A Ward of the Golden Gate
Part 2 out of 3
reinforced by Mr. Woods, who enunciated the same idea with more
masculine vigor; and by the Mayor, who expressed his conviction
that a slight of this kind to Rosario would be felt in the Santa
Clara valley. "After dinner, my dear Hathaway," concluded Mr.
Woods, "a few of our neighbors may drop in, who would be glad to
shake you by the hand--no formal meeting, my boy--but, hang it!
THEY expect it."
Paul looked around for Yerba. There was really no reason why he
shouldn't accept, although an hour ago the idea had never entered
his mind. Yet, if he did, he would like the girl to know that it
was for HER sake. Unfortunately, far from exhibiting any concern
in the matter, she seemed to be preoccupied with Milly, and only
the charming back of her head was visible behind Mrs. Woods. He
accepted, however, with a hesitation that took some of the
graciousness from his yielding, and a sense that he was giving a
strange importance to a trivial circumstance.
The necessity of attaching himself to his hostess, and making a
more extended tour of the grounds, for a while diverted him from an
uneasy consideration of his past interview. Mrs. Woods had known
Yerba through the school friendship of Milly, and, as far as the
religious rules of the convent would allow, had always been
delighted to show her any hospitality. She was a beautiful girl--
did not Mr. Hathaway think so?--and a girl of great character. It
was a pity, of course, that she had never known a mother's care,
and that the present routine of a boarding-school had usurped the
tender influences of home. She believed, too, that the singular
rotation of guardianship had left the girl practically without a
counseling friend to rely upon, except, perhaps, Colonel Pendleton;
and while she, Mrs. Woods, did not for a moment doubt that the
colonel might be a good friend and a pleasant companion of MEN,
really he, Mr. Hathaway, must admit that, with his reputation and
habits, he was hardly a fit associate for a young lady. Indeed,
Mr. Woods would have never allowed Milly to invite Yerba here if
Colonel Pendleton was to have been her escort. Of course, the poor
girl could not choose her own guardian, but Mr. Woods said HE had a
right to choose who should be his niece's company. Perhaps Mr.
Woods was prejudiced,--most men were,--yet surely Mr. Hathaway,
although a loyal friend of Colonel Pendleton's, must admit that
when it was an open scandal that the colonel had fought a duel
about a notoriously common woman, and even blasphemously defended
her before a party of gentlemen, it was high time, as Mr. Woods
said, that he should be remanded to their company exclusively. No;
Mrs. Woods could not admit that this was owing to the injustice of
her own sex! Men are really the ones who make the fuss over those
things, just as they, as Mr. Hathaway well knew, made the laws!
No; it was a great pity, as she and her husband had just agreed,
that Mr. Hathaway, of all the guardians, could not have been always
the help and counselor--in fact, the elder brother--of poor Yerba!
Paul was conscious that he winced slightly, consistently and
conscientiously, at the recollection of certain passages of his
youth; inconsistently and meanly, at this suggestion of a joint
relationship with Yerba's mother.
"I think, too," continued Mrs. Woods, "she has worried foolishly
about this ridiculous mystery of her parentage--as if it could make
the slightest difference to a girl with a quarter of a million, or
as if that didn't show quite conclusively that she WAS somebody!"
"Certainly," said Paul, quickly, with a relief that he nevertheless
felt was ridiculous.
"And, of course, I dare say it will all come out when she is of
age. I suppose you know if any of the family are still living?"
"I really do not."
"I beg your pardon," said Mrs. Woods, with a smile. "I forgot it's
a profound secret until then. But here we are at the house; I see
the girls have walked over to our neighbors'. Perhaps you would
like to have a few moments to yourself before you dress for dinner,
and your portmanteau, which has been sent for, comes from your
hotel. You must be tired of seeing so many people."
Paul was glad to accept any excuse for being alone, and, thanking
his hostess, followed a servant to his room--a low-ceilinged but
luxuriously furnished apartment on the first floor. Here he threw
himself on a cushioned lounge that filled the angle of the deep
embrasure--the thickness of the old adobe walls--that formed a part
of the wooden-latticed window. A Cape jessamine climbing beside it
filled the room with its subtle, intoxicating perfume. It was so
strong, and he felt himself so irresistibly overpowered and
impelled towards a merely idle reverie, that, in order to think
more clearly and shut out some strange and unreasoning enthrallment
of his senses, he rose and sharply closed the window. Then he sat
down and reflected.
What was he doing here? and what was the meaning of all this? He
had come simply to fulfill a duty to his past, and please a
helpless and misunderstood old acquaintance. He had performed that
duty. But he had incidentally learned a certain fact that might be
important to this friend, and clearly his duty was simply to go
back and report it. He would gain nothing more in the way of
corroboration of it by staying now, if further corroboration were
required. Colonel Pendleton had already been uselessly and
absurdly perplexed about the possible discovery of the girl's
parentage, and its effect upon her fortunes and herself. She had
just settled that of her own accord, and, without committing
herself or others, had suggested a really sensible plan by which
all trouble would be avoided in future. That was the common-sense
way of looking at it. He would lay the plan before the colonel,
have him judge of its expediency and its ethics--and even the
question whether she already knew the real truth, or was self-
deceived. That done, he would return to his own affairs in
Sacramento. There was nothing difficult in this, or that need
worry him, only he could have done it just as well an hour ago.
He opened the window again. The scent of the jessamine came in as
before, but mingled with the cooler breath of the roses. There was
nothing intoxicating or unreal in it now; rather it seemed a gentle
aromatic stimulant--of thought. Long shadows of unseen poplars
beyond barred the garden lanes and alleys with bands of black and
yellow. A slanting pencil of sunshine through the trees was for a
moment focussed on a bed of waxen callas before a hedge of
ceanothus, and struck into dazzling relief the cold white chalices
of the flowers and the vivid shining green of their background.
Presently it slid beyond to a tiny fountain, before invisible, and
wrought a blinding miracle out of its flashing and leaping spray.
Yet even as he gazed the fountain seemed to vanish slowly, the
sunbeam slipped on, and beyond it moved the shimmer of white and
yellow dresses. It was Yerba and Milly returning to the house.
Well, he would not interrupt his reflections by idly watching them;
he would, probably, see a great deal of Yerba that evening, and by
that time he would have come to some conclusion in regard to her.
But he had not taken into consideration her voice, which, always
musical in its Southern intonation and quite audible in the quiet
garden, struck him now as being full of joyous sweetness. Well,
she was certainly very happy--or very thoughtless. She was
actually romping with Milly, and was now evidently being chased
down the rose-alley by that volatile young woman. Then these swift
Camillas apparently neared the house, there was the rapid rustle of
skirts, the skurrying of little feet on the veranda, a stumble, a
mouse-like shriek from Milly, and HER voice, exhausted, dying,
happy, broken with half-hushed laughter, rose to him on the breath
of the jessamine and rose.
Surely she WAS a child, and, if a child, how he had misjudged her!
What if all that he had believed was mature deliberation was only
the innocent imaginings of a romantic girl, all that he had taken
seriously only a school-girl's foolish dream! Instead of combating
it, instead of reasoning with her, instead of trying to interest
her in other things, he had even helped on her illusions. He had
treated her as if the taint of her mother's worldliness and
knowledge of evil was in her pure young flesh. He had recognized
her as the daughter of an adventuress, and not as his ward,
appealing to his chivalry through her very ignorance--it might be
her very childish vanity. He had brought to a question of tender
and pathetic interest only his selfish opinion of the world and the
weaknesses of mankind. The blood came to his cheeks--with all his
experienced self-control, he had not lost the youthful trick of
blushing--and he turned away from the window as if it had breathed
But ought he have even contented himself with destroying her
illusions--ought he not have gone farther and told her the whole
truth? Ought he not first have won her confidence--he remembered
bitterly, now, how she had intimated that she had no one to confide
in--and, after revealing her mother's history, have still pledged
himself to keep the secret from all others, and assisted her in her
plan? It would not have altered the state of affairs, except so
far as she was concerned; they could have combined together; his
ready wit would have helped him; and his sympathy would have
sustained her; but--
How and in what way could he have told her? Leaving out the
delicate and difficult periphrase by which her mother's shame would
have to be explained to an innocent school-girl--what right could
he have assumed to tell it? As the guardian who had never
counseled or protected her? As an acquaintance of hardly an hour
ago? Who would have such a right? A lover--on whose lips it would
only seem a tacit appeal to her gratitude or her fears, and whom no
sensitive girl could accept thereafter? No. A husband? Yes! He
remembered, with a sudden start, what Pendleton had said to him.
Good Heavens! Had Pendleton that idea in his mind? And yet--it
seemed the only solution.
A knock at his door was followed by the appearance of Mr. Woods.
Mr. Hathaway's portmanteau had come, and Mrs. Woods had sent a
message, saying that in view of the limited time that Mr. Hathaway
would have with his ward, Mrs. Woods would forego her right to keep
him at her side at dinner, and yield her place to Yerba. Paul
thanked him with a grave inward smile. What if he made his
dramatic disclosure to her confidentially over the soup and fish?
Yet, in his constantly recurring conviction of the girl's
independence, he made no doubt she would have met his brutality
with unflinching pride and self-possession. He began to dress
slowly, at times almost forgetting himself in a new kind of
pleasant apathy, which he attributed to the odor of the flowers,
and the softer hush of twilight that had come on with the dying
away of the trade winds, and the restful spice of the bay-trees
near his window. He presently found himself not so much thinking
of Yerba as of SEEING her. A picture of her in the summer-house
caressing her cheek with the roses seemed to stand out from the
shadows of the blank wall opposite him. When he passed into the
dressing-room beyond, it was not his own face he saw in the glass,
but hers. It was with a start, as if he had heard HER voice, that
he found upon his dressing-table a small vase containing a flower
for his coat, with the penciled words on a card in a school-girl's
hand, "From Yerba, with thanks for staying." It must have been
placed there by a servant while he was musing at the window.
Half a dozen people were already in the drawing-room when Paul
descended. It appeared that Mr. Woods had invited certain of his
neighbors--among them a Judge Baker and his wife, and Don Caesar
Briones, of the adjacent Rancho of Los Pajaros, and his sister, the
Dona Anna. Milly and Yerba had not yet appeared. Don Caesar, a
young man of a toreador build, roundly bland in face and murky in
eye, seemed to notice their absence, and kept his glances towards
the door, while Paul engaged in conversation with Dona Anna--if
that word could convey an impression of a conventionality which
that good-humored young lady converted into an animated flirtation
at the second sentence with a single glance and two shakes of her
fan. And then Milly fluttered in--a vision of school-girl
freshness and white tulle, and a moment later--with a pause of
expectation--a tall, graceful figure, that at first Paul scarcely
It is a popular conceit of our sex that we are superior to any
effect of feminine adornment, and that a pretty girl is equally
pretty in the simplest frock. Yet there was not a man in the room
who did not believe that Yerba in her present attire was not only
far prettier than before, but that she indicated a new and more
delicate form of beauty. It was not the mere revelation of contour
and color of an ordinary decollete dress, it was a perfect
presentment of pure symmetry and carriage. In this black grenadine
dress, trimmed with jet, not only was the delicate satin sheen of
her skin made clearer by contrast, but she looked every inch her
full height, with an ideal exaltation of breeding and culture. She
wore no jewelry except a small necklace of pearls--so small it
might have been a child's--that fitted her slender throat so
tightly that it could scarcely be told from the flesh that it
clasped. Paul did not know that it was the gift of the mother to
the child that she had forsworn only a few weeks before she parted
from her forever; but he had a vague feeling that, in that sable
dress that seemed like mourning, she walked at the funeral of her
mother's past. A few white flowers in her corsage, the companions
of the solitary one in his button-hole, were the only relief.
