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Title: The Travelling Thirds
Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

Minor errors in punctuation and formatting have been silently corrected.
Please see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details
regarding the handling of any textual issues encountered during its
preparation.

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

The full-page illustrations are referred to, in the list provided, by a
quote from the text, and the page reference is to the quote, rather than
the position of the illustration in the text. In some cases, these were
re-positioned to fall nearer the scene referenced.

These illustrations also had no captions. They are distinguished, here,
by the first few words of the quoted text.

                                  The
                           Travelling Thirds

                                   By

                           Gertrude Atherton

                               Author of
                   “Rulers of Kings” “The Conqueror”
                       “The Bell in the Fog” etc.

[Illustration]

                          LONDON AND NEW YORK
                      HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
                                  1905

                 Copyright, 1905, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

                         _All rights reserved._

                        Published October, 1905.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         The Travelling Thirds

                                   I


The California cousin of the Lyman T. Moultons—a name too famous to be
shorn——stood apart from the perturbed group, her feet boyishly asunder,
her head thrown back. Above her hung the thick white clusters of the
acacia,[1] drooping abundantly, opaque and luminous in the soft masses
of green, heavy with perfume. All Lyons seemed to have yielded itself to
the intoxicating fragrance of its favorite tree.

Footnote 1:

  The acacia of Europe is identical with the American locust.

In the Place Carnot, at least, there was not a murmur. The Moultons had
hushed in thought their four variations on the aggressive American key,
although perhaps insensible to the voluptuous offering of the grove.
Mrs. Moulton, had her senses responded to the sweet and drowsy
afternoon, would have resented the experience as immoral; and as it was
her pale-blue gaze rested disapprovingly on the rapt figure of her
husband’s second cousin. The short skirt and the covert coat of
ungraceful length, its low pockets always inviting the hands of its
owner, had roused more than once her futile protest, and to-day they
seemed to hang limp with a sense of incongruity beneath the half-closed
eyes and expanded nostrils of the young Californian.

It was not possible for nature to struggle triumphant through the
disguise this beneficiary chose to assume, but there was an unwilling
conviction in the Moulton family that when Catalina arrayed herself as
other women she would blossom forth into something of a beauty. Even her
stiff hat half covered her brow and rich brown hair, but her eyes, long
and dark and far apart, rarely failed to arrest other eyes, immobile as
was their common expression.

Always independent of her fellow-mortals, and peculiarly of her present
companions, she was a happy pagan at the moment, and meditating a
solitary retreat to another grove of acacias down by the Saône, when her
attention was claimed by Mr. Moulton.

“Would you mind coming here a moment, Catalina?” he asked, in a voice
whose roll and cadence told that he had led in family prayers these many
years, if not in meeting. “After all, it is your suggestion, and I think
you should present the case. I have done it very badly, and they don’t
seem inclined to listen to me.”

He smiled apologetically, but there was a faint twinkle in his eye which
palliated the somewhat sanctimonious expression of the lower part of his
face. Blond and cherubic in youth, his countenance had grown in dignity
as time changed its tints to drab and gray, reclaimed the superfluous
flesh of his face, and drew the strong lines that are the half of a
man’s good looks. He, too, had his hands in his pockets, and he stood in
front of his wife and daughters, who sat on a bench in the perfumed
shade of the acacias.

His cousin once removed dragged down her eyes and scowled, without
attempt at dissimulation. In a moment, however, she came forward with a
manifest attempt to be human and normal. Mrs. Moulton stiffened her
spine as if awaiting an assault, and her oldest daughter, a shade more
formal and correct, more afraid of doing the wrong thing, fixed a cold
and absent eye upon the statue to liberty in the centre of the Place.
Only the second daughter, Lydia, just departing from her first
quarter-century, turned to the alien relative with a sparkle in her eye.
She was a girl about whose pink-and-white-and-golden prettiness there
was neither question nor enthusiasm, and her thin, graceful figure and
alertly poised head received such enhancement as her slender purse
afforded. She wore—need I record it?—a travelling-suit of dark-blue
brilliantine, short—but at least three inches longer than Catalina’s—and
a large hat about whose brim fluttered a blue veil. She admired and a
little feared the recent acquisition from California, experiencing for
the first time in her life a pleasing suspense in the vagaries of an
unusual character. She and all that hitherto pertained to her belonged
to that highly refined middle class nowhere so formal and exacting as in
the land of the free.

Catalina, who never permitted her relatives to suspect that she was shy,
assumed her most stolid expression and abrupt tones.

“It is simple enough. We can go to Spain if we travel third class, and
we can’t if we don’t. I want to see Spain more than any country in
Europe. I have heard you say more than once that you were wild to see
it—the Alhambra and all that—well, anxious, then,” as Mrs. Moulton
raised a protesting eyebrow. “I’m wild, if you like. I’d walk, go on
mule-back; in short, I’ll go alone if you won’t take me.”

“You will do what?” The color came into Mrs. Moulton’s faded cheek, and
she squared herself as for an encounter. Open friction was infrequent,
for Mrs. Moulton was nothing if not diplomatic, and Catalina was
indifferent. Nevertheless, encounters there had been, and at the finish
the Californian had invariably held the middle of the field, insolent
and victorious; and Mrs. Moulton had registered a vow that sooner or
later she would wave the colors over the prostrate foe.

For thirty-two years she had merged, submerged, her individuality, but
in these last four months she had been possessed by a waxing revolt, of
an almost passionate desire for a victorious moment. It was her first
trip abroad, and she had followed where her energetic husband and
daughters listed. Hardly once had she been consulted. Perhaps, removed
for the first time from the stultifying environment of habit, she had
come to realize what slight rewards are the woman’s who flings her very
soul at the feet of others. It was too late to attempt to be an
individual in her own family; even did she find the courage she must
continue to accept their excessive care—she had a mild form of
invalidism—and endeavor to feel grateful that she was owned by the
kindest of husbands, and daughters no more selfish than the average; but
since the advent of Catalina all the rebellion left in her had become
compact and alert. Here was an utterly antagonistic temperament, one
beyond her comprehension, individual in a fashion that offended every
sensibility; cool, wary, insolently suggesting that she purposed to
stalk through life in that hideous get-up, pursuing the unorthodox. She
was not only indomitable youth but indomitable savagery, and Mrs.
Moulton, of the old and cold Eastern civilization, bristled with a
thrill that was almost rapture whenever this unwelcome relative of her
husband stared at her in contemptuous silence.

“You will do what? The suggestion that we travel third class is
offensive enough—but are you aware that Spanish women never travel even
first class alone?”

“I don’t see what that has to do with me. I’m not Spanish; they would
assume that I was ‘no lady’ and take no further notice of me; or, if
they did—well, I can take care of myself. As for travelling third class,
I can’t see that it is any more undignified than travelling second, and
its chief recommendations, after its cheapness, are that it won’t be so
deadly respectable as second, and that we’ll meet nice, dirty,
picturesque, excitable peasants instead of dowdy middle-class people who
want all the windows shut. The third-class carriages are generally big,
open cars like ours, with wooden seats—no microbes—and at this time of
the year all the windows will be open. Now, you can think it over. I am
going to invest twenty francs in a Baedeker and study my route.”

She nodded to Mr. Moulton, dropped an almost imperceptible eyelash at
Lydia, and, ignoring the others, strode off belligerently towards the
Place Bellecour.

Mrs. Moulton turned white. She set her lips. “I shall not go,” she
announced.

“My love,” protested her husband, mildly, “I am afraid she has placed us
in a position where we shall have to go.” He was secretly delighted.
“Spain, as you justly remarked, is the most impossible country in Europe
for the woman alone, and she is the child of my dead cousin and old
college chum. When we are safely home again I shall have a long talk
with her and arrive at a definite understanding of this singular
character, but over here I cannot permit her to make herself—and
us—notorious. I am sure you will agree with me, my love. My only fear is
that you may find the slow trains and wooden seats fatiguing—although I
shall buy an extra supply of air-cushions, and we will get off whenever
you feel tired.”

“Do say yes, mother,” pleaded her youngest born. “It will almost be an
adventure, and I’ve never had anything approaching an adventure in my
life. I’m sure even Jane will enjoy it.”

“I loathe travelling,” said the elder Miss Moulton, with energy. “It’s
nothing but reading Baedeker, stalking through churches and
picture-galleries, and rushing for trains, loaded down with
hand-baggage. I feel as if I never wanted to see another thing in my
life. Of course I’m glad I’ve seen London and Paris and Rome, but the
discomforts and privations of travel far outweigh the advantages. I
haven’t the slightest desire to see Spain, or any more down-at-the-heel
European countries; America will satisfy me for the rest of my life. As
for travelling third class—the very idea is low and horrid. It is bad
enough to travel second, and if we did think so little of ourselves as
to travel third—just think of its being found out! Where would our
social position be—father’s great influence? As for that California
savage, the mere fact that she makes a suggestion—”

“My dear,” remonstrated her father, “Catalina is a most well-conducted
young woman. She has not given me a moment of anxiety, and I think her
suggestion a really opportune one, for it will enable us to see Spain
and give me much valuable literary material. Of course, I do not like
the idea of travelling third class myself, and I only wish I could
afford to take you all in the train de luxe.”

“You are a perfect dear,” announced Lydia, “and give us everything we
want. And if we went in the luxe we couldn’t see any nice little
out-of-the-way places and would soon become blasé, which would be
dreadful. Jane at first enjoyed it as much as we did, and I could go on
forever. No one need ever know that we went third, and when we are at
home we will have something else to talk about except the ever-lasting
Italy and England and Paris. Do consent, mother.”

This was an unusual concession, and Mrs. Moulton was a trifle mollified.
Besides, if her favorite child’s heart was set upon Spain, that dyed the
matter with a different complexion; she could defer her subjection of
the Californian, and, tired as she was, she was by no means averse to
seeing Spain herself. Nevertheless, she rose with dignity and gathered
her cape about her.

“You and your father will settle the matter to suit yourselves,” she
said, with that access of politeness in which the down-trodden manifest
their sense of injury. “But I have no hesitation in saying that I never
before heard a gentlewoman”—she had the true middle-class horror of the
word “lady”—“express a desire to travel third, and I think it will be a
most unbecoming performance. Moreover, I doubt if anything can make us
comfortable; we are reasonably sure to become infested with vermin and
be made ill by the smell of garlic. I have had my say, however, and
shall now go and lie down.”

As she moved up the path, her step measured, her spine protestant, her
husband ran after and drew her arm through his. He nodded over his
shoulder to his youngest daughter, and Lydia, deprecating further
argument, went swiftly off in search of Catalina.



                                   II


“Let us get out and race it,” suggested Catalina; but she spoke with the
accent of indolent content, and hung over the door of the leisurely
train, giving no heed beyond a polite nod to the nervous protests of
Mrs. Moulton. That good lady, surrounded by air-cushions, which the
various members of her attentive family distended at stated intervals,
had propped herself in a corner, determined to let no expression of
fatigue escape her, and enjoying herself in her own fashion. The
material discomforts of travel certainly overbalanced the æsthetic
delights, but, at least, she was seeing the Europe she had dreamed of so
ardently in her youth. Jane sat in another corner reading a volume of
Pater. It was impossible to turn her back on the scenery, for the seats
ran from east to west and they were travelling due south, but she could
ignore it, and that she did.

They were in a large, open car furnished with wooden seats and a door
for each aisle. The carriage was not dirty, and all the windows were
open; moreover, it harbored, so far, no natives beyond two nuns and a
priest, who ate cherries continually and talked all at once with the
rapidity of ignited fire-crackers and with no falling inflection. The
Moultons had taken possession of the last compartment and sat with their
backs to the wall, but Catalina, disdaining such poor apology for
comfort, had the next to herself, and when not hanging over the door
rambled back and forth. Mr. Moulton and Lydia alternately read Baedeker
and leaned forward with exclamations of approval.

But although Catalina had responded amiably to Lydia’s expression of
contempt for Spanish methods of transit, the ambling train suited her
less energetic nature and enabled her to study the country that had
mothered her own. She stared hard at the blue and tumbled masses of the
Pyrenees with their lofty fields of snow glittering in a delicate mist,
the same frozen solitude through which Hannibal marched two thousand
years ago, longing, perhaps, for the hot, brown plain of Ampurdan below
and the familiar murmur of the bright waters that rimmed it. The sun was
hot, and all that quivering world of blue shimmered and sparkled and
coquetted as if life and not death were its bridegroom. But the
Mediterranean, like other seas, is a virago at heart and only dances and
sways like a Spanish beauty when out where there is naught to oppose
her; for centuries she has been snarling and clawing the rocky
head-lands, her white fangs never failing to capture their daily morsel,
and never content.

Catalina loved the sea and hated it. To-day she was in no mood to give
it anything and turned her back upon it, her eyes travelling from the
remote, disdainful beauty of the mountains down over the vineyards and
villages, leaning far out to catch a last glimpse of that most
characteristic object in a Spanish landscape—a huge and almost circular
mass of rock rising abruptly from the plain, brown, barren, its apex set
with a fortified castle, an old brown town clinging desperately to the
inhospitable sides. The castle may be in ruins, but men and women still
crawl lazily up and down the perpendicular streets, too idle or too poor
to get away from the soil, with its dust of ancestral blood. The
descendants of warriors slept and loafed and begged in the sun, thankful
for a tortilla a day and dreading nothing this side of Judgment but the
visit of the tax-gatherer. To escape the calls of the remorseless one,
many who owned not even a little vineyard on the plain slept in the
hollowed side of a hill and made the earth their pillow.

“Brutes!” said Catalina, meaning the government.

“Why don’t they come to America?” asked Lydia, wonderingly. “Look at
that old woman out in the field. That is the most shocking thing you see
in Europe—women in the fields everywhere.”

Catalina, indolent in some respects, waged eternal war with the
one-sided. “Your factories are far worse,” she asserted. “They are
really horrible, for the women stand on their feet all day with a
ceaseless din tearing at their nerves and never a breath of decent air
in their lungs. They are the most ghastly lot I ever saw in my life.
These women are always in the fresh air, with the quiet of nature about
them, and they rest when they like. I think we are the barbarians—we and
the Spanish government.”

“Well, well, don’t argue,” said Mr. Moulton, soothingly. “It is too hot.
We have our defects, but don’t forget our many redeeming virtues. And as
for Spain, backward, tax-ridden, oppressed as she is, one sees nothing
to compare with the horrors that Arthur Young saw in France just before
1789. Spain, no doubt, will have her own revolution in her own time; I
am told the peasants are very virile and independent. My love, shall I
blow up that bag behind your head?”

He examined the other bags, readjusted them, and there being nothing to
claim the eye at the moment, read Baedeker aloud, to the intense but
respectful annoyance of his eldest daughter and the barely concealed
resentment of Catalina, who hung still farther over the creaking door.

The train walked into a little station of Tordera and stopped.

“Cinco minutos!” said the guard, raising his voice.

“Five!” said Catalina. “That means fifteen. Let us get out and exercise
and buy something.”

“Pray be careful!” exclaimed Mrs. Moulton. “I know you will be left. Mr.
Moulton, please—please don’t get out.”

Mr. Moulton patted her amiably and descended in the wake of Catalina and
Lydia. They were surrounded at once by beggars, even the babies in arms
extending their hands. There were few men among them, but the women,
picturesque enough in their closely pinned kerchiefs of red or yellow,
were more pertinacious than man ever dared to be. Lydia, fastidious and
economical, retreated into the train and closed the door; but Catalina
disbursed coppers and gave one dirty little Murillo a peseta. She had
spoken almost as much Spanish in her life as English, and exchanged so
many elaborate compliments with her retinue, in a manner so acceptable
to their democratic taste, that they forgot to beg and pressed close at
her heels as she strode up and down, her hands in her pockets, wondering
what manner of fallen princess was this who travelled third class and
knew how to treat a haughty peasant of Spain as her equal. She was
buying an inflammable-looking novel with which to insult Jane, and a
package of sweets for Lydia and herself, when she heard a shrill note of
anguish:

“Mr. Moulton! Catalina!”

Mingling with it was the drone of the guard: “Viajeros al tren!”

The train was moving, the guard having been occupied at the _cantina_
until the last moment. He was singing his song unconsciously on the step
of an open door. Catalina saw the frantic whir of Mr. Moulton’s
coat-tails as he flew by and leaped into the car. She flung two pesetas
at the anxious vender, dropped her purchase into her pockets, and,
running swiftly alongside the moving train, made the door easily.

“I could have caught the old thing if it had been half a mile off!” she
exclaimed, indignantly, as three pairs of hands jerked her within, and
Mrs. Moulton sniffed hysterically at her salts. “And if ever I do get
left, just remember that I speak the language and am not afraid of
anything.”

“Well,” said Mr. Moulton, tactfully, “just remember that _we_ do not
speak the language and have need of your services. Suppose we have our
afternoon meal? The lunch at the frontier was not all that could be
desired.”

He produced the hamper and neatly arrayed the top of two portmanteaus
with jam and bread and cake. Catalina placed a generous share of these
delicacies on a tin plate, and, omitting to explain to her astonished
relatives, climbed over the seats and made offering to each of the other
occupants of the car. It had half filled at the station, and besides the
nuns and priests there were now several Catalan peasants in red caps and
black velvet breeches, fine, independent men, prepared to ignore these
eccentric Americans, ready to take offence at the slightest suggestion
of superiority, but enchanted at the act of this unsmiling girl, who
spoke their language and understood their customs. They refused, as a
matter of course, politely, without servility, and in a moment she
returned to her party.

“You must always do that,” she informed them, as she set her teeth
hungrily into the bread, “and when they offer of theirs you must look
pleased with the attention.”

Mrs. Moulton sighed, and when, a few moments later, a peasant vaulted
over the seats and proudly offered of his store of black bread and
garlic, she buried a frozen smile in her smelling-salts. Jane refused to
notice him, but the other three declined with such professions of
gratitude that he told his comrades the Americans were not altogether a
contemptible race, and that the one who spoke their language looked like
a devil with a white soul and was worthy to have been born in Spain. He
took out his guitar in a moment and swept the keys with superb grace
while the others sang, the nuns in high, quavering voices that wandered
aimlessly through the rich tones of the men. After that they talked
politics and became so excited that Mr. Moulton was relieved when they
all fell out together at Mataro. He could then take notes and enjoy the
groves of olives and oranges, the castles and watch-towers on the
heights, eloquent and Iberian and Roman, Goth and Moor, the turquoise
surface of the Mediterranean—never so blue as the Adriatic or the
Caribbean—the bold, harsh sweep of the coast. Then, as even Catalina
began to change her position frequently on the hard seats, and they were
all so covered with dust that even the spinster visage of Jane looked
like a study in grotesque, the horizon gave up the palaces and palms of
Barcelona.



                                  III


Twenty-three years before the opening of this desultory tale its heroine
was born on the island of Santa Catalina, a fragment of Southern
California. Her father had begun life as a professor of classics in a
worthy Eastern college, but, his health breaking down, he betook himself
and his small patrimony to the State which electrifies the nerves in its
northern half and blunts them in its southern. Jonathan Shore wrote to
his cousin, Lyman T. Moulton:

    “I haven’t a nerve left with a point on it; have recovered some
measure of health and lost what little ambition I ever possessed. I am
going to open an inn for sportsmen on the island of Santa Catalina, so
that I shall be reasonably sure of the society of gentlemen and make
enough money to replenish my library now and then—my books are on the
way. Here I remain for the rest of my natural life.”

But he crossed over to Los Angeles occasionally. At a soirée he met the
daughter—and only child—of one of the largest landholders in Southern
California, and danced with no one else that night. She married the
scholarly innkeeper with the blessing of her father, who was anxious to
pass his declining years in peace with a young wife. The bride, for
coincident if not similar reasons, was glad to move to Catalina. She was
the belle of her time, this Madelina Joyce, and her dark beauty came
down to her from Indian ancestors. Her New England great-grandfather had
come to California long before the discovery of gold, bought, for a
fraction, two hundred thousand acres from the Mexican government, and
married, despite the protests of his Spanish friends, an Indian girl of
great beauty, both of face and character.

The Pueblo bride had lived but two years to receive the snubs of the
haughty ladies of Santa Barbara, her ardent young husband had shot
himself over her grave, and the boy was brought up by the padres of the
mission. Fortunately, he came to man’s estate shortly before the United
States occupation, and managed to save a portion of his patrimony from
the most rapacious set of scoundrels that ever followed in the wake of a
victorious army. This in turn descended to his son, who, in spite of
Southern indolence and a hospitality as famous as his cellar, his
liberal appreciation of all the good things of life, and a half-dozen
lawsuits, still retained fifty thousand of the ancestral acres, and had
given his word to his daughter that they should go to her unencumbered.
This promise he kept, and when Catalina was ten years old he died, at
good-will with all the world. His widow moved to San Francisco with her
freedom and her liberal portion, and Mrs. Shore announced that she must
give the ranch her personal attention. The ten years had been happy, for
the husband and wife loved each other and were equally devoted to their
beautiful, unsmiling baby. But there were deep wells of laughter in Mrs.
Shore, and much energy. She wept for her father, but welcomed the change
in her life, not only because she had reached the age when love of
change is most insistent, but because she had begun to dread the hour of
confession that life on an island, even with the man of one’s choice,
was insufficient.

Mr. Shore himself was not averse to change so long as it did not take
him out of California, although he refused to sell the little property
on the island where he had spent so many happy years.

From the hour Mrs. Shore settled down in the splendid old adobe
ranch-house she watched no more days lag through her fingers. Attended
by Catalina she rode over some portion of the estate every day, and if a
horse had strayed or a cow had calved she knew it before her indolent
vaqueros. She personally attended, each year, to the sheep-shearing and
the cattle-branding, the crops and the stock sales. Once a year she gave
a great barbecue, to which all within a radius of a hundred miles were
invited, and once a week she indulged herself in the gossip, the shops,
and the dances of Santa Barbara.

In the vast solitude of the ranch Catalina grew up, carefully educated
by her father, petted and indulged by her mother, hiding from the
society that sought Mrs. Shore, but friendly with the large army of
Mexican and Indian retainers. When she was persuaded by her mother to
attend a party in Santa Barbara she rooted herself in a corner and
glowered in her misery, snubbing every adventurous youth that approached
her. She adored books, her out-door life, her parents, and asked for
nothing further afield.

When she was eighteen her father died. She rode to the extreme confines
of the ranch and mourned him, returning to her life at home with the
stolidity of her Indian ancestors. Mrs. Shore grieved also, but by this
time she was too busy a woman to consort with the past. Moreover, she
was now at liberty to take Catalina to San Francisco and give her the
proper tutors in languages and music. Incidentally, she made many new
friends and enjoyed with all her vivid nature the life of a city which
she had visited but twice before. She returned in the following winter
and extended her fame as a hostess. Catalina found San Francisco society
but little more interesting than that of the South, and enjoyed the
reputation of being as rude as she was beautiful. Here, however, her
Indian ancestress had her belated revenge. Her brief and tragic story
cast a radiant halo about the indifferent Catalina, whose strain of
aboriginal blood was extolled as the first cause in a piquant and
original beauty; all her quaint eccentricities—which were merely the
expression of a proud and reticent nature anxious to be let alone—were
traced to the same artless source, and when one day in the park she
sprang from her horse and shook the editor of a personal weekly until
his teeth rattled in his head, her unique reputation was secure.

The greater part of the year was spent on the ranch. Mrs. Shore loved
the world, but she was a woman of business above all things, and
determined that the ranch should be a splendid inheritance for her
child. Her time was closer than she knew. In all the vigor of her middle
years, with the dark radiance of her beauty little dimmed, and an almost
pagan love of mere existence, she was done to death by a bucking
mustang, unseated for the first time since she had mounted a horse, and
kicked beyond recognition.

Catalina resolutely put the horror of those days behind her, and for
several months was as energetic a woman of business as her mother had
been. She was mistress of a great tract of land, of herself, her time,
her future. When her stoical grief for her mother subsided she found
life interesting and stimulating. She rode about the ranch in the
morning, or conferred with her lawyer, who drove out once a week; the
afternoons she spent in the great court of the old house, with its stone
fountain built by the ancestors who had learned their craft from the
mission fathers, its palms and banana-trees, its old hollyhocks and
roses. Here she read or dreamed vaguely of the future. What she wanted
of life beyond this dreaming Southern land, where only an earthquake
broke the monotony, was as vague of outline as her mountains under their
blue mists, but its secrets were a constant and delightful well of
perplexity. For two years she was contented, and at times, when
galloping down to the sea in the early dawn, the old moon, bony and
yellow, sinking to its grave in the darkest canyon of the mountain, and
the red sun leaping from the sea, she was supremely happy.

Then, in a night, discontent settled upon her. She wanted change,
variety; she wanted to see the world—Europe above all things; and when
her Eastern relatives, with whom she corresponded, in obedience to a
last request of her father, again pressed her to visit them, and
mentioned that they were contemplating a trip abroad, she started on
three hours’ notice, leaving the ranch in charge of a trusted overseer
and the executors of her mother’s will.

She found her relatives living in a suburb of New York, their social
position very different from that her mother had given her in
California. Nothing saved them from the narrow routine of the suburban
middle class but the intellectual proclivities of Mr. Moulton, who was
reader for a publishing house and the literary adviser of the
pseudo-intellectual. Through the constant association of his name with
moral and non-sensational fiction, his well-balanced attitude of piety
tinctured by humor, the pleasant style with which he indited
irreproachable and elevated platitudes, his stern and invariable
denunciation of the unorthodox in religion, in ideas, and in style, and
his genially didactic habit of telling his readers what they wished to
hear, he had achieved the rank of a great critic. As he really was an
estimable man and virtuous husband, of agreeable manners, sufficiently
hospitable, and extremely careful in choosing his friends, his position
in the literary world was quite enviable. The great and the safe took
tea on his lawn, and if the great and unsafe laughed at both the tea and
the critic that was the final seal of their unregeneracy.

When Catalina arrived, after lingering for a fortnight in Boston with a
friend she had made on the train, she liked him at once, unjustly
despised Mrs. Moulton, who was the best of wives and copied her
husband’s manuscripts, hated Jane, and recognized in Lydia a human being
in whom one could find a reasonable amount of companionship, in spite of
the magnetism of the mirror—or even the polished surface of a panel—for
her complacent eyes. Lydia was innocently vain, and, being the beauty of
the family, believed herself to be very beautiful indeed. She always
made a smart appearance, and was frankly desirous of admiration. Like
many family beauties, she had a strong will and was reasonably clever.
When the first opportunity to go to Europe arrived she had reached what
she called a critical point in her life. She confided to Catalina that
she was becoming morbidly tired of mere existence and hated the sight of
every literary man she knew, particularly the young ones.

“Of course, they are more or less the respectable hangers-on that give
us the benefit of their society,” she said, gloomily. “Those that scurry
about writing little stories for the magazines and weekly papers—it
seems to me a real man might find something better to do. We know all
the big ones, but they are too busy to come out here often, and father
sees them at the Century and Authors’ clubs, anyhow. We hardly know a
man who isn’t a publisher, an editor, or a writer of something or
other—perhaps an occasional artist. For my part, I’d give my immortal
soul to be one of those lucky girls that go to Mrs. Astor’s parties;
that’s my idea of life. If a millionaire would only fall in love with
me—or any old romance, for that matter!”

“Have you never been in love?” asked Catalina, afraid of the sound of
her own voice but deeply interested.

“Not the least little bit, more is the pity. I wouldn’t mind even being
heart-broken for a while.”

It was this frankness that endeared her to Catalina. “Jane is third
rate, and tries to conceal the fact from herself and others by an
affectation of such of the literary galaxy as make the least appeal to
the popular taste, and cousin Lyman is no critic,” she informed herself
three days after her arrival. “Cousin Miranda is just one of those
American women who are invalids for no reason but because they want to
be, and I suppose even Lydia would get on my nerves in time. Thank
Heaven, when they do I can leave at a moment’s notice.”

After four months of the friction of travel, Catalina had half hoped her
relatives would reject her startling proposal and abandon her to a
future full of dangers and freedom.



                                   IV


She brushed her hair viciously in the solitude of her bedroom in
Barcelona; fortunately, the composition of the party always gave her a
room to herself.

“To-morrow morning I’ll be up and out before they are awake,” she
announced to her sulky image. “This evening I suppose I must walk with
them on the Rambla. Of course, if I had come alone I should have had to
find a chaperon for such occasions, but it would be some quaint old
duenna I could hire. I’ve never wanted my liberty as I do here in Spain,
and Cousin Lyman will barely let me wash my own face. I never was so
taken care of in my life—”

She ground her teeth, but nodded as Mr. Moulton put his head in at the
door and asked her if she were sure she was comfortable, if her room was
quite clean and her keys in proper order. Then he adjured her not to
drink the water until he had ascertained its reputation, and to be
careful not to lean over the railing of the balcony, as it might be
insecure; the Spanish were a shiftless people, so far as his observation
of them went.

Catalina flung her hair-brush at the door as he pattered down the hall
to examine the welfare of his daughters.

“I’ve a mind to go up and dance on the roof,” she cried, furiously. “One
would think I was four years old. Papa was just like that when we
travelled, and if all American men are the same I’ll marry an
Englishman.”

After dinner Mr. Moulton, having seen his wife safely into bed and
conscientiously determined to observe every respectable phase of foreign
life, drew Lydia’s arm within his, and, bidding Catalina take Jane’s and
follow close behind him, went out upon the Rambla. Upon these occasions
he always took his youngest carefully under his wing. A wag had once
said of her, while commenting upon the infinite respectability of the
Lyman T. Moultons, that on a moonlight night, in a boat on a lake, Lydia
might develop possibilities; and it may have been some dim appreciation
of these possibilities that prompted Mr. Moulton to favor the beauty of
the family with more than her share of attention. But Lydia had a
coquettish pair of eyes, and under her father’s formidable wing had
indulged in more than one innocent flirtation. Catalina raged that she
was to take her first night’s pleasure in Spain in the companionship of
Jane, and ignored her protector’s mandate. Jane, whose sense of duty
increased in proportion to her dislikes, took a firm hold of the
Californian’s rigid and vertical arm, and marched close upon her
father’s heels.

