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´╗┐Title: A Ward of the Golden Gate
Author: Harte, Bret, 1836-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Ward of the Golden Gate" ***

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A WARD OF THE GOLDEN GATE


by

Bret Harte


JTABLE 5 9 1

PROLOGUE.


In San Francisco the "rainy season" had been making itself a reality to
the wondering Eastern immigrant.  There were short days of drifting
clouds and flying sunshine, and long succeeding nights of incessant
downpour, when the rain rattled on the thin shingles or drummed on the
resounding zinc of pioneer roofs.  The shifting sand-dunes on the
outskirts were beaten motionless and sodden by the onslaught of
consecutive storms; the southeast trades brought the saline breath of
the outlying Pacific even to the busy haunts of Commercial and Kearney
streets; the low-lying Mission road was a quagmire; along the City
Front, despite of piles and pier and wharf, the Pacific tides still
asserted themselves in mud and ooze as far as Sansome Street; the
wooden sidewalks of Clay and Montgomery streets were mere floating
bridges or buoyant pontoons superposed on elastic bogs; Battery Street
was the Silurian beach of that early period on which tin cans,
packing-boxes, freight, household furniture, and even the runaway crews
of deserted ships had been cast away.  There were dangerous and unknown
depths in Montgomery Street and on the Plaza, and the wheels of a
passing carriage hopelessly mired had to be lifted by the volunteer
hands of a half dozen high-booted wayfarers, whose wearers were
sufficiently content to believe that a woman, a child, or an invalid
was behind its closed windows, without troubling themselves or the
occupant by looking through the glass.

It was a carriage that, thus released, eventually drew up before the
superior public edifice known as the City Hall.  From it a woman,
closely veiled, alighted, and quickly entered the building. A few
passers-by turned to look at her, partly from the rarity of the female
figure at that period, and partly from the greater rarity of its being
well formed and even ladylike.

As she kept her way along the corridor and ascended an iron staircase,
she was passed by others more preoccupied in business at the various
public offices.  One of these visitors, however, stopped as if struck
by some fancied resemblance in her appearance, turned, and followed
her.  But when she halted before a door marked "Mayor's Office," he
paused also, and, with a look of half humorous bewilderment and a
slight glance around him as if seeking for some one to whom to impart
his arch fancy, he turned away.  The woman then entered a large
anteroom with a certain quick feminine gesture of relief, and, finding
it empty of other callers, summoned the porter, and asked him some
question in a voice so suppressed by the official severity of the
apartment as to be hardly audible.  The attendant replied by entering
another room marked "Mayor's Secretary," and reappeared with a
stripling of seventeen or eighteen, whose singularly bright eyes were
all that was youthful in his composed features.  After a slight
scrutiny of the woman--half boyish, half official--he desired her to be
seated, with a certain exaggerated gravity as if he was over-acting a
grown-up part, and, taking a card from her, reentered his office.
Here, however, he did NOT stand on his head or call out a confederate
youth from a closet, as the woman might have expected.  To the left was
a green baize door, outlined with brass-studded rivets like a cheerful
coffin-lid, and bearing the mortuary inscription, "Private."  This he
pushed open, and entered the Mayor's private office.

The municipal dignitary of San Francisco, although an erect,
soldier-like man of strong middle age, was seated with his official
chair tilted back against the wall and kept in position by his feet on
the rungs of another, which in turn acted as a support for a second
man, who was seated a few feet from him in an easy-chair. Both were
lazily smoking.

The Mayor took the card from his secretary, glanced at it, said
"Hullo!" and handed it to his companion, who read aloud "Kate Howard,"
and gave a prolonged whistle.

"Where is she?" asked the Mayor.

"In the anteroom, sir."

"Any one else there?"

"No, sir."

"Did you say I was engaged?"

"Yes, sir; but it appears she asked Sam who was with you, and when he
told her, she said, All right, she wanted to see Colonel Pendleton too."

The men glanced interrogatively at each other, but Colonel Pendleton,
abruptly anticipating the Mayor's functions, said, "Have her in," and
settled himself back in his chair.

A moment later the door opened, and the stranger appeared.  As she
closed the door behind her she removed her heavy veil, and displayed
the face of a very handsome woman of past thirty.  It is only necessary
to add that it was a face known to the two men, and all San Francisco.

"Well, Kate," said the Mayor, motioning to a chair, but without rising
or changing his attitude.  "Here I am, and here is Colonel Pendleton,
and these are office hours.  What can we do for you?"

If he had received her with magisterial formality, or even politely,
she would have been embarrassed, in spite of a certain boldness of her
dark eyes and an ever present consciousness of her power.  It is
possible that his own ease and that of his companion was part of their
instinctive good nature and perception.  She accepted it as such, took
the chair familiarly, and seated herself sideways upon it, her right
arm half encircling its back and hanging over it; altogether an easy
and not ungraceful pose.

"Thank you, Jack--I mean, Mr. Mayor--and you, too, Harry.  I came on
business.  I want you two men to act as guardians for my little
daughter."

"Your what?" asked the two men simultaneously.

"My daughter," she repeated, with a short laugh, which, however, ended
with a note of defiance.  "Of course you don't know.  Well," she added
half aggressively, and yet with the air of hurrying over a compromising
and inexplicable weakness, "the long and short of it is I've got a
little girl down at the Convent of Santa Clara, and have had--there!
I've been taking care of her--GOOD care, too, boys--for some time.  And
now I want to put things square for her for the future.  See?  I want
to make over to her all my property--it's nigh on to seventy-five
thousand dollars, for Bob Snelling put me up to getting those water
lots a year ago--and, you see, I'll have to have regular guardians,
trustees, or whatever you call 'em, to take care of the money for her."

"Who's her father?" asked the Mayor.

"What's that to do with it?" she said impetuously.

"Everything--because he's her natural guardian."

"Suppose he isn't known?  Say dead, for instance."

"Dead will do," said the Mayor gravely.  "Yes, dead will do," repeated
Colonel Pendleton.  After a pause, in which the two men seemed to have
buried this vague relative, the Mayor looked keenly at the woman.

"Kate, have you and Bob Ridley had a quarrel?"

"Bob Ridley knows too much to quarrel with me," she said briefly.

"Then you are doing this for no motive other than that which you tell
me?"

"Certainly.  That's motive enough--ain't it?"

"Yes."  The Mayor took his feet off his companion's chair and sat
upright.  Colonel Pendleton did the same, also removing his cigar from
his lips.  "I suppose you'll think this thing over?" he added.

"No--I want it done NOW--right here--in this office."

"But you know it will be irrevocable."

"That's what I want it--something might happen afterwards."

"But you are leaving nothing for yourself, and if you are going to
devote everything to this daughter and lead a different life, you'll"--

"Who said I was?"

The two men paused, and looked at her.  "Look here, boys, you don't
understand.  From the day that paper is signed, I've nothing to do with
the child.  She passes out of my hands into yours, to be schooled,
educated, and made a rich girl out of--and never to know who or what or
where I am.  She doesn't know now.  I haven't given her and myself away
in that style--you bet!  She thinks I'm only a friend.  She hasn't seen
me more than once or twice, and not to know me again.  Why, I was down
there the other day, and passed her walking out with the Sisters and
the other scholars, and she didn't know me--though one of the Sisters
did.  But they're mum--THEY are, and don't let on.  Why, now I think of
it, YOU were down there, Jack, presiding in big style as Mr. Mayor at
the exercises.  You must have noticed her.  Little thing, about
nine--lot of hair, the same color as mine, and brown eyes.  White and
yellow sash.  Had a necklace on of real pearls I gave her.  I BOUGHT
THEM, you understand, myself at Tucker's--gave two hundred and fifty
dollars for them--and a big bouquet of white rosebuds and lilacs I sent
her."

"I remember her now on the platform," said the Mayor gravely.  "So that
is your child?"

"You bet--no slouch either.  But that's neither here nor there. What I
want now is you and Harry to look after her and her property the same
as if I didn't live.  More than that, as if I had NEVER LIVED.  I've
come to you two boys, because I reckon you're square men and won't give
me away.  But I want to fix it even firmer than that.  I want you to
take hold of this trust not as Jack Hammersley, but as the MAYOR OF SAN
FRANCISCO!  And when you make way for a new Mayor, HE takes up the
trust by virtue of his office, you see, so there's a trustee all along.
I reckon there'll always be a San Francisco and always a Mayor--at
least till the child's of age; and it gives her from the start a
father, and a pretty big one too.  Of course the new man isn't to know
the why and wherefore of this.  It's enough for him to take on that
duty with his others, without asking questions.  And he's only got to
invest that money and pay it out as it's wanted, and consult Harry at
times."

The two men looked at each other with approving intelligence.  "But
have you thought of a successor for ME, in case somebody shoots me on
sight any time in the next ten years?" asked Pendleton, with a gravity
equal to her own.

"I reckon, as you're President of the El Dorado Bank, you'll make that
a part of every president's duty too.  You'll get the directors to
agree to it, just as Jack here will get the Common Council to make it
the Mayor's business."

The two men had risen to their feet, and, after exchanging glances,
gazed at her silently.  Presently the Mayor said:--

"It can be done, Kate, and we'll do it for you--eh, Harry?"

"Count me in," said Pendleton, nodding.  "But you'll want a third man."

"What's that for?"

"The casting vote in case of any difficulty."

The woman's face fell.  "I reckoned to keep it a secret with only you
two," she said half bitterly.

"No matter.  We'll find some one to act, or you'll think of somebody
and let us know."

"But I wanted to finish this thing right here," she said impatiently.
She was silent for a moment, with her arched black brows knitted.  Then
she said abruptly, "Who's that smart little chap that let me in?  He
looks as if he might be trusted."

"That's Paul Hathaway, my secretary.  He's sensible, but too young.
Stop! I don't know about that.  There's no legal age necessary, and
he's got an awfully old head on him," said the Mayor thoughtfully.

"And I say his youth's in his favor," said Colonel Pendleton, promptly.
"He's been brought up in San Francisco, and he's got no d--d
old-fashioned Eastern notions to get rid of, and will drop into this as
a matter of business, without prying about or wondering.  I'LL serve
with him."

"Call him in!" said the woman.

He came.  Very luminous of eye, and composed of lip and brow.  Yet with
the same suggestion of "making believe" very much, as if to offset the
possible munching of forbidden cakes and apples in his own room, or the
hidden presence of some still in his pocket.

The Mayor explained the case briefly, but with business-like precision.
"Your duty, Mr. Hathaway," he concluded, "at present will be merely
nominal and, above all, confidential.  Colonel Pendleton and myself
will set the thing going."  As the youth--who had apparently taken in
and "illuminated" the whole subject with a single bright-eyed
glance--bowed and was about to retire, as if to relieve himself of his
real feelings behind the door, the woman stopped him with a gesture.

"Let's have this thing over now," she said to the Mayor.  "You draw up
something that we can all sign at once."  She fixed her eyes on Paul,
partly to satisfy her curiosity and justify her predilection for him,
and partly to detect him in any overt act of boyishness. But the youth
simply returned her glance with a cheerful, easy prescience, as if her
past lay clearly open before him.  For some minutes there was only the
rapid scratching of the Mayor's pen over the paper.  Suddenly he
stopped and looked up.

"What's her name?"

"She mustn't have mine," said the woman quickly.  "That's a part of my
idea.  I give that up with the rest.  She must take a new name that
gives no hint of me.  Think of one, can't you, you two men? Something
that would kind of show that she was the daughter of the city, you
know."

"You couldn't call her 'Santa Francisca,' eh?" said Colonel Pendleton,
doubtingly.

"Not much," said the woman, with a seriousness that defied any ulterior
insinuation.

"Nor Chrysopolinia?" said the Mayor, musingly.

"But that's only a FIRST name.  She must have a family name," said the
woman impatiently.

"Can YOU think of something, Paul?" said the Mayor, appealing to
Hathaway.  "You're a great reader, and later from your classics than I
am."  The Mayor, albeit practical and Western, liked to be
ostentatiously forgetful of his old Alma Mater, Harvard, on occasions.

"How would YERBA BUENA do, sir?" responded the youth gravely. "It's the
old Spanish title of the first settlement here.  It comes from the name
that Father Junipero Serra gave to the pretty little vine that grows
wild over the sandhills, and means 'good herb.'  He called it 'A balm
for the wounded and sore.'"

"For the wounded and sore?" repeated the woman slowly.

"That's what they say," responded Hathaway.

"You ain't playing us, eh?" she said, with a half laugh that, however,
scarcely curved the open mouth with which she had been regarding the
young secretary.

"No," said the Mayor, hurriedly.  "It's true.  I've often heard it. And
a capital name it would be for her too.  YERBA the first name. BUENA
the second.  She could be called Miss Buena when she grows up."

"Yerba Buena it is," she said suddenly.  Then, indicating the youth
with a slight toss of her handsome head, "His head's level--you can see
that."

There was a silence again, and the scratching of the Mayor's pen
continued.  Colonel Pendleton buttoned up his coat, pulled his long
moustache into shape, slightly arranged his collar, and walked to the
window without looking at the woman.  Presently the Mayor arose from
his seat, and, with a certain formal courtesy that had been wanting in
his previous manner, handed her his pen and arranged his chair for her
at the desk.  She took the pen, and rapidly appended her signature to
the paper.  The others followed; and, obedient to a sign from him, the
porter was summoned from the outer office to witness the signatures.
When this was over, the Mayor turned to his secretary.  "That's all
just now, Paul."

Accepting this implied dismissal with undisturbed gravity, the newly
made youthful guardian bowed and retired.  When the green baize door
had closed upon him, the Mayor turned abruptly to the woman with the
paper in his hand.

"Look here, Kate; there is still time for you to reconsider your
action, and tear up this solitary record of it.  If you choose to do
so, say so, and I promise you that this interview, and all you have
told us, shall never pass beyond these walls.  No one will be the wiser
for it, and we will give you full credit for having attempted something
that was too much for you to perform."

She had half risen from her chair when he began, but fell back again in
her former position and looked impatiently from him to his companion,
who was also regarding her earnestly.

"What are you talking about?" she said sharply.

"YOU, Kate," said the Mayor.  "You have given everything you possess to
this child.  What provision have you made for yourself?"

"Do I look played out?" she said, facing them.

She certainly did not look like anything but a strong, handsome,
resolute woman, but the men did not reply.

"That is not all, Kate," continued the Mayor, folding his arms and
looking down upon her.  "Have you thought what this means?  It is the
complete renunciation not only of any claim but any interest in your
child.  That is what you have just signed, and what it will be our duty
now to keep you to.  From this moment we stand between you and her, as
we stand between her and the world.  Are you ready to see her grow up
away from you, losing even the little recollection she has had of your
kindness--passing you in the street without knowing you, perhaps even
having you pointed out to her as a person she should avoid?  Are you
prepared to shut your eyes and ears henceforth to all that you may hear
of her new life, when she is happy, rich, respectable, a courted
heiress--perhaps the wife of some great man?  Are you ready to accept
that she will never know--that no one will ever know--that you had any
share in making her so, and that if you should ever breathe it abroad
we shall hold it our duty to deny it, and brand the man who takes it up
for you as a liar and the slanderer of an honest girl?"

"That's what I came here for," she said curtly, then, regarding them
curiously, and running her ringed hand up and down the railed back of
her chair, she added, with a half laugh, "What are you playin' me for,
boys?"

"But," said Colonel Pendleton, without heeding her, "are you ready to
know that in sickness or affliction you will be powerless to help her;
that a stranger will take your place at her bedside, that as she has
lived without knowing you she will die without that knowledge, or that
if through any weakness of yours it came to her then, it would embitter
her last thoughts of earth and, dying, she would curse you?"

The smile upon her half-open mouth still fluttered around it, and her
curved fingers still ran up and down the rails of the chair-back as if
they were the cords of some mute instrument, to which she was trying to
give voice.  Her rings once or twice grated upon them as if she had at
times gripped them closely.  But she rose quickly when he paused, said
"Yes," sharply, and put the chair back against the wall.

"Then I will send you copies of this tomorrow, and take an assignment
of the property."

"I've got the check here for it now," she said, drawing it from her
pocket and laying it upon the desk.  "There, I reckon that's finished.
Good-by!"

The Mayor took up his hat, Colonel Pendleton did the same; both men
preceded her to the door, and held it open with grave politeness for
her to pass.

"Where are you boys going?" she asked, glancing from the one to the
other.

"To see you to your carriage, Mrs. Howard," said the Mayor, in a voice
that had become somewhat deeper.

"Through the whole building?  Past all the people in the hall and on
the stairs?  Why, I passed Dan Stewart as I came in."

"If you will allow us?" he said, turning half appealing to Colonel
Pendleton, who, without speaking, made a low bow of assent.

A slight flush rose to her face--the first and only change in the even
healthy color she had shown during the interview.

"I reckon I won't trouble you, boys, if it's all the same to you," she
said, with her half-strident laugh.  "YOU mightn't mind being seen--but
I would--  Good-by."

She held out a hand to each of the men, who remained for an instant
silently holding them.  Then she passed out of the door, slipping on
her close black veil as she did so with a half-funereal suggestion, and
they saw her tall, handsome figure fade into the shadows of the long
corridor.

"Paul," said the Mayor, reentering the office and turning to his
secretary, "do you know who that woman is?"

"Yes, sir."

"She's one in a million!  And now forget that you have ever seen her."



CHAPTER I.

The principal parlor of the New Golden Gate Hotel in San Francisco,
fairly reported by the local press as being "truly palatial" in its
appointments, and unrivaled in its upholstery, was, nevertheless, on
August 5, 1860, of that startling newness that checked any familiarity,
and evidently had produced some embarrassment on the limbs of four
visitors who had just been ushered into its glories. After hesitating
before one or two gorgeous fawn-colored brocaded easy-chairs of
appalling and spotless virginity, one of them seated himself
despairingly on a tete-a-tete sofa in marked and painful isolation,
while another sat uncomfortably upright on a sofa.  The two others
remained standing, vaguely gazing at the ceiling, and exchanging
ostentatiously admiring but hollow remarks about the furniture in
unnecessary whispers.  Yet they were apparently men of a certain habit
of importance and small authority, with more or less critical attitude
in their speech.

To them presently entered a young man of about five-and-twenty, with
remarkably bright and singularly sympathetic eyes.  Having swept the
group in a smiling glance, he singled out the lonely occupier of the
tete-a-tete, and moved pleasantly towards him.  The man rose instantly
with an eager gratified look.

"Well, Paul, I didn't allow you'd remember me.  It's a matter of four
years since we met at Marysville.  And now you're bein' a great man
you've"--

No one could have known from the young man's smiling face that he
really had not recognized his visitor at first, and that his greeting
was only an exhibition of one of those happy instincts for which he was
remarkable.  But, following the clew suggested by his visitor, he was
able to say promptly and gayly:--

"I don't know why I should forget Tony Shear or the Marysville boys,"
turning with a half-confiding smile to the other visitors, who, after
the human fashion, were beginning to be resentfully impatient of this
special attention.

"Well, no,--for I've allus said that you took your first start from
Marysville.  But I've brought a few friends of our party that I
reckoned to introduce to you.  Cap'n Stidger, Chairman of our Central
Committee, Mr. Henry J. Hoskins, of the firm of Hoskins and Bloomer,
and Joe Slate, of the 'Union Press,' one of our most promising
journalists.  Gentlemen," he continued, suddenly and without warning
lifting his voice to an oratorical plane in startling contrast to his
previous unaffected utterance, "I needn't say that this is the
honorable Paul Hathaway, the youngest state senator in the Legislature.
You know his record!"  Then, recovering the ordinary accents of
humanity, he added, "We read of your departure last night from
Sacramento, and I thought we'd come early, afore the crowd."

"Proud to know you, sir," said Captain Stidger, suddenly lifting the
conversation to the platform again.  "I have followed your career, sir.
I've read your speech, Mr. Hathaway, and, as I was telling our mutual
friend, Mr. Shear, as we came along, I don't know any man that could
state the real party issues as squarely. Your castigating exposition of
so-called Jeffersonian principles, and your relentless indictment of
the resolutions of '98, were--were"--coughed the captain, dropping into
conversation again--"were the biggest thing out.  You have only to
signify the day, sir, that you will address us, and I can promise you
the largest audience in San Francisco."

"I'm instructed by the proprietor of the 'Union Press,'" said Mr.
Slate, feeling for his notebook and pencil, "to offer you its columns
for any explanations you may desire to make in the form of a personal
letter or an editorial in reply to the 'Advertiser's' strictures on
your speech, or to take any information you may have for the benefit of
our readers and the party."

"If you are ever down my way, Mr. Hathaway," said Mr. Hoskins, placing
a large business card in Hathaway's hand, "and will drop in as a
friend, I can show you about the largest business in the way of canned
provisions and domestic groceries in the State, and give you a look
around Battery Street generally.  Or if you'll name your day, I've got
a pair of 2.35 Blue Grass horses that'll spin you out to the Cliff
House to dinner and back.  I've had Governor Fiske, and Senator Doolan,
and that big English capitalist who was here last year, and they--well,
sir,--they were PLEASED!  Or if you'd like to see the town--if this is
your first visit--I'm a hand to show you."

Nothing could exceed Mr. Hathaway's sympathetic acceptance of their
courtesies, nor was there the least affectation in it.  Thoroughly
enjoying his fellowmen, even in their foibles, they found him
irresistibly attractive.  "I lived here seven years ago," he said,
smiling, to the last speaker.

"When the water came up to Montgomery Street," interposed Mr. Shear, in
a hoarse but admiring aside.

"When Mr. Hammersley was mayor," continued Hathaway.

"Had an official position--private secretary--afore he was twenty,"
explained Shear, in perfectly audible confidence.

"Since then the city has made great strides, leaping full-grown, sir,
in a single night," said Captain Stidger, hastily ascending the rostrum
again with a mixed metaphor, to the apparent concern of a party of
handsomely dressed young ladies who had recently entered the parlor.
"Stretching from South Park to Black Point, and running back to the
Mission Dolores and the Presidio, we are building up a metropolis, sir,
worthy to be placed beside the Golden Gate that opens to the broad
Pacific and the shores of far Cathay!  When the Pacific Railroad is
built we shall be the natural terminus of the Pathway of Nations!"

Mr. Hathaway's face betrayed no consciousness that he had heard
something like this eight years before, and that much of it had come
true, as he again sympathetically responded.  Neither was his attention
attracted by a singular similarity which the attitude of the group of
ladies on the other side of the parlor bore to that of his own party.
They were clustered around one of their own number--a striking-looking
girl--who was apparently receiving their mingled flatteries and
caresses with a youthful yet critical sympathy, which, singularly
enough, was not unlike his own.  It was evident also that an odd sort
of rivalry seemed to spring up between the two parties, and that, in
proportion as Hathaway's admirers became more marked and ostentatious
in their attentions, the supporters of the young girl were equally
effusive and enthusiastic in their devotion.  As usual in such cases,
the real contest was between the partisans themselves; each successive
demonstration on either side was provocative or retaliatory, and when
they were apparently rendering homage to their idols they were really
distracted by and listening to each other.  At last, Hathaway's party
being reinforced by fresh visitors, a tall brunette of the opposition
remarked in a professedly confidential but perfectly audible tone:--

"Well, my dear, as I don't suppose you want to take part in a political
caucus, perhaps we'd better return to the Ladies' Boudoir, unless
there's a committee sitting there too."

"I know how valuable your time must be, as you are all business men,"
said Hathaway, turning to his party, in an equally audible tone; "but
before you go, gentlemen, you must let me offer you a little
refreshment in a private room," and he moved naturally towards the
door.  The rival fair, who had already risen at their commander's
suggestion, here paused awkwardly over an embarrassing victory.  Should
they go or stay?  The object of their devotion, however, turned
curiously towards Hathaway.  For an instant their eyes met.  The young
girl turned carelessly to her companions and said, "No; stay here--it's
the public parlor;" and her followers, evidently accustomed to her
authority, sat down again.

"A galaxy of young ladies from the Convent of Santa Clara, Mr.
Hathaway," explained Captain Stidger, naively oblivious of any
discourtesy on their part, as he followed Hathaway's glance and took
his arm as they moved away.  "Not the least of our treasures, sir.
Most of them daughters of pioneers--and all Californian bred and
educated.  Connoisseurs have awarded them the palm, and declare that
for Grace, Intelligence, and Woman's Highest Charms the East cannot
furnish their equal!"  Having delivered this Parthian compliment in an
oratorical passage through the doorway, the captain descended, outside,
into familiar speech.  "But I suppose you will find that out for
yourself if you stay here long.  San Francisco might furnish a fitting
bride to California's youngest senator."

"I am afraid that my stay here must be brief, and limited to business,"
said Hathaway, who had merely noticed that the principal girl was
handsome and original-looking.  "In fact, I am here partly to see an
old acquaintance--Colonel Pendleton."

The three men looked at each other curiously.  "Oh! Harry Pendleton,"
said Mr. Hoskins, incredulously "You don't know HIM?"

"An old pioneer--of course," interposed Shear, explanatorily and
apologetically.  "Why, in Paul's time the colonel was a big man here."

"I understand the colonel has been unfortunate," said Hathaway,
gravely; "but in MY time he was President of the El Dorado Bank."

"And the bank hasn't got through its settlement yet," said Hoskins "I
hope YOU ain't expecting to get anything out of it?"

"No," said Hathaway, smiling; "I was a boy at that time, and lived up
to my salary.  I know nothing of his bank difficulties, but it always
struck me that Colonel Pendleton was himself an honorable man."

"It ain't that," said Captain Stidger energetically, "but the trouble
with Harry Pendleton is that he hasn't grown with the State, and never
adjusted himself to it.  And he won't.  He thinks the Millennium was
between the fall of '49 and the spring of '50, and after that
everything dropped.  He belongs to the old days, when a man's simple
WORD was good for any amount if you knew him; and they say that the old
bank hadn't a scrap of paper for half that was owing to it.  That was
all very well, sir, in '49 and '50, and--Luck; but it won't do for '59
and '60, and--Business!  And the old man can't see it."

"But he is ready to fight for it now, as in the old time," said Mr.
Slate, "and that's another trouble with his chronology.  He's done more
to keep up dueling than any other man in the State, and don't know the
whole spirit of progress and civilization is against it."

It was impossible to tell from Paul Hathaway's face whether his
sympathy with Colonel Pendleton's foibles or his assent to the
criticisms of his visitors was the truer.  Both were no doubt equally
sincere.  But the party was presently engaged in the absorption of
refreshment, which, being of a purely, spirituous and exhilarating
quality, tended to increase their good humor with the host till they
parted.  Even then a gratuitous advertisement of his virtues and their
own intentions in calling upon him was oratorically voiced from
available platforms and landings, in the halls and stairways, until it
was pretty well known throughout the Golden Gate Hotel that the Hon.
Mr. Paul Hathaway had arrived from Sacramento and had received a
"spontaneous ovation."

Meantime the object of it had dropped into an easy-chair by the window
of his room, and was endeavoring to recall a less profitable memory.
The process of human forgetfulness is not a difficult one between the
ages of eighteen and twenty-six, and Paul Hathaway had not only
fulfilled the Mayor's request by forgetting the particulars of a
certain transfer that he had witnessed in the Mayor's office, but in
the year succeeding that request, being about to try his fortunes in
the mountains, he had formally constituted Colonel Pendleton to act as
his proxy in the administration of Mrs. Howard's singular Trust, in
which, however, he had never participated except yearly to sign his
name.  He was, consequently, somewhat astonished to have received a
letter a few days before from Colonel Pendleton, asking him to call and
see him regarding it.

He vaguely remembered that it was eight years ago, and eight years had
worked considerable change in the original trustees, greatest of all in
his superior officer, the Mayor, who had died the year following,
leaving his trusteeship to his successor in office, whom Paul Hathaway
had never seen.  The Bank of El Dorado, despite Mrs. Howard's sanguine
belief, had long been in bankruptcy, and, although Colonel Pendleton
still survived it, it was certain that no other president would succeed
to his office as trustee, and that the function would lapse with him.
Paul himself, a soldier of fortune, although habitually lucky, had only
lately succeeded to a profession--if his political functions could be
so described.  Even with his luck, energy, and ambition, while
everything was possible, nothing was secure.  It seemed, therefore, as
if the soulless official must eventually assume the duties of the two
sympathizing friends who had originated them, and had stood in loco
parentis to the constructive orphan.  The mother, Mrs. Howard, had
disappeared a year after the Trust had been made--it was charitably
presumed in order to prevent any complications that might arise from
her presence in the country.  With these facts before him, Paul
Hathaway was more concerned in wondering what Pendleton could want with
him than, I fear, any direct sympathy with the situation.  On the
contrary, it appeared to him more favorable for keeping the secret of
Mrs. Howard's relationship, which would now die with Colonel Pendleton
and himself; and there was no danger of any emotional betrayal of it in
the cold official administration of a man who had received the Trust
through the formal hands of successive predecessors.  He had forgotten
the time limited for the guardianship, but the girl must soon be of age
and off their hands. If there had ever been any romantic or chivalrous
impression left upon his memory by the scene in the mayor's office, I
fear he had put it away with various other foolish illusions of his
youth, to which he now believed he was superior.