Their eyes met for a single moment, the look of admiration in
Paul's being answered by the naive consciousness in Yerba's of a
woman looking her best; but the next moment she appeared
preoccupied with the others, and the eager advances of Don Caesar.
"Your brother seems to admire Miss Yerba," said Paul.
"Ah, ye--es," returned Dona Anna. "And you?"
"Oh!" said Paul, gayly, "I? I am her guardian--with me it is
simple egotism, you know."
"Ah!" returned the arch Dona Anna, "you are then already SO certain
of her? Good! I shall warn him."
A precaution that did seem necessary; as later, when Paul, at a
signal from his hostess, offered his arm to Yerba, the young
Spaniard regarded him with a look of startled curiosity.
"I thank you for selecting me to wear your colors," said Paul with
a glance at the flowers in her corsage, as they sat at table, "and
I think I deserve them, since, but for you, I should have been on
my way to San Francisco at this moment. Shall I have an
opportunity of talking to you a few minutes later in the evening?"
he added, in a lower tone.
"Why not now?" returned Yerba, mischievously. "We are set here
expressly for that purpose."
"Surely not to talk of our own business--I should say, of our
FAMILY affairs," said Paul, looking at her with equal playfulness;
"though I believe your friend Don Caesar, opposite, would be more
pleased if he were sure that was all we did."
"And you think his sister would share in that pleasure?" retorted
Yerba. "I warn you, Mr. Hathaway, that you have been quite
justifying the Reverend Mother's doubts about your venerable
pretensions. Everybody is staring at you now."
Paul looked up mechanically. It was true. Whether from some
occult sympathy, from a human tendency to admire obvious fitness
and symmetry, or the innocent love with which the world regards
innocent lovers, they were all observing Yerba and himself with
undisguised attention. A good talker, he quickly led the
conversation to other topics. It was then that he discovered that
Yerba was not only accomplished, but that this convent-bred girl
had acquired a singular breadth of knowledge apart from the
ordinary routine of the school curriculum. She spoke and thought
with independent perceptions and clearness, yet without the
tactlessness and masculine abruptness that is apt to detract from
feminine originality of reflection. By some tacit understanding
that had the charm of mutual confidence, they both exerted
themselves to please the company rather than each other, and Paul,
in the interchange of sallies with Dona Anna, had a certain
pleasure in hearing Yerba converse in Spanish with Don Caesar. But
in a few moments he observed, with some uneasiness, that they were
talking of the old Spanish occupation, and presently of the old
Spanish families. Would she prematurely expose an ignorance that
might be hereafter remembered against her, or invite some dreadful
genealogical reminiscence that would destroy her hopes and raze her
Spanish castles? Or was she simply collecting information? He
admired the dexterity with which, without committing herself, she
made Don Caesar openly and even confidentially communicative. And
yet he was on thorns; at times it seemed as if he himself were
playing a part in this imposture of Yerba's. He was aware that his
wandering attention was noticed by the quick-witted Dona Anna, when
he regained his self-possession by what appeared to be a happy
diversion. It was the voice of Mrs. Judge Baker calling across the
table to Yerba. By one of the peculiar accidents of general
conversation, it was the one apparently trivial remark that in a
pause challenged the ears of all.
"We were admiring your necklace, Miss Yerba."
Every eye was turned upon the slender throat of the handsome girl.
The excuse was so natural.
Yerba put her hand to her neck with a smile. "You are joking, Mrs.
Baker. I know it is ridiculously small, but it is a child's
necklace, and I wear it because it was a gift from my mother."
Paul's heart sank again with consternation. It was the first time
he had heard the girl distinctly connect herself with her actual
mother, and for an instant he felt as startled as if the forgotten
Outcast herself had returned and taken a seat at the board.
"I told you it couldn't be so?" remarked Mrs. Baker, to her
Everybody naturally looked inquiringly upon the couple, and Mrs.
Baker explained with a smile: "Bob thinks he's seen it before; men
are so obstinate."
"Pardon me, Miss Yerba," said the Judge, blandly, "would you mind
showing it to me, if it is not too much trouble?"
"Not at all," said Yerba, smiling, and detaching the circlet from
her neck. "I'm afraid you'll find it rather old-fashioned."
"That's just what I hope to find it," said Judge Baker, with a
triumphant glance at his wife. "It was eight years ago when I saw
it in Tucker's jewelry shop. I wanted to buy it for my little
Minnie, but as the price was steep I hesitated, and when I did make
up my mind he had disposed of it to another customer. Yes," he
added, examining the necklace which Yerba had handed to him. "I am
certain it is the same: it was unique, like this. Odd, isn't it?"
Everybody said it WAS odd, and looked upon the occurrence with that
unreasoning satisfaction with which average humanity receives the
most trivial and unmeaning coincidences. It was left to Don Caesar
to give it a gallant application.
"I have not-a the pleasure of knowing-a the Miss Minnie, but the
jewelry, when she arrives, to the throat-a of Miss Yerba, she has
not lost the value--the beauty--the charm."
"No," said Woods, cheerily. "The fact is, Baker, you were too
slow. Miss Yerba's folks gobbled up the necklace while you were
thinking. You were a new-comer. Old 'forty-niners' did not
hesitate over a thing they wanted."
"You never knew who was your successful rival, eh?" said Dona Anna,
turning to Judge Baker with a curious glance at Paul's pale face in
"No," said Baker, "but"--he stopped with a hesitating laugh and
some little confusion. "No, I've mixed it up with something else.
It's so long ago. I never knew, or if I did I've forgotten. But
the necklace I remember." He handed it back to Yerba with a bow,
and the incident ended.
Paul had not looked at Yerba during this conversation, an
unreasoning instinct that he might confuse her, an equally
unreasoning dread that he might see her confused by others,
possessing him. And when he did glance at her calm, untroubled
face, that seemed only a little surprised at his own singular
coldness, he was by no means relieved. He was only convinced of
one thing. In the last five minutes he had settled upon the
irrevocable determination that his present relations with the girl
could exist no longer. He must either tell her everything, or see
her no more. There was no middle course. She was on the brink of
an exposure at any moment, either through her ignorance or her
unhappy pretension. In his intolerable position, he was equally
unable to contemplate her peril, accept her defense, or himself
As if, with some feminine instinct, she had attributed his silence
to some jealousy of Don Caesar's attentions, she more than once
turned from the Spaniard to Paul with an assuring smile. In his
anxiety, he half accepted the rather humiliating suggestion, and
managed to say to her, in a lower tone:--
"On this last visit of your American guardian, one would think, you
need not already anticipate your Spanish relations."
He was thrilled with the mischievous yet faintly tender pleasure
that sparkled in her eyes as she said,--
"You forget it is my American guardian's FIRST visit, as well as
"And as your guardian," he went on, with half-veiled seriousness,
"I protest against your allowing your treasures, the property of
the Trust," he gazed directly into her beautiful eyes, "being
handled and commented upon by everybody."
When the ladies had left the table, he was, for a moment, relieved.
But only for a moment. Judge Baker drew his chair beside Paul's,
and, taking his cigar from his lips, said, with a perfunctory
"I say, Hathaway, I pulled up just in time to save myself from
making an awful speech, just now, to your ward."
Paul looked at him with cold curiosity.
"Yes. Gad! Do you know WHO was my rival in that necklace
"No," said Paul, with frigid carelessness.
"Why, Kate Howard! Fact, sir. She bought it right under my nose--
and overbid me, too."
Paul did not lose his self-possession. Thanks to the fact that
Yerba was not present, and that Don Caesar, who had overheard the
speech, moved forward with a suggestive and unpleasant smile, his
agitation congealed into a coldly placid fury.
"And I suppose," he returned, with perfect calmness, "that, after
the usual habit of this class of women, the necklace very soon
found its way back, through the pawnbroker, to the jeweler again.
It's a common fate."
"Yes, of course," said Judge Baker, cheerfully. "You're quite
right. That's undoubtedly the solution of it. But," with a laugh,
"I had a narrow escape from saying something--eh?"
"A very narrow escape from an apparently gratuitous insult," said
Paul, gravely, but fixing his eyes, now more luminous than ever
with anger, not on the speakers but on the face of Don Caesar, who
was standing at his side. "you were about to say,"--
"Eh--oh--ah! this Kate Howard? So! I have heard of her--yees!
And Miss Yerba--ah--she is of my country--I think. Yes--we shall
claim her--of a truth--yes."
"Your countrymen, I believe, are in the habit of making claims that
are more often founded on profit than verity," said Paul, with
smileless and insulting deliberation. He knew perfectly what he
was saying, and the result he expected. Only twenty-four hours
before he had smiled at Pendleton's idea of averting scandal and
discovery by fighting, yet he was endeavoring to pick a quarrel
with a man, merely on suspicion, for the same purpose, and he saw
nothing strange in it. A vague idea, too, that this would
irrevocably confirm him in opposition to Yerba's illusions probably
But Don Caesar, albeit smiling lividly, did not seem inclined to
pick up the gauntlet, and Woods interfered hastily. "Don Caesar
means that your ward has some idea herself that she is of Spanish
origin--at least, Milly says so. But of course, as one of the
oldest trustees, YOU know the facts."
In another moment Paul would have committed himself. "I think
we'll leave Miss Yerba out of the question," he said, coldly. "My
remark was a general one, although, of course, I am responsible for
any personal application of it."
"Spoken like a politician, Hathaway," said Judge Baker, with an
effusive enthusiasm, which he hoped would atone for the alarming
results of his infelicitous speech. "That's right, gentlemen! You
can't get the facts from him before he is ready to give them. Keep
your secret, Mr. Hathaway, the court is with you."
Nevertheless, as they passed out of the room to join the ladies,
the Mayor lingered a little behind with Woods. "It's easy to see
the influence of that Pendleton on our young friend," he said,
significantly. "Somebody ought to tell him that it's played out
down here--as Pendleton is. It's quite enough to ruin his career."
Paul was too observant not to notice this, but it brought him no
sense of remorse; and his youthful belief in himself and his power
kept him from concern. He felt as if he had done something, if
only to show Don Caesar that the girl's weakness or ignorance could
not be traded upon with impunity. But he was still undecided as to
the course he should pursue. But he should determine that to-
night. At present there seemed no chance of talking to her alone--
she was unconcernedly conversing with Milly and Mrs. Woods, and
already the visitors who had been invited to this hurried levee in
his honor were arriving. In view of his late indiscretion, he
nervously exerted his fullest powers, and in a very few minutes was
surrounded by a breathless and admiring group of worshipers. A
ludicrous resemblance to the scene in the Golden Gate Hotel passed
through his mind; he involuntarily turned his eyes to seek Yerba in
the half-fear, half-expectation of meeting her mischievous smile.
