Thursday, November 8, 2007



``It is so good of you to come early,'' said Mrs. Porter, as
Alice Langham entered the drawing-room. ``I want to ask a favor
of you. I'm sure you won't mind. I would ask one of the
debutantes, except that they're always so cross if one puts
them next to men they don't know and who can't help them, and so
I thought I'd just ask you, you're so good-natured. You don't
mind, do you?''
``I mind being called good-natured,'' said Miss Langham, smiling.
``Mind what, Mrs. Porter?'' she asked.
``He is a friend of George's,'' Mrs. Porter explained, vaguely.
``He's a cowboy. It seems he was very civil to George when he
was out there shooting in New Mexico, or Old Mexico, I don't
remember which. He took George to his hut and gave him things to
shoot, and all that, and now he is in New York with a letter of
introduction. It's just like George. He may be a most
impossible sort of man, but, as I said to Mr. Porter, the people
I've asked can't complain, because I don't know anything more
about him than they do. He called to-day when I was out and left
his card and George's letter of introduction, and as a man had
failed me for to-night, I just thought I would kill two birds
with one stone, and ask him to fill his place, and he's here.
And, oh, yes,'' Mrs. Porter added, ``I'm going to put him next to
you, do you mind?''
``Unless he wears leather leggings and long spurs I shall mind
very much,'' said Miss Langham.
``Well, that's very nice of you,'' purred Mrs. Porter, as she
moved away. ``He may not be so bad, after all; and I'll put
Reginald King on your other side, shall I?'' she asked, pausing
and glancing back.
The look on Miss Langham's face, which had been one of amusement,
changed consciously, and she smiled with polite acquiescence.
``As you please, Mrs. Porter,'' she answered. She raised her
eyebrows slightly. ``I am, as the politicians say, `in the hands
of my friends.' ''
``Entirely too much in the hands of my friends,'' she repeated,
as she turned away. This was the twelfth time during that same
winter that she and Mr. King had been placed next to one another
at dinner, and it had passed beyond the point when she could
say that it did not matter what people thought as long as she and
he understood. It had now reached that stage when she was not
quite sure that she understood either him or herself. They had
known each other for a very long time; too long, she sometimes
thought, for them ever to grow to know each other any better.
But there was always the chance that he had another side, one
that had not disclosed itself, and which she could not discover
in the strict social environment in which they both lived. And
she was the surer of this because she had once seen him when he
did not know that she was near, and he had been so different that
it had puzzled her and made her wonder if she knew the real
Reggie King at all.
It was at a dance at a studio, and some French pantomimists gave
a little play. When it was over, King sat in the corner talking
to one of the Frenchwomen, and while he waited on her he was
laughing at her and at her efforts to speak English. He was
telling her how to say certain phrases and not telling her
correctly, and she suspected this and was accusing him of it, and
they were rhapsodizing and exclaiming over certain delightful
places and dishes of which they both knew in Paris with the
enthusiasm of two children. Miss Langham saw him off his guard
for the first time and instead of a somewhat bored and clever
man of the world, he appeared as sincere and interested as a boy.
When he joined her, later, the same evening, he was as
entertaining as usual, and as polite and attentive as he had been
to the Frenchwoman, but he was not greatly interested, and his
laugh was modulated and not spontaneous. She had wondered that
night, and frequently since then, if, in the event of his asking
her to marry him, which was possible, and of her accepting him,
which was also possible, whether she would find him, in the
closer knowledge of married life, as keen and lighthearted with
her as he had been with the French dancer. If he would but treat
her more like a comrade and equal, and less like a prime minister
conferring with his queen! She wanted something more intimate
than the deference that he showed her, and she did not like his
taking it as an accepted fact that she was as worldly-wise as
himself, even though it were true.
She was a woman and wanted to be loved, in spite of the fact that
she had been loved by many men--at least it was so supposed--and
had rejected them.
Each had offered her position, or had wanted her because she was
fitted to match his own great state, or because he was ambitious,
or because she was rich. The man who could love her as she
once believed men could love, and who could give her something
else besides approval of her beauty and her mind, had not
disclosed himself. She had begun to think that he never would,
that he did not exist, that he was an imagination of the
playhouse and the novel. The men whom she knew were careful to
show her that they appreciated how distinguished was her
position, and how inaccessible she was to them. They seemed to
think that by so humbling themselves, and by emphasizing her
position they pleased her best, when it was what she wanted them
to forget. Each of them would draw away backward, bowing and
protesting that he was unworthy to raise his eyes to such a
prize, but that if she would only stoop to him, how happy his
life would be. Sometimes they meant it sincerely; sometimes they
were gentlemanly adventurers of title, from whom it was a
business proposition, and in either case she turned restlessly
away and asked herself how long it would be before the man would
come who would pick her up on his saddle and gallop off with her,
with his arm around her waist and his horse's hoofs clattering
beneath them, and echoing the tumult in their hearts.
She had known too many great people in the world to feel
impressed with her own position at home in America; but she
sometimes compared herself to the Queen in ``In a Balcony,''
and repeated to herself, with mock seriousness:--
``And you the marble statue all the time
They praise and point at as preferred to life,
Yet leave for the first breathing woman's cheek,
First dancer's, gypsy's or street balladine's!''
And if it were true, she asked herself, that the man she had
imagined was only an ideal and an illusion, was not King the best
of the others, the unideal and ever-present others? Every one
else seemed to think so. The society they knew put them
constantly together and approved. Her people approved. Her own
mind approved, and as her heart was not apparently ever to be
considered, who could say that it did not approve as well? He
was certainly a very charming fellow, a manly, clever companion,
and one who bore about him the evidences of distinction and
thorough breeding. As far as family went, the Kings were as old
as a young country could expect, and Reggie King was, moreover,
in spite of his wealth, a man of action and ability. His yacht
journeyed from continent to continent, and not merely up the
Sound to Newport, and he was as well known and welcome to the
consuls along the coasts of Africa and South America as he was at
Cowes or Nice. His books of voyages were recognized by
geographical societies and other serious bodies, who had given
him permission to put long disarrangements of the alphabet after
his name. She liked him because she had grown to be at home with
him, because it was good to know that there was some one who
would not misunderstand her, and who, should she so indulge
herself, would not take advantage of any appeal she might make to
his sympathy, who would always be sure to do the tactful thing
and the courteous thing, and who, while he might never do a great
thing, could not do an unkind one.
Miss Langham had entered the Porters' drawing-room after the
greater number of the guests had arrived, and she turned from her
hostess to listen to an old gentleman with a passion for golf, a
passion in which he had for a long time been endeavoring to
interest her. She answered him and his enthusiasm in kind, and
with as much apparent interest as she would have shown in a
matter of state. It was her principle to be all things to all
men, whether they were great artists, great diplomats, or great
bores. If a man had been pleading with her to leave the
conservatory and run away with him, and another had come up
innocently and announced that it was his dance, she would have
said: ``Oh, is it?'' with as much apparent delight as though his
coming had been the one bright hope in her life.
She was growing enthusiastic over the delights of golf and
unconsciously making a very beautiful picture of herself in her
interest and forced vivacity, when she became conscious for the
first time of a strange young man who was standing alone before
the fireplace looking at her, and frankly listening to all the
nonsense she was talking. She guessed that he had been listening
for some time, and she also saw, before he turned his eyes
quickly away, that he was distinctly amused. Miss Langham
stopped gesticulating and lowered her voice, but continued to
keep her eyes on the face of the stranger, whose own eyes were
wandering around the room, to give her, so she guessed, the idea
that he had not been listening, but that she had caught him at it
in the moment he had first looked at her. He was a tall, broadshouldered
youth, with a handsome face, tanned and dyed, either
by the sun or by exposure to the wind, to a deep ruddy brown,
which contrasted strangely with his yellow hair and mustache, and
with the pallor of the other faces about him. He was a stranger
apparently to every one present, and his bearing suggested, in
consequence, that ease of manner which comes to a person who is
not only sure of himself, but who has no knowledge of the claims
and pretensions to social distinction of those about him. His
most attractive feature was his eyes, which seemed to observe
all that was going on, not only what was on the surface, but
beneath the surface, and that not rudely or covertly but with the
frank, quick look of the trained observer. Miss Langham found it
an interesting face to watch, and she did not look away from it.
She was acquainted with every one else in the room, and hence she
knew this must be the cowboy of whom Mrs. Porter had spoken, and
she wondered how any one who had lived the rough life of the West
could still retain the look when in formal clothes of one who was
in the habit of doing informal things in them.
Mrs. Porter presented her cowboy simply as ``Mr. Clay, of whom I
spoke to you,'' with a significant raising of the eyebrows, and
the cowboy made way for King, who took Miss Langham in. He
looked frankly pleased, however, when he found himself next to
her again, but did not take advantage of it throughout the first
part of the dinner, during which time he talked to the young
married woman on his right, and Miss Langham and King continued
where they had left off at their last meeting. They knew each
other well enough to joke of the way in which they were thrown
into each other's society, and, as she said, they tried to make
the best of it. But while she spoke, Miss Langham was
continually conscious of the presence of her neighbor, who piqued
her interest and her curiosity in different ways. He seemed
to be at his ease, and yet from the manner in which he glanced up
and down the table and listened to snatches of talk on either
side of him he had the appearance of one to whom it was all new,
and who was seeing it for the first time.
There was a jolly group at one end of the long table, and they
wished to emphasize the fact by laughing a little more
hysterically at their remarks than the humor of those witticisms
seemed to justify. A daughter-in-law of Mrs. Porter was their
leader in this, and at one point she stopped in the middle of a
story and waving her hand at the double row of faces turned in
her direction, which had been attracted by the loudness of her
voice, cried, gayly, ``Don't listen. This is for private
circulation. It is not a jeune-fille story.'' The
debutantes at the table continued talking again in steady,
even tones, as though they had not heard the remark or the first
of the story, and the men next to them appeared equally
unconscious. But the cowboy, Miss Langham noted out of the
corner of her eye, after a look of polite surprise, beamed with
amusement and continued to stare up and down the table as though
he had discovered a new trait in a peculiar and interesting
animal. For some reason, she could not tell why, she felt
annoyed with herself and with her friends, and resented the
attitude which the new-comer assumed toward them.
``Mrs. Porter tells me that you know her son George?'' she said.
He did not answer her at once, but bowed his head in assent, with
a look of interrogation, as though, so it seemed to her, he had
expected her, when she did speak, to say something less
``Yes,'' he replied, after a pause, ``he joined us at Ayutla. It
was the terminus of the Jalisco and Mexican Railroad then. He
came out over the road and went in from there with an outfit
after mountain lions. I believe he had very good sport.''
``That is a very wonderful road, I am told,'' said King, bending
forward and introducing himself into the conversation with a nod
of the head toward Clay; ``quite a remarkable feat of
``It will open up the country, I believe,'' assented the other,
``I know something of it,'' continued King, ``because I met the
men who were putting it through at Pariqua, when we touched there
in the yacht. They shipped most of their plant to that port, and
we saw a good deal of them. They were a very jolly lot, and they
gave me a most interesting account of their work and its
Clay was looking at the other closely, as though he was
trying to find something back of what he was saying, but as his
glance seemed only to embarrass King he smiled freely again in
assent, and gave him his full attention.
``There are no men to-day, Miss Langham,'' King exclaimed,
suddenly, turning toward her, ``to my mind, who lead as
picturesque lives as do civil engineers. And there are no men
whose work is as little appreciated.''
``Really?'' said Miss Langham, encouragingly.
``Now those men I met,'' continued King, settling himself with
his side to the table, ``were all young fellows of thirty or
thereabouts, but they were leading the lives of pioneers and
martyrs--at least that's what I'd call it. They were marching
through an almost unknown part of Mexico, fighting Nature at
every step and carrying civilization with them. They were doing
better work than soldiers, because soldiers destroy things, and
these chaps were creating, and making the way straight. They had
no banners either, nor brass bands. They fought mountains and
rivers, and they were attacked on every side by fever and the
lack of food and severe exposure. They had to sit down around a
camp-fire at night and calculate whether they were to tunnel a
mountain, or turn the bed of a river or bridge it. And they knew
all the time that whatever they decided to do out there in the
wilderness meant thousands of dollars to the stockholders
somewhere up in God's country, who would some day hold them to
account for them. They dragged their chains through miles and
miles of jungle, and over flat alkali beds and cactus, and they
reared bridges across roaring canons. We know nothing about them
and we care less. When their work is done we ride over the road
in an observation-car and look down thousands and thousands of
feet into the depths they have bridged, and we never give them a
thought. They are the bravest soldiers of the present day, and
they are the least recognized. I have forgotten their names, and
you never heard them. But it seems to me the civil engineer, for
all that, is the chief civilizer of our century.''
Miss Langham was looking ahead of her with her eyes half-closed,
as though she were going over in her mind the situation King had
``I never thought of that,'' she said. ``It sounds very fine.
As you say, the reward is so inglorious. But that is what makes
it fine.''
The cowboy was looking down at the table and pulling at a flower
in the centre-piece. He had ceased to smile. Miss Langham
turned on him somewhat sharply, resenting his silence, and said,
with a slight challenge in her voice:--
``Do you agree, Mr. Clay,'' she asked, ``or do you prefer the
chocolate-cream soldiers, in red coats and gold lace?''
``Oh, I don't know,'' the young man answered, with some slight
hesitation. ``It's a trade for each of them. The engineer's
work is all the more absorbing, I imagine, when the difficulties
are greatest. He has the fun of overcoming them.''
``You see nothing in it then,'' she asked, ``but a source of
``Oh, yes, a good deal more,'' he replied. ``A livelihood, for
one thing. I--I have been an engineer all my life. I built that
road Mr. King is talking about.''
An hour later, when Mrs. Porter made the move to go, Miss Langham
rose with a protesting sigh. ``I am so sorry,'' she said, ``it
has been most interesting. I never met two men who had visited
so many inaccessible places and come out whole. You have quite
inspired Mr. King, he was never so amusing. But I should like to
hear the end of that adventure; won't you tell it to me in the
other room?''
Clay bowed. ``If I haven't thought of something more interesting
in the meantime,'' he said.
``What I can't understand,'' said King, as he moved up into Miss
Langham's place, ``is how you had time to learn so much of the
rest of the world. You don't act like a man who had spent
his life in the brush.''
``How do you mean?'' asked Clay, smiling--``that I don't use the
wrong forks?''
``No,'' laughed King, ``but you told us that this was your first
visit East, and yet you're talking about England and Vienna and
Voisin's. How is it you've been there, while you have never been
in New York?''
``Well, that's partly due to accident and partly to design,''
Clay answered. ``You see I've worked for English and German and
French companies, as well as for those in the States, and I go
abroad to make reports and to receive instructions. And then I'm
what you call a self-made man; that is, I've never been to
college. I've always had to educate myself, and whenever I did
get a holiday it seemed to me that I ought to put it to the best
advantage, and to spend it where civilization was the furthest
advanced--advanced, at least, in years. When I settle down and
become an expert, and demand large sums for just looking at the
work other fellows have done, then I hope to live in New York,
but until then I go where the art galleries are biggest and where
they have got the science of enjoying themselves down to the very
finest point. I have enough rough work eight months of the year
to make me appreciate that. So whenever I get a few months
to myself I take the Royal Mail to London, and from there to
Paris or Vienna. I think I like Vienna the best. The directors
are generally important people in their own cities, and they ask
one about, and so, though I hope I am a good American, it happens
that I've more friends on the Continent than in the United
``And how does this strike you?'' asked King, with a movement of
his shoulder toward the men about the dismantled table.
``Oh, I don't know,'' laughed Clay. ``You've lived abroad
yourself; how does it strike you?''
Clay was the first man to enter the drawing-room. He walked
directly away from the others and over to Miss Langham, and,
taking her fan out of her hands as though to assure himself of
some hold upon her, seated himself with his back to every one
``You have come to finish that story?'' she said, smiling.
Miss Langham was a careful young person, and would not have
encouraged a man she knew even as well as she knew King, to talk
to her through dinner, and after it as well. She fully
recognized that because she was conspicuous certain innocent
pleasures were denied her which other girls could enjoy without
attracting attention or comment. But Clay interested her beyond
her usual self, and the look in his eyes was a tribute which
she had no wish to put away from her.
``I've thought of something more interesting to talk about,''
said Clay. ``I'm going to talk about you. You see I've known
you a long time.''
``Since eight o'clock?'' asked Miss Langham.
``Oh, no, since your coming out, four years ago.''
``It's not polite to remember so far back,'' she said. ``Were
you one of those who assisted at that important function? There
were so many there I don't remember.''
``No, I only read about it. I remember it very well; I had
ridden over twelve miles for the mail that day, and I stopped
half-way back to the ranch and camped out in the shade of a rock
and read all the papers and magazines through at one sitting,
until the sun went down and I couldn't see the print. One of the
papers had an account of your coming out in it, and a picture of
you, and I wrote East to the photographer for the original. It
knocked about the West for three months and then reached me at
Laredo, on the border between Texas and Mexico, and I have had it
with me ever since.''
Miss Langham looked at Clay for a moment in silent dismay and
with a perplexed smile.
``Where is it now?'' she asked at last.
``In my trunk at the hotel.''
``Oh,'' she said, slowly. She was still in doubt as to how to
treat this act of unconventionality. ``Not in your watch?'' she
said, to cover up the pause. ``That would have been more in
keeping with the rest of the story.''
The young man smiled grimly, and pulling out his watch pried back
the lid and turned it to her so that she could see a photograph
inside. The face in the watch was that of a young girl in the
dress of a fashion of several years ago. It was a lovely, frank
face, looking out of the picture into the world kindly and
questioningly, and without fear.
``Was I once like that?'' she said, lightly. ``Well, go on.''
``Well,'' he said, with a little sigh of relief, ``I became
greatly interested in Miss Alice Langham, and in her comings out
and goings in, and in her gowns. Thanks to our having a press in
the States that makes a specialty of personalities, I was able to
follow you pretty closely, for, wherever I go, I have my papers
sent after me. I can get along without a compass or a medicinechest,
but I can't do without the newspapers and the magazines.
There was a time when I thought you were going to marry that
Austrian chap, and I didn't approve of that. I knew things about
him in Vienna. And then I read of your engagement to
others--well--several others; some of them I thought worthy, and
others not. Once I even thought of writing you about it, and
once I saw you in Paris. You were passing on a coach. The man
with me told me it was you, and I wanted to follow the coach in a
fiacre, but he said he knew at what hotel you were stopping, and
so I let you go, but you were not at that hotel, or at any
other--at least, I couldn't find you.''
``What would you have done--?'' asked Miss Langham. ``Never
mind,'' she interrupted, ``go on.''
``Well, that's all,'' said Clay, smiling. ``That's all, at
least, that concerns you. That is the romance of this poor young
``But not the only one,'' she said, for the sake of saying
``Perhaps not,'' answered Clay, ``but the only one that counts.
I always knew I was going to meet you some day. And now I have
met you.''
``Well, and now that you have met me,'' said Miss Langham,
looking at him in some amusement, ``are you sorry?''
``No--'' said Clay, but so slowly and with such consideration
that Miss Langham laughed and held her head a little higher.
``Not sorry to meet you, but to meet you in such surroundings.''
``What fault do you find with my surroundings?''
``Well, these people,'' answered Clay, ``they are so foolish, so
futile. You shouldn't be here. There must be something else
better than this. You can't make me believe that you choose it.
In Europe you could have a salon, or you could influence
statesmen. There surely must be something here for you to turn
to as well. Something better than golf-sticks and salted
``What do you know of me?'' said Miss Langham, steadily. ``Only
what you have read of me in impertinent paragraphs. How do you
know I am fitted for anything else but just this? You never
spoke with me before to-night.''
``That has nothing to do with it,'' said Clay, quickly. ``Time
is made for ordinary people. When people who amount to anything
meet they don't have to waste months in finding each other out.
It is only the doubtful ones who have to be tested again and
again. When I was a kid in the diamond mines in Kimberley, I
have seen the experts pick out a perfect diamond from the heap at
the first glance, and without a moment's hesitation. It was the
cheap stones they spent most of the afternoon over. Suppose I
HAVE only seen you to-night for the first time; suppose I
shall not see you again, which is quite likely, for I sail
tomorrow for South America--what of that? I am just as sure
of what you are as though I had known you for years.''
Miss Langham looked at him for a moment in silence. Her beauty
was so great that she could take her time to speak. She was not
afraid of losing any one's attention.
``And have you come out of the West, knowing me so well, just to
tell me that I am wasting myself?'' she said. ``Is that all?''
``That is all,'' answered Clay. ``You know the things I would
like to tell you,'' he added, looking at her closely.
``I think I like to be told the other things best,'' she said,
``they are the easier to believe.''
``You have to believe whatever I tell you,'' said Clay, smiling.
The girl pressed her hands together in her lap, and looked at him
curiously. The people about them were moving and making their
farewells, and they brought her back to the present with a start.
``I'm sorry you're going away,'' she said. ``It has been so odd.
You come suddenly up out of the wilderness, and set me to
thinking and try to trouble me with questions about myself, and
then steal away again without stopping to help me to settle them.
Is it fair?'' She rose and put out her hand, and he took it
and held it for a moment, while they stood looking at one
``I am coming back,'' he said, ``and I will find that you have
settled them for yourself.''
``Good-by,'' she said, in so low a tone that the people standing
near them could not hear. ``You haven't asked me for it, you
know, but--I think I shall let you keep that picture.''
``Thank you,'' said Clay, smiling, ``I meant to.''
``You can keep it,'' she continued, turning back, ``because it is
not my picture. It is a picture of a girl who ceased to exist
four years ago, and whom you have never met. Good-night.''
Mr. Langham and Hope, his younger daughter, had been to the
theatre. The performance had been one which delighted Miss Hope,
and which satisfied her father because he loved to hear her
laugh. Mr. Langham was the slave of his own good fortune. By
instinct and education he was a man of leisure and culture, but
the wealth he had inherited was like an unruly child that needed
his constant watching, and in keeping it well in hand he had
become a man of business, with time for nothing else.
Alice Langham, on her return from Mrs. Porter's dinner, found him
in his study engaged with a game of solitaire, while Hope was
kneeling on a chair beside him with her elbows on the table.
Mr. Langham had been troubled with insomnia of late, and so it
often happened that when Alice returned from a ball she would
find him sitting with a novel, or his game of solitaire, and
Hope, who had crept downstairs from her bed, dozing in front of
the open fire and keeping him silent company. The father and the
younger daughter were very close to one another, and had grown
especially so since his wife had died and his son and heir had
gone to college. This fourth member of the family was a great
bond of sympathy and interest between them, and his triumphs and
escapades at Yale were the chief subjects of their conversation.
It was told by the directors of a great Western railroad, who had
come to New York to discuss an important question with Mr.
Langham, that they had been ushered downstairs one night into his
basement, where they had found the President of the Board and his
daughter Hope working out a game of football on the billiard
table. They had chalked it off into what corresponded to fiveyard
lines, and they were hurling twenty-two chess-men across it
in ``flying wedges'' and practising the several tricks which
young Langham had intrusted to his sister under an oath of
secrecy. The sight filled the directors with the horrible fear
that business troubles had turned the President's mind, but
after they had sat for half an hour perched on the high chairs
around the table, while Hope excitedly explained the game to
them, they decided that he was wiser than they knew, and each
left the house regretting he had no son worthy enough to bring
``that young girl'' into the Far West.
``You are home early,'' said Mr. Langham, as Alice stood above
him pulling at her gloves. ``I thought you said you were going
on to some dance.''
``I was tired,'' his daughter answered.
``Well, when I'm out,'' commented Hope, ``I won't come home at
eleven o'clock. Alice always was a quitter.''
``A what?'' asked the older sister.
``Tell us what you had for dinner,'' said Hope. ``I know it
isn't nice to ask,'' she added, hastily, ``but I always like to
``I don't remember,'' Miss Langham answered, smiling at her
father, ``except that he was very much sunburned and had most
perplexing eyes.''
``Oh, of course,'' assented Hope, ``I suppose you mean by that
that you talked with some man all through dinner. Well, I think
there is a time for everything.''
``Father,'' interrupted Miss Langham, ``do you know many
engineers--I mean do you come in contact with them through
the railroads and mines you have an interest in? I am rather
curious about them,'' she said, lightly. ``They seem to be a
most picturesque lot of young men.''
``Engineers? Of course,'' said Mr. Langham, vaguely, with the
ten of spades held doubtfully in air. ``Sometimes we have to
depend upon them altogether. We decide from what the engineering
experts tell us whether we will invest in a thing or not.''
``I don't think I mean the big men of the profession,'' said his
daughter, doubtfully. ``I mean those who do the rough work. The
men who dig the mines and lay out the railroads. Do you know any
of them?''
``Some of them,'' said Mr. Langham, leaning back and shuffling
the cards for a new game. ``Why?''
``Did you ever hear of a Mr. Robert Clay?''
Mr. Langham smiled as he placed the cards one above the other in
even rows. ``Very often,'' he said. ``He sails to-morrow to
open up the largest iron deposits in South America. He goes for
the Valencia Mining Company. Valencia is the capital of Olancho,
one of those little republics down there.''
``Do you--are you interested in that company?'' asked Miss
Langham, seating herself before the fire and holding out her
hands toward it. ``Does Mr. Clay know that you are?''
``Yes--I am interested in it,'' Mr. Langham replied, studying the
cards before him, ``but I don't think Clay knows it--nobody knows
it yet, except the president and the other officers.'' He lifted
a card and put it down again in some indecision. ``It's
generally supposed to be operated by a company, but all the stock
is owned by one man. As a matter of fact, my dear children,''
exclaimed Mr. Langham, as he placed a deuce of clubs upon a deuce
of spades with a smile of content, ``the Valencia Mining Company
is your beloved father.''
``Oh,'' said Miss Langham, as she looked steadily into the fire.
Hope tapped her lips gently with the back of her hand to hide the
fact that she was sleepy, and nudged her father's elbow. ``You
shouldn't have put the deuce there,'' she said, ``you should have
used it to build with on the ace.''
A year before Mrs. Porter's dinner a tramp steamer on her way to
the capital of Brazil had steered so close to the shores of
Olancho that her solitary passenger could look into the caverns
the waves had tunnelled in the limestone cliffs along the coast.
The solitary passenger was Robert Clay, and he made a guess that
the white palisades which fringed the base of the mountains along
the shore had been forced up above the level of the sea many
years before by some volcanic action. Olancho, as many people
know, is situated on the northeastern coast of South America, and
its shores are washed by the main equatorial current. From the
deck of a passing vessel you can obtain but little idea of
Olancho or of the abundance and tropical beauty which lies hidden
away behind the rampart of mountains on her shore. You can see
only their desolate dark-green front, and the white caves at
their base, into which the waves rush with an echoing roar, and
in and out of which fly continually thousands of frightened bats.
The mining engineer on the rail of the tramp steamer observed
this peculiar formation of the coast with listless interest,
until he noted, when the vessel stood some thirty miles north of
the harbor of Valencia, that the limestone formation had
disappeared, and that the waves now beat against the base of the
mountains themselves. There were five of these mountains which
jutted out into the ocean, and they suggested roughly the five
knuckles of a giant hand clenched and lying flat upon the surface
of the water. They extended for seven miles, and then the
caverns in the palisades began again and continued on down the
coast to the great cliffs that guard the harbor of Olancho's
``The waves tunnelled their way easily enough until they ran up
against those five mountains,'' mused the engineer, ``and then
they had to fall back.'' He walked to the captain's cabin and
asked to look at a map of the coast line. ``I believe I won't go
to Rio,'' he said later in the day; ``I think I will drop off
here at Valencia.''
So he left the tramp steamer at that place and disappeared into
the interior with an ox-cart and a couple of pack-mules, and
returned to write a lengthy letter from the Consul's office to a
Mr. Langham in the United States, knowing he was largely
interested in mines and in mining. ``There are five mountains
filled with ore,'' Clay wrote, ``which should be extracted by
open-faced workings. I saw great masses of red hematite lying
exposed on the side of the mountain, only waiting a pick and
shovel, and at one place there were five thousand tons in plain
sight. I should call the stuff first-class Bessemer ore, running
about sixty-three per cent metallic iron. The people know it is
there, but have no knowledge of its value, and are too lazy to
ever work it themselves. As to transportation, it would only be
necessary to run a freight railroad twenty miles along the seacoast
to the harbor of Valencia and dump your ore from your own
pier into your own vessels. It would not, I think, be possible
to ship direct from the mines themselves, even though, as I say,
the ore runs right down into the water, because there is no place
at which it would be safe for a large vessel to touch. I will
look into the political side of it and see what sort of a
concession I can get for you. I should think ten per cent of the
output would satisfy them, and they would, of course, admit
machinery and plant free of duty.''
Six months after this communication had arrived in New York City,
the Valencia Mining Company was formally incorporated, and a man
named Van Antwerp, with two hundred workmen and a half-dozen
assistants, was sent South to lay out the freight railroad, to
erect the dumping-pier, and to strip the five mountains of
their forests and underbrush. It was not a task for a holiday,
but a stern, difficult, and perplexing problem, and Van Antwerp
was not quite the man to solve it. He was stubborn, selfconfident,
and indifferent by turns. He did not depend upon his
lieutenants, but jealously guarded his own opinions from the
least question or discussion, and at every step he antagonized
the easy-going people among whom he had come to work. He had no
patience with their habits of procrastination, and he was
continually offending their lazy good-nature and their pride. He
treated the rich planters, who owned the land between the mines
and the harbor over which the freight railroad must run, with as
little consideration as he showed the regiment of soldiers which
the Government had farmed out to the company to serve as laborers
in the mines. Six months after Van Antwerp had taken charge at
Valencia, Clay, who had finished the railroad in Mexico, of which
King had spoken, was asked by telegraph to undertake the work of
getting the ore out of the mountains he had discovered, and
shipping it North. He accepted the offer and was given the title
of General Manager and Resident Director, and an enormous salary,
and was also given to understand that the rough work of
preparation had been accomplished, and that the more
important service of picking up the five mountains and
putting them in fragments into tramp steamers would continue
under his direction. He had a letter of recall for Van Antwerp,
and a letter of introduction to the Minister of Mines and
Agriculture. Further than that he knew nothing of the work
before him, but he concluded, from the fact that he had been paid
the almost prohibitive sum he had asked for his services, that it
must be important, or that he had reached that place in his
career when he could stop actual work and live easily, as an
expert, on the work of others.
Clay rolled along the coast from Valencia to the mines in a
paddle-wheeled steamer that had served its usefulness on the
Mississippi, and which had been rotting at the levees in New
Orleans, when Van Antwerp had chartered it to carry tools and
machinery to the mines and to serve as a private launch for
himself. It was a choice either of this steamer and landing in a
small boat, or riding along the line of the unfinished railroad
on horseback. Either route consumed six valuable hours, and
Clay, who was anxious to see his new field of action, beat
impatiently upon the rail of the rolling tub as it wallowed in
the sea.
He spent the first three days after his arrival at the mines in
the mountains, climbing them on foot and skirting their base on
horseback, and sleeping where night overtook him. Van
Antwerp did not accompany him on his tour of inspection through
the mines, but delegated that duty to an engineer named
MacWilliams, and to Weimer, the United States Consul at Valencia,
who had served the company in many ways and who was in its
closest confidence.
For three days the men toiled heavily over fallen trunks and
trees, slippery with the moss of centuries, or slid backward on
the rolling stones in the waterways, or clung to their ponies'
backs to dodge the hanging creepers. At times for hours together
they walked in single file, bent nearly double, and seeing
nothing before them but the shining backs and shoulders of the
negroes who hacked out the way for them to go. And again they
would come suddenly upon a precipice, and drink in the soft cool
breath of the ocean, and look down thousands of feet upon the
impenetrable green under which they had been crawling, out to
where it met the sparkling surface of the Caribbean Sea. It was
three days of unceasing activity while the sun shone, and of
anxious questionings around the camp-fire when the darkness fell,
and when there were no sounds on the mountain-side but that of
falling water in a distant ravine or the calls of the nightbirds.
On the morning of the fourth day Clay and his attendants
returned to camp and rode to where the men had just begun to
blast away the sloping surface of the mountain.
As Clay passed between the zinc sheds and palm huts of the
soldier-workmen, they came running out to meet him, and one, who
seemed to be a leader, touched his bridle, and with his straw
sombrero in his hand begged for a word with el Senor the
The news of Clay's return had reached the opening, and the throb
of the dummy-engines and the roar of the blasting ceased as the
assistant-engineers came down the valley to greet the new
manager. They found him seated on his horse gazing ahead of him,
and listening to the story of the soldier, whose fingers, as he
spoke, trembled in the air, with all the grace and passion of his
Southern nature, while back of him his companions stood humbly,
in a silent chorus, with eager, supplicating eyes. Clay answered
the man's speech curtly, with a few short words, in the Spanish
patois in which he had been addressed, and then turned and smiled
grimly upon the expectant group of engineers. He kept them
waiting for some short space, while he looked them over
carefully, as though he had never seen them before.
``Well, gentlemen,'' he said, ``I'm glad to have you here all
together. I am only sorry you didn't come in time to hear
what this fellow has had to say. I don't as a rule listen that
long to complaints, but he told me what I have seen for myself
and what has been told me by others. I have been here three days
now, and I assure you, gentlemen, that my easiest course would be
to pack up my things and go home on the next steamer. I was sent
down here to take charge of a mine in active operation, and I
find--what? I find that in six months you have done almost
nothing, and that the little you have condescended to do has been
done so badly that it will have to be done over again; that you
have not only wasted a half year of time--and I can't tell how
much money--but that you have succeeded in antagonizing all the
people on whose good-will we are absolutely dependent; you have
allowed your machinery to rust in the rain, and your workmen to
rot with sickness. You have not only done nothing, but you
haven't a blue print to show me what you meant to do. I have
never in my life come across laziness and mismanagement and
incompetency upon such a magnificent and reckless scale. You
have not built the pier, you have not opened the freight road,
you have not taken out an ounce of ore. You know more of
Valencia than you know of these mines; you know it from the
Alameda to the Canal. You can tell me what night the band
plays in the Plaza, but you can't give me the elevation of
one of these hills. You have spent your days on the pavements in
front of cafe's, and your nights in dance-halls, and you have
been drawing salaries every month. I've more respect for these
half-breeds that you've allowed to starve in this fever-bed than
I have for you. You have treated them worse than they'd treat a
dog, and if any of them die, it's on your heads. You have put
them in a fever-camp which you have not even taken the trouble to
drain. Your commissariat is rotten, and you have let them drink
all the rum they wanted. There is not one of you--''
The group of silent men broke, and one of them stepped forward
and shook his forefinger at Clay.
``No man can talk to me like that,'' he said, warningly, ``and
think I'll work under him. I resign here and now.''
``You what--'' cried Clay, ``you resign?''
He whirled his horse round with a dig of his spur and faced them.
``How dare you talk of resigning? I'll pack the whole lot of you
back to New York on the first steamer, if I want to, and I'll
give you such characters that you'll be glad to get a job
carrying a transit. You're in no position to talk of resigning
yet--not one of you. Yes,'' he added, interrupting himself,
``one of you is MacWilliams, the man who had charge of the
railroad. It's no fault of his that the road's not working. I
understand that he couldn't get the right of way from the people
who owned the land, but I have seen what he has done, and his
plans, and I apologize to him--to MacWilliams. As for the rest
of you, I'll give you a month's trial. It will be a month before
the next steamer could get here anyway, and I'll give you that
long to redeem yourselves. At the end of that time we will have
another talk, but you are here now only on your good behavior and
on my sufferance. Good-morning.''
As Clay had boasted, he was not the man to throw up his position
because he found the part he had to play was not that of leading
man, but rather one of general utility, and although it had been
several years since it had been part of his duties to oversee the
setting up of machinery, and the policing of a mining camp, he
threw himself as earnestly into the work before him as though to
show his subordinates that it did not matter who did the work, so
long as it was done. The men at first were sulky, resentful, and
suspicious, but they could not long resist the fact that Clay was
doing the work of five men and five different kinds of work, not
only without grumbling, but apparently with the keenest pleasure.
He conciliated the rich coffee planters who owned the land
which he wanted for the freight road by calls of the most formal
state and dinners of much less formality, for he saw that the
iron mine had its social as well as its political side. And with
this fact in mind, he opened the railroad with great ceremony,
and much music and feasting, and the first piece of ore taken out
of the mine was presented to the wife of the Minister of the
Interior in a cluster of diamonds, which made the wives of the
other members of the Cabinet regret that their husbands had not
chosen that portfolio. Six months followed of hard, unremitting
work, during which time the great pier grew out into the bay from
MacWilliams' railroad, and the face of the first mountain was
scarred and torn of its green, and left in mangled nakedness,
while the ringing of hammers and picks, and the racking blasts of
dynamite, and the warning whistles of the dummy-engines drove
away the accumulated silence of centuries.
It had been a long uphill fight, and Clay had enjoyed it
mightily. Two unexpected events had contributed to help it. One
was the arrival in Valencia of young Teddy Langham, who came
ostensibly to learn the profession of which Clay was so
conspicuous an example, and in reality to watch over his father's
interests. He was put at Clay's elbow, and Clay made him learn
in spite of himself, for he ruled him and MacWilliams of both
of whom he was very fond, as though, so they complained, they
were the laziest and the most rebellious members of his entire
staff. The second event of importance was the announcement made
one day by young Langham that his father's physician had ordered
rest in a mild climate, and that he and his daughters were coming
in a month to spend the winter in Valencia, and to see how the
son and heir had developed as a man of business.
The idea of Mr. Langham's coming to visit Olancho to inspect his
new possessions was not a surprise to Clay. It had occurred to
him as possible before, especially after the son had come to join
them there. The place was interesting and beautiful enough in
itself to justify a visit, and it was only a ten days' voyage
from New York. But he had never considered the chance of Miss
Langham's coming, and when that was now not only possible but a
certainty, he dreamed of little else. He lived as earnestly and
toiled as indefatigably as before, but the place was utterly
transformed for him. He saw it now as she would see it when she
came, even while at the same time his own eyes retained their
point of view. It was as though he had lengthened the focus of a
glass, and looked beyond at what was beautiful and picturesque,
instead of what was near at hand and practicable. He found
himself smiling with anticipation of her pleasure in the orchids
hanging from the dead trees, high above the opening of the mine,
and in the parrots hurling themselves like gayly colored missiles
among the vines; and he considered the harbor at night with its
colored lamps floating on the black water as a scene set for her
eyes. He planned the dinners that he would give in her honor on
the balcony of the great restaurant in the Plaza on those nights
when the band played, and the senoritas circled in long lines
between admiring rows of officers and caballeros. And he
imagined how, when the ore-boats had been filled and his work had
slackened, he would be free to ride with her along the rough
mountain roads, between magnificent pillars of royal palms, or to
venture forth in excursions down the bay, to explore the caves
and to lunch on board the rolling paddle-wheel steamer, which he
would have re painted and gilded for her coming. He pictured
himself acting as her guide over the great mines, answering her
simple questions about the strange machinery, and the crew of
workmen, and the local government by which he ruled two thousand
men. It was not on account of any personal pride in the mines
that he wanted her to see them, it was not because he had
discovered and planned and opened them that he wished to show
them to her, but as a curious spectacle that he hoped would
give her a moment's interest.
But his keenest pleasure was when young Langham suggested that
they should build a house for his people on the edge of the hill
that jutted out over the harbor and the great ore pier. If this
were done, Langham urged, it would be possible for him to see
much more of his family than he would be able to do were they
installed in the city, five miles away.
``We can still live in the office at this end of the railroad,''
the boy said, ``and then we shall have them within call at night
when we get back from work; but if they are in Valencia, it will
take the greater part of the evening going there and all of the
night getting back, for I can't pass that club under three hours.
It will keep us out of temptation.''
``Yes, exactly,'' said Clay, with a guilty smile, ``it will keep
us out of temptation.''
So they cleared away the underbrush, and put a double force of
men to work on what was to be the most beautiful and comfortable
bungalow on the edge of the harbor. It had blue and green and
white tiles on the floors, and walls of bamboo, and a red roof of
curved tiles to let in the air, and dragons' heads for waterspouts,
and verandas as broad as the house itself. There was an
open court in the middle hung with balconies looking down
upon a splashing fountain, and to decorate this patio, they
levied upon people for miles around for tropical plants and
colored mats and awnings. They cut down the trees that hid the
view of the long harbor leading from the sea into Valencia, and
planted a rampart of other trees to hide the iron-ore pier, and
they sodded the raw spots where the men had been building, until
the place was as completely transformed as though a fairy had
waved her wand above it.
It was to be a great surprise, and they were all--Clay,
MacWilliams, and Langham--as keenly interested in it as though
each were preparing it for his honeymoon. They would be walking
together in Valencia when one would say, ``We ought to have that
for the house,'' and without question they would march into the
shop together and order whatever they fancied to be sent out to
the house of the president of the mines on the hill. They
stocked it with wine and linens, and hired a volante and six
horses, and fitted out the driver with a new pair of boots that
reached above his knees, and a silver jacket and a sombrero that
was so heavy with braid that it flashed like a halo about his
head in the sunlight, and he was ordered not to wear it until the
ladies came, under penalty of arrest. It delighted Clay to find
that it was only the beautiful things and the fine things of
his daily routine that suggested her to him, as though she could
not be associated in his mind with anything less worthy, and he
kept saying to himself, ``She will like this view from the end of
the terrace,'' and ``This will be her favorite walk,'' or ``She
will swing her hammock here,'' and ``I know she will not fancy
the rug that Weimer chose.''
While this fairy palace was growing the three men lived as
roughly as before in the wooden hut at the terminus of the
freight road, three hundred yards below the house, and hidden
from it by an impenetrable rampart of brush and Spanish bayonet.
There was a rough road leading from it to the city, five miles
away, which they had extended still farther up the hill to the
Palms, which was the name Langham had selected for his father's
house. And when it was finally finished, they continued to live
under the corrugated zinc roof of their office building, and
locking up the Palms, left it in charge of a gardener and a
watchman until the coming of its rightful owners.
It had been a viciously hot, close day, and even now the air came
in sickening waves, like a blast from the engine-room of a
steamer, and the heat lightning played round the mountains over
the harbor and showed the empty wharves, and the black outlines
of the steamers, and the white front of the Custom-House, and
the long half-circle of twinkling lamps along the quay.
MacWilliams and Langham sat panting on the lower steps of the
office-porch considering whether they were too lazy to clean
themselves and be rowed over to the city, where, as it was Sunday
night, was promised much entertainment. They had been for the
last hour trying to make up their minds as to this, and appealing
to Clay to stop work and decide for them. But he sat inside at a
table figuring and writing under the green shade of a student's
lamp and made no answer. The walls of Clay's office were of
unplaned boards, bristling with splinters, and hung with blue
prints and outline maps of the mine. A gaudily colored portrait
of Madame la Presidenta, the noble and beautiful woman whom
Alvarez, the President of Olancho, had lately married in Spain,
was pinned to the wall above the table. This table, with its
green oil-cloth top, and the lamp, about which winged insects
beat noisily, and an earthen water-jar--from which the water
dripped as regularly as the ticking of a clock--were the only
articles of furniture in the office. On a shelf at one side of
the door lay the men's machetes, a belt of cartridges, and a
revolver in a holster.
Clay rose from the table and stood in the light of the open door,
stretching himself gingerly, for his joints were sore and
stiff with fording streams and climbing the surfaces of rocks.