Nevertheless, he would see the colonel, and at once, and settle the
question.  He looked at the address, "St. Charles Hotel."  He
remembered an old hostelry of that name, near the Plaza.  Could it be
possible that it had survived the alterations and improvements of the
city?  It was an easy walk through remembered streets, yet with changed
shops and houses and faces.  When he reached the Plaza, scarce
recognizable in its later frontages of brick and stone, he found the
old wooden building still intact, with its villa-like galleries and
verandas incongruously and ostentatiously overlooked by two new and
aspiring erections on either side.  For an instant he tried to recall
the glamour of old days.  He remembered when his boyish eyes regarded
it as the crowning work of opulence and distinction; he remembered a
ball given there on some public occasion, which was to him the acme of
social brilliancy and display.  How tawdry and trivial it looked beside
those later and more solid structures!  How inconsistent were those
long latticed verandas and balconies, pathetic record of that first
illusion of the pioneers that their climate was a tropical one!  A
restaurant and billiard-saloon had aggrandized all of the lower story;
but there was still the fanlight, over which the remembered title of
"St. Charles," in gilded letters, was now reinforced by the too
demonstrative legend, "Apartments and Board, by the Day or Week." Was
it possible that this narrow, creaking staircase had once seemed to him
the broad steps of Fame and Fortune?  On the first landing, a
preoccupied Irish servant-girl, with a mop, directed him to a door at
the end of the passage, at which he knocked.  The door was opened by a
grizzled negro servant, who was still holding a piece of oily
chamois-leather in his hand; and the contents of a dueling-case,
scattered upon a table in the centre of the room, showed what had been
his occupation.  Admitting Hathaway with great courtesy, he said:--

"Marse Harry bin havin' his ole trubble, sah, and bin engaged just dis
momen' on his toylet; ef yo'll accommodate yo'self on de sofa, I inform
him yo' is heah."

As the negro passed into the next room, Paul cast a hasty glance around
the apartment.  The furniture, originally rich and elegant, was now
worn threadbare and lustreless.  A book-case, containing, among other
volumes, a few law books--there being a vague tradition, as Paul
remembered, that Colonel Pendleton had once been connected with the
law--a few French chairs of tarnished gilt, a rifle in the corner, a
presentation sword in a mahogany case, a few classical prints on the
walls, and one or two iron deed-boxes marked "El Dorado Bank," were the
principal objects.  A mild flavor of dry decay and methylated spirits
pervaded the apartment.  Yet it was scrupulously clean and well kept,
and a few clothes neatly brushed and folded on a chair bore witness to
the servant's care. As Paul, however, glanced behind the sofa, he was
concerned to see a coat, which had evidently been thrust hurriedly in a
corner, with the sleeve lining inside out, and a needle and thread
still sticking in the seam.  It struck him instantly that this had been
the negro's occupation, and that the pistol-cleaning was a polite
fiction.

"Yo' 'll have to skuse Marse Harry seein' yo in bed, but his laig's
pow'ful bad to-day, and he can't stand," said the servant reentering
the room.  "Skuse me, sah," he added in a dignified confidential
whisper, half closing the door with his hand, "but if yo' wouldn't mind
avoidin' 'xcitin' or controversical topics in yo' conversation, it
would be de better fo' him."

Paul smilingly assented, and the black retainer, with even more than
the usual solemn ceremonious exaggeration of his race, ushered him into
the bedroom.  It was furnished in the same faded glory as the
sitting-room, with the exception of a low, iron camp-bedstead, in which
the tall, soldierly figure of Colonel Pendleton, clad in threadbare
silk dressing-gown, was stretched.  He had changed in eight years: his
hair had become gray, and was thinned over the sunken temples, but his
iron-gray moustache was still particularly long and well pointed.  His
face bore marks of illness and care; there were deep lines down the
angle of the nostril that spoke of alternate savage outbreak and
repression, and gave his smile a sardonic rigidity.  His dark eyes,
that shone with the exaltation of fever, fixed Paul's on entering, and
with the tyranny of an invalid never left them.

"Well, Hathaway?"

With the sound of that voice Paul felt the years slip away, and he was
again a boy, looking up admiringly to the strong man, who now lay
helpless before him.  He had entered the room with a faint sense of
sympathizing superiority and a consciousness of having had experience
in controlling men.  But all this fled before Colonel Pendleton's
authoritative voice; even its broken tones carried the old dominant
spirit of the man, and Paul found himself admiring a quality in his old
acquaintance that he missed in his newer friends.

"I haven't seen you for eight years, Hathaway.  Come here and let me
look at you."

Paul approached the bedside with boyish obedience.  Pendleton took his
hand and gazed at him critically.

"I should have recognized you, sir, for all your moustache and your
inches.  The last time I saw you was in Jack Hammersley's office. Well,
Jack's dead, and here I am, little better, I reckon.  You remember
Hammersley's house?"

"Yes," said Paul, albeit wondering at the question.

"Something like this, Swiss villa style.  I remember when Jack put it
up.  Well, the last time I was out, I passed there.  And what do you
think they've done to it?"

Paul could not imagine.

"Well, sir," said the colonel gravely, "they've changed it into a
church missionary shop and young men's Christian reading-room!  But
that's 'progress' and 'improvement'!"  He paused, and, slowly
withdrawing his hand from Paul's, added with grim apology, "You're
young, and belong to the new school, perhaps.  Well, sir, I've read
your speech; I don't belong to your party--mine died ten years ago--but
I congratulate you.  George!  Confound it where's that boy gone?"

The negro indicated by this youthful title, although he must have been
ten years older than his master, after a hurried shuffling in the
sitting-room eventually appeared at the door.

"George, champagne and materials for cocktails for the gentleman. The
BEST, you understand.  No new-fangled notions from that new barkeeper."

Paul, who thought he observed a troubled blinking in George's eyelid,
and referred it to a fear of possible excitement for his patient, here
begged his host not to trouble himself--that he seldom took anything in
the morning.

"Possibly not, sir; possibly not," returned the colonel, hastily. "I
know the new ideas are prohibitive, and some other blank thing, but
you're safe here from your constituents, and by gad, sir, I shan't
force you to take it!  It's MY custom, Hathaway--an old one--played
out, perhaps, like all the others, but a custom nevertheless, and I'm
only surprised that George, who knows it, should have forgotten it."

"Fack is, Marse Harry," said George, with feverish apology, "it bin
gone 'scaped my mind dis mo'nin' in de prerogation ob business, but I'm
goin' now, shuah!" and he disappeared.

"A good boy, sir, but beginning to be contaminated.  Brought him here
from Nashville over ten years ago.  Eight years ago they proved to him
that he was no longer a slave, and made him d--d unhappy until I
promised him it should make no difference to him and he could stay.  I
had to send for his wife and child--of course, a dead loss of eighteen
hundred dollars when they set foot in the State--but I'm blanked if he
isn't just as miserable with them here, for he has to take two hours in
the morning and three in the afternoon every day to be with 'em.  I
tried to get him to take his family to the mines and make his fortune,
like those fellows they call bankers and operators and stockbrokers
nowadays; or to go to Oregon where they'll make him some kind of a
mayor or sheriff--but he won't.  He collects my rents on some little
property I have left, and pays my bills, sir, and, if this blank
civilization would only leave him alone, he'd be a good enough boy."

Paul couldn't help thinking that the rents George collected were
somewhat inconsistent with those he was evidently mending when he
arrived, but at that moment the jingle of glasses was heard in the
sitting-room, and the old negro reappeared at the door.  Drawing
himself up with ceremonious courtesy, he addressed Paul.  "Wo'd yo'
mind, sah, taking a glance at de wine for yo' choice?"  Paul rose, and
followed him into the sitting-room, when George carefully closed the
door.  To his surprise Hathaway beheld a tray with two glasses of
whiskey and bitters, but no wine.  "Skuse me, sah," said the old man
with dignified apology, "but de Kernel won't have any but de best
champagne for hono'ble gemmen like yo'self, and I'se despaired to say
it can't be got in de house or de subburbs.  De best champagne dat we
gives visitors is de Widder Glencoe.  Wo'd yo' mind, sah, for de sake
o' not 'xcitin' de Kernel wid triflin' culinary matter, to say dat yo'
don' take but de one brand?"

"Certainly," said Paul, smiling.  "I really don't care for anything so
early;" then, returning to the bedroom, he said carelessly, "You'll
excuse me taking the liberty, colonel, of sending away the champagne
and contenting myself with whiskey.  Even the best brand--the Widow
Cliquot"--with a glance at the gratified George--"I find rather trying
so early in the morning."

"As you please, Hathaway," said the colonel, somewhat stiffly.  "I dare
say there's a new fashion in drinks now, and a gentleman's stomach is a
thing of the past.  Then, I suppose, we can spare the boy, as this is
his time for going home.  Put that tin box with the Trust papers on the
bed, George, and Mr. Hathaway will excuse your waiting."  As the old
servant made an exaggerated obeisance to each, Paul remarked, as the
door closed upon him, "George certainly keeps his style, colonel, in
the face of the progress you deplore."

"He was always a 'dandy nigger,'" returned Pendleton, his face slightly
relaxing as he glanced after his grizzled henchman, "but his
exaggeration of courtesy is a blank sight more natural and manly than
the exaggeration of discourtesy which your superior civilized 'helps'
think is self-respect.  The excuse of servitude of any kind is its
spontaneity and affection.  When you know a man hates you and serves
you from interest, you know he's a cur and you're a tyrant.  It's your
blank progress that's made menial service degrading by teaching men to
avoid it.  Why, sir, when I first arrived here, Jack Hammersley and
myself took turns as cook to the party.  I didn't consider myself any
the worse master for it.  But enough of this."  He paused, and, raising
himself on his elbow, gazed for some seconds half cautiously, half
doubtfully, upon his companion.  "I've got something to tell you,
Hathaway," he said, slowly.  "You've had an easy time with this Trust;
your share of the work hasn't worried you, kept you awake nights, or
interfered with your career.  I understand perfectly," he continued, in
reply to Hathaway's deprecating gesture.  "I accepted to act as your
proxy, and I HAVE.  I'm not complaining.  But it is time that you
should know what I've done, and what you may still have to do.  Here is
the record.  On the day after that interview in the Mayor's office, the
El Dorado Bank, of which I was, and still am, president, received
seventy-five thousand dollars in trust from Mrs. Howard.  Two years
afterwards, on that same day, the bank had, by lucky speculations,
increased that sum to the credit of the trust one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, or double the original capital.  In the following
year the bank suspended payment."



CHAPTER II.

In an instant the whole situation and his relations to it flashed upon
Paul with a terrible, but almost grotesque, completeness. Here he was,
at the outset of his career, responsible for the wasted fortune of the
daughter of a social outcast, and saddled with her support!  He now
knew why Colonel Pendleton had wished to see him; for one shameful
moment he believed he also knew why he had been content to take his
proxy!  The questionable character of the whole transaction, his own
carelessness, which sprang from that very confidence and trust that
Pendleton had lately extolled--what WOULD, what COULD not be made of
it!  He already heard himself abused by his opponents--perhaps, more
terrible still, faintly excused by his friends.  All this was visible
in his pale face and flashing eyes as he turned them on the helpless
invalid.

Colonel Pendleton received his look with the same critical,
half-curious scrutiny that had accompanied his speech.  At last his
face changed slightly, a faint look of disappointment crossed his eyes,
and a sardonic smile deepened the lines of his mouth.

"There, sir," he said hurriedly, as if dismissing an unpleasant
revelation; "don't alarm yourself!  Take a drink of that whiskey. You
look pale.  Well; turn your eyes on those walls.  You don't see any of
that money laid out here--do you?  Look at me.  I don't look like a man
enriched with other people's money--do I?  Well, let that content you.
Every dollar of that Trust fund, Hathaway, with all the interests and
profits that have accrued to it, is SAFE! Every cent of it is locked up
in government bonds with Rothschild's agent.  There are the receipts,
dated a week before the bank suspended.  But enough of THAT--THAT isn't
what I asked you to come and see me for."

The blood had rushed back to Paul's cheeks uncomfortably.  He saw now,
as impulsively as he had previously suspected his co-trustee, that the
man had probably ruined himself to save the Trust.  He stammered that
he had not questioned the management of the fund nor asked to withdraw
his proxy.

"No matter, sir," said the colonel, impatiently; "you had the right,
and I suppose," he added with half-concealed scorn, "it was your duty.
But let that pass.  The money is safe enough; but, Mr. Hathaway,--and
this is the point I want to discuss with you,--it begins to look as if
the SECRET was safe no longer!"  He had raised himself with some pain
and difficulty to draw nearer to Paul, and had again fixed his eyes
eagerly upon him.  But Paul's responsive glance was so vague that he
added quickly, "You understand, sir; I believe that there are hounds--I
say hounds!--who would be able to blurt out at any moment that that
girl at Santa Clara is Kate Howard's daughter."

At any other moment Paul might have questioned the gravity of any such
contingency, but the terrible earnestness of the speaker, his dominant
tone, and a certain respect which had lately sprung up in his breast
for him, checked him, and he only asked with as much concern as he
could master for the moment:--

"What makes you think so?"

"That's what I want to tell you, Hathaway, and how I, and I alone, am
responsible for it.  When the bank was in difficulty and I made up my
mind to guard the Trust with my own personal and private capital, I
knew that there might be some comment on my action.  It was a delicate
matter to show any preference or exclusion at such a moment, and I took
two or three of my brother directors whom I thought I could trust into
my confidence.  I told them the whole story, and how the Trust was
sacred.  I made a mistake, sir," continued Pendleton sardonically, "a
grave mistake.  I did not take into account that even in three years
civilization and religion had gained ground here.  There was a hound
there--a blank Judas in the Trust.  Well; he didn't see it.  I think he
talked Scripture and morality.  He said something about the wages of
sin being infamous, and only worthy of confiscation.  He talked about
the sins of the father being visited upon the children, and justly.  I
stopped him. Well!  Do you know what's the matter with my ankle?
Look!"  He stopped and, with some difficulty and invincible gravity,
throwing aside his dressing-gown, turned down his stocking, and exposed
to Paul's gaze the healed cicatrix of an old bullet-wound.  "Troubled
me damnably near a year.  Where I hit HIM--hasn't troubled him at all
since!

"I think," continued the colonel, falling back upon the pillow with an
air of relief, "that he told others--of his own kidney, sir,--though it
was a secret among gentlemen.  But they have preferred to be silent
now--than AFTERWARDS.  They know that I'm ready.  But I can't keep this
up long; some time, you know, they're bound to improve in practice and
hit higher up!  As far as I'm concerned," he added, with a grim glance
around the faded walls and threadbare furniture, "it don't mind; but
mine isn't the mouth to be stopped." He paused, and then abruptly, yet
with a sudden and pathetic dropping of his dominant note, said:
"Hathaway, you're young, and Hammersley liked you--what's to be done?
I thought of passing over my tools to you.  You can shoot, and I hear
you HAVE.  But the h--l of it is that if you dropped a man or two
people would ask WHY, and want to know what it was about; while, when I
do, nobody here thinks it anything but MY WAY!  I don't mean that it
would hurt you with the crowd to wipe out one or two of these hounds
during the canvass, but the trouble is that they belong to YOUR PARTY,
and," he added grimly, "that wouldn't help your career."

"But," said Paul, ignoring the sarcasm, "are you not magnifying the
effect of a disclosure?  The girl is an heiress, excellently brought
up.  Who will bother about the antecedents of the mother, who has
disappeared, whom she never knew, and who is legally dead to her?"

"In my day, sir, no one who knew the circumstances," returned the
colonel, quickly.  "But we are living in a blessed era of Christian
retribution and civilized propriety, and I believe there are a lot of
men and women about who have no other way of showing their own virtue
than by showing up another's vice.  We're in a reaction of reform.
It's the old drunkards who are always more clamorous for total
abstinence than the moderately temperate.  I tell you, Hathaway, there
couldn't be an unluckier moment for our secret coming out."

"But she will be of age soon."

"In two months."

"And sure to marry."

"Marry!" repeated Pendleton, with grim irony.  "Would YOU marry her?"

"That's another question," said the young man, promptly, "and one of
individual taste; but it does not affect my general belief that she
could easily find a husband as good and better."

"Suppose she found one BEFORE the secret is out.  Ought he be told?"

"Certainly."

"And that would imply telling HER?"

"Yes," said Paul, but not so promptly.  "And you consider THAT
fulfilling the promise of the Trust--the pledges exchanged with that
woman?" continued Pendleton, with glittering eyes and a return to his
own dominant tone.

"My dear colonel," said Paul, somewhat less positively, but still
smiling, "you have made a romantic, almost impossible compact with Mrs.
Howard that, you yourself are now obliged to admit, circumstances may
prevent your carrying out substantially.  You forget, also, that you
have just told me that you have already broken your pledge--under
circumstances, it is true, that do you honor--and that now your
desperate attempts to retrieve it have failed.  Now, I really see
nothing wrong in your telling to a presumptive well-wisher of the girl
what you have told to her enemy."

There was a dead silence.  The prostrate man uttered a slight groan, as
if in pain, and drew up his leg to change his position. After a pause,
he said, in a restrained voice, "I differ from you, Mr. Hathaway; but
enough of this for the present.  I have something else to say.  It will
be necessary for one of us to go at once to Santa Clara and see Miss
Yerba Buena."

"Good heavens!" said Paul, quickly.  "Do you call her THAT?"

"Certainly, sir.  You gave her the name.  Have you forgotten?"

"I only suggested it," returned Paul, hopelessly; "but no matter--go
on."

"I cannot go there, as you see," continued Pendleton, with a weary
gesture towards his crippled ankle; "and I should particularly like you
to see her before we make the joint disposition of her affairs with the
Mayor, two months hence.  I have some papers you can show her, and I
have already written a letter introducing you to the Lady Superior at
the convent, and to her.  You have never seen her?"

"No," said Paul.  "But of course you have?"

"Not for three years."

Paul's eyes evidently expressed some wonder, for a moment after the
colonel added, "I believe, Hathaway, I am looked upon as a queer
survival of a rather lawless and improper past.  At least, I have
thought it better not socially to compromise her by my presence. The
Mayor goes there--at the examinations and exercises, I believe, sir;
they make a sort of reception for him--with a--a--banquet--lemonade and
speeches."

"I had intended to leave for Sacramento to-morrow night," said Paul,
glancing curiously at the helpless man; "but I will go there if you
wish."

"Thank you.  It will be better."

There were a few words of further explanation of the papers, and
Pendleton placed the packet in his visitor's hands.  Paul rose.
Somehow, it appeared to him that the room looked more faded and
forgotten than when he entered it, and the figure of the man before him
more lonely, helpless, and abandoned.  With one of his sympathetic
impulses he said:--

"I don't like to leave you here alone.  Are you sure you can help
yourself without George?  Can I do anything before I go?"

"I am quite accustomed to it," said Pendleton, quietly.  "It happens
once or twice a year, and when I go out--well--I miss more than I do
here."

He took Paul's proffered hand mechanically, with a slight return of the
critical, doubting look he had cast upon him when he entered. His
voice, too, had quite recovered its old dominance, as he said, with
half-patronizing conventionality, "You'll have to find your way out
alone.  Let me know how you have sped at Santa Clara, will you?
Good-by."

The staircase and passage seemed to have grown shabbier and meaner as
Paul, slowly and hesitatingly, descended to the street.  At the foot of
the stairs he paused irresolutely, and loitered with a vague idea of
turning back on some pretense, only that he might relieve himself of
the sense of desertion.  He had already determined upon making that
inquiry into the colonel's personal and pecuniary affairs which he had
not dared to offer personally, and had a half-formed plan of testing
his own power and popularity in a certain line of relief that at once
satisfied his sympathies and ambitions.  Nevertheless, after reaching
the street, he lingered a moment, when an odd idea of temporizing with
his inclinations struck him.  At the farther end of the hotel--one of
the parasites living on its decayed fortunes--was a small barber's
shop.  By having his hair trimmed and his clothes brushed he could
linger a little longer beneath the same roof with the helpless
solitary, and perhaps come to some conclusion.  He entered the clean
but scantily furnished shop, and threw himself into one of the nearest
chairs, hardly noting that there were no other customers, and that a
single assistant, stropping a razor behind a glass door, was the only
occupant.  But there was a familiar note of exaggerated politeness
about the voice of this man as he opened the door and came towards the
back of the chair with the formula:--

"Mo'nin', sah!  Shall we hab de pleshure of shavin' or hah-cuttin' dis
mo'nin'?"  Paul raised his eyes quickly to the mirror before him.  It
reflected the black face and grizzled hair of George.

More relieved at finding the old servant still near his master than
caring to comprehend the reason, Hathaway said pleasantly, "Well,
George, is this the way you look after your family?"

The old man started; for an instant his full red lips seemed to become
dry and ashen, the whites of his eyes were suffused and staring, as he
met Paul's smiling face in the glass.  But almost as quickly he
recovered himself, and, with a polite but deprecating bow, said,--"For
God sake, sah!  I admit de sarkumstances is agin me, but de simple fack
is dat I'm temper'ly occupyin' de place of an ole frien', sah, who is
called round de cornah."

"And I'm devilish glad of any fact, George, that gives me a chance of
having my hair cut by Colonel Pendleton's right-hand man.  So fire
away!"

The gratified smile which now suddenly overspread the whole of the old
man's face, and seemed to quickly stiffen the rugged and wrinkled
fingers that had at first trembled in drawing a pair of shears from a
ragged pocket, appeared to satisfy Paul's curiosity for the present.
But after a few moments' silent snipping, during which he could detect
in the mirror some traces of agitation still twitching the negro's
face, he said with an air of conviction:--

"Look here, George--why don't you regularly use your leisure moments in
this trade?  You'd make your fortune by your taste and skill at it."

For the next half minute the old man's frame shook with silent
childlike laughter behind Paul's chair.  "Well, Marse Hathaway, yo's an
ole frien' o' my massa, and a gemman yo'self, sah, and a senetah, and I
do'an mind tellin' yo'--dat's jess what I bin gone done!  It makes a
little ready money for de ole woman and de chilleren.  But de Kernel
don' no'.  Ah, sah! de Kernel kill me or hisself if he so much as
'spicioned me.  De Kernel is high-toned, sah!--bein' a gemman yo'self,
yo' understand.  He wouldn't heah ob his niggah worken' for two
massas--for all he's willen' to lemme go and help myse'f.  But, Lord
bless yo', sah, dat ain't in de category!  De Kernel couldn't get along
widout me."

"You collect his rents, don't you?" said Paul, quietly.

"Yes, sah."

"Much?"

"Well, no, sah; not so much as fom'ly, sah!  Yo' see, de Kernel's
prop'ty lies in de ole parts ob de town, where de po' white folks lib,
and dey ain't reg'lar.  De Kernel dat sof' in his heart, he dare n'
press 'em; some of 'em is ole fo'ty-niners, like hisself, sah; and some
is Spanish, sah, and dey is sof' too, and ain't no more gumption dan
chilleren, and tink it's ole time come ag'in, and dey's in de ole
places like afo' de Mexican wah! and dey don' bin payin' noffin'.  But
we gets along, sah,--we gets along,--not in de prima facie style, sah!
mebbe not in de modden way dut de Kernel don't like; but we keeps
ourse'f, sah, and has wine fo' our friends.  When yo' come again, sah,
yo' 'll find de Widder Glencoe on de sideboard."

"Has the colonel many friends here?"

"Mos' de ole ones bin done gone, sah, and de Kernel don' cotton to de
new.  He don' mix much in sassiety till de bank settlements bin gone
done.  Skuse me, sah!--but you don' happen to know when dat is?  It
would be a pow'ful heap off de Kernel's mind if it was done.  Bein' a
high and mighty man in committees up dah in Sacramento, sah, I didn't
know but what yo' might know as it might come befo' yo'."

"I'll see about it," said Paul, with an odd, abstracted smile.

"Shampoo dis mornen', sah?"

"Nothing more in this line," said Paul, rising from his chair, "but
something more, perhaps, in the line of your other duties.  You're a
good barber for the public, George, and I don't take back what I said
about your future; but JUST NOW I think the colonel wants all your
service.  He's not at all well.  Take this," he said, putting a
twenty-dollar gold piece in the astonished servant's hand, "and for the
next three or four days drop the shop, and under some pretext or
another arrange to be with him.  That money will cover what you lose
here, and as soon as the colonel's all right again you can come back to
work.  But are you not afraid of being recognized by some one?"

"No, sah, dat's just it.  On'y strangers dat don't know no better come
yere."

"But suppose your master should drop in?  It's quite convenient to his
rooms."

"Marse Harry in a barber-shop!" said the old man with a silent laugh.
"Skuse me, sah," he added, with an apologetic mixture of respect and
dignity, "but fo' twenty years no man hez touched de Kernel's chin but
myself.  When Marse Harry hez to go to a barber's shop, it won't make
no matter who's dar."

"Let's hope he will not," said Paul gayly; then, anxious to evade the
gratitude which, since his munificence, he had seen beaming in the old
negro's eye and evidently trying to find polysyllabic and elevated
expression on his lips, he said hurriedly, "I shall expect to find you
with the colonel when I call again in a day or two," and smilingly
departed.

At the end of two hours George's barber-employer returned to relieve
his assistant, and, on receiving from him an account and a certain
percentage of the afternoon's fees (minus the gift from Paul), was
informed by George that he should pretermit his attendance for a few
days.  "Udder private and personal affairs," explained the old negro,
who made no social distinction in his vocabulary, "peroccupyin' dis
niggah's time."  The head barber, unwilling to lose a really good
assistant, endeavored to dissuade him by the offer of increased
emolument, but George was firm.

As he entered the sitting-room the colonel detected his step, and
called him in.

"Another time, George, never allow a guest of mine to send away wine.
If he don't care for it, put it on the sideboard."

"Yes, sah; but as yo' didn't like it yo'self, Marse Harry, and de wine
was de most 'xpensive quality ob Glencoe"--

"D--n the expense!" He paused, and gazed searchingly at his old
retainer.

"George," he said suddenly, yet in a gentle voice, "don't lie to me,
or"--in a still kinder voice--"I'll flog the black skin off you!
Listen to me.  HAVE you got any money left?"

"'Deed, sah, dere IS," said the negro earnestly.  "I'll jist fetch it
wid de accounts."

"Hold on!  I've been thinking, lying here, that if the Widow Molloy
can't pay because she sold out, and that tobacconist is ruined, and
we've had to pay the water tax for old Bill Soames, the rent last week
don't amount to much, while there's the month's bill for the restaurant
and that blank druggist's account for lotions and medicines to come out
of it.  It strikes me we're pretty near touching bottom.  I've
everything I want here, but, by God, sir, if I find YOU skimping
yourself or lying to me or borrowing money"--

"Yes, Marse Harry, but the Widder Molloy done gone and paid up dis
afernoon.  I'll bring de books and money to prove it;" and he hurriedly
reentered the sitting-room.

Then with trembling hands he emptied his pockets on the table,
including Paul's gift and the fees he had just received, and opening a
desk-drawer took from it a striped cotton handkerchief, such as negro
women wear on their heads, containing a small quantity of silver tied
up in a hard knot, and a boy's purse.  This he emptied on the table
with his own money.

They were the only rents of Colonel Henry Pendleton!  They were
contributed by "George Washington Thomson;" his wife, otherwise known
as "Aunt Dinah," washerwoman; and "Scipio Thomson," their son, aged
fourteen, bootblack.  It did not amount to much.  But in that happy
moisture that dimmed the old man's eyes, God knows it looked large
enough.



CHAPTER III.

Although the rays of an unclouded sun were hot in the Santa Clara roads
and byways, and the dry, bleached dust had become an impalpable powder,
the perspiring and parched pedestrian who rashly sought relief in the
shade of the wayside oak was speedily chilled to the bone by the
northwest trade-winds that on those August afternoons swept through the
defiles of the Coast Range, and even penetrated the pastoral valley of
San Jose.  The anomaly of straw hats and overcoats with the occupants
of buggies and station wagons was thus accounted for, and even in the
sheltered garden of "El Rosario" two young girls in light summer
dresses had thrown wraps over their shoulders as they lounged down a
broad rose-alley at right angles with the deep, long veranda of the
casa.  Yet, in spite of the chill, the old Spanish house and gardens
presented a luxurious, almost tropical, picture from the roadside.
Banks, beds, and bowers of roses lent their name and color to the
grounds; tree-like clusters of hanging fuchsias, mound-like masses of
variegated verbena, and tangled thickets of ceanothus and spreading
heliotrope were set in boundaries of venerable olive, fig, and pear
trees.  The old house itself, a picturesque relief to the glaring
newness of the painted villas along the road, had been tastefully
modified to suit the needs and habits of a later civilization; the
galleries of the inner courtyard, or patio, had been transferred to the
outside walls in the form of deep verandas, while the old adobe walls
themselves were hidden beneath flowing Cape jessamine or bestarred
passion vines, and topped by roofs of cylindrical red tiles.

"Miss Yerba!" said a dry, masculine voice from the veranda.

