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Remember the Alamo
by Amelia E. Barr
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On the third morning, as he crossed the Plaza, some one called him. The voice made his heart leap; his whole nature responded to it like the strings of a harp to the sweep of a skilful hand. He turned quickly, and saw two young men galloping towards him. The foremost figure was his son—his beloved youngest son—whom he had just been thinking of as well out of danger, safe and happy in the peaceful halls of Columbia. And lo! here he was in the very home of the enemy; and he was glad of it.

"Why, Jack!" he cried; "Why, Jack, my boy! I never thought of you here." He had his hand on the lad's shoulder, and was gazing into his bright face with tears and smiles and happy wonder.

"Father, I had to come. And there are plenty more coming. And here is my other self—the best fellow that ever lived: Darius Grant. 'Dare' we call him, father, for there is not anything he won't venture if he thinks it worth the winning. And how is mi madre and Antonia, and Iza? And isn't it jolly to see you with a rifle?"

"Well, Dare; well, Jack; you are both welcome; never so welcome to Texas as at this hour. Come home at once and, refresh yourselves."

There was so much to tell that at first the conversation was in fragments and exclamations, and the voices of the two young men, pitched high and clear in their excitement, went far before them as if impatient of their welcome. Antonia heard them first. She was on the balcony, standing thoughtful and attent. It seemed to her as if in those days she was always listening. Jack's voice was the loudest, but she heard Dare's first. It vibrated in midair and fell upon her consciousness, clear and sweet as a far-away bell.

"That is Dare's voice—HERE."

She leaned forward, her soul hearkened after the vibrations, and again they called her. With swift steps she reached the open door. Rachela sat in her chair within it.

"The Senorita had better remain within," she said, sullenly; "the sun grows hot."

"Let me pass, Rachela, I am in a hurry."

"To be sure, the Senorita will have her way—good or bad."

Antonia heeded her not; she was hastening down the main avenue toward the gateway. This avenue was hedged on each side with oleanders, and they met in a light, waving arch above her head. At this season they were one mass of pale pink blossoms and dark glossy leaves. The vivid sunshine through them made a rosy light which tinged her face and her white gown with an indescribable glow. If a mortal woman can ever look like an angel, the fair, swiftly moving Antonia had at that moment the angelic expression of joy and love; the angelic unconsciousness of rapid and graceful movement; the angelic atmosphere that was in itself a dream of paradise; rose-tinted, divinely sweet and warm.

Dare saw her coming, and suddenly ceased speaking{.??} He was in the midst of a sentence, but he forgot what he was saying. He forgot where he was. He knew nothing, felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing but Antonia. And yet he did not fall at her feet, and kiss her hands and whisper delightful extravagances; all of which things an Iberian lover would have done, and felt and looked in the doing perfectly graceful and natural.

Dare Grant only clasped both the pretty hands held out to him; only said "Antonia! Antonia!" only looked at her with eyes full of a loving question, which found its instant answer in her own. In that moment they revealed to each other the length and breadth, the height and the depth of their affection. They had not thought of disguising it; they made no attempt to do so; and Robert Worth needed not the confession which, a few hours later, Grant thought it right to make to him.

When they entered the house together, a happy, noisy group, Rachela had left her chair and was going hurriedly upstairs to tell the Senora her surmise; but Jack passed her with a bound, and was at his mother's side before the heavy old woman had comprehended his passing salutation.

"Madre! Mother, I am here!"

The Senora was on her couch in her darkened room. She had been at the very earliest mass, had a headache, and had come home in a state of rebellion against heaven and earth. But Jack was her idol, the one child for whose presence she continually pined, the one human creature to whose will and happiness she delighted to sacrifice her own. When she heard his voice she rose quickly, crying out:

"A miracle! A miracle! Grace of God and Mary, a miracle! Only this morning, my precious, my boy! I asked the Holy Mother to pity my sorrows, and send you to me. I vow to Mary a new shrine. I vow to keep it, and dress it for one whole year. I will give my opal ring to the poor. Oh, Juan! Juan! Juan I am too blessed."

Her words were broken into pieces by his kisses. He knelt at her knees, and stroked her face, and patted her hands, and did all with such natural fervor and grace, that anything else, or anything less, must have seemed cold and unfilial.

"Come, my beautiful mother, and see my friend. I have told him so much about you; and poor Dare has no mother. I have promised him that you will be his mother also. Dare is so good—the finest fellow in all the world; come down and see Dare, and let us have a real Mexican dinner, madre. I have not tasted an olla since I left you."

She could not resist him. She made Rachela lay out her prettiest dress, and when Jack said "how beautiful your hair is, mother; no one has hair like you!" she drew out the great shell pins, and let it fall like a cloud around her, and with a glad pride gave Rachela the order to get out her jewelled comb and gilded fan and finest mantilla. And oh! how happy is that mother who has such pure and fervent admiration from her son; and how happy is that son to whom his mother is ever beautiful!

Jack's presence drove all the evil spirits out of the house. The windows were thrown open; the sunshine came in. He was running after Isabel, he was playing the mandolin; his voice, his laugh, his quick footstep, were everywhere.

In spite of the trouble in the city, there was a real festival in the house. The Senora came down in her sweetest temper and her finest garments. She arranged Jack's dinner herself, selected the dishes and gave strict orders about their serving. She took Jack's friend at once into her favor, and Dare thought her wonderfully lovely and gracious. He sat with her on the balcony, and talked of Jack, telling her how clever he was, and how all his comrades loved him for his sunny temper and affectionate heart.

