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Title: The Bride of Mission San José - A Tale of Early California
Author: Cull, John Augustine
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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[Frontispiece: BUILDING FROM WHICH STANISLAUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS STOLE
TWO HUNDRED INDIAN MAIDENS

"When Padre Osuna trails us he can perform a hundred double weddings at
once"]



  The Bride of Mission
  San José

  A Tale of Early California

  By
  JOHN AUGUSTINE CULL



  THE ABINGDON PRESS
  NEW YORK CINCINNATI



  Copyright, 1920, by
  JOHN AUGUSTINE CULL



CHARACTERS PROMINENT IN THE STORY

SEÑOR MENDOZA, former Colonel in Napoleonic wars; subsequently,
Administrator of Mission San José de Guadalupe, Santa Clara Valley,
California; later Governor of the province.

CARMELITA MENDOZA, daughter of Señor Mendoza.

PADRE LUSCIANO OSUNA, Spiritual Head of Mission San José de Guadalupe.

CAPTAIN MORANDO, Comandante of the Pueblo of San José; afterward
General of all the land forces of the department of California.

COLONEL BARCELO, Comandante of the Presidio of Monterey, and acting
Governor of California.

CHARLES O'DONNELL, in the secret service of the United States.

SEÑORA VALENTINO, in the secret service of England.

CAPTAIN FARQUHARSON, English representative extraordinary in the
province.

COMMODORE BILLINGS, Commanding the American fleet in the Pacific.

ADMIRAL FAIRBANKS, Commanding the British fleet in the Pacific.

YOSCOLO, Famous Indian chief.

STANISLAUS, Lieutenant of Yoscolo.

BROWN, Factotum of Captain Farquharson; later, in the employ of Señor
Mendoza.

Time: 1842 to 1846.



  Contents

  Chapter

  I. A Serenade in the Moonlight
  II. The Lion and the Lamb Lie Down Together
  III. A Dip into the Past
  IV. A Stranger Visits Señor Mendoza
  V. Another Stranger Makes a Visit
  VI. The Merienda
  VII. A Night Spent in a Cave
  VIII. The Political Pot Simmers
  IX. Señora Valentino Seeks to Interest Padre Osuna
  X. The Beginning of the Ball at Señor Mendoza's Hacienda House
  XI. At the Supper
  XII. Carmelita Dances El Son
  XIII. Returning from the Ball
  XIV. O'Donnell Takes A Horseback Ride
  XV. Señora Valentino Makes a Report
  XVI. The Señorita of the Window Pane
  XVII. O'Donnell Settles with Yoscolo
  XVIII. Farquharson Meets with a Loss
  XIX. Señora Valentino and Captain Morando Continue Conversation
  XX. Bitter Sweet
  XXI. A Few Diplomatic Touches
  XXII. Almost--
  XXIII. Pedro Zelaya Brings Important News
  XXIV. The Next Day
  XXV. Brown Takes a Hand at Diplomacy
  XXVI. Braving the Storm
  XXVII. But Yet a Woman
  XXVIII. A Daughter of the De La Mendoza
  XXIX. A Departure
  XXX. Odds and Ends
  XXXI. Across the Years
  XXXII. A Wedding



CHAPTER I

A SERENADE IN THE MOONLIGHT

"Fairer art thou than the lily, than the rose more sweet," sang a
mellow baritone voice.  A guitar thrummed accompaniment.  At the end of
his improvisation the singer waved the instrument gracefully, now in
sweeping stroke, again in shorter measure, as if he were a maestro
directing his musicians.  Then he touched the strings in melancholy
strain:

"Beat, beat, little dove, thy tender wings against thy iron cage."

Next triumphantly he intoned:

"Fly away, little dove, fly away; the cruel bars are broken."

Once more in pantomime he directed his fancied musicians.

"What is it, Don Alfredo?  Art fanning thyself, or do mosquitoes annoy
thee?"

He looked upward into a pair of dark, laughing eyes not three feet
distant.

"O, Doña Carmelita," rapturously, "I was marking rhythm for the angel
choirs which sing in praise of thy beauty and charm.  They sing of one
angel, even thou, Doña mia, more fair than they."

The girl withdrew from the embrasure, brushing her fan across its
iron-barred front.

"I shut out, Don Alfredo, thy foolish words.  I drive them back into
the air.  I fear the angels are displeased at thy presumption.  Many
nights have you sung here meaningless words, empty nothings; but even
better such than to speak thoughts which must offend the saints in
heaven."

"O, Doña Carmelita, let me once again see thy eyes sparkle in the
moonlight; add a flash or two from thy teeth of pearl----"

"Hush, Don Alfredo, or I leave.  Perhaps at other embrasures not far
away wait caballeros, not so vain as to fancy themselves directors of
the music celestial.  Good night, Don Alfredo.  Clip the wings of thy
imagination lest thou fly too near the sun."

"O, Doña mia, do not go away.  If it please thee I'll praise the
heavenly angels."

The window was suddenly closed.

"Caramba! again.  It's difficult for a soldier to trim his tongue that
he may speak words of love to the tender ears of the capricious
señorita."

"Good evening, Captain Morando."

The soldier turned abruptly.  At his side stood Señor Mendoza,
administrator of the Mission of San José, gravely looking at him.

"Good evening, your Excellency.  I hope your health is all of the
best," somewhat discomposedly.

"Many thanks, Captain.  Your hope is generously fulfilled in me, for my
health is indeed good."

The Administrator's expression became quizzical.  "May I ask you, brave
soldier, why you stand on guard here in the moonlight, bearing that
singular-appearing firearm?" pointing to the guitar.  "Can it be that
renegade Indians threaten?"

"When a soldier stands at guard, Señor Administrator, may there not be
motives many, other than renegade Indians?"

The other laughed and changed the subject.  "Did I but dream the
comandante of the pueblo of San José was to be here to-night, he would
have been invited to sit with our council meeting but now concluded.
Spring advances, and the rains fall not.  Never has Alta California
seen such drought.  Our live stock sadly need grazing and water.  Hence
I called the council.  I would that you had been present.  The military
mind is fertile in expedient."

"I fear it would be sadly deficient in surmounting the need of a south
wind."

"Our Captain has wit, as well as vigilance.  But I am forgetting
hospitality, soldier protector of the Mission.  Come within.  Let
others woo, if they will, the goddess of dreams, but for you and me the
pleasures of fellowship will hasten lagging hours."

"I thank you, Señor Mendoza, but I fear----"

"Fear never a moment, friend Morando.  Sentinels watch over us in
valley and on hill, men trusty, tried, and true.  Eyes have they as
keen as eagles; the ears and the swiftness of the fox are theirs.
Therefore no vigil need thou keep for us."

Morando still hesitated.

"Come now.  Right glad am I that you are here.  Within, a glass of
wine, a chat, perhaps a harmless game at cards, await us.  Soon roll
the hours away.  Then you gallop across the pastures, alas! dry and
bare now, to the pueblo of San José.  I seek my couch soothed by your
young companionship.  Now, what wilt thou?"

An inarticulate sound behind the embrasure.  Don Alfredo could have
sworn it concealed a silvery laugh from the fair Doña Carmelita.

"The night birds are calling, Don Alfredo.  Did you not just hear
them?" looking slyly at the captain.  "They are sleepy and we arouse
them."

Holding his arm and talking the while about the drought and other
difficulties the Administrator led Don Alfredo within.

"Brave Captain, place that death-dealing weapon on the chair," pointing
a second time to the guitar.  "Some new invention, of course, though I
seem to see something familiar about it.  Seat yourself on that settee.
It came to me from Madrid."

"Thank you, señor."

With a smile as gracious as the moonlight the señor said: "At another
time I would ask my daughter, the Doña Carmelita, to join us for a
little visit, but the child is young and the night already late.  She
would doubtless wish to sleep."

They were in the Administrator's private sitting room, the duplicate of
a room in his father's castle in Spain.  Priceless Persian rugs were on
the floor, with high-back chairs of solid mahogany everywhere about.  A
massive secretary, likewise of mahogany, stood at one side.  Tapestries
designed in Seville hung on one of the walls; weapons of the hunt and
of war, another; while oil paintings of battles, in many of which the
family Mendoza had been distinguished, completed the adornment.

"Caramba!  I ride miles to serenade the daughter; and here I am in the
hacienda house, the guest of the father, while the señorita is
somewhere in the courtyard, laughing, I'm sure--yes, laughing," thought
the young soldier.

"Some wine, my Captain?  Genuine Malaga it is, guaranteed by government
stamp, not the juice of the old Mission grape, excellent as that is.
Now, the cigarros.  Let us speak, Señor Captain, of the General
Guerrero.  I understand he was once commander of that division in Spain
from which you have so lately come.  Am I correct?"

"You are, señor.  The General was my commander so recently that one
year will more than bridge the time."

"Guerrero was my captain when, as a subaltern, I sailed these western
seas, and saw service in the Philippines--service that was service.
Tell me of my one-time leader.  Is he well?"

"He is well, and the years have small meaning to his strength."

Captain Morando talked with his host of the campaigns of General
Guerrero in the Spanish trans-Mediterranean dependencies; of the newly
concluded peace there; and of the retirement of the General by the age
limit, but all the while his mind was fashioning love songs outside the
window of the fair señorita.  Through the haze of tobacco smoke the
strong, kindly face of the Administrator of Mission San José de
Guadalupe softened into the sweet face of the doña, with her laughing
eyes and beautiful hair; his deep voice gave way to the lighter tones
of the daughter.

"Peace in North Africa brought relief to the young soldier from
discomforts of the campaign.  Was it not so?"

"Señor Mendoza, it brought the weariness of camp and garrison.  The
morning drill, the after-luncheon parade, the society function in the
evening, ill filled my idea of the life a man should live.  Besides,
the ambitious soldier sees advancement only in a life of action.  I
sought a change and I found one.  My resignation was easily effected.
I then carried my letters to the Mexican war secretary, whom I made
acquainted with my preference.  Accordingly, came my assignment to San
José pueblo."

"Good!  Good, my Captain!  During my visit in Mexico just concluded I
learned that you had been appointed comandante.  Some wine in your
glass?"

"No more, thank you."

"What, not any?  The young man is abstemious.  That is well.  Strong
and lusty age follows youth lived along the way of moderation."

The men puffed their cigars.  Higher and higher, in widening circles,
rose the incense of the fragrant leaf.  The Administrator was busy with
his thoughts; likewise the guest.  "His daughter, he intimates, is too
young for late hours.  Many a night, at low twelve, during his sojourn
in Mexico, have I sung to her from my corner in the courtyard.  What
would he say if he knew that to-night is not my first visit
thither--nor yet my second--nor my third--nor yet----"

The older man broke the silence.  "Soldier, our California needs men."

Morando started slightly, then signified by a movement of the head that
he had heard.  Mendoza exhaled several whiffs of his Havana before
speaking further, meanwhile surveying the alert form and soldierly
features of the Captain.

"Life is not all play, as many appear to think it is.  Our province has
passed the years of childhood.  With maturity comes duty as waking with
day."

The soldier listened with interest.

"I believe the cleavage of California and Mexico is near at hand.  They
fall apart by their own weight.  Even the Mexican secretary of state
spoke openly of this to me a month ago."

"Then what comes, Señor Mendoza?"

"There comes that which we ourselves make.  On an ethical foundation of
the highest order must we build our body politic.  Then, when our
province becomes free, some protecting nation will extend to us a
sister's hand.  If in this fruitful land there should prevail the
spirit of sweet-do-nothingness, how can we hope that others will
consider us highly while we deem ourselves lightly?"

"My time here has been too short to have studied these matters
carefully.  However, I have heard men speak of a California republic."

"The vision of dreamers, my Captain.  We have neither army nor navy,
nor can we hope to have them.  How could we unaided hold this province
situated as it is, the commercial center of these seas and the bosom of
resources as yet scarcely touched?"

"Then, in your judgment, it should not be a question of absolute
independence?"

"In one sense, no.  Yet, I favor a rule by the people.  People of
enlightenment will govern wisely.  Captain Morando, we need men, more
men, who will place the common good above their private interest."

"You speak the duty of the soldier, Señor Mendoza."

"It is so, Captain."  Then turning the conversation back to the
situation in the Santa Clara valley: "Have you run across Stanislaus
yet?  No?  Nor Yoscolo?  Well, I hope you will soon see both over your
pistol barrel.  They are a menace to the peace in our valley.  Yoscolo
is the abler of the two.  Many a lively skirmish have my fighting peons
had with the scoundrel."

During this time the Doña Carmelita mounted a staircase and walked
along a passage which had its way over a high, wide adobe wall leading
from one part of the house to another.  The moonlight fell in weird
fantasy on the hacienda grounds.  Palms, evergreens, flowers assumed
moving shapes, as if engaged in low but animated conversation.

Breezes from San Francisco Bay flowed intermittently into the
courtyard, shaking the branches and rattling the leaves.  One stronger
gust caught spray from a fountain and sent it eddying into the white
night.  The awakened birds murmured sleepily and myriad crickets
chirped remonstrance.  Three Spanish mastiffs, guardians of the
inclosure, edged away from the impromptu shower, then looked up
furtively at the girl, ashamed of temporary cowardice.

Anon there floated down to her from the heights beyond the call of the
Indian sentinel as he made his rounds, "Love to God!" followed by the
reply from one of his fellows, "Love to God!"  With a dozen tongues the
hills took up the refrain, "Love to God!  Love to God!"

"What can my father and Captain Morando find to talk about so long!
Men can gossip as well as women when they are so minded."

She mounted another flight of outside stairs that led to the top of the
buildings which formed three sides of the courtyard.  The courtyard
door was open.  Several peons were holding the struggling watchdog
while another brought Morando's horse.

"Hold fast those dogs!" Señor Mendoza said to the Indians.  "They are
as fierce as tigers.  Good-night, Captain Morando.  Remember two weeks
from Thursday evening, at six.  My daughter's dueña will be home from
Monterey, and we'll have both to dine with us, with perhaps a few
friends, just a valecito casero--a little house party.  Good-night.
Glad you've some men in the village.  The country won't be safe till we
rid it of those miscreant renegades.  Good-night, Captain."

The heavy door closed.  The doña saw that Captain Morando rode around
the courtyard to the embrasure window, halted and looked up anxiously.
Walking to the edge of the roof she stood there, a beautiful picture.
He waved his hand.

"O, doña mia--" he began.  Unfastening a rose from her hair she tossed
it to him.  The pulsing air caught it, and swaying, whirling, it fell.
He reined in his horse, urged it forward, swung it around, keeping in
the uncertain downward path of the rose, till finally its stem rested
in his hand.

He kissed the flower again and again; then holding it up to her, waved
it in rhythmic motion as he had done before with the guitar.

"O, doña mia--" he began once more, but the watchdogs bayed savagely
and rushed against the adobe fence.  His horse shied and sprang away.
He wheeled back again.

The señorita had disappeared.



CHAPTER II

THE LION AND THE LAMB LIE DOWN TOGETHER

Most unwonted drought had laid a withering hand on fertile Santa Clara
valley that year.  March had come and no vast stretches of wild oats
measured the way from foothill to bay; no juicy grazing for cattle and
horses on the rich bottom lands.  The plain-brown color-tone of autumn
prevailed, not that of spring, in triumphant green and promise of rich
harvest.

This interchange prevailed almost everywhere except around the gushing
springs at the Mission San José.  Here rioted nature in her proudest
fancy, for the intense warmth of day and night had brought to blossom
before their time wild plant, oleander, and fruit tree.  Here was green
grass in luxuriant abundance, while the tall mustard flaunted its
yellow top as usual, and afforded a resting place for chattering
blackbird and twittering linnet.

The springs on the Administrator's property several miles north of
Mission San José had gradually diminished in flow until only unsightly,
trampled mud remained where was a limpid lake in happier years.

The geyserlike warm springs on the property of Don Fulgencio Higuera,
Señor Mendoza's neighbor to the south, had suddenly run dry.  In fact,
not more than half a dozen sources of water-supply remained within a
radius of a score of miles.  The like had never been known, not even in
the memory of the oldest Indian in the valley.

Weird relics of Druidic worship, half forgotten under the tutelage of
the Mission padres, were revived in forest and mountain.  Vast columns
of smoke, odoriferous of cedar and bay-leaf, reached high toward heaven
in the motionless air.  The ancient name of Oroysom replaced on many a
tongue that of the smoothly flowing Mission San José de Guadalupe,
which name the missionaries had given the region when their work of
Christianizing the Indians began.

"Oroysom, Oroysom, begs thee, Great Spirit, to awake," sang the
aborigine.  "Let the perfume of laurel propitiate thee.  Let the
sweetness of the smoke of cedar be a gracious offering unto thee.  On
the fields of Oroysom no food for beast is found.  Gaunt famine is
rushing hither in wind-swift pace.  Our hunters search stream and
wildwood, but find no food for the child, the women, the old people.
There is no maize, no field of growing wheat; and, lo! the garden is
dry and empty.  Oroysom calls on thee, Father of the rain, Source of
the springs, and Giver of the harvest, to arouse from slumber and
forget no longer the people who from old have honored thee."

Around the great fires at night the Indians swung hand in hand, swaying
in willowy motion as they chanted their incantation.  Their shadows
danced in wildest abandon on the mammoth rocks or mountain peaks which
formed the background of the strange scene.

Señor Mendoza, the leading spirit among the landholders on the eastern
side of the valley, endeavored, as, indeed, did his neighbors, to
maintain equanimity, but there was much anxiety among all.

Even water for family use had to be carried on horseback, the vaqueros
from ranchos miles away coming to the few remaining water-supplies, and
riding back with the precious water skins over the pommel of the saddle.

It was the last week of January when the Administrator first called his
fellow landowners together to consider what could be done.  They
gathered in his sitting room.  Graybeards they were, the most of them,
and rich in the wisdom of many years, as well as in landed possessions.

Long they smoked the cigarros of the provident Administrator and sipped
his rare wines, the while exchanging polite remarks on the nothings of
the day.  This was their way while waiting to begin attack on some
weighty subject.  Finally Señor Mendoza ordered the serving peons to
bring on his choicest cognac, a select French product.

"The Administrator is vastly disturbed over this rainless winter,"
whispered Don Pedro Zelaya, of the rancho San Lorenzo, to Don Fulgencio
Higuera, of the rancho Aguas Calientes.  "Paris knows no better cognac
than I see here.  I divine his anxiety by the quality of his liquors.
Last year when renegade Indians threatened he furnished our meeting
here with a Portuguese cordial mild as milk.  Much as he fears the
prowling Yoscolo and Stanislaus, he measures them not high in
comparison with this drought."

The leonine-appearing Señor Higuera squared his yard-wide shoulders to
attention as he sat in his high-backed chair.  His eye ran slowly over
the slender and dapper Señor Zelaya.  A trace of humor stole into his
eyes, then over his bearded face.  "Brandy in the head seldom lends
swiftness to the feet.  Is it not so?"

Pedro Zelaya was the swiftest foot-racer in the province of California.
He was also a lover of good eating and drinking.  When training for his
famous races he must forego the delicacies of his French cook, and the
bouquet of imported wine, which deprivations he relished not over well.

"A thimbleful of brandy is given even to a bull-fighter before the
contest," replied Señor Zelaya, bowing politely and suavely smiling.

Years before the doughty Señor Higuera had seized and held by the horns
an infuriated bull which, maddened by eating the dreaded rattleweed, a
venomous plant then common, had left the herd and rushed up on Higuera,
who was standing, with his wife and children, in the open before the
courtyard of his hacienda house.

The peons served the cognac in long, slender-stemmed goblets.  Señor
Mendoza raised his glass, looked for a moment at the amber liquid, then
sipped it gently.  Lowering the glass he glanced around at the
assembled company.  Each man, following the example of the host, tasted
the contents of his own glass, and then allowed his eyes to rest on the
Señor Administrator.

This process was repeated once, twice, three times, until each had
finished his beverage.

Señor Mendoza's aquiline features, garnished by mustache and imperial,
and embellished by a waving iron-gray hair, fell into severer mold.

"Señors, my friends, may I have your attention?"

No one spoke.

"Señors," his tones serious and resonant, "it is not raining to-day."

His assertion was not disputed.  The rays of the sun streamed into the
room.  It was afternoon and the delicately tinted stained glass of the
windows was resplendent in the light.

"It rained not yesterday, nor in the yesterday of many months," looking
from one to another of his company, as if in search of opposition.

The señors, in solemn concord, bowed in corroboration of his statement.

"The soft south wind blows not.  Overhead is the summer sun.  I see no
hope of rain to-morrow."

The grave señors acquiesced.

"Indians in thousands, beasts in tens of thousands, are on our lands.
Responsibilities, neither few nor doubtful, weigh on our shoulders.  If
it rains not to-morrow, nor yet till the to-morrows touch late spring,
how can we fulfill the duty this province of Alta California lays at
our door, that our aborigine wards lack not the sustenance their
condition demands?"

His look went from face to face.  Suddenly he stood upright.

"Señors, to save our people we must save our cattle.  Even if the rain
comes, the feed will be late.  Therefore our herds must go elsewhere
soon, or only their dried bones will see another year.  Whither shall
we take them?"

The foremost in the council gave their views.

"The river to the north, called Russian, nourishes vast cañons of
redwood forest.  The soil is ever moist where the heaven-searching
redwood grows.  Let rafts be made to ferry the animals to the shore of
Contra Costa.  In another year they will return, with increase, fat and
safe.  Our peons throughout the year can call hither from that region
the supplies we need."  Thus Don Antonio Peralta.

As he concluded the other leaders bowed to him solemnly.

The dapper Zelaya indicated to his host, who was yet standing, his wish
to speak.

The quiet humor in the heart of Señor Higuera stole again into his eyes
and over his face and reached his tongue.  "Swiftness in the feet means
quickness in the mind directing those feet.  Let us hear Señor Zelaya."

The lord of the rancho San Lorenzo looked musingly at his friend.  "I
doubt greatly that even Señor Higuera could hold a grizzly bear by the
horns, since that creature possesses none.  At any rate, the grizzly
has strength yet greater than our mighty Higuera here.  The deep
shadows of the Russian river cañons shelter these enemies in numbers.
Our vaqueros could little protect their charges in those glades and
thickets.  Señors," impressively, "if our live stock are to leave their
bones bleaching anywhere this season, why send them abroad to seek this
privilege?"

"Brava!" said the giant Higuera, smiling approval.

Some one then spoke of the pasturage away to the south, in the valley
of the Salinas, or even the rolling lands of Santa Barbara.  But the
feed could but poorly support the herds already there, so one said who
recently had traveled about.

Mendoza resumed his seat, since no one spoke further.  For a moment he
silently regarded his neighbors.  At last: "Friends and brothers mine,
Señor Peralta has spoken of the north country as a possible solution
for our imminent difficulties.  Señor Zelaya is right.  The Russian
bear, as well as the California grizzly, would divide our property by
piecemeal there.  There are yet the river beds of the Sacramento and
the San Joaquin."

"But Yoscolo and Stanislaus and their thousand renegades!" objected
one.  "We go to the mouth of the tiger.  More than ever are these men
active now."

"Our fighting peons equal in strength their recreant fellows.  Nothing
remains but for us to cross the passes to the soft bottom lands in the
eastern valleys.  Señors, shall we go?"

The Administrator's judgment was accepted, and the visitors, standing,
drank another glass of brandy and departed.

Early the next day began a great exodus of cattle and horses through
mountain defile, north and south, to the flat lowlands across the
mountain ranges, Indian vaqueros, peons armed with bows and arrows, and
here and there a Spaniard with a flint-lock musket going with the herds.

Despite the general departure of live stock the late spring saw
wondrous commotion about the watering troughs of Señor Mendoza.  Cattle
from the hills, from the marshes of the bay, from no one knew where,
scented water and rushed in thirst-madness to the Mission of San José;
bellowing, leaping, rolling over and over in their frenzy to reach the
water!

All day long did the vaqueros rush into the surging tumult, springing
with the swiftness of the cat from back to back of cattle or horse in
the plunging mass, separating the press here to save the weaker animals
from suffocation, opening lanes there to allow ingress to the troughs.
Bellowing of cattle mingled with neighing of horses in wildest
confusion.  Famine showed feverlike in their eyes and echoed madly in
their cries.  During the day the battle raged, but at night they drew
away to the hills looking for the lower tree-foliage and the scanty
leaf-forage.

Then came other animals to the water.  Thirst drew them from the
mountains and drove away their fear of man.  The gaunt bear lapped from
the trough, and though the bow of the hunter was bent and the arrow
aimed to slay, pity withheld the arrow.

The timid deer stood unafraid at the side of its ancient enemies, man
and bear.  The scream of the mountain lion mingled with the howl of the
wolf, as they ran about among men, looking for food after they had
quenched their thirst at the watering place.

Some strange chivalry, deep residing in the beasts of prey, held the
weaker denizens of the wildwood in safety from claw and fang.  In their
dire adversity came a literal fulfillment of the old prophecy that the
lion and the lamb should lie down together.

Señor Mendoza and his friends faced bravely the difficult situation.

"Our Indian brother shows now his likeness of spirit to the four-footed
dwellers of the wood.  Famine madness possesses both.  Together do they
roam by day and weirdly cry by night," said Mendoza in the council of
his neighbors.

"The Indians lack not food or water," said some one.  "What need of
such strange actions?"

"The savage is close to the surface in every nature," replied Mendoza.
"Among our Indian friends the outcropping is more easily apparent."

Several began speaking at the same time, an unusual thing in that
placid assembly.  Like a murmur it began, but rose to distinct word and
ordered expression.  "Our wives, our children, our lives, are in danger
from these mad wards the province has given us."

"Our soldiers are at the pueblo," said one.

"They number less than fifty.  The Indians have strength and to spare
to drive our few troopers into the San Francisco bay," said Zelaya.

"Why were so many aborigines trained in the use of the musket and
lance?" from some one else.

"They have fought our battles against their untamed brethren for a
generation," replied Mendoza.

As usual this meeting was in Mendoza's house.  Directly across the road
was the Mission church.

As if to give emphasis to the fears but just expressed from everywhere
there came the peculiar semitone that only moccasined feet can make.  A
thousand footfalls centered their way to the old adobe church.  The
Indians poured through the open doors into the auditorium until it
overflowed.  Like restless ants those who could not get within ran
around the building, filling every approach, surging in resistless
multitude, as did the thirst-driven cattle around the water source.

"They have gone entirely mad!  First they will destroy the church, then
fall on our families and on us," came somewhere from the elders.  "Let
us fly to our hacienda houses, barricade our gates, and fight to the
end."

"Let us wait," suggested Mendoza, "and see further."

With sudden impulse the aborigines began to move from side to side in
singular unison.  At first they uttered no sound, then came a crooning
of strange medleys in lifeless, indistinct tones.

"They commence thus their war dance!"

Señor Mendoza shrugged.

A tall Indian mounted the church steps.  He turned.  His face was
wrinkled, his long hair, white, yet straight and sturdy he stood before
the undulating throng.

"'Tis old Juan Antonio, major-domo of the Mission there.  When did he
come from the region of the San Joaquin?  He and the padre drove
thither their cattle even before we sent away ours."

The man waved his hand over the people.  The tumult was lessened.  From
the church came the soft chords of the organ.  A powerful voice intoned.

"My soul hath magnified the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my
Saviour."

The organ swelled in thunder notes, as the faithful within the church
took up the antistrophe:

"For behold he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid, and from
henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."

Thus was sung the Magnificat.

A man came out to the church door.  Youth was on face and figure, but
care and illness lined his features and bowed the shoulders that showed
broad even under his friar's robe.  In movements as graceful as a
feather's dip he pointed to the Indians, then to their homes scattered
over valley and hill.  In another gesture he motioned to the neophytes
to be on their way.  They looked stolidly at one another, then back to
the padre who remained standing with his arm outstretched.  Savagery
flamed anew in their faces.  With the growl of an angry beast about to
rend its prey they rushed up the steps.  The friar, motionless, still
stood before them, still pointing to their houses.  The mob charged on.
They were but a pace distant when, as one man, they paused, held in
check by the unswerving calm of the churchman.  Back from him, step by
step, they went till the ground was reached.  Again they paused and
looked up at the friar, indecision written on their faces.  The padre
did not move.  With a single impulse they turned homeward and silently
filed along the road, in obedience to Padre Osuna's unspoken command.
Soon the friar and Juan Antonio were alone.  They walked down to a
courtyard gate not unlike Señor Mendoza's, and disappeared within.

Mendoza and his friends had witnessed the drama to its close.

A rumbling sounded in the distance which soon resolved itself into the
measured tramp of horses, so many that their coming shook the ground.
The riders, in uniform, with lance in hand and carbine slung over
shoulder, pushed their mounts foaming at mouth and flank to the
courtyard gate.

"The cavalry from San José!" cried Mendoza.  "What brings them in such
haste?"

An officer sprang from his horse.

The Administrator opened his window.  "Captain Morando!"

The Captain saluted.

"Why this force, Señor Captain?"

"Message was hurried to me that your Indians, frenzied by pagan rites,
were about to make an attack.  I gathered my men, together with such
volunteers as the pueblo afforded, and hot-foot came to the rescue.  I
see, instead, the Indians going quietly to their homes.  What does it
mean?"

"Come within, Señor Captain."

In a moment Morando stood with the others.

The señor told him of the coming of the padre and his dispersal of the
Indians.

Señorita Carmelita entered the room, bowing to her father, then to the
others.

"O, papacito, my Indian maids who ran away last week, in their madness,
are back all sane and cool.  They ask your forgiveness and a new lease
of service."

"You alone have to do with them, my child."

The Captain was standing at attention.  Red lightly tinged the girl's
cheek as she saw him.  She again bowed, and went out, with "I thank
you, papacito."

The Indian maidens were heard on the outside loudly wailing their
thanks to the señorita, as was the way of children of the wild when
penitent.

"Señors, we need----"

"Rain," interrupted the quiet Higuera.

"Señors," continued Zelaya, taking no notice of the interruption, "we
need thank the reverend padre for his work this day.  Besides, he is
ill, and even an enemy who is ill is entitled to our consideration and
sympathy.  I do not mean he is our enemy," he quickly added.

"I shall do myself the honor of calling upon him," came from Mendoza.
"As Administrator of this Mission and its lands I am interested in
everyone in the Mission, including its spiritual head.  Some Jesuit
bark I chance to have will not come amiss in this fever of the river
bottoms.  I fancy but little remains in the province."

The company departed, the soldiery to the San José pueblo, the land
barons to their hacienda houses.

The hundreds of white adobe cots which swarmed around each grandee's
mansion, as well as around the Mission buildings, sheltered that
evening the retainer occupants who for days had forgotten service to
their feudal lords and the ways civilization had taught them.  Once
more hill and valley were dotted with the blaze of camp fires before
the Indian doorposts.



CHAPTER III

A DIP INTO THE PAST

The family Mendoza had deserved well of the Spanish crown.  Stanch
supporters of the kingdom had they ever been.  Their talents, their
wealth, their lives they held only as in trust to be devoted, whenever
came the call, to the higher, the nobler good.

Adventurous too were the citizens of that name.  With Pizarro they
overthrew the Incas of Peru.  With Hernando Cortez they stormed the
place of strength of the Montezumas.  Their swords flashed north and
south in the conquering of vast empires.  Few of them returned from
these scenes of glory, and of those few the greater part were maimed
and broken men.  The native arrow or the fever swamp claimed life or
health of the valiant conquistador, not excepting the famous Mendozas.

Thus sifted in the sieve of centuries, the family Mendoza fell
gradually in numbers from men sufficient to fill half a regiment, as in
the old crusader times, to but two representatives, of whom the younger
was Jesus Maria y José.

By law of entail the elder brother received the land and fortunes of
that once powerful family.  A lieutenantship in the army was the
portion of the young Jesus Maria y José, a slender consolation, it
might seem, but the bold-spirited youth accepted it with gracious
willingness.

His eighteenth year found him embarking on a transport bound for the
dangerous service of the Philippines, with a soldiery gathered from the
Spanish prisons.  To quell and govern such men was a pleasing
experience to the Castilian boy; not that the task was an easy one, or
that he would have it so.

In the becalmed waters of the tropics the sterling metal of the
youthful officer first showed itself.  Here the mutinous intent of the
men, long smoldering under restraint of discipline, resolved into
action.

Early one morning the alarm bell rang loud of danger.  The officers
hurried on deck to find nearly every soldier under arms and calling
aloud for vengeance on the oppressors, as they called their superiors.
The leader was a huge, bull-necked cutthroat who once had been a bandit
in the Pyrenees.

"Each mincing ladies' man among you shall walk the plank, before the
guns of my brave fellows here, and we'll cheer you pretty, scented
gentlemen as you battle in the water with the sharks," shouted the
jeering leader.

Shouts of applause came from the men, mingled with jibes and curses.

Mendoza asked of his captain that he be allowed to speak with the chief
mutineer.  He stated briefly his purpose.  Permission was given, for
the situation was desperate.

The officers, but a score, faced full five hundred men, all armed.
Even the artillery of the regiment, shotted to the mouth, was gaping
angrily at them from the ranks of the ruffians across deck.

The lieutenant walked to the front bearing his naked rapier in his
hand, while the mutinous soldiers, half drunken with liquor looted from
the stores of the ship, howled at him.

"Mamma's pet comes straight from the bath to drive about as cattle men
that are men.  Back to your crib, you reptile infant, or I'll grind you
under my heel," threatened the leader.

In incoherent echo his followers stormed: "Throw him to the sharks, for
cubs become wolves--cut him into pieces--cast him into the ovens!"

"Attention!" called the young man.

Something, perhaps innate animal respect for bravery, called for
obedience.  Silence and expectancy fell over them.

"You pretend to despise all your officers.  I am the youngest and least
among them, yet I dare the best among you to fight me here, I with this
light rapier against your heavy cutlass."

The boastful leader pushed forward.  Around the villain's head swung
his cutlass flaming and glancing in the tropic sun.

"Aha!  Aha! young sprig!" in half-drunken glee.  "Hear the whistling
air divide before my cutlass's edge.  I'll strip you from your skin,
inch by inch, and dry it on your cabin door.  Come now, point to point,
you young patrician fool!"

He struck a cleaving blow at the figure before him.  The lieutenant's
rapier caught the descending blade, wound itself in serpentine curves
around it and drew away.  The cutlass hurtled to the floor a half dozen
paces distant.  Numbness seized the mutineer's arm from wrist to
shoulder.  He examined the member in search of a wound, but found none.

The pack of insubordinates, impelled by their wolf-nature, would follow
the leader if he conquered, or rend him if he fell.

Murmurs like the first swell of an angry sea rose among the mob, then
burst into yells of derision.

"A schoolboy makes our mighty leader play the fool!"

"Yes, he swings his cutlass as a housewife the broom."

"Throw him overboard and elect a man, not some awkward cow!"

Young Mendoza stood with rapier poised, aimed at his opponent's heart.

"Curse the tricks of feinting and legerdemain your namby-pamby schools
teach you in Madrid.  Drop your steel fork there and I'll tear you to
pieces with my hands."

Instantly the rapier was side by side with the cutlass.

The leader darted forward, his fists striking flaillike blows at the
lithe form of the lieutenant.

Mendoza stepped lightly to one side.  The opponent stumbled past him.

As the mutineer turned, the open palms of the clever boxer landed right
and left with resounding smack on his nose and mouth.  Raging and
cursing, the ruffian again sprang at the officer.  Once, twice, thrice,
did the youth's palms beat tattoo on his adversary's bleeding features.
Dazed by the blows the man at last fell to the deck.

Hoarse, derisive cries from the band of mutineers again greeted the
prostrate man.

"He went forth to chastise a babe, but, behold! it is a wondrous
infant," groaned some fellow.  "Rise up, brave one, a chance this time
may help thee land that useless fist of thine."

The leader writhed alike at the ignominy of defeat and at the irony of
his followers.  Drawing a knife, as he gained his feet, he flew at
Mendoza, despite warning cries even from the ranks of his own men.

The weapon drove straight out with murderous intent.  A hush fell over
both officers and mutineers.

It seemed an age before the blow came.

It struck on empty air, for the youth, as before, had deftly stood
aside.  As the other was driven past by his own momentum the boy seized
him by the waist and neckband, raised him from the deck, and whirling
him over his head, flung him headlong from the taffrail to the sea
below.

A man-eating shark which had been following the ship swam toward its
prospective prey.  Its back fins swirled through the water, as it came
dashing up.  The poor wretch shrieked in agony.  He tried to climb the
slippery wood of the ship's side.  Time after time he struck deep into
the planks the knife which he still held, in vain endeavor to raise
himself out of the water by this leverage.

"Help! help, friends, in the Virgin's name!" he entreated.

The shark had nearly reached him and was already turning on its side in
preparation for its stroke of death.

Helplessness seemed to possess all.

A figure fell from the taffrail to the side of the desperate man.  It
was none other than Lieutenant Mendoza.  Balancing himself lightly in
the water, he wrenched the knife from his enemy's hand, and, as the
shark came up, he buried it to the handle in the monster's brain.  Its
jaws snapped sullenly not the inches of a span away from the head of
the screaming bully.  Floundering helplessly the creature rolled away.
Other man-eating sharks came to the scene.  Some of them seized on
their helpless brother and tore at his flesh while he still lived.
Others swam straight for the human beings at the side of the ship.

By this time the spectators had recovered power of action.  A boat was
quickly lowered.  Muskets and pistols in numbers were fired at the
onrushing school of sharks.

Soon the rescued and rescuer were safe on board.  There was talk among
the officers of court-martials and executions, with the outcome, that,
after much persuasion on the part of the young lieutenant, the
commander granted his request that the leader be pardoned pending his
good behavior.

The troops were not again recalcitrant.

From the swamps and the heat of the Philippines Captain Mendoza--for he
had been promoted--returned to Europe.  Events which shook the world
were stirring there.  As an eagle flies to the rescue of its eyrie so
hastened the descendant of the valiant Mendozas to the Spain of his
fathers, to do battle for its safety.

The figure of Napoleon loomed ominously against Europe's peace.  His
ambitious hand was reaching for the crown of Spain, as, indeed, for all
other crowns.

Into the awful carnage plunged Mendoza.  A hundred blows he struck at
the terrible Corsican, even though, often enough, the recoil threw him
and his command reeling backward in defeat.  Nevertheless, did he right
nobly add honor and renown to the spotless banner of his house.

Only when Napoleon was exiled to Elba did he leave the field.  Then, in
command of his regiment, as colonel, he returned to Madrid.

His elder brother, rich in titles and wealth, influential at the
Cortes, united his personal petition with the strong voice of the
colonel's service in the field, to obtain for the younger man place and
emolument.

The vast region of Alta California was then coming into great and
favorable notice.  Need there would surely be, in the Californias, of
men of mettle and of wisdom to hold that province and its riches secure
to Spanish rule.

Accordingly, large parcels of land in the valley of Santa Clara,
fairest and most fertile in all that western Eden, California, were
conferred by letters-patent on the soldier, Mendoza.

He loved a lady fair--Romalda.  What man of his family had not?  Every
knight of La Mancha had his Dulcinea, and Jesus Maria y José was true
to his descent, even to the very finger-tips.  The old crusader
Mendozas, whose faces were carved in marble or painted on canvas in the
ancestral home in Castile, had not been more chivalrous and romantic
than was this now famous colonel.

Beautiful daydreams he wove and told to the listening ears of the noble
lady.  He had seen California, and knew well that part of it where his
estate lay.  The fire of poetry touched his words, as he sketched for
her the estate mightier in length and breadth than any in Castile,
fairer than Elysian fields, more fertile than the Andalusian meadows.

No landscape painter could limn mountains more picturesque and stately
than did the words of Don Jesus Maria y José describe the eastern
boundary of their domain in the land of far-away California.  No
minstrel could tell, in song or verse, of lake or bay so fair, so blue,
as the inland sea which laved the western limit of their home-to-be.

Lady Romalda hearkened, and she smiled approvingly as she gave him her
hand to kiss at parting.

"Soon will I return and claim my bride.  The days I spend in the
Californias, in preparation for your coming, will be as months and
years to me."

She smiled kindly yet again, and waved a kiss at him as he rode forth
from her father's gate to prepare the home for her across the many seas.

The soldier reached his California estate in due season, and with
industry set about his task of love.

A hacienda house reached high its walls on an eminence near the
mountain side of the estate.  Moorish in architecture, its towers
proudly surveyed the leagues of miles comprising the Mendoza grant.
Tree and plant and flower smiled around it in the genial warmth of
semitropic atmosphere.  Avenues of olive lined its approaches.  The
Mission grapevine draped many arbors which were arranged in
labyrinthine plan, all centering, after infinite curious turns, at the
front door of the mansion.

Many ships brought furnishings from the world over for this wonderful
palace.

The herds fattened for the killing, and were of great increase on this
domain, as needs be, for the expense of the hacienda house was in
keeping with its size and beauty.

At last all was ready for the bride.  But----

Mexico had declared for independence, and was making good this
declaration by force of arms.  California would be compelled either to
stand with Mexico or to fall with mother Spain.  Colonel Mendoza's
natural gifts included statecraft.  He did not oppose the inevitable.
California became a province of the republic of Mexico.

Now hastened the Colonel to claim his bride.  In Madrid he found his
brother dead, leaving no direct heir.  The soldier-cavalier claimed
title and estates, but the royal court rebuffed him.  He was a
foreigner now.  His acceptance of Mexican dominion had cost him his
Spanish citizenship.  The laws of entail debarred him from succession.

He urged the inevitableness of the separation of Mexico from Spain,
also his years of service in the Spanish army; likewise the claims of
his family to the good will of the kingdom.  All was in vain.

Hastening to the castle of his betrothed, he made known his presence,
and asked to see the Lady Romalda.

Her father met him in his stead.

"My daughter, the noble doña, desires to see you not, Sir Foreigner.
For my part I request that you depart from this place and never return."

"Foreigner or not, I'll hear the rejection from the lady's own lips.  I
demand to see the Lady Romalda, my affianced wife."

After much parley the father brought his daughter to see the determined
man.

Mendoza told her again of the home prepared for her near the shores of
the sunny Pacific, of the beauty and luxuriance well-nigh Oriental, of
the wealth of the land, of the promise of the future.

"Peons, slaves, señorita, numbering hundreds, await your pleasure
there.  A princess will you be, and I will be your lover-husband.  Say
you will come with me."

The Lady Romalda smiled coldly.  "You may become a self-styled prince
among a barbarous and rebellious people.  Be assured I shall never be a
princess of such dishonor."

She swept in disdain from the room.

Mendoza returned to Madrid.  Calling on the commander-in-chief of the
Spanish army, he held before him the written letters of his colonelcy.

"This paper means I am a colonel in the army of this kingdom.  I am
such no more."  He tore in halves the commission.

"Are you a madman, Colonel Mendoza?" asked the general.

"Behold!"

Bending his sword over his knee he broke it into pieces and cast them
on the floor.  "By this act I forswear Spain forever."

The old general began to remonstrate with him, but Mendoza turned on
his heel and was gone.

Great preparations were under way for the return to California of the
lord of the rancho Mendoza with his lady bride.  The whole valley was
ready to make the occasion a gala time.

Alone, and by night, he came.  Calling his major-domos and head peons
together, he gave orders which were to be executed early on the morrow,
by his thousand vassals.

They were frightened.  "Our master is out of his head!" they exclaimed
in awe-struck tones.  Hastening they told some of the Spanish neighbors
of the return of Señor Mendoza and of his startling commands.

The Spanish confreres were soon at the castlelike hacienda house.

"Señor, the Colonel Mendoza----" began one.

"Señor Mendoza I am.  Never again colonel."

"But, señor, the peons tell us of your strange desires."

"My desires shall be executed, strange or not.  At daybreak to-morrow
not a stone stands on stone in this hacienda house.  On these grounds
not tree or plant or shrub stands unuprooted before the darkness of
another day."

"But, señor, has your visit to Spain affected----"

"My visit to Spain has affected me greatly.  Friends and neighbors, at
another time I, and all I have, shall be at your disposal.  Permit me
now to bid you good-night."

Very early next morning the hills echoed to the titanic roar of the
powder magazine under the hacienda house, which had been kept there for
uses of the hunt, and for defense and offense.  Señor Mendoza's own
hand had lighted the train.  Soon fire skirted toppling tower and
parapet, searched ruined reception halls, licked up furniture and
bric-à-brac, and charred rare valuables.  Daylight saw not Moorish
castle, but blocks of blackened building stones and smoking rubbish.

Countless peons, with spades, picks and axes, dug up the green and
growing things, broke down terraces, tore away grape arbors, and
everywhere did works of devastation.

Señor Mendoza, as if commanding in battle, directed his workmen.  Trees
and shrubs were piled high.  Fire, made hotter by kegs of turpentine,
soon brought all to ash-heaps.  Great pits were dug into which the
stones of the hacienda building were placed, also the ashes from the
bonfires.

"Now," commanded Mendoza, "fill in these trenches."

It was done.

"Señors," he said at nightfall, when all was over, "thus I bury the
past.  Henceforth, remember, I pray you, that I am Señor Mendoza, the
Californian, that, and that only."

The rains of the following winter made the site of the once-beautiful
castle and grounds again a part of the rolling, grassy lands
overlooking the valley.

Señor Mendoza devoted himself faithfully to the interests of his rancho
and the welfare of California.

He built another home five miles from where the first had been, and
altogether out of sight of it; a house of California style, the
buildings forming three sides of a square, with a wall making the
fourth side of the courtyard within.

In middle life the wish had come to found a family to succeed him in
his possessions.  He married the daughter of a neighbor, a maiden of
Castilian blood, but of California birth.  A child was born to them, a
daughter, and in that hour his wife died.  Never was parent kinder or
gentler than Señor Mendoza to the Doña Carmelita, his pride and joy.

The authorities in Mexico City thought it right to deprive the
Franciscan friars of a part of the lands they held in Alta California,
this act of the secularization of the missions causing comment of both
approval and disapproval.

The leaders in the capital city chose Señor Mendoza to administer the
claims of church and state in the valley of Santa Clara.  Thus he
became administrator of the Mission of San José, where the opening of
this story found him, a man of strength and of honesty, a statesman and
a courtly gentleman.



CHAPTER IV

A STRANGER VISITS SEÑOR MENDOZA

"Papacito mine, I'm all ready for the party this evening.  My maids
have just finished with me.  What do you think of me?"

The Señorita Carmelita pirouetted into her father's sitting room, stood
on one foot, then on the other, finally turning completely around.

"Papacito, what do you think of me?" she asked again.

The father knit his brows in pretended deep consideration.

"Hurry!  Hurry, papacito!  Really I can't wait any longer, I'm so
anxious to know."

"My child, you make me think of a very pretty, very dainty wild flower."

"Just a flower, papacito?" in mock disappointment.

"Well, a flower with laughing eyes, splendid hair, and white plumage,"
pointing to her dress.

"That's better, little papa, somewhat better.  Isn't it magnificent
that we're to have a valecito casero?  In school in Mexico City we went
to bed regularly at eight o'clock.  To-night it will be midnight, and
later.  When I think of my present freedom and the old school days my
heart rejoices itself; yet I loved the school and everyone in it.
Often in dreams I am in those old rooms overlooking the Plaza Mercedes,
and I hear the splashing of the fountains and the singing of the birds."

"My child's heart lives in scenes left behind months ago, yet the
spirit rejoices in present liberty.  Well, it is the way of the world."

Carmelita was sitting on the arm of her father's chair stroking his
face and hands, and occasionally giving gentle pulls to his long
mustache.  Strangely alike were these two, the slender, dark-eyed girl,
and the stalwart, graying man, athletic-appearing even in his years.
The waving mane above his forehead was the prototype of the coal-black
hair of the señorita which billowed over her shoulders and fell below
her waist.

His cheek was bronze, showing dashes of red; hers was creamy, with the
blush of youth surmounting; but it was the contour of face and form of
both, strongly chiseled, yet superbly fine, that bespoke a model
fashioned and perfected generations before in aristocratic Spain.

"What a philosopher my father is!"  Then, after a moment: "Yesterday
Señor Zelaya said to Señor Higuera, as they passed along the corridor,
'But the Administrator says that we must educate ourselves to a deeper
appreciation--'  I did not catch the rest.  Señor Higuera replied, 'And
the Administrator has a philosophy of deep and wide application.'  Tell
me about it."

"My daughter, I think you would prefer a more interesting story.  My
philosophy, if you made it rightly, has been long in coming to me.  On
the other hand, the estate of womanhood now present with you seems to
have grown overnight."

Carmelita arose, curtsied to her father, then resumed her seat.

"But my philosophy touches not any abstract principle.  It deals only
with powers that move the human heart."

"Vast political forces are astir in this old world of ours.  The theory
that God appoints kings is rapidly dissipating.  The sun of democracy,
long mantled by the fog of tyranny, shines soon in unobscured ray.  In
the to-morrow of to-morrow shall the people rule, as their right
divine."

The señorita smiled into her father's eyes.  "Lolita Hernandez once
said to me, a long time ago, when she was petulant, that my father is a
rebel.  I replied by calling her a minx."

The old don made no reply; but continued: "'Westward the course of
empire takes its way.'  An English poet sings this truly and well.  To
the east of California is a republic destined to a colossal future,
because it is founded on the principle that all men are created equal,
and its national life rises toward a realization of that truth.  To
that height must rise not alone the Saxon but the Latin as well.

"The geography of nations in our Western world must soon change, under
the influence of the democratic idea.  As certain as the sun rose this
morning and now urges to the setting, will either the American or the
English flag float from the staff within our courtyard before our
province has seen but a few more years of life."

"But," hesitatingly from the girl, "will you not fight against this
aggression?"

"No; nor could I stem the tide if I did.  The logic of events grinds,
as do the mills of the gods, exceeding fine.  In the great world battle
between people and potentate, victory, final and complete, will rest
one day with the people.  The cost of that battle will be measured in
centuries of time, the blood of nations, the sacrifice of warriors and
statesmen.  Runnymede, in the south of England, in the year 1215, saw
the beginning of the conflict when the people forced King John to sign
the Magna Charta!"

"History speaks of the family de la Mendoza as made up of warriors.
Your own name, father mine, is mentioned, and not as the least, yet you
will never speak to me of any battle."

He pointed to a small painting.  It depicted Waterloo.

"I'd give my experience of all the battles I've seen could I have stood
there that evening with Wellington, on Mount Saint Jean, when the sun
of day had set and Napoleon's sun of destiny with it.  I would have
rejoiced to have chased the emperor of the French over the plowed field
at night, as does a hound drive the hare.  Yet--what matters it all?
As well for Napoleon to rule, or misrule, as for any other tyrant, be
he anointed king or not.  The day of the people comes, and I rejoice."

"Shall we follow new ways and customs then, my father?"

"Quite possibly.  And yet, think you not it a pretty custom when the
Spaniard comes with his guitar and improvises sweet music outside the
embrasure window of the señorita?  No?"

The doña blushed rosy red.

"What a papacito!" kissing him to cover her confusion.  "How shall the
señorita inside the embrasure prevent the music-inclined caballero on
the outside from touching the strings of his guitar?"

Mendoza laughed while looking fondly at his daughter.

"You ask me how the doña may discourage the suitor?  Ah, little one,
how can I tell you?  The claws show sharp and repelling, or presto! all
is soft and smooth as velvet.  What works the wonder, ask you?  Ah,
Carmelita mia!  Lolita Hernandez is not the only minx in the world."

The girl playfully tugged at her father's thick hair.

"What a father is mine!  He has seen all things and has accomplished
all things," changing the subject.  "Has ever there been an ungratified
wish in your life, except the one to chase the emperor of the French
across plowed fields?  If so, now is your chance.  I will be your fairy
godmother.  Come, make your wish, and, behold!  It is done."

She had slipped from the chair and standing, held her arms extended
over him.  "Make your wish now," laughingly.

"My child, I have a wish, but its fulfillment would involve the folding
together of events that time has unfolded; indeed, the turning backward
of time."

She dropped her hands in concern.  "O, papacito, tell me your desire,"
coming again to the arm of his chair.

He did not reply.

"O, little papa, you are so serious.  Please tell me what it is."

"I wish, little girl, that as a stripling I had come here and had built
my life into this Western world.  That favor of kings I had never
known--I care nothing for their disfavor--but of my own self, coupled
with the resources with which nature has endowed California, I had
evolved the best that fortune would have sent me, were it hacienda
house and administratorship, or a humble hut with modest plot of
ground, such as has the least of my peons."

A tap at the door.

"Enter," from Mendoza.

A peon stepped within.  Thrice he bowed low to the master, then to the
doña.

"Señor Mendoza, a stranger awaits you in the outer office."

"Does he give his name?"

"Here it is, señor."

The peon porter handed Mendoza a piece of paper on which was written,
in bold, rough characters, "Charles O'Donnell."

"O'Donnell--O'Donnell--Let him enter."

The peon again bowed low to the master and his daughter.  Backing
through the door, he bowed once more.  Almost immediately the stranger,
O'Donnell, stood in the doorway.  Señor Mendoza was on his feet
formally awaiting his visitor.

The man's broad, strong shoulders touched from doorpost to doorpost,
his head barely coming within the door without his stooping.  His
buckskin shirt, opening low at the front, showed the long, red beard
which was fastened together by a cord, and disappeared into the expanse
of his chest.

His hair, darker than his beard, was long and bushy.  This also was
caught by a string and was partially hidden under his shirt.

Steely-blue eyes looked out over regular features.  A sombrero was in
his hand.  His buckskin trousers were protected from hip to knee by
shaggy leggings of bearskin.

"Señor O'Donnell, will you enter and be seated?"

"I thank you."  The stranger moved toward a chair with dignified and
soldierly step.

"Señor, the Administrator Mendoza, I am here to inquire if you know of
the present whereabouts of one Captain Farquharson, an Englishman who
left Mexico City some months ago to hunt big game in our high Sierras
here."

"Señor O'Donnell, why do you ask of me the present abiding place of
this Englishman?  I am Administrator of the Mission of San José.  My
jurisdiction does not reach to the high Sierras, nor to the city of
Mexico."

Mendoza's glance was careless as he thus replied to the questioner.

"Ah, worthy señor, you are a well-known man in Alta California.  Not
less, perhaps, is your name known in the Mexican capital.  What wonder,
then, if some leisured traveler touching that capital should bear
written words thence to you here?  So I rode to you on my errand of
inquiry.  If you know nothing of the man, I shall ride still farther on
my quest."

"Señor O'Donnell, famine is abroad, since the rains fall not.
Entertainment for yourself and feed for your horse are welcome to you
in my hacienda.  Why not rest here for a while?  Perhaps some of my
major-domos may have news of this captain, or some of the peons
recently returned from the headwaters of the river San Joaquin where
our cattle are now grazing.  The Sierras lie but across from these
headwaters, and among our peons are hunters not a few.  Rest among us,
my friend O'Donnell, and from some direction you may find the
information you are seeking."

The man shook his head.  "My horse has carried me a hundred miles
to-day, and yet he is ready to bear me farther.  With such a mount I
can find food for myself and fodder for him, easily, when night falls.
Hear now his song?  Drumlummon skirls a merry note."

With a laugh the bearded man arose.  The screaming neigh of a stallion
was echoing among the buildings of the hacienda.

"My horse is ready for the road.  I thank you for your hospitality just
the same.  Adios, noble Administrator."

"Wait, good Señor O'Donnell.  A glass of wine makes readier the foot
for the stirrup."

He touched a bell.  A peon came, and disappeared on his errand.

"Tell me, señor, while the wine is coming, do you know this Englishman
of whom you speak as Farquharson?"

"Several years ago I saw Captain Farquharson considerably," tersely.

"Ah, Señor O'Donnell, you too are a soldier, as your bearing shows.
You speak of your friend as Captain Farquharson.  Perhaps you were
brother officers in English service.  Is it so?"

"No," hoarsely replied O'Donnell in English, "it was not so.  I thought
I'd done for the fellow that day on the parade ground----"

As he did not continue Señor Mendoza said: "Ah, my friend O'Donnell
speaks the English.  I have studied your language and I read your
books," indicating a shelf on which were a number of works by English
historians and political economists.  "Ah, here comes the wine."

"Forgive my curiosity, Señor O'Donnell, in my recent questioning.  I am
greatly interested in English officers.  Just before you came I was
speaking with my daughter of the battle of Waterloo.  You could not
have been present.  You have not years enough," looking at the face,
yet young, of the man before him.

"I was not in the army at that time," replied O'Donnell.  "Allow me to
say, Señor Administrator, you serve nectar here," sipping his wine.

"This Farquharson," persisted Mendoza, "who you say is older than you,
perhaps he took part in that famous battle."

"I did not say Farquharson is older than I.  I said I once knew him."

A dark look shaded O'Donnell's face as he spoke.

"Perhaps you were rivals in those times," still persisted Mendoza,
noticing the shadows.  "Some wine in your glass, my friend?  Well, war
and love have made many an enemy."

Again the neigh of the stallion was heard.

"Drumlummon's second call.  I must be going.  Perhaps Captain
Farquharson may call on you soon.  Indeed, I'm sure he will; for I
remember now that he has letters of introduction to you from Don Juan
Domingo, first assistant to the secretary of state of Mexico."

Señor Mendoza bowed courteously, as if some ordinary information had
been given him.

A sound of approaching voices reached their ears.

"Papacito, our guests are arriving.  I shall leave you."  Carmelita
approached from the rear of the room where she had been occupied with a
book.

The squeaking of carretas (wooden wagons) was now plainly heard, also
the tramp of horses, the laughter of men, and the gay, bantering tones
of women.  Anon arose the angry cry of O'Donnell's stallion.

"The guests are truly coming.  Carmelita, my child, see that the
servants neglect neither duty nor courtesy."

To O'Donnell, who was standing ready to depart: "Señor, I'll attend you
myself as you go forth."

Soon the dressing rooms were filled with young girls, laughing and
joyous.  A dash of powder on the face, the hair smoother, laces
adjusted, all under the watchful eye of mother or dueña.

The young dandies in their rooms were scarcely less fastidious than
their sweethearts and sisters.

At a quarter before six the company was assembled in the reception
hall.  Jokes and sallies went around the room.

Carmelita noticed that her father was not present and sent a peon to
call him.  The servant returned with the word that the señor and the
gringo stranger were in the outer office.  He did not dare disturb them.

Five minutes passed.  Merriment grew louder.  Some one saw on a
secretary a chart giving the places of the guests at table.  The
merrymakers crowded around.

The doña slipped away and no one noticed.

Her father and O'Donnell were standing just outside the courtyard gate.
Two or three peons were holding O'Donnell's horse which was restive,
pawing and biting at them.  The two men spoke English and thus freely,
as none of the peons understood that tongue.

"Men are playing to-day and an empire makes the stake," O'Donnell said.
"Farquharson is sitting in the game, and, by faith! so am I."

Mendoza nodded.

"And, Administrator Mendoza, so are you--and the chief player!  Did not
your recent visit to Mexico acquaint you with the trump card?"

Mendoza smiled pleasantly.

The stallion came closer to them, dragging the peons with him.  He
seized the shirt of one of them and tore it from his back.

"Quiet, Drumlummon!"  Then to the servants, "Unloose him."  The huge
animal came fawning to his side.

Without touching hand to the horse O'Donnell vaulted the saddle.

"A moment, O'Donnell."

The man leaned in his saddle.

"You say I'm sitting in the game and the stake is large.  Well said,
perhaps.  But remember, if I play I'll use the card that means the most
to the province of California."  The señor again nodded, as if
retailing some pleasantry of the day.

O'Donnell rode away.

"Papacito!" called Carmelita.  "It is late.  We are waiting."

In a moment they were with their guests.

Folding doors opened and the well-lighted dining room was before them.

At once dinner was under way.  The peons, trained by Mendoza, served
well.  The generous hospitality of early California found expression in
the viands and vintages which Mendoza offered his guests.  Peons
touched fitting music from stringed instruments; others sang in the
melodious voice of the aborigine.

"Señorita Mendoza, heard you not that the great spring merienda comes
early this year by reason of the drought?" asked Captain Morando.

"Does a picnic so interest you, Comandante Morando?"

"Never have I seen such a picnic as must be the spring merienda in the
valley of Calaveras.  Everywhere I hear people speak of it."

"Soon you may judge of its excellence for yourself.  Now begins to sing
my peona, Modesta.  Her voice equals in sweetness the notes of the
thrush.  Listen, while she gives the ancient airs of Oroysom.  They are
heart-touching and beautiful."

The señorita's dueña engaged Moranda's attention the moment the singing
ceased, suddenly remembering to ask for some acquaintance in San José.

"Señorita Doña Mendoza, say I have your first dance this evening?"
called Abelardo Peralto from across the table.

"I, the second," cried Miguel Soto.

"I, the third," from another.

"Señorita Doña," asked Morando as soon as he was at liberty, "have you
a dance left for me?"

"First come, first served, is the law in this province," she replied
mischievously.

"Then I am to have no dance with you to-night," despairingly.

"Did you ever hear the saying about the early bird and the worm,
Captain?" laughed Peralta.

"I object to being compared to a worm," said Carmelita.  "For your
punishment, Señor Don Abelardo Peralta, I deprive you of the grand
march, which belongs to the first dance, and I give it to the Señor
Captain."

"Woe!  Woe!" cried Peralta.  "I will be the worm, Señorita Mendoza.
You are the beautiful early bird.  O, do not punish me!"

The girl looked at him with mock severity.  "I have given my sentence."

The host touched a bell.

"Are we ready for the dancing?" he asked.

The company cheered heartily.

"I hear the musicians tuning their instruments.  Let us hence.  If we
cannot have the patter of rain during this season of drought, we can at
least have the patter of feet."

Laughing and happy, the sons and daughters of the province repaired to
the dancing room.



CHAPTER V

ANOTHER STRANGER MAKES A VISIT

"I hear the neigh of horses and the shouts of men.  Has Dario, the head
vaquero, returned from the valley of the San Joaquin?  Or, perchance,
is it some messenger from him?"

"Reverend padre, you hear the work Indians returning with their farm
animals from the irrigated ground near the great spring.  It is the
noon hour."

The first speaker was the friar, Lusciano Osuna, spiritual head of the
Mission San José.  He was temporal head also of the Mission grounds and
buildings, together with a wide strip of country reaching over rolling
land, hills and mountains, away east to the San Joaquin River.

The padre was ill.  His parched lips and flushed forehead showed him to
be in the grip of fever.  Restlessly he tossed from side to side of his
bed.  It was an unusual-appearing bed.  Hewn redwood logs of goodly
dimension had been made in a frame held together by mortising at the
corners.  Strips of rawhide ran across the frame from side to side,
another layer from end to end.  A pallet of straw was the mattress; the
covering was lambskin tanned without removing the wool.

"Open the window and the door, Juan Antonio.  My blood boils away in
this heat, and my strength ebbs out."

The hot north wind, which for days had been scorching the valley of
Santa Clara, rolled into the room.

"It is little avail, dear father, to seek or avoid draughts when the
San Joaquin fever possesses one.  Its nature is to burn till the body
seems a crisp, then to freeze till the flesh is like damp clay."

"Juan Antonio, you are right.  Still, it is a satisfaction to feel the
living air whether it touches one's ailment or not."

The light from the open window shone on the friar's face.  He was
nervously pulling his heavy black beard through his fingers.  The
features thus brought into relief were those of the hidalgo, bold and
strong, and were illuminated by keen intelligence within.  The skin
showed another strain darker than Caucasian.

"Antonio, did all the Indians attend chapel this morning?  Have you
heard of any further evidences of lapse into paganism anywhere in the
valley?"

"Our Indians, men, women and children, are faithful in their
attendance, since the day you quenched the evil spirit in them.
To-morrow we conclude the Novena--nine days' prayer--for you.  All are
praying most fervently that our Lady and Saint Francis, yes, and San
José, will favor us and you with speedy and complete recovery."

"You are good, very good, my major-domo."

"To-day at morning meal were some Indians from the San Blas just in at
Monterey.  At once I dispatched thither the peon, Pedro Carrasca, the
best rider in the valley.  Six hours' journey it is to Monterey, six
hours' rest, and six returning, makes eighteen.  Pedro Carrasca rests
not if among the ship's goods is numbered Jesuit bark, but he presses
homeward with the medicine.  For each hour less than twelve that he
consumes in rounding Monterey from here I have promised him five and
twenty pesos."

"You have done well.  My illness possesses me, Juan Antonio.  Not that
I resist suffering.  Did not my great master, Saint Francis of Assisi,
bear the sacred stigmata on side and hands and feet?"

The Indian reverently made the sign of the cross.

The padre went on:

"Antonio, you speak of the Novena.  How many days have we been back?"

"Eight days."

"It has seemed longer, much longer."

"That was a hard ride for you from the river country, Señor Padre."

"Yes, it was."

"Swinging over mountain and scaling precipice, as did we, is doubly
difficult for one scarcely able to sit in the saddle."

"And what found I here?  Men, and women too, whom our fathers redeemed
from savagery, dancing in pagan worship around fires which, doubtless,
shortly would have become fires of sacrifice."

"I know, holy padre; and I remember too that they followed us to the
church, consumed by that strange fury; yet you drove the blood demon
from their hearts, so that they killed not, nor destroyed, but obeyed
your commands; yes, even till now."

The Indian again made the sign of the cross.

"It is well to forget--well to forget," mused the friar.  "The
children, after all, are good children."

The padre was endeavoring to hold himself against some tremendous
inward tension.  He clenched his hands and shut tight his teeth.
Nature could not sustain him and his teeth began to chatter, while his
hands wrapped the closer the lambskin coverlet about his form.

The Indian major-domo closed the door.  Hastening to the window he drew
the sash into place; then began chafing the padre's wrists and palms.

"Courage, good padre, courage!  A little time and the blood is warm
again, the strength revives.  If only Pedro Carrasca were here with the
Jesuit bark! but he comes not before nightfall, I fear."

