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A Ward of the Golden Gate
by Bret Harte
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"But you surely have something else to think about, Miss Yerba?" said the young man, with conviction. "In a few months you will be of age, and rid of those dreadfully stupid guardians; with your"—

The loosened rose-spray flew from her hand out of the window as she made a gesture, half real, half assumed, of imploring supplication. "Oh, please, Mr. Hathaway, for Heaven's sake don't YOU begin too! You are going to say that, with my wealth, my accomplishments, my beauty, my friends, what more can I want? What do I care about a secret that can neither add to them nor take them away? Yes, you were! It's the regular thing to say—everybody says it. Why, I should have thought 'the youngest senator' could afford to have been more original."

"I plead guilty to ALL the weaknesses of humanity," said Paul, warmly, again beginning to believe that he had been most unjust to her independence.

"Well, I forgive you, because you have forgotten to say that, if I don't like the name of Yerba Buena, I could SO easily change that too."

"But you DO like it," said Paul, touched with this first hearing of her name in her own musical accents, "or would like it if you heard yourself pronounce it." It suddenly recurred to him, with a strange thrill of pleasure, that he himself had given it to her. It was as if he had created some musical instrument to which she had just given voice. In his enthusiasm he had thrown himself on the bench beside her in an attitude that, I fear, was not as dignified as became his elderly office.

"But you don't think that is my NAME," said the girl, quickly.

"I beg your pardon?" said Paul, hesitatingly.

"You don't think that anybody would have been so utterly idiotic as to call me after a ground-vine—a vegetable?" she continued petulantly.

"Eh?" stammered Paul.

"A name that could be so easily translated," she went on, half scornfully, "and when translated, was no possible title for anybody? Think of it—Miss Good Herb! It is too ridiculous for anything."

Paul was not usually wanting in self-possession in an emergency, or in skill to meet attack. But he was so convinced of the truth of the girl's accusation, and now recalled so vividly his own consternation on hearing the result of his youthful and romantic sponsorship for the first time from Pendleton, that he was struck with confusion.

"But what do you suppose it was intended for?" he said at last, vaguely. "It was certainly 'Yerba Buena' in the Trust. At least, I suppose so," he corrected himself hurriedly.

"It is only a supposition," she said quietly, "for you know it cannot be proved. The Trust was never recorded, and the only copy could not be found among Mr. Hammersley's papers. It is only part of the name, of which the first is lost."

"Part of the name?" repeated Paul, uneasily.

"Part of it. It is a corruption of de la Yerba Buena,—of the Yerba Buena,—and refers to the island of Yerba Buena in the bay, and not to the plant. That island was part of the property of my family—the Arguellos—you will find it so recorded in the Spanish grants. My name is Arguello de la Yerba Buena."

It is impossible to describe the timid yet triumphant, the half-appealing yet complacent, conviction of the girl's utterance. A moment before, Paul would have believed it impossible for him to have kept his gravity and his respect for his companion under this egregious illusion. But he kept both. For a sudden conviction that she suspected the truth, and had taken this audacious and original plan of crushing it, overpowered all other sense. The Arguellos, it flashed upon him, were an old Spanish family, former owners of Yerba Buena Island, who had in the last years become extinct. There had been a story that one of them had eloped with an American ship captain's wife at Monterey. The legendary history of early Spanish California was filled with more remarkable incidents, corroborated with little difficulty from Spanish authorities, who, it was alleged, lent themselves readily to any fabrication or forgery. There was no racial pride: on the contrary, they had shown an eager alacrity to ally themselves with their conquerors. The friends of the Arguellos would be proud to recognize and remember in the American heiress the descendant of their countrymen. All this passed rapidly through his mind after the first moment of surprise; all this must have been the deliberate reasoning of this girl of seventeen, whose dark eyes were bent upon him. Whether she was seeking corroboration or complicity he could not tell.

"Have you found this out yourself?" he asked, after a pause.

"Yes. One of my friends at the convent was Josita Castro; she knew all the history of the Arguellos. She is perfectly satisfied."

For an instant Paul wondered if it was a joint conception of the two schoolgirls. But, on reflection, he was persuaded that Yerba would commit herself to no accomplice—of her own sex. She might have dominated the girl, and would make her a firm partisan, while the girl would be convinced of it herself, and believe herself a free agent. He had had such experience with men himself.

"But why have you not spoken of it before—and to Colonel Pendleton?"

"He did not choose to tell ME," said Yerba, with feminine dexterity. "I have preferred to keep it myself a secret till I am of age."

"When Colonel Pendleton and some of the other trustees have no right to say anything," thought Paul quickly. She had evidently trusted him. Yet, fascinated as he had been by her audacity, he did not know whether to be pleased, or the reverse. He would have preferred to be placed on an equal footing with Josita Castro. She anticipated his thoughts by saying, with half-raised eyelids:—

"What do YOU think of it?"

"It seems to be so natural and obvious an explanation of the mystery that I only wonder it was not thought of before," said Paul, with that perfect sincerity that made his sympathy so effective.

"You see,"—still under her pretty eyelids, and the tender promise of a smile parting her little mouth,—"I'm believing that you tell the truth when you say you don't know anything about it."

It was a desperate moment with Paul, but his sympathetic instincts, and possibly his luck, triumphed. His momentary hesitation easily simulated the caution of a conscientious man; his knit eyebrows and bright eyes, lowered in an effort of memory, did the rest. "I remember it all so indistinctly," he said, with literal truthfulness; "there was a veiled lady present, tall and dark, to whom Mayor Hammersley and the colonel showed a singular, and, it struck me, as an almost superstitious, respect. I remember now, distinctly, I was impressed with the reverential way they both accompanied her to the door at the end of the interview." He raised his eyes slightly; the young girl's red lips were parted; that illumination of the skin, which was her nearest approach to color, had quite transfigured her face. He felt, suddenly, that she believed it, yet he had no sense of remorse. He half believed it himself; at least, he remembered the nobility of the mother's self-renunciation and its effect upon the two men. Why should not the daughter preserve this truthful picture of her mother's momentary exaltation? Which was the most truthful—that, or the degrading facts? "You speak of a secret," he added. "I can remember little more than that the Mayor asked me to forget from that moment the whole occurrence. I did not know at the time how completely I should fulfill his request. You must remember, Miss Yerba, as your Lady Superior has, that I was absurdly young at the time. I don't know but that I may have thought, in my youthful inexperience, that this sort of thing was of common occurrence. And then, I had my own future to make—and youth is brutally selfish. I was quite friendless and unknown when I left San Francisco for the mines, at the time you entered the convent as Yerba Buena."

She smiled, and made a slight impulsive gesture, as if she would have drawn nearer to him, but checked herself, still smiling, and without embarrassment. It may have been a movement of youthful camaraderie, and that occasional maternal rather than sisterly instinct which sometimes influences a young girl's masculine friendship, and elevates the favored friend to the plane of the doll she has outgrown. As he turned towards her, however, she rose, shook out her yellow dress, and said with pretty petulance:—

"Then you must go so soon—and this your first and last visit as my guardian?"

"No one could regret that more than I," looking at her with undefined meaning.

"Yes," she said, with a tantalizing coquetry that might have suggested an underlying seriousness. "I think you HAVE lost a good deal. Perhaps, so have I. We might have been good friends in all these years. But that is past."

"Why? Surely, I hope, my shortcomings with Miss Yerba Buena will not be remembered by Miss Arguello?" sail Paul, earnestly.

"Ah! SHE may be a very different person."

"I hope not," said the young man, warmly. "But HOW different?"

"Well, she may not put herself in the way of receiving such point-blank compliments as that," said the young girl, demurely.

"Not from her guardian?"

"She will have no guardian then." She said this gravely, but almost at the same moment turned and sat down again, throwing her linked hands over her knee, and looked at him mischievously. "You see what you have lost, sir."

"I see," said Paul, but with all the gravity that she had dropped.

"No; but you don't see all. I had no brother—no friend. You might have been both. You might have made me what you liked. You might have educated me far better than these teachers, or, at least given me some pride in my studies. There were so many things I wanted to know that they couldn't teach me; so many times I wanted advice from some one that I could trust. Colonel Pendleton was very good to me when he came; he always treated me like a princess even when I wore short frocks. It was his manner that first made me think he knew my family; but I never felt as if I could tell him anything, and I don't think, with all his chivalrous respect, he ever understood me. As to the others—the Mayors—well, you may judge from Mr. Henderson. It is a wonder that I did not run away or do something desperate. Now, are you not a LITTLE sorry?"

Her voice, which had as many capricious changes as her manner, had been alternately coquettish, petulant, and serious, had now become playful again. But, like the rest of her sex, she was evidently more alert to her surroundings at such a moment than her companion, for before he could make any reply, she said, without apparently looking, "But there is a deputation coming for you, Mr. Hathaway. You see, the case is hopeless. You never would be able to give to one what is claimed by the many."

Paul glanced down the rose-alley, and saw that the deputation in question was composed of the Mayor, Mr. Woods, a thin, delicate-looking woman,—evidently Mrs. Woods,—and Milly. The latter managed to reach the summer-house first, with apparently youthful alacrity, but really to exchange, in a single glance, some mysterious feminine signal with Yerba. Then she said with breathless infelicity:—

"Before you two get bored with each other now, I must tell you there's a chance of you having more time. Aunty has promised to send off a note excusing you to the Reverend Mother, if she can persuade Mr. Hathaway to stay over to-night. But here they are. [To Yerba] Aunty is most anxious, and won't hear of his going."

Indeed, it seemed as if Mrs. Woods was, after a refined fashion, most concerned that a distinguished visitor like Mr. Hathaway should have to use her house as a mere accidental meeting-place with his ward, without deigning to accept her hospitality. She was reinforced by Mr. Woods, who enunciated the same idea with more masculine vigor; and by the Mayor, who expressed his conviction that a slight of this kind to Rosario would be felt in the Santa Clara valley. "After dinner, my dear Hathaway," concluded Mr. Woods, "a few of our neighbors may drop in, who would be glad to shake you by the hand—no formal meeting, my boy—but, hang it! THEY expect it."