The red ore and yellow mud of the mines were plastered over his
boots and riding-breeches, where he had stood knee-deep in the
water, and his shirt stuck to him like a wet bathing-suit,
showing his ribs when he breathed and the curves of his broad
chest. A ring of burning paper and hot ashes fell from his
cigarette to his breast and burnt a hole through the cotton
shirt, and he let it lie there and watched it burn with a grim
``I wanted to see,'' he explained, catching the look of listless
curiosity in MacWilliams's eye, ``whether there was anything
hotter than my blood. It's racing around like boiling water in a
``Listen,'' said Langham, holding up his hand. ``There goes the
call for prayers in the convent, and now it's too late to go to
town. I am glad, rather. I'm too tired to keep awake, and
besides, they don't know how to amuse themselves in a civilized
way--at least not in my way. I wish I could just drop in at home
about now; don't you, MacWilliams? Just about this time up in
God's country all the people are at the theatre, or they've just
finished dinner and are sitting around sipping cool green mint,
trickling through little lumps of ice. What I'd like--'' he
stopped and shut one eye and gazed, with his head on one side, at
the unimaginative MacWilliams--``what I'd like to do now,''
he continued, thoughtfully, ``would be to sit in the front row at
a comic opera, ON THE AISLE. The prima donna must be very,
very beautiful, and sing most of her songs at me, and there must
be three comedians, all good, and a chorus entirely composed of
girls. I never could see why they have men in the chorus,
anyway. No one ever looks at them. Now that's where I'd like to
be. What would you like, MacWilliams?''
MacWilliams was a type with which Clay was intimately familiar,
but to the college-bred Langham he was a revelation and a joy.
He came from some little town in the West, and had learned what
he knew of engineering at the transit's mouth, after he had first
served his apprenticeship by cutting sage-brush and driving
stakes. His life had been spent in Mexico and Central America,
and he spoke of the home he had not seen in ten years with the
aggressive loyalty of the confirmed wanderer, and he was known to
prefer and to import canned corn and canned tomatoes in
preference to eating the wonderful fruits of the country, because
the former came from the States and tasted to him of home. He
had crowded into his young life experiences that would have
shattered the nerves of any other man with a more sensitive
conscience and a less happy sense of humor; but these same
experiences had only served to make him shrewd and selfconfident
and at his ease when the occasion or difficulty came.
He pulled meditatively on his pipe and considered Langham's
question deeply, while Clay and the younger boy sat with their
arms upon their knees and waited for his decision in thoughtful
``I'd like to go to the theatre, too,'' said MacWilliams, with an
air as though to show that he also was possessed of artistic
tastes. ``I'd like to see a comical chap I saw once in '80--oh,
long ago--before I joined the P. Q. & M. He WAS funny. His
name was Owens; that was his name, John E. Owens--''
``Oh, for heaven's sake, MacWilliams,'' protested Langham, in
dismay; ``he's been dead for five years.''
``Has he?'' said MacWilliams, thoughtfully. ``Well--'' he
concluded, unabashed, ``I can't help that, he's the one I'd like
to see best.''
``You can have another wish, Mac, you know,'' urged Langham,
``can't he, Clay?''
Clay nodded gravely, and MacWilliams frowned again in thought.
``No,'' he said after an effort, ``Owens, John E. Owens; that's
the one I want to see.''
``Well, now I want another wish, too,'' said Langham. ``I
move we can each have two wishes. I wish--''
``Wait until I've had mine,'' said Clay. ``You've had one turn.
I want to be in a place I know in Vienna. It's not hot like
this, but cool and fresh. It's an open, out-of-door concertgarden,
with hundreds of colored lights and trees, and there's
always a breeze coming through. And Eduard Strauss, the son, you
know, leads the orchestra there, and they play nothing but
waltzes, and he stands in front of them, and begins by raising
himself on his toes, and then he lifts his shoulders gently--and
then sinks back again and raises his baton as though he were
drawing the music out after it, and the whole place seems to rock
and move. It's like being picked up and carried on the deck of a
yacht over great waves; and all around you are the beautiful
Viennese women and those tall Austrian officers in their long,
blue coats and flat hats and silver swords. And there are cool
drinks--'' continued Clay, with his eyes fixed on the coming
storm--``all sorts of cool drinks--in high, thin glasses, full of
ice, all the ice you want--''
``Oh, drop it, will you?'' cried Langham, with a shrug of his
damp shoulders. ``I can't stand it. I'm parching.''
``Wait a minute,'' interrupted MacWilliams, leaning forward
and looking into the night. ``Some one's coming.'' There was a
sound down the road of hoofs and the rattle of the land-crabs as
they scrambled off into the bushes, and two men on horseback came
suddenly out of the darkness and drew rein in the light from the
open door. The first was General Mendoza, the leader of the
Opposition in the Senate, and the other, his orderly. The
General dropped his Panama hat to his knee and bowed in the
saddle three times.
``Good-evening, your Excellency,'' said Clay, rising. ``Tell
that peon to get my coat, will you?'' he added, turning to
Langham. Langham clapped his hands, and the clanging of a guitar
ceased, and their servant and cook came out from the back of the
hut and held the General's horse while he dismounted. ``Wait
until I get you a chair,'' said Clay. ``You'll find those steps
rather bad for white duck.''
``I am fortunate in finding you at home,'' said the officer,
smiling, and showing his white teeth. ``The telephone is not
working. I tried at the club, but I could not call you.''
``It's the storm, I suppose,'' Clay answered, as he struggled
into his jacket. ``Let me offer you something to drink.'' He
entered the house, and returned with several bottles on a tray
and a bundle of cigars. The Spanish-American poured himself
out a glass of water, mixing it with Jamaica rum, and said,
smiling again, ``It is a saying of your countrymen that when a
man first comes to Olancho he puts a little rum into his water,
and that when he is here some time he puts a little water in his
``Yes,'' laughed Clay. ``I'm afraid that's true.''
There was a pause while the men sipped at their glasses, and
looked at the horses and the orderly. The clanging of the guitar
began again from the kitchen. ``You have a very beautiful view
here of the harbor, yes,'' said Mendoza. He seemed to enjoy the
pause after his ride, and to be in no haste to begin on the
object of his errand. MacWilliams and Langham eyed each other
covertly, and Clay examined the end of his cigar, and they all
``And how are the mines progressing, eh?'' asked the officer,
genially. ``You find much good iron in them, they tell me.''
``Yes, we are doing very well,'' Clay assented; ``it was
difficult at first, but now that things are in working order, we
are getting out about ten thousand tons a month. We hope to
increase that soon to twenty thousand when the new openings are
developed and our shipping facilities are in better shape.''
``So much!'' exclaimed the General, pleasantly.
``Of which the Government of my country is to get its share of
ten per cent--one thousand tons! It is munificent!'' He laughed
and shook his head slyly at Clay, who smiled in dissent.
``But you see, sir,'' said Clay, ``you cannot blame us. The
mines have always been there, before this Government came in,
before the Spaniards were here, before there was any Government
at all, but there was not the capital to open them up, I suppose,
or--and it needed a certain energy to begin the attack. Your
people let the chance go, and, as it turned out, I think they
were very wise in doing so. They get ten per cent of the output.
That's ten per cent on nothing, for the mines really didn't
exist, as far as you were concerned, until we came, did they?
They were just so much waste land, and they would have remained
so. And look at the price we paid down before we cut a tree.
Three millions of dollars; that's a good deal of money. It will
be some time before we realize anything on that investment.''
Mendoza shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. ``I will be
frank with you,'' he said, with the air of one to whom
dissimulation is difficult. ``I come here to-night on an
unpleasant errand, but it is with me a matter of duty, and I am a
soldier, to whom duty is the foremost ever. I have come to tell
you, Mr. Clay, that we, the Opposition, are not satisfied
with the manner in which the Government has disposed of these
great iron deposits. When I say not satisfied, my dear friend, I
speak most moderately. I should say that we are surprised and
indignant, and we are determined the wrong it has done our
country shall be righted. I have the honor to have been chosen
to speak for our party on this most important question, and on
next Tuesday, sir,'' the General stood up and bowed, as though he
were before a great assembly, ``I will rise in the Senate and
move a vote of want of confidence in the Government for the
manner in which it has given away the richest possessions in the
storehouse of my country, giving it not only to aliens, but for a
pittance, for a share which is not a share, but a bribe, to blind
the eyes of the people. It has been a shameful bargain, and I
cannot say who is to blame; I accuse no one. But I suspect, and
I will demand an investigation; I will demand that the value not
of one-tenth, but of one-half of all the iron that your company
takes out of Olancho shall be paid into the treasury of the
State. And I come to you to-night, as the Resident Director, to
inform you beforehand of my intention. I do not wish to take you
unprepared. I do not blame your people; they are business men,
they know how to make good bargains, they get what they best
can. That is the rule of trade, but they have gone too far, and
I advise you to communicate with your people in New York and
learn what they are prepared to offer now--now that they have to
deal with men who do not consider their own interests but the
interests of their country.''
Mendoza made a sweeping bow and seated himself, frowning
dramatically, with folded arms. His voice still hung in the air,
for he had spoken as earnestly as though he imagined himself
already standing in the hall of the Senate championing the cause
of the people.
MacWilliams looked up at Clay from where he sat on the steps
below him, but Clay did not notice him, and there was no sound,
except the quick sputtering of the nicotine in Langham's pipe, at
which he pulled quickly, and which was the only outward sign the
boy gave of his interest. Clay shifted one muddy boot over the
other and leaned back with his hands stuck in his belt.
``Why didn't you speak of this sooner?'' he asked.
``Ah, yes, that is fair,'' said the General, quickly. ``I know
that it is late, and I regret it, and I see that we cause you
inconvenience; but how could I speak sooner when I was ignorant
of what was going on? I have been away with my troops. I am a
soldier first, a politician after. During the last year I
have been engaged in guarding the frontier. No news comes to a
General in the field moving from camp to camp and always in the
saddle; but I may venture to hope, sir, that news has come to you
of me?''
Clay pressed his lips together and bowed his head.
``We have heard of your victories, General, yes,'' he said; ``and
on your return you say you found things had not been going to
your liking?''
``That is it,'' assented the other, eagerly. ``I find that
indignation reigns on every side. I find my friends complaining
of the railroad which you run across their land. I find that
fifteen hundred soldiers are turned into laborers, with picks and
spades, working by the side of negroes and your Irish; they have
not been paid their wages, and they have been fed worse than
though they were on the march; sickness and--''
Clay moved impatiently and dropped his boot heavily on the porch.
``That was true at first,'' he interrupted, ``but it is not so
now. I should be glad, General, to take you over the men's
quarters at any time. As for their not having been paid, they
were never paid by their own Government before they came to us
and for the same reason, because the petty officers kept back the
money, just as they have always done. But the men are paid
now. However, this is not of the most importance. Who is it
that complains of the terms of our concession?''
``Every one!'' exclaimed Mendoza, throwing out his arms, ``and
they ask, moreover, this: they ask why, if this mine is so rich,
why was not the stock offered here to us in this country? Why
was it not put on the market, that any one might buy? We have
rich men in Olancho, why should not they benefit first of all
others by the wealth of their own lands? But no! we are not
asked to buy. All the stock is taken in New York, no one
benefits but the State, and it receives only ten per cent. It is
``I see,'' said Clay, gravely. ``That had not occurred to me
before. They feel they have been slighted. I see.'' He paused
for a moment as if in serious consideration. ``Well,'' he added,
``that might be arranged.''
He turned and jerked his head toward the open door. ``If you
boys mean to go to town to-night, you'd better be moving,'' he
said. The two men rose together and bowed silently to their
``I should like if Mr. Langham would remain a moment with us,''
said Mendoza, politely. ``I understand that it is his father who
controls the stock of the company. If we discuss any arrangement
it might be well if he were here.''
Clay was sitting with his chin on his breast, and he did not look
up, nor did the young man turn to him for any prompting. ``I'm
not down here as my father's son,'' he said, ``I am an employee
of Mr. Clay's. He represents the company. Good-night, sir.''
``You think, then,'' said Clay, ``that if your friends were given
an opportunity to subscribe to the stock they would feel less
resentful toward us? They would think it was fairer to all?''
``I know it,'' said Mendoza; ``why should the stock go out of the
country when those living here are able to buy it?''
``Exactly,'' said Clay, ``of course. Can you tell me this,
General? Are the gentlemen who want to buy stock in the mine the
same men who are in the Senate? The men who are objecting to the
terms of our concession?''
``With a few exceptions they are the same men.''
Clay looked out over the harbor at the lights of the town, and
the General twirled his hat around his knee and gazed with
appreciation at the stars above him.
``Because if they are,'' Clay continued, ``and they succeed in
getting our share cut down from ninety per cent to fifty per
cent, they must see that the stock would be worth just forty per
cent less than it is now.''
``That is true,'' assented the other. ``I have thought of that,
and if the Senators in Opposition were given a chance to
subscribe, I am sure they would see that it is better wisdom to
drop their objections to the concession, and as stockholders
allow you to keep ninety per cent of the output. And, again,''
continued Mendoza, ``it is really better for the country that the
money should go to its people than that it should be stored up in
the vaults of the treasury, when there is always the danger that
the President will seize it; or, if not this one, the next one.''
``I should think--that is--it seems to me,'' said Clay with
careful consideration, ``that your Excellency might be able to
render us great help in this matter yourself. We need a friend
among the Opposition. In fact--I see where you could assist us
in many ways, where your services would be strictly in the line
of your public duty and yet benefit us very much. Of course I
cannot speak authoritatively without first consulting Mr.
Langham; but I should think he would allow you personally to
purchase as large a block of the stock as you could wish, either
to keep yourself or to resell and distribute among those of your
friends in Opposition where it would do the most good.''
Clay looked over inquiringly to where Mendoza sat in the light of
the open door, and the General smiled faintly, and emitted a
pleased little sigh of relief. ``Indeed,'' continued Clay, ``I
should think Mr. Langham might even save you the formality of
purchasing the stock outright by sending you its money
equivalent. I beg your pardon,'' he asked, interrupting himself,
``does your orderly understand English?''
``He does not,'' the General assured him, eagerly, dragging his
chair a little closer.
``Suppose now that Mr. Langham were to put fifty or let us say
sixty thousand dollars to your account in the Valencia Bank, do
you think this vote of want of confidence in the Government on
the question of our concession would still be moved?''
``I am sure it would not,'' exclaimed the leader of the
Opposition, nodding his head violently.
``Sixty thousand dollars,'' repeated Clay, slowly, ``for
yourself; and do you think, General, that were you paid that sum
you would be able to call off your friends, or would they make a
demand for stock also?''
``Have no anxiety at all, they do just what I say,'' returned
Mendoza, in an eager whisper. ``If I say `It is all right, I am
satisfied with what the Government has done in my absence,' it is
enough. And I will say it, I give you the word of a soldier, I
will say it. I will not move a vote of want of confidence on
Tuesday. You need go no farther than myself. I am glad that I
am powerful enough to serve you, and if you doubt me''--he struck
his heart and bowed with a deprecatory smile--``you need not pay
in the money in exchange for the stock all at the same time. You
can pay ten thousand this year, and next year ten thousand more
and so on, and so feel confident that I shall have the interests
of the mine always in my heart. Who knows what may not happen in
a year? I may be able to serve you even more. Who knows how
long the present Government will last? But I give you my word of
honor, no matter whether I be in Opposition or at the head of the
Government, if I receive every six months the retaining fee of
which you speak, I will be your representative. And my friends
can do nothing. I despise them. _I_ am the Opposition. You
have done well, my dear sir, to consider me alone.''
Clay turned in his chair and looked back of him through the
office to the room beyond.
``Boys,'' he called, ``you can come out now.''
He rose and pushed his chair away and beckoned to the orderly who
sat in the saddle holding the General's horse. Langham and
MacWilliams came out and stood in the open door, and Mendoza rose
and looked at Clay.
``You can go now,'' Clay said to him, quietly. ``And you can
rise in the Senate on Tuesday and move your vote of want of
confidence and object to our concession, and when you have
resumed your seat the Secretary of Mines will rise in his turn
and tell the Senate how you stole out here in the night and tried
to blackmail me, and begged me to bribe you to be silent, and
that you offered to throw over your friends and to take all that
we would give you and keep it yourself. That will make you
popular with your friends, and will show the Government just what
sort of a leader it has working against it.''
Clay took a step forward and shook his finger in the officer's
face. ``Try to break that concession; try it. It was made by
one Government to a body of honest, decent business men, with a
Government of their own back of them, and if you interfere with
our conceded rights to work those mines, I'll have a man-of-war
down here with white paint on her hull, and she'll blow you and
your little republic back up there into the mountains. Now you
can go.''
Mendoza had straightened with surprise when Clay first began to
speak, and had then bent forward slightly as though he meant to
interrupt him. His eyebrows were lowered in a straight line, and
his lips moved quickly.
``You poor--'' he began, contemptuously. ``Bah,'' he exclaimed,
``you're a fool; I should have sent a servant to talk with you.
You are a child--but you are an insolent child,'' he cried,
suddenly, his anger breaking out, ``and I shall punish you. You
dare to call me names! You shall fight me, you shall fight me
to-morrow. You have insulted an officer, and you shall meet me
at once, to-morrow.''
``If I meet you to-morrow,'' Clay replied, ``I will thrash you
for your impertinence. The only reason I don't do it now is
because you are on my doorstep. You had better not meet me
tomorrow, or at any other time. And I have no leisure to fight
duels with anybody.''
``You are a coward,'' returned the other, quietly, ``and I tell
you so before my servant.''
Clay gave a short laugh and turned to MacWilliams in the doorway.
``Hand me my gun, MacWilliams,'' he said, ``it's on the shelf to
the right.''
MacWilliams stood still and shook his head. ``Oh, let him
alone,'' he said. ``You've got him where you want him.''
``Give me the gun, I tell you,'' repeated Clay. ``I'm not going
to hurt him, I'm only going to show him how I can shoot.''
MacWilliams moved grudgingly across the porch and brought back
the revolver and handed it to Clay. ``Look out now,'' he said,
``it's loaded.''
At Clay's words the General had retreated hastily to his horse's
head and had begun unbuckling the strap of his holster, and the
orderly reached back into the boot for his carbine. Clay told
him in Spanish to throw up his hands, and the man, with a
frightened look at his officer, did as the revolver suggested.
Then Clay motioned with his empty hand for the other to desist.
``Don't do that,'' he said, ``I'm not going to hurt you; I'm only
going to frighten you a little.''
He turned and looked at the student lamp inside, where it stood
on the table in full view. Then he raised his revolver. He did
not apparently hold it away from him by the butt, as other men
do, but let it lie in the palm of his hand, into which it seemed
to fit like the hand of a friend. His first shot broke the top
of the glass chimney, the second shattered the green globe around
it, the third put out the light, and the next drove the lamp
crashing to the floor. There was a wild yell of terror from the
back of the house, and the noise of a guitar falling down a
flight of steps. ``I have probably killed a very good cook,''
said Clay, ``as I should as certainly kill you, if I were to
meet you. Langham,'' he continued, ``go tell that cook to come
The General sprang into his saddle, and the altitude it gave him
seemed to bring back some of the jauntiness he had lost.
``That was very pretty,'' he said; ``you have been a cowboy, so
they tell me. It is quite evident by your manners. No matter,
if we do not meet to-morrow it will be because I have more
serious work to do. Two months from to-day there will be a new
Government in Olancho and a new President, and the mines will
have a new director. I have tried to be your friend, Mr. Clay.
See how you like me for an enemy. Goodnight, gentlemen.''
``Good-night,'' said MacWilliams, unmoved. ``Please ask your man
to close the gate after you.''
When the sound of the hoofs had died away the men still stood in
an uncomfortable silence, with Clay twirling the revolver around
his middle finger. ``I'm sorry I had to make a gallery play of
that sort,'' he said. ``But it was the only way to make that
sort of man understand.''
Langham sighed and shook his head ruefully.
``Well,'' he said, ``I thought all the trouble was over, but it
looks to me as though it had just begun. So far as I can see
they're going to give the governor a run for his money yet.''
Clay turned to MacWilliams.
``How many of Mendoza's soldiers have we in the mines, Mac?'' he
``About fifteen hundred,'' MacWilliams answered. ``But you ought
to hear the way they talk of him.''
``They do, eh?'' said Clay, with a smile of satisfaction.
``That's good. `Six hundred slaves who hate their masters.'
What do they say about me?''
``Oh, they think you're all right. They know you got them their
pay and all that. They'd do a lot for you.''
``Would they fight for me?'' asked Clay.
MacWilliams looked up and laughed uneasily. ``I don't know,'' he
said. ``Why, old man? What do you mean to do?''
``Oh, I don't know,'' Clay answered. ``I was just wondering
whether I should like to be President of Olancho.''
The Langhams were to arrive on Friday, and during the week before
that day Clay went about with a long slip of paper in his pocket
which he would consult earnestly in corners, and upon which he
would note down the things that they had left undone. At night
he would sit staring at it and turning it over in much concern,
and would beg Langham to tell him what he could have meant when
he wrote ``see Weimer,'' or ``clean brasses,'' or ``S. Q. M.''
``Why should I see Weimer,'' he would exclaim, ``and which
brasses, and what does S. Q. M. stand for, for heaven's sake?''
They held a full-dress rehearsal in the bungalow to improve its
state of preparation, and drilled the servants and talked English
to them, so that they would know what was wanted when the young
ladies came. It was an interesting exercise, and had the three
young men been less serious in their anxiety to welcome the
coming guests they would have found themselves very amusing--as
when Langham would lean over the balcony in the court and
shout back into the kitchen, in what was supposed to be an
imitation of his sister's manner, ``Bring my coffee and rolls--
and don't take all day about it either,'' while Clay and
MacWilliams stood anxiously below to head off the servants when
they carried in a can of hot water instead of bringing the horses
round to the door, as they had been told to do.
``Of course it's a bit rough and all that,'' Clay would say,
``but they have only to tell us what they want changed and we can
have it ready for them in an hour.''
``Oh, my sisters are all right,'' Langham would reassure him;
``they'll think it's fine. It will be like camping-out to them,
or a picnic. They'll understand.''
But to make sure, and to ``test his girders,'' as Clay put it,
they gave a dinner, and after that a breakfast. The President
came to the first, with his wife, the Countess Manuelata, Madame
la Presidenta, and Captain Stuart, late of the Gordon
Highlanders, and now in command of the household troops at the
Government House and of the body-guard of the President. He was
a friend of Clay's and popular with every one present, except for
the fact that he occupied this position, instead of serving his
own Government in his own army. Some people said he had been
crossed in love, others, less sentimental, that he had forged a
check, or mixed up the mess accounts of his company. But Clay
and MacWilliams said it concerned no one why he was there, and
then emphasized the remark by picking a quarrel with a man who
had given an unpleasant reason for it. Stuart, so far as they
were concerned, could do no wrong.
The dinner went off very well, and the President consented to
dine with them in a week, on the invitation of young Langham to
meet his father.
``Miss Langham is very beautiful, they tell me,'' Madame Alvarez
said to Clay. ``I heard of her one winter in Rome; she was
presented there and much admired.''
``Yes, I believe she is considered very beautiful,'' Clay said.
``I have only just met her, but she has travelled a great deal
and knows every one who is of interest, and I think you will like
her very much.''
``I mean to like her,'' said the woman. ``There are very few of
the native ladies who have seen much of the world beyond a trip
to Paris, where they live in their hotels and at the dressmaker's
while their husbands enjoy themselves; and sometimes I am rather
heart-sick for my home and my own people. I was overjoyed when I
heard Miss Langham was to be with us this winter. But you
must not keep her out here to yourselves. It is too far and too
selfish. She must spend some time with me at the Government
``Yes,'' said Clay, ``I am afraid of that. I am afraid the young
ladies will find it rather lonely out here.''
``Ah, no,'' exclaimed the woman, quickly. ``You have made it
beautiful, and it is only a half-hour's ride, except when it
rains,'' she added, laughing, ``and then it is almost as easy to
row as to ride.''
``I will have the road repaired,'' interrupted the President.
``It is my wish, Mr. Clay, that you will command me in every way;
I am most desirous to make the visit of Mr. Langham agreeable to
him, he is doing so much for us.''
The breakfast was given later in the week, and only men were
present. They were the rich planters and bankers of Valencia,
generals in the army, and members of the Cabinet, and officers
from the tiny war-ship in the harbor. The breeze from the bay
touched them through the open doors, the food and wine cheered
them, and the eager courtesy and hospitality of the three
Americans pleased and flattered them. They were of a people who
better appreciate the amenities of life than its sacrifices.
The breakfast lasted far into the afternoon, and, inspired by
the success of the banquet, Clay quite unexpectedly found himself
on his feet with his hand on his heart, thanking the guests for
the good-will and assistance which they had given him in his
work. ``I have tramped down your coffee plants, and cut away
your forests, and disturbed your sleep with my engines, and you
have not complained,'' he said, in his best Spanish, ``and we
will show that we are not ungrateful.''
Then Weimer, the Consul, spoke, and told them that in his Annual
Consular Report, which he had just forwarded to the State
Department, he had related how ready the Government of Olancho
had been to assist the American company. ``And I hope,'' he
concluded, ``that you will allow me, gentlemen, to propose the
health of President Alvarez and the members of his Cabinet.''
The men rose to their feet, one by one, filling their glasses and
laughing and saying, ``Viva el Gobernador,'' until they were all
standing. Then, as they looked at one another and saw only the
faces of friends, some one of them cried, suddenly, ``To
President Alvarez, Dictator of Olancho!''
The cry was drowned in a yell of exultation, and men sprang
cheering to their chairs waving their napkins above their heads,
and those who wore swords drew them and flashed them in the
air, and the quiet, lazy good-nature of the breakfast was turned
into an uproarious scene of wild excitement. Clay pushed back
his chair from the head of the table with an anxious look at the
servants gathered about the open door, and Weimer clutched
frantically at Langham's elbow and whispered, ``What did I say?
For heaven's sake, how did it begin?''
The outburst ceased as suddenly as it had started, and old
General Rojas, the Vice-President, called out, ``What is said is
said, but it must not be repeated.''
Stuart waited until after the rest had gone, and Clay led him out
to the end of the veranda. ``Now will you kindly tell me what
that was?'' Clay asked. ``It didn't sound like champagne.''
``No,'' said the other, ``I thought you knew. Alvarez means to
proclaim himself Dictator, if he can, before the spring
``And are you going to help him?''
``Of course,'' said the Englishman, simply.
``Well, that's all right,'' said Clay, ``but there's no use
shouting the fact all over the shop like that--and they shouldn't
drag me into it.''
Stuart laughed easily and shook his head. ``It won't be long
before you'll be in it yourself,'' he said.
Clay awoke early Friday morning to hear the shutters beating
viciously against the side of the house, and the wind rushing
through the palms, and the rain beating in splashes on the zinc
roof. It did not come soothingly and in a steady downpour, but
brokenly, like the rush of waves sweeping over a rough beach. He
turned on the pillow and shut his eyes again with the same
impotent and rebellious sense of disappointment that he used to
feel when he had wakened as a boy and found it storming on his
holiday, and he tried to sleep once more in the hope that when he
again awoke the sun would be shining in his eyes; but the storm
only slackened and did not cease, and the rain continued to fall
with dreary, relentless persistence. The men climbed the muddy
road to the Palms, and viewed in silence the wreck which the
night had brought to their plants and garden paths. Rivulets of
muddy water had cut gutters over the lawn and poured out from
under the veranda, and plants and palms lay bent and broken, with
their broad leaves bedraggled and coated with mud. The harbor
and the encircling mountains showed dimly through a curtain of
warm, sticky rain. To something that Langham said of making the
best of it, MacWilliams replied, gloomily, that he would not be
at all surprised if the ladies refused to leave the ship and
demanded to be taken home immediately. ``I am sorry,'' Clay
said, simply; ``I wanted them to like it.''
The men walked back to the office in grim silence, and took turns
in watching with a glass the arms of the semaphore, three miles
below, at the narrow opening of the bay. Clay smiled nervously
at himself, with a sudden sinking at the heart, and with a hot
blush of pleasure, as he thought of how often he had looked at
its great arms out lined like a mast against the sky, and thanked
it in advance for telling him that she was near. In the harbor
below, the vessels lay with bare yards and empty decks, the
wharves were deserted, and only an occasional small boat moved
across the beaten surface of the bay.
But at twelve o'clock MacWilliams lowered the glass quickly, with
a little gasp of excitement, rubbed its moist lens on the inside
of his coat and turned it again toward a limp strip of bunting
that was crawling slowly up the halyards of the semaphore. A
second dripping rag answered it from the semaphore in front of
the Custom-House, and MacWilliams laughed nervously and shut the
``It's red,'' he said; ``they've come.''
They had planned to wear white duck suits, and go out in a launch
with a flag flying, and they had made MacWilliams purchase a red
cummerbund and a pith helmet; but they tumbled into the
launch now, wet and bedraggled as they were, and raced Weimer in
his boat, with the American flag clinging to the pole, to the
side of the big steamer as she drew slowly into the bay. Other
row-boats and launches and lighters began to push out from the
wharves, men appeared under the sagging awnings of the bare
houses along the river-front, and the custom and health officers
in shining oil-skins and puffing damp cigars clambered over the
``I see them,'' cried Langham, jumping up and rocking the boat in
his excitement. ``There they are in the bow. That's Hope
waving. Hope! hullo, Hope!'' he shouted, ``hullo!'' Clay
recognized her standing between the younger sister and her
father, with the rain beating on all of them, and waving her hand
to Langham. The men took off their hats, and as they pulled up
alongside she bowed to Clay and nodded brightly. They sent
Langham up the gangway first, and waited until he had made his
greetings to his family alone.
``We have had a terrible trip, Mr. Clay,'' Miss Langham said to
him, beginning, as people will, with the last few days, as though
they were of the greatest importance; ``and we could see nothing
of you at the mines at all as we passed--only a wet flag, and
a lot of very friendly workmen, who cheered and fired off pans of
``They did, did they?'' said Clay, with a satisfied nod.
``That's all right, then. That was a royal salute in your honor.
Kirkland had that to do. He's the foreman of A opening. I am
awfully sorry about this rain--it spoils everything.''
``I hope it hasn't spoiled our breakfast,'' said Mr. Langham.
``We haven't eaten anything this morning, because we wanted a
change of diet, and the captain told us we should be on shore
before now.''
``We have some carriages for you at the wharf, and we will drive
you right out to the Palms,'' said young Langham. ``It's shorter
by water, but there's a hill that the girls couldn't climb today.
That's the house we built for you, Governor, with the flag-pole,
up there on the hill; and there's your ugly old pier; and that's
where we live, in the little shack above it, with the tin roof;
and that opening to the right is the terminus of the railroad
MacWilliams built. Where's MacWilliams? Here, Mac, I want you
to know my father. This is MacWilliams, sir, of whom I wrote
There was some delay about the baggage, and in getting the party
together in the boats that Langham and the Consul had brought;
and after they had stood for some time on the wet dock,
hungry and damp, it was rather aggravating to find that the
carriages which Langham had ordered to be at one pier had gone to
another. So the new arrivals sat rather silently under the shed
of the levee on a row of cotton-bales, while Clay and MacWilliams
raced off after the carriages.
``I wish we didn't have to keep the hood down,'' young Langham
said, anxiously, as they at last proceeded heavily up the muddy
streets; ``it makes it so hot, and you can't see anything. Not
that it's worth seeing in all this mud and muck, but it's great
when the sun shines. We had planned it all so differently.''
He was alone with his family now in one carriage, and the other
men and the servants were before them in two others. It seemed
an interminable ride to them all--to the strangers, and to the
men who were anxious that they should be pleased. They left the
city at last, and toiled along the limestone road to the Palms,
rocking from side to side and sinking in ruts filled with rushing
water. When they opened the flap of the hood the rain beat in on
them, and when they closed it they stewed in a damp, warm
atmosphere of wet leather and horse-hair.
``This is worse than a Turkish bath,'' said Hope, faintly.
``Don't you live anywhere, Ted?''
``Oh, it's not far now,'' said the younger brother, dismally; but
even as he spoke the carriage lurched forward and plunged to one
side and came to a halt, and they could hear the streams rushing
past the wheels like the water at the bow of a boat. A wet,
black face appeared at the opening of the hood, and a man spoke
despondently in Spanish.
``He says we're stuck in the mud,'' explained Langham. He looked
at them so beseechingly and so pitifully, with the perspiration
streaming down his face, and his clothes damp and bedraggled,
that Hope leaned back and laughed, and his father patted him on
the knee. ``It can't be any worse,'' he said, cheerfully; ``it
must mend now. It is not your fault, Ted, that we're starving
and lost in the mud.''
Langham looked out to find Clay and MacWilliams knee-deep in the
running water, with their shoulders against the muddy wheels, and
the driver lashing at the horses and dragging at their bridles.
He sprang out to their assistance, and Hope, shaking off her
sister's detaining hands, jumped out after him, laughing. She
splashed up the hill to the horses' heads, motioning to the
driver to release his hold on their bridles.
``That is not the way to treat a horse,'' she said. ``Let me
have them. Are you men all ready down there?'' she called.
Each of the three men glued a shoulder to a wheel, and clenched
his teeth and nodded. ``All right, then,'' Hope called back.
She took hold of the huge Mexican bits close to the mouth, where
the pressure was not so cruel, and then coaxing and tugging by
turns, and slipping as often as the horses themselves, she drew
them out of the mud, and with the help of the men back of the
carriage pulled it clear until it stood free again at the top of
the hill. Then she released her hold on the bridles and looked
down, in dismay, at her frock and hands, and then up at the three
men. They appeared so utterly miserable and forlorn in their
muddy garments, and with their faces washed with the rain and
perspiration, that the girl gave way suddenly to an
uncontrollable shriek of delight. The men stared blankly at her
for a moment, and then inquiringly at one another, and as the
humor of the situation struck them they burst into an echoing
shout of laughter, which rose above the noise of the wind and
rain, and before which the disappointments and trials of the
morning were swept away. Before they reached the Palms the sun
was out and shining with fierce brilliancy, reflecting its rays
on every damp leaf, and drinking up each glistening pool of
MacWilliams and Clay left the Langhams alone together, and
returned to the office, where they assured each other again and
again that there was no doubt, from what each had heard different
members of the family say, that they were greatly pleased with
all that had been prepared for them.
``They think it's fine!'' said young Langham, who had run down
the hill to tell them about it. ``I tell you, they are pleased.
I took them all over the house, and they just exclaimed every
minute. Of course,'' he said, dispassionately, ``I thought
they'd like it, but I had no idea it would please them as much as
it has. My Governor is so delighted with the place that he's
sitting out there on the veranda now, rocking himself up and down
and taking long breaths of sea-air, just as though he owned the
whole coast-line.''
Langham dined with his people that night, Clay and MacWilliams
having promised to follow him up the hill later. It was a night
of much moment to them all, and the two men ate their dinner in
silence, each considering what the coming of the strangers might
mean to him.
As he was leaving the room MacWilliams stopped and hovered
uncertainly in the doorway.
``Are you going to get yourself into a dress-suit to-night?'' he
asked. Clay said that he thought he would; he wanted to feel
quite clean once more.
``Well, all right, then,'' the other returned, reluctantly.
``I'll do it for this once, if you mean to, but you needn't think
I'm going to make a practice of it, for I'm not. I haven't worn
a dress-suit,'' he continued, as though explaining his principles
in the matter, ``since your spread when we opened the railroad--
that's six months ago; and the time before that I wore one at
MacGolderick's funeral. MacGolderick blew himself up at Puerto
Truxillo, shooting rocks for the breakwater. We never found all
of him, but we gave what we could get together as fine a funeral
as those natives ever saw. The boys, they wanted to make him
look respectable, so they asked me to lend them my dress-suit,
but I told them I meant to wear it myself. That's how I came to
wear a dress-suit at a funeral. It was either me or
``MacWilliams,'' said Clay, as he stuck the toe of one boot into
the heel of the other, ``if I had your imagination I'd give up
railroading and take to writing war clouds for the newspapers.''
``Do you mean you don't believe that story?'' MacWilliams
demanded, sternly.
``I do,'' said Clay, ``I mean I don't.''
``Well, let it go,'' returned MacWilliams, gloomily; ``but
there's been funerals for less than that, let me tell you.''
A half-hour later MacWilliams appeared in the door and stood
gazing attentively at Clay arranging his tie before a hand-glass,
and then at himself in his unusual apparel.
``No wonder you voted to dress up,'' he exclaimed finally, in a
tone of personal injury. ``That's not a dress-suit you've got on
anyway. It hasn't any tails. And I hope for your sake, Mr.
Clay,'' he continued, his voice rising in plaintive indignation,
``that you are not going to play that scarf on us for a vest.
And you haven't got a high collar on, either. That's only a
rough blue print of a dress-suit. Why, you look just as
comfortable as though you were going to enjoy yourself--and you
look cool, too.''
``Well, why not?'' laughed Clay.
``Well, but look at me,'' cried the other. ``Do I look cool? Do
I look happy or comfortable? No, I don't. I look just about the
way I feel, like a fool undertaker. I'm going to take this thing
right off. You and Ted Langham can wear your silk scarfs and
bobtail coats, if you like, but if they don't want me in white
duck they don't get me.''
When they reached the Palms, Clay asked Miss Langham if she did
not want to see his view. ``And perhaps, if you appreciate it
properly, I will make you a present of it,'' he said, as he
walked before her down the length of the veranda.
``It would be very selfish to keep it all to my self,'' she said.
``Couldn't we share it?'' They had left the others seated facing
the bay, with MacWilliams and young Langham on the broad steps of
the veranda, and the younger sister and her father sitting in
long bamboo steamer-chairs above them.
Clay and Miss Langham were quite alone. From the high cliff on
which the Palms stood they could look down the narrow inlet that
joined the ocean and see the moonlight turning the water into a
rippling ladder of light and gilding the dark green leaves of the
palms near them with a border of silver. Directly below them lay
the waters of the bay, reflecting the red and green lights of the
ships at anchor, and beyond them again were the yellow lights of
the town, rising one above the other as the city crept up the
hill. And back of all were the mountains, grim and mysterious,
with white clouds sleeping in their huge valleys, like masses of
Except for the ceaseless murmur of the insect life about them the
night was absolutely still--so still that the striking of the
ships' bells in the harbor came to them sharply across the
surface of the water, and they could hear from time to time the
splash of some great fish and the steady creaking of an oar in a
rowlock that grew fainter and fainter as it grew further
away, until it was drowned in the distance. Miss Langham was for
a long time silent. She stood with her hands clasped behind her,
gazing from side to side into the moonlight, and had apparently
forgotten that Clay was present.
``Well,'' he said at last, ``I think you appreciate it properly.
I was afraid you would exclaim about it, and say it was fine, or
charming, or something.''
Miss Langham turned to him and smiled slightly. ``And you told
me once that you knew me so very well,'' she said.
Clay chose to forget much that he had said on that night when he
had first met her. He knew that he had been bold then, and had
dared to be so because he did not think he would see her again;
but, now that he was to meet her every day through several
months, it seemed better to him that they should grow to know
each other as they really were, simply and sincerely, and without
forcing the situation in any way.
So he replied, ``I don't know you so well now. You must remember
I haven't seen you for a year.''
``Yes, but you hadn't seen me for twenty-two years then,'' she
answered. ``I don't think you have changed much,'' she went on.
``I expected to find you gray with cares. Ted wrote us about
the way you work all day at the mines and sit up all night over
calculations and plans and reports. But you don't show it. When
are you going to take us over the mines? To-morrow? I am very
anxious to see them, but I suppose father will want to inspect
them first. Hope knows all about them, I believe; she knows
their names, and how much you have taken out, and how much you
have put in, too, and what MacWilliams's railroad cost, and who
got the contract for the ore pier. Ted told us in his letters,
and she used to work it out on the map in father's study. She is
a most energetic child; I think sometimes she should have been a
boy. I wish I could be the help to any one that she is to my
father and to me. Whenever I am blue or down she makes fun of
me, and--''
``Why should you ever be blue?'' asked Clay, abruptly.
``There is no real reason, I suppose,'' the girl answered,
smiling, ``except that life is so very easy for me that I have to
invent some woes. I should be better for a few reverses.'' And
then she went on in a lower voice, and turning her head away,
``In our family there is no woman older than I am to whom I can
go with questions that trouble me. Hope is like a boy, as I
said, and plays with Ted, and my father is very busy with his
affairs, and since my mother died I have been very much
alone. A man cannot understand. And I cannot understand why I
should be speaking to you about myself and my troubles,
except--'' she added, a little wistfully, ``that you once said
you were interested in me, even if it was as long as a year ago.
And because I want you to be very kind to me, as you have been to
Ted, and I hope that we are going to be very good friends.''
She was so beautiful, standing in the shadow with the moonlight
about her and with her hand held out to him, that Clay felt as
though the scene were hardly real. He took her hand in his and
held it for a moment. His pleasure in the sweet friendliness of
her manner and in her beauty was so great that it kept him
``Friends!'' he laughed under his breath. ``I don't think there
is much danger of our not being friends. The danger lies,'' he
went on, smiling, ``in my not being able to stop there.''
Miss Langham made no sign that she had heard him, but turned and
walked out into the moonlight and down the porch to where the
others were sitting.
Young Langham had ordered a native orchestra of guitars and reed
instruments from the town to serenade his people, and they were
standing in front of the house in the moonlight as Miss
Langham and Clay came forward. They played the shrill, eerie
music of their country with a passion and feeling that filled out
the strange tropical scene around them; but Clay heard them only
as an accompaniment to his own thoughts, and as a part of the
beautiful night and the tall, beautiful girl who had dominated
it. He watched her from the shadow as she sat leaning easily
forward and looking into the night. The moonlight fell full upon
her, and though she did not once look at him or turn her head in
his direction, he felt as though she must be conscious of his
presence, as though there were already an understanding between
them which she herself had established. She had asked him to be
her friend. That was only a pretty speech, perhaps; but she had
spoken of herself, and had hinted at her perplexities and her
loneliness, and he argued that while it was no compliment to be
asked to share another's pleasure, it must mean something when
one was allowed to learn a little of another's troubles.
And while his mind was flattered and aroused by this promise of
confidence between them, he was rejoicing in the rare quality of
her beauty, and in the thought that she was to be near him, and
near him here, of all places. It seemed a very wonderful thing
to Clay--something that could only have happened in a novel or a
play. For while the man and the hour frequently appeared
together, he had found that the one woman in the world and the
place and the man was a much more difficult combination to bring
into effect. No one, he assured himself thankfully, could have
designed a more lovely setting for his love-story, if it was to
be a love-story, and he hoped it was, than this into which she
had come of her own free will. It was a land of romance and
adventure, of guitars and latticed windows, of warm brilliant
days and gorgeous silent nights, under purple heavens and white
stars. And he was to have her all to himself, with no one near
to interrupt, no other friends, even, and no possible rival. She
was not guarded now by a complex social system, with its
responsibilities. He was the most lucky of men. Others had only
seen her in her drawing-room or in an opera-box, but he was free
to ford mountain-streams at her side, or ride with her under
arches of the great palms, or to play a guitar boldly beneath her
window. He was free to come and go at any hour; not only free to
do so, but the very nature of his duties made it necessary that
they should be thrown constantly together.
The music of the violins moved him and touched him deeply, and
stirred depths at which he had not guessed. It made him humble
and deeply grateful, and he felt how mean and unworthy he was
of such great happiness. He had never loved any woman as he felt
that he could love this woman, as he hoped that he was to love
her. For he was not so far blinded by her beauty and by what he
guessed her character to be, as to imagine that he really knew
her. He only knew what he hoped she was, what he believed the
soul must be that looked out of those kind, beautiful eyes, and
that found utterance in that wonderful voice which could control
him and move him by a word.
He felt, as he looked at the group before him, how lonely his own
life had been, how hard he had worked for so little--for what
other men found ready at hand when they were born into the world.
