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A Prairie Infanta
by Eva Wilder Brodhead
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Lola exclaimed, "You were here in town on the Fourth of July? O papa! Why didn't I see you? Oh—what—"

"You came near enough to seeing me," laughed Mr. Keene, "and to going away with me, too! I'm glad things happened like they did. That boarding-house was no place for you, Lola. I realize it now! But I was pushed to the wall. But for Miss Jane's helping me out, I'd have had to take you away, sure enough! She told you, didn't she?"

"Told me? Told me what?"

"Why, about my idea of getting you that situation up in Cripple? They needed help bad up in the boarding-house where I lived, and I'd made 'em a promise to fetch you. It was easy work in the dining-room, and right good pay."

"And—and—tia fixed it—so—you decided to leave me here?"

"That's what she did! I'm mighty glad of it, too, for I see you're not cut out for any such work. I'm not forgetting what I owe Miss Jane. She's been a good friend to us both. I was sorry to hear down in Trinidad about your mortgaging your house that time, Miss Combs. Yes, I'm downright ashamed to think I've let you pay me month by month for Lola's services, when really you were out of pocket for her schooling and all. But I didn't realize how things were, and now we'll level things up."

"My services!" Lola sprang to her feet. Everything was clear enough now. No need to summon charity for Jane's shortcomings! No need to overlook, to palliate, to forgive! Jane's fault had been merely too lavish a generosity, too large a love. There had been no question with her of property. She had simply given everything she had to a forsaken, ungrateful child—home, food, raiment, schooling.

These were the facts. The flood of unutterable feeling which swept over Lola as the knowledge of it all flashed upon her was something deeper than thought, something more moving than any mere matter of perception. A passionate gratitude throbbed in her heart, confused with a passionate self-reproach. She desired to speak, but somehow her lips refused utterance. She trembled and turned white, and stood wringing her hands.

"I was always a generous man," said Mr. Keene, lost to his daughter's looks in pleasant introspection, "and I mean to do right by you, Miss Combs. You'll find I'm not ungrateful. Lola'll always write to you, too, wherever we are. I'm thinking some of Paris. How'd that suit you, Lola? A person can pick up a mighty good time over there, they say. And bonnets—how many bonnets can you manage, Lola? Why, she looks kind of stunned, don't she, Miss Combs?"

Jane was gazing at the girl. She knew well with what force the blow so long averted had fallen at last. In her own breast she seemed to feel the pain with which Lola had received her father's revelations.

"Lola," she cried, leaning forward, "don't feel so, my lamb! I'm sorry you had to know this. I tried hard to keep it from you. But it's all out now, and you must try to bear it. Your father don't realize—he hasn't meant to hurt you. He's fond of you, dearie. And he's going to take you to foreign lands, and you can see all the great pictures and statues, and have a chance to learn all the things you spoke of—designing and such. Don't look so, my child!"

Mr. Keene began to feel highly uncomfortable. Evidently, in his own phrase, he had "put his foot into it;" he had said too much. He had disclosed fallacies in himself of which Lola, it seemed, knew nothing. And now Lola, who had received him with such flattering warmth, was turning her face away and looking strange and stern and stricken.

Nor did Miss Combs seem fairly to have grasped the liberality of his intentions. She, too, had a curious air of not being exalted in any way by so much good fortune. She appeared to be engaged solely in trying to reconcile Lola to a situation which Mr. Keene considered dazzling.

Altogether it was very disturbing, especially to a man who did not understand what he had done to bring about so unpleasant a turn. He was about to ask some explanation, when Lola said slowly, "And you, tia, you have done so much for me that you have nothing left? Is that so?"

"I don't need much, Lola. I'll be all right. Don't you worry."

"You won't mind living here alone and poor?"

"She won't be poor, Lola," interpolated Mr. Keene. "Haven't I said so? And you can come and see her, you know. Everything will come out all right."

