to the gaze of astonished and flattered
humanity.  Rezanov's very arrogance had led him to regard the mass of
mankind as but one degree removed from the nursery; his good nature and
philosophical spirit to treat them with an indulgence that kept
sourness out of his cynicism and inevitably recurring weariness and
disgust; his ardent imagination had consoled itself with the vision of
a future when man should live in a world made reasonable by the triumph
of ideals that now lurked half ashamed in the high spaces of the human
mind.

He looked back in wonder at the moment of wild regret and protest--the
bitterer in its silence--when they had told him he must die; when in
the last rally of the vital forces he had believed his will was still
strong enough to command his ravaged body, to propel his brain, still
teeming with a vast and complicated future, his heart, still warm and
insistent with the image it cherished, on to the ultimates of ambition
and love.  How brief it had been, that last cry of mortality, with its
accompaniment of furious wonder at his unseemly and senseless cutting
off.  In the adjustment and readjustment of political and natural
forces the world ambled on philosophically, fulfilling its inevitable
destiny.

If he had not been beyond humor, he would have smiled at the idea that
in the face of all eternity it mattered what nation on one little
planet eventually possessed a fragment called California.  To him that
fair land was empty and purposeless save for one figure, and even of
her he thought with the terrible calm of dissolution.  During these
last months of illness and isolation he had been less lonely than at
any time of his life save during those few weeks in California, for he
had lived with her incessantly in spirit; and in that subtle
imaginative communion had pressed close to a profound and complex soul,
revealed before only in flashes to a vision astray in the confusion of
the senses.  He had felt that her response to his passion was far more
vital and enduring than dwelt in the capacity of most women; he had
appreciated her gifts of mind, her piquant variousness that scotched
monotony, the admirable characteristics that would give a man repose
and content in his leisure, and subtly advance his career.  But in
those long reveries, at the head of his forlorn caravan or in the
desolate months of convalescence, he had arrived at an absolute
understanding of what she herself had divined while half comprehending.

Theirs was one of the few immortal loves that reveal the rarely sounded
deeps of the soul while in its frail tenement on earth; and he harbored
not a doubt that their love was stronger than mortality and that their
ultimate union was decreed.  Meanwhile, she would suffer, no one but he
could dream how completely, but her strong soul would conquer, and she
would live the life she had visioned in moments of despair; not of
cloistered selfishness, but of incomparable usefulness to her little
world; and far happier, in her eternal youthfulness of heart, in that
divine life of the imagination where he must always be with her as she
had known him briefly at his best, than in the blunt commonplaceness of
daily existence, the routine and disillusionment of the world.
Perhaps--who knew?--he had, after all, given her the best that man can
offer to a woman of exalted nature; instead of taking again with his
left hand what his right had bestowed; completed the great gift of life
with the priceless beacon of death.

How unlike was life to the old Greek tragedies! He recalled his
prophetic sense of impending happiness, success, triumph, as he entered
California, the rejuvenescence of his spirit in the renewal of his
wasted forces even before he loved the woman. Every event of the past
year, in spite of the obstacles that mortal must expect, had marched
with his ambitions and desires, and straight toward a future that would
have given him the most coveted of all destinies, a station in history.
There had not been a hint that his brain, so meaningly and consummately
equipped, would perish in the ruins of his body in less than a
twelvemonth from that fragrant morning when he had entered the home of
Concha Arguello tingling with a pagan joy in mere existence, a sudden
rush of desire for the keen, wild happiness of youth--

His eyes wandered from the bright cross above the little cemetery where
he was to lie, and contracted with an expression of wonder.  Where had
Jon found Castilian roses in this barren land?  No man had ever been
more blest in a servant, but could even he--here--  With the last
triumph of will over matter he raised his head, his keen, searching
gaze noting every detail of the room, bare and unlovely save for its
altar and ikons, its kneeling priests and nuns.  His eyes expanded, his
nostrils quivered.  As he sank down in the embrace of that final
delusion, his unconquerably sanguine spirit flared high before a vision
of eternal and unthinkable happiness.

So died Rezanov; and with him the hope of Russians and the hindrance of
Americans in the west; and the mortal happiness and earthly dross of
the saintliest of California's women.



Note:  I have made the following changes to the text:

 PAGE  LINE  ORIGINAL          CHANGED TO

  ii    13  unforgetable      unforgettable
  ii    26  vizu-             visu-
  vi    29  Krasnioarsk       Krasnoiarsk
  14    22  Arguella          Arguello
  15    28  Anna              Ana
  15    28  Gertrudes         Gertrudis
  16     6  Ignacia           Ignacio
  18    17  Dios de mi alma!  _Dios de mi alma!_*
  20    11  Madre de Dios!"   _Madre de Dios!_"*
  23     3  Ay yi!            _Ay yi!*
  23     4  Dios,             Dios_,*
  23    20  Propietario       Proprietario
  23    23  plebian           plebeian
  23    26  Madre de Dios!    _Madre de Dios!_*
  25    18  Dios mio!         _Dios mio!
  25    19  mio!"             mio!_"*
  33    17  embarassing       embarrassing
  33    24  Nadesha           Nadeshda
  40    10  commercal         commercial
  40    13  momentuous        momentous
  43    28  disintergrating   disintegrating
  51     5  He lover          Her lover
  55     4  Morga             Moraga
  71    22  Rafella           Rafaella
  72     3  straights         straits
  75     9  "You              "Your
  94    16  inexhautible      inexhaustible
 103     2  embarassed        embarrassed
 105     3  preciptate        precipitate
 106    28  Bueno             Buena
 111     8  Madre de Dios,    _Madre de Dios_,*
 117    30  prefer,           prefer.
 118    20  I                 "I
 128    10  Arillaga          Arrillaga
 128    18  ride of           rid of
 133     8  Arillaga          Arrillaga
 133    22  Arillaga          Arrillaga
 135    10  Are               "Are
 137    28  Arrilaga          Arrillaga
 137    29  Nakasaki          Nagasaki
 146    21  refuse--'         refuse--"
 155    24  dumfounded        dumbfounded
 169    29  Moragas           Moraga
 171     7  twice--'          twice--"
 177    14  said said         he said
 178    16  phasis."          phasis.
 178    26  modoties          modities
 195    17  civilized that    civilized than
 200    27  gente de          _gente de_*
 201     1  razon             _razon_*
 201    21  silk              silks
 204    29  Duena             duena
 209     2  beneficient       beneficent
 211    13  Ay yi!            _Ay yi!*
 211    14  yi!               yi!_*
 212    22  Ay yi!            _Ay yi!_*
 213     3  ay yi!            _ay yi!_*

I have also omitted the accents over proper names such as Rezanov,
Baranhov, and Jose, and have omitted the umlaut over the u in Arguello.


* indicates that the italics were NOT used as emphasis, but merely as
indicators of SOME of the non-English words, and were eventually
stripped of their italicism for easier reading.

The first words of each chapter were also capitalized on paper, as
least most of them.  These have also been uncapitalized.





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