The friar's eyes closed listlessly.  His hands grew colder, despite the
vigorous treatment given by the Indian.  His breath was short and weak.

"Dios y Maria!" exclaimed Juan Antonio.  He took the friar's robe
hanging from a peg on the wall, and carefully spread it over the
fainting man.

"Comes now the chill and the heart weakens," muttered the faithful
major-domo.  "That hurried ride from the San Joaquin, the worry over
the Mission, the drought----"

Footsteps sounded in the corridor.  Antonio called, then gave incisive
commands in the Indian tongue.  The feet scurried away.  He continued
the energetic rubbing, praying the while.

Excited voices were heard approaching.  The door was flung open, and
instantly the room was filled with Indians.  A woman brought a kettle
of hot water; another, a stone vessel.  A man brought a decanter of
aguardiente.  Whispering, praying Indians ran up and down the corridor.

As the women saw the padre's face, white and still, they thought life
had gone out.  Grief filled their hearts, welled into their eyes and
found vent by their tongue.  The loud wail of the death-bedside arose,
quavered, fell, in the old adobe house.

Juan Antonio endeavored to silence them.

"Quick, with the hot cloths for the feet, Luisa!  Make ready the heated
brandy, you, Crispinilla!  Quick, women, the padre's need is urgent!"

A sigh came from the priest.  Then all was still.  He seemed to sink
lower into his couch.

Even Juan Antonio thought that now life was gone.  Instincts of
forgotten generations stirred the old man's heart.  He began to intone
the death praises of the friar, as, for untold years, had his forbears
done for the great ones of their tribe.

"The mighty heart is still.  The strong hand bends not the bow.  The
ready feet run not.  The king elk walks boldly in the open.  The timid
deer fears not the arrow, because the chief man of his people hunts no
more."

The refrain of the death-wail overflowed the houses of the Mission, ran
along olive orchard and vineyard, reached the sentinels watching on the
hills.  The church bell, in sorrowing tone, sounded its toll of death.
One and thirty did it strike, the total of the years the friar had
lived.

At the last stroke the padre's eyelids flickered gently.  The pallor of
his cheeks decreased.  Breathing, almost imperceptible, began.
Finally, he opened his eyes, and saw the weeping, gesticulating men and
women.

"Silence!" he said feebly.  "What see I here?"

Again, in stronger accent, "What see I here?"

Yet again, "What see I here!"

In this third utterance the churchman spoke as might a king in presence
of his subjects.  The wailing ceased.

He raised himself on elbow and pointed to the door.

"This cell is within the precinct of sacred cloister.  Go, women, one
and all!  Get ye gone from this holy place!"

The women fell away from the bed and seemed to melt through the door,
the men following them.  Soon Juan Antonio stood alone with the padre.

"What have you done?" demanded the friar, sternly.  Perspiration again
was on his forehead, while the returning fever gave color to the face
and strength to the body.

"O, Padre Lusciano, I feared you were dying.  All my thoughts were for
nothing but to save you, and I called for help, come whence it might."

"Juan Antonio, around this cell, though poor and humble, has Holy
Church drawn her solemn circle of isolation.  Let no woman enter
herein, even to save my life.  If I die, then so I must.  Did I
pronounce the curse on the luckless daughter of Eve and her male
abettors in this sacrilege, no one, save the vicar of Christ in Rome,
could banish it.  See, Juan Antonio, what vast evil thy thoughtless
hand might wreak."

"O, padre," wept the Indian, "I thought thy life was struggling to free
itself of body, and my heart became water within me, for I love thee."

"Very well.  Very well.  But, Juan Antonio, in the future think with
thy head, not with love or fear."

Señor Mendoza appeared in the open door.

"Reverend Padre Osuna, will you pardon my coming unannounced?  Each day
since you returned have my servants made inquiry, but found you too ill
to receive a visitor."

"Enter, Señor Mendoza.  Please seat yourself."

"Thank you, sir Padre.  I had a small quantity of Jesuit bark,
invaluable in this fever-and-ague affliction.  Unfortunately, I mislaid
the bark, not finding it till to-day, and I came but now to bring it in
person."

"Very kind of you, señor."

"I heard the death-wail of the Indians; heard, also, the toll of the
bell marking the passing of an officer of the church.  Your Indians
first told me you were dead, then that you had risen from the dead.
So, I congratulate you, most happy that no need exists for condolences
to anyone.  Padre Osuna, here is the bark."

Juan Antonio took the bark and laid it on a table by the bed of the
friar.

"Many thanks, señor, for your goodness.  As head of this Mission of San
José I accept the gift from Señor Mendoza."

Mendoza laughed pleasantly.  "Then, reverend señor, as administrator of
this Mission of San José, I offer a little gift of Jesuit bark to the
spiritual leader of the vicinity."

"Señor Mendoza, I can recognize no administrator of these mission
lands, save one, and that is I, Padre Lusciano Osuna.  My Franciscan
brethren rescued this country from wilderness and its people from
savagery.  This Mexican government of yours then comes, takes away two
thirds of the land and its appurtenances, and gives it to you and to
others who accept it and hold it.  By government sanction you
administer, Señor Mendoza; but, I hold, unjustly.  Never by word or act
shall I acknowledge your authority in this valley of Santa Clara."

Señor Mendoza smiled.  His equanimity was not easily upset.

"Good reverend padre, hear me.  Your fathers did, indeed, redeem this
country and its savage tribes.  A mighty work surely has been done.
But, because of freeing the natives from paganism, should you hold this
vast province in fee simple?  Is it right that a score of monks should
own the land from San Diego to Yerba Buena?  The friars still possess
more land than they can either occupy or cultivate--but I ask your
pardon for talking thus long when you are ill.  I trust the Jesuit bark
will not fail of its customary happy effect."

"Your wish is generous, Señor Mendoza."

"Just one short word more.  I would like to thank you deeply, in the
name of my neighbors and myself, for your work in quieting the Indians
the day of your return from San Joaquin valley.  I doubt not your
coming meant more than many of us realize."

"I simply fulfilled the duties of my position.  Nothing more."

"Good-day, Padre Lusciano.  I hope your good health will soon return."

The Administrator departed.

"Shut the door, Juan.  I feel I may sleep.  Go forth to your duties.
When I awake I will call you.  Go, now, while sleep is heavy on my
eyelids."

Juan Antonio went to the door.  Hesitating a moment he turned, with:
"Reverend father, shall I not prepare a draught of the bark which Señor
Mendoza left for you?"

"Go forth to your duties, man.  I can accept no gift from Señor Mendoza
if the acceptance implies acknowledgment of his administratorship.  I
will return him his Jesuit bark.  The call of principle is higher than
the claim of bodily health."

The major-domo closed the door.  Sleep came to the friar.

The Mission buildings were constructed in accordance with the
architecture in vogue in California at that time.  Buildings formed
three sides of an inclosure, a courtyard gate and wall the fourth.  On
one side were housed the unmarried Indian women.  Across the deep
courtyard lived the single men.  The third row of structures gave home
to the major-domo, the chief vaquero, or herdsman, and the families of
each.  Under the same roof with these latter were the shops of the
carpenters, the blacksmiths, and the various other artisans of the
Mission.  This side of the square opened into the freedom of the
courtyard.

A man came to the carpenter shop and stepped within.  "Is the padre
here?" he inquired.

The master carpenter replied, "Our padre is ill."

"I have most important letters which should be delivered to him in
person."

"Go then, to the major-domo."

The newcomer walked toward Juan Antonio.  In his dress the man was the
ordinary traveler of the day.  Tanned-skin shirt and trousers, shaggy
leggings and wide hat, distinguished him in no manner from a dozen
other wayfarers who, between dawn and night, might come on some quest
to the Mission.

The deep-set, gleaming eyes of the old Indian surveyed him from foot to
crown.  He saw a man in the prime of life, his face parched by tropical
sun to the color of leather.  A military mustache was on his lip.

"You wish to see me?" asked Juan Antonio.

"I wish to see Padre Lusciano.  I have letters introducing me to him."

"The padre is firmly held by fever-and-ague.  Little strength is left
to him.  If you will, I'll carry your letters to him.  I'm going to see
him now.  You rest, while I'm gone, in the porter's lodge; or, if you
like, go over to Señor Mendoza's property across the way."

"Thanks, many.  I'll wait in the lodge.  Here are the letters."

The major-domo disappeared into the padre's quarters.  Soon he was
again at the stranger's side.

"Padre Lusciano says come."

He followed the Indian through alcove and corridor to the friar's
bedroom.

"Your name is Captain Farquharson, I learn.  Juan Antonio, a chair for
this brother.  Seat yourself, good sir.  Now," to the Indian, "close
the door and stay not far away.  I'll call you when I want you."

They were a short time in earnest conversation.

The stranger opened the door to leave.

"Antonio," called the padre.  The Indian came quickly.  "Conduct my
visitor outside, then return."

Major-domo and caller passed through the courtyard.

"Amar Dios!" the Indian said at parting.

"Many thanks for your attention," from the other.

Juan Antonio returned to the friar's room.

"Take these letters and lock them in my desk there.  Bring me the key.
Good.  Now, attend carefully to what I say."

"Yes, Señor Padre."

"Tell no one the name of the man whom you have just escorted out."

"It shall be as you say, Reverend Padre."

"It is well.  The giant, ambition, stirs in his sleep.  Soon he awakes
and moves to action."  Then, in half aside: "Mexico has wrought the
undoing of our missions.  If a chance of retrieval comes why should I
not--but Misericordia!"

A great cheering was heard in the courtyard.

"Go, see the cause, and come and tell me, Antonio."

"Glorious news!" the Indian hastening back.  "Pedro Carrasca returns
from Monterey two hours before the time, and has an abundance of Jesuit
bark in his saddlebags.  More yet, good padre.  A messenger from Dario.
He is the third messenger sent--Yoscolo and Stanislaus must have
captured the others.  Dario has driven our herds far into the valley of
the San Joaquin River; and, the man says, soon will they fat for the
matanza" (the killing).

"'Tis well, Juan.  Bring me a portion of the bark, then I'll rest a
little.  In the chapel to-night pray fervently for rain, and thank God
for his mercies; and ask him to avert war and bloodshed from our
province here, and from the whole world.  Shut the door now.  Carry my
blessing to the children when they are assembled for evening prayer."

The door closed and the major-domo went about his many tasks.



CHAPTER VI

THE MERIENDA

"Daughter mine, awake!  'Tis the day of the merienda."

"I'm up, little papa."

A rasp of file on flint was heard as she struck a light.

"Ugh-oo-oo! the water's cold."

The old don laughed.  "Cold water drives the sands of sleep from the
eyelids, child."

He walked along the corridor to his sitting room.  The large time-piece
showed four o'clock and three minutes.  Five minutes later his daughter
joined him, clad in tanned-skin blouse and skirt, with a straw sombrero
on her head.

"Here I am, papacito.  Is breakfast ready?"

"Breakfast waits, but the coming of the morning waits not."

The peons served them by candlelight.

Soon they were ready for the start.

Before the courtyard gate were the doña's carreta, the señor's horse,
and a squad of mounted fighting peons.  Servants placed soft tule grass
in the carreta, lambwool comforters, for greater ease in riding.

In double file marched the mounted peon soldiers, the carreta between,
while the lord of the hacienda rode by his daughter's side.  Thus they
reached the plaza of the village near the Mission San José.

The place was alive with carretas bearing mothers, dueñas, and
daughters, with caballeros, with bustling peons and early-risen Indian
children.

Lanterns were strung around the square, in the middle of which blazed a
big bonfire.  The caballeros capered their horses before the carretas.
The señoritas applauded by "Brava!  Brava!" or shrieked at some
unusually daring equestrian feat.

Captain Moranda was early at the plaza.  Many a señorita turned her
glance from adventurous youth and cavorting horse to the soldier in
trig uniform, whose steed was frequently by the side of Doña
Carmelita's carreta.

Preparations were now under way for the setting-out.  Each carreta now
had four horses, tandem, a postilion mounting the wheel animal of each
team.

"Sunlight on the peak!" intoned a peon stationed on a rooftop.

Señor Mendoza, in charge of the affair, looked carefully over the
carretas arranged longitudinally, the caballeros around them, and the
fighting peons armed with carbine and saber.  "Adelante!" he shouted
and galloped away at the head of the cavalcade.

The carretas surged forward.  At the end of an hour, half way up the
mountain, Mendoza gave a command to halt.

The eastern sky was rosy.  The morning star still shone undimmed though
all others had retired.  The cañon facing the procession was hidden in
purple twilight, while the mountain peak blazed like some glory throne.
The joyful men and women became silent before the majesty.

In the valley the light was chasing the shadows up the hills.  These
shadows were flying to the picnickers as if for protection, when, lo!
the sun was on the eastern horizon.

Mendoza signaled Captain Morando, who chanted the opening line of Saint
Francis of Assisi's "Canticle to the Sun."

Tongue after tongue caught up the words.  The Indians, who had been
taught singing and knew well the music of the church, united with the
others, and the swell of five hundred voices rolled over valley and
hill.

"O, most high, Almighty, good Lord, to thee belong the praise, honor,
and all blessings:

"Praised be our Lord, for our brother the wind, and for air and cloud,
calms and all weather, by the which thou upholdest in life all
creatures.

"Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable unto
us, and humble, and precious, and clean.

"Praised be my Lord for our brother fire, through whom thou givest us
light in the darkness; and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty
and strong.

"Praised be my Lord for our mother the earth, the which doth sustain us
and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and flowers of many
colors, and grass."

"Adelante!" again called Mendoza, and once more they were off.  The
odor of pine reached them at one height; at another the resinous
redwood, in mammoth groves, pointed skyward.  The señoritas and
caballeros talked, laughed, sang, and perhaps mildly flirted.

At ten o'clock they reached the entrance to the cañon which marked the
beginning of Calaveras Valley.  Vast tangles of blackberry bushes were
everywhere, creeping up the cañon side, festooning projecting rocks,
climbing trees, ivylike, and dropping their branches dark with ripening
fruit.  Tinkling rills ran along, unaffected by the drought.  Colonies
of birds floated in the air, sang in the trees, or, fluttering around
the vines, ate their fill.

From time immemorial these grounds had been carefully guarded from
everyone till the merienda day at close of spring, on which occasion
the first fruits were gathered by the land barons and their select
company, with feasting, dancing, and merrymaking.

After that day all embargo was removed, and the products of the valley
were free to all.

According to custom the señorita whose carriage first reached the
merienda ground was queen of the day, and an early-California chariot
race occurred yearly here.

Down the inclined way the carretas went, toward the bottom of the
valley where the choicest berries grew.

Mendoza wheeled his horse and gave the command to stop.  "We rest a few
minutes.  Then, let the carretas which compete in the race range
themselves as will be directed, and start at the word."

Pedro Zelaya and Fulgencio Higuera were appointed judges.

Carreta after carreta drew forward.  Soon a score or more were side by
side, to enter the contest.

The judges were busy moving one team forward, another back.  When all
were at equal advantage the stalwart Higuera called:

"Make ready!  Run!"

Away they went, the caballeros fringing the sides, the other carretas
trailing in the rear.  Weeks of patient labor of the peons had made the
course even and smooth.

"Now!  Now!" cried Hernandez.  "I'll show Mendoza my Mexican imported
horseflesh is superior to his Californians.  Boy," to the postilion,
"taut with the reins, and ready with the whip!"

"Hoop-la!  Hoop-la!" the drivers shouted to their straining teams, the
long whiplashes curling from their hands and touching the splendid
animals in stinging crack, while the caballeros admonished or
encouraged.

"The spur on the wheeler, Miguel!  The lash on that leader!" or,
"Grande!  Grande!  Martino.  Another such spurt and you win!"

Lolita Hernandez, Alfreda Castro and Carmelita Mendoza were ahead.  For
a minute the three carretas ran neck and neck.

Marcel Hernandez, father of Lolita, rode by her team.  In the
enthusiasm of the moment he urged the horses with his riding-whip and
joined with the postilions in shouting, "Hoop-la!  Hoop-la!"

Patricio Martinez, Alfreda's long-time cavalier, hovered near her,
shouting: "Now's your chance, Diego!  Stir up that pinto!  Ease the bit
on that sorrel!  Go it, my beauties!"

The Doña Carmelita's peon had a cool head, driving so as to draw from
the other racers their best speed.  Little by little he lessened the
swiftness of his own horses, allowing the others to forge ahead.

The Hernandez Mexicans and the Castro Andalusians held their own, side
by side, as if in double harness.  For more than a hundred paces it
seemed neither one gained nor lost a hairbreadth.  Suddenly the Castro
animals winded.  High-stepping and proud, they gradually lost.
Magnificent in their defeat they fell back.

"Huzza!  Huzza!" yelled Hernandez.  "I knew I breed the best stock in
the valley.  My daughter shall be queen of the fiesta."

Then Carmelita's peon gave rein to his horses.  They sprang from the
ground and rushed onward.  For an instant the two carretas ran
together, each splendid horse, straight-backed, ears low, nostrils
distended, striking his feet in unison with his fellows.  Soon the
Hernandez team began to slip backward foot by foot.

"Diablo!  Diablo!" thundered Hernandez.  "Peon, urge your horses!  Use
the whip!"

The Hernandez Indian dug his spurs into his mount, and cruelly flayed
the leaders.

The other carreta yet more quickly moved ahead.  Already the Mendoza
wheeler was abreast the Hernandez leader.

Above the roar of the vehicles sounded the plaudits of the caballeros.

"Viva!  Viva, Mendoza!  Viva the California horses!  Viva the Señorita
Mendoza!"

A stone the size of a walnut caught in the hind shoe of Mendoza's
wheeler.  The steady pace of his horses broke.

The Hernandez animals pressed on.

"Swing out, boy, swing out!  Sweep in from the side!" exulted
Hernandez.  "Victory for the Mexican horses!"

The driver turned his team.  "Bueno, boy, bueno!  Now straight ahead!
Loose the rein!  Let 'em go!"

The Mendoza postilion bent affectionately over his horse.  "Fly,
Mercurio!  Fly! for the doña's sake!"

He unstrung his whiplash.  It burned the leaders with living fire.
They leaped forward, the tremendous stride flinging the pebbles from
the wheeler's hoof.

Along the roadway the horses sped, lessening the Hernandez advantage at
every bound.  After them poured the yelling, gesticulating crowd.

A hundred paces only remained.

The shouting ceased, the tenseness of the moment closing every throat.

The Mendoza carreta overtook the other, passed it, and reached the goal
two lengths ahead.  Carmelita was the queen of the day!

With a flourish the Doña Carmelita's postilion drew up before the
pavilion at the merienda ground, Mendoza and Captain Morando assisting
the breathless, excited girl to alight.

Caballero and carreta whirled into the open space around her.

"Hail!  Hail, to the queen of the merienda!" arose on all sides.  She
bowed right and left in acknowledgment.

On one side of the building stood a dais whence the queen ruled her
loyal subjects.

"Come, little one," her father said.  "Your ladies of honor will
accompany you to your throne."

Lolita and Alfreda walked with her to the dais, then curtsied in
deference.

"Your wishes, queen of the merienda?" they asked.

"For one hour let matron, maid, and man gather blackberries for the
feast.  Then all shall come to luncheon in the pavilion, not forgetting
to bring the fruits of their labor.  For the afternoon my command is
that all enjoy themselves to the full."

Thus briefly spoke the ruler of the day; after which she took her
willow basket and hastened to gather berries, as did her maids of honor
and everyone else.

The appointed time saw all assembled near the feast tables which had
been made ready by the peons.  Heaping dishes of berries were
conspicuous among a variety and abundance of viands.

Colonel Barcelo, commander of the presidio at Monterey, with his wife
and her younger sister, the Señora Valentino, rode up on horseback.

The Colonel and his wife were well known to the picnickers.  His
sister-in-law had but lately arrived from Madrid.

The newcomers were accorded a gracious reception.

"Happened to be visiting near San José.  Hearing of the merienda, we
came along without an invitation," said Barcelo, laughing.  "Besides, I
wished Señora Valentino to witness one of our festal days.  It is
unique.  Madrid itself holds nothing to equal it."

The brown eyes of the lady from Madrid flashed in accompaniment to her
pearly teeth.  "Rare things have I seen in California in the fortnight
I am here."

"In a moment luncheon is served.  My worthy Barcelo, I invite you and
your party to our table.  My daughter and a few others sit with us.
Come, friends," spoke Señor Mendoza, true to the unbounded hospitality
of the California grandee.

A peon sounded a gong.  The hungry merienda folk lost little time in
coming to the meal.

Señor Mendoza was at the head of his table, Doña Carmelita at the foot.
At the host's right and left were seated Colonel Barcelo and his wife;
Señora Valentino, by his sister.  The ladies of honor, with Hernandez,
who sat by his daughter, filled the other places, except one.  This had
been reserved for Morando, who now came up.

"An accident to one of the horsemen detained me for the past half
hour," was his explanation to Señor Mendoza.

"A caballero's misfortune always calls for assistance from a brother,"
replied Mendoza.  Continuing: "Captain Morando, I wish to introduce you
to Señora Valentino, who favors us to-day by her presence with her
relatives, the Barcelos.  Señora Valentino, may I present Captain
Moranda?"

The señora acknowledged pleasantly the Captain's low bow.

"Captain, to your chair," from Mendoza.

Conversation lulled for a little.  Early hours and open air had given
zest to the appetite.

"My dear Señora Valentino, I wish you could have seen our carreta race
this morning," remarked Señor Mendoza.  "But it will not be the last."

"While I say nothing against the race of this morning as such,"
interposed Hernandez, "for it was good enough as far as it went, I do
claim that my horses were better than yours, Mendoza.  Your peon rider
happened to be more at home in his business than was mine, nothing
more.  I wish I had been in that postilion's place myself; then there
would have been a different story to tell."

"A horse can display but the swiftness his limbs possess," rebutted
Mendoza.

"Riding is not what I knew in my youth," commented Hernandez, who was
giving ample appreciation to the pleasures of the table.

"Captain Morando, were you not at a ball given in Madrid last year by
the officers of General Guerrero's division in their quarters?" said
Señora Valentino.

"I was, indeed.  And now, señora, I remember you well.  Strange I did
not recall you at first."

"The fact that I was in ball-dress then and in riding-habit now is,
undoubtedly, what prevented you from recognizing me before."

"Why, we have old friends here!" interjected Colonel Barcelo.

"How is Colonel Valentino, your husband?"

"Shortly after that ball of which we speak my husband was ordered to
service in Morocco, and there he laid down his life for his country."

"I regret that my question called up sad memories.  Nearly a year have
I been away from Madrid, and news travels slowly to us here.  I offer
to you my sympathy in your great loss."

"You are very kind, Lieutenant--I should say, 'Captain' Morando.
But--what is past is gone.  It is well, then, to forget.  A wonderful
life these Californians live!"

"I trust Colonel Barcelo and his lady will find opportunity while in
this vicinity to bring you, señora, to visit us at our home in Mission
San José.  What says my daughter?"

The Doña Carmelita cordially seconded her father's invitation.  The
Barcelos accepted; the Señora Valentino likewise.

"Mission San José--Mission San José--" mused the latter.  "Is there not
living there a Franciscan friar, one Lusciano Osuna?"

"It is so," assented Mendoza.

"I heard he was in California, and as you mentioned the Mission San
José it came to me that was given as his present home."

"A man of some importance, probably, in Spain," volunteered Señor
Hernandez.

"I do not know him personally," replied Señora Valentino.  "In the
cathedral of Barcelona I heard him give the Lenten sermons several
years ago.  It was quite shortly after his ordination, but his
discourses possessed rare charm and power.  The city was literally at
his feet."

"Strange such a man comes here as a mission padre?" observed Hernandez.

"It was his request.  Some unknown powerful influence seconded him,
else Spain would not have lost her great preacher."

At that moment the strains of the grand march floated through the
pavilion, from the excellent orchestra provided for the dancing.

Captain Morando was quickly at Doña Carmelita's side.  "Señorita the
Doña Mendoza, may I claim your favor for the grand march and the waltz
following?"

It was granted.

Carmelita and Morando were at once circling in the waltz.

"I still have the rose which fell to me from the sky one moonlit night
a month ago."

"Does it keep so long?" mischievously.

"It is pressed in a book of poems.  Each couplet of book-leaves holds a
petal.  The odor of the petals speaks to me the same thought which is
the subject of these poems.  Shall I tell you what it is, Señorita
Doña?"

"Hush! the music ceases.  Lead me to a resting place."

There was to be no resting for Señorita Mendoza.  Importunate youths
claimed dance after dance.

The elders, men and women, were scattered around in groups, some
looking at the dancing, others conversing, a few playing cards.

Señor Valentino, owing to her recent bereavement, did not dance.  She
seated herself on a rustic bench beneath a widespread sycamore, where
she was soon the center of an interested coterie.  The lady so recently
from Madrid retailed to Spanish-born gentry the news of the distant
imperial city.

After a while Captain Morando came up.  Soon the two were in animated
conversation.

"Ah!  Captain, not on the floor!  Foot-weary so soon?" spoke a dueña
who now joined them.

"No, señora, not foot-weary.  I forego for a time the pleasures of the
dance that I may listen to the words of our beautiful visitor here."

He made a low bow to Señora Valentino, who laughingly extended her hand
to him.  He bent sweepingly over it, barely touching the ends of her
fingers with his.

"The Señor Captain Morando!" a man's voice called at his elbow.  It was
Abelardo Peralta.  The music and dancing had stopped.  The guests were
assembling around the dais on which was seated Doña Carmelita.

"Our queen demands your presence, Señor Captain," Peralta went on.

The Captain was shortly before her majesty the queen of the fiesta.

"The games are about to begin, Captain Morando.  Do you not remember
that I appointed you and Don Abelardo to define the boundaries of the
racing course, and to determine the various goals?  Also please to
remind the Señora Valentino that she is requested to crown the victors."

As the afternoon waned the interest in the athletic events increased.
The footraces for young men showed that the sons of the province were
nimble of limb, and won the approbation of Pedro Zelaya himself, whose
swiftness was credited with being only less than a fast-galloping horse.

The señoritas ran a shorter course very creditably.

Then came a contest of knife-throwing in which the men of the period
were wonderfully proficient.  The knife was flung, blade extended, from
the palm of the hand with such force that the point of the weapon would
sink several inches into a wooden target placed twenty, thirty, or
more, paces away.

"Hoop-la!  Hoop-la!" came through a cloud of dust.  A number of
vaqueros had driven a wild steer from the mountains to the race course.
The picnickers looked at the animal from their safe position on the
platform.  Again and again the creature charged at the vaqueros, who
deftly swung their horses out of harm's way.

"Send him here!" some young fellow called to one of the herdsmen.

"No, no," another cried, "send him over this way to me."

The animal pawed the earth, bellowed, and rushed around the race course
in fury.

Don Pedro Zelaya climbed out on a projecting tree-branch and dropped on
the animal's back, in the midst of one of its mad careenings.  It stood
stock still for a moment in bewilderment.  Zelaya's sharp spurs soon
stirred it into action.  It ran, leaped, even bucked like a broncho, in
trying to rid its back of the burden, but in vain.

"Brava!  Brava!  Señor Zelaya.  Soon will you have another gentle pony."

"Let him chase thee around the race course," yelled a youth.  "One
hundred pesos to fifty he catches thee!"

Zelaya found time to wave his acknowledgment of the persiflage.

The steer suddenly tried rolling over and over to free itself.  The man
sprang to the ground each time it dashed itself down; then, with the
litheness of a cat, leaped to its back as it arose.

The animal finally gave up all efforts to throw the rider, and ran at
full speed around the racing track, amidst the loud plaudits of the
assembly.

Señor Zelaya drew himself back into the branches of the tree, after a
little, and his mount escaped to the forest.

The men exhibited all manner of fancy riding.  Some rode at the flank
of a horse at gallop, or under the belly, or astride the neck.  Others
leaned from their saddles in flying sweep and picked up coins from the
ground; or drew from the sand chickens buried to the head, yet so
gentle the rider's hand that the fowl was not in the least injured.

The shadows come early in the deep cañons.  The queen sent her
messengers to call the people around her throne while the winners
received their prizes.  Abelardo Peralta announced, in her name, that
after the distribution luncheon would again be served in the pavilion.

"Our queen makes Don Abelardo her chief courtier," remarked Lolita
Hernandez in the hearing of a number.

"They have been friends since childhood, Señorita Lolita," returned
this young lady's dueña.

Lolita laughed mirthlessly.  "I fancy the captain from Madrid has
offended.  Perhaps her majesty saw him kissing Señora Valentino's hand
this afternoon."

"Fie!  Fie!" from another dueña.  "He touched only the tip of that
lady's fingers with his own.  I saw it myself."

"Diffident soldier!" from a grave señor.  "In my youth I would not have
been content with so slight a token."

"Manuel!  Manuel!" from his wife.

"Señora Moraga, thy husband thinks on his courtship of thee," spoke yet
another dueña, laughing.

"I'm sure it looked as if the Captain kissed the stranger lady's hand,"
Lolita reiterated.  "I'm sure too Carmelita saw it, for we were dancing
in the same set when it happened."

"'Twas but a lady's favor and a man's privilege, little one," said
Moraga.

"Manuel!  Manuel!" again from his wife.  "And before such a child as
Lolita!"

"I know Carmelita favored Captain Morando above Don Abelardo the day of
the dinner at her father's house.  I saw it, and so did all the girls.
I know she changed toward him to-day after what I--saw.  I know she
did."

Señora Valentino approached the group.

At almost the same moment Morando came up from the opposite direction,
having been at the race course collecting from the judges their
decisions as to the victors.

"Ah!  Captain mine, bearest thou a word for beauty as well as for
prowess in athletics?" questioned Moraga.

"The queen has appointed no judge of beauty.  Even the wisest would
find bewilderment here where all are so fair," replied the gallant
Morando.

"Our Captain is a diplomat," smiled the señora.  She bowed to the
gentleman in question; he yet lower to her.

A messenger advanced, saying with much ceremony: "Señora Valentino, the
queen requests you to crown the winners from the dais.  Captain
Morando, you are commanded before the throne there to read your
reports."

The señora curtsied.  "My sovereign's will is mine."

The soldier saluted, but before he could make speech Mendoza's hand was
on his shoulder.  "Pardon me, friends, I have a word with the Captain."

"Morando," said the old don when they were apart, "you may not know the
keen instincts of our wild animals for change in weather.  Bear and
mountain lion are hurrying through the forest here back to the high
mountains.  During the drought they have been under foot, tame as dogs.
My fighting peons brought me word of this sudden activity of the
animals, and just now I observed it for myself.  It means the quick
coming of a storm."

"Maldito!  is it sure?  Leagues from home are we and scores of women
folk with us."

"To make doubly sure I rode my horse to the summit of a high bluff.
The clouds are rolling hitherward in masses black and angry."

"What, think you, we would better do?"

"I'll order the peons to bring out the carretas and saddle the horses.
'Twill be a few minutes only.  Then I'll call for silence and ask all
to take conveyance or mount, speaking of imminent storm in such way as
not to give unnecessary alarm.  For myself, I'll lead my fighting
peons; let come next the carretas; then marshal you the caballeros."

As said so was it done.

Soon all was in readiness, and the procession was tearing over the road
by which it had come early in the day.  Doña Carmelita had given her
carreta to Señora Valentino, while she rode with her dueña.  Provision
was also made for Señora Barcelo, Mendoza declaring it unsafe for a
woman to ride horseback under the circumstances.

As they sped along darkness overtook them.  Intermittent lightning
darted forked tongues across the sky, while thunder pealed and
reverberated.  The pent-up rain of months poured on the returning
picnickers.  In the dry creek-beds streams arose even while they were
crossing.

The dueña's carreta was somewhat slower than the others and thus was
last in the line.  Morando rode by Carmelita's side.

Suddenly the heavens seemed to split.  Torrents of water roared on the
hillside, inundated the roadway, and poured over carretas and horsemen.

There had been a cloud-burst.

A heavy boulder whirling in the flood was flung against Morando's
horse.  As it fell caballeros close by grasped bridle-rein and
stirrup-strap and drew the animal to its feet.  Panic-stricken it
dashed wildly forward.

The lightning ceased.  The dense blackness but increased the confusion.

The carretas floundered in the water.  Finally, all save one fought
their way to higher ground.  A projecting tree-limb had struck the
dueña's postilion.  His horse slipped beneath him and turned with the
turbulent current.  Man, horses, carreta, and occupants were washed
down the declivity.

The caballeros, unknowing, struggled on.

The dueña's horses soon found footing on the hillside, and taking the
bits in their teeth ran headlong down grade into the deep cañon.

When Carmelita recovered consciousness she was lying in a cave, on some
bear skins, near a glowing fire of logs.  She could hear horses
stamping and eating.  Her dueña, still unconscious, was on another pile
of skins.

A man came from the darkness and stood by her.  He was dressed in
tanned-skin shirt and trousers, and in his hand he held a sombrero.
The mustached face was burned brown in the sun.

He noticed that Carmelita had opened her eyes.  "Neither of you is
seriously injured.  I am physician enough to determine that.  Rest here
quietly till morning, and doubtless your friends will come.  I'll have
some one prepare you a hot drink now."  This he spoke in Spanish.  Then
in English, as he turned away: "Queerest product of a spring freshet I
ever saw!"

He chuckled at his own conceit.



CHAPTER VII

A NIGHT SPENT IN A CAVE

"The drink is ready.  Will I bring it to the ladies now, Cap'?"

These words awakened Doña Carmelita from a sound sleep into which she
had fallen despite the discomfiture of rain-soaked clothes.  The fire
was burning brightly, and she found herself nearer the blaze whither
some one, without awakening her, had drawn the pile of skins on which
she was lying.  The warmth had nearly dried her clothing.

The dueña had recovered from her swooning, and was partially sitting up
endeavoring to collect her senses.

"The drink is ready, Cap'.  Will you ask the ladies if they want it?  I
don't know a word of their lingo."

The man touched his hat in military style.  The one denominated "Cap'"
came up, he who had spoken to Carmelita a little previously.

"My man here has prepared some strong black coffee for you.  An
allowance of the native spirit you call 'aguardiente' has been added.
I advise you both to drink freely of the mixture.  Blankets will be
provided you, and you will sleep here safe and warm till morning.  Will
you have the beverage now?  I trust you feel not greatly any effect of
the unusual experience which must have been yours."

"O!" moaned the dueña, now coming somewhat more to herself.  "What a
terrible happening!  I expected each instant to be killed.  O! where am
I?"

The man laughed.  "I cannot discuss what occurred to you before we
found you outside this cave.  Neither can I tell you where you are, for
I know only in a vague way the location of the place.  Let it suffice
that you are safe here.  Now, warm yourself with this drink and seek to
sleep.  The morning brings, doubtless, searchers for you."

The man who seemed the leader had been speaking in Spanish.  A trace of
foreign accent was in each word, though he spoke the language fluently
and correctly.

The other man broke in with:

"Coffee's cooling fast, Cap'.  If they don't take it now, I'll have to
heat it up again all over.  Kiyi that to 'em in their own lingo.  Wish
I knew how to."

He had been standing holding in one hand a steaming saucepan, in the
other an improvised wooden tray on which were two metal goblets.

The Señorita Carmelita struggled with some difficulty to a sitting
position.

"We thank you for your thoughtfulness," she said.

"The young lady says she won't have the mess--is that it, Cap'?" asked
the man holding the saucepan and goblets.

Carmelita was about to reply in English, but the leader said, quickly:
"Give them your preparation there, Brown.  Don't be slow.  They should
have had it drunk by this time."

Brown complied with the order.

The woman and the girl sipped the steaming liquid.

"Now I remember," said the dueña.  "We left the road just after that
awful thunder clap.  The water washed us down and down.  Then my horses
ran and ran, downhill, over rocks and gullies--O it was awful!"
covering her face with her hands.  "Then came the crash; and I really
knew no more until this moment.  Thank you, sirs, for this," sipping
the black coffee.  "It shall be no loss, and I will see you have ample
reward.  Besides, this señorita here----"

"Is the old lady saying she wants another swig?" interrupted the man
holding the saucepan.  "Because if she's still thirsty, there's more of
this coffee and aggydenty right here," shaking the contents of the
vessel, "and if this ain't plenty I can manyfactur more."

"Hush, Brown!" spoke the other.  "If you have anything more to do I'll
tell you."

"Just as you say," agreed the other, unperturbed.

"The crash you tell of brought my man here and myself out to where the
accident met you.  Your vehicle had struck a huge rock which forms one
side of this cave.  Needless to say the carriage was in kindling wood.
You," to the dueña, "and the young lady had been thrown entirely free
from the melee into a thick bed of dried leaves--or leaves that had
been dry before the rain," this with a smile.  "Your horses were
floundering in the mud."

"O, my brave, beautiful horses!" exclaimed the dueña.  "Where are they?
O, where are they?"

"Safe here with my own horses and quietly eating fodder as if nothing
had occurred.  Your Indian driver came off with a broken shoulder.  He
sleeps now farther along in the cave.  I fancy the plentiful supply of
aguardiente my man Brown gave him aided in producing his slumbers.
However, I knew no other way to ease him."

"Ah, that Luis!" said the dueña.  "I'll have him whipped when he
recovers for thus endangering us both with his careless driving.  My
regular driver is away in the eastern grass ranges."

"Anything more I can do?" asked Brown.  "I hear my name spoke of."

"Nothing more.  I was telling the ladies you aided their injured
servant to sleep by a free supply of spirits.  You may go now."

"Just as you say, Cap'.  Said nigger servant of the lady is a regler
canal when it comes to aggydenty," commented Brown as he betook himself
and saucepan away.

Carmelita and the dueña finished drinking the contents of the goblets.
The man Brown soon came back with two pairs of woolen blankets.

"These blankets are finest English wool.  Wrap up in 'em and you'll
find yourselves warm and dry by morning.  Tell 'em, Cap', in their own
talk."

"Brown, you may retire now to the inner cave and sleep."

"Just as you say, Cap'."

"I trust you will be as comfortable as the situation permits.  Allow me
to wish you pleasant dreams and the hope that to-morrow will find you
both none the worse for this mishap.  Good-night."  The Captain bowed.

Soon the Captain was gone and the dueña and the girl were closely
wrapped in the warm blankets.  The fire still burned high and diffused
a grateful heat.  A feeling of repose crept over both the women.  The
storm howled and raged outside, but in their wearied state it was
scarce less than a lullaby to them.  Numbness came to their senses.
They slept in the wild cave, safe from deluge and accident.

How long the Doña Carmelita had been sleeping she knew not.  She opened
her eyes.  The fire had burned low.  The light of the embers was
struggling with the darkness.  Rain and wind still held high revel on
the outside.  The water swished and the tempest boomed at the entrance
of the cave.

Again she was sinking to slumber.

Suddenly she roused.  Footsteps were near--unusual footsteps, soft as
air.  The fire was lower; the embers cooling; darkness lay more
completely over all.  Nearer the sound came.  Every nerve was tense.
The fire gave a feeble flicker.  By the wall of the cave two figures
stood not half a dozen paces from her.  They disappeared suddenly.  She
breathed more freely.  Another flicker from the fire and she saw that
they were crouched low by the ground and apparently in conversation.  A
draft hurtled through the cavern and gave life to the dying coals.  The
two figures cast themselves flat on the ground.  The embers died down.
Carmelita waited in trepidation.

Another rift of light in answer to a current of air.  One of the
prostrate figures was slowly moving toward her, as a fish floats
through water without apparent movement or propulsion.  Never it
hastened, yet never it ceased to come, always nearer, without effort,
without pausing.

She shut her teeth and clenched her hands.  There was a wild desire to
scream, to call for help, to fly out into the open.  She did none of
these things.  The courage of her warrior forbears stood her in stead.

All at once the body ceased its forward motion.  Then it moved
backward, noiselessly, slowly.  It seemed an age until it reached the
other figure by the wall.  The overflow of the hurricane which now came
sweeping through the place invigorated the fire so that it showed the
two figures standing flush against the wall and again in earnest
consultation.  She could tell that they were Indians, not by their
dress, for that was indistinct, but by their postures and gestures.
Suddenly they were prone on the ground and going, again noiselessly,
toward the inner cave.

The wind ceased.  The fire decreased to half a dozen separate sparks.
Darkness hid the Indians from her eyes.  She reached out her hand to
waken the dueña, but desisted.

"Why frighten her?  Doubtless they are ordinary peons seeking shelter
from the storm."

After a while, through very exhaustion, she slept.

Her eyes opened wide almost with a snap and she sat bolt upright.  A
portion of the fire had been replenished and was flaming up.  A low cry
forced itself from her lips before she recognized the one by the fire
to be Brown.  "What is it?" asked the girl.

The dueña awakened from heavy sleep.

"The horses--my horses," she cried, her wits still half slumbering.
"The señor said they are safe.  What a terrible thing--is the man still
standing there?  I trust his master will have the impertinent fellow
whipped."

Brown felt that some unusual explanation was due from him, though he
did not understand a word.  Bending over, he placed his hands on his
hips and spoke in a mincing way, as if to children.

"Lady, people don't need be 'fraid of Injuns.  My employer's all
right--good man.  Injuns say much, then I fight 'em.  Cap'n fight
'em--fight 'em like the devil."

He balled his right hand and doubled the arm, then patted the corded
muscles approvingly with the fingers of his left.  Finally he shook his
fist in the direction of the inner cave while his face assumed a
mock-ferocious expression.

"I suppose he is threatening his kind master.  I'll have my peons beat
him soundly in the morning, if the master wishes.  Fellow, begone! or
I'll call the one who owns you."

"Mamita, you mistake.  The man is saying not to fear the Indians; that
he and his Captain will protect us."

"Fear the Indians!  Well, I should say not!  Besides, there are no
Indians here to fear, except that wretched Luis who drove my horses,
and he has a broken shoulder, the scoundrel!  If you understand this
creature, child, tell him to be about his business before his master
learns of his annoying us."

"Old lady's scared, hey?  Scared out of her wits.  Well, I reckon----"

"She is not frightened, but I was a while ago when two Indians were
here and crept into the darkness, after conducting themselves in the
most mysterious way."  The doña spoke in excellent English.

Extreme astonishment spread over Brown's features.  Then he looked as
if his confidence had been painfully abused.

"Well, I swanny!  Well, I swanny!  If this here don't beat the deuce."

It was too much for him.  His hands sought his thighs again, and he
looked incredulously at the girl.

"If I do say it, this here beats the deuce!"

The man was of type the doña had never met before.  However, the humor
of the situation came to her and she laughed.

"The scamp is a fool, but that's nothing so unusual as to amuse you
so," snapped the dueña.  "I'm going to try and sleep.  I'll let his
master know of this.  I'd have this fellow shut up on bread and water
for ten days, with several whippings for good measure.  Ah--h! these
wet clothes.  I'm glad we're safe, and the horses too."

She covered her eyes with the blanket to shut out the firelight.

"Does the old lady ketch my talk?  I rather thought she saw the joke."

"She understands no English."

"Mebbe not, but I speak plain United States.  It's wonderful to meet
one of you folks who knows how to talk straight language."

The strangeness of the place and time did not prevent Señorita Mendoza
from again being amused.  "We certainly speak language--the Spanish
language."

"That's what I call 'lingo,' plain 'lingo.'  But that's neither here
nor there.  You talk American fine.  Of course not as good as I do.
You couldn't expect that; but I understand every word you say.

"My employer, I take it, is English," Brown went on, "but he talks my
talk all right--not as I do of course.  I'm glad he's wise as he is
that way, for 'ceptin' him, yourself included, I haven't conversed with
nobody for months.  A man naturally gets just stale, homesick for folks
and talking."

He seated himself comfortably by the fire, threw on a dried branch or
two, then, nursing one knee with his hands clasped together, he looked
at the girl.  Weeks of unshaven stubble gave his face a grotesque
appearance, but Carmelita had a feeling of protection in the presence
and friendliness of this serving man.

"You speak of the other man as 'captain' and sometimes as 'employer.'
That means he is your overseer, does it not?"

"Well," in a puzzled way, "he pays me for my time, and I do the work he
cuts out for me.  That there sums up the relations of me and Cap'n."

The dueña stirred in her sleep.  "My horses----" she muttered, then was
quiet.

"Guess the old lady ain't restin' well.  P'raps she's troubled with
nightmare."

"No, I think she's worrying about her horses."

"Do say!  Mebbe they're all the poor creetur has."

Carmelita smiled.

"Well, anyway, I hope she's got enough over and above to buy herself
another wagon."

"The lady here spoke a while ago of the other man owning you----"

"Own me!--like a nigger--not much!"

The leg he had been holding shot straight before him.  Resting his
palms beside him on the ground he looked at the doña in mingled
amazement and indignation.

"No man owns me, Miss--I dunno your name.  I'm my own boss, beholding
to no one save and except Jehovah."  He swept one arm widely over his
head, then used it as a prop again.  "If the Cap'n here should try to
come it over me as master, why, decent feller that he is, I'd chuck him
body and bones out into the storm right here and now.  My politics is,
one man is good as another if he behaves himself"--a revelation in
democracy to the doña.

"I greatly appreciate your coming to tell us not to be frightened of
those Indians.  Likely they only took refuge from the storm, as did we."

Brown shook his head.

"I reckon they're guides to the big huntin' regions east of here
somewhere.  That's where we're bound for, and that's why I shipped with
the Cap'n in the first place.  He's death on big game.  You see,"
confidentially, "I'm a steamboater by profession.  Up and down the
Mississippi's been my trick for a dozen year.  Last fall followed a
flock of prairie schooners from Saint Joe to Santa Fé, largely for
diversion.  Met the Cap'n, and he was full of Californy and huntin'
grizzlies.  He wanted a man-of-all-work.  I wanted a job.  Here I be."

"Your life has been of great interest, I'm sure."

"Well, then, I'll continue where I left off.  I was asleep when the
Injuns came.  They were talkin' mad-like with the boss in lingo.  He
gave it back to 'em in lingo.  They p'inted out here where you be, and
I took it they were riled up about you folks.  The Cap'n smoothed 'em
off after a while.  I strolled along to tell you some way not to be
scared of the creeters, if they'd growled at you when they came in.
Here I still be."

"Perhaps you wish to sleep again now."

"Not any.  Horses all saddled to start.  We was guided here by some
Injun or other.  Found everything here in plenty.  Never saw anything
like it.  Reckon when Cap'n is through in there we'll start somewhere.
He stops for no weather.  I'll foller where man can lead."

Brown's flow of speech had left him talked out.  He looked at the girl
for a moment or two.  She sat with the blanket around her and was
studying him.

He finally asked:

"If I'm not infringin' on the idees you've been raised by I'd like to
ask how you come to know American?"

She laughed.

"My father taught me English.  I cannot remember when I did not speak
it."

"Well!  Your pop's Spanish, I take it."

"Yes.  He learned English first when among Englishmen in the Napoleonic
wars.  He even commanded an English regiment for a time.  After the
battle of Talavera he led one of the divisions of the English army off
the field, every officer above him having been cut down."

"My own pop fit in our war of 1812, about when that Napoleon was
raisin' old Scat.  My pop read all about it.  Old gent's sixty-nine
now.  Born in New Hampshire was pop; mom in old Virginny.  They met up
in Missouria and married.  Here I be, as I notified you before."

The girl did not make comment.

The fire died low.  Brown was busy with his thoughts.

Three men came from within the inner cave.  Carmelita lay back.  The
dim light showed two of them to be the Indians she had seen before, the
third was Brown's employer.  The Indians were plainly enraged.  The
other's manner was suave and appeasing.  Their conversation was
animated, but, for a time, no distinct word reached the girl.  The
heavy guttural voices of the natives contrasted strongly with the
attempted soothing tones of the white man.

"Don't be skeered, miss," whispered Brown.  "We won't let 'em tech ye."

"Your palaver is useless, Sir Englishman," one of the speakers said in
a higher key than before.  "Cash in the palm is your only argument with
us."  The tone was vibrant with passion.  He huddled his blanket
closely around his shoulders.

Word and manner of the white man were smooth as he said: "We must not
discuss it here.  Let us return to the inner chamber.  Some further
refreshment you need before going out into the storm.  Let us further
consider my offer privately.  These señoras----"

"Huh!" interrupted the Indian.  "I care nothing if Administrator
Mendoza hears me, let alone a storm-driven señora or two.  The
refreshment you offer is our own cache.  Remember, the offer that
carries weight with us is, money down."

His fellow mumbled some word of assent.

The conversation was now plainly heard by the doña.

The dueña half awakened.  "Are we nearly home?" sleepily.  "That Luis
is a poor driver."

She slept again.

"Old lady likely is riled about all this noise when she wants to
sleep," Brown remarked.

"Come back, amigos.  Let us not decide thus a matter of grave
importance.  Come, talk further in retirement, and then make another
appointment, if necessary."  This from the Captain.

The Indian stamped in fury.

"Come back, you say--always come back to the other chamber.  You haggle
as do market-women over eggs.  I know the vastness of the prize you
seek.  As superintendent of the Mission vessels have I sold wheat to
English dogs in the north and Mexican friends in the south, so do I
know of what I speak.  Its coast line alone marks a thousand miles.
Itself is an empire ten times the area of your petty island.  I say I
am willing to help you make your own this territory, still you haggle,
haggle.  Huh!"

"But, my friend, we must keep these matters----"

"But, my friend--my friend!" the Indian mocked.  "Men unnumbered are at
my command.  Still, you have only words, words, words."

"At the proper time and place----"

"The proper time and place is now and here.  One hundred thousand
pesos' value in your English gold notes--you claim you have the money
in Monterey--place you in my hand the day the next new moon is born.
Then, when you wish, my subjects in the inland--I am their
king--declare Great Britain's flag to be their own, and I will hold
them your loyal subjects."

Brown threw some wood on the embers.  "That Injun is yelpin' back talk
at the Cap'n any fool can see.  I never could stand much sass from sech
people myself," in an aside to Carmelita.

"Come, friend, we may not deliberate here for others to overhear.  Come
with me.  I have your point of view----"

"Yes, or no, señor.  You have my point of view, you say.  Then, accept
or refuse.  You are not the only bidder."

"A glass of aguardiente in the inner chamber----"

"Ah! you refuse!  In coming here my time was wasted.  I go elsewhere."

Casting blanket away he strode toward the darkness and the downpouring
rain.  As he neared the fire the light showed his face clearly.  It was
curiously wrinkled, not unlike a savage dog ready to bite.  His
companion followed him.

The leader was the dreaded Yoscolo, the craftiest Indian in the
Californias, and the best educated.  The other was Stanislaus, once of
the Mission of San José, a man as cruel as Yoscolo, if less clever.

The doña cuddled nearer the bed as they passed,

"Hold!" cried the Captain as the Indians reached the cave entrance.
"I'll accept your proposition."

They turned.

"Come back and we will arrange preliminaries within."

"Done!" said the leader.  Stanislaus grunted affirmation.

A shout sounded in the open, followed by the words:

"Here is the carreta, Señor Mendoza, and footprints leading on.  Have
the men bring lights."

Mendoza's voice gave some order.

"Juan Antonio, you did well," he continued.

The Indians, Yoscolo and Stanislaus, vanished like wraiths.

"More Injuns, Cap'?" inquired Brown.

"Possibly.  Let us go."

"And leave the ladies to be skeered to death?  No, sirree!  I stay."

"Please stay," requested Carmelita in English.  "My father is here and
will thank you."

"The women are safe, Brown.  Out the other entrance of the cave.  Come,
I tell you."

"Just as you say, Cap'--not that I'm skeered of her pop.  You lead and
I'll foller."

Just as the darkness hid them Juan Antonio came into the cave.  He was
covered with mud.  Mendoza followed on horseback.  Mounted peons filled
the cave entrance.

"Papacito!  Papacito!"  Carmelita ran toward her father.

"My child, come thou to me!" springing to the ground and clasping her
in his arms.

"I'll not have such a commotion in my house," announced the dueña,
returning from sleep.  "It is not the hour for the fandango."

Light flared from the replenished fire.

"Why, Señor Mendoza!" now quite awake.  "How did you manage to find
this place on such a dark night?"

Mendoza pointed to Juan Antonio.  "He followed your steps even in the
darkness.  To horse, at once, señora, and you too, my child.  The storm
abates, only to resume shortly.  We must reach the main road before the
rising water bars our way.  Let us go.  May God be thanked for your
safety!  How made you this fire?"

"Those who are gone built it, my father."

"When we numbered not thy carreta with the others sorrow darker than
the night ruled my soul.  Now is the blackness light.  Hence, and
quickly!  To horse, all!"

In a moment the cave was alone with the fire and the shadows.



CHAPTER VIII

THE POLITICAL POT SIMMERS

"Big game occupyin' mud houses endurin' the wet spell, be they Cap'?"

The Captain sharply drew up his bridle reins.

"Brown, are the wages I pay satisfactory to you?"

"You bet, Cap'.  They're the best I've ever had.  If the wages and the
place didn't suit me, you'd have heard me talk long before this."

"Very well, my man.  We are now entering Monterey, the capital of this
province.  Your sole concern there will be with preparations for
further journeys according as I give you orders."

"Just as you say, Cap'," from the placid Brown.  "Of course you
remember I shipped with you on the proposition of big game huntin'."

The other did not reply.

The small adobe dwellings, dubbed "mud houses" by Brown, were succeeded
by more pretentious ones as the riders neared the town proper.  From
every dooryard the prickly-pear cactus pointed its heavy oval leaves.
Sweet peas rioted in tinting of sky and sunshine.  The Castilian rose,
blushing and demure, bowed from its stem in challenge to the hand of
the passer-by.

It was the children rolling and tumbling along the muddy street who
drew Brown out of his silence.

"By hicky! this here is a monstrous place for children.  Just now I
actually counted eighteen on one front stoop.  They was in reg'lar
graydashun of sizes from a foot up to five feet six inches, I should
jedge."  This critically.

"The province could easily support one thousand times its present
population," replied the other.

Amusement and contempt struggled together on the face of honest Brown.

"One thousand times as many Injuns as is cumberin' the ground right
now!  By hickey!  I don't think the Almighty should allow it."

They entered the large plaza around which were many of the important
buildings of the capital.  Here ran in full stream the life of early
California.  Indian women, gay in colored shawl and gown, edged their
way among the fiery steeds drawing the carreta of the grandee's family.
The Mexican smoking his corn-paper cigarito touched elbows with the
hidalgo's son who was clad in velvet and fine linen, with inlaid gold
on his hat-band and gold spur on his heels.

Skins brown, skins red, skins white intermingled.  Wealth and lack of
it walked side by side.  There was no poverty in the California of this
time.

"Well, I swanny!" from Brown.  "Did you ever see such a theayter?"

The Captain alighted near a long line of low buildings.  A peon came
forth bowing obsequiously.

"Let this man take the horses, Brown.  He will show you an eatinghouse.
Remain not very far from this place until I return."

"Well, by Gosh!  Left with the heathen and his flesh pots!  I say,
Cap'----"

The Captain was gone.  Whereupon Brown followed whither the peon led
him, the while speaking naïve criticisms of this worthy and of all
things Californian.  The Indian understood nothing, but grinned
obligingly whenever he saw the stranger had completed some period or
other of his discourse.

The disappearance of his "Cap'" did not disturb Brown.  He had become
too well accustomed to the flittings of the chief.  Their place of
residence was in a cañon of the high mountains, a score of miles east
of the pueblo San José.  Here a rude cabin had been found formerly
occupied by vaquero peons.  From this point the leader and his factotum
sallied forth on many an excursion.  If Brown wondered at the meaning
of it all, he rarely questioned, and never searchingly.  It sufficed
that finally they would hunt "big game."

The Captain, hastening along a narrow street, came to a plaza smaller
than the one he had left, but otherwise similar to it, around which
were grouped many of the homes of officialdom.  This plaza was the
center of the fashionable as well as of the political life of the
province.

He stopped before one of the most imposing residences.  Within the
porte-cochere a man sat on a bench.  He was the outside guardian of the
dwelling, a position of importance at the time.

"I wish to speak with one of the house," the Captain announced.

The other arose and bowed ceremoniously.

"Whom have I the honor of addressing?"

"Will you carry the Señora Doña Valentino word that a man is here to
see her on the king's business?"

The stranger's unpretentious attire and travel-stained appearance had
not deterred the guard from showing him the suave courtesy a guest
should receive, but the words, "on the king's business" seemed to sting
the Spanish-American.

"Señor," in grandiose manner, "I am a citizen of Mexico, an official of
this household.  No king and no one on the king's business is welcome
where rules the republic of Mexico."

"Confound it, man! take my words to the señora.  She will understand.
I have no time for your heroics.  Hurry up, I tell you!"

The other crossed his arms and looked disdainfully at the Captain.

"On the king's business, you say!  On the king's business!  Have you
been asleep these many years and awakened only now?  Have you----"

"Have done with your twaddle, man.  I'll find somebody inside who will
carry my word."  He started along the porte-cochere to the front door.

"Stop!  Stop!  At your peril!  Stay your feet, sir!"

"It's all right, Benito.  I'll usher the señor to the reception room
myself.  Come, amigo, with me," broke in a soft voice now addressed to
the Captain.

The petty official was all apologies and deep bows.  The Captain paid
no attention to him.

"Come, Captain, with me."

"I thank you, Señora Valentino."

"I chanced to be passing the main vestibule and saw you.  Benito's
patriotism was opposing your way.  No?"

They were walking along a wide corridor of the mansion.  Sunlight
poured in through many small-paned windows.  Peons, men and women, were
constantly going and coming.

"This Benito's patriotism should be flogged out of his skin," was the
reply.

The lady laughed.  They reached a large door which she opened by
pressing a spring at the side.

"His patriotism, then, is but skin deep, you think?"

She motioned the Captain to a chair.  The door slammed with a metallic
click.  They were in a small room well lighted.  Book shelves, closely
filled, writing material, and desks, bespoke the library.

"I fancy this creature's patriotism would well be termed impertinence.
This have I seen often enough disappear under fervent application of a
riding-whip."

She looked closely at the speaker.

"Captain Farquharson," after a moment, "you have been in the
Californias more months than I have weeks.  Neither is this your first
visit.  No?"

"It is not."

Señora Valentino nodded.

"Greater opportunities for observation, decidedly, have you had than I.
Still, I will say, noble señor, that the Mexicans here are vastly
different from the natives of Hindustan where you have been; or even
from the peasantry of southeastern Europe where, in other times, your
fertile talents have found employment."

"True of the few Spaniards here, and their descendants.  I cannot
agree, my lady, with you as to the Mexicans.  They----"

She raised a delicate, well-jeweled hand, perhaps to interrupt him;
more likely, to emphasize what she had begun to say.

"My Captain, blows will never win the Mexican to favor your cause--I
should say, our cause--any more than will they the Spaniard.  Both have
tasted here the sweets of personal liberty in no small degree.  We must
imbue them with a desire for the ampler freedom of Anglo-Saxon
civilization, balancing thereby their love for Latin forbears; or, at
least, for Latin form."

Farquharson lightly struck the desk near his chair.

"Gain the leaders, señora, gain the leaders; and we drive the others
after them like sheep.  Once, in Calcutta----"

"Perhaps in some province of India--never in the province of
California.  Bethink you, Captain!  Suppose that bold spirit in the
north, Mendoza, should dream your great country has here an agent
purposing to do what you say.  Not the years of the prophet, which he
has lived, would hold him from leading his mounted peons, night and day
in search of you."

"Then what, my lady?"

"Then delivering you, at the end of a lariat, to the Colonel Barcelo,
my brother-in-law, owner of this house, and head of the military prison
here."

The beautiful woman, leaning in her chair, placed her hand on the
Captain's arm.  "Now to business.  Your message found me here two days
ago.  Of course mine found you."  She paused a moment thoughtfully,
then continued:

"Colonel Barcelo returns to-night.  I have planned for you to visit us
this evening.  You are my friend, Captain Farquharson, whom I knew in
London two years ago.  You are in the West for big game.  Is it not
so?"  She laughed.

"Does Colonel Barcelo know of the wishes of my government?"

"He knows nothing.  I am seeking to prepare him for such knowledge,
however.  To-night you may speak much or little, as you think wise."

"Señora, you spent several days at the home of Señor Mendoza after the
storm.  Did any word of yours sound him as to his political feelings?"

"Señor Mendoza's words on such matters come slowly.  I believe his
thoughts are correspondingly rapid."

"Why so, señora?"

"During my short stay in his hacienda house many young men came there.
You know his daughter Carmelita is a beautiful girl."

The Captain started to speak, but smiled instead.

"These caballeros were duly presented to me.  For some reason they
spoke, at first casually, but, finally, earnestly, concerning the
future political status of this province.  I listened."

The Captain laughed.  "Señora, how did you manage to get the young
hidalgos talking on such a subject?"

"Fie!  Fie!  Captain.  Even a soldier diplomat should not seek to
understand a woman's ways.  Let it suffice that they talked."

"Yes, yes, señora, they talked.  They said----"

"Many things.  A number sat or were standing around me in the reception
room one evening.  The wine warmed them, though they drank not
intemperately.  Politics rolled from their tongues.

"Spoke the handsome youth, Abelardo Peralta: 'Why wait for Mexico to
drop us?  Let us declare now our freedom and become a province of
mighty England.'  A dozen others joined in declaring for England.
Señor Mendoza was listening to all this conversation, meanwhile beaming
on everybody.  Now he spoke for the first time.  Said he: 'Since we are
giving away provinces, let us go to the ballroom.  The señoritas are
waiting.  It is the province of hearts there, and giving and taking is
always in order.'  Thus deftly did our wary host stem the current.
Mendoza's keenness is an element not to be lightly considered."

"Was there Morando?  No?" asked Captain Farquharson, falling into the
manner of speech of the Spaniard.

"Yes, Morando was there.  Eyes, ears, hands, feet, and heart has he for
the Señorita Doña Mendoza."

The serene calm of the woman ruffled ever so little.

"Morando cannot have vented his Spanish citizenship thus soon.
Doubtless easily he becomes one of us."

"I fancy it will be as says the Señorita Mendoza, who, in turn, is
deeply in love with her father.  Capture the gray eagle and the nest is
yours."

"I suppose so.  I suppose so.  Why came Morando to California, do you
know?  Anything against him in Madrid, anything we could use to
influence him here, I mean?"

"Nothing--absolutely nothing."  After a pause: "At Mission San José
there are two men who could persuade North California for us or against
us.  Mind, I say 'persuade'; for, unless I mistake greatly, neither one
would consent to act as bell-wether after which go willy-nilly the
sheep flock."

He waited for her to go on.

"One of these two men is, of course, Señor Mendoza; the other is Padre
Osuna."

"A word about the señor, my lady.  I recognize the man's worth and
ability, and the weight he would add to our cause; yet I do not think
it wise to approach him myself."

"May I ask your reason?"

"Colonel Mendoza and I met in the old days when I was a young man."

"A young man, Captain?" archly.

"I have seen a half century of life.  My meeting with Mendoza was thus
wise.  At Talavera the allied forces opposed the French.  In a
preliminary skirmish our colonel was wounded.  My regiment held a
position in the extreme forward center.  Colonel Mendoza was hastily
called from the left wing of the army, where the Spanish troops were,
and was placed over us.  The French began the battle by heavy
cannonading.  The captain of my own company, also the first and the
second lieutenant, were blown to pieces before an hour.  I was third
lieutenant.  To save the men from annihilation, as I believed, I
withdrew a little distance.

"The Spanish colonel was furious.  He dashed up on his horse, ordered
the company in position, subjecting me all the while to vitriolic
criticism."

"What did you, Captain?"

"I replied to him.  He struck me with the flat of his sword."

"And what did you then?"

"I could do nothing.  We were in the face of the enemy then, as for
months.  Later, the allied forces were separated.  A generation has
lived and passed since that blood-stained day of Talavera.  Mendoza,
doubtless, does not remember me.  Still, it would not be wise to risk
injury to our cause by bringing to play any ill feeling he might
possibly retain against me."

"Our Captain is judicious."  Continuing: "Know you the value of these
Californias?"

"They are the pivotal center of Orient and Occident.  My government
well knows the harbors here, their possibilities----"

The señora's raised hand stopped him.  Her fingers ran along the wall
searchingly.  At last she pressed hard, then harder.

The wall separated at a line above her head, the lower part of the wall
slowly sinking through the floor.

"I am going to show you the treasure-chamber of a dead-and-gone
governor of the Californias, when the province was a part of Spain."

A room half the size of the library was in view.  Stone mortars were on
the floor, and on the shelves.  Resting on the brims of the vessels,
and caught on the rough sides of the exteriors, were many yellow
particles which dully shone in the newly-admitted light.

"Why, this is gold! gold!" touching his fingers on the edge of a jar.
"These stones must once have held the ransom of a king!" pointing to
the interior of one mortar after another.  Amidst spider-webs and the
accumulated dust of years lay thin streaks of gold-dust tracing the way
from rim to bottom.

He examined an ancient broom which lay among the receptacles, gold
showing among its moldy strands.  "Zounds! señora.  It is pure gold.
I've seen it in its native state the world over."

He crossed the room.  As he walked tiny nuggets of the metal which had
escaped the sweepings of the old-timer grated under his feet.
Fingermarks could be seen on the floor where the treasure had been
scooped up by the single and double handfuls.

"Twenty years ago I was told that California's hills and valleys framed
a skeleton of virgin gold.  Here may be proof of it.  Pray, my lady,
what do you know of this?  Where did the gold come from?"

She indicated some maps hanging on the walls.  "These drawings show
whence came the gold which once rested here."

"Yes--yes--they show--they show a river flowing from high hills--and
the direction from Monterey--north of east it is.  Here is the scale of
miles.  Why, it is not a fortnight's journey to the place.  Ah!--here
are signs--yes, signs--but, perdition! they are hieroglyphics.  I can
make out nothing more.  Señora, how in the name of mystery did you
learn of this trick-room?"

She had been standing quietly, noting with interest and some little
amusement the varied activities and remarks of the Captain.