Paul looked around for Yerba. There was really no reason why he shouldn't accept, although an hour ago the idea had never entered his mind. Yet, if he did, he would like the girl to know that it was for HER sake. Unfortunately, far from exhibiting any concern in the matter, she seemed to be preoccupied with Milly, and only the charming back of her head was visible behind Mrs. Woods. He accepted, however, with a hesitation that took some of the graciousness from his yielding, and a sense that he was giving a strange importance to a trivial circumstance.

The necessity of attaching himself to his hostess, and making a more extended tour of the grounds, for a while diverted him from an uneasy consideration of his past interview. Mrs. Woods had known Yerba through the school friendship of Milly, and, as far as the religious rules of the convent would allow, had always been delighted to show her any hospitality. She was a beautiful girl—did not Mr. Hathaway think so?—and a girl of great character. It was a pity, of course, that she had never known a mother's care, and that the present routine of a boarding-school had usurped the tender influences of home. She believed, too, that the singular rotation of guardianship had left the girl practically without a counseling friend to rely upon, except, perhaps, Colonel Pendleton; and while she, Mrs. Woods, did not for a moment doubt that the colonel might be a good friend and a pleasant companion of MEN, really he, Mr. Hathaway, must admit that, with his reputation and habits, he was hardly a fit associate for a young lady. Indeed, Mr. Woods would have never allowed Milly to invite Yerba here if Colonel Pendleton was to have been her escort. Of course, the poor girl could not choose her own guardian, but Mr. Woods said HE had a right to choose who should be his niece's company. Perhaps Mr. Woods was prejudiced,—most men were,—yet surely Mr. Hathaway, although a loyal friend of Colonel Pendleton's, must admit that when it was an open scandal that the colonel had fought a duel about a notoriously common woman, and even blasphemously defended her before a party of gentlemen, it was high time, as Mr. Woods said, that he should be remanded to their company exclusively. No; Mrs. Woods could not admit that this was owing to the injustice of her own sex! Men are really the ones who make the fuss over those things, just as they, as Mr. Hathaway well knew, made the laws! No; it was a great pity, as she and her husband had just agreed, that Mr. Hathaway, of all the guardians, could not have been always the help and counselor—in fact, the elder brother—of poor Yerba! Paul was conscious that he winced slightly, consistently and conscientiously, at the recollection of certain passages of his youth; inconsistently and meanly, at this suggestion of a joint relationship with Yerba's mother.

"I think, too," continued Mrs. Woods, "she has worried foolishly about this ridiculous mystery of her parentage—as if it could make the slightest difference to a girl with a quarter of a million, or as if that didn't show quite conclusively that she WAS somebody!"

"Certainly," said Paul, quickly, with a relief that he nevertheless felt was ridiculous.

"And, of course, I dare say it will all come out when she is of age. I suppose you know if any of the family are still living?"

"I really do not."

"I beg your pardon," said Mrs. Woods, with a smile. "I forgot it's a profound secret until then. But here we are at the house; I see the girls have walked over to our neighbors'. Perhaps you would like to have a few moments to yourself before you dress for dinner, and your portmanteau, which has been sent for, comes from your hotel. You must be tired of seeing so many people."

Paul was glad to accept any excuse for being alone, and, thanking his hostess, followed a servant to his room—a low-ceilinged but luxuriously furnished apartment on the first floor. Here he threw himself on a cushioned lounge that filled the angle of the deep embrasure—the thickness of the old adobe walls—that formed a part of the wooden-latticed window. A Cape jessamine climbing beside it filled the room with its subtle, intoxicating perfume. It was so strong, and he felt himself so irresistibly overpowered and impelled towards a merely idle reverie, that, in order to think more clearly and shut out some strange and unreasoning enthrallment of his senses, he rose and sharply closed the window. Then he sat down and reflected.

What was he doing here? and what was the meaning of all this? He had come simply to fulfill a duty to his past, and please a helpless and misunderstood old acquaintance. He had performed that duty. But he had incidentally learned a certain fact that might be important to this friend, and clearly his duty was simply to go back and report it. He would gain nothing more in the way of corroboration of it by staying now, if further corroboration were required. Colonel Pendleton had already been uselessly and absurdly perplexed about the possible discovery of the girl's parentage, and its effect upon her fortunes and herself. She had just settled that of her own accord, and, without committing herself or others, had suggested a really sensible plan by which all trouble would be avoided in future. That was the common-sense way of looking at it. He would lay the plan before the colonel, have him judge of its expediency and its ethics—and even the question whether she already knew the real truth, or was self-deceived. That done, he would return to his own affairs in Sacramento. There was nothing difficult in this, or that need worry him, only he could have done it just as well an hour ago.

He opened the window again. The scent of the jessamine came in as before, but mingled with the cooler breath of the roses. There was nothing intoxicating or unreal in it now; rather it seemed a gentle aromatic stimulant—of thought. Long shadows of unseen poplars beyond barred the garden lanes and alleys with bands of black and yellow. A slanting pencil of sunshine through the trees was for a moment focussed on a bed of waxen callas before a hedge of ceanothus, and struck into dazzling relief the cold white chalices of the flowers and the vivid shining green of their background. Presently it slid beyond to a tiny fountain, before invisible, and wrought a blinding miracle out of its flashing and leaping spray. Yet even as he gazed the fountain seemed to vanish slowly, the sunbeam slipped on, and beyond it moved the shimmer of white and yellow dresses. It was Yerba and Milly returning to the house. Well, he would not interrupt his reflections by idly watching them; he would, probably, see a great deal of Yerba that evening, and by that time he would have come to some conclusion in regard to her.

But he had not taken into consideration her voice, which, always musical in its Southern intonation and quite audible in the quiet garden, struck him now as being full of joyous sweetness. Well, she was certainly very happy—or very thoughtless. She was actually romping with Milly, and was now evidently being chased down the rose-alley by that volatile young woman. Then these swift Camillas apparently neared the house, there was the rapid rustle of skirts, the skurrying of little feet on the veranda, a stumble, a mouse-like shriek from Milly, and HER voice, exhausted, dying, happy, broken with half-hushed laughter, rose to him on the breath of the jessamine and rose.

Surely she WAS a child, and, if a child, how he had misjudged her! What if all that he had believed was mature deliberation was only the innocent imaginings of a romantic girl, all that he had taken seriously only a school-girl's foolish dream! Instead of combating it, instead of reasoning with her, instead of trying to interest her in other things, he had even helped on her illusions. He had treated her as if the taint of her mother's worldliness and knowledge of evil was in her pure young flesh. He had recognized her as the daughter of an adventuress, and not as his ward, appealing to his chivalry through her very ignorance—it might be her very childish vanity. He had brought to a question of tender and pathetic interest only his selfish opinion of the world and the weaknesses of mankind. The blood came to his cheeks—with all his experienced self-control, he had not lost the youthful trick of blushing—and he turned away from the window as if it had breathed a reproach.

But ought he have even contented himself with destroying her illusions—ought he not have gone farther and told her the whole truth? Ought he not first have won her confidence—he remembered bitterly, now, how she had intimated that she had no one to confide in—and, after revealing her mother's history, have still pledged himself to keep the secret from all others, and assisted her in her plan? It would not have altered the state of affairs, except so far as she was concerned; they could have combined together; his ready wit would have helped him; and his sympathy would have sustained her; but—

How and in what way could he have told her? Leaving out the delicate and difficult periphrase by which her mother's shame would have to be explained to an innocent school-girl—what right could he have assumed to tell it? As the guardian who had never counseled or protected her? As an acquaintance of hardly an hour ago? Who would have such a right? A lover—on whose lips it would only seem a tacit appeal to her gratitude or her fears, and whom no sensitive girl could accept thereafter? No. A husband? Yes! He remembered, with a sudden start, what Pendleton had said to him. Good Heavens! Had Pendleton that idea in his mind? And yet—it seemed the only solution.

A knock at his door was followed by the appearance of Mr. Woods. Mr. Hathaway's portmanteau had come, and Mrs. Woods had sent a message, saying that in view of the limited time that Mr. Hathaway would have with his ward, Mrs. Woods would forego her right to keep him at her side at dinner, and yield her place to Yerba. Paul thanked him with a grave inward smile. What if he made his dramatic disclosure to her confidentially over the soup and fish? Yet, in his constantly recurring conviction of the girl's independence, he made no doubt she would have met his brutality with unflinching pride and self-possession. He began to dress slowly, at times almost forgetting himself in a new kind of pleasant apathy, which he attributed to the odor of the flowers, and the softer hush of twilight that had come on with the dying away of the trade winds, and the restful spice of the bay-trees near his window. He presently found himself not so much thinking of Yerba as of SEEING her. A picture of her in the summer-house caressing her cheek with the roses seemed to stand out from the shadows of the blank wall opposite him. When he passed into the dressing-room beyond, it was not his own face he saw in the glass, but hers. It was with a start, as if he had heard HER voice, that he found upon his dressing-table a small vase containing a flower for his coat, with the penciled words on a card in a school-girl's hand, "From Yerba, with thanks for staying." It must have been placed there by a servant while he was musing at the window.

Half a dozen people were already in the drawing-room when Paul descended. It appeared that Mr. Woods had invited certain of his neighbors—among them a Judge Baker and his wife, and Don Caesar Briones, of the adjacent Rancho of Los Pajaros, and his sister, the Dona Anna. Milly and Yerba had not yet appeared. Don Caesar, a young man of a toreador build, roundly bland in face and murky in eye, seemed to notice their absence, and kept his glances towards the door, while Paul engaged in conversation with Dona Anna—if that word could convey an impression of a conventionality which that good-humored young lady converted into an animated flirtation at the second sentence with a single glance and two shakes of her fan. And then Milly fluttered in—a vision of school-girl freshness and white tulle, and a moment later—with a pause of expectation—a tall, graceful figure, that at first Paul scarcely recognized.