The taller young girl started, and drew herself suddenly behind a large
Castilian rose-tree, dragging her companion with her, and putting her
finger imperatively upon a pretty but somewhat passionate mouth.  The
other girl checked a laugh, and remained watching her friend's wickedly
leveled brows in amused surprise.

The call was repeated from the veranda.  After a moment's pause there
was the sound of retreating footsteps, and all was quiet again.

"Why, for goodness' sake, didn't you answer, Yerba?" asked the shorter
girl.

"Oh, I hate him!" responded Yerba.  "He only wanted to bore me with his
stupid, formal, sham-parental talk.  Because he's my official guardian
he thinks it necessary to assume this manner towards me when we meet,
and treats me as if I were something between his stepdaughter and an
almshouse orphan or a police board.  It's perfectly ridiculous, for
it's only put on while he is in office, and he knows it, and I know it,
and I'm tired of making believe. Why, my dear, they change every
election; I've had seven of them, all more or less of this kind, since
I can remember."

"But I thought there were two others, dear, that were not official,"
said her companion, coaxingly.

Yerba sighed.  "No; there was another, who was president of a bank, but
that was also to be official if he died.  I used to like him, he seemed
to be the only gentleman among them; but it appears that he is
dreadfully improper; shoots people now and then for nothing at all, and
burst up his bank--and, of course, he's impossible, and, as there's no
more bank, when he dies there'll be no more trustee."

"And there's the third, you know--a stranger, who never appears?"
suggested the younger girl.

"And who do you suppose HE turns out to be?  Do you remember that
conceited little wretch--that 'Baby Senator,' I think they called
him--who was in the parlor of the Golden Gate the other morning
surrounded by his idiotic worshipers and toadies and ballot-box
stuffers?  Well, if you please, THAT'S Mr. Paul Hathaway--the Honorable
Paul Hathaway, who washed his hands of me, my dear, at the beginning!"

"But really, Yerba, I thought that he looked and acted"--

"You thought of nothing at all, Milly," returned Yerba, with authority.
"I tell you he's a mass of conceit.  What else can you expect of a
Man--toadied and fawned upon to that extent?  It made me sick!  I could
have just shaken them!"

As if to emphasize her statement, she grasped one of the long willowy
branches of the enormous rose-bush where she stood, and shook it
lightly.  The action detached a few of the maturer blossoms, and sent
down a shower of faded pink petals on her dark hair and yellow dress.
"I can't bear conceit," she added.

"Oh, Yerba, just stand as you are!  I do wish the girls could see you.
You make the LOVELIEST picture!"

She certainly did look very pretty as she stood there--a few leaves
lodged in her hair, clinging to her dress, and suggesting by reflection
the color that her delicate satin skin would have resented in its own
texture.  But she turned impatiently away--perhaps not before she had
allowed this passing vision to impress the mind of her devoted
adherent--and said, "Come along, or that dreadful man will be out on
the veranda again."

"But, if you dislike him so, why did you accept the invitation to meet
him here at luncheon?" said the curious Milly.

"I didn't accept; the Mother Superior did for me, because he's the
Mayor of San Francisco visiting your uncle, and she's always anxious to
placate the powers that be.  And I thought he might have some
information that I could get out of him.  And it was better than being
in the convent all day.  And I thought I could stand HIM if you were
here."

Milly gratefully accepted this doubtful proof of affection by squeezing
her companion's arm.  "And you didn't get any information, dear?"

"Of course not!  The idiot knows only the old tradition of his
office--that I was a mysterious Trust left in Mayor Hammersley's hands.
He actually informed me that 'Buena' meant 'Good'; that it was likely
the name of the captain of some whaler, that put into San Francisco in
the early days, whose child I was, and that, if I chose to call myself
'Miss Good,' he would allow it, and get a bill passed in the
Legislature to legalize it.  Think of it, my dear! 'Miss Good,' like
one of Mrs. Barbauld's stories, or a moral governess in the 'Primary
Reader.'"

"'Miss Good,'" repeated Milly, innocently.  "Yes, you might put an e at
the end--G-double-o-d-e.  There are Goodes in Philadelphia. And then
you won't have to sacrifice that sweet pretty 'Yerba,' that's so
stylish and musical, for you'd still be 'Yerba Good.' But," she added,
as Yerba made an impatient gesture, "why do you worry yourself about
THAT?  You wouldn't keep your own name long, whatever it was.  An
heiress like you, dear,--lovely and accomplished,--would have the best
names as well as the best men in America to choose from."

"Now please don't repeat that idiot's words.  That's what HE says;
that's what they ALL say!" returned Yerba, pettishly.  "One would
really think it was necessary for me to get married to become anybody
at all, or have any standing whatever.  And, whatever you do, don't go
talking of me as if I were named after a vegetable. 'Yerba Buena' is
the name of an island in the bay just off San Francisco.  I'm named
after that."

"But I don't see the difference, dear.  The island was named after the
vine that grows on it."

"YOU don't see the difference?" said Yerba, darkly.  "Well, I do. But
what are you looking at?"

Her companion had caught her arm, and was gazing intently at the house.

"Yerba," she said quickly, "there's the Mayor, and uncle, and a strange
gentleman coming down the walk.  They're looking for us. And, as I
live, Yerb! the strange gentleman is that young senator, Mr. Hathaway!"

"Mr. Hathaway?  Nonsense!"

"Look for yourself."

Yerba glanced at the three gentlemen, who, a hundred yards distant,
were slowly advancing in the direction of the ceanothus-hedge, behind
which the girls had instinctively strayed during their conversation.

"What are you going to do?" said Milly, eagerly.  "They're coming
straight this way.  Shall we stay here and let them pass, or make a run
for the house?"

"No," said Yerba, to Milly's great surprise.  "That would look as if we
cared.  Besides, I don't know that Mr. Hathaway has come to see ME.
We'll stroll out and meet them accidentally."

Milly was still more astonished.  However, she said, "Wait a moment,
dear!" and, with the instinctive deftness of her sex, in three small
tugs and a gentle hitch, shook Yerba's gown into perfect folds, passed
her fingers across her forehead and over her ears, securing, however,
with a hairpin on their passage three of the rose petals where they had
fallen.  Then, discharging their faces of any previous expression,
these two charming hypocrites sallied out innocently into the walk.
Nothing could be more natural than their manner: if a criticism might
be ventured upon, it was that their elbows were slightly drawn inwards
and before them, leaving their hands gracefully advanced in the line of
their figures, an attitude accepted throughout the civilized world of
deportment as indicating fastidious refinement not unmingled with
permissible hauteur.

The three gentlemen lifted their hats at this ravishing apparition, and
halted.  The Mayor advanced with great politeness.

"I feared you didn't hear me call you, Miss Yerba, so we ventured to
seek you."  As the two girls exchanged almost infantile glances of
surprise, he continued: "Mr. Paul Hathaway has done us the honor of
seeking you here, as he did not find you at the convent.  You may have
forgotten that Mr. Hathaway is the third one of your trustees."

"And so inefficient and worthless that I fear he doesn't count," said
Paul, "but," raising his eyes to Yerba's, "I fancy that I have already
had the pleasure of seeing you, and, I fear, the mortification of
having disturbed you and your friends in the parlor of the Golden Gate
Hotel yesterday."

The two girls looked at each other with the same childlike surprise.
Yerba broke the silence by suddenly turning to Milly. "Certainly, you
remember how greatly interested we were in the conversation of a party
of gentlemen who were there when we came in.  I am afraid our foolish
prattle must have disturbed YOU.  I know that we were struck with the
intelligent and eloquent devotion of your friends."

"Oh, perfectly," chimed in the loyal but somewhat infelix Milly, "and
it was so kind and thoughtful of Mr. Hathaway to take them away as he
did."

"I felt the more embarrassed," continued Hathaway, smiling, but still
critically examining Yerba for an indication of something
characteristic, beyond this palpable conventionality, "as I
unfortunately must present my credentials from a gentleman as much of a
stranger as myself--Colonel Pendleton."

The trade-wind was evidently making itself felt even in this pastoral
retreat, for the two gentlemen appeared to shrink slightly within
themselves, and a chill seemed to have passed over the group.  The
Mayor coughed.  The avuncular Woods gazed abstractedly at a large
cactus.  Even Paul, prepared by previous experience, stopped short.

"Colonel Pendleton!  Oh, do tell me all about him!" flashed out Yerba,
suddenly, with clasped hands and eager girlish breath.

Paul cast a quick grateful glance at the girl.  Whether assumed or not,
her enthusiastic outburst was effective.  The Mayor looked uneasily at
Woods, and turned to Paul.

"Ah, yes!  You and he are original co-trustees.  I believe Pendleton is
in reduced circumstances.  Never quite got over that bank trouble."

"That is only a question of legislative investigation and relief," said
Paul lightly, yet with purposely vague official mystery of manner.
Then, turning quickly to Yerba, as if replying to the only real
question at issue, he continued pointedly, "I am sorry to say the
colonel's health is so poor that it keeps him quite a recluse. I have a
letter from him and a message for you."  His bright eyes added
plainly--"as soon as we can get rid of those people."

"Then you think that a bill"--began the Mayor, eagerly.

"I think, my dear sir," said Paul plaintively, "that I and my friends
have already tried the patience of these two young ladies quite enough
yesterday with politics and law-making.  I have to catch the
six-o'clock train to San Francisco this evening, and have already lost
the time I hoped to spend with Miss Yerba by missing her at the
convent.  Let me stroll on here, if you like, and if I venture to
monopolize the attention of this young lady for half an hour, you, my
dear Mr. Mayor, who have more frequent access to her, I know, will not
begrudge it to me."

He placed himself beside Yerba and Milly, and began an entertaining,
although, I fear, slightly exaggerated, account of his reception by the
Lady Superior, and her evident doubts of his identity with the trustee
mentioned in Pendleton's letter of introduction.  "I confess she
frightened me," he continued, "when she remarked that, according to my
statement, I could have been only eighteen years old when I became your
guardian, and as much in want of one as you were.  I think that only
her belief that Mr. Woods and the Mayor would detect me as an impostor
provoked her at last to tell me your whereabouts."

"But why DID they ever make you a trustee, for goodness' sake?" said
Milly, naively.  "Was there no one grown up at that time that they
could have called upon?"

"Those were the EARLY days of California," responded Paul, with great
gravity, although he was conscious that Yerba was regarding him
narrowly, "and I probably looked older and more intelligent than I
really was.  For, candidly," with the consciousness of Yerba's eyes
still upon him, "I remember very little about it.  I dare say I was
selected, as you kindly suggest, 'for goodness' sake.'"

"After all," said the volatile Milly, who seemed inclined, as
chaperone, to direct the conversation, "there was something pretty and
romantic about it.  You two poor young things taking care of each
other, for of course there were no women here in those days."

"Of course there WERE women here" interrupted Yerba, quickly, with a
half-meaning, half-interrogative glance at Paul that made him
instinctively uneasy.  "You later comers"--to Milly--"always seem to
think that there was nothing here before you!"  She paused, and then
added, with a naive mixture of reproach and coquetry that was as
charming as it was unexpected, "As to taking care of each other, Mr.
Hathaway very quickly got rid of me, I believe."

"But I left you in better hands, Miss Yerba; and let me thank you now,"
he added in a lower tone, "for recognizing it as you did a moment ago.
I'm glad that you instinctively liked Colonel Pendleton.  Had you known
him better, you would have seen how truthful that instinct was.  His
chief fault in the eyes of our worthy friends is that he reminds them
of a great deal they can't perpetuate and much they would like to
forget."  He checked himself abruptly.  "But here is your letter," he
resumed, drawing Colonel Pendleton's missive from his pocket, "perhaps
you would like to read it now, in case you have any message to return
by me.  Miss Woods and I will excuse you."

They had reached the end of the rose-alley, where a summer-house that
was in itself a rose-bower partly disclosed itself.  The other
gentlemen had lagged behind.  "I will amuse MYSELF, and console your
other guardian, dear," said the vivacious Milly, with a rapid exchange
of glances with Yerba, "until this horrid business is over.  Besides,"
she added with cheerful vagueness, "after so long a separation you must
have a great deal to say to each other."

Paul smiled as she rustled away, and Yerba, entering the summer-house,
sat down and opened the letter.  The young man remained leaning against
the rustic archway, occasionally glancing at her and at the moving
figures in the gardens.  He was conscious of an odd excitement which he
could trace to no particular cause.  It was true that he had been
annoyed at not finding the young girl at the convent, and at having to
justify himself to the Lady Superior for what he conceived to be an act
of gratuitous kindness; nor was he blind to the fact that his
persistence in following her was more an act of aggression against the
enemies of Pendleton than of concern for Yerba.  She was certainly
pretty, he could not remember her mother sufficiently to trace any
likeness, and he had never admired the mother's pronounced beauty.  She
had flashed out for an instant into what seemed originality and
feeling.  But it had passed, and she had asked no further questions in
regard to the colonel.

She had hurriedly skimmed through the letter, which seemed to be
composed of certain figures and accounts.  "I suppose it's all right,"
she said; "at least you can say so if he asks you.  It's only an
explanation why he has transferred my money from the bank to
Rothschild's agent years ago.  I don't see why it should interest me
NOW."

Paul made no doubt that it was the same transfer that had shipwrecked
the colonel's fortune and alienated his friends, and could not help
replying somewhat pointedly, "But I think it should, Miss Yerba.  I
don't know what the colonel explained to you--doubtless, not the whole
truth, for he is not a man to praise himself; but, the fact is, the
bank was in difficulties at the time of that transfer, and, to make it,
he sacrificed his personal fortune, and, I think, awakened some of that
ill-feeling you have just noticed."  He checked himself too late: he
had again lost not only his tact and self-control, but had nearly
betrayed himself. He was surprised that the girl's justifiable
ignorance should have irritated him.  Yet she had evidently not
noticed, or misunderstood it, for she said, with a certain precision
that was almost studied:--

"Yes, I suppose it would have been a terrible thing to him to have been
suspected of misappropriating a Trust confided to him by parties who
had already paid him the high compliment of confiding to his care a
secret and a fortune."

Paul glanced at her quickly with astonishment.  Was this ignorance, or
suspicion?  Her manner, however, suddenly changed, with the charming
capriciousness of youth and conscious beauty.  "He speaks of you in
this letter," she said, letting her dark eyes rest on him provokingly.

"That accounts for your lack of interest then," said Paul gayly,
relieved to turn a conversation fraught with so much danger.

"But he speaks very flatteringly," she went on.  "He seems to be
another one of your admirers.  I'm sure, Mr. Hathaway, after that scene
in the hotel parlor yesterday, YOU, at least, cannot complain of having
been misrepresented before ME.  To tell you the truth, I think I hated
you a little for it."

"You were quite right," returned Paul.  "I must have been insufferable!
And I admit that I was slightly piqued against YOU for the idolatries
showered upon you at the same moment by your friends."

Usually, when two young people have reached the point of confidingly
exchanging their first impressions of each other, some progress has
been made in first acquaintance.  But it did not strike Paul in that
way, and Yerba's next remark was discouraging.

"But I'm rather disappointed, for all that.  Colonel Pendleton tells me
you know nothing of my family or of the secret."

Paul was this time quite prepared, and withstood the girl's scrutiny
calmly.  "Do you think," he asked lightly, "that even HE knows?"

"Of course he does," she returned quickly.  "Do you suppose he would
have taken all that trouble you have just talked about if he didn't
know it?  And feared the consequences, perhaps?" she added, with a
slight return of her previous expressive manner.

Again Paul was puzzled and irritated, he knew not why.  But he only
said pleasantly, "I differ from you there.  I am afraid that such a
thing as fear never entered into Colonel Pendleton's calculations on
any subject.  I think he would act the same towards the highest and the
lowest, the powerful or the most weak."  As she glanced at him quickly
and mischievously, he added, "I am quite willing to believe that his
knowledge of you made his duty pleasanter."

He was again quite sincere, and his slight sympathy had that
irresistible quality of tone and look which made him so dangerous. For
he was struck with the pretty, soothed self-complacency that had shone
in her face since he had spoken of Pendleton's equal disinterestedness.
It seemed, too, as if what he had taken for passion or petulance in her
manner had been only a resistance to some continual aggression of
condition.  With that remainder held in check, a certain latent
nobility was apparent, as of her true self.  In this moment of pleased
abstraction she had drawn through the lattice-work of one of the
windows a spray of roses clinging to the vine, and with her graceful
head a little on one side, was softly caressing her cheek with it.  She
certainly was very pretty. From the crown of her dark little head to
the narrow rosetted slippers that had been idly tapping the ground, but
now seemed to press it more proudly, with arched insteps and small
ankles, she was pleasant to look upon.

"But you surely have something else to think about, Miss Yerba?" said
the young man, with conviction.  "In a few months you will be of age,
and rid of those dreadfully stupid guardians; with your"--

The loosened rose-spray flew from her hand out of the window as she
made a gesture, half real, half assumed, of imploring supplication.
"Oh, please, Mr. Hathaway, for Heaven's sake don't YOU begin too! You
are going to say that, with my wealth, my accomplishments, my beauty,
my friends, what more can I want?  What do I care about a secret that
can neither add to them nor take them away?  Yes, you were!  It's the
regular thing to say--everybody says it.  Why, I should have thought
'the youngest senator' could afford to have been more original."

"I plead guilty to ALL the weaknesses of humanity," said Paul, warmly,
again beginning to believe that he had been most unjust to her
independence.

"Well, I forgive you, because you have forgotten to say that, if I
don't like the name of Yerba Buena, I could SO easily change that too."

"But you DO like it," said Paul, touched with this first hearing of her
name in her own musical accents, "or would like it if you heard
yourself pronounce it."  It suddenly recurred to him, with a strange
thrill of pleasure, that he himself had given it to her. It was as if
he had created some musical instrument to which she had just given
voice.  In his enthusiasm he had thrown himself on the bench beside her
in an attitude that, I fear, was not as dignified as became his elderly
office.

"But you don't think that is my NAME," said the girl, quickly.

"I beg your pardon?" said Paul, hesitatingly.

"You don't think that anybody would have been so utterly idiotic as to
call me after a ground-vine--a vegetable?" she continued petulantly.

"Eh?" stammered Paul.

"A name that could be so easily translated," she went on, half
scornfully, "and when translated, was no possible title for anybody?
Think of it--Miss Good Herb!  It is too ridiculous for anything."

Paul was not usually wanting in self-possession in an emergency, or in
skill to meet attack.  But he was so convinced of the truth of the
girl's accusation, and now recalled so vividly his own consternation on
hearing the result of his youthful and romantic sponsorship for the
first time from Pendleton, that he was struck with confusion.

"But what do you suppose it was intended for?" he said at last,
vaguely.  "It was certainly 'Yerba Buena' in the Trust.  At least, I
suppose so," he corrected himself hurriedly.

"It is only a supposition," she said quietly, "for you know it cannot
be proved.  The Trust was never recorded, and the only copy could not
be found among Mr. Hammersley's papers.  It is only part of the name,
of which the first is lost."

"Part of the name?" repeated Paul, uneasily.

"Part of it.  It is a corruption of de la Yerba Buena,--of the Yerba
Buena,--and refers to the island of Yerba Buena in the bay, and not to
the plant.  That island was part of the property of my family--the
Arguellos--you will find it so recorded in the Spanish grants.  My name
is Arguello de la Yerba Buena."

It is impossible to describe the timid yet triumphant, the
half-appealing yet complacent, conviction of the girl's utterance.  A
moment before, Paul would have believed it impossible for him to have
kept his gravity and his respect for his companion under this egregious
illusion.  But he kept both.  For a sudden conviction that she
suspected the truth, and had taken this audacious and original plan of
crushing it, overpowered all other sense.  The Arguellos, it flashed
upon him, were an old Spanish family, former owners of Yerba Buena
Island, who had in the last years become extinct.  There had been a
story that one of them had eloped with an American ship captain's wife
at Monterey.  The legendary history of early Spanish California was
filled with more remarkable incidents, corroborated with little
difficulty from Spanish authorities, who, it was alleged, lent
themselves readily to any fabrication or forgery.  There was no racial
pride: on the contrary, they had shown an eager alacrity to ally
themselves with their conquerors.  The friends of the Arguellos would
be proud to recognize and remember in the American heiress the
descendant of their countrymen.  All this passed rapidly through his
mind after the first moment of surprise; all this must have been the
deliberate reasoning of this girl of seventeen, whose dark eyes were
bent upon him.  Whether she was seeking corroboration or complicity he
could not tell.

"Have you found this out yourself?" he asked, after a pause.

"Yes.  One of my friends at the convent was Josita Castro; she knew all
the history of the Arguellos.  She is perfectly satisfied."

For an instant Paul wondered if it was a joint conception of the two
schoolgirls.  But, on reflection, he was persuaded that Yerba would
commit herself to no accomplice--of her own sex.  She might have
dominated the girl, and would make her a firm partisan, while the girl
would be convinced of it herself, and believe herself a free agent.  He
had had such experience with men himself.

"But why have you not spoken of it before--and to Colonel Pendleton?"

"He did not choose to tell ME," said Yerba, with feminine dexterity.
"I have preferred to keep it myself a secret till I am of age."

"When Colonel Pendleton and some of the other trustees have no right to
say anything," thought Paul quickly.  She had evidently trusted him.
Yet, fascinated as he had been by her audacity, he did not know whether
to be pleased, or the reverse.  He would have preferred to be placed on
an equal footing with Josita Castro.  She anticipated his thoughts by
saying, with half-raised eyelids:--

"What do YOU think of it?"

"It seems to be so natural and obvious an explanation of the mystery
that I only wonder it was not thought of before," said Paul, with that
perfect sincerity that made his sympathy so effective.

"You see,"--still under her pretty eyelids, and the tender promise of a
smile parting her little mouth,--"I'm believing that you tell the truth
when you say you don't know anything about it."

It was a desperate moment with Paul, but his sympathetic instincts, and
possibly his luck, triumphed.  His momentary hesitation easily
simulated the caution of a conscientious man; his knit eyebrows and
bright eyes, lowered in an effort of memory, did the rest.  "I remember
it all so indistinctly," he said, with literal truthfulness; "there was
a veiled lady present, tall and dark, to whom Mayor Hammersley and the
colonel showed a singular, and, it struck me, as an almost
superstitious, respect.  I remember now, distinctly, I was impressed
with the reverential way they both accompanied her to the door at the
end of the interview."  He raised his eyes slightly; the young girl's
red lips were parted; that illumination of the skin, which was her
nearest approach to color, had quite transfigured her face.  He felt,
suddenly, that she believed it, yet he had no sense of remorse.  He
half believed it himself; at least, he remembered the nobility of the
mother's self-renunciation and its effect upon the two men.  Why should
not the daughter preserve this truthful picture of her mother's
momentary exaltation?  Which was the most truthful--that, or the
degrading facts?  "You speak of a secret," he added.  "I can remember
little more than that the Mayor asked me to forget from that moment the
whole occurrence.  I did not know at the time how completely I should
fulfill his request.  You must remember, Miss Yerba, as your Lady
Superior has, that I was absurdly young at the time.  I don't know but
that I may have thought, in my youthful inexperience, that this sort of
thing was of common occurrence. And then, I had my own future to
make--and youth is brutally selfish.  I was quite friendless and
unknown when I left San Francisco for the mines, at the time you
entered the convent as Yerba Buena."

She smiled, and made a slight impulsive gesture, as if she would have
drawn nearer to him, but checked herself, still smiling, and without
embarrassment.  It may have been a movement of youthful camaraderie,
and that occasional maternal rather than sisterly instinct which
sometimes influences a young girl's masculine friendship, and elevates
the favored friend to the plane of the doll she has outgrown.  As he
turned towards her, however, she rose, shook out her yellow dress, and
said with pretty petulance:--

"Then you must go so soon--and this your first and last visit as my
guardian?"

"No one could regret that more than I," looking at her with undefined
meaning.

"Yes," she said, with a tantalizing coquetry that might have suggested
an underlying seriousness.  "I think you HAVE lost a good deal.
Perhaps, so have I.  We might have been good friends in all these
years.  But that is past."

"Why?  Surely, I hope, my shortcomings with Miss Yerba Buena will not
be remembered by Miss Arguello?" sail Paul, earnestly.

"Ah!  SHE may be a very different person."

"I hope not," said the young man, warmly.  "But HOW different?"

"Well, she may not put herself in the way of receiving such point-blank
compliments as that," said the young girl, demurely.

"Not from her guardian?"

"She will have no guardian then."  She said this gravely, but almost at
the same moment turned and sat down again, throwing her linked hands
over her knee, and looked at him mischievously.  "You see what you have
lost, sir."

"I see," said Paul, but with all the gravity that she had dropped.

"No; but you don't see all.  I had no brother--no friend.  You might
have been both.  You might have made me what you liked.  You might have
educated me far better than these teachers, or, at least given me some
pride in my studies.  There were so many things I wanted to know that
they couldn't teach me; so many times I wanted advice from some one
that I could trust.  Colonel Pendleton was very good to me when he
came; he always treated me like a princess even when I wore short
frocks.  It was his manner that first made me think he knew my family;
but I never felt as if I could tell him anything, and I don't think,
with all his chivalrous respect, he ever understood me.  As to the
others--the Mayors--well, you may judge from Mr. Henderson.  It is a
wonder that I did not run away or do something desperate.  Now, are you
not a LITTLE sorry?"

Her voice, which had as many capricious changes as her manner, had been
alternately coquettish, petulant, and serious, had now become playful
again.  But, like the rest of her sex, she was evidently more alert to
her surroundings at such a moment than her companion, for before he
could make any reply, she said, without apparently looking, "But there
is a deputation coming for you, Mr. Hathaway. You see, the case is
hopeless.  You never would be able to give to one what is claimed by
the many."

Paul glanced down the rose-alley, and saw that the deputation in
question was composed of the Mayor, Mr. Woods, a thin, delicate-looking
woman,--evidently Mrs. Woods,--and Milly.  The latter managed to reach
the summer-house first, with apparently youthful alacrity, but really
to exchange, in a single glance, some mysterious feminine signal with
Yerba.  Then she said with breathless infelicity:--

"Before you two get bored with each other now, I must tell you there's
a chance of you having more time.  Aunty has promised to send off a
note excusing you to the Reverend Mother, if she can persuade Mr.
Hathaway to stay over to-night.  But here they are. [To Yerba]  Aunty
is most anxious, and won't hear of his going."

Indeed, it seemed as if Mrs. Woods was, after a refined fashion, most
concerned that a distinguished visitor like Mr. Hathaway should have to
use her house as a mere accidental meeting-place with his ward, without
deigning to accept her hospitality.  She was reinforced by Mr. Woods,
who enunciated the same idea with more masculine vigor; and by the
Mayor, who expressed his conviction that a slight of this kind to
Rosario would be felt in the Santa Clara valley.  "After dinner, my
dear Hathaway," concluded Mr. Woods, "a few of our neighbors may drop
in, who would be glad to shake you by the hand--no formal meeting, my
boy--but, hang it! THEY expect it."

Paul looked around for Yerba.  There was really no reason why he
shouldn't accept, although an hour ago the idea had never entered his
mind.  Yet, if he did, he would like the girl to know that it was for
HER sake.  Unfortunately, far from exhibiting any concern in the
matter, she seemed to be preoccupied with Milly, and only the charming
back of her head was visible behind Mrs. Woods.  He accepted, however,
with a hesitation that took some of the graciousness from his yielding,
and a sense that he was giving a strange importance to a trivial
circumstance.

The necessity of attaching himself to his hostess, and making a more
extended tour of the grounds, for a while diverted him from an uneasy
consideration of his past interview.  Mrs. Woods had known Yerba
through the school friendship of Milly, and, as far as the religious
rules of the convent would allow, had always been delighted to show her
any hospitality.  She was a beautiful girl--did not Mr. Hathaway think
so?--and a girl of great character.  It was a pity, of course, that she
had never known a mother's care, and that the present routine of a
boarding-school had usurped the tender influences of home.  She
believed, too, that the singular rotation of guardianship had left the
girl practically without a counseling friend to rely upon, except,
perhaps, Colonel Pendleton; and while she, Mrs. Woods, did not for a
moment doubt that the colonel might be a good friend and a pleasant
companion of MEN, really he, Mr. Hathaway, must admit that, with his
reputation and habits, he was hardly a fit associate for a young lady.
Indeed, Mr. Woods would have never allowed Milly to invite Yerba here
if Colonel Pendleton was to have been her escort.  Of course, the poor
girl could not choose her own guardian, but Mr. Woods said HE had a
right to choose who should be his niece's company.  Perhaps Mr. Woods
was prejudiced,--most men were,--yet surely Mr. Hathaway, although a
loyal friend of Colonel Pendleton's, must admit that when it was an
open scandal that the colonel had fought a duel about a notoriously
common woman, and even blasphemously defended her before a party of
gentlemen, it was high time, as Mr. Woods said, that he should be
remanded to their company exclusively.  No; Mrs. Woods could not admit
that this was owing to the injustice of her own sex!  Men are really
the ones who make the fuss over those things, just as they, as Mr.
Hathaway well knew, made the laws! No; it was a great pity, as she and
her husband had just agreed, that Mr. Hathaway, of all the guardians,
could not have been always the help and counselor--in fact, the elder
brother--of poor Yerba! Paul was conscious that he winced slightly,
consistently and conscientiously, at the recollection of certain
passages of his youth; inconsistently and meanly, at this suggestion of
a joint relationship with Yerba's mother.