Their glances met; to his surprise hers was smileless, and
instantly withdrawn, but not until he had been thrilled by an
unconscious prepossession in its luminous depths that he scarcely
dared to dwell upon. What mattered now this passage with Don
Caesar or the plaudits of his friends? SHE was proud of him!
Yet, after that glance, she was shy, preoccupying herself with
Milly, or even listening sweetly to Judge Baker's somewhat
practical and unromantic reminiscences of the deprivations and the
hardships of California early days, as if to condone his past
infelicity. She was pleasantly unaffected with Don Caesar,
although she managed to draw Dona Anna into the conversation; she
was unconventional, Paul fancied, to all but himself. Once or
twice, when he had artfully drawn her towards the open French
window that led to the moonlit garden and shadowed veranda, she had
managed to link Milly's arm in her own, and he was confident that a
suggestion to stroll with him in the open air would be followed by
her invitation to Milly to accompany them. Disappointed and
mortified as he was, he found some solace in her manner, which he
still believed suggested the hope that she might be made accessible
to his persuasions. Persuasions to what? He did not know.
The last guest had departed; he lingered on the veranda with a
cigar, begging his host and hostess not to trouble themselves to
keep him company. Milly and Yerba had retired to the former's
boudoir, but, as they had not yet formally bade him good night,
there was a chance of their returning. He still stayed on in this
hope for half an hour, and then, accepting Yerba's continued
absence as a tacit refusal of his request, he turned abruptly away.
But as he glanced around the garden before reentering the house, he
was struck by a singular circumstance--a white patch, like a
forgotten shawl, which he had observed on the distant ceanothus
hedge, and which had at first thrilled him with expectation, had
certainly CHANGED ITS POSITION. Before, it seemed to be near the
summer-house; now it was, undoubtedly, farther away. Could they,
or SHE alone, have slipped from the house and be awaiting him
there? With a muttered exclamation at his stupidity he stepped
hastily from the veranda and walked towards it. But he had
scarcely proceeded a dozen yards before it disappeared. He reached
the summer-house--it was empty; he followed the line of hedge--no
one was there. It could not have been her, or she would have
waited, unless he were the victim of a practical joke. He turned
impatiently back to the house, reentered the drawing-room by the
French window, and was crossing the half-lit apartment, when he
heard a slight rustle in the shadow of the window. He looked
around quickly, and saw that it was Yerba, in a white, loose gown,
for which she had already exchanged her black evening dress,
leaning back composedly on the sofa, her hands clasped behind her
"I am waiting for Milly," she said, with a faint smile on her lips.
He fancied, in the moonlight that streamed upon her, that her
beautiful face was pale. "She has gone to the other wing to see
one of the servants who is ill. We thought you were on the veranda
smoking and I should have company, until I saw you start off, and
rush up and down the hedge like mad."
Paul felt that he was losing his self-possession, and becoming
nervous in her presence. "I thought it was YOU," he stammered.
"Me! Out in the garden at this hour, alone, and in the broad
moonlight? What are you thinking of, Mr. Hathaway? Do you know
anything of convent rules, or is that your idea of your ward's
He fancied that, though she smiled faintly, her voice was as
tremulous as his own.
"I want to speak with you," he said, with awkward directness. "I
even thought of asking you to stroll with me in the garden."
"Why not talk here?" she returned, changing her position, pointing
to the other end of the sofa, and drawing the whole overflow of her
skirt to one side. "It is not so very late, and Milly will return
in a few moments."
Her face was in shadow now, but there was a glow-worm light in her
beautiful eyes that seemed faintly to illuminate her whole face.
He sank down on the sofa at her side, no longer the brilliant and
ambitious politician, but, it seemed to him, as hopelessly a
dreaming, inexperienced boy as when he had given her the name that
now was all he could think of, and the only word that rose to his
"I like to hear you say it," she said quickly, as if to gloss over
his first omission of her formal prefix, and leaning a little
forward, with her eyes on his. "One would think you had created
it. You almost make me regret to lose it."
He stopped. He felt that the last sentence had saved him. "It is
of that I want to speak," he broke out suddenly and almost rudely.
"Are you satisfied that it means nothing, and can mean nothing, to
you? Does it awaken no memory in your mind--recall nothing you
care to know? Think! I beg you, I implore you to be frank with
She looked at him with surprise.
"I have told you already that my present name must be some absurd
blunder, or some intentional concealment. But why do you want to
know NOW?" she continued, adding her faint smile to the emphasis.
"To help you!" he said, eagerly. "For that alone! To do all I can
to assist you, if you really believe, and want to believe, that you
have another. To ask you to confide in me; to tell me all you have
been told, all that you know, think you know, or WANT to know about
your relationship to the Arguellos--or to--any one. And then to
devote myself entirely to proving what you shall say is your
desire. You see, I am frank with you, Yerba. I only ask you to be
as frank with me; to let me know your doubts, that I may counsel
you; your fears, that I may give you courage."
"Is that all you came here to tell me?" she asked quietly.
"No, Yerba," he said, eagerly, taking her unresisting but
indifferent hand, "not all; but all that I must say, all that I
have the right to say, all that you, Yerba, would permit me to tell
you NOW. But let me hope that the day is not far distant when I
can tell you ALL, when you will understand that this silence has
been the hardest sacrifice of the man who now speaks to you."
"And yet not unworthy of a rising politician," she added, quickly
withdrawing her hand. "I agree," she went on, looking towards the
door, yet without appearing to avoid his eager eyes, "and when I
have settled upon 'a local habitation and a name' we shall renew
this interesting conversation. Until then, as my fourth official
guardian used to say--he was a lawyer, Mr. Hathaway, like yourself--
when he was winding up his conjectures on the subject--all that
has passed is to be considered 'without prejudice.'"
"But Yerba"--began Paul, bitterly.
She slightly raised her hand as if to check him with a warning
gesture. "Yes, dear," she said suddenly, lifting her musical
voice, with a mischievous side-glance at Paul, as if to indicate
her conception of the irony of a possible application, "this way.
Here we are waiting for you." Her listening ear had detected
Milly's step in the passage, and in another moment that cheerful
young woman discreetly stopped on the threshold of the room, with
every expression of apologetic indiscretion in her face.
"We have finished our talk, and Mr. Hathaway has been so concerned
about my having no real name that he has been promising me
everything, but his own, for a suitable one. Haven't you, Mr.
Hathaway?" She rose slowly and, going over to Milly, put her arm
around her waist and stood for one instant gazing at him between
the curtains of the doorway. "Good night. My very proper chaperon
is dreadfully shocked at this midnight interview, and is taking me
away. Only think of it, Milly; he actually proposed to me to walk
in the garden with him! Good night, or, as my ancestors--don't
forget, MY ANCESTORS--used to say: 'Buena noche--hasta manana!'"
She lingered over the Spanish syllables with an imitation of Dona
Anna's lisp, and with another smile, but more faint and more
ghostlike than before; vanished with her companion.
At eight o'clock the next morning Paul was standing beside his
portmanteau on the veranda.
"But this is a sudden resolution of yours, Hathaway," said Mr.
Woods. "Can you not possibly wait for the next train? The girls
will be down then, and you can breakfast comfortably."
"I have much to do--more than I imagined--in San Francisco before I
return," said Paul, quickly. "You must make my excuses to them and
to your wife."
"I hope," said Woods, with an uneasy laugh, "you have had no more
words with Don Caesar, or he with you?"
"No," said Paul, with a reassuring smile, "nothing more, I assure
"For you know you're a devilish quick fellow, Hathaway," continued
Woods, "quite as quick as your friend Pendleton. And, by the way,
Baker is awfully cut up about that absurd speech of his, you know.
Came to me last night and wondered if anybody could think it was
intentional. I told him it was d--d stupid, that was all. I guess
his wife had been at him. Ha! ha! You see, he remembers the old
times, when everybody talked of these things, and that woman Howard
was quite a character. I'm told she went off to the States years
"Possibly," said Paul, carelessly. After a pause, as the carriage
drove up to the door, he turned to his host. "By the way, Woods,
have you a ghost here?"
"The house is old enough for one. But no. Why?"
"I'll swear I saw a figure moving yonder, in the shrubbery, late
last evening; and when I came up to it, it most unaccountably
"One of Don Caesar's servants, I dare say. There is one of them,
an Indian, prowling about here, I've been told, at all hours. I'll
put a stop to it. Well, you must go then? Dreadfully sorry you
couldn't stop longer! Good-by!"
It was two months later that Mr. Tony Shear, of Marysville, but
lately confidential clerk to the Hon. Paul Hathaway, entered his
employer's chambers in Sacramento, and handed the latter a letter.
"I only got back from San Francisco this morning; but Mr. Slate
said I was to give you that, and if it satisfied you, and was what
you wanted, you would send it back to him."
Paul took the envelope and opened it. It contained a printer's
proof-slip, which he hurriedly glanced over. It read as follows:--
"Those of our readers who are familiar with the early history of
San Francisco will be interested to know that an eccentric and
irregular trusteeship, vested for the last eight years in the Mayor
of San Francisco and two of our oldest citizens, was terminated
yesterday by the majority of a beautiful and accomplished young
lady, a pupil of the convent of Santa Clara. Very few, except the
original trustees, were cognizant of the fact that the
administration of the trustees has been a recognized function of
the successive Mayors of San Francisco during this period; and the
mystery surrounding it has been only lately divulged. It offers a
touching and romantic instance of a survival of the old patriarchal
duties of the former Alcaldes and the simplicity of pioneer days.
It seems that, in the unsettled conditions of the Mexican land-
titles that followed the American occupation, the consumptive widow
of a scion of one of the oldest Californian families intrusted her
property and the custody of her infant daughter virtually to the
city of San Francisco, as represented by the trustees specified,
until the girl should become of age. Within a year, the invalid
mother died. With what loyalty, sagacity, and prudence these
gentlemen fulfilled their trust may be gathered from the fact that
the property left in their charge has not only been secured and
protected, but increased a hundredfold in value; and that the young
lady, who yesterday attained her majority, is not only one of the
richest landed heiresses on the Pacific Slope, but one of the most
accomplished and thoroughly educated of her sex. It is now no
secret that this favored child of Chrysopolis is the Dona Maria
Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena, so called from her
ancestral property on the island, now owned by the Federal
government. But it is an affecting and poetic tribute to the
parent of her adoption that she has preferred to pass under the
old, quaintly typical name of the city, and has been known to her
friends simply as 'Miss Yerba Buena.' It is a no less pleasant and
suggestive circumstance that our 'youngest senator,' the Honorable
Paul Hathaway, formerly private secretary to Mayor Hammersley, is
one of the original unofficial trustees; while the chivalry of the
older days is perpetuated in the person of Colonel Harry Pendleton,
the remaining trustee."