It is a popular conceit of our sex that we are superior to any effect of feminine adornment, and that a pretty girl is equally pretty in the simplest frock. Yet there was not a man in the room who did not believe that Yerba in her present attire was not only far prettier than before, but that she indicated a new and more delicate form of beauty. It was not the mere revelation of contour and color of an ordinary decollete dress, it was a perfect presentment of pure symmetry and carriage. In this black grenadine dress, trimmed with jet, not only was the delicate satin sheen of her skin made clearer by contrast, but she looked every inch her full height, with an ideal exaltation of breeding and culture. She wore no jewelry except a small necklace of pearls—so small it might have been a child's—that fitted her slender throat so tightly that it could scarcely be told from the flesh that it clasped. Paul did not know that it was the gift of the mother to the child that she had forsworn only a few weeks before she parted from her forever; but he had a vague feeling that, in that sable dress that seemed like mourning, she walked at the funeral of her mother's past. A few white flowers in her corsage, the companions of the solitary one in his button-hole, were the only relief.

Their eyes met for a single moment, the look of admiration in Paul's being answered by the naive consciousness in Yerba's of a woman looking her best; but the next moment she appeared preoccupied with the others, and the eager advances of Don Caesar.

"Your brother seems to admire Miss Yerba," said Paul.

"Ah, ye—es," returned Dona Anna. "And you?"

"Oh!" said Paul, gayly, "I? I am her guardian—with me it is simple egotism, you know."

"Ah!" returned the arch Dona Anna, "you are then already SO certain of her? Good! I shall warn him."

A precaution that did seem necessary; as later, when Paul, at a signal from his hostess, offered his arm to Yerba, the young Spaniard regarded him with a look of startled curiosity.

"I thank you for selecting me to wear your colors," said Paul with a glance at the flowers in her corsage, as they sat at table, "and I think I deserve them, since, but for you, I should have been on my way to San Francisco at this moment. Shall I have an opportunity of talking to you a few minutes later in the evening?" he added, in a lower tone.

"Why not now?" returned Yerba, mischievously. "We are set here expressly for that purpose."

"Surely not to talk of our own business—I should say, of our FAMILY affairs," said Paul, looking at her with equal playfulness; "though I believe your friend Don Caesar, opposite, would be more pleased if he were sure that was all we did."

"And you think his sister would share in that pleasure?" retorted Yerba. "I warn you, Mr. Hathaway, that you have been quite justifying the Reverend Mother's doubts about your venerable pretensions. Everybody is staring at you now."

Paul looked up mechanically. It was true. Whether from some occult sympathy, from a human tendency to admire obvious fitness and symmetry, or the innocent love with which the world regards innocent lovers, they were all observing Yerba and himself with undisguised attention. A good talker, he quickly led the conversation to other topics. It was then that he discovered that Yerba was not only accomplished, but that this convent-bred girl had acquired a singular breadth of knowledge apart from the ordinary routine of the school curriculum. She spoke and thought with independent perceptions and clearness, yet without the tactlessness and masculine abruptness that is apt to detract from feminine originality of reflection. By some tacit understanding that had the charm of mutual confidence, they both exerted themselves to please the company rather than each other, and Paul, in the interchange of sallies with Dona Anna, had a certain pleasure in hearing Yerba converse in Spanish with Don Caesar. But in a few moments he observed, with some uneasiness, that they were talking of the old Spanish occupation, and presently of the old Spanish families. Would she prematurely expose an ignorance that might be hereafter remembered against her, or invite some dreadful genealogical reminiscence that would destroy her hopes and raze her Spanish castles? Or was she simply collecting information? He admired the dexterity with which, without committing herself, she made Don Caesar openly and even confidentially communicative. And yet he was on thorns; at times it seemed as if he himself were playing a part in this imposture of Yerba's. He was aware that his wandering attention was noticed by the quick-witted Dona Anna, when he regained his self-possession by what appeared to be a happy diversion. It was the voice of Mrs. Judge Baker calling across the table to Yerba. By one of the peculiar accidents of general conversation, it was the one apparently trivial remark that in a pause challenged the ears of all.

"We were admiring your necklace, Miss Yerba."

Every eye was turned upon the slender throat of the handsome girl. The excuse was so natural.

Yerba put her hand to her neck with a smile. "You are joking, Mrs. Baker. I know it is ridiculously small, but it is a child's necklace, and I wear it because it was a gift from my mother."

Paul's heart sank again with consternation. It was the first time he had heard the girl distinctly connect herself with her actual mother, and for an instant he felt as startled as if the forgotten Outcast herself had returned and taken a seat at the board.

"I told you it couldn't be so?" remarked Mrs. Baker, to her husband.

Everybody naturally looked inquiringly upon the couple, and Mrs. Baker explained with a smile: "Bob thinks he's seen it before; men are so obstinate."

"Pardon me, Miss Yerba," said the Judge, blandly, "would you mind showing it to me, if it is not too much trouble?"

"Not at all," said Yerba, smiling, and detaching the circlet from her neck. "I'm afraid you'll find it rather old-fashioned."

"That's just what I hope to find it," said Judge Baker, with a triumphant glance at his wife. "It was eight years ago when I saw it in Tucker's jewelry shop. I wanted to buy it for my little Minnie, but as the price was steep I hesitated, and when I did make up my mind he had disposed of it to another customer. Yes," he added, examining the necklace which Yerba had handed to him. "I am certain it is the same: it was unique, like this. Odd, isn't it?"

Everybody said it WAS odd, and looked upon the occurrence with that unreasoning satisfaction with which average humanity receives the most trivial and unmeaning coincidences. It was left to Don Caesar to give it a gallant application.

"I have not-a the pleasure of knowing-a the Miss Minnie, but the jewelry, when she arrives, to the throat-a of Miss Yerba, she has not lost the value—the beauty—the charm."

"No," said Woods, cheerily. "The fact is, Baker, you were too slow. Miss Yerba's folks gobbled up the necklace while you were thinking. You were a new-comer. Old 'forty-niners' did not hesitate over a thing they wanted."

"You never knew who was your successful rival, eh?" said Dona Anna, turning to Judge Baker with a curious glance at Paul's pale face in passing.

"No," said Baker, "but"—he stopped with a hesitating laugh and some little confusion. "No, I've mixed it up with something else. It's so long ago. I never knew, or if I did I've forgotten. But the necklace I remember." He handed it back to Yerba with a bow, and the incident ended.

Paul had not looked at Yerba during this conversation, an unreasoning instinct that he might confuse her, an equally unreasoning dread that he might see her confused by others, possessing him. And when he did glance at her calm, untroubled face, that seemed only a little surprised at his own singular coldness, he was by no means relieved. He was only convinced of one thing. In the last five minutes he had settled upon the irrevocable determination that his present relations with the girl could exist no longer. He must either tell her everything, or see her no more. There was no middle course. She was on the brink of an exposure at any moment, either through her ignorance or her unhappy pretension. In his intolerable position, he was equally unable to contemplate her peril, accept her defense, or himself defend her.

As if, with some feminine instinct, she had attributed his silence to some jealousy of Don Caesar's attentions, she more than once turned from the Spaniard to Paul with an assuring smile. In his anxiety, he half accepted the rather humiliating suggestion, and managed to say to her, in a lower tone:—

"On this last visit of your American guardian, one would think, you need not already anticipate your Spanish relations."

He was thrilled with the mischievous yet faintly tender pleasure that sparkled in her eyes as she said,—

"You forget it is my American guardian's FIRST visit, as well as his last."

"And as your guardian," he went on, with half-veiled seriousness, "I protest against your allowing your treasures, the property of the Trust," he gazed directly into her beautiful eyes, "being handled and commented upon by everybody."

When the ladies had left the table, he was, for a moment, relieved. But only for a moment. Judge Baker drew his chair beside Paul's, and, taking his cigar from his lips, said, with a perfunctory laugh:—

"I say, Hathaway, I pulled up just in time to save myself from making an awful speech, just now, to your ward."

Paul looked at him with cold curiosity.

"Yes. Gad! Do you know WHO was my rival in that necklace transaction?"

"No," said Paul, with frigid carelessness.

"Why, Kate Howard! Fact, sir. She bought it right under my nose—and overbid me, too."

Paul did not lose his self-possession. Thanks to the fact that Yerba was not present, and that Don Caesar, who had overheard the speech, moved forward with a suggestive and unpleasant smile, his agitation congealed into a coldly placid fury.

"And I suppose," he returned, with perfect calmness, "that, after the usual habit of this class of women, the necklace very soon found its way back, through the pawnbroker, to the jeweler again. It's a common fate."

"Yes, of course," said Judge Baker, cheerfully. "You're quite right. That's undoubtedly the solution of it. But," with a laugh, "I had a narrow escape from saying something—eh?"

"A very narrow escape from an apparently gratuitous insult," said Paul, gravely, but fixing his eyes, now more luminous than ever with anger, not on the speakers but on the face of Don Caesar, who was standing at his side. "You were about to say,"—

"Eh—oh—ah! this Kate Howard? So! I have heard of her—yees! And Miss Yerba—ah—she is of my country—I think. Yes—we shall claim her—of a truth—yes."

"Your countrymen, I believe, are in the habit of making claims that are more often founded on profit than verity," said Paul, with smileless and insulting deliberation. He knew perfectly what he was saying, and the result he expected. Only twenty-four hours before he had smiled at Pendleton's idea of averting scandal and discovery by fighting, yet he was endeavoring to pick a quarrel with a man, merely on suspicion, for the same purpose, and he saw nothing strange in it. A vague idea, too, that this would irrevocably confirm him in opposition to Yerba's illusions probably determined him.

But Don Caesar, albeit smiling lividly, did not seem inclined to pick up the gauntlet, and Woods interfered hastily. "Don Caesar means that your ward has some idea herself that she is of Spanish origin—at least, Milly says so. But of course, as one of the oldest trustees, YOU know the facts."