"The secret was made known to me in Spain.  The one-time Spanish
governor built a palace in Seville, on his home-coming from Monterey,
and lived ever after as a prince.  These jars supplied the wherewithal.
As I heard it, he intended to return some day, on private ship, for yet
vaster measure of this golden sifting which lies hidden in the
California hills, but alas! too much good living and gout did not
permit."

"This is wonderful--most wonderful!  Somewhere in the hills there is
gold, quantities of gold.  Likewise, there is gold in these fertile
valleys, for they smile in verdure and give promise of rich harvest a
week after the drought is over.  My lady, the world never dreams of the
possibilities of this province."

"Clive gave India to England.  May we not do even more?"

"Just so, señora, just so.  Does anyone else know of this room?"

"Quite likely no one.  Even Colonel Barcelo does not, his own house as
it is."

"But these maps!  Do you not think it singular that the owner did not
most carefully preserve these talismanic signs, and take them away with
him?"

"They were left here with purpose, friend of mine."

"And that purpose?"

"Oceans are stormy, distances long, buccaneers many, brave Captain."

"I do not catch your meaning, señora.  Do enlighten me."

"In plain words, then: if that gold should, perchance, take wings, the
whilom possessor, aided by his maps, could get another precious cargo.
But if the maps, as well, should take unto themselves flight, what
then?  Perhaps no more of the yellow metal!  So, my wise and thrifty
governor-general of the province made two sets of drawings, taking the
one with him, leaving the other snugly ensconced in our little
treasure-chamber here," pointing whimsically about the room.

"But, my lady, how did you learn all these things?"

"This same governor-general was my late husband's grandfather.  He left
in cipher a description of this room, of the maps and of the mine.  For
more than fifty years the key to the cipher was mislaid.  I chanced to
come across it, six months ago, in the archives of my husband's family.
The cryptogram stated that the treasure which once filled these mortars
was but a hint of greater riches in the mountains."

"What a country!  What a land this will be when the union jack tips the
flag-pole at Monterey!"

"A country well worth the hire, Captain mine."

"You speak of Friar Lusciano Osuna.  I called on him, not long since,
with letters.  He was ill, but very courteous.  I explained a little of
our work here.  I take it he is a Mexican citizen."

"He is a citizen of Great Britain."

"Perhaps by some sufferance."

"By his eminent right!  That government would go much farther in his
protection than it would for you or for me, though we are its special
agents in a great cause."

"Just the man we need, then, señora."

A knock at the door.

Noiselessly weight and spring raised the movable wall to its place.

Without was an elderly Mexican leaning rather stiffly on a cane.

"Your gringo servant has made much trouble for himself, and is now in
jail," the man said to Farquharson.

"How do you know it is my servant?"

"He told me.  I am under jailer.  I was directed to Colonel Barcelo's,
whither some said you had gone.  The peons here brought me to you.
Your servant, sir, getting in liquor, shot one of the officers of the
guard.  Now, he wishes to see you on a matter of gravest importance.
Doubtless he will be executed at sunset.  Will you come, señor?"

"Zounds!  Adios, señora.  I'll return as soon as I have settled this
wretched business.  I must get poor Brown out of his predicament, let
come what may."

The messenger, followed by the Captain, passed out of the house.  They
followed the street to a narrow passage and turned into it.  The
supposed elderly Mexican shook himself.  Away fell disguise, and the
scowling face of Yoscolo was before Farquharson.

"You root-digging beast!" exclaimed the Englishman through his shut
teeth.  He aimed a blow with his fist at the chieftain's head.  Yoscolo
ducked to one side.  A blanket fell from behind over the Captain's face
and shoulders.  A strong embrace pinioned his arms and carried him up
many stairs, his muffled shouts not sounding above the shuffle of
accompanying feet.

Soon Farquharson was pushed through an entrance.  Yoscolo gave quick
orders in the Indian tongue.  His men bound the Englishman hand and
foot, and removed the blanket from his head.  He found himself in a
large room lighted by a lantern.  Several rude benches lined the walls,
while dried grass in a corner where blankets lay marked the sleeping
place of Indians or of lower-class Mexicans.

"Bring a settee for the Captain," said the leader, with mock
politeness.  "He must be weary after his recent exertion."

His men complied.

"More comfortable now, amigo?" when Farquharson was seated.  "Well,
then, let's to business.  I've not much time to spend with you."

Farquharson paid no attention to him.

"Perhaps you do not understand.  Is it so?  Well, listen now.  Captain
Farquharson, you promised me the value of a hundred thousand pesos in
English gold notes the day the next new moon was born.  That day was
yesterday.  The gold notes are in your hands, not mine.  Your word is a
lie."  The Indian was speaking in very fair English.

The Captain did not reply.

"You waste my time," speaking now in Spanish.  "I have much to do and
cannot trifle.  You have in Monterey, in the hands of the English
consul, the value of one hundred thousand pesos in gold notes.  So you
have said.  Place the money in my hand and I'll turn my loyal subjects
in the interior valleys to your cause.  My word is true."

"Take away these cords.  Allow me to go free; then, come with me to the
consul's, and there we'll consider what you say."

The Indian shook his head.  "Captain Farquharson never leaves this room
alive unless the money is paid first."

"The British consul will not pay you the money unless I am with you."

"Fear not, Captain.  I'll take chances on getting the money."

Farquharson laughed in spite of his bonds.

"Nonsense, Indian!"

"Nonsense or not, give me an order, leaving blank the name of payee;
stamp it with your seal--I found it in your pocket just now--and I'll
collect the money.  In two hours from that time you will be free."

"I must take time to decide what I'll do."

"There is only one thing for you to do."

"Let me free, so that I may decide the more quickly."

A voice called through the door.  Without replying to Farquharson,
Yoscolo made a quick gesture.  The others gagged the prisoner with a
scarf-end, and blindfolded him with a piece of silken sash.

The door was opened.  A whispered conversation followed, then he heard
the heavy tread of Yoscolo descending the stairs.

The men placed the Captain on the bed.

After what appeared an interminable time the watchers ungagged him and
placed food at his lips.  He ate of the tortillas, or Mexican corn
bread, and of the chili con carne, or stewed meat and chili peppers,
which were offered.  A glass of Mission wine followed.

"Amigos, I can make you rich.  Loosen these ropes and come with me.
Why not be free from such a master as Yoscolo, and be rich at the same
time?  A ship will take you and your money where he can never reach
you."

The gag was hastily replaced.

The hours passed slowly.  At last he fell asleep.

The leader's voice awakened him, saying: "Free his mouth and eyes."

It was done.

In the dim light he saw Yoscolo standing before him with folded arms.
The others, like unblinking watchdogs, were by his side.

"Captain, will you write that order?  Surely, you have had time to
think now."

"It would be foolish to do as you say.  Come now, release me; give some
earnest of turning your San Joaquin camps to our side, then I'll pay
you the money and bear no grudge against you for tying me up here."

The chieftain grunted.

"Grudge or not, white man, I'm too useful to your side for you to work
out spite against me.  Write that order.  Write, also, a note to the
consul saying you were suddenly called to Los Angeles--or any place.
Date both order and note two days ago--you have been here in this room
that length of time--and you go free.  I have, then, the money; you
will have my support--a very happy ending to your detention."

"But see, Yoscolo----"

Yoscolo interrupted with an oath.  "You shall haggle with me no more.
Men, bring fire for his feet and hands.  I'll make the fox come to
time.  Captain Farquharson, you write that order and note, or I'll
torture you till you do."

A fourth Indian entered the room silently, and spoke to the leader.

Yoscolo stamped in fury.  "Carrajo!  Puerco!  I not only have to be the
brains, but the hands, in everything.  What's the matter with
Stanislaus?  Where is he?"

"I do not know," meekly replied the messenger.

"I do not know!  What do you know?  Get out of here!"

The man disappeared, closely followed by Yoscolo.

The Indian watchers looked at Farquharson without speaking.

"Amigos----"

They placed their hands on their pistols threateningly.

"Ease the cords on my feet," he asked.  "Your chief will not object to
that."

Each Indian touched his lips, then dropped his hands to his pistol butt.

The sperm oil in the lantern burned low.  The men extinguished the
light, to replenish the oil.  In a few minutes it was again burning
brightly.

The astounded Indians saw Farquharson standing in front of them, wrists
and ankles free, brandishing an open clasp-knife.

They cowered away from him.  He moved toward the door as fast as his
benumbed limbs could take him.

Dread of Yoscolo overcame their superstitious fear.  They drew their
pistols, and commanded: "Hands up!  Away from the door!"

Farquharson dropped his knife.  He moved his arms over his head in
extraordinary fashion, grimaced at the ceiling, then moved slowly
toward his jailers.  Flirting his fingers ominously at them, he
exclaimed in sepulchral tones: "Winky, wanky, wunky, fum!  Winky,
wanky, wunky, fum!"

Despite the pain in his ankles he executed a miniature war-dance on the
floor, again solemnly uttering: "Winky, wanky, wunky, fum!"

The Indians moved back from him, again overcome by his "big medicine."
In one of his eccentric movements he managed to knock over the lantern,
the oil running out over the floor.  They snorted in terror, and began
some incantation.

Farquharson found the door and started downstairs.  His feet refused
further action.  He fell and slid down to a landing.

The Indians heard the fall.  There was a colloquy and a rush across the
floor.

The Captain attempted to crawl to the next flight of stairs, but he
could move but slowly.

The Indians opened the door.

"Light the lantern," called one.

A voice could be heard in the street: "Have ye seen the Cap'n?  O, I
say, have ye seen the Cap'n?  Durn ye, can't ye understand American?"
Then, in a louder tone: "I say, have any of you dum fools seen the
Cap'n?  Don't ye know anything in this 'ere country?" Finally, still
louder: "_Have any of you durned niggers seen the Cap'n?_"

It was Brown searching for his employer, and trying by strength of his
lungs to make up for lack of knowledge in his hearers.

"Brown!  Brown!" yelled Farquharson.  "Come here quick!"

"Where be ye, Cap'?" from the delighted Brown.

"Here!  Up the stairs!  Quick!"

Finding the stairs was not a difficult matter, and up came Brown, three
steps at a time, shouting again: "Where be ye, Cap'?"

The light through a begrimed window showed the helpless Englishman on
the landing.

"Well, I swanny!" wondered Brown.

"Get me to the street.  Be quick!  The Indians will come."

Fear of Yoscolo gave spirit to the aborigines.  They rushed down the
stairs, one of them holding the lantern which they had taken time to
refill and light.  "Hands up!" they commanded in Spanish, presenting
their weapons.  "Hands up! or we'll shoot."

Brown seized one of the men by waist and neck and hurled him at the
other.  "O, talk United States!" he shouted.

The Indians fell headlong.  Brown lifted the Captain to his shoulder
and flew down the stairs.  Several pistol shots missed aim, but no
pursuit was attempted.  Brown's performance probably looked like more
"big medicine" to the Indians.

Soon the rescuer and his burden were outside.

"I've carried many a pig, Cap', but never down so many stairs to wunst.
Where be ye hurt?"

"I'm better now.  I think I can walk if you help me."

Brown assisted him along the way.

"Where were ye, Cap'?  As near as I can jedge they're searchin' the
whole country for ye."

"The men you saw were holding me captive."

"Well, I swanny!" from the disgusted serving-man.  "Held by a pack o'
niggers!  I never could stand much of that sort o' thing myself from
sech critters."

Directly they were away from danger, with the life of Monterey flowing
smoothly around them.



CHAPTER IX

SEÑORA VALENTINO SEEKS TO INTEREST PADRE OSUNA

The courtyard of Señor Mendoza's hacienda house was glorious in light.
Patterns of Oriental network were reflected from lanterns clustered
along the eaves, strung on improvised archways, or undulating from the
lofty flagpole.  Genial spring rejoiced everywhere, no less in rare
exotic floating in miniature lakes than in the countless blooming
flower species that were at home in this Eden-land.  The soft air
breathed content as it moved in low voice around giant palm and
high-branching walnut.  As the evening waxed the zephyr became a
whisper, then sank to sleep on the fairy scene with a sigh as faint as
the rustle of a leaf.

The courtyard gate lay open wide.  Many of the fairest and of the
bravest in California were to pass within after the day had ceased, to
fare forth against the rebirth of another sun.  Mendoza's welcome to
the late-coming rains took the form of pleasure-making for the gentry
of the countryside.  Neither thought, nor labor, nor expense had been
spared that this might be a festal night long remembered in Alta
California.

The lord of the manor sat in his private library.

"A visitor, Señor Mendoza," announced a peon.

"It is who?"

"The Padre Lusciano Osuna."

"Show him here.  No--wait.  I'll attend him from the front myself."

A moment later the señor was at the padre's side.  "Welcome, reverend
sir.  This house is happy that your feet press its threshold."  Mendoza
bowed in Castilian grace, then extended his hand to the priest, who
accepted it in courteous grasp.

"And you are well, Padre?"

"Good health blesses me, Señor Mendoza.  How makes it with you?"

"Well.  Very well, indeed.  Come with me, Señor Padre."

"I thank you."

"Padre Osuna," as they sat together shortly after, "it pleases me that
opportunity comes to thank you for sending your major-domo, Juan
Antonio, that night the storm broke, to trace my daughter and her
dueña.  I have sought you each day since, only to find you were still
in Santa Cruz.  A father's heart thanks you, sir."

"A pastor's solicitude for one of his flock deserves not thanks, Señor
Mendoza."

"May I ask, reverend sir, why you brought so strong a fighting force to
meet us that night?  Juan Antonio told me it was your order, but held
his counsel further."

"He knew nothing more.  Early that afternoon there came a peon,
fugitive from the renegade camp.  After much hesitation, so greatly are
Yoscolo and Stanislaus feared by the Indians, he told me he had seen
the two leaders traveling, no men with them, in the direction of your
merienda ground.  I cautioned him to silence lest panic sweep over the
Mission.  Marshaling bowmen and carbineers, I mounted horse to come to
your aid, should the miscreants gather force and give any trouble.
Thus I rode to you in the thunderstorm, having dispatched couriers
posthaste to the pueblo for further aid from the soldiery there."

"The pueblo soldiers were already scouring the Los Gatos hills near
Santa Cruz for the ubiquitous Indian leaders," said Señor Mendoza,
"word having come in from that region that an attack was imminent.  A
messenger from the pueblo met us in the foothills not long before you
came.  With him rode away Captain Morando, to join his men and their
lieutenant, my fighting peons accompanying him.  We rested our horses.
A rapid count of carretas by lantern light discovered the absence of my
daughter and the señora dueña.  At that moment you came, reverend
padre."

The priest bowed.  "I greatly regret that a sudden recurrence of
illness prevented me from going farther with you that night.  I tarried
home till Juan Antonio came through the driving rain with news of the
lost ones' safety.  Strength soon returning, I went on my way to Santa
Clara and farther."

"You set out at midnight, in the howling storm?"

"Yes, Señor Mendoza.  Duty called me."

"That is the reply of a soldier, Padre Osuna."

"I am a soldier of the cross, señor."

"Well said!  Well said! good sir."

"Allow me to explain, señor, why I have thus come to you when you are
about to open your festivities.  Less than an hour ago I returned from
my journey.  A messenger from Monterey was at the Mission bearing
written words from the representative of England there.  The message
stated that an English citizen disappeared two days ago in the capital
city.  He left the home of Colonel Barcelo that afternoon and no one
has seen him since.  Much anxiety is felt over his absence."

A peon appeared in the doorway.  "Colonel Barcelo and lady, with Señora
Valentino, await you, Señor Mendoza.  The Colonel asks a moment's
private interview."

"Excuse me for a short time, reverend padre?"

Before Mendoza could depart the Colonel came bustling in.

"Heard your voice, my friend, and couldn't stand on ceremony.  Have you
received the news?  Most interesting it is.  Well, the governor has
resigned and I am made acting-governor of the province pending the new
appointment.  The former governor is still in Mexico City.  Fussy old
curmudgeon he is.  Should have resigned years ago.  What I want to
know, Señor Mendoza, is, are you laying plans to capture the office?
If you are not, I am sure of getting it, as sure of it as if it was in
my pocket here," tapping his breast-pocket vigorously.  "What say you,
Mendoza?" slapping the señor's shoulder with heavy palm.

"I have pledged myself to remain administrator while the need lasts,"
replied Mendoza, glancing at the friar.  "The need yet exists, and I
cannot hold two offices."

"Splendid!  Splendid!" exulted Barcelo.  "I'll take my chances against
the other aspirants, and you may be assured there will be enough of
them."

The Padre Lusciano Osuna had arisen.  The exuberant Colonel now noticed
him for the first time.

"Reverend sir, my obeisance!  Kindly do not repeat what I have said of
my political hopes."

Osuna bowed and smiled.  "As you wish, sir."

At that moment Señora Barcelo and his sister entered.

"My husband is irrepressible.  He actually bubbles over like a mineral
spring.  He requests a private interview, then shouts his secrets from
the housetops.  Reverend padre, I'm delighted to see you well again.
Delighted!  How pleasant to meet you on such an occasion as this!
Reverend Padre Osuna, my sister, Señora Valentino, very lately from
Spain.  She was with us the night you led those men to us in the rain.
No time for introductions then, of course.  Ugh! what an experience!"

The friar and Señora Valentino acknowledged the introduction.

"Yes, yes, Señor Padre," exclaimed Barcelo, "what rag-and-bobtail
followed you that night!  But it's the way with Indians.  They run as
children after anything that promises excitement.  How like
wet-dogs-on-horseback they looked.  Poor Mendoza here quite lost his
head when his daughter's carreta turned up missing.  Lucky I was there.
Why, just send your Indians back-trail in such a case and they can find
anything."

The Colonel looked around in a self-satisfied way.

"Why, husband," said Señora Barcelo, "how you so talk!  As I say, you
are so irrepressible!  It always seems you are nowhere but just in the
front of everything."

"Quite the place for a soldier, señora, quite the place."

Here Mendoza interposed.  "Señoras and señors, will you not be seated?"

"Certainly," replied Barcelo.  "Certainly."

"Colonel Barcelo, may I ask you if anything has been heard of the
Englishman who two days ago disappeared in Monterey City?" said Señor
Mendoza.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the stentorian Colonel.  "Why, ha! ha! ha!  I
should say something has been heard of the fellow.  He walked into my
house half an hour before I left with some cock-and-bull story of
having been kidnaped.  Kidnaped!  Ha! ha! ha!  Good!"

The Colonel arose and stood before the others.  "Let me give you my
theory of the affair," self-complacency shining on his rotund face.

"Husband, some other time.  The guests are surely arriving and Señor
Mendoza wishes to be occupied with them."

"Patience, good wife, patience.  My dear, if you have a fault in the
world it is that you talk too much.  Now--let me see where was I when
interrupted.  O, yes!  The Englishman's disappearance.  The explanation
is a simple one."

The Colonel looked meaningly at his auditors.  "Just too much
aguardiente--native brandy.  It's most deceptive stuff for a new
beginner.  I once had the same experience in Paris with absinthe."

"Why, Crisostimo, you never told me!  How dare you speak of such a
thing?" Señora Barcelo bridling.

"It was nothing, Clarinda, nothing, my love.  Merely something that
might happen to anyone--anyone of investigating mind, I mean, of
course.  Well, this Englishman----"

"O, Crisostimo, when were you in Paris and drank so much absinthe?
It's simply disgraceful how we poor women are deceived.  I'm going home
to my uncle in Spain."

"It was years ago, my love, years ago, long before I met you.  I was a
lieutenant then in the Spanish army.  Well, we were speaking of the
affair in Monterey.  I say----"

"The less you say the better," from his wife, tartly.

"My dear, how can you fill the position of governor's wife if you
possess such small pride!"

The words had magic effect.  The señora mopped her eyes with a dainty
lace kerchief, and in a moment was all smiles.  Her husband almost
swaggered with suppressed importance.

"This Englishman was simply drunk.  Let me tell you the whole case,"
this time without interruption.  "The man called on my sister-in-law,
Señora Valentino, a very young woman, as you see."

Señora Valentino lowered her eyes in appropriate recognition for the
remark.

"I mean she is inexperienced in the world's ways, has always been
protected, led a sheltered life, and all that.  Well, this man she met
occasionally in London some time ago called on her at my house in
Monterey.  The fellow was simply drunk, and this poor lady, in her
simplicity, could see nothing of it.  Why, the house guardian met him
at my front door, and he began talking nonsense about kings and so on.
Think of this! to a stranger too!

"Well, the fellow gained entrance through my sister-in-law.  Seems to
have behaved while within.  Soon came a crony, some old pot-fellow, on
a mock errand, and away went the two to carouse again.  Then, the
Englishman was lost.  A hue and cry was raised.  The inefficient town
police do nothing.  Then I make it a military matter, and, behold! the
lost one comes walking to my house with a ready story to tell.  Thus,
the kidnaping.  Ha! ha! ha!"

Barcelo subsided into a chair and looked around for approving words.

"How penetrating you men of affairs are!"  This from Señora Valentino.

"As the Englishman has made his appearance my anxiety concerning him is
over," remarked the padre.

"Certainly!  Certainly!" observed Barcelo.  "No cause for alarm.  The
man was taken by drink and cooked up a story to suit the case."

"How clever the Colonel, my brother-in-law, is!" again from Señora
Valentino.

"With his work as comandante and the added duties of acting-governor, I
cannot see how he will have time to turn," said his wife, admiringly.

The friar laughed gently, Mendoza, more loudly.

"From the viewpoint of a simple mission-administrator I can appreciate
what such double work must mean.  I trust the Englishman will be more
wary in the future against kidnapers, that you may not be further
burdened from that quarter at least."

Barcelo winked knowingly.  "Brandy overnight usually leaves headache in
the morning.  The man must be a seasoned drunkard, for when I saw him
there was no sign of his debauch.  Of course he has now learned the
strength of our native product, and I hope will govern himself
accordingly."

The serving peons with respectful insistence were knocking at the door.
The guests were coming in numbers.

The Señora Mendoza came into the room, curtsied to the company, then
said to her father, "Papacito, many seek thee."

"Yes, yes, my child."

"The child is right," said Barcelo.  "Señor Mendoza, your place is with
your arriving company.  Come, señoras, let us forth to the grounds.  It
is known that I am here.  Many will be looking for me."  Then in a
confidential aside to Mendoza: "Will you write a letter to the
secretary of state in Mexico City setting forth my qualifications for
the governorship?  State what you know for and against," with an air of
great frankness.

"I'll do as you ask, Colonel."  Turning to the friar: "Now, Señor
Padre, we will resume.  The guests will be well attended without my
ministrations for the present."

Padre Osuna placed a small package in his hand.  "This is the Jesuit
bark you brought me in my recent illness.  I could not accept it from
you as Administrator Mendoza, highly as I esteem the qualities of
character which led you to bring it to me.  From Señor Mendoza I should
have greatly valued the favor."

The other bowed understandingly.  "Still I cannot separate Señor
Mendoza from Administrator Mendoza."

"Let it then be so.  Adios, Señor Mendoza," and the friar stepped into
the corridor.

Everywhere was the hum of voices and echoes of laughter.  Bursts of
music sounded from various parts of the house or grounds where
musicians had been stationed.

Many salutations from the California gentry met the priest as he passed
along.  Just outside the outer gate a hand was laid softly on his arm.

"May I have a few words with Padre Osuna?"

It was the Señora Valentino.  The light made splendid play on her gown
and jewels.  The woman was young and fair, as well as exquisitely clad,
but all this seemed to be put away as she stood beside the dull-robed
friar.

"Certainly, Señora Valentino.  If you thus request, my time is at your
disposal."

"Here is a bench near the gatekeeper's lodge.  Will you sit here
awhile, reverend father?"

The padre seated himself by the woman's side.

"Perhaps I should yet further introduce myself to you.  My husband, the
late Colonel Clodio Valentino, was cousin-german to your mother,
daughter of Ambassador Altamira, of Castile."

The friar looked keenly at his companion.  "I have not seen my mother
in ten years.  She spoke often of Clodio Valentino, colonel of the
Royal Hussars, and of his wife.  It would seem as if the lady must be
much older than you, señora."

"I am the Colonel's second wife.  We were married seven years ago."

"I see."

"Padre Osuna, you can be of wonderful service to the great kingdom of
which you are a citizen.  In so doing you fulfill a duty to your state
and to this province of California."

"Kindly explain, señora."

"California is as a ripe apple ready to drop into a basket.  It
oscillates to and fro.  Great Britain holds one basket; the United
States of America, another.  Russia, with a third basket, stands at a
distance.  Mexico is the tree which must lose the apple in any case.
Reverend padre, you have the length and strength of arm so to shake the
tree that the Great Britain basket catches the apple."

"Why should I do so, if I could?"

"The United States looks eagerly on this province.  That colossal
nation reaches now to the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and it seeks to
make the Pacific Ocean its boundary on the west.  A continent-wide
dominion is its aim."

"Señora Valentino, I live secluded from the world, and do not wish to
share in its politics."

"But politics can affect the welfare of your spiritual children.  Call
to mind the secularization of your missions by the Mexican government.
That was a political act, yet it cut the nerve of your Order's
religious enterprise in this part of the world.  Is it not so?"

"I believe that it is.  Yet our Order once built here a Christian
community from wandering savages, and our heart has not lost zeal, nor
our hand willingness."

"I rejoice with you in all that, reverend father, but it was done when
the flag of considerate Spain waved here, and the work of the church
was deemed paramount.  That flag has departed forever.  Why not, then,
seek another protector for Missions and for province which will make
void the inconsiderate work of Mexico, and which will not be second to
Spain, in good endeavor?"

"Señora, when rumors of change float in the air I close the windows and
doors of my soul to all, that I may give myself unstinted to the work
among God's untutored children."

"Why not safeguard the temporal and spiritual rights of your Indians?
Ah! padre, think of India over which England is suzerain.  There the
amplest freedom is not only allowed but guaranteed to each native cult;
neither does anyone hear of sequestration of church property."

"It is the truth.  English rule and justice walk with equal pace in
India."

"England would not do less in California for our church."  In her
enthusiasm she leaned toward him, her brown eyes flashing.  "Else comes
the United States.  Her armed ships patrol our coast, sounding, always
sounding, for deep and shallow water, though the coastline of this
province was charted long before the United States of America was born.
Why hazard the contingencies of American government, when the weight of
her little finger, did she so wish, could be heavier than was the whole
hand of Mexico?  I, as a child of the church, ask you this.  From my
present home in an official family in Monterey I can read the signs of
the time.  Padre Osuna, we must act, and quickly."

"Another has spoken to me somewhat of this."

"That other was Captain Farquharson?  No?"

The padre did not reply.

"The Captain seeks to bring California from unsatisfactory Mexico to
stable and safe England.  Señor Padre, for the good of souls, the souls
of the Indians you love, help him!"

The Franciscan sprang to his feet, his figure erect and his face
radiant.

"But, Misericordia! what can I do!" sinking back into his seat.

"Ah, humble friar!  You have the power of a Savonarola who threw the
wicked, bloody city of Florence to her praying knees.  Have I not heard
you in the cathedral in Seville, and again in Barcelona?  Did not the
soldiers draw strong cordons at the great cathedral in Madrid when you
spoke there, lest the surging crowd crush themselves at the entrance?
Ah, mighty one! speak to the people of this province, tell them of
England and of her benevolent sway.  Lift your voice for your country's
good.  Instruct and persuade, as you alone can, priest of the golden
tongue!  Then, listen, and from your hearers will come cheers for the
mistress of the seas and her kindly rule.  If you are silent, your
church and your state lose much because a man marvelously gifted failed
in manifest duty."

"I hold the call of duty supreme."

"You used that as a text for one of your sermons in Seville."

"Why do you connect me with that preacher in the cathedrals?"

"Because you are the same man, though you now wear a beard and write
but a portion of your former name."

"Señora Valentino, that I am here under my present name is approved by
my conscience and by my superiors."

"I doubt not, good padre."

The priest looked fixedly at the flag gently waving high above their
heads.

"Padre, the good of souls!  The welfare of your Order!  Your Indian
wards!"

"I know--I know."

They arose.

He saluted and turned to go.  Then he hesitated.  "My will is that of
my superior."

He walked away a few steps, paused, and stood facing her, with:

"'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.'  My
children of the wilderness cry unto me--unto me."

Making the sign of the cross, he continued slowly down the road.

The joy of triumph shone in the señora's smile.



CHAPTER X

  THE BEGINNING OF THE BALL AT SEÑOR
  MENDOZA'S HACIENDA HOUSE

If taste and industry had been used in decorating the exterior of Señor
Mendoza's mansion for the great ballroom function, the interior gave
evidence of no lack of these same qualities.

The artistic spirit of the Latin is to the manner born, and the early
Californian developed his inheritance by daily communings with the
beauties of earth, and air, and sky.  Mendoza, moreover, had seen the
wonder spots from Paris to Madrid and Vienna; and the fruits of his
experience had ripened and mellowed in the years of wealth and leisure
he had spent on his estate at Mission San José.

For smaller parties he had reception room, dining room and dancing hall
finished in the oak that his own forests furnished, peons having
skillfully hewed the wood, then, under the master's directions,
polishing the grain until the markings stood out prominently.

It was the ballroom used for the baile--large party--that showed the
resource of California and the cleverness of Mendoza at the best.  This
room, reaching the length of one side of the house, was built in
redwood, of which California is sole producer.

Mammoth trees, grown on the mountains near Santa Cruz, had been felled
and split from end to end.  The exposed sections were trimmed and
smoothed, showing, in many a curious layer of etching, the centuries
these monarchs had lived.  Oxen by the score and Indians by the
hundreds had been engaged for months in bringing to Mission San José
these timbers which, placed side by side, made the walls and ceiling of
the apartment.

"Of the many wood grains," Mendoza often said, "I prefer the redwood
for broad effects.  The convolutions run in ampler curve and build
themselves readily into large dimensions."

The room was looking its best to-night.  Chandeliers, fed by sperm-oil,
gave subdued light through delicately tinted shades.  Candles branched
from the walls, playing their softened brightness everywhere.  The
reddish wood glistened and showed in strong relief the story of its
years.

In the corners were grouped potted plants and flowers and shrubs.
Radiant bougainvilleas and flaunting hibiscus were side by side with
delicate maidenhair ferns modestly featuring the mossy rocks on which
they first saw life.

Rare orchids from Japan, grown robust in the kindlier air of
California, strove to surpass in beauty their indigenous relatives.
Poinsettias, vivid in their tintings, stood unabashed with the modest
lily of the valley and the shrinking violet.  The California poppy,
lover of both hill and lowland, drooped its head and half folded its
petals, diffident in the presence of the grandees of the floral kingdom.

The guests had not yet come into the ballroom.  The reception rooms,
dressing rooms, and the wide grounds still held them.  The señoritas,
with hair flowing over their shoulders, and clad in silken skirt and
train, with bodice, also silken, close-fitting and high-necked, were
not yet ready for the dance.  The señoras, near their charges, were
chatting away the time.

The men strolled about smoking their cigaritos, passing a word here, a
jest there, until the music should call them.  Their dress was that of
the Spanish cavalier of the time.  From their shoulders fell the
poncho--long cape--made of beaver from Peru.  Later in the evening this
garment would be removed, showing old and young in velvet knee-pants,
deer-skin leggins beautifully stamped and broidered, and with shoes of
polished leather held by golden clasps.

The coat, likewise of imported beaver, reached only to the girth, and
was ornamented on arms and shoulders with silver and gold thread.

Around their waists were draped bright-colored silken sashes, the ends
long and sweeping.  A white linen shirt, elaborately fluted and
sparkling with diamonds, completed their evening dress.  Men and women
were lavish in their display of jewels.

Glorious, splendid California was worthily represented by her sons and
daughters the night of Señor Mendoza's fiesta.

In the garden a young man in the uniform of an army officer was
speaking with a girl.

"Señorita Doña Carmelita, a dance with you on the ballroom floor;
another sit I with you in the open.  Is it not so?"

"Señor, the Captain Morando, I promised you a mazurka, nothing more."

"Truly, señorita, but when sitting one finds words to speak the
thoughts that rise in the heart while flying feet are pursuing the
spirit of the dance."

"As hostess I may not deny the petition of a guest."

"O, Señorita Doña!  I speak not as a guest to a hostess.  I am at your
feet ever, as a subject to a queen.  May I not pay a vassal's homage to
you?  With many caballeros you tread the dance, never granting further
favor.  May I not be the exception?"

The señorita and the Captain were standing under a big palm.  Seeing
her cross the courtyard he had hastened to intercept her.

She drew away.

"Since the Señor Captain frees me from my obligation as hostess I will
tell him he is well stocked in presumption."

In a moment the shadows lost the girl.

The young man was disconsolate.  He buckled his sword-belt tightly,
then loosened it.  Pulling his laced cap lower on his forehead he moved
aimlessly about.

A laugh called him to himself.  In the semilight near the ballroom
entrance stood the Señorita Mendoza.  Mischief sparkled in her eyes.

"Señor the Captain, are you playing blind-man's-buff with yourself?"

"O, señorita mia, only a game of solitaire."

"A game of solitaire!" rippled Carmelita.  "What a diversion for a
ball!  Señor Comandante, it is not permitted here."

A bevy of laughing young women came to the door.

"Lucinda, come, and Alfreda, and all you girls," called Carmelita.  "I
have here a caballero captain who needs our attention.  Señoritas
doñas, come quickly."

Directly they were all fluttering around Morando.

Fathers, mothers, and dueñas paused in their conversation.

"The soldier is captive," from Señora Moraga.  "Let us see how the
children deal with him."

"The captive is little worried," commented Señor Zelaya.

"As art thou, Pedro," said Higuera.  "Thou hast thirty years and no
wife.  Thy heart should worry thee."

The señoritas led the Captain into the ballroom, and halted under one
of the chandeliers.

"Will the Captain have gifts of gold and silver?  Does the incense of
friendship delight him?" asked Doña Carmelita.

"Pleasant questions from a fair questioner, señorita."

"Yes or no, Señor Captain," chorused the señoritas.

"Yes, emphatically."

A score of eggshells, filled with bits of silver and golden paper, were
broken on his head and uniform.  Not until the little baskets,
expeditiously handed the girls by peonas, were empty did the
bombardment cease.

Those looking on laughed and applauded.

"Brava!  Brava!  Captain," some one cried.  "You are courageous."

"Yes, yes, and calm in this baptism of fire," from another.

"To a mirror!  Let Captain Morando take view of the new uniform given
him by the señoritas," a third.

Young and old sportively crowded around Morando and pushed him in front
of a long glass.  He was spangled from head to foot with white and
yellow sheen, all gorgeous over the dark background of his uniform.

"A speech!  A speech!  Some word of thanks!" insisted the company.

Silence was not easily found in that care-free gathering.  Finally
Morando could be heard.

"Señoritas, and all my friends, I am happy to wear the colors that
speak of sunrise.  It is a double pleasure to receive such rare
insignia from hands the fairest in the land."

"A good word, Captain!  A good word!" exclaimed Abelardo Peralta.  "Not
all your vigils are spent at the shrine of war."

Señor Mendoza entered.  "The musicians are idle.  Motionless the feet
of señorita and caballero.  Why no dancing?"

"The goddess of wealth has listened to Captain Morando," informed Pedro
Zelaya.  "The sweet odor of his gratefulness floats around.  The rest
of us wonder and envy."

"Captain, turn the tables," from Mendoza.  "Let not the señoritas bear
all before them."  To a peona, "Naomi, bring more eggs."

The eggs were passed around by dainty basketfuls to the young men who
singled out their lady-loves and generously bespangled them with the
confetti which, moist from scented waters, clung where it fell.

The señoritas, hair down their backs, flitted about like iridescent
butterflies.  Neither were they idle in egg-breaking.  Demurely they
would divert a caballero's attention, then quickly break a shell on his
hair, coat or vest.

The men soon shone in colors as resplendent as those of the señoritas.

Perfume filled the air.

Mendoza signaled the musicians.  The opening notes of the grand march
sounded.  The egg-breaking ceased.

Señor Mendoza and his daughter led the march.  Dance after dance
followed in quick succession.

"The merriment tempts not my son of late," said Señora Zelaya.  "He is
over in that corner talking politics with men a decade his senior.  It
is politics, always politics, with him now."

"Relations strain between Mexico and the United States of America.  If
there comes a break, California must be affected.  Your son, Señora
Zelaya, and all good Californians, each day are searching carefully the
political horizon."

Colonel Barcelo came to them with heavy step.

"I hear, Moraga, you play a clever hand at cribbage.  I haven't met my
match at that since I've been in California.  Come to the card room
with me and try this thing out.  What say?"

"I'm at your disposal, Colonel, but distrust comes to me when I think
of contesting my small knowledge of the game against your undoubted
excellence."

"I'll tell you over the cards of the players I've bested in Europe.
Let us go now."

"Colonel Barcelo," from Señora Moraga, "are we likely to have war?"

"Señora, you are not the tenth, nor even the twentieth, who has come up
and asked me that question this evening."

The portly Colonel extended his chest.  "Now, I cannot, of course,
speak of private or official information.  No man, no real man, you
understand, in my position would do so.  But I will say that the
combined position of comandante and acting governor-general gives me
rare opportunities to become acquainted with the exact state of
affairs.  You understand me, of course, señora.

"Yes," rather faintly from Señora Moraga.

"Well, where was I when interrupted?  O yes.  This question of war.
I'll simply say no force--no force, mind you--could ever take Monterey,
the capital.  Our swivel guns at the castle rake sea- and
land-approach.  We are absolutely impregnable."

"But the rest of us--of the country outside the capital?" again
ventured Señora Moraga.

"No enemy of sense would care a feather for a country if the capital
could not be taken.  In other words, we are another Gibraltar.  Come,
Moraga, I always make it a practice to say as little as possible on
these subjects to the señoras.  They are easily alarmed.  To the card
room let us go, Moraga."

The men departed.

"May I serve you a mint lemonade?" asked Morando of Carmelita when the
music had stopped.

She was willing.

A peon brought the refreshing drink.

He bent over the girl, carefully anticipating her each want.

"Señorita Doña, the sugar? and more lemon juice?  Good!  Now a spoon."

"Forget not yourself, Señor Comandante."

Soon he too was served.

"Señorita Doña, may I speak to you?  I cannot refrain."

She smiled at him over the edge of her glass.  "It seems to me you have
been speaking to me for some time.  The thoughts are bubbling up which
the dance set free, as you said in the garden a while ago.  Is it not
so?"  She laughed.

The Captain signaled a passing peona who removed the emptied goblets.

"Señorita Carmelita, pray take my words seriously.  I think of you, and
I dream of you.  Your image is enshrined in my heart.  Before it I do
homage.  O, Señorita Doña, I offer you the best devotion of a soldier
whose greatest hope is to love and to cherish you, and to make you
happy.  Will you not listen?"

She blushed and her hands trembled slightly.

"Speak to me, Doña.  Bid me hope, even ever so little.  The endeavor of
my life shall be to become worthy of you.  Will you not say there is
hope for me?"

Intensity blazed in the eyes of the handsome soldier, and gave
resonance to his voice.  He took the girl's hand.  She but half
resisted.

The settee which they occupied was partly screened by palms from the
rest of the ballroom.  A bevy of señoritas, passing through during the
intermission, exchanged knowing glances as they came in sight of the
two, and went on.  The man and woman did not notice them.

"O, Carmelita, will you not answer me when I say I love you? and tell
me in return that you love me?  Will you not, Carmelita mia?"

She did not try to withdraw her hand.  Her eyelids drooped, and the
color of the rose swam anew in her cheeks.

"O, Carmelita, beloved of my heart, say you love me," rapturously.

"Sorry to interrupt you, but music for the waltz has begun, and I have
the honor to be your partner."

It was Patricio Martinez, who bore Carmelita away with him to the
waiting dance.

Morando spoke in a low tone to her: "I'll see you again presently.  May
I not?"

It was not easy for him to see her again soon.  The young gallants
crowded around her begging for dances, or pressing their favors on her
during the rest times.

Morando danced several times, then left the ballroom and wandered
through the reception rooms, joining a group of men who were discussing
the possibilities of wheat-raising in the Santa Clara Valley; then,
another coterie who debated the relative merits of Alta California and
Baja California.  Finally, he became one of a company gathered around
Señora Valentino.

"We change location, but not scenes," she said to him.  "One might well
fancy himself in Madrid to-night instead of Mission San José."

"It is so, señora."

After a little Morando continued wandering, until he came to the
conservatory where he sat down.

"I'll remain here till Carmelita is disengaged," was his thought.  "She
almost listened to me.  If she accepts me, I'll be the happiest man in
the world."

He spoke half aloud.

"Your voice, Señor Capitan, tells me you are here.  Otherwise, I might
have missed you.  What a cozy retreat you have amid these branching
ferns!"

It was Señora Valentino.

The Captain's full height bowed to the lady.

"Will you not be seated, señora?  Pardon me for not seeing you sooner."

"The pardon is yours.  Will you not, also, be seated?" making room for
him at her side.

"I thank you.  The favor of your company honors me greatly."

The señora inclined her head.  The gems in her hair gleamed
responsively to the bright lights.  The white silk of her gown lay
softly against the vivid green of the ferns.

"Señor Capitan, I am impelled to come and talk with you."

"My dear lady, I am honored."

"I wish to make appeal to you."

She looked straight into the man's eyes.

"Señora Valentino, if I can do anything for you, I am thereby most
happy."

"Many thanks, Señor Soldier.  I shall begin."

Morando was all attention.

"Señor Capitan, the traditions, the art, the faith of Spain live very
near to my heart.  They have made old Spain glorious.  The world's
history would be vastly poorer without them."

"Truly, señora."

"This province, even now, is smiling under their influence.  The future
has splendid things in store for us here if the heritage from across
the sea has way unimpeded.  May there not be another Castile beside
this Western coast only less magnificent than the first?"

"Señora Valentino, you give my own thoughts."

"I rejoice, Señor Capitan.  But on whom rests the duty of safeguarding
this heritage?  Is it not on us, the sons and daughters of Castile?"

"Most unquestionably, señora."

"Then, let us exert ourselves.  Political unrest is agitating the
people.  It is as yet formless, but soon it must flow in settled
stream, for men's thoughts, like water, always seek their level.  Señor
Soldier, the part of every lover of Castile is plain."

"Please say further, señora."

"Mexico and California soon go their separate ways.  Is it not so?"

"I think it is."

"The world moves, Captain Morando, and California must move with it.
Whither do we go?"

Without waiting for reply she went on: "Public opinion can be so molded
that it will take us to the protection of either the United States of
America or to Great Britain.  Great Britain would willingly let
flourish here Spanish ideals.  Read the history of her dependencies.
Captain Morando, our obligations to Spain, to this province, to
ourselves, demand that we lead the people to ask the coming of the
British flag."

"Señora Valentino, many are speaking of these matters.  The necessity
for some action is forcing itself.  But the United States lies nearest
us.  Their government is republican, the same in form as that to which
the people here are accustomed."

"Ah!  Capitan.  I have been in the capital of the United States with my
attaché husband.  Two years ago what did I hear?  It was a question of
Texas coming into their Union.  Even the great ones said, 'Let us drive
the Mexicans and Spaniards across the Rio Grande, then to perdition!'"

Morando did not speak.

"They would not deal differently with us in California.  Let come the
United States and all vestige of Spanish civilization will be
obliterated, and another foreign to it will be installed.  Great
Britain would be our protector.  Why chance the coming of disaster?"

"Señora, you have thought wondrously deep."

"Why not act, and act now?  Public sentiment is in pliable condition.
Who knows how long it will so continue?  Do your part, Señor Soldier,
in organizing a general desire that our province seek Great Britain's
friendly arm.  Spanish chivalry calls to you."

"You speak strongly."

"Not more strongly than the occasion demands.  The welfare of this
province, the faith of our fathers, the culture of centuries, are at
stake.  The United States of America is awake.  That mighty nation has
her agents among our people, persuading them, leading them, exhorting
them.  Señor Soldier, be up and doing."

"Señora, come what may, I shall not fail this province."

He touched the hilt of his sword.

"The splendid womanhood of California will crown you their knight, my
soldier."

They arose and walked away.  In the doorway they paused.

"For Castile and this province!" she said.

"By my sword and glove, señora!"

She extended her hand.  He met it in firm grasp.

The call for supper had been made, but they had not heard.

The company was around them.

"Ah, Captain!  Ah, señora! what have we here?  a betrothal?"

Carmelita Mendoza, with her father, was but a pace away.

"Friends, friends, to the supper room!" called the host.

The guests obeyed.



CHAPTER XI

AT THE SUPPER

"My friends, nature prepares a generous harvest against the months of
winter.  Let us enjoy the good things at table in anticipation of our
share of that harvest.  Amigos, to our seats!"

Thus spoke Mendoza to the company assembled in the dining hall.

This room was a little smaller than the ballroom, and its finish was of
polished oak combined with redwood.  The tables ran nearly the length
of the apartment.

The products of Mendoza's gardens and hothouses had been levied on to
furnish adornment.  Cut roses tumbled in profusion from vases arranged
along the middle of the tables, while potted palms cast shadows from
chandeliers and wall-candles.  Ivy shaped itself into an archway over
the entrance, crept through the foliage of house shrubs lining the
walls, and intertwined here and there into bowers of ease.  Against the
green vine, flowers, rivaling the rainbow in tints, sang in color notes
the jubilation of California's spring.

The people enjoyed the midnight supper.  The cooling air of the
courtyard, the dance, the animated conversation had whetted the
appetites to an edge.

Finding place not in any particular order, but in the company their
preference sought, as was the way in these large gatherings, the girls,
with their dueñas, and the gallants were mostly at one end of the room,
leaving the graver portion of the assembly by itself.

Señor Mendoza was at the head of a table.  At its foot was his
daughter.  Near him was the wisdom of the valley, represented by the
heads of families.  Morando wished to seat himself at the señorita's
right hand, but she had already motioned Abelardo Peralta to that
place.  On her left was Alfreda Castro.

The soldier found himself next to young Peralta, and directly opposite
Señora Valentino.

"I have a budding magnolia by my plate," burst out Lolita Hernandez.
"My partner shall wear it for a button-hole bouquet.  He lacks only
that.  Come, I'll put it on you."

The youth by her side was nothing loth.

"Señorita Doña," spoke her dueña, who was on the other side, "what can
you mean?  A nosegay so large emulates the cabbage.  Why not use this
Castilian rose?  Behold, it blushes for you," laughing.

"Señora Doña, even a cabbage in Señorita Hernandez's hands would
thereby become beautiful," from the youth.

"How easily young men's tongues frame compliments!" from the dueña.

"They have worthy subjects here," from another youth, waving his hand
toward the señoritas.

The dueña laughed again.  "Young people are unmanageable these days,"
she concluded.

"Señor the Capitan Morando did not enjoy the egg-breaking?" inquired
young Peralta.

"We enjoyed it," laughed Lolita without waiting for Morando's reply.

"I broke an egg on your hair, señorita.  I see the gold and silver
adornment still," rallied Peralta.

"I broke three on your vest, Señor Peralta.  I'm sorry you could not
have preserved the pattern," returned Lolita.

"But the Señor Capitan and the egg-breaking--was it new to you?"
continued Don Abelardo.

"It was unexpected to me here, but not new," from Morando.  "Spain
observes it on such occasions as this."

"Ask the Señor Capitan about heart-breaking," laughed the ungovernable
Lolita.  "Perhaps he has practiced that too in Spain."

"Señorita Doña Hernandez!" warningly from her dueña.

"Well, I am as curious to know about that as was Don Abelardo about
egg-breaking."

"Practice makes perfect, is that your meaning?" smiled Señora Valentino
at her.

"Yes--no.  I simply asked for information."

"Is the Señorita Hernandez still heart-whole?" inquired the soldier.
"If she is not, it is not the fault of my sex, I know."

"Do you speak from the fullness of experience, Señor Capitan?" asked
Señorita Mendoza.  Those in hearing laughed gayly at the quip, as did
Morando.  Nevertheless, an arctic breath seemed to touch him.

The elders gave themselves to other subjects--the grain and the
vineyard prospects for the year, the return of their herds from the San
Joaquin, and the like.

Colonel Barcelo's voice was heard talking over his contest at cribbage
with Moraga.

The serving peons finished their work and were standing idly by the
door.  The guests had eaten their fill.  The room rang with merriment.
Many of the señoritas had woven flowers from the tables into wreaths
and were wearing them on the head or around the neck.  Lolita Hernandez
wished to crown her partner with roses, but the youth, with mock
humility, demurred.

"Thrice did even the great Cæsar refuse a crown," he exclaimed.

"Listen to the lore of the traveler," laughed Peralta.

The other had just returned from a year at college in Honolulu.  "The
fourth offer I might accept," he said.

Lolita promptly placed the wreath on his head.  "I crown you king of
heartbreakers," but looking at Morando.

"I salute the king," proclaimed the Captain.

"Whom shall I crown queen of heart-breakers?" Lolita went on.

"Crown yourself," from her partner.  "Señorita, the honor should be
yours."

"Hush!" in pretended severity.

"All hearts fall before you," sweeping his arm toward the company.
"Crown yourself; nay, I'll crown you."

He removed the garland from his own head and attempted to place it on
Lolita's.  She resisted.  The señoritas and the gallants laughed and
cheered loudly.  Finally she took it from his hand and held it aloft.

"I appeal to the company here present; who is the queen of
heart-breakers?  This crown is looking for a wearer."

"Alfreda Castro!  Carmelita Mendoza!  Ysobel Soto!  Señora Valentino!"
came from the crowd.

"The Señora Valentino should have it.  She has overcome the Captain
Morando.  'Sword and glove' has he surrendered to her.  It was at the
door of the supper room.  I saw it.  Señora Valentino, the wreath is
thine."

"Señorita Doña Hernandez!" remonstrated her dueña.  "Remember the
señora is not a maid as art thou.  Have care for thy tongue."

Lolita started toward Señora Valentino.

"Come back, Señorita Lolita," from the dueña.

Lolita partly turned, but Señora Valentino was laughing, in evident
enjoyment of the fun.  Reassured, the girl called to the company:

"Shall it not be the señora?'

"The Señora Valentino!" they cried.  "Our fair guest from Spain!  Honor
her!  Crown her queen of heart-breakers!"

The señora smiled sweetly at the joyous throng, as much at home in the
frolic as anyone among them.

Lolita placed the wreath on the señora's head.  "As thy friends
acclaim, so I do.  You are pronounced queen of heart-breakers."

What reply the señora made could not be heard for the applause, but she
kissed first one hand, then the other, to the señoritas and the
caballeros.

Mendoza was standing by his place at the table.  He motioned again and
again for silence before it was obtained.  Finally they listened to him.

"To the ballroom for you youngsters!  Come with me."

"Will you stay with us in the ballroom, señor?  We want you," laughed a
girl.

"I'll start you going in the dance, then return to the table.  We
elders like to linger a while over our coffee and burnt brandy.  But
come now, children."

They followed him through the green archway into the ballroom.

When the señor had left the supper room, taking the younger contingent
with him, the others had moved toward his end of the table.  Barcelo
insisted that Moraga should at once accompany him to the card room;
whereupon rather reluctantly Moraga left his old friends.

Marcel Hernandez arose to his feet.

"Fellow rancheros, and your ladies," bowing gallantly, "Señor Mendoza,
occupied with the young people, is temporarily absent from the room--he
is quite a boy, is the señor--and I take occasion to say a word to you.
The old government here is worn out, ready to fall to pieces like a
used-up carreta.  We, the leaders of the people, must find another
government--find another; yes, and soon.  We have talked it over this
evening; in fact, have talked of little else for weeks and months.  Let
us take action to-night."

He sat down deliberately.

A half dozen men sprang to their feet.  All dignity was thrown aside,
and they raised their voices and gesticulated earnestly.

"It is not yet the time," called one.

"It is the time, and----"

Another drowned him out by shouting, "Let us seek adequate protection
from some great nation which will insure us life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness."

"Mexico falls soon before the United States.  We shall be declared
contraband of war and suffer the consequences, unless we act quickly
and in the right direction," asserted yet another.

Don Louis Valencia arose.

"Friends, you speak wisely.  Nothing more need be said.  Let us act.  I
say, make our province a dependency of Great Britain.  That country
will protect us.  Señors, now is the time.  Great Britain will be our
ally and friend.  I repeat, take action--and now!" thumping his fist on
the table.

Señor Mendoza returned from the ballroom at that moment.  He went to
his chair at the table.  All became silent.

They waited for him to speak on the matter which was occupying so much
attention in California.  The stillness became intense.

"Neighbors and friends," Mendoza said at last, "what I heard as I
entered tells me the import of the debate which evidently took place
while I was absent.  I hope nothing will come to head at present."

"It must come to head!" from Hernandez.  "Why not take the bull by the
horns?" looking at Higuera.  "I mean, why not take initiative here and
now?  It is unsafe to wait."

Valencia seconded Hernandez's words.

"The wise traveler," counseled Mendoza, "surveys an unknown way rood by
rood.  Señor Hernandez and friends, before taking positive action we
should consider the path along which we would find ourselves."

"It is either the United States or England," argued Valencia.  "No
other nation need be considered.  Why not declare for one or the other
before another day?"

"Quite right, neighbor Valencia, quite right!" supported Hernandez.

"The rest of the province is undecided, as we have been.  We now know
our minds.  Let us speak them.  The others will follow, and the vexed
question is at an end," again from Valencia.

"But do we know our minds well enough to speak them?" questioned
Mendoza.

"We do!  We do!" replied Valencia.

"Huzza!  Huzza!" shouted Hernandez.

"Better consider!" cautioned Higuera.

"Slowness never wins the race," retorted Valencia.

"The tortoise won the race from the hare," rebutted Higuera.

The dancing had not held all those who had gone with Señor Mendoza to
the ballroom.  The atmosphere around the table of the elders was
surcharged with subtle influence which drew many back.  By twos and
threes they came.  Señora Valentino and Abelardo Peralta were among
them; Captain Morando also.

"Prepare to become an English province," now from young Peralta.

Not a few were of that conviction.  "England is just.  England allows
her dependencies to flourish in their own way," they declared.

"Huzza!  Huzza!" again shouted Hernandez.  "Viva England!"

Morando arose.

"I make no preference save this," he said.  "We must preserve here
Spanish ideals, Spanish manhood and womanhood."

"Excellent!" commended the host.  "Splendid!"

"Splendid!" echoed Señora Valentino, clapping her hands.

The women followed her example.  "Yes, yes, Spanish manhood and
womanhood!" they exclaimed.

The Señorita Carmelita came to her father's chair.

"Papacito, the time soon comes for El Son.  We await you in the
ballroom."

"At once, little one."

The elders left the table, and the entire company moved toward the door.

"For Castilian manhood and womanhood in this province!" Señora
Valentino said to Morando.

"Sword and glove!" enthusiastically in return.

Again their palms met in compact.

For the second time that evening Carmelita saw the fervent hand-clasp.



CHAPTER XII

CARMELITA DANCES EL SON

By custom the dance of El Son followed supper.  Peons pared wax from
candles and scattered the particles over the ballroom floor.  Smooth as
it had been before it must be made more so for the dance El Son.  The
Indian men and women worked the wax into the wood until the surface
shone like the beams of a harvest moon.

"A little more wax by you there, Clotilda--not that side, the other!"
ordered the peon in charge.  "Now, be alive with your foot.  Use
judgment!  Use judgment!  Don't wear a hole in the floor.  Now, more
wax where your toes were digging!"

"Already as many candles are in the shavings, Tomaso, as would make a
display for Holy Thursday," remonstrated a peona.

"What have we here?  What have we here?" indignantly from Tomaso.  "All
masters, and no servants?  Obey my word, and be quick about it!  Move
yourselves, every one of you!  Make the floor glisten.  The more it
shines the more slippery it is.  Did you not hear some of the company
clamoring that our doña herself dance El Son to-night?"

Tomaso was Señor Mendoza's trusty man, an Indian of intelligence and
fidelity.  He was captain of the Señor's fighting peons and had been
Carmelita's postilion at the merienda race.  Under his rapid orders the
servants made the floor ready.  Mendoza, however, was not satisfied
with it.

"The floor is not yet right for El Son.  It needs a dance thereon.
Friends, let us have a waltz!"

The caballeros sought partners, looking for their lady loves over
grounds, reception rooms, and conservatory.  Morando found Carmelita
chatting vivaciously in the midst of a gay party.

"Will you favor me with this waltz, señorita doña?"

"It is yours, Captain Morando."

In a moment they were one of a hundred couples on the floor.  The
girl's eyes sparkled and the color rose higher in her cheeks.

"A wonderful night this has been!" Morando exclaimed to his partner in
the waltz.  "What a pity it must end so soon!"

"You are, then, enjoying the baile?  No?  It will delight my father, I
know, to hear that."

"Señorita Doña, may I have a few moments with you when this dance is
over?"

"Certainly."

In a little while they were seated in the quiet of a reception room.

"Señorita Carmelita, I told you earlier in the evening that I love you,
and I asked your love in return.  Again I tell you I love you.  O, doña
mia!  Doña mia!  Will you not accept my love?"

She looked at him and moved away slightly.

"O, Doña Carmelita, will you not answer me?"

"The Capitan Morando is insistent."

"My heart urges me, señorita doña, my heart filled with love for you."

"The Capitan's love hangs on slender thread."

"You, doña mia, can make that thread strong."

"I do not choose thus to occupy myself."

"O, heart of my heart, accept my love and I will give my whole life to
you."

"It is quite time for this interview to end.  Señor Capitan, will you
escort me back to the company?"

"Señorita Carmelita, why do you speak in this way?  Have I offended
you?"

"Possibly you have other questions to ask."

"Only one other question concerns me, señorita mia.  Answer me that, I
implore of you.  Say that you will accept my love."

He stood before her.  Involuntarily his hand dropped to the hilt of his
sword, as it had done when shortly before he had been speaking to
Señora Valentino.

The girl arose quickly.  "Good evening, Captain Morando," she said and
left the room.

Undecided, he looked after her.

A hand was laid on his shoulder.

"Señor Captain, we meet after El Son in the card room.  Come into the
open with us, and we will explain."

It was Valencia who spoke.

"Yes, come with us.  We have been looking everywhere for you," joined
in Hernandez.

"I am at your service, señors."

The music for El Son, low and sobbing, came floating through the
flower-scented air.  This dance, of Spanish, or, perhaps, of Moorish
origin, had elaborated itself in the new world, personifying in poetry
of motion the joyous spirit of the province.  It belonged to the master
of the house to select the dancer who, if she chose, might add to the
usual figures inventions of her own.  Carmelita appeared at the
entrance of the ballroom.  Serving maids and Indian messenger boys were
around her in numbers.  She dispatched them, one by one, to bring in
all the guests.

They came from everywhere.  The older men were in small groups, talking
earnestly, and often gesticulating vehemently.  The young men were
mostly with their sweethearts and the dueñas.  With Señora Valentino
were Valencia, Hernandez, Abelardo Peralta, Patricio Martinez, and a
half dozen others, including Morando.

"We have laid before the Captain our point of view," Hernandez was
saying.  "Even the charming Señora Valentino, a stranger here and
altogether free from self-interest, agrees----"

They passed into the ballroom.

Señor Mendoza walked up and down the room, pretending to clap his hands
before this señorita, or that, this being the signal by which the
favored one was notified that she was to set foot to the measures.
Laughter and bantering without stint went around.

"Lolita Hernandez!"

"Lucinda Higuera!"

"Tula Laynez!"

"Juanita Calderon!"

"Alfreda Castro!" from yet another partisan; and so on.

"The Señorita Carmelita!" cried a dozen voices as the doña entered.

"Beautiful!  Beautiful!" exclaimed the usually phlegmatic Fulgencio
Higuera.  "The señorita Mendoza has stolen the light of stars for her
eyes, and she has robbed the gardens for her cheeks.  Let her dance El
Son."

She bowed in appreciation.

"I thank you," she said.  Then to her father, "Papacito, a word."

They withdrew.

"Will you ask me to dance El Son?"

Wondrously beautiful she was, her dark eyes glowing, the color flaming
in her cheeks.  The chivalry of his young manhood lived again as he saw
the resplendent girl.  Joy leaped in his heart that this exquisite
creature was his daughter.  She stood before him, every element of her
personality pleading.

"Please, Papacito!  I wish it to-night more than anything else."

They walked back among the people.  The company unwittingly seconded
her request.

"The Señorita Mendoza, the fairest of the fair!  Call her, señor!  Call
her, the lily of the valley!"

The old don hesitated.

Again came the request from all sides, increasing insistent.

"Papacito, please!" urged the girl in low voice.

He clapped his hands before her.

In the midst of loud applause she walked to the middle of the room.

The music, now dreamy and insinuating, soon took a livelier turn.  The
young woman glided back and forth on the waxed floor as lightly as a
swallow skims the air.  In willowy movements, hands and feet in perfect
correspondence, she hovered over the cleared space, seeming scarcely to
touch the floor.  Then, in wider step, she circled over this space in
eaglelike sweeps, her arms outstretched and her long hair floating.

Without pausing, the girl's movements became sinuous, gentle.  She
advanced, retreated, again came forward, as if entreating, but fearing
rebuff.  Rare grace and charm was in every motion.

"Brava!  Brava!" shouted the men, while above all was heard the excited
voice of Morando.

With arms extended she fluttered from side to side, as a butterfly
sipping honey from flower-cups here and there, staying but an instant
at any one.

Her hand made gesture to the musicians.

The strain became bold, quick, martial.

She spun on her toe-tips, her long dress billowing, her hair streaming.
As she whirled, her feet described winding figures on the floor, her
skirts repeating the design.

More and more quickly Carmelita circled over the room.

Louder crashed the music, and more hearty became the plaudits.

Fulgencio Higuera drew from his pocket a handful of gold pieces, and
flung them at the señorita's feet.  Another, another, a dozen others,
followed his example.

"Brava!  Brava!" cried Marcel Hernandez, tossing handfuls of gold to
the ceiling.  The pieces fell among the enthusiastic company, who
scarcely noticed the glittering shower.

Still, the doña sped on her toes, her skirt still marking in ampler
pattern the lines fashioned by her feet.  Her very being undulated in
response to the weird music.

The applause hushed for a moment.

"C-A-R-M-E-L-I-T-A M-E-N-D-O-Z-A," some one spelled the tracing, letter
by letter.  "Carmelita Mendoza."

The clamor broke out afresh.

"She has worked her name on the ballroom floor, as part of the dance!
Viva!  Viva!" they shouted.  "Viva!  Viva!"

The doña again fluttered up and down, arms outstretched.

The caballeros rushed around the girl shouting and praising her.  More
gold was freely scattered, its jingle intermingling with the orchestra.

"Splendid!  Splendid!  Is it not so, Señora Valentino?" came from
Captain Morando.  Without pausing for reply he hastened to Carmelita,
who was surrounded by numberless congratulating friends.

"O, doña mia," the Captain cried, "you dance with the grace of an
angel."

"The most successful rendition of El Son in a decade!" added a dueña.

"The most perfect ever," again from Morando.

Señora Valentino came up all smiles.  "This ball is the rarest treat of
my visit to California, and your El Son, señorita, is the choice
incident of the evening's pleasure.  I thank you for it."

"You are very good, señora.  I am glad that I can help in entertaining
you."

The music for a mazurka was beginning.  The older men disappeared from
the room.  Morando, Peralta, Martinez, and a number of others soon
followed, while the rest were again at the dance.

Colonel Barcelo and Moraga returned to the card room and finished their
nearly completed round of cribbage.

"A piece of luck, Moraga.  Simply a confounded piece of luck.  It
happens occasionally."

"I've won five out of six games from you to-night, Colonel."

"Chance threw the cards your way.  My skill simply went for
nothing--went for nothing!"

The card room rapidly filled.  After a few moments of cursory
conversation there was silence.  Each was waiting for another to speak.

Valencia began.

"Señors," with much deliberation, "at supper the sense of the majority
of the assemblage was that we take our province from the tutelage of
Mexico to the protection of Great Britain.  The question before us is,
How shall we proceed to make this transfer?  Let us hear from you."

Hernandez arose.

"Send a delegation to the English representative in Monterey, and tell
him of our desires.  A British fleet is near.  Let it take possession
of the province.  Then, if Mexico objects, she will have Great Britain
to deal with."

Most of the men nodded affirmatively.

Hernandez took his seat with a satisfied air.

"Friends," said Mendoza, "I am not of the mind that it is wise to take
action in this matter to-night.  Too great haste in acting is like a
too hot fire in cooking."

Higuera, Zelaya, and a few others signified they were in agreement with
this.

"My friends, action is the word!" cried Hernandez.  "Positive action!
Prompt action!  Mexico stands at our gates collecting taxes, giving
nothing in return, like the robbers at Tarifa.  Drop Mexico, I say, and
join hands with England, at once!"

"As English subjects a mighty future is ours.  Let us not wait," from
Abelardo Peralta.

"The young men will have opportunities then," followed Miguel Soto.
"An English prime minister ruled his political world when he was
twenty-one."

"Why not find from the United States, and from Great Britain as well,
the conditions under which they will receive our province?  We can then
act more intelligently."

"No, no!" chorused many.  "England!  England!  Become English subjects
at once."

Hernandez jumped to his feet.  "Become British subjects at once!"
waving his hand.

Others, and yet others, followed his example, till the place fairly
rang with the shouting.

Mendoza rapped on a table.  After quiet was restored he began: "Señors,
we have in Baja California men like Carillo and the brothers Pico.
Unless we allow them a part in our deliberations they will repudiate
any action we may take.  England does not want a province with divided
sentiment.  Carillo and the brothers Pico are capable of inciting
Southern California to rebellion, if we attempt to turn over the
province to England without consulting them."

"Good friends, no embarrassment need be feared from Carillo, nor from
the brothers Pico."  With these words Señora Valentino floated into the
room, her upturned face wreathed in smiles.