As soon as he had finished, Paul took a pencil and crossed out the
last sentence; but instead of laying the proof aside, or returning
it to the waiting secretary, he remained with it in his hand, his
silent, set face turned towards the window. Whether the merely
human secretary was tired of waiting, or the devoted partisan saw
something on his young chief's face that disturbed him, he turned
to Paul with that exaggerated respect which his functions as
secretary had grafted upon his affection for his old associate, and
"I hope nothing's wrong, sir. Not another of those scurrilous
attacks on you for putting that bill through to relieve Colonel
Pendleton? Yet it was a risky thing for you, sir."
Paul started, recovered himself as if from some remote abstraction,
and, with a smile, said: "No,--nothing. Quite the reverse. Write
to Mr. Slate, thank him, and say that it will do very well--with
the exception of the lines I have marked out. Then bring me the
letter, and I will add this inclosure. Did you call on Colonel
"Yes, sir. He was at Santa Clara, and had not yet returned,--at
least, that's what that dandy nigger of his told me. The airs and
graces that that creature puts on since the colonel's affairs have
been straightened out is a little too much for a white man to
stand. Why, sir! d--d if he didn't want to patronize YOU, and
allowed to me that 'de Kernel' had a 'fah ideah' of you, 'and
thought you a promisin' young man.' The fact is, sir, the party is
making a big mistake trying to give votes to that kind of cattle--
it would only be giving two votes to the other side, for, slave or
free, they're the chattels of their old masters. And as to the
masters' gratitude for what you've done affecting a single vote of
their party--you're mistaken."
"Colonel Pendleton belongs to no party," said Paul, curtly; "but if
his old constituents ever try to get into power again, they've lost
their only independent martyr."
He presently became abstracted again, and Shear produced from his
overcoat pocket a series of official-looking documents.
"I've brought the reports, sir."
"Eh?" said Paul, absently.
The secretary stared. "The reports of the San Francisco Chief of
Police that you asked me to get." His employer was certainly very
"Oh, yes; thank you. You can lay them on my desk. I'll look them
over in Committee. You can go now, and if any one calls to see me
say I'm busy."
The secretary disappeared in the adjoining room, and Paul leaned
back in his chair, thinking. He had, at last, effected the work he
had resolved upon when he left Rosario two months ago; the article
he had just read, and which would appear as an editorial in the San
Francisco paper the day after tomorrow, was the culmination of
quietly persistent labor, inquiry, and deduction, and would be
accepted, hereafter, as authentic history, which, if not thoroughly
established, at least could not be gainsaid. Immediately on
arriving at San Francisco, he had hastened to Pendleton's bedside,
and laid the facts and his plan before him. To his mingled
astonishment and chagrin, the colonel had objected vehemently to
this "saddling of anybody's offspring on a gentleman who couldn't
defend himself," and even Paul's explanation that the putative
father was a myth scarcely appeased him. But Paul's timely
demonstration, by relating the scene he had witnessed of Judge
Baker's infelicitous memory, that the secret was likely to be
revealed at any moment, and that if the girl continued to cling to
her theory, as he feared she would, even to the parting with her
fortune, they would be forced to accept it, or be placed in the
hideous position of publishing her disgrace, at last convinced him.
On the other hand, there was less danger of her POSITIVE imposition
being discovered than of the VAGUE AND IMPOSITIVE truth. The real
danger lay in the present uncertainty and mystery, which courted
surmise and invited discovery. Paul, himself, was willing to take
all the responsibility, and at last extracted from the colonel a
promise of passive assent. The only revelation he feared was from
the interference of the mother, but Pendleton was strong in the
belief that she had not only utterly abandoned the girl to the care
of her guardians, but that she would never rescind her resolution
to disclaim her relationship; that she had gone into self-exile for
that purpose; and that if she HAD changed her mind, he would be the
first to know of it. On this day they had parted. Meantime, Paul
had not forgotten another resolution he had formed on his first
visit to the colonel, and had actually succeeded in getting
legislative relief for the Golden Gate Bank, and restoring to the
colonel some of his private property that had been in the hands of
This had been the background of Paul's meditation, which only threw
into stronger relief the face and figure that moved before him as
persistently as it had once before in the twilight of his room at
Rosario. There were times when her moonlit face, with its faint,
strange smile, stood out before him as it had stood out of the
shadows of the half-darkened drawing-room that night; as he had
seen it--he believed for the last time--framed for an instant in
the parted curtains of the doorway, when she bade him "Goodnight."
For he had never visited her since, and, on the attainment of her
majority, had delegated his passing functions to Pendleton, whom he
had induced to accompany the Mayor to Santa Clara for the final and
formal ceremony. For the present she need not know how much she
had been indebted to him for the accomplishment of her wishes.
With a sigh he at last recalled himself to his duty, and, drawing
the pile of reports which Shear had handed him, he began to examine
them. These, again, bore reference to his silent, unobtrusive
inquiries. In his function as Chairman of Committee he had taken
advantage of a kind of advanced moral legislation then in vogue,
and particularly in reference to a certain social reform, to
examine statistics, authorities, and witnesses, and in this
indirect but exhaustive manner had satisfied himself that the woman
"Kate Howard," alias "Beverly," alias "Durfree," had long passed
beyond the ken of local police supervision, and that in the record
there was no trace or indication of her child. He was going over
those infelix records of early transgressions with the eye of
trained experience, making notes from time to time for his official
use, and yet always watchful of his secret quest, when suddenly he
stopped with a quickened pulse. In the record of an affray at a
gambling-house, one of the parties had sought refuge in the rooms
of "Kate Howard," who was represented before the magistrate by HER
PROTECTOR, JUAN DE ARGUELLO. The date given was contemporary with
the beginning of the Trust, but that proved nothing. But the name--
had it any significance, or was it a grim coincidence, that spoke
even more terribly and hopelessly of the woman's promiscuous
frailty? He again attacked the entire report, but there was no
other record of her name. Even that would have passed any eye less
eager and watchful than his own.
He laid the reports aside, and took up the proof-slip again. Was
there any man living but himself and Pendleton who would connect
these two statements? That her relations with this Arguello were
brief and not generally known was evident from Pendleton's
ignorance of the fact. But he must see him again, and at once.
Perhaps he might have acquired some information from Yerba; the
young girl might have given to his age that confidence she had
withheld from the younger man; indeed, he remembered with a flush
it was partly in that hope he had induced the colonel to go to
Santa Clara. He put the proof-slip in his pocket and stepped to
the door of the next room.
"You need not write that letter to Slate, Tony. I will see him
myself. I am going to San Francisco to-night."
"And do you want anything copied from the reports, sir?"
Paul quickly swept them from the table into his drawer, and locked
it. "Not now, thank you. I'll finish my notes later."
The next morning Paul was in San Francisco, and had again crossed
the portals of the Golden Gate Hotel. He had been already told
that the doom of that palatial edifice was sealed by the laying of
the cornerstone of a new erection in the next square that should
utterly eclipse it; he even fancied that it had already lost its
freshness, and its meretricious glitter had been tarnished. But
when he had ordered his breakfast he made his way to the public
parlor, happily deserted at that early hour. It was here that he
had first seen her. She was standing there, by that mirror, when
their eyes first met in a sudden instinctive sympathy. She herself
had remembered and confessed it. He recalled the pleased yet
conscious, girlish superiority with which she had received the
adulation of her friends; his memory of her was broad enough now
even to identify Milly, as it repeopled the vacant and silent room.
An hour later he was making his way to Colonel Pendleton's
lodgings, and half expecting to find the St. Charles Hotel itself
transformed by the eager spirit of improvement. But it was still
there in all its barbaric and provincial incongruity. Public
opinion had evidently recognized that nothing save the absolute
razing of its warped and flimsy walls could effect a change, and
waited for it to collapse suddenly like the house of cards it
resembled. Paul wondered for a moment if it were not ominous of
its lodgers' hopeless inability to accept changed conditions, and
it was with a feeling of doubt that he even now ascended the
creaking staircase. But it was instantly dissipated on the
threshold of the colonel's sitting-room by the appearance of George
and his reception of his master's guest.
The grizzled negro was arrayed in a surprisingly new suit of blue
cloth with a portentous white waistcoat and an enormous crumpled
white cravat, that gave him the appearance of suffering from a
glandular swelling. His manner had, it seemed to Paul, advanced in
exaggeration with his clothes. Dusting a chair and offering it to
the visitor, he remained gracefully posed with his hand on the back
"Yo' finds us heah yet, Marse Hathaway," he began, elegantly toying
with an enormous silver watch-chain, "fo' de Kernel he don' bin
find contagious apartments dat at all approximate, and he don'
build, for his mind's not dat settled dat he ain't goin' to
trabbel. De place is low down, sah, and de fo'ks is low down, and
dah's a heap o' white trash dat has congested under de roof ob de
hotel since we came. But we uses it temper'ly, sah, fo' de
present, and in a dissolutory fashion."
It struck Paul that the contiguity of a certain barber's shop and
its dangerous reminiscences had something to do with George's lofty
depreciation of his surroundings, and he could not help saying:--
"Then you don't find it necessary to have it convenient to the
barber's shop any more? I am glad of that, George."
The shot told. The unfortunate George, after an endeavor to
collect himself by altering his pose two or three times in rapid
succession, finally collapsed, and, with an air of mingled pain and
dignity, but without losing his ceremonious politeness or unique
"Yo' got me dah, sah! Yo' got me dah! De infirmities o' human
natcheh, sah, is de common p'operty ob man, and a gemplum like
yo'self, sah, a legislato' and a pow'ful speakah, is de lass one to
hol' it agin de individal pusson. I confess, sah, de circumstances
was propiskuous, de fees fahly good, and de risks inferior. De
gemplum who kept de shop was an artess hisself, and had been niggah
to Kernel Henderson of Tennessee, and do gemplum I relieved was a
Mr. Johnson. But de Kernel, he wouldn't see it in dat light, sah,
and if yo' don' mind, sah"--
"I haven't the slightest idea of telling the colonel or anybody,
George," said Paul, smiling; "and I am glad to find on your own
account that you are able to put aside any work beyond your duty
"Thank yo', sah. If yo' 'll let me introduce yo' to de
refreshment, yo' 'll find it all right now. De Glencoe is dah. De
Kernel will be here soon, but he would be pow'ful mo'tified, sah,
if yo' didn't hab something afo' he come." He opened a well-filled
sideboard as he spoke. It was the first evidence Paul had seen of
the colonel's restored fortunes. He would willingly have contented
himself with this mere outward manifestation, but in his desire to
soothe the ruffled dignity of the old man he consented to partake
of a small glass of spirits. George at once became radiant and
communicative. "De Kernel bin gone to Santa Clara to see de young
lady dat's finished her edercation dah--de Kernel's only ward, sah.