He felt almost a touch of self-pity at his own imperfectness; and
the power of his will and his confidence in himself, of which he
was so proud, seemed misplaced and little. And then he wondered
if he had not neglected chances; but in answer to this his
injured self-love rose to rebut the idea that he had wasted any
portion of his time, and he assured himself that he had done the
work that he had cut out for himself to do as best he could; no
one but himself knew with what courage and spirit. And so he sat
combating with himself, hoping one moment that she would
prove what he believed her to be, and the next, scandalized at
his temerity in daring to think of her at all.
The spell lifted as the music ceased, and Clay brought himself
back to the moment and looked about him as though he were waking
from a dream and had expected to see the scene disappear and the
figures near him fade into the moonlight.
Young Langham had taken a guitar from one of the musicians and
pressed it upon MacWilliams, with imperative directions to sing
such and such songs, of which, in their isolation, they had grown
to think most highly, and MacWilliams was protesting in much
MacWilliams had a tenor voice which he maltreated in the most
villanous manner by singing directly through his nose. He had a
taste for sentimental songs, in which ``kiss'' rhymed with
``bliss,'' and in which ``the people cry'' was always sure to be
followed with ``as she goes by, that's pretty Katie Moody,'' or
``Rosie McIntyre.'' He had gathered his songs at the side of
camp-fires, and in canteens at the first section-house of a new
railroad, and his original collection of ballads had had but few
additions in several years. MacWilliams at first was shy, which
was quite a new development, until he made them promise to
laugh if they wanted to laugh, explaining that he would not
mind that so much as he would the idea that he thought he was
The song of which he was especially fond was one called ``He
never cares to wander from his own Fireside,'' which was
especially appropriate in coming from a man who had visited
almost every spot in the three Americas, except his home, in ten
years. MacWilliams always ended the evening's entertainment with
this chorus, no matter how many times it had been sung
previously, and seemed to regard it with much the same veneration
that the true Briton feels for his national anthem.
The words of the chorus were:
``He never cares to wander from his own fireside,
He never cares to wander or to roam.
With his babies on his knee,
He's as happy as can be,
For there's no place like Home, Sweet Home.''
MacWilliams loved accidentals, and what he called ``barber-shop
chords.'' He used a beautiful accidental at the word ``be,'' of
which he was very fond, and he used to hang on that note for a
long time, so that those in the extreme rear of the hall, as he
was wont to explain, should get the full benefit of it. And it
was his custom to emphasize ``for'' in the last line by
speaking instead of singing it, and then coming to a full stop
before dashing on again with the excellent truth that ``there is
NO place like Home, Sweet Home.''
The men at the mines used to laugh at him and his song at first,
but they saw that it was not to be so laughed away, and that he
regarded it with some peculiar sentiment. So they suffered him
to sing it in peace.
MacWilliams went through his repertoire to the unconcealed
amusement of young Langham and Hope. When he had finished he
asked Hope if she knew a comic song of which he had only heard by
reputation. One of the men at the mines had gained a certain
celebrity by claiming to have heard it in the States, but as he
gave a completely new set of words to the tune of the ``Wearing
of the Green'' as the true version, his veracity was doubted.
Hope said she knew it, of course, and they all went into the
drawing-room, where the men grouped themselves about the piano.
It was a night they remembered long afterward. Hope sat at the
piano protesting and laughing, but singing the songs of which the
new-comers had become so weary, but which the three men heard
open-eyed, and hailed with shouts of pleasure. The others
enjoyed them and their delight, as though they were people in a
play expressing themselves in this extravagant manner for
their entertainment, until they understood how poverty-stricken
their lives had been and that they were not only enjoying the
music for itself, but because it was characteristic of all that
they had left behind them. It was pathetic to hear them boast of
having read of a certain song in such a paper, and of the fact
that they knew the plot of a late comic opera and the names of
those who had played in it, and that it had or had not been
acceptable to the New York public.
``Dear me,'' Hope would cry, looking over her shoulder with a
despairing glance at her sister and father, ``they don't even
know `Tommy Atkins'!''
It was a very happy evening for them all, foreshadowing, as it
did, a continuation of just such evenings. Young Langham was
radiant with pleasure at the good account which Clay had given of
him to his father, and Mr. Langham was gratified, and proud of
the manner in which his son and heir had conducted himself; and
MacWilliams, who had never before been taken so simply and
sincerely by people of a class that he had always held in
humorous awe, felt a sudden accession of dignity, and an unhappy
fear that when they laughed at what he said, it was because its
sense was so utterly different from their point of view, and not
because they saw the humor of it. He did not know what the word
``snob'' signified, and in his roughened, easy-going nature there
was no touch of false pride; but he could not help thinking how
surprised his people would be if they could see him, whom they
regarded as a wanderer and renegade on the face of the earth and
the prodigal of the family, and for that reason the best loved,
leaning over a grand piano, while one daughter of his
much-revered president played comic songs for his delectation,
and the other, who according to the newspapers refused princes
daily, and who was the most wonderful creature he had ever seen,
poured out his coffee and brought it to him with her own hands.
The evening came to an end at last, and the new arrivals
accompanied their visitors to the veranda as they started to
their cabin for the night. Clay was asking Mr. Langham when he
wished to visit the mines, and the others were laughing over
farewell speeches, when young Langham startled them all by
hurrying down the length of the veranda and calling on them to
``Look!'' he cried, pointing down the inlet. ``Here comes a manof-
war, or a yacht. Isn't she smart-looking? What can she want
here at this hour of the night? They won't let them land. Can
you make her out, MacWilliams?''
A long, white ship was steaming slowly up the inlet, and
passed within a few hundred feet of the cliff on which they were
``Why, it's the `Vesta'!'' exclaimed Hope, wonderingly. ``I
thought she wasn't coming for a week?''
``It can't be the `Vesta'!'' said the elder sister; ``she was not
to have sailed from Havana until to-day.''
``What do you mean?'' asked Langham. ``Is it King's boat? Do
you expect him here? Oh, what fun! I say, Clay, here's the
`Vesta,' Reggie King's yacht, and he's no end of a sport. We can
go all over the place now, and he can land us right at the door
of the mines if we want to.''
``Is it the King I met at dinner that night?'' asked Clay,
turning to Miss Langham.
``Yes,'' she said. ``He wanted us to come down on the yacht, but
we thought the steamer would be faster; so he sailed without us
and was to have touched at Havana, but he has apparently changed
his course. Doesn't she look like a phantom ship in the
Young Langham thought he could distinguish King among the white
figures on the bridge, and tossed his hat and shouted, and a man
in the stern of the yacht replied with a wave of his hand.
``That must be Mr. King,'' said Hope. ``He didn't bring any
one with him, and he seems to be the only man aft.''
They stood watching the yacht as she stopped with a rattle of
anchor-chains and a confusion of orders that came sharply across
the water, and then the party separated and the three men walked
down the hill, Langham eagerly assuring the other two that King
was a very good sort, and telling them what a treasure-house his
yacht was, and how he would have probably brought the latest
papers, and that he would certainly give a dance on board in
their honor.
The men stood for some short time together, after they had
reached the office, discussing the great events of the day, and
then with cheerful good-nights disappeared into their separate
An hour later Clay stood without his coat, and with a pen in his
hand, at MacWilliams's bedside and shook him by the shoulder.
``I'm not asleep,'' said MacWilliams, sitting up; ``what is it?
What have you been doing?'' he demanded. ``Not working?''
``There were some reports came in after we left,'' said Clay,
``and I find I will have to see Kirkland to-morrow morning. Send
them word to run me down on an engine at five-thirty, will you?
I am sorry to have to wake you, but I couldn't remember in
which shack that engineer lives.''
MacWilliams jumped from his bed and began kicking about the floor
for his boots. ``Oh, that's all right,'' he said. ``I wasn't
asleep, I was just--'' he lowered his voice that Langham might
not hear him through the canvas partitions--``I was just lying
awake playing duets with the President, and racing for the
International Cup in my new centre-board yacht, that's all!''
MacWilliams buttoned a waterproof coat over his pajamas and
stamped his bare feet into his boots. ``Oh, I tell you, Clay,''
he said with a grim chuckle, ``we're mixing right in with the
four hundred, we are! I'm substitute and understudy when anybody
gets ill. We're right in our own class at last! Pure amateurs
with no professional record against us. Me and President
Langham, I guess!'' He struck a match and lit the smoky wick in a
tin lantern.
``But now,'' he said, cheerfully, ``my time being too valuable
for me to sleep, I will go wake up that nigger engine-driver and
set his alarm clock at five-thirty. Five-thirty, I believe you
said. All right; good-night.'' And whistling cheerfully to
himself MacWilliams disappeared up the hill, his body hidden in
the darkness and his legs showing fantastically in the light
of the swinging lantern.
Clay walked out upon the veranda and stood with his back to one
of the pillars. MacWilliams and his pleasantries disturbed and
troubled him. Perhaps, after all, the boy was right. It seemed
absurd, but it was true. They were only employees of Langham--
two of the thousands of young men who were working all over the
United States to please him, to make him richer, to whom he was
only a name and a power, which meant an increase of salary or the
loss of place.
Clay laughed and shrugged his shoulders. He knew that he was not
in that class; if he did good work it was because his selfrespect
demanded it of him; he did not work for Langham or the
Olancho Mining Company (Limited). And yet he turned with almost
a feeling of resentment toward the white yacht lying calmly in
magnificent repose a hundred yards from his porch.
He could see her as clearly in her circle of electric lights as
though she were a picture and held in the light of a stereopticon
on a screen. He could see her white decks, and the rails of
polished brass, and the comfortable wicker chairs and gay
cushions and flat coils of rope, and the tapering masts and
intricate rigging. How easy it was made for some men! This
one had come like the prince in the fairy tale on his magic
carpet. If Alice Langham were to leave Valencia that next day,
Clay could not follow her. He had his duties and
responsibilities; he was at another man's bidding.
But this Prince Fortunatus had but to raise anchor and start in
pursuit, knowing that he would be welcome wherever he found her.
That was the worst of it to Clay, for he knew that men did not
follow women from continent to continent without some assurance
of a friendly greeting. Clay's mind went back to the days when
he was a boy, when his father was absent fighting for a lost
cause; when his mother taught in a little schoolhouse under the
shadow of Pike's Peak, and when Kit Carson was his hero. He
thought of the poverty of those days poverty so mean and hopeless
that it was almost something to feel shame for; of the days that
followed when, an orphan and without a home, he had sailed away
from New Orleans to the Cape. How the mind of the mathematician,
which he had inherited from the Boston schoolmistress, had been
swayed by the spirit of the soldier, which he had inherited from
his father, and which led him from the mines of South Africa to
little wars in Madagascar, Egypt, and Algiers. It had been a
life as restless as the seaweed on a rock. But as he looked
back to its poor beginnings and admitted to himself its later
successes, he gave a sigh of content, and shaking off the mood
stood up and paced the length of the veranda.
He looked up the hill to the low-roofed bungalow with the palmleaves
about it, outlined against the sky, and as motionless as
patterns cut in tin. He had built that house. He had built it
for her. That was her room where the light was shining out from
the black bulk of the house about it like a star. And beyond the
house he saw his five great mountains, the knuckles of the giant
hand, with its gauntlet of iron that lay shut and clenched in the
face of the sea that swept up whimpering before it. Clay felt a
boyish, foolish pride rise in his breast as he looked toward the
great mines he had discovered and opened, at the iron mountains
that were crumbling away before his touch.
He turned his eyes again to the blazing yacht, and this time
there was no trace of envy in them. He laughed instead, partly
with pleasure at the thought of the struggle he scented in the
air, and partly at his own braggadocio.
``I'm not afraid,'' he said, smiling, and shaking his head at the
white ship that loomed up like a man-of-war in the black waters.
``I'm not afraid to fight you for anything worth fighting for.
He bowed his bared head in good-night toward the light on the
hill, as he turned and walked back into his bedroom. ``And I
think,'' he murmured grimly, as he put out the light, ``that she
is worth fighting for.''
The work which had called Clay to the mines kept him there for
some time, and it was not until the third day after the arrival
of the Langhams that he returned again to the Palms. On the
afternoon when he climbed the hill to the bungalow he found the
Langhams as he had left them, with the difference that King now
occupied a place in the family circle. Clay was made so welcome,
and especially so by King, that he felt rather ashamed of his
sentiments toward him, and considered his three days of absence
to be well repaid by the heartiness of their greeting.
``For myself,'' said Mr. Langham, ``I don't believe you had
anything to do at the mines at all. I think you went away just
to show us how necessary you are. But if you want me to make a
good report of our resident director on my return, you had better
devote yourself less to the mines while you are here and more to
us.'' Clay said he was glad to find that his duties were to be
of so pleasant a nature, and asked them what they had seen and
what they had done.
They told him they had been nowhere, but had waited for his
return in order that he might act as their guide.
``Then you should see the city at once,'' said Clay, ``and I will
have the volante brought to the door, and we can all go in this
afternoon. There is room for the four of you inside, and I can
sit on the box-seat with the driver.''
``No,'' said King, ``let Hope or me sit on the box-seat. Then we
can practise our Spanish on the driver.''
``Not very well,'' Clay replied, ``for the driver sits on the
first horse, like a postilion. It's a sort of tandem without
reins. Haven't you seen it yet? We consider the volante our
proudest exhibit.'' So Clay ordered the volante to be brought
out, and placed them facing each other in the open carriage,
while he climbed to the box-seat, from which position of vantage
he pointed out and explained the objects of interest they passed,
after the manner of a professional guide. It was a warm,
beautiful afternoon, and the clear mists of the atmosphere
intensified the rich blue of the sky, and the brilliant colors of
the houses, and the different shades of green of the trees and
bushes that lined the highroad to the capital.
``To the right, as we descend,'' said Clay, speaking over his
shoulder, ``you see a tin house. It is the home of the
resident director of the Olancho Mining Company (Limited), and of
his able lieutenants, Mr. Theodore Langham and Mr. MacWilliams.
The building on the extreme left is the round-house, in which Mr.
MacWilliams stores his three locomotive engines, and in the far
middle-distance is Mr. MacWilliams himself in the act of
repairing a water-tank. He is the one in a suit of blue
overalls, and as his language at such times is free, we will
drive rapidly on and not embarrass him. Besides,'' added the
engineer, with the happy laugh of a boy who had been treated to a
holiday, ``I am sure that I am not setting him the example of
fixity to duty which he should expect from his chief.''
They passed between high hedges of Spanish bayonet, and came to
mud cabins thatched with palm-leaves, and alive with naked,
little brown-bodied children, who laughed and cheered to them as
they passed.
``It's a very beautiful country for the pueblo,'' was Clay's
comment. ``Different parts of the same tree furnish them with
food, shelter, and clothing, and the sun gives them fuel, and the
Government changes so often that they can always dodge the taxcollector.''
From the mud cabins they came to more substantial one-story
houses of adobe, with the walls painted in two distinct
colors, blue, pink, or yellow, with red-tiled roofs, and the
names with which they had been christened in bold black letters
above the entrances. Then the carriage rattled over paved
streets, and they drove between houses of two stories painted
more decorously in pink and light blue, with wide-open windows,
guarded by heavy bars of finely wrought iron and ornamented with
scrollwork in stucco. The principal streets were given up to
stores and cafe's, all wide open to the pavement and protected
from the sun by brilliantly striped awnings, and gay with the
national colors of Olancho in flags and streamers. In front of
them sat officers in uniform, and the dark-skinned dandies of
Valencia, in white duck suits and Panama hats, toying with
tortoise shell canes, which could be converted, if the occasion
demanded, into blades of Toledo steel. In the streets were
priests and bare-legged mule drivers, and ragged ranchmen with
red-caped cloaks hanging to their sandals, and negro women, with
bare shoulders and long trains, vending lottery tickets and
rolling huge cigars between their lips. It was an old story to
Clay and King, but none of the others had seen a Spanish-American
city before; they were familiar with the Far East and the
Mediterranean, but not with the fierce, hot tropics of their
sister continent, and so their eyes were wide open, and they
kept calling continually to one another to notice some new place
or figure.
They in their turn did not escape from notice or comment. The
two sisters would have been conspicuous anywhere--in a queen's
drawing-room or on an Indian reservation. Theirs was a type that
the caballeros and senoritas did not know. With them dark
hair was always associated with dark complexions, the rich
duskiness of which was always vulgarized by a coat of powder, and
this fair blending of pink and white skin under masses of black
hair was strangely new, so that each of the few women who were to
be met on the street turned to look after the carriage, while the
American women admired their mantillas, and felt that the straw
sailor-hats they wore had become heavy and unfeminine.
Clay was very happy in picking out what was most characteristic
and picturesque, and every street into which he directed the
driver to take them seemed to possess some building or monument
that was of peculiar interest. They did not know that he had
mapped out this ride many times before, and was taking them over
a route which he had already travelled with them in imagination.
King knew what the capital would be like before he entered it,
from his experience of other South American cities, but he acted
as though it were all new to him, and allowed Clay to
explain, and to give the reason for those features of the place
that were unusual and characteristic. Clay noticed this and
appealed to him from time to time, when he was in doubt; but the
other only smiled back and shook his head, as much as to say,
``This is your city; they would rather hear about it from you.''
Clay took them to the principal shops, where the two girls held
whispered consultations over lace mantillas, which they had at
once determined to adopt, and bought the gorgeous paper fans,
covered with brilliant pictures of bull-fighters in suits of
silver tinsel; and from these open stores he led them to a dingy
little shop, where there was old silver and precious hand-painted
fans of mother-of-pearl that had been pawned by families who had
risked and lost all in some revolution; and then to another shop,
where two old maiden ladies made a particularly good guava; and
to tobacconists, where the men bought a few of the native cigars,
which, as they were a monopoly of the Government, were as bad as
Government monopolies always are.
Clay felt a sudden fondness for the city, so grateful was he to
it for entertaining her as it did, and for putting its best front
forward for her delectation. He wanted to thank some one for
building the quaint old convent, with its yellow walls
washed to an orange tint, and black in spots with dampness; and
for the fountain covered with green moss that stood before its
gate, and around which were gathered the girls and women of the
neighborhood with red water-jars on their shoulders, and little
donkeys buried under stacks of yellow sugar-cane, and the negro
drivers of the city's green water-carts, and the blue wagons that
carried the manufactured ice. Toward five o'clock they decided
to spend the rest of the day in the city, and to telephone for
the two boys to join them at La Venus, the great restaurant on
the plaza, where Clay had invited them to dine.
He suggested that they should fill out the time meanwhile by a
call on the President, and after a search for cards in various
pocketbooks, they drove to the Government palace, which stood in
an open square in the heart of the city.
As they arrived the President and his wife were leaving for their
afternoon drive on the Alameda, the fashionable parade-ground of
the city, and the state carriage and a squad of cavalry appeared
from the side of the palace as the visitors drove up to the
entrance. But at the sight of Clay, General Alvarez and his wife
retreated to the house again and made them welcome. The
President led the men into his reception-room and
entertained them with champagne and cigarettes, not manufactured
by his Government; and his wife, after first conducting the girls
through the state drawing-room, where the late sunlight shone
gloomily on strange old portraits of assassinated presidents and
victorious generals, and garish yellow silk furniture, brought
them to her own apartments, and gave them tea after a civilized
fashion, and showed them how glad she was to see some one of her
own world again.
During their short visit Madame Alvarez talked a greater part of
the time herself, addressing what she said to Miss Langham, but
looking at Hope. It was unusual for Hope to be singled out in
this way when her sister was present, and both the sisters
noticed it and spoke of it afterwards. They thought Madame
Alvarez very beautiful and distinguished-looking, and she
impressed them, even after that short knowledge of her, as a
woman of great force of character.
``She was very well dressed for a Spanish woman,'' was Miss
Langham's comment, later in the afternoon. ``But everything she
had on was just a year behind the fashions, or twelve steamer
days behind, as Mr. MacWilliams puts it.''
``She reminded me,'' said Hope, ``of a black panther I saw once
in a circus.''
``Dear me!'' exclaimed the sister, ``I don't see that at all.
Hope said she did not know why; she was not given to analyzing
her impressions or offering reasons for them. ``Because the
panther looked so unhappy,'' she explained, doubtfully, ``and
restless; and he kept pacing up and down all the time, and
hitting his head against the bars as he walked as though he liked
the pain. Madame Alvarez seemed to me to be just like that--as
though she were shut up somewhere and wanted to be free.''
When Madame Alvarez and the two sisters had joined the men, they
all walked together to the terrace, and the visitors waited until
the President and his wife should take their departure. Hope
noticed, in advance of the escort of native cavalry, an auburnhaired,
fair-skinned young man who was sitting an English saddle.
The officer's eyes were blue and frank and attractive-looking,
even as they then were fixed ahead of him with a military lack of
expression; but he came to life very suddenly when the President
called to him, and prodded his horse up to the steps and
dismounted. He was introduced by Alvarez as ``Captain Stuart of
my household troops, late of the Gordon Highlanders. Captain
Stuart,'' said the President, laying his hand affectionately on
the younger man's epaulette, ``takes care of my life and the
safety of my home and family. He could have the command of the
army if he wished; but no, he is fond of us, and he tells me we
are in more need of protection from our friends at home than from
our enemies on the frontier. Perhaps he knows best. I trust
him, Mr. Langham,'' added the President, solemnly, ``as I trust
no other man in all this country.''
``I am very glad to meet Captain Stuart, I am sure,'' said Mr.
Langham, smiling, and appreciating how the shyness of the
Englishman must be suffering under the praises of the Spaniard.
And Stuart was indeed so embarrassed that he flushed under his
tan, and assured Clay, while shaking hands with them all, that he
was delighted to make his acquaintance; at which the others
laughed, and Stuart came to himself sufficiently to laugh with
them, and to accept Clay's invitation to dine with them later.
They found the two boys waiting in the cafe' of the restaurant
where they had arranged to meet, and they ascended the steps
together to the table on the balcony that Clay had reserved for
The young engineer appeared at his best as host. The
responsibility of seeing that a half-dozen others were amused and
content sat well upon him; and as course followed course, and
the wines changed, and the candles left the rest of the room
in darkness and showed only the table and the faces around it,
they all became rapidly more merry and the conversation
intimately familiar.
Clay knew the kind of table-talk to which the Langhams were
accustomed, and used the material around his table in such a way
that the talk there was vastly different. From King he drew
forth tales of the buried cities he had first explored, and then
robbed of their ugliest idols. He urged MacWilliams to tell
carefully edited stories of life along the Chagres before the
Scandal came, and of the fastnesses of the Andes; and even Stuart
grew braver and remembered ``something of the same sort'' he had
seen at Fort Nilt, in Upper Burma.
``Of course,'' was Clay's comment at the conclusion of one of
these narratives, ``being an Englishman, Stuart left out the
point of the story, which was that he blew in the gates of the
fort with a charge of dynamite. He got a D. S. O. for doing
``Being an Englishman,'' said Hope, smiling encouragingly on the
conscious Stuart, ``he naturally would leave that out.''
Mr. Langham and his daughters formed an eager audience. They had
never before met at one table three men who had known such
experiences, and who spoke of them as though they must be as
familiar in the lives of the others as in their own--men who
spoiled in the telling stories that would have furnished
incidents for melodramas, and who impressed their hearers more
with what they left unsaid, and what was only suggested, than
what in their view was the most important point.
The dinner came to an end at last, and Mr. Langham proposed that
they should go down and walk with the people in the plaza; but
his two daughters preferred to remain as spectators on the
balcony, and Clay and Stuart stayed with them.
``At last!'' sighed Clay, under his breath, seating himself at
Miss Langham's side as she sat leaning forward with her arms upon
the railing and looking down into the plaza below. She made no
sign at first that she had heard him, but as the voices of Stuart
and Hope rose from the other end of the balcony she turned her
head and asked, ``Why at last?''
``Oh, you couldn't understand,'' laughed Clay. ``You have not
been looking forward to just one thing and then had it come true.
It is the only thing that ever did come true to me, and I thought
it never would.''
``You don't try to make me understand,'' said the girl,
smiling, but without turning her eyes from the moving spectacle
below her. Clay considered her challenge silently. He did not
know just how much it might mean from her, and the smile robbed
it of all serious intent; so he, too, turned and looked down into
the great square below them, content, now that she was alone with
him, to take his time.
At one end of the plaza the President's band was playing native
waltzes that came throbbing through the trees and beating softly
above the rustling skirts and clinking spurs of the senoritas
and officers, sweeping by in two opposite circles around the
edges of the tessellated pavements. Above the palms around the
square arose the dim, white facade of the cathedral, with the
bronze statue of Anduella, the liberator of Olancho, who answered
with his upraised arm and cocked hat the cheers of an imaginary
populace. Clay's had been an unobtrusive part in the evening's
entertainment, but he saw that the others had been pleased, and
felt a certain satisfaction in thinking that King himself could
not have planned and carried out a dinner more admirable in every
way. He was gratified that they should know him to be not
altogether a barbarian. But what he best liked to remember was
that whenever he had spoken she had listened, even when her eyes
were turned away and she was pretending to listen to some
one else. He tormented himself by wondering whether this was
because he interested her only as a new and strange character, or
whether she felt in some way how eagerly he was seeking her
approbation. For the first time in his life he found himself
considering what he was about to say, and he suited it for her
possible liking. It was at least some satisfaction that she had,
if only for the time being, singled him out as of especial
interest, and he assured himself that the fault would be his if
her interest failed. He no longer looked on himself as an
Stuart's voice arose from the farther end of the balcony, where
the white figure of Hope showed dimly in the darkness.
``They are talking about you over there,'' said Miss Langham,
turning toward him.
``Well, I don't mind,'' answered Clay, ``as long as they talk
about me--over there.''
Miss Langham shook her head. ``You are very frank and
audacious,'' she replied, doubtfully, ``but it is rather pleasant
as a change.''
``I don't call that audacious, to say I don't want to be
interrupted when I am talking to you. Aren't the men you meet
generally audacious?'' he asked. ``I can see why not--though,''
he continued, ``you awe them.''
``I can't think that's a nice way to affect people,'' protested
Miss Langham, after a pause. ``I don't awe you, do I?''
``Oh, you affect me in many different ways,'' returned Clay,
cheerfully. ``Sometimes I am very much afraid of you, and then
again my feelings are only those of unlimited admiration.''
``There, again, what did I tell you?'' said Miss Langham.
``Well, I can't help doing that,'' said Clay. ``That is one of
the few privileges that is left to a man in my position--it
doesn't matter what I say. That is the advantage of being of no
account and hopelessly detrimental. The eligible men of the
world, you see, have to be so very careful. A Prime Minister,
for instance, can't talk as he wishes, and call names if he wants
to, or write letters, even. Whatever he says is so important,
because he says it, that he must be very discreet. I am so
unimportant that no one minds what I say, and so I say it. It's
the only comfort I have.''
``Are you in the habit of going around the world saying whatever
you choose to every woman you happen to--to--'' Miss Langham
``To admire very much,'' suggested Clay.
``To meet,'' corrected Miss Langham. ``Because, if you are, it
is a very dangerous and selfish practice, and I think your
theory of non-responsibility is a very wicked one.''
``Well, I wouldn't say it to a child,'' mused Clay, ``but to one
who must have heard it before--''
``And who, you think, would like to hear it again, perhaps,''
interrupted Miss Langham.
``No, not at all,'' said Clay. ``I don't say it to give her
pleasure, but because it gives me pleasure to say what I think.''
``If we are to continue good friends, Mr. Clay,'' said Miss
Langham, in decisive tones, ``we must keep our relationship on
more of a social and less of a personal basis. It was all very
well that first night I met you,'' she went on, in a kindly tone.
``You rushed in then and by a sort of tour de force made me
think a great deal about myself and also about you. Your stories
of cherished photographs and distant devotion and all that were
very interesting; but now we are to be together a great deal, and
if we are to talk about ourselves all the time, I for one shall
grow very tired of it. As a matter of fact you don't know what
your feelings are concerning me, and until you do we will talk
less about them and more about the things you are certain of.
When are you going to take us to the mines, for instance, and who
was Anduella, the Liberator of Olancho, on that pedestal
over there? Now, isn't that much more instructive?''
Clay smiled grimly and made no answer, but sat with knitted brows
looking out across the trees of the plaza. His face was so
serious and he was apparently giving such earnest consideration
to what she had said that Miss Langham felt an uneasy sense of
remorse. And, moreover, the young man's profile, as he sat
looking away from her, was very fine, and the head on his broad
shoulders was as well-modelled as the head of an Athenian statue.
Miss Langham was not insensible to beauty of any sort, and she
regarded the profile with perplexity and with a softening spirit.
``You understand,'' she said, gently, being quite certain that
she did not understand this new order of young man herself.
``You are not offended with me?'' she asked.
Clay turned and frowned, and then smiled in a puzzled way and
stretched out his hand toward the equestrian statue in the plaza.
``Andulla or Anduella, the Treaty-Maker, as they call him, was
born in 1700,'' he said; ``he was a most picturesque sort of a
chap, and freed this country from the yoke of Spain. One of the
stories they tell of him gives you a good idea of his
character.'' And so, without any change of expression or
reference to what had just passed between them, Clay
continued through the remainder of their stay on the balcony to
discourse in humorous, graphic phrases on the history of Olancho,
its heroes, and its revolutions, the buccaneers and pirates of
the old days, and the concession-hunters and filibusters of the
present. It was some time before Miss Langham was able to give
him her full attention, for she was considering whether he could
be so foolish as to have taken offence at what she said, and
whether he would speak of it again, and in wondering whether a
personal basis for conversation was not, after all, more
entertaining than anecdotes of the victories and heroism of dead
and buried Spaniards.
``That Captain Stuart,'' said Hope to her sister, as they drove
home together through the moonlight, ``I like him very much. He
seems to have such a simple idea of what is right and good. It
is like a child talking. Why, I am really much older than he is
in everything but years--why is that?''
``I suppose it's because we always talk before you as though you
were a grown-up person,'' said her sister. ``But I agree with
you about Captain Stuart; only, why is he down here? If he is a
gentleman, why is he not in his own army? Was he forced to leave
``Oh, he seems to have a very good position here,'' said Mr.
Langham. ``In England, at his age, he would be only a secondlieutenant.
Don't you remember what the President said, that he
would trust him with the command of his army? That's certainly a
responsible position, and it shows great confidence in him.''
``Not so great, it seems to me,'' said King, carelessly, ``as he
is showing him in making him the guardian of his hearth and home.
Did you hear what he said to-day? `He guards my home and my
family.' I don't think a man's home and family are among the
things he can afford to leave to the protection of stray English
subalterns. From all I hear, it would be better if President
Alvarez did less plotting and protected his own house himself.''
``The young man did not strike me as the sort of person,'' said
Mr. Langham, warmly, ``who would be likely to break his word to
the man who is feeding him and sheltering him, and whose uniform
he wears. I don't think the President's home is in any danger
from within. Madame Alvarez--''
Clay turned suddenly in his place on the box-seat of the
carriage, where he had been sitting, a silent, misty statue in
the moonlight, and peered down on those in the carriage below
``Madame Alvarez needs no protection, as you were about to
say, Mr. Langham,'' he interrupted, quickly. ``Those who know
her could say nothing against her, and those who do not know her
would not so far forget themselves as to dare to do it. Have you
noticed the effect of the moonlight on the walls of the
convent?'' he continued, gently. ``It makes them quite white.''
``No,'' exclaimed Mr. Langham and King, hurriedly, as they both
turned and gazed with absorbing interest at the convent on the
hills above them.
Before the sisters went to sleep that night Hope came to the door
of her sister's room and watched Alice admiringly as she sat
before the mirror brushing out her hair.
``I think it's going to be fine down here; don't you, Alice?''
she asked. ``Everything is so different from what it is at home,
and so beautiful, and I like the men we've met. Isn't that Mr.
MacWilliams funny--and he is so tough. And Captain Stuart--it is
a pity he's shy. The only thing he seems to be able to talk
about is Mr. Clay. He worships Mr. Clay!''
``Yes,'' assented her sister, ``I noticed on the balcony that you
seemed to have found some way to make him speak.''
``Well, that was it. He likes to talk about Mr. Clay, and I
wanted to listen. Oh! he is a fine man. He has done more
exciting things--''
``Who? Captain Stuart?''
``No--Mr. Clay. He's been in three real wars and about a dozen
little ones, and he's built thousands of miles of railroads, I
don't know how many thousands, but Captain Stuart knows; and he
built the highest bridge in Peru. It swings in the air across a
chasm, and it rocks when the wind blows. And the German Emperor
made him a Baron.''
``I don't know. I couldn't understand. It was something about
plans for fortifications. He, Mr. Clay, put up a fort in the
harbor of Rio Janeiro during a revolution, and the officers on a
German man-of-war saw it and copied the plans, and the Germans
built one just like it, only larger, on the Baltic, and when the
Emperor found out whose design it was, he sent Mr. Clay the order
of something-or-other, and made him a Baron.''
``Really,'' exclaimed the elder sister, ``isn't he afraid that
some one will marry him for his title?''
``Oh, well, you can laugh, but I think it's pretty fine, and so
does Ted,'' added Hope, with the air of one who propounds a final
``Oh, I beg your pardon,'' laughed Alice. ``If Ted approves we
must all go down and worship.''
``And father, too,'' continued Hope. ``He said he thought Mr.
Clay was one of the most remarkable men for his years that he had
ever met.''
Miss Langham's eyes were hidden by the masses of her black hair
that she had shaken over her face, and she said nothing.
``And I liked the way he shut Reggie King up too,'' continued
Hope, stoutly, ``when he and father were talking that way about
Madame Alvarez.''
``Yes, upon my word,'' exclaimed her sister, impatiently tossing
her hair back over her shoulders. ``I really cannot see that
Madame Alvarez is in need of any champion. I thought Mr. Clay
made it very much worse by rushing in the way he did. Why should
he take it upon himself to correct a man as old as my father?''
``I suppose because Madame Alvarez is a friend of his,'' Hope
``My dear child, a beautiful woman can always find some man to
take her part,'' said Miss Langham. ``But I've no doubt,'' she
added, rising and kissing her sister good-night, ``that he is all
that your Captain Stuart thinks him; but he is not going to keep
us awake any longer, is he, even if he does show such gallant
interest in old ladies?''
``Old ladies!'' exclaimed Hope in amazement.
``Why, Alice!''
But her sister only laughed and waved her out of the room, and
Hope walked away frowning in much perplexity.
The visit to the city was imitated on the three succeeding
evenings by similar excursions. On one night they returned to
the plaza, and the other two were spent in drifting down the
harbor and along the coast on King's yacht. The President and
Madame Alvarez were King's guests on one of these moonlight
excursions, and were saluted by the proper number of guns, and
their native band played on the forward deck. Clay felt that
King held the centre of the stage for the time being, and
obliterated himself completely. He thought of his own paddlewheel
tug-boat that he had had painted and gilded in her honor,
and smiled grimly.
MacWilliams approached him as he sat leaning back on the rail and
looking up, with the eye of a man who had served before the mast,
at the lacework of spars and rigging above him. MacWilliams came
toward him on tiptoe and dropped carefully into a wicker chair.
``There don't seem to be any door-mats on this boat,'' he said.
``In every other respect she seems fitted out quite
complete; all the latest magazines and enamelled bathtubs,
and Chinese waiter-boys with cock-tails up their sleeves. But
there ought to be a mat at the top of each of those stairways
that hang over the side, otherwise some one is sure to soil the
deck. Have you been down in the engine-room yet?'' he asked.
``Well, don't go, then,'' he advised, solemnly. ``It will only
make you feel badly. I have asked the Admiral if I can send
those half-breed engine drivers over to-morrow to show them what
a clean engine-room looks like. I've just been talking to the
chief. His name's MacKenzie, and I told him I was Scotch myself,
and he said it `was a greet pleesure' to find a gentleman so well
acquainted with the movements of machinery. He thought I was one
of King's friends, I guess, so I didn't tell him I pulled a lever
for a living myself. I gave him a cigar though, and he said,
`Thankee, sir,' and touched his cap to me.''
MacWilliams chuckled at the recollection, and crossed his legs
comfortably. ``One of King's cigars, too,'' he said. ``Real
Havana; he leaves them lying around loose in the cabin. Have you
had one? Ted Langham and I took about a box between us.''
Clay made no answer, and MacWilliams settled himself contentedly
in the great wicker chair and puffed grandly on a huge cigar.
``It's demoralizing, isn't it?'' he said at last.
``What?'' asked Clay, absently.
``Oh, this associating with white people again, as we're doing
now. It spoils you for tortillas and rice, doesn't it? It's
going to be great fun while it lasts, but when they've all gone,
and Ted's gone, too, and the yacht's vanished, and we fall back
to tramping around the plaza twice a week, it won't be gay, will
it? No; it won't be gay. We're having the spree of our lives
now, I guess, but there's going to be a difference in the
``Oh, it's worth a headache, I think,'' said Clay, as he shrugged
his shoulders and walked away to find Miss Langham.
The day set for the visit to the mines rose bright and clear.
MacWilliams had rigged out his single passenger-car with rugs and
cushions, and flags flew from its canvas top that flapped and
billowed in the wind of the slow-moving train. Their
observation-car, as MacWilliams termed it, was placed in front of
the locomotive, and they were pushed gently along the narrow
rails between forests of Manaca palms, and through swamps and
jungles, and at times over the limestone formation along the
coast, where the waves dashed as high as the smokestack of the
locomotive, covering the excursionists with a sprinkling of white
spray. Thousands of land-crabs, painted red and black and
yellow, scrambled with a rattle like dead men's bones across the
rails to be crushed by the hundreds under the wheels of the
Juggernaut; great lizards ran from sunny rocks at the sound of
their approach, and a deer bounded across the tracks fifty feet
in front of the cow-catcher. MacWilliams escorted Hope out into
the cab of the locomotive, and taught her how to increase and
slacken the speed of the engine, until she showed an unruly
desire to throw the lever open altogether and shoot them off the
rails into the ocean beyond.
Clay sat at the back of the car with Miss Langham, and told her
and her father of the difficulties with which young MacWilliams
had had to contend. Miss Langham found her chief pleasure in
noting the attention which her father gave to all that Clay had
to tell him. Knowing her father as she did, and being familiar
with his manner toward other men, she knew that he was treating
Clay with unusual consideration. And this pleased her greatly,
for it justified her own interest in him. She regarded Clay as a
discovery of her own, but she was glad to have her opinion of him
shared by others.
Their coming was a great event in the history of the mines.
Kirkland, the foreman, and Chapman, who handled the
dynamite, Weimer, the Consul, and the native doctor, who cared
for the fever-stricken and the casualties, were all at the
station to meet them in the whitest of white duck and with a
bunch of ponies to carry them on their tour of inspection, and
the village of mudDcabins and zinc-huts that stood clear of the
bare sunbaked earth on whitewashed wooden piles was as clean as
Clay's hundred policemen could sweep it. Mr. Langham rode in
advance of the cavalcade, and the head of each of the different
departments took his turn in riding at his side, and explained
what had been done, and showed him the proud result. The village
was empty, except for the families of the native workmen and the
ownerless dogs, the scavengers of the colony, that snarled and
barked and ran leaping in front of the ponies' heads.
Rising abruptly above the zinc village, lay the first of the five
great hills, with its open front cut into great terraces, on
which the men clung like flies on the side of a wall, some of
them in groups around an opening, or in couples pounding a steel
bar that a fellow-workman turned in his bare hands, while others
gathered about the panting steam-drills that shook the solid rock
with fierce, short blows, and hid the men about them in a
throbbing curtain of steam. Self-important little dummyengines,
dragging long trains of ore-cars, rolled and rocked on
the uneven surface of the ground, and swung around corners with
warning screeches of their whistles. They could see, on peaks
outlined against the sky, the signal-men waving their red flags,
and then plunging down the mountain-side out of danger, as the
earth rumbled and shook and vomited out a shower of stones and
rubbish into the calm hot air. It was a spectacle of desperate
activity and puzzling to the uninitiated, for it seemed to be
scattered over an unlimited extent, with no head nor direction,
and with each man, or each group of men, working alone, like ragpickers
on a heap of ashes.
After the first half-hour of curious interest Miss Langham
admitted to herself that she was disappointed. She confessed she
had hoped that Clay would explain the meaning of the mines to
her, and act as her escort over the mountains which he was
blowing into pieces.
But it was King, somewhat bored by the ceaseless noise and heat,
and her brother, incoherently enthusiastic, who rode at her side,
while Clay moved on in advance and seemed to have forgotten her
existence. She watched him pointing up at the openings in the
mountains and down at the ore-road, or stooping to pick up a
piece of ore from the ground in cowboy fashion, without
leaving his saddle, and pounding it on the pommel before he
passed it to the others. And, again, he would stand for minutes
at a time up to his boot-tops in the sliding waste, with his
bridle rein over his arm and his thumbs in his belt, listening to
what his lieutenants were saying, and glancing quickly from them
to Mr. Langham to see if he were following the technicalities of
their speech. All of the men who had welcomed the appearance of
the women on their arrival with such obvious delight and with so
much embarrassment seemed now as oblivious of their presence as
Clay himself.
Miss Langham pushed her horse up into the group beside Hope, who
had kept her pony close at Clay's side from the beginning; but
she could not make out what it was they were saying, and no one
seemed to think it necessary to explain. She caught Clay's eye
at last and smiled brightly at him; but, after staring at her for
fully a minute, until Kirkland had finished speaking, she heard
him say, ``Yes, that's it exactly; in open-face workings there is
no other way,'' and so showed her that he had not been even
conscious of her presence. But a few minutes later she saw him
look up at Hope, folding his arms across his chest tightly and
shaking his head. ``You see it was the only thing to do,'' she
heard him say, as though he were defending some course of
action, and as though Hope were one of those who must be
convinced. ``If we had cut the opening on the first level, there
was the danger of the whole thing sinking in, so we had to begin
to clear away at the top and work down. That's why I ordered the
bucket-trolley. As it turned out, we saved money by it.''
Hope nodded her head slightly. ``That's what I told father when
Ted wrote us about it,'' she said; ``but you haven't done it at
Mount Washington.''
``Oh, but it's like this, Miss--'' Kirkland replied, eagerly.
``It's because Washington is a solider foundation. We can cut
openings all over it and they won't cave, but this hill is most
all rubbish; it's the poorest stuff in the mines.''
Hope nodded her head again and crowded her pony on after the
moving group, but her sister and King did not follow. King
looked at her and smiled. ``Hope is very enthusiastic,'' he
said. ``Where did she pick it up?''
``Oh, she and father used to go over it in his study last winter
after Ted came down here,'' Miss Langham answered, with a touch
of impatience in her tone. ``Isn't there some place where we can
go to get out of this heat?''
Weimer, the Consul, heard her and led her back to Kirkland's
bungalow, that hung like an eagle's nest from a projecting cliff.
From its porch they could look down the valley over the greater
part of the mines, and beyond to where the Caribbean Sea lay
flashing in the heat.
``I saw very few Americans down there, Weimer,'' said King. ``I
thought Clay had imported a lot of them.''
``About three hundred altogether, wild Irishmen and negroes,''
said the Consul; ``but we use the native soldiers chiefly. They
can stand the climate better, and, besides,'' he added, ``they
act as a reserve in case of trouble. They are Mendoza's men, and
Clay is trying to win them away from him.''
``I don't understand,'' said King.
Weimer looked around him and waited until Kirkland's servant had
deposited a tray full of bottles and glasses on a table near
them, and had departed. ``The talk is,'' he said, ``that Alvarez
means to proclaim a dictatorship in his own favor before the
spring elections. You've heard of that, haven't you?'' King
shook his head.
``Oh, tell us about it,'' said Miss Langham; ``I should so like
to be in plots and conspiracies.''