"I think, too," continued Mrs. Woods, "she has worried foolishly about
this ridiculous mystery of her parentage--as if it could make the
slightest difference to a girl with a quarter of a million, or as if
that didn't show quite conclusively that she WAS somebody!"

"Certainly," said Paul, quickly, with a relief that he nevertheless
felt was ridiculous.

"And, of course, I dare say it will all come out when she is of age.  I
suppose you know if any of the family are still living?"

"I really do not."

"I beg your pardon," said Mrs. Woods, with a smile.  "I forgot it's a
profound secret until then.  But here we are at the house; I see the
girls have walked over to our neighbors'.  Perhaps you would like to
have a few moments to yourself before you dress for dinner, and your
portmanteau, which has been sent for, comes from your hotel.  You must
be tired of seeing so many people."

Paul was glad to accept any excuse for being alone, and, thanking his
hostess, followed a servant to his room--a low-ceilinged but
luxuriously furnished apartment on the first floor.  Here he threw
himself on a cushioned lounge that filled the angle of the deep
embrasure--the thickness of the old adobe walls--that formed a part of
the wooden-latticed window.  A Cape jessamine climbing beside it filled
the room with its subtle, intoxicating perfume.  It was so strong, and
he felt himself so irresistibly overpowered and impelled towards a
merely idle reverie, that, in order to think more clearly and shut out
some strange and unreasoning enthrallment of his senses, he rose and
sharply closed the window.  Then he sat down and reflected.

What was he doing here? and what was the meaning of all this?  He had
come simply to fulfill a duty to his past, and please a helpless and
misunderstood old acquaintance.  He had performed that duty.  But he
had incidentally learned a certain fact that might be important to this
friend, and clearly his duty was simply to go back and report it.  He
would gain nothing more in the way of corroboration of it by staying
now, if further corroboration were required.  Colonel Pendleton had
already been uselessly and absurdly perplexed about the possible
discovery of the girl's parentage, and its effect upon her fortunes and
herself.  She had just settled that of her own accord, and, without
committing herself or others, had suggested a really sensible plan by
which all trouble would be avoided in future.  That was the
common-sense way of looking at it.  He would lay the plan before the
colonel, have him judge of its expediency and its ethics--and even the
question whether she already knew the real truth, or was self-deceived.
That done, he would return to his own affairs in Sacramento.  There was
nothing difficult in this, or that need worry him, only he could have
done it just as well an hour ago.

He opened the window again.  The scent of the jessamine came in as
before, but mingled with the cooler breath of the roses.  There was
nothing intoxicating or unreal in it now; rather it seemed a gentle
aromatic stimulant--of thought.  Long shadows of unseen poplars beyond
barred the garden lanes and alleys with bands of black and yellow.  A
slanting pencil of sunshine through the trees was for a moment focussed
on a bed of waxen callas before a hedge of ceanothus, and struck into
dazzling relief the cold white chalices of the flowers and the vivid
shining green of their background. Presently it slid beyond to a tiny
fountain, before invisible, and wrought a blinding miracle out of its
flashing and leaping spray. Yet even as he gazed the fountain seemed to
vanish slowly, the sunbeam slipped on, and beyond it moved the shimmer
of white and yellow dresses.  It was Yerba and Milly returning to the
house. Well, he would not interrupt his reflections by idly watching
them; he would, probably, see a great deal of Yerba that evening, and
by that time he would have come to some conclusion in regard to her.

But he had not taken into consideration her voice, which, always
musical in its Southern intonation and quite audible in the quiet
garden, struck him now as being full of joyous sweetness.  Well, she
was certainly very happy--or very thoughtless.  She was actually
romping with Milly, and was now evidently being chased down the
rose-alley by that volatile young woman.  Then these swift Camillas
apparently neared the house, there was the rapid rustle of skirts, the
skurrying of little feet on the veranda, a stumble, a mouse-like shriek
from Milly, and HER voice, exhausted, dying, happy, broken with
half-hushed laughter, rose to him on the breath of the jessamine and
rose.

Surely she WAS a child, and, if a child, how he had misjudged her! What
if all that he had believed was mature deliberation was only the
innocent imaginings of a romantic girl, all that he had taken seriously
only a school-girl's foolish dream!  Instead of combating it, instead
of reasoning with her, instead of trying to interest her in other
things, he had even helped on her illusions.  He had treated her as if
the taint of her mother's worldliness and knowledge of evil was in her
pure young flesh.  He had recognized her as the daughter of an
adventuress, and not as his ward, appealing to his chivalry through her
very ignorance--it might be her very childish vanity.  He had brought
to a question of tender and pathetic interest only his selfish opinion
of the world and the weaknesses of mankind.  The blood came to his
cheeks--with all his experienced self-control, he had not lost the
youthful trick of blushing--and he turned away from the window as if it
had breathed a reproach.

But ought he have even contented himself with destroying her
illusions--ought he not have gone farther and told her the whole truth?
Ought he not first have won her confidence--he remembered bitterly,
now, how she had intimated that she had no one to confide in--and,
after revealing her mother's history, have still pledged himself to
keep the secret from all others, and assisted her in her plan?  It
would not have altered the state of affairs, except so far as she was
concerned; they could have combined together; his ready wit would have
helped him; and his sympathy would have sustained her; but--

How and in what way could he have told her?  Leaving out the delicate
and difficult periphrase by which her mother's shame would have to be
explained to an innocent school-girl--what right could he have assumed
to tell it?  As the guardian who had never counseled or protected her?
As an acquaintance of hardly an hour ago?  Who would have such a right?
A lover--on whose lips it would only seem a tacit appeal to her
gratitude or her fears, and whom no sensitive girl could accept
thereafter?  No.  A husband?  Yes!  He remembered, with a sudden start,
what Pendleton had said to him. Good Heavens!  Had Pendleton that idea
in his mind?  And yet--it seemed the only solution.

A knock at his door was followed by the appearance of Mr. Woods. Mr.
Hathaway's portmanteau had come, and Mrs. Woods had sent a message,
saying that in view of the limited time that Mr. Hathaway would have
with his ward, Mrs. Woods would forego her right to keep him at her
side at dinner, and yield her place to Yerba.  Paul thanked him with a
grave inward smile.  What if he made his dramatic disclosure to her
confidentially over the soup and fish? Yet, in his constantly recurring
conviction of the girl's independence, he made no doubt she would have
met his brutality with unflinching pride and self-possession.  He began
to dress slowly, at times almost forgetting himself in a new kind of
pleasant apathy, which he attributed to the odor of the flowers, and
the softer hush of twilight that had come on with the dying away of the
trade winds, and the restful spice of the bay-trees near his window.
He presently found himself not so much thinking of Yerba as of SEEING
her.  A picture of her in the summer-house caressing her cheek with the
roses seemed to stand out from the shadows of the blank wall opposite
him.  When he passed into the dressing-room beyond, it was not his own
face he saw in the glass, but hers.  It was with a start, as if he had
heard HER voice, that he found upon his dressing-table a small vase
containing a flower for his coat, with the penciled words on a card in
a school-girl's hand, "From Yerba, with thanks for staying."  It must
have been placed there by a servant while he was musing at the window.

Half a dozen people were already in the drawing-room when Paul
descended.  It appeared that Mr. Woods had invited certain of his
neighbors--among them a Judge Baker and his wife, and Don Caesar
Briones, of the adjacent Rancho of Los Pajaros, and his sister, the
Dona Anna.  Milly and Yerba had not yet appeared.  Don Caesar, a young
man of a toreador build, roundly bland in face and murky in eye, seemed
to notice their absence, and kept his glances towards the door, while
Paul engaged in conversation with Dona Anna--if that word could convey
an impression of a conventionality which that good-humored young lady
converted into an animated flirtation at the second sentence with a
single glance and two shakes of her fan.  And then Milly fluttered
in--a vision of school-girl freshness and white tulle, and a moment
later--with a pause of expectation--a tall, graceful figure, that at
first Paul scarcely recognized.

It is a popular conceit of our sex that we are superior to any effect
of feminine adornment, and that a pretty girl is equally pretty in the
simplest frock.  Yet there was not a man in the room who did not
believe that Yerba in her present attire was not only far prettier than
before, but that she indicated a new and more delicate form of beauty.
It was not the mere revelation of contour and color of an ordinary
decollete dress, it was a perfect presentment of pure symmetry and
carriage.  In this black grenadine dress, trimmed with jet, not only
was the delicate satin sheen of her skin made clearer by contrast, but
she looked every inch her full height, with an ideal exaltation of
breeding and culture.  She wore no jewelry except a small necklace of
pearls--so small it might have been a child's--that fitted her slender
throat so tightly that it could scarcely be told from the flesh that it
clasped.  Paul did not know that it was the gift of the mother to the
child that she had forsworn only a few weeks before she parted from her
forever; but he had a vague feeling that, in that sable dress that
seemed like mourning, she walked at the funeral of her mother's past.
A few white flowers in her corsage, the companions of the solitary one
in his button-hole, were the only relief.

Their eyes met for a single moment, the look of admiration in Paul's
being answered by the naive consciousness in Yerba's of a woman looking
her best; but the next moment she appeared preoccupied with the others,
and the eager advances of Don Caesar.

"Your brother seems to admire Miss Yerba," said Paul.

"Ah, ye--es," returned Dona Anna.  "And you?"

"Oh!" said Paul, gayly, "I?  I am her guardian--with me it is simple
egotism, you know."

"Ah!" returned the arch Dona Anna, "you are then already SO certain of
her?  Good!  I shall warn him."

A precaution that did seem necessary; as later, when Paul, at a signal
from his hostess, offered his arm to Yerba, the young Spaniard regarded
him with a look of startled curiosity.

"I thank you for selecting me to wear your colors," said Paul with a
glance at the flowers in her corsage, as they sat at table, "and I
think I deserve them, since, but for you, I should have been on my way
to San Francisco at this moment.  Shall I have an opportunity of
talking to you a few minutes later in the evening?" he added, in a
lower tone.

"Why not now?" returned Yerba, mischievously.  "We are set here
expressly for that purpose."

"Surely not to talk of our own business--I should say, of our FAMILY
affairs," said Paul, looking at her with equal playfulness; "though I
believe your friend Don Caesar, opposite, would be more pleased if he
were sure that was all we did."

"And you think his sister would share in that pleasure?" retorted
Yerba.  "I warn you, Mr. Hathaway, that you have been quite justifying
the Reverend Mother's doubts about your venerable pretensions.
Everybody is staring at you now."

Paul looked up mechanically.  It was true.  Whether from some occult
sympathy, from a human tendency to admire obvious fitness and symmetry,
or the innocent love with which the world regards innocent lovers, they
were all observing Yerba and himself with undisguised attention.  A
good talker, he quickly led the conversation to other topics.  It was
then that he discovered that Yerba was not only accomplished, but that
this convent-bred girl had acquired a singular breadth of knowledge
apart from the ordinary routine of the school curriculum.  She spoke
and thought with independent perceptions and clearness, yet without the
tactlessness and masculine abruptness that is apt to detract from
feminine originality of reflection.  By some tacit understanding that
had the charm of mutual confidence, they both exerted themselves to
please the company rather than each other, and Paul, in the interchange
of sallies with Dona Anna, had a certain pleasure in hearing Yerba
converse in Spanish with Don Caesar.  But in a few moments he observed,
with some uneasiness, that they were talking of the old Spanish
occupation, and presently of the old Spanish families.  Would she
prematurely expose an ignorance that might be hereafter remembered
against her, or invite some dreadful genealogical reminiscence that
would destroy her hopes and raze her Spanish castles?  Or was she
simply collecting information?  He admired the dexterity with which,
without committing herself, she made Don Caesar openly and even
confidentially communicative.  And yet he was on thorns; at times it
seemed as if he himself were playing a part in this imposture of
Yerba's.  He was aware that his wandering attention was noticed by the
quick-witted Dona Anna, when he regained his self-possession by what
appeared to be a happy diversion.  It was the voice of Mrs. Judge Baker
calling across the table to Yerba.  By one of the peculiar accidents of
general conversation, it was the one apparently trivial remark that in
a pause challenged the ears of all.

"We were admiring your necklace, Miss Yerba."

Every eye was turned upon the slender throat of the handsome girl. The
excuse was so natural.

Yerba put her hand to her neck with a smile.  "You are joking, Mrs.
Baker.  I know it is ridiculously small, but it is a child's necklace,
and I wear it because it was a gift from my mother."

Paul's heart sank again with consternation.  It was the first time he
had heard the girl distinctly connect herself with her actual mother,
and for an instant he felt as startled as if the forgotten Outcast
herself had returned and taken a seat at the board.

"I told you it couldn't be so?" remarked Mrs. Baker, to her husband.

Everybody naturally looked inquiringly upon the couple, and Mrs. Baker
explained with a smile: "Bob thinks he's seen it before; men are so
obstinate."

"Pardon me, Miss Yerba," said the Judge, blandly, "would you mind
showing it to me, if it is not too much trouble?"

"Not at all," said Yerba, smiling, and detaching the circlet from her
neck.  "I'm afraid you'll find it rather old-fashioned."

"That's just what I hope to find it," said Judge Baker, with a
triumphant glance at his wife.  "It was eight years ago when I saw it
in Tucker's jewelry shop.  I wanted to buy it for my little Minnie, but
as the price was steep I hesitated, and when I did make up my mind he
had disposed of it to another customer.  Yes," he added, examining the
necklace which Yerba had handed to him.  "I am certain it is the same:
it was unique, like this.  Odd, isn't it?"

Everybody said it WAS odd, and looked upon the occurrence with that
unreasoning satisfaction with which average humanity receives the most
trivial and unmeaning coincidences.  It was left to Don Caesar to give
it a gallant application.

"I have not-a the pleasure of knowing-a the Miss Minnie, but the
jewelry, when she arrives, to the throat-a of Miss Yerba, she has not
lost the value--the beauty--the charm."

"No," said Woods, cheerily.  "The fact is, Baker, you were too slow.
Miss Yerba's folks gobbled up the necklace while you were thinking.
You were a new-comer.  Old 'forty-niners' did not hesitate over a thing
they wanted."

"You never knew who was your successful rival, eh?" said Dona Anna,
turning to Judge Baker with a curious glance at Paul's pale face in
passing.

"No," said Baker, "but"--he stopped with a hesitating laugh and some
little confusion.  "No, I've mixed it up with something else. It's so
long ago.  I never knew, or if I did I've forgotten.  But the necklace
I remember."  He handed it back to Yerba with a bow, and the incident
ended.

Paul had not looked at Yerba during this conversation, an unreasoning
instinct that he might confuse her, an equally unreasoning dread that
he might see her confused by others, possessing him.  And when he did
glance at her calm, untroubled face, that seemed only a little
surprised at his own singular coldness, he was by no means relieved.
He was only convinced of one thing.  In the last five minutes he had
settled upon the irrevocable determination that his present relations
with the girl could exist no longer.  He must either tell her
everything, or see her no more.  There was no middle course.  She was
on the brink of an exposure at any moment, either through her ignorance
or her unhappy pretension.  In his intolerable position, he was equally
unable to contemplate her peril, accept her defense, or himself defend
her.

As if, with some feminine instinct, she had attributed his silence to
some jealousy of Don Caesar's attentions, she more than once turned
from the Spaniard to Paul with an assuring smile.  In his anxiety, he
half accepted the rather humiliating suggestion, and managed to say to
her, in a lower tone:--

"On this last visit of your American guardian, one would think, you
need not already anticipate your Spanish relations."

He was thrilled with the mischievous yet faintly tender pleasure that
sparkled in her eyes as she said,--

"You forget it is my American guardian's FIRST visit, as well as his
last."

"And as your guardian," he went on, with half-veiled seriousness, "I
protest against your allowing your treasures, the property of the
Trust," he gazed directly into her beautiful eyes, "being handled and
commented upon by everybody."

When the ladies had left the table, he was, for a moment, relieved. But
only for a moment.  Judge Baker drew his chair beside Paul's, and,
taking his cigar from his lips, said, with a perfunctory laugh:--

"I say, Hathaway, I pulled up just in time to save myself from making
an awful speech, just now, to your ward."

Paul looked at him with cold curiosity.

"Yes.  Gad!  Do you know WHO was my rival in that necklace transaction?"

"No," said Paul, with frigid carelessness.

"Why, Kate Howard!  Fact, sir.  She bought it right under my nose--and
overbid me, too."

Paul did not lose his self-possession.  Thanks to the fact that Yerba
was not present, and that Don Caesar, who had overheard the speech,
moved forward with a suggestive and unpleasant smile, his agitation
congealed into a coldly placid fury.

"And I suppose," he returned, with perfect calmness, "that, after the
usual habit of this class of women, the necklace very soon found its
way back, through the pawnbroker, to the jeweler again. It's a common
fate."

"Yes, of course," said Judge Baker, cheerfully.  "You're quite right.
That's undoubtedly the solution of it.  But," with a laugh, "I had a
narrow escape from saying something--eh?"

"A very narrow escape from an apparently gratuitous insult," said Paul,
gravely, but fixing his eyes, now more luminous than ever with anger,
not on the speakers but on the face of Don Caesar, who was standing at
his side.  "You were about to say,"--

"Eh--oh--ah! this Kate Howard?  So!  I have heard of her--yees! And
Miss Yerba--ah--she is of my country--I think.  Yes--we shall claim
her--of a truth--yes."

"Your countrymen, I believe, are in the habit of making claims that are
more often founded on profit than verity," said Paul, with smileless
and insulting deliberation.  He knew perfectly what he was saying, and
the result he expected.  Only twenty-four hours before he had smiled at
Pendleton's idea of averting scandal and discovery by fighting, yet he
was endeavoring to pick a quarrel with a man, merely on suspicion, for
the same purpose, and he saw nothing strange in it.  A vague idea, too,
that this would irrevocably confirm him in opposition to Yerba's
illusions probably determined him.

But Don Caesar, albeit smiling lividly, did not seem inclined to pick
up the gauntlet, and Woods interfered hastily.  "Don Caesar means that
your ward has some idea herself that she is of Spanish origin--at
least, Milly says so.  But of course, as one of the oldest trustees,
YOU know the facts."

In another moment Paul would have committed himself.  "I think we'll
leave Miss Yerba out of the question," he said, coldly.  "My remark was
a general one, although, of course, I am responsible for any personal
application of it."

"Spoken like a politician, Hathaway," said Judge Baker, with an
effusive enthusiasm, which he hoped would atone for the alarming
results of his infelicitous speech.  "That's right, gentlemen!  You
can't get the facts from him before he is ready to give them.  Keep
your secret, Mr. Hathaway, the court is with you."

Nevertheless, as they passed out of the room to join the ladies, the
Mayor lingered a little behind with Woods.  "It's easy to see the
influence of that Pendleton on our young friend," he said,
significantly.  "Somebody ought to tell him that it's played out down
here--as Pendleton is.  It's quite enough to ruin his career."

Paul was too observant not to notice this, but it brought him no sense
of remorse; and his youthful belief in himself and his power kept him
from concern.  He felt as if he had done something, if only to show Don
Caesar that the girl's weakness or ignorance could not be traded upon
with impunity.  But he was still undecided as to the course he should
pursue.  But he should determine that to-night.  At present there
seemed no chance of talking to her alone--she was unconcernedly
conversing with Milly and Mrs. Woods, and already the visitors who had
been invited to this hurried levee in his honor were arriving.  In view
of his late indiscretion, he nervously exerted his fullest powers, and
in a very few minutes was surrounded by a breathless and admiring group
of worshipers.  A ludicrous resemblance to the scene in the Golden Gate
Hotel passed through his mind; he involuntarily turned his eyes to seek
Yerba in the half-fear, half-expectation of meeting her mischievous
smile. Their glances met; to his surprise hers was smileless, and
instantly withdrawn, but not until he had been thrilled by an
unconscious prepossession in its luminous depths that he scarcely dared
to dwell upon.  What mattered now this passage with Don Caesar or the
plaudits of his friends?  SHE was proud of him!

Yet, after that glance, she was shy, preoccupying herself with Milly,
or even listening sweetly to Judge Baker's somewhat practical and
unromantic reminiscences of the deprivations and the hardships of
California early days, as if to condone his past infelicity.  She was
pleasantly unaffected with Don Caesar, although she managed to draw
Dona Anna into the conversation; she was unconventional, Paul fancied,
to all but himself.  Once or twice, when he had artfully drawn her
towards the open French window that led to the moonlit garden and
shadowed veranda, she had managed to link Milly's arm in her own, and
he was confident that a suggestion to stroll with him in the open air
would be followed by her invitation to Milly to accompany them.
Disappointed and mortified as he was, he found some solace in her
manner, which he still believed suggested the hope that she might be
made accessible to his persuasions.  Persuasions to what?  He did not
know.

The last guest had departed; he lingered on the veranda with a cigar,
begging his host and hostess not to trouble themselves to keep him
company.  Milly and Yerba had retired to the former's boudoir, but, as
they had not yet formally bade him good night, there was a chance of
their returning.  He still stayed on in this hope for half an hour, and
then, accepting Yerba's continued absence as a tacit refusal of his
request, he turned abruptly away. But as he glanced around the garden
before reentering the house, he was struck by a singular
circumstance--a white patch, like a forgotten shawl, which he had
observed on the distant ceanothus hedge, and which had at first
thrilled him with expectation, had certainly CHANGED ITS POSITION.
Before, it seemed to be near the summer-house; now it was, undoubtedly,
farther away.  Could they, or SHE alone, have slipped from the house
and be awaiting him there?  With a muttered exclamation at his
stupidity he stepped hastily from the veranda and walked towards it.
But he had scarcely proceeded a dozen yards before it disappeared.  He
reached the summer-house--it was empty; he followed the line of
hedge--no one was there.  It could not have been her, or she would have
waited, unless he were the victim of a practical joke.  He turned
impatiently back to the house, reentered the drawing-room by the French
window, and was crossing the half-lit apartment, when he heard a slight
rustle in the shadow of the window.  He looked around quickly, and saw
that it was Yerba, in a white, loose gown, for which she had already
exchanged her black evening dress, leaning back composedly on the sofa,
her hands clasped behind her shapely head.

"I am waiting for Milly," she said, with a faint smile on her lips. He
fancied, in the moonlight that streamed upon her, that her beautiful
face was pale.  "She has gone to the other wing to see one of the
servants who is ill.  We thought you were on the veranda smoking and I
should have company, until I saw you start off, and rush up and down
the hedge like mad."

Paul felt that he was losing his self-possession, and becoming nervous
in her presence.  "I thought it was YOU," he stammered.

"Me!  Out in the garden at this hour, alone, and in the broad
moonlight?  What are you thinking of, Mr. Hathaway?  Do you know
anything of convent rules, or is that your idea of your ward's
education?"

He fancied that, though she smiled faintly, her voice was as tremulous
as his own.

"I want to speak with you," he said, with awkward directness.  "I even
thought of asking you to stroll with me in the garden."

"Why not talk here?" she returned, changing her position, pointing to
the other end of the sofa, and drawing the whole overflow of her skirt
to one side.  "It is not so very late, and Milly will return in a few
moments."

Her face was in shadow now, but there was a glow-worm light in her
beautiful eyes that seemed faintly to illuminate her whole face. He
sank down on the sofa at her side, no longer the brilliant and
ambitious politician, but, it seemed to him, as hopelessly a dreaming,
inexperienced boy as when he had given her the name that now was all he
could think of, and the only word that rose to his feverish lips.

"Yerba!"

"I like to hear you say it," she said quickly, as if to gloss over his
first omission of her formal prefix, and leaning a little forward, with
her eyes on his.  "One would think you had created it.  You almost make
me regret to lose it."

He stopped.  He felt that the last sentence had saved him.  "It is of
that I want to speak," he broke out suddenly and almost rudely. "Are
you satisfied that it means nothing, and can mean nothing, to you?
Does it awaken no memory in your mind--recall nothing you care to know?
Think!  I beg you, I implore you to be frank with me!"

She looked at him with surprise.

"I have told you already that my present name must be some absurd
blunder, or some intentional concealment.  But why do you want to know
NOW?" she continued, adding her faint smile to the emphasis.

"To help you!" he said, eagerly.  "For that alone!  To do all I can to
assist you, if you really believe, and want to believe, that you have
another.  To ask you to confide in me; to tell me all you have been
told, all that you know, think you know, or WANT to know about your
relationship to the Arguellos--or to--any one.  And then to devote
myself entirely to proving what you shall say is your desire.  You see,
I am frank with you, Yerba.  I only ask you to be as frank with me; to
let me know your doubts, that I may counsel you; your fears, that I may
give you courage."

"Is that all you came here to tell me?" she asked quietly.

"No, Yerba," he said, eagerly, taking her unresisting but indifferent
hand, "not all; but all that I must say, all that I have the right to
say, all that you, Yerba, would permit me to tell you NOW.  But let me
hope that the day is not far distant when I can tell you ALL, when you
will understand that this silence has been the hardest sacrifice of the
man who now speaks to you."

"And yet not unworthy of a rising politician," she added, quickly
withdrawing her hand.  "I agree," she went on, looking towards the
door, yet without appearing to avoid his eager eyes, "and when I have
settled upon 'a local habitation and a name' we shall renew this
interesting conversation.  Until then, as my fourth official guardian
used to say--he was a lawyer, Mr. Hathaway, like yourself--when he was
winding up his conjectures on the subject--all that has passed is to be
considered 'without prejudice.'"

"But Yerba"--began Paul, bitterly.

She slightly raised her hand as if to check him with a warning gesture.
"Yes, dear," she said suddenly, lifting her musical voice, with a
mischievous side-glance at Paul, as if to indicate her conception of
the irony of a possible application, "this way. Here we are waiting for
you."  Her listening ear had detected Milly's step in the passage, and
in another moment that cheerful young woman discreetly stopped on the
threshold of the room, with every expression of apologetic indiscretion
in her face.

"We have finished our talk, and Mr. Hathaway has been so concerned
about my having no real name that he has been promising me everything,
but his own, for a suitable one.  Haven't you, Mr. Hathaway?"  She rose
slowly and, going over to Milly, put her arm around her waist and stood
for one instant gazing at him between the curtains of the doorway.
"Good night.  My very proper chaperon is dreadfully shocked at this
midnight interview, and is taking me away.  Only think of it, Milly; he
actually proposed to me to walk in the garden with him!  Good night,
or, as my ancestors--don't forget, MY ANCESTORS--used to say: 'Buena
noche--hasta manana!'" She lingered over the Spanish syllables with an
imitation of Dona Anna's lisp, and with another smile, but more faint
and more ghostlike than before; vanished with her companion.

At eight o'clock the next morning Paul was standing beside his
portmanteau on the veranda.

"But this is a sudden resolution of yours, Hathaway," said Mr. Woods.
"Can you not possibly wait for the next train?  The girls will be down
then, and you can breakfast comfortably."

"I have much to do--more than I imagined--in San Francisco before I
return," said Paul, quickly.  "You must make my excuses to them and to
your wife."

"I hope," said Woods, with an uneasy laugh, "you have had no more words
with Don Caesar, or he with you?"

"No," said Paul, with a reassuring smile, "nothing more, I assure you."

"For you know you're a devilish quick fellow, Hathaway," continued
Woods, "quite as quick as your friend Pendleton.  And, by the way,
Baker is awfully cut up about that absurd speech of his, you know. Came
to me last night and wondered if anybody could think it was
intentional.  I told him it was d--d stupid, that was all.  I guess his
wife had been at him.  Ha! ha!  You see, he remembers the old times,
when everybody talked of these things, and that woman Howard was quite
a character.  I'm told she went off to the States years ago."

"Possibly," said Paul, carelessly.  After a pause, as the carriage
drove up to the door, he turned to his host.  "By the way, Woods, have
you a ghost here?"

"The house is old enough for one.  But no.  Why?"

"I'll swear I saw a figure moving yonder, in the shrubbery, late last
evening; and when I came up to it, it most unaccountably disappeared."

"One of Don Caesar's servants, I dare say.  There is one of them, an
Indian, prowling about here, I've been told, at all hours.  I'll put a
stop to it.  Well, you must go then?  Dreadfully sorry you couldn't
stop longer!  Good-by!"



CHAPTER IV.

It was two months later that Mr. Tony Shear, of Marysville, but lately
confidential clerk to the Hon. Paul Hathaway, entered his employer's
chambers in Sacramento, and handed the latter a letter.

"I only got back from San Francisco this morning; but Mr. Slate said I
was to give you that, and if it satisfied you, and was what you wanted,
you would send it back to him."