She's one o' dose million-heiresses and highly connected, sah, wid
de old Mexican Gobbermen, I understand. And I reckon dey's bin big
goin's on doun dar, foh de Mayer kem hisself fo' de Kernel. Looks
like des might bin a proceshon, sah. Yo' don' know of a young lady
bin hab a title, sah? I won't be shuah, his Honah de Mayer or de
Kernel didn't say someting about a 'Donna'"
"Very likely," said Paul, turning away with a faint smile. So it
was already in the air! Setting aside the old negro's
characteristic exaggeration, there had already been some
conversation between the colonel and the Mayor, which George had
vaguely overheard. He might be too late, the alternative might be
no longer in his hands. But his discomposure was heightened a
moment later by the actual apparition of the returning Pendleton.
He was dressed in a tightly buttoned blue frock-coat, which fairly
accented his tall, thin military figure, although the top lappel
was thrown far enough back to show a fine ruffled cambric shirt and
checked gingham necktie, and was itself adorned with a white
rosebud in the button-hole. Fawn-colored trousers strapped over
narrow patent-leather boots, and a tall white hat, whose broad
mourning-band was a perpetual memory of his mother, who had died in
his boyhood, completed his festal transformation. Yet his erect
carriage, high aquiline nose, and long gray drooping moustache lent
a distinguishing grace to this survival of a bygone fashion, and
over-rode any irreverent comment. Even his slight limp seemed to
give a peculiar character to his massive gold-headed stick, and
made it a part of his formal elegance.
Handing George his stick and a military cape he carried easily over
his left arm, he greeted Paul warmly, yet with a return of his old
"Glad to see you, Hathaway, and glad to see the boy has served you
better than the last time. If I had known you were coming, I would
have tried to get back in time to have breakfast with you. But
your friends at 'Rosario'--I think they call it; in my time it was
owned by Colonel Briones, and HE called it 'The Devil's Little
Canyon'--detained me with some d--d civilities. Let's see--his
name is Woods, isn't it? Used to sell rum to runaway sailors on
Long Wharf, and take stores in exchange? Or was it Baker?--Judge
Baker? I forget which. Well, sir, they wished to be remembered."
It struck Paul, perhaps unreasonably, that the colonel's
indifference and digression were both a little assumed, and he
"And you fulfilled your mission?"
"I made the formal transfer, with the Mayor, of the property to
"To Miss Arguello?"
"To the Dona Maria Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena--to
speak precisely," said the colonel, slowly. "George, you can take
that hat to that blank hatter--what's his blanked name? I read it
only yesterday in a list of the prominent citizens here--and tell
him, with my compliments, that I want a GENTLEMAN'S mourning band
around my hat, and not a child's shoelace. It may be HIS idea of
the value of his own parents--if he ever had any--but I don't care
for him to appraise mine. Go!"
As the door closed upon George, Paul turned to the colonel--
"Then am I to understand that you have agreed to her story?"
The colonel rose, picked up the decanter, poured out a glass of
whiskey, and holding it in his hand, said:--
"My dear Hathaway, let us understand each other. As a gentleman, I
have made a point through life never to question the age, name, or
family of any lady of my acquaintance. Miss Yerba Buena came of
age yesterday, and, as she is no longer my ward, she is certainly
entitled to the consideration I have just mentioned. If she,
therefore, chooses to tack to her name the whole Spanish directory,
I don't see why I shouldn't accept it."
Characteristic as this speech appeared to be of the colonel's
ordinary manner, it struck Paul as being only an imitation of his
usual frank independence, and made him uneasily conscious of some
vague desertion on Pendleton's part. He fixed his bright eyes on
his host, who was ostentatiously sipping his liquor, and said:--
"Am I to understand that you have heard nothing more from Miss
Yerba, either for or against her story? That you still do not know
whether she has deceived herself, has been deceived by others, or
is deceiving us?"
"After what I have just told you, Mr. Hathaway," said the colonel,
with an increased exaggeration of manner which Paul thought must be
apparent even to himself, "I should have but one way of dealing
with questions of that kind from anybody but yourself."
This culminating extravagance--taken in connection with Pendleton's
passing doubts--actually forced a laugh from Paul in spite of his
Colonel Pendleton's face flushed quickly. Like most positive one-
idea'd men, he was restricted from any possible humorous
combination, and only felt a mysterious sense of being detected in
some weakness. He put down his glass.
"Mr. Hathaway," he began, with a slight vibration in his usual
dominant accents, "you have lately put me under a sense of personal
obligation for a favor which I felt I could accept without
derogation from a younger man, because it seemed to be one not only
of youthful generosity but of justice, and was not unworthy the
exalted ambition of a young man like yourself or the simple deserts
of an old man such as I am. I accepted it, sir, the more readily,
because it was entirely unsolicited by me, and seemed to be the
spontaneous offering of your own heart. If I have presumed upon it
to express myself freely on other matters in a way that only
excites your ridicule, I can but offer you an apology, sir. If I
have accepted a favor I can neither renounce nor return, I must
take the consequences to myself, and even beg YOU, sir, to put up
Remorseful as Paul felt, there was a singular resemblance between
the previous reproachful pose of George and this present attitude
of his master, as if the mere propinquity of personal sacrifice had
made them alike, that struck him with a mingled pathos and
ludicrousness. But he said warmly, "It is I who must apologize, my
dear colonel. I am not laughing at your conclusions, but at this
singular coincidence with a discovery I have made."
"As how, sir?"
"I find in the report of the Chief of the Police for the year 1850
that Kate Howard was under the protection of a man named Arguello."
The colonel's exaggeration instantly left him. He stared blankly
at Paul. "And you call this a laughing matter, sir?" he said
sternly, but in his more natural manner.
"Perhaps not, but I don't think, if you will allow me to say so, my
dear colonel, that YOU have been treating the whole affair very
seriously. I left you two months ago utterly opposed to views
which you are now treating as of no importance. And yet you wish
me to believe that nothing has happened, and that you have no
further information than you had then. That this is so, and that
you are really no nearer the FACTS, I am willing to believe from
your ignorance of what I have just told you, and your concern at
it. But that you have not been influenced in your JUDGMENT of what
you do know, I cannot believe?" He drew nearer Pendleton, and laid
his hand upon his arm. "I beg you to be frank with me, for the
sake of the person whose interests I see you have at heart. In
what way will the discovery I have just made affect them? You are
not so far prejudiced as to be blind to the fact that it may be
dangerous because it seems corroborative."
Pendleton coughed, rose, took his stick, and limped up and down the
room, finally dropping into an armchair by the window, with his
cane between his knees, and the drooping gray silken threads of his
long moustache curled nervously between his fingers.
"Mr. Hathaway, I WILL be frank with you. I know nothing of this
blank affair--blank it all!--but what I've told you. Your
discovery may be a coincidence, nothing more. But I HAVE been
influenced, sir,--influenced by one of the most perfect goddess-
like--yes, sir; one of the most simple girlish creatures that God
ever sent upon earth. A woman that I should be proud to claim as
my daughter, a woman that would always be the superior of any man
who dare aspire to be her husband! A young lady as peerless in her
beauty as she is in her accomplishments, and whose equal don't walk
this planet! I know, sir, YOU don't follow me; I know, Mr.
Hathaway, your Puritan prejudices; your Church proclivities, your
worldly sense of propriety; and, above all, sir, the blanked
hypocritical Pharisaic doctrines of your party--I mean no offense
to YOU, sir, personally--blind you to that girl's perfections.
She, poor child, herself has seen it and felt it, but never, in her
blameless innocence and purity, suspecting the cause, 'There is,'
she said to me last night, confidentially, 'something strangely
antagonistic and repellent in our natures, some undefined and
nameless barrier between our ever understanding each other.' You
comprehend, Mr. Hathaway, she does full justice to your intentions
and your unquestioned abilities. 'I am not blind,' she said, 'to
Mr. Hathaway's gifts, and it is very possible the fault lies with
me.' Her very words, sir."
"Then you believe she is perfectly ignorant of her real mother?"
asked Paul, with a steady voice, but a whitening face.
"As an unborn child," said the colonel, emphatically. "The snow on
the Sierras is not more spotlessly pure of any trace or
contamination of the mud of the mining ditches, than she of her
mother and her past. The knowledge of it, the mere breath of
suspicion of it, in her presence would be a profanation, sir! Look
at her eye--open as the sky and as clear; look at her face and
figure--as clean, sir, as a Blue-Grass thoroughbred! Look at the
way she carries herself, whether in those white frillings of her
simple school-gown, or that black evening dress that makes her look
like a princess! And, blank me, if she isn't one! There's no poor
stock there--no white trash--no mixed blood, sir. Blank it all,
sir, if it comes to THAT--the Arguellos--if there's a hound of them
living--might go down on their knees to have their name borne by
such a creature! By the Eternal, sir, if one of them dared to
cross her path with a word that wasn't abject--yes, sir, ABJECT,
I'd wipe his dust off the earth and send it back to his ancestors
before he knew where he was, or my name isn't Harry Pendleton!"
Hopeless and inconsistent as all this was, it was a wonderful sight
to see the colonel, his dark stern face illuminated with a zealot's
enthusiasm, his eyes on fire, the ends of his gray moustache
curling around his set jaw, his head thrown back, his legs astride,
and his gold-headed stick held in the hollow of his elbow, like a
lance at rest! Paul saw it, and knew that this Quixotic
transformation was part of HER triumph, and yet had a miserable
consciousness that the charms of this Dulcinea del Toboso had
scarcely been exaggerated. He turned his eyes away, and said
"Then you don't think this coincidence will ever awaken any
suspicion in regard to her real mother?"
"Not in the least, sir--not in the least," said the colonel, yet,
perhaps, with more doggedness than conviction of accent. "Nobody
but yourself would ever notice that police report, and the
connection of that woman's name with his was not notorious, or I
should have known it."
"And you believe," continued Paul hopelessly, "that Miss Yerba's
selection of the name was purely accidental?"
"Purely--a school-girl's fancy. Fancy, did I say? No, sir; by
Jove, an inspiration!"
"And," continued Paul, almost mechanically, "you do not think it
may be some insidious suggestion of an enemy who knew of this
transient relation that no one suspected?"
To his final amazement Pendleton's brow cleared! "An enemy? Gad!
you may be right. I'll look into it; and, if that is the case,
which I scarcely dare hope for, Mr. Hathaway, you can safely leave
him to ME."
He looked so supremely confident in his fatuous heroism that Paul
could say no more. He rose and, with a faint smile upon his pale
face, held out his hand. "I think that is all I have to say. When
you see Miss Yerba again,--as you will, no doubt,--you may tell her
that I am conscious of no misunderstanding on my part, except,
perhaps, as to the best way I could serve her, and that, but for
what she has told YOU, I should certainly have carried away no
remembrance of any misunderstanding of HERS."
"Certainly," said the colonel, with cheerful philosophy, "I will
carry your message with pleasure. You understand how it is, Mr.
Hathaway. There is no accounting for these instincts--we can only
accept them as they are. But I believe that your intentions, sir,
were strictly according to what you conceived to be your duty. You
won't take something before you go? Well, then--good-by."