``Well, they're rather common down here,'' continued the Consul,
``but this one ought to interest you especially, Miss Langham,
because it is a woman who is at the head of it. Madame
Alvarez, you know, was the Countess Manueleta Hernandez before
her marriage. She belongs to one of the oldest families in
Spain. Alvarez married her in Madrid, when he was Minister
there, and when he returned to run for President, she came with
him. She's a tremendously ambitious woman, and they do say she
wants to convert the republic into a monarchy, and make her
husband King, or, more properly speaking, make herself Queen. Of
course that's absurd, but she is supposed to be plotting to turn
Olancho into a sort of dependency of Spain, as it was long ago,
and that's why she is so unpopular.''
``Indeed?'' interrupted Miss Langham, ``I did not know that she
was unpopular.''
``Oh, rather. Why, her party is called the Royalist Party
already, and only a week before you came the Liberals plastered
the city with denunciatory placards against her, calling on the
people to drive her out of the country.''
``What cowards--to fight a woman!'' exclaimed Miss Langham.
``Well, she began it first, you see,'' said the Consul.
``Who is the leader of the fight against her?'' asked King.
``General Mendoza; he is commander-in-chief and has the
greater part of the army with him, but the other candidate, old
General Rojas, is the popular choice and the best of the three.
He is Vice-President now, and if the people were ever given a
fair chance to vote for the man they want, he would
unquestionably be the next President. The mass of the people are
sick of revolutions. They've had enough of them, but they will
have to go through another before long, and if it turns against
Dr. Alvarez, I'm afraid Mr. Langham will have hard work to hold
these mines. You see, Mendoza has already threatened to seize
the whole plant and turn it into a Government monopoly.''
``And if the other one, General Rojas, gets into power, will he
seize the mines, too?''
``No, he is honest, strange to relate,'' laughed Weimer, ``but he
won't get in. Alvarez will make himself dictator, or Mendoza
will make himself President. That's why Clay treats the soldiers
here so well. He thinks he may need them against Mendoza. You
may be turning your saluting-gun on the city yet, Commodore,'' he
added, smiling, ``or, what is more likely, you'll need the yacht
to take Miss Langham and the rest of the family out of the
King smiled and Miss Langham regarded Weimer with flattering
interest. ``I've got a quick firing gun below decks,'' said
King, ``that I used in the Malaysian Peninsula on a junkful of
Black Flags, and I think I'll have it brought up. And there are
about thirty of my men on the yacht who wouldn't ask for their
wages in a year if I'd let them go on shore and mix up in a
fight. When do you suppose this--''
A heavy step and the jingle of spurs on the bare floor of the
bungalow startled the conspirators, and they turned and gazed
guiltily out at the mountain-tops above them as Clay came
hurrying out upon the porch.
``They told me you were here,'' he said, speaking to Miss
Langham. ``I'm so sorry it tired you. I should have
remembered--it is a rough trip when you're not used to it,'' he
added, remorsefully. ``But I'm glad Weimer was here to take care
of you.''
``It was just a trifle hot and noisy,'' said Miss Langham,
smiling sweetly. She put her hand to her forehead with an
expression of patient suffering. ``It made my head ache a
little, but it was most interesting.'' She added, ``You are
certainly to be congratulated on your work.''
Clay glanced at her doubtfully with a troubled look, and turned
away his eyes to the busy scene below him. He was greatly hurt
that she should have cared so little, and indignant at himself
for being so unjust. Why should he expect a woman to find
interest in that hive of noise and sweating energy? But even as
he stood arguing with himself his eyes fell on a slight figure
sitting erect and graceful on her pony's back, her white habit
soiled and stained red with the ore of the mines, and green where
it had crushed against the leaves. She was coming slowly up the
trail with a body-guard of half a dozen men crowding closely
around her, telling her the difficulties of the work, and
explaining their successes, and eager for a share of her quick
Clay's eyes fixed themselves on the picture, and he smiled at its
significance. Miss Langham noticed the look, and glanced below
to see what it was that had so interested him, and then back at
him again. He was still watching the approaching cavalcade
intently, and smiling to himself. Miss Langham drew in her
breath and raised her head and shoulders quickly, like a deer
that hears a footstep in the forest, and when Hope presently
stepped out upon the porch, she turned quickly toward her, and
regarded her steadily, as though she were a stranger to her, and
as though she were trying to see her with the eyes of one who
looked at her for the first time.
``Hope!'' she said, ``do look at your dress!''
Hope's face was glowing with the unusual exercise, and her
eyes were brilliant. Her hair had slipped down beneath the visor
of her helmet.
``I am so tired--and so hungry.'' She was laughing and looking
directly at Clay. ``It has been a wonderful thing to have
seen,'' she said, tugging at her heavy gauntlet, ``and to have
done,'' she added. She pulled off her glove and held out her
hand to Clay, moist and scarred with the pressure of the reins.
``Thank you,'' she said, simply.
The master of the mines took it with a quick rush of gratitude,
and looking into the girl's eyes, saw something there that
startled him, so that he glanced quickly past her at the circle
of booted men grouped in the door behind her. They were each
smiling in appreciation of the tableau; her father and Ted,
MacWilliams and Kirkland, and all the others who had helped him.
They seemed to envy, but not to grudge, the whole credit which
the girl had given to him.
Clay thought, ``Why could it not have been the other?'' But he
said aloud, ``Thank YOU. You have given me my reward.''
Miss Langham looked down impatiently into the valley below, and
found that it seemed more hot and noisy, and more grimy than
Clay believed that Alice Langham's visit to the mines had opened
his eyes fully to vast differences between them. He laughed and
railed at himself for having dared to imagine that he was in a
position to care for her. Confident as he was at times, and sure
as he was of his ability in certain directions, he was uneasy and
fearful when he matched himself against a man of gentle birth and
gentle breeding, and one who, like King, was part of a world of
which he knew little, and to which, in his ignorance concerning
it, he attributed many advantages that it did not possess. He
believed that he would always lack the mysterious something which
these others held by right of inheritance. He was still young
and full of the illusions of youth, and so gave false values to
his own qualities, and values equally false to the qualities he
lacked. For the next week he avoided Miss Langham, unless there
were other people present, and whenever she showed him special
favor, he hastily recalled to his mind her failure to sympathize
in his work, and assured himself that if she could not interest
herself in the engineer, he did not care to have her
interested in the man. Other women had found him attractive in
himself; they had cared for his strength of will and mind, and
because he was good to look at. But he determined that this one
must sympathize with his work in the world, no matter how
unpicturesque it might seem to her. His work was the best of
him, he assured himself, and he would stand or fall with it.
It was a week after the visit to the mines that President Alvarez
gave a great ball in honor of the Langhams, to which all of the
important people of Olancho, and the Foreign Ministers were
invited. Miss Langham met Clay on the afternoon of the day set
for the ball, as she was going down the hill to join Hope and her
father at dinner on the yacht.
``Are you not coming, too?'' she asked.
``I wish I could,'' Clay answered. ``King asked me, but a
steamer-load of new machinery arrived to-day, and I have to see
it through the Custom-House.''
Miss Langham gave an impatient little laugh, and shook her head.
``You might wait until we were gone before you bother with your
machinery,'' she said.
``When you are gone I won't be in a state of mind to attend to
machinery or anything else,'' Clay answered.
Miss Langham seemed so far encouraged by this speech that she
seated herself in the boathouse at the end of the wharf. She
pushed her mantilla back from her face and looked up at him,
smiling brightly.
`` `The time has come, the walrus said,' '' she quoted, `` `to
talk of many things.' ''
Clay laughed and dropped down beside her. ``Well?'' he said.
``You have been rather unkind to me this last week,'' the girl
began, with her eyes fixed steadily on his. ``And that day at
the mines when I counted on you so, you acted abominably.''
Clay's face showed so plainly his surprise at this charge, which
he thought he only had the right to make, that Miss Langham
``I don't understand,'' said Clay, quietly. ``How did I treat
you abominably?''
He had taken her so seriously that Miss Langham dropped her
lighter tone and spoke in one more kindly:
``I went out there to see your work at its best. I was only
interested in going because it was your work, and because it was
you who had done it all, and I expected that you would try to
explain it to me and help me to understand, but you didn't. You
treated me as though I had no interest in the matter at all, as
though I was not capable of understanding it. You did not
seem to care whether I was interested or not. In fact, you
forgot me altogether.''
Clay exhibited no evidence of a reproving conscience. ``I am
sorry you had a stupid time,'' he said, gravely.
``I did not mean that, and you know I didn't mean that,'' the
girl answered. ``I wanted to hear about it from you, because you
did it. I wasn't interested so much in what had been done, as I
was in the man who had accomplished it.''
Clay shrugged his shoulders impatiently, and looked across at
Miss Langham with a troubled smile.
``But that's just what I don't want,'' he said. ``Can't you see?
These mines and other mines like them are all I have in the
world. They are my only excuse for having lived in it so long.
I want to feel that I've done something outside of myself, and
when you say that you like me personally, it's as little
satisfaction to me as it must be to a woman to be congratulated
on her beauty, or on her fine voice. That is nothing she has
done herself. I should like you to value what I have done, not
what I happen to be.''
Miss Langham turned her eyes to the harbor, and it was some short
time before she answered.
``You are a very difficult person to please,'' she said,
``and most exacting. As a rule men are satisfied to be liked for
any reason. I confess frankly, since you insist upon it, that I
do not rise to the point of appreciating your work as the others
do. I suppose it is a fault,'' she continued, with an air that
plainly said that she considered it, on the contrary, something
of a virtue. ``And if I knew more about it technically, I might
see more in it to admire. But I am looking farther on for better
things from you. The friends who help us the most are not always
those who consider us perfect, are they?'' she asked, with a
kindly smile. She raised her eyes to the great ore-pier that
stretched out across the water, the one ugly blot in the scene of
natural beauty about them. ``I think that is all very well,''
she said; ``but I certainly expect you to do more than that. I
have met many remarkable men in all parts of the world, and I
know what a strong man is, and you have one of the strongest
personalities I have known. But you can't mean that you are
content to stop with this. You should be something bigger and
more wide-reaching and more lasting. Indeed, it hurts me to see
you wasting your time here over my father's interests. You
should exert that same energy on a broader map. You could make
yourself anything you chose. At home you would be your party's
leader in politics, or you could be a great general, or a
great financier. I say this because I know there are better
things in you, and because I want you to make the most of your
talents. I am anxious to see you put your powers to something
worth while.''
Miss Langham's voice carried with it such a tone of sincerity
that she almost succeeded in deceiving herself. And yet she
would have hardly cared to explain just why she had reproached
the man before her after this fashion. For she knew that when
she spoke as she had done, she was beating about to find some
reason that would justify her in not caring for him, as she knew
she could care--as she would not allow herself to care. The man
at her side had won her interest from the first, and later had
occupied her thoughts so entirely, that it troubled her peace of
mind. Yet she would not let her feeling for him wax and grow
stronger, but kept it down. And she was trying now to persuade
herself that she did this because there was something lacking in
him and not in her.
She was almost angry with him for being so much to her and for
not being more acceptable in little things, like the other men
she knew. So she found this fault with him in order that she
might justify her own lack of feeling.
But Clay, who only heard the words and could not go back of
them to find the motive, could not know this. He sat perfectly
still when she had finished and looked steadily out across the
harbor. His eyes fell on the ugly ore-pier, and he winced and
uttered a short grim laugh.
``That's true, what you say,'' he began, ``I haven't done much.
You are quite right. Only--'' he looked up at her curiously and
smiled--``only you should not have been the one to tell me of
Miss Langham had been so far carried away by her own point of
view that she had not considered Clay, and now that she saw what
mischief she had done, she gave a quick gasp of regret, and
leaned forward as though to add some explanation to what she had
said. But Clay stopped her. ``I mean by that,'' he said, ``that
the great part of the inspiration I have had to do what little I
have done came from you. You were a sort of promise of something
better to me. You were more of a type than an individual woman,
but your picture, the one I carry in my watch, meant all that
part of life that I have never known, the sweetness and the
nobleness and grace of civilization,--something I hoped I would
some day have time to enjoy. So you see,'' he added, with an
uncertain laugh, ``it's less pleasant to hear that I have failed
to make the most of myself from you than from almost any one
``But, Mr. Clay,'' protested the girl, anxiously, ``I think you
have done wonderfully well. I only said that I wanted you to do
more. You are so young and you have--''
Clay did not hear her. He was leaning forward looking moodily
out across the water, with his folded arms clasped across his
``I have not made the most of myself,'' he repeated; ``that is
what you said.'' He spoke the words as though she had delivered
a sentence. ``You don't think well of what I have done, of what
I am.''
He drew in his breath and shook his head with a hopeless laugh,
and leaned back against the railing of the boat-house with the
weariness in his attitude of a man who has given up after a long
``No,'' he said with a bitter flippancy in his voice, ``I don't
amount to much. But, my God!'' he laughed, and turning his head
away, ``when you think what I was! This doesn't seem much to
you, and it doesn't seem much to me now that I have your point of
view on it, but when I remember!'' Clay stopped again and
pressed his lips together and shook his head. His half-closed
eyes, that seemed to be looking back into his past, lighted as
they fell on King's white yacht, and he raised his arm and
pointed to it with a wave of the hand. ``When I was sixteen
I was a sailor before the mast,'' he said, ``the sort of sailor
that King's crew out there wouldn't recognize in the same
profession. I was of so little account that I've been knocked
the length of the main deck at the end of the mate's fist, and
left to lie bleeding in the scuppers for dead. I hadn't a thing
to my name then but the clothes I wore, and I've had to go aloft
in a hurricane and cling to a swinging rope with my bare toes and
pull at a wet sheet until my finger-nails broke and started in
their sockets; and I've been a cowboy, with no companions for six
months of the year but eight thousand head of cattle and men as
dumb and untamed as the steers themselves. I've sat in my saddle
night after night, with nothing overhead but the stars, and no
sound but the noise of the steers breathing in their sleep. The
women I knew were Indian squaws, and the girls of the sailors'
dance-houses and the gambling-hells of Sioux City and Abilene,
and Callao and Port Said. That was what I was and those were
my companions. ``Why!'' he laughed, rising and striding across
the boat-house with his hands locked behind him, ``I've fought on
the mud floor of a Mexican shack, with a naked knife in my hand,
for my last dollar. I was as low and as desperate as that. And
now--'' Clay lifted his head and smiled. ``Now,'' he said,
in a lower voice and addressing Miss Langham with a return of his
usual grave politeness, ``I am able to sit beside you and talk to
you. I have risen to that. I am quite content.''
He paused and looked at Miss Langham uncertainly for a few
moments as though in doubt as to whether she would understand him
if he continued.
``And though it means nothing to you,'' he said, ``and though as
you say I am here as your father's employee, there are other
places, perhaps, where I am better known. In Edinburgh or Berlin
or Paris, if you were to ask the people of my own profession,
they could tell you something of me. If I wished it, I could
drop this active work tomorrow and continue as an adviser, as an
expert, but I like the active part better. I like doing things
myself. I don't say, `I am a salaried servant of Mr. Langham's;'
I put it differently. I say, `There are five mountains of iron.
You are to take them up and transport them from South America to
North America, where they will be turned into railroads and
ironclads.' That's my way of looking at it. It's better to bind
a laurel to the plough than to call yourself hard names. It
makes your work easier--almost noble. Cannot you see it that
way, too?''
Before Miss Langham could answer, a deprecatory cough from
one side of the open boat-house startled them, and turning they
saw MacWilliams coming toward them. They had been so intent upon
what Clay was saying that he had approached them over the soft
sand of the beach without their knowing it. Miss Langham
welcomed his arrival with evident pleasure.
``The launch is waiting for you at the end of the pier,''
MacWilliams said. Miss Langham rose and the three walked
together down the length of the wharf, MacWilliams moving briskly
in advance in order to enable them to continue the conversation
he had interrupted, but they followed close behind him, as though
neither of them were desirous of such an opportunity.
Hope and King had both come for Miss Langham, and while the
latter was helping her to a place on the cushions, and repeating
his regrets that the men were not coming also, Hope started the
launch, with a brisk ringing of bells and a whirl of the wheel
and a smile over her shoulder at the figures on the wharf.
``Why didn't you go?'' said Clay; ``you have no business at the
``Neither have you,'' said MacWilliams. ``But I guess we both
understand. There's no good pushing your luck too far.''
``What do you mean by that--this time?''
``Why, what have we to do with all of this?'' cried MacWilliams.
``It's what I keep telling you every day. We're not in that
class, and you're only making it harder for yourself when they've
gone. I call it cruelty to animals myself, having women like
that around. Up North, where everybody's white, you don't notice
it so much, but down here--Lord!''
``That's absurd,'' Clay answered. ``Why should you turn your
back on civilization when it comes to you, just because you're
not going back to civilization by the next steamer? Every person
you meet either helps you or hurts you. Those girls help us,
even if they do make the life here seem bare and mean.''
``Bare and mean!'' repeated MacWilliams incredulously. ``I think
that's just what they don't do. I like it all the better because
they're mixed up in it. I never took so much interest in your
mines until she took to riding over them, and I didn't think
great shakes of my old ore-road, either, but now that she's got
to acting as engineer, it's sort of nickel-plated the whole
outfit. I'm going to name the new engine after her--when it gets
here--if her old man will let me.''
``What do you mean? Miss Langham hasn't been to the mines but
once, has she?''
``Miss Langham!'' exclaimed MacWilliams. ``No, I mean the other,
Miss Hope. She comes out with Ted nearly every day now, and
she's learning how to run a locomotive. Just for fun, you
know,'' he added, reassuringly.
``I didn't suppose she had any intention of joining the
Brotherhood,'' said Clay. ``So she's been out every day, has
she? I like that,'' he commented, enthusiastically. ``She's a
fine, sweet girl.''
``Fine, sweet girl!'' growled MacWilliams. ``I should hope so.
She's the best. They don't make them any better than that, and
just think, if she's like that now, what will she be when she's
grown up, when she's learned a few things? Now her sister. You
can see just what her sister will be at thirty, and at fifty, and
at eighty. She's thoroughbred and she's the most beautiful woman
to look at I ever saw--but, my son--she is too careful. She
hasn't any illusions, and no sense of humor. And a woman with no
illusions and no sense of humor is going to be monotonous. You
can't teach her anything. You can't imagine yourself telling her
anything she doesn't know. The things we think important don't
reach her at all. They're not in her line, and in everything
else she knows more than we could ever guess at. But that Miss
Hope! It's a privilege to show her about. She wants to see
everything, and learn everything, and she goes poking her head
into openings and down shafts like a little fox terrier.
And she'll sit still and listen with her eyes wide open and tears
in them, too, and she doesn't know it--until you can't talk
yourself for just looking at her.''
Clay rose and moved on to the house in silence. He was glad that
MacWilliams had interrupted him when he did. He wondered whether
he understood Alice Langham after all. He had seen many fine
ladies before during his brief visits to London, and Berlin, and
Vienna, and they had shown him favor. He had known other women
not so fine. Spanish-American senoritas through Central and
South America, the wives and daughters of English merchants
exiled along the Pacific coast, whose fair skin and yellow hair
whitened and bleached under the hot tropical suns. He had known
many women, and he could have quoted
``Trials and troubles amany,
Have proved me;
One or two women, God bless them!
Have loved me.''
But the woman he was to marry must have all the things he lacked.
She must fill out and complete him where he was wanting. This
woman possessed all of these things. She appealed to every
ambition and to every taste he cherished, and yet he knew that he
had hesitated and mistrusted her, when he should have
declared himself eagerly and vehemently, and forced her to listen
with all the strength of his will.
Miss Langham dropped among the soft cushions of the launch with a
sense of having been rescued from herself and of delight in
finding refuge again in her own environment. The sight of King
standing in the bow beside Hope with his cigarette hanging from
his lips, and peering with half-closed eyes into the fading
light, gave her a sense of restfulness and content. She did not
know what she wished from that other strange young man. He was
so bold, so handsome, and he looked at life and spoke of it in
such a fresh, unhackneyed spirit. He might make himself anything
he pleased. But here was a man who already had everything, or
who could get it as easily as he could increase the speed of the
launch, by pulling some wire with his finger.
She recalled one day when they were all on board of this same
launch, and the machinery had broken down, and MacWilliams had
gone forward to look at it. He had called Clay to help him, and
she remembered how they had both gone down on their knees and
asked the engineer and fireman to pass them wrenches and oilcans,
while King protested mildly, and the rest sat
helplessly in the hot glare of the sea, as the boat rose and
fell on the waves. She resented Clay's interest in the accident,
and his pleasure when he had made the machinery right once more,
and his appearance as he came back to them with oily hands and
with his face glowing from the heat of the furnace, wiping his
grimy fingers on a piece of packing. She had resented the
equality with which he treated the engineer in asking his advice,
and it rather surprised her that the crew saluted him when he
stepped into the launch again that night as though he were the
owner. She had expected that they would patronize him, and she
imagined after this incident that she detected a shade of
difference in the manner of the sailors toward Clay, as though he
had cheapened himself to them--as he had to her.
At ten o'clock that same evening Clay began to prepare himself
for the ball at the Government palace, and MacWilliams, who was
not invited, watched him dress with critical approval that showed
no sign of envy.
The better to do honor to the President, Clay had brought out
several foreign orders, and MacWilliams helped him to tie around
his neck the collar of the Red Eagle which the German Emperor had
given him, and to fasten the ribbon and cross of the Star of
Olancho across his breast, and a Spanish Order and the Legion of
Honor to the lapel of his coat. MacWilliams surveyed the effect
of the tiny enamelled crosses with his head on one side, and with
the same air of affectionate pride and concern that a mother
shows over her daughter's first ball-dress.
``Got any more?'' he asked, anxiously.
``I have some war medals,'' Clay answered, smiling doubtfully.
``But I'm not in uniform.''
``Oh, that's all right,'' declared MacWilliams. ``Put 'em on,
put 'em all on. Give the girls a treat. Everybody will
think they were given for feats of swimming, anyway; but they
will show up well from the front. Now, then, you look like a
drum-major or a conjuring chap.''
``I do not,'' said Clay. ``I look like a French Ambassador, and
I hardly understand how you find courage to speak to me at all.''
He went up the hill in high spirits, and found the carriage at
the door and King, Mr. Langham, and Miss Langham sitting waiting
for him. They were ready to depart, and Miss Langham had but
just seated herself in the carriage when they heard hurrying
across the tiled floor a quick, light step and the rustle of
silk, and turning they saw Hope standing in the doorway, radiant
and smiling. She wore a white frock that reached to the ground,
and that left her arms and shoulders bare. Her hair was dressed
high upon her head, and she was pulling vigorously at a pair of
long, tan-colored gloves. The transformation was so complete,
and the girl looked so much older and so stately and beautiful,
that the two young men stared at her in silent admiration and
``Why, Hope!'' exclaimed her sister. ``What does this mean?''
Hope stopped in some alarm, and clasped her hair with both hands.
``What is it?'' she asked; ``is anything wrong?''
``Why, my dear child,'' said her sister, ``you're not thinking of
going with us, are you?''
``Not going?'' echoed the younger sister, in dismay. ``Why,
Alice, why not? I was asked.''
``But, Hope-- Father,'' said the elder sister, stepping out of
the carriage and turning to Mr. Langham, ``you didn't intend that
Hope should go, did you? She's not out yet.''
``Oh, nonsense,'' said Hope, defiantly. But she drew in her
breath quickly and blushed, as she saw the two young men moving
away out of hearing of this family crisis. She felt that she was
being made to look like a spoiled child. ``It doesn't count down
here,'' she said, ``and I want to go. I thought you knew I was
going all the time. Marie made this frock for me on purpose.''
``I don't think Hope is old enough,'' the elder sister said,
addressing her father, ``and if she goes to dances here, there's
no reason why she should not go to those at home.''
``But I don't want to go to dances at home,'' interrupted Hope.
Mr. Langham looked exceedingly uncomfortable, and turned
apppealingly to his elder daughter. ``What do you think,
Alice?'' he said, doubtfully.
``I'm sorry,'' Miss Langham replied, ``but I know it would
not be at all proper. I hate to seem horrid about it, Hope, but
indeed you are too young, and the men here are not the men a
young girl ought to meet.''
``You meet them, Alice,'' said Hope, but pulling off her gloves
in token of defeat.
``But, my dear child, I'm fifty years older than you are.''
``Perhaps Alice knows best, Hope,'' Mr. Langham said. ``I'm
sorry if you are disappointed.''
Hope held her head a little higher, and turned toward the door.
``I don't mind if you don't wish it, father,'' she said. ``Goodnight.''
She moved away, but apparently thought better of it,
and came back and stood smiling and nodding to them as they
seated themselves in the carriage. Mr. Langham leaned forward
and said, in a troubled voice, ``We will tell you all about it in
the morning. I'm very sorry. You won't be lonely, will you?
I'll stay with you if you wish.''
``Nonsense!'' laughed Hope. ``Why, it's given to you, father;
don't bother about me. I'll read something or other and go to
``Good-night, Cinderella,'' King called out to her.
``Good-night, Prince Charming,'' Hope answered.
Both Clay and King felt that the girl would not mind missing the
ball so much as she would the fact of having been treated like a
child in their presence, so they refrained from any expression of
sympathy or regret, but raised their hats and bowed a little more
impressively than usual as the carriage drove away.
The picture Hope made, as she stood deserted and forlorn on the
steps of the empty house in her new finery, struck Clay as
unnecessarily pathetic. He felt a strong sense of resentment
against her sister and her father, and thanked heaven devoutly
that he was out of their class, and when Miss Langham continued
to express her sorrow that she had been forced to act as she had
done, he remained silent. It seemed to Clay such a simple thing
to give children pleasure, and to remember that their woes were
always out of all proportion to the cause. Children, dumb
animals, and blind people were always grouped together in his
mind as objects demanding the most tender and constant
consideration. So the pleasure of the evening was spoiled for
him while he remembered the hurt and disappointed look in Hope's
face, and when Miss Langham asked him why he was so preoccupied,
he told her bluntly that he thought she had been very unkind to
Hope, and that her objections were absurd.
Miss Langham held herself a little more stiffly. ``Perhaps you
do not quite understand, Mr. Clay,'' she said. ``Some of us have
to conform to certain rules that the people with whom we best
like to associate have laid down for themselves. If we choose to
be conventional, it is probably because we find it makes life
easier for the greater number. You cannot think it was a
pleasant task for me. But I have given up things of much more
importance than a dance for the sake of appearances, and Hope
herself will see to-morrow that I acted for the best.''
Clay said he trusted so, but doubted it, and by way of reestablishing
himself in Miss Langham's good favor, asked her if
she could give him the next dance. But Miss Langham was not to
be propitiated.
``I'm sorry,'' she said, ``but I believe I am engaged until
supper-time. Come and ask me then, and I'll have one saved for
you. But there is something you can do,'' she added. ``I left
my fan in the carriage--do you think you could manage to get it
for me without much trouble?''
``The carriage did not wait. I believe it was sent back,'' said
Clay, ``but I can borrow a horse from one of Stuart's men, and
ride back and get it for you, if you like.''
``How absurd!'' laughed Miss Langham, but she looked pleased,
``Oh, not at all,'' Clay answered. He was smiling down at her in
some amusement, and was apparently much entertained at his idea.
``Will you consider it an act of devotion?'' he asked.
There was so little of devotion, and so much more of mischief in
his eyes, that Miss Langham guessed he was only laughing at her,
and shook her head.
``You won't go,'' she said, turning away. She followed him with
her eyes, however, as he crossed the room, his head and shoulders
towering above the native men and women. She had never seen him
so resplendent, and she noted, with an eye that considered
trifles, the orders, and his well-fitting white gloves, and his
manner of bowing in the Continental fashion, holding his operahat
on his thigh, as though his hand rested on a sword. She
noticed that the little Olanchoans stopped and looked after him,
as he pushed his way among them, and she could see that the men
were telling the women who he was. Sir Julian Pindar, the old
British Minister, stopped him, and she watched them as they
laughed together over the English war medals on the American's
breast, which Sir Julian touched with his finger. He called the
French Minister and his pretty wife to look, too, and they
all laughed and talked together in great spirits, and Miss
Langham wondered if Clay was speaking in French to them.
Miss Langham did not enjoy the ball; she felt injured and
aggrieved, and she assured herself that she had been hardly used.
She had only done her duty, and yet all the sympathy had gone to
her sister, who had placed her in a trying position. She thought
it was most inconsiderate.
Hope walked slowly across the veranda when the others had gone,
and watched the carriage as long as it remained in sight. Then
she threw herself into a big arm-chair, and looked down upon her
pretty frock and her new dancing-slippers. She, too, felt badly
The moonlight fell all about her, as it had on the first night of
their arrival, a month before, but now it seemed cold and
cheerless, and gave an added sense of loneliness to the silent
house. She did not go inside to read, as she had promised to do,
but sat for the next hour looking out across the harbor. She
could not blame Alice. She considered that Alice always moved by
rules and precedents, like a queen in a game of chess, and she
wondered why. It made life so tame and uninteresting, and yet
people invariably admired Alice, and some one had spoken of her
as the noblest example of the modern gentlewoman. She was
sure she could not grow up to be any thing like that. She was
quite confident that she was going to disappoint her family. She
wondered if people would like her better if she were discreet
like Alice, and less like her brother Ted. If Mr. Clay, for
instance, would like her better? She wondered if he disapproved
of her riding on the engine with MacWilliams, and of her tearing
through the mines on her pony, and spearing with a lance of
sugar-cane at the mongrel curs that ran to snap at his flanks.
She remembered his look of astonished amusement the day he had
caught her in this impromptu pig-sticking, and she felt herself
growing red at the recollection. She was sure he thought her a
tomboy. Probably he never thought of her at all.
Hope leaned back in the chair and looked up at the stars above
the mountains and tried to think of any of her heroes and princes
in fiction who had gone through such interesting experiences as
had Mr. Clay. Some of them had done so, but they were creatures
in a book and this hero was alive, and she knew him, and had
probably made him despise her as a silly little girl who was
scolded and sent off to bed like a disobedient child. Hope felt
a choking in her throat and something like a tear creep to her
eyes: but she was surprised to find that the fact did not
make her ashamed of herself. She owned that she was wounded
and disappointed, and to make it harder she could not help
picturing Alice and Clay laughing and talking together in some
corner away from the ball-room, while she, who understood him so
well, and who could not find the words to tell him how much she
valued what he was and what he had done, was forgotten and
sitting here alone, like Cinderella, by the empty fireplace.
The picture was so pathetic as Hope drew it, that for a moment
she felt almost a touch of self-pity, but the next she laughed
scornfully at her own foolishness, and rising with an impatient
shrug, walked away in the direction of her room.
But before she had crossed the veranda she was stopped by the
sound of a horse's hoofs galloping over the hard sun-baked road
that led from the city, and before she had stepped forward out of
the shadow in which she stood the horse had reached the steps and
his rider had pulled him back on his haunches and swung himself
off before the forefeet had touched the ground.
Hope had guessed that it was Clay by his riding, and she feared
from his haste that some one of her people were ill. So she ran
anxiously forward and asked if anything were wrong.
Clay started at her sudden appearance, and gave a short boyish
laugh of pleasure.
``I'm so glad you're still up,'' he said. ``No, nothing is
wrong.'' He stopped in some embarrassment. He had been moved to
return by the fact that the little girl he knew was in trouble,
and now that he was suddenly confronted by this older and
statelier young person, his action seemed particularly silly, and
he was at a loss to explain it in any way that would not give
``No, nothing is wrong,'' he repeated. ``I came after
Clay had borrowed one of the cloaks the troopers wore at night
from the same man who had lent him the horse, and as he stood
bareheaded before her, with the cloak hanging from his
shoulders to the floor and the star and ribbon across his breast,
Hope felt very grateful to him for being able to look like a
Prince or a hero in a book, and to yet remain her Mr. Clay at the
same time.
``I came to get your sister's fan,'' Clay explained. ``She
forgot it.''
The young girl looked at him for a moment in surprise and then
straightened herself slightly. She did not know whether she was
the more indignant with Alice for sending such a man on so
foolish an errand, or with Clay for submitting to such a service.
``Oh, is that it?'' she said at last. ``I will go and find
you one.'' She gave him a dignified little bow and moved away
toward the door, with every appearance of disapproval.
``Oh, I don't know,'' she heard Clay say, doubtfully; ``I don't
have to go just yet, do I? May I not stay here a little while?''
Hope stood and looked at him in some perplexity.
``Why, yes,'' she answered, wonderingly. ``But don't you want to
go back? You came in a great hurry. And won't Alice want her
``Oh, she has it by this time. I told Stuart to find it. She
left it in the carriage, and the carriage is waiting at the end
of the plaza.''
``Then why did you come?'' asked Hope, with rising suspicion.
``Oh, I don't know,'' said Clay, helplessly. ``I thought I'd
just like a ride in the moonlight. I hate balls and dances
anyway, don't you? I think you were very wise not to go.''
Hope placed her hands on the back of the big arm-chair and looked
steadily at him as he stood where she could see his face in the
moonlight. ``You came back,'' she said, ``because they thought I
was crying, and they sent you to see. Is that it? Did Alice
send you?'' she demanded.
Clay gave a gasp of consternation.
``You know that no one sent me,'' he said. ``I thought they
treated you abominably, and I wanted to come and say so. That's
all. And I wanted to tell you that I missed you very much, and
that your not coming had spoiled the evening for me, and I came
also because I preferred to talk to you than to stay where I was.
No one knows that I came to see you. I said I was going to get
the fan, and I told Stuart to find it after I'd left. I just
wanted to see you, that's all. But I will go back again at
While he had been speaking Hope had lowered her eyes from his
face and had turned and looked out across the harbor. There was
a strange, happy tumult in her breast, and she was breathing so
rapidly that she was afraid he would notice it. She also felt an
absurd inclination to cry, and that frightened her. So she
laughed and turned and looked up into his face again. Clay saw
the same look in her eyes that he had seen there the day when she
had congratulated him on his work at the mines. He had seen it
before in the eyes of other women and it troubled him. Hope
seated herself in the big chair, and Clay tossed his cloak on the
floor at her feet and sat down with his shoulders against one of
the pillars. He glanced up at her and found that the look that
had troubled him was gone, and that her eyes were now smiling
with excitement and pleasure.
``And did you bring me something from the ball in your pocket to
comfort me,'' she asked, mockingly.
``Yes, I did,'' Clay answered, unabashed. ``I brought you some
``You didn't, really!'' Hope cried, with a shriek of delight.
``How absurd of you! The sort you pull?''
``The sort you pull,'' Clay repeated, gravely. ``And also a
dance-card, which is a relic of barbarism still existing in this
Southern capital. It has the arms of Olancho on it in gold, and
I thought you might like to keep it as a souvenir.'' He pulled
the card from his coat-pocket and said, ``May I have this
``You may,'' Hope answered. ``But you wouldn't mind if we sat it
out, would you?''
``I should prefer it,'' Clay said, as he scrawled his name across
the card. ``It is so crowded inside, and the company is rather
mixed.'' They both laughed lightly at their own foolishness, and
Hope smiled down upon him affectionately and proudly. ``You may
smoke, if you choose; and would you like something cool to
drink?'' she asked, anxiously. ``After your ride, you know,''
she suggested, with hospitable intent. Clay said that he was
very comfortable without a drink, but lighted a cigar and watched
her covertly through the smoke, as she sat smiling happily
and quite unconsciously upon the moonlit world around them. She
caught Clay's eye fixed on her, and laughed lightly.
``What is it?'' he said.
``Oh, I was just thinking,'' Hope replied, ``that it was much
better to have a dance come to you, than to go to the dance.''
``Does one man and a dance-card and three bonbons constitute your
idea of a ball?''
``Doesn't it? You see, I am not out yet, I don't know.''
``I should think it might depend a good deal upon the man,'' Clay
``That sounds as though you were hinting,'' said Hope,
doubtfully. ``Now what would I say to that if I were out?''
``I don't know, but don't say it,'' Clay answered. ``It would
probably be something very unflattering or very forward, and in
either case I should take you back to your chaperon and leave you
Hope had not been listening. Her eyes were fixed on a level with
his tie, and Clay raised his hand to it in some trepidation.
``Mr. Clay,'' she began abruptly and leaning eagerly forward,
``would you think me very rude if I asked you what you did to get
all those crosses? I know they mean something, and I do so
want to know what. Please tell me.''
``Oh, those!'' said Clay. ``The reason I put them on to-night is
because wearing them is supposed to be a sort of compliment to
your host. I got in the habit abroad--''
``I didn't ask you that,'' said Hope, severely. ``I asked you
what you did to get them. Now begin with the Legion of Honor on
the left, and go right on until you come to the end, and please
don't skip anything. Leave in all the bloodthirsty parts, and
please don't be modest.''
``Like Othello,'' suggested Clay.
``Yes,'' said Hope; ``I will be Desdemona.''
``Well, Desdemona, it was like this,'' said Clay, laughing. ``I
got that medal and that star for serving in the Nile campaign,
under Wolseley. After I left Egypt, I went up the coast to
Algiers, where I took service under the French in a most
disreputable organization known as the Foreign Legion--''
``Don't tell me,'' exclaimed Hope, in delight, ``that you have
been a Chasseur d'Afrique! Not like the man in `Under Two
``No, not at all like that man,'' said Clay, emphatically. ``I
was just a plain, common, or garden, sappeur, and I showed the
other good-for-nothings how to dig trenches. Well, I
contaminated the Foreign Legion for eight months, and then I
went to Peru, where I--''
``You're skipping,'' said Hope. ``How did you get the Legion of
``Oh, that?'' said Clay. ``That was a gallery play I made once
when we were chasing some Arabs. They took the French flag away
from our color-bearer, and I got it back again and waved it
frantically around my head until I was quite certain the Colonel
had seen me doing it, and then I stopped as soon as I knew that I
was sure of promotion.''
``Oh, how can you?'' cried Hope. ``You didn't do anything of the
sort. You probably saved the entire regiment.''
``Well, perhaps I did,'' Clay returned. ``Though I don't
remember it, and nobody mentioned it at the time.''
``Go on about the others,'' said Hope. ``And do try to be
``Well, I got this one from Spain, because I was President of an
International Congress of Engineers at Madrid. That was the
ostensible reason, but the real reason was because I taught the
Spanish Commissioners to play poker instead of baccarat. The
German Emperor gave me this for designing a fort, and the Sultan
of Zanzibar gave me this, and no one but the Sultan knows
why, and he won't tell. I suppose he's ashamed. He gives them
away instead of cigars. He was out of cigars the day I called.''
``What a lot of places you have seen,'' sighed Hope. ``I have
been in Cairo and Algiers, too, but I always had to walk about
with a governess, and she wouldn't go to the mosques because she
said they were full of fleas. We always go to Homburg and Paris
in the summer, and to big hotels in London. I love to travel,
but I don't love to travel that way, would you?''
``I travel because I have no home,'' said Clay. ``I'm different
from the chap that came home because all the other places were
shut. I go to other places because there is no home open.''
``What do you mean?'' said Hope, shaking her head. ``Why have
you no home?''
``There was a ranch in Colorado that I used to call home,'' said
Clay, ``but they've cut it up into town lots. I own a plot in
the cemetery outside of the town, where my mother is buried, and
I visit that whenever I am in the States, and that is the only
piece of earth anywhere in the world that I have to go back to.''
Hope leaned forward with her hands clasped in front of her and
her eyes wide open.
``And your father?'' she said, softly; ``is he--is he there,
Clay looked at the lighted end of his cigar as he turned it
between his fingers.
``My father, Miss Hope,'' he said, ``was a filibuster, and went
out on the `Virginius' to help free Cuba, and was shot, against a
stone wall. We never knew where he was buried.''
``Oh, forgive me; I beg your pardon,'' said Hope. There was such
distress in her voice that Clay looked at her quickly and saw the
tears in her eyes. She reached out her hand timidly, and touched
for an instant his own rough, sunburned fist, as it lay clenched
on his knee. ``I am so sorry,'' she said, ``so sorry.'' For the
first time in many years the tears came to Clay's eyes and
blurred the moonlight and the scene before him, and he sat
unmanned and silent before the simple touch of a young girl's
An hour later, when his pony struck the gravel from beneath his
hoofs on the race back to the city, and Clay turned to wave his
hand to Hope in the doorway, she seemed, as she stood with the
moonlight falling about her white figure, like a spirit beckoning
the way to a new paradise.
Clay reached the President's Palace during the supper-hour, and
found Mr. Langham and his daughter at the President's table.
Madame Alvarez pointed to a place for him beside Alice Langham,
who held up her hand in welcome. ``You were very foolish to rush
off like that,'' she said.
``It wasn't there,'' said Clay, crowding into the place beside
``No, it was here in the carriage all the time. Captain Stuart
found it for me.''
``Oh, he did, did he?'' said Clay; ``that's why I couldn't find
it. I am hungry,'' he laughed, ``my ride gave me an appetite.''
He looked over and grinned at Stuart, but that gentleman was
staring fixedly at the candles on the table before him, his eyes
filled with concern. Clay observed that Madame Alvarez was
covertly watching the young officer, and frowning her disapproval
at his preoccupation. So he stretched his leg under the table
and kicked viciously at Stuart's boots. Old General Rojas, the
Vice-President, who sat next to Stuart, moved suddenly and then
blinked violently at the ceiling with an expression of
patient suffering, but the exclamation which had escaped him
brought Stuart back to the present, and he talked with the woman
next him in a perfunctory manner.
Miss Langham and her father were waiting for their carriage in
the great hall of the Palace as Stuart came up to Clay, and
putting his hand affectionately on his shoulder, began pointing
to something farther back in the hall. To the night-birds of the
streets and the noisy fiacre drivers outside, and to the crowd of
guests who stood on the high marble steps waiting for their turn
to depart, he might have been relating an amusing anecdote of the
ball just over.
``I'm in great trouble, old man,'' was what he said. ``I must
see you alone to-night. I'd ask you to my rooms, but they watch
me all the time, and I don't want them to suspect you are in this
until they must. Go on in the carriage, but get out as you pass
the Plaza Bolivar and wait for me by the statue there.''
Clay smiled, apparently in great amusement. ``That's very
good,'' he said.
He crossed over to where King stood surveying the powdered
beauties of Olancho and their gowns of a past fashion, with an
intensity of admiration which would have been suspicious to those
who knew his tastes. ``When we get into the carriage,''
said Clay, in a low voice, ``we will both call to Stuart that we
will see him to-morrow morning at breakfast.''
``All right,'' assented King. ``What's up?''
Stuart helped Miss Langham into her carriage, and as it moved
away King shouted to him in English to remember that he was
breakfasting with him on the morrow, and Clay called out in
Spanish, ``Until to-morrow at breakfast, don't forget.'' And
Stuart answered, steadily, ``Good night until to-morrow at one.''
As their carriage jolted through the dark and narrow street,
empty now of all noise or movement, one of Stuart's troopers
dashed by it at a gallop, with a lighted lantern swinging at his
side. He raised it as he passed each street crossing, and held
it high above his head so that its light fell upon the walls of
the houses at the four corners. The clatter of his horse's hoofs
had not ceased before another trooper galloped toward them riding
more slowly, and throwing the light of his lantern over the
trunks of the trees that lined the pavements. As the carriage
passed him, he brought his horse to its side with a jerk of the
bridle, and swung his lantern in the faces of its occupants.
``Who lives?'' he challenged.
``Olancho,'' Clay replied.
``Who answers?''
``Free men,'' Clay answered again, and pointed at the star on his
The soldier muttered an apology, and striking his heels into his
horse's side, dashed noisily away, his lantern tossing from side
to side, high in the air, as he drew rein to scan each tree and
passed from one lamp-post to the next.
``What does that mean?'' said Mr. Langham; ``did he take us for
``It is the custom,'' said Clay. ``We are out rather late, you
``If I remember rightly, Clay,'' said King, ``they gave a ball at
Brussels on the eve of Waterloo.''
``I believe they did,'' said Clay, smiling. He spoke to the
driver to stop the carriage, and stepped down into the street.
``I have to leave you here,'' he said; ``drive on quickly,
please; I can explain better in the morning.''