The company, surprised at the sound of her voice, turned questioningly.

"I think Carillo, likewise the brothers Pico, can be relied on to
espouse your wish to transfer allegiance to England."

Mendoza spoke: "Respected lady, these absent gentlemen must be given a
chance to speak for themselves.  Giving away provinces is more than
child's play.  We cannot hazard guesses."

"My ever-wise Administrator, you are right.  It occurs to me that these
same brothers Pico and Señor Carillo have in some slight manner
expressed themselves as favorable to this English protectorate which we
all are so anxious to bring about."

"But, good señora, mere hearsay must not be accepted."

"Again, right as ever, most worthy Administrator.  But, to recollect
further--I believe I have in my possession a letter from these
señors--possibly, two or three letters--as I recall the matter more
closely.  These same letters, if I mistake not, declare quite plainly
as to the sentiments of the writers."

"But, Señora Valentino, there must be no possibility of mistake in such
an issue as this."

With childlike simplicity she looked into the face of Mendoza.

"I remember fully now.  These Southerners express unequivocally their
desire to make California a British province.  They assure us they will
spare no pains to bring about this consummation."

"But, señora, pardon: would I presume should I ask further
enlightenment?"

Again she smiled.  "Señor, your Excellency, you do not presume.  These
communications from Señors Carillo and the Pico brothers were merely
little private scribbles, from one sojourner to another, so to speak,
and in which there happened to be mention of the political unrest now
occupying the minds of the sterner sex."  Her smile broadened.

Colonel Barcelo had been looking through the cards of the last hand at
cribbage, hoping to come across errors in his opponent's play.  He
found none.  "This question should have been settled long ago," he
said, testily.  "Let the British admiral bring his fleet into Monterey
Harbor.  Down comes the Mexican flag and up goes the Union Jack.
Mexico cannot resist, having no ships.  I wonder I did not think of
having this done before."

He took his seat, and again looked through the cards.

Renewed enthusiasm now possessed the company.  They applauded and
shouted; and cheered Señora Valentino and Colonel Barcelo.  When quiet
came a committee was chosen to acquaint the English representative at
Monterey of California's wish.

"Come, Moraga," challenged Colonel Barcelo, "let us play again."

"Colonel, you would pass a province from hand to hand as unconcernedly
as you do these pasteboards," uttered Moraga, taking his place at the
card table.

"Certainly!  Certainly!  This change has really been in my mind some
time.  Just crept in, so I hardly noticed it."

The Colonel and the land baron were soon engrossed with the game.  The
other guests sauntered away.

A few moments later Carmelita chanced to see Tomaso, captain of her
father's fighting peons, riding away on Mercurio, the wheel horse in
the merienda race.  Following, on a reata, was the big bay leader of
the Mendoza team.  The Indian had stripped to the waist, and wore only
the leathern knee breeches of the peon jockey.  A handkerchief was tied
tightly around the head to keep in place his long hair.  Neither horse
was saddled, having only a surcingle about its body.

The rattle of hoofs on the hard road sounded loud in the night, then
died out.

The girl knew that Tomaso was bent on some errand of great interest to
her father.  The two swift horses, prepared as they were, meant that
the Indian would, if necessary, ride one to exhaustion, then use the
other to complete his journey.

The night waned.  Noises of early morning began to echo in the hills.
The dance and merriment went on.  Faint tracings of dawn came across
the eastern horizon.  The Mendoza ball was drawing to its close.  Light
came on wings of morning.

Peons brought carreta and horse.  Señor Mendoza and his daughter stood
at the courtyard gate to wish Godspeed to the departing guests.
"Adios, Señor Mendoza!  Adios, Señorita Mendoza!" was heard on every
side.

Father and daughter watched neighbor and friend go their way.

Rapidly galloping horses were approaching from the direction of the
eastern hills.  Two horsemen were soon at the gate.  One was Tomaso
astride the big bay leader trembling from the ride.  The other was
O'Donnell on his stallion.

"Buenos días, Señor O'Donnell," greeted Mendoza.

O'Donnell returned, "Good morning," adding with rising reflection,
"Well?"

"The Señor O'Donnell and I have pressing business, my daughter.  Please
excuse us, carita mia."

The señorita bowed.

The men went into Mendoza's private office.



CHAPTER XIII

RETURNING FROM THE BALL

"My Captain, it has been a goodly night, one long to be remembered."

Señora Valentino and Captain Morando were riding along the rolling
highway which led southerly from the Mission San José.  A large portion
of the company that had attended the ball traveled this same road, the
men on their mounts, the women-folks mostly in carretas, though two or
three, like Señora Valentino, preferred horseback.

"Our Mendoza is a lavish host.  He does nothing by halves, like the
worthy Californian that he is."

"Ah! yes.  A wonderful man!  A wonderful man!"

The señora reined in her horse.  A rabbit, pursued by a hawk, was
running toward them from the underbrush at the side.  Double and dodge
as it might, the little beast could not rid itself of its persecutor.
Finally it lay, a little crumpled heap, not far from the señorita's
horse, squealing for mercy.  It found none, for the bird of prey drove
its talons into the fur and started to carry away its victim.

The señora swung her horse in wide curve and struck the hawk with her
riding-whip.  It dropped the rabbit and flew fiercely at her.  She
struck it again, this time with the butt of the whip.  It circled away,
but returned to the attack and was hovering over the lady when Morando
killed it with a pistol shot.

It was the occurrence of a moment; but the angry challenge of the hawk
and the report of the firearm called the attention of the horseback
riders as well as the dozing occupants of the carretas.  Men shouted
and women screamed.  The peon riflemen came hurrying up, ready for
battle.

"Señora, are you hurt?" solicitously inquired Morando.

"Nothing much.  A little scratch."

"Let us dismount.  You are pale.  Let me assist you."

She gave him her uninjured hand and loosed her feet from the stirrup.
Twilight fell across her eyes, resolving into huge, unsteady clouds
swimming around and around her with increasing velocity.  In dead faint
she sank into Morando's arms.

The Captain removed the señora's long riding-glove, and found her wrist
profusely bleeding from a small, but deep, perforation.  The hawk had
driven its talon in, full length.

"Come, amigos," Morando cried, "prepare a temporary couch for Señora
Valentino by the roadside."

A dozen ponchos fell from caballeros' shoulders, and the women
improvised a comfortable bed from them on the thickly interwoven green
grass, the soldier holding the insensible woman in his arms the while.
He laid her, still fainting, on the bed, softly odorous of the growing
things about.

In tiny pulsings the blood flowed, reddening her light-colored
riding-habit, and spattering the costly fabric of the ponchos.

The Captain bound his handkerchief tightly around her arm midway
between wrist and elbow.  The bleeding ceased.

"Señors, who among you has a flask of aguardiente?"

Several were offered.

"Will one of the ladies bathe her face and forehead with the liquor?"

Señora Higuera did the service.

Morando was tightly bandaging the injured member with strips torn from
handkerchiefs when the patient opened her eyes.

"My arm feels asleep, Don Alfredo," she murmured.  "Where am I?"

"With your friends, and safe," replied Morando.

Color gradually came into her face and lips.  Her breath no longer
fluttered.

"O, the poor little fellow so wanted to save his life that I couldn't
see him lose it," she murmured.  "The hawk passed blow for blow with
me.  His talon pricked through my glove."

Word of the mishap had gone to Señor and Señora Barcelo, who were
riding in the vanguard of the procession.  The complaining of the
Barcelo carreta mingled with the puffing of the Colonel's horse as the
two raced back.

"O, Silvia!  Silvia!  What dreadful thing has happened?" wailed Señora
Barcelo.

"What has happened is over, sister mine.  Thanks to our friends here,
and Captain Morando in particular, I am nothing the worse."

"Doubtless!  Doubtless!  How clumsy your arm looks tied up that way!
Well, a peon reported you stricken down by an attacking eagle.  How
about it?" inquired Barcelo.

Señora Valentino quickly detailed the story.

"Humph!  A pretty state of affairs!  Come, shall we be going?  Matters
of great importance wait my arrival at the capitol."

"There is no reason to wait.  I am able to travel.  Amigos, adelante!"
playfully waving her hand toward the south.

Riders and carretas set out, Señora Valentino moving slowly, the
soldier by her side.  The Colonel, making sure all was well with his
sister-in-law, insisted on traveling at full speed.  His wife's carreta
plunged and squeaked and rolled after him.

"My dear," called Señora Higuera, in a little while, "you are growing
pale again.  Stay with us at Aguas Calientes until you feel stronger.
We'll send a peon messenger on a swift horse, to reach your sister with
explanations.  Come, Señora Valentino, we are at the turn of the road."

"I fear, señora, your arm is swelling.  It will be better to dismount
at the Higuera hacienda house and have the wound carefully bathed in
warm water," counseled Morando.

The house of the Higueras was but a few hundred paces from the road,
but Señora Valentino was able to negotiate the distance only with
greatest difficulty.

The señora's wrist had swelled considerably.  Morando removed a small
portion of the riding-glove driven in by the bird's claw.  Good wife
Higuera bathed the wound in warm water, after which a soothing lotion
of herbs diminished the pain greatly.

"Come," said Señora Valentino, rising from the couch whither Morando
had carried her, "it is time for me to be going."

"Impossible, my lady," remonstrated Higuera.  "My house and all in it
are at your disposal.  Rest to-day.  Last night was a gay one, but a
merry night means a weary morning.  To-morrow, or the day after, you
can continue your way.  A proper guard will attend you.  Besides, your
arm may require further treatment.  We have an Indian woman on the
hacienda who is only less skillful than the Captain," bowing to Morando.

"Thank you, amigos.  My sister rests at the Calderon hacienda, near San
José pueblo.  I can easily reach there in an hour.  The scratch on my
arm is nothing.  I am ashamed of having shown weakness over it.
Misericordia! am I sugar that I melt if a cupful of water reaches me?"

Despite all protestations she insisted on starting forth.

"Take a carreta, my dear heart," urged Señora Higuera.  "Come, we'll
fill the body of the vehicle with blankets and have all as soft as down
for you.  What differs an hour more or less in the journey if you can
be more comfortable?  Let me make ready for you."

The señora would not listen to it.  She mounted her horse gracefully,
despite her bandaged arm, waved adios to the Higueras, and set out
toward San José attended by Captain Morando.

"Be sure to stop if you feel weak," called Señora Higuera.  "A peon
will make his house yours, as well will any ranchero."

"Never fear, good friends; I have strength and to spare for the
journey."

The rest of the merrymakers were well ahead.  The señora and the
Captain rode alone over a virgin meadow.  Mountain and valley smiled.
The sun, giving promise of a perfect day, crystallized his light in
myriad dewdrops hanging on flower petal and grass leaf.  The morning
breeze carried the sweet voices of the hill blooms as they sang in
fragrance.  Mingled with it was the pungent tang of wild mustard
bursting into gold.  Great stretches of wild oats eddied and billowed
away, an emerald sea meeting the outposts of the coast range; or,
dropping across the valley, lost itself in the misty, opalescent sky
line.  High aloft the lark was warbling his joy of living.  The
blackbird in the meadows trilled love songs to his mate.

The man and woman turned their horses and looked along the way they had
come.  The San Francisco Bay reached in silvery arc to the horizon.
The great white buildings of the Mendoza hacienda, stippled with the
gray of peon dwellings, rested against the hills.  Stray cattle and
horses made their way body-deep in the luxuriant grass-growth, while
the mountains echoed the bleating of the Mission's sheep.  It was a
picture of pastoral California, rich and splendid.

The lady showed no trace of her accident of an hour before.  Color was
in her face and animation in her tones as she said: "Captain Morando,
let us look our fill on this scene.  The future will see a panorama
here less wild, less beautiful, perhaps, but of greater usefulness."
She turned her horse again southward.

Morando rode by her side, not speaking for several moments.  Finally:
"Señora, you have deep interest in these Californias."

"You have said it, señor Captain.  I have, indeed, a deep interest in
the province."  As he said nothing she continued: "I have a kindred
interest in the 'province of hearts' here also--to quote our host."

He laughed.

"Really, Captain, it would not surprise me if Señor Mendoza's ball
brought about half a dozen weddings.  The setting for love-making was
exquisite.  It might have been fashioned after some fairy scene, so
delicately were light and color blended, with that delicious music of
the natives permeating it all.  Madrid would have gone wild over it!
Even the most watchful mamma and dueña felt the spell and laughed and
looked away while some fair one allowed the brave Don Juan to hold her
hand and murmur nothings to her.  Why, even señoritas and young sparks
betrothed in childhood by their parents yielded to the passion divine,
as if their love was at first sight."  She laughed gently.

"Was it so?  I am too little acquainted with the families of Alta
California to know of the young men and women so engaged."

The señora's laugh was now merry, as she replied: "I sit much with the
old wives and know all the gossip.  I can tell you all about it.  There
are Patricio Martinez and Alfredo Castro.  Their families intermarried
in Spain before the new world was thought of, continued in
intermarriage in Mexico, and will not desist in California.  Then,
there are Lucinda Higuera and Aviel Soto; Lolita Hernandez and young
Julius Belden--part gringo he is, as they term it here--and--and--yes,
Tula Rosa and Pancho Laynez."

"I suppose there is the history of a family tree connected with each of
these betrothals!"

"There surely is.  I actually ache down to the tips of my fingers,"
holding up her injured hand, "trying to remember it all.  But come,"
checking her horse sharply, in sudden remembrance, "there was one
account most interesting, or, rather, more interesting, even, than
others.  Who was it that told me?  I think, Señora Valdez, or, perhaps,
Señora Sanchez.  No, it must have been the very aged Señora Hernandez,
Don Marcel's mother."

"My interest is aroused almost beyond bounds," he laughed.

She returned the laugh.  "Well, whoever it was that told me, I remember
the story.  It relates to our host of last night, Señor Mendoza, and
Señor Peralta, father of that splendid young cavalier, Don Abelardo."

The soldier's interest was now aroused in earnest.

"The friendship of Mendoza and of the Señor Peralta, so the story goes,
had beginning in old times.  Both were soldiers, daring and efficient,
and a common cause, that of freeing Spain from French dominance, led to
mutual liking.  They campaigned together for years.

"A few hours' journey from Madrid, near Talavera city, is a long bluff
which Colonel Mendoza held, with English troops, against the fury of
Joseph Bonaparte's veterans.  It was the pivotal center of the Iron
Duke's position--of course, this Iron Duke was just Sir Arthur
Wellesley then.  This much is history."

"I have read of Señor Mendoza's notable part in that great battle."

"Well, in the charge, the second day, when the French line was
breaking, Mendoza's horse was shot and it fell, pinning him beneath.
Peralta saved him from death at the hands of a Toulousan lancer.  The
Colonel mounted another horse, nothing the worse for his experience.
Twice before nightfall did he again owe his life to his friend Peralta.
This, according to my informant."

Morando said nothing.  The lady continued:

"Administrator Mendoza was instrumental in having a grant of land made
to Señor Peralta, who came here to occupy it.  He married and had a
son, Abelardo.  Later, the Administrator married, and his daughter
Carmelita came to bless his home."

Morando was looking intently at the speaker.

"One night the renegades from the eastern valleys drove away many
horses and cattle after maltreating the attending peons.  Mendoza and
Peralta, with their fighting Indians, pursued the fleeing miscreants.
An arrow pierced Peralta's body, and he would have fallen to the ground
had not Mendoza caught him.  Under the protection of a branching oak,
on the primeval hillside, the end came.  The dying man's head lay on
Mendoza's lap, their hands clasped together, while the sturdy Mendoza
was weeping.  Peralta spoke faintly:

"'The soldier dies from a savage's arrow, after years of service on the
field.  Well, mio amigo, be a friend to my wife and boy.'

"'You have my word of honor,' replied Mendoza.

"Peralta continued: 'And--and--yes.  My senses are leaving me.  I must
speak quickly.  Let our lifetime of friendship live after us, in the
union of our children when they are grown.'

"There, in the shade of nature, the greater shadow of death hovering
near, was the betrothal agreement made.  The Indian riflemen stood
around, sombreros in hand, their weapons lying on the turf, to do
homage to death, the final conqueror.  Señor Mendoza still held in his
arms the clay of his friend, still his tears were falling.  'The
Peralta and Mendoza friendship shall live on in our children,' he said
in broken voice.  'The living and the dead make this consecration.'"

Morando's horse reared to perpendicular line.  Unconsciously the
Captain had gripped him with the spurs.  The animal sprang from the
beaten road through dense masses of underbrush, to the grassy field
beyond.  It required several minutes before Morando could bring the
creature back to the señora's side.  It still champed the bit, while
its eyes flashed from the sting of the insult.

"Your horse is restive, señor soldier.  Perhaps we have loitered along
the way.  Come, we can reach the Calderon home before the sun is warm."

They cantered in silence for a while.

"Let us go slowly for a few minutes," she said.  "I find I am not so
strong as I thought."

Paleness was again creeping into her face.

Morando quickly led her horse by the bridle to the door of a peon's cot
near the wayside, and assisted her to dismount.  The Indian wife came
curtsying out, full of welcome.

"My house is yours," she insisted, bowing again and again.  "Your visit
will be long remembered.  I am sorry my man is away and cannot help to
receive you."

"Some warm water in a basin," said the soldier.  "The señora has had an
accident to her arm and it needs attention."

Morando unbandaged the arm, bathed it in tepid water, and rebandaged it
more loosely.

The house was a one-room building, made of adobe, whitewashed outside
and inside, with a red tile roof.  The floor was earthen.  A half dozen
children tumbled about.  The Indian woman sat on a rude settee and
looked interestedly at the two occupying a similar piece of furniture.

"My man is absent in San Joaquin," she said.  "He is a vaquero for
Señor Higuera.  We expect the cattle soon to return, and again I will
have my husband."

The señora was charmed with the naïveté of the native.

"I'm sure you will be happy then," she said.  Color had returned to her
cheeks and brightness to her eyes.

"Great people need never be separated," the peona went on.  "Now,"
speaking directly to Señora Valentino, "you had your husband with you
when sickness met you, and he drove it away.  For me, two, three,
moons," counting on her fingers, "I have fought it alone for myself and
my pocos niños," pointing to her brood.

The señora smiled.  "This señor is not my husband."

The woman looked intently at them.  "The spirits of the future speak
little here since Padre Lusciano came.  He drives them away with the
breath of his mouth.  Dared they speak--dared they speak"--she laughed
quizzically--"they would say--they would say----"

She broke off and motioned to the third finger of the señora's left
hand, and simulated placing a ring thereon.  She turned to Morando and
laughed again.

The señora arose to her feet.  "Come, Capitan, let us thank the peona
for her kindness and for her suggestion of prophecy, and go on our
journey.  I trust my strength will not fail again."

Morando offered money to the woman, but she would not accept it.

"The gold is for the ring," she replied with another queer laugh.  "Why
should I withhold kindnesses?" she asked.  "God gives them to me.  I
should not keep them selfishly."

They thanked her for her good offices and went their way.

Señora Valentino was her buoyant self once more, while Morando, though
all courtesy and attention, seemed in a quiet mood.

"Come, soldier mine," she suggested, "let us rejoice with the landscape
and sing with the spring."  She waited, then laughed gayly.  "Perhaps
the spirits of the future gave you an unhappy horoscope."  Again she
gave way to merriment.

His answering laugh had a forced note, as he said: "What a pity the
spirits are no longer free to speak without hindrance!  In so far, my
lady, as the peona spoke for them their message flattered me."  He
doffed his cap sweepingly.

"Gallant soldier!  But I was speaking a while ago of this province of
California.  Do you realize, Captain, that here is a country exceeding
Spain in area and equaling her soil in fertility?"

"I do realize it, indeed, señora.  What we see here," indicating the
waving valley, "and even after a winter of drought, is a demonstration
of most wonderful fertility."

"Under the English flag all old customs will flourish here; the
civilization developed will be along Spanish lines.  Colonists will
come in numbers and a mighty principality will grow--still it will be,
in essentials, Spanish.  A viceroy will be in power, combining the
office of a general with that of governor.  These vast haciendas will
be fruitful farms supporting more hundreds than they do individuals
now."

"What you say, señora, is not impossible."

"What power, what patronage, what opportunity would belong to such a
viceroy!  It would be well-nigh that of a king."

Her companion made no response.

"My good soldier, of all the men in California who do you think would
be chosen to this high office of civil and military leader?"

"Señor Mendoza I believe to be the ablest man in the province.  After
him, I would say, comes Carillo, in the South."

She smiled into his face.

"The first governor under English rule here will be chosen on
recommendation of three people.  I am one of those three."

"What can you mean, Señora Valentino?" asked the amazed man.

"I mean this.  It is my belief that English governing will be the one
most acceptable to the Californians.  I have become Great Britain's
special representative, and I am laboring to bring about a judicious
consummation."

The soldier looked wonderingly at her.  "Your words, señora, while
surprising me, explain many things."

She went on: "When the British admiral opens in Monterey harbor his
sealed advices, he will find a paper appointing as commander of the
army and head of this province the man on whom the English consul,
Captain Farquharson, and your humble servant have agreed as the right
one for that office."

She paused in her remarks, as if expecting him to speak.  He did not.
She went on: "We have already made our choice."  She spoke
dispassionately.  "Now, who do you think it is?"

"I can still form no idea, unless it be, indeed, Mendoza, or
Carillo--or, possibly, one of the Picos."

"It is none other than Capitan Alfredo Morando."

He checked his horse.

She swung her mount to meet him.  Neither spoke for several moments.

He bared his head.  "Señora Valentino, words fail me to express my
gratitude for your high opinion of me.  I thank you most cordially and
most humbly."

They rode on in silence.

At last they neared the Calderon hacienda house.

"Before long we salute you as 'Your Excellency.'"

"No, señora.  As greatly as I prize the honor paid me by you and the
other two I shall leave California forever, as soon as I can do so in
fairness to my work."

The Calderons were hastening out to meet them.  The anxious friends
surrounded the señora.  Inquiring and welcoming, they bore her away.



CHAPTER XIV

O'DONNELL TAKES A HORSEBACK RIDE

"Good pluck has that Indian lad of yours, Señor Mendoza.  He faced the
muzzles of the guns this morning without batting an eye."

Mendoza and O'Donnell were in the Administrator's office.  Mendoza's
eye was alert, his eagle face keen.  The poncho thrown carelessly over
his shoulders, his mustachios and imperial made him look the Old World
soldier leader.

"My messenger evidently caught you before you broke camp."  Mendoza
spoke in English, as had the other.

"By my faith! he burst into camp on that sorrel like a meteor.  I had
'Adelante!' half out of my mouth when he spurred on us.  A dozen
pistols were aimed at him, and why my fellows didn't shoot I don't see,
except that they were afraid of hitting the horse.  A native more or
less wouldn't count, but these scoundrels know rare horseflesh night or
day.  Perhaps they'd peeked through the bars of your corrals, señor,
when the peon riflemen weren't looking."

The frontiersman laughed.  He lay back in his chair, crossing his legs,
and waited for the other to speak.  His beard and hair were free from
the cords and were flowing over his breast and shoulders.  The bearskin
leggings seemed more shaggy than ever.

"Those men will be your companions for a thousand miles?"

"I can expect no other, Señor Mendoza.  Besides, they serve me well."

"Señor O'Donnell, you represent great interests in California."

"On another occasion I showed you documents which assert that."

"Very true.  Now, at a critical time you lose yourself in the
wilderness, with no guard save a company of cutthroats who would take a
man's life for a handful of pesos."

"Ah, Mendoza, what you say is so.  This is a critical time and my men
would hardly ornament a Sunday school.  But I shall meet a
representative of the United States somewhere to the east of here, a
thousand miles more or less, receive instructions from Washington, and
send back my reports.  I go through safely; another might not; so I am
my own messenger.  In the passing of three new moons, as the Indian
counts, I shall again be in the Valley of Santa Clara."

The big man laughed again.

"You go through safely, you say.  Are you sure?"

"Absolutely.  My dare-devils respect the man who is not afraid of them.
Besides, I travel a country the chiefs of which are sworn Indian
brothers to me."

"And you trust them--these wild Indians of the mountains?"

"Again I say, absolutely."

"I hope your faith is not misplaced."

"It is not.  Mendoza, I have been for ten years among these fierce
tribes.  From them I learned the moods of the desert and the paths that
conquer the mountains.  Their tents were mine, and they shared their
food with me.  I came to know the Indian heart, and was willing to
become blood brother with their chiefs.  Yes, I trust them absolutely."

"Blood brother?"

"It is a covenant of friendship.  I am as sure it will not be broken as
I am that Kit Carson will keep word and meet me beyond the high
mountains a month hence."

"But this covenant of friendship--this becoming a blood brother--how
did you manage it?"

"By transfusion of blood from their veins to mine.  The medicine men
are surgeons--of a kind; the arm veins supply the blood."

Mendoza looked closely at the frontiersman.  "You are, then, an Indian
leader."

"I have the long hair of a chief, as you see.  I allow my beard to
grow, also, which the natives cannot do, to show I am a chief of
chiefs."

"A chief of chiefs!  What of Yoscolo?  Is he included in this unique
brotherhood?"

"No; decidedly no.  Yoscolo disdains Indian virtues, replacing them by
white men's wickedness."

"Will you be safe from him on this journey?"

"My friends would harry him out of the Sierras, and down to these
valleys where he would meet destruction at the hands of your riflemen."

"Very good, friend O'Donnell.  But I am keeping you too long.  I will
come to the point now.  I detained you from an early start on that long
road of yours for an important matter.  The English have been very
active in creating a sentiment here favorable to annexing our province
to Great Britain."

"There are many signs of their activity; but others have been active
too."

"It is time your government should survey roads between California and
your westernmost outpost."

The large man sprang to his feet.  "Capital, Mendoza!  Capital, sir!
It's good to hear you say that.  I didn't expect it so soon.  Will you
put it down in writing, and sign your name to it?"

"Assuredly.  I will also do my part toward welcoming settlers from your
republic when the roads are built."

"Famous!  Famous!  That is exactly what I wanted you to say every time
we've met.  It's worth the hindrance in my journey to hear news like
that."  Then, suddenly, "Something special has happened to bring you to
this conclusion.  What is it?  I've been debating for weeks with you,
and with no apparent result."

O'Donnell seated himself.  A peon had come in response to a signal from
Mendoza.

"Aguardiente and cigarros," the master ordered.

"I can talk better when smoking," offering the other a light.

"Very well, I listen better."

They smoked for a little while without speaking.

"You know, personally, Farquharson, England's special representative
here, if I remember rightly," Mendoza breaking the silence, his eyes
intently studying his guest.

"I have not seen him for many years, but I once knew him well enough.
He has been as busy as a bee for several months."

"Very true; but the other British agent, Señora Valentino, is still
more active--of course you know all about it.  By the way, was Yoscolo
alone in the abduction of Farquharson a day or two ago in Monterey?
Can you tell me?  You know he was abducted, of course."

O'Donnell gave a roar of laughter, and smoked vigorously.

"It seems to me I did hear something of it.  In fact, for a while
everybody was inquiring for this lost Englishman.  I ran into his
servant who was ranging Monterey and shouting for his 'Cap'n.'  I
believe he found him too."

"It seemed to me that it was a little beyond even Yoscolo's talents to
play such a game in Monterey city unless some white man had encouraged
him."

The big man was greatly amused.  "To tell the truth, Señor Mendoza, it
was I who was in a measure back of that game."

"I thought as much."

"You see Farquharson came across the Indian several months ago, and
played for his good offices.  Not a bad idea, for a power of renegades
followed him.  All of Yoscolo's Indians were to declare for English
sovereignty--much they know what it is.  Yoscolo wanted money--the
clever rascal.  He made the capture as near Farquharson's banker as
possible--a suggestion of mine.  I figured that Farquharson deserved to
lose his money for his attempt at bribery.  But the Englishman slipped
the toils.  I heard Yoscolo nearly had a fit when the news reached him."

"You do not like Farquharson personally?"

A gust of anger came over O'Donnell's face.  "No!  No!  The Englishman
is my enemy for something that occurred years ago in old Ireland."

"I too knew Farquharson many, many years ago.  I have not seen him in
late times.  I blamed him once for an act that reflected on his
judgment.  Later he greatly distinguished himself at Waterloo.  I am
surprised that he would stoop to bribery.  In fact, the manner of
procedure of the English agents here has not disposed me to their
cause."

"So much the worse for England, and so much the better for the United
States," O'Donnell commented.

"Good friend O'Donnell, I favor the United States in the present matter
because they reach two thirds across the continent to us already;
because their government appeals to me; and, last but not least,
because their agent, Señor O'Donnell, is not attempting to rush our
people like sheep into the American fold."

"Three cheers for you, Señor Mendoza!  Speak these words from the
housetops.  Your patriotism will soon equal my own.  The Irish and the
Spanish are always of one heart anyway."

"Some time ago I told you that if I played in this political game, I'd
use the trump that meant the most to the province of California.  I am
far from forwarding my own interest in thus doing."  He went to a
secretary and took therefrom a bulky envelope.  Opening it he handed to
O'Donnell several papers, one of which read:

"On recommendation of the Duke of Wellington, Jesus Maria y José
Mendoza, of Mission San José, California, is tendered the office of
major-general in the army of Great Britain," and mentioning in highest
encomium Mendoza's masterful service from Talavera to the fall of
Toulouse which crushed Napoleon, and sent him to Elba.  The document
was signed and sealed by high officials of the kingdom.

The other papers were personal letters from Wellington, the dates of
which ran through many years, urging Mendoza to accept promotion and
offering to advance him in every way should he come to England.

O'Donnell scanned the Administrator critically.  "Yet you remained with
this province?"

"Yes.  I cast my lot with California, and with her I shall live.  An
English protectorate would, without doubt, be more to my own personal
advantage; however, I favor American rule here."

"But, Señor Mendoza, how about your neighbors, north and south?"  All
at once the Irishman sat erect, suddenly realizing the full meaning of
the words he had read.  "A major-general in the British army!"  He
looked admiringly at Mendoza.  "At my best I was but a
grenadier-sergeant."

"Friend O'Donnell, my neighbors, north and south, are playing 'Follow
the leader' in no small way.  Señora Valentino, sister-in-law of our
acting-governor, Barcelo, is the leader.  She has cleverly brought them
to the mountain top, and down the side they must go, by their own
impetus--unless, O'Donnell, we hold them back."

"I know of this señora.  Young Peralta raves over her.  Carillo sings
of her cleverness and beauty.  The ladies vow she is a breath of old
Madrid come to enliven the air of far-away provincial California."

"The señora is a very clever and a very beautiful woman," added
Mendoza.  "In Mexico I heard that she was coming here.  She is famous
on three continents as a most successful diplomatist.  I can well
believe she deserves the reputation."

"I'm sure of it--more than sure of it."

"Last night in my house my friends declared for the English flag.  I
advised consideration.  She adroitly opposed.  Her wishes carried.  An
attempt will be made to have the English government take possession at
once.  We must forestall them, O'Donnell."

"By my faith!  By my faith! we must!"

"I love California too much to see her tossed precipitously into any
hands, be it English or American."

The Irishman stormed back and forth over the floor.

Mendoza continued: "I have a plan, but the carrying it out would delay
for some time your journey across the mountains."

"Carson awaits my coming, if I delay a month.  What is your plan?"

"To find just where the American fleet is; catch the attention of your
commodore; then call him for consultation with some of us here who have
not been swept off our feet by the clever Señora Valentino."

"Three days ago the fleet stood into the scimitar-shaped bay west of
here, Commodore Billings in command.  He had sighted the British fleet
off Callao, Peru, and scudded ahead of them."

"Bueno!  Bueno!"

"I'll get in touch with Billings as soon as I can."

"Let him run his ships till he can anchor off some spot nearest San
José Mission."

"The sooner I see the Commodore the better.  Will you send a messenger
to my camp telling my braves to wait there till further orders?"

"To be sure."

"Well, now to the saddle.  I set out on horseback to overtake an
ocean-going fleet.  Ha! ha! ha!" the Irishman's wit coming to the fore.

"At least not till after breakfast."

"I've breakfasted already; thank you, señor.  Adios!"

"Wait a minute.  Tell me, have you been instrumental in keeping Yoscolo
from molesting our herds and our servants in the San Joaquin?  It must
be some unusual influence, that has held him quiet this long."

"I've threatened him with a trouncing from the strong tribes in the
interior if he continues his deviltries.  He met our chiefs in a great
powwow in the Sierras and spoke of peace to them, in the voice of a
cooing dove.  They do not trust him; neither do I.  I'll deliver the
thrashing if he breaks his word."

"I greatly regret, Señor O'Donnell, that our California valleys did not
know you years ago."

"The regret is mutual."

They passed out to the courtyard gate.

The house guests were returning from cool dips in the swimming ponds,
according to custom; then breakfast; then rest.

"Who is the stranger with our host?" one dueña asked of another.

"Doubtless some trader in tallow."

"Even the early morning after the baile leaves not the señor free from
their intrusion."

The men parted.



CHAPTER XV

SEÑORA VALENTINO MAKES A REPORT

"Cap', if I do admit it, I never saw such a place as this for growin'
things.  Look at that grass.  The finest hay in America could be cut
there in way less than a month.  Good oat, too, every spear of it.
Reckon 'twill pretty much go to waste.  Durn shame it is.  Wish I had a
hundred of them acres back in old Missouri.  Whew!"

Early in the morning Brown and his employer had ridden down the hills
skirting the eastern rim of Santa Clara valley, and were laboriously
making their way through the luxuriant growths of that fertile section.

"I am not sure these acres will not be as valuable one day where they
are as they would be in your native section," returned Farquharson.

"Put in your wheat, rye or barley here," continued Brown; "raise your
crop.  Then where be ye?  Nobody round to buy you up and pay you money.
We're too durn fur away here, Cap', for the country to be more'n bird
ranges--yes, bird ranges, where the blessed little fellers can warble
and chatter from daylight to their bedtime."

"Brown, what would you think if I predict that in a short time
colonists will come here, men understanding farming and tree culture,
to make this Western country their home?"

Brown shook his head.  "If they double our tracks, Cap' from Santa Fé
here, they'll need their fairy boots.  Mighty rough trail we followed,
and it's no smoother yet, I reckon.  Besides, there's a sight of
country between Santa Fé and civilization east of there which must be
traveled some way.  No, Cap', white men will shy this land for many a
day, to my thinking.  Durn sorry, too.  Wish it wasn't so blame far
from everywhere."

"But men can come here by water," suggested Farquharson.

"That depends where they start from.  Quite a journey to here by water
from Saint Louis, Missouri."

"No farther than England is from California.  Brown, it would not
surprise me if, before many years, shiploads of people from England
will be tilling farms right here in this Santa Clara valley."

They were coming into the grounds of the Calderon hacienda.  The white
buildings gleamed in the morning light.  The rolling hills formed a
green background.  Peons were going forth to the fields, at work in the
gardens, or busy about their adobe cottages which nestled near the home
of their master.

"Stay by the horses, Brown, while I enter," said Farquharson.

"Just as you say, Cap'."

The Englishman sought the entrance of the mansion and inquired for
Señora Valentino.

"The señora met with an accident this morning," said one of the
Señoritas Calderon who met him.  "She is resting.  Last night there was
a baile at Señor Mendoza's, in Mission San José.  She was there and has
slept almost none till the present."

"Was the accident serious?" solicitude in his voice.

"Not serious, but painful."

"If you announce that Captain Farquharson would like words with her, I
am sure she will not feel herself disturbed.  It is really of great
importance that I see her."

"What is it, querida?" asked Señora Calderon, coming to the outer hall.

"A señor caller to see Señora Valentino, mamita."

"She is nearly dropping for sleep, señor, as are we all.  Besides, her
hand is wounded."

"I saw your horse, Captain Farquharson, from my window, between winks.
I had thought to catch an hour's sleep before you came.  I am glad you
are so prompt, though."  Señora Valentino stood in the doorway.  Then
to Señora Calderon and her daughter, she said, "Friends, I made an
engagement to speak with the señor caballero this morning."

"Pardon, señora.  Pardon, señor," from the Calderons together.  "We
leave you."

"Well?" from Farquharson, when the others were gone.

"You have said it," Señora Valentino replied.  "It is well."

"Tell me about it."

"In the first place, the Friar Lusciano Osuna has decided for active
service."

"Good news, señora."

"The power of his words is overwhelming.  He will be most valuable in
winning Baja California to our cause.  He came to see that English rule
would be a fostering one to his Indian wards.  On no other ground would
he take part with us."

"But why do we need his work in Baja California more than in Alta
California?"

"Good señor, this part of the province has been carefully worked over,
and is responsive.  In comparison, the lower half has scarcely been
touched.  I have made some representations touching sentiment there
which may need bolstering."

"How?"

"Last night, at the baile, the young men, the most of them, were
rapturously in favor of the English protectorate."

Farquharson smiled.

"The elders ardently followed; that is, the majority.  A few
hard-headed ones were obdurate.  Mendoza, as I expected, was as set as
a sheet anchor."

"Yes, señora."

"The greater number had arrived at that acute moment of mental
tenseness when some outward act becomes a positive necessity.  The
dynamic, while thus agitating them, had set their consciousness in
direction of an English protectorate.  They became enthusiastic,
perfervid, deadly determined on that protectorate.

"Then Mendoza voiced his desire of further consideration.  So strongly
did his personality affect the company that they were wavering, though
still they shouted for England.  Mendoza's very will was swaying them.
The moment of our success was passing.  Once let it slip, and all the
king's horses could not bring it back to power again."

"Go on, señora."

"Then I used a letter which Señor Carillo recently sent me--not reading
it, but interpreting into its contents a meaning which might be fairly
given, though I think it overtranslated the writer's position.  The
smoldering enthusiasm of our señors blazed again.

"Still Mendoza held them.  I began to fear that nothing would come of
the meeting which had begun so auspiciously."

Farquharson was very intent.

"Perhaps you remember, Captain, reading in your school days from that
old Latin lesson book, 'Viri Romæ,' how the cackling of geese saved
Rome?"

"Assuredly," laughed Farquharson.

"Well, a game of cards saved us last night.  My brother-in-law had
suffered defeat at cribbage, and consequently was piqued.  I had, some
time ago, broached him on the subject of our work here, and he was not
favorable.  So I said nothing more to him.  My brother-in-law rates
most highly his proficiency at cribbage, and takes it very hard if
defeated.  The very-evident hold of Mendoza on the land barons seemed
to increase his ill-humor, and straightway he, acting-governor as he
is, declared for England."

"Extraordinary, señora!  Most extraordinary!"

"His words threw the Californians into a frenzy.  They cast aside all
restraint, and boldly declared for an English protectorate.

"Young Peralta, with the Señors Hernandez and Valencia, were appointed
a committee to meet the British representatives at Monterey, and to
arrange for the fleet to take possession of the capital.  I would
rather they had waited for this till we had brought Baja California to
the same conviction of mind that our friends reached last night at
Mendoza's; but I thought it wiser not to oppose.  'Better a bird in the
hand than two in the bush,' Captain."

"Yes, señora."

"Now, I'm sure Padre Osuna can sway our southern friends as he pleases,
but the friar must have time.  If this committee comes in communication
with our admiral now, and he takes over Monterey, Northern California
will applaud, but--Southern California may rise in rebellion."

"Yes, yes."

"Then, our admiral must not be found until we judge the time is ready.
Keep him away from Monterey until all sections will welcome his coming
to raise the British flag on Monterey castle."

"Of course our government expects us to do our part before summoning
Admiral Fairbanks to do his.  The Admiral will not appear officially
until that time."

"You have the idea, my Captain.  The committee goes to Monterey, when
it chooses; the fleet comes when we choose."

"Will Mendoza and the others like-minded make any counter move?  Could
you determine anything as to that?"

"No, nothing, possibly because they may have nothing in mind to do.  I
spoke both to Zelaya and to Higuera.  I think, Captain, they are an
army with guns spiked.  Yet, we must not relax until California becomes
British territory."

"You say truly, señora.  Admiral Fairbanks's fleet reached San Diego
last week.  Shortly he will anchor in the little bay north of Yerba
Buena, where Francis Drake is believed to have sojourned.  We will keep
in touch with Fairbanks, and his ships will take possession of this
province when the right moment comes; that is, when the people call
aloud for it."

"A wise captain!"

"Tell me, señora, what of Morando?  We have thought it well to bring
high office within his reach.  Now, what was his part in last night's
victory?"

"He favors retaining the old ideals which Spain presented to all the
New World provinces that she has settled."

"Yes, yes; let them be retained.  But the present and great question?
Did he stand by your side or Mendoza's?"

The lady bit her lip.  "His steps found middle ground."

"Zounds; lady!  Do you mean he is half-hearted?"

"I will tell you, señor.  He is a Spaniard who has left the mother
country for this wider field; nevertheless, he is a Spaniard, and he
can never become English."

"He is welcome to remain the Spaniard in sentiment.  Politically,
however, he can be English.  Is he different from the scores who last
night declared for England?"

She did not reply.

"Does he look for a government different from the one to which his
California brethren enthusiastically turn?"

Señora Valentino colored.  "Captain Morando last night promised me to
stand by Castilian manhood and womanhood.  Hand and glove he declared
it.  Further he did not go.  Try as I might he advanced nothing.  The
ruling thought of the hour passed him by."

"You astonish me."

"He is as deeply in love with Carmelita Mendoza as ever.  His feet
press after her everywhere."  The señora's own foot tapped the floor
impatiently.

"For this reason he favors Mendoza's reactionary tactics, you think?"

"I think his mind has never got very far beyond the fair Carmelita
herself."

"A young and handsome fellow, my señora, makes love as easily as he
talks.  About as easily is it accepted--and forgotten."

"I do not think Morando's attitude toward the Señorita Mendoza can thus
be described."

"Quite possibly, señora, quite possibly.  Now, we had determined--it
was your suggestion, by the way--to make this young man governor and
commander here when the time comes.  A splendid idea!  All California
will be proud of their handsome and brilliant leader.  Our English
colonists, when they arrive, will admire the soldier.  A future of
great usefulness and power awaits him.  Why not find occasion, as you
know him well, to tell him of these things, and make him one of us?"

"It is in vain."

"And why?"

"I did tell him.  We rode together from Mission San José to this place."

"What did he say?"

"He said he contemplates soon leaving California forever."

"Most unaccountable, señora, most unaccountable!  But--a man like
Morando does not cast aside such prospects of high honors and power
unless some strong counter attraction prompts him.  Well--if he leaves,
we must find someone to take his place."

Farquharson arose.  "I hope your hand will not trouble you seriously.
When do you return to Monterey?"

"I remain a day or two with the Calderons, then I go home."

"Allow me to congratulate you again on your success of last night.
Directly I see Fairbanks I will send or bring you word.  Good morning,
señora.  My best wishes to you."

The lady bade him farewell and watched him mount, the voluble Brown
declaring, "These roses have spread out two inches while you've been
gone, Cap'."

She waved another farewell, and turned again to the reception room.  "I
win provinces," she thought, "yet I am alone, alone.  People crowd
around me, yet am I lonely.  I envy the peona we met this morning.  I
envy her the brood of pocos niños, her absent husband, and, above all,
God of my soul! her contentment.  If the world were mine I would give
it for that!"

She went slowly to her room and closed the door, then turned to the
mirror.  It showed the faultless face and form of a beautiful woman.
"It is all to win provinces!--nothing but--provinces."

She remained long in thought.

"Nothing but provinces!"



CHAPTER XVI

THE SEÑORITA OF THE WINDOW PANE

The fog lifted from Monterey Bay, for a few fleeting moments hung in
aerial battlements over land and water, then dissolved in the alchemic
sun-rays.  The blue stretches of water laughed and sang on the beach.
Soft southern winds purred among the crags which edged the ocean,
rustled the tree branches, waved the flowers, rested on the tiled roofs
of the white city, and fanned the calm-souled populace.

Another day had begun in the capital.

It was some minor feast day.  The bells of the church on the town
outskirts rang their call to service.  A moment's silence.  In the
distance a clear note sounded, its limpid melody clinging in the air.
Another note, and yet another, and another, until the breath of the
countryside was resonant.  It was the chimes of San Carlos Carmelo, a
league away.

A young officer rode slowly along El Camino Real leading into Monterey
from the north.  A dozen or more mounted carbineers followed him.

Peon children stared curiously at the uniformed men, and whispered
among themselves of the great caballero whose scabbard clinked against
his silver-mounted stirrup with each forward movement of the horse.

"Whither bound, Señor Capitan Morando?" called a group of churchgoers.

"To the house of Colonel Barcelo."

"The Colonel and his señora are already in the church," some one said.

The Captain bowed and smiled, but continued his way.

He led his men to the square, then walked to the Barcelo mansion.

Benito, the porter, guarded the entrance.

"Have my unworthy eyes the honor of beholding Captain Morando, of San
José?"

"I am Captain Morando, and I wish to see Señora Valentino."

"I am honored to lead you within."  The man bowed low.  "The señora is
in the reception hall."

He conducted Morando to a large room opening directly on the courtyard.
Wide doors lying ajar invited the refreshing air to enter, as well the
morning sun.

"The Captain Morando," the porter announced.

"You are taking the sun, I see, señora."

"At my lazy ease, Captain.  Please be seated."

They chatted for a little on different topics, till she said:

"Captain Morando, I spoke to you, the morning after Mendoza's baile, of
the combined civil and military governorship of California when England
comes.  I sent for you to-day that I might talk this matter over
further with you."

"I am highly flattered to call on Señora Valentino.  A delightful
woodland ride is followed by this more than delightful meeting."  The
young man placed his hand on his breast and inclined gracefully to the
lady.  She acknowledged the compliment by a single movement of the head.

"You do not forget that you have come this morning along El Camino
Real--the King's Highway?"

"It is fit, truly, to be the highway of a king."

"Our Captain is appreciative.  No?"

"In the past months I have followed it from San Diego to Sonoma, and
have seen something of the magnificent framework of which this highway
is the vertebræ."

The lustrous brown eyes smiled at him.  "It has been traveled by
vice-regal governor and Mexican envoy.  This room received them.  On
that dais," pointing to a platform at the end of the apartment,
"obeisance has been paid from the noblest the land held."

"Ah! this, then, was the state reception room," looking about with
interest.

"Those straight-backed chairs along the wall held waiting grandees when
California belonged to Spain; and governors for this province were sent
from the homeland.  Privy councils were held here.  Agreements of state
were formulated and signed here.  Much of the history of California was
made in this place.  The house, from being the governmental palace,
passed, in Mexican times, to private ownership."

"O, I see, señora."

"Captain, the old days must have been glorious, but, after all, they
were but seeds of more significant times.  The new governor will have
vastly greater opportunity than the others ever dreamed of."

"I cannot doubt it, señora."

"Then, my Captain, be the first English governor in Monterey.  The
office will be yours for the taking."

"You speak to me, señora, of high office endowed with great power ready
to my hand.  Mindful as I am of your consideration, I could not, if I
would, accept a place for which I have had no training, and for which I
feel no aptitude."

"A modest captain!  Your words do you credit, my soldier.  But, you
have not yet looked on all sides of the question.  You would be the
front of the incoming administration.  Back of you would stand men who
have had experience in applied statecraft, but who lack the unusual
qualifications you possess successfully to represent English rule to
the residents of this province."

"Still, señora, I would be occupying a position in which I would be
entirely inexperienced."

"But think, Captain; consider.  With time comes the experience."

"Again I thank you, señora.  But, when I feel free to do so I shall
leave California and seek a career elsewhere."

"California needs you.  Castilian ideals and Castilian faith need you."

"I shall fail no duty, señora."

"But the governorship?" persistently.

"Señora, my friend, may I ask you to believe me when I say I could not
accept it."

"Well, Captain, the formal offer, nevertheless, will come to you in a
short time."

She touched a bell.  Her maid entered.

"Atila, please bring us coffee and some of those dulces for which
Alfonsa, the cook, is so famous."

The girl soon reappeared with a small table covered with a white cloth,
and on which was dainty china ready for the serving.  A pot of steaming
coffee and a plate of freshly made sweet cake were added.  A small vase
of purple violets furnished adornment.

Gentle breezes stole into the room, carrying with them the nestling of
the leaves in the patio and the perfume of the growing things.

"What a land of enchantment you have at your very side!" indicating the
out-of-doors.

"Sometimes I fancy this to be a wishing-chair," indicating the one on
which she was sitting.  "Then the patio becomes unique.  I often sit by
the hour, and frame around it pictures of life as I would like to live
it.  That space outside is transformed into a jungle, the birds, my
brothers and sisters, while the riotous colors embellish the leafy
homes of the little people.  Sweet woodsy odors refresh me, and I
repose in the shady recesses, my heart singing the songs of Utopialand."

"Most pleasing fancies, indeed, my señora."

"They are my refuge.  I lose myself in fancyland to crowd out other and
unhappy memories."  Her eyes grew troubled.  Her face lost its curves
of power.

"My dear Señora Valentino," began the soldier, his chivalry touched,
"your husband is gone from you, but----"

Her gesture stopped him.

"I anticipate your words, Captain.  It is not what I have lost that
makes me sad.  It is the absence of what forms the warp and woof of a
woman's life, the things I have never had."

"What they can be I do not know, señora.  I cannot imagine a life more
filled than yours, except for the loss of----"

Again her gesture left his sentence incomplete.

"Captain Morando, forgive me if I say such words mock me."

"Señora, the world is at your feet.  The bravest and the proudest court
your smiles.  At that ball in Madrid I saw our commander lead you to
the king, and together they bowed over your hand, while the multitude
applauded.  Can you not even now hear them?  'Viva!  Viva! the fairest
and gentlest in the kingdom!  Viva!  Señora Valentino!'"

"Not that, Captain; not that," deprecatingly.  "Praise from the lips
fills not the heart.  Five years ago a prima donna thrilled all Europe.
King and subject alike did her homage.  In Paris the noble were honored
by drawing her carriage to the opera house, having detached the horses.
Yet last year she died alone and heartbroken."

"But for you, my dear lady!"

"It almost overcomes me, Captain, when I look back over my life.  I
rarely have courage to do so."  She knit her brows.

"You know Señora Barcelo is my half sister only?" abruptly.

"No, I did not."

"My father was an elderly man when he married my mother.  His daughter,
now Señora Barcelo, was then nearly grown.  My mother died when I was
three years old, my father, a few months later.  I can scarcely
remember either.  My half sister married and went away.  I was placed
in the convent of Maria del Pilar, in Madrid."

"Maria del Pilar!"

She nodded.

"I was in the division of the convent assigned to the daughters of
hidalgo worth.  I was reared there, on the strictest monastic lines.  I
was naturally light-hearted.  Perhaps my grave teachers did not
understand me, for they fettered my spirit by restrictions most
onerous.  If they had only taken the little motherless child to their
arms and kissed away the loneliness!

"One day I was in punishment for some infraction of discipline.  The
penalty was to remain alone in the dormitory, on the topmost floor of
the building.  I heard martial music in the square before the convent.
I knew that the cadets of San Sebastian military school were drilling
there."

"Why, señora, I----"

She continued.  "The windows were stained except one pane, not a large
one, which had been broken and replaced by plain glass.  I climbed to
it--the pane was rather high--and witnessed the military maneuvers.  I
remember the captain of one company as well as if it were yesterday,
his youthful figure and trim uniform, his sword against his shoulder,
his intent face."

Morando was listening closely.

"Whenever I could I watched that cadet corps at its evolutions on the
plaza.  Often I stole away from study to the dormitory.

"One day the captain saw me.  He waved his sword.  I tapped the glass.
That formed a code of signals."

The soldier smiled.

"The years went on.  I saw my young captain become a colonel; saw his
smooth lip darken with mustachios.  His eyes and sword flashed at me
the first time he wore the colonel's chevrons.

"A firm hand on my shoulder startled me one day.  'Step down,
señorita,' came the voice of our prefectress of discipline.  'Now let
me see this great sight!'  My colonel was waving his sword toward the
window.  He turned away when the new face came in view, but not in time
to prevent the sister prefectress seeing the salutation.

"A council was called.  My teachers decided that a very grave breach of
discipline had been committed.  The prefectress, even with inspection
from a nearer window, could not designate the cadet who had waved his
sword.  'How long has this continued?' they demanded.  I told them.
They were greatly shocked.

"I was ordered to point out the military student who had been so
indiscreet as to carry on flirtation with a hidalgo's daughter in Pilar
Convent.  I refused to do so, nor could they overcome my will.  I
feared for him.  The mother superior vowed she would have him 'broken.'
She was the cardinal's sister, and all-powerful.

"My penalty soon came.  The head of my family, a cousin, was called.
He took as grave view of my conduct as had my teachers.  'A marriage
must be arranged for the imprudent girl at once.  A man of years and
firmness should be found.  This levity must yield to correction,' he
decided.

"Colonel Valentino had been a widower for several years.  He was my
cousin's intimate friend.  The wedding day was set before I even saw my
future husband.

"I objected to the marriage, but the Spanish conventions of our class
are as unyielding as stone.  What could I do, but finally consent?  At
seventeen I found myself married to a man old enough to be my father.
There was nothing in common between us.  He meant to be kind.  He was
just, as he was courageous and able.  I accompanied him on diplomatic
missions and learned much, but knew no happiness.  Then he went to
Morocco, and death.  I am here to work in a cause I believe to be
right, but----"

She bowed her head.  "If I gained the whole world for England, it would
not fill one empty cranny of my heart."

Morando did not know what to say in response.

"I have never known a father's care, nor a mother's love.  Add to this
unhappy childhood.  Add again a loveless and childless marriage, and
you have my life."

"My dear señora!  My dear señora!"  His words stopped.  He was standing
before the lady, who also arose, her eyes flashing, her tones vibrating.

"I was in Constantinople, Great Britain's agent, when the news came of
Colonel Valentino's death.  I started at once for Spain.  A storm raged
on the Sea of Marmora.  I took the wedding ring from my finger and
threw it into the foam.  The roar of the tempest and the shriek of the
cordage was the requiem of that marriage-symbol.  I wish I could bury
the past and its memories as deep as is buried that ring.  But memories
will not down," she went on passionately.  "Some unquiet spirit
possesses them.  They trouble my sleep at night; they walk with me in
the day.  And, O, my Captain, the future!"  She closed her eyes with a
little shudder, as if to blot out unpleasant sights.

"My dear lady, you forget what you are in the lives of others.  Even
that embryo soldier, the cadet of San Sebastian's, welcomed his
colonelcy the more because the girl-face in the little diamond pane
would brighten when she saw the uniform.  The inspiration to win honors
came in no small degree from that topmost spot of grim old Pilar
Convent."

He looked intently at her, his voice throbbing with emotion.

"My señora, have you known--did you know--do you not----" His voice
broke.

She said nothing, but her eyes searched his.

"O, señora--that night at the ball in Madrid--that night when you----"

"What, my Captain?"

His words came more steadily.

"When I saw you at General Guerrero's ball I was beset by voices from
the past calling to me, persistently calling.  I was introduced to you.
The voices called louder.  Still were they incoherent.  The evening
grew.  I danced with you.  I could not fathom the meaning of that call
which sounded with increasing insistency.  The days passed.  I
concluded that some wraith of dreams had hovered over me.  At the
merienda, when again introduced to you, I did not, for the moment,
recognize the Señora Valentino of that military ball.  You reminded me
of our previous meeting, which I immediately recalled, the difference
in your gown explaining my lack of recognition.  As I talked with you
the past spoke again to me, and in language I could not comprehend.

"O, señora, need I tell you that I was that cadet-lad who for three
years waved his sword in greeting to the girl at the window!  I have
never forgotten you."

"But when the face did not again appear at the window?"

"I saw the stern visage replace yours, and afterward there was a blank.
I had no way to reach you."

"Yes," calmly, "the incident was closed.  My betrothal was arranged,
and you started on your campaigns."

"I had no thought punishment would come to you."

"It came."

"My dear lady, I would have saved you at any cost had I known.  My
heart bleeds that I was in any way the cause of tragedy in your life."

"You are more than kind, Captain."

"I wish I could give back to you those lost years."

"Your wish is most generous, señor."

"Before an unwilling marriage should have been forced on you I would
have scaled those barbed walls to bear you away with me, after the
manner of the knights of old."

"But you did not know.  The walls were unsealed.  From the girls'
dormitory I went into life--and such a life it has been!  The
soldier-lad's life was different."

Her bosom was heaving, her breath coming in quick catches.  She
crumpled into a chair, and covered her face with her hands.

"O, señora, señora!" moving a step nearer.

A storm of sobbing was the only reply.

He knelt by her side.

"O, señora!  My dear señora!"

He put his hand on her shoulder.

"Look at me, my poor, crushed señorita of the window pane."

She let one hand drop to her side, the other reached to his.  The
velvet eyes brimming with tears looked piteously at him.

"I ask--I beg of you--O, señora----"

Somehow she came into his arms.

"Until to-day I never knew that you were the señorita of the window."

"You were the knight who went to the wars and left forlorn his lady."

A fresh sob convulsed her.  The compelling personality of the señora
was gone.  The imperious, beautiful woman was submerged in a being
clinging and tender.

The man made an effort to speak, but his tongue refused to obey.
Finally: "Señora, I too am desolate.  My sympathy for you is yet the
greater because my own heart has been bereft.  Señora----"

A heavy foot was on the vestibule floor.  Colonel Barcelo entered.

"Benito, the scoundrel, asleep in the sun!  Actually asleep!  A pretty
sentinel!  'Pon my soul!  I smell coffee.  I've had no breakfast and am
hungry as a wolf."

He pushed forward.

"Why, here's Morando!  Glad some one was here in my place to entertain
you.  My wife's sister hasn't felt herself since that confounded affair
over on the Mendoza grant.  He should be told of the birds of prey that
infest the place.  Time he should set those prize native riflemen of
his to killing off such pests.  Caramba! but that coffee smells good.
Is there any of it left?"

Señora Barcelo had followed her husband into the room.

"Crisostimo!  Why, you have not even said good morning to the Captain!
Of course breakfast will be ready for us at once."

"I hope so!  Hope so!  Morando, I heard this morning the most wonderful
sermon of my life.  Something I didn't expect to be able to say in this
town.  Padre Osuna, of Mission San José, preached.  'Suffer little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not,' was his text.  Applied
it to the Indians of the province, our duties to them, and all that.
I've never been so near heaven in my life as when he was speaking.
Looked at my watch when he began--force of habit, you know.  Looked
again when he finished.  'Twas just fifty-seven minutes.  I would have
sworn it wasn't ten.

"Come in!" he called, in response to an insistent knock at the door.

It was Benito.

"A messenger from Señor Berryessa is at the outer gate.  He seeks
Captain Morando.  Renegades last night attacked some outlying corrals,
killed and wounded a number of vaqueros, then set off by starlight
toward the eastern passes, taking many cattle and horses."

Morando hastened to the door.

"Pity you can't stay and have coffee with us," said Barcelo.

The Captain's spurs were already jingling on the pavement.  "Adios!" he
called back.

"A fine fellow, that!" the Colonel remarked.  "Sorry I was out when he
first came.  In the new order I'll have men enough to crush out the
renegades once for all.  The Captain won't be run so off his feet then."



CHAPTER XVII

O'DONNELL SETTLES WITH YOSCOLO

The luminous haze of late spring lay contentedly over the Mendoza
hacienda.  The noon hour had come with its somnolent warmth; and all
nature was dozing in the sun, except the bumblebee, victim of
omnipresent unrest, and the hummingbird, which always finds the day too
short for its multifarious duties.

The peon workman, in from the fields, was satisfying hunger in his
whitewashed cot; or, the meal over, was stretched on the earthen floor,
a kerchief over his face, enjoying the midday siesta.  The peona wife
stepped lightly around tidying the room, and then took place by her
husband's side, their children lying tumbled about.

Peace rested on the Indian adobe village which flanked the hacienda
house.  Inside the mansion itself there reigned the stillness of night.

A footstep descending stairs somewhere seemed unusually loud.  Finally
a door opened, making a grating, out-of-place sound.  Señor Mendoza's
erect form appeared on the west side of the courtyard.  He walked
leisurely toward an avenue shaded by the interlacing branches of
thick-leafed walnut trees.  A tiny brook fed by a spring in the middle
of the courtyard purled along by his feet.  A grateful coolness lifted
itself to greet him.  The odor of damp earth mingled pleasingly with
the scent of flowers; and from under the south wall of the inclosure
came the rhythm of a miniature waterfall as the brook lost itself on
the rocks many feet beneath.

The señor found that he was not alone in seeking the leafed coolness of
the walnut alameda.  The Doña Carmelita was standing at the end of the
walk listening, apparently, to the music of the water.  Her hair, free
save where a golden clasp held it at the neck, gave play, as it flowed
over her back, to the beginning breezes from the western sea.  The
profile of her face was thoughtful.  Delicate lines traced the
exquisite fullness of a form straight and slender.

"My daughter is a beautiful woman!" he half ejaculated.

Many thoughts ran through his mind in panoramic vision.  He recalled
the long gallery in his father's castle where had hung the pictured
forbears of the de la Mendoza.  Generations were there.  Their
characteristic form and features had descended to Carmelita.  No
government rule could prevent that, though it might vent titles and
confiscate lands.

"My daughter a woman!  A beautiful woman!"  The thought half startled
him.

The girl turned and walked toward him.

"Little papa!  Little papa mine! are you taking the siesta on your
feet?"

Carmelita's slender hands were on his broad shoulders, and she was
endeavoring to shake him.  Her merry laugh pealed through the avenue.

"I smiled at you, and smiled at you, and blew kisses at you, while you
looked at me as if I were a thousand leagues away, and you deigned
never the least recognition," standing on tiptoe and kissing him.

"I was living again the years of very long ago."

"Tell me about it, little papa."

She took his arm, and together they walked along the avenue.

"Tell me about it, papacito," she repeated.

"Why are you not at the siesta?" disregarding her question.

She looked up at him demurely.

"I did not care to sleep.  Besides," jestingly, "we must accustom
ourselves to the ways of the Americano who will soon come here.  You
remember I have spoken to you of Señor Brown, the man who was so
thoughtful in the cave the night of the storm?"

He pressed her arm tenderly in reply.

"I saw him lately in San José.  He told me, among other things, that
Americanos never sleep in the day, and sparingly at night; indeed,
often with one eye open."  She laughed.  Her father joined.

"The Americanos are coming, you say?"

The girl stepped in front of him, placed her hands against his breast
and looked into his face.

"Papacito mio, since the baile you have slept not one night at home,
but in the morning returning with the travel-stains of much riding.
Messengers are coming and going between you and the bearded stranger
after whom Benito rode away so furiously in that early morning.  I know
my little father too well to think he will allow Señora Valencia and
Hernandez and the others to have their way so easily about England
coming here.  Yes, the Americanos are coming, because you have willed
to have them come.  Papacito, I feel it."

"My child, England, the greatest power the world knows, does not rely
so much on Valencia and Hernandez, nor yet the others, as on the wit of
a very clever woman, seconded by Captain Farquharson, principal of your
good friend, Brown."

The doña's arms fell to her side.  They resumed their walk.

"Captain Farquharson also was very kind the night of the storm."

"I do not forget that, little one.  When Padre Osuna came to me, the
evening of the baile, with word that the Englishman was in straits, I
intended to help Farquharson, even by placing myself under obligation
to O'Donnell, which I would have disliked very much, at that time."

"Why, papacito, did Padre Osuna come to you?"

The señor smiled.  "Señora Valentino."

The girl's eyes once more bent in thought.  "Why?"

"Again the night in the cave," he laughed.  "I am indebted to the
padre, and could not have refused his request to help the English
captain, of which the señora was well aware.  Immediately I divined
O'Donnell to be the real cause of Farquharson's predicament, and I knew
that he would gladly grant me the request, did I make it, to free the
captive.  The lady's mind ran the gamut of the cause and effect."

"It is like an endless puzzle, my papa."

"Which the Captain solved of his own accord by taking himself out of
his plight, aided by Brown."

They walked a little while in silence.  Filipo, the porter, looked in
surprise at them from his high seat in the lodge.  Usually he was the
only person awake on the hacienda at this hour.  His little beady eyes
followed them up and down, up and down the avenue.

"My daughter," the father finally said, "we have in California, in a
small way, an example of the game of statecraft.  Europe plays on a
larger scale, but it is the same.  There, as here, the charm and brain
of woman supply the leverage for overturning states."

"I would not have thought Señora Valentino gifted in that way."

"Six months ago the señora and Farquharson were in Mexico City.  Don
Juan Domingo told me of them.  O'Donnell also was there, but under an
assumed name.  I too was there, though I saw none of the three.  The
lady's fame had followed her to the capital.  Her hand has in no way
lost its cunning here.  The older men--well, we know how they accepted
her wishes a few nights ago; and the young men are at her feet.  No
wonder."

Carmelita said nothing.

"Señora Valentino has won the padre to her side; has influenced the
well-poised Carillo, of the South, and many others there.  She has, in
the North, toyed with men's intelligence whose balance I had never
before doubted."

The girl's eyes were straight ahead.  The father and daughter went for
a few moments without speaking.

The señor broke the quiet.  "Little one, if by any chance future years
shall see misfortune here, provision has been made for thee across the
seas.  The proceeds of the lower hacienda, thy mother's, had she lived,
have been placed for thee in London's Bank of England.  Friends thou
wilt find in England.  Their names are written in my will.  Thou canst
find protection there always, should it ever fail thee here."

"California has been thy home, my father, and it shall always be mine."

"A brave daughter and a loving one."

It was some time before further conversation.

"Thou art a woman grown.  Though I married late in life, yet may I
still live to see thee on a husband's arm."

She looked archly at him.  "There is Don Abelardo.  You know friends
have said that his father and mine arranged for a match."

"Yes; but it is not true.  You are to have the making of your own life."

"Papacito, my dueña says that more and more are people speaking of this
purported engagement.  I know, of course, how the story began with the
peons present when Abelardo's father passed away in your arms; but, why
should such sudden interest arise now?"