In another moment Paul would have committed himself. "I think we'll leave Miss Yerba out of the question," he said, coldly. "My remark was a general one, although, of course, I am responsible for any personal application of it."

"Spoken like a politician, Hathaway," said Judge Baker, with an effusive enthusiasm, which he hoped would atone for the alarming results of his infelicitous speech. "That's right, gentlemen! You can't get the facts from him before he is ready to give them. Keep your secret, Mr. Hathaway, the court is with you."

Nevertheless, as they passed out of the room to join the ladies, the Mayor lingered a little behind with Woods. "It's easy to see the influence of that Pendleton on our young friend," he said, significantly. "Somebody ought to tell him that it's played out down here—as Pendleton is. It's quite enough to ruin his career."

Paul was too observant not to notice this, but it brought him no sense of remorse; and his youthful belief in himself and his power kept him from concern. He felt as if he had done something, if only to show Don Caesar that the girl's weakness or ignorance could not be traded upon with impunity. But he was still undecided as to the course he should pursue. But he should determine that to-night. At present there seemed no chance of talking to her alone—she was unconcernedly conversing with Milly and Mrs. Woods, and already the visitors who had been invited to this hurried levee in his honor were arriving. In view of his late indiscretion, he nervously exerted his fullest powers, and in a very few minutes was surrounded by a breathless and admiring group of worshipers. A ludicrous resemblance to the scene in the Golden Gate Hotel passed through his mind; he involuntarily turned his eyes to seek Yerba in the half-fear, half-expectation of meeting her mischievous smile. Their glances met; to his surprise hers was smileless, and instantly withdrawn, but not until he had been thrilled by an unconscious prepossession in its luminous depths that he scarcely dared to dwell upon. What mattered now this passage with Don Caesar or the plaudits of his friends? SHE was proud of him!

Yet, after that glance, she was shy, preoccupying herself with Milly, or even listening sweetly to Judge Baker's somewhat practical and unromantic reminiscences of the deprivations and the hardships of California early days, as if to condone his past infelicity. She was pleasantly unaffected with Don Caesar, although she managed to draw Dona Anna into the conversation; she was unconventional, Paul fancied, to all but himself. Once or twice, when he had artfully drawn her towards the open French window that led to the moonlit garden and shadowed veranda, she had managed to link Milly's arm in her own, and he was confident that a suggestion to stroll with him in the open air would be followed by her invitation to Milly to accompany them. Disappointed and mortified as he was, he found some solace in her manner, which he still believed suggested the hope that she might be made accessible to his persuasions. Persuasions to what? He did not know.

The last guest had departed; he lingered on the veranda with a cigar, begging his host and hostess not to trouble themselves to keep him company. Milly and Yerba had retired to the former's boudoir, but, as they had not yet formally bade him good night, there was a chance of their returning. He still stayed on in this hope for half an hour, and then, accepting Yerba's continued absence as a tacit refusal of his request, he turned abruptly away. But as he glanced around the garden before reentering the house, he was struck by a singular circumstance—a white patch, like a forgotten shawl, which he had observed on the distant ceanothus hedge, and which had at first thrilled him with expectation, had certainly CHANGED ITS POSITION. Before, it seemed to be near the summer-house; now it was, undoubtedly, farther away. Could they, or SHE alone, have slipped from the house and be awaiting him there? With a muttered exclamation at his stupidity he stepped hastily from the veranda and walked towards it. But he had scarcely proceeded a dozen yards before it disappeared. He reached the summer-house—it was empty; he followed the line of hedge—no one was there. It could not have been her, or she would have waited, unless he were the victim of a practical joke. He turned impatiently back to the house, reentered the drawing-room by the French window, and was crossing the half-lit apartment, when he heard a slight rustle in the shadow of the window. He looked around quickly, and saw that it was Yerba, in a white, loose gown, for which she had already exchanged her black evening dress, leaning back composedly on the sofa, her hands clasped behind her shapely head.

"I am waiting for Milly," she said, with a faint smile on her lips. He fancied, in the moonlight that streamed upon her, that her beautiful face was pale. "She has gone to the other wing to see one of the servants who is ill. We thought you were on the veranda smoking and I should have company, until I saw you start off, and rush up and down the hedge like mad."

Paul felt that he was losing his self-possession, and becoming nervous in her presence. "I thought it was YOU," he stammered.

"Me! Out in the garden at this hour, alone, and in the broad moonlight? What are you thinking of, Mr. Hathaway? Do you know anything of convent rules, or is that your idea of your ward's education?"

He fancied that, though she smiled faintly, her voice was as tremulous as his own.

"I want to speak with you," he said, with awkward directness. "I even thought of asking you to stroll with me in the garden."

"Why not talk here?" she returned, changing her position, pointing to the other end of the sofa, and drawing the whole overflow of her skirt to one side. "It is not so very late, and Milly will return in a few moments."

Her face was in shadow now, but there was a glow-worm light in her beautiful eyes that seemed faintly to illuminate her whole face. He sank down on the sofa at her side, no longer the brilliant and ambitious politician, but, it seemed to him, as hopelessly a dreaming, inexperienced boy as when he had given her the name that now was all he could think of, and the only word that rose to his feverish lips.

"Yerba!"

"I like to hear you say it," she said quickly, as if to gloss over his first omission of her formal prefix, and leaning a little forward, with her eyes on his. "One would think you had created it. You almost make me regret to lose it."

He stopped. He felt that the last sentence had saved him. "It is of that I want to speak," he broke out suddenly and almost rudely. "Are you satisfied that it means nothing, and can mean nothing, to you? Does it awaken no memory in your mind—recall nothing you care to know? Think! I beg you, I implore you to be frank with me!"

She looked at him with surprise.

"I have told you already that my present name must be some absurd blunder, or some intentional concealment. But why do you want to know NOW?" she continued, adding her faint smile to the emphasis.

"To help you!" he said, eagerly. "For that alone! To do all I can to assist you, if you really believe, and want to believe, that you have another. To ask you to confide in me; to tell me all you have been told, all that you know, think you know, or WANT to know about your relationship to the Arguellos—or to—any one. And then to devote myself entirely to proving what you shall say is your desire. You see, I am frank with you, Yerba. I only ask you to be as frank with me; to let me know your doubts, that I may counsel you; your fears, that I may give you courage."

"Is that all you came here to tell me?" she asked quietly.

"No, Yerba," he said, eagerly, taking her unresisting but indifferent hand, "not all; but all that I must say, all that I have the right to say, all that you, Yerba, would permit me to tell you NOW. But let me hope that the day is not far distant when I can tell you ALL, when you will understand that this silence has been the hardest sacrifice of the man who now speaks to you."

"And yet not unworthy of a rising politician," she added, quickly withdrawing her hand. "I agree," she went on, looking towards the door, yet without appearing to avoid his eager eyes, "and when I have settled upon 'a local habitation and a name' we shall renew this interesting conversation. Until then, as my fourth official guardian used to say—he was a lawyer, Mr. Hathaway, like yourself—when he was winding up his conjectures on the subject—all that has passed is to be considered 'without prejudice.'"

"But Yerba"—began Paul, bitterly.

She slightly raised her hand as if to check him with a warning gesture. "Yes, dear," she said suddenly, lifting her musical voice, with a mischievous side-glance at Paul, as if to indicate her conception of the irony of a possible application, "this way. Here we are waiting for you." Her listening ear had detected Milly's step in the passage, and in another moment that cheerful young woman discreetly stopped on the threshold of the room, with every expression of apologetic indiscretion in her face.

"We have finished our talk, and Mr. Hathaway has been so concerned about my having no real name that he has been promising me everything, but his own, for a suitable one. Haven't you, Mr. Hathaway?" She rose slowly and, going over to Milly, put her arm around her waist and stood for one instant gazing at him between the curtains of the doorway. "Good night. My very proper chaperon is dreadfully shocked at this midnight interview, and is taking me away. Only think of it, Milly; he actually proposed to me to walk in the garden with him! Good night, or, as my ancestors—don't forget, MY ANCESTORS—used to say: 'Buena noche—hasta manana!'" She lingered over the Spanish syllables with an imitation of Dona Anna's lisp, and with another smile, but more faint and more ghostlike than before; vanished with her companion.

At eight o'clock the next morning Paul was standing beside his portmanteau on the veranda.

"But this is a sudden resolution of yours, Hathaway," said Mr. Woods. "Can you not possibly wait for the next train? The girls will be down then, and you can breakfast comfortably."

"I have much to do—more than I imagined—in San Francisco before I return," said Paul, quickly. "You must make my excuses to them and to your wife."

"I hope," said Woods, with an uneasy laugh, "you have had no more words with Don Caesar, or he with you?"

"No," said Paul, with a reassuring smile, "nothing more, I assure you."

"For you know you're a devilish quick fellow, Hathaway," continued Woods, "quite as quick as your friend Pendleton. And, by the way, Baker is awfully cut up about that absurd speech of his, you know. Came to me last night and wondered if anybody could think it was intentional. I told him it was d—d stupid, that was all. I guess his wife had been at him. Ha! ha! You see, he remembers the old times, when everybody talked of these things, and that woman Howard was quite a character. I'm told she went off to the States years ago."

"Possibly," said Paul, carelessly. After a pause, as the carriage drove up to the door, he turned to his host. "By the way, Woods, have you a ghost here?"

"The house is old enough for one. But no. Why?"

"I'll swear I saw a figure moving yonder, in the shrubbery, late last evening; and when I came up to it, it most unaccountably disappeared."

"One of Don Caesar's servants, I dare say. There is one of them, an Indian, prowling about here, I've been told, at all hours. I'll put a stop to it. Well, you must go then? Dreadfully sorry you couldn't stop longer! Good-by!"



CHAPTER IV.

It was two months later that Mr. Tony Shear, of Marysville, but lately confidential clerk to the Hon. Paul Hathaway, entered his employer's chambers in Sacramento, and handed the latter a letter.