The Plaza Bolivar stood in what had once been the centre of the
fashionable life of Olancho, but the town had moved farther up
the hill, and it was now far in the suburbs, its walks neglected
and its turf overrun with weeds. The houses about it had fallen
into disuse, and the few that were still occupied at the time
Clay entered it showed no sign of life. Clay picked his way
over the grass-grown paths to the statue of Bolivar, the
hero of the sister republic of Venezuela, which still stood on
its pedestal in a tangle of underbrush and hanging vines. The
iron railing that had once surrounded it was broken down, and the
branches of the trees near were black with sleeping buzzards.
Two great palms reared themselves in the moonlight at either
side, and beat their leaves together in the night wind,
whispering and murmuring together like two living conspirators.
``This ought to be safe enough,'' Clay murmured to himself.
``It's just the place for plotting. I hope there are no
snakes.'' He seated himself on the steps of the pedestal, and
lighting a cigar, remained smoking and peering into the shadows
about him, until a shadow blacker than the darkness rose at his
feet, and a voice said, sternly, ``Put out that light. I saw it
half a mile away.''
Clay rose and crushed his cigar under his foot. ``Now then, old
man,'' he demanded briskly, ``what's up? It's nearly daylight
and we must hurry.''
Stuart seated himself heavily on the stone steps, like a man
tired in mind and body, and unfolded a printed piece of paper.
Its blank side was damp and sticky with paste.
``It is too dark for you to see this,'' he began, in a
strained voice, ``so I will translate it to you. It is an attack
on Madame Alvarez and myself. They put them up during the ball,
when they knew my men would be at the Palace. I have had them
scouring the streets for the last two hours tearing them down,
but they are all over the place, in the cafe's and clubs. They
have done what they were meant to do.''
Clay took another cigar from his pocket and rolled it between his
lips. ``What does it say?'' he asked.
``It goes over the old ground first. It says Alvarez has given
the richest birthright of his country to aliens--that means the
mines and Langham--and has put an alien in command of the army--
that is meant for me. I've no more to do with the army than you
have--I only wish I had! And then it says that the boundary
aggressions of Ecuador and Venezuela have not been resented in
consequence. It asks what can be expected of a President who is
as blind to the dishonor of his country as he is to the dishonor
of his own home?''
Clay muttered under his breath, ``Well, go on. Is it explicit?
More explicit than that?''
``Yes,'' said Stuart, grimly. ``I can't repeat it. It is quite
clear what they mean.''
``Have you got any of them?'' Clay asked. Can you fix it on
some one that you can fight?''
``Mendoza did it, of course,'' Stuart answered, ``but we cannot
prove it. And if we could, we are not strong enough to take him.
He has the city full of his men now, and the troops are pouring
in every hour.''
``Well, Alvarez can stop that, can't he?''
``They are coming in for the annual review. He can't show the
people that he is afraid of his own army.''
``What are you going to do?''
``What am I going to do?'' Stuart repeated, dully. ``That is
what I want you to tell me. There is nothing I can do now. I've
brought trouble and insult on people who have been kinder to me
than my own blood have been. Who took me in when I was naked and
clothed me, when I hadn't a friend or a sixpence to my name. You
remember--I came here from that row in Colombia with my wound,
and I was down with the fever when they found me, and Alvarez
gave me the appointment. And this is how I reward them. If I
stay I do more harm. If I go away I leave them surrounded by
enemies, and not enemies who fight fair, but damned thieves and
scoundrels, who stab at women and who fight in the dark. I
wouldn't have had it happen, old man, for my right arm!
They--they have been so kind to me, and I have been so happy
here--and now!'' The boy bowed his face in his hands and sat
breathing brokenly while Clay turned his unlit cigar between his
teeth and peered at him curiously through the darkness. ``Now I
have made them both unhappy, and they hate me, and I hate myself,
and I have brought nothing but trouble to every one. First I
made my own people miserable, and now I make my best friends
miserable, and I had better be dead. I wish I were dead. I wish
I had never been born.''
Clay laid his hand on the other's bowed shoulder and shook him
gently. ``Don't talk like that,'' he said; ``it does no good.
Why do you hate yourself?''
``What?'' asked Stuart, wearily, without looking up. ``What did
you say?''
``You said you had made them hate you, and you added that you
hated yourself. Well, I can see why they naturally would be
angry for the time, at least. But why do you hate yourself?
Have you reason to?''
``I don't understand,'' said Stuart.
``Well, I can't make it any plainer,'' Clay replied. ``It isn't
a question I will ask. But you say you want my advice. Well, my
advice to my friend and to a man who is not my friend, differ.
And in this case it depends on whether what that thing--''
Clay kicked the paper which had fallen on the ground--``what that
thing says is true.''
The younger man looked at the paper below him and then back at
Clay, and sprang to his feet.
``Why, damn you,'' he cried, ``what do you mean?''
He stood above Clay with both arms rigid at his side and his head
bent forward. The dawn had just broken, and the two men saw each
other in the ghastly gray light of the morning. ``If any man,''
cried Stuart thickly, ``dares to say that that blackguardly lie
is true I'll kill him. You or any one else. Is that what you
mean, damn you? If it is, say so, and I'll break every bone of
your body.''
``Well, that's much better,'' growled Clay, sullenly. ``The way
you went on wishing you were dead and hating yourself made me
almost lose faith in mankind. Now you go make that speech to the
President, and then find the man who put up those placards, and
if you can't find the right man, take any man you meet and make
him eat it, paste and all, and beat him to death if he doesn't.
Why, this is no time to whimper--because the world is full of
liars. Go out and fight them and show them you are not afraid.
Confound you, you had me so scared there that I almost thrashed
you myself. Forgive me, won't you?'' he begged earnestly.
He rose and held out his hand and the other took it, doubtfully.
``It was your own fault, you young idiot,'' protested Clay.
``You told your story the wrong way. Now go home and get some
sleep and I'll be back in a few hours to help you. Look!'' he
said. He pointed through the trees to the sun that shot up like
a red hot disk of heat above the cool green of the mountains.
``See,'' said Clay, ``God has given us another day. Seven
battles were fought in seven days once in my country. Let's be
thankful, old man, that we're NOT dead, but alive to fight our
own and other people's battles.''
The younger man sighed and pressed Clay's hand again before he
dropped it.
``You are very good to me,'' he said. ``I'm not just quite
myself this morning. I'm a bit nervous, I think. You'll surely
come, won't you?''
``By noon,'' Clay promised. ``And if it does come,'' he added,
``don't forget my fifteen hundred men at the mines.''
``Good! I won't,'' Stuart replied. ``I'll call on you if I need
them.'' He raised his fingers mechanically to his helmet in
salute, and catching up his sword turned and strode away erect
and soldierly through the debris and weeds of the deserted plaza.
Clay remained motionless on the steps of the pedestal and
followed the younger man with his eyes. He drew a long breath
and began a leisurely search through his pockets for his matchbox,
gazing about him as he did so, as though looking for some
one to whom he could speak his feelings. He lifted his eyes to
the stern, smooth-shaven face of the bronze statue above him that
seemed to be watching Stuart's departing figure.
``General Bolivar,'' Clay said, as he lit his cigar, ``observe
that young man. He is a soldier and a gallant gentleman. You,
sir, were a great soldier--the greatest this God-forsaken country
will ever know--and you were, sir, an ardent lover. I ask you to
salute that young man as I do, and to wish him well.'' Clay
lifted his high hat to the back of the young officer as it was
hidden in the hanging vines, and once again, with grave respect
to the grim features of the great general above him, and then
smiling at his own conceit, he ran lightly down the steps and
disappeared among the trees of the plaza.
Clay slept for three hours. He had left a note on the floor
instructing MacWilliams and young Langham not to go to the mines,
but to waken him at ten o'clock, and by eleven the three men were
galloping off to the city. As they left the Palms they met Hope
returning from a morning ride on the Alameda, and Clay begged
her, with much concern, not to ride abroad again. There was a
difference in his tone toward her. There was more anxiety in it
than the occasion seemed to justify, and he put his request in
the form of a favor to himself, while the day previous he would
simply have told her that she must not go riding alone.
``Why?'' asked Hope, eagerly. ``Is there going to be trouble?''
``I hope not,'' Clay said, ``but the soldiers are coming in from
the provinces for the review, and the roads are not safe.''
``I'd be safe with you, though,'' said Hope, smiling persuasively
upon the three men. ``Won't you take me with you, please?''
``Hope,'' said young Langham in the tone of the elder
brother's brief authority, ``you must go home at once.''
Hope smiled wickedly. ``I don't want to,'' she said.
``I'll bet you a box of cigars I can beat you to the veranda by
fifty yards,'' said MacWilliams, turning his horse's head.
Hope clasped her sailor hat in one hand and swung her whip with
the other. ``I think not,'' she cried, and disappeared with a
flutter of skirts and a scurry of flying pebbles.
``At times,'' said Clay, ``MacWilliams shows an unexpected
knowledge of human nature.''
``Yes, he did quite right,'' assented Langham, nodding his head
mysteriously. ``We've no time for girls at present, have we?''
``No, indeed,'' said Clay, hiding any sign of a smile.
Langham breathed deeply at the thought of the part he was to play
in this coming struggle, and remained respectfully silent as they
trotted toward the city. He did not wish to disturb the plots
and counterplots that he was confident were forming in Clay's
brain, and his devotion would have been severely tried had he
known that his hero's mind was filled with a picture of a young
girl in a blue shirt-waist and a whipcord riding-skirt.
Clay sent for Stuart to join them at the restaurant, and
MacWilliams arriving at the same time, the four men seated
themselves conspicuously in the centre of the cafe' and sipped
their chocolate as though unconscious of any imminent danger, and
in apparent freedom from all responsibilities and care. While
MacWilliams and Langham laughed and disputed over a game of
dominoes, the older men exchanged, under cover of their chatter,
the few words which they had met to speak.
The manifestoes, Stuart said, had failed of their purpose. He
had already called upon the President, and had offered to resign
his position and leave the country, or to stay and fight his
maligners, and take up arms at once against Mendoza's party.
Alvarez had treated him like a son, and bade him be patient. He
held that Caesar's wife was above suspicion because she was
Caesar's wife, and that no canards posted at midnight could
affect his faith in his wife or in his friend. He refused to
believe that any coup d'etat was imminent, save the one
which he himself meditated when he was ready to proclaim the
country in a state of revolution, and to assume a military
``What nonsense!'' exclaimed Clay. ``What is a military
dictatorship without soldiers? Can't he see that the army is
with Mendoza?''
``No,'' Stuart replied. ``Rojas and I were with him all the
morning. Rojas is an old trump, Clay. He's not bright and he's
old-fashioned; but he is honest. And the people know it. If I
had Rojas for a chief instead of Alvarez, I'd arrest Mendoza with
my own hand, and I wouldn't be afraid to take him to the carcel
through the streets. The people wouldn't help him. But the
President doesn't dare. Not that he hasn't pluck,'' added the
young lieutenant, loyally, ``for he takes his life in his hands
when he goes to the review tomorrow, and he knows it. Think of
it, will you, out there alone with a field of five thousand men
around him! Rojas thinks he can hold half of them, as many as
Mendoza can, and I have my fifty. But you can't tell what any
one of them will do for a drink or a dollar. They're no more
soldiers than these waiters. They're bandits in uniform, and
they'll kill for the man that pays best.''
``Then why doesn't Alvarez pay them?'' Clay growled.
Stuart looked away and lowered his eyes to the table. ``He
hasn't the money, I suppose,'' he said, evasively. ``He--he has
transferred every cent of it into drafts on Rothschild. They are
at the house now, representing five millions of dollars in gold--
and her jewels, too--packed ready for flight.''
``Then he does expect trouble?'' said Clay. ``You told me--''
``They're all alike; you know them,'' said Stuart. ``They won't
believe they're in danger until the explosion comes, but they
always have a special train ready, and they keep the funds of the
government under their pillows. He engaged apartments on the
Avenue Kleber six months ago.''
``Bah!'' said Clay. ``It's the old story. Why don't you quit
Stuart raised his eyes and dropped them again, and Clay sighed.
``I'm sorry,'' he said.
MacWilliams interrupted them in an indignant stage-whisper.
``Say, how long have we got to keep up this fake game?'' he
asked. ``I don't know anything about dominoes, and neither does
Ted. Tell us what you've been saying. Is there going to be
trouble? If there is, Ted and I want to be in it. We are
looking for trouble.''
Clay had tipped back his chair, and was surveying the restaurant
and the blazing plaza beyond its open front with an expression of
cheerful unconcern. Two men were reading the morning papers near
the door, and two others were dragging through a game of dominoes
in a far corner. The heat of midday had settled on the place,
and the waiters dozed, with their chairs tipped back against the
walls. Outside, the awning of the restaurant threw a broad
shadow across the marble-topped tables on the sidewalk, and half
a dozen fiacre drivers slept peacefully in their carriages before
the door.
The town was taking its siesta, and the brisk step of a stranger
who crossed the tessellated floor and rapped with his knuckles on
the top of the cigar-case was the only sign of life. The
newcomer turned with one hand on the glass case and swept the
room carelessly with his eyes. They were hard blue eyes under
straight eyebrows. Their owner was dressed unobtrusively in a
suit of rough tweed, and this and his black hat, and the fact
that he was smooth-shaven, distinguished him as a foreigner.
As he faced them the forelegs of Clay's chair descended slowly to
the floor, and he began to smile comprehendingly and to nod his
head as though the coming of the stranger had explained something
of which he had been in doubt. His companions turned and
followed the direction of his eyes, but saw nothing of interest
in the newcomer. He looked as though he might be a concession
hunter from the States, or a Manchester drummer, prepared to
offer six months' credit on blankets and hardware.
Clay rose and strode across the room, circling the tables in such
a way that he could keep himself between the stranger and
the door. At his approach the new-comer turned his back and
fumbled with his change on the counter.
``Captain Burke, I believe?'' said Clay. The stranger bit the
cigar he had just purchased, and shook his head. ``I am very
glad to see you,'' Clay continued. ``Sit down, won't you? I
want to talk with you.''
``I think you've made a mistake,'' the stranger answered,
quietly. ``My name is--''
``Colonel, perhaps, then,'' said Clay. ``I might have known it.
I congratulate you, Colonel.''
The man looked at Clay for an instant, with the cigar clenched
between his teeth and his blue eyes fixed steadily on the other's
face. Clay waved his hand again invitingly toward a table, and
the man shrugged his shoulders and laughed, and, pulling a chair
toward him, sat down.
``Come over here, boys,'' Clay called. ``I want you to meet an
old friend of mine, Captain Burke.''
The man called Burke stared at the three men as they crossed the
room and seated themselves at the table, and nodded to them in
``We have here,'' said Clay, gayly, but in a low voice, ``the key
to the situation. This is the gentleman who supplies Mendoza
with the sinews of war. Captain Burke is a brave soldier and a
citizen of my own or of any country, indeed, which happens
to have the most sympathetic Consul-General.''
Burke smiled grimly, with a condescending nod, and putting away
the cigar, took out a brier pipe and began to fill it from his
tobacco-pouch. ``The Captain is a man of few words and extremely
modest about himself,'' Clay continued, lightly; ``so I must tell
you who he is myself. He is a promoter of revolutions. That is
his business,--a professional promoter of revolutions, and that
is what makes me so glad to see him again. He knows all about
the present crisis here, and he is going to tell us all he knows
as soon as he fills his pipe. I ought to warn you, Burke,'' he
added, ``that this is Captain Stuart, in charge of the police and
the President's cavalry troop. So, you see, whatever you say,
you will have one man who will listen to you.''
Burke crossed one short fat leg over the other, and crowded the
tobacco in the bowl of his pipe with his thumb.
``I thought you were in Chili, Clay,'' he said.
``No, you didn't think I was in Chili,'' Clay replied, kindly.
``I left Chili two years ago. The Captain and I met there,'' he
explained to the others, ``when Balmaceda was trying to make
himself dictator. The Captain was on the side of the
Congressionalists, and was furnishing arms and dynamite.
The Captain is always on the winning side, at least he always has
been--up to the present. He is not a creature of sentiment; are
you, Burke? The Captain believes with Napoleon that God is on
the side that has the heaviest artillery.''
Burke lighted his pipe and drummed absentmindedly on the table
with his match-box.
``I can't afford to be sentimental,'' he said. ``Not in my
``Of course not,'' Clay assented, cheerfully. He looked at Burke
and laughed, as though the sight of him recalled pleasant
memories. ``I wish I could give these boys an idea of how clever
you are, Captain,'' he said. ``The Captain was the first man,
for instance, to think of packing cartridges in tubs of lard, and
of sending rifles in piano-cases. He represents the Welby
revolver people in England, and half a dozen firms in the States,
and he has his little stores in Tampa and Mobile and Jamaica,
ready to ship off at a moment's notice to any revolution in
Central America. When I first met the Captain,'' Clay continued,
gleefully, and quite unmindful of the other's continued silence,
``he was starting off to rescue Arabi Pasha from the island of
Ceylon. You may remember, boys, that when Dufferin saved Arabi
from hanging, the British shipped him to Ceylon as a
political prisoner. Well, the Captain was sent by Arabi's
followers in Egypt to bring him back to lead a second rebellion.
Burke had everybody bribed at Ceylon, and a fine schooner fitted
out and a lot of ruffians to do the fighting, and then the good,
kind British Government pardoned Arabi the day before Burke
arrived in port. And you never got a cent for it; did you,
Burke shook his head and frowned.
``Six thousand pounds sterling I was to have got for that,'' he
said, with a touch of pardonable pride in his voice, ``and they
set him free the day before I got there, just as Mr. Clay tells
``And then you headed Granville Prior's expedition for buried
treasure off the island of Cocos, didn't you?'' said Clay. ``Go
on, tell them about it. Be sociable. You ought to write a book
about your different business ventures, Burke, indeed you ought;
but then,'' Clay added, smiling, ``nobody would believe you.''
Burke rubbed his chin, thoughtfully, with his fingers, and looked
modestly at the ceiling, and the two younger boys gazed at him
with open-mouthed interest.
``There ain't anything in buried treasure,'' he said, after a
pause, ``except the money that's sunk in the fitting out. It
sounds good, but it's all foolishness.''
``All foolishness, eh?'' said Clay, encouragingly. ``And
what did you do after Balmaceda was beaten?--after I last saw
``Crespo,'' Burke replied, after a pause, during which he pulled
gently on his pipe. `` `Caroline Brewer'--cleared from Key West
for Curacao, with cargo of sewing-machines and ploughs--
beached below Maracaibo--thirty-five thousand rounds and two
thousand rifles--at twenty bolivars apiece.''
``Of course,'' said Clay, in a tone of genuine appreciation. ``I
might have known you'd be in that. He says,'' he explained,
``that he assisted General Crespo in Venezuela during his
revolution against Guzman Blanco's party, and loaded a tramp
steamer called the `Caroline Brewer' at Key West with arms, which
he landed safely at a place for which he had no clearance papers,
and he received forty thousand dollars in our money for the job--
and very good pay, too, I should think,'' commented Clay.
``Well, I don't know,'' Burke demurred. ``You take in the cost
of leasing the boat and provisioning her, and the crew's wages,
and the cost of the cargo; that cuts into profits. Then I had to
stand off shore between Trinidad and Curacao for over three
weeks before I got the signal to run in, and after that I was
chased by a gun-boat for three days, and the crazy fool put a
shot clean through my engine-room. Cost me about twelve
hundred dollars in repairs.''
There was a pause, and Clay turned his eyes to the street, and
then asked, abruptly, ``What are you doing now?''
``Trying to get orders for smokeless powder,'' Burke answered,
promptly. He met Clay's look with eyes as undisturbed as his
own. ``But they won't touch it down here,'' he went on. ``It
doesn't appeal to 'em. It's too expensive, and they'd rather see
the smoke. It makes them think--''
``How long did you expect to stay here?'' Clay interrupted.
``How long?'' repeated Burke, like a man in a witness-box who is
trying to gain time. ``Well, I was thinking of leaving by
Friday, and taking a mule-train over to Bogota instead of waiting
for the steamer to Colon.'' He blew a mouthful of smoke into the
air and watched it drifting toward the door with apparent
``The `Santiago' leaves here Saturday for New York. I guess you
had better wait over for her,'' Clay said. ``I'll engage your
passage, and, in the meantime, Captain Stuart here will see that
they treat you well in the cuartel.''
The men around the table started, and sat motionless looking at
Clay, but Burke only took his pipe from his mouth and
knocked the ashes out on the heel of his boot. ``What am I going
to the cuartel for?'' he asked.
``Well, the public good, I suppose,'' laughed Clay. ``I'm sorry,
but it's your own fault. You shouldn't have shown yourself here
at all.''
``What have you got to do with it?'' asked Burke, calmly, as he
began to refill his pipe. He had the air of a man who saw
nothing before him but an afternoon of pleasant discourse and
leisurely inactivity.
``You know what I've got to do with it,'' Clay replied. ``I've
got our concession to look after.''
``Well, you're not running the town, too, are you?'' asked Burke.
``No, but I'm going to run you out of it,'' Clay answered.
``Now, what are you going to do,--make it unpleasant for us and
force our hand, or drive down quietly with our friend MacWilliams
here? He is the best one to take you, because he's not so well
Burke turned his head and looked over his shoulder at Stuart.
``You taking orders from Mr. Clay, to-day, Captain Stuart?'' he
``Yes,'' Stuart answered, smiling. ``I agree with Mr. Clay in
whatever he thinks right.''
``Oh, well, in that case,'' said Burke, rising reluctantly,
with a protesting sigh, ``I guess I'd better call on the American
``You can't. He's in Ecuador on his annual visit,'' said Clay.
``Indeed! That's bad for me,'' muttered Burke, as though in much
concern. ``Well, then, I'll ask you to let me see our consul
``Certainly,'' Clay assented, with alacrity. ``Mr. Langham, this
young gentleman's father, got him his appointment, so I've no
doubt he'll be only too glad to do anything for a friend of
Burke raised his eyes and looked inquiringly at Clay, as though
to assure himself that this was true, and Clay smiled back at
``Oh, very well,'' Burke said. ``Then, as I happen to be an
Irishman by the name of Burke, and a British subject, I'll try
Her Majesty's representative, and we'll see if he will allow me
to be locked up without a reason or a warrant.''
``That's no good, either,'' said Clay, shaking his head. ``You
fixed your nationality, as far as this continent is concerned, in
Rio harbor, when Peixoto handed you over to the British admiral,
and you claimed to be an American citizen, and were sent on board
the `Detroit.' If there's any doubt about that we've only got to
cable to Rio Janeiro--to either legation. But what's the use?
They know me here, and they don't know you, and I do.
You'll have to go to jail and stay there.''
``Oh, well, if you put it that way, I'll go,'' said Burke.
``But,'' he added, in a lower voice, ``it's too late, Clay.''
The expression of amusement on Clay's face, and his ease of
manner, fell from him at the words, and he pulled Burke back into
the chair again. ``What do you mean?'' he asked, anxiously.
``I mean just that, it's too late,'' Burke answered. ``I don't
mind going to jail. I won't be there long. My work's all done
and paid for. I was only staying on to see the fun at the
finish, to see you fellows made fools of.''
``Oh, you're sure of that, are you?'' asked Clay.
``My dear boy!'' exclaimed the American, with a suggestion in his
speech of his Irish origin, as his interest rose. ``Did you ever
know me to go into anything of this sort for the sentiment of it?
Did you ever know me to back the losing side? No. Well, I tell
you that you fellows have no more show in this than a parcel of
Sunday-school children. Of course I can't say when they mean to
strike. I don't know, and I wouldn't tell you if I did. But
when they do strike there'll be no striking back. It'll be all
over but the cheering.''
Burke's tone was calm and positive. He held the centre of the
stage now, and he looked from one to the other of the
serious faces around him with an expression of pitying amusement.
``Alvarez may get off, and so may Madame Alvarez,'' he added,
lowering his voice and turning his face away from Stuart. ``But
not if she shows herself in the streets, and not if she tries to
take those drafts and jewels with her.''
``Oh, you know that, do you?'' interrupted Clay.
``I know nothing,'' Burke replied. ``At least, nothing to what
the rest of them know. That's only the gossip I pick up at
headquarters. It doesn't concern me. I've delivered my goods
and given my receipt for the money, and that's all I care about.
But if it will make an old friend feel any more comfortable to
have me in jail, why, I'll go, that's all.''
Clay sat with pursed lips looking at Stuart. The two boys leaned
with their elbows on the tables and stared at Burke, who was
searching leisurely through his pockets for his match-box. From
outside came the lazy cry of a vendor of lottery tickets, and the
swift, uneven patter of bare feet, as company after company of
dust-covered soldiers passed on their way from the provinces,
with their shoes swinging from their bayonets.
Clay slapped the table with an exclamation of impatience.
``After all, this is only a matter of business,'' he said,
``with all of us. What do you say, Burke, to taking a ride with
me to Stuart's rooms, and having a talk there with the President
and Mr. Langham? Langham has three millions sunk in these mines,
and Alvarez has even better reasons than that for wanting to hold
his job. What do you say? That's better than going to jail.
Tell us what they mean to do, and who is to do it, and I'll let
you name your own figure, and I'll guarantee you that they'll
meet it. As long as you've no sentiment, you might as well fight
on the side that will pay best.''
Burke opened his lips as though to speak, and then shut them
again, closely. If the others thought that he was giving Clay's
proposition a second and more serious thought, he was quick to
undeceive them.
``There ARE men in the business who do that sort of thing,''
he said. ``They sell arms to one man, and sell the fact that
he's got them to the deputy-marshals, and sell the story of how
smart they've been to the newspapers. And they never make any
more sales after that. I'd look pretty, wouldn't I, bringing
stuff into this country, and getting paid for it, and then
telling you where it was hid, and everything else I knew? I've
no sentiment, as you say, but I've got business instinct, and
that's not business. No, I've told you enough, and if you
think I'm not safe at large, why I'm quite ready to take a ride
with your young friend here.''
MacWilliams rose with alacrity, and beaming with pleasure at the
importance of the duty thrust upon him.
Burke smiled. ``The young 'un seems to like the job,'' he said.
``It's an honor to be associated with Captain Burke in any way,''
said MacWilliams, as he followed him into a cab, while Stuart
galloped off before them in the direction of the cuartel.
``You wouldn't think so if you knew better,'' said Burke. ``My
friends have been watching us while we have been talking in there
for the last hour. They're watching us now, and if I were to nod
my head during this ride, they'd throw you out into the street
and set me free, if they had to break the cab into kindling-wood
while they were doing it.''
MacWilliams changed his seat to the one opposite his prisoner,
and peered up and down the street in some anxiety.
``I suppose you know there's an answer to that, don't you?'' he
asked. ``Well, the answer is, that if you nod your head once,
you lose the top of it.''
Burke gave an exclamation of disgust, and gazed at his zealous
guardian with an expression of trepidation and unconcealed
disapproval. ``You're not armed, are you?'' he asked.
MacWilliams nodded. ``Why not?'' he said; ``these are rather
heavy weather times, just at present, thanks to you and your
friends. Why, you seem rather afraid of fire-arms,'' he added,
with the intolerance of youth.
The Irish-American touched the young man on the knee, and lifted
his hat. ``My son,'' he said, ``when your hair is as gray as
that, and you have been through six campaigns, you'll be brave
enough to own that you're afraid of fire-arms, too.''
Clay and Langham left MacWilliams and Stuart to look after their
prisoner, and returned to the Palms, where they dined in state,
and made no reference, while the women were present, to the
events of the day.
The moon rose late that night, and as Hope watched it, from where
she sat at the dinner-table facing the open windows, she saw the
figure of a man standing outlined in silhouette upon the edge of
the cliff. He was dressed in the uniform of a sailor, and the
moonlight played along the barrel of a rifle upon which he
leaned, motionless and menacing, like a sentry on a rampart.
Hope opened her lips to speak, and then closed them again, and
smiled with pleasurable excitement. A moment later King, who sat
on her right, called one of the servants to his side and
whispered some instructions, pointing meanwhile at the wine upon
the table. And a minute after, Hope saw the white figure of the
servant cross the garden and approach the sentinel. She saw the
sentry fling his gun sharply to his hip, and then, after a
moment's parley, toss it up to his shoulder and disappear from
sight among the plants of the garden.
The men did not leave the table with the ladies, as was their
custom, but remained in the dining-room, and drew their chairs
closer together.
Mr. Langham would not believe that the downfall of the Government
was as imminent as the others believed it to be. It was only
after much argument, and with great reluctance, that he had even
allowed King to arm half of his crew, and to place them on guard
around the Palms. Clay warned him that in the disorder that
followed every successful revolution, the homes of unpopular
members of the Cabinet were often burned, and that he feared,
should Mendoza succeed, and Alvarez fall, that the mob might
possibly vent its victorious wrath on the Palms because it was
the home of the alien, who had, as they thought, robbed the
country of the iron mines. Mr. Langham said he did not think the
people would tramp five miles into the country seeking vengeance.
There was an American man-of-war lying in the harbor of Truxillo,
a seaport of the republic that bounded Olancho on the south, and
Clay was in favor of sending to her captain by Weimer, the
Consul, and asking him to anchor off Valencia, to protect
American interests. The run would take but a few hours, and
the sight of the vessel's white hull in the harbor would, he
thought, have a salutary effect upon the revolutionists. But Mr.
Langham said, firmly, that he would not ask for help until he
needed it.
``Well, I'm sorry,'' said Clay. ``I should very much like to
have that man-of-war here. However, if you say no, we will try
to get along without her. But, for the present, I think you had
better imagine yourself back in New York, and let us have an
entirely free hand. We've gone too far to drop out,'' he went
on, laughing at the sight of Mr. Langham's gloomy countenance.
``We've got to fight them now. It's against human nature not to
do it.''
Mr. Langham looked appealingly at his son and at King.
They both smiled back at him in unanimous disapproval of his
policy of non-interference.
``Oh, very well,'' he said, at last. ``You gentlemen can go
ahead, kill, burn, and destroy if you wish. But, considering the
fact that it is my property you are all fighting about, I really
think I might have something to say in the matter.'' Mr. Langham
gazed about him helplessly, and shook his head.
``My doctor sends me down here from a quiet, happy home,'' he
protested, with humorous pathos, ``that I may rest and get
away from excitement, and here I am with armed men patrolling my
garden-paths, with a lot of filibusters plotting at my own
dinner-table, and a civil war likely to break out, entirely on my
account. And Dr. Winter told me this was the only place that
would cure my nervous prostration!''
Hope joined Clay as soon as the men left the dining-room, and
beckoned him to the farther end of the veranda. ``Well, what is
it?'' she said.
``What is what?'' laughed Clay. He seated himself on the rail of
the veranda, with his face to the avenue and the driveway leading
to the house. They could hear the others from the back of the
house, and the voice of young Langham, who was giving an
imitation of MacWilliams, and singing with peculiar emphasis,
``There is no place like Home, Sweet Home.''
``Why are the men guarding the Palms, and why did you go to the
Plaza Bolivar this morning at daybreak? Alice says you left them
there. I want to know what it means. I am nearly as old as Ted,
and he knows. The men wouldn't tell me.''
``What men?''
``King's men from the `Vesta'. I saw some of them dodging around
in the bushes, and I went to find out what they were doing, and I
walked into fifteen of them at your office. They have
hammocks swung all over the veranda, and a quick-firing gun made
fast to the steps, and muskets stacked all about, just like real
soldiers, but they wouldn't tell me why.''
``We'll put you in the carcel,'' said Clay, ``if you go spying on
our forces. Your father doesn't wish you to know anything about
it, but, since you have found it out for yourself, you might as
well know what little there is to know. It's the same story.
Mendoza is getting ready to start his revolution, or, rather, he
has started it.''
``Why don't you stop him?'' asked Hope.
``You are very flattering,'' said Clay. ``Even if I could stop
him, it's not my business to do it as yet. I have to wait until
he interferes with me, or my mines, or my workmen. Alvarez is
the man who should stop him, but he is afraid. We cannot do
anything until he makes the first move. If I were the President,
I'd have Mendoza shot to-morrow morning and declare martial law.
Then I'd arrest everybody I didn't like, and levy forced loans on
all the merchants, and sail away to Paris and live happy ever
after. That's what Mendoza would do if he caught any one
plotting against him. And that's what Alvarez should do, too,
according to his lights, if he had the courage of his
convictions, and of his education. I like to see a man play
his part properly, don't you? If you are an emperor, you ought
to conduct yourself like one, as our German friend does. Or if
you are a prize-fighter, you ought to be a human bulldog.
There's no such thing as a gentlemanly pugilist, any more than
there can be a virtuous burglar. And if you're a South American
Dictator, you can't afford to be squeamish about throwing your
enemies into jail or shooting them for treason. The way to
dictate is to dictate,--not to hide indoors all day while your
wife plots for you.''
``Does she do that?'' asked Hope. ``And do you think she will be
in danger--any personal danger, if the revolution comes?''
``Well, she is very unpopular,'' Clay answered, ``and unjustly
so, I think. But it would be better, perhaps, for her if she
went as quietly as possible, when she does go.''
``Is our Captain Stuart in danger, too?'' the girl continued,
anxiously. ``Alice says they put up placards about him all over
the city last night. She saw his men tearing them down as she
was coming home. What has he done?''
``Nothing,'' Clay answered, shortly. ``He happens to be in a
false position, that's all. They think he is here because he is
not wanted in his own country; that is not so. That is not
the reason he remains here. When he was even younger than
he is now, he was wild and foolish, and spent more money than he
could afford, and lent more money to his brother-officers, I have
no doubt, than they ever paid back. He had to leave the regiment
because his father wouldn't pay his debts, and he has been
selling his sword for the last three years to one or another king
or sultan or party all over the world, in China and Madagascar,
and later in Siam. I hope you will be very kind to Stuart and
believe well of him, and that you will listen to no evil against
him. Somewhere in England Stuart has a sister like you--about
your age, I mean, that loves him very dearly, and a father whose
heart aches for him, and there is a certain royal regiment that
still drinks his health with pride. He is a lonely little chap,
and he has no sense of humor to help him out of his difficulties,
but he is a very brave gentleman. And he is here fighting for
men who are not worthy to hold his horse's bridle, because of a
woman. And I tell you this because you will hear many lies about
him--and about her. He serves her with the same sort of
chivalric devotion that his ancestors felt for the woman whose
ribbons they tied to their lances, and for whom they fought in
the lists.''
``I understand,'' Hope said, softly. ``I am glad you told
me. I shall not forget.'' She sighed and shook her head. ``I
wish they'd let you manage it for them,'' she said.
Clay laughed. ``I fear my executive ability is not of so high an
order; besides, as I haven't been born to it, my conscience might
trouble me if I had to shoot my enemies and rob the worthy
merchants. I had better stick to digging holes in the ground.
That is all I seem to be good for.''
Hope looked up at him, quickly, in surprise.
``What do you mean by that?'' she demanded. There was a tone of
such sharp reproach in her voice that Clay felt himself put on
the defensive.
``I mean nothing by it,'' he said. ``Your sister and I had a
talk the other day about a man's making the best of himself, and
it opened my eyes to--to many things. It was a very healthy
``It could not have been a very healthy lesson,'' Hope replied,
severely, ``if it makes you speak of your work slightingly, as
you did then. That didn't sound at all natural, or like you. It
sounded like Alice. Tell me, did Alice say that?''
The pleasure of hearing Hope take his part against himself was so
comforting to Clay that he hesitated in answering in order to
enjoy it the longer. Her enthusiasm touched him deeply, and he
wondered if she were enthusiastic because she was young, or
because she was sure she was right, and that he was in the wrong.
``It started this way,'' Clay began, carefully. He was anxious
to be quite fair to Miss Langham, but he found it difficult to
give her point of view correctly, while he was hungering for a
word that would re-establish him in his own good opinion. ``Your
sister said she did not think very much of what I had done, but
she explained kindly that she hoped for better things from me.
But what troubles me is, that I will never do anything much
better or very different in kind from the work I have done
lately, and so I am a bit discouraged about it in consequence.
You see,'' said Clay, ``when I come to die, and they ask me what
I have done with my ten fingers, I suppose I will have to say,
`Well, I built such and such railroads, and I dug up so many tons
of ore, and opened new countries, and helped make other men
rich.' I can't urge in my behalf that I happen to have been so
fortunate as to have gained the good-will of yourself or your
sister. That is quite reason enough to me, perhaps, for having
lived, but it might not appeal to them. I want to feel that I
have accomplished something outside of myself--something that
will remain after I go. Even if it is only a breakwater or a
patent coupling. When I am dead it will not matter to any one
what I personally was, whether I was a bore or a most
charming companion, or whether I had red hair or blue. It is the
work that will tell. And when your sister, whose judgment is the
judgment of the outside world, more or less, says that the work
is not worth while, I naturally feel a bit discouraged. It meant
so much to me, and it hurt me to find it meant so little to
Hope remained silent for some time, but the rigidity of her
attitude, and the tightness with which she pressed her lips
together, showed that her mind was deeply occupied. They both
sat silent for some few moments, looking down toward the distant
lights of the city. At the farther end of the double row of
bushes that lined the avenue they could see one of King's
sentries passing to and fro across the roadway, a long black
shadow on the moonlit road.
``You are very unfair to yourself,'' the girl said at last, ``and
Alice does not represent the opinion of the world, only of a very
small part of it--her own little world. She does not know how
little it is. And you are wrong as to what they will ask you at
the end. What will they care whether you built railroads or
painted impressionist pictures? They will ask you `What have you
made of yourself? Have you been fine, and strong, and sincere?'
That is what they will ask. And we like you because you are
all of these things, and because you look at life so cheerfully,
and are unafraid. We do not like men because they build
railroads, or because they are prime ministers. We like them for
what they are themselves. And as to your work!'' Hope added, and
then paused in eloquent silence. ``I think it is a grand work,
and a noble work, full of hardships and self-sacrifices. I do
not know of any man who has done more with his life than you have
done with yours.'' She stopped and controlled her voice before
she spoke again. ``You should be very proud,'' she said.
Clay lowered his eyes and sat silent, looking down the roadway.
The thought that the girl felt what she said so deeply, and that
the fact that she had said it meant more to him than anything
else in the world could mean, left him thrilled and trembling.
He wanted to reach out his hand and seize both of hers, and tell
her how much she was to him, but it seemed like taking advantage
of the truths of a confessional, or of a child's innocent
``No, Miss Hope,'' he answered, with an effort to speak lightly,
``I wish I could believe you, but I know myself better than any
one else can, and I know that while my bridges may stand
examination--_I_ can't.''
Hope turned and looked at him with eyes full of such sweet
meaning that he was forced to turn his own away.
``I could trust both, I think,'' the girl said.
Clay drew a quick, deep breath, and started to his feet, as
though he had thrown off the restraint under which he had held
It was not a girl, but a woman who had spoken then, but, though
he turned eagerly toward her, he stood with his head bowed, and
did not dare to read the verdict in her eyes.
The clatter of horses' hoofs coming toward them at a gallop broke
in rudely upon the tense stillness of the moment, but neither
noticed it. ``How far,'' Clay began, in a strained voice, ``how
far,'' he asked, more steadily, ``could you trust me?''
Hope's eyes had closed for an instant, and opened again, and she
smiled upon him with a look of perfect confidence and content.
The beat of the horses' hoofs came now from the end of the
driveway, and they could hear the men at the rear of the house
pushing back their chairs and hurrying toward them. Hope raised
her head, and Clay moved toward her eagerly. The horses were
within a hundred yards. Before Hope could speak, the sentry's
voice rang out in a hoarse, sharp challenge, like an alarm of
fire on the silent night. ``Halt!'' they heard him cry.
And as the horses tore past him, and their riders did not turn to
look, he shouted again, ``Halt, damn you!'' and fired. The flash
showed a splash of red and yellow in the moonlight, and the
report started into life hundreds of echoes which carried it far
out over the waters of the harbor, and tossed it into sharp
angles, and distant corners, and in an instant a myriad of sounds
answered it; the frightened cry of night-birds, the barking of
dogs in the village below, and the footsteps of men running.
Clay glanced angrily down the avenue, and turned beseechingly to
``Go,'' she said. ``See what is wrong,'' and moved away as
though she already felt that he could act more freely when she
was not near him.
The two horses fell back on their haunches before the steps, and
MacWilliams and Stuart tumbled out of their saddles, and
started, running back on foot in the direction from which the
shot had come, tugging at their revolvers.
``Come back,'' Clay shouted to them. ``That's all right. He was
only obeying orders. That's one of King's sentries.''
``Oh, is that it?'' said Stuart, in matter-of-fact tones, as he
turned again to the house. ``Good idea. Tell him to fire lower
next time. And, I say,'' he went on, as he bowed curtly to
the assembled company on the veranda, ``since you have got a
picket out, you had better double it. And, Clay, see that no one
leaves here without permission--no one. That's more important,
even, than keeping them out.''
``King, will you--'' Clay began.
``All right, General,'' laughed King, and walked away to meet his
sailors, who came running up the hill in great anxiety.
MacWilliams had not opened his lips, but he was bristling with
importance, and his effort to appear calm and soldierly, like
Stuart, told more plainly than speech that he was the bearer of
some invaluable secret. The sight filled young Langham with a
disquieting fear that he had missed something.
Stuart looked about him, and pulled briskly at his gauntlets.
King and his sailors were grouped together on the grass before
the house. Mr. Langham and his daughters, and Clay, were
standing on the steps, and the servants were peering around the
corners of the house.
Stuart saluted Mr. Langham, as though to attract his especial
attention, and then addressed himself in a low tone to Clay.
``It's come,'' he said. ``We've been in it since dinner-time,
and we've got a whole night's work cut out for you.'' He
was laughing with excitement, and paused for a moment to gain
breath. ``I'll tell you the worst of it first. Mendoza has sent
word to Alvarez that he wants the men at the mines to be present
at the review to-morrow. He says they must take part. He wrote
a most insolent letter. Alvarez got out of it by saying that the
men were under contract to you, and that you must give your
permission first. Mendoza sent me word that if you would not let
the men come, he would go out and fetch them in him self.''
``Indeed!'' growled Clay. ``Kirkland needs those men to-morrow
to load ore-cars for Thursday's steamer. He can't spare them.
That is our answer, and it happens to be a true one, but if it
weren't true, if to-morrow was All Saints' Day, and the men had
nothing to do but to lie in the sun and sleep, Mendoza couldn't
get them. And if he comes to take them to-morrow, he'll have to
bring his army with him to do it. And he couldn't do it then,
Mr. Langham,'' Clay cried, turning to that gentleman, ``if I had
better weapons. The five thousand dollars I wanted you to spend
on rifles, sir, two months ago, might have saved you several
millions to-morrow.''
Clay's words seemed to bear some special significance to Stuart
and MacWilliams, for they both laughed, and Stuart pushed
Clay up the steps before him.
``Come inside,'' he said. ``That is why we are here.
MacWilliams has found out where Burke hid his shipment of arms.
We are going to try and get them to-night.'' He hurried into the
dining-room, and the others grouped themselves about the table.
``Tell them about it, MacWilliams,'' Stuart commanded. ``I will
see that no one overhears you.''
MacWilliams was pushed into Mr. Langham's place at the head of
the long table, and the others dragged their chairs up close
around him. King put the candles at the opposite end of the
table, and set some decanters and glasses in the centre. ``To
look as though we were just enjoying ourselves,'' he explained,
Mr. Langham, with his fine, delicate fingers beating nervously on
the table, observed the scene as an on-looker, rather than as the
person chiefly interested. He smiled as he appreciated the
incongruity of the tableau, and the contrast which the actors
presented to the situation. He imagined how much it would amuse
his contemporaries of the Union Club, at home, if they could see
him then, with the still, tropical night outside, the candles
reflected on the polished table and on the angles of the
decanters, and showing the intent faces of the young girls
and the men leaning eagerly forward around MacWilliams, who sat
conscious and embarrassed, his hair dishevelled, and his face
covered with dust, while Stuart paced up and down in the shadow,
his sabre clanking as he walked.