"The peons understood little of Señor Peralta's words, and spoke much,
as Indians often do.  His utterance touched the friendship of his
family and mine, nothing more.  Peralta would never have dreamed of
betrothing our children without their wish and consent; nor I of
entering such a compact, though such has been the custom in Spain--a
custom truly more honored in the breach than the observance."

"But, papa, I don't want this idea that Abelardo and I are engaged to
be married to get so widely about.  What can we do?"

"Do nothing, my girl, do nothing.  Attention paid to such things only
nourishes their growth.  What does it amount to, anyway?"

Filipo came over to them.

"Captain Morando, and many with him, are dropping down the steep hills,
and are coming in this direction.  The field glass shows them plainly."

Mendoza and his daughter walked toward the gate.

"Morando is one of the few who have not been influenced by Señora
Valentino.  He has maintained clear head and uncompromised tongue.
Sword and glove he has declared himself for Castilian manhood and
womanhood.  I would be willing, as, indeed, should everyone, to clasp
hands with the señora on that declaration; as did the Captain in the
supper-room the night of the baile.  I wish all my friends had held
their wits against this agent of Great Britain as firmly as he."

The señorita paled, then flushed.

"Pity that Morando thinks of leaving California.  I have it not
directly from him, but O'Donnell heard him say that he intends to seek
new fields as soon as he can," continued the señor.

Morando and his soldiers rode to the gate and saluted the Mendozas.

"I have several men who are rather severely wounded.  May I leave them
here in your care while we push on farther?"

"Certainly, my friend, certainly.  But, Morando, you are tired, I know;
so are your men.  Alight, every one of you, for rest and refreshment.
Filipo, call the servants from the siesta."

The loud blast of Filipo's bugle brought life into the hacienda house
and around it.

"Muchas gracias, señor.  I cannot remain.  We have been engaging
Yoscolo since yester noon.  This morning a large number of the
renegades came to the front and fought vigorously for a time.  Then
they scattered.  Some of the prisoners have told us that, during the
fight, Yoscolo and a picked body of his men doubled around us,
intending to cut across the valley, and make the Santa Cruz mountains
at La Cuesta de los Gatos.  We must hurry in pursuit."

"Yoscolo, is it?  Caramba!" from Mendoza.  "In an hour O'Donnell comes
here.  I'll guarantee he will be glad to ride with you after Yoscolo."

"I should be glad of his services, but----"

"But, wait, Captain.  O'Donnell will pick up the rascal's trail as no
other man can.  Before night he will be riding in his heels.  Come,
Morando, dismount.  Let your men take the horses to the stables."

"I know of O'Donnell's value in such contests as this; but the trail
will be an hour colder."

"Not so, Captain.  The Indian will leave false tracks in abundance.
The Americano frontiersman's eyes will not be deceived.  Better wait,
my friend."

Morando finally consented.  The wounded men were cared for, and the
weary men and horses were refreshed.

Before the hour was up the soldiers and their mounts were outside the
courtyard gate, ready for the order to advance.

Mendoza went to the tower searching the horizon with a field glass.
The Captain stood across the courtyard waiting word from his host that
O'Donnell had come into sight.

Carmelita came out of a low door deeply let into the side of the left
wing of the house.  The hospital department of the hacienda was there.
The girl was carrying a flat vessel containing lint and bandages.

"Your wounded are as comfortable as possible, Señor Captain," she said,
as she passed Morando.

"I thank you and Señor Mendoza for it."

"Ah!  Papacito is looking toward us and holding up his hand to catch
our attention."

"O'Donnell is in sight a league away," Mendoza's voice came clearly to
them.

"Gracias, Señor Mendoza," the soldier called in return.

The señor left the tower and walked along the roof to an outside
staircase.

The girl held up the lint and bandages.  "The peona nurses and I
prepared these for people injured on the rancho.  I rejoice that we had
them ready for to-day."

"Fortune favored us in being within such easy reach of your
ministrations, señorita doña.  One or two of the men could not have
gone much farther.  I shall not forget your kindness."

"Not kindness, Señor Capitan!  A privilege and a duty!  We are here in
our stronghold, while you are bearing the heat and the burden of the
day.  Our fruitful valleys smile the more happily because of your
protection."

"Your words are encouraging, señorita."

"I want to be more than encouraging.  I mean to be appreciative.  I
wish I knew how to say more."

"The señorita is good to the soldier.  In the name of my comrades, I
thank you."

Her face flushed.

"Captain, will you not be seated?  The shade of that fig-tree invites
you.  The afternoon may make much call on your strength."

She took seat on a rustic chair and motioned him to a bench in front of
her fashioned around the tree-trunk.

"I am glad O'Donnell will assist in this work.  He is a man who makes
sure of his position before pushing ahead," spoke Morando.

"Is the good Señor Americano, then, so infallible?"

"Quite so.  Still, to err is human."

"But to forgive, divine, Señor Captain."

"Señorita Doña," hesitatingly, "perhaps there are things humans can
hardly be expected to forgive."

Again her face flushed, and she bit her lip.

"Yes--and even if done under misapprehension."  Her eyes looked
straight at him.

"Of course the offense remains despite the misapprehension--of course
it remains," from Morando.  His eyes sought the ground.

Neither spoke for a moment.  Peons were running hither and thither.
Señor Mendoza had descended from the roof and was sauntering toward
them.  Filipo's field glass pointed along the road leading up to the
gate.

"Señorita Carmelita, we can at least be friends.  Is it not so?"

Mendoza was at their side.  "Captain, when did you first find out about
this raid?"

"Yesterday morning.  I had ridden to Monterey, to call on Señora
Valentino where the messenger came.  I had some men with me.  The
others came up at the Berryessa rancho."

"Yes, Filipo, I'm coming," in response to a signal from the porter.

Mendoza walked briskly toward the gate.

"Friends!"  Carmelita arose, her eyes flashing.

Morando also arose.  "I do not consider my friendship of light value,
Señorita Doña Mendoza."

"I do not share your high opinion of that friendship, Captain Morando."

The loud challenge of O'Donnell's horse was heard.

"Morando!  Morando!" Señor Mendoza called.

"Coming immediately, señor.  Good afternoon, señorita doña."  The
Captain hastened to the courtyard gate.

The señorita went up to her room, a storm raging in her heart.

"If Captain Morando dares mention the name of Señora Valentino in my
presence again, I'll forbid him ever to speak to me."  She clenched her
hands.

The sound of many moving horses under her window called her thoughts.

The soldiers were setting out.  Tomaso and a hundred of Mendoza's
fighting peons were with them.  Morando and O'Donnell rode together, in
earnest conversation.

"The place to find the scamp is always where you would least likely
think him to be," O'Donnell observed.

Yoscolo's trail was found at the Berryessa rancho, where he had been
the morning of the previous day.  The Indian had waited some time to
obtain powder from a cache in the hills, then started across the
valley, secure in the thought that Morando and his men were miles away
in the mountains.

About the middle of the afternoon he was overtaken at La Cuesta de los
Gatos, ten miles south of San José.

At sight of the pursuers Yoscolo intrenched himself in a rocky cañon,
which, he believed, could not be approached by flank movements, while a
successful frontal attack seemed impossible.  Here he waited, intending
to slip away at night.

O'Donnell, on the stallion, followed by Tomaso and his peons, scaled
the rocky edge of a precipice, and suddenly appeared on a ledge thirty
feet above the renegades.

"El Diablo!  El Diablo!" they shouted.

A number of shots were fired at O'Donnell.  He swung under the horse's
body, and the shots went wild.

The stallion braced its feet and slid down the cliff followed by the
others.

A terrible hand-to-hand conflict was waged.  Fortune would favor one
side, then the other.  Finally, the two leaders came together in the
middle of the little valley at the head of the cañon.  The giant made
thrust after thrust of his lance at the Indian, who parried
successfully, pressing his opponent hotly in return.

The stallion's part in the combat was no small one.  He whirled his
master out of harm's way, or pushed into the fight, at a simple turn of
the rein.

Yoscolo's horse stumbled.  The stallion sounded its scream, and rushed
against the other mount, throwing it from its feet.

The Indian sprang free from his falling horse, and, grasping
O'Donnell's stirrup-strap, vaulted to the back of Drumlummon.  His face
snarled furiously as he struck his knife at O'Donnell.  Before the blow
could fall a backward thrust of O'Donnell's lance ended the outlaw's
life.

Morando's command attacked the renegades' front.  The deep-shadowed
cañon rang with carbine volleys, the screaming of horses and the shouts
of men.

The Indians were dismayed at the leader's fall, but Stanislaus took
charge, and urged on the fight.  Nightfall, however, saw the complete
defeat of the robber band.  Stanislaus was captured.

"I've settled with Yoscolo.  Now I'll ride to Mission San José and
finish my call on Mendoza," was O'Donnell's laconic remark.



CHAPTER XVIII

FARQUHARSON MEETS WITH A LOSS

"The Cap'n wants me to give this 'ere paper to the padre and nobody
else.  Consequently, nobody else gets it."

"No sabe, señor."

Brown was standing outside the gate of Mission San José.  The porter's
face was wrinkled into lines of firmness.  The caller had asked for
Padre Osuna and had held up a sealed envelope on which was written the
friar's name.  The man in the lodge had asked for the communication,
first in Spanish, then in the world-known sign language.  Brown
understood the signs, but was determined to place the letter in the
addressee's hands himself.

"No such trouble go get to see the minister in my country," Brown
commented.

"No sabe, señor," again from the porter.

"You don't understand much, pore critter," said Brown, unwittingly
using the meaning of the other's words.  "Well from them to whom little
is given little is to be expected; so, go to the deuce till I can find
a way to beat something into your thick head."

Brown's words were unintelligible, but his contemptuous manner spoke
plainly enough to the Indian, who broke into a volley of indignant
Spanish.

The American slipped the bridle reins over his horse's head and led the
animal across the street to the Mendoza hacienda house.

Señor Mendoza had just returned from riding.  A half score of mounted
Indian riflemen were a short distance back of him.  The Administrator
nimbly sprang from his horse and awaited the newcomer.  Several of the
peons unslung their carbines from their shoulders, but replaced them at
a motion from the señor's hand.

"Can you talk American?" was Brown's characteristic question.

Genuine amusement was in Mendoza's laugh.  "I am not sure.  I can
understand you, however.  I'm sure of that."

Brown looked at the tall, gray man.  "I reck'n you're the little girl's
pop," he observed.  "She favors you mightily in every way, 'cept in
size and age.  Met her again the other day in San José.  We was tickled
to death to see one another."

"So you are Brown..  I am very glad to meet you.  Allow me to thank you
for your generous kindness to my daughter and the lady with her that
night in the cave."

Mendoza advanced, his hand extended in hearty greeting.  The American
took the proffered hand with a viselike grip.

"You bet I'm Brown--Simon James Brown.  Saint Louis, Missouri, is my
post office address.  I'm proud to know ye, sir."

The señor recovered his hand from Brown after it had been given a
series of pump-handle shakes.

"What me and the Cap'n did for your folks the night of the freshet gave
us as much pleasure as it did them," Brown continued in a mincing way,
as if the occasion demanded some special effort from him.

"I regret that I did not have opportunity that night to thank you and
your captain."

Brown wagged his head in a friendly way.  "Curious feller is the Cap'n.
Mind, he's a decent chap to work for and all that.  I like him better
all the time; but his ways are past finding out, you bet."

Mendoza bowed courteously to the stranger and smiled obligingly.  "What
you see before you, Señor Brown, is yours.  Will you not enter?"  He
waved his hands over grounds and house.

Brown looked dubiously at the other.  The señor's suave dignity forbade
the thought that he was joking.

"I declare, I never had so much property before in my life.  Does the
deed go with it?"

Mendoza smiled and repeated his gestures.

"I don't reck'n I'll go in just now," he said dryly.  "You see, I'm
workin' and my time isn't my own.  I'm lookin' for the minister of that
there church," pointing to the Mission over the way.  "I can't make the
feller in the box catch my meanin'."

"Ah!  You wish to see Padre Osuna?"

"That's the name written here," producing the envelope.

"Very well, my friend.  Come with me.  I'll speak to the porter for
you."

"Señor Brown, shall I accompany you across the way?"

"I'll be much obleeged."

"Filipo!" called Mendoza.

Filipo understood.  He came out the gate, took the horse's bridle from
Brown, then clapped his hands together sharply.  A peon boy came
running.  The porter gave quick command in Spanish.  The boy sprang
into the saddle and galloped after the riflemen.

"I--see here--" ejaculated the astonished Missourian.  "Why, I have to
ride that nag to Monterey to-night!" alarm beginning to show in his
face.

"The horse will be fed and cared for, Señor Brown," assured Mendoza.

"I'll see that you have a mount to Monterey."  Then quickly: "You rode
through the lower Santa Clara from Monterey to-day?"

"Sure, I did."

"Saw no signs of renegades?"

"Nary sign.  Haven't seen a renegade since I swatted a bunch over last
week."

The two went in the direction of the Mission lodge.  Noting the erect
figure and decisive step of the Californian, Brown squared his heavy
shoulders and endeavored to walk in dignified fashion.

Mendoza said a few words to the lodge keeper.  The gate opened
noiselessly.

"Brown, you are to enter.  When your business is over, come to my
house.  Do not start for Monterey until I see you again.  Will you
promise, my friend?"  The señor held out his hand.

"All right.  I don't know where my horse is anyhow.  Besides, I'd enjoy
to come in and set a spell."  He administered several hearty handshakes.

Mendoza turned and walked toward his own gate.

"I declare," Brown soliloquized, "in my country that 'seenyore' there
would have come right into the preacher's setting room and stayed
around a while."

The porter, by crooking his finger, indicated that Brown was to follow
him.

"All right," assented Brown.  "I'll follow where you can lead anyway."

The Indian took him within the quadrangle.  The busy life he saw
attracted his attention.

"A lot of you folks do seem to be working at something or other," he
remarked to the porter.

"No sabe, señor," was the answer.

"Seems to me I heard you say something like that before."

They came to the friar's apartments.  Juan Antonio met them.

"Be you the Reverend?" asked Brown.

"No sabe, señor," from the old major-domo.

"That there 'pears to be a common remark," commented Brown.

Juan Antonio signaled Brown to come with him.

"All right, 'seenyore,' I'm coming.  'Pears to me this might be a
likely place for a deaf-and-dumb man."

He was ushered into a small room well lighted by the afternoon sun.
The padre arose to meet him.

"You wish to see me, brother?" he asked.

Brown dropped his sombrero on the floor and made the lowest bow of his
life.  "I have a letter for you, Reverend."

"A chair, my brother.  Ah!  I recognize the handwriting," taking the
letter.  "Kindly excuse me while I read it."

"I shall return an oral reply to Captain Farquharson.  Say to him,
'Yes, I will see him.'"

"I'll do it."

The friar seated himself.  "I see you are not an Englishman, my friend."

"No, indeed, I'm American, lock, stock, and barrel."

"I thought as much from your accent."

"My accent!"

"Yes.  Your manner of speaking English is quite different from that to
which I have been accustomed."

"I speak good old United States," Brown said, warmly.

Padre Osuna laughed.  "I have met occasionally sea-faring men here and
trappers of your nationality."

"I reckon they do slop over into this country.  I wish more of them
would come.  But we are a long way off when we are at home."

"Did you come here as a trapper or as a sailor?"

"Nary trapper; nary sailor.  I'm here on the proposition of big game
huntin'."

The padre made no reply, but looked intently at his visitor.

Brown now felt that some remarks on matters religious were due from him.

"I haven't been to church none in California because I'm entirely
ignorant of the prevailin' tongue," he started in abruptly.  "It's no
use to set under preachin' if you don't understand the preacher."

The padre laughed.  "Certainly both preacher and congregation would be
at a disadvantage in such case."

"I've seen men around Monterey and elsewhere dressed in the same way
you are, but I haven't spoke to them, bein' uncertain of their
knowledge of my talk."

"I fear that not one of my brethren could understand you."

"So I reckoned.  Now, I'm not a religious professor at this time,
though I'd delight to set under good preachin'.  I and all my folks are
hard-shelled Baptists."

"Indeed."

"Yes.  But bein' mate on a Mississippi freight boat and handlin' nigger
deck hands begets an unregenerate spirit."

"You found it so?"

"I did.  That was one of the reasons why I left steam-boatin'.
Diversion and love of adventure were the others."

"You say you came here on the proposition of big game hunting.  You
have, then, given up your project for the time being to take service
with Captain Farquharson?"

"O, no, Reverend.  The Cap'n is here on the same proposition.  When I
first met him he was plum daffy on big game.  The big game he wanted
resided only in California.  Now, being a man of the world, I'd mixed a
good deal with the huntin' of bear, et cetery.  I reckoned I could do
huntin' in a plain way on the Pacific Coast, so I became first mate in
the Cap'n's outfit, and here I be."

The friar looked searchingly at Brown.  "Your outfit is doubtless
richer by many peltries at this time."

Brown laughed and slapped his thigh.  At the same time a shrewd twinkle
came into his eyes.  "Most curious thing in nature!  The minute the
Cap'n comes where big game abounds he loses int'rest in said game
complete."

"Indeed."

"Certain and sure.  Never saw anything like it."

"How do you account for it?"

"The Cap'n's got cards up his sleeve.  Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'm
right; but, anyway, it's got something to do with these Injun folks
hereabouts."

Padre Osuna was all attention.  "Why do you think so?"

"Well, Reverend, it's the result of my observin's."

"Yes?"

"Yes, sir.  Cap'n thinks this country should be cultivated.  Talks free
on this point.  Naturally, Injuns will do the harvestin'.  Naturally,
again, the Cap'n will get his share of the harvest."

Father Osuna looked steadily at Brown.  "You think Captain Farquharson
would burden our Indians still further?  Have they not been already
plundered and cast out?  Captain Farquharson's--our government could
not contemplate making their peonage more complete.  It is impossible."

Brown, slowly moving from side to side in his chair, eyed the padre.
"Reckon 'twon't hurt 'em to work a sight more than they do.  Our
niggers in the South hustle and it does 'em good, besides creatin'
wealth."

The friar paced nervously up and down the little room.  "My poor
children have been deprived of their own; the labor of their hands is
being exploited; the welfare of their souls is forgotten.  Am I helping
to forge their fetters stronger?  God forbid."

Brown arose and picked up his hat from the floor.  "O, the Cap'n's a
pretty good fellow, but smart, you see!  He won't treat these 'ere
natives worse than the next one."

The friar did not heed him.  "This province goes to England, doubtless.
If my little ones are oppressed, I'll appear before the queen and
demand their rights.  I'll claim my privilege of speaking in the House
of Commons.  The plagues of Egypt will fall on a land which permits
such infamy."

"Excuse me, Reverend, I'll be going."

"O, good-day, my friend.  Remember, 'Yes.'  Shall I write it, or will
you remember it?"

"I can recollect it all right.  Good-day, Reverend."

Brown made his way toward the lodge.  "Well, this 'ere does beat all
Harry."  He paused and looked around the courtyard.  "Well, this 'ere
does beat all Harry!  England, hey?  Well, by gosh!  Not much!  Big
game!  Big game!  I attend my own business pretty much, but here is the
time for bein' nosy."

The porter opened the gate for him to pass out.

"I'm going' to see the 'seenyore' across the way, then I start for an
interview with the Cap'n," spoke Brown to himself.

Filipo admitted him at the Mendoza gate and brought him to the
Administrator.

"Ah!  Señor Brown, a moment's chat with you."

"I'd rather talk than eat."

"You shall do both."

A peon brought in refreshments.

"My good Brown, it is wiser that you stay here to-night."

"Simply can't do it.  One reason is, the Cap'n's business.  The other
is, my own business."

"At any rate, partake of the food and wine.  You can the better go on
your journey."

Brown did as invited.  After a moment he said: "Aren't some folks doin'
more or less pull-hauling toward makin' California English territory?"

"It is true.  Haven't you known it for some time?"

"Well, I should say not!" contemptuously.

"Your preferences are not English?"

"My family," emphatically, "has spilled too much blood fighting 'em,
for that.  Not," apologetically, "but what some pretty good Britishers
exist; but if anybody gets this country, it's Uncle Sam."

"Have you spoken in this way to the Captain?"

"Haven't got round to it yet.  You bet I do before this time to-morrow.
Then I strike the long trail back to old Missouri, either on ship or on
shank's mare."

"If you leave your present employment at any time, I wish you would
apply to me before going farther.  Well, here comes my daughter."

Carmelita greeted the American cordially.  "I am delighted to see you
in my father's house."

"I reckon it's a good place to be in.  Wish I could stay longer, but
I'm anxious to get to Monterey."

He was obdurate to Mendoza's urging him to remain as his guest till
more could be learned as to the renegades.

"I can travel by night along a trail I know.  They won't see I'm not
one of themselves.  All men look alike in the dark."

Mendoza, greatly reluctant, allowed Brown to be off.  He sent a strong
guard of fighting peons with him.

"Reckon it's the proper caper to travel in style now I'm a landed
proprietor.  Gosh!  Wouldn't my dad be proud to see me now!"

"When you come to this house you come to your own," the host had
insisted at parting.

"Mr. Mendoza is a tolerable generous old gent," Brown remarked to the
leader of peons who rode by his side.

"No sabe, señor."

"Well, your ignorance is thick enough to be cut with a knife.  Hey?"

"No sabe, señor."

"Well," resignedly, "that is about all I've been able to get out of men
like you for months."

They were presently in San José.  The pueblo was in an almost
hysterical state.  Morando had drawn with him nearly all the men
capable of bearing arms.  Rumors were flying about that the Spanish
force had been cut to pieces and that Yoscolo was about to descend on
the country.

Brown did not understand a word of what was being said.  He insisted on
starting for Monterey.  The peon leader ordered his men to detain him
by force.

"Gosh darn yer!  Gosh darn yer!" the American shouted.  "Leggo my
horse!  Leggo my horse, I say!"

He loosed both feet from the stirrups and kicked lustily.  The natives
grasped his legs and hung on like pendant weights despite the rear of
the mount.  He cut about him with his riding-whip.  The peons literally
swarmed over him, pinioning his arms from front and behind, meanwhile
shouting objections, curses, explanations in mingled Spanish and Indian.

"Shut off your gibberish!  Shut off your gibberish, I say!  I've got to
light out o' here.  Get off my back!  I've got to get the Cap'n," Brown
yelled.

"I'm here, Brown."

Farquharson had ridden up unobserved.

"I heard things were stirring around here and I came to find out about
it," he continued.  "I knew I should meet you on the way."

The peons released Brown at a word from the Englishman.

"These men were saying you must stay here and help defend the women and
children."

"Cap', I'm mighty glad to see you.  Well, what about the women and
children?"

"It will not be necessary.  Yoscolo has been bested.  The fight is
over, and the wounded are already nearing the outskirts of the pueblo
here."

"All well and good.  Now, Cap', the padre's word to you is 'Yes.'"

"I understand, Brown."

"Now I have a word."

"Very well."

Brown dismounted and came close to Farquharson.  "Are you aimin' to
turn California over to the British?"

The Captain smiled broadly.  "Now, see here, Brown, we've got along
famously for months.  You haven't asked questions and haven't suffered
any loss by not doing so.  Now let things run along the same old way.
You've been useful to me.  I'll see you get a great deal more than the
money I've paid you month by month."

"Cap', you can explain away things about the best of any man I ever
saw; but this here is principle with me.  There isn't any explaining it
away.  As I said, I don't care a durn for this country.  It's too fur
out.  But if I help anybody get it, that anybody is Uncle Sam."

"Now, Brown, that's sentiment.  Your Uncle Sam doesn't want the
country.  If he does, why hasn't he made it his own long ago?  The
truth is, the United States already has more territory than it knows
what to do with.  England can use California to splendid advantage.
The people here are crying for her to come.  Brown, her coming is
inevitable."

"Perhaps so.  Just the same, I don't put my shoulder to her wheel and
push her in here.  No, sir!"

Farquharson placed his hand on Brown's arm.  "See here, my friend, I
don't forget you risked your life for me that afternoon in Monterey."

"That's all right, Cap'.  I'll remark here, there's nothing personal to
you in my present position."

"Well, stay with me.  Ask no questions, and I'll see you have a grant
of land here twenty times the size of your average Missouri farm."

"Not if I'm to help you or anyone to make this place over to England.
Whatever I've done in that way previous was without my knowledge."

"Brown, we shall leave our hill-camp immediately and live in Monterey.
You will have nothing to do but carry messages for me.  Stay on, now,
like a good fellow, and in a half dozen years you can visit your old
Missouri home as a rich man."

"No use, Cap'.  I've never been so sorry to quit a man, but I have to
go."

"Well, Brown, if being a landed proprietor doesn't appeal to you, why
not stay on the basis of the friendship that has grown between us?"'

"I'm your friend all right, Cap', but I can't do a thing that would
make my old pop back in Missouri ashamed of me.  Don't ask that."

O'Donnell appeared from somewhere.  Powder-stains streaked his hair,
face, and beard.  His clothing was cut and torn, but his step was
steady and firm.  His eyes looked straight into Farquharson's.  The
Englishman returned him look for look.

"Brown, you know where to find me."  The Captain held out his hand.

Brown shook it warmly.  "Good-by, Cap'."

Farquharson mounted his horse and moved slowly away.  O'Donnell and
Brown were left alone.

"You and your 'Cap'n' have been having words?" O'Donnell asked.

"Sounded like it, did it?"

"I presume you do not know he is in the province for political reasons?"

"If I was of an inquiring turn of mind, I'd ask what business it is of
yours whether I do or not."

O'Donnell laughed.  "No business at all, friend Brown--no business at
all.  I happen to be a lover of the Stars and Stripes; consequently, no
friend of Captain Farquharson's political intrigues here.  Do you
understand?"

"More or less.  It's the Stars and Stripes for me too, every time!"

"You are a likely-looking man.  Since you have left Farquharson I'll
offer you place with me.  You will find it active, full of excitement,
and with pay not small."

"Thank you, Mr. Irishman, but I don't intend to work any more for
strangers.  It's like buying a pig in a sack.  'Seenyore' Mendoza
offered me two things this afternoon, one was his house and farm,
t'other was a job.  I'll think I'll take the job.  Otherwise, it's me
for old Missouri."

O'Donnell again laughed.  "Very well, then, take service with Señor
Mendoza.  I'll ride to Mission San José later in the evening, and I
intend to call on Mendoza myself.  Would be glad of your company, if
you'll come along with me."

The wounded began to come in on improvised litters.  O'Donnell and
Brown gave their assistance toward bringing them into comfortable
quarters.  Many of the men did not return from the field of La Cuesta
de los Gatos.  There was lamentation in hacienda house and in peon cot
that night in the valley of Santa Clara.

"There's nothing more for us to do here, Brown.  Are you ready to start
for Mendoza's?"  It was midnight and the wounded had been cared for.

"All right.  I'll go with you."

They set out, the fighting peons following, their ranks sadly decimated
by the afternoon fight.

"Blamed sorry to leave the Cap'n," Brown volunteered.  "He's a decent
chap, and smart--well, about the best educated man I ever saw--and
spunky--I'll never forget how he half raised up from that stair-landing
in Monterey, like a shot weasel standing off a pack of dogs.  Fire was
just spitting from his eyes--just spitting!"

"But his politics," O'Donnell interpolated.

"His politics ain't mine," Brown sighed.

They rode on in silence.



CHAPTER XIX

  SEÑORA VALENTINO AND CAPTAIN MORANDO
  CONTINUE CONVERSATION

"Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.  I
greet you, Captain Morando."

Morando bowed.

"A chair, Captain.  My good brother-in-law the Colonel Barcelo awakes
soon, I'm sure."

"If you do not mind, Señora Valentino, let us walk up and down this
wide veranda.  I think you were doing so a moment ago."

"Quite right, Señor Captain."

The señora and the soldier were on a long balcony in the second story
of the Barcelo mansion.  It ran along the street side of the house and
across one end.  The cool wind from the Monterey Bay crept along the
street, mounted to the porch, and breathed gently there.  The leaves
crinkled under the chill and the flower petals shrank within themselves.

"Benito had strict orders to keep awake and bring you here the moment
you arrived, Captain."

"The watchful sentinel was indeed awake and lost no time in showing me
here, señora."

"At midnight I left the Colonel and his council.  They had just
finished reading the dispatches you sent.  They expected you and your
prisoners along shortly.  They were to wait for you in these chairs,
but I fancy the cool morning invited them within.  I fancy, again, one
could easily find the Colonel and his council."  She shrugged and
laughed.  They paused just opposite a wide-open door.  Within were
several men, in easy chairs, fast asleep.  Colonel Barcelo, especially,
was breathing stoutly.  Two soldiers, evidently detailed as orderlies,
were on guard.  They rose from their chairs, saluted the Captain, and
again seated themselves, all silently as if in pantomime.

The señora and the Captain continued their walk.

"I expected to arrive here much sooner, but had difficulty in getting
enough horses.  We were obliged to sequester a number from the Mission
Santa Clara.  Many mounts, as well as many men, were killed or maimed
in the fight, and we had nearly two hundred prisoners to transport to
the military prison here."

"Ah, Captain, my heart rejoices in your victory and in your safety.  Do
you soldiers ever think that while you are away fighting we women are
home inactive, save in prayer, waiting, longing for word of you, yet
dreading to hear it when it comes?  In the rush of battle, amigo, does
one little thought ever go back to these waiting ones?"

"My good señora, not a moment since I left you two days ago has the
thought of one woman been absent from me.  Yesterday, in that desperate
hand-to-hand fight, time after time we were hard pressed, and the
memory-picture of her moved my soul and placed a giant's strength in my
arm.  The men caught my spirit."

"The thought of one woman, Captain?"

"Yes, señora.  It may be women little realize the part they have in
bringing to success many a perilous enterprise."

"It is good to hear you say that, my Captain."

"Señora, often when we are most occupied there runs in us an
undercurrent of thought which reaches a surer conclusion, perhaps, than
could our conscious reason.  In these past busy hours my deeper self
has lived again and again in the words you and I spoke that morning in
the reception room below.  When opportunity comes I shall give you
further confidences of my heart."

"I am greatly complimented by what you tell me."

"Had I but time that morning I should have gone to greater length.  My
dear señora, a common bond unites you and me.  Providence, I doubt not,
has brought us together in understanding, after all these years, that
we may help each other."

"Captain, I--I feel--I need help.  And you--you----"

"My good señora, I shall give help as I can.  From you I ask the same
consideration.  That morning I was about to say to you----"

The church bell rang.  The hour was six, the time for the morning
Angelus.

"The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary," Colonel Barcelo's voice
repeated half sleepily.  The soldiers and the council all joined in the
morning prayer.

"I must have nodded," the Colonel added.  "A moment ago I was the only
one awake around here, but I didn't care to disturb these civilians who
aren't accustomed to night duty," looking indulgently at his council.
"But as for the soldiers," glaring at the orderlies, "why, they simply
are no soldiers at all.  Many's the time I've gone eighty hours without
sleep, eighty hours, señors! and never closing an eye.  Why, bless my
soul! here is Morando, a trifle dusty and smoke-stained, but still
fresh as a rose.  Congratulation, good Captain!  I'm glad you rubbed
out that rascally Indian.  Why, here's Señora Valentino also!  I
suppose the Angelus bell aroused you.  Well, I was awake.  Sit down,
Morando.  Take this easy chair."

The Colonel arose and walked about the room.  "Well, tell us about the
fight--I'm beginning to get hungry."

"Lieutenant Mesa, who came to you last night, told you, I'm sure, all
there is to tell.  One of the prisoners, however, told me something
interesting about the Americano O'Donnell and Yoscolo."

"Ah!  O'Donnell," from Señora Valentino.  "Let us hear about it."

"I wondered why Yoscolo deserted the coast range whence he could have
easily reached the high Sierras and safety," began Morando.  "This
Indian prisoner told me that Yoscolo abandoned the Sierras for fear of
O'Donnell himself."

"For fear of O'Donnell!" Barcelo ejaculated in contempt.  "That Indian
was simply talking nonsense.  I've seen this O'Donnell around
here--some nondescript fellow.  Besides, O'Donnell wasn't in the
Sierras at all, but right along with you.  Well, we'll all feel better
when we've had some breakfast."

"What further did your informant say, Captain Morando?" Señora
Valentino persisted.

"Yoscolo thought O'Donnell had gone to the far-western plains.  The
Americano is most influential there with high chiefs.  So, our Yoscolo
intended to raid the missions and haciendas, hold Spanish men and women
for ransom and make his way with the proceeds to Northern Mexico, all
before O'Donnell should return.  He knew the Americano could overwhelm
him with those plains natives, if he wished.  But O'Donnell had not yet
gone to the plains.  Yoscolo only became aware of this after he began
raiding.  Accordingly, he left the neighborhood of danger, and was on
his way along the coast to Mexico, for safety, when we overtook him at
Los Gatos."

"Simply preposterous!  Simply preposterous! what the Indian told you,"
puffed Barcelo.  "Well, it was as good a way as any to pass a weary
journey.  But let's go to breakfast."

"Whither went O'Donnell after the action at Los Gatos?" still persisted
Señora Valentino.

"After giving aid to the wounded in San José he rode to the house of
Señor Mendoza."

Señor Barcelo appeared on the veranda.

"Crisostimo, will you kindly tell our amigos that breakfast will be
ready in fifteen minutes?  Silvia and you, Crisostimo, help me show
them rooms where they may prepare.  Sister, love, have a care for your
arm.  Come, amigos, come."

The guests were soon disposed to their rooms.

As they left the breakfast table, Señora Valentino said to Morando:
"Captain, shall we not continue the conversation interrupted by the
ringing of the Angelus?"

"With great pleasure, my señora."

"Let us go into the courtyard garden."

Colonel Barcelo and his councilors returned to the upper veranda.

"I'll have to be at the castle when Morando turns these prisoners over
to me formally, and withdraws his own men.  I'll see to it that horses
will be there for us, and we'll go out on a tour of inspection,"
Barcelo said.

"How softly the morning light comes into the patio, Captain!" as they
were sitting together under a locust tree.

"I can scarcely realize that the same sun shines here and on that scene
of death of few hours' ride away.  As I sit here with you in this quiet
and peace the other seems a dream, an awful dream, señora."

"But you are with me, and yesterday has gone the way of all other days
that are past.  The future, if we are willing, may hold many happy
years for us."

"I pray so, my good señora."

The señora lowered her eyes, and bowed gently.

"Our lives are empty; yours, because it has never been filled.  Hence
there is greater hope for you than for me."

"What do you mean, Captain?"

"You have been frank with me.  I will be the same with you.  Fate
brought me to far-away California.  I chanced to meet the one who from
the first filled my heart, my soul.  I sang beneath her window.  She
laughed.  Sometimes I thought she encouraged me.  Sometimes, again, she
flouted me.  Nevertheless, I dared hope she cared for me.  Now I know
she did not."

The Captain paused in thought.

The señora did not speak.

Finally Morando continued: "More than once I tried to tell her I loved
her, but she held me at arm's length.  The night of the baile, at
Mission San José, I believed my opportunity had come.  She listened to
me, favorably I was sure; but there was an interruption from her
partner for the next dance.  When again she was alone I pressed my
suit.  It was in vain.  She seemed changed--offended.  Yesterday I was
at her father's house.  I talked with her.  At first she listened most
graciously; then, in some way, I offended her still more.  I am
speaking of the Señorita Carmelita Mendoza, señora."

"Captain," came slowly from the señora, "we were speaking the other day
of the face of the window pane in old Pilar Convent."

"I shall never forget, my dear señora."

"That face called in you to the primeval love every man has for an
ideal woman.  For her your heart had been unconsciously searching.  The
Señorita Mendoza seemed to you to fulfill that ideal.  You went to her
with words of love.  She could not reciprocate.  Does it not mean that
you must look beyond the beautiful child of Señor Mendoza for the
realization of your heart's desires?"

Morando looked straight at the señora.  "Señora Valentino, I love the
Señorita Mendoza with every fiber of my being.  I shall never cease to
love her.  I could not bear to stay here and see her the wife of
another man.  Therefore I have resolved to go away.

"But, my dear Captain, time has worked wonders.  It may do so for you."

Morando shook his head.  "Nothing can alter my love for the señorita
doña."

"Ah, Captain!  You believe that the señorita doña fulfills your ideal;
yet you cannot wed her.  There may be another destined to fit into the
high place to which you, not knowing, have called this child.  Think,
my friend, may it not be so?"

"It cannot be.  Señora Valentino, now that I have lost Señorita
Mendoza, the memory-pictures of her come to me with tenfold intensity.
I saw her, as if near me, on the battlefield.  I dreamed of her in the
short hours of sleep that have been mine since I last saw her.  Yes,
dear friend, even now, as you sit by, with words of comfort for me, I
see plainly the face and form of Carmelita Mendoza.  She seems even
more present to me than are you."

The señora arose.

He stood beside her.  "I thank you for listening to me.  Wheresoever I
may be I shall never forget you."

"Let us again be seated."

"Thank you, señora."

"I soon return to Europe," the señora said.  "My work here is really
done.  Great Britain gains another province, and will be
correspondingly thankful to her who was useful in bringing about the
transfer.  Good Captain, I have other claims on Great Britain's good
will.  Should you desire some important post on the continent, or
elsewhere, I can see to it that the diplomatic interest of England is
used to secure it for you.  Since you feel you must leave here, my
Captain, return to Europe, take what good fortune sends you, and again
you will be the knight of the Lady of the Window Pane, and she will
rejoice in the victories you win for her."

Morando lifted the señora's hand to his lips.  "Do not think I am
unmindful, kind friend, of your goodness to me.  I appreciate it most
sincerely.  But, señora, I could not accept your generous offices."

"But, Captain, there are many aspirants for the high places.  Worth is
but one of the requirements.  Another is to have a friend at court.  I
can point out to you the short paths to preferment, and can assist you.
I soon return to Europe.  Why not you do the same?"

"Again I thank you, señora.  Europe is too crowded; therefore I left
it.  I could not accept preferment there, or here, unless I had earned
it.  South America offers to me the most inviting field at this time.
Before long I shall turn my steps in that direction."

"You are diffident, Captain, and overscrupulous.  Europe is the world.
Go there.  Accept what offers itself, and you will find your
capabilities are equal to the task."

Again Morando shook his head.  "Señora Valentino, there is one thing
that I would like to ask you to do for me."

"Yes, Captain."

"I seem to make matters worse by speaking to Señorita Mendoza myself.
Would you go to her and tell her for me that--O, that--that I didn't
know of her engagement to Peralta, and that I had no wish to annoy her,
and all that?  Explain it all to her.  You will know better what to say
than I can tell you--only tell her that, no matter what, I shall always
love her truly, and that I shall never love anyone else."  He bowed his
head in his hands, overcome by his own thoughts.

She arose quickly, her eyes striking fire.  He was too preoccupied to
notice.  Her hands clenched and then relaxed, in excess of nervous
tension.

"You wish me to tell the señorita that you love her, that you meant no
offense in so telling her----"

Colonel Barcelo's loud voice called, "Morando!  Morando!  I say,
Morando!"

The Captain aroused himself.  "Here, Colonel.  Here in the garden."

The Colonel rushed into the patio, mopping his face with his
handkerchief.

"What do you suppose that Stanislaus of yours has done now, Captain?
What do you suppose he has done, I say?"

"What has he done, Colonel?"

"Done!  Why, my council and I were to inspect some irrigating ditches
in the hills, to see the dams were well built and all that, so the town
would be in no danger of inundation.  Do you understand?"  The Colonel
glared around.  "Well, the horses were tied outside the castle for the
use of myself and my council in this work of inspection--in this work
of inspection, do you understand?  Well, your men looked bedraggled and
tired, Morando.  I didn't wait for you to come, but relieved them and
put my own soldiers on guard."

"But the prisoners----" Morando began.

"That's just what I'm coming to.  Do be patient!  In the exchange of
guards some of the prisoners walked out--coolest thing I ever heard
of--took rifles from the racks, and actually mounted the horses in
front of the castle, and rode away!  I tell you, _rode away_!"

Barcelo paused for breath.  "I saw them going and gave the alarm," he
went on, after a moment.  "Yes, I saw that rascal Stanislaus
riding--riding away to safety.  I saw it myself--I saw----"

Further words failed the Colonel.

The sound of cavalry was heard in the street.

"The pursuit!" cried Morando and started for the patio gate.

"Yes, yes, the pursuit!" panted Barcelo and rolled after him.

Señora Valentino listened while Morando's clarion voice ordered the
movements of the cavalry, and heard the noise of the horses' hoofs die
out in a distant rumble.

"Our Colonel was out of breath and could not order the march of his
men, therefore our valiant Captain does it for him!" she thought.  Then
she smiled bitterly.  "I have laid bare my very soul before that man,
and he could see nothing.  He saw only that child, Carmelita Mendoza.
What fatality is it that closes the eyes of the one man to me and makes
him see only this miss of the province?"

Again, after a little: "Yes, I'll see his señorita for him, tell her he
loves her, and doesn't mean his blunderings.  Yes, I'll tell her.  The
fool!  Yes, I'll----"

The señora walked away, her eyes glittering.



CHAPTER XX

BITTER SWEET

"Carmelita, little heart, how is it with thee?"

"Well, señora doña; many thanks.  And thou?"

"As you see."  Señora Valentino held up her injured wrist neatly
bandaged.

"I could not allow many days to go by without riding over to thank you
and your father, the noble Señor Administrator, for the wonderful night
of enjoyment you gave us in that grand baile.  The thought of it fairly
possesses me now, as it was some beautiful dream and I was scarce awake
from sleep.  A thousand thanks, señorita doña, to you and to Señor
Mendoza.  I hope the señor is well."

Señora Valentino and Carmelita were standing within the reception room,
near the open doorway, of the Mendoza hacienda house.  The grateful
coolness of the hall was in strong contrast to the heat of the summer
sun which lay over grounds and house.

"You are good, señora.  My father has been away since yesterday.  I
shall make your words known to him on his return.  On my own part I
thank you for them."

Señora Valentino placed her well arm around the girl.  "The beautiful
hostess of a beautiful home is the Señorita Mendoza."

"Will you not step within, señora?  All that you see is yours."

Carmelita moved toward the inner room, thus disengaging the señora's
arm.

"With much pleasure, señorita."

Shortly the two were seated.

"How refreshing is this inner air," remarked the señora.  "The
afternoon brings warmth and drowsiness, but this is delightful."

"Modesta," from Carmelita to her maid who appeared in response to the
tinkle of a bell, "some tea and dulces at once."

Without delay the refreshments appeared.

"Sugar, señora mia?" the young hostess holding up a delicate gold
spoon.  "Yes.  And dulces?  Modesta, take this to Señora Valentino.
Have a care for her bandaged wrist."

"Mille gracias, little hostess mine."  Then, sipping the tea and
nibbling the cakes, "These are delicious after the ride, señorita doña."

"Have you come far, señora?"

"From the hacienda house of Señor Calderon, near San José pueblo.
Merely a matter of two hours or so, but I seem to tire easily since my
arm was injured.  Still, what of it?  Soon it is well and then
forgotten.  It is the way of unpleasant things, señorita.  They slip
away and we know them no more.  Well, if it were otherwise, perhaps
half of the world would be enemy to the other half."

She laughed merrily and the hostess politely joined.

"Yet, in forgetting the unfortunate incident I would not, if I could,
forget the kindly ministrations of our dear friend Captain Morando.  We
were riding along in the romantic coolness of early dawn--absorbed in
other things, you know--not noting or caring"--smiling knowingly into
the other's face--"when that dreadful creature assailed me with its
beak and claws."  The señora turned away with a little shudder.  Then,
as if half absently: "But our soldier lad--how gently he cared for me.
When I awakened--my head pillowed against his breast as a child lying
close to its mother's heart."  Starting up, "But, Carmelita mia, I must
not distress you.  I am an unworthy disciple of my own creed, for one
minute I advocate forgetting troubles, then I straightway recount them;
but then, you see," looking down, "my troubles in this particular were
most sweetly intermingled."  She laughed and immediately changed the
subject.  "When do you expect the señor your noble father to return?"

"I do not know the time of his return, señora."

"Has he gone far?"

"When he left he did not tell me his destination, so I fancy he has not
gone to any great distance."

"Ah, well!  We women wait while the men travel forth to dare and do.
It's the way of the world."

The woman and the girl sat facing each other.  The closed shutters
excluded the sun, but the warm light of a California summer day glowed
in the room.  Less than five years divided the ages of the matron and
the maid.  At first sight it might seem that the difference was
greater.  The tightly fitting riding-habit of the señora added a
maturity to her look which was not usual, while the looser afternoon
gown of the girl gave her an uncommonly youthful appearance.  Carmelita
was somewhat taller than the señora and more slender.

"I hope your arm has not greatly inconvenienced you," from Carmelita,
by a strange perversity reverting to the matter so lightly dismissed by
the señora a moment ago.

"Yes, and no, señorita.  The wound is sometimes painful, but the
solicitude of those about me shows me I have a place in their hearts--a
pleasant knowledge--an anodyne, so to speak."  She put her hand up to
her head in a childish way which was very becoming.  Her oval face
beamed with friendliness, while her brown eyes smiled sweetly.  She was
a very handsome young woman, apparently very friendly and very
genuinely interested in the girl before her.  Carmelita was not
insensible to her charm.

"You have a place in the hearts of many, señora.  Surely you could
never doubt it."

"Well, perhaps not.  Still, one wishes outward expression of inward
regard.  Otherwise, how can one be sure it exists?"

Señorita Mendoza said nothing.

"Then, too, we wish, naturally, to know just how a certain very few
stand toward us--sometimes just how a certain one person feels toward
us.  Now, there are some who are very good to all.  Their hearts are
kind naturally, and they give generous words and deeds to anyone who
needs them.  Is it not so, señorita?"

"I believe you speak truly, señora doña."

The señora's laugh was merry as she said: "A wise puss you are.  Well,
this generous, free-for-all kindness is good, but not entirely
satisfactory.  Each person has an ideal, and when we see that ideal
realized in some concrete person we want that person to be good to us
alone.  Do you not agree, señorita?"

"It would be presuming in me to contradict the señora."

"Ah!  I said you are a wise puss, my señorita; and so you are, very
wise.  Well, wisdom is the heritage of our old Castilian families.
Truly, our fathers have thought of much and have done much in the
generations that have been lived.  What wonder if the rich, pure gold
of experience falls to us, the heirs of the past, from the
melting-furnace of departed years.  What think you, little lady?"

"Your thoughts rise above me, Señora Valentino."

The señora laughed and bowed, as if in acceptance of some compliment.

The peona Modesta appeared in the doorway, curtseying several times.
"May I speak, señorita doña?"

"Speak, Modesta."

"The post surgeon from San José is here to see the wounded soldiers in
our infirmary.  He wishes to leave some directions with you."

"What soldiers does the peona mean, señorita?"

"Some disabled men Captain Morando left with us the other day."

"O, indeed!  My husband was an officer, and I am always much interested
in soldiers, especially those injured on the field of battle.  In San
José yesterday I visited the improvised hospitals.  I should like
greatly to see the men you have here and express my appreciation of
their good work."

"Why, certainly, señora.  Will you excuse me for a few minutes now
while I speak to the doctor?"

The señora listened to the sound of voices in the corridor.  A demure
look stole over her face.  She arched her shoulders coquettishly.

"Yes, I'll tell the Señorita Mendoza that Captain Morando loves her
deeply and meant no harm when he proposed to her.  I'll do just as the
gallant Captain asked me to do.  The fool!"

A look of weariness possessed her almost immediately.  "O, this life!
this life!  Political intrigue! and counter intrigue! all heartless and
unfeeling as a surgeon's knife.  God of my heart! why has destiny
discovered such a groove for me?  And yet--and yet--what would life be
without it--without ambition?  A body without a soul."

After a moment she arose, her hands clinching.

"The gallant Captain shall come to me and sue for my love, if for no
other reason than because I have humbled myself before him.  I will it!
I will it!  As for this puss--this wise puss--"

The señorita's steps came quickly along the corridor.  She found the
señora sitting in the chair, as she had left her, to all intents musing
the time away.

"The Captain Morando still pursues Stanislaus, the elusive--so I heard
this morning in San José.  My brother-in-law, the Colonel Barcelo, has
returned to Monterey in disgust, having given up the chase.  You know
the old saying, señorita, 'The braver in war, the keener in love.'  The
Captain is both a brave soldier and a keen lover."  The señora's
full-throated, musical laugh seemed out of place.

Carmelita was very quiet as she asked: "What do you mean, señora doña?"

"Why, dear child, I mean that a braver man has never drawn sword in the
Californias, and surely no one doubts his earnestness in making love."

The girl's face flushed.

"Did you know that the Captain and I first knew each other about ten
years ago?  No?  The inception of our acquaintance was quite
interesting.  Would you like to hear about it?"

"If the señora wishes to tell of it."

"Well, after all, not so much to tell--a schoolgirl and schoolboy
flirtation."  She sighed very prettily as she spoke.  "I was fourteen,
he eighteen."

"I knew that you and Captain Morando had met in Spain, but I did not
think it so long ago as that."

"Yes, ten years, ten long years," opening her eyes in mock seriousness.
"For three years this went on--three whole years, then--"

"Excuse me, please, but some of the physician's orders are to be
carried out at once.  I must send a peona to see about it.  May I leave
you alone again for a few moments?"

"Certainly, querida, certainly.  The story will keep.  I also have
another story of love to tell you.  We shall be quite sentimental."

The girl stepped into the corridor and gave some orders to a servant.
The young peona wondered that her mistress's face was stern and her
tone sharp.

"Now, señorita mia, time is going, and we will pass over my own little
romance, and I will begin with the other tale of love."  This from the
señora when Carmelita had returned.  "Are you ready to listen?"

The girl so signified.

"From speaking of our--our youthful flirtation--the good Captain came
to tell me of the grand passion of his heart."

"Señora Valentino, I mean no discourtesy to a guest, but why do you
tell me this?"

"Because, my dear, it concerns you most especially.  The other day, in
Monterey, Captain Morando and I were speaking most intimately, as
becomes old friends.  What harm?  The Captain confided in me; nay more.
He gave me a message to bring to you.  'I now love the Señorita
Carmelita Mendoza,' he said.  'I pressed my suit the night of the
baile.  At first she listened to me.  I had heart.  I had courage.
Then she changed.  She flouted me.  Something had offended her, I know
not what.  Will you not see her, the beautiful Carmelita, and explain
to her I meant no harm.  I--'"

The señorita sprang to her feet, her breast heaving.

"Señora Valentino, I cannot listen to you.  Even though you are a guest
of this house, I cannot--"

"Nay, nay, little child.  Don't be so hasty.  I am commissioned to set
matters right between you two.  Be seated now, my señorita, and hear me
to the end.  Please be seated.  I am bungling in my mode of expression,
I know.  Pray be seated."

Carmelita took her chair once more.

The señora leaned toward her confidingly, her brown eyes looking
straight at the girl, and her voice low and sweet.

"Now, I'll try again, little one.  The Captain said to me, in effect,
that at first the señorita listened to him the night of the baile; she
allowed him to hold her hand; her eyes dropped.  She--"

"Señora Valentino, I request that this conversation cease, and that you
do not again mention to me the name of Captain Morando."

"But, my dear señorita--"

"I request that you do as I ask, señora."

"I can, of course, but do as you wish.  I assure you, it is not a
pleasant task for me to speak of these matters.  It is only from an
urgent desire to serve my friend who asked this of me.  The other day
some one, in speaking of Captain Morando, said that it is easy for
young men to fall in love; and, indeed, to fall out of it--but, away!
those threadbare sayings!  The heart of Don Alfredo is loving and warm.
Do I not know it?  Had it not been for the dashing Colonel Valentino--"
Then suddenly, "O, señorita, a man cannot forgive everything even in a
woman he loves.  If you do not listen to his suit it may be too late,
and you will live to regret, even as I--"  She stopped, apparently
absorbed in thought of the past.

The girl arose.  "Señora Valentino--" she began.

The señora extended her unbandaged hand.  "I have tried to perform a
difficult and a distasteful task.  I trust some good will come of it.
I will say but one thing more: Do not trifle too far with Captain
Morando."

"Captain Morando is nothing to me; nor can he ever be.  I would not
wish it otherwise."

"Well, señorita, I have fulfilled my promise.  I have done my duty.
Shall we now visit the wounded soldiers?"

"If you so desire, Señora Valentino."

The two passed out of the house, and across the courtyard to the
hospital department of the Mendoza hacienda.

Five of Captain Morando's men lay on cots in a large, well-lighted
ward.  Señora Valentino went from one to another making inquiries and
speaking words of encouragement.  One of the men had been in Morando's
company in the North Africa campaigns, and had taken service again
under him in California.

"I regret, señora and señorita, that I am disabled, and cannot be with
my Captain in this present fighting," he said.

"No doubt, good man," replied Señora Valentino.

"My Captain was the handsomest and the best man in General Guerrero's
division," the soldier went on.

"You are loyal," commented the señora.

"With good reason.  I have followed him into the thick of battle.  I
have followed him through the enemy's camp; and," laughing, "I have
followed him when he galloped across country to tinkle his guitar
beneath the window of the beautiful one--"

"In Spain, or North Africa?" interrupted the señora jokingly.

"I tell no tales out of school," rejoined the man, continuing the
banter.

"You interest me, as all soldiers do," from the señora.  "Are you not
one of the picked fighting men whom your Captain keeps near him for
emergencies?"

"Yes, señora.  The morning Captain Morando was called from his visit to
Colonel Barcelo, in Monterey, he had made me first sergeant.  Thus I
held his horse, Señora Valentino, while he was within speaking with
you.  You see, I know, kind lady.  Benito, the porter, told me--"

"Hush, man; remember you are wounded."

"Benito told me," the soldier insisted.  "Benito told me--" he laughed.

"Ah! wounded men have strange dreams.  I doubt not, you have been
dreaming."

"I think you have talked already as much as the physician's orders will
allow," interposed Carmelita.

"Of that I am sure," agreed the señora.  "Come, señorita doña, let us
be going.  Now," shaking her finger at the soldier, "see that your
dreams follow a more orderly fashion."

"But," Benito said, "soon the San José Captain leads our beautiful
señora to the padre.  The Captain rides much beside her--"

"Not another word, Sergeant.  Now, I bid you good afternoon."

She walked toward the door.

"Forgive me, señora," called the sergeant, anxiously.  "Benito spoke as
if everyone knew already.  Maybe I wouldn't have presumed to say
anything--leastwise to yourself--if that blow on the head the other day
hadn't loosened my tongue as well as my teeth--"

"Not another word," from Carmelita, firmly.

"Señorita," spoke Señora Valentino, when once more they were in the
courtyard, "fate seems to keep Captain Morando's name before us."

Carmelita did not reply.  The woman and the girl walked slowly along
the broad gravel walk toward the entrance of the hacienda house.

"Our gay and handsome Captain may have lost his heart and found it a
score of times.  Quién sabe?  What would you?  It is the way of men.
But what need have I to tell a beautiful señorita the way of the
cavalier?"  The señora smiled bewitchingly.

Carmelita bit her lip.  Color rose to her face, and her eyes glowed.
She made no reply.

"Suppose a cavalier boasts of his conquests when, at some general
meeting of the departmental officers, each one, made merry by the
occasion, has taken a glass or two of wine above his custom.  What of
it?  Was not my husband, Colonel Valentino, an officer?  A brave heart
he had, and a loving one.  Yet--"  The señora laughed.

Still no word came from Carmelita.

"Allow me to say that Captain Morando now loves you, and you only.
What of the past?  You have his heart now; and I know he has yours.
Why not?"  Another bewitching smile.

Carmelita continued walking by the señora's side, not speaking.

"If, then, you do not intend to allow the Captain to continue further
his courtship, take his word, passed by him through me, that he meant
no harm."

From the walk to the house the girl had adroitly turned their steps
toward the courtyard gate.  Filipo, the porter, pressed a lever.  The
gate swung ajar.  Fifty paces away, comfortably waiting under some
shade trees, were the señora's attendant peons.  At a word from Filipo
they sprang to horse and rode to the gate in jiglike trot.

"Now, Señora Valentino," the girl said, "I shall leave word with my
servants that, if you call again, they are to announce to you that I am
not at home."

A peon had brought the señora's horse.  Kneeling he held the stirrup
for her.  Nimbly she found her seat.  The animal pranced gracefully
from side to side.  She swung him toward the gate.

"Adios!" she called to Carmelita.

The señorita's trim, straight figure was disappearing behind the slowly
closing gate.

"A thousand thanks, my courteous hostess."

Señora Valentino made her way along the San José road.  For several
hundred yards she rode in deep thought, a storm of counter currents
rushing over her.

"Anyway," she reflected, "Morando's course of true love has not been
made more smooth by my visit this day."  The accompanying laugh was not
a mirthful one.



CHAPTER XXI

A FEW DIPLOMATIC TOUCHES

"Buenos noches, señores."

Two men sitting by a fire rose to their feet.

"Buenos noches," responded one of them.  The men moved a little toward
the newcomer, one of them limping considerably, as if injured.

"I say," came from the lame man, "perhaps this is some one our guide
has sent in search of us."

"We'll soon see," replied the other, in English.  Then in Spanish: "We
are lost here in the forest.  Can you tell us where we can find food
and shelter for the night?"

"Of a surety, señor, of a surety," the stranger replied.  "I am
major-domo of Señor Miramonte's hacienda.  This is his property here.
The señor and his lady are out, but wayfarer guests are none the less
welcome.  I saw your fire and thought some vagrant peons had built it.
We greatly dread forest and pasture fires this time of year.  Come,
señors, come with me."

"He offers us the hospitality of a rancho house."

"I'll be deuced glad for shelter anywhere," the injured man replied,
both speaking in English.  "I'm at home on a ship, but riding a
stiff-backed horse with wooden legs is too much for me.  Ugh!  I'm sore
as if I'd been put in a sack and beaten with clubs.  Besides, I'm
actually seasick.  Commodore, think of that!  Sea-sick!  All for riding
a jointless, iron-jawed broncho."

The man addressed as "Commodore" laughed.  "Maybe riding your horse
over that twenty-foot precipice is a contributary cause to your
soreness, Captain."

The horseman had dismounted and was carefully extinguishing the fire,
treading on each separate ember until it was out.

"Gentlemen, will you come with me?" he asked, finally.  "I'll bring you
to your own."

"What does he say?" asked the one who had been called "Captain."

"He is offering a house after the Spanish custom."

"Well, indeed!  One of the first things I do when I get on shipboard
will be to learn Spanish."

The one riding moved away from the wide-branching oak, where the fire
had been, out toward the open.  It was bright starlight.

"Let the injured one ride my horse.  I will show the path on foot.
Come.  It is not far to Señor Miramonte's house."

The Commodore interpreted this to his companion.

"If it isn't far I'd rather crawl than ride," the Captain replied.
"Where in the world is the path?  It's light enough, but I surely do
not see any.  Say, is that fellow an agent for a bandit or something
like that?  The pay of an American naval captain is such, you know----"

"Never fear, Hamilton," laughed the Commodore.  "Your pay and mine
combined, for a year, would be hardly more than a bagatelle for one of
these land-and-cattle barons, such as is Miramonte, I believe."

"You've been here before?"

"Yes, ten or a dozen years ago.  Rode from Yerba Buena to San José
along a road which I trust must be near here, though I couldn't find it
to-day.  Went from San José back to San Francisco harbor along the
eastern side of the valley.  Remember, Hamilton, what your name is for
the present?"

"Certainly, I'm plain Smith."

"And I'm plain Jones."

They followed the man who was leading the horse.  In the open they
could see him easily.  In the dense growths they followed by the sound.
Captain Hamilton was becoming greatly fatigued when a number of
well-lighted buildings came into view.  Dogs barked and Indian men and
women talked excitedly as the party approached.

A courtyard gate opened wide to receive them.

"Behold the bandits' cave, _Smith_!" said the Commodore.

"I see it, _Jones_," replied the injured man.  "I declare, it looks
good to me.  Will the head bandit demand that we prove our identity, or
something like that?"

"I forgot to tell you that the owner of the premises is away at
present.  The man who brought us here is major-domo, which might be
translated, overseer.  I fancy he is altogether in charge and will make
us as comfortable as we could wish."

The major-domo gave his horse to a peon, then waved his hand to the
front door of the house.  "Gentlemen, it is as I said before.  What you
see is yours.  Enter your own."

"I'm willing," agreed Smith when he was told what had been said.  "A
bath and a comfortable bed appeal to me just now."

They were brought to large, airy chambers within.  A hot tub-bath was
prepared for Smith; while a peon, skillful in massaging, kneaded his
aching muscles.  The injury to his knee, sustained in falling, was
rather severe.  The massaging peon bound it tightly with various
poultices of herbs.

"I say, man, that's too hot," Smith protested.

Jones grinned.  "Perhaps the bandit's servant is preparing you like a
trussed goose."

"I say, Commodore----"

"Jones, my friend."

"Very well, _Jones_.  If this confounded thing were around your leg,
you wouldn't laugh.  You're my superior officer, and all that----"

"I'm _Jones_," the other said, emphatically.

"Pardon me Com----I mean, _Jones_.  Oh!  Ouch! he's taking those weeds
right out of boiling water and tying them around my smashed knee.  I
say, man----"

The Indian paid no attention to his remonstrances or squirming.

"Why, Jones!  Where did you get those clothes?"

Jones was attired in the regulation house-dress of the California
grandee, from fluted shirt-front to silver-clasped shoes.

"Found them in my room, with a peon valet ready to assist me into them.
Doubtless you'll be treated the same way."

"Well!  I'll admire myself.  But my bandaged knee wouldn't fit into
such trouserettes as you have on."

The bandaging was finished at last.  The peon spoke to the patient in
Spanish.

"What is he saying?"

"Says for you to go to bed soon.  In the morning he will remove the
bandages, and hopes your knee will be greatly improved."

"Go to bed.  Well, the quarters are sumptuous enough.  High-posted bed,
mahogany bureaus--one, two, three of them; and chairs, mahogany too,
and heavy enough for state occasions.  It's all fine, if I only had a
bite of something to eat."

The major-domo entered the room, several peons following him, carrying
trays on which were steaming dishes.

Smith was quickly arrayed in a flannel dressing gown.  A table was laid
and moved over to his chair.  Savory meats, vegetables, and fruits were
ready.  Wine was uncorked and placed at the hungry man's hand.

The major-domo gave some further orders to the peons, and then spoke to
the traveler who understood Spanish.  That worthy's eyes twinkled.
"I'm invited to supper with the family, or the part of it in the house.
I hope you'll enjoy your meal, and have a good rest to-night.  The
Indian surgeon says if necessary he'll use still hotter and stronger
applications to-morrow."

Smith was comforting himself with the warm meal.  His fellow traveler
followed the major-domo along a corridor, down a short flight of
stairs, to a door which a peon within opened at their approach.  The
major-domo bowed low, and left the man standing at the door.

"In my son's absence I welcome you," said a very kindly voice.  "I am
Señor Miramonte's mother."

"I am delighted to greet you, señora."

"I regret your companion is injured and unable to dine with us."

"I trust he'll be well to-morrow."

"Señor--I do not know your name?"

"Er-r-Jones."  His face flushed a little.

"Señor Jones, I wish to introduce you to my friend, Señora Valentino,
who is also our guest to-night.  Senora Valentino, our esteemed
visitor, the Señor Jones."

Señora Valentino extended her hand to Jones.  "Señor Jones, I am
pleased to see you."  A slow, deliberate smile lit up her features.
"Am glad to meet you--here."  Her low bow did not wholly cover the
quizzical look which darted from her eyes.

They were ushered into a dining room where a table generously laid was
before them.

"Señora Valentino," asked the hostess, "will you not take the head of
the table?"

The señora complied.

"I am not very strong these days," the elderly lady explained, "and I
am happy that so fair and clever a hand as Señora Valentino's is here
to manage in serving the dinner."

Señora Valentino presided gracefully.

"Señor Jones," she said, with just a hint of emphasis on 'Jones,' "may
I ask if you have been long in Alta California?"

"Well, no.  In fact, only a few days or so."

The hour of dinner passed pleasantly.  Places of interest were spoken
of; men and events discussed.  Spain, France, England, were passed in
review.  Señora Miramontes was European born.  Her husband had been
Spanish ambassador at the great capitals; and the splendid Miramonte
grant in West Santa Clara Valley was his reward for able service.

"Thirty years and more have I been here," she said.  "It was a splendid
wilderness when we came; nevertheless, a wilderness.  We have claimed
it for our own, and now it smiles for us.  The flag of great Spain once
waved over these valleys.  The tread of Spanish friars hallowed the
ground; and God blessed the work of these men with hundredfold
increase.  Then the Mexican colors replaced those of Spain.  Ah, me!
But Mexico cares nothing for us; and at heart we are still Spaniards.
Yes, Spaniards; never Mexicans!"

The meal over, the party went to an adjoining room.  A fire flickered
on a vast, old-fashioned hearth.  Candles were not lighted, and the
shadows danced fitfully on the walls and tapestries of the apartment.

Señora Miramonte still wished to speak of Europe.

"My husband was once ambassador at Saint Petersburg.  We met there a
Russian who had been in these Californias.  He had been in the
diplomatic service here in Monterey, and knew the country well.  Knew
it north and south and east and west.  'Soon Spain loses that
country--all of it; for Mexico is going,' were his words; and he was a
very shrewd, far-seeing man.  He also said, 'Then the English and the
Americans will come to blows over the empire that in large part is no
man's land.  Not twenty years,' he would say, 'after Spain withdraws
from North America, not twenty years will elapse before the British
Lion and the American Eagle will bare the teeth and claws to each other
over these great stretches of wonderful country.'"

She paused a moment.

"The British Lion has not yet shown his teeth.  He is ready to do so,
just the same.  Do we not know of Texas, and the country north of us
here--Oregon they call it?  The American Eagle has not yet cried his
war-scream; yet it is swelling in his throat."