They promenaded with all Barcelona, in the very middle of the Rambla,
that splendid avenue of many names above the vaulted bed of the river.
For nearly a mile on either side the hotels and cafés and many of the
shops and side streets were brilliantly alight. Under the double row of
plane-trees were kiosks for the sale of newspapers, post-cards of the
bull-fight, fans, and curios; and passing and repassing were thousands
of people. All who were not forced to work this soft southern night
strolled there indolently, to take the air, to see, now and again to be
seen. Doubtless, there were other promenades for the poor, but here all
appeared to have come from the houses of the aristocracy or wealthy
middle class. Many were the duennas, elderly, stout, or shrunken, always
in black, with a bit of lace about the head, immobile and watchful.
Perhaps they towed one maiden, but more frequently a party.

The girls and young matrons were light and gay of attire; occasionally
their millinery was Parisian, but more often they wore the mantilla or
rebosa. Their eyes were bright, demure, inviting, rarely indifferent;
and making up the other half of the throng were officers, students, men
of the world, murmuring compliments as they passed or talking volubly of
politics and war. Two young aristocrats behind Catalina were laughing
over the recent visit of the young king, when, simply by the magic of
his boyish personality, eager to please, he had transformed in a moment
the most hostile and anarchistic city in his kingdom, determined to show
its insolent contempt, into a mob of cheering, hysterical madmen. The
socialists and anarchists might be sailing their barks on the hidden
river beneath, they were forgotten, the mayor hardly dared to show his
face, and the women kissed their fingers to the pictures of the gallant
little king hanging on every kiosk; the men lifted their hats.

It was the most brilliant and animated picture of out-door life that
Catalina had seen in Europe, and the general air of good breeding, of
mingled vivacity and perfect dignity, the picturesque beauty of many of
the women, the constant ripple of talk and laughter, the flare of light
and the dim shades of the old trees, appealed powerfully to the girl
from the most picturesque portion of the United States, and in whom
scenes of mere fashion and frivolity aroused a resentment as passionate
as if fed by envy and privation. She had stood one morning not a
fortnight since on a corner of the Rue de Rivoli and watched carriage
after carriage, automobile after automobile roll round the corner of the
Place de la Concord, each framing women in the extravagant uniform of
fashion—American women, all come from across the sea for one purpose
only, the purpose for which they lived their useless, idle lives—more
clothes. For this they spent two wretched weeks on the ocean every
year—the ship’s doctor had told Catalina that the pampered American was
the most unheroic sailor on the Atlantic—and they looked unnormal,
exotic, mere shining butterflies whose necks would be twisted with one
turn of a strong wrist in the first week of a revolution; a revolution
of which, unindividual as they were, they would be a precipitating
cause. But here there was no exotic class, none but legitimate causes of
separation from the masses; it was the charming faces one noted, the
lively expression of pleasure in mere living; the garments might be
Parisian, but, being less than the woman, and worn without
consciousness, they barely arrested the eye, and were no part of the
picture, as was the mantilla or the rebosa.

Catalina for once hated no one in the world, and even became oblivious
of the grip on her arm. She looked about her with the wide, curious eyes
of youth. Few gave her more than a passing glance, for her stiff hat
threw an ugly shadow on her face and every line of her figure was hidden
under her loose coat. But she noted that Lydia, who in the evening wore
a small hat perched coquettishly on her fluffy hair, was receiving
audible admiration. Suddenly she glanced out of the corner of her eye at
Jane, but that severe virgin was staring moodily at the ground; her head
ached and she longed for bed. Mr. Moulton, doing his best to be
interested and stifle his yawns, was glancing in every direction but his
immediate right, and consequently no one but his pretty daughter, and
finally Catalina, noticed the handsome young Spaniard who had
established communication with the blue eyes of the north. Finally the
youth whispered something in which only the word _adorado_ was
intelligible to Lydia, who clung to her father’s arm with a charming
scowl.

“Don’t be frightened,” whispered Catalina.

“They don’t mean anything—not like Frenchmen.”

Not only was the crowd so great that many a flirtation passed unnoticed,
but heretofore Catalina had not observed that the cavalier was
companioned. When he whispered to Lydia, however, she saw a man beside
him frown and take his arm as if to draw him away, but when she
reassured the coquette, this man turned suddenly, his brows still knit
but relaxing with a flash of amusement. Then Catalina took note of him
and saw that he was not a Spaniard, although nearly as dark as Lydia’s
conquest. He was an Englishman, she made sure by his expression, so
subtly different from that of the American. He might have been an
officer, from his carriage, and he was extremely thin and walked slowly,
rather than sauntered, as if the effort were distasteful or painful. His
thin, well-bred face looked as if it recently might have been emaciated,
but its pervading expression was humorous indifference, and his eyes had
almost danced as they met hers. He did not look at her a second time,
evidently seeing no profit in the idle flirtations that delighted his
neighbors, and Catalina, a trifle piqued, watched him covertly, and
decided that he was a nobleman, had been in the Boer War, was doubtless
covered with scars and medals.



                                   V


He did not haunt her dreams, however, and she had quite forgotten him as
she watched the sunrise next morning from the long ridge of the
Montjuich. Her cabman was refreshing himself elsewhere and she had given
herself up to one of the keenest delights known to the imaginative and
ungregarious mind, the solitary contemplation of nature. She watched the
great, dusky plains and the jagged whiteness of Montseny’s lofty crest
turn yellow. Spain is one of those rare, dry countries where the very
air changes color. The whole valley seemed to fill slowly with a golden
mist, the snow on the great peak and on the Pyrenees beyond glittered
like the fabled sands, and even the villas clinging to the steep
mountain-side, the palaces in their groves of palm-trees and citron,
orange, and pomegranate, all seemed to move and sway as in the depths of
shimmering tides. Catalina had the gift to see color in atmosphere as
apart from the radiance that falls on sky and mountain, a gift which is
said to belong only to people so highly civilized as to be on the point
of degeneration. Catalina, with her robust youth and brain, was well on
the hither side of degeneration, but in her lonely life and dislike of
humankind she had cultivated her natural appreciation of beauty until it
had not only developed her perceptions to acuteness but empowered them,
when enchanted, to rise high above the ego.

She stood with her head thrown back, her mouth half open as if to quaff
deeply of that golden draught, fancying that just beyond her vision lay
all cosmos waiting to reveal itself and the mystery of the eternal. When
she heard herself accosted she was bewildered for a moment, not
realizing that she was actually in the world of the living.

“You will ruin your eyes, Miss Shore,” a calm but genial voice had said.
“The scene is worth it, but—”

“How dare you speak to me!” cried Catalina, furiously. She advanced
swiftly, willing to strike him, not in the least mollified to recognize
the Englishman upon whom she had bestowed her infrequent approval the
night before.

His eye lit with interest and a pardonable surprise. But he continued,
imperturbably: “Of course, I should not have been so rude as to speak to
you if I hadn’t happened to know Mr. Moulton rather well. I had a talk
with him last night in the hotel and he was good enough to tell me your
name.”

“How on earth did you ever know Cousin Lyman?” She forgot her anger.
“You are an Englishman, and I am sure Cousin Lyman—” She stopped
awkwardly, too loyal to continue, but her eyes were large with
curiosity. Where could Lyman T. Moulton have known this Englishman with
his unmistakable air of that small class for whose common sins society
has no punishment? “He usually knows only literary people,” she
continued, lamely.

“And you are sure I am not!” His laugh was abrupt, but as good-natured
as his voice. “You are quite right. I can’t even write a decent letter.
But literary men often belong to good clubs, you know, and one of the
most distinguished of our authors happened to bring Mr. Moulton to one
of mine. He was over some years ago.”

“Oh, I remember.” She also recalled the curious boyish pleasure which
illumined Mr. Moulton’s face whenever he alluded to this visit to
England. It had been his one vacation from his family in thirty years.

“What is your name?” demanded Catalina, with an abruptness not unlike
his own, but unmodified by his careless good-humor.

“Over.” Then, as she still looked expectant, “Captain James Brassy Over,
if it interests you.”

“Oh!” She was childishly disappointed that he was not a lord, never
having consciously seen one, then was gratified at her perspicacity of
the night before.

“How have I disappointed you?”

“Disappointed me?” Her eyes flashed again. “All men are disappointing
and are generally idiots, but I could not be disappointed in a person to
whom I had never given a thought.”

“Oh!” he said, blankly. He was not offended, but was uncertain whether
she were affected or merely a badly brought up child. Belonging to that
order of men who have something better to do than to understand women,
he decided to let her remark pass and await developments.

“I’m rather keen on Mr. Moulton,” he announced, “and have half a mind to
join your party. I was going to cut across to Madrid, but he says you
have made out rather a jolly trip down the coast and then in to
Granada.”

“But we are travelling third class,” she stammered, with the first
prompting of snobbery she had ever known. “We—we thought it would be
such an experience.”

“So Mr. Moulton told me. I always travel third.”

“You? Why?”

“Poverty,” he said, cheerfully.

Catalina was furious with herself, the more so as she had descended to
the level of her cousins, whom she secretly despised as snobs. She did
not know how to extricate herself from the position she had assumed, and
answered, lamely:

“Poverty? You don’t look poor.”

“Only my debts keep me from being a pauper.”

“And you don’t mind travelling third?”

“Mind? It’s comfortable enough; as comfortable as sleeping on the
ground.”

Catalina’s face illumined. For the first time it occurred to him that
she might be pretty. She forgot the awkward subject, and asked, eagerly:

“Were you in the Boer War?”

“Yes.”

“All through it?”

“Pretty well.”

“Do tell me about it. I never before met any one who had been in the
Boer War, and it interested me tremendously.”

“There’s nothing to tell but what you must have read in the papers.”

“I suppose that is an affectation of modesty.”

“Not at all. Nothing is so commonplace as war. There is nothing in it to
make conversation about.”

“But you lost such a dreadful number of officers!”

“We had plenty to spare—could have got along better with less.”

His cheerfulness was certainly unaffected. The two pairs of dark eyes
watched each other narrowly, his keen and amused, hers with their stolid
surface and slumbering fires.

“But you were wounded!” she said, triumphantly.

“Never was hit in my life.”

“But you have been ill!”

“Oh, ill, fast enough—rheumatism.”

Her eyes softened. “Ah, sleeping on the damp ground!”

“No. Drink.”

For a moment the sullen fires in Catalina boiled high, then her eyes
caught the sparkle in his and she burst into a ringing peal of laughter.
She laughed rarely, and when she did her whole being vibrated to the
buoyancy of youth.

“Well,” she said, gayly, “I hope you have reformed. The Moultons are
temperance—rabid—and I had rheumatism once from camping out. I had to
set my teeth for a week. Then I went to a sulphur spring and cured it.
But I am hungry. Isn’t there a restaurant here, somewhere?”

“I was about to suggest a visit to the Café Miramar. It is only a step
from here.”

A few minutes later they sat at a little table on the terrace, and while
Captain Over ordered the coffee and rolls Catalina forgot him and stared
out over the vast blue sparkle of the Mediterranean. Above, the air had
drifted from gold to pink—a soft, vague pink, stealing away before the
mounting sun. She had pushed back her hat and coat, and the soft collar
of her blouse showed a youthful column upon which her head was proudly
set. She wore no hair on her fine, open brow, but the knot at the base
of the neck was rich in color. Her complexion, without red to break its
magnolia tint, was flawless even in that searching light. Her beautiful
eyes were vacant for the moment, and her nose, while delicate, was
unclassical, her cheek-bones high; but it was her mouth that arrested
Over’s gaze as the most singular feature he had ever seen. Childishly
red, it was deftly cut, and resembled—what was it? A bow? Certainly not
a Cupid’s bow, for that was full and pouting. Then he recalled the
Indian bows in the armory at home. That was it—the bow of an Indian bent
sharply in the middle, so sharply that it was really two half-bows the
mouth resembled, and absolutely perfect in its drawing, in the tapering
sweep of its corners. A perfect mouth is a feature one may read of for a
lifetime and never see, however many mouths there be that charm and
invite. Pretty mouths are abundant enough, and mouths that indicate
lofty or delightful characteristics, but rarely is the mouth seen for
which nature has done all that she so generously does for eyes and
profile. But for Catalina she had cut a mouth so exquisite that its
first effect was of something uncanny, as of an unknown race, and it
further held the attention as indicating absolutely nothing of the
character behind.

Catalina dazedly removed her eyes from the sea and met Over’s.

“Stop staring at me,” she said, with a frown.

He was about to retort that she had been made to be stared at, but it
occurred to him in time that he understood her too little to invite her
into the airy region of compliment. He had known girls to resent them
before, and they were not in his line anyway. He merely replied: “Here
comes the coffee. I promise you to give it my undivided attention.”

They sat silent for a few moments, keenly appreciating their little
repast. Coffee always went to Catalina’s head, and when she had finished
she felt happy and full of good-fellowship.

“I like you immensely, and hope you’ll come with us,” she announced.
“I’m rather sorry you are not a lord, though. I’ve never seen one.”

“Well, I have a cousin who is one, and if you like to come to England
I’ll show him to you. He’s rather an ass, though, and you’ll probably
guy him.”

“You are not very respectful to the head of your house.”

“Oh, he was my fag at school—he’s two years younger than I am.”

“Is he in the House of Peers?”

“Good Lord, no! That is, he has his seat, of course, but I doubt if he’d
recognize Westminster in a photograph. Gayety girls are his lay. We
married him young, though, and assured the succession.”

“Is he a typical lord?”

“What’s that? We have all sorts, like any other class. I might as well
ask you if you were a typical American.”

“Well, I’m not!” cried Catalina, with lightning in her eyes. “If nature
had made me a type I’d have made myself over. It makes me hate nearly
everybody, but, at least, I love to be alone, and I can always get that
when I want it. I’ve got a big ranch—fifty thousand acres—and after my
mother died, two years ago I lived on it alone, never speaking to a soul
but my men of business and the servants. That’s my idea of bliss, and
the moment I strike the American shore I’m going back.”

He looked at her with increasing interest—a girl of silences who loved
nature and hated man. But he merely said, with his quick smile: “You are
a very grand young person indeed. Somerton—my cousin—has only thirty
thousand acres. Of course, he’s beastly poor—has so much to keep up. I
suppose a ranch of that size is pure luxury, and blossoms like the
rose.”

“Much you know about it. I often have all I can do to make both ends
meet. Droughts kill off my cattle and sheep and dry up everything that
grows. My Mexicans and Indians are an idle, worthless lot, but sentiment
prevents me from turning them off—their grandparents worked on the
ranch. It makes me independent, of course, but I really am what is
called land poor. I’m thinking of dividing a part of it into farms and
selling them, and also of selling some property I have on Santa
Catalina, which has become fashionable. Then I should be quite rich.
Mother could get work out of anybody, but I am not nearly so energetic,
and they know it. But I am so happy when I am there, and need so little
money for myself that I haven’t thought about it heretofore. Being over
here has taught me the value of money, and I want to come back to Europe
before long. Then I’ll come alone and stay several years. There is so
much to learn, and I find I know next to nothing. Well, let us go. As
long as I am with the Moultons I suppose I must consider them, and they
probably think I have been kidnapped. Who was that youth you were
walking with last night?”

“The Marquis Zuñiga. I met him at the club and we strolled out together.
I introduced him to Mr. Moulton and he will call this afternoon—is quite
bowled over by your golden-haired cousin. I suppose we can drive back
together? It would look rather absurd, wouldn’t it, going down in a
procession of two?”



                                   VI


They were to have remained in Barcelona a week, but Mr. Moulton, alarmed
at the impassioned devotion of Zuñiga to Lydia, decided to leave on the
morning of the fourth day.

“That will be just six hours before Zuñiga is up, so you need not worry
about giving him the slip,” said Captain Over, who thought that Lydia
would be well out of the young Spaniard’s way. “If Miss Shore will join
me in the morning we can do the shopping for the family. She speaks
Spanish, and I have done this sort of thing before.”

Mr. Moulton, who looked upon Over as his personal conquest, and, despite
his good looks, never thought of him in the light of a marrying man,
gave his message to Catalina, and pattered down the hall to break the
news to his family. He was nervous but determined. Mrs. Moulton had seen
all of Barcelona that was necessary for retrospect and conversation.
Jane immediately began to pack her portmanteau. Lydia shot him a glance
of reproach, flushed, and turned away.

“I won’t have any decadent Spaniards philandering round my daughters,”
said Mr. Moulton, firmly. “If you were going to marry a Spaniard I had
rather it were a peasant, for they, at least, are the hope of the
country. This young Zuñiga hasn’t an idea in his head beyond flirting
and horse-racing. He has no education and no principles.”

“I’ve talked with him more than you have,” said Lydia, with spirit, “and
I think him lovely!”

“Lovely? What a term to apply to any man, let alone a dissipated
Spaniard! Have I not begged you, my love, to choose your adjectives—one
of the first principles of style?”

“I don’t write,” retorted Lydia, who was in a very naughty mood. “I have
no use for style.”

“I should never be surprised to see your name in our best magazines,”
said Mr. Moulton, with his infinite tact. “Make this young man the hero
of a story if you like. A clever Englishwoman I met yesterday, and who
has lived in Spain for many years, told me that the Spanish youth is the
brightest in the world, but that when he reaches the age of fourteen his
brain closes up like the shell of an oyster and never opens again; the
reason is that at that age he takes to immoderate smoking and various
other forms of dissipation, the brain from that time on receiving
neither nourishment nor encouragement. I intend to write an essay on the
subject. It is most interesting. And I thought out a splendid phrase
this afternoon. I’ll write it down this moment before I forget it.” He
whipped out his note-book. “‘The only hope for Spain lies in the
abolishment of bull-fights, beggars, and churches.’ First of all there
must be a revolution in which the most worthless aristocracy in Europe
will disappear forever. I would not have them beheaded, but driven out.
Now, pack before you go to bed, my love, for we must be up bright and
early—we have not seen the cathedral. Shall I help you?”

Jane had finished. Lydia sulkily declined his assistance. He kissed them
both, and went off to his nightly jottings and to pack the conjugal
portmanteau.

Lydia continued to brush out her golden locks and to frown at her
mirror. She longed for sympathy and a confidant, but knew that Jane
would agree with her father, and recalled that Catalina had barely taken
note of Zuñiga’s existence.

“But if he has any sand,” she informed herself, “he will follow me up.
And I’ll marry whom I please—so there!”


The next morning, having seen the rest of the party off to the
cathedral, Catalina and Captain Over started down the Rambla Centro in
high good-humor; they shared the exhilaration of moving on, and enjoyed
the novelty of the new housekeeping. They packed a hamper with cold ham
and roast chicken, cake, and two loaves of bread. Then Catalina bought
recklessly in a confectioner’s and Captain Over visited a coffee-shop.
When they had filled the front seat of their cab, Catalina, after a
half-hour of sharp bargaining, bought a white lace mantilla and a fine
old fan.

“These are two of the things I came to Spain for,” she announced to the
bewildered Englishman, who had shopped with women before, but never with
a woman who was definite, concentrated, driving hard in a straight line.
As they went out with the precious bundle he ventured his first remark.

“I had an idea you were indifferent to dress.”

“I am and I am not. I had rather be comfortable most of the time, and I
hate being stared at, but when I dress I dress. I may never wear this
mantilla, but it is a thing of beauty to possess and look at.”

“I hope you will wear it, and here in Spain. Are you part Spanish,
by-the-way?”

“No, Indian.”

“Indian?” He looked at her with renewed interest. “Do you mind?”

“No, I don’t. It’s a good excuse for a whole lot of things.”

“Ah, I see. Well, it certainly makes you different from other people.
You like that and you may believe it.”


Lydia was profoundly thankful to leave Barcelona while her marquis still
slumbered; she was too young and curious not to be glad to travel on any
terms, but to say farewell in a third-class carriage to a member of an
ancient aristocracy was quite another matter. She accounted for Captain
Over’s willingness to travel humbly by the supposition that he was in
love with Catalina, and did not believe for a moment that it was his
habit.

But Captain Over was not in love with Catalina. He was still half an
invalid, and constitutionally indolent, as are most men who are
immediately attractive to women. She interested and amused him, was a
good comrade when in a good-humor, and as full of pluck and resource as
a boy. He liked all the family, including Jane, who was charmed with
him, and enjoyed Mr. Moulton’s many good stories. It was a pleasant
party and he was glad to join it, but if he had been summoned hastily
back to England, or been sure that when the journey was over he should
never see these agreeable companions again, he would have accepted the
decree with the philosophy of one who had met many delightful people in
many country-houses and sat by many delightful women at many London
dinners, whose very names he might forget before he saw them again. It
was a part of his charm that he appeared to live so wholly in the
present, without retrospect or anticipation, and Catalina concluded it
was the result of being a soldier, whose time was not his own, and who
was ready and willing to accept the end of all things at any moment.

The cool, open car in which they moved out of Barcelona had an aisle
down the middle and was new and highly varnished. Even Jane condescended
to remark that in hot weather in a dusty country such accommodations
were preferable to upholstered seats which, doubtless, were not brushed
once a month. Then she retired to her Pater, and the rest of the party
hung out of the windows and gazed at the tremendous ridge of Montserrat
cutting the blue sky like a thousand twisted fingers petrified in their
death-throes. It is the most jagged mass of rock in Europe; Nature would
seem to have spat it out through gnashing teeth; and surely no spot more
terrifying even to the gods could have been selected for the
safe-keeping of the holy grail.

Then once more the train ambled through vineyards and silver olive
groves, past old brown castles on their rocky heights, glimpses of Roman
roads and ruins, the innumerable tunnels making the brown plains more
dazzling, the sea in glimpses like a chain of peacock’s feathers.

To-day for the greater part of the trip their companions were a large
party of washing-women, brawny, with shining, pleasant faces. They wore
blue cotton frocks and white handkerchiefs pinned about their slippery
heads. On the capacious lap of each was a basket of white clothes. They
gossiped volubly and paid no attention to the Americans, who, indeed, in
a short time, were so dusty that the varnish of civilization was
obliterated.

They were a gay party. As the day’s trip was to be short, Mrs. Moulton
concluded not to feel tired, and while they were in the tunnels Captain
Over made her a cup of tea under the seat, regardless of the Guardia
Civile who were honoring the carriage with their presence. These
personages looked very sturdy and self-confident in their smart
uniforms, and quite capable of handling the always possible bandit.
Catalina audibly invoked him. She was possessed by that exhilaration
which a woman feels when in the companionship of a new and interesting
man with whom she is not in love. The great passion induces an illogical
depression of spirits, melancholy forebodings, and extremes of
sentimentalism, which are the death of high spirits and humor. Catalina
had some inkling of this, having experienced one or two brief and silent
attacks of misplaced affection, and rejoiced in the spontaneous and
mutual friendship. Outwardly she looked as solemn as usual, but,
perhaps, even hidden sunshine may warm, for on no day since they left
Lyons had the party been so independent of material ills. Even Lydia
came forth from the sulky aloofness of the morning, and Jane laid Pater
to rest, when, after the excellent luncheon, Catalina produced a large
box of bonbons.

By this time there was no one in the car but the Guardia Civile and a
young peasant, a brawny, handsome Catalan, who might have been the
village blacksmith and a possible leader in the anarchy of his province.
He had the haughty, independent manner of his class, and, although his
eye was fiery and reckless, the lower part of his face symbolized power
and self-control.

Lydia, having carefully washed the dust from her face, in a spirit of
mischief and breathless in her first open act of mutiny, left her seat
abruptly and offered the box of sweets first to the military escort, who
arose and declined with a profound bow, then to the young peasant. She
had stood before the guards with downcast eyes, but when the peasant
turned to her she deliberately lifted her long brown eyelashes, and the
blue shallows sparkling with coquetry met a wild and eager flash never
encountered before. A blue silk handkerchief was knotted loosely about
her dishevelled golden head, she wore a blue soft cotton blouse, and her
cheeks were pink. Dainty and sweet and gracious, what wonder that she
dazzled the rustic accustomed to maidens as swarthy as himself?

“Madre de Dios!” he muttered.

“A dulce, señor?” said Lydia, with the charming hesitation of the
imperfect linguist.

Then the peasant rose, and with the grace and courtesy of a grandee
possessed himself of a bonbon. But he did not know, perhaps, that it was
intended to go the road of black bread and garlic, for he fumbled in the
pocket of his blouse, brought forth an envelope, rolled up the
sweetmeat, and tenderly secreted it. Lydia gave him a radiant smile,
shook her head, and still held out the box.

“Eat one,” she said; and as the man only stared at her with deepening
color, she put one of the bonbons into her own mouth and motioned to him
to follow suit. This time he obeyed her, and for the moment they had the
appearance, and perhaps the sensation, of breaking bread together.

“Dios de mi alma!” muttered the man, and then Lydia bowed to him gravely
and turned slowly, reluctantly, and rejoined her panting family. Mrs.
Moulton’s face was scarlet; she was sitting upright; the air-cushions
were in a heap on the floor. Mr. Moulton’s bland visage expressed solemn
indignation, an expression which he had the ability to infuse into the
review of a book prudence warned him to condemn.

“Lydia Moulton!” exclaimed her mother.

“I am grieved and ashamed,” said her father.

“Why?” asked Lydia, flippantly. “It is the custom in Spain to share with
your travelling companions, and last night you said you had rather I
married a Spanish peasant than a Spanish gentleman.”

“I am ashamed of you!” repeated Mr. Moulton, with dignity. “Are you
looking for a husband, may I ask? If so, we will go direct to Gibraltar
and take the first steamer for America.”

Lydia colored, but she was still in a naughty mood, and, encouraged by a
sympathetic flash from Catalina, she retorted:

“No, I don’t want to marry, but I do want to be able to look at a man
unchaperoned by the entire family. I haven’t had the liberty of a
convent girl since I arrived in Europe. I feel like running off with the
first man that finds a chance to propose to me.”

Mrs. Moulton, whose complexion during this outburst had faded to its
normal gray tones, the little lines of cultivated worries and invalidism
quivering on the surface, turned her pale gaze upon Catalina. She stared
mutely, but volumes rolled into the serene, contemptuous orbs two seats
away.

Mr. Moulton, in his way, was a rapid thinker. “My dear,” he said,
gently, to the revolutionist, “if we have surrounded you it has not been
from distrust, but because you are far too pretty to be alone among
foreigners for a moment. At home, as you know, you often receive your
young friends alone. I am sure that when you think the matter over you
will regret your lapse from dignity, particularly as you have no doubt
disturbed that poor young man’s peace of mind.”

Lydia seldom rebelled, but she had learned that when her father became
diplomatic she might as well smite upon stone; so she refrained from
further sarcasm, and, retreating to a seat behind the others, stared
sullenly out of the window. She was not unashamed of herself, but
longed, nevertheless, to meet again the fiery gaze of the Catalan—“the
anarchist,” she called him; it sounded far better than peasant. Zuñiga
dwindled out of her memory as the poor, artificial thing he no doubt
was. At last she had seen a blaze of admiration in the eyes of a real
man. She was not wise enough to know that it was nothing in her meagre
little personality that had roused the lightnings in a manly bosom,
merely a type of prettiness made unconventional by the setting and the
man. But the impression was made, and had she dared she would have sent
an occasional demure glance towards the young peasant behind her; as it
was she adjusted her charming profile for his delectation.

They entered the long tunnel which the train traverses before skirting
the bluffs of Tarragona. Spain does not light its railway carriages
before dark. Lydia had thrown her arm along the seat. Suddenly she
became aware that some one, as lithe and noiseless as a cat, had entered
the seat behind her. She was smitten with sudden terror, and held her
breath. A second later a pair of young and ardent lips passed as lightly
as a passing flame along her rigid hand.

“Dueño adorado!” The voice was almost at her ear. Then she knew that the
seat was empty again. Her first impulse had been to cry out; she was
terrified and furious. But she had a quick vision of a mêlée of knives
and pistols, the Guardia Civile and peasant, reinforcements from the
next car, and the death of all her party. It was the imaginative feat of
her life, and as the train ran out of the tunnel she congratulated
herself warmly and put on her hat as indifferently as Jane, who had
never known the kiss of man. She swept past her admirer with her head
high and her lids—with their curling lashes—low.



                                  VII


“Ah!” exclaimed Captain Over, “this is Spain! Who is going to sit with
me in front?”