"I only got back from San Francisco this morning; but Mr. Slate said I was to give you that, and if it satisfied you, and was what you wanted, you would send it back to him."

Paul took the envelope and opened it. It contained a printer's proof-slip, which he hurriedly glanced over. It read as follows:—

"Those of our readers who are familiar with the early history of San Francisco will be interested to know that an eccentric and irregular trusteeship, vested for the last eight years in the Mayor of San Francisco and two of our oldest citizens, was terminated yesterday by the majority of a beautiful and accomplished young lady, a pupil of the convent of Santa Clara. Very few, except the original trustees, were cognizant of the fact that the administration of the trustees has been a recognized function of the successive Mayors of San Francisco during this period; and the mystery surrounding it has been only lately divulged. It offers a touching and romantic instance of a survival of the old patriarchal duties of the former Alcaldes and the simplicity of pioneer days. It seems that, in the unsettled conditions of the Mexican land-titles that followed the American occupation, the consumptive widow of a scion of one of the oldest Californian families intrusted her property and the custody of her infant daughter virtually to the city of San Francisco, as represented by the trustees specified, until the girl should become of age. Within a year, the invalid mother died. With what loyalty, sagacity, and prudence these gentlemen fulfilled their trust may be gathered from the fact that the property left in their charge has not only been secured and protected, but increased a hundredfold in value; and that the young lady, who yesterday attained her majority, is not only one of the richest landed heiresses on the Pacific Slope, but one of the most accomplished and thoroughly educated of her sex. It is now no secret that this favored child of Chrysopolis is the Dona Maria Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena, so called from her ancestral property on the island, now owned by the Federal government. But it is an affecting and poetic tribute to the parent of her adoption that she has preferred to pass under the old, quaintly typical name of the city, and has been known to her friends simply as 'Miss Yerba Buena.' It is a no less pleasant and suggestive circumstance that our 'youngest senator,' the Honorable Paul Hathaway, formerly private secretary to Mayor Hammersley, is one of the original unofficial trustees; while the chivalry of the older days is perpetuated in the person of Colonel Harry Pendleton, the remaining trustee."

As soon as he had finished, Paul took a pencil and crossed out the last sentence; but instead of laying the proof aside, or returning it to the waiting secretary, he remained with it in his hand, his silent, set face turned towards the window. Whether the merely human secretary was tired of waiting, or the devoted partisan saw something on his young chief's face that disturbed him, he turned to Paul with that exaggerated respect which his functions as secretary had grafted upon his affection for his old associate, and said:—

"I hope nothing's wrong, sir. Not another of those scurrilous attacks on you for putting that bill through to relieve Colonel Pendleton? Yet it was a risky thing for you, sir."

Paul started, recovered himself as if from some remote abstraction, and, with a smile, said: "No,—nothing. Quite the reverse. Write to Mr. Slate, thank him, and say that it will do very well—with the exception of the lines I have marked out. Then bring me the letter, and I will add this inclosure. Did you call on Colonel Pendleton?"

"Yes, sir. He was at Santa Clara, and had not yet returned,—at least, that's what that dandy nigger of his told me. The airs and graces that that creature puts on since the colonel's affairs have been straightened out is a little too much for a white man to stand. Why, sir! d—d if he didn't want to patronize YOU, and allowed to me that 'de Kernel' had a 'fah ideah' of you, 'and thought you a promisin' young man.' The fact is, sir, the party is making a big mistake trying to give votes to that kind of cattle—it would only be giving two votes to the other side, for, slave or free, they're the chattels of their old masters. And as to the masters' gratitude for what you've done affecting a single vote of their party—you're mistaken."

"Colonel Pendleton belongs to no party," said Paul, curtly; "but if his old constituents ever try to get into power again, they've lost their only independent martyr."

He presently became abstracted again, and Shear produced from his overcoat pocket a series of official-looking documents.

"I've brought the reports, sir."

"Eh?" said Paul, absently.

The secretary stared. "The reports of the San Francisco Chief of Police that you asked me to get." His employer was certainly very forgetful to-day.

"Oh, yes; thank you. You can lay them on my desk. I'll look them over in Committee. You can go now, and if any one calls to see me say I'm busy."

The secretary disappeared in the adjoining room, and Paul leaned back in his chair, thinking. He had, at last, effected the work he had resolved upon when he left Rosario two months ago; the article he had just read, and which would appear as an editorial in the San Francisco paper the day after tomorrow, was the culmination of quietly persistent labor, inquiry, and deduction, and would be accepted, hereafter, as authentic history, which, if not thoroughly established, at least could not be gainsaid. Immediately on arriving at San Francisco, he had hastened to Pendleton's bedside, and laid the facts and his plan before him. To his mingled astonishment and chagrin, the colonel had objected vehemently to this "saddling of anybody's offspring on a gentleman who couldn't defend himself," and even Paul's explanation that the putative father was a myth scarcely appeased him. But Paul's timely demonstration, by relating the scene he had witnessed of Judge Baker's infelicitous memory, that the secret was likely to be revealed at any moment, and that if the girl continued to cling to her theory, as he feared she would, even to the parting with her fortune, they would be forced to accept it, or be placed in the hideous position of publishing her disgrace, at last convinced him. On the other hand, there was less danger of her POSITIVE imposition being discovered than of the VAGUE AND IMPOSITIVE truth. The real danger lay in the present uncertainty and mystery, which courted surmise and invited discovery. Paul, himself, was willing to take all the responsibility, and at last extracted from the colonel a promise of passive assent. The only revelation he feared was from the interference of the mother, but Pendleton was strong in the belief that she had not only utterly abandoned the girl to the care of her guardians, but that she would never rescind her resolution to disclaim her relationship; that she had gone into self-exile for that purpose; and that if she HAD changed her mind, he would be the first to know of it. On this day they had parted. Meantime, Paul had not forgotten another resolution he had formed on his first visit to the colonel, and had actually succeeded in getting legislative relief for the Golden Gate Bank, and restoring to the colonel some of his private property that had been in the hands of a receiver.

This had been the background of Paul's meditation, which only threw into stronger relief the face and figure that moved before him as persistently as it had once before in the twilight of his room at Rosario. There were times when her moonlit face, with its faint, strange smile, stood out before him as it had stood out of the shadows of the half-darkened drawing-room that night; as he had seen it—he believed for the last time—framed for an instant in the parted curtains of the doorway, when she bade him "Goodnight." For he had never visited her since, and, on the attainment of her majority, had delegated his passing functions to Pendleton, whom he had induced to accompany the Mayor to Santa Clara for the final and formal ceremony. For the present she need not know how much she had been indebted to him for the accomplishment of her wishes.

With a sigh he at last recalled himself to his duty, and, drawing the pile of reports which Shear had handed him, he began to examine them. These, again, bore reference to his silent, unobtrusive inquiries. In his function as Chairman of Committee he had taken advantage of a kind of advanced moral legislation then in vogue, and particularly in reference to a certain social reform, to examine statistics, authorities, and witnesses, and in this indirect but exhaustive manner had satisfied himself that the woman "Kate Howard," alias "Beverly," alias "Durfree," had long passed beyond the ken of local police supervision, and that in the record there was no trace or indication of her child. He was going over those infelix records of early transgressions with the eye of trained experience, making notes from time to time for his official use, and yet always watchful of his secret quest, when suddenly he stopped with a quickened pulse. In the record of an affray at a gambling-house, one of the parties had sought refuge in the rooms of "Kate Howard," who was represented before the magistrate by HER PROTECTOR, JUAN DE ARGUELLO. The date given was contemporary with the beginning of the Trust, but that proved nothing. But the name—had it any significance, or was it a grim coincidence, that spoke even more terribly and hopelessly of the woman's promiscuous frailty? He again attacked the entire report, but there was no other record of her name. Even that would have passed any eye less eager and watchful than his own.

He laid the reports aside, and took up the proof-slip again. Was there any man living but himself and Pendleton who would connect these two statements? That her relations with this Arguello were brief and not generally known was evident from Pendleton's ignorance of the fact. But he must see him again, and at once. Perhaps he might have acquired some information from Yerba; the young girl might have given to his age that confidence she had withheld from the younger man; indeed, he remembered with a flush it was partly in that hope he had induced the colonel to go to Santa Clara. He put the proof-slip in his pocket and stepped to the door of the next room.

"You need not write that letter to Slate, Tony. I will see him myself. I am going to San Francisco to-night."

"And do you want anything copied from the reports, sir?"

Paul quickly swept them from the table into his drawer, and locked it. "Not now, thank you. I'll finish my notes later."

The next morning Paul was in San Francisco, and had again crossed the portals of the Golden Gate Hotel. He had been already told that the doom of that palatial edifice was sealed by the laying of the cornerstone of a new erection in the next square that should utterly eclipse it; he even fancied that it had already lost its freshness, and its meretricious glitter had been tarnished. But when he had ordered his breakfast he made his way to the public parlor, happily deserted at that early hour. It was here that he had first seen her. She was standing there, by that mirror, when their eyes first met in a sudden instinctive sympathy. She herself had remembered and confessed it. He recalled the pleased yet conscious, girlish superiority with which she had received the adulation of her friends; his memory of her was broad enough now even to identify Milly, as it repeopled the vacant and silent room.

An hour later he was making his way to Colonel Pendleton's lodgings, and half expecting to find the St. Charles Hotel itself transformed by the eager spirit of improvement. But it was still there in all its barbaric and provincial incongruity. Public opinion had evidently recognized that nothing save the absolute razing of its warped and flimsy walls could effect a change, and waited for it to collapse suddenly like the house of cards it resembled. Paul wondered for a moment if it were not ominous of its lodgers' hopeless inability to accept changed conditions, and it was with a feeling of doubt that he even now ascended the creaking staircase. But it was instantly dissipated on the threshold of the colonel's sitting-room by the appearance of George and his reception of his master's guest.