Two weeks later Paul found among his morning letters an envelope
addressed in Colonel Pendleton's boyish scrawling hand. He opened
it with an eagerness that no studied self-control nor rigid
preoccupation of his duties had yet been able to subdue, and
glanced hurriedly at its contents:--
DEAR SIR,--As I am on the point of sailing to Europe to-morrow to
escort Miss Arguello and Miss Woods on an extended visit to England
and the Continent, I am desirous of informing you that I have thus
far been unable to find any foundation for the suggestions thrown
out by you in our last interview. Miss Arguello's Spanish
acquaintances have been very select, and limited to a few school
friends and Don Caesar and Dona Anna Briones, tried friends, who
are also fellow-passengers with us to Europe. Miss Arguello
suggests that some political difference between you and Don Caesar,
which occurred during your visit to Rosario three months ago, may
have, perhaps, given rise to your supposition. She joins me in
best wishes for your public career, which even in the distraction
of foreign travel and the obligations of her position she will
follow from time to time with the greatest interest.
Very respectfully yours,
It was on the 3d of August, 1863, that Paul Hathaway resigned
himself and his luggage to the care of the gold-laced, ostensible
porter of the Strudle Bad Hof, not without some uncertainty, in a
land of uniforms, whether he would be eventually conducted to the
barracks, the police office, or the Conservatoire. He was relieved
when the omnibus drove into the courtyard of the Bad Hof, and the
gold-chained chamberlain, flanked by two green tubs of oleanders,
received him with a gravity calculated to check any preconceived
idea he might have that traveling was a trifling affair, or that an
arrival at the Bad Hof was not of serious moment. His letters had
not yet arrived, for he had, in a fit of restlessness, shortened
his route, and he strolled listlessly into the reading-room. Two
or three English guests were evidently occupied in eminently
respectable reading and writing; two were sitting by the window
engaged in subdued but profitable conversation; and two Americans
from Boston were contentedly imitating them on the other side of
the room. A decent restraint, as of people who were not for a
moment to be led into any foreign idea of social gayety at a
watering-place, was visible everywhere. A spectacled Prussian
officer in full uniform passed along the hall, halted for a moment
at the doorway as if contemplating an armed invasion, thought
better of it, and took his uniform away into the sunlight of the
open square, where it was joined by other uniforms, and became by
contrast a miracle of unbraced levity. Paul stood the Polar
silence for a few moments, until one of the readers arose and,
taking his book--a Murray--in his hand, walked slowly across the
room to a companion, mutely pointed to a passage in the book,
remained silent until the other had dumbly perused it, and then
walked back again to his seat, having achieved the incident without
a word. At which Paul, convinced of his own incongruity, softly
withdrew with his hat in his hand, and his eyes fixed devotionally
It was good after that to get into the slanting sunlight and
checkered linden shadows of the Allee; to see even a tightly
jacketed cavalryman naturally walking with Clarchen and her two
round-faced and drab-haired young charges; to watch the returning
invalid procession, very real and very human, each individual
intensely involved in the atmosphere of his own symptoms; and very
good after that to turn into the Thiergarten, where the animals,
were, however, chiefly of his own species, and shamelessly and
openly amusing themselves. It was pleasant to contrast it with his
first visit to the place three months before, and correct his crude
impressions. And it was still more pleasant suddenly to recognize,
under the round flat cap of a general officer, a former traveler
who was fond of talking with him about America with an intelligence
and understanding of it that Paul had often missed among his own
traveled countrymen. It was pleasant to hear his unaffected and
simple greeting, to renew their old acquaintance, and to saunter
back to the hotel together through the long twilight.
They were only a few squares from the hotel, when Paul's attention
was attracted by the curiosity and delight of two or three children
before him, who appeared to be following a quaint-looking figure
that was evidently not unfamiliar to them. It appeared to be a
servant in a striking livery of green with yellow facings and
crested silver buttons, but still more remarkable for the
indescribable mingling of jaunty ease and conscious dignity with
which he carried off his finery. There was something so singular
and yet so vaguely reminiscent in his peculiar walk and the
exaggerated swing of his light bamboo cane that Paul could not only
understand the childish wonder of the passers-by, who turned to
look after him, but was stirred with a deeper curiosity. He
quickened his pace, but was unable to distinguish anything of the
face or features of the stranger, except that his hair under his
cocked hat appeared to be tightly curled and powdered. Paul's
companion, who was amused at what seemed to be the American's
national curiosity, had seen the figure before. "A servant in the
suite of some Eastern Altesse visiting the baths. You will see
stranger things, my friend, in the Strudle Bad. Par example, your
own countrymen, too; the one who has enriched himself by that pork
of Chicago, or that soap, or this candle, in a carriage with the
crest of the title he has bought in Italy with his dollars, and his
beautiful daughters, who are seeking more titles with possible
After an early dinner, Paul found his way to the little theatre.
He had already been struck by a highly colored poster near the
Bahnhof, purporting that a distinguished German company would give
a representation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and certain peculiarities
in the pictorial advertisement of the tableaux gave promise of some
entertainment. He found the theatre fairly full; there was the
usual contingent of abonnirte officers, a fair sprinkling of
English and German travelers, but apparently none of his own
countrymen. He had no time to examine the house more closely, for
the play, commencing with simple punctuality, not only far exceeded
the promise of the posters, but of any previous performance of the
play he had witnessed. Transported at once to a gorgeous tropical
region--the slave States of America--resplendent with the fruits
and palms of Mauritius, and peopled exclusively with Paul and
Virginia's companions in striped cotton, Hathaway managed to keep a
composed face, until the arrival of the good Southern planter St.
Clair as one of the earlier portraits of Goethe, in top boots,
light kerseymere breeches, redingote and loose Byron collar,
compelled him to shrink into the upper corner of the box with his
handkerchief to his face. Luckily, the action passed as the
natural effect upon a highly sympathetic nature of religious
interviews between a round-faced flaxen-haired "Kleine Eva" and
"Onkeel Tome," occasionally assisted by a Dissenting clergyman in
Geneva bands; of excessive brutality with a cattle whip by a
Zamiel-like Legree; of the sufferings of a runaway negro
Zimmermadchen with a child three shades lighter than herself; and
of a painted canvas "man-hunt," where apparently four well known
German composers on horseback, with flowing hair, top boots, and a
Cor de chasse, were pursuing, with the aid of a pack of fox hounds,
"the much too deeply abused and yet spiritually elevated Onkeel
Tome." Paul did not wait for the final apotheosis of "der Kleine
Eva," but, in the silence of a hushed audience, made his way into
the corridor and down the staircase. He was passing an open door
marked "Direction," when his attention was sharply attracted by a
small gathering around it and the sounds of indignant declamation.
It was the voice of a countryman--more than that, it was a familiar
voice, that he had not heard for three years--the voice of Colonel
"Tell him," said Pendleton, in scathing tones, to some invisible
interpreter,--"tell, him, sir, that a more infamous caricature of
the blankest caricature that ever maligned a free people, sir, I
never before had the honor of witnessing. Tell him that I, sir--I,
Harry Pendleton, of Kentucky, a Southerner, sir--an old
slaveholder, sir, declare it to be a tissue of falsehoods unworthy
the credence of a Christian civilization like this--unworthy the
attention of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen that are
gathered here to-night. Tell him, sir, he has been imposed upon.
Tell him I am responsible--give him my card and address--personally
responsible for what I say. If he wants proofs--blank it all!--
tell him you yourself have been a slave--MY slave, sir! Take off
your hat, sir! Ask him to look at you--ask him if he thinks you
ever looked or could look like that lop-eared, psalm-singing,
white-headed hypocrite on the stage! Ask him, sir, if he thinks
that blank ringmaster they call St. Clair looks like ME!"
At this astounding exordium Paul eagerly pressed forward and
entered the bureau. There certainly was Colonel Pendleton, in
spotless evening dress; erect, flashing, and indignant; his
aquiline nose lifted like a hawk's beak over his quarry, his iron-
gray moustache, now white and waxed, parted like a swallow's tail
over his handsome mouth, and between him and the astounded
"Direction" stood the apparition of the Allee--George! There was
no mistaking him now. What Paul had thought was a curled wig or
powder was the old negro's own white knotted wool, and the
astounding livery he wore was carried off as no one but George
could carry it.
But he was still more amazed when the old servant, in a German as
exaggerated, as incoherent, but still as fluent and persuasive as
his own native speech, began an extravagant but perfectly dignified
and diplomatic translation of his master's protests. Where and
when, by what instinct, he had assimilated and made his own the
grotesque inversions and ponderous sentimentalities of Teutonic
phrasing, Paul could not guess; but it was with breathless wonder
that he presently became aware that, so perfect and convincing was
the old man's style and deportment, not only the simple officials
but even the bystanders were profoundly impressed by this farrago
of absurdity. A happy word here and there, the full title and rank
given, even with a slight exaggeration, to each individual, brought
a deep and guttural "So!" from lips that would have found it
difficult to repeat a line of his ceremonious idiocy.
In their preoccupation neither the colonel nor George had perceived
Paul's entrance, but, as the old servant turned with magnificent
courtesy towards the bystanders, his eyes fell upon Paul. A flash
of surprise, triumph, and satisfaction lit up his rolling eyes.
Paul instantly knew that he not only recognized him, but that he
had already heard of and thoroughly appreciated a certain
distinguished position that Paul had lately held, and was quick to
apply it. Intensifying for a moment the grandiloquence of his
manner, he called upon his master's most distinguished and happily
arrived old friend, the Lord Lieutenant Governor of the Golden
Californias, to corroborate his statement. Colonel Pendleton
started, and grasped Paul's hand warmly. Paul turned to the
already half-mollified Director with the diplomatic suggestion that
the vivid and realistic acting of the admirable company which he
himself had witnessed had perhaps unduly excited his old friend,
even as it had undoubtedly thrown into greater relief the usual
exaggerations of dramatic representation, and the incident
terminated with a profusion of apologies, and the most cordial
expressions of international good feeling on both sides.
Yet, as they turned away from the theatre together, Paul could not
help noticing that, although the colonel's first greeting had been
spontaneous and unaffected, it was succeeded by an uneasy reserve.
Paul made no attempt to break it, and confined himself to a few
general inquiries, ending by inviting the colonel to sup with him
at the hotel. Pendleton hesitated. "At any other time, Mr.
Hathaway, I should have insisted upon you, as the stranger, supping
with me; but since the absence of--of--the rest of my party--I have
given up my suite of rooms at the Bad Hof, and have taken smaller
lodgings for myself and the boy at the Schwartze Adler. Miss Woods
and Miss Arguello have accepted an invitation to spend a few days
at the villa of the Baron and Baroness von Schilprecht--an hour or
two from here." He lingered over the title with an odd mingling of
impressiveness and inquiry, and glanced at Paul. But Hathaway
exhibiting neither emotion nor surprise at the mention of Yerba's
name or the title of her host, he continued, "Miss Arguello, I
suppose you know, is immensely admired: she has been, sir, the
acknowledged belle of Strudle Bad."
"I can readily believe it," said Paul, simply.