It was a happy dinner, lengthened out with merry conversation. Every one thought that a few hours might be given to family love and family joy. It would be good to have the memory of them in the days that were fast coming. So they sat long over the sweetmeats, and fresh figs, and the pale wines of Xeres and Alicante. And they rose up with laughter, looking into each others' faces with eyes that seemed to bespeak love and remembrance. And then they went from the table, and saw not Destiny standing cold and pitiless behind them, marking two places for evermore vacant.

There was not much siesta that day. The Senora, Isabel and Jack sat together; the Senora dozed a little, but not enough to lose consciousness of Jack's presence and Jack's voice. The father, happy, and yet acutely anxious, went to and fro between his children and his study. Antonia and Dare were in the myrtle walk or under the fig-tree. This hour was the blossoming time of their lives. And it was not the less sweet and tender because of the dark shadows on the edge of the sunshine. Nor were they afraid to face the shadows, to inquire of them, and thus to taste the deeper rapture of love when love is gemmed with tears.

It was understood that the young men were going away in the morning very early; so early that their adieus must be said with their good-nights. It was at this hour that the Senora found courage to ask:

"My Juan, where do you go?

"To Gonzales, mi madre."

"But why? Oh, Juan, do not desert your madre, and your country!

"Desert you, madre! I am your boy to my last breath! My country I love with my whole soul. That is why I have come back to you and to her! She is in trouble and her sons must stand by her."

"Do not talk with two meanings. Oh, Juan! why do you go to Gonzales?"

"We have heard that Colonel Ugartchea is to be there soon, and to take away the arms of the Americans. That is not to be endured. If you yourself were a man, you would have been away ere this to help them, I am sure."

"ME!! The Blessed Virgin knows I would cut off my hands and feet first. Juan, listen to me dear one! You are a Mexican."

"My heart is Mexican, for it is yours. But I must stand with my father and with my brother, and with my American compatriots. Are we slaves, that we must give up our arms? No, but if we gave them up we should deserve to be slaves."

"God and the saints!" she answered, passionately. "What a trouble about a few guns! One would think the Mexicans wanted the wives and children, the homes and lands of the Americans. They cry out from one end of Texas to the other."

"They cry out in old England and in New England, in New York, in New Orleans, and all down the Mississippi. And men are crying back to them: 'Stand to your rifles and we will come and help you!' The idea of disarming ten thousand Americans!" Jack laughed with scornful amusement at the notion. "What a game it will be! Mother, you can't tell how a man gets to love his rifle. He that takes our purse takes trash; but our rifles! By George Washington, that's a different story!"

Juan, my darling, you are my last hope. Your brother was born with an American heart. He has even become a heretic. Fray Ignatius says he went into the Colorado and was what they call immersed; he that was baptized with holy water by the thrice holy bishop of Durango. My beloved one, go and see Fray Ignatius; late as it is, he will rise and counsel you.

"My heart, my conscience, my country, my father, my brother, Santa Anna's despotism, have already counselled me."

"Speak no more. I see that you also are a rebel and a heretic. Mother of sorrows, give me thy compassion!" Then, turning to Juan, she cried out: "May God pardon me for having brought into this world such ingrates! Go from me! You have broken my heart!"

He fell at her feet, and, in spite of her reluctance, took her hands—

"Sweetest mother, wait but a little while. You will see that we are right. Do not be cross with Juan. I am going away. Kiss me, mother. Kiss me, and give me your blessing."

"No, I will not bless you. I will not kiss you. You want what is impossible, what is wicked."

"I want freedom."

"And to get freedom you tread upon your mother's heart. Let loose my hands. I am weary to death of this everlasting talk of freedom. I think indeed that the Americans know but two words: freedom and dollars. Ring for Rachela. She, at least, is faithful to me."

"Not till you kiss me, mother. Do not send me away unblessed and unloved. That is to doom me to misfortune. Mi madre, I beg this favor from you." He had risen, but he still held her hands, and he was weeping as innocent young men are not ashamed to weep.

If she had looked at him! Oh, if she had but once looked at his face, she could not have resisted its beauty, its sorrow, its imploration! But she would not look. She drew her hands angrily away from him. She turned her back upon her suppliant son and imperiously summoned Rachela.

"Good-by, mi madre."

"Good-by, mi madre!"

She would not turn to him, or answer him a word.

"Mi madre, here comes Rachela! Say 'God bless you, Juan.' It is my last word, sweet mother!"

She neither moved nor spoke. The next moment Rachela entered, and the wretched woman abandoned herself to her care with vehement sobs and complainings.

Jack was inexpressibly sorrowful. He went into the garden, hoping in its silence and solitude to find some relief. He loved his mother with his strongest affection. Every one of her sobs wrung his heart. Was it right to wound and disobey her for the sake of—freedom? Mother was a certain good; freedom only a glorious promise. Mother was a living fact; freedom an intangible idea.

Ah, but men have always fought more passionately for ideas than for facts! Tyrants are safe while they touch only silver and gold; but when they try to bind a man's ideals—the freedom of his citizenship—the purity of his faith—he will die to preserve them in their integrity.

Besides, freedom for every generation has but her hour. If that hour is not seized, no other may come for the men who have suffered it to pass. But mother would grow more loving as the days went by. And this was ever the end of Jack's reasoning; for no man knows how deep the roots of his nature strike into his native land, until he sees her in the grasp of a tyrant, and hears her crying to him for deliverance.