The grizzled negro was arrayed in a surprisingly new suit of blue cloth with a portentous white waistcoat and an enormous crumpled white cravat, that gave him the appearance of suffering from a glandular swelling. His manner had, it seemed to Paul, advanced in exaggeration with his clothes. Dusting a chair and offering it to the visitor, he remained gracefully posed with his hand on the back of another.

"Yo' finds us heah yet, Marse Hathaway," he began, elegantly toying with an enormous silver watch-chain, "fo' de Kernel he don' bin find contagious apartments dat at all approximate, and he don' build, for his mind's not dat settled dat he ain't goin' to trabbel. De place is low down, sah, and de fo'ks is low down, and dah's a heap o' white trash dat has congested under de roof ob de hotel since we came. But we uses it temper'ly, sah, fo' de present, and in a dissolutory fashion."

It struck Paul that the contiguity of a certain barber's shop and its dangerous reminiscences had something to do with George's lofty depreciation of his surroundings, and he could not help saying:—

"Then you don't find it necessary to have it convenient to the barber's shop any more? I am glad of that, George."

The shot told. The unfortunate George, after an endeavor to collect himself by altering his pose two or three times in rapid succession, finally collapsed, and, with an air of mingled pain and dignity, but without losing his ceremonious politeness or unique vocabulary, said:—

"Yo' got me dah, sah! Yo' got me dah! De infirmities o' human natcheh, sah, is de common p'operty ob man, and a gemplum like yo'self, sah, a legislato' and a pow'ful speakah, is de lass one to hol' it agin de individal pusson. I confess, sah, de circumstances was propiskuous, de fees fahly good, and de risks inferior. De gemplum who kept de shop was an artess hisself, and had been niggah to Kernel Henderson of Tennessee, and do gemplum I relieved was a Mr. Johnson. But de Kernel, he wouldn't see it in dat light, sah, and if yo' don' mind, sah"—

"I haven't the slightest idea of telling the colonel or anybody, George," said Paul, smiling; "and I am glad to find on your own account that you are able to put aside any work beyond your duty here."

"Thank yo', sah. If yo' 'll let me introduce yo' to de refreshment, yo' 'll find it all right now. De Glencoe is dah. De Kernel will be here soon, but he would be pow'ful mo'tified, sah, if yo' didn't hab something afo' he come." He opened a well-filled sideboard as he spoke. It was the first evidence Paul had seen of the colonel's restored fortunes. He would willingly have contented himself with this mere outward manifestation, but in his desire to soothe the ruffled dignity of the old man he consented to partake of a small glass of spirits. George at once became radiant and communicative. "De Kernel bin gone to Santa Clara to see de young lady dat's finished her edercation dah—de Kernel's only ward, sah. She's one o' dose million-heiresses and highly connected, sah, wid de old Mexican Gobbermen, I understand. And I reckon dey's bin big goin's on doun dar, foh de Mayer kem hisself fo' de Kernel. Looks like des might bin a proceshon, sah. Yo' don' know of a young lady bin hab a title, sah? I won't be shuah, his Honah de Mayer or de Kernel didn't say someting about a 'Donna'."

"Very likely," said Paul, turning away with a faint smile. So it was already in the air! Setting aside the old negro's characteristic exaggeration, there had already been some conversation between the colonel and the Mayor, which George had vaguely overheard. He might be too late, the alternative might be no longer in his hands. But his discomposure was heightened a moment later by the actual apparition of the returning Pendleton.

He was dressed in a tightly buttoned blue frock-coat, which fairly accented his tall, thin military figure, although the top lappel was thrown far enough back to show a fine ruffled cambric shirt and checked gingham necktie, and was itself adorned with a white rosebud in the button-hole. Fawn-colored trousers strapped over narrow patent-leather boots, and a tall white hat, whose broad mourning-band was a perpetual memory of his mother, who had died in his boyhood, completed his festal transformation. Yet his erect carriage, high aquiline nose, and long gray drooping moustache lent a distinguishing grace to this survival of a bygone fashion, and over-rode any irreverent comment. Even his slight limp seemed to give a peculiar character to his massive gold-headed stick, and made it a part of his formal elegance.

Handing George his stick and a military cape he carried easily over his left arm, he greeted Paul warmly, yet with a return of his old dominant manner.

"Glad to see you, Hathaway, and glad to see the boy has served you better than the last time. If I had known you were coming, I would have tried to get back in time to have breakfast with you. But your friends at 'Rosario'—I think they call it; in my time it was owned by Colonel Briones, and HE called it 'The Devil's Little Canyon'—detained me with some d—d civilities. Let's see—his name is Woods, isn't it? Used to sell rum to runaway sailors on Long Wharf, and take stores in exchange? Or was it Baker?—Judge Baker? I forget which. Well, sir, they wished to be remembered."

It struck Paul, perhaps unreasonably, that the colonel's indifference and digression were both a little assumed, and he asked abruptly,—

"And you fulfilled your mission?"

"I made the formal transfer, with the Mayor, of the property to Miss Arguello."

"To Miss Arguello?"

"To the Dona Maria Concepcion de Arguello de la Yerba Buena—to speak precisely," said the colonel, slowly. "George, you can take that hat to that blank hatter—what's his blanked name? I read it only yesterday in a list of the prominent citizens here—and tell him, with my compliments, that I want a GENTLEMAN'S mourning band around my hat, and not a child's shoelace. It may be HIS idea of the value of his own parents—if he ever had any—but I don't care for him to appraise mine. Go!"

As the door closed upon George, Paul turned to the colonel—

"Then am I to understand that you have agreed to her story?"

The colonel rose, picked up the decanter, poured out a glass of whiskey, and holding it in his hand, said:—

"My dear Hathaway, let us understand each other. As a gentleman, I have made a point through life never to question the age, name, or family of any lady of my acquaintance. Miss Yerba Buena came of age yesterday, and, as she is no longer my ward, she is certainly entitled to the consideration I have just mentioned. If she, therefore, chooses to tack to her name the whole Spanish directory, I don't see why I shouldn't accept it."

Characteristic as this speech appeared to be of the colonel's ordinary manner, it struck Paul as being only an imitation of his usual frank independence, and made him uneasily conscious of some vague desertion on Pendleton's part. He fixed his bright eyes on his host, who was ostentatiously sipping his liquor, and said:—

"Am I to understand that you have heard nothing more from Miss Yerba, either for or against her story? That you still do not know whether she has deceived herself, has been deceived by others, or is deceiving us?"

"After what I have just told you, Mr. Hathaway," said the colonel, with an increased exaggeration of manner which Paul thought must be apparent even to himself, "I should have but one way of dealing with questions of that kind from anybody but yourself."

This culminating extravagance—taken in connection with Pendleton's passing doubts—actually forced a laugh from Paul in spite of his bitterness.

Colonel Pendleton's face flushed quickly. Like most positive one-idea'd men, he was restricted from any possible humorous combination, and only felt a mysterious sense of being detected in some weakness. He put down his glass.

"Mr. Hathaway," he began, with a slight vibration in his usual dominant accents, "you have lately put me under a sense of personal obligation for a favor which I felt I could accept without derogation from a younger man, because it seemed to be one not only of youthful generosity but of justice, and was not unworthy the exalted ambition of a young man like yourself or the simple deserts of an old man such as I am. I accepted it, sir, the more readily, because it was entirely unsolicited by me, and seemed to be the spontaneous offering of your own heart. If I have presumed upon it to express myself freely on other matters in a way that only excites your ridicule, I can but offer you an apology, sir. If I have accepted a favor I can neither renounce nor return, I must take the consequences to myself, and even beg YOU, sir, to put up with them."

Remorseful as Paul felt, there was a singular resemblance between the previous reproachful pose of George and this present attitude of his master, as if the mere propinquity of personal sacrifice had made them alike, that struck him with a mingled pathos and ludicrousness. But he said warmly, "It is I who must apologize, my dear colonel. I am not laughing at your conclusions, but at this singular coincidence with a discovery I have made."

"As how, sir?"

"I find in the report of the Chief of the Police for the year 1850 that Kate Howard was under the protection of a man named Arguello."

The colonel's exaggeration instantly left him. He stared blankly at Paul. "And you call this a laughing matter, sir?" he said sternly, but in his more natural manner.

"Perhaps not, but I don't think, if you will allow me to say so, my dear colonel, that YOU have been treating the whole affair very seriously. I left you two months ago utterly opposed to views which you are now treating as of no importance. And yet you wish me to believe that nothing has happened, and that you have no further information than you had then. That this is so, and that you are really no nearer the FACTS, I am willing to believe from your ignorance of what I have just told you, and your concern at it. But that you have not been influenced in your JUDGMENT of what you do know, I cannot believe?" He drew nearer Pendleton, and laid his hand upon his arm. "I beg you to be frank with me, for the sake of the person whose interests I see you have at heart. In what way will the discovery I have just made affect them? You are not so far prejudiced as to be blind to the fact that it may be dangerous because it seems corroborative."

Pendleton coughed, rose, took his stick, and limped up and down the room, finally dropping into an armchair by the window, with his cane between his knees, and the drooping gray silken threads of his long moustache curled nervously between his fingers.

"Mr. Hathaway, I WILL be frank with you. I know nothing of this blank affair—blank it all!—but what I've told you. Your discovery may be a coincidence, nothing more. But I HAVE been influenced, sir,—influenced by one of the most perfect goddess-like—yes, sir; one of the most simple girlish creatures that God ever sent upon earth. A woman that I should be proud to claim as my daughter, a woman that would always be the superior of any man who dare aspire to be her husband! A young lady as peerless in her beauty as she is in her accomplishments, and whose equal don't walk this planet! I know, sir, YOU don't follow me; I know, Mr. Hathaway, your Puritan prejudices; your Church proclivities, your worldly sense of propriety; and, above all, sir, the blanked hypocritical Pharisaic doctrines of your party—I mean no offense to YOU, sir, personally—blind you to that girl's perfections. She, poor child, herself has seen it and felt it, but never, in her blameless innocence and purity, suspecting the cause, 'There is,' she said to me last night, confidentially, 'something strangely antagonistic and repellent in our natures, some undefined and nameless barrier between our ever understanding each other.' You comprehend, Mr. Hathaway, she does full justice to your intentions and your unquestioned abilities. 'I am not blind,' she said, 'to Mr. Hathaway's gifts, and it is very possible the fault lies with me.' Her very words, sir."