``Well, it happened like this,'' MacWilliams began, nervously,
and addressing himself to Clay. ``Stuart and I put Burke safely
in a cell by himself. It was one of the old ones that face the
street. There was a narrow window in it, about eight feet above
the floor, and no means of his reaching it, even if he stood on a
chair. We stationed two troopers before the door, and sent out
to a cafe' across the street for our dinners. I finished mine
about nine o'clock, and said `Good night' to Stuart, and started
to come out here. I went across the street first, however, to
give the restaurant man some orders about Burke's breakfast. It
is a narrow street, you know, with a long garden-wall and a row
of little shops on one side, and with the jail-wall taking up all
of the other side. The street was empty when I left the jail,
except for the sentry on guard in front of it, but just as I was
leaving the restaurant I saw one of Stuart's police come out and
peer up and down the street and over at the shops. He looked
frightened and anxious, and as I wasn't taking chances on
anything, I stepped back into the restaurant and watched him
through the window. He waited until the sentry had turned his
back, and started away from him on his post, and then I saw him
drop his sabre so that it rang on the sidewalk. He was standing,
I noticed then, directly under the third window from the door of
the jail. That was the window of Burke's cell. When I grasped
that fact I got out my gun and walked to the door of the
restaurant. Just as I reached it a piece of paper shot out
through the bars of Burke's cell and fell at the policeman's
feet, and he stamped his boot down on it and looked all around
again to see if any one had noticed him. I thought that was my
cue, and I ran across the street with my gun pointed, and shouted
to him to give me the paper. He jumped about a foot when he
first saw me, but he was game, for he grabbed up the paper and
stuck it in his mouth and began to chew on it. I was right up on
him then, and I hit him on the chin with my left fist and knocked
him down against the wall, and dropped on him with both knees and
choked him till I made him spit out the paper--and two teeth,''
MacWilliams added, with a conscientious regard for details.
``The sentry turned just then and came at me with his bayonet,
but I put my finger to my lips, and that surprised him, so
that he didn't know just what to do, and hesitated. You
see, I didn't want Burke to hear the row outside, so I grabbed my
policeman by the collar and pointed to the jail-door, and the
sentry ran back and brought out Stuart and the guard. Stuart was
pretty mad when he saw his policeman all bloody. He thought it
would prejudice his other men against us, but I explained out
loud that the man had been insolent, and I asked Stuart to take
us both to his private room for a hearing, and, of course, when I
told him what had happened, he wanted to punch the chap, too. We
put him ourselves into a cell where he could not communicate with
any one, and then we read the paper. Stuart has it,'' said
MacWilliams, pushing back his chair, ``and he'll tell you the
rest.'' There was a pause, in which every one seemed to take
time to breathe, and then a chorus of questions and explanations.
King lifted his glass to MacWilliams, and nodded.
`` `Well done, Condor,' '' he quoted, smiling.
``Yes,'' said Clay, tapping the younger man on the shoulder as he
passed him. ``That's good work. Now show us the paper,
Stuart pulled the candles toward him, and spread a slip of paper
on the table.
``Burke did this up in one of those paper boxes for wax
matches,'' he explained, ``and weighted it with a twentydollar
gold piece. MacWilliams kept the gold piece, I believe.''
``Going to use it for a scarf-pin,'' explained MacWilliams, in
parenthesis. ``Sort of war-medal, like the Chief's,'' he added,
``This is in Spanish,'' Stuart explained. ``I will translate it.
It is not addressed to any one, and it is not signed, but it was
evidently written to Mendoza, and we know it is in Burke's
handwriting, for we compared it with some notes of his that we
took from him before he was locked up. He says, `I cannot keep
the appointment, as I have been arrested.' The line that follows
here,'' Stuart explained, raising his head, ``has been scratched
out, but we spent some time over it, and we made out that it
read: `It was Mr. Clay who recognized me, and ordered my arrest.
He is the best man the others have. Watch him.' We think he
rubbed that out through good feeling toward Clay. There seems to
be no other reason. He's a very good sort, this old Burke, I
``Well, never mind him; it was very decent of him, anyway,'' said
Clay. ``Go on. Get to Hecuba.''
`` `I cannot keep the appointment, as I have been arrested,' ''
repeated Stuart. `` `I landed the goods last night in safety. I
could not come in when first signalled, as the wind and tide
were both off shore. But we got all the stuff stored away
by morning. Your agent paid me in full and got my receipt.
Please consider this as the same thing--as the equivalent'--it is
difficult to translate it exactly,'' commented Stuart--`` `as the
equivalent of the receipt I was to have given when I made my
report to-night. I sent three of your guards away on my own
responsibility, for I think more than that number might attract
attention to the spot, and they might be seen from the oretrains.'
That is the point of the note for us, of course,''
Stuart interrupted himself to say. ``Burke adds,'' he went on,
`` `that they are to make no effort to rescue him, as he is quite
comfortable, and is willing to remain in the carcel until they
are established in power.' ''
``Within sight of the ore-trains!'' exclaimed Clay. ``There are
no ore-trains but ours. It must be along the line of the road.''
``MacWilliams says he knows every foot of land along the
railroad,'' said Stuart, ``and he is sure the place Burke means
is the old fortress on the Platta inlet, because--''
``It is the only place,'' interrupted MacWilliams, ``where there
is no surf. They could run small boats up the inlet and unload
in smooth water within twenty feet of the ramparts; and another
thing, that is the only point on the line with a wagon road
running direct from it to the Capital. It's an old road, and
hasn't been travelled over for years, but it could be used.
No,'' he added, as though answering the doubt in Clay's mind,
``there is no other place. If I had a map here I could show you
in a minute; where the beach is level there is a jungle between
it and the road, and wherever there is open country, there is a
limestone formation and rocks between it and the sea, where no
boat could touch.''
``But the fortress is so conspicuous,'' Clay demurred; ``the
nearest rampart is within twenty feet of the road. Don't you
remember we measured it when we thought of laying the double
``That is just what Burke says,'' urged Stuart. ``That is the
reason he gives for leaving only three men on guard--`I think
more than that number might attract attention to the spot, as
they might be seen from the ore-trains.' ''
``Have you told any one of this?'' Clay asked. ``What have you
done so far?''
``We've done nothing,'' said Stuart. ``We lost our nerve when we
found out how much we knew, and we decided we'd better leave it
to you.''
``Whatever we do must be done at once,'' said Clay. ``They will
come for the arms to-night, most likely, and we must be there
first. I agree with you entirely about the place. It is only
a question now of our being on time. There are two things
to do. The first thing is, to keep them from getting the arms,
and the second is, if we are lucky, to secure them for ourselves.
If we can pull it off properly, we ought to have those rifles in
the mines before midnight. If we are hurried or surprised, we
must dump them off the fort into the sea.'' Clay laughed and
looked about him at the men. ``We are only following out General
Bolivar's saying `When you want arms take them from the enemy.'
Now, there are three places we must cover. This house, first of
all,'' he went on, inclining his head quickly toward the two
sisters, ``then the city, and the mines. Stuart's place, of
course, is at the Palace. King must take care of this house and
those in it, and MacWilliams and Langham and I must look after
the arms. We must organize two parties, and they had better
approach the fort from here and from the mines at the same time.
I will need you to do some telegraphing for me, Mac; and, King, I
must ask you for some more men from the yacht. How many have
King answered that there were fifteen men still on board, ten of
whom would be of service. He added that they were all well
equipped for fighting.
``I believe King's a pirate in business hours,'' Clay said,
smiling. ``All right, that's good. Now go tell ten of them to
meet me at the round-house in half an hour. I will get
MacWilliams to telegraph Kirkland to run an engine and flat cars
to within a half mile of the fort on the north, and we will come
up on it with the sailors and Ted, here, from the south. You
must run the engine yourself, MacWilliams, and perhaps it would
be better, King, if your men joined us at the foot of the grounds
here and not at the round-house. None of the workmen must see
our party start. Do you agree with me?'' he asked, turning to
those in the group about him. ``Has anybody any criticism to
Stuart and King looked at one another ruefully and laughed. ``I
don't see what good I am doing in town,'' protested Stuart.
``Yes, and I don't see where I come in, either,'' growled King,
in aggrieved tones. ``These youngsters can't do it all; besides
I ought to have charge of my own men.''
``Mutiny,'' said Clay, in some perplexity, ``rank mutiny. Why,
it's only a picnic. There are but three men there. We don't
need sixteen white men to frighten off three Olanchoans.''
``I'll tell you what to do,'' cried Hope, with the air of having
discovered a plan which would be acceptable to every one, ``let's
all go.''
``Well, I certainly mean to go,'' said Mr. Langham,
decidedly. ``So some one else must stay here. Ted, you will
have to look after your sisters.''
The son and heir smiled upon his parent with a look of
affectionate wonder, and shook his head at him in fond and
pitying disapproval.
``I'll stay,'' said King. ``I have never seen such ungallant
conduct. Ladies,'' he said, ``I will protect your lives and
property, and we'll invent something exciting to do ourselves,
even if we have to bombard the Capital.''
The men bade the women good-night, and left them with King and
Mr. Langham, who had been persuaded to remain overnight, while
Stuart rode off to acquaint Alvarez and General Rojas with what
was going on.
There was no chance for Clay to speak to Hope again, though he
felt the cruelty of having to leave her with everything between
them in this interrupted state. But their friends stood about
her, interested and excited over this expedition of smuggled
arms, unconscious of the great miracle that had come into his
life and of his need to speak to and to touch the woman who had
wrought it. Clay felt how much more binding than the laws of
life are the little social conventions that must be observed at
times, even though the heart is leaping with joy or racked with
sorrow. He stood within a few feet of the woman he loved,
wanting to cry out at her and to tell her all the wonderful
things which he had learned were true for the first time that
night, but he was forced instead to keep his eyes away from her
face and to laugh and answer questions, and at the last to go
away content with having held her hand for an instant, and to
have heard her say ``good-luck.''
MacWilliams called Kirkland to the office at the other end
of the Company's wire, and explained the situation to him. He
was instructed to run an engine and freight-cars to a point a
quarter of a mile north of the fort, and to wait there until he
heard a locomotive whistle or pistol shots, when he was to run on
to the fort as quickly and as noiselessly as possible. He was
also directed to bring with him as many of the American workmen
as he could trust to keep silent concerning the events of the
evening. At ten o'clock MacWilliams had the steam up in a
locomotive, and with his only passenger-car in the rear, ran it
out of the yard and stopped the train at the point nearest the
cars where ten of the `Vesta's' crew were waiting. The sailors
had no idea as to where they were going, or what they were to do,
but the fact that they had all been given arms filled them with
satisfaction, and they huddled together at the bottom of the car
smoking and whispering, and radiant with excitement and
The train progressed cautiously until it was within a half mile
below the fort, when Clay stopped it, and, leaving two men on
guard, stepped off the remaining distance on the ties, his little
band following noiselessly behind him like a procession of ghosts
in the moonlight. They halted and listened from time to time as
they drew near the ruins, but there was no sound except the
beating of the waves on the rocks and the rustling of the
sea-breeze through the vines and creepers about them.
Clay motioned to the men to sit down, and, beckoning to
MacWilliams, directed him to go on ahead and reconnoitre.
``If you fire we will come up,'' he said. ``Get back here as
soon as you can.''
``Aren't you going to make sure first that Kirkland is on the
other side of the fort?'' MacWilliams whispered.
Clay replied that he was certain Kirkland had already arrived.
``He had a shorter run than ours, and he wired you he was ready
to start when we were, didn't he?'' MacWilliams nodded.
``Well, then, he is there. I can count on Kirk.''
MacWilliams pulled at his heavy boots and hid them in the bushes,
with his helmet over them to mark the spot. ``I feel as though I
was going to rob a bank,'' he chuckled, as he waved his hand and
crept off into the underbrush.
For the first few moments the men who were left behind sat
silent, but as the minutes wore on, and MacWilliams made no sign,
they grew restless, and shifted their positions, and began to
whisper together, until Clay shook his head at them, and there
was silence again until one of them, in trying not to cough,
almost strangled, and the others tittered and those nearest
pummelled him on the back.
Clay pulled out his revolver, and after spinning the cylinder
under his finger-nail, put it back in its holder again, and the
men, taking this as an encouraging promise of immediate action,
began to examine their weapons again for the twentieth time, and
there was a chorus of short, muffled clicks as triggers were
drawn back and cautiously lowered and levers shot into place and
caught again.
One of the men farthest down the track raised his arm, and all
turned and half rose as they saw MacWilliams coming toward them
on a run, leaping noiselessly in his stocking feet from tie to
tie. He dropped on his knees between Clay and Langham.
``The guns are there all right,'' he whispered, panting, ``and
there are only three men guarding them. They are all sitting on
the beach smoking. I hustled around the fort and came across the
whole outfit in the second gallery. It looks like a row of
coffins, ten coffins and about twenty little boxes and kegs. I'm
sure that means they are coming for them to-night. They've not
tried to hide them nor to cover them up. All we've got to do is
to walk down on the guards and tell them to throw up their hands.
It's too easy.''
Clay jumped to his feet. ``Come on,'' he said.
``Wait till I get my boots on first,'' begged MacWilliams. ``I
wouldn't go over those cinders again in my bare feet for all the
buried treasure in the Spanish Main. You can make all the noise
you want; the waves will drown it.''
With MacWilliams to show them the way, the men scrambled up the
outer wall of the fort and crossed the moss-covered ramparts at
the run. Below them, on the sandy beach, were three men sitting
around a driftwood fire that had sunk to a few hot ashes. Clay
nodded to MacWilliams. ``You and Ted can have them,'' he said.
``Go with him, Langham.''
The sailors levelled their rifles at the three lonely figures on
the beach as the two boys slipped down the wall and fell on their
hands and feet in the sand below, and then crawled up to within a
few feet of where the men were sitting.
As MacWilliams raised his revolver one of the three, who was
cooking something over the fire, raised his head and with a yell
of warning flung himself toward his rifle.
``Up with your hands!'' MacWilliams shouted in Spanish, and
Langham, running in, seized the nearest sentry by the neck and
shoved his face down between his knees into the sand.
There was a great rattle of falling stones and of breaking vines
as the sailors tumbled down the side of the fort, and in a half
minute's time the three sentries were looking with angry,
frightened eyes at the circle of armed men around them.
``Now gag them,'' said Clay. ``Does anybody here know how to gag
a man?'' he asked. ``I don't.''
``Better make him tell what he knows first,'' suggested Langham.
But the Spaniards were too terrified at what they had done, or at
what they had failed to do, to further commit themselves.
``Tie us and gag us,'' one of them begged. ``Let them find us
so. It is the kindest thing you can do for us.''
``Thank you, sir,'' said Clay. ``That is what I wanted to know.
They are coming to-night, then. We must hurry.''
The three sentries were bound and hidden at the base of the wall,
with a sailor to watch them. He was a young man with a high
sense of the importance of his duties, and he enlivened the
prisoners by poking them in the ribs whenever they moved.
Clay deemed it impossible to signal Kirkland as they had arranged
to do, as they could not know now how near those who were coming
for the arms might be. So MacWilliams was sent back for his
engine, and a few minutes later they heard it rumble heavily past
the fort on its way to bring up Kirkland and the flat cars. Clay
explored the lower chambers of the fort and found the boxes as
MacWilliams had described them. Ten men, with some effort, could
lift and carry the larger coffin-shaped boxes, and Clay guessed
that, granting their contents to be rifles, there must be a
hundred pieces in each box, and that there were a thousand rifles
in all.
They had moved half of the boxes to the side of the track when
the train of flat cars and the two engines came crawling and
twisting toward them, between the walls of the jungle, like a
great serpent, with no light about it but the glow from the hot
ashes as they fell between the rails. Thirty men, equally
divided between Irish and negroes, fell off the flat cars before
the wheels had ceased to revolve, and, without a word of
direction, began loading the heavy boxes on the train and passing
the kegs of cartridges from hand to hand and shoulder to
shoulder. The sailors spread out up the road that led to the
Capital to give warning in case the enemy approached, but they
were recalled before they had reason to give an alarm, and in a
half hour Burke's entire shipment of arms was on the ore-cars,
the men who were to have guarded them were prisoners in the
cab of the engine, and both trains were rushing at full speed
toward the mines. On arriving there Kirkland's train was
switched to the siding that led to the magazine in which was
stored the rack-arock and dynamite used in the blasting. By
midnight all of the boxes were safely under lock in the zinc
building, and the number of the men who always guarded the place
for fear of fire or accident was doubled, while a reserve,
composed of Kirkland's thirty picked men, were hidden in the
surrounding houses and engine-sheds.
Before Clay left he had one of the boxes broken open, and found
that it held a hundred Mannlicher rifles.
``Good!'' he said. ``I'd give a thousand dollars in gold if I
could bring Mendoza out here and show him his own men armed with
his own Mannlichers and dying for a shot at him. How old Burke
will enjoy this when he hears of it!''
The party from the Palms returned to their engine after many
promises of reward to the men for their work ``over-time,'' and
were soon flying back with their hearts as light as the smoke
above them.
MacWilliams slackened speed as they neared the fort, and moved up
cautiously on the scene of their recent victory, but a warning
cry from Clay made him bring his engine to a sharp stop.
Many lights were flashing over the ruins and they could see
in their reflection the figures of men running over the same
walls on which the lizards had basked in undisturbed peace for
``They look like a swarm of hornets after some one has chucked a
stone through their nest,'' laughed MacWilliams. ``What shall we
do now? Go back, or wait here, or run the blockade?''
``Oh, ride them out,'' said Langham; ``the family's anxious, and
I want to tell them what's happened. Go ahead.''
Clay turned to the sailors in the car behind them. ``Lie down,
men,'' he said. ``And don't any of you fire unless I tell you
to. Let them do all the shooting. This isn't our fight yet,
and, besides, they can't hit a locomotive standing still,
certainly not when it's going at full speed.''
``Suppose they've torn the track up?'' said MacWilliams,
grinning. ``We'd look sort of silly flying through the air.''
``Oh, they've not sense enough to think of that,'' said Clay.
``Besides, they don't know it was we who took their arms away,
MacWilliams opened the throttle gently, and the train moved
slowly forward, gaining speed at each revolution of the wheels.
As the noise of its approach beat louder and louder on the
air, a yell of disappointed rage and execration rose into the
night from the fort, and a mass of soldiers swarmed upon the
track, leaping up and down and shaking the rifles in their hands.
``That sounds a little as though they thought we had something to
do with it,'' said MacWilliams, grimly. ``If they don't look out
some one will get hurt.''
There was a flash of fire from where the mass of men stood,
followed by a dozen more flashes, and the bullets rattled on the
smokestack and upon the boiler of the engine.
``Low bridge,'' cried MacWilliams, with a fierce chuckle. ``Now,
watch her!''
He threw open the throttle as far as it would go, and the engine
answered to his touch like a race-horse to the whip. It seemed
to spring from the track into the air. It quivered and shook
like a live thing, and as it shot in between the soldiers they
fell back on either side, and MacWilliams leaned far out of his
cab-window shaking his fist at them.
``You got left, didn't you?'' he shouted. ``Thank you for the
As the locomotive rushed out of the jungle, and passed the point
on the road nearest to the Palms, MacWilliams loosened three long
triumphant shrieks from his whistle and the sailors stood up
and cheered.
``Let them shout,'' cried Clay. ``Everybody will have to know
now. It's begun at last,'' he said, with a laugh of relief.
``And we took the first trick,'' said MacWilliams, as he ran his
engine slowly into the railroad yard.
The whistles of the engine and the shouts of the sailors had
carried far through the silence of the night, and as the men came
hurrying across the lawn to the Palms, they saw all of those who
had been left behind grouped on the veranda awaiting them.
``Do the conquering heroes come?'' shouted King.
``They do,'' young Langham cried, joyously. ``We've got all
their arms, and they shot at us. We've been under fire!''
``Are any of you hurt?'' asked Miss Langham, anxiously, as she
and the others hurried down the steps to welcome them, while
those of the `Vesta's' crew who had been left behind looked at
their comrades with envy.
``We have been so frightened and anxious about you,'' said Miss
Hope held out her hand to Clay and greeted him with a quiet,
happy smile, that was in contrast to the excitement and
confusion that reigned about them.
``I knew you would come back safely,'' she said. And the
pressure of her hand seemed to add ``to me.''
The day of the review rose clear and warm, tempered by a light
breeze from the sea. As it was a fete day, the harbor wore an
air of unwonted inactivity; no lighters passed heavily from the
levees to the merchantmen at anchor, and the warehouses along the
wharves were closed and deserted. A thin line of smoke from the
funnels of the `Vesta' showed that her fires were burning, and
the fact that she rode on a single anchor chain seemed to promise
that at any moment she might slip away to sea.
As Clay was finishing his coffee two notes were brought to him
from messengers who had ridden out that morning, and who sat in
their saddles looking at the armed force around the office with
amused intelligence.
One note was from Mendoza, and said he had decided not to call
out the regiment at the mines, as he feared their long absence
from drill would make them compare unfavorably with their
comrades, and do him more harm than credit. ``He is afraid of
them since last night,'' was Clay's comment, as he passed the
note on to MacWilliams. ``He's quite right, they might do
him harm.''
The second note was from Stuart. He said the city was already
wide awake and restless, but whether this was due to the fact
that it was a fete day, or to some other cause which would
disclose itself later, he could not tell. Madame Alvarez, the
afternoon before, while riding in the Alameda, had been insulted
by a group of men around a cafe', who had risen and shouted
after her, one of them throwing a wine-glass into her lap as she
rode past. His troopers had charged the sidewalk and carried off
six of the men to the carcel. He and Rojas had urged the
President to make every preparation for immediate flight, to have
the horses put to his travelling carriage, and had warned him
when at the review to take up his position at the point nearest
to his own body-guard, and as far as possible from the troops led
by Mendoza. Stuart added that he had absolute confidence in the
former. The policeman who had attempted to carry Burke's note to
Mendoza had confessed that he was the only traitor in the camp,
and that he had tried to work on his comrades without success.
Stuart begged Clay to join him as quickly as possible. Clay went
up the hill to the Palms, and after consulting with Mr. Langham,
dictated an order to Kirkland, instructing him to call the
men together and to point out to them how much better their
condition had been since they had entered the mines, and to
promise them an increase of wages if they remained faithful to
Mr. Langham's interests, and a small pension to any one who might
be injured ``from any cause whatsoever'' while serving him.
``Tell them, if they are loyal, they can live in their shacks
rent free hereafter,'' wrote Clay. ``They are always asking for
that. It's a cheap generosity,'' he added aloud to Mr. Langham,
``because we've never been able to collect rent from any of them
At noon young Langham ordered the best three horses in the
stables to be brought to the door of the Palms for Clay,
MacWilliams, and himself. Clay's last words to King were to have
the yacht in readiness to put to sea when he telephoned him to do
so, and he advised the women to have their dresses and more
valuable possessions packed ready to be taken on board.
``Don't you think I might see the review if I went on
horseback?'' Hope asked. ``I could get away then, if there
should be any trouble.''
Clay answered with a look of such alarm and surprise that Hope
``See the review! I should say not,'' he exclaimed. ``I don't
even want Ted to be there.''
``Oh, that's always the way,'' said Hope, ``I miss everything. I
think I'll come, however, anyhow. The servants are all going,
and I'll go with them disguised in a turban.''
As the men neared Valencia, Clay turned in his saddle, and asked
Langham if he thought his sister would really venture into the
``She'd better not let me catch her, if she does,'' the fond
brother replied.
The reviewing party left the Government Palace for the Alameda at
three o'clock, President Alvarez riding on horseback in advance,
and Madame Alvarez sitting in the State carriage with one of her
attendants, and with Stuart's troopers gathered so closely about
her that the men's boots scraped against the wheels, and their
numbers hid her almost entirely from sight.
The great square in which the evolutions were to take place was
lined on its four sides by the carriages of the wealthy
Olanchoans, except at the two gates, where there was a wide space
left open to admit the soldiers. The branches of the trees on
the edges of the bare parade ground were black with men and boys,
and the balconies and roofs of the houses that faced it were gay
with streamers and flags, and alive with women wrapped for the
occasion in their colored shawls. Seated on the grass between
the carriages, or surging up and down behind them, were
thousands of people, each hurrying to gain a better place of
vantage, or striving to hold the one he had, and forming a
restless, turbulent audience in which all individual cries were
lost in a great murmur of laughter, and calls, and cheers. The
mass knit together, and pressed forward as the President's band
swung jauntily into the square and halted in one corner, and a
shout of expectancy went up from the trees and housetops as the
President's body-guard entered at the lower gate, and the broken
place in its ranks showed that it was escorting the State
carriage. The troopers fell back on two sides, and the carriage,
with the President riding at its head, passed on, and took up a
position in front of the other carriages, and close to one of the
sides of the hollow square. At Stuart's orders Clay,
MacWilliams, and Langham had pushed their horses into the rear
rank of cavalry, and remained wedged between the troopers within
twenty feet of where Madame Alvarez was sitting. She was very
white, and the powder on her face gave her an added and unnatural
pallor. As the people cheered her husband and herself she raised
her head slightly and seemed to be trying to catch any sound of
dissent in their greeting, or some possible undercurrent of
disfavor, but the welcome appeared to be both genuine and
hearty, until a second shout smothered it completely as the
figure of old General Rojas, the Vice-President, and the most
dearly loved by the common people, came through the gate at the
head of his regiment. There was such greeting for him that the
welcome to the President seemed mean in comparison, and it was
with an embarrassment which both felt that the two men drew near
together, and each leaned from his saddle to grasp the other's
hand. Madame Alvarez sank back rigidly on her cushions, and her
eyes flashed with anticipation and excitement. She drew her
mantilla a little closer about her shoulders, with a nervous
shudder as though she were cold. Suddenly the look of anxiety in
her eyes changed to one of annoyance, and she beckoned Clay
imperiously to the side of the carriage.
``Look,'' she said, pointing across the square. ``If I am not
mistaken that is Miss Langham, Miss Hope. The one on the black
horse--it must be she, for none of the native ladies ride. It is
not safe for her to be here alone. Go,'' she commanded, ``bring
her here to me. Put her next to the carriage, or perhaps she
will be safer with you among the troopers.''
Clay had recognized Hope before Madame Alvarez had finished
speaking, and dashed off at a gallop, skirting the line of
carriages. Hope had stopped her horse beside a victoria,
and was talking to the native women who occupied it, and who were
scandalized at her appearance in a public place with no one but a
groom to attend her.
``Why, it's the same thing as a polo match,'' protested Hope, as
Clay pulled up angrily beside the victoria. ``I always ride over
to polo alone at Newport, at least with James,'' she added,
nodding her head toward the servant.
The man approached Clay and touched his hat apologetically,
``Miss Hope would come, sir,'' he said, ``and I thought I'd
better be with her than to go off and tell Mr. Langham, sir. I
knew she wouldn't wait for me.''
``I asked you not to come,'' Clay said to Hope, in a low voice.
``I wanted to know the worst at once,'' she answered. ``I was
anxious about Ted--and you.''
``Well, it can't be helped now,'' he said. ``Come, we must
hurry, here is our friend, the enemy.'' He bowed to their
acquaintances in the victoria and they trotted briskly off to the
side of the President's carriage, just as a yell arose from the
crowd that made all the other shouts which had preceded it sound
like the cheers of children at recess.
``It reminds me of a football match,'' whispered young Langham,
excitedly, ``when the teams run on the field. Look at
Alvarez and Rojas watching Mendoza.''
Mendoza advanced at the front of his three troops of cavalry,
looking neither to the left nor right, and by no sign
acknowledging the fierce uproarious greeting of the people.
Close behind him came his chosen band of cowboys and ruffians.
They were the best equipped and least disciplined soldiers in the
army, and were, to the great relief of the people, seldom seen in
the city, but were kept moving in the mountain passes and along
the coast line, on the lookout for smugglers with whom they were
on the most friendly terms. They were a picturesque body of
blackguards, in their hightopped boots and silver-tipped
sombreros and heavy, gaudy saddles, but the shout that had gone
up at their advance was due as much to the fear they inspired as
to any great love for them or their chief.
``Now all the chessmen are on the board, and the game can
begin,'' said Clay. ``It's like the scene in the play, where
each man has his sword at another man's throat and no one dares
make the first move.'' He smiled as he noted, with the eye of
one who had seen Continental troops in action, the shuffling
steps and slovenly carriage of the half-grown soldiers that
followed Mendoza's cavalry at a quick step. Stuart's picked
men, over whom he had spent many hot and weary hours, looked
like a troop of Life Guardsmen in comparison. Clay noted their
superiority, but he also saw that in numbers they were most
woefully at a disadvantage.
It was a brilliant scene for so modest a capital. The sun
flashed on the trappings of the soldiers, on the lacquer and
polished metal work of the carriages; and the Parisian gowns of
their occupants and the fluttering flags and banners filled the
air with color and movement, while back of all, framing the
parade ground with a band of black, was the restless mob of
people applauding the evolutions, and cheering for their
favorites, Alvarez, Mendoza, and Rojas, moved by an excitement
that was in disturbing contrast to the easy good-nature of their
usual manner.
The marching and countermarching of the troops had continued with
spirit for some time, and there was a halt in the evolutions
which left the field vacant, except for the presence of Mendoza's
cavalrymen, who were moving at a walk along one side of the
quadrangle. Alvarez and Vice-President Rojas, with Stuart, as an
adjutant at their side, were sitting their horses within some
fifty yards of the State carriage and the body-guard. Alvarez
made a conspicuous contrast in his black coat and high hat to the
brilliant greens and reds of his generals' uniforms, but he
sat his saddle as well as either of the others, and his white
hair, white imperial and mustache, and the dignity of his bearing
distinguished him above them both. Little Stuart, sitting at his
side, with his blue eyes glaring from under his white helmet and
his face burned to almost as red a tint as his curly hair, looked
like a fierce little bull-dog in comparison. None of the three
men spoke as they sat motionless and quite alone waiting for the
next movement of the troops.
It proved to be one of moment. Even before Mendoza had ridden
toward them with his sword at salute, Clay gave an exclamation of
enlightenment and concern. He saw that the men who were believed
to be devoted to Rojas, had been halted and left standing at the
farthest corner of the plaza, nearly two hundred yards from where
the President had taken his place, that Mendoza's infantry
surrounded them on every side, and that Mendoza's cowboys, who
had been walking their horses, had wheeled and were coming up
with an increasing momentum, a flying mass of horses and men
directed straight at the President himself.
Mendoza galloped up to Alvarez with his sword still in salute.
His eyes were burning with excitement and with the light of
success. No one but Stuart and Rojas heard his words; to the
spectators and to the army he appeared as though he was, in
his capacity of Commander-in-Chief, delivering some brief report,
or asking for instructions.
``Dr. Alvarez,'' he said, ``as the head of the army I arrest you
for high treason; you have plotted to place yourself in office
without popular election. You are also accused of large thefts
of public funds. I must ask you to ride with me to the military
prison. General Rojas, I regret that as an accomplice of the
President's, you must come with us also. I will explain my
action to the people when you are safe in prison, and I will
proclaim martial law. If your troops attempt to interfere, my
men have orders to fire on them and you.''
Stuart did not wait for his sentence. He had heard the heavy
beat of the cavalry coming up on them at a trot. He saw the
ranks open and two men catch at each bridle rein of both Alvarez
and Rojas and drag them on with them, buried in the crush of
horses about them, and swept forward by the weight and impetus of
the moving mass behind. Stuart dashed off to the State carriage
and seized the nearest of the horses by the bridle. ``To the
Palace!'' he shouted to his men. ``Shoot any one who tries to
stop you. Forward, at a gallop,'' he commanded.
The populace had not discovered what had occurred until it was
finished. The coup d'etat had been long considered and the
manner in which it was to be carried out carefully planned. The
cavalry had swept across the parade ground and up the street
before the people saw that they carried Rojas and Alvarez with
them. The regiment commanded by Rojas found itself hemmed in
before and behind by Mendoza's two regiments. They were greatly
outnumbered, but they fired a scattering shot, and following
their captured leader, broke through the line around them and
pursued the cavalry toward the military prison.
It was impossible to tell in the uproar which followed how many
or how few had been parties to the plot. The mob, shrieking and
shouting and leaping in the air, swarmed across the parade
ground, and from a dozen different points men rose above the
heads of the people and harangued them in violent speeches. And
while some of the soldiers and the citizens gathered anxiously
about these orators, others ran through the city calling for the
rescue of the President, for an attack on the palace, and
shrieking ``Long live the Government!'' and ``Long live the
Revolution!'' The State carriage raced through the narrow
streets with its body-guard galloping around it, sweeping down in
its rush stray pedestrians, and scattering the chairs and
tables in front of the cafe's. As it dashed up the long avenue
of the palace, Stuart called his men back and ordered them to
shut and barricade the great iron gates and to guard them against
the coming of the mob, while MacWilliams and young Langham pulled
open the carriage door and assisted the President's wife and her
terrified companion to alight. Madame Alvarez was trembling with
excitement as she leaned on Langham's arm, but she showed no
signs of fear in her face or in her manner.
``Mr. Clay has gone to bring your travelling carriage to the rear
door,'' Langham said. ``Stuart tells us it is harnessed and
ready. You will hurry, please, and get whatever you need to
carry with you. We will see you safely to the coast.''
As they entered the hall, and were ascending the great marble
stairway, Hope and her groom, who had followed in the rear of the
cavalry, came running to meet them. ``I got in by the back
way,'' Hope explained. ``The streets there are all deserted.
How can I help you?'' she asked, eagerly.
``By leaving me,'' cried the older woman. ``Good God, child,
have I not enough to answer for without dragging you into this?
Go home at once through the botanical garden, and then by
way of the wharves. That part of the city is still empty.''
``Where are your servants; why are they not here?'' Hope demanded
without heeding her. The palace was strangely empty; no
footsteps came running to greet them, no doors opened or shut as
they hurried to Madame Alvarez's apartments. The servants of the
household had fled at the first sound of the uproar in the city,
and the dresses and ornaments scattered on the floor told that
they had not gone empty-handed. The woman who had accompanied
Madame Alvarez to the review sank weeping on the bed, and then,
as the shouts grew suddenly louder and more near, ran to hide
herself in the upper stories of the house. Hope crossed to the
window and saw a great mob of soldiers and citizens sweep around
the corner and throw themselves against the iron fence of the
palace. ``You will have to hurry,'' she said. ``Remember, you
are risking the lives of those boys by your delay.''
There was a large bed in the room, and Madame Alvarez had pulled
it forward and was bending over a safe that had opened in the
wall, and which had been hidden by the head board of the bed.
She held up a bundle of papers in her hand, wrapped in a leather
portfolio. ``Do you see these?'' she cried, ``they are drafts
for five millions of dollars.'' She tossed them back into
the safe and swung the door shut.
``You are a witness. I do not take them,'' she said.
``I don't understand,'' Hope answered, ``but hurry. Have you
everything you want--have you your jewels?''
``Yes,'' the woman answered, as she rose to her feet, ``they are
A yell more loud and terrible than any that had gone before rose
from the garden below, and there was the sound of iron beating
against iron, and cries of rage and execration from a great
``I will not go!'' the Spanish woman cried, suddenly. ``I will
not leave Alvarez to that mob. If they want to kill me, let them
kill me.'' She threw the bag that held her jewels on the bed,
and pushing open the window stepped out upon the balcony. She
was conspicuous in her black dress against the yellow stucco of
the wall, and in an instant the mob saw her and a mad shout of
exultation and anger rose from the mass that beat and crushed
itself against the high iron railings of the garden. Hope caught
the woman by the skirt and dragged her back. ``You are mad,''
she said. ``What good can you do your husband here? Save
yourself and he will come to you when he can. There is
nothing you can do for him now; you cannot give your life for
him. You are wasting it, and you are risking the lives of the
men who are waiting for us below. Come, I tell you.''
MacWilliams left Clay waiting beside the diligence and ran from
the stable through the empty house and down the marble stairs to
the garden without meeting any one on his way. He saw Stuart
helping and directing his men to barricade the gates with iron
urns and garden benches and sentry-boxes. Outside the mob were
firing at him with their revolvers, and calling him foul names,
but Stuart did not seem to hear them. He greeted MacWilliams
with a cheerful little laugh. ``Well,'' he asked, ``is she
``No, but we are. Clay and I've been waiting there for five
minutes. We found Miss Hope's groom and sent him back to the
Palms with a message to King. We told him to run the yacht to
Los Bocos and lie off shore until we came. He is to take her on
down the coast to Truxillo, where our man-of-war is lying, and
they will give her shelter as a political refugee.''
``Why don't you drive her to the Palms at once?'' demanded
Stuart, anxiously, ``and take her on board the yacht there? It
is ten miles to Bocos and the roads are very bad.''
``Clay says we could never get her through the city,''
MacWilliams answered. ``We should have to fight all the way.
But the city to the south is deserted, and by going out by the
back roads, we can make Bocos by ten o'clock to-night. The yacht
should reach there by seven.''
``You are right; go back. I will call off some of my men. The
rest must hold this mob back until you start; then I will follow
with the others. Where is Miss Hope?''
``We don't know. Clay is frantic. Her groom says she is
somewhere in the palace.''
``Hurry,'' Stuart commanded. ``If Mendoza gets here before
Madame Alvarez leaves, it will be too late.''
MacWilliams sprang up the steps of the palace, and Stuart,
calling to the men nearest him to follow, started after him on a
As Stuart entered the palace with his men at his heels, Clay was
hurrying from its rear entrance along the upper hall, and Hope
and Madame Alvarez were leaving the apartments of the latter at
its front. They met at the top of the main stairway just as
Stuart put his foot on its lower step. The young Englishman
heard the clatter of his men following close behind him and
leaped eagerly forward. Half way to the top the noise behind him
ceased, and turning his head quickly he looked back over his
shoulder and saw that the men had halted at the foot of the
stairs and stood huddled together in disorder looking up at him.
Stuart glanced over their heads and down the hallway to the
garden beyond to see if they were followed, but the mob still
fought from the outer side of the barricade. He waved his sword
impatiently and started forward again. ``Come on!'' he shouted.
But the men below him did not move. Stuart halted once more and
this time turned about and looked down upon them with surprise
and anger. There was not one of them he could not have called by
name. He knew all their little troubles, their love-affairs,
even. They came to him for comfort and advice, and to beg for
money. He had regarded them as his children, and he was proud of
them as soldiers because they were the work of his hands.
So, instead of a sharp command, he asked, ``What is it?'' in
surprise, and stared at them wondering. He could not or would
not comprehend, even though he saw that those in the front rank
were pushing back and those behind were urging them forward. The
muzzles of their carbines were directed at every point, and on
their faces fear and hate and cowardice were written in varying
``What does this mean?'' Stuart demanded, sharply. ``What are
you waiting for?''
Clay had just reached the top of the stairs. He saw Madame
Alvarez and Hope coming toward him, and at the sight of Hope he
gave an exclamation of relief.
Then his eyes turned and fell on the tableau below, on Stuart's
back, as he stood confronting the men, and on their scowling
upturned faces and half-lifted carbines. Clay had lived for a
longer time among Spanish-Americans than had the English
subaltern, or else he was the quicker of the two to believe in
evil and ingratitude, for he gave a cry of warning, and motioned
the women away.
``Stuart!'' he cried. ``Come away; for God's sake, what are you
doing? Come back!''
The Englishman started at the sound of his friend's voice, but he
did not turn his head. He began to descend the stairs slowly, a
step at a time, staring at the mob so fiercely that they shrank
back before the look of wounded pride and anger in his eyes.
Those in the rear raised and levelled their rifles. Without
taking his eyes from theirs, Stuart drew his revolver, and with
his sword swinging from its wrist-strap, pointed his weapon at
the mass below him.
``What does this mean?'' he demanded. ``Is this mutiny?''
A voice from the rear of the crowd of men shrieked: ``Death to
the Spanish woman. Death to all traitors. Long live
Mendoza,'' and the others echoed the cry in chorus.
Clay sprang down the broad stairs calling, ``Come to me;'' but
before he could reach Stuart, a woman's voice rang out, in a long
terrible cry of terror, a cry that was neither a prayer nor an
imprecation, but which held the agony of both. Stuart started,
and looked up to where Madame Alvarez had thrown herself toward
him across the broad balustrade of the stairway. She was silent
with fear, and her hand clutched at the air, as she beckoned
wildly to him. Stuart stared at her with a troubled smile and
waved his empty hand to reassure her. The movement was final,
for the men below, freed from the reproach of his eyes, flung up
their carbines and fired, some wildly, without placing their guns
at rest, and others steadily and aiming straight at his heart.
As the volley rang out and the smoke drifted up the great
staircase, the subaltern's hands tossed high above his head, his
body sank into itself and toppled backward, and, like a tired
child falling to sleep, the defeated soldier of fortune dropped
back into the outstretched arms of his friend.
Clay lifted him upon his knee, and crushed him closer against his
breast with one arm, while he tore with his free hand at the
stock about the throat and pushed his fingers in between the
buttons of the tunic. They came forth again wet and colored
``Stuart!'' Clay gasped. ``Stuart, speak to me, look at me!''
He shook the body in his arms with fierce roughness, peering into
the face that rested on his shoulder, as though he could command
the eyes back again to light and life. ``Don't leave me!'' he
said. ``For God's sake, old man, don't leave me!''
But the head on his shoulder only sank the closer and the body
stiffened in his arms. Clay raised his eyes and saw the soldiers
still standing, irresolute and appalled at what they had done,
and awe-struck at the sight of the grief before them.
Clay gave a cry as terrible as the cry of a woman who has seen
her child mangled before her eyes, and lowering the body quickly
to the steps, he ran at the scattering mass below him. As he
came they fled down the corridor, shrieking and calling to their
friends to throw open the gates and begging them to admit the
mob. When they reached the outer porch they turned, encouraged
by the touch of numbers, and halted to fire at the man who still
followed them.
Clay stopped, with a look in his eyes which no one who knew them
had ever seen there, and smiled with pleasure in knowing himself
a master in what he had to do. And at each report of his
revolver one of Stuart's assassins stumbled and pitched heavily
forward on his face. Then he turned and walked slowly back up
the hall to the stairway like a man moving in his sleep. He
neither saw nor heard the bullets that bit spitefully at the
walls about him and rattled among the glass pendants of the great
chandeliers above his head. When he came to the step on which
the body lay he stooped and picked it up gently, and holding it
across his breast, strode on up the stairs. MacWilliams and
Langham were coming toward him, and saw the helpless figure in
his arms.
``What is it?'' they cried; ``is he wounded, is he hurt?''
``He is dead,'' Clay answered, passing on with his burden. ``Get
Hope away.''
Madame Alvarez stood with the girl's arms about her, her eyes
closed and her figure trembling.
``Let me be!'' she moaned. ``Don't touch me; let me die. My
God, what have I to live for now?'' She shook off Hope's
supporting arm, and stood before them, all her former courage
gone, trembling and shivering in agony. ``I do not care what
they do to me!'' she cried. She tore her lace mantilla from her
shoulders and threw it on the floor. ``I shall not leave this
place. He is dead. Why should I go? He is dead. They
have murdered him; he is dead.''
``She is fainting,'' said Hope. Her voice was strained and hard.
To her brother she seemed to have grown suddenly much older, and
he looked to her to tell him what to do.
``Take hold of her,'' she said. ``She will fall.'' The woman
sank back into the arms of the men, trembling and moaning feebly.
``Now carry her to the carriage,'' said Hope. ``She has fainted;
it is better; she does not know what has happened.''