The struggle left the impress on his face. He passed a boundary in it. Certain boyish feelings and graces would never again be possible to him. He went into the house, weary, and longing for companionship that would comfort or strengthen him. Only Isabel was in the parlor. She appeared to be asleep among the sofa cushions, but she opened her eyes wide as he took a chair beside her.

"I have been waiting to kiss you again, Juan; do you think this trouble will last very long?"

"It will be over directly, Iza. Do not fret yourself about it, angel mio. The Americans are great fighters, and their quarrel is just. Well, then, it will be settled by the good God quickly."

"Rachela says that Santa Anna has sent off a million of men to fight the Americans. Some they will cut in pieces, and some are to be sent to the mines to work in chains."

"God is not dead of old age, Iza. Santa Anna is a miraculous tyrant. He has committed every crime under heaven, but I think he will not cut the Americans in pieces."

"And if the Americans should even make him go back to Mexico!"

"I think that is very possible."

"What then, Juan?"

"He would pay for some of his crimes here the rest he would settle for in purgatory. And you, too, Iza, are you with the Americans?"

"Luis Alveda says they are right."

"Oh-h! I see! So Luis is to be my brother too. Is that so, little dear?"

"Have you room in your heart for him? Or has this Dare Grant filled it?"

"If I had twenty sisters, I should have room for twenty brothers, if they were like Dare and Luis. But, indeed, Luis had his place there before I knew Dare."

"And perhaps you may see him soon; he is with Senor Sam Houston. Senor Houston was here not a week ago. Will you think of that? And the mother and uncle of Luis are angry at him; he will be disinherited, and we shall be very poor, I think. But there is always my father, who loves Luis."

"Luis will win his own inheritance. I think you will be very rich."

"And, Juan, if you see Luis, say to him, 'Iza thinks of you continually.'"

At this moment Rachela angrily called her charge—

"Are you totally and forever wicked, disobedient one? Two hours I have been kept waiting. Very well! The Sisters are the only duenna for you; and back to the convent you shall go to-morrow. The Senora is of my mind, also."

"My father will not permit it. I will go to my father. And think of this, Rachela: I am no longer to be treated like a baby." But she kissed Juan 'farewell,' and went away without further dispute.

The handsome room looked strangely lonely and desolate when the door had closed behind her. Jack rose, and roughly shook himself, as if by that means he hoped to throw off the oppression and melancholy that was invading even his light heart. Hundreds of moths were dashing themselves to death against the high glass shade that covered the blowing candles from them. He stood and looked at their hopeless efforts to reach the flame. He had an unpleasant thought; one of those thoughts which have the force of a presentiment. He put it away with annoyance, muttering, "It is time enough to meet misfortune when it comes."

The sound of a footstep made him stand erect and face the door.

It was only a sleepy peon with a request that he would go to his father's study. A different mental atmosphere met him there. The doctor was walking up and down the room, and Dare and Antonia sat together at the open window.

"Your father wants to hear about our journey, Jack. Take my chair and tell him what happened. Antonia and I will walk within hearing; a roof makes me restless such a night as this"; for the waning moon had risen, and the cool wind from the Gulf was shaking a thousand scents from the trees and the flowering shrubs.

The change was made with the words, and the doctor sat down beside his son. "I was asking, Jack, how you knew so much about Texan affairs, and how you came so suddenly to take part in them?"

"Indeed, father, we could not escape knowing. The Texan fever was more or less in every young man's blood. One night Dare had a supper at his rooms, and there were thirty of us present. A man called Faulkner—a fine fellow from Nacogdoches—spoke to us. How do you think he spoke, when his only brother, a lad of twenty, is working in a Mexican mine loaded with chains?"

"For what?"

"He said one day that 'the natural boundaries of the United States are the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.' He was sent to the mines for the words. Faulkner's only hope for him is in the independence of Texas. He had us on fire in five minutes—all but Sandy McDonald, who loves to argue, and therefore took the Mexican side."

"What could he say for it?"

"He said it was a very unjustlike thing to make Mexico give her American settlers in Texas two hundred and twenty-four millions of acres because she thought a change of government best for her own interests."

"The Americans settled in Texas under the solemn guarantee of the constitution of eighteen twenty-four. How many of them would have built homes under a tyrannical despotism like that Santa Anna is now forcing upon them?" asked the doctor, warmly.

"McDonald said, 'There is a deal of talk about freedom among you Americans, and it just means nothing at all.' You should have seen Faulkner! He turned on him like a tornado. 'How should you know anything about freedom, McDonald?' he cried. 'You are in feudal darkness in the Highlands of Scotland. You have only just emigrated into freedom. But we Americans are born free! If you can not feel the difference between a federal constitution and a military and religious despotism, there is simply no use talking to you. How would you like to find yourself in a country where suddenly trial by jury and the exercise of your religion was denied you? Of course you could abandon the home you had built, and the acres you had bought and put under cultivation, and thus make some Mexican heir to your ten years' labor. Perhaps a Scot, for conscience' sake, would do this.'"

"And what answer made he? He said, 'A Scot kens how to grip tight to ten years' labor as well as yoursel', Faulkner; and neither man nor de'il can come between him and his religion; but—' 'BUT,' shouted Faulkner; 'there is no BUT! It is God and our right! God and our right, against priestcraft and despotism!'"

"Then every one of us leaped to our feet, and we swore to follow Faulkner to Texas at an hour's notice; and Sandy said we were 'a parcel of fools'; and then, would you believe it, father, when our boat was leaving the pier, amid the cheers and hurrahs of thousands, Sandy leaped on the boat and joined us?"