"And has taken the position--the position, sir, to which she is
Without appearing to notice the slight challenge in Pendleton's
tone, Paul returned, "I am glad to hear it. The more particularly
as, I believe, the Germans are great sticklers for position and
"You are right, sir--quite right: they are," said the colonel,
proudly--"although"--with a certain premeditated deliberation--"I
have been credibly informed that the King can, in certain cases, if
he chooses, supply--yes, sir--SUPPLY a favored person with
ancestors--yes, sir, with ANCESTORS!"
Paul cast a quick glance at his companion.
"Yes, sir--that is, we will say, in the case of a lady of inferior
rank--or even birth, the King of these parts can, on her marriage
with a nobleman--blank it all!--ennoble her father and mother, and
their fathers and mothers, though they've been dead, or as good as
dead, for years."
"I am afraid that's a slight exaggeration of the rare custom of
granting 'noble lands,' or estates that carry hereditary titles
with them," said Paul, more emphatically, perhaps, than the
"Fact, sir--George there knows it all," said Pendleton. "He gets
it from the other servants. I don't speak the language, sir, but
HE does. Picked it up in a year."
"I must compliment him on his fluency, certainly," said Paul,
looking at George.
The old servant smiled, and not without a certain condescension.
"Yes, sah; I don' say to a scholar like yo'self, sah, dat I'se got
de grandmatical presichion; but as fah, sah--as fah as de IDIOTISMS
ob de language goes. Sah--it's gen'lly allowed I'm dar! As to
what Marse Harry says ob de ignobling ob predecessors, I've had it,
sah, from de best autority, sah--de furst, I may say, sah--de real
prima facie men--de gemplum ob his Serene Highness, in de korse eb
ordinary conversashun, sah."
"That'll do, George," said Pendleton, with paternal brusqueness.
"Run on ahead and tell that blank chamberlain that Mr. Hathaway is
one of my friends--and have supper accordingly." As the negro
hastened away he turned to Paul: "What he says is true: he's the
most popular man or boy in all Strudle Bad--a devilish sight more
than his master--and goes anywhere where I can't go. Princes and
princesses stop and talk to him in the street; the Grand Duke asked
permission to have him up in his carriage at the races the other
day; and, by the Eternal, sir, he gives the style to all the
flunkeys in town!"
"And I see, he dresses the character," observed Paul.
"His own idea--entirely. And, by Jove! he proves to be right. You
can't do anything here without a uniform. And they tell me he's
got everything correct, down to the crest on the buttons."
They walked on in silence for a few moments, Pendleton retaining a
certain rigidity of step and bearing which Paul had come to
recognize as indicating some uneasiness or mental disturbance on
his part. Hathaway had no intention of precipitating the
confidence of his companion. Perhaps experience had told him it
would come soon enough. So he spoke carelessly of himself. How
the need of a year's relaxation and change had brought him abroad,
his journeyings, and, finally, how he had been advised by his
German physician to spend a few weeks at Strudle Bad preparatory to
the voyage home. Yet he was perfectly aware that the colonel from
time to time cast a furtive glance at his face. "And YOU," he said
in conclusion--"when do you intend to return to California?"
The colonel hesitated slightly. "I shall remain in Europe until
Miss Arguello is settled--I mean," he added hurriedly, "until she
has--ahem!--completed her education in foreign ways and customs.
You see, Hathaway, I have constituted myself, after a certain
fashion, I may say--still, her guardian. I am an old man, with
neither kith nor kin myself, sir--I'm a little too old-fashioned
for the boys over there"--with a vague gesture towards the west,
which, however, told Paul how near it still was to him. "But then,
among the old fogys here--blank it all!--it isn't noticed. So I
look after her, you see, or rather make myself responsible for her
generally--although, of course, she has other friends and
associates, you understand, more of her own age and tastes."
"And I've no doubt she's perfectly satisfied," said Paul in a tone
"Well, yes, sir, I presume so," said the colonel slowly; "but I've
sometimes thought, Mr. Hathaway, that it would have been better if
she'd have had a woman's care--the protection you understand, of an
elderly woman of society. That seems to be the style here, you
know--a chaperon, they call it. Now, Milly Woods, you see, is
about the same age, and the Dona Anna, of course, is older, but--
blank it!--she's as big a flirt as the rest--I mean," he added,
correcting himself sharply, "she lacks balance, sir, and--what
shall I call it?--self-abnegation."
"Then Dona Anna is still of your party?" asked Paul.
"She is, sir, and her brother, Don Caesar. I have thought it
advisable, on Yerba's account, to keep up as much as possible the
suggestion of her Spanish relationship--although by reason of their
absurd ignorance of geography and political divisions out here,
there is a prevailing impression that she is a South American. A
fact, sir. I have myself been mistaken for the Dictator of one of
these infernal Republics, and I have been pointed out as ruling
over a million or two of niggers like George!"
There was no trace of any conception of humor in the colonel's
face, although he uttered a short laugh, as if in polite acceptance
of the possibility that Paul might have one. Far from that, his
companion, looking at the striking profile and erect figure at his
side--at the long white moustache which drooped from his dark
cheeks, and remembering his own sensations at first seeing George--
thought the popular belief not so wonderful. He was even forced to
admit that the perfect unconsciousness on the part of master and
man of any incongruity or peculiarity in themselves assisted the
public misconception. And it was, I fear, with a feeling of wicked
delight that, on entering the hotel, he hailed the evident
consternation of those correct fellow-countrymen from whom he had
lately fled, at what they apparently regarded as a national
scandal. He overheard their hurried assurance to their English
friends that his companions were NOT from Boston, and enjoyed their
mortification that this explanation did not seem to detract from
the interest and relief with which the Britons surveyed them, or
the open admiration of the Germans.
Although Pendleton somewhat unbent during supper, he did not allude
to the secret of Yerba's parentage, nor of any tardy confidence of
hers. To all appearance the situation remained as it was three
years ago. He spoke of her great popularity as an heiress and a
beautiful woman, and the marked attentions she received. He
doubted not that she had rejected very distinguished offers, but
she kept that to herself. She was perfectly competent to do so.
She was no giddy girl, to be flattered or deceived; on the
contrary, he had never known a cooler or more sensible woman. She
knew her own worth. When she met the man who satisfied her
ambition and understanding, she would marry, and not before. He
did not know what that ambition was; it was something exalted, of
course. He could only say, of his own knowledge, that last year,
when they were on the Italian lakes, there was a certain prince--
Mr. Hathaway would understand why he did not mention names--who was
not only attentive to her, but attentive to HIM, sir, by Jove! and
most significant in his inquiries. It was the only occasion when
he, the colonel, had ever spoken to her on such subjects; and,
knowing that she was not indifferent to the fellow, who was not bad
of his kind, he had asked her why she had not encouraged his suit.
She had said, with a laugh, that he couldn't marry her unless he
gave up his claim of succession to a certain reigning house; and
she wouldn't accept him WITHOUT IT. Those were her words, sir, and
he could only say that the prince left a few days afterwards, and
they had never seen him since. As to the princelings and counts
and barons, she knew to a day the date of their patents of
nobility, and what privileges they were entitled to; she could tell
to a dot the value of their estates, the amount of their debts,
and, by Jove! sir, the amount of mortgages she was expected to pay
off before she married them. She knew the amount of income she had
to bring to the Prussian Army, from the general to the lieutenant.
She understood her own value and her rights. There was a young
English lordling she met on the Rhine, whose boyish ways and
simplicity seemed to please her. They were great friends; but he
wanted him--the colonel--to induce her to accept an invitation for
both to visit his mother's home in England, that his people might
see her. But she declined, sir! She declined to pass in review
before his mother. She said it was for HIM to pass in review
before HER mother.
"Did she say that?" interrupted Paul, fixing his bright eyes upon
"If she had one, if she had one," corrected the colonel, hastily.
"Of course it was only an illustration. That she is an orphan is
generally known, sir."
There was a dead silence for a few moments. The colonel leaned
back in his chair and pulled his moustache. Paul turned away his
eyes, and seemed absorbed in reflection. After a moment the
colonel coughed, pushed aside his glass, and, leaning across the
table, said, "I have a favor to ask of you, Mr. Hathaway."
There was such a singular change in the tone of his voice, an
unexpected relaxation of some artificial tension,--a relaxation
which struck Paul so pathetically as being as much physical as
mental, as if he had suddenly been overtaken in some exertion by
the weakness of age,--that he looked up quickly. Certainly,
although still erect and lightly grasping his moustache, the
colonel looked older.
"By all means, my dear colonel," said Paul warmly.
"During the time you remain here you can hardly help meeting Miss
Arguello, perhaps frequently. It would be strange if you did not;
it would appear to everybody still stranger. Give me your word as
a gentleman that you will not make the least allusion to her of the
past--nor reopen the subject."
Paul looked fixedly at the colonel. "I certainly had no intention
of doing so," he said after a pause, "for I thought it was already
settled by you beyond disturbance or discussion. But do I
understand you, that SHE has shown any uneasiness regarding it?
From what you have just told me of her plans and ambition, I can
scarcely imagine that she has any suspicion of the real facts."
"Certainly not," said the colonel hurriedly. "But I have your
"I promise you," said Paul, after a pause, "that I shall neither
introduce nor refer to the subject myself, and that if SHE should
question me again regarding it, which is hardly possible, I will
reveal nothing without your consent."
"Thank you," said Pendleton, without, however, exhibiting much
relief in his face. "She will return here to-morrow."
"I thought you said she was absent for some days," said Paul.
"Yes; but she is coming back to say good-by to Dona Anna, who
arrives here with her brother the same day, on their way to Paris."
It flashed through Paul's mind that the last time he had seen her
was in the company of the Briones. It was not a pleasant
coincidence. Yet he was not aware that it had affected him, until
he saw the colonel watching him.
"I believe you don't fancy the brother," said Pendleton.
For an instant Paul was strongly tempted to avow his old vague
suspicions of Don Caesar, but the utter hopelessness of reopening
the whole subject again, and his recollection of the passage in
Pendleton's letter that purported to be Yerba's own theory of his
dislike, checked him in time. He only said, "I don't remember
whether I had any cause for disliking Don Caesar; I can tell better
when I see him again," and changed the subject. A few moments
later the colonel summoned George from some lower region of the
hotel, and rose to take his leave. "Miss Arguello, with her maid
and courier, will occupy her old suite of rooms here," he remarked,
with a return of his old imperiousness. "George has given the
orders for her. I shall not change my present lodgings, but of
course will call every day. Goodnight!"
The next morning Paul could not help noticing an increased and even
exaggerated respect paid him by the hotel attendants. He was asked
if his EXCELLENCY would he served with breakfast in a private room,
and his condescension in selecting the public coffee-room struck
the obsequious chamberlain, but did not prevent him from preceding
Paul backwards to the table, and summoning a waiter to attend
specially upon "milor." Surmising that George and the colonel
might be in some way connected with this extravagance, he postponed
an investigation till he should have seen them again. And,
although he hardly dared to confess it to himself, the unexpected
prospect of meeting Yerba again fully preoccupied his thoughts. He
had believed that he would eventually see her in Europe, in some
vague and indefinite way and hour: it had been in his mind when he
started from California. That it would be so soon, and in such a
simple and natural manner, he had never conceived.