"Madam, you speak of great subjects," was Jones's reply.

She nodded, the light now playing uninterruptedly over her features
which were still keen and comely.  "No.  It is my friend, Lomilkovsky,
who does the speaking; and he died sixteen years ago."

No one broke the silence for several moments.

"I may have spoken too plainly," the venerable lady went on.  "Rarely
has the past opened before me as to-night.  Spain cannot win; and, I
say, let the flag rule the Pacific Ocean that can."  She arose.
"Señor, you breakfast with us to-morrow.  Now, please excuse me,
friends.  I must retire.  Early hours compel me.  Señora Valentino,
will you kindly act as hostess for the rest of the evening in my place?"

"Certainly, señora, certainly."

The light shone on her snow-white hair as she bowed her head in final
good night.

"Well, Señor Jones, the sitting room is pleasant.  Shall we return?"
from Señora Valentino.

"With all my heart."

The Commodore's features were keen and powerful.  Heavy eyebrows stood
out across his forehead.  A strong chin, cleft in the middle, balanced
a well-carved nose.  His lips shut like the jaws of a trap.  His hair,
bushy and dark, glanced grayish in the light.  Withal a kindly smile
seemed rarely absent from his face.  A martinet on the quarterdeck, off
it he was the most genial of men.

"I have not inquired how your friend met his accident," from the señora.

"We set out at daybreak this morning expecting to make our destination
by night.  In the afternoon something frightened my friend's horse.  It
took the bit in its teeth, and jumped over the bank of a ravine.
Luckily, there was a pond of water at the bottom.  My friend was
disabled.  The horse escaped despite our guide's efforts to lasso it.
The guide set out to get another mount.  Time passed, and he did not
return.  I tied my horse, securely, I thought, and climbed a high hill
to get sight of some habitation.  I could see none.  I returned to find
my own horse gone.  Then we set out on foot to find shelter.  I knew
the Camino Real was somewhere to the east of us.  Our progress was
necessarily slow.  Darkness came.  After wandering aimlessly for a
while we built the fire which the major-domo saw.  Then," smiling, "the
hospitality of California was offered."

"Señor Miramonte will rejoice, I know, when he learns that Señor Jones
and his friend--the name--I did not hear it----"

"My friend's name is Smith."

"Ah!--Smith.  Señor Miramonte will rejoice that his house could give
hospitality to the Señors Jones and Smith--unusual names.  No?"  She
looked him full in the eyes, her smile inscrutable.

"California's hospitality is proverbial the world over," was his
evasive reply.

"Ah! yes.  Ah! yes.  The world over, you say.  I too have been much
about.  May it not be, Señor--ah!--Jones, that we have met before?  Was
it, perhaps, in London three years ago, or, even in your capital,
Washington, two years past?"

"Señora Valentino, let me say, once having seen you no man could forget
you.  It was in Washington, also in London; and, before that, in
Vienna, that I had the pleasure of knowing you."

"And the Señor Smith, your companion?" smilingly.

"Madam, I cry a truce of this.  I am Commodore Billings, of the
American navy.  The man with me is Captain Hamilton, of my flagship.
For the present neither of us cares to be thus known."

The woman arched her eyebrows.  "That is entirely the affair of the
Señor Commodore and the Señor Capitan.  Still, why so far from the
flagship?"

"We were riding incognito through a peaceful and friendly land, señora."

"Rumors float about, Señor Officer."

The man looked into the fire for a moment.  "Señora Valentino, I have
told you who I am.  I will tell you also that I am in command of the
Pacific squadron of the American navy.  Will you be as candid with me,
and tell me why you are in this country?"

She laughed.  "You haven't yet told me why you are traveling under an
assumed name; neither, why you are on the mainland of California."

"Undoubtedly for diversion, señora."

"Come, Señor Commodore, it is as our hostess said, is it not so? that
the Lion and the Eagle are straining to the contest over spoils vast as
the territory of all Europe.  Come, let us be fair with each other.
You are here in the interest of the United States.  Some special errand
leads you on a secret journey.  An accident brings you and me under the
same roof; and fate, perhaps, leaves us here alone together in
conversation.  It may be that you and I could come to some
understanding about affairs of mighty interest.  Indeed, it may be,
save two nations from grave misunderstanding."

His smile was as genial as ever, as he said: "The señora favors Great
Britain in the dispute she alleges may some time arise.  Am I not
correct?"

She bowed.  "You met the Señor O'Donnell a week ago, and again four
days ago.  Was it at your last meeting he told you of my preferences,
or at the first?"  She laughed, and playfully tapped the Commodore's
hand with her fan.

"Madam, may I say to you that I have letters in my possession from our
State Department, in Washington, which relate not only to your presence
here but which also tell something of your work as England's secret
agent in Alta California."

Again the woman laughed.  "Child's play, Commodore!  Child's play!  The
man who sent this information to your State Department, in Washington,
is here, and in touch with you.  Certainly, he told you as much as he
wrote to Washington."

The officer made no reply.

"Commodore Billings, I deal with you, and with you only.  I take not
account of the frontiersman, O'Donnell.  The United States, though
still young, is a great nation; and should be represented by men such
as you."

"Señora, O'Donnell has the confidence of Mr. Tyler, President of the
United States."

"Has your Mr. Tyler the confidence of the republic which made him its
President?"

There was no reply.

The señora arose.  The jewels in her hair flamed and glittered in the
firelight.  A hundred questions seemed to burn in the depths of her
eyes.  She extended her hand, as if in gesture.  The warrior-diplomat
was impelled to arise also, and to take the hand in his.

"Señor the Commodore, you go to conference with Mendoza, of Mission San
José.  Is it not so?"

He started to reply, but checked himself.

"Think on what you do.  We of this province--Mendoza and a handful of
others excepted--desire not to be ruled by your nation."

"Señora Valentino, I am but a student of conditions here."

She moved closer toward him.  He still held her hand.

"You do not come with prejudged verdict?"  In her earnestness she
placed her disengaged hand on his shoulder.

"Assuredly not.  Of course I know the general desire of my government.
Further than that I do what seems wisest."

"Then consult the people of California.  See Padre Osuna, that saintly
Chrysostom of this Western world.  Meet Colonel Barcelo, the
acting-governor.  Interview Pio Pico, and his brother Andreas.  See the
Peraltas, the Carillos.  Señor Mendoza represents but few besides
himself."

She moved away from him.  "As to this O'Donnell--O'Donnell!  He is a
man with a price on his head, placed there by the English government.
What wonder he intrigues against England!"

"Some political offense, of course."

"For attempted murder!  He struck down his captain on the parade ground
in Dublin, following an admonition."

"Zounds, madam!"

"This would-be assassin carries word to you from Señor Mendoza--why
does he forget he is Colonel Mendoza?--carries word that Mendoza has
wishes for the department of California which differ from the wishes of
the people themselves who comprise this department.  Indeed!  And who
is this Mendoza?  Is he not of a make-up so unrestrained that once, in
a burst of temper, he even burned to the ground his magnificent home?
Ask the people of California if this is not true.  Bethink you, my
Commodore."

"Señora, I ask you, what is in the wind?"

"Let us be seated, Señor Commodore."

She looked at him intently.  "Texas is free from Mexico.  Some of your
States wish to accept the republic of Texas as one of themselves.  The
States north of the Mason and Dixon line object.  They oppose extension
of Negro slavery.  Your President Tyler is on the fence, dangling his
long legs in the air, prepared to jump to either side, as it seems
expedient for him."

The Commodore covered his mouth with his hand, to conceal an
involuntary smile.

"Oregon is now jointly held by the United States and England.  Some of
your States wish for a part of Oregon.  Others make opposition; and the
opposition this time comes from those south of the Mason and Dixon
line.  The reason?  No possibility of slavery in Oregon.  Your
President, from his perch, dangles his long legs yet more alertly."

Billings now laughed outright.

"Señora, you are droll."

"Is what I say not true, my Commodore?"

"Oregon is ours, my lady, by occupation.  Doctor Whitman and his
missionaries live in that country; are Christianizing the Indians, and
drawing settlers from beyond the Mississippi.  Oregon is ours, I say,
by right of occupation."

"A hundred years before your Whitman saw light missionaries from French
Canada lived among those same tribes.  England succeeded to the rights
of France.  Oregon, then, is England's by this right of occupation of
which you speak."

"But, the rifles of the American settlers in Oregon!  They will speak,
and speak strongly, my lady."

"But the rifles of the Spanish hacenderos in California, my Commodore!
Can they not speak?  Commodore Billings, a shot in California will echo
around the world!"

She leaned toward him and placed her hand on the arm of his chair.  "A
few months ago I saw Doctor McLoughlin, head of the Hudson Bay Company,
at Vancouver.  He knows of the work of your missionary Whitman.  My
Commodore, twenty British ships-of-war are in the Pacific waters.  I
saw them, one and all, on my journey to the North.  They are not far
from here."

"So many, Señora Valentino?"

"That many."

"I did not think Admiral Fairbanks----"

She waited for him to continue.  As he did not she went on:

"That enthusiast, Mendoza, thinks he can persuade you to seize our
capital, Monterey.  Suppose you do?  The province will seethe in
rebellion, and call to Admiral Fairbanks for aid.  He will give it.
That means war.  Your United States is unprepared for war at sea.
Mexico then goes under an English protectorate.  Texas goes back to
Mexico, and England will then control the Pacific Coast from the
tropics to the Russian line in the far north."

Both were standing now.

"Señora Valentino, neither Mendoza, nor anyone, can lead me into an
unconsidered move in this matter."

"To-night you had an appointment with Mendoza.  Fate intervened.
To-morrow sees not the danger removed.  He will ask you to seize this
province for the United States.  Commodore Billings, ruin comes if you
do."

"Señora, I have never seen Mendoza."

"You know of his wishes.  Others do."

"But I shall judge for myself."

Again her inscrutable smile.  "Commodore, I thank you.  I mean--that is
to say--I thank you for listening to me to-night.  I pray good will
come of it."  Her hand was on his arm.  He took it in fervent grasp.

"Señora, Europe knows you for a brilliant woman.  I say you are that,
and more.  I am glad to have met you again."  He looked at his watch.
"It is late.  I fear I have kept you too long.  I ask your pardon."

"My Commodore, have a care, only, that you do not ask pardon of the
world one day for what your decision to-morrow may bring about."

"Your words do you honor, señora.  May I ask leave now to retire?"

"The leave is yours, Commodore."

After good night had been said Señora Valentino returned to her chair
by the fire.  Into the flames she looked for a long time.

"The Commodore talks in his silence," she finally said to herself,
smiling grimly.  "The pages of this drama fast turn themselves--very
fast--to the issue.  'But I shall judge for myself.'  Ah!  Commodore,
your silence is indeed golden.  So, Mendoza wishes you to seize
Monterey--evidently--but, 'you will judge for yourself.'  Discreet
Commodore!  But we shall see--we shall see!"

The thick oaken log in the fireplace was ashes before the señora went
to her room.



CHAPTER XXII

ALMOST----

Señora Valentino rode slowly along the way leading from Santa Clara to
Pueblo San José.  Willow trees lined the edge of the road, lifting
their featherly foliage in greeting to the morning sun.  Yellow light
filtered through and marked the interlacing plumes with myriad fairy
figures in golden tints.  The branches nodded and undulated in
low-toned rhythm.  Tempered breezes from the bay, sweet with the breath
of virgin meadow, hung light-winged over this shaded alameda.  Peons,
men and women, worked in the vegetable gardens by the wayside, singing
as they labored.  Betimes they used the guttural words of their
aborigine tongue, the age-old longing of savage man flowing in heavy
note and shrill refrain.  Again, some neophyte rested for the moment on
hoe or mattock and intoned a hymn.  Then knoll and hollow resounded as
the children of the wilderness sang the words of their new-found faith.

The long white line marking the fort at San José had come plainly into
view when the señora halted.

"My message requested the Captain to meet me here at this hour," she
said to no one in particular.  Her mounted Indian guard was a score of
paces behind.  Just then Captain Farquharson, coming at swift gallop,
turned the bend just ahead.

"Good morning!" she called to him.

"Good morning!" he called back.  "Well, the great question," as he drew
up at her side.  "Your word reached me after midnight.  Our signal-fire
was lighted within two hours, on the high mountains east of San José.
This morning at daylight the signal-smoke told me that Admiral
Fairbanks's anchors are under weigh for Monterey harbor.  Now, your
note told me nothing of the particulars of your interview with Billings
last night.  You managed to gain his attention, I'm sure."

"I did.  But our English admiral?  Tell me, is he of two minds, as he
was the other day; or have they crystallized into one?"

"He has agreed to keep his fleet hidden until our signal-fire or smoke
informs him it is the hour to enter Monterey harbor and take
possession."

"Ah! that is his mind now."

"Señora, I await with great interest some news of your interview last
night with the American.  He must have said something of deep import
that you sent word to signal at once our admiral's fleet.  Fairbanks
reaches Monterey easily to-morrow.  What I signal him to do there, and
how soon, will be greatly determined by what you learned last night
from this Billings."

"Well, Captain, since nothing is to be done until to-morrow, you have
time to answer me a question or two."  The lady laughed, then went on:
"How did you manage to get our gringo naval heroes lost at the right
time yesterday?"

"Simple, very simple, indeed.  They lost themselves.  One hero's saddle
seat was uncertain.  He gripped his horse with his calves, to make
himself more secure, forgetting the sharp spurs on his heels.  The
indignant broncho jumped over the nearest bank, his rider just
naturally following.  I declare, the gallant officer actually spun head
over heels twice before he landed in the water.  The peon with the two
gentlemen was held by our men under pretended suspicion of being a
runaway, when he went in search of another horse.  This left our heroes
without a guide; and Valeriano, the Miramonte major-domo, did his part
when the stars began to shine.  Now, señora, of course Commodore
Billings----"

She interrupted him.  "If the gringo hero's horse had not obligingly
jumped over that bank, how would you have got the Commodore to Señor
Miramonte's hacienda house at the right time?"

"Depend on it, I would have found a way.  Bringing them to the
Miramonte's place as suspicious characters would have been the last
resort.  You would have identified the Commodore, in that case, and
would have made all possible amends for unwarranted detention."

"Of course."  The two joined their laughter.

"Mendoza's peons were scouring the woods last night for the officers.
Our fellows furnished them plenty of information.  It didn't lead them
to Miramonte's house, you may be sure."  Again the forest echoed the
sound of their laughter.

"Well," from the señora, "our two worthies set out comfortably enough
this morning, after early breakfast with us.  Alberto, the Miramonte's
peon, guides them to Señor Mendoza.  Alberto," lifting her eyebrows,
"understands English.  When a lad, a religious-minded gringo
tallow-trader captain took him to Boston, and had him educated, hoping
he would become a missionary here of the tallow-trader's faith.
Instead he reverted to the ordinary peon, and an ardent Americano
hater, into the bargain."

"Fortunately for us.  It was simply invaluable that he was present the
other day at that Billings-O'Donnell talk at Half Moon bay, and thus
found out about the appointment to meet at Mendoza's last night.  But,"
laughing a little, yet serious, "I'm anxious as to what happened last
night at Miramonte's."

"Just one more question, Captain.  In what frame of mind was Padre
Osuna when you last saw him?"

"You have swung him to our side, señora, for the second time.  But he
forced from Fairbanks and me papers giving these natives extraordinary
rights when the country is ours."

"The padre is where now, do you judge?"

"Somewhere near San Luis Obispo.  He travels like the whirlwind.
Yesterday he swept the crowd off its feet when he spoke from the church
steps at Monterey.  They cheered and stormed for English rule.  His
discourse over, he set off for the south with the impetuosity of a
crusader."

"Very well, my Captain, we have done our part.  It remains for
Fairbanks to do his."

"Now, señora, why was it you sent the hurried messenger last night?
What did Billings say that you thought such haste necessary?"

"Practically nothing."

"I beg pardon, señora.  You must have misunderstood me.  I----"

"I understood you perfectly."

"Well, then, señora, think of your reply."

"My reply was that Commodore Billings said practically nothing from
which I thought haste necessary.  It was from what he palpably
refrained from saying that I made my inference."

Farquharson drew his bridle-rein.  His horse curveted over the turf,
under pressure of the curb-bit.  He drew the animal back to the woman's
side.  "Señora Valentino, what does Billings intend to do?"

"To seize Monterey for the United States if----"

"If what?"

"If he can find reasonable excuse, in the attitude of the hacenderos
here, for such a move."

"But can he?"

"He can, if Colonel Mendoza is minded to supply it."

"But, señora, at the Mendoza baile the entire countryside cried out for
an English protectorate."

"Yes, but we made the minds of these men for them.  The structure may
not be the most lasting."

"But, perdition! they----"

"Admiral Fairbanks must seize Monterey as soon as he reaches there,"
she went on.

"He must!  By heaven he must!  I'll ruin him before all England if he
flinches."

"Remember, Captain, Commodore Billings will fight."

"My word, señora!  Fight us!  Why, bless my soul! our fleet outnumbers
him at least three to one.  Fairbanks could sink him in an hour."

The woman leaned in her saddle toward the officer.  "I shall be in
Monterey all day to-morrow.  So must you, Captain."

They shook hands over the manes of their horses and parted company, the
Captain riding swiftly across the fields, the lady walking her mount
toward San José.

The adobe walls of the fort were a dozen feet or so in height, with
eaves projecting outward, the better to prevent scaling by a possible
enemy.  Within these walls was a row of buildings in which were the
officers of the alcalde, the subprefect, the jefe-politico and other
civil officers of the pueblo.  Here also were the quarters of Morando's
men.  The Captain himself had a reception room in one corner of an
edifice facing the street.  A motley gathering was in this room, also
clustered around the door as the Señora Valentino drew rein.  Her
mounted escort had drawn up on either side of her in orderly lines,
each peon so tightening his bridle that the horses walked in perfect
step.

Captain Morando, the comandante, pushed his way through the crowd to
the lady's side.  "Thrice glad am I to see you, amiga mia.  Will you
not alight and rest awhile?"

"Thank you, Captain."

He released her foot from the stirrup and assisted her to the ground.

"My poor place shines like the morning in answer to your presence,
señora."

She smiled on him and looked about over the waiting crowd.  "Why so
many sad faces here, Captain?"

"These friends mourn relatives who fell in the recent contest with
Yoscolo.  To-day the Department, through me, considers the demands for
pensions."

"Then I interrupt."

"Indeed not, my friend.  This reception room meets never a guest more
welcome than Señora Valentino."

"But these sad ones?  You must not neglect them for my sake."

"I shall not forget you, nor neglect them.  Besides, my work with the
pensioners has about concluded."

The peonas had nearly all dried their tears, had gathered their
restless pocos niños together and were preparing to depart, with many
blessings murmured on the "very good and very handsome comandante."

The señora seated near the Captain was greatly interested in the scene.
"Their praises for you, señor, are fervent, if not loud," she remarked.

Soon the man and woman were alone in the reception room.  She regarded
him gravely.  He started from a revery and caught her look.  He
flushed.  She laughed a little.

"Well, Captain, I have done as you requested."

"What?"

"I have seen the Señorita Mendoza and have told her for you that----"
She paused.

He waited for her to continue.

"I must say I do not quite understand the girl, charming, indeed, as
she is."

"How so, señora?"

"O, friend of my heart, I would spare you pain."

"Tell me everything, señora."

"O, Don Alfredo, everything?  My heart fails me.  How can I wound you?"

"Do not fear for me, gentle one.  Let me know the truth.  Please go on."

"Well--if I must.  I made occasion to do your bidding by visiting the
Mendoza house, ostensibly to express to the host of the great baile at
Mission San José my appreciation of that event.  The señor was away,
but his daughter received me.  This was just the opportunity I would
have wished for.  Nothing could have been better for our purpose, Don
Alfredo."

He bowed in recognition of the fact.

"We passed bits of conversation from one to the other on chance topics.
The young lady was delightful.  As we sat in the cool drawing room
sipping tea and nibbling dulces I thought continually of you, my
friend.  Small wonder, truly, that you wished to wed this beautiful and
talented young woman.  Small wonder, again, that the swains of the
valley lay their hearts before her, as she beckons."

The soldier's face grew gloomy.

"When our time had in a measure sped I introduced the subject on which
you wished me to speak with her."

"How did she receive it?"

"I am puzzled to know how to explain.  It is but a step, often, from
joy to sorrow; at times, discourtesy seems waiting on the threshold of
courtesy.  Well, enough to say that our pleasant relations underwent a
change most unaccountable.  The Doña Carmelita grew cold and drew
within herself.  Try as I might I could not bring back the former
cordiality.  In the course of the conversation I said: 'Señorita,
Captain Morando loves you and you only.'  She replied: 'Señora
Valentino, I cannot listen to you; even though you are a guest in this
house I cannot.'

"We parleyed further.  She was obdurate.  She tried to cut me short
with the words: 'I request that this conversation cease and that you do
not again mention to me the name of Captain Morando.'

"Yet still did I refuse to accept her dismissal of the subject.  You
see, my one-time knight, I was determined to fulfill your wishes, no
matter what came."

She lowered her eyes with a tender little sigh, but went on hastily.
"I continued to speak of you and of your love for her.  She almost
flung at me: 'Captain Morando is nothing to me, nor can he ever be.  I
would not wish it otherwise.'

"Then I concluded: 'At least accept his word that he meant no harm by
his attentions to you.'  To this she gave no response.

"We were now at the hacienda gate.  She summoned the peon who had my
horse in charge.  As I mounted she said: 'Remember, if you call again,
I shall give word to my maid to tell you I am not at home.'"

The young man came to her side and took her hand in both his.  "Forgive
me, señora.  Forgive me, my dear friend, the stupid selfishness in
asking you to do such an errand.  When I think of your goodness to me
and of my placid acceptance of it I curse myself for a brute."

"You are harsh with yourself, Alfredo," putting her disengaged hand on
his.

"No, señora, a thousand times, no.  How can I ever atone for my
thoughtlessness!"

The lustrous brown eyes were looking gently at him.  He gazed into
their beautiful depths.  She leaned a trifle nearer.

He continued: "I have been a cur!  You have suffered your life long.
You generously gave me the confidences of your heart.  I saw how empty
your years have been of the things that, after all, really count in
this world; yet I, selfish fool! could only whine about my own loss."

"Don't, don't, Alfredo.  You must not say such words."

"Dear amiga, you are too forgetful of yourself, always thinking of the
good you may do others.  You have a claim on me, a strong claim, which
I shall always remember; for, no matter how unwitting on my part,
unhappiness came to you years ago, and that unhappiness still persists.
Added to this, I have been the direct cause of your losing your friend,
the Doña Carmelita.  I wish I could make compensation."

The woman's eyes drooped.  Her hands fell to her side.

"The past is gone--gone the way of all past things," she said, very
slowly.

"But the hurt continues," he returned.

"You certainly cannot blame yourself for that."

He dropped on his knees beside her.  "My dear señora, my true friend,
ask what you will of me, and if I can accomplish it, it shall be yours.
I would do anything to be of service to you."

She raised her eyes and put her hand on his shoulder.  "Alfredo, how
could you retrieve a broken life?  Why, I envy the love of the peonas
for their husbands who fell by your side at La Cuesta de los Gatos.
Though bereft their love lives on.  Their heart is not empty, as is
mine--as is mine.  Ah, me!"

"Doña Silvia, the way of love should not be difficult to one of your
gentle spirit.  Surely, you will find it, with all the joys bordering
thereon."

Her eyebrows lifted almost imperceptibly.  She moved a little away.

"Forgive me," he said anxiously, noting the movement.  "I have entered
forbidden ground."

"No, no, dear Alfredo.  For you it is not forbidden ground.  There is
not a recess within my heart where you might not enter."

"You are more than kind, my good friend."

"Friend!  Captain," showing some impatience, "friend!  Good friend!"
She tried to hide the sarcasm in her tone by an unusually alluring
smile.  "I am but one of your many, many good friends.  Is it not so?"
her voice sounding hard in spite of herself.  "O, well, I must be
content with whatever the gods see fit to bestow."

"Señora, you are not merely one of many.  You are my most loyal, my
warmest, my ever-remaining, ever-to-be-cherished,
never-to-be-forgotten----"  He paused, overcome by his own vehemence.

"You would scale barbed walls to carry away the señorita of the window
pane," leaning wearily on her arm.

"Yes, dear Silvia, I would scale those walls," he went on,
passionately.  "I would scale them and bear you away," taking both her
hands.  Her warm breath was against his cheek.  "I would--I would----"
His voice choked.

"--Even sing love songs outside the window, to the accompaniment of the
guitar.  O, Alfredo!"

In space of time hardly more than an instant he saw the Señorita
Carmelita's eyes flash behind the barred window; heard her gay banter
at the house party; felt her soft hand in his as he had spoken love to
her at the baile.

Very gently he moved away from the señora.  Slowly he arose to his
feet.  The woman quickly realized the effect of her ill-chosen words.
She arose also and stood leaning on the back of her chair.  For a
moment they looked at each other.  She was the first to speak, a queer
little smile stealing over her face.

"Well, Captain Morando, I have made report to you," the smile
vanishing.  "I must now--journey homeward."

He escorted the señora to her horse.  Assisting her to mount he kissed
her hand in parting salute.

She rode leisurely out of the pueblo, pleasantly exchanging greetings
with acquaintances along the way.  Once on the plains, however, she
lashed her horse until the beast plunged and kicked in fury.  She
quelled him with bit and word, then rode at break-neck speed until he
was winded.

The peon guard followed in wonderment.



CHAPTER XXIII

PEDRO ZELAYA BRINGS IMPORTANT NEWS

"On with the green boughs, Anselmo.  Now, you, Francisco, the
turpentine in plenty.  Pronto! hombre.  Pronto!  Hasten!  Diablo!"

The wind from the Yerba Buena side blew more and more strongly, and
finally stiffened to a quarter gale.

"It is useless, Señor Zelaya," said the peon Anselmo.  "The breeze from
the bay so fans the blaze that there is no smoke at all, but all flame."

Don Pedro Zelaya and his peons were on a pinnacle of one of the high
hills which skirt the eastern side of San Francisco harbor.  Away at
the south somewhere was the hacienda of Mendoza.  On the roof of
Mendoza's hacienda house by night and by day watchers scanned the north
horizon for fire or smoke signals telling that the British fleet had
sailed, and announcing, in the devious ways known to such
signal-makers, the direction the ships had taken, together with other
apt information.

"Caramba!  Caramba!" stormed little Zelaya.  "Bring more green leaves.
Give over using that turpentine now.  Perhaps we'll get some smoke
after all."

The keen air breathed through the heaping leaves with a bellowslike
sound.  The fierce heat exuded the oil from the fiber and the flames
roared with added vigor.

"Bring water!" commanded Zelaya.  "We must have a signal-smoke here, or
it means a wild dash on horseback to Mission San José.  Bring water, I
say."

"There is no water within a league, Señor Zelaya.  Besides, the high
wind would blow the smoke along the mountain top, not letting it form a
column that would reach upward."

The excitable Zelaya ran to his horse tied to some brush near by.
Taking his canteen from the saddle he poured the contents, a quart or
so of water, on the blazing fire.  There was a splutter, a sizzle, and
the leaves burned as furiously as before.

The sun was just peeping over the eastern horizon.  Zelaya looked
intently, listening expectantly.  When the wind lulled for a moment
there came swelling over the hills the reenforced bellowings from tens
of thousands of cattle throats.

"Ah! the herds are at last coming in from the San Joaquin bottoms.
Well, we have other fish to fry besides thinking of that.  Say! you,
Anselmo, and you, Francisco, are you sure you caught all the signals
right?  No danger of mistake?  Are you sure?"

The small black eyes of the peons glittered.  "We wish we were as sure
of heaven, Señor Zelaya.  Our men saw the signal fire on the high
mountains east of San José last night; saw the answer on Tamalpais.
This morning at daybreak they saw the great white birds swim out in the
direction of the south wind.  Our young master, Roberto Morago, said
that only cannon and heaps of cannon balls were on the decks.  He saw
it through his field glass from his station on the flank of Mount
Diablo.  We have brought you his word, Señor Zelaya, and our telling is
true.  It's no use; we cannot send a smoke signal in this wind."

Zelaya was already astride his mount.  "It means a couple of hours'
delay," he muttered, "a couple of hours which we can in no way afford."

He rode his horse furiously.  The wind sang in his ears as he swept
along.  His face was set and hard, his eyes narrowing to burning sparks.

"So, the English ships have sailed southward, with decks cleared for
action!" he thought.  "Word must be given to Mendoza and the American
commodore at once."  Then with an oath: "What misfortune this strong
wind was blowing on this of all mornings!  Well, I'll get to Mission
San José with the news if my horse holds out! or," he half laughed, "if
he fails, I'll lasso a bull and press him into service."

The horseman slipped down the steep grades, passed the rancho of his
neighbor, Señor Peralta; rode through the foothills comprising part of
the grant of Don Luis Castro, and into the confines of his own
property, the Rancho Arroyo San Lorenzo.  Here he reined in for a
moment, and allowed the animal to lope, an easy canter much affected in
early-California days.

"Now, for Arroyo Seco, Mendoza's outpost!  I'll find a fresh horse
there in his corrals."

He spurred his horse which dashed along the foothills toward Mission
San José.  The bellowing of the returning cattle became plainer and
plainer.  The vanguard of the herds was already dotting the higher
levels above him.

"Caramba!  I'm none too far away, if I wish to avoid being caught in
the press."

With word and quirt and spur he urged his horse forward.  Mile after
mile sped past.

"You, poor fellow, are pretty well done," to his animal as it labored
along.  "Well, I see Mendoza's corrals ahead.  I'll leave you there in
good hands, and get my saddle on another racer."

Many cattle and horses in the marshes adjacent on the bay had not been
rounded up in the spring when the droves had been formed for the San
Joaquin.  They had swum across the intervening sloughs to the
salt-grass pastures where fodder was more plentiful.  After the rains
had come these animals had returned to the valley lands and had grown
fat.

Each stallion is a general having under him his lieutenants who, with
him, form a guard for the protection of the mothers and foals of the
family.  As it is with the horse so is it with the cattle.  The cows
and calves follow the mighty leaders that afford them safety.

Thus, from the valley came hundreds of horses and cattle to meet the
homecomers.  They had scented their fellows from afar, and flew madly
to the foothills, to do them battle.  The vaqueros were miles away, in
the rear of the swarming, home-coming herds.  In time they would make
peace by clubbing the fighting leaders over nose or horn with their
heavy whip-stocks.

Zelaya was within half a mile of the Mendoza corral when a drove of
fifty or more horses, led by a splendid dapple-gray stallion, came
thundering from a deep hollow directly in front of him.  The leader
disdained battle with a single stranger and rushed by like the wind.
Don Pedro turned rein and ran with the drove for safety.  Little by
little he lessened speed; then, as the way opened, he left the company
forced on him and again turned toward the Mendoza corrals.

A hundred paces to the side a herd of cattle, led by an immense bull,
was charging in the foothills.  The leader saw the horseman and made
for him viciously.  The Spaniard waved his reata and shouted, "Hoop-la!
Hoop-la!" after the manner of the vaquero.  The herd paused, snorted;
then, with head and tail up, looked on while their protector fought the
enemy.

The bull lowered its head and rushed at him, roaring a tremendous bass
defiance.  The Spaniard swung his horse to one side, and the beast
stumbled past him.  Again and again was this repeated.  Finally, the
horse stepped into a hole and fell.  The rider came to the ground on
his feet, moved quickly aside, in time to avoid a furious rush from the
tormentor.  As the bull stopped in preparation for another attack Don
Pedro sprang on its back.

"I have for myself a merienda," he thought, grimly, remembering the day
when he had ridden the bull at the Calaveras picnic ground.

"Come, come, run to the corral, my lordly beast!"

The animal ran around and around in a circle, roaring terrifically.

"Carrajo!  Carrajo! 'twill not do," called the rider.  "I must make the
corral.  Go, now, you son of an imp!  Run as I direct!"

Climbing out well on the shoulders he managed to reach the beast's nose
with his spur.  First kicking it on one side of the muzzle, then on the
other, he succeeded in getting it started toward the corral.

"Grande!  Grande!" he shouted.  "You make not badly the mount.
Hoop-la!  Hoop-la!  Pronto!  Pronto!"

The bull ran under some trees, endeavoring to free itself from the
incumbrance.  Zelaya drew himself up into the branches.

"It is again the merienda, as I have said.  Now, farewell, toro mio, I
go to the corral and stables for a mount superior even to you."

The bull hurried back to his bellowing herd, and soon together they
were tearing onward to the hills, to fight the myriad homecomers.

"A thousand and one devils!  A thousand and one devils!" exclaimed
Zelaya a few moments later.  The corrals and stables were empty.  The
peon cots were vacant.  Evidently, Mendoza had sent all available
horses and men to the San Joaquin to bring home his grazing stock.

The little man did not hesitate.  Off came his embroidered jacket, his
outer, as well as his inner, shirt, then his long riding boots.  He
tossed his sombrero, heavy with gold, to one side.

"Behold! 'twould not be so bad, if I only had my running shoes."

The morning sun fell on his muscular torso, the runner's flat abdomen
and well-sinewed limbs discernible through the knee-pants and leggings.

For an instant he pulled his short mustachios savagely.  "I may meet
more bulls and their families, and I have now no spurs," glancing at
his discarded boots.  "Well, if a bull chases me toward Mission San
José I shall reach my goal all the quicker."

It was three leagues good, as the bird flies, to the Mendoza hacienda
house, at the Mission.  Don Pedro set off across country at a long,
swinging gait which ate the miles like fire.  For nearly a league he
ran along cattle paths in the tall oats and drying mustard.  Then he
struck the main-traveled road.  Here he rested for a moment.

"Diablo!" standing first on one foot, then on the other.  "That dried
grass has the edge of a knife!"

The roaring of cattle and the raucous threatening of a stallion sent
him flying along instantly.

"A pest on it!  I prefer the sharp grass edge to these infernal
stones," the ragged pebbles in the road bruising and tearing his feet,
while the dry grass had cut cleanly.  Still he did not waver.  Bright
red spots showed on his cheeks; his breath came in quick gasps, but he
did not slacken the wonderful pace he had set for himself.

Once a bull compelled him to climb a tree, and once he hid under a bank
while a stallion led his squadron past.  "I take the rest whether or no
I need it," was his laconic thought at these times.

Finally he came in sight of the towers of Mendoza's house.  It was yet
a league away, and more.  Don Pedro tightened his belt, looked at his
bleeding feet, then at the mansion gleaming white in the sun.  He
surveyed the landscape in search of a horseman, but in vain.

He bathed his feet in a streamlet, then darted along the rough road at
a speed that might, indeed, be fitly described as only less than that
of a fast-galloping horse.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Commodore Billings, float the stars and stripes over Monterey before
another sun goes out!"

In the Administrator's sitting room were gathered Billings, Hamilton,
O'Donnell, and a score of land barons of the valley.

The American's mouth shut in a straight line.  "You Spaniards, save a
handful, are clamoring for English rule.  Still, Señor Mendoza, you ask
me to invest the capital of this province with my ships.  To what end?"

"To afford our California opportunity to appeal from her inconsiderate
self to her wiser self."

"Mendoza, I represent the United States.  My office is to conserve, or
advance, her interests."

"Señor Commodore, California is the key to the vast region north and
east.  With this province goes mastery of the Pacific from the Isthmus
to the ice.  No small addition to the United States of America."

"California, in her wiser thought, you intimate, would elect to become
a province under my government.  I so understand you, señor."

The Administrator nodded affirmatively.

"I am, then, to hold your capital pending this expected change of
attitude?"

Again the affirmation from Mendoza.

"Very well, our Señor Hacendado, suppose the inevitable finds resting
place on the other horn of this dilemma, and your province elects to
become British?"

Several of the men were on their feet, speaking excitedly.

"Señor Billings, not one chance in ten of such an outcome," exclaimed
Fulgencio Higuera.  "Geographically we belong to the United States.  In
politics we are one with you.  Give us time to think and all of us will
say aye to this."

Diego Valencia and others seconded him.

"I voted in haste for English rule," said Luis Castro.  "My preference
is for your country, Señor Commodore."

"And I!  And I!" from a dozen others.

Billings shrugged.  "Your California Baja is solid for England."

"I have letters here from Señor Carillo, the Picos, and others
prominent there, stating that these men will accept what is wisest for
the province," replied Mendoza.

"Well said!  Well said!" broke in the heavy voice of O'Donnell.

Billings looked around the room from one face to another.  Finally, his
eyes rested on Mendoza.  "But there is a possibility if I take your
capital that I may be asked to give it over to the English admiral.  Is
that not true?  Your people, after all, may vote to become a British
dependency," giving the table beside him a resounding blow with his
clenched hand.

"A bare possibility--nothing more," said Mendoza, quietly.

"In which case I should have my trouble for my pains," asserted the
American.

"You would, then, have aided a sovereign people to exercise their right
of franchise.  Surely, your government would uphold you in that.
Besides, the chance is ten to one--yes, a hundred to one--that your
flag will continue flying over the province," argued the Administrator.

Billings's heavy mustachios raised along his face in a peculiar smile.
His bushy eyebrows were elevated.  In a moment his features fell into
their usual mold.

"If I do not take Monterey, what then?"

"Then comes England," replied Mendoza, his voice low and even, "and at
the present--the present, mind you, I say--an apparent majority of our
people would welcome her coming.  If she comes, she will stay."  He
looked steadily at the other.  "Señor the Commodore, it may be now or
never for the Americans."

There was a rush of feet in the corridor, a clatter of excited native
voices, angry expostulations, and then there burst into the room a
figure which startled the grave assemblage nearly out of its senses.  A
man naked to the waist, his feet cut and bleeding, his face streaked
with dust and perspiration.  He was scarcely able to stand.

"Dios!" exclaimed Mendoza.  "It's Señor Zelaya.  What has happened?"

The perspiring, fainting man partially steadied himself.  "The English
fleet sailed--this morning--at daybreak--toward the south--decks
cleared for action----"  He collapsed and would have fallen had not
Mendoza caught him.

Zelaya soon recovered.  Quickly he told his story.

"By thunder!  The English fleet stripped for battle!  Hurrying to
Monterey!  I'll shoot their infernal rudders off!" cried the Commodore.

Hamilton, unsheathing his sword, bounded to the side of his superior.

Billings's blade gave answering flash.

Excited voices hushed under the swish of steel.

The officers and Mendoza strode from the room.

O'Donnell was already at his horse's side.

"On, for Half Moon Bay!  You, O'Donnell, lead the way!" shouted
Billings.

"Faith!  Commodore, I'm in for the race, and it's bad luck catch the
hindmost!" as O'Donnell swung to the saddle.

Tomaso and his peons, signaled by Mendoza, came hurrying with horses.

"I too will ride with the Commodore Americano," called Zelaya,
forgetful of his fatigue.

"Not so, Pedro," from Mendoza.  "A bed and a surgeon for thee."

The Administrator mounted his prized racer, Mercurio.  He waved his
hand.  Instantly, Tomaso and his fighting peons reined their horses
behind him in double file.  Captain Hamilton stood with toe in stirrup,
looking ruefully enough at the prospect of a jolting ride back to Half
Moon Bay.

"Fall in, Captain!" called Billings.

In a moment the Captain was racing along the road, not second to many
in the run.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE NEXT DAY

"It's ingratitude, I say, ingratitude worthy of a--Catalonian," puffed
Colonel Barcelo, striding up and down the veranda on the second story
of his house.

"But, dear husband, Captain Morando is not a Catalonian.  He is
Castilian, native of Madrid, just the same as we are."

The Colonel paused in his walk and glared at his wife.  "All the worse
for him!  All the worse for him!" he roared.  "He has birth and
training of a lion and the instincts of a--a----"  Breath failed him.

"O, dear husband!" in expostulation.

"Dear husband!  Dear husband!" mockingly.  "This is no time----"
Sufficient breath had not returned to him to complete his thought.

"O, Crisostimo!  Crisostimo!"

"Crisostimo!  Crisostimo!" again mocking her.  "I've always said,
Señora Barcelo, that you have no pride, and that you talk too much."

"O, my husband, you don't love me any more.  How I wish I had never
come to California!"

"So do I," growled the husband.

"How dare you!  How dare you!" bridled the little woman.  "I believe,
now, those stories about your drinking absinthe and gambling in Paris."

"Clarinda, love, I mean I wish _we_ had never come to California, but
that _we_ had remained in Europe."

"Well, that sounds different."

"As for this Morando, why, confound those Catalonian instincts in him!"

"But he isn't a Catalonian."

"I nearly shot a villainous Catalan major once for less than what
Morando has done," he blustered, ignoring his wife's remark.

"What has Captain Morando done?  I'm sure he is a very good man, and
everyone thinks him handsome."

"Handsome!" straightening his shoulders and looking down at his ample
proportions.  "Handsome!  Why, once at a court ball where I was present
half a dozen princesses----"

"Were present also, I presume," snappingly interrupted his wife.
"Well, tell me about Morando."

"Clarinda, my dear," sententiously, "I've labored for position and
power, not for my own sake, but that you should receive what is worthy
of you.  That has been my great ambition," pompously.

"How exceedingly nice of you!" half sarcastically from the señora, not
yet quite mollified after her husband's reference to the princesses.

"I had climbed to a place where high honor was almost mine.  Mexico
goes out of California and England comes in.  I had aimed to gain for
myself governorship of the province, as well as the
commandership-in-chief of all the land forces.  Under England such a
position should satisfy anyone.  It would have satisfied me--at least,
for the present; that is, my love, when you would be at my side sharing
the honors."

"Where else would I be?" her wide-open eyes darkening a little.

"Nowhere else; nowhere else, my love--not with my consent."

"Nor mine either," firmly.

The Colonel floundered a moment.  "Where was I when interrupted?  O
yes.  At last I had attained a place proper and fitting for me--and for
you, too, Clarinda.  When I say 'I' I mean you also."

"Crisostimo, why didn't you say that at first?"

"First!  Say it first!  Well, I meant it first.  Now, comes this
Morando, this villainous Morando----"

"Crisostimo, he is no such thing," defended the señora with indignation.

"A man whom I have often fed at my own table----"

"You never did but once," again interrupting.  "Other than that he has
never eaten a bite in this house, except the coffee and cake sister
Silvia gave him early one morning when he happened to be here."

"Well, he didn't deserve even that."

Señora Valentino came on the veranda.  "Why, my dear brother, what has
happened?  Your face is red and perspiring, and you seem excited."

"O, Silvia, sweetheart.  Crisostimo has been saying mean things about
your friend Captain Morando."

"And with reason," interjected Barcelo, gruffly.

"How so?" queried the sister.

"My confidence in this Morando has been shattered to pieces."

"And how?"

"Just what I've asked him," from the Colonel's wife.

"I've just come from an interview with the English consul here.  Found
him closeted with that Farquharson.  Well, they told me the English
admiral is to take possession of Monterey to-morrow," from Barcelo.

"Why should that make you say mean things about the Captain?" asked his
wife.

He puffed his cheeks and rested his palms upon his hips, in
characteristic pose.  "This Morando has been laying plans to capture
for himself the combined office of governor and commander-in-chief of
this province."

"O, Crisostimo," faintly from Señora Barcelo, "this cannot be true.
You must be mistaken."

"Mistaken, wife!  Mistaken!  Why, that Farquharson told me himself, in
cold blood, that Morando is to be given the office, and the English
consul seconded the fellow."

"We all thought so much of the Captain," from his wife, nearly overcome.

"You'll see I'm right about the man," a triumphant note in the
Colonel's voice.

"I know you are always right, Crisostimo, love."

"Well, poor little Clarinda, you are not to be governor's wife, nor yet
wife of the commander-in-chief," he commiserated.

"We've always made the Captain so welcome when he came here, and he was
such an intimate friend of you, Silvia.  How could he have meditated
such treason against us all?"

"Treason is just the name for it.  But--England isn't here yet, and
I've got something to say about her coming.  I am comandante of this
presidio."

"Why, of course!" his wife cheering up.

"Yes, of course!  Of course," exulted the Colonel.

"Silvia," asked her sister, "haven't you something to suggest?  People
say you are so bright."

Señora Valentino turned away to hide her smile.  "The English consul
and Señor Farquharson told you that Captain Morando is to receive the
honor of which you speak?" addressing Barcelo.

"Well, it was this way.  You see, I forced their hand.  Just pinned
them down; so, yes, or no, was all they could say," with a knowing nod.

A servant entered.  "A message from the porter," she announced.

"Speak!" commanded her master.

"An orderly is at the door and requests to see Colonel Barcelo."

"Show him up here."

The soldier entered, saluted his commander and bowed to the women.  "I
have the honor to say the lookout at the castle reports ships entering
the outer harbor."

"Coming, are they?  Well, I shall let them see I am a soldier and a
caballero; and, perhaps," moving his head from side to side, "that I am
in command of the castle here.  Clarinda, where is my new uniform?  I
shall appear in that, as befits the occasion."

The Colonel's wife, all a-flutter, took his arm and walked with him
down the veranda stairs, Señora Valentino following.

The atmosphere of Monterey was tense with feeling that morning.  By
some telepathy news of the expected event had spread out from the
capital.  Hamlet, hacienda, and Indian rancheria were alike agog.

"Benito, the horses," called Barcelo, coming to the porte-cochere.

The acting governor made an imposing figure in his full colonel's
regimentals.  He mounted his horse with heavy dignity.  "Wife, and
sister Silvia, you ride with me."

They rode along the street to the public square.  Already it bore
resemblance to a fiesta day.  Sidewalks were lined with men talking
with lightninglike rapidity between puffs of their cigaritos.  Peon and
ranchero joined in the talk.  Windows, verandas, roofs, even, were
splendid in the vari-colored dress and headgear of the señora, señorita
and peona.  The whole world of Monterey became akin under stress of the
greatest day it had ever known.

The Colonel endeavored to push rapidly through the square on his way to
the castle.  He was one of very many bent on the same errand.  Carretas
strained and squeaked in the press; horses snorted, reared, plunged;
pedestrians risked life and limb by darting hither and thither, as
opening presented.

"Out of the way!  Out of the way!" Barcelo shouted after a little.
"Here I am, only half way to the castle.  Out of the way, I say!  The
Governor and his party are coming."

Two carretas going in opposite directions had locked wheels.  The
postilions were hurling curses and threats at each other; the occupants
of the vehicles were screaming, while numerous fellow travelers were
lavishly advising the best manner of breaking up the obstruction.

"Peste!" again from the Colonel.  "Give way!  Give way!  Such drivers
should be knocked senseless!"

Peons now seized the teams by the bridles; others pulled and tugged at
the carretas until each was backed into freedom.

The stream of life once more toiled onward toward the castle.  The
Barcelos were carried on its bosom.

The old castle was built on a bluff overlooking Monterey harbor.  Its
black-mouthed guns had long gaped over the quiet of the land-locked
waters, and its buttressed walls meant safety to padre, Indian
neophyte, and Spanish hacendado.

The fort had been called "castle" by its builders when the flag of
Spain waved over the Californias.  Its appointments were mediæval.  The
moss-grown walls betokened decay; while the crumbling cement in the
rock-ribbed abutments told the same story.  Its ordnance was ranged to
protect harbor and approaches.  Moreover, it had protected them.
Within the memory of the present generation two robber vessels had
attempted to force entrance.  The cannon thundered and one buccaneer
boat laid her bones at the bottom of the bay; while the other, white
flag at masthead, sued for mercy.

A long line of soldiers held the crowd at proper distance from the
castle.  The Colonel, with his wife and sister-in-law, made his way to
the entrance, then along wide corridor and winding stair to the upper
battlement.

Silently they looked out over the unheeding water.  The surf murmured
beneath them.  The ocean nestled lazily against the horizon.  Seabirds
floated aimlessly in the air; or, with piercing cry, hurtled downward
for the finny creatures below the surface of the swell.

Fishing smacks, ever ready to dare the roughest weather on prospect of
full nets and ready market, now, careless of both, had found sheltered
nooks whence to await the great happening.  Other boats swayed at
anchor near the beach.

"Major Silva," asked Barcelo of his second in command, "is our lookout
sure he saw the fleet?  I see nothing here."

"Absolutely certain, Colonel.  His glass showed them plainly from the
tower nearly an hour ago."

"Very well.  See that mob out there doesn't push in any nearer."

The Major saluted and departed.

"The whole countryside seems to have pulled itself up by its boots and
jumped into town; but as for that much-bragged of English fleet, there
is not a sign.  I, for one, don't believe it's coming.  Bah!" blustered
Barcelo.

"Comandante, the foreign consuls are at the gate," announced an orderly.

"Show them here."

The Comandante received them all with words and manner ceremoniously
polite.

Glasses searched sky and water line, but in vain.  Colonel Barcelo went
from bastion to bastion calling to his side the gunners of each piece
of artillery.

Chance sentences which had fallen here and there now thickened into
connected conversation, as little groups were formed.

"Your words stirred up my brother-in-law this morning," Señora
Valentino said in quick aside to Captain Farquharson, who had
accompanied the consuls to the castle.

"It was the eleventh hour.  He asked me a blunt question and I could do
nothing but give him a plain answer.  He cannot harm us."

"Fairbanks is not keen on this prize, Captain," moving her head
thoughtfully.

Señora Barcelo came to her sister's side.  "Silvia, look through this
spyglass--over that ledge, then to where that thin scroll of fog dips
down to the water."

Conversation ceased, and a dozen glasses scanned the spot.

A strip of white rose into sight, glanced in the sun, darkened, then
gleamed like a sunflash on ice.  To the left was another, then another.
Suddenly, four more projected into plain view on the right.

"The fleet!  The fleet!" chorused every side.

Breezes of late forenoon freshened over the harbor.  Headland and sky
line cleared of feathery mist.

The seven ships, every sail set, hove into full sight.

Captain Farquharson, resting his hands on a parapet, scrutinized
eagerly the nearing men-of-war.  His wish framed a thought which he
believed Fairbanks's coming vitalized.

Thirty years ago Spain's nerveless hand fell from the Californias,
leaving them to Mexico.  Mexico's hold, feeble always, year by year had
loosened.  To-day would see the end.

His daydream grew.

The pushing, restless Saxon of Atlantic America, after overflowing the
valley of the Mississippi, would not bring his civilization to the
farthest West.  Ford rivers, traverse deserts, fell forests as he
might, at last he would meet a difficulty he could not surmount, the
backfiring line of a civilization, virile as his own, wrought by the
hand of his English cousin, and this day begun in the capital,
Monterey.  Another empire was about to come under Great Britain's sway.

"Señors!" Comandante Barcelo's voice, low and tense, broke the
stillness.

Farquharson started from his reverie.

With bellying sails the fleet came scudding on, the dark hulls scarcely
touching the water.  Fairbanks's flagship was in the lead, her
commander's pennant flinging from the foremast, the union jack
streaming above.  Back from the leader, in triangular spread, as wild
fowl move, followed the others, three on a side.

"Señors, attention!" again from Barcelo.  "Let us have understanding
right here and now.  You people have come here to-day to see a province
pass from hand to hand, but," pointing to the cannon, "straight words
from the throats of these jolly boys here shall speak a salute the
aspiring English little expect.  You, men of the consulate, go, tell
your nations, California scorns any yoke."

"Nonsense!" cried Farquharson.  "Our ships will batter this ramshackle
to pieces in ten minutes."

Barcelo exploded a tremendous, "Huh!" then added, "No need keeps you
here.  The casemates are at your disposal."

"Perdition on your folly!" from the angry Englishman.  "Why, man, I've
faced death a score more times than you have fingers and toes, you
insufferable ass!"

"Another word, and I'll clap you in irons!" was Barcelo's threat.
Turning to the women he said, "It is time for the señoras to seek
safety below."

"I shall remain here," from Señora Valentino.

"I shall stay, also," announced the Colonel's wife.

"Señoras, I insist that you go below--and at once!  Orderly, take these
ladies down immediately.  As for you," turning to the men, "you can
suit yourselves.  Stay, if you will--if your noses itch for powder
smoke."

Farquharson glowered at the Colonel, but did not speak.  The surprised
civilians hurriedly grouped themselves against a parapet.

The flagship stood in to the sheltered lea of the harbor.  As a thing
alive she ran.  At each onward bound she raised her forefoot clear,
then plunged nose-deep into the churning spray.  Her bulging canvas
gleamed against the distant background.

The Admiral and his officers were on the quarterdeck.  Marines and
man-o'-war's men swarmed aft.

"Make ready!" called Barcelo.

Each cannoneer stood by the priming of his piece, a lighted fuse
spluttering in his hand.

"Fire!" shouted the Colonel, in voice so carrying that it reached the
city square.

The old cannon mouths belched response.

Sheets of flame and smoke darted into the empty air.  Over town and
rolling land awoke a thousand echoes.

The fort shivered to its venerable foundation.

Across the harbor ricocheted the heavy shots, dotting a path straight
to Fairbanks's ship.  A school of flying fish these shots might have
been, moistening their fins now and then, to show that water was their
element.  They dropped below the surface, as seeking rest, short of
their destination a hundred yards.

"Elevate the muzzles of the guns!" yelled Barcelo.  "Quick!  the
levers.  Swing them in place!  Bear down!  Bear down, I tell you!
Bring props.  Now, get to work!  Load again!"

Swabbers labored with might and main.  Powder carriers came stumbling
through the clinging smoke.  Sinewy arms strained under the iron shot.

Seizing a ramrod, with his own hands the sooty and perspiring Colonel
worked shoulder to shoulder with his men.

Signal flags arose, fluttered, fell, on the Admiral's vessel.  Sailors
swarmed through the rigging, like flies.  Sails shortened, as by magic.
Under lessened speed she swung until her length paralleled the
water-front.

"Up with the white flag, Colonel Barcelo!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  For
God's sake, give the order!" cried Farquharson.  "She's ready for a
broadside."

As he spoke he ran to the flagstaff.  The consuls, storming and
demanding, followed him, and made as if to lower the colors.

Barcelo halted them with drawn pistol.  "Stand away! you squealing
rats.  I'll shoot the man who touches a halyard."

The Englishman stepped back; likewise, the others.

"O, our wives and children!" some one hoarsely cried.

"Comandante, for the love of God, bethink yourself!" remonstrated
Farquharson.

"Sight those guns!" persisted Barcelo in a voice of thunder.  "Now's
your time!  The ship's showing bottom like a dying fish.  Hit the line,
men, between air and water!  Fire!"

Hill and valley again boomed in angry refrain.  Over the bay skimmed
the shot, true poised for distance, but scattering a course a quarter
mile from the flagship's side.

Deck and port-hole of the great vessel frowned on the upstart who dared
dispute the coming of the giant.

Away from the castle grounds in confusion tumbled the crowds that had
so gayly come to enjoy a holiday.

Panic-stricken, Monterey held its breath, each instant seeing the next
instant terrible in red destruction, to satisfy the Briton's vengeance.

Still the flagship swung, the circle widening, her cannon sullenly
silent.

Helm hard down, she put about till Monterey lay astern.  Her sails
unfurled.  Proud in the knowledge of her unused strength she spurned
castle and capital and made majestically for the open sea.

One by one the warships wheeled and followed the leader, in triangular
lines, as before.

The sea-breeze lifted from the castle the thick, black smoke-cloud.
The gunners, begrimed and eager, held by their pieces.

Farquharson, white with suppressed rage, paced the battlement.

The consuls were gathered in knots of twos and threes.

Barcelo, grim and aloof, stood with folded arms and watched the
departing fleet until the last speck dropped from sight.

On the way home, an hour later, Señora Valentino volunteered to the
Colonel: "Well, the British ships have come--and gone."

"Yes--and I am still comandante," bluster reasserting itself.  Then, to
his wife: "That peon valet laid out my new uniform all right, but he
gave me my old sword belt.  There's simply no depending on the fellow."



CHAPTER XXV

BROWN TAKES A HAND AT DIPLOMACY

"The consummate sentimental bookworm!  He hasn't gumption enough to
manage a hedge school."  Farquharson threw himself into a chair and
crossed his legs, knocking over another chair in the process.  It was
in the house of the English consul.

"I haven't caught breath after the pandemonium this morning," returned
the consul.  "I'm glad to be back here alive."

"See here, Twickenham, you're a civilian, and have no stomach for
fighting, and not to blame either; but Fairbanks is a fighting machine.
It's his business to shoot and be shot at.  Sentiment is out of place
in a commander of a fleet.  A plague on him!  Barcelo flips a few
birdshot out of a brace or two of pill boxes.  The British nation bows.
Well, you saw the farce this morning.  By Jove!  I'll have Fairbanks
before the high court, to answer for his work--or lack of it."
Farquharson was now nervously stepping up and down the room.

"I've had my signal-fires on the hills since noon, asking the Admiral
to meet me.  I want it to be on land, or anywhere off his ships.  On
neutral ground I'm free to call his conduct by the name it deserves.
England has suffered humiliation to-day, and all because of him!  The
dolt!"

"I thought the ship would begin bombardment at once.  I don't mind
confessing that 'twas a dread time as far as I was concerned."

"Begin bombardment!" Farquharson paused in his walk.  "Why didn't he
blast the old fort into nothingness, and California would be ours.
I'll wake him when I meet him."

"Hold on, Captain!  If that blasting process of yours had gone on, we,
personally, wouldn't possess California, or anything else, now."

"O, Twickenham!  Well, you're not a fighting man.  Besides, Admiral
Fairbanks didn't know we were in the castle.  Furthermore, there was
safety enough in the subways, if we had minded to go there."

Again he threw himself into a chair, and began fuming anew.  "Now,
there's Señora Valentino!  She left Europe, and all that this meant to
the woman she is.  She has come to this out-of-the-way place--worked
hard! and conscientiously!  And for what?  By the way, the señora
should be here.  She sent word she's heard something important.  She's
five minutes overdue as it is."

"That clock is fast, Captain."

Farquharson looked at his watch.  "Only two minutes fast."  He was on
his feet again.  "What can have kept her!"

"O, sit down, Farquharson.  Let's talk over this matter."

"Talk over the matter!  That's just the trouble.  It's talk, talk,
talk!--and nothing done!  Just wait till I meet Fairbanks!  I'll----"

"Now, see here, Captain Farquharson.  I'm only a business man, and I
don't know anything about fighting, as you intimate.  But, can't you
and the señora bring Barcelo to some reasonable attitude in this
affair?  Have him and Admiral Fairbanks arrange an entente cordiale, so
that Monterey will pass into our hands without a repetition of this
morning's fusillade."

The consul's wife ushered in Señora Valentino.

"Friends, I have received news from Half Moon Bay," the señora
announced, coming to the point at once, and waiving all greetings.

"Of Billings's fleet?"

"Yes.  The sloop-of-war, the Cyane, went aground some time yesterday."

"How did the news come?  Is it authentic?"

"It is, Captain.  Alberto, the peon, brought me word.  By day and night
he hurried."

"Splendid, señora!"

"Commodore Billings has only one other vessel, and that is his
flagship, the United States," added the señora.

"Billings isn't likely to try to force the harbor with a single boat.
The Yankee's mishap is our opportunity."

"But the Cyane may float at highest tide which comes in a few days now."

The señora then added significantly: "The United States can care little
for this territory, judging from the weakness of their Pacific fleet.
We must press this on our reluctant Admiral."

"Yes, we'll have to coax him back into Monterey, as a mother leads a
bashful child into company.  But--that bumptious Barcelo!  What has he
to say of his conduct?  California voted to come under our protection,
he with the others.  What, under heaven's name, prompted him?"

"The real man was to the fore this morning, Captain.  His blustering
second self was submerged."

"Second self submerged?  Well!  And did the cannonading in that rickety
fort settle the dregs?  My word!  But what does he say of it all?"

"That his honor demanded the resistance."

"Then, why in the world didn't he think of that when he voted at the
baile?  Not bid us to gather our basket of eggs, only to throw a
bowlder into the midst."

"The Colonel's mind was on cribbage that night rather than on the
province."

"And the coming of the ships took his mind from cards to fighting,"
elevating his eyebrows.

"Disappointed ambition did that."

"Disappointed ambition?  Señora, we gave him no assurance of office
under our regime."

"No, but he cherished the desire, and importuned you this morning to
confirm it."

"Well, he received his answer."  The Captain's back stiffened.

"Yes, Captain Farquharson, and he gave us his.  The soldier of other
days awoke."

"I should say he did!  I wish his popguns had shaken into Fairbanks
some of that same spirit."

The señora rose to go.  "A message will bring me, Captain, when you get
in touch with the Admiral."

"I am expecting each moment to hear from him.  At least he can use his
guns to fire signals."

Both Farquharson and Twickenham attended the lady to the street.

The holiday appearance was gone from the capital.  Many of the
residents had taken themselves and their families out of the
possible-danger zone.  The others remained well within the shadow of
their own rooftrees.

Farquharson's horse took him to the high ground back of the city.
Reaching perpendicularly from a half dozen hills were thin pillars of
signal smoke.  Touching the upper air drafts they bent horizonward, and
drifted slowly into nothingness.

"My smoke does its work all right, but Fairbanks's guns appear to be
dumb.  Drat the fellow!"

His glasses pointed out to sea.  For a moment, by chance, it rested on
the town below.

"Well, anyway Monterey will learn that every day isn't a fiesta day."
He half chuckled.

Again he directed his attention to the smoke now ascending in fresh
volume as peons replenished the fires.  Again he swept the ocean with
his spyglass.

A small boat was landing on the beach below the castle.  The crew,
waist-deep in water, was sliding it in, on the crest of a breaker.  One
man separated from the others and walked toward the town.  The spyglass
covered him, though Farquharson's thoughts were elsewhere.

"Why!  Why!" in a moment, "it's old Brown.  What's he been doing on a
native fishing-boat?"

He shut his glass together; looked once more at the smoke columns, then
cantered down the hill.  He came on his former employee near the plaza.

"How do, Brown?"

"Fine, Cap'.  How are you?"

"Glad to see you, Brown."

"Same here, Cap'.  I'm powerful glad."

Farquharson and the Missourian gripped in cordial handshake.

"Brown, I just saw you leave that sailboat.  Are you engaged in
catching fish?"

Brown leaned against the Captain's horse, tangled his hand in its mane,
crossed one foot over the other, and said: "Nary fishin', Cap'."

"Well, that's a deep-sea fishing-boat."

"I reckon.  But I didn't fish none in that craft."

"Out for pleasure, then.  Well, what have you been doing with yourself
since I saw you last?"

Brown wagged his head.

"Cap', I signed up with you in Santa Fé on prospect of big game huntin'
and adventure.  Well, there's been no big game, but I'm meetin'
adventure, at last."

"I'm much interested.  I presume you were in this boat when the
bombardment was going on this morning."

"Nope.  Only met her a while back.  Cap', you couldn't guess where I
was this mornin'."

"Well," laughing, "as you would say, I reckon not."

Brown wagged his head once more, placed his back squarely against the
horse, and announced impressively: "Cap'n Farquharson, this mornin' I
was on the flagship of Ad_my_ral Fairbanks."

The Captain dropped the bridle-rein in his astonishment.  The horse
sidled away suddenly, and Brown nearly lost his equilibrium.

"Admiral Fairbanks's flagship!" incredulously.  "Why, I thought you had
taken service with Mendoza."

Brown recovered balance.

"Yes, Mr. Mendoza has hired me to work for him at Mission San José, and
I was on Ad_my_ral Fairbanks's ship this mornin'."

"How in the name of common sense, man, can you reconcile the two
things?"

"Well, Cap', let me say, there's some things I won't speak of, seein'
they're political and we're on different sides."

"Never mind, Brown; tell me how you came to be with Fairbanks to-day."

"Well, Cap', yesterday mornin' a bunch of Injuns were rowin' me out to
one of our warships, for what purpose I'll not say."

"All right, Brown.  It was doubtless at Half Moon Bay.  But never mind,
go on."

"Well, Cap', whether it was or not, we got lost in the fog.  Never saw
so thick a fog.  Couldn't see a rowlock."

"Yes, yes."

"Well, my Injuns rowed and rowed, and palavered, and what not.  Then,
they began cryin' and prayin'-like, and I understood we was lost.
Hours went by.  Waves began splashin' into the boat later, and I knew
we had got out to sea.  Innards felt awkward.  Small boat's a mean
place for seasickness."

"Brown, I mean no offense, but will you not tell me, in a few words,
how you happened into Fairbanks's flagship?"

"Sure.  Fine ship she is.  You ever been on board, Cap'?"

Farquharson laughed.

"You are the same old Brown, I see.  Now, forge ahead."

"Sure pop, Cap'.  Injuns finally gave up, dropped oars and lay down in
the bottom of the boat.  I didn't blame 'em; fact there was as much
sense in that as doin' anything else, under the circumstances."

The Englishman leaned on the pommel and waited resignedly.

"All suddenly the wind began to blow harder.  Whew! but she came
a-kitin'.  Seen the same thing many a time on the Mississippi River.
Boat pitched like a log fallin' down hill.  Boss Injun grabbed the
tiller, and howled jabber-talk at the others like all-possessed.
Oarsmen got their paddles goin' in no time.  Didn't think such quick
work was in the critters."

"Brown--I'm--listening."

"All right, Cap'.  I'll go on talkin'.  Well, fog began clearin'.  The
Injuns took heart; put the boat about and started off for somewhere.
First thing I knew, we were in trouble again.  The ocean pitched wors'n
before, though the wind had eased up.  Soon, sir, our boat lifted clear
of the water and dived down like a duck.  Yes, sir!"

"Yes."

"Seems to me I went along on down for ten fathoms anyway.  Awfullest
commotion under there you ever heard of.  All the time I was thinkin',
yes, sir, thinking that as much as I wanted adventure I wasn't lookin'
for it on the bottom of the ocean.

"Then, I began whirlin', till I didn't know anything.  First I remember
I was top of the waves once more, sort o' dazed like, and whippin' away
from us, like a hurricane, was an all-fired big ship.  She was just
a-clippin' it, knots and knots per hour.  You see, we'd been caught in
her wash, and just naturally capsized."