"What did he say then?"

"He said, 'I am a born fool to go with you, but I think there is a kind o' witchcraft in that word TEXAS. It has been stirring me up morning and night like the voice o' the charmer, and I be to follow it though I ken well enough it isna leading me in the paths o' peace and pleasantness!'"

"Did you find the same enthusiasm outside of New York?"

"All along the Ohio and Mississippi we gathered recruits; and at Randolph, sixty miles above Memphis, we were joined by David Crockett."

"Jack!"

"True, father! And then at every landing we took on men. For at every landing Crockett spoke to the people; and, as we stopped very often, we were cheered all the way down the river. The Mediterranean, though the biggest boat on it, was soon crowded; but at Helena, Crockett and a great number of the leading men of the expedition got off. And as Dare and Crockett had become friends, I followed them."

"Where did you go to?"

"We went ostensibly to a big barbecue at John Bowie's plantation, which is a few miles below Helena. Invitations to this barbecue had been sent hundreds of miles throughout the surrounding country. We met parties from the depths of the Arkansas wilderness and the furthest boundaries of the Choctaw nation coming to it. There were raftsmen from the Mississippi, from the White, and the St. Francis rivers. There were planters from Lousiana and Tennessee. There were woodsmen from Kentucky. There were envoys from New Orleans, Washington, and all the great Eastern cities."

"I had an invitation myself, Jack."

"I wish you had accepted it. It was worth the journey. There never was and there never will be such a barbecue again. Thousands were present. The woods were full of sheds and temporary buildings, and platforms for the speakers."

"Who were the speakers?"

"Crockett, Hawkins, General Montgomery, Colonel Beauford, the three brothers Cheatham, Doc. Bennet, and many others. When the woods were illuminated at night with pine knots, you may imagine the scene and the wild enthusiasm that followed their eloquence."

"Doc. Bennet is a good partisan, and he is enormously rich."

"And he has a personal reason for his hatred of Mexico. An insatiable revenge possesses him. His wife and two children were barbarously murdered by Mexicans. He appealed to those who could not go to the fight to give money to aid it, and on the spot laid down ten thousand dollars."

"Good!"

"Nine other men, either present or there by proxy, instantly gave a like sum, and thirty thousand in smaller sums was added to it. Every donation was hailed with the wildest transports, and while the woods were ringing with electrifying shouts, Hawkins rallied three hundred men round him and went off at a swinging galop for the Brazos."

"Oh, Jack! Jack!"

In another hour, the rest of the leaders had gathered their detachments, and every man had turned his face to the Texan prairies. Crockett was already far advanced on the way. Sam Houston was known to be kindling the fire on the spot; "and I suppose you know, father," said Jack, sinking his voice to a whisper, "that we have still more powerful backers."

"General Gaines?"

"Well, he has a large body of United States troops at Nacogdoches. He says they are to protect the people of Navasola from the Indians."

"But Navasola is twenty-nine miles west of Nacogdoches."

"Navasola is in Texas. Very well! If the United States feel it to be their duty to protect the people of Navasola, it seems they already consider Texas within their boundary."

"You think the Indians a mere pretext?"

"Of course. Crockett has with him an autograph letter from President Jackson, introducing him as 'a God-chosen patriot.' President Jackson already sees Texas in the Union, and Gaines understands that if the American-Texans should be repulsed by Santa Anna, and fall back upon him, that he may then gather them under his standard and lead them forward to victory—and the conquest of Texas. Father, you will see the Stars and Stripes on the palaces of Mexico."

"Do not talk too fast, Jack. And now, go lie down on my bed. In four hours you must leave, if you want to reach Gonzales to-night!"

Then Dare was called, and the lovers knew that their hour of parting was come. They said nothing of the fears in their hearts; and on Antonia's lifted face there was only the light of love and of hope.

"The fight will soon be over, darling, and then!"

"And then? We shall be so happy."



CHAPTER VI. ROBERT WORTH IS DISARMED.

"Strange sons of Mexico, and strange her fate; They fight for freedom who were never free; A kingless people for a nerveless state."

* * * * *

"Not all the threats or favors of a crown, A Prince's whisper, or a tyrant's frown, Can awe the spirit or allure the mind Of him, who to strict Honor is inclined. Though all the pomp and pleasure that does wait On public places, and affairs of state; Though all the storms and tempests should arise, That Church magicians in their cells devise, And from their settled basis nations tear: He would, unmoved, the mighty ruin bear. Secure in innocence, contemn them all, And, decently arrayed, in honor fall."

* * * * *

"Say, what is honor? 'Tis the finest sense Of justice which the human mind can frame."

The keenest sufferings entailed by war are not on the battle-field, nor in the hospital. They are in the household. There are the maimed affections, the slain hopes, the broken ties of love. And before a shot had been fired in the war of Texan independence, the battle had begun in Robert Worth's household.

The young men lay down to rest, but he sat watching the night away. There was a melancholy sleepiness in it; the mockingbirds had ceased singing; the chirping insects had become weary. Only the clock, with its regular "tick, tick," kept the watch with him.

When it was near dawn, he lifted a candle and went into the room where Jack and Dare were sleeping. Dare did not move; Jack opened his eyes wide, and smiled brightly at the intruder.

"Well, father?"

"It is time to get up, Jack. Tell Dare."