Catalina made no reply, but she ran swiftly to the big, canvas-covered
diligence, climbed over the high wheel before Over could follow to
assist her, and seated herself beside the driver with the most
ingratiating manner that any of her party had seen her assume. Over
placed himself beside her, the others took possession of the rear, the
driver cracked his whip, and the six mules, jingling with half a hundred
bells, leaped down the dusty road towards the steep and rocky heights
where Tarragona has defied the nations of the earth. Then it was that
Over laughed softly, and the innocent Moultons learned what depths of
iniquity may lie at the base of a ranch-girl’s blandishments. As they
reached the foot of the bluff the delighted youth who was answerable to
Heaven for his precious freight abandoned the reins. Catalina gathered
them in one hand, half rose from her seat, and with a great flourish
cracked the long whip, not once, but thrice, delivering herself of
sharp, peremptory cries in Spanish. The mules needed no further
encouragement. They tore up the steep and winding road, whisked round
curves, strained every muscle to show what a Spanish mule could do. They
even shook their heads and tossed them in the air that their bells might
jingle the louder. Mrs. Moulton and Jane screamed, clinging to each
other, the portmanteaus bounced to the floor, and Mr. Moulton would have
grasped Catalina’s arm but Over intercepted and reassured him. And,
indeed, there were few better whips than Catalina in a state notorious
for a century of reckless and brilliant driving. She drove like a
cowboy, not like an Englishwoman, Over commented, but he felt the
exhilaration of it, even when the unwieldy diligence bounded from side
to side in the narrow road and the dust enveloped them. In a moment he
shifted his eyes to her face. Her white teeth were gleaming through the
half-open bow of her mouth, tense but smiling, and her splendid eyes
were flashing, not only with the pleasure of the born horsewoman, but
with a wicked delight in the consternation behind her. She looked,
despite the mules and the dusty old diligence, like a goddess in a
chariot of victory, and Over, who rarely imagined, half expected to see
fire whirling in the clouds of dust about the wheels.

As they reached the top of the bluff the driver indicated the way, and
they flew down the Rambla San Carlos, past the astounded soldiers
lounging in front of the barracks, and stopped with a grand flourish in
front of the hotel.

Catalina turned to Over, her lips still parted, her eyes glittering.

“That is the first time I have been really happy since I left home,” she
announced, ignoring her precipitately descending relatives. “I feel
young again, and I’ve felt as old as the hills ever since I’ve been in
Europe. I’ll like you forever because you approve of me, and I haven’t
seen that expression on anybody’s face for months.”

“Oh, I approve of you!” said the Englishman, laughing.

They descended, and she challenged him to race her to the parapet that
they might limber themselves. He accepted, and, in spite of her
undepleted youth, he managed to beat by means of a superior length of
limb. The victory filled him with a quite unreasoning sense of
exultation, and as they hung over the parapet and looked out upon the
liquid turquoise of the sea, sparkling under a cloudless sky, its little
white sail-boats dancing along with the pure joy of motion, he felt
younger and happier than he had since his cricket days.

“I think we had better not go to the hotel for a time,” he suggested. “I
am afraid that Mr. and Mrs. Moulton are in a bit of a wax. Perhaps after
they have rested and freshened up they will forgive you, and meanwhile
we can explore.”

So they wandered off to the old town until they stood at the foot of a
flight of ancient stone steps, wider than three streets, that led up to
the plaza before the cathedral. Crouching in the shallow corners of the
stair were black-robed old crones who looked as if they might have
begged of Cæsar. Passing up and down, or in and out of the narrow
streets, to right and left were young women of languid and insolent
carriage, in bright cotton frocks and yellow kerchiefs about their
heads, young men in small clothes and wide hats, loafing along as if all
time were in their little day, and troops and swarms of children. These
attached themselves to the strangers, encouraged by the caressing
Spanish words of the girl, followed them through the cathedral, and out
into a side street, chattering like magpies.

“You look like a comet with a long tail,” said Over. “I’ll scatter them
with a few coppers.” He paused as she turned her head over her shoulder
and regarded him with a wondering reproach. For the moment her large
brown eyes looked bovine. “Do you want these little demons to follow us
all over the place?” he asked, curiously.

“Why not?”

“Tarragona is theirs,” said Over, lightly. “They would annoy most
women.” He hoped to provoke her to further revelation, but she made no
reply, and they rambled with occasional speech through the ancient
narrow streets, followed by their noisy retinue, the little Murillo
faces sparkling with curiosity and foresight of illimitable wealth in
coppers.

But even Catalina forgot them at times, as she and her companion stopped
to decipher the Roman inscription on the foundation blocks of many of
the houses. Although the houses themselves may have been younger than
the huge blocks with their legends of the Scipios and the Cæsars, they
were old enough, and the steep and winding streets, with the women
hanging out of the high windows and sitting before the doors, all bits
of color against the mellow stone, were no doubt much the same in effect
as when Augustus and his hosts marched by with eagles aloft.

Catalina, who had the historic sense highly developed and had found her
happiness in the past, infected Over with her enthusiasm, and he
followed her without protest to the outskirts of the town, and looked
down over the great valley beneath the heights of Tarragona, then up
past the Cyclopean walls, those stupendous, unhewn blocks of masonry
which still, for a sweep of two miles or more, surround the old town.

“What a place to hide from the world!” said Catalina. They had turned
into a little street just within the wall, and seated themselves on an
odd block to rest, their exhausted retinue camping all the way along the
line. Opposite them was a high and narrow house, its upper balcony full
of flowers, and an arcade behind suggesting the dim quiet of patio with
its palms and fountain, its shadows haunted with incommunicable memories
of an ancient past. “The new town we drove through with its fine houses
is too commonplace; but this—any one of these eyries—what a nest! I
could live quite happy up there, couldn’t you?”

“For a time.” He was too frankly modern to yield unconditionally. “But I
must confess I can’t think what artists are about.”

When they reached the plaza, Catalina turned to the children and
solemnly thanked them for the great pleasure and service they had
rendered two belated strangers. They accepted the tribute in perfect
good faith and then scrambled for the coppers.



                                  VIII


Over and Catalina walked hastily to the hotel; they had but half an hour
in which to make themselves presentable for dinner. Preparation for this
function, however, was not elaborate. A tub and a change of shirt and
blouse was all that could be expected of weary tourists travelling with
one portmanteau each; their trunks were not to leave the stations until
they reached Granada. Catalina invariably appeared in her hat, ready to
go out again the moment the meal was over if she could induce Mr.
Moulton to take her. Tonight the others sat down to their excellent
repast in the cool dining-room without her. Mrs. Moulton and Jane were
disposed to treat Over with hauteur, but thawed after the soup and fish.
Mr. Moulton had long since recovered his serenity and expressed regret
that he had not accompanied the more enterprising members of the party.
Only Lydia, who had put on her prettiest blouse and fluffed her hair
anew, was interested in neither dinner nor Tarragona.

“Off your feed?” Over was asking, sympathetically, when Mrs. Moulton,
who was helping herself to the roast, dropped the fork on her plate. The
others followed the direction of her astonished eyes and beheld
Catalina—but not the Catalina of their habit. Hers was the largest of
the portmanteaus, and it was evident that she had excavated it at last.
Gone were the stiff, short skirt and ill-fitting blouse, the drooping
hat and shapeless coat. She wore a girlish gown of white nun’s-veiling,
made with a masterly simplicity that revealed her figure in all its long
grace, its gentle curves, and supple power of endurance. Only the round
throat and forearms were revealed, but the lace about them and the calm
stateliness of her carriage produced the impression of full dress. Her
mass of waving chestnut hair, with a sheen of gold like a web on its
surface, was parted and brushed back from her oval face into a heavy
knot at the base of the head. Around her throat she wore a string of
pearls, and falling from her shoulders a crimson scarf.

She walked down the long room with a perfect simulation of
unconsciousness, except for the lofty carriage of her head, which
concealed much inward trepidation. Her broad brow was as bland as a
child’s, and her eyes wore what an admirer had once called her
“wondering look.” Never had her remarkable mouth looked so like a bow,
the bow of her Indian ancestors. A beauty she was at last, fulfilling
the uneasy prediction of her relatives. The few other people in the
dining-room stared, and Captain Over, who had risen, stared at her hard.

“Ripping! Ripping!” he thought. Then, with a shock of personal pride:
“She no longer looks like a cow-boy. She might be on her way to court.”

It was characteristic of Catalina that she did not even sink into her
seat with one of those airy remarks with which woman demonstrates her
ease in unusual circumstances. She made no remark whatever, but helped
herself to the roast and fell to with a hearty appetite. Neither did she
send a flash of coquetry to Captain Over; and he, with an odd sense that
in her incongruity, and the hostility aroused in two of the party, she
stood in need of a protector, began talking much faster than was his
wont, and even condescended to tell Mr. Moulton an anecdote of the late
campaign. Having gone so far he hardly could retreat, and indeed his
reluctance seemed finally to be overcome. Very soon the company had
forgotten Catalina, and Catalina came forth from herself and hung upon
his words. Given her own way she would have been a man and a soldier,
and like all normal women she exalted heroism to the head of the manly
virtues. Over told no stories wherein he was the hero, but unwittingly
he unrolled a panorama of infinite possibilities for the brave race of
whose best he was a type. At all events, he made himself extremely
interesting, and when he was finally left to Mr. Moulton and cigars,
Catalina walked blindly out of the front door of the hotel, reinvoking
the pictures that had stimulated her imagination. She was recalled by
the pressure of a small but bony hand on her bare arm. She turned to
meet the cold, blue gaze of Mrs. Moulton. That gentlewoman was very
erect and very formal.

“You cannot go out alone!” she said, with disgust in her voice. “I am
surprised to be forced to remind you that this is not—California. It
would be impossible in your travelling costume, but dressed as for an
evening’s entertainment in a private house you would be insulted at
once. As long as you travel with us I must insist that you give as
little trouble as possible.”

If she hoped for war, feeling herself for once secure, she was
disappointed. Catalina merely shrugged her shoulders and, re-entering
the hall, ascended the stair. She recalled that her room opened upon a
balcony, which would answer her purpose.

The balcony hung above a garden overflowing with flowers, surrounded on
three sides by the hotel and its low outbuildings, and secluded from the
sloping street by a high wall. She paced up and down watching the
servants under the veranda washing their dishes. They all wore a bit of
the bright color beloved of the Iberian, and they made a great deal of
noise. Suddenly Lydia took possession of her arm and related the
adventure of the afternoon.

“Is it not dreadful?” she concluded. “A peasant! But to save my life I
cannot be as furious as I should—nor help thinking of it. I feel like
one of those princesses in the fairy tales beloved of the poor but
wonderful youth.”

“It is highly romantic,” replied Catalina, dryly. “The setting was not
all that it might have been, and I have seen too many picturesque
vaqueros all my life to be deeply impressed by a handsome peasant in a
blouse; but I suppose any romance is better than none in this Old
World.”

She felt vaguely alarmed, and half a generation older than this silly
little cousin whose suburban experience made her peculiarly susceptible
to any semblance of romance in Europe; but as Lydia, repelled in her
girlish confidence, drew stiffly away from her, Catalina relented with a
gush of feminine sympathy.

“I really mean that a bit of romance like that makes life more
endurable,” she asserted. “And you may be sure that your marquis would
not have been so delicate. I wonder who he is! He certainly is a
personage in his way. Of course, you’ll never see him again, but it will
be something to think about when you are married to an author and
correcting his type-written manuscripts!”

Lydia, mollified, laughed merrily. “I’m never going to marry any old
author. Let the recording angel take note of that. I’m sick of mutual
admiration societies—and all the rest of it. If I can’t do any better
I’ll manage to marry some enterprising young business man and help him
to grow rich.”

Catalina, who had had her own way all her life, nevertheless appreciated
the colorless shallows in which her cousin had splashed of late in the
vain attempt to reach a shore, and replied, sympathetically:

“Come back to California when I go and live on my ranch for a while.
Out-of-doors is what you want; a far-away horizon is as good for the
soul as for the eyes. And you’ll get enough of the picturesque and all
the liberty you can carry—”

She paused abruptly and Lydia caught her breath. In the street below was
the sound of a guitar, then of a man’s impassioned voice.

The girls stole to the edge of the balcony and looked over. There was no
moon, and the vines were close. The street was thick with shadows, but
they could see the lithe, active figure of a man clad in velvet jacket
and smallclothes. His head was flung back and his quick, rich notes
seemed to leap to the balcony above. Catalina had forgotten that her
candles still burned. Their rays fell directly on the girls. The man saw
them and his voice burst forth in such peremptory volume, ringing
against the walls of the narrow street, that heads began to appear at
many windows.

“It is that peasant we saw on the train to-day,” said Over’s amused
voice behind the girls. “He was in the café a moment ago and is got up
in full peasant finery. You made a conquest, Miss Lydia.”

Catalina felt her companion give an ecstatic shiver, but omitted to pull
her back as she leaned recklessly over the rail. Her own spirit seemed
to swirl in that glorious tide. She threw back her head, staring at the
black velvet skies of Spain with their golden music, then turned slowly
and regarded the old white walls and gardens about her, the palms and
the riot of flowers and vine, invoking the image of Cæsar himself
prowling in the night to the lattice of inviting loveliness in a
mantilla. She wished she had draped her own about her head, and wondered
if Over shared her vision.

But he was merely marvelling at her beauty, and wondering if he should
ever get as far as California. He would like to see her in that patio
she had described to him, with its old mission fountain, its gigantic
date-palms through whose bending branches the sun never penetrated, the
big-leaved banana-tree heavy with yellow fruit, the scarlet hammock, the
mountains rising just behind the old house. She had described it to him
only that afternoon, and he had received a vivid impression of it all,
and of the deep verandas and the cool, austere rooms within. It had
struck him as a delightful retreat after the strife of the world, and he
wondered if under that eternally blue sky, in that Southern land of
warmth and color, where the very air caressed, he could not forget even
the broad demesne of his ancestors, a demesne that would never be his,
but where he was always a welcome guest. She had told him that her
estate—her “ranch”—went right down to the sea; it was, in fact, a wide
valley, closed with the Pacific at one end, and a range of mountains
immediately behind the house. It had seemed to him the ideal existence
as she described it, a perfect balance of the intellectual and the
out-door life, of boundless freedom and unvarying health; and all in an
atmosphere of perfect peace. He had envied her at the moment, but had
philosophically concluded that in the long run a man’s club most nearly
filled the bill. He fancied, however, that he should correspond with
her, and one of these days pay her a visit.

“Best remember that this is the land of passion, not of idle flirtation,
Miss Lydia,” he said, warningly, as the music ceased for a moment. “What
is play to you might be death to that Johnny down there.”

For answer Lydia plucked a rose and dropped it into a lithe brown hand
that shot up to meet it.



                                   IX


Catalina threw on her dressing-gown and leaned far out of her window.
The very air felt as if it had been drenched by the golden shower of the
morning sun, and so clear it was, it glittered like the sea. Across the
narrow way was a stately white house, doubtless the “palace” of a rich
man, and behind it, high above the street, was a beautiful garden, at
whose very end, in an angle of the stone wall, stood a palm-tree. Beyond
that palm-tree, so delicate and graceful in its peculiar stiffness, was
a glimpse of blue water. Far below was a cross street in which no one
moved as yet, and beside her were the balcony and garden of the hotel
and the vines hanging over the wall.

Catalina sang, in the pure joy of being alive, a snatch of one of the
Spanish songs still to be heard in Southern California.

“Buenas dias, señorita,” broke in a low and cautious voice, and
Catalina, turning with a start and frown, saw that Captain Over was
looking round the corner of the balcony.

“If you will come out here,” he continued, “I will make you a cup of
coffee, and then we can go for a walk.”

Catalina nodded amiably, and, hastily dressing herself, opened her long
window and joined him. He had brought his travelling-lamp and
coffee-pot, and the water was simmering. With the exception of a man who
was cleaning harness in the court below, they seemed to be the only
persons awake. The air was heavy laden with sweet scents, and the garden
in the fresh morning light was a riot of color. The Mediterranean was
murmuring seductively to the shore.

“This is heaven,” sighed Catalina. “Why can’t one always be free from
care like this—the Moultons, to be exact. Let’s you and I and Lydia run
away from the rest.”

“When I run away with a woman I shall not take a chaperon,” said Over,
coolly.

Catalina could assume the blankness of a mask, but upon repartee she
never ventured. “Am I not to do any of the work?” she asked. “I am sick
of being waited on. At home I often make my own breakfast before my lazy
Mexicans are up, and saddle my horse. I do a great deal of work on the
ranch, first and last, for I believe in work—and I didn’t get the idea
from Tolstoï, either. I don’t like Tolstoï,” she added, defiantly. “He’s
one of those gigantic fakes the world always believes in.”

“Well, I’ve never read a line of Tolstoï,” admitted Captain Over, who
was carefully revolving his coffee-machine, “so I can’t argue with you.
But work! This is all the work I want.”

“Don’t you love work?”

“I don’t.”

“But you do work.”

“At what?”

“Oh, in the army and all that.”

“My orderly does the work.”

“You are so provoking. There is all sorts of work you must do yourself.”

“Well, why do you remind me of anything so painful, when I am doing my
best to forget it? You are not an altruist or a socialist, are you?”

“I’m not anything that some one else has invented. I believe in work,
because idleness horrifies me; some primal instinct in me wars against
it. The civilization that permits idleness in the rich and in those with
just enough to relieve them from work, with none of the responsibilities
and diversions of great fortunes, is no civilization at all, to my mind.
Of course, I believe in progress, but I believe in hanging on to the
conditions which first made progress possible; and when I saw those
carriage-loads of ridiculous women and finery in Paris I wanted to go
home and till the soil and restore the balance. How good that coffee
smells!”

He poured her out a steaming cup. He had raided the kitchen for cream
and bread, and he carried sugar with him. No orderly had ever made
better coffee.

“What women?” he asked, smiling into her still angry eyes. They were
seated at a little table close to the railing and the vines hung down in
her hair. Her theories might be crude and somewhat vague, but at least
she thought for herself.

She described the morning in the Rue de Rivoli and the procession of
American butterflies.

“What can you expect in a new republic of sudden fortunes?” he asked.
“Some one must spend the money, and the men haven’t time.”

“Then are your women something besides nerves and clothes—your leisure
women?”

“I don’t wish to be rude, but they are. I am, of course, only comparing
them with your idle class. I have had no chance to meet any other until
now. But I have met scores of rich American women and girls in London
and at country-houses, and I’ve come to the conclusion that what is the
matter with them—aside from lack of traditions—is that their men leave
them nothing to do but spend money and amuse themselves. With us rich
women and poor are helpmeets, and what saves our fast set from being as
empty-headed as yours is that they have grown up among men of affairs,
have heard the great questions discussed all their lives. Then, of
course, they are far better educated, and often extremely
clever—something more than bright and amusing. Many of them are pretty
hard cases, I’m not denying that; but few are silly. They have not had
the chance to be, and that is where ancestors come in, too—serious
ancestors. Personally, I have never been sensible to the famous charm of
the American woman, and although there are exceptions, naturally—I am
only generalizing—they strike me in the mass as being shallow, selfish,
egotistical, nervous. I suppose the fundamental trouble is that they
have so much that an impossible ideal of happiness is the result, and
they are restless and dissatisfied because they can’t get it. Possibly
in another generation or two they may develop the sort of brain that
makes the women of the Old World well balanced and philosophical.”

“Weren’t you ever tempted to marry an heiress?”

“I never saw one that would look at me, so I’ve been spared one
temptation, at least.”

Catalina had finished her coffee. She leaned her chin on her hands and
gazed at him reflectively. “I should think you could get one,” she said,
quite impersonally. “If you weren’t such a practical soul you’d be
almost romantic looking, and you’re quite the ideal soldier, besides
being a guardsman and well-born. I think if you came to Santa Barbara I
could find you a rich girl. Quantities come there for the winter, and
they are always delighted to be asked to a ranch.”

“All women are match-makers,” he said, testily. “A poor fellow I left
out in South Africa got off just one epigram in his life—‘There are two
kinds of women, living women and dead women.’ I believe he was right.
Shall we go and see if they will let us into the archbishop’s palace?”



                                   X


“Quien quiere agua? Quien quiere agua?”

The shrill cries of the water-carriers smote upon grateful ears as the
dusty, sun-baked train paused at Fuente, a little station on the zigzag
between Valencia and Albacete. They were young, misshapen girls, the hip
that supported the gourd at least three inches higher than the other,
with a corresponding elevation of shoulder. All along the train, hands
were waving encouragingly, accompanied by cries of “Aqui! Aqui!” and the
glasses were rapidly filled and emptied. But few ran over to the
_cantina_ where the wine of the country was sold; and the amount of
water that is dispensed at every station in Spain should encourage those
whose war-cry is temperance and who are prone to believe that the
southern races are lost. But water is precious in Spain, and must be
paid for. At every station old women are waiting with buckets to catch
the discharge from the engine—not, it is to be hoped, for traffic.

Even the Moultons, who had exhausted Captain Over’s aluminum bottle and
had prejudices against uncertified water, passed out their own cups and
drank thirstily. No one was in his best temper. Valencia is a dirty,
noisy, ill-mannered city, and after two sleepless nights they had been
forced to rise early or remain another day. Moreover, the handsome
peasant had followed them with a melodious persistence that was causing
Mr. Moulton serious uneasiness. It was impossible to appeal to the
Guardia Civile, for the man did nothing that was not within his rights;
for the matter of that the stranger in Spain is practically without
rights. The man—his name, it was now known, was Jesus Maria—a name
common enough in a land without humor—never even offered them the usual
courtesies of travel. Nevertheless, he managed to make his presence felt
in a hundred ways independently of his voice and guitar, as well as the
subtle intimation that for the stern frown on Mr. Moulton’s brow he
cared nothing.

“I don’t wish any trouble, of course,” Mr. Moulton had said to Over that
morning, “but I am seriously considering the plan of continuing the
journey to Granada in a first-class carriage. Lydia has already begun to
suffer from the annoyance, and it is abominable that a refined,
carefully brought up girl should be subjected to such an experience. The
marquis was bad enough—but this! Even when her back is to him I am sure
she feels his rude stare. I can assure you, Over, a pretty daughter is a
great responsibility; but although I have had to dispose—diplomatically,
of course—of several undesirable suitors, I never even anticipated
anything like this. It is preposterous.”

“The first-class idea is not bad; it would emphasize the difference
between them; it is rather a puzzle to him, I fancy—he is a Spaniard,
remember—that we travel in his own way and yet regard him from a
superior plane.”

Captain Over, as he stood with Catalina at a booth on the platform
buying substantial tortillas made of eggs, meat, and potatoes, repeated
the conversation. “He thinks they have never communicated in any way,”
he added. “What is the best thing to do? I don’t fancy telling tales,
but it seems to me Mr. Moulton should be warned.”

“Oh, Lydia can take care of herself,” said Catalina, carelessly. “She is
a little flirt and quite intoxicated with what she calls an intrigue. It
is the first time she has ever done any thinking for herself—you can see
what Cousin Lyman is; he’d feed us if we’d let him. If we were Moultons,
we’d be taking a little fling ourselves. Here she comes.”

Lydia found a place beside them in the crowd that was clamoring for the
old woman’s hot tortillas.

“Mother says there is not enough bread,” she said. “Jane is afraid of
the beggars and father has disappeared, or I suppose I should not have
got this far alone. Talk about the freedom of the American girl! I’d
like to write a book to tell the world how many different kinds of
Americans there are.”

“You can’t deny that you are a spoiled child, though,” said Over,
banteringly, and then he scowled. The young peasant had joined the group
and was quietly demanding a tortilla. He no longer wore his peasant
blouse, but the gala costume he had bought or borrowed in Tarragona. He
was a superb figure of a man, and every woman on the platform stared at
him. He looked haughtily aloof, even from Lydia, but Over saw her hand
seek her little waist-bag and suspected that a note passed.

“He certainly is a man,” he said to Catalina, as they walked back to the
train; “looks more of a gentleman, for that matter, than a good many we
dine with. Still, it can’t go on; so set your wits to work, and we’ll
get rid of him between us.”

But for Jesus Maria the afternoon would have been delightful. They were
ascending, and the air was cooler; the great plain of La Mancha was
studded with windmills, and its horizon gave up the welcome and lofty
ridges of the Sierra de Alcatraz. But the cavalier—when not smoking the
eternal cigarito—strummed his guitar and sang all the love-songs he
knew. Mr. Moulton coughed and frowned and ordered Lydia to turn her
back; but open remonstrance might have meant the flashing of knives,
certainly the vociferating protest of female voices, for the car was
crowded and the peasants were delighted with the concert. At Chinchilla,
however, there was a diversion, and love moved rearward.

A man leaped into the train. He wore a belt of three tiers, and each
tier was stuck full of knives. Mrs. Moulton screamed; but he was
immediately surrounded by the peasants, who snatched at the knives and
bargained shamelessly. In a moment he thrust them aside, and, making his
way to the strangers, protested that he had reserved his best for them,
and flourished in their faces some of the finest specimens of
Albacete—long, curved blades of steel and long, curved handles of ebony
or ivory inlaid with bits of colored glass and copper. Catalina and
Captain Over bought several at a third of the price demanded. The
Catalan had followed the huckster, and under Mr. Moulton’s very nose he
bought the longest and most deadly of the collection. After several
playful thrusts at the vender, and severing a lock of his hair, he
thrust it conspicuously into his sash, and with a lightning glance at
poor Mr. Moulton returned to his seat. Here it was evident that he
related deeds of prowess; once more he flourished the knife, and his
audience uttered high staccato notes of approval.



                                   XI


They arrived at Albacete before nightfall. It was too small a place for
the omnibus, but several enterprising boys appropriated the hand-luggage
and, without awaiting instructions, made for the one hotel of the Alto.
This proved to be so far superior to the hotel of the small American
town that it appeared palatial to the weary travellers. It stood, large
and white and cool, on the Alameda, whose double row of plane-trees
formed an avenue down the middle of the long, wide street. It is true
the beds were not made, water appeared to be as precious as at the
stations, and the servants as weak of head as of ambulatory muscle; but
the rooms were large and lofty and clean, and the supper was eatable.
Mrs. Moulton and Jane, after a brief ramble, sought what to both was
become the end and aim of all travelling—bed and quiet; and Mr. Moulton,
leaving the other two girls in charge of Over, soon followed their
example.

“I saw that scoundrel leave the train,” he murmured, as he left Over at
the foot of the staircase, “but he has gone off to the diversions of the
new town, no doubt, and will be occupied for a few hours at least.”

The girls had wandered to the doorway and were looking out into the dark
Alameda. Over exchanged a glance with Catalina and drew Lydia’s hand
through his arm.

“Miss Shore is tired,” he said, “but I am sure you will enjoy another
stroll. At all events don’t leave me to moon by myself.” And Lydia,
flattered by the unusual attention, surrendered with her charming
animation of word and feature.

They walked beside the Alameda down to the quaint old plaza, surrounded
by white houses of varied architecture, deserted and dimly lit with the
infrequent lamp. When Englishmen are diplomatic they are the most subtle
and sinuous of mankind, but when they are not they are the bluntest.
Over said nothing whatever until he had enjoyed the half of his pipe,
and then he remarked, “I say, you must drop that man—send him about his
business without any more loss of time.”

Lydia, who had been prattling amiably, stiffened and attempted to
withdraw her arm.

“What are my affairs to you?” she asked, haughtily.

“For this trip I am your big brother. I should not merit the friendship
of your father if I did not make this affair my own. Brothers are always
privileged to be rude, you know: you are not only playing a silly game,
but a dangerous one. That man will try to kidnap you—he is only one
degree removed from a bandit.” Lydia’s eyes flashed, and he hastened to
rectify a possible misstep. “How would you like to live in the side of a
hill with your lord—to escape taxes—and cook his frijoles three hundred
and sixty-five days of the year? If he didn’t beat you, he certainly
would not serenade you; and even in a country where water is more
plentiful than in Spain—suppose you induced him to emigrate—it is
doubtful if he would ever take a bath—”

“You are a brute!”

“Merely practical. He would insist upon having his beans flavored with
garlic, and he doubtless smokes all night as well as all day. He may be
a good enough sort in the main, but there is no hope here for a man to
rise above his station in life. If there were a revolution he would
probably be in the thick of it and get himself killed; and if he
followed you to America—failing to kidnap you—he would probably open a
cigar-shop on the Bowery.”

He had expected tears, but Lydia drew herself up and said, coldly: “I
don’t think I am in danger of being kidnapped. Strange as it may appear,
I feel quite well able to take care of myself, and if with you on one
side and father on the other I can’t vary the monotony of life with a
little flirtation—well, if you were a girl, surrounded by goody-goody
people as I have always been, you might be tempted a little way by
something that had the glamour of romance.”

“Girls must find life rather a bore,” said Over, sympathetically. “And I
only wish your hero were worthy of you, but, take my word for it, his
romantic picturesqueness is only skin—clothes deep. No man is romantic,
if it comes to that. I met a long-haired poet once, and when we got him
in the smoking-room he was the prosiest of the lot.”

“There is no such thing as romance, then?” asked Lydia, with a sigh.

“Not when you are ‘up against it,’ to use a bit of your own slang.”

As the radiating streets were dark they paced slowly about the plaza.
For a time Lydia was silent, and Over drew thoughtfully at his pipe.
Finally he asked, curiously:

“Do you women really get any satisfaction out of that sort of
thing—talking with your eyes and exchanging an occasional note? I mean,
of course, unless you have a definite idea that it is going to lead to
something?”

“We like any little excitement,” said Lydia, dryly, “and the littlest is
better than none. I suppose you are too masculine—too British—to
understand that!”

“Well, yes, I am, rather. I fancy what is the matter with girls is that
they don’t have to work as hard as boys—don’t have so many opportunities
to work off steam. As for this Johnny, he must be a silly ass if he is
content with singing and sighing and rigging himself out. If he
isn’t—there lies the danger. He’ll rally his friends and carry you off.
Nothing could be simpler.”

“I should be quite like Helen—or Mary, Queen of Scots!”

“Good Lord!”

She flushed under the lash of his voice, but in a moment raised her eyes
softly to his. “You are so good,” she murmured. “Really like a brother,
so I don’t mind telling you that I am fearfully interested—but not so
much in the mere man as in the whole thing. It has all _seemed_ so
romantic, at least. I don’t believe an American girl ever had such an
experience before. However, I will set your mind at rest—since you are
so good as to take an interest in poor little me—I haven’t the slightest
desire really to know the man. I should be disenchanted, of course, for
I could not stand commonness in the most beautiful husk. But—there is
something in one quite independent of all that—of one’s upbringing,
one’s prejudices, of common-sense—can’t you understand?—the primeval
attraction of man and woman. I have been quite aware that all this could
come to nothing, but it has been something to have felt that way for
once in a well-regulated lifetime; to have been primal for a fleeting
moment _is_ something, I can assure you.”