"Yes, yes.  It was the flagship, was it?"

"Certain, Cap', and neat work she did pickin' us up.  I was floatin' on
my back, tryin' to think, when a rowboat came along.  A couple of
sailors caught me by my midships and shirt collar.  In no time I was
across a thwart, head hangin' down, and the sea-water just boilin' out
o' my mouth.  Sooner than I could tell it every one of the Injuns was
aboard and likewise bein' deprived of the water they'd swallowed.

"Well, the big boat slowed up and waited.  Our rowboat was soon
alongside, and we were hauled up."

"So, Fairbanks brought you to Monterey and dropped you on that fishing
smack.  Brown, I'm glad you've met with an adventure at last.  The
fleet was off the harbor when you left, was it not?  The entire seven
ships, I mean."

"Cap', the seven ships were out there all right.  But I don't consider
that capsizin' my real adventure.  No, sir!"

"You met another mishap?" turning his bridle-rein, and looking at the
signal smoke.  "I hope it terminated as well for you as the first.
What was it?"

"Nary mishap.  Last night I had an interview with the Ad_my_ral."

Farquharson's attention quickly turned back to Brown.  "An interview
with Fairbanks?"

"Yes.  And I had another this afternoon, a bunch of officers bein'
present.  I consider these interviews worthy of the name of adventure."

"Man, man, what are you talking about?"

"About interviews and adventures, Cap'.  You were askin' about 'em.  Do
you mind my telling you, friend Cap', that you seem sort o' forgetful
and absent-mindedlike?  Guess I'll be goin'."  The American made a move
to depart and held out his hand to Farquharson.

"No, no, Brown, don't go.  I'll pull my wits together.  I'm more than
interested.  Your interviews appeared so big to me that I couldn't just
catch it at first.  Now, please tell me all about it."

"All right, Cap'.  Since you're so interested I'll begin at the
beginnin'.  First, I and the Injuns were taken to a real nice place.
Beds were there, and everything looked fine.  A feller in uniform came
'round, the ship's doctor, and ordered me to 'get out o' those
clothes.'  My clothes were wet and uncomfortable, anyway, so I didn't
mind 'em off, and off they came.  He poked and pulled me most
unmerciful.  'You're not hurt,' said he, when I'd got so mad I wouldn't
have stood another poke.  'I'd have told you that in the beginnin',' I
informed him.  Then to another uniformed feller he called.  'Brandy for
him, a full gill, and get him some dry clothes.'  Well, the Injuns----

"Brown, let's come to that interview as soon as we can.  Of course I
would like to hear every particular, but time is rather short just now,
and I do want to hear all about your talk with the Admiral."

Farquharson's horse caught his master's impatience and pranced around
the American.  Brown pivoted, keeping his face turned to the Captain.

"Now, see here, Cap', if I tell you it all, it's likely to rile you up.
But it's no secret.  I'd be willin' to tell it to anybody; and, between
man and man, I'd rather you'd hear it from me than from somebody else.
On the whole, I'm glad I've a chance to tell you, myself, bein' that
we've been such good friends.  'Course, Cap', I'd be sorry to lose your
friendship, but politics is politics, and I talked to the Ad_my_ral to
boost my own side, which same side is the United States."

"Go on, Brown.  I hope you will tell it all.  I know very well which
side you're on, and, as you say, 'Politics is politics!'"

"All right, just as you say, Cap'.  A uniformed man brought me some
clothes.  He was chaplain.  Nice, clever young feller he was.  I soon
got into them clothes.  I engaged him in conversation, as to his place
of residence, and so forth.  Then he engaged me."  Brown's language
assumed company dress for the moment.  He straightened up, took off his
hat, and continued:

"The chaplain said to me, 'You're familiar with Monterey, are you?'
'Yes,' I said.  'I was 'round there considerable when I worked for
Cap'n Farquharson.' Cap', he knew you like a book.  Said I, 'The Cap'n
is smart on politics, but his politics don't go in California.'  'Why
not?' he asked me.  'We won't have it,' I said.  'Who?' he asked again.
'The American nation,' I said, 'represented by the American fleet,
"Seenyore" Mendoza, and no end of Spanish big fellers.  They're clear
agen it, and so am I.'

"The chaplain perked up a good deal at this.  I went on.  '"Seenyore"
Mendoza, my present employer, fought old Napoleon,' said I.  'The
"Seenyore" came here, I reckon, to get rid of tyrants.  He'll fight to
the last ditch before he'll let any of 'em get in here, and I'm with
him.'

"The young preacher looked some serious now.  He went away after a
while."

"Go on, Brown, please."

"All right, Cap'.  The name of the Ad_my_ral's boat is the Vanguard, I
forgot to say.  Well, after supper the preacher came 'round again.
'The Ad_my_ral wants to see you,' he said."

"You went, of course; and what happened there?"

"I could see from the start the preacher was strong with the Ad_my_ral.
'Mr. Blair tells me you are familiar with Monterey,' the Ad_my_ral
said.  'I'm pretty familiar,' I told him.  The Ad_my_ral's room's fixed
up fine, almost like Mr. Mendoza's parlor, only not so big.  'You're
the Brown who was in Cap'n Farquharson's service for a time?' he asked
knowin'-like.  'If you mean his employ, yes,' I said.  'I've heard the
Cap'n speak of you as an honest feller,' he went on pleasant enough,
but watchin' sharp's a cat at a mouse-hole.  I remarked to him, 'I and
all my folks are honest, makin' it a point to be square in money
matters.'

"'You've quit Cap'n Farquharson's employ?' he asked.  'Yes,' I said.
'How was that?' said he.  'O, for reasons,' said I, and shut up like a
clam.  You see, Cap', he was askin' personal questions, which I don't
allow no man, providin' I don't want to answer.

"In a minute he inquired casuallike, 'You're now in the employ of
"Seenyore" Mendoza, is that it?'  I replied very shortlike, 'I am,' and
started to shut up like another clam, then I thought better of it and
blurted out, 'The "Seenyore" is determined no king sets up in business
'round this part o' the world.'

"'Where does this "Seenyore" live?' asked the Ad_my_ral.  'At Mission
San José,' I told him.  'Mission San José?  How long?'  'Ever since he
quit fightin' old Napoleon, I reckon,' I said.  I tell you, that
Ad_my_ral's eyes opened wide.  'Has the "Seenyore" a following in the
province?' he asked.

"I was gettin' pretty mad about then.  I told him about the riflemen
Mr. Mendoza has drillin', and drillin', Spaniards, Injuns, and all.

"Well, the Ad_my_ral looked away and looked away.  Then suddenly he
asked, 'Describe Mendoza's appearance.'  I pretty soon did.  'Yes, the
same man,' he said.

"He was awful quiet for a minute, then he spoke out to himself like.
'Why has no one told me about Mendoza's activities here?  He's a man to
be taken into consideration.  I knew him years ago.'

"Finally the Ad_my_ral said, 'I'll test it out.  Sail into Monterey,
just as we'd planned.'

"I spoke up, 'Monterey don't want you.  If anybody says they do, it's
politics.  Mebbe you can shoot all these cannon at 'em tell they
couldn't fight back any more, but just the same they don't want you.'

"The Ad_my_ral looked mighty queer.  When I left he was still thinkin'
and thinkin'.

"We sailed into Monterey harbor and out again, I still stayin' on the
Ad_my_ral's boat, bein's I couldn't get off, the walkin' not bein'
exactly what you'd call good.

"First thing I knew, I was in the Ad_my_ral's room a second time.  A
power of officers were there from the other ships.  'Repeat your
statement of last night, if you will,' he asked of me.  Well, I did.
Then the Ad_my_ral spoke up, 'The man's words were verified this
mornin' by the fort firin' on us.'

"The officers looked black as thunder.  One big feller said, 'Reduce
their defenses and invest the city at once.' the Ad_my_ral replied,
'I've no call to take Monterey, if she's unwillin', and I'll not do it.'

"Another officer spoke up, savage as the dickens.  'The honor of her
Majesty's navy is assailed.  Let the fleet take over the city!'  'Not
while I'm commandin' the fleet,' put in the Ad_my_ral.

"They were talkin' when I left.  Mebbe they're at it yet.  The fishboat
was waitin' for me and the Injuns.  She skimmed through the waves like
grease, and here I be."

"Confounded chicken-hearted cad!" the Captain exploded.

"How!" from Brown sharply.

"I refer to Fairbanks."

"Fine old gent.  Even if his politics does differ from mine I'm not
agen him as such."

Farquharson stared at the sea.  "Well, your friend Fairbanks, the
Admiral, has done what might be expected from him."

"I reckon you know him better'n I do."

"Brown, you have done devilish work."  Farquharson's face turned on the
other.

"Cap', if it's harm to you personal, I'm sorry.  If it's to your side
in politics, as I reckon it is, I'm all-fired glad."

The Captain continued looking at Brown for a minute.  His frown faded.
"You've had your adventure, old man, and you've hunted big game.  Yes,
by Jove! and bagged it too."  A curious smile crept over his features.

"Well, I haven't got it with me, Cap'."

"Say, Brown, when you went out yesterday toward that warship of yours,
did you see that the Cyane----"

"No, you don't, Cap'.  That there's where secrets come in, secrets from
you and your side."

"Boom!  Boom!--Boom!  Boom!  Boom!--Boom!  Boom!" sounded from the sea.

Farquharson listened intently.

The signal was repeated.  "Boom!  Boom!--Boom!  Boom!  Boom!--Boom!
Boom!"

"Yerba--Buena--to-morrow," Farquharson muttered, anger clinching his
teeth, as his horse, under a vicious jab of the spur, dashed forward
and into the town, unceremoniously leaving Brown.

"Signaling, hey?  Them cannons were boomers, all right.  I've been
noticing that smoke, back up on the hills, all the time I was talkin'
to the Cap', and I expected to see or hear somethin' answer back."

He walked leisurely through the plaza and reached the city just in time
to see Farquharson and Señora Valentino ride away in hurried gallop.

"Ah, ah!  Simon J. Brown, get to work yourself.  Find a horse and light
out for the north."



CHAPTER XXVI

BRAVING THE STORM

"A hurricane in midsummer in the temperate zone.  A raging ocean, named
Pacific.  A non-combatant admiral commanding a fighting fleet.  What a
diabolical combination!"

"Add, the hurricane is piling water on the swelling tides at Half Moon
Bay.  Soon, the Cyane, willy, nilly, deserts her sand-banks," was
Señora Valentino's doleful contribution.

"And the Yankee commodore flies his flag over Monterey, appending the
province to Yankeedom.  Blast it all!  I'd give a kingdom----"  He
paused.

"'For a horse,' does your Shakespeare say?" smiling a little.  "There
is only one thing left.  If the mountain does not come to Mohammed,
then Mohammed must go to the mountain."

"Señora, put out in a small boat to the flagship, you mean?  It would
be futile, and surely end in death.  Now, let us go to the top of the
hill."

A bluff thickly wooded with scrub oak had sheltered them.  Their
sure-footed horses nimbly climbed a precipitous path zigzagging to the
summit.

"See, señora.  Look, if you can."

They were on Point Lobos crest, overhanging San Francisco Bay, with
Yerba Buena village straggling along the harbor line.

Grit and sand whistled through the air, biting the skin, choking the
throat and stinging the eyes.  With arched backs and drooping heads
their mounts met the storm.  A hundred invisible angry hands buffeted
the man and woman thus inquisitively breasting the humor of the
elements.

The wind lessened, as wearied by too great exertion.  The spiteful
sand-drive ceased.  Dimly at first, then plainly, yellow dunes
hummocked into sight.  Speaking the fury of a half hemisphere of water
rose the crescendo of the surf.

Through the thinning haze they peered toward the west.  There was the
sea.  Miles away, under bare poles, save here and there a strip of
canvas, struggled the English fleet, each ship face to the gale, the
spyglass showed them, now rising on beam end; now sliding prow
downward; then teetering and dancing.

"Señora, Fairbanks dares not enter the harbor.  It is equally
impossible for me to get out to him.  The storm is rising again.  We
must return to the village."

Gusts of wind pursued them as they hastened over yielding sand and wild
strawberry-plot, or broke through scrub-brush and tree-growth.
Pitiless dust-clouds drove them again from the open to the protection
of a bluff.

They started out once more.

"Captain," in half-stifled voice, "this is the third day Fairbanks's
vessels have stood there performing antics.  No?"

"Yes, señora, and the third day we have been in Yerba Buena waiting for
Fairbanks to keep his tryst with us.  A hundred times we have gone over
this.  I feel greatly to blame that I consented to bring you out into
this simoon again to-day.  What good?"

"But, think you, to-morrow is highest tide.  If Commodore Billings's
sloop-of-war floats, no hurricane keeps him from blockading Monterey.
Yes, and the guns of Colonel Barcelo could not prevent him from seizing
castle and city."

"Fairbanks should be shot!"

"Captain, had Barcelo been kept in ignorance as to the spoils of office
his latent patriotism might still be slumbering; but your English
truthfulness was too much for even a wise diplomat like yourself."

"I was a fool! an inexcusable fool!  But who would have thought the
Comandante capable of such vim and sudden action?  Besides, señora,
there was Brown.  He stirred up quite a kettle of fish in his own way."

"True.  But Fairbanks put in, notwithstanding Brown, and would have
occupied the city, had his reception been more cordial."

"Yes, yes."

"Of course both circumstances worked hand in hand.  Doubtless, neither
by itself would have deterred Fairbanks.  In any event, it's no use
repining."

"You are very kind, señora.  Curse it all anyway!"  After several
moments in which neither spoke, Farquharson continued: "Well, Brown;
good old Brown.  He's a mighty decent fellow, true to his colors, and
fights as fair as the rest of us."

They halted their horses.  Beneath them, a little to the right, was a
group of cabins belonging to fisher folk, smoke arising from the
chimneys, telling of warmth and crude comfort inside.  The boats of the
habitants, high drawn up, were securely fastened to their moorings.

The wind roared and hissed and fumed.  The señora and the Captain
seemed not to heed it.  They were looking, straight-eyed, out to the
lashing sea whereon lay their hopes and their fears.

"Captain, your friend Brown found his way to Fairbanks's ship.  No?"

"Yes, Brown--tumbled--on board."

Their horses were side by side, yet Farquharson's voice sounded muffled
through the howling wind.

"Ah! tumbled.  Yes.  Still, he gained the Admiral's ear.  No?"

"Fate threw the game in Brown's favor, and against us."

"Fate causes the daring one to win; the laggard, to lose.  Is it not
so?" raising her shoulders and waving a hand, with the grace of the
Latin and the art of a beautiful woman.

The spirit of the air paused again.

"Señora, if you mean, by any chance, that I should send a boat out,
why, only a madman would go.  Besides Comandante Pacheco would permit
no boat to leave the presidio; and the alcalde would do the same for
Yerba Buena village."

Time passed.  The señora suddenly spurred her horse.  The startled
animal leaped forward.  "Come, Captain, let us go to town," she called,
already several lengths ahead.

They rode persistently on till they reached a small shed far down where
they stopped for rest.

"Perdition on this inactivity!  If we could only do something--anything
to fill in the time in this dead little hole."

"Yes, Captain," in a detached voice.

"I have a suggestion.  My good hostess, Señora Ramon, showed me
yesterday a chess-board most remarkable in workmanship, brought by the
señor her husband from Spain years ago.  They spend many evenings over
the game, she tells me.  Let us borrow the board and its men and while
away a few hours.  At least with these we can have the satisfaction of
planning--and executing--our own maneuvers.  I wish we had done this
before, instead of indulging in useless, nerve-wracking vigils."

"Thank you, Captain, but I--I shall be otherwise engaged this
afternoon."

"I understand, señora.  You do, truly, need a good rest.  Excuse me for
my thoughtlessness.  I know you are worn out.  I believe, now that I
think of it, I'll follow your example, go to my quarters and turn in
for a time myself."

After partaking of a warm luncheon which her friend Señora Aguirre had
prepared, the señora went to her room.  In the home of Señor Ramon, at
the other end of the village, the Captain settled himself for a siesta.
Not so the señora.  Tying her hair closely, she put on a long, thick
cloak which she carefully buttoned, placing the hood on her head and
well down over her ears; lastly, a veil around her face.  Then she
wrote a short note.

Opening a window she dropped lightly to the ground, keeping under the
eaves till the rear of the house was reached.  As swiftly as would a
boy she ran to the stable and ordered the sleepy groom to give her an
untired horse.  She was soon off, vying with the wind in speed,
ignoring, in her eagerness, both storm and cutting sand.

She came to the cabins near which she and the Captain had been standing
not two hours ago.  Taking the first house at hand she unceremoniously
opened the door.  The surprised occupants, a man and woman, with three
nearly grown sons, started from various attitudes of inertia and
excitedly greeted the lady.

"Quick!  Quick!" she said.  "A boat at once!  I must reach those ships
out there before the night falls."

"Never, señora.  It would mean the life of anyone attempting it."

"No, no!  Come!  Let us be off!  Quick!" hastily opening a small
chamois bag.  Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred dollars in
gold she counted out.  "It is all yours, if you will but come."

The youngest of the sons would do as she wished, if the father and
brothers would join.  They would not.  Yet she urged.  The wailing of
the woman of the family offset any progress she might have made with
the men.

A large diamond ring which the señora always wore, day or evening,
gleamed insinuatingly into her eyes.  She caught its message.  Hastily
removing it she held it out:

"This and the gold, as well, shall be yours.  See, it is worth a
fortune.  Come, be quick!  A boat!"

"But we shall drown!  We shall drown!"

"I tell you no," and before they realized what they were doing they
were out of the house, the señora pulling at the ropes which confined
one of the largest of the little cluster of vessels.

The boat was soon at the edge of the water.  The señora jumped in.  The
men, half dazed, followed.  They bent to the oars, the señora's
commands accompanied by the weeping vociferations of the fisher-wife
and mother.  The other cabins had now emptied themselves, and men,
women, and children united in the hue and cry.  It was too late.
Despite the handicap of wind and wave the sturdy craft was well out,
under the compelling influence of the señora's determination.

Time after time they were on the verge of overturning.  Time after time
huge billows challenged them.  Again, the men wearied almost to
exhaustion, would have given up the oars, to drift as they would, had
not the señora, her eyes flaming, threatened them with all the terrors
of an inferno; or as the mood changed, pleading with them with the
earnestness of a Paul.

They passed the shadows of Point Lobos and fared out across the bar to
the open sea.  Here the storm king's fury was at focus, the incoming
and outgoing seas forming a rip tide.  The boat twisted, pitched,
tossed; was flung around and around.  Wave upon wave rolled over them.
By some trick of fortune they were not hurled into the ocean.

The father and eldest son bent all their iron strength to the oars;
while the others baled out the boat with might and main, the señora
aiding energetically.

"Now, broad-backed father and mighty son, another stroke, and another!"
With the incision of steel her voice pierced the roar of the tempest,
in words of encouragement.  "Another stroke and we're head on again.
Grande, hombres!  She's empty of water now, and lighter to row.
Adelante!"

Slowly over surge and sea-trough they crawled.

Just as they appeared to be getting a little the best of the situation
a tremendous rush of water caught the boat, whirled it about and bore
it harborward at terrific rate.  Before the storm it sped, back to the
lea of Point Lobos hills.  Here the fishermen regained control.

"Madre de Dios!" exclaimed the father.  "Over in one of those coves
we'll find shelter where we can wait a while, till we can get back
home."

"Point Lobos arroyo is here.  We can land," said one of the sons.

"Hombres, turn the boat and sail out to the ships," Señora Valentino
spoke.

"No," from the father, decisively.  "Neither your money nor your jewel
can give life to the drowned."

"Father mine," from the youngest son, "why not go out again?"

"Silly fool!  Go out and be food for fish?  No."

"Ah! the youth is willing to face the dangers.  A woman laughs at them.
Yet the most skilled boatman of Yerba Buena is afraid!  A pretty story
to be told around the net mending on the beach.  A pretty story!  No?"

The man grunted.

"Five hundred other gold pesos, if you reach the ships.  Why not be
rich, enjoy life, and leave fishing to others?"

The Mexican grunted again, "No."

"Turn about.  I warn you," resolution burning her words.

"No, I shall not.  Death awaits if I do."

Her hand rose suddenly.  The man looked into the barrel of a pistol
which the señora pointed steadily at him.  "Death awaits, if you do
not!"

"Huh!" growled the father, "your powder's wet and your pistol good for
nothing.  You can't fool me."

She fired the pistol into the air; drew a second weapon from beneath
her cloak and pointed it in level aim.

"The next shot will not go wild.  Turn back, I say; else I crook my
finger, ever so slightly, and you die, a coward!  Your name a byword
among fishermen!"

The man said nothing.  Pride, and desire of gain spoke urgently; but,
he knew the temper of an angry sea.  On the other hand--that pistol
barrel glinting so unpleasantly; and the eye of the
señora--darkening--threatening.  What a will that white woman has!  Her
hand was tightening--her finger beginning to press the trigger.

"Out to sea, boys!" he cried, suddenly, gripping the oars.  "Get to
work with your paddles.  All together!  Now!"

Once more they made the bar.  The wind had veered from west to north.
A tiny sail, close-reefed, was raised.  The boat flew southward along
the coast, just outside the whitening edge of breakers.  The fleet lay
to the right, but their only hope of reaching the flagship was not in
direct course, but in wide sweep out to sea, then to circle back toward
the west.

The afternoon wore away.  The sun dipped below the water's edge.
Leagues out of sight of either land or warships had they come.

The sail was reefed yet closer.  Father and sons tugged on the tiller
rope.  The rudder, square across the course, brought the boat head to
wind which was again blowing westward.

The little craft cavorted like a bucking broncho; then wheeled, and
dashed homeward again.  A sudden gust tore her canvas from its cordage.
The men sprang to the oars, and mightily fought the sea until the boat
was once more in the teeth of the gale.

They were in their element now.  Many a night had these fishermen lain
out on the sea when unforeseen storm made entering the harbor perilous.
Crossing the bar against an ocean's fury was one thing; to toss, boat
to windward, safe from treacherous rocks, for a night or longer, was
quite another matter.

"Señora," spoke the father, "with our sail we could have reached your
ships by time of dark.  We cannot with the oars.  There's nothing to do
but lie here.  When morning comes we'll row you to where you wish to
go."

The stars crept out and kept watch over the heaving craft.  The waves
hurled spray against the backs of the oarsmen, of which they took no
notice, except as the father would occasionally direct one of his sons
to bale out the water.

Señora Valentino, who had sat for hours through repeated drenchings,
shook with the cold.  She was in the stern of the boat facing the
others.  Through the dimness they saw her crouching, elbows on knees,
her body quivering, her teeth chattering.

Their rude chivalry awoke.  The father spoke to one of the sons, who
searched in the locker till he found a skin which had been rubbed over
with seal oil.  The lady wrapped herself in it.

The storm abated, and the cold increased correspondingly.  The señora
drew the coat more tightly about her.  After a while she slept.

The fishermen began talking in low tones.

"Five hundred pesos," from the eldest son, "besides the one hundred in
hand!  We can buy the store of Manuel Lopez, and sell the fish that
others catch."

"Five hundred pesos," from the youngest.  "Is there that much money in
the world?  I wonder why the señora is so anxious to get on board the
ships?"

"Past finding out are the ways of white people," the father replied.
"Long have I ceased to try to understand them."

"I think," the boy continued, "that she must have a lover there."

"Quién sabe?  If it is a lover I'll think he'll find she possesses
spirit.  Santa Maria!  If all women had half as much, children, I'd bid
you never marry."

"She is most generous with money," in way of defense from the second
son.

"Money flies into the Spaniard's pocket, and out again.  They care
nothing for it.  But this one," nodding to the sleeping woman, "would
have killed us to-day if she had not been given her way."

"We've been calling her 'señora.'  I believe we should have said
'señorita,'" came from the eldest son.

"I think so too; and I'm sure it's her lover she is going to meet out
there," returned the youngest son.

"Anyway, she's very young, and very handsome."

"Handsome is that handsome does," retorted the father.

"But she makes our fortune for us; and she took the risk in coming here
the same as we," reminded the middle son.

The wind spent itself finally in a few rampant whirls.  The boat
commenced to rock in even motion.  The boys worked industriously with
the baling pails.

The father took from the locker two or three fishnets.  These he
bunched together and placed on the bottom of the vessel near where the
lady was sitting.  He touched her on the shoulder.  "Awake, señora.
The wind has gone down, and we'll no longer ship water.  I've made you
quite a good bed from these fishnets.  You can lie here and sleep till
morning."

"Thank you, hombre," as she snuggled down on the improvised bed.

"We usually have aguardiente, but none's left in the locker this trip.
Only by chance did we have that coat you're wearing."

"I'm very comfortable, I shall be as warm as if I were at home in my
own room," she laughed.  "Thank you, again, very, very much."

"These summer nights pass quickly.  It is morning before we know."

Hers was the sleep of exhaustion.

The rattle of oars in rowlocks awakened her.  The men were no longer
merely holding to the wind, but were pulling vigorously.  She felt the
boat urge forward with each stroke.  She raised herself a little and
looked over the gunwale.  There was darkness everywhere, save when the
starlight flashed thinly on some wave-roof.

"A good part of the night is spent, lady," the father said.  "The
currents begin to run as usual, now that the storm is past.  I'm
beating to the windward of your ships.  You may as well go back to
sleep."

After two hours or so he called to her.  "Which ship is it that you
want, señora?"

She looked about.  Morning had come.

"Ah! the reenforcements are here," to herself.  "Our Admiral has now
eleven men-of-war."  Then to the boatman: "That vessel on the left, the
large one flying two flags.  Sabe?"

"Si, señora."

The Mexicans plied their oars yet more diligently.

Miles slipped away.

"Boat, ahoy!" called the lookout on the flagship.

"Ship, ahoy!" in reply from the señora.  "I'm coming on board with a
message for the Admiral."

Without warning a fragment of storm-beaten sea, tearing toward the
harbor, caught alike fisher-boat and man-of-war.

"Fend off, men!  Fend off!  Our suction'll swamp you," shouted the
lookout to the fishermen.

Oars were useless against the onrush.

The leaning masts of the warship overhung the struggling fisher-boat,
wheeled upward, then away.  Into the maelstrom drew the little craft.
Sailors under hurried orders scurried about the decks of the listing
man-of-war.  Ropes whisked over the sides down to the water which was
overclouded by foam and spray.

"The little chap's sunk!" sounded from the man-of-war.

"No, she ain't.  'Ere's a taut rope.  Belike she's fast."

Figures clinging to the boat, upturned, were bobbing about in the
settling mist.

"She's fast to our line, nose aloft like a hooked fish!" from the decks.

"There's a H'english girl on board!" shouted the look out.  "Didn't ye
'ear 'er yell?"

Sailors, ropes knotted under their arms, were dropped to the sea by
their fellows.

"Them's Mexicans," sputtered a big salt rolling over the taffrail with
his burden.  "I've a Mex. kid 'ere, I fancy."

An elderly man, uniform gold-braided and gold-laced, came up.

The supposed Mexican lad threw off the enveloping folds of the oiled
coat.  Jauntily, hand raised as if in salute, Señora Valentino stepped
forth, apparently as fresh as ever in her life, despite her dripping
and clinging garments.

"Come on board, sir!"

"My God!  Señora Valentino!"

"At your service, Admiral Fairbanks," with an exaggerated curtsy.

Sailors and marines backed away.

"Madam, what has happened?"

"Too little, sir.  Much must happen, and at once," her eyes holding his.

"First, hot blankets and the doctor's draughts, good lady."

"I require neither.  A change of clothing would be acceptable, but----"
lifting her hands deprecatingly.

"Not so impossible as you might think.  The cabin that was my wife's
will supply your needs, I'm sure.  She left her keys with me when she
went ashore at the Cape.  The dispatch-boat which sent me flying here
at an hour's notice left her no time to get her belongings.  When you
have made ready we'll confer; that is, after you have seen Doctor
Bartlett."

      *      *      *      *      *

"Señora Valentino," the Admiral had broken in, "Mr. Blair, our
chaplain, the man of many tongues, learned from the men with you your
experiences of yesterday and last night."

"So, señor?"

"The risk you took in coming to me speaks better your conviction that I
should take Monterey than could any word of yours.  But, why has
Colonel Mendoza not been mentioned to me either by you or Captain
Farquharson?  Why not?"

"Señor Mendoza speaks much these days of democracy and fair play.  Yet,
both democracy and fair play demand that the minority accepts the
decision of the majority.  Why should we have mentioned Mendoza?  He
stands almost alone.  As to Governor Barcelo----"

"Do not speak to me of Governor Barcelo!  Only by threats of summary
court-martial did I prevent my captains from bombarding the capital the
other day."  The Admiral sprang excitedly from his chair.

"Wait a moment, Admiral, if you will."

He was again seated.

"Colonel Barcelo sends word to you through me that he has satisfied his
honor, and that you are at liberty to occupy Monterey, for all of him.
He has taken all his troopers to his hacienda eight leagues away in the
country."

"When he fired on me, then, it was merely by way of shotted salute?" in
sarcasm.

"Nothing more, practically."

"Señora, a world war might easily start here."

"Admiral, a world peace might begin here at your word.  The United
States cares nothing for this territory.  Two vessels only have
they--worn and old--in their Pacific squadron.  They even call their
flagship 'the lumber wagon,' by way of jesting.  California is the
balance weight of Texas and Oregon.  The province calls to you.  Peace
calls to you.  Else the future sees dispute and war over province and
empire treasure-trove.

"Admiral Fairbanks, this is the hour, and you are the man.  If you
fail, and, later, the shadows of war darken these shores, then must you
answer at the bar of conscience and humanity.  I have risked my own
life, and forced the poor Mexicans with me to risk theirs, that I might
plead with you."

The commander looked earnestly at the woman.

"Admiral, consider the tremendous potentialities that await your
inaction."

He studied the floor in deep thought.

"Now is the supreme moment, Admiral Fairbanks."

The Admiral arose, looked out the window, walked back to his desk, put
his hands in his pocket, then clasped them behind him; once more went
to the window, and back again; took a speaking-tube off its hook.  "How
are those Mexicans getting along in the cockpit, Doctor?  Good.  Have
they breakfasted?  Each one enough for three, you say?  Good."

He sat quiet a moment.  Arising, he came in front of the señora, lines
of firmness marking his face.

"Too many times have the shadows of war darkened our world history.
Her gracious Majesty, our young Queen Victoria, ever counsels to work
in the interest of peace.  Never have I had wish other than this.
Señora Valentino, what you say strikes home.  I shall invest Monterey
to-morrow."

A marine rapped at the door.  He saluted and gave a message.

"The Calliope signals that Padre Osuna wishes to speak with Admiral
Fairbanks."

"Ah! she must have picked up the padre at San Diego," from the señora.
"The high wind has returned him north in double-quick time."

"Let us go on deck, señora.  The Calliope and three others came up
coast last night and knew us by our lights."

A ship's boat was approaching bearing the Franciscan.  As it swung
under the bow of the flagship the friar seized a rope and, hand over
hand, as adept as a sailor, he reached the side of the señora and the
Admiral.

After a few words of greeting the padre, noting Señora Valentino's
questioning look, announced: "I have traveled from Monterey to San
Diego.  The southland is crying aloud for English rule," directing his
words to the Admiral.

"In the interest of peace, Padre Osuna, I shall take Monterey
to-morrow," from Fairbanks.

After a few minutes in conversation the señora said: "Señora Padre, I
have boat and men here," pointing to the place where the Mexicans were
sitting on their inverted craft.  "Will you not go with me to Yerba
Buena?"

"I will, señora, and my thanks are yours."

Sailors raised the boat on davits and lowered it to the water.  The
fishermen joyfully turned home, the padre and the señora conversing
quietly in the stern.

"That bloomin' Mexican has a lot o' money bulgin' under 'is belt," one
tar remarked to another, as they watched the fish-boat making for shore.

"Haw!  haw!  haw!" laughed a third.  "You should 'a seen Dickie this
mornin'.  Somebody sings out, 'There's a H'english gal aboard.'  'No
such thing,' says Dickie, comin' over the side and spittin' water like
a sperm w'ale, 'they're h'all black Mex., an' 'e a 'oldin' the purtiest
w'ite gal I ever see h'all the time.  Haw! haw!" slapping Dickie's
shoulder.  Then, in different tones: "Admiral's signalin' a-plenty.
Wonder w'at h'it's all about."

The señora, the padre and the Mexicans made Yerba Buena safely, and
found the little town in uproar over the astounding escapade of a
señora who had persuaded good, sane fishermen to go with her to sure
death.

Father and sons escaped from congratulating friends to the seclusion of
their cot where, with the mother, they rejoiced over their good
fortune.  Not only were they safe after an experience over which Yerba
Buena was to talk for a decade, but that most wealthy señor the ships'
treasurer had given each ten gold sovereigns for himself, besides
paying the sire the one hundred sovereigns promised by the señora.

Señora Valentino was indefatigable as well as intrepid.  Soon, with the
friar and Farquharson, she was dashing on horseback down the peninsula
toward Monterey.

"So you read my note to Señora Aguirre," she remarked to Farquharson.

"I did, and learned of your purpose to go out to the fleet.  Finding at
the Mexican settlement that you had actually put this purpose into
effect I got a boat and was just pushing off to follow you when a
provost marshal placed me under arrest.  Confound him! as if I didn't
have a right to do as I pleased, stormy or not!  And that blasted
comandante held me at the presidio till your return."

"Then you also were coming to the flagship?  No?"

"Señora, I never dreamed you would think of such a thing as going out
there by yourself.  I've never felt so small in my life.  It would be a
relief if I was lying at the bottom of the harbor."

"Not so, Captain.  It was a mad thing, my venturing forth; but, you
know, when a woman wills she will.  So, no fault in you, Captain mine.
Pray think no more of it.  As we ride along I'll tell you more of my
meeting with Fairbanks after I--tumbled on board his vessel."

They reached the high ground near the Laguna de las Mercedes, two
leagues beyond Mission Dolores.  A deep-voiced exclamation from Padre
Osuna, accompanied by a full-arm gesture, directed their attention to
the right.  The ocean, as if making amends for violent temper of the
past days, lay in unruffled mood before them.  The eleven vessels of
the fleet, spread white against sapphire arc, were sailing to the south.

Farquharson's eyes, an admiring light in them, sought the señora.

"Señora, Fairbanks is really going to Monterey!"

She inclined her head.

"You are a wonderful woman.  I have said this before.  I say it now
with double emphasis."

The three halted and watched the fleet.

"Come, let us ride on," from the señora, impatient at delay.

"Well," remarked Farquharson, "Barcelo has spiked the castle guns, and
skedaddled.  The Yankee's flagship is stuck in the mud, with her
consort, the Cyane.  I wonder what the deuce will keep that old
dunderhead, Fairbanks out of Monterey now!"



CHAPTER XXVII

BUT YET A WOMAN

Fog everywhere.  Congealed fog dripped from the roofs of Monterey.  It
fell, drop, drop, drop, in elongated pearls, on the slippery flag walks
around the houses.  Mountains of fog lay over the city, and slid in
huge avalanches into the valleys.  The harbor and near-about sea were
filled with vapor-hills and crags.  Fog blanketed the streets, blurred
the trees, blotted the symmetry of buildings into bewildering
shapelessness, and peopled the town with weird specters.

Occasionally a candle-point showed feebly in a corner lamp.  Once in a
while the dimness was accentuated by a lighted space streaking a
yellowish gleam into the semiopaqueness--the candle of some
early-rising Montereyan shining from his window.  There were few of
these lights to aid the passer-by; and there were few passers-by.  Not
only was the hour early for the people to be about, but the city itself
was almost tenantless.

It was the beginning of the fifth day since the English fleet had
sailed into Monterey, and out again.

Colonel Barcelo, with his soldiers, had marched away to Alisal, the
colors from the fort and from the square emblazoned at the head of his
column.  After him rode the most of the wealth and fashion of the
capital; that is, the most of those who had not preceded him.

The Colonel declared that he had satisfied honor, and that he would now
retire in face of superior force.

Calmness of weather had succeeded wind-storm; still the fort slept
peacefully beneath the empty flagpole, and the city plaza caught no
shadow of foreign banner floating from the lofty staff in its center.

A horseman rode into town, made his way hurriedly through the plaza and
crossed to a smaller plaza.  He drew in sharply when he reached a house
in which a light was showing through the railing of a veranda on the
second story.  He turned into the porte cochere.  A vague figure was
heaped across the threshold of the front door.

"Ola!  Ola!  Benito!" called the rider.

The figure resolved itself into a man wrapped in a blanket.  Turtlelike
his head emerged from its folds.

"Benito is with Colonel Barcelo.  I am Alberto, peon of Señor
Miramonte."

"Has Señora Valentino returned to the capital?  Do you know?"

"The señora returned last night, señor."

"Is she within?"

"She is not, señor."

"Where is she?"

"She's away, señor."

The man loosened rein and started down the street.

"Captain Farquharson," called the peon, in tardy recognition.

"Many pardons, but may I make free to speak?  The señora brought my
wife, Lupincha, and me along as servants, since she heard the Barcelo
place is vacant.  Señora Miramonte lent us.  May I say, Captain, my
lady has taken Lupincha with her and, attended by a peon guard, is now
at the castle, leaving an hour ago?"

"At the castle?  An hour ago?"

"Si, Señor Captain.  Breakfast is to be served there."

"Breakfast--at the castle!" the man speaking half to himself, and as if
perplexed.

Alberto arose, huddled his blanket more closely about his shoulders,
and came to the rider.  "Several señoras and señors will be at the
meal," he said in a low voice.  In yet lower tone he added: "They are
there to see the arrival of the English, and the defeat of the gringos
Americanos--the Bostons."  Bowing obsequiously, he glided over to his
place on the threshold.

"Señora Valentino and friends are now at the castle, you say?"

"Si, señor."

Farquharson galloped back to the city plaza.  He paused for a moment.
The horse was restless in the chilly air.  Its shod hoofs, clattering
on the pavement, struck showers of sparks.  He rode on a few steps, and
stopped again, listening intently.

"'Tis only the boom of the surf," and started out briskly for the
castle.  On arriving he saw light coming through the windows, and heard
the voices and laughter of men and women.  Two or three peons bearing
baskets appeared at the postern.

"I wish to speak with Señora Valentino.  Tell her Captain Farquharson
is here."

The señora soon was at the door.

"I'm here, Captain."

"Barcelo's in the sulks."

"As I expected."

"As to his giving the right hand of fellowship to Fairbanks, that is
not to be thought of."

"Again, as I expected."

"When I saw him he was as savage as a caged bear."

The señora nodded her head meditatively.

"It's well the cannon are spiked."

"They have been unspiked.  Some one has drilled out the priming tubes."

"You don't mean it, señora!"

"Exactly."

"My hat!  It's enough to drive one mad."

"Last night, about midnight, I heard Fairbanks off Point Pinos
signaling the other vessels in his fleet; so he's near at hand, and
I've got together a little company to welcome him."

"To think that this of all days should see such blooming fog.  If
'twould only clear up so the Admiral could get in, it would end all
this fuss.  But, something must be done about Barcelo.  Some of these
men hereabouts are talking more and more in favor of a California
republic.  Their nonsense has evidently got into the Colonel's system."

"And disappointed ambition might have another chance if such a republic
came into being.  My brother-in-law has a good deal of the bulldog in
him."

"I am willing to believe almost anything of him now.  But we've got to
get to work; otherwise he'll be down here, likely as not, blowing off
his fireworks again."

"Have you a suggestion, Captain?"

"No.  I've thought till I can't think any longer.  In the first place,
I can't do anything with him; and it's too far for you to go out there.
In the second place----"

"It will be best for me to be here when Fairbanks comes.  When he once
gets in we must take him by the hand and keep him here."

"We are in a deuce of a fix, between the devil and the deep sea, so to
speak.  On one hand, Barcelo, sulky and savage, and threatening to blow
the British fleet off the map.  On the other hand, Fairbanks so
scrupulous he's ready to throw the gifts of the gods back into their
arms, at the slightest excuse.  When I left you yesterday at
Miramonte's I hurried south to run down rumors.  I've caught up with
the rumors but haven't accomplished anything else.  I have men watching
Barcelo's movements.  What else to do I don't know."

"Well, Captain, let's do nothing for the present--since there's nothing
to be done."

"If this accursed fog would only lift."

"Our standing here won't lift it.  Come in and breakfast with us."

"Thank you, but I want to go back to the hills to see if the sentinels
have possibly caught sight of the fleet through some rift in the
fog-banks."

"The fleet is off the harbor all right, my friend.  What matter whether
you see it or not?  You will do better for having had refreshment."

"Not now.  Perhaps I'll return later.  I haven't yet inquired how you
are.  How is it with you?"

"I am all right, thank you.  I could ride to Alisal."

"But you cannot be spared from here when the fog lifts.  Talk about a
California republic!  Señora, you should be ruler of the Californias,
including Texas and Oregon."

"Captain!  Captain!" her merry laugh sounding within the old castle.
"Again, my friend, breakfast.  Hot coffee will go well, I am sure."

"You are very good, but I will decline for the present.  Good-bye for a
while.  If anything comes up, I'll let you know.  By the way, why not
make Barcelo governor and general?  Morando says he won't have the
office, anyway, and it might save no end of confusion."

"Don't think it.  It would only add fuel to the flame.  Crisostimo's
pride would be seriously touched at being made second choice.  Besides,
he isn't the man for the place, and the home office would justly blame
us.  He has been a brave and efficient fighting soldier, but never
could be executive or diplomatic."

Rider and horse were soon lost to sight.

The señora returned to her friends.

Breakfast was served immediately.  A table had been made ready in the
old armory.  Vacant musket racks and empty ammunition boxes were
strange adornment for a breakfast, the room itself cobwebbed and dusty.
Sperm-oil lanterns furnished needed light.

Peons served coffee and tortillas, accompanied by sea-trout browned to
a turn over charcoal.  This was followed with a delicious dish made of
chicken and green corn boiled together, and the inevitable frijoles.
Strawberries, large and luscious, which had been soaked in Mission
wine, were plentifully distributed at each plate, of which the
breakfasters partook at intervals throughout the meal, eating the fruit
from the stem.  Fresh figs stewed in sherry completed the repast.

There was little conversation in this company made up of individuals
usually vivacious and talkative.  The tenseness of eager expectation
held everyone quiet.

The meal was not much more than finished when Captain Farquharson
entered the room unannounced.  The men and women sprang up.

"Señora Valentino," the Captain called.

She stepped to his side.

"My scouts have rushed word to me that Barcelo has left Alisal and is
stampeding to Monterey."

"What is that you say, Captain?" from the señora, incredulously.

"Barcelo is but a few miles from the outskirts of town, saying he is
going to proclaim himself dictator of a California republic, and
calling down vengeance on anyone opposing.  The fat's in the fire if
Fairbanks gets wind of this."

"I must ride at once and meet the Colonel."

"Would that I could meet him with my old company in the Coldstream
Guards!  Bull-dog or no, he'd not forget the hour.  I'll go along with
you, señora, but it's precious little that anyone can do with such a
man."

After requesting those present to await her return, the señora mounted
her horse and rode rapidly toward El Camino Real, Farquharson riding
with her as far as the city limits, when she said to him:

"I will go on now by myself, Captain."

"As you wish.  I'll stay here, then, till you come back."

Time dragged.

Captain Farquharson dismounted and nervously led his animal back and
forth.

An hour passed, and yet another.  Still the Captain was at his post.
For the hundredth time he fiercely drew his watch from his pocket,
scowled at its face and as fiercely thrust it back.

In sudden desperation the man sprang to horse.  With two fingers on his
lips he began a whistle-call, but stopped abruptly.  The señora had
emerged from the fog.

"Señora Valentino, long ago I sent men to see if you were safe.  They
reported that you and Barcelo were riding up and down an outer street
talking, talking, talking.  You have been in conference with him over
two hours.  Of course nothing could be done with him."

"Colonel Barcelo has gone home, after sending his men to the barracks.
When Fairbanks comes the Colonel will turn the government over to him
formally, and give him the right hand of fellowship."

"How did you manage?" he asked.

"By making appeal both to his less worthy nature and to his higher."

"How do you mean?"

"First, by arousing jealousy, convincing him that a California republic
would surely make Mendoza its president.  Second, in appealing to his
nobler side.  I said to him that a California republic would mean
internecine strife--Monterey, the brain and heart of the province,
fighting the north and the south, its hands and feet.  So between the
two arguments the cause was won."

"You actually induced him to go home?"

"He has gone," smiling.  "Sister Clarinda aided me, a wife's influence,
you know."

Farquharson wrinkled his forehead knowingly.

Together they returned to the castle.  The little knot of people
anxiously gathered around them.  To their excited questionings the
señora replied: "All's well that ends well."

"Your meaning, señora?" asked one.

"That we've nothing to do now--but disperse the fog."

Señora Valentino went to an upper corner of the castle, and into a room
now seldom used.  It had once been a sentinel chamber, and surveyed
harbor and sea.  More than once had she come to this place, time
permitting, to revel in its loneliness.

To-day the fog drew dark shades over the windows, enveloping the room
in twilight.  A slow wind was blowing, enough to move the casements.
This augured well.  Afternoon would, more than likely, see clear
skyline.

The woman's mood was to be alone.  Closing the old door on its rusty
hinges she turned the grating lock, and looked around with a sigh of
satisfaction.

The former governor had been an intimate of this room.  Here he would
steal away to read and dream.  The furnishings were his, and he had not
seen fit to disturb them when leaving for Mexico.  On shelves were
books of poems and romances.  On the floor lay rugs of tasteful pattern
and coloring.  A few very good pictures were on the wall, while an easy
chair or two stood invitingly.  On one side jutted a stone fireplace, a
pile of ashes on the hearth telling its own story.  All these things
were strangely out of keeping with the rest of the castle.

In a cupboard the señora found wood and paper in abundance, placed
there by the former governor, mindful of his comfort.

"I'm cold," she shivered.  "I'll call Lupincha and have a fire.  No,
I'll build it myself."

The dry fuel and the paper, ignited by a flint spark, soon made flames
that roared into the chimney.

"Now it is cheery and warm.  I'll look over one of Governor Moncada's
romances till the fleet enters.  Well, here's Don Quixote.  He won't
do--I've fought windmills myself--it's monotonous.  And here, El Cid.
Not to-day--more heroics.  I want a book written about life as it is,
not as it ought to be."

She took up a manuscript, "Ode to Falling Rain," by the Governor
himself.

"Señor Moncada, why was it not an 'Ode to a Lifting Fog'?  Because it
is not, into the fire you go, you wrinkled bit of paper.  Ah! it burns
well despite the title.  My brother-in-law once spoke of the governor
as a fussy old curmudgeon.  It would be interesting to know what the
Señora Moncada thinks of the Señor Barcelo."

A knock interrupted her musing.  She kept perfectly quiet.  Again, the
knock, a little louder, a little more insistent.  She snuggled closer
into the chair.  Suddenly the thought came to her that it might be
Farquharson with some message of importance.  She quickly unlocked the
door.

"Señora Valentino, may I come in?  The peona Lupincha told me I would
find you here."

"Certainly, Captain Morando, come in.  My friends in the castle are
variously occupying themselves till the great moment strikes.  I,"
looking around, "chose to come off here by myself," her manner
charmingly cordial.

The señora was again in her chair.  The comandante sat opposite.  There
was silence, each seeming to find nothing to say to the other.

Under the firelight the doña appeared more beautiful than ever, her
form unusually petite and girlish.  To the soldier she had been a piece
of exquisite workmanship, cameo-cut, a rare jewel to be admired.
To-day she was this, plus woman's sweetness and gentleness.  His heart
gave an appreciative throb.

"Silvia," abruptly, "will you be my wife?"

She flashed her eyes at him.  "Captain, it is curious, isn't it? about
most people.  They roll along in their groove, at about the same speed,
and reach a certain point at a certain time, regularly enough.  Have
you ever thought of it?"

"Well, no--or, perhaps, yes."

"In the old stories the chapters end with the proposal, the puppets are
disposed of, the book closed.  You have, then, reached this point?"

"But, Silvia, you and I have been so frank that nothing preliminary
seemed left for me to say--if that is what you mean--so I asked the
question as I did.  I vow to you by my manhood----"

She stood before him.

"Captain Morando, it was love for an ideal man that really brought me
to California."

"Señora, I did not know----" also rising.

"No.  You did not know," her lips hardening ever so little.  "Yes, an
ideal.  Him I love with my heart, my soul; every energy I have.  Gladly
would I live for him.  Equally gladly would I die for him."

"Then, señora, there is no room in your life for me?  Another fills it?
Why, I thought--I believed----"

"You thought!  you believed!  O, Alfredo!"

"You have never cared for me.  You never can care.  You----"

"Do not trouble either of us with further questioning.  I answer, No, I
do not care for you--have never cared for you."

"Señora, even but now I dared think----"

"Dare think nothing!"

"Then, Doña Silvia, I erred, that is all.  My intentions were worthy.
You never intimated to me anything of this--this affection.  I step out
of the way of this other whom you so fully love.  May you be happy, and
may he endow your life with all joy.  I leave you now."

"No, Alfredo, not yet," her voice shaking a little.  "Do you not know
who it is that has impersonated my ideal?"

"No, I do not know."

"And can you not even conjecture?" a little wistfully.

"How could I?"

"You are right.  How could you?" with an enigmatic smile.

She looked at him with a penetratingly appraising gaze.

"I will enlighten you.  It is you--you--Señor Captain Morando--you!"

"I?"

"Yes.  I tried to cheat myself.  I lied to myself about you.  I kept
you on a pedestal for my worshiping.  You, Captain Morando, are nothing
to me, but the man, the ideal man, whom I hoped was inclosed in that
goodly form of yours, he it is whom I love."  Her tones were low and
even.

"Señora, it is to me a regret that your ideal has been so misplaced."

"It is but one more link in that chain of disillusionment--my life.  I
suppose I should not complain.  What does it matter?"  Her words
betokened a resignation which her glowing eyes did not verify.

The Captain moved his chair closer to her and took her hand.

"Señora, though disillusionment has passed me by, disappointment has
not.  Let us make common cause, and fight the battle of life together.
Wounds quiver and smart in the past of both of us.  Why not let the
future in years of devotion each to the other, bring consoling balm to
these wounds?"

Her hand remained in his, but she did not speak.

"Señora--Silvia--let us go away from here, and, in the quiet of home
life, let time do its work in scattering into forgetfulness the ashes
of old heartburnings."

"And what of my lost ideal, Alfredo?"

"Señora doña, theory is one thing, fact another; and life is fact.  Why
not accept things as they are?"

"Many would say you speak well.  And yet--rather than sacrifice my
ideal would I choose to sleep forever at the bottom of the sea."

"Señora, do you believe that ideals are ever realized in this world?"

"Perhaps not.  But, to come from abstract thought to concrete
application.  When the señorita of the window pane looked down on the
parade ground facing old Pilar Convent the place widened into fields of
conquest.  The flashing sword in the hand of her cadet-officer became a
marshal's baton, the sword-belt, a viceroy's sash.  Her eaglet would
fly straight-winged into the face of the sun.  Though storms above the
clouds might whirl him like a dried and broken branch, and hurl him
back to earth, yet ever upward would be his purpose.  Don Alfredo, have
you ever tried your wings?  Don't speak, soldier.  I will answer for
you.  Like the pet chick, pinions folded, have you been content with
hopping fences--the eaglet-cadet a village comandante."

"I am fulfilling my duty to the best of my ability."

She drew her hand away, and looked him squarely in the face.

"Fulfilling duty!  Alfredo, you exhaust my patience.  I have power; I
have influence, I have standing at the court of Saint James.  Under
Lord Aberdeen's written promise to me, would he make high place for you
in Europe, or in vast India.  You yawned.  My offer was unconsidered.

"A strange contempt for opportunity seems ever to have been your
make-up.  As in manhood, so in your youth.  Alfredo, during those three
years at Pilar you blew a kiss to me from the parade ground; or, was it
twice? or, perhaps thrice? or, even more.  A valiant
conquistador-in-the-making, disregarding barrier, would have reached
the topmost span of that forbidding cloister, to salute the lips of the
watching maiden at closer range than fifty paces.

"But to return to later times.  If Britain possesses California, a
viceroyship must go to some one.  You shrugged when I spoke of tossing
it to you; yet, it is a catch for which many an ambitious caballero
would stretch ready hands."

"I am not ambition's fool, neither am I without ambition.  If I rise,
my own feet shall lift me, step by step," in his voice a ring of
challenge.

"In other words, you prefer to protect the flocks of rich herdsmen
against marauding aborigine--if not in California, elsewhere.  No?"

"Silvia, let us cease this exchange of words.  We have much in common.
Come with me.  Be my household queen.  In coming here to-day not the
least in my thought was the wish to take you away from the politics of
the world.  Come, Silvia, come."

"And, over there--in the distance--beyond the shadows--would be my
ideal calling to me, chiding me, telling me of my unfaithfulness.  No,
Alfredo, I lie to myself no longer.

"The other morning, as I left your official sitting room in San José,
the King's Highway to Monterey became another road to Damascus.  The
scales fell from my eyes, as they did from Saul of Tarsus.  I cursed
myself for the lie to which I had sworn in the sanctuary of my
soul--the lie making you, Alfredo Morando, the personification of my
ideal.

"I lashed my horse.  I wished--I even prayed--that the beast might
spring to the rocky depths of the cañon at my side, that I might find
release in the parting of my body and its soul."

"Señora Valentino, the artist sometimes so arranges the lights and
shades on his sitter that he brings in relief certain lineaments to the
obscuring of others, producing, often, a fancy picture rather than a
portrait.  Your delineation of my character, emphasizing certain
points, neglecting others, seems to be hardly fair.  But, doña, I scorn
the pleader's place.  I admit my unworthiness.  Your word, then--is
final?" arising and taking up his cap, dignity vesting speech and
manner.

"Yes, Alfredo, final--final.  Go, continue to be a comandante-protector
of sheep.  Gallop across the plains to Mission San José.  Improvise
dawdling love-songs, twangle the guitar, and strut about by the light
of the moon.  The Señorita de la Mendoza may again dance El Son, to
bring you to her side.  No longer will I keep you from her, with the
vain hope that, in the capitals of the nations, you and I, uniting our
mentalities and working hand in hand, might have no small part in the
history-making of our generation.  Good-by, Alfredo."  She extended her
hand.

"Good-by, Silvia."

He opened the door and hesitated at the threshold.

"Señora, once more, is it final?"

The color faded from her face.  Her features set in emotionless
expression.

"Yes, Alfredo--yes."

      *      *      *      *      *

Over the sea strong wind flowed.  Bank after bank of fog, rocked under
powerful propulsion, was lifted into the air, and disappeared.
Finally, from Point Pinos to Santa Cruz the waters laughed and sparkled
in the late-coming sun.  Eleven men-of-war were disclosed in the outer
harbor, their wilderness of spars clustering beneath the Union Jack.

Within the inner harbor two smaller vessels were at anchor, the springs
in their cables allowing them to swing end to end in the shifting
tides.  On their decks grim-visaged men stood at the guns.  Their masts
were tipped with the Stars and Stripes.

The frigate United States and the sloop-of-war Cyane had warped off the
bar of Half Moon Bay.  Under cover of night, and undeterred by danger,
they had slipped past the English fleet which was nodding lazily in the
smooth sea, awaiting the coming of dawn and the clearing of the fog.
Into the harbor, up to the very eyes of the castle, they came.

With the sun's unveiling American marines rushed into boats, hurried
ashore and took possession of the city.  The Red, White and Blue
snapped saucily over plaza and fort.

Signals fluttered on Admiral Fairbanks's flagship, whipping the air in
persistent command.  In reluctant obedience the warships, for the
second time, wheeled slowly back to the ocean, the Vanguard in the
rear, like a stern parent driving his half-rebellious brood before him.

In the upper room of the castle Silvia Valentino was cognizant of none
of these things.  In the moment of Captain Morando's departure she had
thrown herself, face downward, on the floor, and lay weeping out her
heart.



CHAPTER XXVIII

A DAUGHTER OF THE DE LA MENDOZA

"Pepita, Pepita, be thou watchful of those threads.  Red follows yellow
in the pattern, else your weaving is hit-or-miss.  Santa Maria!  What
careless fingers!  See, the blanket is streaked in color, like a pinto
horse.  Thy knuckles, careless one, should be made to ache, by rapping
them smartly."

"Thou wilt rap no knuckles of mine, Marta.  Padre Osuna forbids the
matrona to strike any neophyte girl, as thou well knowest.  It's hard
enough to sit at a loom day after day and weave blankets, when one
isn't mending them, or making baskets, or grinding maize, without being
beaten, if the fingers play tricks when the thought happens elsewhere."

Marta was a matrona of the department of neophytes in the single
women's quarter of the Mission San José.  Her specialty was weaving
blankets.  The Mission sheep provided wool in plenty, and hand-made
looms prepared it for use, after it had been dyed the many colors dear
to the Indian taste.

"Fingers play tricks when the mind is elsewhere!  Well-a-day!  Why has
one a mind but to direct the fingers and the feet?  If Pedro Carrasca's
mind ever rests on thee, when it should be on cattle-driving, behold!
his pony will throw him over its head into the dry oats."

A general laugh followed from the Indian women and girls.

It was the Mission's busy season.  The harvest had been abundant.
Though late in coming the rains had been plentiful, and at proper
intervals, so that the yield in wheat, barley, oats, and corn was
scarcely below a good average.  Padre Osuna had sent a vessel laden
with cereals to Lower California, where bread grains were scanty and
good-priced.  A schooner chartered at Yerba Buena had many thousand
bushels of seed-wheat on board, ready to sail to the settlements in
Oregon, when a reliable supercargo was found who knew enough English to
deal with the Americanos in the North.

The great matanza of the year had just been held.  A half dozen trading
ships were in San Francisco Bay, buying the Mission hides and tallow.
Sovereignties might change, flags come and go, but trade went on
forever.

The Mission's needs for the year were supplied from the "Boston" ships,
in return for the commodities of the Mission.  In New England a demand
had sprung up for the varicolored blankets made from California wool by
the Indians.  Nowhere were blankets more skillfully or more durably
made than at Mission San José.  Accordingly, a large order had come
from an Eastern supply house; and the Mission Indian women and girls
worked longer hours than usual at the wooden frames.  These had been
set up out of doors near the lodgment of the unmarried women.

Pepita's eyes sparkled as the others laughed.

"Pedro Carrasca is no concern of mine."

"Well, maybe not," returned Marta, her black eyes twinkling in her lean
face.  "When the padre inspects the blanket under your hand, if he sees
poor work he will scarcely sanction your betrothal to Pedro, one of the
best lads in the valley, as well as a vaquero of vaqueros; and Pepita,"
patronizingly, "you can do good work when you try."

"There are other vaqueros besides Pedro Carrasca."

"Right you are, Pepita.  Felix Ubaldo is a better rider than Pedro.
Pedro's shoulders are not always straight in the saddle," said Florida
Pardo.

"No such thing," defended Pepita.  "When the broncho bucks, Felix goes
up and down like the jumping-jacks the little boys get for Christmas."

"Come, come, children, work, work.  Talk less," from the matrona.

Pepita stamped her foot.  "Work, work all the time.  Why was I not born
a señorita, with people to serve me, instead of having to work every
day like an ox drawing a carreta full of stones?"

"Saints in heaven!" from Marta.  "A crow isn't born a songster, because
crows have a use as well as singing birds.  Pepita, thou art a
blackamoor; still, thou may become a peona of the Señorita Mendoza.
Modesta, her serving maid, marries soon Tomaso, peon captain."

"O, Marta, is the Señorita Carmelita thinking of making me one of her
peonas?  How I would like that!  Will you not ask the padre to
recommend me to the Señor Mendoza for his household?"  The girl got up
and put her arm wheedlingly about the woman.

"I'll tell thee, Pepita, Modesta's my niece, and I know of what I speak
when I give you word of happenings at the great hacienda house."

The matrona folded her arms.  The clicking of the looms was stilled.
Indian maid and wife were as ready to hear the gossip as was Marta to
tell it.

"Last Saint John's day the quality of Santa Clara valley attended high
mass here.  As you remember, Lady Carmelita played the organ.  Padre
Osuna alone excels her.  The Indian choir sang, and--Pepita, thou sang
well enough.  I will say, Señorita Mendoza was much taken with thy solo
part.  But do not overpride thyself.  Thy voice, like thy good looks,
is but a gift to thee, not of thine own making."

"Tell us the story," the girl urged.

"Well, many white people had midday meal at Señor Mendoza's.  Padre
Osuna did not go, though he was invited.  You see, our padre and the
señor speak when they meet, and seem friendly, but----"

"O, Marta, I don't want to hear about that.  Tell what was said about
me at the meal."

"Don't want to hear--don't want to hear," repeated the matrona.  "Well,
I shall say nothing at all, if I'm not to speak my own way."

"Go on, Marta," cried several, nearly as eager as Pepita.

The matrona enjoyed their impatience for a while, affecting to be very
busy over her loom.  At last--

"At that midday meal Señorita Carmelita said she had heard you, Pepita,
sing, and liked your voice as well as Modesta's; that she would soon
need a new lady's maid and liked your appearance.  Then, Señorita
Galindo said she once had you for lady's maid, but sent you back to the
neophyte house, because you listened at keyholes and talked too much."

"I did not.  I did not," asserted Pepita.

"What did you do, then?" queried Marta.

"I didn't do anything."

"But thy tongue, vixen, is often loose, as if hung in the middle, to
wag at both ends.  Come now, what didst thou say when thou talkedst too
much?"

"I knew Señorita Galindo was in love with Don Abelardo Peralta, and
that he was not with her.  When she pinched my arm for pulling her hair
as I combed it, I told her that Señor Peralta was in love with a lady
in Monterey, Señora Valentino."

"What did the Señorita Galindo say to that?"

"She pinched my arm more, and boxed my ears till I cried; then sent me
to Padre Osuna all covered with lies."  Pepita spat at the remembrance.

The women turned to their looms again.  Marta walked around examining
their work, admonishing, encouraging or assisting.

"Draw the threads tighter, Joséfa.  Pull them equally, not one looser
than the others.  Calvia, use sense; your weave is uneven."

Passing her own loom she said: "This is a design after which many
blankets were made for Constancia Alvarado, she who married Señor
Mendoza.  The señor's hair, then, was as black as any of yours.  Don
Marcel Hernandez has ordered six of each of these patterns.  I
shouldn't wonder if it means his daughter is going to marry.  My man
went to Spain once with Señor Hernandez, to bring back horses.

"Tula, hasten, thy loom moves slowly, as if tired.  Wait till noon
before resting.  Very good, Encarnacion; the best you've done.  And
thou, too, Jesusa."

As the matrona came to Pepita's side she said in low voice: "Girl,
worry thou not.  Soon another takes thy loom and thou goest to service
with the Lady Carmelita, without doubt.  The padre will make recommend
of thee; but remember his words in last Sunday's sermon: 'Have a care
as to what thou seest, what thou hearest, and what thou sayest.'"

"I am not the only one that talks too much."

Marta recalled something to be done inside the house and went away,
telling the weavers to be industrious during her absence.

When she was out of sight Encarnacion strolled over to the end loom.
"Marta has pride that Padre Majin de Catala, of Mission Santa Clara,
baptized her mother.  Padre Junipero Serra himself baptized my
grandfather, in San Diego Mission.  Padre Junipero always said that
Indians who work hard and pray the Virgin every day would be high in
heaven when they died.  I never heard he said that of lady's maids,"
looking at Pepita.

Pepita was happy in anticipation, and so made no reply.

"Last year, when I was at Yerba Buena, in the family of Señor
Arguello," said Jesusa, whose loom had become silent the moment of
Marta's departure, "a very old man at Mission Dolores said the sea did
not always run in and out there, past Yerba Buena, but mountains once
were where ships sail now.  I asked him if white men had dug the way
for the ocean, and he said white men never work."  Jesusa was proud of
her temporary residence in Yerba Buena, and brought it forward at every
opportunity.

"Will the white men, then, who are not padres, go to heaven?" inquired
Tula, who had abandoned her work.

The theology of none of them was equal to a reply for this question.

"Where do you suppose all the peon soldiers have gone?  I saw many,
many marching away this morning, Señor Mendoza leading them.  San José
de Guadalupe!  but they looked handsome!" said Elasia, a girl who had
seated herself on the ground, her hands lying idly in her lap.

"Oho! the peon Ildefranco alone didst thou see.  We know," said some
one.

"Yes, yes," joined in others.

"You have no need to talk.  You were all watching them, and with your
mouths wide open.  I saw you," retorted Elasia.

Everyone began to laugh.

"Comes Marta!  Comes Marta!" cried Encarnacion from her point of
vantage.

There was a general scurrying to place.  When the matrona came out the
silence was too intense to be sincere.  She went from loom to loom.

"Your work is short by many inches of what it should be.  If your chili
con carne and meal were to be as short to-day you would go hungry, and
deserve it too.  I have a mind to tell the padre how shiftless you all
are, and that unless I stand over you, not one of you will work."

"She's willing enough for us to stop work if she has some tale to tell
us about what Modesto heard; but if we stop a minute to breathe, at any
other time, it's different," whispered one to her nearest companion,
when Marta's face was in another direction.

The noon Angelus commenced ringing.

The looms were at once deserted.

In the neophyte house lived over two hundred Indian girls who were
taught to read Spanish, together with such housecraft as a peona should
know, while the music of the church occupied no small part in the daily
curriculum.  In addition, the neophytes were instructed in weaving, in
embroidery, drawn work, lace-making; and from among them came the
seamstresses who made elaborate gowns for the ladies of the Spanish
gentry.