In a few minutes both came to him. A bottle of wine, some preserved bears' paws, and biscuits were on the table. They ate standing, speaking very little and almost in whispers; and then the doctor went with them to the stable. He helped Jack to saddle his horse. He found a sad pleasure in coming so close to him. Once their cheeks touched, and the touch brought the tears to his eyes and sent he blood to his heart.

With his hand on the saddle, Jack paused and said, softly, "Father, dear, tell mi madre my last look at the house, my last thought in leaving it, was for her. She would not kiss me or bless me last night. Ask her to kiss you for me," and then the lad broke fairly down. The moment had come in which love could find no utterance, and must act. He flung his arm around his father's neck and kissed him. And the father wept also, and yet spoke brave words to both as he walked with them to the gate and watched them ride into the thick mist lying upon the prairie like a cloud. They were only darker spots in it. It swallowed them up. They were lost to sight.

He thought no one had seen the boys leave but himself. But through the lattices two sorrowful women also watched their departure. The Senora, as wakeful as her husband, had heard the slight movements, the unusual noises of that early hour, and had divined the cause of them. She looked at Rachela. The woman had fallen into the dead sleep of exhaustion, and she would not have to parry her objections and warnings. Unshod, and in her night-dress, she slipped through the corridor to the back of the house, and tightly clasping her rosary in her hands, she stood behind the lattice and watched her boy away.

He turned in his saddle just before he passed the gate, and she saw his young face lifted with an unconscious, anxious love, to the very lattice at which she stood: In the dim light it had a strange pallor. The misty air blurred and made all indistinct. It was like seeing her Jack in some woful dream. If he had been dead, such a vision of him might have come to her from the shadow land.

Usually her grief was noisy and imperative of sympathy. But this morning she could not cry nor lament. She went softly back to her room and sat down, with her crucifix before her aching eyes. Yet she could not say her usual prayers. She could not remember anything but Jack's entreaty—"Kiss me, mi madre! Bless me, mi madre!" She could not see anything but that last rapid turn in the saddle, and that piteous young face, showing so weird and dreamlike through the gray mist of the early dawn.

Antonia had watched with her. Dare, also, had turned, but there had been something about Dare's attitude far more cheery and hopeful. On the previous night Antonia had put some sprays of rosemary in his hat band "to bring good, and keep away evil on a journey"; and as he turned and lifted his hat he put his lips to them. He had the belief that from some point his Antonia was watching him. He conveyed to her, by the strength of his love and his will, the assurance of all their hopes.

That day Doctor Worth did not go out. The little bravado of carrying arms was impossible to him. It was not that his courage had failed, or that he had lost a tittle of his convictions, but he was depressed by the uncertainty of his position and duty, and he was, besides, the thrall of that intangible anxiety which we call PRESENTIMENT.

Yet, however dreary life is, it must go on. The brave-hearted cannot drop daily duty. On the second day the doctor went to his office again, and Antonia arranged the meals and received company, and did her best to bring the household into peaceful accord with the new elements encroaching on it from all sides.

But the Senora was more "difficult" than even Rachela had ever seen her before. She did not go to church, but Fray Ignatius spent a great deal of time with her; and his influence was not any more conciliating than that of early masses and much fasting.

He said to her, indeed: "My daughter, you have behaved with the fortitude of a saint. It would have been more than a venial sin, if you had kissed and blessed a rebel in the very act of his rebellion. The Holy Mary will reward and comfort you."

But the Senora was not sensible of the reward and comfort; and she did feel most acutely the cruel wound she had given her mother love. Neither prayers nor penance availed her. She wanted to see Jack. She wanted to kiss him a hundred times, and bless him with every kiss. And it did not help her to be told that these longings were the suggestions of the Evil One, and not to be listened to.

The black-robed monk, gliding about his house with downcast eyes and folded hands, had never seemed to Robert Worth so objectionable. He knew that he kept the breach open between himself and his wife—that he thought it a point of religious duty to do so. He knew that he was gradually isolating the wretched woman from her husband and children, and that the continual repetition of prayers and penances did not give her any adequate comfort for the wrong she was doing her affections.

The city was also in a condition of the greatest excitement. The soldiers in the Alamo were under arms. Their officers had evidently received important advices from Mexico. General Cos, the brother-in-law of Santa Anna, was now in command, and it was said immense reinforcements were hourly looked for. The drifting American population had entirely vanished, but its palpable absence inspired the most thoughtful of the people with fear instead of security.

Nor were the military by any means sure of the loyalty of the city. It was well known that a large proportion of the best citizens hated the despotism of Santa Anna; and that if the Americans attacked San Antonio, they would receive active sympathy. Party feeling was no longer controllable. Men suspected each other. Duels were of constant occurrence, and families were torn to pieces; for the monks supported Santa Anna with all their influence, and there were few women who dared to disobey them.

Into the midst of this turbulent, touchy community, there fell one morning a word or two which set it on fire. Doctor Worth was talking on the Plaza with Senor Lopez Navarro. A Mexican soldier, with his yellow cloak streaming out behind him, galloped madly towards the Alamo and left the news there. It spread like wildfire. "There had been a fight at Gonzales, and the Americans had kept their arms. They had also put the Mexicans to flight."

"And more," added a young Mexican coming up to the group of which Robert Worth was one, "Stephen Austin has escaped, and he arrived at Gonzales at the very moment of victory. And more yet: Americans are pouring into Gonzales from every quarter."

An officer tapped Doctor Worth on the shoulder. "Senor Doctor, your arms. General Cos hopes, in the present extremity, you will set an example of obedience."