"Then you believe she is perfectly ignorant of her real mother?" asked Paul, with a steady voice, but a whitening face.

"As an unborn child," said the colonel, emphatically. "The snow on the Sierras is not more spotlessly pure of any trace or contamination of the mud of the mining ditches, than she of her mother and her past. The knowledge of it, the mere breath of suspicion of it, in her presence would be a profanation, sir! Look at her eye—open as the sky and as clear; look at her face and figure—as clean, sir, as a Blue-Grass thoroughbred! Look at the way she carries herself, whether in those white frillings of her simple school-gown, or that black evening dress that makes her look like a princess! And, blank me, if she isn't one! There's no poor stock there—no white trash—no mixed blood, sir. Blank it all, sir, if it comes to THAT—the Arguellos—if there's a hound of them living—might go down on their knees to have their name borne by such a creature! By the Eternal, sir, if one of them dared to cross her path with a word that wasn't abject—yes, sir, ABJECT, I'd wipe his dust off the earth and send it back to his ancestors before he knew where he was, or my name isn't Harry Pendleton!"

Hopeless and inconsistent as all this was, it was a wonderful sight to see the colonel, his dark stern face illuminated with a zealot's enthusiasm, his eyes on fire, the ends of his gray moustache curling around his set jaw, his head thrown back, his legs astride, and his gold-headed stick held in the hollow of his elbow, like a lance at rest! Paul saw it, and knew that this Quixotic transformation was part of HER triumph, and yet had a miserable consciousness that the charms of this Dulcinea del Toboso had scarcely been exaggerated. He turned his eyes away, and said quietly,—

"Then you don't think this coincidence will ever awaken any suspicion in regard to her real mother?"

"Not in the least, sir—not in the least," said the colonel, yet, perhaps, with more doggedness than conviction of accent. "Nobody but yourself would ever notice that police report, and the connection of that woman's name with his was not notorious, or I should have known it."

"And you believe," continued Paul hopelessly, "that Miss Yerba's selection of the name was purely accidental?"

"Purely—a school-girl's fancy. Fancy, did I say? No, sir; by Jove, an inspiration!"

"And," continued Paul, almost mechanically, "you do not think it may be some insidious suggestion of an enemy who knew of this transient relation that no one suspected?"

To his final amazement Pendleton's brow cleared! "An enemy? Gad! you may be right. I'll look into it; and, if that is the case, which I scarcely dare hope for, Mr. Hathaway, you can safely leave him to ME."

He looked so supremely confident in his fatuous heroism that Paul could say no more. He rose and, with a faint smile upon his pale face, held out his hand. "I think that is all I have to say. When you see Miss Yerba again,—as you will, no doubt,—you may tell her that I am conscious of no misunderstanding on my part, except, perhaps, as to the best way I could serve her, and that, but for what she has told YOU, I should certainly have carried away no remembrance of any misunderstanding of HERS."

"Certainly," said the colonel, with cheerful philosophy, "I will carry your message with pleasure. You understand how it is, Mr. Hathaway. There is no accounting for these instincts—we can only accept them as they are. But I believe that your intentions, sir, were strictly according to what you conceived to be your duty. You won't take something before you go? Well, then—good-by."

Two weeks later Paul found among his morning letters an envelope addressed in Colonel Pendleton's boyish scrawling hand. He opened it with an eagerness that no studied self-control nor rigid preoccupation of his duties had yet been able to subdue, and glanced hurriedly at its contents:—

DEAR SIR,—As I am on the point of sailing to Europe to-morrow to escort Miss Arguello and Miss Woods on an extended visit to England and the Continent, I am desirous of informing you that I have thus far been unable to find any foundation for the suggestions thrown out by you in our last interview. Miss Arguello's Spanish acquaintances have been very select, and limited to a few school friends and Don Caesar and Dona Anna Briones, tried friends, who are also fellow-passengers with us to Europe. Miss Arguello suggests that some political difference between you and Don Caesar, which occurred during your visit to Rosario three months ago, may have, perhaps, given rise to your supposition. She joins me in best wishes for your public career, which even in the distraction of foreign travel and the obligations of her position she will follow from time to time with the greatest interest.

Very respectfully yours,

HARRY PENDLETON.



CHAPTER V.

It was on the 3d of August, 1863, that Paul Hathaway resigned himself and his luggage to the care of the gold-laced, ostensible porter of the Strudle Bad Hof, not without some uncertainty, in a land of uniforms, whether he would be eventually conducted to the barracks, the police office, or the Conservatoire. He was relieved when the omnibus drove into the courtyard of the Bad Hof, and the gold-chained chamberlain, flanked by two green tubs of oleanders, received him with a gravity calculated to check any preconceived idea he might have that traveling was a trifling affair, or that an arrival at the Bad Hof was not of serious moment. His letters had not yet arrived, for he had, in a fit of restlessness, shortened his route, and he strolled listlessly into the reading-room. Two or three English guests were evidently occupied in eminently respectable reading and writing; two were sitting by the window engaged in subdued but profitable conversation; and two Americans from Boston were contentedly imitating them on the other side of the room. A decent restraint, as of people who were not for a moment to be led into any foreign idea of social gayety at a watering-place, was visible everywhere. A spectacled Prussian officer in full uniform passed along the hall, halted for a moment at the doorway as if contemplating an armed invasion, thought better of it, and took his uniform away into the sunlight of the open square, where it was joined by other uniforms, and became by contrast a miracle of unbraced levity. Paul stood the Polar silence for a few moments, until one of the readers arose and, taking his book—a Murray—in his hand, walked slowly across the room to a companion, mutely pointed to a passage in the book, remained silent until the other had dumbly perused it, and then walked back again to his seat, having achieved the incident without a word. At which Paul, convinced of his own incongruity, softly withdrew with his hat in his hand, and his eyes fixed devotionally upon it.

It was good after that to get into the slanting sunlight and checkered linden shadows of the Allee; to see even a tightly jacketed cavalryman naturally walking with Clarchen and her two round-faced and drab-haired young charges; to watch the returning invalid procession, very real and very human, each individual intensely involved in the atmosphere of his own symptoms; and very good after that to turn into the Thiergarten, where the animals, were, however, chiefly of his own species, and shamelessly and openly amusing themselves. It was pleasant to contrast it with his first visit to the place three months before, and correct his crude impressions. And it was still more pleasant suddenly to recognize, under the round flat cap of a general officer, a former traveler who was fond of talking with him about America with an intelligence and understanding of it that Paul had often missed among his own traveled countrymen. It was pleasant to hear his unaffected and simple greeting, to renew their old acquaintance, and to saunter back to the hotel together through the long twilight.

They were only a few squares from the hotel, when Paul's attention was attracted by the curiosity and delight of two or three children before him, who appeared to be following a quaint-looking figure that was evidently not unfamiliar to them. It appeared to be a servant in a striking livery of green with yellow facings and crested silver buttons, but still more remarkable for the indescribable mingling of jaunty ease and conscious dignity with which he carried off his finery. There was something so singular and yet so vaguely reminiscent in his peculiar walk and the exaggerated swing of his light bamboo cane that Paul could not only understand the childish wonder of the passers-by, who turned to look after him, but was stirred with a deeper curiosity. He quickened his pace, but was unable to distinguish anything of the face or features of the stranger, except that his hair under his cocked hat appeared to be tightly curled and powdered. Paul's companion, who was amused at what seemed to be the American's national curiosity, had seen the figure before. "A servant in the suite of some Eastern Altesse visiting the baths. You will see stranger things, my friend, in the Strudle Bad. Par example, your own countrymen, too; the one who has enriched himself by that pork of Chicago, or that soap, or this candle, in a carriage with the crest of the title he has bought in Italy with his dollars, and his beautiful daughters, who are seeking more titles with possible matrimonial contingencies."

After an early dinner, Paul found his way to the little theatre. He had already been struck by a highly colored poster near the Bahnhof, purporting that a distinguished German company would give a representation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and certain peculiarities in the pictorial advertisement of the tableaux gave promise of some entertainment. He found the theatre fairly full; there was the usual contingent of abonnirte officers, a fair sprinkling of English and German travelers, but apparently none of his own countrymen. He had no time to examine the house more closely, for the play, commencing with simple punctuality, not only far exceeded the promise of the posters, but of any previous performance of the play he had witnessed. Transported at once to a gorgeous tropical region—the slave States of America—resplendent with the fruits and palms of Mauritius, and peopled exclusively with Paul and Virginia's companions in striped cotton, Hathaway managed to keep a composed face, until the arrival of the good Southern planter St. Clair as one of the earlier portraits of Goethe, in top boots, light kerseymere breeches, redingote and loose Byron collar, compelled him to shrink into the upper corner of the box with his handkerchief to his face. Luckily, the action passed as the natural effect upon a highly sympathetic nature of religious interviews between a round-faced flaxen-haired "Kleine Eva" and "Onkeel Tome," occasionally assisted by a Dissenting clergyman in Geneva bands; of excessive brutality with a cattle whip by a Zamiel-like Legree; of the sufferings of a runaway negro Zimmermadchen with a child three shades lighter than herself; and of a painted canvas "man-hunt," where apparently four well known German composers on horseback, with flowing hair, top boots, and a Cor de chasse, were pursuing, with the aid of a pack of fox hounds, "the much too deeply abused and yet spiritually elevated Onkeel Tome." Paul did not wait for the final apotheosis of "der Kleine Eva," but, in the silence of a hushed audience, made his way into the corridor and down the staircase. He was passing an open door marked "Direction," when his attention was sharply attracted by a small gathering around it and the sounds of indignant declamation. It was the voice of a countryman—more than that, it was a familiar voice, that he had not heard for three years—the voice of Colonel Harry Pendleton!