Talking was not allowed during meals.  A book, generally the life of
some saint, was read aloud by a matrona, or by some girl who was
capable.  To-day the book had been finished early.  There was not time
to begin another, so the rule of silence was dispensed with during the
remainder of dinner.  The girls proceeded to enjoy the unwonted
privilege, their zest for eating, however, in no wise diminished.

Suddenly, pandemonium burst over the place.  Indian warwhoops were
mingled with the crash of musket-firing.  Yelling and shouting were
punctuated with pistol shots.  The tawny mastiffs, night guardians of
the patio, now confined in a rear yard, howled a vicious protest
against this noonday interruption of their sleep.

Indian horsemen hurled themselves down the hills.  Indian forms arose
from the ground where they had hidden in shelter of vineyard and olive
grove, and avalanched on the Mission.

Mounted renegades whirled around the buildings, cutting off avenues of
escape for those within.  Men on foot forced the porter's lodge in
front, while others rushed through the artisans' shops in the rear.

Padre Osuna, Juan Antonio, major-domo, and nearly every able-bodied
peon of the Mission were busy with the trading ships lying at the
Embarcadero two leagues away, on the south arm of San Francisco Bay.
The institution was defenseless before the invaders, who were under the
capable command of a stocky, strongly built aborigine who sat on his
horse in the road which ran alongside of the house of the girl
neophytes.

"Bring up the led horses," the chief had ordered when the uproar was
greatest.

The screaming of frightened women broke out in shrill notes,
accompanied by the furious baying of the mastiffs straining at their
chains.

A shot or two sounded in the patio.

"Some of the women have got behind the gratings and are shooting at
their wooers," half laughed, half grunted the leader.

"Stanislaus," asked a man near him, "can our fellows get into this
place where the girls are?  At Monterey they are behind doors you
couldn't smash with an ax in half a day."

"Cayetano," was the reply, "I was major-domo here for years.  The task
set for those of us sent inside is easy.  The peonas are spunky," he
continued, "but they'll be the better wives in the wild hills we go to.
If the enemy comes, our tepees will not be undefended in our absence."

Indians carrying struggling neophyte peonas filled the porch of the
house.  They sprang to the ground below and upon the backs of the
waiting mounts.  Soon two hundred horses were bearing double burdens.

"Any more to come?" called Stanislaus.

"No," from a lieutenant who had been in charge of the inside squad.

"Our way of finding wives may not please the padre, but it's the only
resource left us," said the chief.

"It's a quicker method than the padre's," returned the lieutenant, "and
we're sure of our own pick."

"Now to the hills!" commanded the leader, adding: "When Padre Osuna
trails us home he can perform a hundred double weddings at once."

The raiders spurred away eastward.  Some of the girls, inert from fear,
made no movement in their captors' arms, others continued screaming and
struggling.  Shortly their cries died away in the distance, and the
desolated Mission was left to the wailing matronas and the old peons
whose resistance had been too feeble to attract notice from the
marauders.

As unexpectedly as had the tumult begun across the way, a clanging
sounded from the topmost tower of Mendoza's hacienda house.  It was an
iron bar striking with lightning rapidity the rim of a bell suspended
in the tower.  Three strokes a second it supplied, under nicely
arranged mechanism of block and pulley.

The clamor aroused every peon on the Mendoza grant, for that call meant
each task must be left without delay, and all speed made to the
hacienda house, as if in matter of death and life.

Peons rushed from the Arroyo Seco, leagues to the north, leaving their
herds without caretakers.  Plowmen in the soft vegetable fields at the
mouth of the Arroyo Alameda flung the traces upon the horses' backs,
and galloped the heavy work animals toward Mission San José.

Sturgeon-catchers in the far-away Alviso marshes withheld the spear as
their boat floated above the rotund quarry.  "Ding, dong, ding," the
hills were faintly echoing.  The fishermen knew their duty, and
straightway discarding implement and fish, they pushed their mustangs
helter-skelter through slough and marsh to their master's home ten
miles distant.

Carmelita Mendoza stood in her father's bell tower, her hand firmly
pressing a lever.  This lever controlled the heavy tongue striking the
call to rescue.  The girl had witnessed from her window the attack on
the Mission; had seen the renegades ride away with the stolen neophyte
girls.

Stanislaus had considered the time well, knowing that Mendoza and his
men were absent, as also Padre Osuna.  After the fall of Yoscolo and
the severe defeat of his men, the rancheros had thought the wild
Indians too thoroughly cowed to attempt further depredations; thus all
had relaxed vigilance, especially in the daytime.

The chief felt so secure that he sat on his horse openly in the street
during the raid.  The doña could hear him jesting about the Indian
girls, and caught the words of his lieutenant.  She was an excellent
marksman.  Her rifle, a recent importation from London, was in a rack
near at hand.  She sighted the weapon at the chief, saw his face
aligned with the barrel, and knew that a pressure on the trigger would
send a bullet through his body.  Her hand refused to perform the
office.  She dropped the rifle to the hollow of her arm.  Faint for the
moment, she leaned against the window casing.

The outlaws streaming over the porch of the neophyte house to the
ground, together with the cries of the peonas, aroused her.  Again she
trained the rifle on Stanislaus.  Though not more than a hundred feet
away he was too intent on the work at hand to scent possibility of
peril.  Carmelita's fingers drew on the trigger.  The slightest
pressure further and the chieftain would fall to an unhallowed death
before the gate of the Mission which once had honored him.

She threw the gun from her in horror.  Stanislaus himself did not
hesitate at the shedding of blood; and was even now ready to inflict
death if necessary to the success of his plans, yet she could not bring
herself to be his executioner.

The girl flew to the bell-tower.  As the summons rang she saw the
retreating miscreants stretching over the brow of the hill directly
back of Mission San José.  The men with the girls were ahead in compact
body, the other Indians spread out to check pursuit if any should be
attempted.

In the Mendoza house the disorder was second only to that prevailing at
the Mission.  Women were crying, praying, and calling aloud for the
Señor Mendoza, while the few men servants on the grounds ran hither and
thither, catching up weapons, throwing them down, only to pick them up
again and continue in their purposeless meanderings.

The peons of the rancho began arriving.  By twos, threes, tens and
scores they came.  Bows, scythes and clubs were the arms of war they
brought.  Their excited wives and children, straggling in after them,
increased the tumult.

The watch dogs of the Mission barked with renewed vigor.  The Mission
Indians, thinking the hacienda house was being plundered also, wailed
yet louder in their fright.  Some of the peonas swayed hysterically
into the street and up to the front of the hacienda gate, followed by
the elderly peons who swung in circles chanting wordless rhythms.
Frightened horses tore unnoticed through the yard, snorting in terror.

At last the bell was silent.

Carmelita came to the courtyard gate.  The uncanny movements of the
frantic men and women were dizzying, but she steadied herself.

"Hear me," she called.  "Listen!"

She waited a moment, then began: "Amigos, Stanislaus and his men have
come in from their fastnesses, and have taken away from the Mission
many girls.  These girls are daughters of our friends, and we desire to
see them married to men of this valley, the honest men who tend herds
and till the soil, and who will provide food in plenty for their
families.  The chief will take the peonas off to the mountains of San
Jacinto or San Bernardino, as I overheard.  Friends mine, men of this,
our beloved valley, you must skim over the mountains like hawks,
overtake these ravishers, and bring back the girls to their peaceful
home in the neophyte house, that our valley and Mission sleep Hot
desolate to-night."

There was no response.  The strong hearts had followed Mendoza away at
sunrise.  There remained but the hewers of wood and the drawers of
water.

Finally one said: "These stolen muchachas are no relatives of ours.
Forgive me, Lady Carmelita, if I say, it is the business of their
fathers and brothers to undertake rescue."

The farm hand who thus spoke knew of Stanislaus as a human bloodhound,
as well as a tried and dauntless warrior.  He would as lief interfere
with the lion and his bride as attempt to balk the chief.

"Will you see your peon brethren of the Mission sleep in tears this
night?  Do not the padres teach us that the sorrow of one must be the
grief of all?"

No one answered.  Motionless as well as voiceless were the men and
women.

"An hour's delay, and the renegades may be beyond reach," she went on.

Still no response.

A cry sounded from the Mission patio, quivering with anguish.  It came
from some man's throat.

"Amigos," again from the girl, "listen to what you hear.  Some father
is stricken down in body by the renegades, but his soul is calling
aloud in bitterness for his child.  Who will rush after the renegades
and hang to their flank, as the wolf stays the flight of the elk?  Who
will go, I ask?"

The Indians shifted from foot to foot.  Some of the peonas looked
inquiringly at their husbands.  No one spoke.

"_I_ will go," suddenly from Carmelita, her form straightening, her
face paling.  "Who will go with me?" she challenged.  "I am only a
woman, yet will I handle a rifle in such a cause as this.  Who will go
with me?"

A grizzled Indian stepped haltingly up to the girl.  "I am only old
Enrico," he said.  "I used to be one of the fighting men of the señor,
your father, but a bullet from Yoscolo's band smashed my hip years ago
and left me fit only to hoe potatoes.  Señorita doña, I will go with
you and harry Stanislaus with what strength I have.  I can never die in
a better cause."

The señorita waited.  There were no other volunteers.

Enrico, turning, faced his fellows.  "I'll not say, men," he exclaimed,
"but whatever ye be, go to service in the house, and let the maids
there ride with the señorita doña and me to the chastising of
Stanislaus.  Go, for we are wasting time while the hostiles' pace marks
leagues the hour.  Go!  Cook the feed, wash the dishes, make the beds,
while the peonas do the fighting.  Ye cowards!  Go into the house where
ye belong."

Enrico's sarcasm brought no result.  He turned back to Carmelita.

The girl looked past the old peon's upturned face, over the heads of
the unresponsive Indians, out into the distance, her eyes resting on
the eastern hills.

"I hear no other offer.  So be it.  A woman and a crippled old man ride
forth alone.  It shall not be said that the deed of to-day passes
unopposed."  Her face hardened, bright spots showing in either cheek.
Her mouth set in lines which bespoke the fixity of her purpose.

Enrico raised his hands with affection and reverence.  "Señorita doña,
these arms carried thee before thy tongue could lisp a word.  I will go
without thee.  Thou must not----"

"Hush! hush! old friend.  Zunello," to a stable boy, "two horses ready
for the mounting, and two rifles.  Be quick!  Bring them here."

As said, so done.

"Come Enrico, I'll lend thee a shoulder to help thee to the saddleseat."

In a moment she too was on her horse.  She checked its head high and
reined it mountainward.

"Wait, señorita, wait!  Here, doña, here!  I will go.  And I!  So will
I!  So will I!  I!  I!  I!" swelled in hoarse tones from the multitude.

"Take them at their word at once," whispered Enrico.

She needed no second prompting.  Couriers were sent posthaste to San
José pueblo, Yerba Buena and Monterey, with messages acquainting the
different comandantes of the raid.

The Mendoza armory was opened and muskets, powder and ball apportioned
to the volunteers.

While horses were being brought the señorita, with her corps of peona
nurses, hastened to the Mission grounds.  They found several peons who
had been severely manhandled lying insensible in the patio, or trying
to crawl to their quarters.  A half dozen or more matronas had been
beaten with clubs while offering resistance to the summary taking-away
of their charges.

The injured were given first-aid treatment, and the terrified matronas
encouraged to regain self-possession.

Carmelita soon left the Mission, to lead a half-unwilling band of armed
mounted men up the steep grades to the east, to follow on the heels of
Stanislaus, to wrest from him, if they could, the prizes his daring had
gained for himself and his renegade followers.

The broad trail of the robbers led up the mountain, skirted the Great
Slide and into the pass toward the valley of Calaveras where the
merienda had been in late spring.  Stanislaus, little apprehensive of
immediate pursuit, had allowed his fighting men to crowd into the
defile and mix with those carrying the neophyte girls, leaving the rear
of his march unguarded.  Discipline thus relaxed the riflemen passed
the time bandying words with the others.

"Ha!  Bartolo," from a fighting man, "the damsel with thee would better
be in the saddle, and thou in her arms.  Santa Cruz! if she snatches
another handful of thy mop thou wilt be as bald as a buckeye."

The "damsel" was none other than Pepita, who vigorously pulled her
captor's hair and beat his face whenever opportunity offered.

"She's pretty as a yearling fawn," parried Bartolo.  "Art
sweet-tempered and playful, little one?  No?"

The "little one" replied by so energetically pushing her foot into the
pit of Bartolo's stomach that he was nearly overbalanced.

"Ha! ha!" jeered the first speaker, "pass her to me, Bartolo.
Otherwise it's plain who'll pound the corn and bake the tortillas in
thy wickiup."

"A devil bite thee, Naciso," growled Bartolo.  "Quit, thou angel," to
Pepita, "or thou wilt find that in a matter of blows I can give as well
as take."

At the eastern end of the pass the sides became sheer declivities;
while the roadway, a sharp incline, so narrowed that a part of
Stanislaus's riflemen were forced to lead the procession, the remainder
to go to the rear, as a wet sponge squeezed in the middle drips at both
ends.

"Halt!" like a thunder-bolt in clear sky, came a stentorian shout from
the western outlet.  It was Enrico, and ranged by his side and
Carmelita Mendoza's were three hundred men whose carbines were gleaming
in the afternoon sun.

Less than four hours elapsed since noon, and Stanislaus had calculated
that no rescuing party could be organized before the following day.  He
was astounded.  Morando, he knew, had gone to Monterey with Señor
Mendoza.  His scouts had brought the word shortly before the attack at
the Mission.

The pursuers quickly thinned their line and stretched across the mouth
of the pass.

The chief, ever quick-witted, formulated a plan on the moment--to gain
time by parleying, meanwhile surreptitiously to recall his riflemen to
the front, thus, with his fighters together, hold the ground till night
when he would escape under cover of dark.  So:

"Under whose leadership come you?" he questioned.  "Captain Morando's?"

There was no reply.  He repeated:

"Who's your leader, I say?  Captain Morando?" his eyes searching the
ranks of the newcomers.

Silently men began filtering through the press back to Stanislaus's
side, in accordance with his low-toned, hurriedly given order.

"Has that one word from you left your tongue benumbed, fool?  Who heads
you?" inwardly swearing at his stupidity in allowing his fighting force
to become divided.  "Answer me.  Who heads you?"

"The Señorita Doña Carmelita Mendoza," replied Enrico, impressively.

"Thou hast ever been a joker, old man," guffawed Stanislaus.  "Call to
mind Salinas field where our bullet overtook thee, and bawl a joke
about that."

Carmelita advanced her horse a few steps.  "Stanislaus, I remember you
as Padre Duran's major-domo, at Mission San José.  Come forth here and
meet me, and let you and me alone arrange for returning the peonas to
their home.  For each rifle of yours we have two to oppose, and
reenforcements are hurrying to join us.  Come, let us speak together."

Her words to the renegade rang through the narrow cañon with the weight
of a command.  Amazement held the outlaw's tongue.  To be summoned to
war conference with a señorita was an experience hitherto unknown.

"Speak, Stanislaus," her turn, now, to insist, "or have you become
dumb?  Or, are you afraid to ride out to meet a woman?"

"I must have time to consult my lieutenants," dissimulated the chief.
"Stand at one side, then, with your lieutenants.  Let no other among
you move."

The vigor of her spirit, showing through manner and speech, caused the
interfiling among Stanislaus's men to lessen, then to cease.

"Is Señor Mendoza there?" he inquired.  Then, in undertone, through
shut teeth.  "Carajo! slip along here, you scared rabbits, or I'll burn
every one of you alive!"

Again the straggling rifles began pushing back to him.

"The Señor Mendoza is not here, but his daughter is.  Take no further
steps, not one of you, or I will order my men to fire."

Circling her horse, she gave the word: "See to your priming!  Present
your pieces!" as she had seen her father do on many an occasion.

"Hold, señorita!" from Stanislaus.  "'Tis very fitting that we confer,
but I must have my lieutenants' agreement."  Then, in somewhat lower
key: "Such fat wits you lieutenants are.  I can beat nothing into you
except with my pistol butt.  Draw nearer, you rattle-pated
grass-eaters."

This reached Carmelita's ears, as he intended it should; but she did
not fail to catch in it the temporizing to bring to his side those of
his riflemen who had not already wormed their way back.

"Girl stealer, deliver the peonas with you to us, else you and your
fellow thieves will lie here, food for vulture and coyote," challenged
the señorita, true daughter of the soldier de la Mendoza.

"Have care, doña," cautioned Enrico.  "The miscreant's talk means
treachery."

"Stanislaus is going to shoot!" screamed Pepita in warning.  "He----"
The last word ended in a gurgle, a hand closing around her throat.

Suddenly, the outlaws fired from the hip, with accurate aim.  The
bullets cut through the air.  Many of Carmelita's Indians had wheeled
under their horses at Pepita's cry of warning, thus saving themselves.
However, not a few of the shots, flying low, found home in flesh and
bone of both man and beast.  The hoarse cry of stricken horses drowned
the moan of fallen men.  Confusion reigned among the raw recruits from
the Mendoza hacienda, for the first time facing veterans.  Wounded
horses threshing from side to side, or struggling backward or forward,
added disorder to disorder.

A fierce exhilaration possessed the señorita as the leaden whispers of
death parted before her face.  The heritage of twenty generations
asserted itself, bringing with it the intoxication of battle and the
genius of generalship.  As there was no fear in her heart, so was
there, for the time being, no room for sorrow at the suffering and
death about her.  She knew only a vehement desire to dash upon
Stanislaus, beat him to the dust, scatter destruction over his men,
ride triumphantly back to the foothills, and return the peonas to the
arms of their matronas.

The confusion among the hacienda workmen became a panic.  "Escape!" one
yelled, and spurred his horse to safety.  One after another burst from
the ranks, to follow like frightened sheep.  Volley after volley
whistled after them from the outlaws' pistols and carbines.  Derisive
yells and laughter came from the seasoned fighters.

A figure darted past the fleeing peons.  A horse was brought up across
the road in front of them, and Carmelita faced the retreating mob.

"Back to the cañon's mouth!" she commanded.  "I'll shoot the man who
yields another step," pointing significantly to her rifle.  Her eyes
blazed with terrible insistence, her face chalk-white with passion.

The terrified peons paused.  To their superstitious natures their young
mistress was become a threatening god from another world.

"The cañon's mouth is the mouth of hell," some one found courage to say.

"It is the gate of deliverance for the girls those renegades have
stolen.  Back to the pass, hombres!  Back to the pass! and fight till
the death!"  She waved her rifle over her head.  "Back to the pass,
hombres, and make rescue!"

She turned her horse toward the cañon.  "Follow me!"

She went forward.  The men obeyed.  From a walk, they urged their
horses into a gallop, then into topmost speed.  The dispirited rabble
became a fighting battalion.

Stanislaus, in curiosity to see what had become of the column so rashly
attacking him, had moved back into the wake of the retreating peons.

The hoof-thunder of horses tempestuously advancing caused him to throw
his force into a hollow square, fearing that some body of capable
soldiery, having tracked him, was about to make a charge on him.

For the third time within half an hour the chief's senses were held in
wonder.  The approaching troop was the same which a few minutes before
had ignominiously fled before him.  Rapidly they deployed, under
Carmelita's orders, the line thus formed making the men a more
difficult target, as the girl had learned in watching her father train
fighting peons.

"Present rifles!  Aim!  Fire!" the señorita called in a single breath.

The cañon shook under the deafening detonation that resulted.
Boulders, loosened by the concussion, rolled down the sides of the
defile.  A thousand echoes reiterated the vengeance of the valley peons.

Stanislaus's Indians, massed together, withered under the tremendous
fusillade.  Only those in front could use their weapons to advantage,
the riflemen on sides and rear of the square being in danger of hitting
their fellows, if they attempted to shoot low enough to strike among
their enemy.

Carmelita fired her rifle, reloaded it and fired it again and again,
till the weapon clogged with powder-smut and became so heated that she
could scarcely hold the barrel for sighting.

The undrilled peons from the rancho, steadied by her example, added
coolness to their enthusiasm.  Despite their friends falling everywhere
around them, under Stanislaus's desperate defense, their line gradually
was closing in on him, their carbines, flash upon flash, cracking in
deadly purpose.

The Indian chieftain's number was decimated seriously; still, in hollow
square formation, he slowly backed to the narrow end of the pass, here
to wait for the protecting shadows of night.

Relays of peons, arriving at the Mendoza hacienda late, hastened after
Carmelita and the others.  These reenforcements brought dismay to the
hard-driven savages fighting against time for their opportunity to
escape with their booty.

Stanislaus, knowing the value of active offense in such an emergency,
detached Cayetano and a body of selected men, to make a sortie.

Cayetano's face seamed.  His teeth bared.  "Knock the wenches on the
head!  Then every man for himself! or, we'll never leave this rat-trap
alive."

"Cayetano, to the front, as I say!  Lead the attack!" ordered the chief.

"Lead it yourself.  Your bones will look as well whitening the ground
as mine."

Stanislaus, without further word, struck to his death the insubordinate.

The dire fate Cayetano had wished to visit on the peonas was seconded
by the menacing looks of not a few of the abductors.  "Yes, knock the
girls on the head!  Knock the girls on the head!  Let's get out of
here!  Curse the witches anyway!" could be heard on all sides.

"They are going to kill us! to kill us!" pierced the air laden with
smoke of battle and the odor of blood.  "O, save us!  Save us!  Have
pity on us!  Take us home!  Mother in Heaven!  O, save us!"

Goaded to frenzy by these cries, Carmelita's peons flooded across the
intervening space and fell on Stanislaus, who abandoned to their fate
the sortie detail he had thrown forward.  With such men as he could
muster he sped, with the peonas, out of the cañon into the broken
country edging Calaveras Valley.  Here his people seemed to scatter.
Hoof-tracks led aimlessly to every quarter of the compass.

To solve the riddle the hacienda peons ran over the ground and nosed it
like hounds.  No one could tell in which direction to go in succor of
the peonas.

From his saddle old Enrico peered at the signs which to the ordinary
observer indicated that Stanislaus and his people had come in compact
body to this spot, then, under centrifugal impulse, had departed hither
and yon.

In his observings the man moved a little away from Carmelita, then
returned.

"Señorita doña, I'm proud of the boys; they're all right--that
onslaught--line lasted them about as long as a box of mice would a
dozen terriers--but they can't read a trail."

"Then, you be eyes for us, Enrico," pleaded Carmelita.  "Soon the sun
leaves, and search to-morrow will be useless."

Enrico dismounted, slowly crawled on knees and hands, examining the
ground minutely.  He descended into a swiftly running stream, and
studied the rocky bed through the clear water.  Finally, he crept up
the other side and limped away into the forest.

It seemed an age before he came back.  Long shadows, forerunners of
approaching night, were measuring the hills beyond.  At last he was in
sight, exultation lighting his face and hastening his uncertain steps.

"Señorita doña," he exclaimed, "Stanislaus is near here, on foot, and
consequently at our mercy."

"How so, Enrico?" quickly from Carmelita.

"His horses left that stream riderless, as their plunging gait shows;
though they went into it under bridle, as is plain from the even
measure of their step.  The foot impression of men's hard-leather soles
lies in that creek-bed.  Stanislaus and many with him wear Mission
shoes of tanned cattle-skin.  Furthermore," holding up a knot of
ribbon, "this adornment was caught on a low-sweeping madrona branch,
and these," showing several wet deer-skin moccasins inlaid with glass
beads, "I plucked from crevices where the bottom of the stream is
rocky.  The scoundrelly renegades cannot be far away.  Let us rush down
on them, having caution, though, for ambuscade."

"They are bound for the cave two miles farther down the cañon, and they
sought to deceive us into following riderless horses.  We must cut them
off before they reach the shelter," cried Carmelita.

She led the way at break-neck speed through chaparral, over gullies, up
rocky heights that would have taxed the climbing abilities of a goat,
down a long, thickly-shrubbed glade, to a ragged opening under a cliff.
It was the exit through which, the night of the storm, Farquharson and
Brown, with Yoscolo and Stanislaus, had passed from the cave which gave
refuge to Carmelita and her dueña.

"Within and quickly!" called the girl, driving straight through the
natural door.  The peons thronged after her.

Light made its way into the many-chambered cavern through the
innumerable rifts in the rocky mountain side.  Carmelita led the way to
the lower entrance where the carreta had come to grief.  Here they
waited, grim figures in the twilight silence.

"Some are coming," Enrico whispered after a moment.

They saw many forms approaching.  The Indians, carrying the girls in
their arms, stalked in single file, each stepping with precision in the
footprints of his predecessor, to give the impression that but one man
had passed that way.  The semidarkness of the cave prevented their
seeing anyone inside.

"Drop your rifles!  Up with your hands!" Carmelita's voice gathered
volume from the great spaces behind.

Stanislaus and his men were petrified.

"Drop your rifles!  Up with your hands!" repeated the girl.

"Stanislaus, show yourself to be a joker.  Make a jest!" mocked old
Enrico.

The renegades dropped the peonas; the most of them threw away their
weapons; all fled precipitately.  Thus ended the memorable raid of
Stanislaus, the Indian renegade, unaccountably put to rout by a
delicately reared señorita.

Carmelita and the peons quickly gathered around the neophytes.  Despite
the severe experience of the day not one of the girls had received
injury.  Amid tears and laughter they loudly expressed their gratitude
to their deliverers.  Their vociferations were silenced by the sound of
musketry discharge, in the direction toward which Stanislaus and his
men had gone.  Many of the peons, mad with thirst of slaughter, tore
thitherward.

Soon musketry rattled again, this time much nearer the cave.  The girl,
leaving Enrico and a guard in charge of the peonas, rode after the men.
She climbed a steep hill.  Looking over a crag into the valley below,
she saw that which clutched her heart.

Captain Morando lay wounded there.  Stanislaus, knife in hand, was
leaping down a narrow path toward him.  The soldier's pistol was lying
several feet away.  He attempted to reach it, but ineffectually.

The Indian growled wolf-like as he neared his enemy.

"Stop!" shrieked Carmelita, springing from her horse and madly bounding
down the path.

"You villain!" she flung at Stanislaus, as she faced him.

Except for the knife he was unarmed.  He saw that her hands were empty.
She had left her rifle on the saddle.  He jumped toward her.

"Up the path, for God's sake, Carmelita!" weakly cried the stricken
Captain.

"Never!  I'll die first!"

The knife was cleaving the air.  The girl saw only Don Alfredo.

"Pause! renegade," a deep voice sounded back of them.

Padre Osuna had vaulted from an overhanging shelf.  Catching
Stanislaus's wrists he wrenched the knife from his hand.  Raising the
desperado from the earth he hurled him with volcanic power against a
tree-trunk.  The creature fell senseless.  Examination showed him to be
stunned only.

The friar took Morando's head in his arms.

"Where the hurt, my brother?"

"My shoulder," his eyes closing in oblivion.

"O, Padre, is Alfredo much injured?" her low words trembling with
emotion.

"I cannot yet tell, doña," sympathetic concern for the prostrate man
showing in his face and voice as he half whispered the reply.

"The wound is deep--and ugly--on the left side, too--I don't like its
looks."  He seemed to be speaking to himself, as his taper fingers
deftly and gently searched the course of the bullet.

Carmelita scarcely breathed.

"Get some water from that spring, doña, quick.  His pulse is stopping.
Bring it in his cap; there's nothing else."

The girl's feet scarcely touched the ground in performing the task.

The friar dashed the water in Morando's face.  His pulse showed no
quickening.  Carmelita hastened for another supply of water.  This was
as ineffective as the first.  A third capful brought a slight return of
animation.

"He's a little better now."

"O, padre."

Morando looked slowly up at them.

"Better now, brother?  Good," as Morando slightly nodded.  "We'll have
you around soon.  Lie very quietly and rest."

At sight of the pallid face lying against the padre's arm, Carmelita
turned and walked away, to conceal the sobbing that would not down.

"But the bullet has found no vital part.  Here it is, lodged in the
muscles under the arm," the friar soon announced cheeringly.

Immediately Carmelita returned, her face speaking joy, her lips silent.

"With good care our caballero will recover.  Thank God!"

"Thank God!" repeated the girl, her throat hardly vocalizing the words.

"And now, señorita, mia, may we trouble thee for more water?  Our
pitcher lacks size, therefore must it go often to the well."

Morando drank eagerly, with the thirst of the wounded.  Refreshed, he
tried to move to a sitting posture.  The padre gently restrained him.

"Not yet, my friend.  A little more rest."

Morando again closed his eyes.

"I forgot to send you word to-day, padre," from the señorita.

"Word came, nevertheless, doña.  My men cross-tracked the renegades in
the hills above us and are now chasing them."

Stanislaus, regaining consciousness from a shock that would have broken
the bones of an ordinary man, made an attempt for freedom.  The friar's
hand whirled him back.

"Estanislao, many unshriven souls have this day gone before God because
of you.  Have you no compunctions?"

The Indian glowered.

"Señorita, I will leave Captain Morando with you a few minutes, while I
find men and improvise a litter.  As for you, son of Belial," speaking
to Stanislaus, "walk before me until I can get safe custody for you."

Padre Osuna drove the sulky renegade up the path.

Carmelita brought fresh water and bathed the wounded man's face.  He
lay very still.  At last he opened his eyes.

"Carmelita, what are you doing here?"

"Never mind that till later."

"I went part way to Monterey with Señor Mendoza, then I returned to San
José, where I received your message," he said in weak voice.  "I could
only bring a few volunteers, my soldiers having continued on with the
señor."

"Please do not talk.  You are not strong enough.  The padre will soon
bring assistance, and we will take you to my father's house."

He lay quiet once more.  The girl thought he slept.  Her smooth hands
continued bathing his face.

"I didn't mean to offend you, Carmelita.  I didn't know--of your
engagement--to Don Abelardo."

"So you have heard that old story!  Why, Alfredo, I have never been
engaged to anyone."

His eyes opened wide.  A faint flush spread over his pale cheeks.

"Never engaged--never engaged--you are not going to marry Peralta--not
marry him?"

"No," she smiled.



CHAPTER XXIX

A DEPARTURE

"Señor Mendoza, there is no use to continue this parley.  It does no
good.  I have possession of California.  That possession I shall
retain."

"The enlightened will of the people of this province must decide
whether you retain possession, or relinquish it, Commodore Billings."

The two were standing within the fort, at a window.  They were alone.
The marines of the frigate United States and the sloop-of-war Cyane
were drilling not far away.  The soft, "plush, plush, plush" of their
feet could be heard, following the staccato calls for maneuvers.

"I relinquish possession only when forced to do so."

"The proposal was made and accepted that your government hold Monterey
tentatively."

"Never accepted by me.  Our consideration of that question was broken
up by Señor Zelaya sprinting in with news that Fairbanks's ships were
passing south.  The subject was not taken up again."

"But O'Donnell accepted it, Commodore.  He has letters from Mr. Tyler,
your President, countersigned by your Secretary of State, giving him
full power to act for his government."

"Produce O'Donnell and his papers, Colonel Mendoza."

"O'Donnell started eastward at midnight, as you well know.  Two months
will scarce see his return."

"Señor Mendoza, I found the capital here without government of any
kind; in other words, deserted."

"The absence of the people's servants, whether in fort or government
house, does not make void that people's rights."

"I led my ships through peril of fog and night, to gain advantage of
the British.  Had they reached here before me, then, Señor Mendoza,
this enlightened will of which you speak might go to Jericho."

"The British would have arrived here before you, as you are well aware,
had not trading vessels, which I have under charter, at gravest risk
drawn you away from certain wreck."

Billings raised his eyebrows.

"Commodore, in plain words, you are engaged in a piece of
filibustering.  The United States is not back of such a movement as
this."

The Commodore paced away savagely, then turned.

"Colonel Mendoza, possession is nine points of law, and I have
possession.  Demonstrate a better right than mine; and maintain it, if
you can!"

The Spaniard, stooping, raised a heavy trapdoor.  He threw it back.
Iron-barred windows lighted a chamber beneath.  Mounds of powder were
heaped around everywhere.

"Commodore Billings, we are standing over the powder-magazine of this
fort."

"So I perceive, Señor Mendoza."

The señor looked coolly at the other.

"Well, perceive this."  From his pocket he drew a taper, used for
lighting cigaritos, ignited it and held it up.

"Man, what are you about?  Put out that fire!"

"Ah!  Stand near--not too close.  Now, look at that black sand."

Billings's mouth shut hard.

"In that sand, Commodore, there is power enough pent up to blow your
marines to atoms, if I drop this tiny piece of flame.  You and I--well,
Commodore Billings, it is not necessary to consider ourselves."

Mendoza held the taper between thumb and forefinger.  Two paces
distant, across the aperture in the floor, the Commodore stood, his
hand resting on a pistol which he did not draw.

"Shoot, Señor Billings," Mendoza said quietly, still holding the taper
over the powder.

Billings's hand dropped from the pistol to his side.

"Then, cry aloud for help, my señor."

"Mendoza, what are you about?" hoarsely asked the Commodore.  "What do
you want?"

"That you leave Monterey."

Billings's teeth ground together.  "Never!"

"Never?" glancing at the taper.

"It would not be the first house you have blown up."

"But it would be the last, my Commodore."

Mendoza seemed to grow in stature, to become colossal, terrible.

"This taper burns low.  I have not another."

Billings's form relaxed.

"Your province is not worth a quarter thousand lives."

"So, you decide, Señor Billings.  Well, open that window, then, and
order your men to the ships."

"I shall not.  What a diabolical advantage for you to take, Mendoza!"

"Nothing of the sort.  I merely insist on the preservation of the
rights of this province.  You proclaim your intention of violating
these rights, notwithstanding O'Donnell's pledged words."

The flame pointed its unsteady way higher.

"One minute more you have, Commodore Billings."  Slowly Mendoza turned
his hand.  The taper slipped a little through his fingers.  "Now, Señor
Billings, or----"

The Commodore's voice shouted to his marines.  His lips were framing a
call for help.

The taper moved downward a little farther.  "Commodore Billings, you
thus cast the die?  One--two--" a significant pause.

The Commodore's hollow voice ordered his men to the ships.

Mendoza extinguished the taper.  In one hand he still held its end; in
the other he meaningly grasped the flint.  He did not speak.

Billings repeated his command, till every wondering marine had embarked.

Mendoza's peon riflemen filed into the castle; white gunners who had
seen service in Manila, manned the cannon.  The muzzle of the ordnance
inclined until their lips opened threateningly over the boats teetering
in the surf.  Three hundred sharpshooters, lent Mendoza by Captain
Sutter, of New Helvetia, thickened in the auxiliary battery.

A salvo would be echoed by a thousand small arms.

Commodore Billings foresaw certain destruction in resistance.

As he was stepping into the last-departing boat Mendoza said to him:

"Because you came as conqueror we bid you go."

In an hour the harbor was empty, the flagpoles of square and castle
bare.



CHAPTER XXX

ODDS AND ENDS

Señora Valentino, rather pale, was sitting in the room adjoining the
treasure-chamber of the old Spanish governor.  Captain Farquharson was
opposite.

"So you return to Europe to-morrow, Captain."

"Yes, señora, and glad am I to have the conveniences of a home-going
war vessel.  When do you go?"

"In a month or so--some time in the latter part of October."

"I regret I was able to give your brilliant work here such inefficient
aid."

"My work here has been a brilliant failure," with a little laugh that
was half a sigh.

"Señora, except for an altogether unforseeable combination of adverse
circumstances California to-day would be English territory."

"Yes, if the wind had not blown; if the fog had not obscured, and if
night had not come; or, to put it in different words, if Fairbanks had
not been Fairbanks."

"The magnanimity of these squadron commanders is overpowering, Admiral
Fairbanks having his equal in Commodore Billings.  Why, the capital
simply rolled into Billings's hands.  Then, he and Mendoza are seen in
the castle holding some sort of a conference.  The first thing we know,
the castle is evacuated, and the Administrator of Mission San José is
left cock of the walk."

"That is history as it is written, Captain."

"What do you mean?"

"O, nothing of any consequence.  I was merely thinking aloud; that is
all."

"My lady, I assure you I was standing at the old parade ground, an
interested spectator of the exhibition of the manual of arms, when the
occurrence of which I have spoken took place."

"My peon friend, Alberto, crept up under a window, within earshot of
Commodore Billings and Señor Mendoza as they were having that little
conference of theirs.  What Alberto heard has cost him many a nightmare
since."

"Señora, I'm in the dark."

"Well, well, Captain, in any case, it is a closed book to us now.
Administrator Mendoza has gained advantage in the first throw.  We'll
leave England's cause in the hands of those whom the Home Office will
send out.  Who wins the game only the future will disclose."

"Many will miss you here, my lady."

"Crisostimo and my sister go with me, at least, as far as Spain.  Our
ship will round the Cape of Good Hope, not Cape Horn, as does yours.
My brother-in-law, having sent in his resignation as official here to
the government in Mexico, has sold his holdings in California to a
company of which Señor Mendoza is president."

"Señora, I referred to the province at large.  You have a cherished
place in the hearts of many."

"It is a delight to be held in good estimation.  I appreciate all the
kind thoughts."

"As to the province in particular.  On my way here I met Abelardo
Peralta, in company with young Ysidro de la Barra and the
half-'Boston,' Sam Watson.  Don Abelardo was saying he had laid the
Rancho San Antonio at your feet for the fifth time, and for the fifth
time had found himself closing your door from the outside, a rejected
suitor."

She smiled.  "Abelardo is a dear boy, but very, very young."

"De la Barra and Watson each declared Morando stands between them and
their happiness.  They would challenge the Captain to a duel, and,
dying spit by his rapier, they would leave their haciendas to you, in
touching remembrance of their devotion.  Peralta, on the contrary,
rather scoffed, and said he would live, and see the soldier Captain
leave your house biting his fingers in disappointment, as he himself
had done."

The señora's pale face flushed.  The toe of her slipper tapped the
floor.

"I told them," the man not noticing, went on, jocularly, "that I had
known many suitors in Europe leaving you disconsolate, but had never
heard of any deaths therefrom.  Whereupon they insisted that I too am
your suitor.  I told them I am too old and battered for such a
beautiful young lady, besides having a cherished wife at home, a very
good friend of the Señora Valentino.  The two again denounced Morando,
declaring their certainty that the Captain would be the victor."

"You are much interested in romance, I see, Captain.  Tell me that old
story connected with your life in Dublin.  You referred to it once, and
aroused my interest.  We were too busy then, but now we have a little
leisure for diversion."

"Doubtless it would be to you a twice-told tale."

"Never mind, anyway, Captain.  We all like to hear good stories, and
especially from the lips of the actor himself."

"In the springtime of life sentiment bubbles up, and over, with the
most of us.  So was it with me.

"Soon after I received my commission as Captain our regiment was
ordered to Dublin.  A young recruit who had taken the queen's shilling
was assigned to the grenadier company, my own.  A veritable giant of a
man he was, and had in him the making of a consummate soldier.  Both of
us saw light first on the bank of the lordly Shannon, I, in the hall,
he, in a cottage of my father's estate.  His parents still live in the
old cottage.

"Well, the giant soldier-boy and I became almost chums.  I had just
come from several gay seasons that London gave us, and I felt pretty
much at outs with the inanity of my own class.  He was fresh and
original, and I had known him from childhood.  Of course he loved a
girl.  She was in domestic service, but as good as gold.  I thought I
was in love with her too.  But, pshaw! she had more sense than I.
Otherwise, we might have married, and have been miserable for life.
Still, she did seem a breath of heaven after the women of my own set."

"You forgot Lady Matilda," prompted the señora, laughing.

"My wife is one of God's good women, and I pray we shall be able to
rear our little daughter to be like her.  What I am relating occurred
many years before I met Matilda."

"Good, my friend!  And now for the rest of the tale!"

"A breach opened, and widened, between O'Donnell and me.  She preferred
him, you see, wherein she was wise.

"Then followed some words of mine for which I have always been sorry.
I tried to make her believe he wasn't worthy of her, and all that.  I
didn't actually succeed, though she allowed him to think I did.  I
suppose at the time she really did half believe what I had insinuated.

"The young man stormed, pleaded, and raved.  She seemed not to heed.
One afternoon, on the parade ground, I rallied him harshly for some
error in the drill which was really most immaterial.  Then I sneered
some beastly words at him.  He clubbed his carbine and attacked me.  I
dodged and a glancing blow struck my shoulder and head.  I was disabled
for a year."

After a short wait, he went on:

"And I deserved what I received.  By some miracle O'Donnell escaped
capture.  For some years he was in South America; then he came to
California, went among the plains Indians east of here, and became a
mighty sachem among them.  When he was in Washington, on some
delegation for the Indians, he came under attention of high officials
of the United States Government.  No word need be said of his work
here, señora," with a laugh.

"What of the peasant maid, Captain?  You are forgetting her."

"She read of O'Donnell's activities, it seems; and learned of my
presence here through the same source, the newspaper.  The man-of-war
lately from England, which brought news of my father's death, together
with my accession to his title and estates, carried a letter to me from
her, inclosing another to O'Donnell.  I delivered his letter in person.
I told him I am glad his old love is waiting for him, and promised when
I get home to have all disability removed, so he can return and claim
his bride.  O'Donnell and I parted on the terms of our old-time
friendship."

"Why did not the girl write direct to O'Donnell himself?"

"She was sure of my address, but not of his."

"I am more than glad that your story has such a happy ending."

"I had come on O'Donnell in the city plaza.  We were sitting together
in conversation when Mendoza walked up and greeted me with all possible
cordiality, as a former comrade-in-arms.  I found that the
Administrator remembered me perfectly, and has kept track of me rather
closely, the world over, considering distance and isolation."

"Did he know of your driving the powder wagons through the blazing
buildings at Waterloo, when the regular postilions had deserted their
charge?" asked the señora, with a smile of admiration.

"Yes," modestly.  "He was kind enough to speak of it.  When we left
each other, he told me whenever I return to California to make his
house my own.  I am glad that I met him."

A knock shook the door.

Colonel Barcelo was outside.

"Silvia," he said, "I may say you have shown yourself to be an unusual
woman, a woman of knowledge and acumen quite remarkable for your years."

"Come in and be seated, Crisostimo.  Here is my friend, Captain
Farquharson."

"Ah, yes.  Thank you for the chair.  Good day, Captain Farquharson,"
this last stiffly.  "Well, what I want to decide is, shall I issue a
pardon for that low-down Indian, Stanislaus?  Padre Osuna is now in the
reception room waiting for my answer."

"Does the padre wish for this pardon?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"It's this way.  Padre Osuna has the fellow confined here in Monterey.
You see," looking at Farquharson, "I'm still acting-governor, and shall
be until notice accepting my resignation comes back from Mexico City.
So, I can pardon or not, as I please.  Do you understand?" glowering at
the Captain.

"But why does the padre ask the pardon?" persisted the señora.

"O, well, he expects to make a good man out of him, and then through
him convert all those savages in the San Joaquin over whom Stanislaus
has become a sort of king, since the death of Yoscolo."

"Surely Padre Osuna's judgment should be trusted in the matter,
Crisostimo."

"Yes, yes.  Exactly what has been in my mind all the time.  I'll pardon
the fellow.  He told me the Señorita Mendoza has thrashed all the bad
spirits out of him, and that Padre Osuna has beaten many good spirits
into him--yes, I'll pardon the fellow.  But there is one thing I never
can forget, and that is the way that rascally Morando has treated me."
He again glared at Farquharson, left the room and stamped down the
corridor.

"It's Crisostimo's way," laughed the señora.  "Captain, there is the
question of the maps in this chamber, and those wonderful placer mines."

"Why not let Twickenham, our consul, take up the matter?  He is
entirely dependable."

"Very true, Captain; but there are many inquisitive eyes about.  The
working of the mine would mean that many may learn of its existence,
and soon a deluge of Americanos come.  Then, surely California would
never be England's.  Let our successors in the work do their part
without undue handicap.  In quieter times we will form a company, find
the mines and work them."

"Señora, in Europe your hand will be busy in affairs of far greater
interest to the world than the future of California."

"I shall never forget California, and the maps shall be safely kept
till such time as we wish to use them."

"Now, dear lady, after long association comes the time for good-bys.
It will be months, at least, before we meet again.  Allow me to express
my gratitude for the inspiration you have been to me in this California
work."

"Captain, I thank you most cordially for what you say.  When Lord Bevis
Farquharson, with his wife, Lady Matilda, and their little daughter,
Margaret, come to London remember that my establishment in Great Curzon
Street is their home."

They clasped hands, their eyes dimming.

"My lady, do not forget that you have another home at Farquharson
Court."



CHAPTER XXXI

ACROSS THE YEARS

Nine or ten friars, from different missions within a day's ride, were
in a room close by the living apartment of the pastor, Padre Osuna, of
Mission San José.  Once or twice the padre's voice, in deep murmur,
came to the ears of his waiting confreres; then it was silent.  Each
time the others paused a little, for his coming, then resumed desultory
conversation.

"Why waits so long Padre Osuna for the coming?" impatiently from Padre
Mercado, continuing: "We are told he is within, and even now once more
I heard his voice."

Juan Antonio ushered in Señor Mendoza.

"Señors Padres, it is a delight to meet you.  I trust your various
charges are prospering."

The friars, who had arisen, exchanged glances.

"This is as may be, señor," from the padre of Santa Clara.

Padre Osuna came quietly into their midst.

"Reverend padres, and Señor Mendoza, I am late.  A visitor, coming
unexpectedly and bringing a message of vast purport to me, was the
cause of my detaining.  Let us be seated."

He continued:

"Brethren of my order, I requested you here, that you might be
listeners of the proposal Señor Mendoza is prepared to make.  You know
the missions and their requirements.  You may be able to enlighten him
as to the wisest course.  Now," inclining his head to Mendoza, "we are
ready to hear you, señor."

The courtly hidalgo bowed in return.

"Señor pastor, and señors padres, the law of the secularization is
spread on our statute books.  Its extension in this Mission of San José
de Guadalupe has been gradual, as you know.  I believe the time has
come for further extension."

He looked slowly from Osuna to the others.  None of the churchmen
spoke.  He went on:

"Namely, that each able-bodied Indian of good character, member of this
Mission, shall receive a plot of land of sufficient acreage to maintain
himself and his family; the land, of course, to be taken from the
leagues still held by this Mission, in trust, from the Mexican
government."

Padre Osuna did not speak.

"The Indians are but overgrown children, and are incapable of caring
for themselves, except under strict tutelage.  So said the great
missionary, Padre Junipero Serra, and the years have shown the wisdom
of his thought."  Thus, Padre Suscol, of Sonoma.

"Years ago I gave each of my Indians his piece of land.  They are
working it for themselves, and ably.  Padre Junipero spoke of the issue
as he knew it sixty years ago, and most wise were his words, but he
could not foresee present-day needs," was Mendoza's reply.

"The procedure that you propose will impoverish the Mission,"
remonstrated another friar.

"Many of the hacenderos are giving each year a tithe to the Mission.
Let the Indians be instructed to do the same, either in money or in
labor," rejoined Mendoza.

Osuna lifted his eyes.  "Why load this burden on our neophytes?"

"To teach them the necessity of self-reliance.  They should become of
age, as regards development of mind."

"Their old teachers should determine that," from Padre Mercado.

"The state determines when our sons and daughters attain their
majority, not we," from Mendoza.

"Why oppress our neophyte children with this becoming of age just at
this time?" questioned Osuna.

"Because it is not a day too soon.  Men of many nations begin to flock
here.  Westward the course of civilization must come.  It is destiny.
We cannot stay it.  Then, why not meet it?  We, Spaniard and Indian,
must stand on our own feet, accept from the newcomer what will
strengthen our moral and spiritual fiber, and give back as much of
ourselves as will benefit others.  Therefore must we be self-reliant."

The room was still.

Padre Osuna spoke after a moment.

"Circumstances have but now arisen which preclude me from giving Señor
Mendoza reply.  That, as well as the adjustment of other affairs here,
will have to fall to some one else.  Soon will I make explanation."
Turning to Mendoza: "Shall I find the Señor Mendoza at his house late
this afternoon?"

Mendoza bowed.  "At your service, señor padre."

"Brethren, I will return to you in a moment."

The padre conducted the Administrator down a long corridor, into the
courtyard, toward the lodge.

An elderly woman was walking under a vine-covered trellis.

"Mother," tenderly from the friar, "I am sorry to keep you waiting; but
there are many things to do, and only a short time."

The snowy-haired woman had advanced a few steps to meet her son.  She
stopped abruptly.  She was not looking at the padre, but at Señor
Mendoza.

"My mother, allow me to present to you--" began the friar.

"The Lady Romalda!" exclaimed Mendoza, the words clutching his throat.

"Don José!" she cried, holding out her hands, her lips trembling.

Señor Mendoza took her hands in his, and, bending low, reverently
kissed the finger-tips.  "Romalda!  Romalda!"

The padre looked at the two in questioning wonder.  The woman and the
man seemed to have slipped the years from their shoulders, and to be
standing again in youth.

"My boy," said the mother, "Colonel Mendoza and I knew each other well,
many years ago.  We were very dear--friends," moisture dimming her
eyes, emotion halting her voice.

The son was much shaken by his mother's show of feeling.  "My beloved
mother!" he said, gently stroking her hair.

In a little Señor Mendoza and the Lady Romalda, after the manner of
those long separated, began speaking of former times.  Soon the padre
excused himself, to return to his brethren, leaving his mother and
Señor Mendoza seated under the trellised vines.

Nothing but kindliness and tenderness and chivalry was in Mendoza's
heart for the woman by his side.  Memories long forgotten came to life,
under stimulation of the Lady Romalda's presence.  Robbed of all
harshness were those bygone times.  The happy and useful life he had
spent in his adopted country left bitterness no room.

As for her, slumbering years and crowding vicissitude had put in the
background, but had not quenched, the affection for her girlhood lover.

The years passed under review.

They spoke of the parting in the castle of her father, the Ambassador
Altamira, of Castile.

"Colonel," she said, a faint blush creeping into her faded cheek, "had
I listened one moment more to you that day, I would have fled to your
arms, and have left with you for California, though my father's heart
had broken."

A surprised exclamation was Mendoza's reply.

"You rode furiously down the avenue.  At the bend, in the shadow of
those old oaks, you stopped, reining your horse about.  I can still see
you there.  I hastened to the door to welcome you, thinking you were
about to return.  My father bade me within, but I obeyed not.  I
remained at the door.  I beckoned you.  My father made a scene.
Nevertheless, once more I beckoned.  I thought you saw, but you
galloped away."

"I saw you not.  Grief flooded my eyes.  Castle Altamira, your home,
and hallowed by our courtship, had been to me as a shrine.

"On this Pacific shore I had built another Castle Altamira, laying the
foundation and rearing the walls in love.  It embodied my devotion to
you.  In the shadow of those oaks, as I rode away, my heart was gone
from me, for the castle in Castile was become but building stone, the
doña of the hearth mine no longer.  The new home in this western world,
lacking the cement of love, was worthless, and must fall in ruins.  Had
I seen you beckoning--" agitation breaking the sentence.

"You would have returned, José?"

"Yes, Lady Romalda, yes; though many forbidding ambassador-fathers
barred the way," smiling.  "But, señora, your father's intensity of
feeling seemed equaled by your own."

"The hidalgo is by nature an ardent nationalist, as you know.  Born
into that atmosphere, with every breath I imbibed its spirit.  That you
should lose this pride of nation fired me with indignation.  Yes, José,
even when love forced me to try to bring you back, my very soul was
lifted against you.  Time, and the irony of fate, revolutionized my
views."

They became silent, their thoughts busy.

"I too became a foreigner," she went on presently, as if no break had
occurred in the conversation.

She related her journeying to Bombay with her father, a few years
later, and of meeting there a young native prince who was in part of
Portuguese extraction, his mother having been a member of a powerful
family of that nationality residing in Goa.

The prince's father, a Christian, had been maharajah of Rajput, one of
the great principalities of British Hindustan.  The Mohammedan portion
of the maharajahship had engendered rebellion.  In attempting to
suppress it by armed force the father was killed.  The son, also a
Christian, attained high position in English officialdom in Bombay.

This youthful Hindustanee, whose Latin name was Lusciano Osuna do
Castello Branco, became very friendly with the daughter of the Spanish
representative, Ambassador Altamira, of Castile.

"My father died suddenly," said the Lady Romalda.  "The prince paid
court and won my hand.  We were married.

"My husband was a citizen of Great Britain.  I became a British subject
by my marriage.  My son, known here as Padre Lusciano Osuna, was born
in Bombay, and was given his father's name in baptism, Lusciano Osuna
do Castello Branco."

She told of her son's school days in England, whither the English
government had sent him, of his graduation from a military academy, and
his return to India.

"The Mohammedan maharajah was deposed by the British.  My husband was
placed on the throne.  I lived in Rajput, a princess.  My husband fell
in suppressing insurrection, as had his father before him.  Lusciano,
my son, commanded in his father's stead, and through his efforts the
rebellion was overcome.  Great preparations were under way to honor the
young prince, the present padre, when he should take the throne.  Great
Britain promised him unlimited support.  His father's enemies, even,
swore allegiance to him.  All looked forward to a reign of prosperity
and peace.

"Lusciano, always of strongly religious bent, refused the honor; turned
his back on the world and became a Franciscan novice in Goa.  The
people begged him to remain with the principality, but he persisted in
his chosen course.  Soon he was called to Europe.  In a few years all
Spain was ringing in praise of the brilliant preaching of the friar do
Castello Branco.  His superiors, foreseeing a future of great
usefulness for the churchman, were about to make him a cardinal.  The
mystic, the recluse, in him took alarm, and he requested the British
ambassador at Madrid to use his influence to avert the threatened
honor.  He was allowed to come to this province, and hoped the world
would forget him.

"Grave difficulties have recently arisen in India, which is seething in
rebellion.  The people of Rajput, remembering his efficient leadership,
are clamoring for the return of Prince do Castello Branco.  The English
premier brought the matter before the pope, who has issued an order
that my son go to Rajput at once, ascend the throne, and, as
friar-king, rule for Christian concord in the principality.  The
British ship bearing the order to Lusciano stopped at Bombay and I took
passage to meet my son and to see the country which was to have been my
home.

"So, José, I came--and I find you, an unlooked-for pleasure.  I was
told that you had obliterated the house you had prepared for me, so I
thought that long ago you had left this part of the world forever."

Mendoza shook his head slowly, and was lost in reverie.  At last he
spoke.  "My heart overflows with rejoicing at this privilege of hearing
your voice once more, and of taking your hand in mine.  Time touches
you lightly, Romalda."

"And you, also, my Don José, of the erect shoulders and stalwart form."

There under the arbor, with the busy life of the Mission going on about
them, they talked until the long shades came.

It was not until Padre Osuna stood by their side and said, "Madre mia,
the twilight must chill thee after the warmth of Rajput," that they
parted.

Matronas attended the mother, while the friar conducted Mendoza to the
lodge gate.

"Señor," he said, "I have advised my brethren to resist secularization
by every means within their power.  Were it possible for me to remain
as head of this Mission I would fight, to the last, the proposed
encroachment."

The neighboring hacenderos vied among themselves to do honor to the
Princess do Castello Branco, guest of the province.  The days came and
went in delightful companionship.

Finally, the time for the homeward journey had arrived.  The British
ship was sailing out of San Francisco harbor, on the afternoon tide.

Lady Romalda and Señor Mendoza were standing on the forward deck,
looking out over the vast, restless sea.  She was talking rapidly.  He
spoke little.

The vessel began pitching on the swells that precede the bar.

It was the moment of parting.

They stood, hands clasped.  The lady's eyes were streaming.  The
Administrator's good-by broke in his voice.

A boat was lowered over the side, and Señor Mendoza was rowed to the
fort.

The ship gathered headway, crossed the bar, and lost itself in the
horizon of the ocean.



CHAPTER XXXII

A WEDDING

Merrily rang the chimes in the old belfry of the Mission church of San
José de Guadalupe.  "Come!  Come!  Come!  Come, Come!" the call sounded
far out into the valley shimmering in the green of springtide.

"Come!  Come!  Come!  Come, Come!" echoed the hills.

Pigeons, denizens of the church tower, flew in, and out, and around,
the whirring of their wings sounding above the resonance of the bells,
in the intervals of their summoning notes.  Flocks darted into the air,
circled for a moment, then disappeared, as if bearing away urgent
messages.  Others dropped from emptiness, clung to the gargoyles on the
belfry corners, and, in low cooings, told some story.

"We are coming! coming! coming!" came in refrain from many footbeats.
Men and women from throughout the entire province were gathering on the
eastern slope of Santa Clara Valley that bright spring morning.

The Vallejos, of the North, came; their ladies were there, and their
sons and their daughters, personifications of the intellect, the valor,
the virtue and the beauty which glorified the valley of the Moon.  Gold
and silver bespangled their horses' bridles, hung as pendants from the
bridlereins, inlaid the stirrups, and gilded the saddles from high
pommel in the front to long anquera reaching back to crupper.

Gold lace adorned the hatbands and decorated the ponchos of the men,
while gold spurs clicked at their heels.  Silk and satin embellished
señoritas beautiful and señoras handsome.  Peons and peonas, jigging
after their masters on horses clean-limbed and swift, were bravely
attired as for a fiesta.

The Picos rode in from the South, with retinue as splendid as that of
their Sonoma rivals, their Gallic heritage showing in the harmony and
luxuriousness of color in poncho and gowning.

José Antonio Carillo escorted representatives of his family along the
Camino Real, through San José pueblo, on to San José Mission, four
leagues away toward the setting sun.

The Bandinis followed the de la Guerras.  The Auguellos and the
Malarins paced side by side.  The busy bee of politics buzzed in vain
in the cap of Juan de Bautista Alvarado, for the active brain beneath
was under the spell of superior attraction in Mission San José, and the
man hastened thither faster than if the governor's chair awaited him
there.

Señor Castro, the steadfast, flanked his friend Señor Alvarado, and
looked about complacently, contentment complete, since his equipment
equaled any present.

The "Bostons," allied to the Spanish families, were there, as Latin in
dress and manner as the Spaniards themselves.

"Come!  Come!  Come, Come!" the bell kept saying.  "Come, to the
nuptials of the Señorita Carmelita Mendoza and the Señor Alfredo
Morando."

Mission San José lay nestling in verdure.  The vineyards pointed their
budding tendrils low, their gentler tints soft against the darker
leaves of the olive groves.

Orange orchards rioted in magnificence on the sunny slopes.  The tree
foliage, shot through with the waxy petals of next year's promise, half
hid the golden balls of this year's harvest still awaiting the
gathering hand.

Almond trees, as yet showing never a leaf, were beclouded by their
snowy flowerings into vast pillars.

Gentle breezes rose and fell.  Soft blossom-showers whitened the
ground, eddied around parent tree-trunk, or crept to modest hiding
place amidst the grass-blades.

Everywhere the odor of growing things loaded the air with sweet
messages.  Myriad flower-breaths floated through open doors and
windows, dropping fragrant tribute in hacienda house and cloistered
corridor.

People in throngs, eager with expectancy, held the street fronting on
the Mendoza hacienda house.  Masters of ceremony opened a wide lane
from mansion to church.  The Spanish gentry fringed either side;
detachments of soldiers, in serried rank, stood next; back of them,
overflowing to the very limits of the village, crowded other residents
of the valley.

The deep-throated organ within the church began to voice its monologue.
The conversation of hidalgos fell to whisper; the chatter of peons and
peonas hushed.

The great gate of the courtyard swung open wide.  Through the archway,
on a palfrey white as milk, came the daughter of the de la Mendoza.
Her mount, true to the strain of his forebears in far-away Arabia,
caracoled to and fro, and ambled forward slowly, step by step, as if to
show the perfection that California could breed in priceless
horseflesh.  His mane flowed into the trappings on his breast; his
streaming tail almost touched the ground.

Carmelita, gowned in white, rode stately, as became the princess that
she well might be.  The wreath of orange bloom clinging above her
forehead would have made a fitting diadem.  The folds of her bridal
robe fell entrancingly about her.  With eyes cast down, cheeks aglow,
she passed along, the fairest bride Santa Clara Valley ever saw; no
small claim, indeed, for hers was a time and she of a race wherefrom
beautiful women sprang in plenty.

Here bridesmaids followed in double file, their horses white, every
one; their apparel, the delicate pink of the first flush of dawn, the
result of skillful needlewomen through many a day.

Lolita Hernandez, pretty and piquant, was side by side with Lucinda
Higuera, demure and handsome.  Alfreda Castro, with raven hair showing
beneath her satin head-covering, moved along with Tula Laynez,
gray-eyed, blonde-cheeked, and saucy as a sparrow.  Palmita Peralta,
with cherry lips ever smiling, was paired with Leopolda Estudillo, of
the starry eyes.

The bride has reached the church steps.

Deftly her feet disengage themselves from the silken loops used for
stirrup; nimbly she reaches ground.  Quickly the following señoritas
are at her side, while peon grooms lead away the horses.

"Viva!  Viva!  The Señorita Mendoza!  Viva!  Viva!"

Then from some one: "Viva! the Señorita doña's bridesmaids!"

"Ah!  Ah!  Look!" cried many.

Morando, on coal-black steed, came through the gate and slowly to the
church door.  Comandante of all California he was now, promotion from
guardian of pueblo San José to post commander at Yerba Buena having
been succeeded by transfer to Monterey presidio; and, finally, came the
command of all the land forces.

With him rode, as groomsmen, the presidio commanders of Yerba Buena, of
Monterey, of Santa Barbara, and of San Diego, and accompanied by many
caballeros.

Señor Mendoza, now Governor Mendoza, was horsed on old Mercurio falling
into years, still peerless for speed in all the valley.  Flanked by
members of his council and the junta departmental the Governor made his
way up to the church.  With sweeping gesture of his bridle-rein, to the
right and to the left, he gave salute for salute to the waiting
grandees, as he passed along.

Up the aisle, decorated with innumerable Castilian roses intertwined
with ivy, came Carmelita, on her father's arm, orange blossoms
clustered in her hand, her bridesmaids well in the lead.

The organ swelled in notes of rejoicing.

Directly before the señorita went two little girls, clad in white,
backing slowly altarward, as she advanced.  Freshly gathered
rose-petals, handful by handful, they showered before her, making a
pathway sweetly yielding as she trod.

Captain Morando, awaiting his bride, stood at the altar gate, in
uniform, his poncho laid aside, his brother officers attending him.

Bride and groom knelt within the sanctuary.

Neophyte Indian acolytes swung censers.  Incense hung in the air,
tingling the nostrils with its Oriental perfume, while the many candles
glowed through the maze like burnished spear-points.

As the clergy solemnly intoned the nuptial service, the choir, a
hundred strong, of Indian men and women touchingly gave back its
responses.  The melody of Pepita's voice flooded nave and chancel, love
for her mistress the inspiration.

An instant's pause.  Every breath stilled.

With hands upraised over bride and groom stood the officiating padre.
"Whom, therefore, God hath joined together let no man put asunder."

Down the aisle husband and wife led bridesmaid and groomsman, governor,
council, and junta departmental.

Muskets crashed, as they crossed the street; the multitude shouted
congratulations; the hills above them lived in medley of reiterated
acclaimings of good will.

At the wedding breakfast words dripped like honey from the mouth of
Señor Alvarado, as he spoke of the lovely bride.  Grave Castro smiled
approbation; the clever Carillo applauded; his ally, Don Pio Pico,
cried aloud, "Bon!  Bon!  Buena!"  Even Alvarado's saturnine enemy, the
half-Sicilian, Di Vestro, clapped his hands, as the señor, the
honey-drip becoming torrential eloquence, said: "For the kiss of such a
bride as the Señora Morando, gladly would I again drive that Mexican
usurper, Micheltorena, from California soil; yes, and every follower he
has!"

"Will you!  Will you!" exclaimed the young wife, blushing at mention of
the new name.  Stepping up, she kissed squarely the Señor Alvarado, her
mother's brother.

"A challenge!  A challenge!" from the guests.  "The former governor at
last has found a nut he cannot crack.  Aha!  Alvarado, thy kinswoman is
ever quicker in retort than thou."

The tall politician bowed gently to the Señora Doña Carmelita.

"If you draw them hither, mi querida, no power of mine could budge them
a single inch."

"Well said!  Well said!"

Later came the afternoon barbecue in the foothills.  Dozens of beeves
were roasting in deep pits, on live-coals, the outdoor sports of early
California first whetting the appetite for the feast.

Bonfire blazed red against crag and forest that night, as peon and
peona continued the repast, and danced the fandango to the music of
guitar, and the surprised cries of catamount and wolf.

At the hacienda house the Señor and Señora Morando danced in the contra
danza amidst the plaudits of the lookers-on.

Señor Mendoza, threescore and ten and one, led forth the lithe
Francesca Sanchez, and never youth tripped a lighter step than did the
governor of California at his daughter's wedding.

Pio Pico, gallant and graceful, placed his hat on a señorita's head,
and they followed Mendoza and his partner.

Alvarado and Castro, Pedro Zelaya and Abelardo Peralta found ladies and
joined; so did de la Barra, and Higuera, Salvador Vallejo and Nazario
Dominguez, until, as some said, California north, and south, and
center, was united, if only for the contra danza.

Small hours found the gaiety undiminished, for midnight supper
strengthened for further dancing.  Neither was one day deemed
sufficient to do adequate honor to the marriage of Carmelita Mendoza
and Comandante Morando.

Next day the couple, the Governor Mendoza, and all friends repaired to
the hacienda house of Fulgencio Higuera, two leagues away, to dance and
to make merry till the break of another morning.

The third day was passed with Señor Berryessa, near pueblo San José,
the following at Marco Calderon's, and so on.

The seventh day found them entering the porte cochere of their own
home, once the residence of Colonel Barcelo, from whose gates, ere many
moons, they were to see, with rejoicing hearts, the Stars and Stripes
burst, in unending vigil, over government house, plaza and castle.

Long years, and happy ones, they lived, and their descendants, now of
the third and fourth generation, bless their memory, and tell of the
honor, the bravery, the virtue of General Morando and his bride of
Mission San José.





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