Paul took the envelope and opened it.  It contained a printer's
proof-slip, which he hurriedly glanced over.  It read as follows:--

"Those of our readers who are familiar with the early history of San
Francisco will be interested to know that an eccentric and irregular
trusteeship, vested for the last eight years in the Mayor of San
Francisco and two of our oldest citizens, was terminated yesterday by
the majority of a beautiful and accomplished young lady, a pupil of the
convent of Santa Clara.  Very few, except the original trustees, were
cognizant of the fact that the administration of the trustees has been
a recognized function of the successive Mayors of San Francisco during
this period; and the mystery surrounding it has been only lately
divulged.  It offers a touching and romantic instance of a survival of
the old patriarchal duties of the former Alcaldes and the simplicity of
pioneer days. It seems that, in the unsettled conditions of the Mexican
land-titles that followed the American occupation, the consumptive
widow of a scion of one of the oldest Californian families intrusted
her property and the custody of her infant daughter virtually to the
city of San Francisco, as represented by the trustees specified, until
the girl should become of age.  Within a year, the invalid mother died.
With what loyalty, sagacity, and prudence these gentlemen fulfilled
their trust may be gathered from the fact that the property left in
their charge has not only been secured and protected, but increased a
hundredfold in value; and that the young lady, who yesterday attained
her majority, is not only one of the richest landed heiresses on the
Pacific Slope, but one of the most accomplished and thoroughly educated
of her sex.  It is now no secret that this favored child of Chrysopolis
is the Dona Maria Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena, so called
from her ancestral property on the island, now owned by the Federal
government.  But it is an affecting and poetic tribute to the parent of
her adoption that she has preferred to pass under the old, quaintly
typical name of the city, and has been known to her friends simply as
'Miss Yerba Buena.'  It is a no less pleasant and suggestive
circumstance that our 'youngest senator,' the Honorable Paul Hathaway,
formerly private secretary to Mayor Hammersley, is one of the original
unofficial trustees; while the chivalry of the older days is
perpetuated in the person of Colonel Harry Pendleton, the remaining
trustee."

As soon as he had finished, Paul took a pencil and crossed out the last
sentence; but instead of laying the proof aside, or returning it to the
waiting secretary, he remained with it in his hand, his silent, set
face turned towards the window.  Whether the merely human secretary was
tired of waiting, or the devoted partisan saw something on his young
chief's face that disturbed him, he turned to Paul with that
exaggerated respect which his functions as secretary had grafted upon
his affection for his old associate, and said:--

"I hope nothing's wrong, sir.  Not another of those scurrilous attacks
on you for putting that bill through to relieve Colonel Pendleton?  Yet
it was a risky thing for you, sir."

Paul started, recovered himself as if from some remote abstraction,
and, with a smile, said: "No,--nothing.  Quite the reverse.  Write to
Mr. Slate, thank him, and say that it will do very well--with the
exception of the lines I have marked out.  Then bring me the letter,
and I will add this inclosure.  Did you call on Colonel Pendleton?"

"Yes, sir.  He was at Santa Clara, and had not yet returned,--at least,
that's what that dandy nigger of his told me.  The airs and graces that
that creature puts on since the colonel's affairs have been
straightened out is a little too much for a white man to stand.  Why,
sir! d--d if he didn't want to patronize YOU, and allowed to me that
'de Kernel' had a 'fah ideah' of you, 'and thought you a promisin'
young man.'  The fact is, sir, the party is making a big mistake trying
to give votes to that kind of cattle--it would only be giving two votes
to the other side, for, slave or free, they're the chattels of their
old masters.  And as to the masters' gratitude for what you've done
affecting a single vote of their party--you're mistaken."

"Colonel Pendleton belongs to no party," said Paul, curtly; "but if his
old constituents ever try to get into power again, they've lost their
only independent martyr."

He presently became abstracted again, and Shear produced from his
overcoat pocket a series of official-looking documents.

"I've brought the reports, sir."

"Eh?" said Paul, absently.

The secretary stared.  "The reports of the San Francisco Chief of
Police that you asked me to get."  His employer was certainly very
forgetful to-day.

"Oh, yes; thank you.  You can lay them on my desk.  I'll look them over
in Committee.  You can go now, and if any one calls to see me say I'm
busy."

The secretary disappeared in the adjoining room, and Paul leaned back
in his chair, thinking.  He had, at last, effected the work he had
resolved upon when he left Rosario two months ago; the article he had
just read, and which would appear as an editorial in the San Francisco
paper the day after tomorrow, was the culmination of quietly persistent
labor, inquiry, and deduction, and would be accepted, hereafter, as
authentic history, which, if not thoroughly established, at least could
not be gainsaid.  Immediately on arriving at San Francisco, he had
hastened to Pendleton's bedside, and laid the facts and his plan before
him.  To his mingled astonishment and chagrin, the colonel had objected
vehemently to this "saddling of anybody's offspring on a gentleman who
couldn't defend himself," and even Paul's explanation that the putative
father was a myth scarcely appeased him.  But Paul's timely
demonstration, by relating the scene he had witnessed of Judge Baker's
infelicitous memory, that the secret was likely to be revealed at any
moment, and that if the girl continued to cling to her theory, as he
feared she would, even to the parting with her fortune, they would be
forced to accept it, or be placed in the hideous position of publishing
her disgrace, at last convinced him. On the other hand, there was less
danger of her POSITIVE imposition being discovered than of the VAGUE
AND IMPOSITIVE truth.  The real danger lay in the present uncertainty
and mystery, which courted surmise and invited discovery.  Paul,
himself, was willing to take all the responsibility, and at last
extracted from the colonel a promise of passive assent.  The only
revelation he feared was from the interference of the mother, but
Pendleton was strong in the belief that she had not only utterly
abandoned the girl to the care of her guardians, but that she would
never rescind her resolution to disclaim her relationship; that she had
gone into self-exile for that purpose; and that if she HAD changed her
mind, he would be the first to know of it.  On this day they had
parted.  Meantime, Paul had not forgotten another resolution he had
formed on his first visit to the colonel, and had actually succeeded in
getting legislative relief for the Golden Gate Bank, and restoring to
the colonel some of his private property that had been in the hands of
a receiver.

This had been the background of Paul's meditation, which only threw
into stronger relief the face and figure that moved before him as
persistently as it had once before in the twilight of his room at
Rosario.  There were times when her moonlit face, with its faint,
strange smile, stood out before him as it had stood out of the shadows
of the half-darkened drawing-room that night; as he had seen it--he
believed for the last time--framed for an instant in the parted
curtains of the doorway, when she bade him "Goodnight." For he had
never visited her since, and, on the attainment of her majority, had
delegated his passing functions to Pendleton, whom he had induced to
accompany the Mayor to Santa Clara for the final and formal ceremony.
For the present she need not know how much she had been indebted to him
for the accomplishment of her wishes.

With a sigh he at last recalled himself to his duty, and, drawing the
pile of reports which Shear had handed him, he began to examine them.
These, again, bore reference to his silent, unobtrusive inquiries.  In
his function as Chairman of Committee he had taken advantage of a kind
of advanced moral legislation then in vogue, and particularly in
reference to a certain social reform, to examine statistics,
authorities, and witnesses, and in this indirect but exhaustive manner
had satisfied himself that the woman "Kate Howard," alias "Beverly,"
alias "Durfree," had long passed beyond the ken of local police
supervision, and that in the record there was no trace or indication of
her child.  He was going over those infelix records of early
transgressions with the eye of trained experience, making notes from
time to time for his official use, and yet always watchful of his
secret quest, when suddenly he stopped with a quickened pulse.  In the
record of an affray at a gambling-house, one of the parties had sought
refuge in the rooms of "Kate Howard," who was represented before the
magistrate by HER PROTECTOR, JUAN DE ARGUELLO.  The date given was
contemporary with the beginning of the Trust, but that proved nothing.
But the name--had it any significance, or was it a grim coincidence,
that spoke even more terribly and hopelessly of the woman's promiscuous
frailty?  He again attacked the entire report, but there was no other
record of her name.  Even that would have passed any eye less eager and
watchful than his own.

He laid the reports aside, and took up the proof-slip again.  Was there
any man living but himself and Pendleton who would connect these two
statements?  That her relations with this Arguello were brief and not
generally known was evident from Pendleton's ignorance of the fact.
But he must see him again, and at once. Perhaps he might have acquired
some information from Yerba; the young girl might have given to his age
that confidence she had withheld from the younger man; indeed, he
remembered with a flush it was partly in that hope he had induced the
colonel to go to Santa Clara.  He put the proof-slip in his pocket and
stepped to the door of the next room.

"You need not write that letter to Slate, Tony.  I will see him myself.
I am going to San Francisco to-night."

"And do you want anything copied from the reports, sir?"

Paul quickly swept them from the table into his drawer, and locked it.
"Not now, thank you.  I'll finish my notes later."

The next morning Paul was in San Francisco, and had again crossed the
portals of the Golden Gate Hotel.  He had been already told that the
doom of that palatial edifice was sealed by the laying of the
cornerstone of a new erection in the next square that should utterly
eclipse it; he even fancied that it had already lost its freshness, and
its meretricious glitter had been tarnished.  But when he had ordered
his breakfast he made his way to the public parlor, happily deserted at
that early hour.  It was here that he had first seen her.  She was
standing there, by that mirror, when their eyes first met in a sudden
instinctive sympathy.  She herself had remembered and confessed it.  He
recalled the pleased yet conscious, girlish superiority with which she
had received the adulation of her friends; his memory of her was broad
enough now even to identify Milly, as it repeopled the vacant and
silent room.

An hour later he was making his way to Colonel Pendleton's lodgings,
and half expecting to find the St. Charles Hotel itself transformed by
the eager spirit of improvement.  But it was still there in all its
barbaric and provincial incongruity.  Public opinion had evidently
recognized that nothing save the absolute razing of its warped and
flimsy walls could effect a change, and waited for it to collapse
suddenly like the house of cards it resembled.  Paul wondered for a
moment if it were not ominous of its lodgers' hopeless inability to
accept changed conditions, and it was with a feeling of doubt that he
even now ascended the creaking staircase.  But it was instantly
dissipated on the threshold of the colonel's sitting-room by the
appearance of George and his reception of his master's guest.

The grizzled negro was arrayed in a surprisingly new suit of blue cloth
with a portentous white waistcoat and an enormous crumpled white
cravat, that gave him the appearance of suffering from a glandular
swelling.  His manner had, it seemed to Paul, advanced in exaggeration
with his clothes.  Dusting a chair and offering it to the visitor, he
remained gracefully posed with his hand on the back of another.

"Yo' finds us heah yet, Marse Hathaway," he began, elegantly toying
with an enormous silver watch-chain, "fo' de Kernel he don' bin find
contagious apartments dat at all approximate, and he don' build, for
his mind's not dat settled dat he ain't goin' to trabbel.  De place is
low down, sah, and de fo'ks is low down, and dah's a heap o' white
trash dat has congested under de roof ob de hotel since we came.  But
we uses it temper'ly, sah, fo' de present, and in a dissolutory
fashion."

It struck Paul that the contiguity of a certain barber's shop and its
dangerous reminiscences had something to do with George's lofty
depreciation of his surroundings, and he could not help saying:--

"Then you don't find it necessary to have it convenient to the barber's
shop any more?  I am glad of that, George."

The shot told.  The unfortunate George, after an endeavor to collect
himself by altering his pose two or three times in rapid succession,
finally collapsed, and, with an air of mingled pain and dignity, but
without losing his ceremonious politeness or unique vocabulary, said:--

"Yo' got me dah, sah!  Yo' got me dah!  De infirmities o' human
natcheh, sah, is de common p'operty ob man, and a gemplum like yo'self,
sah, a legislato' and a pow'ful speakah, is de lass one to hol' it agin
de individal pusson.  I confess, sah, de circumstances was propiskuous,
de fees fahly good, and de risks inferior.  De gemplum who kept de shop
was an artess hisself, and had been niggah to Kernel Henderson of
Tennessee, and do gemplum I relieved was a Mr. Johnson.  But de Kernel,
he wouldn't see it in dat light, sah, and if yo' don' mind, sah"--

"I haven't the slightest idea of telling the colonel or anybody,
George," said Paul, smiling; "and I am glad to find on your own account
that you are able to put aside any work beyond your duty here."

"Thank yo', sah.  If yo' 'll let me introduce yo' to de refreshment,
yo' 'll find it all right now.  De Glencoe is dah.  De Kernel will be
here soon, but he would be pow'ful mo'tified, sah, if yo' didn't hab
something afo' he come."  He opened a well-filled sideboard as he
spoke.  It was the first evidence Paul had seen of the colonel's
restored fortunes.  He would willingly have contented himself with this
mere outward manifestation, but in his desire to soothe the ruffled
dignity of the old man he consented to partake of a small glass of
spirits.  George at once became radiant and communicative.  "De Kernel
bin gone to Santa Clara to see de young lady dat's finished her
edercation dah--de Kernel's only ward, sah. She's one o' dose
million-heiresses and highly connected, sah, wid de old Mexican
Gobbermen, I understand.  And I reckon dey's bin big goin's on doun
dar, foh de Mayer kem hisself fo' de Kernel.  Looks like des might bin
a proceshon, sah.  Yo' don' know of a young lady bin hab a title, sah?
I won't be shuah, his Honah de Mayer or de Kernel didn't say someting
about a 'Donna'."

"Very likely," said Paul, turning away with a faint smile.  So it was
already in the air!  Setting aside the old negro's characteristic
exaggeration, there had already been some conversation between the
colonel and the Mayor, which George had vaguely overheard.  He might be
too late, the alternative might be no longer in his hands.  But his
discomposure was heightened a moment later by the actual apparition of
the returning Pendleton.

He was dressed in a tightly buttoned blue frock-coat, which fairly
accented his tall, thin military figure, although the top lappel was
thrown far enough back to show a fine ruffled cambric shirt and checked
gingham necktie, and was itself adorned with a white rosebud in the
button-hole.  Fawn-colored trousers strapped over narrow patent-leather
boots, and a tall white hat, whose broad mourning-band was a perpetual
memory of his mother, who had died in his boyhood, completed his festal
transformation.  Yet his erect carriage, high aquiline nose, and long
gray drooping moustache lent a distinguishing grace to this survival of
a bygone fashion, and over-rode any irreverent comment.  Even his
slight limp seemed to give a peculiar character to his massive
gold-headed stick, and made it a part of his formal elegance.

Handing George his stick and a military cape he carried easily over his
left arm, he greeted Paul warmly, yet with a return of his old dominant
manner.

"Glad to see you, Hathaway, and glad to see the boy has served you
better than the last time.  If I had known you were coming, I would
have tried to get back in time to have breakfast with you.  But your
friends at 'Rosario'--I think they call it; in my time it was owned by
Colonel Briones, and HE called it 'The Devil's Little Canyon'--detained
me with some d--d civilities.  Let's see--his name is Woods, isn't it?
Used to sell rum to runaway sailors on Long Wharf, and take stores in
exchange?  Or was it Baker?--Judge Baker?  I forget which.  Well, sir,
they wished to be remembered."

It struck Paul, perhaps unreasonably, that the colonel's indifference
and digression were both a little assumed, and he asked abruptly,--

"And you fulfilled your mission?"

"I made the formal transfer, with the Mayor, of the property to Miss
Arguello."

"To Miss Arguello?"

"To the Dona Maria Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena--to speak
precisely," said the colonel, slowly.  "George, you can take that hat
to that blank hatter--what's his blanked name?  I read it only
yesterday in a list of the prominent citizens here--and tell him, with
my compliments, that I want a GENTLEMAN'S mourning band around my hat,
and not a child's shoelace.  It may be HIS idea of the value of his own
parents--if he ever had any--but I don't care for him to appraise mine.
Go!"

As the door closed upon George, Paul turned to the colonel--

"Then am I to understand that you have agreed to her story?"

The colonel rose, picked up the decanter, poured out a glass of
whiskey, and holding it in his hand, said:--

"My dear Hathaway, let us understand each other.  As a gentleman, I
have made a point through life never to question the age, name, or
family of any lady of my acquaintance.  Miss Yerba Buena came of age
yesterday, and, as she is no longer my ward, she is certainly entitled
to the consideration I have just mentioned.  If she, therefore, chooses
to tack to her name the whole Spanish directory, I don't see why I
shouldn't accept it."

Characteristic as this speech appeared to be of the colonel's ordinary
manner, it struck Paul as being only an imitation of his usual frank
independence, and made him uneasily conscious of some vague desertion
on Pendleton's part.  He fixed his bright eyes on his host, who was
ostentatiously sipping his liquor, and said:--

"Am I to understand that you have heard nothing more from Miss Yerba,
either for or against her story?  That you still do not know whether
she has deceived herself, has been deceived by others, or is deceiving
us?"

"After what I have just told you, Mr. Hathaway," said the colonel, with
an increased exaggeration of manner which Paul thought must be apparent
even to himself, "I should have but one way of dealing with questions
of that kind from anybody but yourself."

This culminating extravagance--taken in connection with Pendleton's
passing doubts--actually forced a laugh from Paul in spite of his
bitterness.

Colonel Pendleton's face flushed quickly.  Like most positive
one-idea'd men, he was restricted from any possible humorous
combination, and only felt a mysterious sense of being detected in some
weakness.  He put down his glass.

"Mr. Hathaway," he began, with a slight vibration in his usual dominant
accents, "you have lately put me under a sense of personal obligation
for a favor which I felt I could accept without derogation from a
younger man, because it seemed to be one not only of youthful
generosity but of justice, and was not unworthy the exalted ambition of
a young man like yourself or the simple deserts of an old man such as I
am.  I accepted it, sir, the more readily, because it was entirely
unsolicited by me, and seemed to be the spontaneous offering of your
own heart.  If I have presumed upon it to express myself freely on
other matters in a way that only excites your ridicule, I can but offer
you an apology, sir.  If I have accepted a favor I can neither renounce
nor return, I must take the consequences to myself, and even beg YOU,
sir, to put up with them."

Remorseful as Paul felt, there was a singular resemblance between the
previous reproachful pose of George and this present attitude of his
master, as if the mere propinquity of personal sacrifice had made them
alike, that struck him with a mingled pathos and ludicrousness.  But he
said warmly, "It is I who must apologize, my dear colonel.  I am not
laughing at your conclusions, but at this singular coincidence with a
discovery I have made."

"As how, sir?"

"I find in the report of the Chief of the Police for the year 1850 that
Kate Howard was under the protection of a man named Arguello."

The colonel's exaggeration instantly left him.  He stared blankly at
Paul.  "And you call this a laughing matter, sir?" he said sternly, but
in his more natural manner.

"Perhaps not, but I don't think, if you will allow me to say so, my
dear colonel, that YOU have been treating the whole affair very
seriously.  I left you two months ago utterly opposed to views which
you are now treating as of no importance.  And yet you wish me to
believe that nothing has happened, and that you have no further
information than you had then.  That this is so, and that you are
really no nearer the FACTS, I am willing to believe from your ignorance
of what I have just told you, and your concern at it.  But that you
have not been influenced in your JUDGMENT of what you do know, I cannot
believe?"  He drew nearer Pendleton, and laid his hand upon his arm.
"I beg you to be frank with me, for the sake of the person whose
interests I see you have at heart.  In what way will the discovery I
have just made affect them?  You are not so far prejudiced as to be
blind to the fact that it may be dangerous because it seems
corroborative."

Pendleton coughed, rose, took his stick, and limped up and down the
room, finally dropping into an armchair by the window, with his cane
between his knees, and the drooping gray silken threads of his long
moustache curled nervously between his fingers.

"Mr. Hathaway, I WILL be frank with you.  I know nothing of this blank
affair--blank it all!--but what I've told you.  Your discovery may be a
coincidence, nothing more.  But I HAVE been influenced,
sir,--influenced by one of the most perfect goddess-like--yes, sir; one
of the most simple girlish creatures that God ever sent upon earth.  A
woman that I should be proud to claim as my daughter, a woman that
would always be the superior of any man who dare aspire to be her
husband!  A young lady as peerless in her beauty as she is in her
accomplishments, and whose equal don't walk this planet!  I know, sir,
YOU don't follow me; I know, Mr. Hathaway, your Puritan prejudices;
your Church proclivities, your worldly sense of propriety; and, above
all, sir, the blanked hypocritical Pharisaic doctrines of your party--I
mean no offense to YOU, sir, personally--blind you to that girl's
perfections. She, poor child, herself has seen it and felt it, but
never, in her blameless innocence and purity, suspecting the cause,
'There is,' she said to me last night, confidentially, 'something
strangely antagonistic and repellent in our natures, some undefined and
nameless barrier between our ever understanding each other.'  You
comprehend, Mr. Hathaway, she does full justice to your intentions and
your unquestioned abilities.  'I am not blind,' she said, 'to Mr.
Hathaway's gifts, and it is very possible the fault lies with me.'  Her
very words, sir."

"Then you believe she is perfectly ignorant of her real mother?" asked
Paul, with a steady voice, but a whitening face.

"As an unborn child," said the colonel, emphatically.  "The snow on the
Sierras is not more spotlessly pure of any trace or contamination of
the mud of the mining ditches, than she of her mother and her past.
The knowledge of it, the mere breath of suspicion of it, in her
presence would be a profanation, sir!  Look at her eye--open as the sky
and as clear; look at her face and figure--as clean, sir, as a
Blue-Grass thoroughbred!  Look at the way she carries herself, whether
in those white frillings of her simple school-gown, or that black
evening dress that makes her look like a princess!  And, blank me, if
she isn't one!  There's no poor stock there--no white trash--no mixed
blood, sir.  Blank it all, sir, if it comes to THAT--the Arguellos--if
there's a hound of them living--might go down on their knees to have
their name borne by such a creature!  By the Eternal, sir, if one of
them dared to cross her path with a word that wasn't abject--yes, sir,
ABJECT, I'd wipe his dust off the earth and send it back to his
ancestors before he knew where he was, or my name isn't Harry
Pendleton!"

Hopeless and inconsistent as all this was, it was a wonderful sight to
see the colonel, his dark stern face illuminated with a zealot's
enthusiasm, his eyes on fire, the ends of his gray moustache curling
around his set jaw, his head thrown back, his legs astride, and his
gold-headed stick held in the hollow of his elbow, like a lance at
rest!  Paul saw it, and knew that this Quixotic transformation was part
of HER triumph, and yet had a miserable consciousness that the charms
of this Dulcinea del Toboso had scarcely been exaggerated.  He turned
his eyes away, and said quietly,--

"Then you don't think this coincidence will ever awaken any suspicion
in regard to her real mother?"

"Not in the least, sir--not in the least," said the colonel, yet,
perhaps, with more doggedness than conviction of accent.  "Nobody but
yourself would ever notice that police report, and the connection of
that woman's name with his was not notorious, or I should have known
it."

"And you believe," continued Paul hopelessly, "that Miss Yerba's
selection of the name was purely accidental?"

"Purely--a school-girl's fancy.  Fancy, did I say?  No, sir; by Jove,
an inspiration!"

"And," continued Paul, almost mechanically, "you do not think it may be
some insidious suggestion of an enemy who knew of this transient
relation that no one suspected?"

To his final amazement Pendleton's brow cleared!  "An enemy?  Gad! you
may be right.  I'll look into it; and, if that is the case, which I
scarcely dare hope for, Mr. Hathaway, you can safely leave him to ME."

He looked so supremely confident in his fatuous heroism that Paul could
say no more.  He rose and, with a faint smile upon his pale face, held
out his hand.  "I think that is all I have to say.  When you see Miss
Yerba again,--as you will, no doubt,--you may tell her that I am
conscious of no misunderstanding on my part, except, perhaps, as to the
best way I could serve her, and that, but for what she has told YOU, I
should certainly have carried away no remembrance of any
misunderstanding of HERS."

"Certainly," said the colonel, with cheerful philosophy, "I will carry
your message with pleasure.  You understand how it is, Mr. Hathaway.
There is no accounting for these instincts--we can only accept them as
they are.  But I believe that your intentions, sir, were strictly
according to what you conceived to be your duty.  You won't take
something before you go?  Well, then--good-by."

Two weeks later Paul found among his morning letters an envelope
addressed in Colonel Pendleton's boyish scrawling hand.  He opened it
with an eagerness that no studied self-control nor rigid preoccupation
of his duties had yet been able to subdue, and glanced hurriedly at its
contents:--


DEAR SIR,--As I am on the point of sailing to Europe to-morrow to
escort Miss Arguello and Miss Woods on an extended visit to England and
the Continent, I am desirous of informing you that I have thus far been
unable to find any foundation for the suggestions thrown out by you in
our last interview.  Miss Arguello's Spanish acquaintances have been
very select, and limited to a few school friends and Don Caesar and
Dona Anna Briones, tried friends, who are also fellow-passengers with
us to Europe.  Miss Arguello suggests that some political difference
between you and Don Caesar, which occurred during your visit to Rosario
three months ago, may have, perhaps, given rise to your supposition.
She joins me in best wishes for your public career, which even in the
distraction of foreign travel and the obligations of her position she
will follow from time to time with the greatest interest.

Very respectfully yours,

HARRY PENDLETON.



CHAPTER V.

It was on the 3d of August, 1863, that Paul Hathaway resigned himself
and his luggage to the care of the gold-laced, ostensible porter of the
Strudle Bad Hof, not without some uncertainty, in a land of uniforms,
whether he would be eventually conducted to the barracks, the police
office, or the Conservatoire.  He was relieved when the omnibus drove
into the courtyard of the Bad Hof, and the gold-chained chamberlain,
flanked by two green tubs of oleanders, received him with a gravity
calculated to check any preconceived idea he might have that traveling
was a trifling affair, or that an arrival at the Bad Hof was not of
serious moment.  His letters had not yet arrived, for he had, in a fit
of restlessness, shortened his route, and he strolled listlessly into
the reading-room.  Two or three English guests were evidently occupied
in eminently respectable reading and writing; two were sitting by the
window engaged in subdued but profitable conversation; and two
Americans from Boston were contentedly imitating them on the other side
of the room.  A decent restraint, as of people who were not for a
moment to be led into any foreign idea of social gayety at a
watering-place, was visible everywhere.  A spectacled Prussian officer
in full uniform passed along the hall, halted for a moment at the
doorway as if contemplating an armed invasion, thought better of it,
and took his uniform away into the sunlight of the open square, where
it was joined by other uniforms, and became by contrast a miracle of
unbraced levity.  Paul stood the Polar silence for a few moments, until
one of the readers arose and, taking his book--a Murray--in his hand,
walked slowly across the room to a companion, mutely pointed to a
passage in the book, remained silent until the other had dumbly perused
it, and then walked back again to his seat, having achieved the
incident without a word.  At which Paul, convinced of his own
incongruity, softly withdrew with his hat in his hand, and his eyes
fixed devotionally upon it.

It was good after that to get into the slanting sunlight and checkered
linden shadows of the Allee; to see even a tightly jacketed cavalryman
naturally walking with Clarchen and her two round-faced and drab-haired
young charges; to watch the returning invalid procession, very real and
very human, each individual intensely involved in the atmosphere of his
own symptoms; and very good after that to turn into the Thiergarten,
where the animals, were, however, chiefly of his own species, and
shamelessly and openly amusing themselves.  It was pleasant to contrast
it with his first visit to the place three months before, and correct
his crude impressions.  And it was still more pleasant suddenly to
recognize, under the round flat cap of a general officer, a former
traveler who was fond of talking with him about America with an
intelligence and understanding of it that Paul had often missed among
his own traveled countrymen.  It was pleasant to hear his unaffected
and simple greeting, to renew their old acquaintance, and to saunter
back to the hotel together through the long twilight.

They were only a few squares from the hotel, when Paul's attention was
attracted by the curiosity and delight of two or three children before
him, who appeared to be following a quaint-looking figure that was
evidently not unfamiliar to them.  It appeared to be a servant in a
striking livery of green with yellow facings and crested silver
buttons, but still more remarkable for the indescribable mingling of
jaunty ease and conscious dignity with which he carried off his finery.
There was something so singular and yet so vaguely reminiscent in his
peculiar walk and the exaggerated swing of his light bamboo cane that
Paul could not only understand the childish wonder of the passers-by,
who turned to look after him, but was stirred with a deeper curiosity.
He quickened his pace, but was unable to distinguish anything of the
face or features of the stranger, except that his hair under his cocked
hat appeared to be tightly curled and powdered.  Paul's companion, who
was amused at what seemed to be the American's national curiosity, had
seen the figure before.  "A servant in the suite of some Eastern
Altesse visiting the baths.  You will see stranger things, my friend,
in the Strudle Bad.  Par example, your own countrymen, too; the one who
has enriched himself by that pork of Chicago, or that soap, or this
candle, in a carriage with the crest of the title he has bought in
Italy with his dollars, and his beautiful daughters, who are seeking
more titles with possible matrimonial contingencies."