"Tell him," said Pendleton, in scathing tones, to some invisible interpreter,—"tell, him, sir, that a more infamous caricature of the blankest caricature that ever maligned a free people, sir, I never before had the honor of witnessing. Tell him that I, sir—I, Harry Pendleton, of Kentucky, a Southerner, sir—an old slaveholder, sir, declare it to be a tissue of falsehoods unworthy the credence of a Christian civilization like this—unworthy the attention of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen that are gathered here to-night. Tell him, sir, he has been imposed upon. Tell him I am responsible—give him my card and address—personally responsible for what I say. If he wants proofs—blank it all!—tell him you yourself have been a slave—MY slave, sir! Take off your hat, sir! Ask him to look at you—ask him if he thinks you ever looked or could look like that lop-eared, psalm-singing, white-headed hypocrite on the stage! Ask him, sir, if he thinks that blank ringmaster they call St. Clair looks like ME!"

At this astounding exordium Paul eagerly pressed forward and entered the bureau. There certainly was Colonel Pendleton, in spotless evening dress; erect, flashing, and indignant; his aquiline nose lifted like a hawk's beak over his quarry, his iron-gray moustache, now white and waxed, parted like a swallow's tail over his handsome mouth, and between him and the astounded "Direction" stood the apparition of the Allee—George! There was no mistaking him now. What Paul had thought was a curled wig or powder was the old negro's own white knotted wool, and the astounding livery he wore was carried off as no one but George could carry it.

But he was still more amazed when the old servant, in a German as exaggerated, as incoherent, but still as fluent and persuasive as his own native speech, began an extravagant but perfectly dignified and diplomatic translation of his master's protests. Where and when, by what instinct, he had assimilated and made his own the grotesque inversions and ponderous sentimentalities of Teutonic phrasing, Paul could not guess; but it was with breathless wonder that he presently became aware that, so perfect and convincing was the old man's style and deportment, not only the simple officials but even the bystanders were profoundly impressed by this farrago of absurdity. A happy word here and there, the full title and rank given, even with a slight exaggeration, to each individual, brought a deep and guttural "So!" from lips that would have found it difficult to repeat a line of his ceremonious idiocy.

In their preoccupation neither the colonel nor George had perceived Paul's entrance, but, as the old servant turned with magnificent courtesy towards the bystanders, his eyes fell upon Paul. A flash of surprise, triumph, and satisfaction lit up his rolling eyes. Paul instantly knew that he not only recognized him, but that he had already heard of and thoroughly appreciated a certain distinguished position that Paul had lately held, and was quick to apply it. Intensifying for a moment the grandiloquence of his manner, he called upon his master's most distinguished and happily arrived old friend, the Lord Lieutenant Governor of the Golden Californias, to corroborate his statement. Colonel Pendleton started, and grasped Paul's hand warmly. Paul turned to the already half-mollified Director with the diplomatic suggestion that the vivid and realistic acting of the admirable company which he himself had witnessed had perhaps unduly excited his old friend, even as it had undoubtedly thrown into greater relief the usual exaggerations of dramatic representation, and the incident terminated with a profusion of apologies, and the most cordial expressions of international good feeling on both sides.

Yet, as they turned away from the theatre together, Paul could not help noticing that, although the colonel's first greeting had been spontaneous and unaffected, it was succeeded by an uneasy reserve. Paul made no attempt to break it, and confined himself to a few general inquiries, ending by inviting the colonel to sup with him at the hotel. Pendleton hesitated. "At any other time, Mr. Hathaway, I should have insisted upon you, as the stranger, supping with me; but since the absence of—of—the rest of my party—I have given up my suite of rooms at the Bad Hof, and have taken smaller lodgings for myself and the boy at the Schwartze Adler. Miss Woods and Miss Arguello have accepted an invitation to spend a few days at the villa of the Baron and Baroness von Schilprecht—an hour or two from here." He lingered over the title with an odd mingling of impressiveness and inquiry, and glanced at Paul. But Hathaway exhibiting neither emotion nor surprise at the mention of Yerba's name or the title of her host, he continued, "Miss Arguello, I suppose you know, is immensely admired: she has been, sir, the acknowledged belle of Strudle Bad."

"I can readily believe it," said Paul, simply.

"And has taken the position—the position, sir, to which she is entitled."

Without appearing to notice the slight challenge in Pendleton's tone, Paul returned, "I am glad to hear it. The more particularly as, I believe, the Germans are great sticklers for position and pedigree."

"You are right, sir—quite right: they are," said the colonel, proudly—"although"—with a certain premeditated deliberation—"I have been credibly informed that the King can, in certain cases, if he chooses, supply—yes, sir—SUPPLY a favored person with ancestors—yes, sir, with ANCESTORS!"

Paul cast a quick glance at his companion.

"Yes, sir—that is, we will say, in the case of a lady of inferior rank—or even birth, the King of these parts can, on her marriage with a nobleman—blank it all!—ennoble her father and mother, and their fathers and mothers, though they've been dead, or as good as dead, for years."

"I am afraid that's a slight exaggeration of the rare custom of granting 'noble lands,' or estates that carry hereditary titles with them," said Paul, more emphatically, perhaps, than the occasion demanded.

"Fact, sir—George there knows it all," said Pendleton. "He gets it from the other servants. I don't speak the language, sir, but HE does. Picked it up in a year."

"I must compliment him on his fluency, certainly," said Paul, looking at George.

The old servant smiled, and not without a certain condescension. "Yes, sah; I don' say to a scholar like yo'self, sah, dat I'se got de grandmatical presichion; but as fah, sah—as fah as de IDIOTISMS ob de language goes. Sah—it's gen'lly allowed I'm dar! As to what Marse Harry says ob de ignobling ob predecessors, I've had it, sah, from de best autority, sah—de furst, I may say, sah—de real prima facie men—de gemplum ob his Serene Highness, in de korse eb ordinary conversashun, sah."

"That'll do, George," said Pendleton, with paternal brusqueness. "Run on ahead and tell that blank chamberlain that Mr. Hathaway is one of my friends—and have supper accordingly." As the negro hastened away he turned to Paul: "What he says is true: he's the most popular man or boy in all Strudle Bad—a devilish sight more than his master—and goes anywhere where I can't go. Princes and princesses stop and talk to him in the street; the Grand Duke asked permission to have him up in his carriage at the races the other day; and, by the Eternal, sir, he gives the style to all the flunkeys in town!"

"And I see, he dresses the character," observed Paul.

"His own idea—entirely. And, by Jove! he proves to be right. You can't do anything here without a uniform. And they tell me he's got everything correct, down to the crest on the buttons."

They walked on in silence for a few moments, Pendleton retaining a certain rigidity of step and bearing which Paul had come to recognize as indicating some uneasiness or mental disturbance on his part. Hathaway had no intention of precipitating the confidence of his companion. Perhaps experience had told him it would come soon enough. So he spoke carelessly of himself. How the need of a year's relaxation and change had brought him abroad, his journeyings, and, finally, how he had been advised by his German physician to spend a few weeks at Strudle Bad preparatory to the voyage home. Yet he was perfectly aware that the colonel from time to time cast a furtive glance at his face. "And YOU," he said in conclusion—"when do you intend to return to California?"

The colonel hesitated slightly. "I shall remain in Europe until Miss Arguello is settled—I mean," he added hurriedly, "until she has—ahem!—completed her education in foreign ways and customs. You see, Hathaway, I have constituted myself, after a certain fashion, I may say—still, her guardian. I am an old man, with neither kith nor kin myself, sir—I'm a little too old-fashioned for the boys over there"—with a vague gesture towards the west, which, however, told Paul how near it still was to him. "But then, among the old fogys here—blank it all!—it isn't noticed. So I look after her, you see, or rather make myself responsible for her generally—although, of course, she has other friends and associates, you understand, more of her own age and tastes."

"And I've no doubt she's perfectly satisfied," said Paul in a tone of conviction.

"Well, yes, sir, I presume so," said the colonel slowly; "but I've sometimes thought, Mr. Hathaway, that it would have been better if she'd have had a woman's care—the protection you understand, of an elderly woman of society. That seems to be the style here, you know—a chaperon, they call it. Now, Milly Woods, you see, is about the same age, and the Dona Anna, of course, is older, but—blank it!—she's as big a flirt as the rest—I mean," he added, correcting himself sharply, "she lacks balance, sir, and—what shall I call it?—self-abnegation."

"Then Dona Anna is still of your party?" asked Paul.

"She is, sir, and her brother, Don Caesar. I have thought it advisable, on Yerba's account, to keep up as much as possible the suggestion of her Spanish relationship—although by reason of their absurd ignorance of geography and political divisions out here, there is a prevailing impression that she is a South American. A fact, sir. I have myself been mistaken for the Dictator of one of these infernal Republics, and I have been pointed out as ruling over a million or two of niggers like George!"

There was no trace of any conception of humor in the colonel's face, although he uttered a short laugh, as if in polite acceptance of the possibility that Paul might have one. Far from that, his companion, looking at the striking profile and erect figure at his side—at the long white moustache which drooped from his dark cheeks, and remembering his own sensations at first seeing George—thought the popular belief not so wonderful. He was even forced to admit that the perfect unconsciousness on the part of master and man of any incongruity or peculiarity in themselves assisted the public misconception. And it was, I fear, with a feeling of wicked delight that, on entering the hotel, he hailed the evident consternation of those correct fellow-countrymen from whom he had lately fled, at what they apparently regarded as a national scandal. He overheard their hurried assurance to their English friends that his companions were NOT from Boston, and enjoyed their mortification that this explanation did not seem to detract from the interest and relief with which the Britons surveyed them, or the open admiration of the Germans.

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