Clay, still bearing the body in his arms, pushed open the first
door that stood ajar before him with his foot. It opened into
the great banqueting hall of the palace, but he could not choose.
He had to consider now the safety of the living, whose lives were
still in jeopardy.
The long table in the centre of the hall was laid with places for
many people, for it had been prepared for the President and the
President's guests, who were to have joined with him in
celebrating the successful conclusion of the review. From
outside the light of the sun, which was just sinking behind the
mountains, shone dimly upon the silver on the board, on the glass
and napery, and the massive gilt centre-pieces filled with great
clusters of fresh flowers. It looked as though the servants
had but just left the room. Even the candles had been lit in
readiness, and as their flames wavered and smoked in the evening
breeze they cast uncertain shadows on the walls and showed the
stern faces of the soldier presidents frowning down on the
crowded table from their gilded frames.
There was a great leather lounge stretching along one side of the
hall, and Clay moved toward this quickly and laid his burden
down. He was conscious that Hope was still following him. He
straightened the limbs of the body and folded the arms across the
breast and pressed his hand for an instant on the cold hands of
his friend, and then whispering something between his lips,
turned and walked hurriedly away.
Hope confronted him in the doorway. She was sobbing silently.
``Must we leave him,'' she pleaded, ``must we leave him--like
From the garden there came the sound of hammers ringing on the
iron hinges, and a great crash of noises as the gate fell back
from its fastenings, and the mob rushed over the obstacles upon
which it had fallen. It seemed as if their yells of exultation
and anger must reach even the ears of the dead man.
``They are calling Mendoza,'' Clay whispered, ``he must be with
them. Come, we will have to run for our lives now.''
But before he could guess what Hope was about to do, or could
prevent her, she had slipped past him and picked up Stuart's
sword that had fallen from his wrist to the floor, and laid it on
the soldier's body, and closed his hands upon its hilt. She
glanced quickly about her as though looking for something, and
then with a sob of relief ran to the table, and sweeping it of an
armful of its flowers, stepped swiftly back again to the lounge
and heaped them upon it.
``Come, for God's sake, come!'' Clay called to her in a whisper
from the door.
Hope stood for an instant staring at the young Englishman as the
candle-light flickered over his white face, and then, dropping on
her knees, she pushed back the curly hair from about the boy's
forehead and kissed him. Then, without turning to look again,
she placed her hand in Clay's and he ran with her, dragging her
behind him down the length of the hall, just as the mob entered
it on the floor below them and filled the palace with their
shouts of triumph.
As the sun sank lower its light fell more dimly on the lonely
figure in the vast diningDhall, and as the gloom deepened there,
the candles burned with greater brilliancy, and the faces of the
portraits shone more clearly.
They seemed to be staring down less sternly now upon the
white mortal face of the brother-in-arms who had just joined
One who had known him among his own people would have seen in the
attitude and in the profile of the English soldier a likeness to
his ancestors of the Crusades who lay carved in stone in the
village church, with their faces turned to the sky, their
faithful hounds waiting at their feet, and their hands pressed
upward in prayer.
And when, a moment later, the half-crazed mob of men and boys
swept into the great room, with Mendoza at their head, something
of the pathos of the young Englishman's death in his foreign
place of exile must have touched them, for they stopped appalled
and startled, and pressed back upon their fellows, with eager
whispers. The Spanish-American General strode boldly forward,
but his eyes lowered before the calm, white face, and either
because the lighted candles and the flowers awoke in him some
memory of the great Church that had nursed him, or because the
jagged holes in the soldier's tunic appealed to what was bravest
in him, he crossed himself quickly, and then raising his hands
slowly to his visor, lifted his hat and pointed with it to the
door. And the mob, without once looking back at the rich
treasure of silver on the table, pushed out before him, stepping
softly, as though they had intruded on a shrine.
The President's travelling carriage was a double-seated diligence
covered with heavy hoods and with places on the box for two men.
Only one of the coachmen, the same man who had driven the State
carriage from the review, had remained at the stables. As he
knew the roads to Los Bocos, Clay ordered him up to the driver's
seat, and MacWilliams climbed into the place beside him after
first storing three rifles under the lap-robe.
Hope pulled open the leather curtains of the carriage and found
Madame Alvarez where the men had laid her upon the cushions, weak
and hysterical. The girl crept in beside her, and lifting her in
her arms, rested the older woman's head against her shoulder, and
soothed and comforted her with tenderness and sympathy.
Clay stopped with his foot in the stirrup and looked up anxiously
at Langham who was already in the saddle.
``Is there no possible way of getting Hope out of this and back
to the Palms?'' he asked.
``No, it's too late. This is the only way now.'' Hope opened
the leather curtains and looking out shook her head impatiently
at Clay. ``I wouldn't go now if there were another way,'' she
said. ``I couldn't leave her like this.''
``You're delaying the game, Clay,'' cried Langham, warningly, as
he stuck his spurs into his pony's side.
The people in the diligence lurched forward as the horses felt
the lash of the whip and strained against the harness, and then
plunged ahead at a gallop on their long race to the sea. As they
sped through the gardens, the stables and the trees hid them from
the sight of those in the palace, and the turf, upon which the
driver had turned the horses for greater safety, deadened the
sound of their flight.
They found the gates of the botanical gardens already opened, and
Clay, in the street outside, beckoning them on. Without waiting
for the others the two outriders galloped ahead to the first
cross street, looked up and down its length, and then, in evident
concern at what they saw in the distance, motioned the driver to
greater speed, and crossing the street signalled him to follow
them. At the next corner Clay flung himself off his pony, and
throwing the bridle to Langham, ran ahead into the cross street
on foot, and after a quick glance pointed down its length
away from the heart of the city to the mountains.
The driver turned as Clay directed him, and when the man found
that his face was fairly set toward the goal he lashed his horses
recklessly through the narrow street, so that the murmur of the
mob behind them grew perceptibly fainter at each leap forward.
The noise of the galloping hoofs brought women and children to
the barred windows of the houses, but no men stepped into the
road to stop their progress, and those few they met running in
the direction of the palace hastened to get out of their way, and
stood with their backs pressed against the walls of the narrow
thoroughfare looking after them with wonder.
Even those who suspected their errand were helpless to detain
them, for sooner than they could raise the hue and cry or
formulate a plan of action, the carriage had passed and was
disappearing in the distance, rocking from wheel to wheel like a
ship in a gale. Two men who were so bold as to start to follow,
stopped abruptly when they saw the outriders draw rein and turn
in their saddles as though to await their coming.
Clay's mind was torn with doubts, and his nerves were drawn taut
like the strings of a violin. Personal danger exhilarated him,
but this chance of harm to others who were helpless, except
for him, depressed his spirit with anxiety. He experienced in
his own mind all the nervous fears of a thief who sees an officer
in every passing citizen, and at one moment he warned the driver
to move more circumspectly, and so avert suspicion, and the next
urged him into more desperate bursts of speed. In his fancy
every cross street threatened an ambush, and as he cantered now
before and now behind the carriage, he wished that he was a
multitude of men who could encompass it entirely and hide it.
But the solid streets soon gave way to open places, and low mud
cabins, where the horses' hoofs beat on a sun-baked road, and
where the inhabitants sat lazily before the door in the fading
light, with no knowledge of the changes that the day had wrought
in the city, and with only a moment's curious interest in the
hooded carriage, and the grim, white-faced foreigners who guarded
Clay turned his pony into a trot at Langham's side. His face was
pale and drawn.
As the danger of immediate pursuit and capture grew less, the
carriage had slackened its pace, and for some minutes the
outriders galloped on together side by side in silence. But the
same thought was in the mind of each, and when Langham spoke
it was as though he were continuing where he had but just been
He laid his hand gently on Clay's arm. He did not turn his face
toward him, and his eyes were still peering into the shadows
before them. ``Tell me?'' he asked.
``He was coming up the stairs,'' Clay answered. He spoke in so
low a voice that Langham had to lean from his saddle to hear him.
``They were close behind; but when they saw her they stopped and
refused to go farther. I called to him to come away, but he
would not understand. They killed him before he really
understood what they meant to do. He was dead almost before I
reached him. He died in my arms.'' There was a long pause. ``I
wonder if he knows that?'' Clay said.
Langham sat erect in the saddle again and drew a short breath.
``I wish he could have known how he helped me,'' he whispered,
``how much just knowing him helped me.''
Clay bowed his head to the boy as though he were thanking him.
``His was the gentlest soul I ever knew,'' he said.
``That's what I wanted to say,'' Langham answered. ``We will let
that be his epitaph,'' and touching his spur to his horse he
galloped on ahead and left Clay riding alone.
Langham had proceeded for nearly a mile when he saw the forest
opening before them, and at the sight he gave a shout of relief,
but almost at the same instant he pulled his pony back on his
haunches and whirling him about, sprang back to the carriage with
a cry of warning.
``There are soldiers ahead of us,'' he cried. ``Did you know
it?'' he demanded of the driver. ``Did you lie to me? Turn
``He can't turn back,'' MacWilliams answered. ``They have seen
us. They are only the custom officers at the city limits. They
know nothing. Go on.'' He reached forward and catching the
reins dragged the horses down into a walk. Then he handed the
reins back to the driver with a shake of the head.
``If you know these roads as well as you say you do, you want to
keep us out of the way of soldiers,'' he said. ``If we fall into
a trap you'll be the first man shot on either side.''
A sentry strolled lazily out into the road dragging his gun after
him by the bayonet, and raised his hand for them to halt. His
captain followed him from the post-house throwing away a
cigarette as he came, and saluted MacWilliams on the box and
bowed to the two riders in the background. In his right hand he
held one of the long iron rods with which the collectors of the
city's taxes were wont to pierce the bundles and packs, and
even the carriage cushions of those who entered the city limits
from the coast, and who might be suspected of smuggling.
``Whose carriage is this, and where is it going?'' he asked.
As the speed of the diligence slackened, Hope put her head out of
the curtains, and as she surveyed the soldier with apparent
surprise, she turned to her brother.
``What does this mean?'' she asked. ``What are we waiting for?''
``We are going to the Hacienda of Senor Palacio,''
MacWilliams said, in answer to the officer. ``The driver thinks
that this is the road, but I say we should have taken the one to
the right.''
``No, this is the road to Senor Palacio's plantation,'' the
officer answered, ``but you cannot leave the city without a pass
signed by General Mendoza. That is the order we received this
morning. Have you such a pass?''
``Certainly not,'' Clay answered, warmly. ``This is the carriage
of an American, the president of the mines. His daughters are
inside and on their way to visit the residence of Senor
Palacio. They are foreigners--Americans. We are all
foreigners, and we have a perfect right to leave the city
when we choose. You can only stop us when we enter it.''
The officer looked uncertainly from Clay to Hope and up at the
driver on the box. His eyes fell upon the heavy brass mountings
of the harness. They bore the arms of Olancho. He wheeled
sharply and called to his men inside the post-house, and they
stepped out from the veranda and spread themselves leisurely
across the road.
``Ride him down, Clay,'' Langham muttered, in a whisper. The
officer did not understand the words, but he saw Clay gather the
reins tighter in his hands and he stepped back quickly to the
safety of the porch, and from that ground of vantage smiled
``Pardon,'' he said, ``there is no need for blows when one is
rich enough to pay. A little something for myself and a drink
for my brave fellows, and you can go where you please.''
``Damned brigands,'' growled Langham, savagely.
``Not at all,'' Clay answered. ``He is an officer and a
gentleman. I have no money with me,'' he said, in Spanish,
addressing the officer, ``but between caballeros a word of honor
is sufficient. I shall be returning this way to-morrow morning,
and I will bring a few hundred sols from Senor Palacio
for you and your men; but if we are followed you will get
nothing, and you must have forgotten in the mean time that you
have seen us pass.''
There was a murmur inside the carriage, and Hope's face
disappeared from between the curtains to reappear again
almost immediately. She beckoned to the officer with her hand,
and the men saw that she held between her thumb and little finger
a diamond ring of size and brilliancy. She moved it so that it
flashed in the light of the guard lantern above the post-house.
``My sister tells me you shall be given this tomorrow morning,''
Hope said, ``if we are not followed.''
The man's eyes laughed with pleasure. He swept his sombrero to
the ground.
``I am your servant, Senorita,'' he said. ``Gentlemen,'' he
cried, gayly, turning to Clay, ``if you wish it, I will accompany
you with my men. Yes, I will leave word that I have gone in the
sudden pursuit of smugglers; or I will remain here as you wish,
and send those who may follow back again.''
``You are most gracious, sir,'' said Clay. ``It is always a
pleasure to meet with a gentleman and a philosopher. We prefer
to travel without an escort, and remember, you have seen nothing
and heard nothing.'' He leaned from the saddle, and touched
the officer on the breast. ``That ring is worth a king's
``Or a president's,'' muttered the man, smiling. ``Let the
American ladies pass,'' he commanded.
The soldiers scattered as the whip fell, and the horses once more
leaped forward, and as the carriage entered the forest, Clay
looked back and saw the officer exhaling the smoke of a fresh
cigarette, with the satisfaction of one who enjoys a clean
conscience and a sense of duty well performed.
The road through the forest was narrow and uneven, and as the
horses fell into a trot the men on horseback closed up together
behind the carriage.
``Do you think that road-agent will keep his word?'' Langham
``Yes; he has nothing to win by telling the truth,'' Clay
answered. ``He can say he saw a party of foreigners, Americans,
driving in the direction of Palacio's coffee plantation. That
lets him out, and in the morning he knows he can levy on us for
the gate money. I am not so much afraid of being overtaken as I
am that King may make a mistake and not get to Bocos on time. We
ought to reach there, if the carriage holds together, by eleven.
King should be there by eight o'clock, and the yacht ought to
make the run to Truxillo in three hours. But we shall not
be able to get back to the city before five to-morrow morning. I
suppose your family will be wild about Hope. We didn't know
where she was when we sent the groom back to King.''
``Do you think that driver is taking us the right way?'' Langham
asked, after a pause.
``He'd better. He knows it well enough. He was through the last
revolution, and carried messages from Los Bocos to the city on
foot for two months. He has covered every trail on the way, and
if he goes wrong he knows what will happen to him.''
``And Los Bocos--it is a village, isn't it, and the landing must
be in sight of the Custom-house?''
``The village lies some distance back from the shore, and the
only house on the beach is the Custom-house itself; but every one
will be asleep by the time we get there, and it will take us only
a minute to hand her into the launch. If there should be a guard
there, King will have fixed them one way or another by the time
we arrive. Anyhow, there is no need of looking for trouble that
far ahead. There is enough to worry about in between. We
haven't got there yet.''
The moon rose grandly a few minutes later, and flooded the forest
with light so that the open places were as clear as day. It
threw strange shadows across the trail, and turned the rocks
and fallen trees into figures of men crouching or standing
upright with uplifted arms. They were so like to them that Clay
and Langham flung their carbines to their shoulders again and
again, and pointed them at some black object that turned as they
advanced into wood or stone. From the forest they came to little
streams and broad shallow rivers where the rocks in the fording
places churned the water into white masses of foam, and the
horses kicked up showers of spray as they made their way,
slipping and stumbling, against the current. It was a silent
pilgrim age, and never for a moment did the strain slacken or the
men draw rein. Sometimes, as they hurried across a broad
tableland, or skirted the edge of a precipice and looked down
hundreds of feet below at the shining waters they had just
forded, or up at the rocky points of the mountains before them,
the beauty of the night overcame them and made them forget the
significance of their journey.
They were not always alone, for they passed at intervals through
sleeping villages of mud huts with thatched roofs, where the dogs
ran yelping out to bark at them, and where the pine-knots,
blazing on the clay ovens, burned cheerily in the moonlight. In
the low lands where the fever lay, the mist rose above the level
of their heads and enshrouded them in a curtain of fog, and the
dew fell heavily, penetrating their clothing and chilling
their heated bodies so that the sweating horses moved in a lather
of steam.
They had settled down into a steady gallop now, and ten or
fifteen miles had been left behind them.
``We are making excellent time,'' said Clay. ``The village of
San Lorenzo should lie beyond that ridge.'' He drove up beside
the driver and pointed with his whip. ``Is not that San
Lorenzo?'' he asked.
``Yes, senor,'' the man answered, ``but I mean to drive around
it by the old wagon trail. It is a large town, and people may be
awake. You will be able to see it from the top of the next
The cavalcade stopped at the summit of the ridge and the men
looked down into the silent village. It was like the others they
had passed, with a few houses built round a square of grass that
could hardly be recognized as a plaza, except for the church on
its one side, and the huge wooden cross planted in its centre.
From the top of the hill they could see that the greater number
of the houses were in darkness, but in a large building of two
stories lights were shining from every window.
``That is the comandancia,'' said the driver, shaking his
head. ``They are still awake. It is a telegraph station.''
``Great Scott!'' exclaimed MacWilliams. ``We forgot the
telegraph. They may have sent word to head us off already.''
``Nine o'clock is not so very late,'' said Clay. ``It may mean
``We had better make sure, though,'' MacWilliams answered,
jumping to the ground. ``Lend me your pony, Ted, and take my
place. I'll run in there and dust around and see what's up.
I'll join you on the other side of the town after you get back to
the main road.''
``Wait a minute,'' said Clay. ``What do you mean to do?''
``I can't tell till I get there, but I'll try to find out how
much they know. Don't you be afraid. I'll run fast enough if
there's any sign of trouble. And if you come across a telegraph
wire, cut it. The message may not have gone over yet.''
The two women in the carriage had parted the flaps of the hoods
and were trying to hear what was being said, but could not
understand, and Langham explained to them that they were about to
make a slight detour to avoid San Lorenzo while MacWilliams was
going into it to reconnoitre. He asked if they were comfortable,
and assured them that the greater part of the ride was over,
and that there was a good road from San Lorenzo to the sea.
MacWilliams rode down into the village along the main trail, and
threw his reins over a post in front of the comandancia. He
mounted boldly to the second floor of the building and stopped at
the head of the stairs, in front of an open door. There were
three men in the room before him, one an elderly man, whom he
rightly guessed was the comandante, and two younger men who
were standing behind a railing and bending over a telegraph
instrument on a table. As he stamped into the room, they looked
up and stared at him in surprise; their faces showed that he had
interrupted them at a moment of unusual interest.
MacWilliams saluted the three men civilly, and, according to the
native custom, apologized for appearing before them in his spurs.
He had been riding from Los Bocos to the capital, he said, and
his horse had gone lame. Could they tell him if there
was any one in the village from whom he could hire a mule, as he
must push on to the capital that night?
The comandante surveyed him for a moment, as though still
disturbed by the interruption, and then shook his head
impatiently. ``You can hire a mule from one Pulido Paul, at the
corner of the plaza,'' he said. And as MacWilliams still
stood uncertainly, he added, ``You say you have come from
Los Bocos. Did you meet any one on your way?''
The two younger men looked up at him anxiously, but before he
could answer, the instrument began to tick out the signal, and
they turned their eyes to it again, and one of them began to take
its message down on paper.
The instrument spoke to MacWilliams also, for he was used to
sending telegrams daily from the office to the mines, and could
make it talk for him in either English or Spanish. So, in his
effort to hear what it might say, he stammered and glanced at it
involuntarily, and the comandante, without suspecting his
reason for doing so, turned also and peered over the shoulder of
the man who was receiving the message. Except for the clicking
of the instrument, the room was absolutely still; the three men
bent silently over the table, while MacWilliams stood gazing at
the ceiling and turning his hat in his hands. The message
MacWilliams read from the instrument was this: ``They are
reported to have left the city by the south, so they are going to
Para, or San Pedro, or to Los Bocos. She must be stopped--take
an armed force and guard the roads. If necessary, kill her. She
has in the carriage or hidden on her person, drafts for five
million sols. You will be held responsible for every one of
them. Repeat this message to show you understand, and relay it
to Los Bocos. If you fail--''
MacWilliams could not wait to hear more; he gave a curt nod to
the men and started toward the stairs. ``Wait,'' the
comandante called after him.
MacWilliams paused with one hand on top of the banisters
balancing himself in readiness for instant flight.
``You have not answered me. Did you meet with any one on your
ride here from Los Bocos?''
``I met several men on foot, and the mail carrier passed me a
league out from the coast, and oh, yes, I met a carriage at the
cross roads, and the driver asked me the way of San Pedro Sula.''
``A carriage?--yes--and what did you tell him?''
``I told him he was on the road to Los Bocos, and he turned back
``You are sure he turned back?''
``Certainly, sir. I rode behind him for some distance. He
turned finally to the right into the trail to San Pedro Sula.''
The man flung himself across the railing.
``Quick,'' he commanded, ``telegraph to Morales, Comandante
San Pedro Sula--''
He had turned his back on MacWilliams, and as the younger man
bent over the instrument, MacWilliams stepped softly down the
stairs, and mounting his pony rode slowly off in the direction of
the capital. As soon as he had reached the outskirts of the
town, he turned and galloped round it and then rode fast with his
head in air, glancing up at the telegraph wire that sagged from
tree-trunk to tree-trunk along the trail. At a point where he
thought he could dismount in safety and tear down the wire, he
came across it dangling from the branches and he gave a shout of
relief. He caught the loose end and dragged it free from its
support, and then laying it across a rock pounded the blade of
his knife upon it with a stone, until he had hacked off a piece
some fifty feet in length. Taking this in his hand he
mounted again and rode off with it, dragging the wire in
the road behind him. He held it up as he rejoined Clay, and
laughed triumphantly. ``They'll have some trouble splicing that
circuit,'' he said, ``you only half did the work. What wouldn't
we give to know all this little piece of copper knows, eh?''
``Do you mean you think they have telegraphed to Los Bocos
``I know that they were telegraphing to San Pedro Sula as I left
and to all the coast towns. But whether you cut this down
before or after is what I should like to know.''
``We shall probably learn that later,'' said Clay, grimly.
The last three miles of the journey lay over a hard, smooth road,
wide enough to allow the carriage and its escort to ride abreast.
It was in such contrast to the tortuous paths they had just
followed, that the horses gained a fresh impetus and galloped
forward as freely as though the race had but just begun.
Madame Alvarez stopped the carriage at one place and asked the
men to lower the hood at the back that she might feel the fresh
air and see about her, and when this had been done, the women
seated themselves with their backs to the horses where they could
look out at the moonlit road as it unrolled behind them.
Hope felt selfishly and wickedly happy. The excitement had kept
her spirits at the highest point, and the knowledge that Clay was
guarding and protecting her was in itself a pleasure. She leaned
back on the cushions and put her arm around the older woman's
waist, and listened to the light beat of his pony's hoofs
outside, now running ahead, now scrambling and slipping up some
steep place, and again coming to a halt as Langham or MacWilliams
called, ``Look to the right, behind those trees,'' or
``Ahead there! Don't you see what I mean, something crouching?''
She did not know when the false alarms would turn into a genuine
attack, but she was confident that when the time came he would
take care of her, and she welcomed the danger because it brought
that solace with it.
Madame Alvarez sat at her side, rigid, silent, and beyond the
help of comfort. She tortured herself with thoughts of the
ambitions she had held, and which had been so cruelly mocked that
very morning; of the chivalric love that had been hers, of the
life even that had been hers, and which had been given up for her
so tragically. When she spoke at all, it was to murmur her
sorrow that Hope had exposed herself to danger on her poor
account, and that her life, as far as she loved it, was at an
end. Only once after the men had parted the curtains and asked
concerning her comfort with grave solicitude did she give way to
``Why are they so good to me?'' she moaned. ``Why are you so
good to me? I am a wicked, vain woman, I have brought a nation to
war and I have killed the only man I ever trusted.''
Hope touched her gently with her hand and felt guiltily how
selfish she herself must be not to feel the woman's grief, but
she could not. She only saw in it a contrast to her own
happiness, a black background before which the figure of Clay and
his solicitude for her shone out, the only fact in the world that
was of value.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the carriage coming to a halt,
and a significant movement upon the part of the men. MacWilliams
had descended from the box-seat and stepping into the carriage
took the place the women had just left.
He had a carbine in his hand, and after he was seated Langham
handed him another which he laid across his knees.
``They thought I was too conspicuous on the box to do any good
there,'' he explained in a confidential whisper. ``In case there
is any firing now, you ladies want to get down on your knees here
at my feet, and hide your heads in the cushions. We are entering
Los Bocos.''
Langham and Clay were riding far in advance, scouting to the
right and left, and the carriage moved noiselessly behind them
through the empty streets. There was no light in any of the
windows, and not even a dog barked, or a cock crowed. The women
sat erect, listening for the first signal of an attack, each
holding the other's hand and looking at MacWilliams, who sat with
his thumb on the trigger of his carbine, glancing to the right
and left and breathing quickly. His eyes twinkled, like
those of a little fox terrier. The men dropped back, and drew up
on a level with the carriage.
``We are all right, so far,'' Clay whispered. ``The beach slopes
down from the other side of that line of trees. What is the
matter with you?'' he demanded, suddenly, looking up at the
driver, ``are you afraid?''
``No,'' the man answered, hurriedly, his voice shaking; ``it's
the cold.''
Langham had galloped on ahead and as he passed through the trees
and came out upon the beach, he saw a broad stretch of moonlit
water and the lights from the yacht shining from a point a
quarter of a mile off shore. Among the rocks on the edge of the
beach was the ``Vesta's'' longboat and her crew seated in it or
standing about on the beach. The carriage had stopped under the
protecting shadow of the trees, and he raced back toward it.
``The yacht is here,'' he cried. ``The long-boat is waiting and
there is not a sign of light about the Custom-house. Come on,''
he cried. ``We have beaten them after all.''
A sailor, who had been acting as lookout on the rocks, sprang to
his full height, and shouted to the group around the long-boat,
and King came up the beach toward them running heavily through
the deep sand.
Madame Alvarez stepped down from the carriage, and as Hope handed
her her jewel case in silence, the men draped her cloak about her
shoulders. She put out her hand to them, and as Clay took it in
his, she bent her head quickly and kissed his hand. ``You were
his friend,'' she murmured.
She held Hope in her arms for an instant, and kissed her, and
then gave her hand in turn to Langham and to MacWilliams.
``I do not know whether I shall ever see you again,'' she said,
looking slowly from one to the other, ``but I will pray for you
every day, and God will reward you for saving a worthless life.''
As she finished speaking King came up to the group, followed by
three of his men.
``Is Hope with you, is she safe?'' he asked.
``Yes, she is with me,'' Madame Alvarez answered.
``Thank God,'' King exclaimed, breathlessly. ``Then we will
start at once, Madame. Where is she? She must come with us!''
``Of course,'' Clay-assented, eagerly, ``she will be much safer
on the yacht.''
But Hope protested. ``I must get back to father,'' she said.
``The yacht will not arrive until late to-morrow, and the
carriage can take me to him five hours earlier. The family have
worried too long about me as it is, and, besides, I will not
leave Ted. I am going back as I came.''
``It is most unsafe,'' King urged.
``On the contrary, it is perfectly safe now,'' Hope answered.
``It was not one of us they wanted.''
``You may be right,'' King said. ``They don't know what has
happened to you, and perhaps after all it would be better if you
went back the quicker way.'' He gave his arm to Madame Alvarez
and walked with her toward the shore. As the men surrounded her
on every side and moved away, Clay glanced back at Hope and saw
her standing upright in the carriage looking after them.
``We will be with you in a minute,'' he called, as though in
apology for leaving her for even that brief space. And then the
shadow of the trees shut her and the carriage from his sight.
His footsteps made no sound in the soft sand, and except for the
whispering of the palms and the sleepy wash of the waves as they
ran up the pebbly beach and sank again, the place was as peaceful
and silent as a deserted island, though the moon made it as light
as day.
The long-boat had been drawn up with her stern to the shore, and
the men were already in their places, some standing waiting for
the order to shove off, and others seated balancing their
King had arranged to fire a rocket when the launch left the
shore, in order that the captain of the yacht might run in closer
to pick them up. As he hurried down the beach, he called to his
boatswain to give the signal, and the man answered that he
understood and stooped to light a match. King had jumped into
the stern and lifted Madame Alvarez after him, leaving her late
escort standing with uncovered heads on the beach behind her,
when the rocket shot up into the calm white air, with a roar and
a rush and a sudden flash of color. At the same instant, as
though in answer to its challenge, the woods back of them burst
into an irregular line of flame, a volley of rifle shots
shattered the silence, and a score of bullets splashed in the
water and on the rocks about them.
The boatswain in the bow of the long-boat tossed up his arms and
pitched forward between the thwarts.
``Give way,'' he shouted as he fell.
``Pull,'' Clay yelled, ``pull, all of you.''
He threw himself against the stern of the boat, and Langham and
MacWilliams clutched its sides, and with their shoulders against
it and their bodies half sunk in the water, shoved it off, free
of the shore.
The shots continued fiercely, and two of the crew cried out
and fell back upon the oars of the men behind them.
Madame Alvarez sprang to her feet and stood swaying unsteadily as
the boat leaped forward.
``Take me back. Stop, I command you,'' she cried, ``I will not
leave those men. Do you hear?''
King caught her by the waist and dragged her down, but she
struggled to free herself. ``I will not leave them to be
murdered,'' she cried. ``You cowards, put me back.''
``Hold her, King,'' Clay shouted. ``We're all right. They're
not firing at us.''
His voice was drowned in the noise of the oars beating in the
rowlocks, and the reports of the rifles. The boat disappeared in
a mist of spray and moonlight, and Clay turned and faced about
him. Langham and MacWilliams were crouching behind a rock and
firing at the flashes in the woods.
``You can't stay there,'' Clay cried. ``We must get back to
He ran forward, dodging from side to side and firing as he ran.
He heard shots from the water, and looking back saw that the men
in the longboat had ceased rowing, and were returning the fire
from the shore.
``Come back, Hope is all right,'' her brother called to him. ``I
haven't seen a shot within a hundred yards of her yet, they're
firing from the Custom-house and below. I think Mac's hit.''
``I'm not,'' MacWilliams's voice answered from behind a rock,
``but I'd like to see something to shoot at.''
A hot tremor of rage swept over Clay at the thought of a possibly
fatal termination to the night's adventure. He groaned at the
mockery of having found his life only to lose it now, when it was
more precious to him than it had ever been, and to lose it in a
silly brawl with semi-savages. He cursed himself impotently and
rebelliously for a senseless fool.
``Keep back, can't you?'' he heard Langham calling to him from
the shore. ``You're only drawing the fire toward Hope. She's
got away by now. She had both the horses.''
Langham and MacWilliams started forward to Clay's side, but the
instant they left the shadow of the rock, the bullets threw up
the sand at their feet and they stopped irresolutely. The moon
showed the three men outlined against the white sand of the beach
as clearly as though a searchlight had been turned upon them,
even while its shadows sheltered and protected their assailants.
At their backs the open sea cut off retreat, and the line of fire
in front held them in check. They were as helpless as chessmen
upon a board.
``I'm not going to stand still to be shot at,'' cried
MacWilliams. ``Let's hide or let's run. This isn't doing
anybody any good.'' But no one moved. They could hear the
singing of the bullets as they passed them whining in the air
like a banjo-string that is being tightened, and they knew they
were in equal danger from those who were firing from the boat.
``They're shooting better,'' said MacWilliams. ``They'll reach
us in a minute.''
``They've reached me already, I think,'' Langham answered, with
suppressed satisfaction, ``in the shoulder. It's nothing.'' His
unconcern was quite sincere; to a young man who had galloped
through two long halves of a football match on a strained tendon,
a scratched shoulder was not important, except as an unsought
But it was of the most importance to MacWilliams. He raised his
voice against the men in the woods in impotent fury. ``Come out,
you cowards, where we can see you,'' he cried. ``Come out where
I can shoot your black heads off.''
Clay had fired the last cartridge in his rifle, and throwing it
away drew his revolver.
``We must either swim or hide,'' he said. ``Put your heads down
and run.''
But as he spoke, they saw the carriage plunging out of the shadow
of the woods and the horses galloping toward them down the
beach. MacWilliams gave a cheer of welcome. ``Hurrah!'' he
shouted, ``it's Jose' coming for us. He's a good man. Well
done, Jose'!'' he called.
``That's not Jose','' Langham cried, doubtfully, peering
through the moonlight. ``Good God! It's Hope,'' he exclaimed.
He waved his hands frantically above his head. ``Go back,
Hope,'' he cried, ``go back!''
But the carriage did not swerve on its way toward them. They all
saw her now distinctly. She was on the driver's box and alone,
leaning forward and lashing the horses' backs with the whip and
reins, and bending over to avoid the bullets that passed above
her head. As she came down upon them, she stood up, her woman's
figure outlined clearly in the riding habit she still wore.
``Jump in when I turn,'' she cried. ``I'm going to turn slowly,
run and jump in.''
She bent forward again and pulled the horses to the right, and as
they obeyed her, plunging and tugging at their bits, as though
they knew the danger they were in, the men threw themselves at
the carriage. Clay caught the hood at the back, swung himself
up, and scrambled over the cushions and up to the box seat. He
dropped down behind Hope, and reaching his arms around her took
the reins in one hand, and with the other forced her down to
her knees upon the footboard, so that, as she knelt, his arms and
body protected her from the bullets sent after them. Langham
followed Clay, and tumbled into the carriage over the hood at the
back, but MacWilliams endeavored to vault in from the step, and
missing his footing fell under the hind wheel, so that the weight
of the carriage passed over him, and his head was buried for an
instant in the sand. But he was on his feet again before they
had noticed that he was down, and as he jumped for the hood,
Langham caught him by the collar of his coat and dragged him into
the seat, panting and gasping, and rubbing the sand from his
mouth and nostrils. Clay turned the carriage at a right angle
through the heavy sand, and still standing with Hope crouched at
his knees, he raced back to the woods into the face of the
firing, with the boys behind him answering it from each side of
the carriage, so that the horses leaped forward in a frenzy of
terror, and dashing through the woods, passed into the first road
that opened before them.
The road into which they had turned was narrow, but level, and
ran through a forest of banana palms that bent and swayed above
them. Langham and MacWilliams still knelt in the rear seat of
the carriage, watching the road on the chance of possible
``Give me some cartridges,'' said Langham. ``My belt is empty.
What road is this?''
``It is a private road, I should say, through somebody's banana
plantation. But it must cross the main road somewhere. It
doesn't matter, we're all right now. I mean to take it easy.''
MacWilliams turned on his back and stretched out his legs on the
seat opposite.
``Where do you suppose those men sprang from? Were they
following us all the time?''
``Perhaps, or else that message got over the wire before we cut
it, and they've been lying in wait for us. They were probably
watching King and his sailors for the last hour or so, but they
didn't want him. They wanted her and the money. It was pretty
exciting, wasn't it? How's your shoulder?''
``It's a little stiff, thank you,'' said Langham. He stood up
and by peering over the hood could just see the top of Clay's
sombrero rising above it where he sat on the back seat.
``You and Hope all right up there, Clay?'' he asked.
The top of the sombrero moved slightly, and Langham took it as a
sign that all was well. He dropped back into his seat beside
MacWilliams, and they both breathed a long sigh of relief and
content. Langham's wounded arm was the one nearest
MacWilliams, and the latter parted the torn sleeve and examined
the furrow across the shoulder with unconcealed envy.
``I am afraid it won't leave a scar,'' he said, sympathetically.
``Won't it?'' asked Langham, in some concern.
The horses had dropped into a walk, and the beauty of the moonlit
night put its spell upon the two boys, and the rustling of the
great leaves above their heads stilled and quieted them so that
they unconsciously spoke in whispers.
Clay had not moved since the horses turned of their own accord
into the valley of the palms. He no longer feared pursuit nor
any interruption to their further progress. His only sensation
was one of utter thankfulness that they were all well out of it,
and that Hope had been the one who had helped them in their
trouble, and his dearest thought was that, whether she wished or
not, he owed his safety, and possibly his life, to her.
She still crouched between his knees upon the broad footboard,
with her hands clasped in front of her, and looking ahead into
the vista of soft mysterious lights and dark shadows that the
moon cast upon the road. Neither of them spoke, and as the
silence continued unbroken, it took a weightier significance, and
at each added second of time became more full of meaning.
The horses had dropped into a tired walk, and drew them smoothly
over the white road; from behind the hood came broken snatches of
the boys' talk, and above their heads the heavy leaves of the
palms bent and bowed as though in benediction. A warm breeze
from the land filled the air with the odor of ripening fruit and
pungent smells, and the silence seemed to envelop them and mark
them as the only living creatures awake in the brilliant tropical
Hope sank slowly back, and as she did so, her shoulder touched
for an instant against Clay's knee; she straightened herself and
made a movement as though to rise. Her nearness to him and
something in her attitude at his feet held Clay in a spell. He
bent forward and laid his hand fearfully upon her shoulder, and
the touch seemed to stop the blood in his veins and hushed the
words upon his lips. Hope raised her head slowly as though with
a great effort, and looked into his eyes. It seemed to him that
he had been looking into those same eyes for centuries, as though
he had always known them, and the soul that looked out of them
into his. He bent his head lower, and stretching out his arms
drew her to him, and the eyes did not waver. He raised her
and held her close against his breast. Her eyes faltered and
``Hope,'' he whispered, ``Hope.'' He stooped lower and kissed
her, and his lips told her what they could not speak--and they
were quite alone.
An hour later Langham rose with a protesting sigh and shook the
hood violently.
``I say!'' he called. ``Are you asleep up there. We'll never
get home at this rate. Doesn't Hope want to come back here and
go to sleep?
The carriage stopped, and the boys tumbled out and walked around
in front of it. Hope sat smiling on the box-seat. She was
apparently far from sleepy, and she was quite contented where she
was, she told him.
``Do you know we haven't had anything to eat since yesterday at
breakfast?'' asked Langham. ``MacWilliams and I are fainting.
We move that we stop at the next shack we come to, and waken the
people up and make them give us some supper.''
Hope looked aside at Clay and laughed softly. ``Supper?'' she
said. ``They want supper!''
Their suffering did not seem to impress Clay deeply. He sat
snapping his whip at the palm-trees above him, and smiled happily
in an inconsequent and irritating manner at nothing.
``See here! Do you know that we are lost?'' demanded Langham,
indignantly, ``and starving? Have you any idea at all where you
``I have not,'' said Clay, cheerfully. ``All I know is that a
long time ago there was a revolution and a woman with jewels, who
escaped in an open boat, and I recollect playing that I was a
target and standing up to be shot at in a bright light. After
that I woke up to the really important things of life--among
which supper is not one.''
Langham and MacWilliams looked at each other doubtfully, and
Langham shook his head.
``Get down off that box,'' he commanded. ``If you and Hope think
this is merely a pleasant moonlight drive, we don't. You two can
sit in the carriage now, and we'll take a turn at driving, and
we'll guarantee to get you to some place soon.''
Clay and Hope descended meekly and seated themselves under the
hood, where they could look out upon the moonlit road as it
unrolled behind them. But they were no longer to enjoy their
former leisurely progress. The new whip lashed his horses into a
gallop, and the trees flew past them on either hand.
``Do you remember that chap in the `Last Ride Together'?'' said
``I and my mistress, side by side,
Shall be together--forever ride,
And so one more day am I deified.
Who knows--the world may end to-night.''
Hope laughed triumphantly, and threw out her arms as though she
would embrace the whole beautiful world that stretched around
``Oh, no,'' she laughed. ``To-night the world has just begun.''
The carriage stopped, and there was a confusion of voices on the
box-seat, and then a great barking of dogs, and they beheld
MacWilliams beating and kicking at the door of a hut. The door
opened for an inch, and there was a long debate in Spanish, and
finally the door was closed again, and a light appeared through
the windows. A few minutes later a man and woman came out of the
hut, shivering and yawning, and made a fire in the sun-baked oven
at the side of the house. Hope and Clay remained seated in the
carriage, and watched the flames springing up from the oily
fagots, and the boys moving about with flaring torches of pine,
pulling down bundles of fodder for the horses from the roof of
the kitchen, while two sleepy girls disappeared toward a mountain
stream, one carrying a jar on her shoulder, and the other
lighting the way with a torch. Hope sat with her chin on her
hand, watching the black figures passing between them and
the fire, and standing above it with its light on their faces,
shading their eyes from the heat with one hand, and stirring
something in a smoking caldron with the other. Hope felt an
overflowing sense of gratitude to these simple strangers for the
trouble they were taking. She felt how good every one was, and
how wonderfully kind and generous was the world that she lived
Her brother came over to the carriage and bowed with mock
``I trust, now that we have done all the work,'' he said, ``that
your excellencies will condescend to share our frugal fare, or
must we bring it to you here?''
The clay oven stood in the middle of a hut of laced twigs,
through which the smoke drifted freely. There was a row of
wooden benches around it, and they all seated themselves and ate
ravenously of rice and fried plantains, while the woman patted
and tossed tortillas between her hands, eyeing her guests
curiously. Her glance fell upon Langham's shoulder, and rested
there for so long that Hope followed the direction of her eyes.
She leaped to her feet with a cry of fear and reproach, and ran
toward her brother.
``Ted!'' she cried, ``you are hurt! you are wounded, and you
never told me! What is it? Is it very bad?'' Clay
crossed the floor in a stride, his face full of concern.
``Leave me alone!'' cried the stern brother, backing away and
warding them off with the coffeepot. ``It's only scratched.
You'll spill the coffee.''
But at the sight of the blood Hope had turned very white, and
throwing her arms around her brother's neck, hid her eyes on his
other shoulder and began to cry.
``I am so selfish,'' she sobbed. ``I have been so happy and you
were suffering all the time.''
Her brother stared at the others in dismay. ``What nonsense,''
he said, patting her on the shoulder. ``You're a bit tired, and
you need rest. That's what you need. The idea of my sister
going off in hysterics after behaving like such a sport--and
before these young ladies, too. Aren't you ashamed?''
``I should think they'd be ashamed,'' said MacWilliams, severely,
as he continued placidly with his supper. ``They haven't got
enough clothes on.''
Langham looked over Hope's shoulder at Clay and nodded
significantly. ``She's been on a good deal of a strain,'' he
explained apologetically, ``and no wonder; it's been rather an
unusual night for her.''
Hope raised her head and smiled at him through her tears. Then
she turned and moved toward Clay. She brushed her eyes with the
back of her hand and laughed. ``It has been an unusual night,''
she said. ``Shall I tell him?'' she asked.
Clay straightened himself unconsciously, and stepped beside her
and took her hand; MacWilliams quickly lowered to the bench the
dish from which he was eating, and stood up, too. The people of
the house stared at the group in the firelight with puzzled
interest, at the beautiful young girl, and at the tall, sunburned
young man at her side. Langham looked from his sister to Clay
and back again, and laughed uneasily.
``Langham, I have been very bold,'' said Clay. ``I have asked
your sister to marry me--and she has said that she would.''
Langham flushed as red as his sister. He felt himself at a
disadvantage in the presence of a love as great and strong as he
knew this must be. It made him seem strangely young and
inadequate. He crossed over to his sister awkwardly and kissed
her, and then took Clay's hand, and the three stood together and
looked at one another, and there was no sign of doubt or question
in the face of any one of them. They stood so for some little
time, smiling and exclaiming together, and utterly unconscious of
anything but their own delight and happiness. MacWilliams
watched them, his face puckered into odd wrinkles and his eyes
half-closed. Hope suddenly broke away from the others and turned
toward him with her hands held out.
``Have you nothing to say to me, Mr. MacWilliams?'' she asked.
MacWilliams looked doubtfully at Clay, as though from force of
habit he must ask advice from his chief first, and then took the
hands that she held out to him and shook them up and down. His
usual confidence seemed to have forsaken him, and he stood,
shifting from one foot to the other, smiling and abashed.
``Well, I always said they didn't make them any better than
you,'' he gasped at last. ``I was always telling him that,
wasn't I?'' He nodded energetically at Clay. ``And that's so;
they don't make 'em any better than you.''
He dropped her hands and crossed over to Clay, and stood
surveying him with a smile of wonder and admiration.