"I will not give up my arms. In the present extremity my arms are the greatest need I have."

"Then Senor,—it is a great affliction to me—I must arrest you."

He was led away, amid the audible murmurs of the men who filled the streets. There needed but some one to have said the word, and they would have taken him forcibly from the military. A great crowd followed him to the gates of the Alamo. For there was scarcely a family in San Antonio of which this good doctor was not an adopted member. The arrest of their favorite confessor would hardly have enraged them more.

Fray Ignatius brought the news to the Senora. Even he was affected by it. Never before had Antonia seen him walk except with thoughtful and deliberate steps. She wondered at his appearance; at its suppressed hurry; at a something in it which struck her as suppressed satisfaction.

And the priest was in his heart satisfied; though he was consciously telling himself that "he was sorry for the Senora, and that he would have been glad if the sins of her husband could have been set against the works of supererogation which the saints of his own convent had amassed."

"But he is an infidel; he believes not in the saints," he muttered; "then how could they avail him!"

Antonia met him at the door. He said an Ave Maria as he crossed the threshold, and gave her his hand to kiss. She looked wonderingly in his face, for unless it was a special visit, he never called so near the Angelus. Still, it is difficult to throw off a habit of obedience formed in early youth; and she did not feel as if she could break through the chill atmosphere of the man and ask: "For what reason have you come, father?"

A long, shrill shriek from the Senora was the first answer to the fearful question in her heart. In a few moments she was at her mother's door. Rachela knelt outside it, telling her rosary. She stolidly kept her place, and a certain instinct for a moment prevented Antonia interrupting her. But the passionate words of her mother, blending with the low, measured tones of the priest, were something far more positive.

"Let me pass you, Rachela. What is the matter with my mother?"

The woman was absorbed in her supplications, and Antonia opened the door. Isabel followed her. They found themselves in the the{sic} presence of an angry sorrow that appalled them. The Senora had torn her lace mantilla into shreds, and they were scattered over the room as she had flung them from her hands in her frantic walk about it. The large shell comb that confined her hair was trodden to pieces, and its long coils had fallen about her face and shoulders. Her bracelets, her chain of gold, her brooch and rings were scattered on the floor, and she was standing in the centre of it, like an enraged creature; tearing her handkerchief into strips, as an emphasis to her passionate denunciations.

"It serves him right! JESUS! MARIA! JOSEPH! It serves him right! He must carry arms! HE, TOO! when it was forbidden! I am glad he is arrested! Oh, Roberto! Roberto!"

"Patience, my daughter! This is the hand of God. What can you do but submit?"

"What is it, mi madre?" and Isabel put her arms around her mother with the words mi madre. "Tell Isabel your sorrow."

"Your father is arrested—taken to the Alamo—he will be sent to the mines. I told him so! I told him so! He would not listen to me! How wicked he has been!"

"What has my father done, Fray Ignatius? Why have they arrested him?"

The priest turned to Antonia with a cold face. He did not like her. He felt that she did not believe in him.

"Senorita, he has committed a treason. A good citizen obeys the law; Senor Worth has defied it."

"Pardon, father, I cannot believe it."

"A great forbearance has been shown him, but the end of mercy comes. As he persisted in wearing arms, he has been taken to the Alamo and disarmed."

"It is a great shame! An infamous shame and wrong!" cried Antonia. "What right has any one to take my father's arms? No more than they have to take his purse or his coat."

"General Santa Anna—"

"General Santa Anna is a tyrant and a thief. I care not who says different."

"Antonia! Shameless one!"

"Mother, do not strike me." Then she took her mother's hands in her own, and led her to a couch, caressing her as she spoke—

"Don't believe any one—ANY ONE, mother, who says wrong of my father. You know that he is the best of men. Rachela! Come here instantly. The rosary is not the thing, now. You ought to be attending to the Senora. Get her some valerian and some coffee, and come and remove her clothing. Fray Ignatius, we will beg you to leave us to-night to ourselves."

"Your mother's sin, in marrying a heretic, has now found her out. It is my duty to make her see her fault."

"My mother had a dispensation from one greater than you."

"Oh, father, pray for me! I accuse myself! I accuse myself! Oh, wretched woman! Oh, cruel husband!"

"Mother, you have been a very happy woman. You have had the best husband in the world. Do not reproach my father for the sins of others. Do not desert him when he is in the power of a human tiger. My God, mother! let us think of something to be done for his help! I will see the Navarros, the Garcias, Judge Valdez; I will go to the Plaza and call on the thousands he has cured and helped to set him free."

"You will make of yourself something not to be spoken of. This is the judgment of God, my daughter."

"It is the judgment of a wicked man, Fray Ignatius. My mother is not now able to listen to you. Isabel, come here and comfort her." Isabel put her cheek to her mother's; she murmured caressing words; she kissed her face, and coiled up her straggling hair, and with childlike trust amid all, solicited Holy Mary to console them.

Fray Ignatius watched her with a cold scrutiny. He was saying to himself, "It is the fruit of sin. I warned the Senora, when she married this heretic, that trouble would come of it. Very well, it has come." Then like a flash a new thought invaded his mind—If the Senor Doctor disappeared forever, why not induce the Senora and her daughters to go into a religious house? There was a great deal of money. The church could use it well.

Antonia did not understand the thought, but she understood its animus, and again she requested his withdrawal. This time she went close to him, and bravely looked straight into his eyes. Their scornful gleam sent a chill to her heart like that of cold steel. At that moment she understood that she had turned a passive enemy into an active one.