Over groped in the depths of his masculine understanding. “Well, I
suppose so. But what of the man? It is a mere experience to you, but it
may be a matter of life and death to a poor devil who is nine-tenths
fire and sentiment.”

“He, too, has something to think about for the rest of his life.”

“And you fancy that will satisfy him?”

“It will have to.”

“You might have spared him.”

“There can be no romance without a hero.”

“Upon my word, you are the greater savage of the two!”

“I told you I enjoyed being a savage for once in my life.”

Over made no reply, and if Lydia’s glance had not dropped to the uneven
pavement, she would have seen his eyes open wide with incredulous
amazement and then flash with anger. As it was, she wondered why he
hurried her back to the hotel and then practically ordered her up to her
room. He stood on the lower step of the stair until he heard her greet
Jane; then he left the hotel and walked rapidly down the street again.
In a moment he met Catalina.

“Oh,” he said, with an awkward attempt at masculine indifference,
although his eyes were blazing. “Are you out—alone—as late as this?
Isn’t it rather risky?”

“I’ve been walking with Jesus Maria,” she replied, coolly. “What a baby
you were to walk off through these lonely streets with Lydia! I
supposed, of course, that you would talk to her in the hotel. Don’t you
know that man would have been mad with jealousy if he had seen you? Then
there would have been a fine rough-and-tumble if he hadn’t got a knife
into your back first. He came along with that everlasting guitar under
his arm just after you left, and I told him that Lydia was ill, and
asked him to take a walk with me. We’d better give him the slip as soon
as possible; he’s off his head about her.”

“What a little brick you are! What did he have to say?”

“I explained to him that he could never hope to marry Lydia, and
elevated the family to the ancient aristocracy of America. It made no
impression on him whatever. He expressed contempt for the entire race,
barring Lydia, whom he takes to be an angel. I concluded that disloyalty
was the better part, and told him that Lydia was nothing but a little
American flirt trying to have a sensation. That made even less
impression on him—he believes that she is ready to fly with him at a
moment’s notice. I did more harm than good, and I shall speak to Cousin
Lyman to-night.”

Over stared hard at her. “That was very brave of you. Aren’t you afraid
of anything?”

“Not of greasers!” replied the Californian. “I’ve dealt with them all my
life. I treated this one as an equal, and made him forget Lydia in
talking about himself. He’s a revolutionist, hates the queen because she
doesn’t go to bull-fights, despises the king, anathematizes all
monarchies and aristocracies, and talks like a Fourth-of-July orator
about the days when Spain will be a republic, and one of his own
sort—possibly himself—will be president. I never heard so much brag in
America. But he’s full of pluck. Now, you go and call Cousin Lyman out
into the hall, and we’ll have a consultation.”



                                  XII


The upshot of the conference was the decision that on the following
morning the Moultons should conspicuously enter a third-class carriage
of the train bound for Baeza, and while Captain Over, on the platform,
talked with Catalina in the doorway, they should slip out of the
opposite entrance, cross the track, and take the train for Alcazar. The
Alcazar train, the landlord assured them, left two minutes earlier than
that for Baeza, so that Catalina, in the confusion of the last moments,
could join her relatives unobserved. It was the habit of Jesus Maria to
saunter down late, and even then to engage in conversation on the
platform. Catalina had told him they intended to spend the following
night at Baeza, and he was under the impression they were bound for
Seville. Captain Over would take Catalina’s place in the doorway,
covering her retreat, and await the rest of his party in Baeza.

It was a programme little to the taste of any of them, but Over
heroically proposed it, and it seemed to be the only feasible plan.

In Spain there is apparently no law against crossing the tracks, nor in
leaving a train on the wrong side. On the following morning Catalina,
having reserved a first-class compartment on the train for Alcazar, the
six members of the party, portmanteaus in hand, filed down to the
station and entered a third-class carriage on the southern train. In a
few moments Over descended leisurely and lit a cigarette. Catalina
leaned forward to chat with him, then stood up, her bright, amused
glances roving over the country people who were bound for a fair in a
town near by. The peasants were interested in themselves and
contemptuously indifferent to strangers. The Moultons, including the
mystified and angry Lydia, descended and crossed the track unobserved.
Catalina, one hand on her portmanteau, was ready to make a dash the
moment she heard the familiar drone, “Viajeros al tren.” It might be
expected within the next five minutes, and it might be belated for
twenty.

“There he comes!” she murmured. “If he should take it into his head to
enter the train before it starts! We will tell him the others are late.
What a pity you don’t speak Spanish; you could engage him in
conversation! He is looking—glowering at me! Do you suppose he
suspects?”

“It is not like you to lose your nerve,” began Over, but at the same
moment his glance moved from the Catalan’s face to hers, and he smiled.
She looked, if anything, more impassive than usual. “My knees are
shaking,” she confided to him, “and my heart is galloping. It is rather
delightful to be so excited, but still—thank Heaven!” Jesus Maria had
met an acquaintance. They lit the friendly cigarito and entered into
conversation.

“They are walking down the platform,” said Catalina, anxiously, a moment
later, “and the other train is not so far back as this; however, Cousin
Lyman will no doubt keep the door shut. There, he’s turning. I’d better
make a bolt. Good-bye. Au revoir—”

“Tell me again exactly what I am to do. I don’t want to run any risk of
missing you.”

Catalina glanced over her shoulder. There was such a babble, both in the
car and on the platform, that it would not be difficult to miss the
singsong of the guard. The other train was still there.

“Do not go to the town. It is miles from the station; there is sure to
be an inn close by. If we don’t arrive to-morrow night, of course, you
will have a telegram; in any case, don’t wait for us, but go on to
Granada. You can amuse yourself there, and we are sure to turn up sooner
or later. Have you that list of Spanish words I wrote out?” He looked
forlorn and homesick, and Catalina laughed outright. “Better go straight
to Granada,” she said.

“Viajeros al tren!”

“Take my place—quick!” whispered Catalina. She let herself down on the
other side, dragged her heavy bag after her, and ran. She had a confused
idea that the northern train was closer than it had been, but did not
pause until she came to the first-class carriages. Then she saw that the
train was empty. At the same instant she heard a whistle, and glancing
distractedly up the track saw a train gliding far ahead.

There was not a moment to be lost. It was the guard of the southern
train that had sounded his warning cry, and she ran back, dragging the
heavy portmanteau—it held the day’s lunch, among other things—and almost
in tears. It had been an exciting morning, and she had slept little the
night before.

She stopped and gasped. The train was moving—slowly, it is true, but far
too rapidly for a person on the wrong side with a heavy piece of
luggage. She dropped the portmanteau and, drawing a long breath, called
with all the might of lungs long accustomed to the ranch cry:

“Captain Over! Captain Over!”

The door of a carriage was opened instantly. Over took in the situation
at a glance, leaped to the ground and ran towards her, caught up the
portmanteau, and, regaining his compartment, flung it within. Catalina
followed it with the agility of a cat, and in another moment they were
panting opposite each other.

Catalina fanned herself with her hat; she would not speak until she
could command her voice.

“How was any one to know they would run another train between?” she
said, finally. “Poor Cousin Lyman! He must be frantic. Cousin Miranda,
no doubt, is delighted. It is my fault, of course—no, it is yours; you
should not have engaged me in conversation at the critical moment.”

“I will take the blame—and the best of care of you, besides.”

She was looking out of the window at the moment, and he glanced at her
curiously. She was quite unembarrassed, and what he had dimly felt
before came to him with the force of a shock. With all her intellect and
her interest in many of the vital problems of life, she was as innocent
as a child. She might not be ignorant, but she had none of the
commonplace inquisitiveness and morbidness of youth, and he recalled
that she had grown up without the companionship of other girls, had read
few novels, and little subjective literature of any sort. She had never
looked younger, more utterly guileless, than as she sat fanning herself
slowly, her hair damp and tumbled, the flush of excitement on her cheek.
Over felt as if he had a child in his charge, and drew a long breath of
relief. He knew many girls who would have carried off the situation, but
their very dignity would have been the signal of inner tribulation, and
made him miserable; with Catalina he had but to have a care that she was
not placed in a false position; and, after all, the time was short, and
they were unlikely to meet any one who even spoke the English language.

She met his eyes, and they burst into laughter like two contented and
naughty children.

“I’m so happy to get rid of them I can’t contain myself,” announced
Catalina. “So are you, only you are too polite to say so. I could have
done it on purpose, but am rather glad I failed through too much zeal.
Do you understand Lydia?” she asked, abruptly.

“I don’t waste time trying to understand women,” he replied, cautiously.

“I thought perhaps she confided in you last night. She has tried to
unbosom herself to me, but I have not been sympathetic. I don’t
understand her. I am half a savage, I suppose, but I could go through
life and never even see a man like that.”

“I can’t make out if she loves him.”

“Oh, love!” Catalina elevated her nose the higher as the word gave her a
vague thrill. “You can’t be in love with a person you can’t talk
to—outside of poetry. Would you call that sort of thing love?”

“No. I don’t think I should.”

“I fancy it is a mere arbitrary effort to feel romantic.” She stood up
suddenly and looked over the crowded car, then turned to Over with wide
eyes.

“He is not here!” she said.

“Doubtless he is in the next car, or he may have jumped off when he
discovered the exodus.”

He searched the other cars when the train stopped again, and returned to
report that Jesus Maria was missing. Catalina shrugged her shoulders.
“We did our best,” she said, “and I, for one, am not going to bother.
We’ll have them again soon enough.”

The great, sunburned, dusty plains were behind them to-day, and the
train toiled upward through tremendous gorges, brown, barren, the
projecting ledges looking as if they had but just been rent asunder, so
little had time done to soften them. In the defiles were villages, or
solitary houses, poor for the most part; now and again a turn of the
road closed the perspective with a line of snow-peaks. The air was clear
and cool; there was little dust. Their car gradually gave up its load,
until by lunch-time only one man was left, and he gratefully accepted of
their superfluous store. He looked, this old Iberian, like the aged men
who sit in the cabin doors in Ireland; the same long, self-satisfied
upperlip, the small, cunning eyes, the narrow head of the priest-ridden
race. He had done nothing, learned nothing, in his threescore and ten,
braced himself passively against the modern innovation, and could be
cruel when his chance came to him. He cared no more for what the priests
could not tell him than he cared that Spain could not make the wretched
engines that drew her trains. On the whole, no doubt, he was happy. At
all events, he was extremely well-bred, and took no liberty that he
would not have resented in another.

But Catalina forgot him in the grand and forbidding scene, and she
leaned out of the window so recklessly that more than once Over, as if
she were a child, put his hand on her shoulder and drew her in. He began
dimly to understand that Catalina had something more than the mere love
of nature and appreciation of the beautiful common enough in the higher
civilization. She tried, but not very successfully, to express to him
that the vague desire to personify great mountains, the trees, and the
sea, which haunts imaginative minds, the deathless echo of prehistoric
ancestors, whose only revenge it is upon time, was doubly insistent in
one so recently allied to the tribe of Chinigchinich, whose roots were
in Asia.

Of immemorial descent, with the record in her brain, perhaps, of those
ancestors who personified and worshipped the phenomena of nature before
the evolution of that first priesthood on the Ganges and the Euphrates,
the Nile and the Indus, she had rare moments of primal exaltation. It is
a far cry from those marvellous first societies and the vast orderly and
complicated civilization, worshipping mysterious and unseen gods, that
followed them, to the Chinigchinich Indians of Alta California; and yet,
crushed, conquered, almost blotted out, these remnants, in their very
despair, reverted the more closely to nature. The beautiful Carmela was
the child of Mission Indians who fled back to their mountain pueblos and
savage rites when the power of the priests in California was broken.
Every inherited instinct had waged war against the Christianity which,
in nine cases out of ten, was pounded into them with a green-hide reata.
They called the child Carmela, after the Mission of Carmel, merely
because they liked the name; but she grew up a pagan, and a pagan
remained during the few years of her life. And she was as pure and good,
as loyal and devoted, as any of the women descended from her, heedful of
the wild inheritance in their blood lest it poison the strong and bitter
tide of New England ancestors. Catalina was the first to feel pride in
that alien strain which did so much to distinguish her from the million,
and was conscious that she owed to it her faculty to see and feel more
in nature than the average Anglo-Saxon.

Over, in the almost empty car, lit by a solitary and smoking lamp,
listened attentively as she groped her way through the mysterious
labyrinths in her brain, expressing herself ill, for she was little used
to egotistical ventures. It cannot be said that he understood, being
himself a typical product of the extremest civilization that exists in
the world to-day; but he saw will-o’-the-wisps in a fog-bank, and
thought her more interesting than ever.



                                  XIII


The train was two hours late. It crawled into the dark little station of
Baeza, and Over and Catalina sat down at once in the restaurant, leaving
the problem of the night until later. But, hungry as the Englishman was,
that problem dulled the flavor of a fair repast. How was he to protect
the girl from curiosity and speculation, possibly coarse remark; above
all, from self-consciousness? It would be assumed at the inn, as a
matter of course, that they were a young couple, and he turned cold as
he pictured the landlord conducting them upstairs to the usual room with
a bed in each corner. He heartily wished it was he who spoke the Spanish
language and that his companion was afflicted with his own distracting
ignorance; but he must interpret through her, and to discuss the matter
with her beforehand was, to him, impossible. For the first time he
wished she were with the Moultons in Alcazar.

Catalina did not share his embarrassment. With her hat pulled low that
she might attract the less attention, she was eating her dinner with the
serenity of a child. As he seemed indisposed to conversation she did not
utter a word until the salad was placed beside them, and then she met
his disturbed and roving eye.

“You look fearfully tired,” she said, smiling. “While you are drinking
your coffee I will go and talk to that man behind the counter and see
what can be done about to-night. You look as if you ought to be in bed
this minute.”

“Ah!” He was taken aback, and still helpless. “I must ask you not to
talk to any one unless I am with you. They would never understand it. We
had better cut the dessert and the coffee and secure what rooms there
may be. I suppose most of these people are going on, but a few may
remain.”

They went together to pay their score, and Catalina asked the
functionary behind the counter if there were rooms above for travellers.
He replied, with the haughty indifference of the American hotel clerk,
that there were not. She demanded further information, and he merely
shrugged his shoulders, for it is the way of the Spaniard to know no
man’s business but his own. But Catalina stood her ground, told him she
would stand it till dawn, or follow him home; and finally, overcome by
her fluency in invective, he unwillingly parted with the information
that behind the station across the road there was a small inn above a
_cantina_.

“I am half-way sorry we did not leave a message for Mr. Moulton and go
on,” said Over, as they stood in the inky darkness and watched the train
pull out of the station. “Probably, however, he would never have got
it—well, there is nothing to do but make the best of it.”

They crossed the sandy road, guided by the glimmer of the _cantina_.
Here they found the host serving two men that would have put the Guardia
Civile on the alert. He greeted the strangers politely, however, and
called his wife. She came in a moment, smiling and comely, followed by a
red-haired girl holding a candle.

Catalina, warned by her recent interview, uttered a few of the flowery
amenities that should lead up to any request in Spain. The woman,
beaming with good-will, took the candle from her daughter’s hand,
motioned to the girl to take the portmanteaus, and, without apology for
her humble lodgings, piloted them out into the dark, through another
doorway, and up a rickety stair. Over, feeling as if he were being led
out to be shot by the enemy, saw his worst fears verified. She threw
open the door of a tiny, blue-washed room, and there were the two little
beds, the more conspicuous as they were uncompanioned but for a tin
washing-stand. It opened upon a balcony, and, despite the bareness, it
was so clean and inviting it seemed to make a personal appeal not to be
judged too hastily. Over was unable to articulate, but Catalina said,
serenely, “We wish two rooms, señora.”

“Two!” cried the woman, and Over understood both the word and the
expression of profound amazement.

“Yes, two.” There was no voluble explanation from Catalina. She looked
the woman straight in the eyes and repeated, “Two rooms, and quickly,
please; we are very tired.”

The woman’s eyes were wide with curiosity, but before Catalina’s her
tongue lost its audacity. She replied promptly enough, however.

“But I have no other. It is only by the grace of God I have this. The
train was late, the diligences were put away for the night; there were
many, and my house is small. I see now, the señor is the señorita’s
brother—but for one night, what matter?”

Catalina turned to Over. “There is no other room,” she said.

Over went into the apartment, and, lifting a mattress and coverings from
one of the beds, returned to the hall and threw them on the floor.

“I shall be comfortable here,” he said, curtly, glad of any solution.
“Go to bed. I prefer this, anyhow, for I didn’t like the looks of those
men down-stairs. Good-night.”

“Good-night,” said Catalina, and she went into the room and closed the
door.

“The English are all mad,” said the woman, and she went to find a candle
for the hallway guest.

It is doubtful if either Over or Catalina ever slept more soundly, and
the bandits, if bandits they were, went elsewhere to forage. At dawn
Catalina was dressed and hanging over the balcony watching the
retreating stars. She heard a mattress doubled and flung into a corner.
The room was in order. She flashed past Over and down the stairs. “Go in
and dress,” she called back. “There is plenty of water, for a wonder.”

And he answered, “Stay in front of the window, where I could hear you if
you called.”

Early as it was, the woman and her brood were in the kitchen at the back
of the house, and she agreed to supply bread and cream for breakfast and
make a tortilla for the travellers’ lunch.

Over came down in a few moments with his coffee-pot and lamp, and they
had their breakfast on a barrel-top in front of the inn, as
light-heartedly as if embarrassment had never beset them. Life begins
early in Spain, notwithstanding its reputed predilection for the morrow,
and as they finished breakfast several rickety old diligences drew up
between the inn and the station.

There were no passengers for the three little towns, and Over and
Catalina went in one of the diligences to Baeza, twelve miles distant.
They spent a happy and irresponsible day roaming about the dilapidated
sixteenth-century town, and divided their tortilla out in the country in
the great shadow of the Sierra Nevada. They retained their spirits over
the rough and dusty miles of their return, but lost them suddenly as
they approached the station. The train, however, was three hours late
this evening, and they philosophically dismissed the Moultons and
enjoyed their dinner. They lingered over the sweets and coffee, then
paced up and down the platform, the Englishman smoking and feeling like
a truant schoolboy. Nevertheless, he was not sorry that the end of the
intimacy approached. The results of propinquity might ofttimes be
casual, but that mighty force was invariably loaded with the seeds of
fate, and he knew himself as liable to love as any man. With the oddest
and most enigmatic girl he had ever met, who allured while striving to
repel, as devoid of coquetry as a boy or a child, yet now and then
revealing a glimpse of watchful femininity, to whom nature had given a
wellnigh perfect shell; and thrown upon his protection in long days of
companionship—he summed it up curtly over his pipe. “I should make an
ass of myself in a week.”

He had had no desire to marry since the days of his more susceptible
youth—he was now thirty-four—and, although rich girls had made no
stronger appeal to him than poor girls, he was well aware that the
dowerless beauty was not for him. He was too good a soldier and too much
of a man to be luxurious in taste or habit, and, although a guardsman,
he was born into the out-of-door generation that has nothing in common
with the scented lap-dogs made famous by the novelists of the
mid-Victorian era. But when not at the front he indulged himself in
liberty, many hours at cricket and golf, the companionship of congenial
spirits, a reasonable amount of dining out, and an absolute freedom from
the petty details of life. Travelling third class amused him, the
English aristocrat being the truest democrat in the world and wholly
without snobbery. Single, his debts worried him no more than bad weather
in London; but married, he must at once set up an establishment suited
to his position.

He had distinguished himself in South Africa, and his county, rich and
poor, had, upon his return, at the very end of the war, met him at the
station and pulled his carriage over the miles to his father’s house,
some two thousand men and women cheering all the way. There had been so
many in London to lionize since that war, to which pampered men had gone
in their heydey and returned gray and crippled, that when he went up for
the season he was merely one of a galaxy eagerly sought and fêted; but
life had never slipped along so easily and pleasantly, and after three
years of hardship and many months of painful illness, it had made a
double appeal to a battered soldier, still half an invalid. He had
dismissed the serious things of life as he landed in England, and
devoutly hoped for a five years’ peace. Therefore was he the less
inclined to fall in love, valuing peace of mind no less than surcease
for the body. Catalina was by no means penniless, and certainly would
make a heroic soldier’s wife; but they had not a tradition in common,
and he saw clearly that if he loved her at all he should love her far
more than had suited his indolent habit when not soldiering. Hence he
welcomed the return of the Moultons, and even meditated a retreat.

“A moon in the Alhambra would finish me,” he thought, glancing up at the
waxing orb fighting its way through a stormy mass of black and silver.

A bell rang, a whistle—the only energetic thing about a Spanish
train—shrieked and blustered above the slowing headlight of an engine
approaching from the north.

“You stand here by the Thirds and I’ll go up to where the Firsts will
stop,” began Catalina, but Over held her arm firmly within his.

“No,” he said, peremptorily, “you must not be by yourself a moment in
this crowd. You would be spoken to, probably jostled, at once, and no
doubt a rough lot will get out. We will both stand here by the
restaurant door.”

“I am not afraid,” said Catalina, haughtily.

“That is not the point.”

“I was near coming to Spain by myself.”

“What has that to do with me?”

She gave a little growl and attempted to free herself by a sudden
wrench, but he held her, and she stood sullenly beside him as the train
wandered in and gave up its load. In a few moments she had forgotten her
grievance and stared at him with expanded eyes.

“Let us go to the telegraph-office,” he said. “Mr. Moulton must have
sent a message.” But at the office there was naught but the official and
the cigarito and polite indifference.

“They missed the train, that goes without saying,” said Over. “They are
sure to arrive in the morning, I should think, as they can travel
comfortably enough at night first class. Will you ask what time the
morning train arrives?”

It was due nearly an hour before the train would leave for Granada.

“You will hear your nightingales to-morrow evening,” said Over,
cheerfully. “The Moultons will never stay here all day.”

With this assurance they parted, Over sleeping in another little
blue-washed room—the entire fonda had been reserved for the Moultons—and
the next morning they drank their coffee from the barrel-top, while
their kind and now indifferent landlady made tortillas for the party.

The train arrived on time, and without the Moultons. In the
telegraph-office the gentleman of leisure was still smoking, but after
inquiring indolently into Over’s name and rank, and demanding to see his
cards and correspondence, he produced a telegram. It read:

     Toledo, Hotel Castilla.                         MOULTON.

“Toledo!” cried Catalina. “I want to go to Granada! That is what I came
to Spain for. If they go north that far they won’t come south again—they
will take the steamer at Genoa. I won’t go.”

“It is by no means certain they won’t return; it is only a matter of a
day. Doubtless they are still dodging Jesus Maria. I think we had better
join them. It is useless to expect explanations by wire. Granada can
wait a few days, and Toledo, in its way, must be quite as interesting.”

“Well, I’ll soon find out,” announced his companion.



                                  XIV


During the journey to Toledo Catalina stared sulkily out of the window
or slept with her head against the side of the car. She ignored Over’s
attempts to converse until, with chilling dignity, he retired to the
opposite end of the compartment and wondered how he could have thought
of love in connection with a bad-tempered child. He was delighted at the
prospect of reunion with the orthodox Moultons, and understood something
of their serene contempt for originality. It is true that Catalina
asleep, with the deep vermilion on her cheeks, her tumbled head
drooping, looked so innocent and lovely that she set him to wondering
regretfully why there was no such thing as perfection in woman; and from
thence it was but a step to imagine Catalina with the qualities and
training that would make her the ideal of man. There was no harm in
indulging one’s self in idyllic imagining, by way of variety, Over
concluded; doubtless it was good for the soul.

Whatever the motive, his imagination performed unaccustomed feats during
the drowsy afternoon, while his companion slept and the other occupants
of the car, few in number, smoked and said little. It pictured Catalina
ten years hence; she would then be thirty-three, an age he had always
found sympathetic in woman; she would have seen the world, have adapted
herself to many new conditions, and in the process learned self-control,
pared off the jagged edges of her egoism, and supplemented her beauty
with a distinction of manner and style that would compel the homage of
the best societies of the world.

He had seen what she was capable of, and he suspected that she was
ambitious. It was her love of solitude and dislike of mere men and women
that had swathed her so deeply in her crudities; but if she carried out
her intention of living for some years in England and Europe, and
cultivated the right sort of people, the transformation was almost
certain. Perhaps it would be worth while to ask his mother to take care
of her in England. Lady “Peggy” Over was a clever, warm-hearted woman of
the simple, old-fashioned aristocracy, who offered her sons no
assistance in choosing their wives, and had the broadest tolerance for
the vagaries of young people. With her lively mind and humor she would
win upon Catalina at once, and her complete honesty of nature would
finish the conquest of a girl whose hatred of sham was almost fanatical.

Catalina opened her eyes upon him, half awake, and he asked her,
impulsively: “What is your ambition? What do you want?”

She answered, sleepily, but without hesitation, “To have four children.”

He was too astonished to speak for a moment; then he asked, feebly, “Is
that all?”

“No,” she said, now quite awake. “I want to meet all the most
interesting people in the world, and read the most interesting books,
and show a lot of other people what frauds and useless creatures they
are; but I love children as much as I detest most people, and I’ll never
be contented till I have four. I don’t see why you look so dumfounded!
What is there so remarkable in wanting children?”

“Oh, nothing,” he said, soothingly. “Perhaps we can see Toledo in a
moment.”


Mr. Moulton met them at the station. His face was flushed and his manner
perturbed, but he shook their hands cordially and protested that he had
never been so glad to lay eyes on any one.

“Let us walk up,” said Catalina, and she strode on ahead. The men
followed, Mr. Moulton talking with nervous volubility.

“Of course I did not blame you, my dear Catalina,” he reiterated. “Such
a contretemps in Spain is easy enough. Mrs. Moulton is still a little
upset, but you know what—er—invalids are, and I beg you to be patient—”

“It won’t worry me in the least. But why this change of front? Why
didn’t you come to Baeza?”

“That wretched peasant saw us as I was craning my neck looking for you,
and reached the train in three bounds. Of course, we were safe in the
first-class carriage, and at Alcazar I had a brilliant idea. We drove to
the hotel, as usual, with all our baggage, and that mountebank—I shall
never pronounce his impious name—supposed we were settled for the night.
After dinner I told the landlord—through the kind medium of a Frenchman
who spoke both English and Spanish—that, being much annoyed by this
creature, we had determined to change our itinerary and go direct to
Madrid where we could call upon our minister to protect us. We then took
the night train and were under way a good hour before it was time for
the man to appear with his guitar. I even bought tickets for Madrid, and
as we changed cars at midnight we were practically unobserved. We are
very comfortable, and are in time for a grand fête.”

“How is Lydia?” Catalina asked, dryly.

“The poor child is very nervous, but most thankful to be rid of the man.
By-the-way, I telegraphed as soon as I arrived in Toledo.”

“This is Spain,” said Over.

The hint of Mrs. Moulton’s displeasure had fallen on heedless ears. They
were crossing the Alcantara Bridge that leads through the ancient
gateway of the same name up to one of the most beautiful cities to look
upon in the world. Toledo, the lofty outpost of the range of mountains
behind the raging Tagus, is an almost perpendicular mass of rock on all
sides but one, its uneven plateau crowded with palaces and churches,
tiny plazas and narrow, winding streets, a mere roof of tiles from the
Alcazar, which stands on its highest point, but from below a wild yet
symmetrical outcropping of the rock itself. Founded, so runs the legend,
by a son of Noah, certainly the ancient capital of the Goths and the
scene of much that was terrible and romantic in their history, a
stronghold of the Moors, who left here as elsewhere their indelible
imprint, and later of the sovereigns of Castile, equally inaccessible
from the vega and the defile of the Tagus, it was one of the most
impregnable cities in history so long as a man was left to dispute the
gates on the steep road rising from the plain. It is to-day a
sarcophagus of ancient history, compact, isolated, little disturbed by
the outer world, yet with an intense and vivid life of its own.

Catalina hung over the bridge and stared down into the rocky gorge where
the river had torn its way, and soldiers of every nation of the ancient
world had been hurled, cursing and shrieking and praying, from the
beetling heights above. Impervious to Mr. Moulton’s kindly hints, she
led them through the old streets of the Moors, streets so narrow they
were obliged to walk like stalking Indians, but with beautiful old
balconied houses on either side, and glimpses of luxurious patio within;
not pausing before the broad gray front of the hotel until the trio of
cousins had awaited her some fifty minutes.

Mrs. Moulton was so far the reverse of a cruel and vicious woman that
she had been, for the good of her soul, too amiable and self-sacrificing
for at least thirty years of her life. Not fine enough to have developed
loveliness of character, there had, perhaps, been too few opportunities
for reaction, or, if occurring, they had been conscientiously stifled. A
good woman, but not of the most distinguished fibre, the effacement of
self for the few she loved had been but a higher order of selfishness,
and when for the first time in her life a positive hatred possessed her
it found her without that greatness which ignores and foregoes revenge.
Catalina, it must be confessed, would have tried the patience of far
more saintly characters than Mrs. Moulton, and when to a natural
antipathy was added the daily jarring of long-tried nerves the wonder
was that the crisis did not come sooner.

But Mrs. Moulton was accustomed to self-control and to the exercise of
the average amount of Christianity. Moreover, she had her standards of
conduct, and held all exhibitions of feeling to be vulgar. Therefore, in
spite of her growing and morbid desire to humble Catalina, she might
have forborne to force an issue, and perhaps, had circumstances favored
the alien, have grimly, however unwillingly, triumphed once more over
self.