``How'd you do it?'' he demanded. ``How did you do it? I
suppose you know,'' he asked sternly, ``that you're not good
enough for Miss Hope? You know that, don't you?''
``Of course I know that,'' said Clay.
MacWilliams walked toward the door and stood in it for a
second, looking back at them over his shoulder. ``They don't
make them any better than that,'' he reiterated gravely, and
disappeared in the direction of the horses, shaking his head and
muttering his astonishment and delight.
``Please give me some money,'' Hope said to Clay. ``All the
money you have,'' she added, smiling at her presumption of
authority over him, ``and you, too, Ted.'' The men emptied their
pockets, and Hope poured the mass of silver into the hands of the
women, who gazed at it uncomprehendingly.
``Thank you for your trouble and your good supper,'' Hope said in
Spanish, ``and may no evil come to your house.''
The woman and her daughters followed her to the carriage, bowing
and uttering good wishes in the extravagant metaphor of their
country; and as they drove away, Hope waved her hand to them as
she sank closer against Clay's shoulder.
``The world is full of such kind and gentle souls,'' she said.
In an hour they had regained the main road, and a little later
the stars grew dim and the moonlight faded, and trees and bushes
and rocks began to take substance and to grow into form and
outline. They saw by the cool, gray light of the morning the
familiar hills around the capital, and at a cry from the
boys on the box-seat, they looked ahead and beheld the harbor of
Valencia at their feet, lying as placid and undisturbed as the
water in a bath-tub. As they turned up the hill into the road
that led to the Palms, they saw the sleeping capital like a city
of the dead below them, its white buildings reddened with the
light of the rising sun. From three places in different parts of
the city, thick columns of smoke rose lazily to the sky.
``I had forgotten!'' said Clay; ``they have been having a
revolution here. It seems so long ago.''
By five o'clock they had reached the gate of the Palms, and their
appearance startled the sentry on post into a state of
undisciplined joy. A riderless pony, the one upon which Jose'
had made his escape when the firing began, had crept into the
stable an hour previous, stiff and bruised and weary, and had led
the people at the Palms to fear the worst.
Mr. Langham and his daughter were standing on the veranda as the
horses came galloping up the avenue. They had been awake all the
night, and the face of each was white and drawn with anxiety and
loss of sleep. Mr. Langham caught Hope in his arms and held her
face close to his in silence.
``Where have you been?'' he said at last. ``Why did you
treat me like this? You knew how I would suffer.''
``I could not help it,'' Hope cried. ``I had to go with Madame
Her sister had suffered as acutely as had Mr. Langham himself, as
long as she was in ignorance of Hope's whereabouts. But now that
she saw Hope in the flesh again, she felt a reaction against her
for the anxiety and distress she had caused them.
``My dear Hope,'' she said, ``is every one to be sacrificed for
Madame Alvarez? What possible use could you be to her at such a
time? It was not the time nor the place for a young girl. You
were only another responsibility for the men.''
``Clay seemed willing to accept the responsibility,'' said
Langham, without a smile. ``And, besides,'' he added, ``if Hope
had not been with us we might never have reached home alive.''
But it was only after much earnest protest and many explanations
that Mr. Langham was pacified, and felt assured that his son's
wound was not dangerous, and that his daughter was quite safe.
Miss Langham and himself, he said, had passed a trying night.
There had been much firing in the city, and continual uproar.
The houses of several of the friends of Alvarez had been burned
and sacked. Alvarez himself had been shot as soon as he had
entered the yard of the military prison. It was then given out
that he had committed suicide. Mendoza had not dared to kill
Rojas, because of the feeling of the people toward him, and had
even shown him to the mob from behind the bars of one of the
windows in order to satisfy them that he was still living. The
British Minister had sent to the Palace for the body of Captain
Stuart, and had had it escorted to the Legation, from whence it
would be sent to England. This, as far as Mr. Langham had heard,
was the news of the night just over.
``Two native officers called here for you about midnight, Clay,''
he continued, ``and they are still waiting for you below at your
office. They came from Rojas's troops, who are encamped on the
hills at the other side of the city. They wanted you to join
them with the men from the mines. I told them I did not know
when you would return, and they said they would wait. If you
could have been here last night, it is possible that we might
have done something, but now that it is all over, I am glad that
you saved that woman instead. I should have liked, though, to
have struck one blow at them. But we cannot hope to win against
assassins. The death of young Stuart has hurt me terribly, and
the murder of Alvarez, coming on top of it, has made me wish I
had never heard of nor seen Olancho. I have decided to go
away at once, on the next steamer, and I will take my daughters
with me, and Ted, too. The State Department at Washington can
fight with Mendoza for the mines. You made a good stand, but
they made a better one, and they have beaten us. Mendoza's coup
d'etat has passed into history, and the revolution is at an
On his arrival Clay had at once asked for a cigar, and while Mr.
Langham was speaking he had been biting it between his teeth,
with the serious satisfaction of a man who had been twelve hours
without one. He knocked the ashes from it and considered the
burning end thoughtfully. Then he glanced at Hope as she stood
among the group on the veranda. She was waiting for his reply
and watching him intently. He seemed to be confident that she
would approve of the only course he saw open to him.
``The revolution is not at an end by any means, Mr. Langham,'' he
said at last, simply. ``It has just begun.'' He turned abruptly
and walked away in the direction of the office, and MacWilliams
and Langham stepped off the veranda and followed him as a matter
of course.
The soldiers in the army who were known to be faithful to General
Rojas belonged to the Third and Fourth regiments, and numbered
four thousand on paper, and two thousand by count of heads.
When they had seen their leader taken prisoner, and swept off the
parade-ground by Mendoza's cavalry, they had first attempted to
follow in pursuit and recapture him, but the men on horseback had
at once shaken off the men on foot and left them, panting and
breathless, in the dust behind them. So they halted uncertainly
in the road, and their young officers held counsel together.
They first considered the advisability of attacking the military
prison, but decided against doing so, as it would lead, they
feared, whether it proved successful or not, to the murder of
Rojas. It was impossible to return to the city where Mendoza's
First and Second regiments greatly outnumbered them. Having no
leader and no headquarters, the officers marched the men to the
hills above the city and went into camp to await further
Throughout the night they watched the illumination of the city
and of the boats in the harbor below them; they saw the flames
bursting from the homes of the members of Alvarez's Cabinet, and
when the morning broke they beheld the grounds of the Palace
swarming with Mendoza's troops, and the red and white barred flag
of the revolution floating over it. The news of the
assassination of Alvarez and the fact that Rojas had been
spared for fear of the people, had been carried to them early in
the evening, and with this knowledge of their General's safety
hope returned and fresh plans were discussed. By midnight they
had definitely decided that should Mendoza attempt to dislodge
them the next morning, they would make a stand, but that if the
fight went against them, they would fall back along the mountain
roads to the Valencia mines, where they hoped to persuade the
fifteen hundred soldiers there installed to join forces with them
against the new Dictator.
In order to assure themselves of this help, a messenger was
despatched by a circuitous route to the Palms, to ask the aid of
the resident director, and another was sent to the mines to work
upon the feelings of the soldiers themselves. The officer who
had been sent to the Palms to petition Clay for the loan of his
soldier-workmen, had decided to remain until Clay returned, and
another messenger had been sent after him from the camp on the
same errand.
These two lieutenants greeted Clay with enthusiasm, but he at
once interrupted them, and began plying them with questions as to
where their camp was situated and what roads led from it to the
``Bring your men at once to this end of our railroad,'' he
said. ``It is still early, and the revolutionists will sleep
late. They are drugged with liquor and worn out with excitement,
and whatever may have been their intentions toward you last
night, they will be late in putting them into practice this
morning. I will telegraph Kirkland to come up at once with all
of his soldiers and with his three hundred Irishmen. Allowing
him a half-hour to collect them and to get his flat cars
together, and another half-hour in which to make the run, he
should be here by half-past six--and that's quick mobilization.
You ride back now and march your men here at a double-quick.
With your two thousand we shall have in all three thousand and
eight hundred men. I must have absolute control over my own
troops. Otherwise I shall act independently of you and go into
the city alone with my workmen.''
``That is unnecessary,'' said one of the lieutenants. ``We have
no officers. If you do not command us, there is no one else to
do it. We promise that our men will follow you and give you
every obedience. They have been led by foreigners before, by
young Captain Stuart and Major Fergurson and Colonel Shrevington.
They know how highly General Rojas thinks of you, and they know
that you have led Continental armies in Europe.''
``Well, don't tell them I haven't until this is over,'' said
Clay. ``Now, ride hard, gentlemen, and bring your men here as
quickly as possible.''
The lieutenants thanked him effusively and galloped away, radiant
at the success of their mission, and Clay entered the office
where MacWilliams was telegraphing his orders to Kirkland. He
seated himself beside the instrument, and from time to time
answered the questions Kirkland sent back to him over the wire,
and in the intervals of silence thought of Hope. It was the
first time he had gone into action feeling the touch of a woman's
hand upon his sleeve, and he was fearful lest she might think he
had considered her too lightly.
He took a piece of paper from the table and wrote a few lines
upon it, and then rewrote them several times. The message he
finally sent to her was this: ``I am sure you understand, and
that you would not have me give up beaten now, when what we do
to-day may set us right again. I know better than any one else
in the world can know, what I run the risk of losing, but you
would not have that fear stop me from going on with what we have
been struggling for so long. I cannot come back to see you
before we start, but I know your heart is with me. With great
love, Robert Clay.''
He gave the note to his servant, and the answer was brought
to him almost immediately. Hope had not rewritten her message:
``I love you because you are the sort of man you are, and had you
given up as father wished you to do, or on my account, you would
have been some one else, and I would have had to begin over again
to learn to love you for some different reasons. I know that you
will come back to me bringing your sheaves with you. Nothing can
happen to you now. Hope.''
He had never received a line from her before, and he read and
reread this with a sense of such pride and happiness in his face
that MacWilliams smiled covertly and bent his eyes upon his
instrument. Clay went back into his room and kissed the page of
paper gently, flushing like a boy as he did so, and then folding
it carefully, he put it away beneath his jacket. He glanced
about him guiltily, although he was quite alone, and taking out
his watch, pried it open and looked down into the face of the
photograph that had smiled up at him from it for so many years.
He thought how unlike it was to Alice Langham as he knew her. He
judged that it must have been taken when she was very young, at
the age Hope was then, before the little world she lived in had
crippled and narrowed her and marked her for its own. He
remembered what she had said to him the first night he had
seen her. ``That is the picture of the girl who ceased to exist
four years ago, and whom you have never met.'' He wondered if
she had ever existed.
``It looks more like Hope than her sister,'' he mused. ``It
looks very much like Hope.'' He decided that he would let it
remain where it was until Hope gave him a better one; and smiling
slightly he snapped the lid fast, as though he were closing a
door on the face of Alice Langham and locking it forever.
Kirkland was in the cab of the locomotive that brought the
soldiers from the mine. He stopped the first car in front of the
freight station until the workmen had filed out and formed into a
double line on the platform. Then he moved the train forward the
length of that car, and those in the one following were mustered
out in a similar manner. As the cars continued to come in, the
men at the head of the double line passed on through the freight
station and on up the road to the city in an unbroken column.
There was no confusion, no crowding, and no haste.
When the last car had been emptied, Clay rode down the line and
appointed a foreman to take charge of each company, stationing
his engineers and the Irish-Americans in the van. It looked more
like a mob than a regiment. None of the men were in
uniform, and the native soldiers were barefoot. But they showed
a winning spirit, and stood in as orderly an array as though they
were drawn up in line to receive their month's wages. The
Americans in front of the column were humorously disposed, and
inclined to consider the whole affair as a pleasant outing. They
had been placed in front, not because they were better shots than
the natives, but because every South American thinks that every
citizen of the United States is a master either of the rifle or
the revolver, and Clay was counting on this superstition. His
assistant engineers and foremen hailed him as he rode on up and
down the line with good-natured cheers, and asked him when they
were to get their commissions, and if it were true that they were
all captains, or only colonels, as they were at home.
They had been waiting for a half-hour, when there was the sound
of horses' hoofs on the road, and the even beat of men's feet,
and the advance guard of the Third and Fourth regiments came
toward them at a quickstep. The men were still in the full-dress
uniforms they had worn at the review the day before, and in
comparison with the soldier-workmen and the Americans in flannel
shirts, they presented so martial a showing that they were
welcomed with tumultuous cheers. Clay threw them into a double
line on one side of the road, down the length of which his
own marched until they had reached the end of it nearest to the
city, when they took up their position in a close formation, and
the native regiments fell in behind them. Clay selected twenty
of the best shots from among the engineers and sent them on ahead
as a skirmish line. They were ordered to fall back at once if
they saw any sign of the enemy. In this order the column of four
thousand men started for the city.
It was a little after seven when they advanced. and the air was
mild and peaceful. Men and women came crowding to the doors and
windows of the huts as they passed, and stood watching them in
silence, not knowing to which party the small army might belong.
In order to enlighten them, Clay shouted, ``Viva Rojas.'' And
his men took it up, and the people answered gladly.
They had reached the closely built portion of the city when the
skirmish line came running back to say that it had been met by a
detachment of Mendoza's cavalry, who had galloped away as soon as
they saw them. There was then no longer any doubt that the fact
of their coming was known at the Palace, and Clay halted his men
in a bare plaza and divided them into three columns. Three
streets ran parallel with one another from this plaza to the
heart of the city, and opened directly upon the garden of
the Palace where Mendoza had fortified himself. Clay directed
the columns to advance up these streets, keeping the head of each
column in touch with the other two. At the word they were to
pour down the side streets and rally to each other's assistance.
As they stood, drawn up on the three sides of the plaza, he rode
out before them and held up his hat for silence. They were there
with arms in their hands, he said, for two reasons: the greater
one, and the one which he knew actuated the native soldiers, was
their desire to preserve the Constitution of the Republic.
According to their own laws, the Vice-President must succeed when
the President's term of office had expired, or in the event of
his death. President Alvarez had been assassinated, and the
Vice-President, General Rojas, was, in consequence, his legal
successor. It was their duty, as soldiers of the Republic, to
rescue him from prison, to drive the man who had usurped his
place into exile, and by so doing uphold the laws which they had
themselves laid down. The second motive, he went on, was a less
worthy and more selfish one. The Olancho mines, which now gave
work to thousands and brought millions of dollars into the
country, were coveted by Mendoza, who would, if he could, convert
them into a monopoly of his government. If he remained in
power all foreigners would be driven out of the country, and the
soldiers would be forced to work in the mines without payment.
Their condition would be little better than that of the slaves in
the salt mines of Siberia. Not only would they no longer be paid
for their labor, but the people as a whole would cease to receive
that share of the earnings of the mines which had hitherto been
``Under President Rojas you will have liberty, justice, and
prosperity,'' Clay cried. ``Under Mendoza you will be ruled by
martial law. He will rob and overtax you, and you will live
through a reign of terror. Between them--which will you
The native soldiers answered by cries of ``Rojas,'' and breaking
ranks rushed across the plaza toward him, crowding around his
horse and shouting, ``Long live Rojas,'' ``Long live the
Constitution,'' ``Death to Mendoza.'' The Americans stood as
they were and gave three cheers for the Government.
They were still cheering and shouting as they advanced upon the
Palace, and the noise of their coming drove the people indoors,
so that they marched through deserted streets and between closed
doors and sightless windows. No one opposed them, and no one
encouraged them. But they could now see the facade of the
Palace and the flag of the Revolutionists hanging from the mast
in front of it.
Three blocks distant from the Palace they came upon the buildings
of the United States and English Legations, where the flags of
the two countries had been hung out over the narrow thoroughfare.
The windows and the roofs of each legation were crowded with
women and children who had sought refuge there, and the column
halted as Weimer, the Consul, and Sir Julian Pindar, the English
Minister, came out, bare-headed, into the street and beckoned to
Clay to stop.
``As our Minister was not here,'' Weimer said, ``I telegraphed to
Truxillo for the man-of-war there. She started some time ago,
and we have just heard that she is entering the lower harbor.
She should have her blue-jackets on shore in twenty minutes. Sir
Julian and I think you ought to wait for them.''
The English Minister put a detaining hand on Clay's bridle. ``If
you attack Mendoza at the Palace with this mob,'' he
remonstrated, ``rioting and lawlessness generally will break out
all over the city. I ask you to keep them back until we get your
sailors to police the streets and protect property.''
Clay glanced over his shoulder at the engineers and the
Irish workmen standing in solemn array behind him. ``Oh, you can
hardly call this a mob,'' he said. ``They look a little rough
and ready, but I will answer for them. The two other columns
that are coming up the streets parallel to this are Government
troops and properly engaged in driving a usurper out of the
Government building. The best thing you can do is to get down to
the wharf and send the marines and blue-jackets where you think
they will do the most good. I can't wait for them. And they
can't come too soon.''
The grounds of the Palace occupied two entire blocks; the
Botanical Gardens were in the rear, and in front a series of low
terraces ran down from its veranda to the high iron fence which
separated the grounds from the chief thoroughfare of the city.
Clay sent word to the left and right wing of his little army to
make a detour one street distant from the Palace grounds and form
in the street in the rear of the Botanical Gardens. When they
heard the firing of his men from the front they were to force
their way through the gates at the back and attack the Palace in
the rear.
``Mendoza has the place completely barricaded,'' Weimer warned
him, ``and he has three field pieces covering each of these
streets. You and your men are directly in line of one of them
now. He is only waiting for you to get a little nearer
before he lets loose.''
From where he sat Clay could count the bars of the iron fence in
front of the grounds. But the boards that backed them prevented
his forming any idea of the strength or the distribution of
Mendoza's forces. He drew his staff of amateur officers to one
side and explained the situation to them.
``The Theatre National and the Club Union,'' he said, ``face the
Palace from the opposite corners of this street. You must get
into them and barricade the windows and throw up some sort of
shelter for yourselves along the edge of the roofs and drive the
men behind that fence back to the Palace. Clear them away from
the cannon first, and keep them away from it. I will be waiting
in the street below. When you have driven them back, we will
charge the gates and have it out with them in the gardens. The
Third and Fourth regiments ought to take them in the rear about
the same time. You will continue to pick them off from the
The two supporting columns had already started on their
roundabout way to the rear of the Palace. Clay gathered up his
reins, and telling his men to keep close to the walls, started
forward, his soldiers following on the sidewalks and leaving
the middle of the street clear. As they reached a point a
hundred yards below the Palace, a part of the wooden shield
behind the fence was thrown down, there was a puff of white smoke
and a report, and a cannon-ball struck the roof of a house which
they were passing and sent the tiles clattering about their
heads. But the men in the lead had already reached the stagedoor
of the theatre and were opposite one of the doors to the
club. They drove these in with the butts of their rifles, and
raced up the stairs of each of the deserted buildings until they
reached the roof. Langham was swept by a weight of men across a
stage, and jumped among the music racks in the orchestra. He
caught a glimpse of the early morning sun shining on the tawdry
hangings of the boxes and the exaggerated perspective of the
scenery. He ran through corridors between two great statues of
Comedy and Tragedy, and up a marble stair case to a lobby in
which he saw the white faces about him multiplied in long
mirrors, and so out to an iron balcony from which he looked down,
panting and breathless, upon the Palace Gardens, swarming with
soldiers and white with smoke. Men poured through the windows of
the club opposite, dragging sofas and chairs out to the balcony
and upon the flat roof. The men near him were tearing down the
yellow silk curtains in the lobby and draping them along the
railing of the balcony to better conceal their movements from the
enemy below. Bullets spattered the stucco about their heads, and
panes of glass broke suddenly and fell in glittering particles
upon their shoulders. The firing had already begun from the
roofs near them. Beyond the club and the theatre and far along
the street on each side of the Palace the merchants were slamming
the iron shutters of their shops, and men and women were running
for refuge up the high steps of the church of Santa Maria.
Others were gathered in black masses on the balconies and roofs
of the more distant houses, where they stood outlined against the
soft blue sky in gigantic silhouette. Their shouts of
encouragement and anger carried clearly in the morning air, and
spurred on the gladiators below to greater effort. In the Palace
Gardens a line of Mendoza's men fought from behind the first
barricade, while others dragged tables and bedding and chairs
across the green terraces and tumbled them down to those below,
who seized them and formed them into a second line of defence.
Two of the assistant engineers were kneeling at Langham's feet
with the barrels of their rifles resting on the railing of the
balcony. Their eyes had been trained for years to judge
distances and to measure space, and they glanced along the
sights of their rifles as though they were looking through
the lens of a transit, and at each report their faces grew more
earnest and their lips pressed tighter together. One of them
lowered his gun to light a cigarette, and Langham handed him his
match-box, with a certain feeling of repugnance.
``Better get under cover, Mr. Langham,'' the man said, kindly.
``There's no use our keeping your mines for you if you're not
alive to enjoy them. Take a shot at that crew around the gun.''
``I don't like this long range business,'' Langham answered. ``I
am going down to join Clay. I don't like the idea of hitting a
man when he isn't looking at you.''
The engineer gave an incredulous laugh.
``If he isn't looking at you, he's aiming at the man next to you.
`Live and let Live' doesn't apply at present.''
As Langham reached Clay's side triumphant shouts arose from the
roof-tops, and the men posted there stood up and showed
themselves above the barricades and called to Clay that the
cannon were deserted.
Kirkland had come prepared for the barricade, and, running across
the street, fastened a dynamite cartridge to each gate post and
lit the fuses. The soldiers scattered before him as he came
leaping back, and in an instant later there was a racking
roar, and the gates were pitched out of their sockets and thrown
forward, and those in the street swept across them and surrounded
the cannon.
Langham caught it by the throat as though it were human, and did
not feel the hot metal burning the palms of his hands as he
choked it and pointed its muzzle toward the Palace, while the
others dragged at the spokes of the wheel. It was fighting at
close range now, close enough to suit even Langham. He found
himself in the front rank of it without knowing exactly how he
got there. Every man on both sides was playing his own hand, and
seemed to know exactly what to do. He felt neglected and very
much alone, and was somewhat anxious lest his valor might be
wasted through his not knowing how to put it to account. He saw
the enemy in changing groups of scowling men, who seemed to eye
him for an instant down the length of a gun-barrel and then
disappear behind a puff of smoke. He kept thinking that war made
men take strange liberties with their fellow-men, and it struck
him as being most absurd that strangers should stand up and try
to kill one another, men who had so little in common that they
did not even know one another's names. The soldiers who were
fighting on his own side were equally unknown to him, and he
looked in vain for Clay. He saw MacWilliams for a moment
through the smoke, jabbing at a jammed cartridge with his penknife,
and hacking the lead away to make it slip. He was
remonstrating with the gun and swearing at it exactly as though
it were human, and as Langham ran toward him he threw it away and
caught up another from the ground. Kneeling beside the wounded
man who had dropped it and picking the cartridges from his belt,
he assured him cheerfully that he was not so badly hurt as he
``You all right?'' Langham asked.
``I'm all right. I'm trying to get a little laddie hiding behind
that blue silk sofa over there. He's taken an unnatural dislike
to me, and he's nearly got me three times. I'm knocking horsehair
out of his rampart, though.''
The men of Stuart's body-guard were fighting outside of the
breastworks and mattresses. They were using their swords as
though they were machetes, and the Irishmen were swinging their
guns around their shoulders like sledge-hammers, and beating
their foes over the head and breast. The guns at his own side
sounded close at Langham's ear, and deafened him, and those of
the enemy exploded so near to his face that he was kept
continually winking and dodging, as though he were being taken by
a flashlight photograph. When he fired he aimed where the
mass was thickest, so that he might not see what his bullet did,
but he remembered afterward that he always reloaded with the most
anxious swiftness in order that he might not be killed before he
had had another shot, and that the idea of being killed was of no
concern to him except on that account. Then the scene before him
changed, and apparently hundreds of Mendoza's soldiers poured out
from the Palace and swept down upon him, cheering as they came,
and he felt himself falling back naturally and as a matter of
course, as he would have stepped out of the way of a locomotive,
or a runaway horse, or any other unreasoning thing. His
shoulders pushed against a mass of shouting, sweating men, who in
turn pressed back upon others, until the mass reached the iron
fence and could move no farther. He heard Clay's voice shouting
to them, and saw him run forward, shooting rapidly as he ran, and
he followed him, even though his reason told him it was a useless
thing to do, and then there came a great shout from the rear of
the Palace, and more soldiers, dressed exactly like the others,
rushed through the great doors and swarmed around the two wings
of the building, and he recognized them as Rojas's men and knew
that the fight was over.
He saw a tall man with a negro's face spring out of the
first mass of soldiers and shout to them to follow him. Clay
gave a yell of welcome and ran at him, calling upon him in
Spanish to surrender. The negro stopped and stood at bay,
glaring at Clay and at the circle of soldiers closing in around
him. He raised his revolver and pointed it steadily. It was as
though the man knew he had only a moment to live, and meant to do
that one thing well in the short time left him.
Clay sprang to one side and ran toward him, dodging to the right
and left, but Mendoza followed his movements carefully with his
It lasted but an instant. Then the Spaniard threw his arm
suddenly across his face, drove the heel of his boot into the
turf, and spinning about on it fell forward.
``If he was shot where his sash crosses his heart, I know the man
who did it,'' Langham heard a voice say at his elbow, and turning
saw MacWilliams wetting his fingers at his lips and touching them
gingerly to the heated barrel of his Winchester.
The death of Mendoza left his followers without a leader and
without a cause. They threw their muskets on the ground and held
their hands above their heads, shrieking for mercy. Clay and his
officers answered them instantly by running from one group
to another, knocking up the barrels of the rifles and calling
hoarsely to the men on the roofs to cease firing, and as they
were obeyed the noise of the last few random shots was drowned in
tumultuous cheering and shouts of exultation, that, starting in
the gardens, were caught up by those in the streets and passed on
quickly as a line of flame along the swaying housetops.
The native officers sprang upon Clay and embraced him after their
fashion, hailing him as the Liberator of Olancho, as the
Preserver of the Constitution, and their brother patriot. Then
one of them climbed to the top of a gilt and marble table and
proclaimed him military President.
``You'll proclaim yourself an idiot, if you don't get down from
there,'' Clay said, laughing. ``I thank you for permitting me to
serve with you, gentlemen. I shall have great pleasure in
telling our President how well you acquitted yourself in this
row--battle, I mean. And now I would suggest that you store the
prisoners' weapons in the Palace and put a guard over them, and
then conduct the men themselves to the military prison, where you
can release General Rojas and escort him back to the city in a
triumphal procession. You'd like that, wouldn't you?''
But the natives protested that that honor was for him alone.
Clay declined it, pleading that he must look after his wounded.
``I can hardly believe there are any dead,'' he said to Kirkland.
``For, if it takes two thousand bullets to kill a man in European
warfare, it must require about two hundred thousand to kill a man
in South America.''
He told Kirkland to march his men back to the mines and to see
that there were no stragglers. ``If they want to celebrate, let
them celebrate when they get to the mines, but not here. They
have made a good record to-day and I won't have it spoiled by
rioting. They shall have their reward later. Between Rojas and
Mr. Langham they should all be rich men.''
The cheering from the housetops since the firing ceased had
changed suddenly into hand-clappings, and the cries, though still
undistinguishable, were of a different sound. Clay saw that the
Americans on the balconies of the club and of the theatre had
thrown themselves far over the railings and were all looking in
the same direction and waving their hats and cheering loudly, and
he heard above the shouts of the people the regular tramp of
men's feet marching in step, and the rattle of a machine gun as
it bumped and shook over the rough stones. He gave a shout of
pleasure, and Kirkland and the two boys ran with him up the
slope, crowding each other to get a better view. The mob
parted at the Palace gates, and they saw two lines of bluejackets,
spread out like the sticks of a fan, dragging the gun
between them, the middies in their tight-buttoned tunics and
gaiters, and behind them more blue-jackets with bare, bronzed
throats, and with the swagger and roll of the sea in their legs
and shoulders. An American flag floated above the white helmets
of the marines. Its presence and the sense of pride which the
sight of these men from home awoke in them made the fight just
over seem mean and petty, and they took off their hats and
cheered with the others.
A first lieutenant, who felt his importance and also a sense of
disappointment at having arrived too late to see the fighting,
left his men at the gate of the Palace, and advanced up the
terrace, stopping to ask for information as he came. Each group
to which he addressed himself pointed to Clay. The sight of his
own flag had reminded Clay that the banner of Mendoza still hung
from the mast beside which he was standing, and as the officer
approached he was busily engaged in untwisting its halyards and
pulling it down.
The lieutenant saluted him doubtfully.
``Can you tell me who is in command here?'' he asked. He spoke
somewhat sharply, for Clay was not a military looking personage,
covered as he was with dust and perspiration, and with his
sombrero on the back of his head.
``Our Consul here told us at the landing-place,'' continued the
lieutenant in an aggrieved tone, ``that a General Mendoza was in
power, and that I had better report to him, and then ten minutes
later I hear that he is dead and that a General Rojas is
President, but that a man named Clay has made himself Dictator.
My instructions are to recognize no belligerents, but to report
to the Government party. Now, who is the Government party?''
Clay brought the red-barred flag down with a jerk, and ripped it
free from the halyards. Kirkland and the two boys were watching
him with amused smiles.
``I appreciate your difficulty,'' he said. ``President Alvarez
is dead, and General Mendoza, who tried to make himself Dictator,
is also dead, and the real President, General Rojas, is still in
jail. So at present I suppose that I represent the Government
party, at least I am the man named Clay. It hadn't occurred to
me before, but, until Rojas is free, I guess I am the Dictator of
Olancho. Is Madame Alvarez on board your ship?''
``Yes, she is with us,'' the officer replied, in some confusion.
``Excuse me--are you the three gentlemen who took her to the
yacht? I am afraid I spoke rather hastily just now, but you
are not in uniform, and the Government seems to change so quickly
down here that a stranger finds it hard to keep up with it.''
Six of the native officers had approached as the lieutenant was
speaking and saluted Clay gravely. ``We have followed your
instructions,'' one of them said, ``and the regiments are ready
to march with the prisoners. Have you any further orders for
us--can we deliver any messages to General Rojas?''
``Present my congratulations to General Rojas, and best wishes,''
said Clay. ``And tell him for me, that it would please me
greatly if he would liberate an American citizen named Burke, who
is at present in the cuartel. And that I wish him to promote all
of you gentlemen one grade and give each of you the Star of
Olancho. Tell him that in my opinion you have deserved even
higher reward and honor at his hands.''
The boy-lieutenants broke out into a chorus of delighted thanks.
They assured Clay that he was most gracious; that he overwhelmed
them, and that it was honor enough for them that they had served
under him. But Clay laughed, and drove them off with a paternal
wave of the hand.
The officer from the man-of-war listened with an uncomfortable
sense of having blundered in his manner toward this powdersplashed
young man who set American citizens at liberty, and
created captains by the half-dozen at a time.
``Are you from the States?'' he asked as they moved toward the
man-of-war's men.
``I am, thank God. Why not?''
``I thought you were, but you saluted like an Englishman.''
``I was an officer in the English army once in the Soudan, when
they were short of officers.'' Clay shook his head and looked
wistfully at the ranks of the blue-jackets drawn up on either
side of them. The horses had been brought out and Langham and
MacWilliams were waiting for him to mount. ``I have worn several
uniforms since I was a boy,'' said Clay. ``But never that of my
own country.''
The people were cheering him from every part of the square.
Women waved their hands from balconies and housetops, and men
climbed to awnings and lampposts and shouted his name. The
officers and men of the landing party took note of him and of
this reception out of the corner of their eyes, and wondered.
``And what had I better do?'' asked the commanding officer.
``Oh, I would police the Palace grounds, if I were you, and
picket that street at the right, where there are so many
wine shops, and preserve order generally until Rojas gets here.
He won't be more than an hour, now. We shall be coming over to
pay our respects to your captain to-morrow. Glad to have met
``Well, I'm glad to have met you,'' answered the officer,
heartily. ``Hold on a minute. Even if you haven't worn our
uniform, you're as good, and better, than some I've seen that
have, and you're a sort of a commander-in-chief, anyway, and I'm
damned if I don't give you a sort of salute.''
Clay laughed like a boy as he swung himself into the saddle. The
officer stepped back and gave the command; the middies raised
their swords and Clay passed between massed rows of his
countrymen with their muskets held rigidly toward him. The
housetops rocked again at the sight, and as he rode out into the
brilliant sunshine, his eyes were wet and winking.
The two boys had drawn up at his side, but MacWilliams had turned
in the saddle and was still looking toward the Palace, with his
hand resting on the hindquarters of his pony.
``Look back, Clay,'' he said. ``Take a last look at it, you'll
never see it after to-day. Turn again, turn again, Dictator of
The men laughed and drew rein as he bade them, and looked
back up the narrow street. They saw the green and white flag of
Olancho creeping to the top of the mast before the Palace, the
blue-jackets driving back the crowd, the gashes in the walls of
the houses, where Mendoza's cannonballs had dug their way through
the stucco, and the silk curtains, riddled with bullets, flapping
from the balconies of the opera-house.
``You had it all your own way an hour ago,'' MacWilliams said,
mockingly. ``You could have sent Rojas into exile, and made us
all Cabinet Ministers--and you gave it up for a girl. Now,
you're Dictator of Olancho. What will you be to-morrow? Tomorrow
you will be Andrew Langham's son-in-law--Benedict, the
married man. Andrew Langham's son-in-law cannot ask his wife to
live in such a hole as this, so--Goodbye, Mr. Clay. We have been
long together.''
Clay and Langham looked curiously at the boy to see if he were in
earnest, but MacWilliams would not meet their eyes.
``There were three of us,'' he said, ``and one got shot, and one
got married, and the third--? You will grow fat, Clay, and live
on Fifth Avenue and wear a high silk hat, and some day when
you're sitting in your club you'll read a paragraph in a
newspaper with a queer Spanish date-line to it, and this will all
come back to you,--this heat, and the palms, and the fever,
and the days when you lived on plantains and we watched our
trestles grow out across the canons, and you'll be willing to
give your hand to sleep in a hammock again, and to feel the sweat
running down your back, and you'll want to chuck your gun up
against your chin and shoot into a line of men, and the policemen
won't let you, and your wife won't let you. That's what you're
giving up. There it is. Take a good look at it. You'll never
see it again.''
The steamer ``Santiago,'' carrying ``passengers, bullion, and
coffee,'' was headed to pass Porto Rico by midnight, when she
would be free of land until she anchored at the quarantine
station of the green hills of Staten Island. She had not yet
shaken off the contamination of the earth; a soft inland breeze
still tantalized her with odors of tree and soil, the smell of
the fresh coat of paint that had followed her coaling rose from
her sides, and the odor of spilt coffee-grains that hung around
the hatches had yet to be blown away by a jealous ocean breeze,
or washed by a welcoming cross sea.
The captain stopped at the open entrance of the Social Hall.
``If any of you ladies want to take your last look at Olancho
you've got to come now,'' he said. ``We'll lose the Valencia
light in the next quarter hour.''
Miss Langham and King looked up from their novels and smiled, and
Miss Langham shook her head. ``I've taken three final farewells
of Olancho already,'' she said: ``before we went down to
dinner, and when the sun set, and when the moon rose. I have no
more sentiment left to draw on. Do you want to go?'' she asked.
``I'm very comfortable, thank you,'' King said, and returned to
the consideration of his novel.
But Clay and Hope arose at the captain's suggestion with
suspicious alacrity, and stepped out upon the empty deck, and
into the encompassing darkness, with a little sigh of relief.
Alice Langham looked after them somewhat wistfully and bit the
edges of her book. She sat for some time with her brows knitted,
glancing occasionally and critically toward King and up with
unseeing eyes at the swinging lamps of the saloon. He caught her
looking at him once when he raised his eyes as he turned a page,
and smiled back at her, and she nodded pleasantly and bent her
head over her reading. She assured herself that after all King
understood her and she him, and that if they never rose to
certain heights, they never sank below a high level of mutual
esteem, and that perhaps was the best in the end.
King had placed his yacht at the disposal of Madame Alvarez, and
she had sailed to Colon, where she could change to the steamers
for Lisbon, while he accompanied the Langhams and the wedding
party to New York.
Clay recognized that the time had now arrived in his life
when he could graduate from the position of manager-director and
become the engineering expert, and that his services in Olancho
were no longer needed.
With Rojas in power Mr. Langham had nothing further to fear from
the Government, and with Kirkland in charge and young Langham
returning after a few months' absence to resume his work, he felt
himself free to enjoy his holiday.
They had taken the first steamer out, and the combined efforts of
all had been necessary to prevail upon MacWilliams to accompany
them; and even now the fact that he was to act as Clay's best man
and, as Langham assured him cheerfully, was to wear a frock coat
and see his name in all the papers, brought on such sudden panics
of fear that the fast-fading coast line filled his soul with
regret, and a wilful desire to jump overboard and swim back.
Clay and Hope stopped at the door of the chief engineer's cabin
and said they had come to pay him a visit. The chief had but
just come from the depths where the contamination of the earth
was most evident in the condition of his stokers; but his chin
was now cleanly shaven, and his pipe was drawing as well as his
engine fires, and he had wrapped himself in an old P. & O. white
duck jacket to show what he had been before he sank to the
level of a coasting steamer. They admired the clerk-like
neatness of the report he had just finished, and in return he
promised them the fastest run on record, and showed them the
portrait of his wife, and of their tiny cottage on the Isle of
Wight, and his jade idols from Corea, and carved cocoanut gourds
from Brazil, and a picture from the ``Graphic'' of Lord
Salisbury, tacked to the partition and looking delightedly down
between two highly colored lithographs of Miss Ellen Terry and
the Princess May.
Then they called upon the captain, and Clay asked him why
captains always hung so much lace about their beds when they
invariably slept on a red velvet sofa with their boots on, and
the captain ordered his Chinese steward to mix them a queer drink
and offered them the choice of a six months' accumulation of
paper novels, and free admittance to his bridge at all hours.
And then they passed on to the door of the smoking-room and
beckoned MacWilliams to come out and join them. His manner as he
did so bristled with importance, and he drew them eagerly to the
``I've just been having a chat with Captain Burke,'' he said, in
an undertone. ``He's been telling Langham and me about a new
game that's better than running railroads. He says there's a
country called Macedonia that's got a native prince who
wants to be free from Turkey, and the Turks won't let him, and
Burke says if we'll each put up a thousand dollars, he'll
guarantee to get the prince free in six months. He's made an
estimate of the cost and submitted it to the Russian Embassy at
Washington, and he says they will help him secretly, and he knows
a man who has just patented a new rifle, and who will supply him
with a thousand of them for the sake of the advertisement. He
says it's a mountainous country, and all you have to do is to
stand on the passes and roll rocks down on the Turks as they come
in. It sounds easy, doesn't it?''
``Then you're thinking of turning professional filibuster
yourself?'' said Clay.
``Well, I don't know. It sounds more interesting than
engineering. Burke says I beat him on his last fight, and he'd
like to have me with him in the next one--sort of young-blood-inthe-
firm idea--and he calculates that we can go about setting
people free and upsetting governments for some time to come. He
says there is always something to fight about if you look for it.
And I must say the condition of those poor Macedonians does
appeal to me. Think of them all alone down there bullied by that
Sultan of Turkey, and wanting to be free and independent. That's
not right. You, as an American citizen, ought to be the
last person in the world to throw cold water on an
undertaking like that. In the name of Liberty now?''
``I don't object; set them free, of course,'' laughed Clay.
``But how long have you entertained this feeling for the enslaved
Macedonians, Mac?''
``Well, I never heard of them until a quarter of an hour ago, but
they oughtn't to suffer through my ignorance.''
``Certainly not. Let me know when you're going to do it, and
Hope and I will run over and look on. I should like to see you
and Burke and the Prince of Macedonia rolling rocks down on the
Turkish Empire.''
Hope and Clay passed on up the deck laughing, and MacWilliams
looked after them with a fond and paternal smile. The lamp in
the wheelhouse threw a broad belt of light across the forward
deck as they passed through it into the darkness of the bow,
where the lonely lookout turned and stared at them suspiciously,
and then resumed his stern watch over the great waters.
They leaned upon the rail and breathed the soft air which the
rush of the steamer threw in their faces, and studied in silence
the stars that lay so low upon the horizon line that they looked
like the harbor lights of a great city.
``Do you see that long line of lamps off our port bow?'' asked
Hope nodded.
``Those are the electric lights along the ocean drive at Long
Branch and up the Rumson Road, and those two stars a little
higher up are fixed to the mast-heads of the Scotland Lightship.
And that mass of light that you think is the Milky Way, is the
glare of the New York street lamps thrown up against the sky.''
``Are we so near as that?'' said Hope, smiling. ``And what lies
over there?'' she asked, pointing to the east.
``Over there is the coast of Africa. Don't you see the
lighthouse on Cape Bon? If it wasn't for Gibraltar being in the
way, I could show you the harbor lights of Bizerta, and the
terraces of Algiers shining like a cafe' chantant in the
``Algiers,'' sighed Hope, ``where you were a soldier of Africa,
and rode across the deserts. Will you take me there?''
``There, of course, but to Gibraltar first, where we will drive
along the Alameda by moonlight. I drove there once coming home
from a mess dinner with the Colonel. The drive lies between
broad white balustrades, and the moon shone down on us between
the leaves of the Spanish bayonet. It was like an Italian
garden. But he did not see it, and he would talk to me
about the Watkins range finder on the lower ramparts, and he
puffed on a huge cigar. I tried to imagine I was there on my
honeymoon, but the end of his cigar would light up and I would
see his white mustache and the glow on his red jacket, so I vowed
I would go over that drive again with the proper person. And we
won't talk of range finders, will we?
``There to the North is Paris; your Paris, and my Paris, with
London only eight hours away. If you look very closely, you can
see the thousands of hansom cab lamps flashing across the
asphalt, and the open theatres, and the fairy lamps in the
gardens back of the houses in Mayfair, where they are giving
dances in your honor, in honor of the beautiful American bride,
whom every one wants to meet. And you will wear the finest tiara
we can get on Bond Street, but no one will look at it; they will
only look at you. And I will feel very miserable and tease you
to come home.''
Hope put her hand in his, and he held her finger-tips to his lips
for an instant and closed his other hand upon hers.
``And after that?'' asked Hope.
``After that we will go to work again, and take long journeys to
Mexico and Peru or wherever they want me, and I will sit in
judgment on the work other chaps have done. And when we get
back to our car at night, or to the section house, for it will be
very rough sometimes,''--Hope pressed his hand gently in
answer,--``I will tell you privately how very differently your
husband would have done it, and you, knowing all about it, will
say that had it been left to me, I would certainly have
accomplished it in a vastly superior manner.''
``Well, so you would,'' said Hope, calmly.
``That's what I said you'd say,'' laughed Clay. ``Dearest,'' he
begged, ``promise me something. Promise me that you are going to
be very happy.''
Hope raised her eyes and looked up at him in silence, and had the
man in the wheelhouse been watching the stars, as he should have
been, no one but the two foolish young people on the bow of the
boat would have known her answer.
The ship's bell sounded eight times, and Hope moved slightly.
``So late as that,'' she sighed. ``Come. We must be going
A great wave struck the ship's side a friendly slap, and the wind
caught up the spray and tossed it in their eyes, and blew a
strand of her hair loose so that it fell across Clay's face, and
they laughed happily together as she drew it back and he took her
hand again to steady her progress across the slanting deck.
As they passed hand in hand out of the shadow into the light from
the wheelhouse, the lookout in the bow counted the strokes of the
bell to himself, and then turned and shouted back his measured
cry to the bridge above them. His voice seemed to be a part of
the murmuring sea and the welcoming winds.
``Listen,'' said Clay.
``Eight bells,'' the voice sang from the darkness. ``The for'ard
light's shining bright--and all's well.''

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