After an early dinner, Paul found his way to the little theatre. He had
already been struck by a highly colored poster near the Bahnhof,
purporting that a distinguished German company would give a
representation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and certain peculiarities in the
pictorial advertisement of the tableaux gave promise of some
entertainment.  He found the theatre fairly full; there was the usual
contingent of abonnirte officers, a fair sprinkling of English and
German travelers, but apparently none of his own countrymen.  He had no
time to examine the house more closely, for the play, commencing with
simple punctuality, not only far exceeded the promise of the posters,
but of any previous performance of the play he had witnessed.
Transported at once to a gorgeous tropical region--the slave States of
America--resplendent with the fruits and palms of Mauritius, and
peopled exclusively with Paul and Virginia's companions in striped
cotton, Hathaway managed to keep a composed face, until the arrival of
the good Southern planter St. Clair as one of the earlier portraits of
Goethe, in top boots, light kerseymere breeches, redingote and loose
Byron collar, compelled him to shrink into the upper corner of the box
with his handkerchief to his face.  Luckily, the action passed as the
natural effect upon a highly sympathetic nature of religious interviews
between a round-faced flaxen-haired "Kleine Eva" and "Onkeel Tome,"
occasionally assisted by a Dissenting clergyman in Geneva bands; of
excessive brutality with a cattle whip by a Zamiel-like Legree; of the
sufferings of a runaway negro Zimmermadchen with a child three shades
lighter than herself; and of a painted canvas "man-hunt," where
apparently four well known German composers on horseback, with flowing
hair, top boots, and a Cor de chasse, were pursuing, with the aid of a
pack of fox hounds, "the much too deeply abused and yet spiritually
elevated Onkeel Tome."  Paul did not wait for the final apotheosis of
"der Kleine Eva," but, in the silence of a hushed audience, made his
way into the corridor and down the staircase.  He was passing an open
door marked "Direction," when his attention was sharply attracted by a
small gathering around it and the sounds of indignant declamation. It
was the voice of a countryman--more than that, it was a familiar voice,
that he had not heard for three years--the voice of Colonel Harry
Pendleton!

"Tell him," said Pendleton, in scathing tones, to some invisible
interpreter,--"tell, him, sir, that a more infamous caricature of the
blankest caricature that ever maligned a free people, sir, I never
before had the honor of witnessing.  Tell him that I, sir--I, Harry
Pendleton, of Kentucky, a Southerner, sir--an old slaveholder, sir,
declare it to be a tissue of falsehoods unworthy the credence of a
Christian civilization like this--unworthy the attention of the
distinguished ladies and gentlemen that are gathered here to-night.
Tell him, sir, he has been imposed upon. Tell him I am
responsible--give him my card and address--personally responsible for
what I say.  If he wants proofs--blank it all!--tell him you yourself
have been a slave--MY slave, sir!  Take off your hat, sir!  Ask him to
look at you--ask him if he thinks you ever looked or could look like
that lop-eared, psalm-singing, white-headed hypocrite on the stage!
Ask him, sir, if he thinks that blank ringmaster they call St. Clair
looks like ME!"

At this astounding exordium Paul eagerly pressed forward and entered
the bureau.  There certainly was Colonel Pendleton, in spotless evening
dress; erect, flashing, and indignant; his aquiline nose lifted like a
hawk's beak over his quarry, his iron-gray moustache, now white and
waxed, parted like a swallow's tail over his handsome mouth, and
between him and the astounded "Direction" stood the apparition of the
Allee--George!  There was no mistaking him now.  What Paul had thought
was a curled wig or powder was the old negro's own white knotted wool,
and the astounding livery he wore was carried off as no one but George
could carry it.

But he was still more amazed when the old servant, in a German as
exaggerated, as incoherent, but still as fluent and persuasive as his
own native speech, began an extravagant but perfectly dignified and
diplomatic translation of his master's protests.  Where and when, by
what instinct, he had assimilated and made his own the grotesque
inversions and ponderous sentimentalities of Teutonic phrasing, Paul
could not guess; but it was with breathless wonder that he presently
became aware that, so perfect and convincing was the old man's style
and deportment, not only the simple officials but even the bystanders
were profoundly impressed by this farrago of absurdity.  A happy word
here and there, the full title and rank given, even with a slight
exaggeration, to each individual, brought a deep and guttural "So!"
from lips that would have found it difficult to repeat a line of his
ceremonious idiocy.

In their preoccupation neither the colonel nor George had perceived
Paul's entrance, but, as the old servant turned with magnificent
courtesy towards the bystanders, his eyes fell upon Paul.  A flash of
surprise, triumph, and satisfaction lit up his rolling eyes. Paul
instantly knew that he not only recognized him, but that he had already
heard of and thoroughly appreciated a certain distinguished position
that Paul had lately held, and was quick to apply it.  Intensifying for
a moment the grandiloquence of his manner, he called upon his master's
most distinguished and happily arrived old friend, the Lord Lieutenant
Governor of the Golden Californias, to corroborate his statement.
Colonel Pendleton started, and grasped Paul's hand warmly.  Paul turned
to the already half-mollified Director with the diplomatic suggestion
that the vivid and realistic acting of the admirable company which he
himself had witnessed had perhaps unduly excited his old friend, even
as it had undoubtedly thrown into greater relief the usual
exaggerations of dramatic representation, and the incident terminated
with a profusion of apologies, and the most cordial expressions of
international good feeling on both sides.

Yet, as they turned away from the theatre together, Paul could not help
noticing that, although the colonel's first greeting had been
spontaneous and unaffected, it was succeeded by an uneasy reserve. Paul
made no attempt to break it, and confined himself to a few general
inquiries, ending by inviting the colonel to sup with him at the hotel.
Pendleton hesitated.  "At any other time, Mr. Hathaway, I should have
insisted upon you, as the stranger, supping with me; but since the
absence of--of--the rest of my party--I have given up my suite of rooms
at the Bad Hof, and have taken smaller lodgings for myself and the boy
at the Schwartze Adler.  Miss Woods and Miss Arguello have accepted an
invitation to spend a few days at the villa of the Baron and Baroness
von Schilprecht--an hour or two from here."  He lingered over the title
with an odd mingling of impressiveness and inquiry, and glanced at
Paul.  But Hathaway exhibiting neither emotion nor surprise at the
mention of Yerba's name or the title of her host, he continued, "Miss
Arguello, I suppose you know, is immensely admired: she has been, sir,
the acknowledged belle of Strudle Bad."

"I can readily believe it," said Paul, simply.

"And has taken the position--the position, sir, to which she is
entitled."

Without appearing to notice the slight challenge in Pendleton's tone,
Paul returned, "I am glad to hear it.  The more particularly as, I
believe, the Germans are great sticklers for position and pedigree."

"You are right, sir--quite right: they are," said the colonel,
proudly--"although"--with a certain premeditated deliberation--"I have
been credibly informed that the King can, in certain cases, if he
chooses, supply--yes, sir--SUPPLY a favored person with ancestors--yes,
sir, with ANCESTORS!"

Paul cast a quick glance at his companion.

"Yes, sir--that is, we will say, in the case of a lady of inferior
rank--or even birth, the King of these parts can, on her marriage with
a nobleman--blank it all!--ennoble her father and mother, and their
fathers and mothers, though they've been dead, or as good as dead, for
years."

"I am afraid that's a slight exaggeration of the rare custom of
granting 'noble lands,' or estates that carry hereditary titles with
them," said Paul, more emphatically, perhaps, than the occasion
demanded.

"Fact, sir--George there knows it all," said Pendleton.  "He gets it
from the other servants.  I don't speak the language, sir, but HE does.
Picked it up in a year."

"I must compliment him on his fluency, certainly," said Paul, looking
at George.

The old servant smiled, and not without a certain condescension. "Yes,
sah; I don' say to a scholar like yo'self, sah, dat I'se got de
grandmatical presichion; but as fah, sah--as fah as de IDIOTISMS ob de
language goes.  Sah--it's gen'lly allowed I'm dar!  As to what Marse
Harry says ob de ignobling ob predecessors, I've had it, sah, from de
best autority, sah--de furst, I may say, sah--de real prima facie
men--de gemplum ob his Serene Highness, in de korse eb ordinary
conversashun, sah."

"That'll do, George," said Pendleton, with paternal brusqueness. "Run
on ahead and tell that blank chamberlain that Mr. Hathaway is one of my
friends--and have supper accordingly."  As the negro hastened away he
turned to Paul: "What he says is true: he's the most popular man or boy
in all Strudle Bad--a devilish sight more than his master--and goes
anywhere where I can't go.  Princes and princesses stop and talk to him
in the street; the Grand Duke asked permission to have him up in his
carriage at the races the other day; and, by the Eternal, sir, he gives
the style to all the flunkeys in town!"

"And I see, he dresses the character," observed Paul.

"His own idea--entirely.  And, by Jove! he proves to be right.  You
can't do anything here without a uniform.  And they tell me he's got
everything correct, down to the crest on the buttons."

They walked on in silence for a few moments, Pendleton retaining a
certain rigidity of step and bearing which Paul had come to recognize
as indicating some uneasiness or mental disturbance on his part.
Hathaway had no intention of precipitating the confidence of his
companion.  Perhaps experience had told him it would come soon enough.
So he spoke carelessly of himself.  How the need of a year's relaxation
and change had brought him abroad, his journeyings, and, finally, how
he had been advised by his German physician to spend a few weeks at
Strudle Bad preparatory to the voyage home.  Yet he was perfectly aware
that the colonel from time to time cast a furtive glance at his face.
"And YOU," he said in conclusion--"when do you intend to return to
California?"

The colonel hesitated slightly.  "I shall remain in Europe until Miss
Arguello is settled--I mean," he added hurriedly, "until she
has--ahem!--completed her education in foreign ways and customs. You
see, Hathaway, I have constituted myself, after a certain fashion, I
may say--still, her guardian.  I am an old man, with neither kith nor
kin myself, sir--I'm a little too old-fashioned for the boys over
there"--with a vague gesture towards the west, which, however, told
Paul how near it still was to him.  "But then, among the old fogys
here--blank it all!--it isn't noticed.  So I look after her, you see,
or rather make myself responsible for her generally--although, of
course, she has other friends and associates, you understand, more of
her own age and tastes."

"And I've no doubt she's perfectly satisfied," said Paul in a tone of
conviction.

"Well, yes, sir, I presume so," said the colonel slowly; "but I've
sometimes thought, Mr. Hathaway, that it would have been better if
she'd have had a woman's care--the protection you understand, of an
elderly woman of society.  That seems to be the style here, you know--a
chaperon, they call it.  Now, Milly Woods, you see, is about the same
age, and the Dona Anna, of course, is older, but--blank it!--she's as
big a flirt as the rest--I mean," he added, correcting himself sharply,
"she lacks balance, sir, and--what shall I call it?--self-abnegation."

"Then Dona Anna is still of your party?" asked Paul.

"She is, sir, and her brother, Don Caesar.  I have thought it
advisable, on Yerba's account, to keep up as much as possible the
suggestion of her Spanish relationship--although by reason of their
absurd ignorance of geography and political divisions out here, there
is a prevailing impression that she is a South American.  A fact, sir.
I have myself been mistaken for the Dictator of one of these infernal
Republics, and I have been pointed out as ruling over a million or two
of niggers like George!"

There was no trace of any conception of humor in the colonel's face,
although he uttered a short laugh, as if in polite acceptance of the
possibility that Paul might have one.  Far from that, his companion,
looking at the striking profile and erect figure at his side--at the
long white moustache which drooped from his dark cheeks, and
remembering his own sensations at first seeing George--thought the
popular belief not so wonderful.  He was even forced to admit that the
perfect unconsciousness on the part of master and man of any
incongruity or peculiarity in themselves assisted the public
misconception.  And it was, I fear, with a feeling of wicked delight
that, on entering the hotel, he hailed the evident consternation of
those correct fellow-countrymen from whom he had lately fled, at what
they apparently regarded as a national scandal.  He overheard their
hurried assurance to their English friends that his companions were NOT
from Boston, and enjoyed their mortification that this explanation did
not seem to detract from the interest and relief with which the Britons
surveyed them, or the open admiration of the Germans.

Although Pendleton somewhat unbent during supper, he did not allude to
the secret of Yerba's parentage, nor of any tardy confidence of hers.
To all appearance the situation remained as it was three years ago.  He
spoke of her great popularity as an heiress and a beautiful woman, and
the marked attentions she received.  He doubted not that she had
rejected very distinguished offers, but she kept that to herself.  She
was perfectly competent to do so. She was no giddy girl, to be
flattered or deceived; on the contrary, he had never known a cooler or
more sensible woman.  She knew her own worth.  When she met the man who
satisfied her ambition and understanding, she would marry, and not
before.  He did not know what that ambition was; it was something
exalted, of course.  He could only say, of his own knowledge, that last
year, when they were on the Italian lakes, there was a certain
prince--Mr. Hathaway would understand why he did not mention names--who
was not only attentive to her, but attentive to HIM, sir, by Jove! and
most significant in his inquiries.  It was the only occasion when he,
the colonel, had ever spoken to her on such subjects; and, knowing that
she was not indifferent to the fellow, who was not bad of his kind, he
had asked her why she had not encouraged his suit. She had said, with a
laugh, that he couldn't marry her unless he gave up his claim of
succession to a certain reigning house; and she wouldn't accept him
WITHOUT IT.  Those were her words, sir, and he could only say that the
prince left a few days afterwards, and they had never seen him since.
As to the princelings and counts and barons, she knew to a day the date
of their patents of nobility, and what privileges they were entitled
to; she could tell to a dot the value of their estates, the amount of
their debts, and, by Jove! sir, the amount of mortgages she was
expected to pay off before she married them.  She knew the amount of
income she had to bring to the Prussian Army, from the general to the
lieutenant. She understood her own value and her rights.  There was a
young English lordling she met on the Rhine, whose boyish ways and
simplicity seemed to please her.  They were great friends; but he
wanted him--the colonel--to induce her to accept an invitation for both
to visit his mother's home in England, that his people might see her.
But she declined, sir!  She declined to pass in review before his
mother.  She said it was for HIM to pass in review before HER mother.

"Did she say that?" interrupted Paul, fixing his bright eyes upon the
colonel.

"If she had one, if she had one," corrected the colonel, hastily. "Of
course it was only an illustration.  That she is an orphan is generally
known, sir."

There was a dead silence for a few moments.  The colonel leaned back in
his chair and pulled his moustache.  Paul turned away his eyes, and
seemed absorbed in reflection.  After a moment the colonel coughed,
pushed aside his glass, and, leaning across the table, said, "I have a
favor to ask of you, Mr. Hathaway."

There was such a singular change in the tone of his voice, an
unexpected relaxation of some artificial tension,--a relaxation which
struck Paul so pathetically as being as much physical as mental, as if
he had suddenly been overtaken in some exertion by the weakness of
age,--that he looked up quickly.  Certainly, although still erect and
lightly grasping his moustache, the colonel looked older.

"By all means, my dear colonel," said Paul warmly.

"During the time you remain here you can hardly help meeting Miss
Arguello, perhaps frequently.  It would be strange if you did not; it
would appear to everybody still stranger.  Give me your word as a
gentleman that you will not make the least allusion to her of the
past--nor reopen the subject."

Paul looked fixedly at the colonel.  "I certainly had no intention of
doing so," he said after a pause, "for I thought it was already settled
by you beyond disturbance or discussion.  But do I understand you, that
SHE has shown any uneasiness regarding it? From what you have just told
me of her plans and ambition, I can scarcely imagine that she has any
suspicion of the real facts."

"Certainly not," said the colonel hurriedly.  "But I have your promise."

"I promise you," said Paul, after a pause, "that I shall neither
introduce nor refer to the subject myself, and that if SHE should
question me again regarding it, which is hardly possible, I will reveal
nothing without your consent."

"Thank you," said Pendleton, without, however, exhibiting much relief
in his face.  "She will return here to-morrow."

"I thought you said she was absent for some days," said Paul.

"Yes; but she is coming back to say good-by to Dona Anna, who arrives
here with her brother the same day, on their way to Paris."

It flashed through Paul's mind that the last time he had seen her was
in the company of the Briones.  It was not a pleasant coincidence.  Yet
he was not aware that it had affected him, until he saw the colonel
watching him.

"I believe you don't fancy the brother," said Pendleton.

For an instant Paul was strongly tempted to avow his old vague
suspicions of Don Caesar, but the utter hopelessness of reopening the
whole subject again, and his recollection of the passage in Pendleton's
letter that purported to be Yerba's own theory of his dislike, checked
him in time.  He only said, "I don't remember whether I had any cause
for disliking Don Caesar; I can tell better when I see him again," and
changed the subject.  A few moments later the colonel summoned George
from some lower region of the hotel, and rose to take his leave.  "Miss
Arguello, with her maid and courier, will occupy her old suite of rooms
here," he remarked, with a return of his old imperiousness.  "George
has given the orders for her.  I shall not change my present lodgings,
but of course will call every day.  Goodnight!"



CHAPTER VI.

The next morning Paul could not help noticing an increased and even
exaggerated respect paid him by the hotel attendants.  He was asked if
his EXCELLENCY would be served with breakfast in a private room, and
his condescension in selecting the public coffee-room struck the
obsequious chamberlain, but did not prevent him from preceding Paul
backwards to the table, and summoning a waiter to attend specially upon
"milor."  Surmising that George and the colonel might be in some way
connected with this extravagance, he postponed an investigation till he
should have seen them again.  And, although he hardly dared to confess
it to himself, the unexpected prospect of meeting Yerba again fully
preoccupied his thoughts.  He had believed that he would eventually see
her in Europe, in some vague and indefinite way and hour: it had been
in his mind when he started from California.  That it would be so soon,
and in such a simple and natural manner, he had never conceived.

He had returned from his morning walk to the Brunnen, and was sitting
idly in his room, when there was a knock at the door.  It opened to a
servant bearing a salver with a card.  Paul lifted it with a slight
tremor, not at the engraved name of "Maria Concepcion de Arguellos de
la Yerba Buena," but at the remembered school-girl hand that had
penciled underneath the words, "wishes the favor of an audience with
his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant-Governor of the Californias."

Paul looked inquiringly at the servant.  "The gnadige Fraulein was in
her own salon.  Would EXCELLENCY walk that way?  It was but a step; in
effect, the next apartment."

Paul followed him into the hall with wondering steps.  The door of the
next room was open, and disclosed a handsomely furnished salon. A tall
graceful figure rose quickly from behind a writing-table, and advanced
with outstretched hands and a frank yet mischievous smile.  It was
Yerba.

Standing there in a grayish hat, mantle, and traveling dress, all of
one subdued yet alluring tone, she looked as beautiful as when he had
last seen her--and yet--unlike.  For a brief bitter moment his
instincts revolted at this familiar yielding up in his fair
countrywomen of all that was distinctively original in them to alien
tastes and habits, and he resented the plastic yet characterless
mobility which made Yerba's Parisian dress and European manner fit her
so charmingly and yet express so little. For a brief critical moment he
remembered the placid, unchanging simplicity of German, and the
inflexible and ingrained reserve of English, girlhood, in opposition to
this indistinctive cosmopolitan grace.  But only for a moment.  As soon
as she spoke, a certain flavor of individuality seemed to return to her
speech.

"Confess," she said, "it was a courageous thing for me to do.  You
might have been somebody else--a real Excellency--or heaven knows what!
Or, what is worse in your new magnificence, you might have forgotten
one of your oldest, most humble, but faithful subjects." She drew back
and made him a mock ceremonious curtsy, that even in its charming
exaggeration suggested to Paul, however, that she had already made it
somewhere seriously.

"But what does it all mean?" he asked, smiling, feeling not only his
doubts and uneasiness vanish, but even the years of separation melt
away in her presence.  "I know I went to bed last night a very humble
individual, and yet I seem to awaken this morning a very exalted
personage.  Am I really Commander of the Faithful, or am I dreaming?
Might I trouble you, as my predecessor Abou Hassan did Sweetlips, to
bite my little finger?"

"Do you mean to say you have not seen the 'Auzeiger?'" she returned,
taking a small German printed sheet from the table and pointing to a
paragraph.  Paul took the paper.  Certainly there was the plain
announcement among the arrivals of "His Excellency Paul Hathaway, Lord
Lieutenant-Governor of the Californias."  A light flashed upon him.

"This is George's work.  He and Colonel Pendleton were here with me
last night."

"Then you have seen the colonel already?" she said, with a scarcely
perceptible alteration of expression, which, however, struck Paul.

"Yes.  I met him at the theatre last evening."  He was about to plunge
into an animated description of the colonel's indignation, but checked
himself, he knew not why.  But he was thankful the next moment that he
had.

"That accounts for everything," she said, lifting her pretty shoulders
with a slight shrug of weariness.  "I had to put a step to George's
talking about ME three months ago,--his extravagance is something TOO
awful.  And the colonel, who is completely in his hands,--trusting him
for everything, even the language,--doesn't see it."

"But he is extravagant in the praise of his friends only, and you
certainly justify all he can say."

She was taking off her hat, and stopped for a moment to look at him
thoughtfully, with the soft tendrils of her hair clinging to her
forehead.  "Did the colonel talk much about me?"

"A great deal.  In fact, I think we talked of nothing else.  He has
told me of your triumphs and your victims; of your various campaigns
and your conquests.  And yet I dare say he has not told me all--and I
am dying to hear more."

She had laid down her hat and unloosed a large bow of her mantle, but
stopped suddenly in the midst of it and sat down again.

"I wish you'd do something for me."

"You have only to name it."

"Well, drop all this kind of talk!  Try to think of me as if I had just
come from California--or, better, as if you had never known anything of
me at all--and we met for the first time.  You could, I dare say, make
yourself very agreeable to such a young lady who was willing to be
pleased--why not to me?  I venture to say you have not ever troubled
yourself about me since we last met.  No--hear me through--why, then,
should you wish to talk over what didn't concern you at the time?
Promise me you will stop this reminiscent gossip, and I promise you I
will not only not bore you with it, but take care that it is not
intruded upon you by others.  Make yourself pleasant to me by talking
about yourself and your prospects--anything but ME--and I will throw
over those princes and barons that the colonel has raved about and
devote myself to you while you are here.  Does that suit your
Excellency?"  She had crossed her knees, and, with her hands clasped
over them, and the toe of her small boot advanced beyond her skirt,
leaned forward in the attitude he remembered to have seen her take in
the summer-house at Rosario.

"Perfectly," he said.

"How long will you be here?"

"About three weeks: that, I believe, is the time allotted for my cure."

"Are you really ill," she said quietly, "or imagine yourself so?"

"It amounts to about the same thing.  But my cure may not take so
long," he added, fixing his bright eyes upon her.

She returned his gaze thoughtfully, and they remained looking at each
other silently.

"Then you are stronger than you give yourself credit for.  That is very
often the case," she said quietly.  "There," she added in another tone,
"it is settled.  You will come and go as you like, using this salon as
your own.  Stay, we can do something today. What do you say to a ride
in the forest this afternoon?  Milly isn't here yet, but it will be
quite proper for you to accompany me on horseback, though, of course,
we couldn't walk a hundred yards down the Allee together unless we were
verlobt."

"But," said Paul, "you are expecting company this afternoon.  Don
Caesar--I mean Miss Briones and her brother are coming here to say
good-by."

She regarded him curiously, but without emotion.

"Colonel Pendleton should have added that they were to remain here
overnight as my guests," she said composedly.  "And of course we shall
be back in time for dinner.  But that is nothing to you.  You have only
to be ready at three o'clock.  I will see that the horses are ordered.
I often ride here, and the people know my tastes and habits.  We will
have a pleasant ride and a good long talk together, and I'll show you a
ruin and a distant view of the villa where I have been staying."  She
held out her hand with a frank girlish smile, and even a girlish
anticipation of pleasure in her brown eyes.  He bent over her slim
fingers for a moment, and withdrew.

When he was in his own room again, he was conscious only of a strong
desire to avoid the colonel until after his ride with Yerba. He would
keep his word so far as to abstain from allusion to her family or her
past: indeed, he had his own opinion of its futility. But it would be
strange if, with his past experience, he could not find some other way
to determine her convictions or win her confidence during those two
hours of companionship.  He would accept her terms fairly; if she had
any ulterior design in her advances, he would detect it; if she had the
least concern for him, she could not continue long an artificial
friendship.  But he must not think of that!

By absenting himself from the hotel he managed to keep clear of
Pendleton until the hour arrived.  He was gratified to find Yerba in
the simplest and most sensible of habits, as if she had already divined
his tastes and had wished to avoid attracting undue attention.
Nevertheless, it very prettily accented her tall graceful figure, and
Paul, albeit, like most artistic admirers of the sex, not recognizing a
woman on a horse as a particularly harmonious spectacle, was forced to
admire her.  Both rode well, and naturally--having been brought up in
the same Western school--the horses recognized it, and instinctively
obeyed them, and their conversation had the easy deliberation and
inflection of a tete-a-tete. Paul, in view of her previous hint, talked
to her of himself and his fortunes, of which she appeared, however, to
have some knowledge.  His health had obliged him lately to abandon
politics and office; he had been successful in some ventures, and had
become a junior partner in a bank with foreign correspondence.  She
listened to him for some time with interest and attention, but at last
her face became abstracted and thoughtful.  "I wish I were a man!" she
said suddenly.

Paul looked at her quickly.  For the first time he detected in the ring
of her voice something of the passionate quality he fancied he had
always seen in her face.

"Except that it might give you better control of your horse, I don't
see why," said Paul.  "And I don't entirely believe you."

"Why?"

"Because no woman really wishes to be a man unless she is conscious of
her failure as a woman."

"And how do you know I'm not?" she said, checking her horse and looking
in his face.  A quick conviction that she was on the point of some
confession sprang into his mind, but unfortunately showed in his face.
She beat back his eager look with a short laugh. "There, don't speak,
and don't look like that.  That remark was worthy the usual artless
maiden's invitation to a compliment, wasn't it?  Let us keep to the
subject of yourself.  Why, with your political influence, don't you get
yourself appointed to some diplomatic position over here?"

"There are none in our service.  You wouldn't want me to sink myself in
some absurd social functions, which are called by that name, merely to
become the envy and hatred of a few rich republicans, like your friends
who haunt foreign courts?"

"That's not a pretty speech--but I suppose I invited THAT too. Don't
apologize.  I'd rather see you flare out like that than pay
compliments.  Yet I fancy you're a diplomatist, for all that."

"You did me the honor to believe I was one once, when I was simply the
most palpable ass and bungler living," said Paul bitterly.

She was still sweetly silent, apparently preoccupied in smoothing out
the mane of her walking horse.  "Did I?" she said softly.  He drew
close beside her.

"How different the vegetation is here from what it is with us!" she
said with nervous quickness, directing his attention to the grass road
beneath them, without lifting her eyes.  "I don't mean what is
cultivated,--for I suppose it takes centuries to make the lawns they
have in England,--but even here the blades of grass seem to press
closer together, as if they were crowded or overpopulated, like the
country; and this forest, which has been always wild and was a hunting
park, has a blase look, as if it was already tired of the unchanging
traditions and monotony around it.  I think over there Nature affects
and influences us: here, I fancy, it is itself affected by the people."

"I think a good deal of Nature comes over from America for that
purpose," he said dryly.

"And I think you are breaking your promise--besides being a goose!" she
retorted smartly.  Nevertheless, for some occult reason they both
seemed relieved by this exquisite witticism, and trotted on amicably
together.  When Paul lifted his eyes to hers he could see that they
were suffused with a tender mischief, as of a reproving yet secretly
admiring sister, and her strangely delicate complexion had taken on
itself that faint Alpine glow that was more of an illumination than a
color.  "There," she said gayly, pointing with her whip as the wood
opened upon a glade through which the parted trees showed a long blue
curvature of distant hills, "you see that white thing lying like a
snowdrift on the hills?"

"Or the family washing on a hedge."

"As you please.  Well, that is the villa."

"And you were very happy there?" said Paul, watching her girlishly
animated face.

"Yes; and as you don't ask questions, I'll tell you why.  There is one
of the sweetest old ladies there that I ever met--the perfection of
old-time courtliness with all the motherishness of a German woman.  She
was very kind to me, and, as she had no daughter of her own, I think
she treated me as if I was one.  At least, I can imagine how one would
feel to her, and what a woman like that could make of any girl.  You
laugh, Mr. Hathaway, you don't understand--but you don't know what an
advantage it would be to a girl to have a mother like that, and know
that she could fall back on her and hold her own against anybody.
She's equipped from the start, instead of being handicapped.  It's all
very well to talk about the value of money.  It can give you everything
but one thing--the power to do without it."

"I think its purchasing value would include even the gnadige Frau,"
said Paul, who had laughed only to hide the uneasiness that Yerba's
approach to the tabooed subject had revived in him.  She shook her
head; then, recovering her tone of gentle banter, said, "There--I've
made a confession.  If the colonel talks to you again about my
conquests, you will know that at present my affections are centred on
the Baron's mother.  I admit it's a strong point in his--in
ANYBODY'S--favor, who can show an unblemished maternal pedigree. What a
pity it is you are an orphan, like myself, Mr. Hathaway! For I fancy
your mother must have been a very perfect woman.  A great deal of her
tact and propriety has descended to you.  Only it would have been nicer
if she had given it to you, like pocket money, as occasion
required--which you might have shared with me--than leaving it to you
in one thumping legacy."