But these last days had unravelled her nerves. To passionate sympathy
for her pale and persecuted daughter, misled in the first instance by
the daily example of a barbarian, had recently been added a night of
hideous discomfort, when, not one of the four speaking a language but
their useless own, and without the invaluable Baedeker, they had fled
from a ridiculous peasant, changing trains at midnight, waiting hours at
way-stations, arriving at Toledo in the gray, cold dawn, hungry,
worried, exhausted, to find neither omnibus nor cab at the station.

As Mrs. Moulton toiled up the steep road through the carven gates of
terrible and romantic memory, she had heartily wished that modern
enterprise had blown up the rock with dynamite or run an elevator from
the Tagus. It was then that her hatred of Catalina—who at least with her
knowledge of foreign languages had been an acceptable courier—became an
obsession, and she could have shrieked it out like any common virago.
The emotional wave had receded, but left a dark and poisonous deposit
behind.

It was easy to convince herself that Catalina had lost the train at
Albacete on purpose. When her husband had received Captain Over’s
telegram she had assumed that the Englishman had persuaded the girl to
return, eager, no doubt, to be rid of her. She was not prone to think
evil, and had one of her daughters or the approved young women of her
circle been left with a young man at a way-station for two days and
nights, she might have given way to nerves but never to suspicion. But
as the crowning iniquity of the author of her downfall, it gave her the
opportunity she had coveted, and she burned to take advantage of it.

When Catalina finally announced herself, Mrs. Moulton was standing in
the middle of her bedroom and Jane was reading by the window. The latter
nodded as the prodigal entered, and returned to her book.

“Well,” said Catalina, amiably, “how are you all? I am glad you are rid
of the peasant at last. Where is Lydia?” She paused, blinking under the
cold glare of Mrs. Moulton’s eyes. “What is the matter?” she asked,
haughtily. “Cousin Lyman said you were angry, but you must have known
how I was left. I am sorry you didn’t have Baedeker with you.” This was
an unusual concession for Catalina, but something in the bitter and
contemptuous face made her vaguely uneasy.

“You were left on purpose,” said Mrs. Moulton, deliberately.

Catalina made a quick step forward, the breath hissing through her
teeth. She looked capable of physical violence, but Mrs. Moulton
continued in the same cold, even tones:

“You remained behind in order to be alone with Captain Over for two days
and nights. You are not fit to associate with my daughters. You are a
wicked, abandoned creature, and I refuse—I absolutely refuse—to shelter
your amours. If you appeal to my husband I shall tell him to choose
between us.”

Catalina fell back, staring. Innocent she might be but not ignorant. It
was impossible to mistake the woman’s meaning, and in a flash she
understood that by the evil-minded evil might be read into her
adventure. It was then, however, that she showed herself thoroughbred.
Her anger left her as abruptly as it had come. She drew herself up,
bowed impersonally, and left the room.

Mrs. Moulton, trembling, sank into a chair, and Jane, protesting that
her parent had behaved like an empress, fetched the aromatic salts. But
Mrs. Moulton, having unburdened her hate, had parted with its sustaining
power, and was flat and cowed in the reaction.

“Does it pay?” she demanded again and again. “Does it pay?”



                                   XV


For two days Catalina disappeared. Mr. Moulton, distracted, appealed to
the police. He knew that his wife had been severe, but the wicked words
of her utterance were never repeated to him. But Mrs. Moulton, although
spiritually debased, loved Catalina none the better for her condition,
and protested that no one was so well able to take care of herself, even
demanding that they move on and leave her in charge of the consul. To
this Mr. Moulton would not hearken, and he and the equally disquieted
Englishman patrolled the streets and haunted the headquarters of the
police. The day of the fête dawned and nothing had been seen or heard of
Catalina.

Over was alone when he saw her. The narrow streets were packed with
people, and, turning aside to make way for a religious procession, he
had become separated from the Moultons. He walked slowly, his head
thrown back, gazing at the gay and beautiful sight above him. From every
high window and balcony costly brocades and tapestries, embroidered
shawls and Oriental carpets depended. The brown old houses, craggy as
their high perch itself, warmed into life with the flaunting color. In
the balconies were aristocratic men and women, the latter wearing the
mantilla, held high with a comb, caught back with a rose. It was an
enchanting sight; and above all was the dazzling blue and gold of the
sky. Through the chatter of the good-natured crowd wandered the strains
of solemn music, and his was the only alien face.

He was staring upward at a little balcony from which hung a magnificent
blue silk shawl, embroidered and fringed with white, and admiring the
mantillas and roses, the languid fans and fine eyes above it, when
Catalina came through the window behind and looked down upon him. She,
too, wore a mantilla, the white mantilla of Spanish lace he had watched
her buy in Barcelona. A red rose held it above her left ear, and in her
hand she carried her fan. She had also assumed the lofty dignity of the
Spanish woman of high degree, and she had never looked so beautiful. For
a moment she returned his gaze stolidly, and he fancied she meant to cut
him; then she bowed, said something to one of her companions, pointed to
the stern, brass-bound door below, and disappeared.

A moment later the door opened and he was shown into the patio, a
shadowy retreat from the glare and noise of the street, full of palms
and pomegranates, roses and lilies, with a cool fountain playing, and
many ancient chairs of iron and wood.

Catalina was standing by the fountain looking as Spanish as if these old
walls had encircled her cradle. She shook hands with him cordially.

“I have had a bad time,” she said, “and hated you, as well as the
Moultons, but it was unreasonable and I am over it. You were as nice and
kind as possible, and I shall always remember it. Don’t ask me what that
dreadful woman said. I shall forget it, but I shall never speak to any
of them again, and I should be glad if you would tell them so, and that
I shall remain here until they leave.”

His mind grasped at once the substance of Mrs. Moulton’s diatribe; he
had given the subject no thought before. He turned hot and then cold,
and involuntarily took a step nearer to the girl, with a fierce instinct
of protection. Catalina may have understood, for a spot of color
appeared on her high cheek-bones, but she continued, calmly:

“Of course you want to know where I have been and what I am doing in
this house. When I left the hotel I went directly to the archbishop and
told him as much as was necessary, using as passport a circular letter
the fathers of the mission of Santa Barbara had given me. He brought me
here at once. The Señora Villéna has this beautiful house, but is
poor—and so kind. I have enjoyed the change, I can tell you.”

“You certainly are more in your element. I am glad it has turned out so
well. I have been very uneasy.”

“Have you? Did you think I had thrown myself into the Tagus, or was
wandering about roofless with my big grip in my hand?”

“It was my knowledge of your good sense, familiarity with the language,
and winning manner—when you choose to exert it—that permitted me to go
to bed at night. Nevertheless, you are not the woman to travel alone in
Spain. What are your plans?”

“What are the Moultons’ plans?”

“They have had enough of Spain—of travel, for that matter—and they are
still in dread of Jesus Maria. They will go from here to Barcelona, take
a boat for Genoa, and remain there until their steamer arrives. They say
that Italy will feel like home after Spain.”

“Then I shall go from here to Granada. Perhaps I can persuade some one
to chaperon me, but if not I shall go alone. Nothing shall cheat me out
of Granada.”

“If you find no one else I shall go with you.”

The red spots spread down to her throat, but she lifted her head higher.
“No,” she said, “I suppose it does not look right.”

He cursed Mrs. Moulton for shattering the serene innocence of the girl;
nevertheless, something even more captivating had replaced it. “I shall
go,” he repeated, “unless I can persuade you to return to America with
your relatives. Then my mind will be at rest. But as long as you are
alone in Spain I shall do my best to protect you. If you forbid me to
travel with you, well and good. I shall merely follow—that is to say, be
your companion on the trains. In the towns we need not meet unless you
wish it. You can always put yourself under the protection of the woman
of the house and employ a duenna. But do adopt me as a brother and
dismiss all nonsensical ideas from your mind.”

For the first time her eyes fell before his. She turned away abruptly.
“You are very good,” she said. “Come up-stairs and meet the señora and
her daughter. They are charming people.”

A few moments later, as they were standing on the balcony, she said to
him: “They are taking me to the bull-fight this afternoon. Shall you
go?”

“Possibly. But I am surprised that you wish to go. It is a beastly
exhibition and no place for you.”

“I am going,” she said, imperturbably. “It is a part of Spain, and I
should as soon think of missing a religious festival like this. Besides,
I have seen bull-fights in southern California. You may as well come
with us. Of course, Cousin Lyman is not going.”

“Probably not. Very well, I will go with you, if your friends will have
me. I must lunch at the hotel with the Moultons and set their minds at
rest; but it is an hour until then. Would you care to walk about the
streets and see the crowd?”

The Señora Villéna was very large and the day was warm, but she amiably
consented to walk as far as the cathedral in the wake of her guest.

“I have not been out alone since I came to her,” said Catalina, with a
sigh, as she walked beside Over up the street. “At Granada I know of a
pension, and liberty will be sweet again.”

Over’s eyes twinkled as he looked at the face between the soft edges of
the mantilla.

“Your new rôle is vastly becoming. I had no idea that two days of
Old-World discipline could effect such a change. You look as if you had
always walked with a duenna at your heels.”

“So I have, nearly always. I never was on the street alone in my life
until my mother died. You think me improved?” she added, quickly.

“I did not say that.”

“I have always thought your bluntness the best thing about you—I like
the short skirt and covert coat best,” she said, defiantly.

“They do very well to disguise you on the train; but if I never saw you
again I should prefer to remember you as you are now—or as you were that
night in Tarragona. You hardly deserve your beauty, you know.”

And then, in a new spirit of coquetry, born perhaps of the mantilla,
into whose silken mesh many a dream no doubt had flowed, she lifted her
chin, dropped her eyelashes for a second, flashed him a swift personal
glance. Before he could adjust himself to the new phase, however, she
had dismissed it and remarked that she hoped not to meet the Moultons;
and, unaccountably perturbed, he replied that they were sure to be
fatigued and resting for luncheon.

It would have been easy to avoid them in the dense crowd packed into the
plaza before the cathedral, waiting for the procession to pass. Over and
Catalina paused a few moments to look at the superb gobelins with which
the façade of the cathedral was hung, and then ran the gamut of the
beggars and entered the cloister.

“I shall go into the Chapel of the Incarnacion and pray,” said the
Señora Villéna, “and meet you here in half an hour—no?”

The Cathedral of Toledo is one of the world’s treasures, and all the
world should see it; but for those who would or must read the sights of
Europe a hundred descriptions of this vast, complex dream in early
Gothic and late Renaissance and baroque have been written; and the best
is forgotten at the end of an hour’s visit.

It was almost deserted, and Over and Catalina walked slowly towards the
Capilla Mayor, through the rich brown silence of the nave, whispering
occasionally, but overpowered by the forest of shafts uplifting an
immensity of vaulting before which the eye reeled. The centuries of
carving, as various as the peoples that had come and gone, crystallizing
even the broken voice of the Moor, melted into a harmony comparable
only, said Catalina, to the wonders of a Californian mountain-forest—of
redwood and pine, madroño and oak, and giant ferns as delicate as the
lace of her mantilla. There were high vaultings, too, where the sun
never ripened the moss on the earth, and endless cryptograms wrought
before the hand of man had taken the message of the gods.

Over replied, promptly: “I don’t believe half you have told me about
California. Next year I shall obtain leave of absence and visit it—that
is, if you will be my cicerone.”

“Why not this year?”

“Shall I?”

“It is all the same to me, but I may not be there next year. I need
Europe. Of course, I know that I am a sort of cowboy.”

“Ah!” He hardly knew whether to be gratified or not. “Don’t desert your
ranch altogether—nor surrender all the individuality it has given you.
If you should be the great lady in Europe and ranch-girl at home—what a
fascinating combination!”

“Well, I can be anything I choose, and on five minutes’ notice, too.”

“I am sure of it—but which is the real you? I think I know—then I am all
at sea.”

She gave him another swift, upward glance, but she replied, sedately:
“The worst, of course. That is what people always decide when a person
suddenly reveals himself in a bad light. Twenty other sides may have
been exhibited, but it is the revelation of the worst that always
inspires the phrase, ‘At last he has shown himself in his true colors.’”

“Then you are too philosophical to condemn Mrs. Moulton utterly?”

“She has taught me the extent of my philosophy, so I forgive her—and
ignore her existence.”

He made no reply, for he saw the Moultons not three yards away. They
were in the Capilla Mayor, their necks craned in a vain attempt to
register a permanent impression of the gorgeous coloring, the phalanxes
of saints, the riotous beauty of carving on wall and arch and tomb.
While he hesitated, Mr. Moulton brought down his tired eyes and they
rested on Catalina. He gave a sharp exclamation of pleasure and hurried
forward, his hand out-stretched. Catalina had included him in her wrath,
but she forgave him instantly, and simultaneously conceived a stroke of
revenge. Mrs. Moulton and Jane retreated, but Lydia ran to Catalina and
kissed her.

“Where have you been?” she cried. “We have been just wild. How perfectly
sweet you look in that mantilla!”

Catalina explained, and Mr. Moulton drew a long sigh of relief. “I shall
never worry about you again, my dear child. And now tell me what you
wish to do. I trust you will become reconciled—”

“I shall remain in Spain perhaps for some months—I have cancelled my
passage. But I shall like to see _you_ again. Will you come to the Casa
Villéna immediately after luncheon? I have a little plan to propose to
you.”

“Certainly I will—but is your decision irrevocable?”

“Quite. Perhaps I shouldn’t keep you now. And my duenna must be waiting
for me.”

She nodded and turned away, but Lydia followed and took her arm.

“I can go back to the hotel with Captain Over,” she said to her father,
and the two girls walked down the nave with heads together, oblivious of
the half-amused, half-sulky man in their wake.

“Well, what of Jesus Maria?”

“I have given up all hope of ever seeing him again.”

“Hope? Do you want to?”

“I do and I don’t. Of course, it had to end sooner or later, but—well—I
_was_ fascinated! And there is so little to look back upon! However, it
was great fun imagining what things might happen, and all the while to
be quite safe under the paternal wing. I suppose if I had seen him alone
I really wouldn’t have kissed him—I probably should have run away in
disgust—but I enjoyed it all in imagination. Now, I shall be rather
relieved when I am safely out of Spain, for I know that he was quite
serious. When we were running away from Albacete and then from Alcazar,
I felt as serious as he did—I was really romantic and love-lorn—but I
took myself in hand when I arrived here, and now I am quite sensible
again.”

“What a tangle! Is that the way people fall in love—and out again?”
Catalina felt puzzled and depressed. Life suddenly seemed commonplace,
love a sort of cap-and-bells, to be worn now and again when convenient.

“Well, I wish you good luck,” she said. “Write me when you are really
engaged, and I’ll send you a lot of jewels from our California
mines—tourmalines and chrysoprases and turquoises and garnets and
beryls. I have jugs full of them.”

Lydia’s eyes expanded. “Jugs full! They cost frightfully in New York.
Will you really send me some?”

“Dozens.”

“What a fairy princess you are! I am only beginning to appreciate you,
and now you are throwing us over—for good and all!”

“Good-bye,” said Catalina, kissing her. “At two, Captain Over, and don’t
forget to bring Cousin Lyman. And make no confidences,” she murmured.



                                  XVI


“But, my dear Catalina—why, of course, I cannot go—the idea is
preposterous—”

“Now you are talking by the book. Why was Europe made except for the
American to play in and refresh himself for the same old duties at home?
And for a man of your intelligence to balk at a bull-fight—”

“It isn’t that I exactly balk—I mean I am not squeamish—and I could look
away at the worst part—but I do not approve of bull-fights, and think it
wrong to lend my countenance—”

“The bull-fight will go on just the same; and no one race is good enough
to condemn the customs of another. See the world impartially and then go
your own gait. Besides, you have come to study Spain, and how can you
pretend to know it unless you see it at its most characteristic
amusement? Don’t look at the arena if you had rather not—but think of
the opportunity to see Spain en masse at its very worst!”

“There is much in what you say, but—great Heaven!—suppose it ever were
known in America that I had been to a bull-fight! I should lose the
confidence of a million people—I might be driven out of the Church—”

“There aren’t a dozen Americans in Toledo—and the bull-ring holds five
thousand people. You can sit in the back of the box. No one will be
looking at anything but the bull-fight, anyhow.”

Mr. Moulton drew a long sigh. He wanted very much to go to the
bull-fight; and away from his family and alone with Catalina—whom he
could never hope to influence—in this holiday crowd of dark, eager faces
he felt almost emancipated and reckless. Over was ahead with the Señora
Villéna and her daughter, and they were slowly making their way up the
Calle de la Puerta Llana towards the Plaza Ayuntamiento. They reached it
in a moment. It was so crowded with cabs and large, open carry-alls,
waiting to take people to the bull-ring, that there was little room for
foot-passengers. The carry-alls were very attractive with their six
mules apiece, hung with bells and decorated with worsted fringe, and Mr.
Moulton sighed again.

Before the archbishop’s palace a cab awaited the Señora Villéna. It held
but three seats, and she turned with polite hesitation to Mr. Moulton
and Captain Over, as they all stood, united at last, beside it.

“I am so sorry,” she said, “but I fear—”

“We are going in one of those omnibuses,” said Catalina, promptly. “I am
simply dying to go that way—with the crowd; and of course you will not
object, señora, so long as my cousin is with me.”

The señora smiled, very much relieved. “Bueno,” she said. “And I will
await you at the entrance to the sombra.”

“You are a little wretch,” said Over as Mr. Moulton, flushed and
excited, tucked the señora and her daughter into their cab.

“It won’t hurt him, and he will be sure to let it out to Cousin
Miranda.”

“Oh, I see!” He laughed and went to the emptiest of the rapidly filling
carry-alls to secure their seats. Catalina followed immediately, holding
Mr. Moulton firmly by the arm. But that beacon-light of American
literature had the instinct of the true sport in the depths of his
manifold compromises. The die was cast, he had weakly permitted Catalina
to commit him, and he would enjoy himself without his conscience.

And it would have been a far more conscience-stricken man than this to
have remained unaffected by the gay animation that quickened the very
mules. The venders were shrieking their wares; men and women, their hard
faces glowing, were fighting their way good-naturedly towards the
omnibuses, whose drivers cracked their whips and shouted invitations at
so much a head. And then, suddenly, in a corner of the plaza appeared
the picadores in their mediæval gorgeousness of attire, astride the
ill-fated old nags.

It was the signal to start. The picadores wheeled and led the way to the
north, the cabs rattled after; then the willing mules were given rein,
and, jingling all their bells, plunged down the narrow streets to the
high-road, scattering the foot-passengers, who, a motley crowd of men,
women, boys, girls, infants in arms, streamed after. On the rough, dusty
highway they passed 1000 more trudging towards the Plaza de Toros,
eating and drinking as they went. They were come from the surrounding
towns, many from Madrid, and even they led children by the hand and
carried infants blinking in the strong sunlight. They cheered the
picadores, who responded with the lofty courtesy of the mediæval general
on his way to the wars. Far below there was not a sign of life on the
great vega, nor in the villas on the mountain-slopes. All the little
world about seemed to be crowded upon the knotted heights of Toledo.

When Catalina and her cavaliers arrived at the Plaza de Toros other
crowds were struggling through the entrances, but at the door on the
shady side, where tickets were high, there was no one at that moment but
the Señora Villéna and her daughter.

They went up at once, the Americans and the Englishman as curious to see
the crowd as the bull-fight. As the box was Catalina’s she had no
difficulty to persuade the Villénas to occupy the front seats; she sat
just behind with Captain Over, and in the obscure depths of the rear Mr.
Moulton felt himself to be blest indeed.

“It seems incredible that they bring children here,” he said, as his
untiring gaze roved over the rapidly filling amphitheatre. “No wonder
they are callous when they are grown; but I’ll not believe they can see
such a sight unmoved at their tender years. I shall watch them with
great interest.”

It would be half an hour before the entertainment began, but only the
boxes were reserved; long before the signal nearly every seat was
occupied, from the vulnerable lower row up to the light Moorish arcade
through which the sky looked even bluer than above. It was a various and
picturesque sight to foreign eyes. Scarcely a woman wore a hat. There
were many mantillas, of a texture and pattern so fine there could be no
doubt of the breeding of the owners. A few wore the black rebosa, but by
far the greater number were bareheaded, their hair very smooth, and
ornamented with high combs, flowers, or pins. There were enough handsome
Spanish shawls on the shoulders of the women this fiery day to have
furnished a bazaar—brilliant blue shawls heavily embroidered and fringed
with white, black shawls, white shawls, red shawls, all of silk, all
embroidered and fringed. And it was already a thirsty crowd. Venders
were forcing their way between the seats, selling water out of jugs and
wine out of skins, and even here the water made a wider appeal than the
wine. It was anything but a cruel sea of faces, hard though the Spanish
type may be. Many a group of women had their heads together, gossiping,
no doubt, while the men waited in stolid expectation of the treat in
store, signalled to brighter eyes, or discussed the chances of the day
and the talents of the espadas who would do the bulls to death.

“They all now take the sacrament,” the señora informed Catalina, who
translated for the benefit of the two men. “Last night they confessed
and fasted, and their wives pray until the fight is over.”

Mr. Moulton snorted, then reminded himself that he was pleasuring, and
ordered his critical faculty into the depths of its shop.

“By Jove!” said Over.

“Somebody you know?” asked Catalina. “Heavens, what a caricature!”

“She is a ripping nice woman, and a countrywoman of your own—a Mrs.
Lawrence Rothe, of New York. I met her about in London. Remember, now,
she told me she was coming to Spain. She’s a bit made up, but what of
that? So many are, you know. You should see London at the fag end of the
season.”

“A bit!” Catalina lifted her nose with young intolerance. “Her hair
looks like a geranium-bed. Is that her son? He is rather good-looking.”

“That is her husband; they have been married several years. He’s quite a
decent chap—keen on horses—he looks older than he is—thirty—I fancy.
Still, I’m rather sorry for him.”

“I should think so. She must be fifty.”

“That is severe of you. She’s probably getting on to forty-five—not
more. I’m told she was a ripping fine woman five years ago, but she has
had a lot of trouble—all her children refuse to speak to her, and she
got a divorce to marry Rothe. She’s really very jolly. If you will
excuse me a minute I’ll go and speak to her.”

The woman, who was adjusting herself at some pains in the next box but
one, was extremely tall and thin, and her blazing locks, admirably
coiffée as they were above her broken but still handsome face, excited
the comment of others than Catalina. She had sacrificed her face to her
figure and had reached that definite age when women dye their hair with
henna. But even forty is an age when the entire absence of flesh makes a
woman look not youthful but like an old maid; and scarlet hair, that
would harden a young face, is a search-light above every hollow and
patch of manufactured surface. In the case of Mrs. Rothe, however, so
distinct was the air of good breeding with which she carried her
expensive charms, so proud, yet retiring, her manner, and so perfect her
taste in dress, that she ran no risk of being mistaken for a cocotte.
She was stamped deeply and delicately with the brand of the New York
woman of fashion, the difference between whom—the same may be said of
the small groups of her kind in other great American cities—and the
average “stylish” American is as marked in its way as the difference
between the Parisian and the French provincial; indeed, the
juxtaposition is even more unfortunate, for the Frenchwoman of the
provinces is frankly dowdy, and hence escapes looking cheap. Even
Catalina, in a moment, felt her unwilling admiration creeping forth to
the subtle charm of perfect poise and grooming, the firm yet tactful
suggestion of a race apart in a bulk of eighty millions of mere
Americans.

Mrs. Rothe was talking to Over with a great show of animation, and her
companion—a virile, good-looking young man, evidently college-bred—had
greeted the Englishman with an enthusiasm suspicious in the travelling
husband.

“She is going to Granada next week,” whispered Over, significantly, as
he took his seat once more beside Catalina. “I have asked if I may take
you to call on her to-morrow.”

“Yes,” said Catalina, absently. The president of the occasion, the mayor
of Toledo, had entered his box; the mounted police, in crimson and gold,
to the sudden rush of martial music, were careering about the arena
driving the stragglers to their seats. A moment later came the Paseo de
la Cuadrilla, the procession of all the bull-fighters across the arena
to the foot of the president’s box—the espadas and their understudies,
the banderilleros, the picadores and chulos, all gorgeous in the
gold-embroidered short clothes and brocades of old Spain. None of them
looked young, in spite of picturesque finery and pigtails, and their
smoothly shaven faces may best be described by the expressive
Americanism “tough”; but between bull-fights they do not live the lives
of model citizens, and may be younger than they look; certainly their
calling demands the agility and unbrittle brain-cells of youth.

The president, who received them standing, bowed with much ceremony and
then cast a key into the arena. It unlocked one of the dark cells, or
toriles, adjoining the arena, where the first of the angry bulls was
bellowing for light and space and dinner.

The picadores, with one exception, retired, this hero of the first
engagement taking his stand by the door whence all had emerged. The
espadas, banderilleros, and others of lower estate, scattered at safe
distances from the door of the toril, near which stood a chulo to direct
the attention of the bull to the picador, lest he fly first at the
unmounted men and disappoint the spectators of their whet of blood.

But the bull might have been rehearsed for his part. As the door of his
toril was cautiously opened he flew straight at the blindfolded horse
without a side glance or a roar; and not waiting for the teasing prod of
the picador’s pike, he bored his horns into the luckless animal’s side
and dragged out his entrails.

Catalina closed her eyes and turned her back—she felt horribly
faint—then looked at Mr. Moulton. He also had turned his back, and his
profile was green. Nevertheless, he had the presence of mind to observe
a small boy of seven or eight years, whom he had singled out for
psychological investigation. The boy looked bored.

“The worst is past for the moment,” said Over to Catalina, and under
cover of her mantilla he took her hand. “They will take the poor brute
out, and the rest is pure sport.” And Catalina, in a tensity of emotion,
held fast to his hand during the rest of the performance, quite
unconscious of the act.

The bull, meanwhile, had dashed for the glittering figures in the middle
of the arena, his red horns looking as if they would rip the earth did
they encounter nothing more inviting. Then came the graceful, agile
antics of the banderilleros. After the chulos, with their flirting
capes, had tormented and bewildered the bull for a few moments, first
one banderillero and then another received him in full charge, leaping
aside as he lowered his horns to gore, and thrust the barbed darts,
flaunting with colored ribbons, into the back of his neck. One man
leaped clear over the bull, planting his darts in his flight. The next
went over the wall of the arena into the narrow passage below the front
row of seats, the bull in full tilt after him, but diverted by a chulo
before he reached the wall.

It was true sport, and Catalina had forgotten her horror and was leaning
forward with interest, when she gave a sharp cry and dug her nails into
Over’s hand. The picador, instead of retiring with his stricken horse,
had leisurely ridden down the arena to see the sport, and there he sat
serenely, the bright entrails of the poor brute upholding him hanging to
the ground. But only for a moment. A young horse could have stood no
more, and the old hack reserved for the sacrifice by an economical
people suddenly sank and expired without a shiver. He had not uttered a
sound as the bull ripped him open, but he had started and quivered
mightily; he had been dying ever since, and collapsed in an instant.

Catalina cowered behind her fan. “I wish I had not come!” she gasped
into Over’s ear. Mr. Moulton was in need of consolement himself. “Why
didn’t you tell me?”

“I had never been to a bull-fight, and you told me you were an old hand
at it.”

“That was only child’s play. And all the accounts of bull-fights I have
ever read gave me the impression that the brutality was quite lost in
the picturesqueness. This is hideously business-like.”

“That expresses it. And there is no enthusiasm as yet, because there has
not been enough blood. It will take two more mangled horses to rouse
them. Do you want to go?”

“After this act. I’d never sit through another; but I’ll see this
through.”

The bull, the blood streaming from the wounds in his neck where the
banderillas still quivered, plunged or darted about the arena, striving
to reach his tormentors; but, charge with the swiftness of the wind as
he might, the leaping banderilleros either planted their darts or as
dexterously plucked them out.

Suddenly the president rose and made a signal. The chulos and
banderilleros enticed the bull to the right of the arena, and then the
espada of the first engagement, hitherto posing for the admiration of
the spectators, brought forth his sword and red muleta, and, walking
with a sort of jaunty solemnity to the foot of the president’s box,
dedicated the death of the bull to the functionary whose honor it was to
preside over this Corridas de Toros. He then walked over to the bull and
waved the red cloth before his eyes.

In descriptions of bull-fights, especially when the espada is the hero
of the tale, this final episode is always pictured as one of great
excitement and involving a terrible risk. As a matter of fact, it is
deferred until the bull is nearly exhausted. He has some fight left in
him, it is true, and an inexperienced espada might easily be tossed. But
those that oftener meet with death in the bull-ring are the
banderilleros, who plant their darts as the bull charges. The legs of
the picadores are padded, and they are always close enough to the wall
to leap over if the bull brings the horse down.

Nothing could be tamer than the final scene in the first act of to-day’s
continuous performance. The espada danced about the bull for a few
minutes, waving his red rag, and then, as the brute stood at bay with
his head down, looking far more weary than belligerent, he stepped
lightly to one side and drove his sword through the neck in the
direction of the heart, a very neat and decent operation.

The bull did not drop at once, and there was no applause. He stood as if
lost in thought for a few moments, and the espada was forgotten; he had
failed. Then the bull turned, wavered, sank slowly to earth. Another
door flew open and in rushed a team of four mules abreast, jingling with
gala bells. The bull was dragged out at their tails, and his trail of
blood covered with fresh sand.

Catalina rose and bent over her duenna. “We will go now, señora,” she
said. “But you will remain, of course. I shall be well taken care of.”

The Señora Villéna looked up with polite amazement. “You go? Are you
ill, dear señorita? It has only begun. There are many more bulls to
kill.”