He went, however, without further parley, stopping only to warn the Senora against the sin "of standing with the enemies of God and the Holy Church," and to order Isabel to recite for her mother's pardon and comfort a certain number of aves and paternosters. Antonia went with him to the door, and ere he left he blessed her, and said: "The Senorita will examine her soul and see her sin. Then the ever merciful Church will hear her confession, and give her the satisfying penance."

Antonia bowed in response. When people are in great domestic sorrow, self-examination is a superfluous advice. She listened a moment to his departing footsteps, shivering as she stood in the darkness, for a norther had sprung up, and the cold was severe. She only glanced into the pleasant parlor where the table was laid for dinner, and a great fire of cedar logs was throwing red, dancing lights over the white linen and the shining silver and glass. The chairs were placed around the table; her father's at the head. It had a forsaken air that was unendurable.

The dinner hour was now long past. It would be folly to attempt the meal. How could she and Isabel sit down alone and eat, and her father in prison, and her mother frantic with a loss which she was warned it was sinful to mourn over. Antonia had a soul made for extremities and not afraid to face them, but invisible hands controlled her. What could a woman do, whom society had forbidden to do anything, but endure the pangs of patience?

The Senora could offer no suggestions. She was not indeed in a mood to think of her resources. A spiritual dread was upon her. And with this mingled an intense sense of personal wrong from her husband. "Had she not begged him to be passive? And he had put an old rifle before her and her daughters! It was all that Senor Houston's doing. She had an assurance of that." She invoked a thousand maledictions on him. She recalled, with passionate reproaches, Jack's infidelity to her and his God and his country. Her anger passed from one subject to another constantly, finding in all, even in the lukewarmness of Antonia and Isabel, and in their affection for lovers, who were also rebels, an accumulating reason for a stupendous reproach against herself, her husband, her children, and her unhappy fate. Her whole nature was in revolt—in that complete mental and moral anarchy from which springs tragedy and murder.

Isabel wept so violently that she angered still further the tearless suffering of her mother. "God and the saints!" she cried. "What are you weeping for? Will tears do any good? Do I weep? God has forbidden me to weep for the wicked. Yet how I suffer! Mary, mother of sorrows, pity me!"

She sent Isabel away. Her sobs were not to be borne. And very soon she felt Antonia's white face and silent companionship to be just as unendurable. She would be alone. Not even Rachela would she have near her. She put out all the lights but the taper above a large crucifix, and at its foot she sat down in tearless abandon, alone with her reproaches and her remorse.

Antonia watched with her mother, though shut out from her presence. She feared for a state of mind so barren of affection, so unsoftened by tears. Besides, it was the climax of a condition which had continued ever since she had sent her boy away without a word of love. In the dim corridor outside she sat still, listening for any noise or movement which might demand help or sympathy. It was not nine o'clock; but the time lengthened itself out beyond endurance. Even yet she had hope of some word from her father. Surely, they would let him send some word to them!

She heard the murmur of voices downstairs, and she thought angrily of Rachela, and Molly, and Manuel, "making a little confidence together" over their trouble, and spicing their evening gossip with the strange thing that had happened to the Senor Doctor. She knew that Rachela and Manuel would call him heretic and Americano, and, by authority of these two words, accuse him of every crime.

Thinking with a swelling heart of these things, she heard the door open, and a step slowly and heavily ascend the stairs. Ere she had time to wonder at it, her father came in sight. There was a shocking change in his air and appearance, but as he was evidently going to her mother's room, she shrank back and sat motionless so as not to attract his attention.

Then she went to the parlor, and had the fire renewed and food put upon the table. She was sure that he would need it, and she believed he would be glad to talk over with her the events of the afternoon.

The Senora was still sitting at the foot of the crucifix when her husband opened the door. She had not been able to pray; ave and paternoster alike had failed her. Her rebellious grief filled every corner of her heart. She understood that some one had entered the room, and she thought of Rachela; but she found a kind of comfort in the dull stupor of grief she was indulging, and she would not break its spell by lifting her head.

"Maria."

She rose up quickly and stood gazing at him.

She did not shriek or exclaim; her surprise controlled her. And also her terror; for his face was white as death, and had an expression of angry despair that terrified her.

"Roberto! Roberto! Mi Roberto! How you have tortured me! I have nearly died! Fray Ignatius said you had been sent to prison."

She spoke as calmly as a frightened child; sad and hesitating. If he had taken her in his arms she would have sobbed her grief away there.

But Robert Worth was at that hour possessed by two master passions, tyrannical and insatiable—they would take notice of nothing that did not minister to them.

"Maria, they have taken my arms from me. Cowards! Cowards! Miserable cowards! I refused to give them up! They held my hands and robbed me—robbed me of my manhood and honor! I begged them to shoot me ere they did it, and they spoke courteously and regretted this, and hoped that, till I felt that it would be a joy to strangle them."

"Roberto! Mi Roberto! You have me!"

"I want my rifle and all it represents. I want myself back again. Maria, Maria, until then, I am not worthy to be any good woman's husband!"

"Roberto, dearest! It is not your fault."

"It is my fault. I have waited too long. My sons showed me my duty—my soul urged me to do it. I deserve the shame, but I will wipe it out with crimson blood."

The Senora stood speechless, wringing her hands. Her own passion was puny beside the sternness, the reality, and the intensity of the quiet rage before her. She was completely mastered by it. She forgot all but the evident agony she could neither mistake nor console.