It was impossible to tell how far the playfulness of her brown eyes
suggested any ulterior meaning, for as Paul again eagerly drew towards
her, she sent her horse into a rapid canter before him. When he was at
her side again, she said, "There is still the ruin to see on our way
home.  It is just off here to the right.  But if you wish to go over it
we will have to dismount at the foot of the slope and walk up.  It
hasn't any story or legend that I know of; I looked over the guide-book
to cram for it before you came, but there was nothing.  So you can
invent what you like."

They dismounted at the beginning of a gentle acclivity, where an
ancient wagon-road, now grass-grown, rose smooth as a glacis. Tying
their horses to two moplike bushes, they climbed the slope hand in hand
like children.  There were a few winding broken steps, part of a fallen
archway, a few feet of vaulted corridor, a sudden breach--the sky
beyond--and that was all!  Not all; for before them, overlooked at
first, lay a chasm covering half an acre, in which the whole of the
original edifice--tower turrets, walls, and battlements--had been
apparently cast, inextricably mixed and mingled at different depths and
angles, with here and there, like mushrooms from a dust-heap, a score
of trees upspringing.

"This is not Time--but gunpowder," said Paul, leaning over a parapet of
the wall and gazing at the abyss, with a slight grimace.

"It don't look very romantic, certainly," said Yerba.  "I only saw it
from the road before.  I'm dreadfully sorry," she added, with mock
penitence.  "I suppose, however, SOMETHING must have happened here."

"There may have been nobody in the house at the time," said Paul
gravely.  "The family may have been at the baths."

They stood close together, their elbows resting upon the broken wall,
and almost touching.  Beyond the abyss and darker forest they could see
the more vivid green and regular lines of the plane-trees of Strudle
Bad, the glitter of a spire, or the flash of a dome. From the abyss
itself arose a cool odor of moist green leaves, the scent of some
unseen blossoms, and around the baking vines on the hot wall the hum of
apparently taskless and disappointed bees. There was nobody in sight in
the forest road, no one working in the bordering fields, and no
suggestion of the present.  There might have been three or four
centuries between them and Strudle Bad.

"The legend of this place," said Paul, glancing at the long brown
lashes and oval outline of the cheek so near his own, "is simple, yet
affecting.  A cruel, remorseless, but fascinating Hexie was once loved
by a simple shepherd.  He had never dared to syllable his hopeless
affection, or claim from her a syllabled--perhaps I should say a
one-syllabled--reply.  He had followed her from remote lands, dumbly
worshiping her, building in his foolish brain an air-castle of
happiness, which by reason of her magic power she could always see
plainly in his eyes.  And one day, beguiling him in the depths of the
forest, she led him to a fair-seeming castle, and, bidding him enter
its portals, offered to show him a realization of his dream.  But, lo!
even as he entered the stately corridor it seemed to crumble away
before him, and disclosed a hideous abyss beyond, in which the whole of
that goodly palace lay in heaped and tangled ruins--the fitting symbol
of his wrecked and shattered hopes."

She drew back a little way from him, but still holding on to the top of
the broken wall with one slim gauntleted hand, and swung herself to one
side, while she surveyed him with smiling, parted lips and conscious
eyelids.  He promptly covered her hand with his own, but she did not
seem to notice it.

"That is not the story," she said, in a faint voice that even her
struggling sauciness could not make steadier.  "The true story is
called 'The Legend of the Goose-Girl of Strudle Bad, and the
enterprising Gosling.'  There was once a goose-girl of the plain who
tried honestly to drive her geese to market, but one eccentric and
willful gosling--  Mr. Hathaway!  Stop--please--I beg you let me go!"

He had caught her in his arms--the one encircling her waist, the other
hand still grasping hers.  She struggled, half laughing; yielded for a
breathless moment as his lips brushed her cheek, and--threw him off.
"There!" she said, "that will do: the story was not illustrated."

"But, Yerba," he said, with passionate eagerness, "hear me--it is all
God's truth.--I love you!"

She drew back farther, shaking the dust of the wall from the folds of
her habit.  Then, with a lower voice and a paler cheek, as if his lips
had sent her blood and utterance back to her heart, she said, "Come,
let us go."

"But not until you've heard me, Yerba."

"Well, then--I believe you--there!" she said, looking at him.

"You believe me?" he repeated eagerly, attempting to take her hand
again.

She drew back still farther.  "Yes," she said, "or I shouldn't be here
now.  There! that must suffice you.  And if you wish me still to
believe you, you will not speak of this again while we are out
together.  Come, let us go back to the horses."

He looked at her with all his soul.  She was pale, but composed,
and--he could see--determined.  He followed her without a word. She
accepted his hand to support her again down the slope without
embarrassment or reminiscent emotion.  The whole scene through which
she had just passed might have been buried in the abyss and ruins
behind her.  As she placed her foot in his hand to remount, and for a
moment rested her weight on his shoulder, her brown eyes met his
frankly and without a tremor.

Nor was she content with this.  As Paul at first rode on silently, his
heart filled with unsatisfied yearning, she rallied him mischievously.
Was it kind in him on this, their first day together, to sulk in this
fashion?  Was it a promise for their future excursions?  Did he intend
to carry this lugubrious visage through the Allee and up to the
courtyard of the hotel to proclaim his sentimental condition to the
world?  At least, she trusted he would not show it to Milly, who might
remember that this was only the SECOND TIME they had met each other.
There was something so sweetly reasonable in this, and withal not
without a certain hopefulness for the future, to say nothing of the
half-mischievous, half-reproachful smile that accompanied it, that Paul
exerted himself, and eventually recovered his lost gayety.  When they
at last drew up in the courtyard, with the flush of youth and exercise
in their faces, Paul felt he was the object of envy to the loungers,
and of fresh gossip to Strudle Bad.  It struck him less pleasantly that
two dark faces, which had been previously regarding him in the gloom of
the corridor and vanished as he approached, reappeared some moments
later in Yerba's salon as Don Caesar and Dona Anna, with a benignly
different expression.  Dona Anna especially greeted him with so much of
the ostentatious archness of a confident and forgiving woman to a
momentarily recreant lover, that he felt absurdly embarrassed in
Yerba's presence.  He was thinking how he could excuse himself, when he
noticed a beautiful basket of flowers on the table and a tiny note
bearing a baron's crest.  Yerba had put it aside with--as it seemed to
him at the moment--an almost too pronounced indifference--and an
indifference that was strongly contrasted to Dona Anna's eagerly
expressed enthusiasm over the offering, and her ultimate supplications
to Paul and her brother to admire its beauties and the wonderful taste
of the donor.

All this seemed so incongruous with Paul's feelings, and above all with
the recollection of his scene with Yerba, that he excused himself from
dining with the party, alleging an engagement with his old
fellow-traveler the German officer, whose acquaintance he had renewed.
Yerba did not press him; he even fancied she looked relieved.  Colonel
Pendleton was coming; Paul was not loath, in his present frame of mind,
to dispense with his company.  A conviction that the colonel's counsel
was not the best guide for Yerba, and that in some vague way their
interests were antagonistic, had begun to force itself upon him.  He
had no intention of being disloyal to her old guardian, but he felt
that Pendleton had not been frank with him since his return from
Rosario.  Had he ever been so with HER?  He sometimes doubted his
disclaimer.

He was lucky in finding the General disengaged, and together they dined
at a restaurant and spent the evening at the Kursaal.  Later, at the
Residenz Club, the General leaned over his beer-glass and smilingly
addressed his companion.

"So I hear you, too, are a conquest of the beautiful South American."

For an instant Paul, recognizing only Dona Anna under that epithet,
looked puzzled.

"Come, my friend," said the General regarding him with some amusement,
"I am an older man than you, yet I hardly think I could have ridden out
with such a goddess without becoming her slave."

Paul felt his face flush in spite of himself.  "Ah! you mean Miss
Arguello," he said hurriedly, his color increasing at his own mention
of that name as if he were imposing it upon his honest companion.  "She
is an old acquaintance of mine--from my own State--California."

"Ah, so," said the General, lifting his eyebrows in profound apology.
"A thousand pardons."

"Surely," said Paul, with a desperate attempt to recover his
equanimity, "YOU ought to know our geography better."

"So, I am wrong.  But still the name--Arguello--surely that is not
American?  Still, they say she has no accent, and does not look like a
Mexican."

For an instant Paul was superstitiously struck with the fatal
infelicity of Yerba's selection of a foreign name, that now seemed only
to invite that comment and criticism which she should have avoided.
Nor could he explain it at length to the General without assisting and
accenting the deception, which he was always hoping in some vague way
to bring to an end.  He was sorry he had corrected the General; he was
furious that he had allowed himself to be confused.

Happily his companion had misinterpreted his annoyance, and with
impulsive German friendship threw himself into what he believed to be
Paul's feelings.  "Donnerwetter!  Your beautiful countrywoman is made
the subject of curiosity just because that stupid baron is persistent
in his serious attentions.  That is quite enough, my good friend, to
make Klatschen here among those animals who do not understand the
freedom of an American girl, or that an heiress may have something else
to do with her money than to expend it on the Baron's mortgages.
But"--he stopped, and his simple, honest face assumed an air of
profound and sagacious cunning--"I am glad to talk about it with you,
who of course are perfectly familiar with the affair.  I shall now be
able to know what to say.  My word, my friend, has some weight here,
and I shall use it.  And now you shall tell me WHO is our lovely
friend, and WHO were her parents and her kindred in her own home.  Her
associates here, you possibly know, are an impossible colonel and his
never-before-approached valet, with some South American Indian
planters, and, I believe, a pork-butcher's daughter.  But of THEM--it
makes nothing.  Tell me of HER people."

With his kindly serious face within a few inches of Paul's, and
sympathizing curiosity beaming from his pince-nez, he obliged the
wretched and conscience-stricken Hathaway to respond with a detailed
account of Yerba's parentage as projected by herself and indorsed by
Colonel Pendleton.  He dwelt somewhat particularly on the romantic
character of the Trust, hoping to draw the General's attention away
from the question of relationship, but he was chagrined to find that
the honest warrior evidently confounded the Trust with some
eleemosynary institution and sympathetically glossed it over.  "Of
course," he said, "the Mexican Minister at Berlin would know all about
the Arguello family: so there would be no question there."

Paul was not sorry when the time came to take leave of his friend; but
once again in the clear moonlight and fresh, balmy air of the Allee, he
forgot the unpleasantness of the interview.  He found himself thinking
only of his ride with Yerba.  Well! he had told her that he loved her.
She knew it now, and although she had forbidden him to speak further,
she had not wholly rejected it.  It must be her morbid consciousness of
the mystery of her birth that withheld a return of her
affections,--some half-knowledge, perhaps, that she would not divulge,
yet that kept her unduly sensitive of accepting his love.  He was
satisfied there was no entanglement; her heart was virgin.  He even
dared to hope that she had ALWAYS cared for him.  It was for HIM to
remove all obstacles--to prevail upon her to leave this place and
return to America with him as her husband, the guardian of her good
name, and the custodian of her secret.  At times the strains of a
dreamy German waltz, played in the distance, brought back to him the
brief moment that his arm had encircled her waist by the crumbling
wall, and his pulses grew languid, only to leap firmer the next moment
with more desperate resolve.  He would win her, come what may!  He
could never have been in earnest before: he loathed and hated himself
for his previous passive acquiescence to her fate.  He had been a weak
tool of the colonel's from the first: he was even now handicapped by a
preposterous promise he had given him!  Yes, she was right to
hesitate--to question his ability to make her happy!  He had found her
here, surrounded by stupidity and cupidity--to give it no other
name--so patent that she was the common gossip, and had offered nothing
but a boyish declaration!  As he strode into the hotel that night it
was well that he did not meet the unfortunate colonel on the staircase!

It was very late, although there was still visible a light in Yerba's
salon, shining on her balcony, which extended before and included his
own window.  From time to time he could hear the murmur of voices.  It
was too late to avail himself of the invitation to join them, even if
his frame of mind had permitted it.  He was too nervous and excited to
go to bed, and, without lighting his candle, he opened the French
window that gave upon the balcony, drew a chair in the recess behind
the curtain, and gazed upon the night.  It was very quiet; the moon was
high, the square was sleeping in a trance of checkered shadows, like a
gigantic chessboard, with black foreshortened trees for pawns.  The
click of a cavalry sabre, the sound of a footfall on the pavement of
the distant Konigsstrasse, were distinctly audible; a far-off railway
whistle was startling in its abruptness.  In the midst of this calm the
opening of the door of the salon, with the sudden uplifting of voices
in the hall, told Paul that Yerba's guests were leaving.  He heard Dona
Anna's arch accents--arch even to Colonel Pendleton's monotonous
baritone!--Milly's high, rapid utterances, the suave falsetto of Don
Caesar, and HER voice, he thought a trifle wearied,--the sound of
retiring footsteps, and all was still again.

So still that the rhythmic beat of the distant waltz returned to him,
with a distinctiveness that he could idly follow.  He thought of
Rosario and the rose-breath of the open windows with a strange longing,
and remembered the half-stifled sweetness of her happy voice rising
with it from the veranda.  Why had he ever let it pass from him then
and waft its fragrance elsewhere?  Why--  What was that?

The slight turning of a latch!  The creaking of the French window of
the salon, and somebody had slipped softly half out on the balcony.
His heart stopped beating.  From his position in the recess of his own
window, with his back to the partition of the salon, he could see
nothing.  Yet he did not dare to move.  For with the quickened senses
of a lover he felt the diffused and perfumed aura of HER presence, of
HER garments, of HER flesh, flow in upon him through the open window,
and possess his whole breathless being!  It was SHE!  Like him,
perhaps, longing to enjoy the perfect night--like him, perhaps,
thinking of--

"So you ar-range to get rid of me--ha! lik thees?  To tur-rn me off
from your heels like a dog who have follow you--but without a
word--without a--a--thanks--without a 'ope!  Ah!--we have ser-rved
you--me and my sister; we are the or-range dry--now we can go!  Like
the old shoe, we are to be flung away!  Good!  But I am here again--you
see.  I shall speak, and you shall hear-r."

Don Caesar's voice--alone with her!  Paul gripped his chair and sat
upright.

"Stop!  Stay where you are!  How dared you return here?"  It was
Yerba's voice, on the balcony, low and distinct.

"Shut the window!  I shall speak with you what you will not the world
to hear."

"I prefer to keep where I am, since you have crept into this room like
a thief!"

"A thief!  Good!"  He broke out in Spanish, and, as if no longer
fearful of being overheard, had evidently drawn nearer to the window.
"A thief.  Ha! muy bueno--but it is not I, you understand--I, Caesar
Briones, who am the thief!  No!  It is that swaggering espadachin--that
fanfarron of a Colonel Pendleton--that pattern of an official, Mr.
Hathaway--that most beautiful heiress of the Californias, Miss
ARGUELLO--that are thieves!  Yes--of a NAME--Miss Arguello--of a NAME!
The name of Arguello!"

Paul rose to his feet.

"Ah, so!  You start--you turn pale--you flash your eyes, senora, but
you think you have deceived me all these years.  You think I did not
see your game at Rosario--yes, even when that foolish Castro muchacha
first put that idea in your head.  Who furnished you the facts you
wanted?  I--Mother of God! SUCH FACTS!--I, who knew the Arguello
pedigree--I, who know it was as impossible for you to be a daughter of
them as--what? let me think--as--as it is impossible for you to be the
wife of that baron whom you would deceive with the rest!  Ah, yes; it
was a high flight for you, Mees--Mees--Dona Fulana--a noble game for
you to bring down!"

Why did she not speak?  What was she doing?  If she had but uttered a
single word of protest, of angry dismissal, Paul would have flown to
her side.  It could not be the paralysis of personal fear: the balcony
was wide; she could easily pass to the end; she could even see his open
window.

"Why did I do this?  Because I loved you, senora--and you knew it! Ah!
you can turn your face away now; you can pretend to misunderstand me,
as you did a moment ago; you can part from me now like a mere
acquaintance--but it was not always so!  No, it was YOU who brought me
here; your eyes that smiled into mine--and drove home the colonel's
request that I and my sister should accompany you.  God! I was weak
then!  You smile, senora; you think you have succeeded--you and your
pompous colonel and your clever governor! You think you have
compromised me, and perjured ME, because of this.  You are wrong!  You
think I dare not speak to this puppet of a baron, and that I have no
proofs.  You are wrong!"

"And even if you can produce them, what care I?" said Yerba
unexpectedly, yet in a voice so free from excitement and passion that
the weariness which Paul had at first noticed seemed to be the only
dominant tone.  "Suppose you prove that I am not an Arguello. Good! you
have yet to show that a connection with any of your race would be
anything but a disgrace."

"Ah! you defy me, little one!  Caramba!  Listen, then!  You do not know
all!  When you thought I was only helping you to fabricate your claim
to the Arguellos' name, I was finding out WHO YOU REALLY WERE!  Ah!  It
was not so difficult as you fondly hope, senora.  We were not all
brutes and fools in the early days, though we stood aside to let your
people run their vulgar course.  It was your hired bully--your
respected guardian--this dog of an espadachin, who let out a hint of
the secret--with a prick of his blade--and a scandal.  One of my peon
women was a servant at the convent when you were a child, and
recognized the woman who put you there and came to see you as a friend.
She overheard the Mother Superior say it was your mother, and saw a
necklace that was left for you to wear.  Ah! you begin to believe!
When I had put this and that together I found that Pepita could not
identify you with the child that she had seen.  But you, senora, you
YOURSELF supplied the missing proof!  Yes! you supplied it with the
NECKLACE that you wore that evening at Rosario, when you wished to do
honor to this young Hathaway--the guardian who had always thrown you
off! Ah!--you now suspect why, perhaps!  It was your mother's necklace
that you wore, and you said so!  That night I sent the good Pepita to
identify it; to watch through the window from the garden when you were
wearing it; to make it sure as the Creed.  I sent her to your room late
that night when you had changed your dress, that she might examine it
among your jewels.  And she did and will swear--look you!--SWEAR that
it is the one given you as a child by the woman at the convent, who was
your mother!  And who was that woman--eh?  Who was the mother of the
Arguello de la Yerba Buena?--who this noble ancestress?"

"Excuse me--but perhaps you are not aware that you are raising your
voice in a lady's drawing-room, and that although you are speaking a
language no one here understands, you are disturbing the hotel."

It was Paul, quiet, pale in the moonlight, erect on the balcony before
the window.  As Yerba, with a start, retreated quickly into the room,
Don Caesar stepped forward angrily and suspiciously towards the window.
He had his hand reached forward towards the handle as if to close the
swinging sash against the intruder, when in an instant he was seized by
Paul, tightly locked in a desperate grip, and whirled out on the
balcony.  Before he could gain breath to utter a cry, Hathaway had
passed his right arm around the Mexican's throat, effectively stopping
his utterance, and, with a supreme effort of strength, dragged him
along the wall, falling with him into the open window of his own room.
As he did so, to his inexpressible relief he heard the sash closed and
the bolt drawn of the salon window, and regained his feet, collected,
quiet, and triumphant.

"I am sorry," he said, coolly dusting his clothes, "to have been
obliged to change the scene of this discussion so roughly, but you will
observe that you can speak more freely HERE, and that any altercation
WE may have in this room will be less likely to attract comment."

"Assassin!" said Don Caesar chokingly, as he struggled to his feet.

"Thank you.  Relieve your feelings as much as you like here; in fact,
if you would speak a little louder you would oblige me.  The guests are
beginning to be awake," continued Paul, with a wicked smile, indicating
the noise of an opening door and footsteps in the passage, "and are now
able to locate without difficulty the scene of the disturbance."

Briones apparently understood his meaning and the success of his
stratagem.  "You think you have saved HER from disgrace," he said, with
a livid smile, in a lower tone and a desperate attempt to imitate
Paul's coolness.  "For the present--ah--yees! perhaps in this hotel and
this evening.  But you have not stop my mouth for--a--to-morrow--and
the whole world, Mr. Hathaway."

"Well," said Paul, looking at him critically, "I don't know about that.
Of course, there's the equal chance that you may kill me--but that's a
question for to-morrow, too."

The Mexican cast a quick glance at the door and window.  Paul, as if
carelessly, changed the key of the former from one pocket to the other,
and stepped before the window.

"So this is a plot to murder me!  Have a care!  You are not in your own
brigand California!"

"If you think so, alarm the house.  They will find us quarreling, and
you will only precipitate matters by receiving the insult that will
make you fight--before them."

"I am r-ready, sir, when and where you will," said Briones, with a
swaggering air but a shifting, furtive eye.  "Open--a--the door."

"Pardon me.  We will leave this room TOGETHER in an hour for the
station.  We will board the night express that will take us in three
hours beyond the frontier, where we can each find a friend."

"But my affairs here--my sister--I must see her."

"You shall write a note to her at that table, saying that important
business--a dispatch--has called you away, and we will leave it with
the porter to be delivered IN THE MORNING.  Or--I do not restrict
you--you can say what you like, provided she don't get it until we have
left."

"And you make of me a prisoner, sir?"

"No; a visitor, Don Caesar--a visitor whose conversation is so
interesting that I am forced to detain him to hear more.  You can pass
the time pleasantly by finishing the story I was obliged to interrupt a
moment ago.  Do you know this mother of Miss Yerba, of whom you spoke?"

"That's m--my affair."

"That means you don't know her.  If you did, you'd have had her within
call.  And, as she is the only person who is able to say that Miss
Yerba is NOT an Arguello, you have been very remiss."

"Ah, bah! I am not one of your--a--lawyers."

"No; or you would know that, with no better evidence than you have, you
might be sued for slander."

"Ah!  Why does not Miss Yerba sue, then?"

"Because she probably expects that somebody will shoot you."

"As YOU for instance?"

"Perhaps."

"And if you do NOT--eh?--you have not stop my mouth, but your own. And
if you DO, you help her to marry the Baron, your rival.  You are not
wise, friend Hathaway."

"May I remind you that you have not yet written to your sister, and you
may prefer to do it carefully and deliberately?"

Don Caesar arose with a vindictive glance at Paul, and pulled a chair
before the table, as the latter placed pen, ink, and paper before him.
"Take your time," he added, folding his arms and walking towards the
window.  "Say what you like, and don't let my presence restrain you."

The Mexican began to write furiously, then spasmodically, then slowly
and reluctantly.  "I war-r-n you, I shall expose all," he said suddenly.

"As you please."

"And shall say that if I disappear, you are my murderer--you
understand--my MURDERER!"

"Don't consult me on a question of epithets, but go on."

Don Caesar recommenced his writing with a malign smile.  There was a
sudden sharp rap at the door.

Don Caesar leaped to his feet, grasped his papers, and rushed to the
door; but Paul was before him.  "Who is there?" he demanded.

"Pendleton."

At the sound of the colonel's voice Don Caesar fell back.  Paul opened
the door, admitted the tall figure of the colonel, and was about to
turn the key again.  But Pendleton lifted his hand in grim deprecation.

"That will do, Mr. Hathaway.  I know all.  But I wish to speak with
Briones elsewhere, alone."

"Excuse me, Colonel Pendleton," said Paul firmly, "but I have the prior
claim.  Words have passed between this gentleman and myself which we
are now on our way to the station and the frontier to settle.  If you
are willing to accompany us, I shall give you every opportunity to
converse with him alone, and arrange whatever business you may have
with him, provided it does not interfere with mine."

"My business," said Pendleton, "is of a personal nature, that will not
interfere with any claim of yours that Mr. Briones may choose to admit,
but is of a private quality that must be transacted between us now."
His face was pale, and his voice, although steady and self-controlled,
had that same strange suggestion of sudden age in it which Paul had
before noticed.  Whether Don Caesar detected it, or whether he had some
other instinctive appreciation of greater security, Paul could not
tell.  He seemed to recover his swagger again, as he said,--

"I shall hear what Colonel Pendleton has to say first.  But I shall
hold myself in readiness to meet you afterwards--you shall not fear,
sir!"

Paul remained looking from the one to the other without speaking. It
was Don Caesar who returned his glance boldly and defiantly, Colonel
Pendleton who, with thin white fingers pulling his moustache, evaded
it.  Then Paul unlocked the door, and said slowly, "In five minutes I
leave this house for the station.  I shall wait there until the train
arrives.  If this gentleman does not join me, I shall be better able to
understand all this and take measures accordingly."

"And I tell to you, Meester Hathaway, sir," said Don Caesar, striking
an attitude in the doorway, "you shall do as I please--Caramba!--and
shall beg"--

"Hold your tongue, sir--or, by the Eternal!"--burst out Pendleton
suddenly, bringing down his thin hand on the Mexican's shoulder. He
stopped as suddenly.  "Gentlemen, this is childish.  Go, sir!" to Don
Caesar, pointing with a gaunt white finger into the darkened hall.  "I
will follow you.  Mr. Hathaway, as an older man, and one who has seen a
good deal of foolish altercation, I regret, sir, deeply regret, to be a
witness to this belligerent quality in a law-maker and a public man;
and I must deprecate, sir--deprecate, your demand on that gentleman for
what, in the folly of youth, you are pleased to call personal
satisfaction."

As he moved with dignity out of the room, Paul remained blankly staring
after him.  Was it all a dream?--or was this Colonel Pendleton the
duelist?  Had the old man gone crazy, or was he merely acting to veil
some wild purpose?  His sudden arrival showed that Yerba must have sent
for him and told him of Don Caesar's threats; would he be wild enough
to attempt to strangle the man in some remote room or in the darkness
of the passage?  He stepped softly into the hall: he could still hear
the double tread of the two men: they had reached the staircase--they
were DESCENDING!  He heard the drowsy accents of the night porter and
the swinging of the door--they were in the street!

Wherever they were going, or for what purpose, HE must be at the
station, as he had warned them he would be.  He hastily threw a few
things into his valise, and prepared to follow them.  When he went
downstairs he informed the porter that owing to an urgent call of
business he should try to catch the through express at three o'clock,
but they must retain his room and luggage until they heard from him.
He remembered Don Caesar's letter.  Had either of the gentlemen, his
friends who had just gone out, left a letter or message?  No,
Excellency; the gentlemen were talking earnestly--he believed, in the
South American language--and had not spoken to him.

Perhaps it was this that reminded Paul, as he crossed the square again,
that he had made no preparation for any possible fatal issue to himself
in this adventure.  SHE would know it, however, and why he had
undertaken it.  He tried to think that perhaps some interest in himself
had prompted her to send the colonel to him.  Yet, mingled with this
was an odd sense of a certain ridiculousness in his position: there was
the absurdity of his prospective antagonist being even now in
confidential consultation with his own friend and ally, whose functions
he had usurped, and in whose interests he was about to risk his life.
And as he walked away through the silent streets, the conviction more
than once was forced upon him that he was going to an appointment that
would not be kept.

He reached the station some ten minutes before the train was due. Two
or three half-drowsy, wrapped-up passengers were already on the
platform; but neither Don Caesar nor Colonel Pendleton was among them.
He explored the waiting-rooms and even the half-lit buffet, but with no
better success.  Telling the Bahnhof Inspector that his passage was
only contingent upon the arrival of one or two companions, and
describing them minutely to prevent mistakes, he began gloomily to pace
before the ticket-office.  Five minutes passed--the number of
passengers did not increase; ten minutes; a distant shriek--the hoarse
inquiry of the inspector--had the Herr's companions yet gekommt? the
sudden glare of a Cyclopean eye in the darkness, the ongliding of the
long-jointed and gleaming spotted serpent, the train--a hurried glance
around the platform, one or two guttural orders, the slamming of doors,
the remounting of black uniformed figures like caryatides along the
marchepieds, a puff of vapor, and the train had come and gone without
them.

Yet he would give his adversary fifteen minutes more to allow for
accident or delay, or the possible arrival of the colonel with an
explanation, and recommenced his gloomy pacing, as the Bahnhof sank
back into half-lit repose.  At the end of five minutes there was
another shriek.  Paul turned quickly to the inspector.  Ah, then, there
was another train?  No; it was only the up express for Basle, going the
other way and stopping at the Nord Station, half a mile away.  It would
not stop here, but the Herr would see it pass in a few moments at full
speed.

It came presently, with a prolonged despairing shriek, out of the
darkness; a flash, a rush and roar at his side, a plunge into the
darkness again with the same despairing cry; a flutter of something
white from one of the windows, like a loosened curtain, that at last
seemed to detach itself, and, after a wild attempt to follow, suddenly
soared aloft, whirled over and over, dropped, and drifted slowly,
slantwise, to the ground.

The inspector had seen it, ran down the line, and picked it up. Then he
returned with it to Paul with a look of sympathizing concern.  It was a
lady's handkerchief, evidently some signal waved to the well-born Herr,
who was the only passenger on the platform. So, possibly, it might be
from his friends, who by some stupid mischance had gone to the wrong
station, and--Gott im Himmel!--it was hideously stupid, yet possible,
got on the wrong train!

The Herr, a little pale, but composed, thought it WAS possible. No; he
would not telegraph to the next station--not yet--he would inquire.

He walked quickly away, reaching the hotel breathlessly, yet in a space
that seemed all too brief for his disconnected thought. There were
signs of animation in the hall, and an empty carriage was just
reentering the courtyard.  The hall-porter met him with demonstrative
concern and apology.  Ah! if he had only understood his Excellency
better, he could have saved him all this trouble. Evidently his
Excellency was going with the Arguello party, who had ordered a
carriage, doubtless, for the same important journey, an hour before,
yet had left only a few moments after his Excellency, and his
Excellency, it would appear, had gone to the wrong station.