“I have had enough to last me for the rest of my life. Hasta luego.”

It was not at every bull-fight that the señora sat in a box, and she
settled back in her conspicuous seat thankful that the very bourgeois
Señor Moulton had accompanied her singular charge.

As they were leaving the box Catalina saw that another picador had
entered and stood precisely as his predecessor had done, with the
profile of his blindfolded horse towards the door of the toril.
Fascinated, she stood rooted to the spot, some deep, savage lust slowly
awakening. Again the door of the toril was cautiously opened; again a
bull, as if he had been rehearsed for the part, rushed straight at the
helpless horse and buried his horns in his side. Catalina fancied she
could hear the rip of the hide. But this bull was more powerful than the
other. He lifted horse and rider on his horns, and the picador, amid the
belated enthusiasm of the multitude, leaped like a monkey over the wall
as the torn horse was tossed and fell cracking to the ground.

“Well,” said Over, “have you had enough? They say, you know, that the
horror soon passes and the fascination grows.”

“I am glad to know it was not my Indian blood. I can now understand the
fascination, but I shall never come again, all the same.”

“We are none of us so far from savagery—Miss Shore, Mrs. Rothe.”

They were in the passage behind the boxes, and Mrs. Rothe, who was
pallid with disgust and delighted to express herself to a sympathetic
woman—her young husband had sulkily torn himself from the ring—walked
out with Catalina anathematizing the Spanish race. As they emerged, Mr.
Moulton, green and very silent, disappeared. When he returned he was
still pale, but normal once more, and after a speech of five minutes’
duration, in which, ignoring the finer flowers of his working
vocabulary, he consigned Spain to eternal perdition—Catalina had driven
off with Mrs. Rothe—he was quite restored, and celebrated his recovery
by a long pull at a wine-skin.

“I believe I am quite demoralized,” he said, cheerfully; and then, in
company with Over and young Rothe—whose wife had amiably bade him
stay—he returned to the ring.



                                  XVII


“I saw that horse standing in the middle of the arena every time my mind
was off guard!” said Catalina. “I woke up suddenly in the night with the
hideous vision painted on the dark. I thought it was a judgment on me
for going—that I should be haunted by it for the rest of my life. I
believe it was Velasquez that banished it, but now I see it only at
intervals.”

“Perhaps,” said Over, “we were wiser in going back. Our savagery was
glutted and the imagination blunted. I was never so bored in my life as
at the end of two hours of it, and I haven’t thought of it since.”

They were down in the crypt of the Escorial, in the Pantheon de los
Reyes. Mrs. Rothe had offered to chaperon Catalina, and after two days
of sight-seeing in Toledo had returned to Madrid to prepare for the trip
south. She had seen the Escorial, and Catalina had come out alone with
Over to the grim mass of masonry growing out of the Guadarrama
Mountains, which from a distance looks like a phantom casino for dead
pleasures. They had wandered over it leisurely, lingering in the cell,
with its scant leather furniture, where Philip II. in his monastic
arrogance had received the ambassadors of Europe, and peering through
the little window of the inner cell upon the same sight that had held
his dying gaze as he lay where they, as a great concession, were
permitted to stand—a high-mass in the chapel beyond. Then they had
descended the fifty-nine steps into the black-and-gold vault where lies
the dust of Charles V. and his successors to the throne of Spain,
together with the queens who reigned, or mothered kings.

It is an octagonal apartment, with eight rows of niches, the kings on
the right of the altar opposite the entrance, the queens on the left.
Every sarcophagus, wrought in precisely the same elaborate pattern, is
of black marble heavily encrusted with gold. The handful of dust that
once was chief of the Holy Roman Empire is in the sarcophagus on a level
with the top of the altar, and below him is Philip II. There is none of
the picturesque confusion, the vagaries of different epochs, nor the
lingering scent of death of the Kaisergruft in Vienna. It might have
been built yesterday, but it has the sombre richness, the lofty dignity
of Spain itself.

There were only two empty niches, and the guide informed his patrons
that they awaited the young king and the late Queen Isabella.

“Where is she now?” asked Catalina. “Why is she not here?”

“Oh, she must remain in the Pudridero for ten years,” said the guide,
indifferently. “It is the custom. For some it is only five years, but
she was very fat.”

Thus was explained the purity of the atmosphere.

They ascended thirty-four of the steps and wandered through that white
marble quarry, so brilliant, so new, so cheerful, where lie the lesser
dead of the House of Spain. There are rows and rows and rows of them. In
one octagonal, snow-white mass, exactly resembling a huge wedding-cake,
the dust of many children has been put away, and the gay coat of arms
embellishing it seems cut there to cheer the little ones in their last
sleep. Many of the glistening sarcophagi are as yet without inscription,
awaiting, no doubt, time and the Pudridero.

Above, in the Sacristia and Ante-Sacristia, they were shown the
magnificent vestments and altar-cloths with which the uneasy Isabella,
as age waxed and time waned, propitiated Church and saints. And what she
had been was discreetly forgotten; she had descended into the Pudridero
fortified with the odor of sanctity.

They dismissed the guide and walked down the foot-path to the lower
town. For a time they preserved the tranquil silence which is so
pleasant an episode in friendship; for although this friendship was
barely three weeks old, they had enjoyed so much in common, and
companioned each other through so many annoyances, quarrelled and made
up so often, discovered so many points of sympathy and disagreement,
they had come to take their intimate association as a matter of course,
while still their mutual interest deepened.

Over stole a glance at his companion as she looked aside into the
gardens. She had restored the short skirt to favor, but to gratify Mrs.
Rothe, who was shocked that so much beauty should go to waste, she had
bought a gray silk blouse and a soft gray hat. Still she looked more
like the aggressive Catalina to whom he had grown accustomed before the
brief, distracting interval of the mantilla. He was well again after
these three weeks of almost open-air life, much heat, and uninterrupted
freedom, and carried his tall, thin figure with military erectness,
while his keen eyes seemed always laughing and there was a tinge of
color in his dark face. He now not only looked the handsome, highly
bred, intelligent Englishman who might have had an Italian or Spanish
ancestor, but his magnetism was alive again, and the observant Catalina
noticed that women stared at him and occasionally lay in wait.

The hotel in Madrid where they were all stopping was full of travellers
and of deputies, many of whose wives were handsome, and dressed like
women who looked to life to furnish them with much amusement. Catalina
speculated and occasionally flew into a rage; for this trip in Spain he
was all hers, if she never saw him again, and she was ready to spit fire
upon possible rivals.

She was not in her most amiable mood to-day. The hotel was on the Puerta
del Sol, the noisiest plaza in Europe. If the throngs that haunt it ever
go to bed they must get up again at once, and Catalina, whose rest was
broken, wondered how Spain had ever acquired the reputation for
indolence. Moreover, it was quite true that the horrors of the bull-ring
had haunted her almost to the point of obsession, and as she was too
philosophical to wish the done undone, she took refuge in wrath against
herself for not meeting the inevitable with her usual stolidity. She
prided herself greatly upon her Oriental serenity, and looked upon her
temper as a mere annex, which, no doubt, would be absorbed in time.

She turned suddenly with a little frown.

“There’s an end to our travelling third. I broached the subject last
night, and Mrs. Rothe looked as if I were stark mad. She has no snobbish
scruples, but I suppose the poor thing has never been uncomfortable in
her life. She asked me politely if I could not afford to go in the luxe
that runs between here and Granada once a week, and, of course, I had to
admit that I could. But I hate it. Couldn’t we go third and meet her
there?”

“I am afraid we have no good excuse—and it would take nearly two days by
the slow trains. I rather think you should be thankful for the solution
of Mrs. Rothe.”

“You need not preach. I am. But when I come back to Europe I’m going to
pretend to be a widow and travel by myself.”

“Are you so in love with liberty?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, I have always thought highly of it myself,” he said, lightly.
“How do you like Mrs. Rothe, on the whole? Don’t you find her a good
sort, in spite of her foibles?”

“Follies, I should call them. Yes, I like her, if only because she has
taught me that a person may be foolish and yet be wise; decorate herself
like a cocotte and yet be a lady; violate half the rules one has been
brought up on and yet be more estimable than the wholly virtuous—Cousin
Miranda, for instance.”

“Those would be dangerous deductions for some girls, but you have a
ripping strong head. You ought to be as grateful for that as for your
beauty.”

“I wish you’d stop preaching.”

“I never preached in my life,” he said, indignantly. “I was merely
thinking aloud—uttering an obvious fact. I might add that I wish your
temper was in the same class with your good looks and common-sense.”

“Well, it isn’t. Do you approve of second marriages?”

“Never given a thought to the subject. If ever I married it would not be
with the divorce court among the future possibilities.”

“I was not thinking of divorce—although Mrs. Rothe, in a way, suggested
the question. But I wonder how it feels to be married to a second man,
especially if you were in love with the first—and most youthful
marriages are for love. I picked up an old volume of Hawthorne the other
day and came across the phrase, apropos of a second marriage, ‘the
dislocation of the heart’s principles.’ You never forget a phrase like
that. And I have been wondering.”

“One is so different at twenty-five and thirty-five. It is almost like
being reborn. And so many youthful marriages result in disillusion and
disappointment you can hardly blame the victims for taking another try
at it. There is such a thing as sacrificing too much, and I fancy Mrs.
Rothe has. Still, there is something magnificent in the big gambler, and
Mrs. Rothe must have more courage than weakness to stake all on one
throw.”

“I don’t know that I blame her if she never was happy before; but
sometimes first love is real love—I mean, of course, when it is; mere
fancies don’t count. But if one has any brain and a moderate amount of
experience, one must know when one has been through the real thing. I am
thinking now of two people who have been married long enough to find
out. It is, no doubt, a matter for speculation before that; and that is
the reason so many girls marry and are happy, even though they have
broken their hearts several times—you see, women live the life of the
imagination until they can live in fact. But when one has actually lived
for some years with a man and loved him and he dies—that is what I mean.
Don’t you think it is the second-rate person who marries again? I have a
theory, in spite of Hawthorne, that mistaken marriages don’t count—I
mean so far as the soul, the inner life, is concerned,—but that the real
one counts forever, and that consolement with another partner
presupposes shallowness and a lack of true spirituality. Fancy being
equally happy and in deepest accord with two men. It is disgusting.”

“It certainly is unideal. And every Jack has his Jill. I don’t doubt
that—don’t in the least believe a man could be equally happy with any
one of a hundred charming and intelligent women—not if he wanted the
best out of life. But it is fortunate, perhaps, that the majority don’t
do any deep imagining. Then you think yourself capable of being faithful
to a memory?” he added, curiously.

“I know I could be—and happy, in a way; certainly far happier than if I
settled down into a commonplace content with another man. It is the
inner life that counts, nothing else.”

“How do you know these things?”

“How did you know you would be brave in battle before you were ever in
one?”

“Didn’t. Was awfully afraid I’d funk it.”

“Well,” she said, laughing, “perhaps that wasn’t a fortunate comparison.
But one can have intuitions without experience, especially if one lives
a more or less solitary life, and thinks. However, I have visions of
myself as an old maid on the ranch with half a dozen adopted children.
Falling in love is too hard work.”

“Is it?”

“Well—it has always seemed so to me.” She colored, more angry with
herself than with him. “I don’t pretend to any great amount of
experience, but you are so ridiculously literal.”

“You make cocksure assertions, and then get in a rage if I treat them
respectfully. When I don’t, you hiss at me like a snake. I don’t
complain, however, for I am now a qualified and hardened subject for
matrimony.”

“I suppose you mean that I will make all other women seem like angels.
You will have something to thank me for.”

“If any man ever has the courage to propose to you, and you bend so far
as to accept him, and his courage carries him as far as the altar, is it
your intention to nag him through life as you have nagged me in the past
three weeks?”

“Have I nagged you?” She turned her wondering eyes upon him. “I never—so
I thought—have treated any one so well.”

“Great God!” But he was nonplussed at her sudden change of front, as he
always was. “There have been times,” he continued in a moment, “when you
have been quite the most charming woman in the world.”

Her wondering eyes were still on his, the rest of her face as immobile
as the Sphinx. He blundered along.

“I have been on the verge of proposing to you more than once.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“You have a way of breaking the spell just at the critical moment. I am
never sure whether the you I am sometimes in love with is really there
or only assumed, like one of your rarely worn gowns. There are times
when I think you have every possibility, and others when I believe you
to be merely a more subtle variety of the American flirt.”

“Well, I’m sorry you didn’t propose,” she said, sedately. “Now I suppose
you never will. You would have been quite a feather in my cap.”

“That means you would not have accepted me?”

“Did you imagine I would?”

“There have been times when I did.” He was now goaded into boldness.

“Well, you’re just a conceited Englishman!” she cried, furiously. “If I
thought you meant that I’d never speak to you again!”

“Now I know where I am,” he said, serenely. “This, after all, is the
only you I am at home with.”

“Well, don’t speak to me again for twenty-four hours. I can’t stand you.
Thank Heaven, there is the train!”

Some hours later he found her sitting at the drawing-room window of the
hotel looking down upon the most characteristic sight in Madrid—the
afternoon procession of carriages.

From four o’clock until any hour of a fine night, while the national
stew simmers on the back of the stove, the wealth and fashion, and those
that would be or seem to be both, drive out the Calle de Alcala to the
great paseos and parks, and back through the narrow Carrera San Jeronimo
in an unbroken line that bewilders the eye and creates the delusion of
an endless and automatic chain. There are more private carriages in
Madrid than in any city in the world, and in bright weather their owners
would appear to live in them, indifferent to hunger or fatigue. Those
who have Paris gowns exhibit them, those who have not hide their poverty
under the always picturesque mantilla; but few are so poor as not to own
a turnout. A woman of any degree of fashion in Madrid will sell her
house if necessary, her furniture, her jewels, and live in two rooms
with one or no servant, but have her carriage and her daily drive she
will; for to lose one’s place in that distinguished chain would be to
lose one’s hold on the world itself. So long as they can see and be seen
daily in the avenues they love, bow to the same familiar faces, and
criticise the gowns of friend and foe, the _olla podrida_ can burn and
the frock under the mantilla be darned and turned, the daughters
dowerless, and even theatre tickets unavailable. They have, at least,
the best in life; and then there is always the long morning in bed and
the bull-fight. And who would not envy a people so tenacious of the
desirable and so bravely satisfied?

Catalina was at the window on the Carrera San Jeronimo, and there was no
one else in the sala at the moment. Over approached in some trepidation,
not having been spoken to since the final word on the slope of the
Escorial; but Catalina, diverted by the bright birds of paradise on
their homeward flight, looked up and smiled charmingly. She wore one of
her white frocks, and a string of pearls in her hair, and stirred the
languid air with a large black fan. In a strong light she was always
beautiful, and in the late, sun-touched shadows of evening, with her
pretty teeth showing between the red, waving line of her lips, she
looked very sweet and seductive.

“I suppose I ought to apologize,” said Over, who had had no thought of
apologizing.

“You did say very rude things, but I squared them by losing my temper.
If we begin to apologize—” She shrugged her shoulders and lowered her
lashes to the hats and mantillas below.

He took the chair before her. “Let us talk it out,” he said. “What do
you think? Is this close companionship of ours going to end in love, or
are we the usual passing jests of propinquity? I admit I have never been
so hard hit in my life; but at the same time I am not completely
floored. Perhaps that is only because I am too contented in a way. If we
were separated for a time, I fancy I’d know.”

“Your sense of humor must have flown off with your national caution. I
never before heard of a man asking a girl to straighten out his
sentiments for him.”

“I don’t care a hang about traditions. If I love you I want to marry
you, and if I don’t I’d rather be shot. I am talking it out in cold
blood when I can, and this unromantic spot, with all that infernal
clatter down there, is as good a place as any. Besides, I don’t want you
to think that I am not capable of being serious—of appreciating you.
Life would be unthinkable happiness if we loved each other—”

“You take for granted that if you managed to reach the dizzy height, I
should arrive by the same train.” She spoke flippantly, but he saw that
she had broken the sticks of her fan.

“I told you once before to-day that I believed every Jack had his Jill.
If I loved you it would be for what you had in you for me alone—I know
what the other thing means. You are as much in doubt as I am. As for
myself, I perhaps would be sure if you were not so beautiful; but there
are times when you blind, and I don’t intend to make that particular
kind of a silly ass of myself.”

“Well,” said Catalina, rising, “I have a fancy we will find out in
Granada—by moonlight in the Alhambra and all that sort of thing. One
thing is positive—we are in the dark at present, and the conditions are
not illuminating. Here comes Mrs. Rothe.” As she moved off she turned
suddenly. “If you should continue indefinitely in this painful state of
vacillation,” she said, sweetly, “you may consider these two little
conversations decently buried. For my part, I like friendship, and we
have become quite adept at that.”



                                 XVIII


“This is Granada—Granada—Granada—and we are living in the
Alhambra—somehow I always pictured the Alhambra as a mere palace, not as
a whole military town where thousands lived; and to be actually
domiciled in one of its old streets—its old, steep, narrow, crooked
streets—I don’t quite realize it, do you?”

“I shall feel more romantic when I have cleaned up—and some one has
stolen my pipe.”

“Oh, I hate you!” said Catalina, but she forgot him in a moment.

She had persuaded Mrs. Rothe to go to a pension instead of a hotel—she
had heard of one frequented mainly by artists—and with less difficulty
than she had anticipated, for it was the season of travelling Americans,
and her erring but sensitive chaperon was weary of being stared at. The
front windows of the pension looked upon a street whose paving-stones
and walls had echoed the tramp of Moorish feet for nearly 1000 years,
and are still as eloquent of that indomitable race as if the Spanish
conquerors had never passed under the Gate of Justice. In an angle at
the back of the house was a garden with a long, latticed window in its
high wall, and beyond were the great shade-trees of Alhambra Park. There
was a sound of running water and the hum of drowsy insects, but it
seemed as quiet as a necropolis after the long flight from the station
behind the jingling mules into Granada, and the following drive over the
rough streets of the city up to the heights of the Alhambra.

Catalina’s room had windows on both street and garden, and she could
look down into Over’s room in the other side of the angle, on the floor
below. The garden, although the kitchen opened upon it, was full of
sweet-smelling flowers and rustic chairs, and at one end was a long
table where a man sat painting. There were no palms here, for Granada is
2000 feet above the Mediterranean and the eternal snows are on the
Sierras behind her.

“I suppose, then,” said Catalina, after a half-hour’s dreaming, “that
you don’t mind if I go for a walk without you?”

“Oh, do wait! I’m quite fit now.”

“I’ll meet you down in the street.”

On her way through the quaint, irregular house she met a tall,
fine-looking girl, who half smiled and bowed as if welcoming her to the
pension. For a moment Catalina wondered if by any chance her family
could have bought out the Spanish proprietors, but dismissed the
thought. The girl was not only unmistakably American, but of the
independent class. She wore a blue veil about the edge of her large hat,
and her ashen hair in a single deep curve on her forehead. Her white
shirt-waist and white duck skirt were adjusted with a perfection of
detail that suggested the habit of a maid or of time and concentrated
thought. Her features were good, and in spite of a hint of selfishness
and rigidity about the mouth, and a pair of rather cold gray eyes, her
smile was very sweet. But her claim to distinction was in her grooming,
her beauty mien, and in her subtle air of gracious patronage.

“She looks like a princess and yet not quite like a lady,” thought
Catalina. “What can she be?”

Over joined her, and as the two gray, harmonious figures walked down the
street Catalina turned suddenly and looked at the pension. The girl in
white was leaning from one of the upper windows. But this time the cool
gray eyes had no message for one of her own sex. They dwelt upon the
Englishman’s military and distinguished back. Catalina thrilled to the
vague music of unrest deep in some unexplored nook of her being. The
second response was a snapping eye which she turned upon Over.

“I met an American girl as I was coming out that I have taken a dislike
to,” she announced. “She has a most absurd patronizing manner, and looks
as if she were trying to be the great lady but couldn’t quite make it. I
prefer the Moultons, who are frankly suburban.”

“I thought the Moultons very jolly—poor souls. I suppose they have
reached the haven of an Atlantic liner by this.”

“Did you see that girl?” asked Catalina, sharply.

“What girl? Oh, in the pension, just now. I passed a rather stunning
girl on the stairs—but there are so many girls! Shall we wander about
outside a bit before getting the tickets?”

The great red towers of the Alhambra were before them, and Catalina
forgot the Unknown. There happened to be no one else in the Plaza de los
Aljibes as they entered it, and the afternoon was very warm and still.
They lingered between the hedges of myrtle, the flower best beloved of
the Moor, and disdaining the upstart palace of Charles V. looked
wonderingly at the featureless wall that hid so much beauty, and in its
time had secluded from the vulgar the daily life and gorgeous state of
the most picturesque court in Europe, and such harems of varied
loveliness as never will be seen again. Only the Tower of Comares,
rising sheer from the northern wall of the Assabica Hill, is as visible
from the plaza, as from the courts, of whose life it was once a part.

“It was from that window that the Sultana Ayxa la Horra, the mother of
Boabdil el Chico, let him down to the Darro with a rope made of shawls
so that he could escape from Granada before his dreadful old father
murdered him,” volunteered Catalina. “But of course you have read all
about it—there never was a more delicious book than _The Conquest of
Granada_.”

“Never heard of it, and am densely ignorant of the whole thing. You will
have to coach me, as usual.”

“Then I suppose you don’t know that we should have no Alhambra
to-day—hardly one stone on another—if it hadn’t been for Irving—an
American! How do you like that?”

“You know I have no race jealousy, and I had just as lief it had been
Irving as any other Johnny. What difference does it make, anyhow? We
have the Alhambra. It’s like bothering about who wrote Shakespeare’s
plays.”

“That doesn’t interest you?”

“Not a bit. The plays don’t much, for that matter. I’m glad our
literature has them, but all that sort of speculation seems to me a
crying waste of time and mental energy. Let’s have the lecture. What did
you say your black’s name was?”

“Black! Boabdil had beautiful golden hair and blue eyes.” And she
sketched the vacillating fate of that ill-starred young monarch while
they sat on a bench opposite the great façade of the Alcazaba, that once
impregnable citadel swarming with turbaned Moors. To Catalina they were
almost visible to-day, so vivid was her historical sense; and, as ever,
she caught Over in the rush of her enthusiasm. He always invited these
little disquisitions, less for the information, which he usually forgot,
than for the pleasure of watching the changing glow on Catalina’s so
often immobile face. Moreover, she was invariably amiable when roaming
through history. Her voice, in spite of its little Western accent, was
soft and rich and lingered in his ear long after she had fallen into a
silence which presented a contemptuous front to such masculine
artfulness as he possessed.

To-day, after they had passed through the little door of the Alcazaba,
she fell abruptly from garrulity into a state of apparent dumbness; but
Over walked contentedly beside her in the warm and fragrant silence of
the ruin. Except for the ramparts and the two great watch-towers where
the Moor had contemplated for so many anxious months the vast army and
glittering camp of Ferdinand and Isabella on the vega beyond Granada,
and the sheer sides of the rock on which the fortress was built, there
was little to suggest that it had once been the warlike guardian of the
palace. It rather looked as if it had been the pleasure-gardens of a
pampered harem, with its winding walks between terraces of bright
flowers, its fountains, overgrown, like the fragments of wall, with ivy,
and its grottos, always cool, and of a delicious fragrance; while from
every point there was a glimpse of snow mountain or sunburned plain.

After they had rambled in silence for an hour Catalina emerged from her
centres and suggested that they go up to the platform of the Torre de la
Vela. From that high point, famous for having been the first in Granada
to fly the pennons of Aragon and Castile, they saw the perfect rim of
hills and mountains that curve about the city and its vega. On the
tremendous ridges and peaks of the Sierras, no less than on the blooming
slopes of the lower ranges, there once were watch-towers and fortified
towns, the outer rind of the pomegranate which the Spaniards stripped
off bit by bit until they reached the luscious pith that so aptly
symbolized the delights of the Moorish stronghold. The fortresses are
gone, but the eternal snows still glitter, the Xenil is as silvery as of
yore, while the sloping city of Granada itself presents an indescribably
ancient appearance, with its millions of tiles, baked and faded by the
centuries into a soft, pinkish gray, its streets so narrow that one
seems to look down upon a vast roof, from which crosses and towers rise
like strange growths that mar the harmony of a scene otherwise perfect
in line and delicate color. The solitary tower of the cathedral rises
from the mass of roofs like a mere monument above the tombs of Ferdinand
and Isabella, who, for all they lie in consecrated stone, have ever
about them the phantom of the ancient mosque.

Above the roofs the very air was pink; and out on the shimmering vega to
the western hills the sun was seeking to pay his evening visit. On the
right, or north, of the Alhambra, across the river Darro, was the
Albaicin on a steep mountain spur, once both sister and rival of the
palace hill, “the whole surrounded by high walls three leagues in
circuit, with twelve gates, and fortified by 1030 towers.” It was, in
general, faithful to Boabdil el Chico, Catalina informed her companion,
thirsty for knowledge, and was the scene of terrific battles between
that whim of destiny and his unrighteous old father Muley Aben Hassan.
To-day it is given over to thousands of gypsies, who are faithful to
nothing but their nefarious and ofttimes murderous instincts. But by far
the most imposing objects in the extensive panorama, after the snow
mountains, were the ruined towers of the Alhambra itself. Besides the
three in the foreground, and Comares, or romantic memories, was a line
in varying stages of picturesque decay, extending along the precipitous
bluff overhanging the Darro. Between were gardens of glowing flowers,
narrow streets, ruined walls, wild patches of wood where the cliff-side
jutted; and on the south side of the Alhambra hill, parallel with the
Darro, the dense park of elms planted by the Duke of Wellington.

“There is the town of Santa Fé,” said Catalina, pointing to a speck on
the edge of the vega. “Ferdinand and Isabella caused it to be built when
they were in camp. The articles of Granada’s capitulation were signed
there, and their contract with Columbus. Over there in the Sierras,
somewhere, is the spot where Boabdil turned to take a last look at
Granada, and was reproached by his mother—who was far more of a man than
he was—for weeping like a woman for what he could not defend like a man.
When I was a child my mother used to sing me to sleep with ‘The Last
Sigh of the Moor.’”

And she suddenly trilled forth with an abandonment of sorrow which
startled Over more than any phase she had yet exhibited.

“‘Ay, nunca, nunca, nunca mas veré!’ That means, ‘Aye, never, never,
never more to see,’” she translated, practically. “How close it brings
the island of Santa Catalina, undiscovered by the tourist then, and our
lonely little inn! My mother always sang me to sleep in a big
rocking-chair, and my father sat by a student-lamp and read, frowning
until she had finished. It all seems a thousand years ago.”

“Did you miss your parents much?” asked Over, curiously.

For a second it seemed to him that he saw a window open in the depths of
her eyes. Then she turned her back on him. “I don’t live in the past,”
she said. “Let us go down into the park. It will be dusk in a few
moments, and the nightingales will sing.”

They lingered awhile among the terraces watching the sun go down, then
descended through the Gate of Justice into the park. There the steep
aisles were dim, there was the murmur of running water, and in a few
moments the nightingales burst forth into song.

Over and Catalina sat down on a grassy bank. There appeared to be no one
in the park but themselves. The man looked up, half expecting to see
turbaned heads and flashing eyes on the towers and ramparts above; or
the glittering cavalcade of Ferdinand and Isabella crowding through the
Gate of Justice; or the faithless wife of Boabdil stealing out to her
fatal tryst with Hammet of the Abencerrages. In the warm duskiness of
the wood under the watch-towers and ramparts, and the fountain of
Charles V. beside them, the music of nightingale and distant waters
thrilling the soft, voluptuous air, it was easy to imagine that the
walls of Granada had yielded to neither the Spaniard nor to time. They
were the most romantic moments he had ever known; and the Alhambra is
the most romantic ruin on earth, the one where the modern world seems
but a bit of prophetic history, and 400 years are as naught.

But there came a moment when he retraced his flight and stole a glance
at Catalina. If she were as thrilled with the sense of his nearness as
he with hers in these glades of teeming memories, she gave no sign. With
her head thrown back and eyes half closed she appeared to be drinking in
the delicious notes of the nightingales. She was quite as beautiful as
any of the captive sultanas who had whiled away the hours for their
fierce lords in the mysterious apartments above—and startlingly like.
Such women, white of skin, dark and sphinxlike of eye, with delicate
features and tender forms, were sought throughout the East to tempt the
sated appetite of the Moorish tyrants. Just so had women with wistful,
upturned profiles listened to the dulcet notes of the nightingale
floating down from the trees beside Comares into the spacious courts
beneath their narrow windows, dreaming of the lovers they would never
see. How like she was! In looks, yes; but he laughed outright as his
fancy pictured Catalina as even the reigning favorite of a harem where a
mistaken monarch sought to filch her of her liberty and bend her will.
His abrupt, half-conscious laughter rent the spell of the evening, and
Catalina sprang to her feet.

“I forgot to ask the dinner-hour,” she said. “But it must be time. I am
starved.”

She walked rapidly up the hill, and Over followed, conscious that he had
thrown away one of the exquisite moments of life, and hardly knowing,
now that the intoxication had passed, whether he would have it so or
not.



                                  XIX


They found the guests of the pension at dinner in the garden. There were
ten or twelve people at the table, and Over and Catalina were conscious
of a conspicuous entrance; and a certain familiar lighting of the eye in
those facing the door heralded them as a distinguished young couple on
their honeymoon. Catalina, whose spirits had ebbed far out, frowned and
took the vacant chair beside Mrs. Rothe, that at least she might not be
obliged to talk to a man, and Over sat himself beside the husband. In a
moment Catalina saw her mistake; there was but one person between her
cavalier and the blonde young woman who had inspired her with distrust.