"He had returned from his morning walk to the Brunnen, and was
sitting idly in his room, when there was a knock at the door. It
opened to a servant bearing a salver with a card. Paul lifted it
with a slight tremor, not at the engraved name of "Maria Concepcion
de Arguellos de la Yerba Buena," but at the remembered school-girl
hand that had penciled underneath the words, "wishes the favor of
an audience with his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant-Governor of the
Paul looked inquiringly at the servant. "The gnadige Fraulein was
in her own salon. Would EXCELLENCY walk that way? It was but a
step; in effect, the next apartment."
Paul followed him into the hall with wondering steps. The door of
the next room was open, and disclosed a handsomely furnished salon.
A tall graceful figure rose quickly from behind a writing-table,
and advanced with outstretched hands and a frank yet mischievous
smile. It was Yerba.
Standing there in a grayish hat, mantle, and traveling dress, all
of one subdued yet alluring tone, she looked as beautiful as when
he had last seen her--and yet--unlike. For a brief bitter moment
his instincts revolted at this familiar yielding up in his fair
countrywomen of all that was distinctively original in them to
alien tastes and habits, and he resented the plastic yet
characterless mobility which made Yerba's Parisian dress and
European manner fit her so charmingly and yet express so little.
For a brief critical moment he remembered the placid, unchanging
simplicity of German, and the inflexible and ingrained reserve of
English, girlhood, in opposition to this indistinctive cosmopolitan
grace. But only for a moment. As soon as she spoke, a certain
flavor of individuality seemed to return to her speech.
"Confess," she said, "it was a courageous thing for me to do. You
might have been somebody else--a real Excellency--or heaven knows
what! Or, what is worse in your new magnificence, you might have
forgotten one of your oldest, most humble, but faithful subjects."
She drew back and made him a mock ceremonious curtsy, that even in
its charming exaggeration suggested to Paul, however, that she had
already made it somewhere seriously.
"But what does it all mean?" he asked, smiling, feeling not only
his doubts and uneasiness vanish, but even the years of separation
melt away in her presence. "I know I went to bed last night a very
humble individual, and yet I seem to awaken this morning a very
exalted personage. Am I really Commander of the Faithful, or am I
dreaming? Might I trouble you, as my predecessor Abou Hassan did
Sweetlips, to bite my little finger?"
"Do you mean to say you have not seen the 'Auzeiger?'" she
returned, taking a small German printed sheet from the table and
pointing to a paragraph. Paul took the paper. Certainly there was
the plain announcement among the arrivals of "His Excellency Paul
Hathaway, Lord Lieutenant-Governor of the Californias." A light
flashed upon him.
"This is George's work. He and Colonel Pendleton were here with me
"Then you have seen the colonel already?" she said, with a scarcely
perceptible alteration of expression, which, however, struck Paul.
"Yes. I met him at the theatre last evening." He was about to
plunge into an animated description of the colonel's indignation,
but checked himself, he knew not why. But he was thankful the next
moment that he had.
"That accounts for everything," she said, lifting her pretty
shoulders with a slight shrug of weariness. "I had to put a step
to George's talking about ME three months ago,--his extravagance is
something TOO awful. And the colonel, who is completely in his
hands,--trusting him for everything, even the language,--doesn't
"But he is extravagant in the praise of his friends only, and you
certainly justify all he can say."
She was taking off her hat, and stopped for a moment to look at him
thoughtfully, with the soft tendrils of her hair clinging to her
forehead. "Did the colonel talk much about me?"
"A great deal. In fact, I think we talked of nothing else. He has
told me of your triumphs and your victims; of your various
campaigns and your conquests. And yet I dare say he has not told
me all--and I am dying to hear more."
She had laid down her hat and unloosed a large bow of her mantle,
but stopped suddenly in the midst of it and sat down again.
"I wish you'd do something for me."
"You have only to name it."
"Well, drop all this kind of talk! Try to think of me as if I had
just come from California--or, better, as if you had never known
anything of me at all--and we met for the first time. You could, I
dare say, make yourself very agreeable to such a young lady who was
willing to be pleased--why not to me? I venture to say you have
not ever troubled yourself about me since we last met. No--hear me
through--why, then, should you wish to talk over what didn't
concern you at the time? Promise me you will stop this reminiscent
gossip, and I promise you I will not only not bore you with it, but
take care that it is not intruded upon you by others. Make
yourself pleasant to me by talking about yourself and your
prospects--anything but ME--and I will throw over those princes and
barons that the colonel has raved about and devote myself to you
while you are here. Does that suit your Excellency?" She had
crossed her knees, and, with her hands clasped over them, and the
toe of her small boot advanced beyond her skirt, leaned forward in
the attitude he remembered to have seen her take in the summer-
house at Rosario.
"Perfectly," he said.
"How long will you be here?"
"About three weeks: that, I believe, is the time allotted for my
"Are you really ill," she said quietly, "or imagine yourself so?"
"It amounts to about the same thing. But my cure may not take so
long," he added, fixing his bright eyes upon her.
She returned his gaze thoughtfully, and they remained looking at
each other silently.
"Then you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. That is
very often the case," she said quietly. "There," she added in
another tone, "it is settled. You will come and go as you like,
using this salon as your own. Stay, we can do something today.
What do you say to a ride in the forest this afternoon? Milly
isn't here yet, but it will be quite proper for you to accompany me
on horseback, though, of course, we couldn't walk a hundred yards
down the Allee together unless we were verlobt."
"But," said Paul, "you are expecting company this afternoon. Don
Caesar--I mean Miss Briones and her brother are coming here to say
She regarded him curiously, but without emotion.
"Colonel Pendleton should have added that they were to remain here
overnight as my guests," she said composedly. And of course we
shall be back in time for dinner. But that is nothing to you. You
have only to be ready at three o'clock. I will see that the horses
are ordered. I often ride here, and the people know my tastes and
habits. We will have a pleasant ride and a good long talk
together, and I'll show you a ruin and a distant view of the villa
where I have been staying." She held out her hand with a frank
girlish smile, and even a girlish anticipation of pleasure in her
brown eyes. He bent over her slim fingers for a moment, and
When he was in his own room again, he was conscious only of a
strong desire to avoid the colonel until after his ride with Yerba.
He would keep his word so far as to abstain from allusion to her
family or her past: indeed, he had his own opinion of its futility.
But it would be strange if, with his past experience, he could not
find some other way to determine her convictions or win her
confidence during those two hours of companionship. He would
accept her terms fairly; if she had any ulterior design in her
advances, he would detect it; if she had the least concern for him,
she could not continue long an artificial friendship. But he must
not think of that!
By absenting himself from the hotel he managed to keep clear of
Pendleton until the hour arrived. He was gratified to find Yerba
in the simplest and most sensible of habits, as if she had already
divined his tastes and had wished to avoid attracting undue
attention. Nevertheless, it very prettily accented her tall
graceful figure, and Paul, albeit, like most artistic admirers of
the sex, not recognizing a woman on a horse as a particularly
harmonious spectacle, was forced to admire her. Both rode well,
and naturally--having been brought up in the same Western school--
the horses recognized it, and instinctively obeyed them, and their
conversation had the easy deliberation and inflection of a tete-a-
tete. Paul, in view of her previous hint, talked to her of himself
and his fortunes, of which she appeared, however, to have some
knowledge. His health had obliged him lately to abandon politics
and office; he had been successful in some ventures, and had become
a junior partner in a bank with foreign correspondence. She
listened to him for some time with interest and attention, but at
last her face became abstracted and thoughtful. "I wish I were a
man!" she said suddenly.
Paul looked at her quickly. For the first time he detected in the
ring of her voice something of the passionate quality he fancied he
had always seen in her face.
"Except that it might give you better control of your horse, I
don't see why," said Paul. "And I don't entirely believe you."
"Because no woman really wishes to be a man unless she is conscious
of her failure as a woman."
"And how do you know I'm not?" she said, checking her horse and
looking in his face. A quick conviction that she was on the point
of some confession sprang into his mind, but unfortunately showed
in his face. She beat back his eager look with a short laugh.
"There, don't speak, and don't look like that. That remark was
worthy the usual artless maiden's invitation to a compliment,
wasn't it? Let us keep to the subject of yourself. Why, with your
political influence, don't you get yourself appointed to some
diplomatic position over here?"
"There are none in our service. You wouldn't want me to sink
myself in some absurd social functions, which are called by that
name, merely to become the envy and hatred of a few rich
republicans, like your friends who haunt foreign courts?"
"That's not a pretty speech--but I suppose I invited THAT too.
Don't apologize. I'd rather see you flare out like that than pay
compliments. Yet I fancy you're a diplomatist, for all that."
"You did me the honor to believe I was one once, when I was simply
the most palpable ass and bungler living," said Paul bitterly.
She was still sweetly silent, apparently preoccupied in smoothing
out the mane of her walking horse. "Did I?" she said softly. He
drew close beside her.
"How different the vegetation is here from what it is with us!" she
said with nervous quickness, directing his attention to the grass
road beneath them, without lifting her eyes. "I don't mean what is
cultivated,--for I suppose it takes centuries to make the lawns
they have in England,--but even here the blades of grass seem to
press closer together, as if they were crowded or overpopulated,
like the country; and this forest, which has been always wild and
was a hunting park, has a blase look, as if it was already tired of
the unchanging traditions and monotony around it. I think over
there Nature affects and influences us: here, I fancy, it is itself
affected by the people."
"I think a good deal of Nature comes over from America for that
purpose," he said dryly.
"And I think you are breaking your promise--besides being a goose!"
she retorted smartly. Nevertheless, for some occult reason they
both seemed relieved by this exquisite witticism, and trotted on
amicably together. When Paul lifted his eyes to hers he could see
that they were suffused with a tender mischief, as of a reproving
yet secretly admiring sister, and her strangely delicate complexion
had taken on itself that faint Alpine glow that was more of an
illumination than a color. "There," she said gayly, pointing with
her whip as the wood opened upon a glade through which the parted
trees showed a long blue curvature of distant hills, "you see that
white thing lying like a snowdrift on the hills?"
"Or the family washing on a hedge."
"As you please. Well, that is the villa."
"And you were very happy there?" said Paul, watching her girlishly
"Yes; and as you don't ask questions, I'll tell you why. There is
one of the sweetest old ladies there that I ever met--the
perfection of old-time courtliness with all the motherishness of a
German woman. She was very kind to me, and, as she had no daughter
of her own, I think she treated me as if I was one. At least, I
can imagine how one would feel to her, and what a woman like that
could make of any girl. You laugh, Mr. Hathaway, you don't
understand--but you don't know what an advantage it would be to a
girl to have a mother like that, and know that she could fall back
on her and hold her own against anybody. She's equipped from the
start, instead of being handicapped. It's all very well to talk
about the value of money. It can give you everything but one
thing--the power to do without it."
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