Lola turned a little toward him, and he was glad to see that her eyes were soft and gentle and that the stern look had disappeared. "Yes," she said, "it will come out all right for tia, because I shall be here to see that it does."

She caught her breath and added, "You couldn't think I should be willing to go away and leave her like this? Even if I hadn't heard how much more she has done for me than I dreamed? For I have been ignorant till now of many things; but I shouldn't have forgotten that she loved me and had reared me and cared for me when there was no one else. No, father, no! And now that you have let me find out what I owe her, do you think I sha'n't remember it always with every beat of my heart? Oh, yes—although I can never repay her for all she has suffered in keeping me from knowing things which would have hurt me too much when I was little and—and could not make allowances—as I can now. My home is here. My heart is here, father. You must let me stay!"

She had taken Jane's hand and was holding it closely—that happy hand which for very blessedness and amazement trembled more than her own. And so holding it, she cried, "Tia, you want me to stay, don't you? Say yes! Tell him I may stay! It is my home where you are. And oh, how different I will be!"

Jane, listening, could only press those slender, clinging fingers in speechless comfort, and look up silently into the imploring eyes of her child—eyes filled with tears and love. A moment of silence ensued. Then, clearing his throat suddenly, Mr. Keene rose and walked to the window.

"Lola," he said presently, turning to face the two others, "I don't blame you one bit. Miss Jane's done a heap more for you than I had any notion. 'Tisn't only that she's done all you say, but she's raised you to be a girl I'm proud of—a right-minded, right-hearted girl. I never thought how it would look for you to be willing to rush off at the first word and leave behind you the person you owed most to in the world! But I'm free to say I wouldn't have liked it when I come to think of it. I wouldn't have felt proud of you like I do now. Knocking around the foot-hills has shaken me up pretty well, but I know what's right as well as any man. There's things in my life I'd like to forget; but they say it's never too late to mend. And I have hopes of myself when I see what a noble girl my daughter's turned out."



He put his handkerchief away and came and stood before them, adding, "I haven't had a chance to finish my other story. When Miss Jane gave me that grub-stake she didn't know, I reckon, that half of anything I might strike would belong to her—that in law, grub-stakes always means halves! But I never had any intention of not dealing fair and square. So when I said she wasn't going to be poor, I meant it! For half 'the Little Lola' belongs to her. And if she's willing, I'll just run the mine for the next year or so, and after that we can talk about traveling."

Mr. Keene, during the past hour, had been made sensible of certain deficiencies in himself. No one had accused him or reproached him, yet he felt chagrined as he saw his own conduct forcibly contrasted with the conduct of a different sort. But now, as his daughter sent a beaming glance toward him, his spirits rose again, and he began once more to regard himself hopefully, as a man who, despite some failings, was honest in the main, and generous and well-meaning.

"Oh, how glad I am!" said Lola. "Tia, tia, do you hear? You are a lady of fortune and must have a velvet gown! And, oh, tia, a tall, silver comb in your hair!" She dropped a sudden kiss down upon the smooth, brown bands, and added in a deeper tone, "But nothing, nothing, can make you better or dearer!"

Jane smiled uncertainly as if she were in a dream. Could this unlooked-for, bewildering satisfaction be indeed real, and not a visionary thing which would presently fade? She looked about. There was actuality in the scene. The cottonwoods rustled crisply, Alejandro Vigil was calling to his dog, and the tinkle of his herd stole softly upon her ear. The great hills rose majestic as of old upon the glorious western sky; the plains stretched off in silvery, sea-like waves to the very verge of the world. And hard by many a familiar thing spoke of a past which she knew; pots of geraniums, muslin shades and open piano. There, too, was Mr. Keene, sitting at ease in his chair; there was Lola, bending over her in smiling reassurance. And finally, there was Tesuque himself regarding her from his shelf in an Olympian calm which no merely mortal emotion could touch or stir. Tesuque's little bowl was still empty, but in his adobe glance Jane suddenly grew aware how truly her own cup overflowed.