The American girl sat at the head of the table with the air of a hostess
entertaining her guests. She was perhaps twenty-six, but she had the
aplomb of a woman who not only has been a gracious hostess for many
years, but has exacted and received much tribute. She wore a thin black
gown which became her fairness marvellously well, and had dressed her
smooth, ashen hair both high and low. Her long back was straight without
effort, and if her shoulders were a shade too broad her waist and hips
were less mature. Everybody else looked dowdy in comparison, even Mrs.
Rothe suffering an eclipse.

But if her toilette was triumphant, her manner was more so. On one side
of her sat a Frenchman, on the other a Spaniard, opposite Captain Over a
German, and she addressed each in his language, taking care that none
should suffer at the expense of the other; and it was manifest that they
all adored her. She was, in fact, a brilliant figure, and if her sweet
smile was somewhat mechanical, and her fine, gray eyes keen and
passionless, her swains were too dazzled by her manner and her handsome
appearance to detect the flaws.

Catalina cocked her ears, but found neither wisdom nor cleverness in the
remarks that fell from the thin, well-cut lips. It was the girl’s
linguistic accomplishment, her bright manner of saying nothing, and
willingness to hear men talk, that were responsible for the delusion
that she was a brilliant woman. Catalina’s curiosity could no longer
contain itself, and she turned abruptly to Mrs. Rothe and spoke for the
first time.

“Who is she?” she asked. “Have you heard?”

“Her name is Holmes, and I heard her sister, that dowdy little artist
over there, call her Edith.”

“I wonder who—what—she is?”

“Nobody in particular, I should think.”

“But she—she—dominates everything.”

“That is the American girl—a certain type. You’ll see a great many of
them if you go about enough. This specimen was born with a respectable
amount of good looks, a high opinion of herself, and some magnetism. On
her way through life she has acquired what some call autorité, others
bluff. She probably has no position to speak of at home—she never would
wear her hair in that Florodora lump on her forehead if she had—but she
has made a great deal of running in summer and winter resorts, and in
Europe. The study of her life is twofold: dress and how to please
men—while deluding them that they are graciously permitted to please
her. Her knack for languages stands her in good stead, her tact is
almost—never quite—perfect; for she too often makes the mistake of
snubbing women. She knows the value of every glance, she has a genius
for small talk and dress—probably she has not an income of a hundred and
fifty dollars a month, and her sister has to dress like a sweep to help
her out—and I should be willing to stake all I have that she dances to
perfection. She is the sort of girl that men delight to make a belle of,
not only because she flatters them and is always ‘all there,’ but
because she does them so much credit. But they usually are quite content
to swell her train, and forget to propose. What she is on the lookout
for, of course, is a rich husband; but every year she becomes more and
more the veteran flirt, more polished and mechanical, and less
seductive, and will end by taking any one she can get.”

“She is a type, then. I fancied her unique.”

“Dear me! There are hundreds like her.”

“All the same, I can’t take my eyes off her. She fascinates me. I don’t
like her—but I think I’d like to be like her.”

“Heaven forbid! She is a very second-rate person, my dear, and your
beauty is real, while hers is only a matter of effect. She fascinates
you because she is young and successful, and you see her like for the
first time. But she is nothing in the world but a man’s woman, and while
as chaste as an Amazon—I suppose Amazons were chaste—has probably been
engaged several times—the type is sentimental—I might add, experimental.
I caught Lolly hanging over her this afternoon, and she will doubtless
put him through his paces. It won’t hurt him; she is not the type that
men die for—not even what the French call an allumeuse—just a plain
American flirt.”

“She has style,” sighed Catalina.

“Of a sort,” said the New-Yorker, indifferently. Then she turned
suddenly to Catalina with the charming sympathy of glance and manner
that blinded her friends to the poor ruin of her face. “How you could
rout her if you would!” she said. “Don’t you know, my dear, that the
woman who receives that sort of promiscuous adulation is always the
woman who wants it, who works for it? Given a decent amount of natural
charm, and any determined woman can be a belle. But it means more work
and self-repression, more patience with bores as well as with the wary,
than you would ever give to it. And it means popularity with men and
nothing more; no depth of accomplishment or interest in anything vital;
and under that assumption of glorified independence she is really a
slave, afraid to relax her vigilance lest she lose her hold, never
daring to be absent-minded or careless in her dress. Of all the girls I
have ever known you have the least reason to envy any one—so banish the
cloud!”

Catalina glowed, and reminded herself of the opportunities thrust upon
her to be the belle of a season that she had spurned with less than
politeness; but in a moment her brows met and she lost her appetite.
Over had been drawn into the magnetic current at the head of the table.
Miss Holmes was leaning forward as if graciously permitting the stranger
to enter, yet herself lured by the wisdom—it was a comment on the
narrowness of Moorish streets—that flowed from his lips.

“What idiots men are!” thought Catalina, viciously. “I suppose if I hung
on his words like that he’d not hesitate a minute about being in love
with me. But I’d like to see myself!”



                                   XX


After dinner Catalina went up to her room to brush her hair—her head
ached slightly—and sit for a while by herself before the evening walk.
As a rule, she was the first to be down, but to-night she had a perverse
desire for Over to come or send for her. She was suddenly tired of
meeting him half-way, of being the frank, almost sexless, comrade; she
wanted to be sought and made much of. Miss Holmes might be a
second-rate, but she was an artist, and Catalina was not above taking a
leaf out of her book.

“I’d rather be a hermit and have smallpox than bother forever as she
does, according to Mrs. Rothe; and flatter men—not I! But I think I
should be more feminine and difficult.”

Her hands trembled a little as she burnished her hair, and once her eyes
filled with tears; but she brushed them off with a scowl, and still
refused to think. She had been too much with Over, and their friendship
had run too smoothly for her thoughts to have been tempted to revolve
about him when alone. There were times when she turned cold and then hot
if he came upon her suddenly, and his touch and glance had thrilled her
more than once. But she had kept it steadily before her that this was
but a summer friendship and that in a short time she would be in
California and he in England. It is true that her imagination
supplemented the separation with a meeting in one country or the other
not later than a year hence, but she had not permitted her mind to dwell
upon the significance of his audible self-analysis in Madrid, holding
that when a man doubted the depth of his sentiments the time had not
come to take him seriously. Moreover, to speculate upon the significance
of a man’s attentions was not only indelicate but put her in the class
with other girls, and nothing distressed her more than to approach the
average. Therefore, had she never sought to discover what lay beneath
her daily pleasure in Over’s society and her matter-of-fact assumption
that for the time he was hers.

Nor would she permit herself to analyze her sense of disappointment
to-night. Her soul had been floating on the high, golden notes of the
nightingales, and not alone; it had plunged down with a velocity that
left it sick and dizzy, but as Catalina banged the large pins into her
hair she still refused to demand the reason.

The people were talking in the garden. She shut her window overlooking
it and sat down before the one opposite. The moon had not risen; the
street, lit by a solitary lamp, was full of shadows. It was easy to
convert the shadows into swarthy men with turbaned heads and flowing
robes, but she was not in a historical mood. Even a man with a long
Spanish cloak folded closely about him and holding manifestly to the
heavier shadows failed to arrest her attention. In spite of her
admirable self-control her mind wondered uneasily why Over did not call
her, how he was occupied; for the time was passing.

Her eyes wandered to the height behind the Albaicin. There were lights;
they might be watch-fires. It was not so long ago that that turbulent
quarter had rung with the clamor of battle, of civil strife, that its
gates had been secretly opened to Boabdil in the night, and his father
or uncle been defied to come over and redden its streets. What were four
centuries?

“I shall always have that pleasure, that resource,” thought Catalina,
arrogantly. “I can always take refuge in the past on a moment’s notice.
Where on earth can he be? Does he suppose I don’t want to walk—as I
haven’t gone down? Or is he too interested—”

Her spine stiffened. She listened intently, then stood up silently and
looked down. Over and Miss Holmes were standing in the doorway of the
pension, talking. Catalina could not distinguish the words. Over had a
low voice of no great carrying power, and Miss Holmes had neglected none
of the charms that man finds excellent in woman. But he was leaning to
her words in a fashion that denoted interest, and oblivion of all else
for the moment. In a flash Catalina realized just how attractive he was
to women.

Still talking, they moved from the doorway into the street, and then
down in the direction of the palace. Catalina leaned out with a gasp,
hardly believing the evidence of her eyes. For a moment astonishment
routed other sensations. Was it possible that Over was on his way to
visit the Alhambra for the first time by moonlight with another
woman?—that he was going for his evening walk at all without her? Never
had he thought of doing such a thing before; they went off together,
frequently alone, every evening. Even in Toledo he had come directly to
the Casa Villéna after dinner, and sooner or later, by one device or
another, had managed to carry her off for a stroll. But there he was,
complacently walking down street with another woman, and not so much as
a backward glance. And the other woman had white lace about her head and
shoulders, and no doubt looked like a lorelei. The only beauty she had
ever heard Over praise was the beauty of fair women, which was as it
should be. And Englishmen laughed at American distinctions. If this girl
were second class, how was Over to find her out on a moonlight night in
a tricksy frame, how discover that she wore her hair like a shop-girl?
Doubtless, if he thought at all about the matter, he would elevate Miss
Holmes above herself in the social scale. She at least did not suggest
the cow-boy.

And still he did not turn his head. Perhaps he was only strolling for a
few minutes with the new acquaintance, waiting for his usual companion
to descend. Catalina leaned farther out. In a moment they passed the old
mosque and disappeared.

She fell back from the window, unable for a moment to think coherently;
the blood was pounding in her head. Her impulse was to run after them
and twist her rival’s neck. She panted with hate, with the desire for
vengeance, with the lust to kill. She stood like a wooden idol, but she
boiled with the worst passions of the ancient races behind her. She
conceived swift plans of vengeance. She would make friends with the
girl, poison her peace of mind, kill her if she could not inveigle her
into killing herself. The malignant, treacherous nature of the
aboriginal controlled her, obsessed her. Civilization fell away; she was
capable of the worst; she cared nothing for consequences. Literally, she
wanted the enemy’s scalp. Then, without premeditation, she wept
stormily, like an undisciplined child—or a savage—beside itself. And
then the obsession passed and she was horrified.

It was not thus her imagination had dwelt upon the great revelation. She
had visioned love among the stars, and had expected—groping, perhaps—to
find it there. But to discover it in a fit of jealous rage, writhing in
the most ignoble of the passions, her soul shrieking for revenge—she
descended to the depths of discouragement, humiliation. She doubted if
she were worthy of being loved even by a mere man—for the moment she
despised the entire sex for Over’s weakness and inconstancy. Of course,
like others, he had succumbed to this enchantress, who didn’t even wear
her hair like a lady, and was therefore unworthy of even the rage she
had flung after him. She longed to despise him so hotly that her love
would be reduced to a charred ember, and thought she had succeeded; then
it flamed all through her, and she sprang to her feet.

“There is one thing I can do,” she thought, and lit the candle. “I’ll
leave to-morrow. Never will I go through this again, and never will I
see him again if I can help it.”

She had the instinct of all wounded things, and a terror of the emotions
that had torn her. Pain she could stand, and had a dim foreshadowing
that in solitude she might attain that dignity of soul that sorrow and
meditation bring to great natures, but never the passionate conflict of
emotions that confused her now. As she locked her trunk there was a
knock on her door. She answered mechanically, and Mrs. Rothe entered.

“What—”

Catalina, who was sitting on the floor, sprang to her feet. Her hair was
disordered and her eyes red. There was no use attempting to conceal
anything from this keen-eyed woman, whose sufferings were stamped in the
loosened muscles of her face. She stood silent and haughty. She would
deny nothing, but nothing was further from her mind than confession.

“May I sit down?” asked Mrs. Rothe. “Have you a headache? I was afraid
you must have, as you did not come down.”

“My head doesn’t ache, but I am sick of Spain. I am going to start for
home to-morrow.”

“Oh, I am sorry. It will be dreary without you. And I thought it so
enchanting here. Can’t I induce you to change your mind?”

Catalina sat down on her trunk, but she shook her head. “I want to go
home,” she said.

Mrs. Rothe turned her kind, bitter eyes full upon Catalina. “Don’t run
away,” she said. “It is unworthy of you. And this means nothing. What is
more natural—he being a man—than that he should accept the minor
offerings of the gods when the best is not forthcoming? Moreover, when a
man has talked steadily to one girl for three weeks”—she shrugged her
shoulders—“that is the way they are made, my dear, the way we are all
made, for that matter, as you will discover in time for yourself. It is
better to accept men as they are, and early than late.”

“I never want to see another man again—and this was our first night in
Granada. There was—had been for weeks—a tacit understanding that we
should do every bit of it together—”

“But you disappeared. No doubt he thought you were indisposed—”

“I wanted him to come after me, for once.”

“Oh, my dear, men are so dense. When they love us desperately they
rarely do what we most long to have them. If I don’t sympathize with
you—well, I think of my own throes, not only at your age, but so often
after. It is so easy to fall in love, so difficult to remain there. You
can marry Over if you wish—and two or three years hence—the pity of it!”

“Do you mean that no love lasts?”

“In tenacious natures like yours it may. Nevertheless, there will be
times when he will bore you, get on your nerves, when you will plan to
get away from him for a time. A few years ago I still clung—in the face
of experience—to my delusions. Then I would have held your hand and wept
sympathetic tears. Now, I can only say, go in and win, but don’t break
your heart over an imagined capacity for love at an interminable high
pitch.”

“You must have loved Mr. Rothe when you married him,” said Catalina,
with curiosity, and feeling that Mrs. Rothe had opened the gates and
bade her enter.

“I did,” said the older woman, dryly. “For what other reason, pray,
would I make a fool of myself, and disgust and antagonize those whom I
had loved so long? What a fool the world is!” she burst out. “And
writers, for that matter! They are always harping on the death of the
man’s love, upon the punishment that will be visited upon the woman of
mature years who marries a man younger than herself! I am capable of the
profoundest feeling, and I have never been able really to love a man in
my life. I have deluded myself again and again, and invariably the man
has disappointed or disgusted me. This is my third husband. The first
died, but not soon enough to leave me with a blessed memory. The second,
whom I had found irresistible, developed into a gourmand with a bad
temper. I lived with him for fifteen years. When I met Rothe I was
forty, the beginning of the most critical period in the life of women of
my sort—when if not happy we would stake our souls for happiness. It
seemed to me that I could not continue to live without love, and yet
that I could not die unless I had, if only for a day, loved to the full
capacity of my nature. When I met Rothe and he fell head over heels in
love with me—I was a very handsome woman five years ago—I was at first
flattered; then his ardor struck fire in me and I made no effort to
extinguish it. It was what I had waited for, prayed for, and I
encouraged it, fanned the flame. I was convinced that it was the grand
passion at last; and I went out to Dakota. I gloried in the sacrifice,
gloated over it. And in spite of divorce and scandal I suppose I was
happy for a time.”

“And now?” asked Catalina, breathlessly. She had forgotten Over and Miss
Holmes. Never had she been so close to living tragedy. Mrs. Rothe, in
her negligée of pale yellow silk and much lace, her ruffled petticoat
and slippers of the same shade, indescribably fresh and dainty, and, in
the light of the solitary candle, a beautiful woman once more, was to
Catalina the very embodiment of “the world,” and for the moment far more
interesting than herself.

“Now! I hate the sight of him. I am bored beyond the power of words to
tell. I have to remind myself that he is not my son, and when I do not
long for my own son, who was far brighter, I long for a man of my own
age to exchange ideas with, who will understand me in a degree. There
are a few women with eternal youth in their souls, but I am not one of
them. I am tired of all his little habits; the very expression of his
face when he smokes a cigarette with his after-dinner coffee gets on my
nerves. I am sick of making-up and pretending to be interested in the
things that interest a young man. I want to be frankly myself—of course,
I should hate growing old in any case, but I am sick of being a
slave—that is what it amounts to when you don’t dare to be yourself. But
I must keep up the farce lest I lose him, and the world laugh and once
more remind itself of its perspicacity. I give him a long rope; he is
still fond of me; my pride mounts as everything else fades away. There
you are!”

Catalina had hardly drawn breath during this jeremiade. She no longer
had any desire to run from her own pain. After all, what had Over done
but take a walk with a strange girl in her own absence? She had beaten a
mole-hill as high as a mountain. But she could think of nothing to say.
In the bitter misery before her there was the accent of finality, and
comment would have been resented if heard.

“I have told you all this,” said Mrs. Rothe, “partly because the impulse
after five years of repression was irresistible, partly to show you that
the great tragedy of a woman’s life is when not the man, but she, ceases
to love. Better far death and desolation, and a great memory, than a
nature in ruins, and the magic that would rebuild gone out of hope
forever. As for you—congratulate yourself that you are able to feel and
suffer as you have done to-night. Over is a better sort than most. Marry
him and prove that you are of greater and finer stuff than I. I should
be delighted. And if this girl should develop into a rival of a sort,
welcome the stimulation, and show your mettle—”

“I won’t fight over any man!”

“Certainly not. Simply be more charming than she is. Nothing could be
easier. You could not make the mistake of eagerness if you tried, but
you can be obliviously delightful—and you know him far better than she
does, and have no machine-made methods. Now go to bed and sleep, and
ignore the episode in the morning. You went to bed with a headache and
neither knew nor cared what Over did with himself.”



                                  XXI


Thus it came about that the next morning, not long after dawn, Catalina
was leaning out of her garden window humming a Spanish air when Over
pushed aside his curtain and looked up expectantly.

“Coffee?” he whispered. She nodded. He pointed down to a little table in
the window in the wall. They stole like conspirators through the dark
house and down to the garden. Over was first at the tryst, and never had
he greeted her with such effusion. He held her hand a moment and gazed
solicitously into her eyes with an entire absence of humor as he
tenderly demanded if she had been ill or only tired the night before,
and assured her of his disappointment in being cheated of their walk.
His conscience hurt him, and he felt the more penitent as he saw that
disapproval in any of its varied manifestations was not to be his
portion. For Catalina looked nothing short of angelic. Her eyes were a
trifle heavy, as if with pain, but her beautiful mouth curled and
wreathed with sweetness. She wore for the first time a white blouse and
a duck skirt, and about her throat she had knotted a scarlet ribbon. The
fine, soft masses of her hair looked as if spread with a golden net that
caught the fire of the mounting sun, and she looked several years
younger, fresher, more ingenuous than Miss Holmes, though older than
herself.

She ground the coffee while he boiled the water, and when he alluded,
with an enthusiasm that was almost sentimental, to their first
coffee-making in Tarragona, recalling the solitary palm against the blue
sea, her face lit up and her lips parted. So, all in a night, had their
attitude of almost excessive naturalness towards each other dissolved
into the historic duel of the man and the maid. Both were acutely
sensible of the change, yet neither resented it, for it heralded the new
chapter and its unfolded mysteries. Catalina had the advantage, for she
understood and he did not; he only felt the subtle change, and the
conviction that she was even more provocative than during the episode of
the mantilla.

“No one in the world can make such good coffee,” she said, politely, as
she sipped hers and looked through the bars at the dark arbors of the
park. “I still had rather a headache when I awoke, but this is all I
need. Did you go for a walk last night?”

She held her breath, but he replied, promptly: “I walked round a bit
with Miss Holmes—that fair girl who sat at the head of the table. But
the moon rises late and there was nothing to see. I was in bed by ten
o’clock. I hope you will be quite fit to-night so that we can see the
Alhambra by moonlight together. I am very keen on that.”

“So am I,” and she gave him an enchanting smile, but without a trace of
self-consciousness. “How do you find Miss Holmes? I long to meet her.
She attracts me very much.”

“Oh, she is very jolly. Can talk about anything and has the knack of
your race and sex for putting a fellow quite at his ease. You are
certain to like her. She has given up her home life and wanders about
Europe for the sake of her sister, who is an artist; has a deuced fine
nature, I should say. What?”

“Nothing. Shall we take a walk? We can’t get the cards for the palace
for an hour or two yet.”

“I hoped you would feel like a jolly long walk this morning. We really
had no exercise yesterday, and after that ride from Madrid I feel as if
I’d like to be on my legs for a week.”

They walked for two hours along one of the country roads behind the
Alhambra, racing occasionally, glimpsing many beautiful vistas,
lingering for a while before the Generalife, the summer palace of the
Moorish kings; Catalina gloating over the profusion and variety of the
flowers, not only in the famous garden, but cropping out of every
crevice of the walls themselves. As they sat in the warm sunshine of one
of the terraces she gave him another little lecture on the history of
Granada in a curiously exultant voice that made him oblivious of the
useful information she imparted. Never had he been so attractive to her
as in this new rôle of the mere man endeavoring to propitiate his
goddess, and happiness bubbled and sparkled within her; if by chance
their eyes met her lashes played havoc with the expression of hers. She
radiantly felt that he belonged to her; she obliterated the future and
forgot the seductress. She informed Over that it was Granada, Spain, the
golden morning, that made her happy, and was careful to remove any
impression he might harbor that she was making an effort to please him;
for pride and a diabolical cunning stood her in the stead of experience.
She merely had put her moody, undisciplined side to rest and exhibited
in high relief her luminous, exultant girlhood; and Over stared and said
little.

But she was determined that if he did address her it should not be in
direct sequence to her wiles, for she had a passionate wish to be
sought, to be pursued. She would continue to dazzle him with the jewels
of her nature and make him forget the weeds and clay that had inspired
him with uneasiness, but she would go no further.

“Come!” she exclaimed, springing to her feet. “We can get into the
Alhambra now, and I simply cannot wait any longer.”

“Do you know,” she said, as they walked down the hill towards the
fortress, “I have had an uneasy sense of being watched ever since I came
here? I was conscious of it several times while we were exploring
yesterday, and last night as I sat by my window for a few moments before
I went to bed”—she stammered, caught her breath, and went on—“I felt it
again; and in the night I woke up and heard two men talking under my
window. I suppose there was nothing remarkable in that, but they stood
there a long time, and one of the voices, although it was pitched very
low, sounded dimly familiar. This morning, just before we reached the
high-road I had again the sense of being watched—I am very sensitive to
a powerful gaze.”

Over, who was probably afraid of nothing under the sun, was looking at
her in alarm. “You know I have always said that you must not go out
alone in Spain,” he said, authoritatively. “And there is danger quite
aside from your beauty. Not only are all Americans supposed by the
ignorant, rapacious lower classes of Europe to be phenomenally wealthy,
but Californians in particular. And doubtless California is a legend
with the Spaniard. I am not given to melodrama, but there is a desperate
lot over in the Albaicin.”

“I don’t see what could happen to me in broad daylight, and certainly I
am not going to run after you or ‘Lolly’ every time I want to go out.
What a bore!”

“Not for me. I wish you would promise—”

“Well, I’ll be careful,” she said, lightly. “I have no desire for
adventures of that sort. They must be horribly dirty over in the
Albaicin, and after our experience with Spanish banks it might be some
time before I could be ransomed.”

The Albaicin might be dirty and abandoned to wickedness, but they
decided, as they leaned over the parapet of the Plaza de los Aljibes
before entering the palace, there was no doubt of its picturesqueness.
Far beneath them sparkled the Darro, and beyond it, parallel with the
Alhambra Hill, rising from the plain almost to the very top of the steep
mountain spur, was another vast roof of pinkish-gray tiles. But here
they could distinguish one or two narrow streets, mere cuts in a bed of
rock, from their perch, and high balconies full of flowers between the
Moorish arches, a glimpse of bright interiors, the towers and patios of
a great convent where the nuns walked among the orange-trees and the
pomegranates, the roses and geraniums. Not a sound rose from the ancient
city; it might have been as dead as the turbulent race that made its
history. It lay steeping, swimming, in the pink light that seemed to
rise like a vapor from its roofs. It looked like some huge stone tablet
of antiquity, with hieroglyphics raised that the blind might read.

“I shall come and look at this in every light,” said Catalina, “so if I
disappear you will know where to find me.”

They entered the palace through the little door in the non-committal
wall, and, after bribing the guide to let them alone, lingered for a
time in the Court of Myrtles, where the orange-trees no longer grow
beside the pool, but where the arcades and overhanging gallery are as
graceful as when the court was the centre of life of the Comares Palace,
first in this group of palaces. Then, through an arcade that abutted
into a fairy-like pavilion, they entered the Court of Lions.

Probably the Alhambra is the one ruin in the world where the most ardent
expectations are gratified. From a reasonable distance the restored
arabesque patterns on the walls, like Oriental carpets of many colors,
and raised in stucco, present the illusion of originals; and all else,
except the tiles gaudy in the primal colors, on the many roofs which
project over the arcades into the courts, and the marble floors, are as
the Africans left it. The twelve hideous lions upholding the double
fountain in the famous court must have been designed by artists that had
never penetrated the African jungle nor visited a menagerie, and, as the
only ugly objects amid so much light and graceful beauty, serve as an
accent rather than a blot. Upholding the arches of the arcades that
surround the court are 128 pillars so light and slender, so mellowed by
time, that they look far more like old ivory than marble. Above the
arches the multicellular carving again looks like old ivory, and through
them are seen the gay convolutions of the arabesques on the walls of the
corridor. Above the cluster of shafts at the eastern end, which forms
one of the two pavilions, the florid roofs multiply and rise to a dome
of all the colors. Overhanging the north side of the court—in the second
story—is a long line of low windows. They once gave light and glimpses
of history to the captives of the king’s harem.

“You must half close your eyes and imagine silken curtains waving
between those slender pillars, which were meant to simulate tent-poles,”
said Catalina. “And Oriental rugs and divans in those arcades, and the
lounging gentlemen of the court, and turbaned soldiers keeping guard,
and women eternally peeping through the jalousies above. They must have
seen this court red a thousand times: Muley Aben Hassan had two of his
sons beheaded by this very fountain to please a new sultana; and when
they weren’t beheading under orders they were flying into passions and
killing one another. And the women could look straight into that room
over there where Boabdil had the Abencerrages killed because one of
them, as I told you, fell in love with his sultana. Do you see it all?”

“I confess I don’t,” said Over, laughing. “But I see quite enough—too
much would make me apprehensive. How would you have liked that life?” he
asked, curiously, as they crossed to the Hall of the Abencerrages. “I
mean to have been the sultana of the moment, of course, not one of those
captives up there.”

“I should probably have been nothing but devil,” replied Catalina,
dryly. “It would have given me some pleasure to stick a knife into Muley
Aben Hassan, and to have applied a sharp stick to Boabdil.”

They stood for a few moments in the lofty room with its domed ceiling
like a cave of stalactites, its fountain and ugly brown stains, and then
Catalina shuddered and ran out.

“I can stand courts where murder has been done,” she said, “for the sky
always seems to clean things up. But that room is full of a sinister
atmosphere. I should commit murder myself if I stayed in it too long.”

The impression vanished and she moved her head slowly on the long column
of her throat, smiling with her eyes, which met Over’s.

“I hate ugly fancies and atmospheres,” she said, softly. “And the rest
of the palace looks like a pleasure house; only I wish there were
furniture and curtains—it seems to me they could be reproduced as
successfully as the arabesques and roofs. Now one receives the
impression that they slept and sat on the floor.”

They were entering the Room of the two Sisters, opposite the Hall of the
Abencerrages, once the chief room of the sultana’s winter suite. There
are two slabs of marble in the floor that look like recumbent
tombstones. What their original purpose was legend sayeth not, unless it
was to give an easy designation to a room which needs no such trivial
spur to the memory. For the ceiling of this great apartment is one of
the curiosities of the world. The dome is like a vast bee-hive, its 5000
cells wrought with the very colors of the flowers from which the
ambitious builders brought their honey sweets. It might be a sort of
Moorish heaven for the souls of bees, those tiny amazons who alone have
demonstrated the superiority of the female over the male.

Catalina mentioned this conceit, and Over laughed grimly.

“When women are willing to do all the work—” he began, and then lifted
his hat. Miss Holmes entered the room from the sala beyond.

She came forward with a smile of welcome, her manner quite that of a
chatelaine welcoming the stranger to the halls of her ancestors.

“I am so glad I happen to be here,” she said, “I know you are people
whom guides only bore. I have lived in the Alhambra three weeks now, and
am thinking of offering my services at the office; but you may have them
for nothing.” She included Catalina in her smiling gaze. “I hope your
headache is better,” she added, politely.

“Yes, thank you,” replied Catalina, who longed to scratch her. She
reminded herself of her new rôle, however, and gave her a dazzling smile
that filled her eyes with warmth and accented the gray coldness of the
orbs, which, like her own, faced Over. “How I envy you for having been
here three weeks!” she said. “I feel as if I couldn’t wait to know, to
be familiar with it all. Do you live in Spain?”

“If you call boarding in pensions frequented by artists of all the
nationalities, living in a country, I have been here a year.”

She piloted them through the rooms, reciting the information that lies
in Baedeker, adroitly compelled by Catalina’s intelligent questions to
address the lecture to her. By the time they reached the queen’s boudoir
in the Torre del Peinador, Catalina noted that the guide chafed visibly
at being compelled to ignore the man, and it was evident by her
wandering glances and the inflections of her voice that she not only
admired the Englishman’s good looks, but appreciated his social
superiority over the gentlemen of the brush who so often were her
portion at pensions. Here, however, it was obviously the woman who would
be interested in the perforated stone slab in a corner of the floor,
which may have been built to perfume a queen or merely to warm her, and
as she and Catalina disputed amiably, Over leaned on the stone wall of
the narrow balcony and looked at the splendid view of Albaicin and
mountain.