Paul pushed hurriedly past the man and ascended to his room.  Both
windows were open, and in the faint moonlight he could see that
something white was pinned to his pillow.  With nervous fingers he
relit his candles, and found it was a note in Yerba's handwriting. As
he opened it, a tiny spray of the vine that had grown on the crumbling
wall fell at his feet.  He picked it up, pressed it to his lips, and
read, with dim eyes, as follows:--


"You know now why I spoke to you as I did to-day, and why the other
half of this precious spray is the only memory I care to carry with me
out of this crumbling ruin of all my hopes.  You were right, Paul: my
taking you there WAS AN OMEN--not to you, who can never be anything but
proud, beloved, and true--but to ME of all the shame and misery.  Thank
you for all you have done--for all you would do, my friend, and don't
think me ungrateful, only because I am unworthy of it.  Try to forgive
me, but don't forget me, even if you must hate me.  Perhaps, if you
knew all--you might still love a little the poor girl to whom you have
already given the only name she can ever take from you--YERBA BUENA!"



CHAPTER VII.

It was already autumn, and in the city of New York an early Sunday
morning breeze was sweeping up the leaves that had fallen from the
regularly planted ailantus trees before the brown-stone frontage of a
row of monotonously alike five-storied houses on one of the principal
avenues.  The Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church, that uplifted
its double towers on the corner, stopped before one of these dwellings,
ran up the dozen broad steps, and rang the bell.  He was presently
admittted to the sombre richness of a hall and drawing-room with
high-backed furniture of dark carved woods, like cathedral stalls, and,
hat in hand, somewhat impatiently awaited the arrival of his hostess
and parishioner.  The door opened to a tall, white-haired woman in
lustreless black silk.  She was regular and resolute in features, of
fine but unbending presence, and, though somewhat past middle age,
showed no signs of either the weakness or mellowness of years.

"I am sorry to disturb your Sabbath morning meditations, Sister
Argalls, nor would I if it were not in the line of Christian duty; but
Sister Robbins is unable today to make her usual Sabbath hospital
visit, and I thought if you were excused from the Foreign Missionary
class and Bible instruction at three you might undertake her functions.
I know, my dear old friend," he continued, with bland deprecation of
her hard-set eyes, "how distasteful this promiscuous mingling with the
rough and ungodly has always been to you, and how reluctant you are to
be placed in the position of being liable to hear coarse, vulgar, or
irreverent speech.  I think, too, in our long and pleasant pastoral
relations, you have always found me mindful of it.  I admit I have
sometimes regretted that your late husband had not more generally
familiarized you with the ways of the world.  But so it is--we all have
our weaknesses. If not one thing, another.  And as Envy and
Uncharitableness sometimes find their way in even Christian hearts, I
should like you to undertake this office for the sake of example.
There are some, dear Sister Argalls, who think that the rich widow who
is most liberal in the endowment of the goods that Providence has
intrusted to her hands claims therefore to be exempt from labor in the
Christian vineyard.  Let us teach them how unjust they are."

"I am willing," said the lady, with a dry, determined air.  "I suppose
these patients are not professedly bad characters?"

"By no means.  A few, perhaps; but the majority are
unfortunates--dependent either upon public charity or some small
provision made by their friends."

"Very well."

"And you understand that though they have the privilege of rejecting
your Christian ministrations, dear Sister Argalls, you are free to
judge when you may be patient or importunate with them?"

"I understand."

The Pastor was not an unkindly man, and, as he glanced at the
uncompromising look in Mrs. Argalls's eyes, felt for a moment some
inconsistency between his humane instincts and his Christian duty.
"Some of them may require, and be benefited by, a stern monitress, and
Sister Robbins, I fear, was weak," he said consolingly to himself, as
he descended the steps again.

At three o'clock Mrs. Argalls, with a reticule and a few tracts, was at
the door of St. John's Hospital.  As she displayed her testimonials and
announced that she had taken Mrs. Robbins's place, the officials
received her respectfully, and gave some instructions to the
attendants, which, however, did not stop some individual comments.

"I say, Jim, it doesn't seem the square thing to let that grim old girl
loose among them poor convalescents."

"Well, I don't know: they say she's rich and gives a lot o' money away,
but if she tackles that swearing old Kentuckian in No. 3, she'll have
her hands full."

However, the criticism was scarcely fair, for Mrs. Argalls, although
moving rigidly along from bed to bed of the ward, equipped with a
certain formula of phrases, nevertheless dropped from time to time some
practical common-sense questions that showed an almost masculine
intuition of the patients' needs and requirements.  Nor did she betray
any of that over-sensitive shrinking from coarseness which the good
Pastor had feared, albeit she was quick to correct its exhibition.  The
languid men listened to her with half-aggressive, half-amused interest,
and some of the satisfaction of taking a bitter but wholesome tonic.
It was not until she reached the bed at the farther end of the ward
that she seemed to meet with any check.

It was occupied by a haggard man, with a long white moustache and
features that seemed wasted by inward struggle and fever.  At the first
sound of her voice he turned quickly towards her, lifted himself on his
elbow, and gazed fixedly in her face.

"Kate Howard--by the Eternal!" he said, in a low voice.

Despite her rigid self-possession the woman started, glanced hurriedly
around, and drew nearer to him.

"Pendleton!" she said, in an equally suppressed voice, "What, in God's
name, are you doing here?"

"Dying, I reckon--sooner or later," he said grimly, "that's what they
do here."

"But--what," she went on hurriedly, still glancing over her shoulder as
if she suspected some trick--"what has brought you to this?"

"YOU!" said the colonel, dropping back exhaustedly on his pillow. "You
and your daughter."

"I don't understand you," she said quickly, yet regarding him with
stern rigidity.  "You know perfectly well I have NO daughter.  You know
perfectly well that I've kept the word I gave you ten years ago, and
that I have been dead to her as she has been to me."

"I know," said the colonel, "that within the last three months I have
paid away my last cent to keep the mouth of an infernal scoundrel shut
who KNOWS that you are her mother, and threatens to expose her to her
friends.  I know that I'm dying here of an old wound that I got when I
shut the mouth of another hound who was ready to bark at her two years
after you disappeared.  I know that between you and her I've let my old
nigger die of a broken heart, because I couldn't keep him to suffer
with me, and I know that I'm here a pauper on the State.  I know that,
Kate, and when I say it I don't regret it.  I've kept my word to YOU,
and, by the Eternal, your daughter's worth it!  For if there ever was a
fair and peerless creature--it's your child!"

"And she--a rich woman--unless she squandered the fortune I gave
her--lets you lie here!" said the woman grimly.

"She don't know it."

"She SHOULD know it!  Have you quarreled?"  She was looking at him
keenly.

"She distrusts me, because she half suspects the secret, and I hadn't
the heart to tell her all."

"All?  What does she know?  What does this man know?  What has been
told her?" she said rapidly.

"She only knows that the name she has taken she has no right to."

"Right to?  Why, it was written on the Trust--Yerba Buena."

"No, not that.  She thought it was a mistake.  She took the name of
Arguello."

"What?" said Mrs. Argalls, suddenly grasping the invalid's wrist with
both hands.  "What name?" her eyes were startled from their rigid
coldness, her lips were colorless.

"Arguello!  It was some foolish schoolgirl fancy which that hound
helped to foster in her.  Why--what's the matter, Kate?"

The woman dropped the helpless man's wrist, then, with an effort,
recovered herself sufficiently to rise, and, with an air of increased
decorum, as if the spiritual character of their interview excluded
worldly intrusion, adjusted the screen around his bed, so as partly to
hide her own face and Pendleton's.  Then, dropping into the chair
beside him, she said, in her old voice, from which the burden of ten
long years seemed to have been lifted,--

"Harry, what's that you're playing on me?"

"I don't understand you," said Pendleton amazedly.

"Do you mean to say you don't know it, and didn't tell her yourself?"
she said curtly.

"What?  Tell her what?" he repeated impatiently.

"That Arguello WAS her father!"

"Her father?"  He tried to struggle to his elbow again, but she laid
her hand masterfully upon his shoulder and forced him back. "Her
father!" he repeated hurriedly.  "Jose Arguello!  Great God!--are you
sure?"

Quietly and yet mechanically gathering the scattered tracts from the
coverlet, and putting them back, one by one in her reticule, she closed
it and her lips with a snap as she uttered--"Yes."

Pendleton remained staring at her silently, "Yes," he muttered, "it may
have been some instinct of the child's, or some diabolical fancy of
Briones'.  But," he said bitterly, "true or not, she has no right to
his name."

"And I say she HAS."

She had risen to her feet, with her arms folded across her breast, in
an attitude of such Puritan composure that the distant spectators might
have thought she was delivering an exordium to the prostrate man.

"I met Jose Arguello, for the second time, in New Orleans," she said
slowly, "eight years ago.  He was still rich, but ruined in health by
dissipation.  I was tired of my way of life.  He proposed that I should
marry him to take care of him and legitimatize our child.  I was forced
to tell him what I had done with her, and that the Trust could not be
disturbed until she was of age and her own mistress.  He assented.  We
married, but he died within a year.  He died, leaving with me his
acknowledgment of her as his child, and the right to claim her if I
chose."

"And?"--interrupted the colonel with sparkling eyes.

"I DON'T CHOOSE.

"Hear me!" she continued firmly.  "With his name and my own mistress,
and the girl, as I believed, properly provided for and ignorant of my
existence, I saw no necessity for reopening the past.  I resolved to
lead a new life as his widow.  I came north. In the little New England
town where I first stopped, the country people contracted my name to
Mrs. Argalls.  I let it stand so.  I came to New York and entered the
service of the Lord and the bonds of the Church, Henry Pendleton, as
Mrs. Argalls, and have remained so ever since."

"But you would not object to Yerba knowing that you lived, and rightly
bore her father's name?" said Pendleton eagerly.

The woman looked at him with compressed lips.  "I should.  I have
buried all my past, and all its consequences.  Let me not seek to
reopen it or recall them."

"But if you knew that she was as proud as yourself, and that this very
uncertainty as to her name and parentage, although she has never known
the whole truth, kept her from taking the name and becoming the wife of
a man whom she loves?"

"Whom she loves!"

"Yes; one of her guardians---Hathaway--to whom you intrusted her when
she was a child."

"Paul Hathaway--but HE knew it."

"Yes.  But SHE does not know he does.  He has kept the secret
faithfully, even when she refused him."

She was silent for a moment, and then said,--

"So be it.  I consent."

"And you'll write to her?" said the colonel eagerly.

"No.  But YOU may, and if you want them I will furnish you with such
proofs as you may require."

"Thank you."  He held out his hand with such a happy yet childish
gratitude upon his worn face that her own trembled slightly as she took
it.  "Good-by!"

"I shall see you soon," she said.

"I shall be here," he said grimly.

"I think not," she returned, with the first relaxation of her smileless
face, and moved away.

As she passed out she asked to see the house surgeon.  How soon did he
think the patient she had been conversing with could be removed from
the hospital with safety?  Did Mrs. Argalls mean "far?"  Mrs. Argalls
meant as far as THAT--tendering her card and eminently respectable
address.  Ah!--perhaps in a week.  Not before?  Perhaps before, unless
complications ensued; the patient had been much run down physically,
though, as Mrs. Argalls had probably noticed, he was singularly strong
in nervous will force.  Mrs. Argalls HAD noticed it, and considered it
an extraordinary case of conviction--worthy of the closest watching and
care.  When he was able to be moved she would send her own carriage and
her own physician to superintend his transfer.  In the mean time he was
to want for nothing.  Certainly, he had given very little trouble, and,
in fact, wanted very little.  Just now he had only asked for paper,
pens, and ink.



CHAPTER VIII.

As Mrs. Argalls's carriage rolled into Fifth Avenue, it for a moment
narrowly grazed another carriage, loaded with luggage, driving up to a
hotel.  The abstracted traveler within it was Paul Hathaway, who had
returned from Europe that morning.

Paul entered the hotel, and, going to the register mechanically, turned
its leaves for the previous arrivals, with the same hopeless patience
that had for the last six weeks accompanied this habitual preliminary
performance on his arrival at the principal European hotels.  For he
had lost all trace of Yerba, Pendleton, Milly, and the Briones from the
day of their departure.  The entire party seemed to have separated at
Basle, and, in that eight-hours' start they had of him, to have
disappeared to the four cardinal points. He had lingered a few days in
London to transact some business; he would linger a few days longer in
New York before returning to San Francisco.

The daily papers already contained his name in the list of the steamer
passengers who arrived that morning.  It might meet HER eye, although
he had been haunted during the voyage by a terrible fancy that she was
still in Europe, and had either hidden herself in some obscure
provincial town with the half-crazy Pendleton, or had entered a
convent, or even, in reckless despair, had accepted the name and title
of some penniless nobleman.  It was this miserable doubt that had made
his homeward journey at times seem like a cruel desertion of her, while
at other moments the conviction that Milly's Californian relatives
might give him some clew to her whereabouts made him feverishly fearful
of delaying an hour on his way to San Francisco.  He did not believe
that she had tolerated the company of Briones a single moment after the
scene at the Bad Hof, and yet he had no confidence in the colonel's
attitude towards the Mexican.  Hopeless of the future as her letter
seemed, still its naive and tacit confession of her feelings at the
moment was all that sustained him.

Two days passed, and he still lingered aimlessly in New York.  In two
days more the Panama steamer would sail--yet in his hesitation he had
put off securing his passage.  He visited the offices of the different
European steamer lines, and examined the recent passenger lists, but
there was no record of any of the party.  What made his quest seem the
more hopeless was his belief that, after Briones' revelation, she had
cast off the name of Arguello and taken some other.  She might even be
in New York under that new name now.

On the morning of the third day, among his letters was one that bore
the postmark of a noted suburban settlement of wealthy villa-owners on
the Hudson River.  It was from Milly Woods, stating that her father had
read of his arrival in the papers, and begged he would dine and stay
the next night with them at "Under Cliff," if he "still had any
interest in the fortunes of old friends.  Of course," added the
perennially incoherent Milly, "if it bores you we sha'n't expect you."
The quick color came to Paul's careworn cheek.  He telegraphed assent,
and at sunset that afternoon stepped off the train at a little private
woodland station--so abnormally rustic and picturesque in its
brown-bark walls covered with scarlet Virginia creepers that it looked
like a theatrical erection.

Mr. Woods's station wagon was in waiting, but Paul, handing the driver
his valise, and ascertaining the general direction of the house, and
that it was not far distant, told him to go on and he would follow
afoot.  The tremor of vague anticipation had already come upon him;
something that he knew not whether he feared or longed for, only that
it was inevitable, had begun to possess him. He would soon recover
himself in the flaring glory of this woodland, and the invigoration of
this hale October air.

It was a beautiful and brilliant sunset, yet not so beautiful and
brilliant but that the whole opulent forest around him seemed to
challenge and repeat its richest as well as its most delicate dyes. The
reddening west, seen through an opening of scarlet maples, was no
longer red; the golden glory of the sun, sinking over a promontory of
gleaming yellow sumach that jutted out into the noble river, was shorn
of its intense radiance; at times in the thickest woods he seemed
surrounded by a yellow nimbus; at times so luminous was the glow of
these translucent leaves that the position of the sun itself seemed
changed, or the shadows cast in defiance of its glory.  As he walked
on, long reaches of the lordly placid stream at his side were visible,
as far as the terraces of the opposite shore, lifted on basaltic
columns, themselves streaked and veined with gold and fire.  Paul had
seen nothing like this since his boyhood; for an instant the great
heroics of the Sierran landscape were forgotten in this magnificent
harlequinade.

A dim footpath crossed the road in the direction of the house, which
for the last few moments had been slowly etching itself as a soft
vignette in a tinted aureole of walnut and maple upon the steel blue of
the river.  He was hesitating whether to take this short cut or
continue on by the road, when he heard the rustling of quick footsteps
among the fallen leaves of the variegated thicket through which it
stole.  He stopped short, the leafy screen shivered and parted, and a
tall graceful figure, like a draped and hidden Columbine, burst through
its painted foliage.  It was Yerba!

She ran quickly towards him, with parted lips, shining eyes, and a few
scarlet leaves clinging to the stuff of her worsted dress in a way that
recalled the pink petals of Rosario.

"When I saw you were not in the wagon and knew you were walking I
slipped out to intercept you, as I had something to tell you before you
saw the others.  I thought you wouldn't mind."  She stopped, and
suddenly hesitated.

What was this new strange shyness that seemed to droop her eyelids, her
proud head, and even the slim hand that had been so impulsively and
frankly outstretched towards him?  And he--Paul--what was he doing?
Where was this passionate outburst that had filled his heart for nights
and days?  Where this eager tumultuous questioning that his feverish
lips had rehearsed hour by hour?  Where this desperate courage that
would sweep the whole world away if it stood between them?  Where,
indeed?  He was standing only a few feet from her--cold, silent, and
tremulous!

She drew back a step, lifted her head with a quick toss that seemed to
condense the moisture in her shining eyes, and sent what might have
been a glittering dew-drop flying into the loosed tendrils of her hair.
Calm and erect again, she put her little hand to her jacket pocket.

"I only wanted you to read a letter I got yesterday," she said, taking
out an envelope.

The spell was broken.  Paul caught eagerly at the hand that held the
letter, and would have drawn her to him; but she put him aside gravely
but sweetly.

"Read that letter!"

"Tell me of YOURSELF first!" he broke out passionately.  "Why you fled
from me, and why I now find you here, by the merest chance, without a
word of summons from yourself, Yerba?  Tell me who is with you?  Are
you free and your own mistress--free to act for yourself and me?
Speak, darling--don't be cruel!  Since that night I have longed for
you, sought for you, and suffered for you every day and hour.  Tell me
if I find you the same Yerba who wrote"--

"Read that letter!"

"I care for none but the one you left me.  I have read and reread it,
Yerba--carried it always with me.  See!  I have it here!"  He was in
the act of withdrawing it from his breast-pocket, when she put up her
hand piteously.

"Please, Paul, please--read this letter first!"

There was something in her new supplicating grace, still retaining the
faintest suggestion of her old girlish archness, that struck him.  He
took the letter and opened it.  It was from Colonel Pendleton.

Plainly, concisely, and formally, without giving the name of his
authority or suggesting his interview with Mrs. Argalls, he had
informed Yerba that he had documentary testimony that she was the
daughter of the late Jose de Arguello, and legally entitled to bear his
name.  A copy of the instructions given to his wife, recognizing Yerba
Buena, the ward of the San Francisco Trust, as his child and hers, and
leaving to the mother the choice of making it known to her and others,
was inclosed.

Paul turned an unchanged face upon Yerba, who was watching him eagerly,
uneasily, almost breathlessly.

"And you think this concerns ME!" he said bitterly.  "You think only of
this, when I speak of the precious letter that bade me hope, and
brought me to you?"

"Paul," said the girl, with wondering eyes and hesitating lips; "do you
mean to say that--that--this is--nothing to you?"

"Yes--but forgive me, darling!" he broke out again, with a sudden vague
remorsefulness, as he once more sought her elusive hand.  "I am a
brute--an egotist!  I forgot that it might be something to YOU."

"Paul," continued the girl, her voice quivering with a strange joy, "do
you say that you--YOU yourself, care nothing for this?"

"Nothing," he answered, gazing at her transfigured face with admiring
wonder.

"And"--more timidly, as a faint aurora kindled in her checks--"that you
don't care--that--that--I am coming to you WITH A NAME, to give you
in--exchange?"

He started.

"Yerba, you are not mocking me?  You will be my wife?"

She smiled, yet moving softly backwards with the grave stateliness of a
vanishing yet beckoning goddess, until she reached the sumach-bush from
which she had emerged.  He followed.  Another backward step, and it
yielded to let her through; but even as it did so she caught him in her
arms, and for a single moment it closed upon them both, and hid them in
its glory.  A still lingering song-bird, possibly convinced that he had
mistaken the season, and that spring had really come, flew out with a
little cry to carry the message south; but even then Paul and Yerba
emerged with such innocent, childlike gravity, and, side by side,
walked so composedly towards the house, that he thought better of it.



CHAPTER IX.

It was only the THIRD time they had ever met--did Paul consider that
when he thought her cold?  Did he know now why she had not understood
him at Rosario?  Did he understand now how calculating and selfish he
had seemed to her that night?  Could he look her in the face now--no,
he must be quiet--they were so near the house, and everybody could see
them!--and say that he had ever believed her capable of making up that
story of the Arguellos?  Could he not have guessed that she had some
memory of that name in her childish recollections, how or where she
knew not?  Was it strange that a daughter should have an instinct of
her father?  Was it kind to her to know all this himself and yet reveal
nothing?  Because her mother and father had quarreled, and her mother
had run away with somebody and left her a ward to strangers--was that
to be concealed from her, and she left without a name?  This, and much
more, tenderly reproachful, bewildering and sweetly illogical, yet
inexpressibly dear to Paul, as they walked on in the gloaming.

More to the purpose, however, the fact that Briones, as far as she
knew, did not know her mother, and never before the night at Strudle
Bad had ever spoken of her.  Still more to the purpose, that he had
disappeared after an interview with the colonel that night, and that
she believed always that the colonel had bought him off.  It was not
with HER money.  She had sometimes thought that the colonel and he were
in confidence, and that was why she had lately distrusted Pendleton.
But she had refused to take the name of Arguello again after that
scene, and had called herself only by the name he had given her--would
he forgive her for ever speaking of it as she had?--Yerba Buena.  But
on shipboard, at Milly's suggestion, and to keep away from Briones, her
name had appeared on the passenger list as Miss Good, and they had
come, not to New York, but Boston.

It was possible that the colonel had extracted the information he sent
her FROM Briones.  They had parted from Pendleton in London, as he was
grumpy and queer, and, as Milly thought, becoming very miserly and
avaricious as he grew older, for he was always quarreling over the
hotel bills.  But he had Mrs. Woods's New York address at Under Cliff,
and, of course, guessed where she was. There was no address on his
letter: he had said he would write again.

Thus much until they reached the steps of the veranda, and Milly,
flying down, was ostentatiously overwhelmed with the unexpected
appearance of Mr. Paul Hathaway and Yerba, whom she had been watching
from the window for the last ten minutes.  Then the appearance of Mr.
Woods, Californian and reminiscent, and Mrs. Woods, metropolitan,
languid, and forgetful, and the sudden and formal retirement of the
girls.  An arch and indefinable mystery in the air whenever Paul and
Yerba appeared together--of which even the servants were discreetly
conscious.

At dinner Mr. Woods again became retrospective and Californian, and
dwelt upon the changes he had noticed.  It appeared the old pioneers
had in few cases attained a comfortable fortune for their old age.  "I
know," he added, "that your friend Colonel Pendleton has dropped a good
deal of money over in Europe.  Somebody told me that he actually was
reduced to take a steerage passage home.  It looks as if he might
gamble--it's an old Californian complaint." As Paul, who had become
suddenly grave again, did not speak, Mrs. Woods reminded them that she
had always doubted the colonel's moral principles.  Old as he was, he
had never got over that freedom of life and social opinion which he had
imbibed in early days.  For her part, she was very glad he had not
returned from Europe with the girls, though, of course, the presence of
Don Caesar and his sister during their European sojourn was a
corrective.  As Paul's face grew darker during this languid criticism,
Yerba, who had been watching it with a new and absorbing sympathy,
seized the first moment when they left the table to interrogate him
with heartbreaking eyes.

"You don't think, Paul, that the colonel is really poor?"

"God only knows," said Paul.  "I tremble to think how that scoundrel
may have bled him."

"And all for me!  Paul, dear, you know you were saying in the woods
that you would never, never touch my money.  What"--exultingly--"if we
gave it to him?"

What answer Paul made did not transpire, for it seemed to have been
indicated by an interval of profound silence.

But the next morning, as he and Mr. Woods were closeted in the library,
Yerba broke in upon them with a pathetic face and a telegram in her
hand.  "Oh, Paul--Mr. Hathaway--IT'S TRUE!"

Paul seized the telegram quickly: it had no signature, only the line:
"Colonel Pendleton is dangerously ill at St. John's Hospital."

"I must go at once," said Paul, rising.

"Oh, Paul"--imploringly---"let me go with you!  I should never forgive
myself if--AND IT'S ADDRESSED TO ME, and what would he think if I
didn't come?"

Paul hesitated.  "Mrs. Woods will let Milly go with us and she can stay
at the hotel.  Say yes," she continued, seeking his eyes eagerly.

He consented, and in half an hour they were in the train for New York.
Leaving Milly at the hotel, ostensibly in deference to the Woods's
prejudices, but really to save the presence of a third party at this
meeting, Paul drove with Yerba rapidly to the hospital.  They were
admitted to an anteroom.  The house surgeon received them respectfully,
but doubtingly.  The patient was a little better this morning, but very
weak.  There was a lady now with him--a member of a religious and
charitable guild, who had taken the greatest interest in him--indeed,
she had wished to take him to her own home--but he had declined at
first, and now he was too weak to be removed.

"But I received this telegram: it must have been sent at his request,"
protested Yerba.

The house surgeon looked at the beautiful face.  He was mortal.  He
would see if the patient was able to stand another interview; possibly
the regular visitor might withdraw.

When he had gone, an attendant volunteered the information that the old
gentleman was perhaps a little excited at times.  He was a wonderful
man; he had seen a great deal; he talked much of California and the
early days; he was very interesting.  Ah, it would be all right now if
the doctor found him well enough, for the lady was already going--that
was she, coming through the hall.

She came slowly towards them--erect, gray, grim--a still handsome
apparition.  Paul started.  To his horror, Yerba ran impulsively
forward, and said eagerly: "Is he better?  Can he see us now?"

The woman halted an instant, seemed to gather the prayer-book and
reticule she was carrying closer to her breast, but was otherwise
unchanged.  Replying to Paul rather than the young girl, she said
rigidly: "The patient is able to see Mr. Hathaway and Miss Yerba
Buena," and passed slowly on.  But as she reached the door she unloosed
her black mourning veil from her bonnet, and seemed to drop it across
her face with the gesture that Paul remembered she had used twelve
years ago.

"She frightens me!" said Yerba, turning a suddenly startled face on
Paul.  "Oh, Paul, I hope it isn't an omen, but she looked like some one
from the grave!"

"Hush!" said Paul, turning away a face that was whiter than her own.
"They are coming now."

The house surgeon had returned a trifle graver.  They might see him
now, but they must be warned that he wandered at times a little; and,
if he might suggest, if it was anything of family importance, they had
better make the most of their time and his lucid intervals.  Perhaps if
they were old friends--VERY old friends--he would recognize them.  He
was wandering much in the past--always in the past.

They found him in the end of the ward, but so carefully protected and
partitioned off by screens that the space around his cot had all the
privacy and security of an apartment.  He was very much changed; they
would scarcely have known him, but for the delicately curved aquiline
profile and the long white moustache--now so faint and etherealized as
to seem a mere spirit wing that rested on his pillow.  To their
surprise he opened his eyes with a smile of perfect recognition, and,
with thin fingers beyond the coverlid, beckoned to them to approach.
Yet there was still a shadow of his old reserve in his reception of
Paul, and, although one hand interlocked the fingers of Yerba--who had
at first rushed impulsively forward and fallen on her knees beside the
bed--and the other softly placed itself upon her head, his eyes were
fixed upon the young man's with the ceremoniousness due to a stranger.

"I am glad to see, sir," he began in a slow, broken, but perfectly
audible voice, "that now you are--satisfied with the right--of this
young lady--to bear the name of--Arguello--and her
relationship--sir--to one of the oldest"--

"But, my dear old friend," broke out Paul, earnestly, "I NEVER cared
for that--I beg you to believe"--

"He never--never--cared for it--dear, dear colonel," sobbed Yerba,
passionately: "it was all my fault--he thought only of me--you wrong
him!"

"I think otherwise," said the colonel, with grim and relentless
deliberation.  "I have a vivid--impression--sir--of an--interview I had
with you--at the St. Charles--where you said"--  He was silent for a
moment, and then in a quite different voice called faintly--

"George!"

Paul and Yerba glanced quickly at each other.

"George, set out some refreshment for the Honorable Paul Hathaway. The
best, sir--you understand....  A good nigger, sir--a good boy; and he
never leaves me, sir.  Only, by gad! sir, he will starve himself and
his family to be with me.  I brought him with me to California away
back in the fall of 'forty-nine.  Those were the early days, sir--the
early days."

His head had fallen back quite easily on the pillow now; but a slight
film seemed to be closing over his dark eyes, like the inner lid of an
eagle when it gazes upon the sun.

"They were the old days, sir--the days of Men--when a man's WORD was
enough for anything, and his trigger-finger settled any doubt. When the
Trust that he took from Man, Woman, or Child was never broken.  When
the tide, sir, that swept through the Golden Gate came up as far as
Montgomery Street."

He did not speak again.  But they who stood beside him knew that the
tide had once more come up to Montgomery Street, and was carrying Harry
Pendleton away with it.





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