[THE END]



A PRAIRIE INFANTA

By EVA WILDEER BRODHEAD

A clever Western story that develops in a little Colorado mining town. One is made to see the green, tall cottonwoods, the straggling mud-houses and pungent goat-corrals of its people, among whom lived the woman who took to her great heart the motherless Lola.

The tropical brilliancy of the girl, by reason of her red frock and the red ribbons in her hair, excites the jealousy of the little Mexicans and the paler children from the mining end of the town, and in their disapproval they style her "Infanta." The story of the girl's life is charmingly told, and eventually, her father, a man who, despite some failings, is generous and well-meaning, reappears in the character of a wealthy mine owner, and brings the story to an unlooked for and happy termination.

Cloth, ornamental, illustrated, 50 cents

WITCHERY WAYS

By AMOS R. WELLS

PICTURES BY L. J. BRIDGMAN

Children may well be grateful to the forgotten people who, long ago, first invented fairy tales. Mr. Wells confesses, in the preface to this book, that he has a very tender regard for the "Little People," as fairies used to be called in those days, and now he has given us, under the title of "Witchery Ways," some fairy tales of his own which will prove a never-ending delight to every reader.

Cloth, ornamental, illustrated, 50 cents

SONNY BOY

By SOPHIE SWETT

Sonny Boy was ten years old. His name was Peter, but his mother thought that too large a name for a small boy.

Aunt Kate, one of the "right kind," is lonesome in her new house without any young people, and borrows Sonny Boy for six months. The lad has a happy visit and many pleasant experiences, learning the while some helpful lessons. Delightedly one reads of Otto and the white mice; Lena and the parrot, the wild man of the circus, and Sonny Boy's ambition to command the Poppleton Guards, but Miss Swett tells the story, and when that is said, nothing remains but to enjoy the book.

Cloth, ornamental, handsomely illustrated, 50 cents

HENRY ALTEMUS CO., PHILADELPHIA



A GOURD FIDDLE

By GRACE MACGOWAN COOKE

A little colored boy, the sole orphaned remainder of a long line of masters of the violin, alone of the army of negroes who had borne the family name, is left to wait upon the old mistress and Miss Patrice at the "Great House."

Miss Patrice teaches Orphy to sing the chants and anthems in the service of the little church where he was baptized, and with her voice new airs for his violin. Plantation songs he knew and rendered with a pleasing coloring.

After the death of his teacher Orphy falls upon hard times, but eventually his talent is recognized by a professor of music who takes him to Europe, and there, under peculiar circumstances, he plays on his home-made gourd fiddle before no less a personage than Her Majesty, Queen Victoria.

Cloth, ornamental, handsomely illustrated, 50 cents

BUMPER AND BABY JOHN

By ANNA CHAPIN RAY

PICTURES BY CURTIS WAGER-SMITH

An irresistibly humorous relation of the haps and mishaps of the homeliest, yet most dependable dog in the world, and a delightful red-haired and freckled child, whose united ages did not exceed seven years.

But apart from the humor of the book, it is alive with human interest, and there is pathos as well. And this is not to forget the artist in praise of the author; the illustrations could not have been confided to a better hand.

Cloth, ornamental, illustrated, 50 cents

A LITTLE ROUGH RIDER

By TUDOR JENKS

Author of "Galopoff, the Talking Pony," "Gypsy, the Talking Dog," etc.

PICTURES BY REGINALD B. BIRCH

Under the title of "A Little Rough Rider" the author tells the story of a little girl, who, as Senorita Finette, the equestrienne, saved the fortunes of a circus during the early years of the gold-fever in California. Her charming feats on the back of her trained horse, Blanco, win fame and fortune for herself as well, the latter being augmented later by the discovery of gold on certain lands.

Cloth, ornamental, illustrated, 50 cents

HENRY ALTEMUS CO., PHILADELPHIA



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Transcriber's Notes

Page 43: Changed Sanish to Spanish: (who knew Sanish best, being a bronco from the south).

THE END

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