Then Catalina whimsically determined to give the girl the opportunity
she craved. Her interest in the conversation perceptibly waning, Miss
Holmes was enabled to transfer her attentions to the man, and, with
battery of eye and glance, convey to him her pleasure in dropping
history for human nature. When his attention was absorbed Catalina
descended softly into the long arcade which overhangs the Darro, and,
after wandering about at its extremity for a few moments and getting her
bearings, sat down on the window-seat that looks upon the Patio de la
Reja, with its neglected fountain and cypresses. They must pass her on
their way to the Sala de los Embajadores. She was not sorry to be alone,
and felt happy and secure, experiencing a passing moment of contempt for
men in general, so easy were they to manage—a mood which assails every
charming woman at times, and even on the heels of doubt and despair. But
Catalina’s spirit was too buoyant not to comprehend ideality in its
flight, and she stared unseeingly at the dead walls and saw only what
she had divined in Over.

She waited a long while. Coming out of her reverie with a start, she
wondered how long it was and drew out her watch. It was half-past
eleven, and, making a rapid calculation, she was driven to conclude that
her cavalier had been absorbed by the enchantress for fully an hour.

She was too proud to go after them, but her fingers curved round the
window-seat in the effort to restrain herself, and her spirits plunged
into an abyss of dull despair, emerging only on jealous and torturing
wings to drop again. She realized the mistake she had made in the
exuberance of her happy self-confidence; for a girl like Miss Holmes can
make heavy running in an hour. On the steamer and in the various
pensions where the Moultons had lingered she had often seen what no
doubt was this same type of girl retire into a corner with the man she
had marked for her own and talk—or listen—hour after hour; and Catalina
had speculated upon their subjects, wondering that one human being could
interest another for so long a time without the exterior aids of travel.
The man had always looked as engrossed as the girl, and Catalina was
forced to conclude that the mysterious arts were effective, and wished
it were not forbidden to listen behind a curtain, but only that
curiosity might be satisfied—she scorned arts herself. Now she wondered
distractedly what this ashen-haired houri was talking about to make Over
forget his very manners; but none of the long, desultory conversations,
followed by the longer silences peculiar to her experience with him,
threw light on the weapons of this accomplished ruler of hearts;
although the bare idea that they might be leaning over the parapet side
by side in a familiar silence brought Catalina to her feet and turned
her sharply towards the arcade. But at that moment she saw them coming.

Over was a little ahead of his companion, who was smiling with her lips,
and he came forward with some anxiety in his eyes.

“I only just missed you,” he said. “I thought you were there in the room
lost in one of your silent moods. When did you come down?”

“Only a little while ago,” said Catalina, sweetly, and she saw the eyes
of the other girl flash with something like fear. She also noted that
her cheeks were flushed.

“You have got a little sunburned,” she said, with concern for a fine
complexion in her voice. “It is much cooler down here. Have we time to
go into the Sala de los Embajadores?”

And Over was made subtly aware of the second-rate quality of Miss
Holmes’s accent.

They entered the immense room, whose dome is like a mighty jewel
hollowed and carved within, where Boabdil drew his last breath as king
of Granada; and before Miss Holmes could open her lips, Catalina, with
all the picturesqueness of vocabulary she could command at will,
described several of the scenes of which this most historical room in
the Alhambra was the theatre; not only throwing into low relief the
academic meagreness of the other girl’s knowledge, but insinuating its
supererogation. Meanwhile she missed nothing. She saw the girl’s color
fade, her expression of almost supercilious self-confidence give place
to anxiety, and as she turned away and stared out of one of the deep
windows, it rushed over Catalina sickeningly that Over, in the span of
an hour, had captivated her heart as well as her fancy. He must have
made himself very fascinating! Catalina bungled her centuries; Miss
Holmes in love would make a formidable rival.

The girl turned suddenly with mouth wholly supercilious and the light of
war in her eyes. Catalina’s face was as impassive as a mask. Miss Holmes
walked deliberately towards Over, her mouth relaxing and humor in her
eye, but Catalina was too quick for her. She might be an infant in the
eyes of this accomplished flirt, but she had imagination and a brain
capable under stress of abnormal rapidity of action. She had pulled out
her watch and was facing Over.

“The palace closes at twelve—for the morning.” she said, without a
quiver of nervousness in her voice. “It wants but a few minutes of
twelve, and we never care for luncheon until one. Would you care to go
down and make the usual futile attempt at the poste restante—or are you
tired?”

“Tired? Let us go, by all means. I have had exactly one letter since I
arrived in Spain. There surely is a batch here.”

“I expect rather important ones.” She turned to Miss Holmes.
“Good-morning,” she said, gayly. “And thank you so much. We are the
hungriest people in the world for knowledge.” And she marshalled the
unconscious Over out, he lifting his hat mechanically to Miss Holmes,
while admiring the sparkle in Catalina’s eyes and the unusual color in
her cheeks.



                                  XXII


As they walked down the Empedrada, the most shadowy of the avenues in
the park, Catalina’s ungloved hand came in contact with Over’s and was
instantly imprisoned. For a moment she lost herself in the warm
magnetism of that contact, wondering somewhat, but filled with a new
sense of pleasure. But as she turned her head and met his steady gaze,
half humorous, half tender, she made her obedient eyes dance with
mischief.

“Beware of the Alhambra,” she said, lightly.

“I am not afraid of the Alhambra,” and although she turned her hand he
held it fast.

“Aren’t you?”

“You are very provocative.”

She longed for the mantilla which had given her such confidence in
Toledo, but swept him a glance from the veiled splendor of her eyes.

“I don’t know whether I mind having my hand held or not.”

But if this were diplomacy it failed; he tightened his clasp.

“I am not sure that I know _you_.”

“I have heard you say that a good many times. You are not very
original.”

“I was thinking of to-day, particularly.”

“Why to-day?” The wondering expression held her eyes. “I have never felt
more natural, nor happy. I feel as if the mere blood in my veins had
turned to that golden mist we saw on the vega this morning. I adore
Spain!”

She spoke the last words in such a passion of relief that he brought his
face closer to hers.

“I believe I’d give my soul to kiss you,” he whispered. There was no
humor in his eyes, and he looked the born lover; and the glades of the
“sacred grove” looked the very bower of lovers. But Catalina’s moment of
response was over. Humiliated and furious with herself, she vowed on the
spot that she would never again lift an eyelash to fascinate him. Love
seemed lying in the dust, rocked back and forth by her experimental
foot. He should come to her of his own free will, or go whence he
came—with Miss Holmes, if he chose. She would be loved and wooed
ideally, or die an old maid. But to bait—to man[oe]uvre—to cross swords
with a rival! For the moment she hated Over, and he might have departed
on the instant with her blessing.

She had snatched away her hand and was almost running down the hill. He
made no effort to recover her until they reached the Gate of Granada,
and then they walked sedately down the white hot street together.

“Miss Holmes, it seems, has arranged rather a jolly affair for
to-night,” he said. “A dance in the Alhambra—in the Court of Lions. She
has permission from the authorities, and has engaged some musicians. The
moon rises at ten, and we will dance for two or three hours. How do you
like the idea?”

“Well enough. I am not overfond of dancing.”

“I am sorry. I hoped you would give me the first waltz.”

“Well, I will if I dance. But dancing is not my forte, and I hate doing
anything I don’t do well. I suppose you don’t dance any better yourself,
though. Englishmen never do.”

“Indeed! How many Englishmen have you danced with?”

“Well, I have heard they don’t.”

“I flatter myself I dance rather well. It would be more like you to
judge for yourself.”

“I’ll see.”

They reached the post-office after a hot walk through the town, there to
meet with the usual official stupidity, or indifference, at the window
of the _poste restante_. In vain Catalina adjured the somnolent person
leaning on his elbows to look carefully through the R’s and S’s and O’s.
He replied that there was nothing, but that there might be on the
morrow; the manager of the pension had already spoken to him.

They left the post-office with bristling tempers.

“It is a relief to hate something in Spain,” cried Catalina. “And I hate
the post, the telegraph, and the banks. There is a cab. I have had
enough of walking for one day.”



                                 XXIII


After luncheon Miss Holmes put her arm through Catalina’s. “Come into my
room and talk to me a little while,” she murmured. “I am so tired of all
these men.”

Catalina had stiffened at the contact, but pride made her yield at once.
She turned with a smile in her eyes, and the other girl exclaimed,
impulsively, “You are the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my life!”

“Oh!” said Catalina, melting; but it was characteristic that she merely
accepted the tribute as her due and did not return it in kind.

The two girls presented an edifying spectacle for the eyes of puzzled
man as they walked off, arm in arm; moreover, at the finish of an hour’s
chat in Miss Holmes’s cool little room they were very good friends, for
women may hate each other as rivals but like each other as human
creatures of the same sex. They have so many feminine interests in
common, that man often dips over the horizon of memory while the mind is
alive with the small and normal, only to resume his sway when it is
vacant again.

Miss Holmes, sitting on the floor, her hands clasped about her knees,
proved to be much like any other girl, and entertained Catalina with
lively anecdotes of her experience in Europe. Unconsciously she revealed
much that evoked Catalina’s sympathies. She made her own clothes, and it
was evident that her life was harried by small economies whose names
Catalina barely knew. She was a piece of respectable driftwood in Europe
anchored to a still more respectable sister, and the more remarkable
that she still was able to suggest a young woman of the leisure class.

“Of course I must marry,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“Unfortunately, the only man I ever wanted to marry is a prince without
a cent—you meet scions of all the nobility in pensions; but that, of
course, means that they are as poor as you are. I suppose that
you—independent as you are—won’t marry for ages?”

“I have no intention of marrying at present,” replied Catalina, without
the flicker of an eyelash.

“Lucky you! I haven’t either, for that matter, although my prince
threatens to descend upon me; and if he does—” She lifted her shoulders
again. “Women are idiots when they fall in love. Marriages ought to be
made by the state according to fitness. How do you like my scheme for
to-night?” she added, abruptly.

“It is a stroke of genius. Fancy having a dance in the Alhambra by
moonlight to carry away as a memory! Are you fond of dancing?”

“I adore it. It is the one thing I can do to perfection. I have actually
been proposed to half a dozen times on the strength of my dancing.”

Catalina turned cold. “What an odd reason for proposing! A man cannot
dance with his wife.”

“Well, you see, a man’s head sometimes swims with his feet. Given a man
who is fond of dancing and he is apt to think a woman perfection who
dances to perfection.”

Catalina rose abruptly. “I must go upstairs and rest for to-night. I
have been on the go since daybreak. Thank you for asking me to your
pretty room,” she added, with the charming courtesy she had at command.
“You have what the French call the gift of installation, and this looks
as if you had always lived here. I can’t even keep my room tidy.”

“You have always had servants to keep it tidy for you,” said the other,
with her quick, sweet smile. She shook Catalina’s hand warmly. “Come in
often,” she said, and there was no doubting her sincerity. “And put on
your most becoming gown to-night. It will be a pleasure to look at you.”

But although she was attracted to Catalina, and admired her beauty with
the eye of the connoisseur, she had made up her mind to marry Over. Her
love for the worthy but impoverished prince who had followed her about
Europe for half a year was a fiction of the moment, but Over had carried
her off her feet. She had met scions of the continental aristocracies by
the score, but it was her first adventure with an Englishman of the
higher class who looked as if he would love with difficulty and make
love with ardor. She had held his attention during the morning
immediately in the wake of many sensations quickened by Catalina, and it
is possible that some of their exuberance may have overflowed to her.
She recalled that his eyes had sparkled and melted and dwelt ardently
upon her own, that his tones had been laden with meaning more than once,
that he had uttered many spontaneously complimentary things. She looked
upon Catalina as a lovely and somewhat clever child who could have no
chance in the ring with herself, but she had taken pains to make certain
that her young affections were not involved. She might have hesitated
before breaking an engagement. It must be added that she cared not at
all if Over were rich or poor. An English aristocrat, handsome,
charming, a guardsman—her heart ached with the romance of it.



                                  XXIV


After supper they sat about the table in the garden until nine o’clock,
the men and several of the women smoking; and there was much talk of
art, of books, of travel, gossip of the studios, of politics. Until the
day before it had been a party grown intimate through the association of
several weeks, and to-night, at this their third meal, the three
Americans and the Englishman glided insensibly into the circle. It was a
new society for all of them, and they were interested according to their
respective bias.

Rothe was somewhat surprised to find that untidy artists could yet be
gentlemen not to say men. His wife felt a sympathetic interest in the
individual, and wondered if all these nice people were very poor and
what their particular form of poverty was like; she had never come
across artists in her charities. She longed vaguely to help them in some
way without giving offence. And then she envied them their illusions,
their faith, their enthusiasm, and wondered if the fount of eternal
youth from which these endowments flowed washed from apprehension the
everlasting pettiness of mortal life. Over was always interested when he
was not bored, and Catalina pulsated with curiosity and thanked Heaven
anew for her deliverance from the Moultons. She had spent the afternoon
reading to Mrs. Rothe, then had taken a nap, ignoring Over’s existence.

But she sat opposite him at the table and looked very pretty in the
candle-light, her arms extended, her hands clasped, her lithe body
erect, her attitude one of absolute repose; the eyes, only, smiled
occasionally above the serenity of the rest of her face. Once both she
and Over became conscious that they had drifted from the conversation
and were listening to the nightingales singing in the park beyond the
wall. He met her eyes with a flash in his own, but she flashed defiance
in response, and turned her attention to the German artist who was
disputing hotly with the Frenchman, pounding the table and apoplectic
with excitement. Miss Holmes with her admirable skill calmed the raging
waters and scattered them into various channels. She was in white
to-night with a black silk scarf about her shoulders and one end over
her abundant fair hair; and the eyes of her devotees rarely left her
face. The prince actually had arrived in the afternoon, and occupied the
place of honor beside her, although she had contrived that Over should
sit on her left; and she had played them against each other—or thought
she had—throughout the evening.

The prince was a thick-set, melancholy looking man of middle years who
had some reputation for historical research, a position of solid
respectability wherever he went, and a turn for severe economy. His
inconsiderable power to add to the gayety of the world was further
depressed by the sense of his folly in falling in love with a penniless
girl, but he glowered across at Over and resolved anew to win her if
they had to rusticate on his meagre estate for the rest of their lives.
She was the only woman who had ever lifted the weight from his spirit,
made him forget for a moment the contemptible condition into which,
through no fault of his, his ancient family had fallen. If it had not
been for this condition it is possible that he might long since have
turned his back on the temptation of the American girl, for he held
republics in such scorn that he would not have hesitated to break faith
with the citizen of an illegitimate nation, as one wholly outside his
code of honor and inherited sense of conduct. But this girl had brought
sweetness into his life and he was grateful to her, and in his manner
loved her.

She had considered him in her clear-eyed fashion, had pictured herself
as his companion, well loved, no doubt, and with the entrée to the best
intellectual society on the Continent; but she knew him to be far more
selfish than any man she had ever met, and with a pride which, no matter
how he might love and admire her, would never permit him to forget that
he was a prince and she a plebeian; it is only just to add that she
might have belonged to the flower of American aristocracy and he would
have made no distinction. It was always a risk for an American woman to
marry a European aristocrat with his uncontrollable sense of social
superiority not only over the inhabitants of the United States of
America, but over those of every other nation but his own; and to marry
one who took life seriously and was as poor as a church mouse was
nothing short of foolhardy. But a prince was a prince, even if he were
not the head of his family, and to become an indisputable princess was a
great temptation to the self-made American girl—had been until she met
Over. Now she would have sacrificed a prince of the blood with a
malachite mine in Russia.

She had made herself very charming to Over throughout the evening,
drawing him out, showing him to the others at his best, and he had been
somewhat stimulated by the dull glow in the black, opaque eyes opposite.
As they separated to dress for the party he asked Catalina once more to
give him the initial dance, and when she refused, positively, he
immediately and eagerly asked the same favor of Miss Holmes. After a
moment’s sprightly thought and hesitation he was gratified.

Like most Englishmen of his class he was fond of dancing, although he
regarded it as a sort of poetical exercise, and on the whole preferred
golf; and one good dancer was much the same to him as another. He was
far too practical to feel any desire to hold a particular girl in his
arms in a public room where other men held other girls in conventional
embrace; but this Catalina could not know, and ran up to her room angry
and hurt.

Nevertheless, she dressed herself with elaborate care in an evening gown
recently made in Paris, a white chiffon spangled with gold. It revealed
the slim roundness of her neck and arms, and clasped her beautiful
figure like mere drapery on a statue. She put a white rose on either
side of the mass of hair she always wore low on her neck and found a
long scarf of golden tissue to protect her when the night grew chill.

When she joined the others in the sala there was a murmur of admiration,
rising high among the artists, which she received with absolute
stolidity. Over came forward at once.

“What next?” he murmured. “You surpass my expectations. I can say no
more than that. But you must put that scarf about your shoulders
directly you go out or you will take cold.”

“Practical Englishman! I never had a cold in my life.”

“Wonderful young person! Put it on at once. We are starting.”

Miss Holmes looked like a lorelei with an American education, in pale
green. Her sister was draped in sage green, and the other artist of her
sex in red and yellow Spanish shawls. Mrs. Rothe wore an elaborate blue
gown with an air of doing the occasion all the honor possible. Over,
Rothe, and the prince wore the conventional evening dress; the foreign
artists were in their velvet jackets, with the one exception of the
German, who had got himself up in the property costume of a Spanish
grandee.

Miss Holmes draped a white lace shawl about her head and shoulders.
“Come!” she said. “It is time to start.” And she led the way down the
dark street with her prince. She was to dance many times with Over, and
amiably gave the brief interval to the admirer who was much too serious
for even the stately quadrille.

Over and Catalina brought up in the rear. She drew close to him with a
little shiver.

“I still have that sense of being watched,” she said. “I can’t
understand why I should be so silly as to notice it. I am usually afraid
of nothing—never had a nerve before.” But she did understand, and
resented. Over had roused and quickened all her femininity, and she
longed for his protection, wondered at her former boy-like indifference
to sympathy as to peril.

Over drew her hand through his arm. “It may be nothing and it may mean a
good deal. Mind you do not wander off by yourself in the palace. If you
do I shall be hunting for you, and that will spoil my evening. This
dance has upset our plans, but we must have a stroll together through
some of those old courts and corridors before the party breaks up.”



                                  XXV


The moon hung directly over the tower of Comares. In the arcade beside
the Room of the Two Sisters was a mass of bright cushions and an
Oriental carpet. Here Mrs. Rothe enthroned herself, and the melancholy
and disgusted prince kept her company. The musicians fiddled and
strummed in the pavilion at the top of the court. Wind was rising in the
trees on the steep hill-side above the Darro, and the nightingales sang.
The great rooms around the court, the low chambers above, were black
with shadow, but the open spaces about the lions were lively with
whirling figures and the chatter of women. The original party, which was
too rich in men, had been reinforced by several American girls from
another pension, and all had entered into the gay spirit of the night
except Catalina, who stood alone in the pavilion opposite the musicians,
frankly miserable, and furious with herself for daring to suffer.

Over had danced no less than six times with Miss Holmes, whose dancing
would throw a Hebe out of court. She was the triumphant belle of the
evening—no sultana in her little hour had ever held prouder sway in
these halls of the Moors; and where they, indeed, had been glad of one
doubtfully devoted heart she was lightly spurning half a dozen. The men
importuned her between dances, the foreigners extravagant in their
admiration, Over consoling himself with manifest discontent when she
gave her hand to another.

He had just completed his sixth waltz with her when Catalina had her
inspiration. He had not looked at her since the dancing began. There was
only one way in which she could compel his attention, and although her
shyness rose to arms, her knees shook, and her breath came short, she
set her teeth and glided down the arcade to the pavilion of the
musicians.

It had been understood that after the first hour and a half there was to
be an interval for lemonade and sweets and rest, during which they would
sit on the cushions and admire the opposite arcade and the airy grace of
the pavilions under the light of the moon.

“It must have been here that Muley Aben Hassan and Boabdil used to sit
with their courts while the minstrels—or whatever they were in those
days—tried to amuse them, and the nautch-girls danced, and the captives
above envied the captives below,” Miss Holmes was beginning as they
arranged the cushions, when several of the party gave a low cry, and the
hostess paused with her mouth open. A figure had risen before them in
the moonlight, slim, young, veiled, the very eidola of those forgotten
women the number of whose heart-beats had depended upon the nod of a
tyrannical voluptuary. Only her eyes, long, dark, expressionless, were
revealed above the gold tissue of her veil, and Over alone recognized
her instantly. He had missed her as they assembled, and was about to go
in search of her when she appeared. He held his breath, and the others,
one or two of the girls giggling hysterically, hardly knew whether to be
frightened or not.

Then the low, soft, dreaming strains of music crept over to them and she
began to dance. She had known the old Spanish dances all her life and
loved them with all the wild blood in her, despising the more the
conventional whirl of the drawing-room. She danced none of these
to-night, however, but an improvisation, born of her knowledge of
Moorish traditions, the place, and the hour.

As Over realized what she purposed he stepped forward with the intention
of stopping the performance, enraged that other men should be in the
audience, but arrested by his distaste of a scene. In a moment he sank
down on his cushions, wondering that he had doubted her, for it was
apparent even in the first few moments that in spite of the graceful
abandon of her dancing there was to be nothing to suggest the coarseness
of the women that had danced on that spot before her.

But if the swinging and swaying and bending and whirling of her body
were without suggestiveness they were the very poetry of beauty. The
scarf was bound about her head and over her face below the eyes, but she
held a point in either hand, her arms sometimes extended, at others
describing curves that made the delicate tissue flutter like the many
wings of tiny birds. The spangles on her dress, the diamond buckles on
her slippers were 1000 points of light, for the moon was poised directly
overhead and flooding the court. The perfume of the scarf stole into the
senses of the staring company and completed the illusion, delicately
brushing with sensuousness what was otherwise an expression of the
rhythm of life, the dreaming of an ardent but virginal soul. So a
nautch-girl may have danced for the first time before a king, ignorant
then of what was expected of her, dissolving in the joy of rhythmical
motion, of innocent pride in her own young beauty.

The arches between the company and the dancer, the fountain above the
lions rising in a silver veil behind her, and beyond it the white,
shining arches with their moving shadows, the distant warbling of the
nightingales rising above the swooning music, the Oriental mystery in
the eyes above the veil—not one of her audience but surrendered himself,
although, in superficial fashion, all had recognized her.

And then, while their senses were locked, while they were hardly
conscious whether they slept or waked, a strange and terrible thing
happened. From the Room of the Two Sisters beside them the figure of a
man leaped like a sword from its scabbard, caught the dancer in his
arms, and disappeared whence it had come.

There was a fatal moment of incredulity; then Over leaped to his feet
and ran into the dark room. But he had no idea which way to turn, and
had lost himself in the Sala de los Ajimeces beyond when he heard Miss
Holmes cry, sharply:

“He mustn’t go alone, and at least I know every foot of the palace. The
man will make for the underground rooms or climb out of one of the
windows and down the hill to the Albaicin.”

The word completed Over’s horror, but as he hastily rejoined the party,
now voluble in the Room of the Two Sisters, he despatched Rothe and the
Spanish artist for the police, and then with little ceremony ordered
Miss Holmes to lead the way.


Catalina, in that leap from the dark room to her swaying form, dreamy
with its own motion, had recognized Jesus Maria; but in the swift flight
that followed her face was pressed so hard against his shoulder that she
could neither see nor cry out. Her feet struck against narrow walls, but
her arms were pinioned in that strong, deft embrace, and rage inwardly
as she might, he controlled her as easily as if she were bound with
cords. It was only when she felt him lift her slightly as he vaulted
over a window-ledge that she found her opportunity. With a swift writhe
of her body she freed her hands and beat upon his face with all her
strength, which was not inconsiderable. He was stumbling down the steep
declivity below the Comares Tower, and he paused a moment to take
breath.

“What do you want?” she cried, furiously. “Money?”

He pressed his left hand over her mouth and dexterously caught both her
hands in his right.

“Yes,” he said, grimly. “The señor your uncle can bring that with the
golden señorita. It is you or she and the money, too. Keep quiet!” he
said, violently. “If you cry out I will run a nail through your tongue.”

Catalina knew there was no time for any such ceremony at the moment, and
the moment was all she had. With another sharp wrench she freed her head
and hands, struggled to press her knee against his chest, and clawed his
face with her sharp nails. The cliff was but little off the
perpendicular, irregular of surface, and a wilderness of high shrubs,
rocks, and trees. For a man to make the descent in daylight and
unencumbered was no mean feat; but to endeavor to accomplish this at
night, the moon hidden more often than not by the trees and Comares,
with a struggling woman in his arms, tried even the superb strength and
skill of the Catalan. He set her down and attempted to wind the long
scarf more tightly about her mouth and throat and to bind her hands. But
she was too quick for him. She made no attempt to run away, knowing the
futility, but she braced herself against a rock and fought him. She felt
not a spasm of fear, but she thrilled with the consciousness that she
fought for more than her liberty undefiled; she fought for freedom to
fly back to Over and have an end of subterfuge and delusion. In those
moments, as she fought and kicked and scratched like a wild-cat, she had
a vivid and serene vision of herself as Over’s wife. She knew it to be
writ as clearly as if the hand of destiny traced it on the silver disk
above, and while her body obeyed its primal instincts her soul sang.

The Catalan was desperate. He cursed his folly in not stationing his
confederate on the Darro instead of in the hovel in the Albaicin; but he
had feared confusion and felt contemptuously sure of his ability to
manage a mere girl. But he had had no experience of girls whom ranch
life had made vigorous and fearless, and whose fathers had taught them
the principles of boxing. Catalina parried his attempts to give her a
stunning blow as deftly as she filled her nails with his skin and hair,
and she was so well braced he could not trip her. Once he made a sudden
dive for her feet with his hands, but she leaped aside and his nose came
in contact with the rock.

Suddenly he turned his head. Far above, in the windows of the Hall of
the Ambassadors, from which he had made his escape, he heard the sound
of voices. That moment was his undoing. With the leap of a panther
Catalina was on his back. She pressed her knees into his sides, dragged
his head back with one arm, while with the other she pounded his
unprotected face. He gave a mighty shake, but he might as well have
attempted to throw off a wild-cat of her own forests. He might exhaust
her in time, but so long as she had strength she would hang on, and with
a low roar, that portended hideous vengeance, he started once more down
the bluff.

As Edith Holmes led the race through the many corridors and apartments
that lay between the court and the Hall of the Ambassadors she knew that
the game was hers if she chose to play it. There was but one place in
Granada where an outlaw would be secure, and that was in the Albaicin,
and she knew the Alhambra too well not to be sure of the route
Catalina’s abductor would take. But it was simple enough to persuade
Over that the man would be more likely to take an underground route,
escaping at the favorable moment by some opening known only to his kind.

The descent to the baths was on the way to the Hall of the Ambassadors,
and as she ran down the long corridor her brain whirled with the
obsession of the place, and she fancied herself for a moment one of the
favorites who had reigned here in the days of Moorish splendor until a
fairer captive threatened her own youth and beauty and love of life with
a silken cord and a brief struggle in one of the chambers above. Over’s
apparent devotion during the first part of the night had roused in her
all the passion of which she was capable, and she could feel his hot,
short breath on her neck as they ran. She had watched his surrender to
Catalina’s beautiful dancing and his wild, instinctive leap to her
rescue with bitter jealousy and fear. In a flash she had seen Catalina
for what she was—a girl to rouse all the romantic passion in a man; and
in all her loveliness, her ideal womanhood, and her changing moods, she
had been his constant companion for three weeks in Spain! But thrust out
of sight—the creature of a gypsy—internationally besmirched—Her feet
turned to the threshold leading down to the old Moorish bath, where ten
minutes could be wasted. But the American girl in her suddenly revolted.
Another American girl was in hideous peril, and she shuddered with
disgust even more than with pity.

She whirled about. “Prince,” she whispered, “you and Helmholtz go down
there and search, but I feel sure he has gone out one of the windows.”
And she ran on to the Hall of the Ambassadors.

They searched it at last and hung out of the windows. Far below a faint
sound came to their ears, but they could not determine its nature. An
instant later they heard a short but infuriated roar, followed by the
sharp call of a woman. Over was already on the other side of the window
when Miss Holmes caught his arm.

“Don’t!” she cried, hysterically. “It is almost certain death. He is
sure to have confederates!”

Over gave her a look of haughty surprise and shook her off. The
Frenchman thrust a pistol into his hand.

“I never go without one here. Don’t hesitate to shoot.”

Over groped and stumbled down the hill, but with far more agility than
the encumbered Catalan. There was no path, the thick brush and rocks
were everywhere, and the moon made the shadows under the trees the
heavier. But when a thin Englishman has spent the greater part of his
life on his feet and out-of-doors he is little likely to lose his
balance or skill even on a steep wilderness designed by the cunning Moor
as a pitfall for the enemy.

He was half-way down when the way cleared and he saw, several yards
beneath him, a curious, stumbling figure, half black, half white. In an
instant he suspected its meaning, and although he was obliged to laugh
he paused and gave a sharp halloo. Catalina answered him with what
breath was left in her, and he heard the glad note in her broken cry. He
ran on, but in a moment the man stopped abruptly and endeavored once
more to shake off his burden. Catalina leaped from his back and ran to
one side, bracing herself once more. Over aimed his pistol and fired.
The man gave a wild scream of pain, tumbled to his knees, regained his
feet, and fled. Catalina ran up the hill a few steps, then, suddenly
exhausted, leaned against a tree. But Over bore down upon her, and when
she saw his eyes she opened her arms.

                                THE END



                           Transcriber’s Note

There were a small number of issues with the text which can be
attributed to printer’s errors. The following table summarizes any
corrections.

 p. 171     permitted Catalin[a/e] to commit him       Corrected.
 p. 195     marr[l/i]ed                                Corrected.





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