"I have come to say 'farewell,' Maria. We have been very happy together—Maria—our children—dearest—"

"Oh, Roberto! My husband! My soul! My life! Leave me not."

"I am going for my arms. I will take them a hundredfold from those who have robbed me. I swear I will!"

"You do not love me. What are these Americans to you? I am your wife. Your Maria—"

"These Americans are my brothers—my sons. My mother is an American woman."

"And I?"

"You are my wife—my dear wife! I love you—God Almighty knows how well I love you; but we must part now, at least for a short time. Maria, my dear one, I must go."

"Go? Where to?"

"I am going to join General Houston."

"I thought so. I knew it. The accursed one! Oh that I had him here again! I would bury my stiletto in his heart! Over the white hilt I would bury it! I would wash my hands in his blood, and think them blessed ever afterwards! Stay till daylight, Roberto. I have so much to say, dearest."

"I cannot. I have stayed too long. And now I must ride without a gun or knife to protect me. Any Indian that I meet can scalp me. Do you understand now what disarming means, Maria? If I had gone with my boy, with my brave Jack, I could at least have sold my life to its last drop."

"In the morning, Roberto, Lopez Navarro will get you a gun. Oh, if you must go, do not go unarmed! There are ten thousand Comanche between here and the Brazos."

"How could I look Lopez Navarro in the face? Or any other man? No, no! I must win back my arms, before I can walk the streets of San Antonio again."

He took her in his arms, he kissed her eyes, her cheeks, her lips, murmuring tender little Spanish words that meant, oh, so much, to the wretched woman!—words she had taught him with kisses—words he never used but to her ears only.

She clung to his neck, to his hands, to his feet; she made his farewell an unspeakable agony. At last he laid her upon her couch, sobbing and shrieking like a child in an extremity of physical anguish. But he did not blame her. Her impetuosities, her unreasonable extravagances, were a part of her nature, her race, and her character. He did not expect a weak, excitable woman to become suddenly a creature of flame and steel.

But it was a wonderful rest to his exhausted body and soul to turn from her to Antonia. She led him quietly to his chair by the parlor fire. She gave him food and wine. She listened patiently, but with a living sympathy, to his wrong. She endorsed, with a clasp of his hand and a smile, his purpose. And she said, almost cheerfully:

"You have not given up all your arms, father. When I first heard of the edict, I hid in my own room the rifle, the powder and the shot, which were in your study. Paola has knives in the stable; plenty of them. Get one from him."

Good news is a very relative thing. This information made the doctor feel as if all were now easy and possible. The words he said to her, Antonia never forgot. They sang in her heart like music, and led her on through many a difficult path. The conversation then turned upon money matters, and Antonia received the key of his study, and full directions as to the gold and papers secreted there.

Then Isabel was awakened, and the rifle brought down; and Paola saddled the fleetest horse in the stable, and after one solemn five minutes with his daughter, Robert Worth rode away into the midnight darkness, and into a chaos of public events of which no man living could forecast the outcome.

Rode away from wife and children and home; leaving behind him the love and labor of his lifetime—

"The thousand sweet, still joys of such As hand in hand face earthly life."

For what? For justice, for freedom of thought and action, for the rights of his manhood, for the brotherhood of race and religion and country. Antonia and Isabel stood hand in hand at the same lattice from which the Senora had watched her son away, and in a dim, uncertain manner these thoughts connected themselves in each mind with the same mournful inquiry—Is it worth while?

As the beat of the horse's hoofs died away, they turned. The night was cold but clear, and the sky appeared so high that their eyes throbbed as they gazed upward at the grand arch, sprinkled with suns and worlds. Suddenly into the tranquil spaces there was flung a sound of joy and revelry; and the girls stepped to a lattice at the end of the corridor and looked out.

The residencia of Don Salvo Valasco was clearly visible from this site. They saw that it was illuminated throughout. Lovely women, shining with jewels, and soldiers in scarlet and gold, were chatting through the graceful movements of the danza, or executing the more brilliant Jota Aragonesa. The misty beauty of white lace mantillas, the glitter and color of fans and festival dresses, made a moving picture of great beauty.

And as they watched it there was a cessation of the dance, followed by the rapid sweep of a powerful hand over the strings of a guitar. Then a group of officers stepped together, and a great wave of melodious song, solemn and triumphant, thrilled the night. It was the national hymn. Antonia and Isabel knew it. Every word beat upon their hearts. The power of association, the charm of a stately, fervent melody was upon them.

"It is Senor Higadillos who leads," whispered Isabel, as a resonant voice, powerful and sweet, cried—

"O list to the summons! The blood of our sires, Boils high in our veins, and to vengeance inspires! Who bows to the yoke? who bends to the blow?"

and, without a moment's hesitation, the answer came in a chorus of enthusiastic cadences—

"No hero will bend, no Mexican bow; Our country in tears sends her sons to the fight, To conquer, or die, for our land and our right."

"You see, the Mexicans think THEY are in the right—THEY are patriots also, Antonia."

The sorrowful girl spoke like a puzzled child, fretfully and uncertainly, and Antonia led her silently away. What could she answer? And when she remembered the dear fugitive, riding alone through the midnight—riding now for life and liberty—she could not help the uprising again of that cold benumbing question—"Is it worth while?"



CHAPTER VII. A MEETING AT MIDNIGHT.

"All faiths are to their own believers just, For none believe because they will, but must; The priest continues what the nurse began, And thus the child imposes on the man." —DRYDEN.

"—if he be called upon to face Some awful moment, to which heaven has joined Great issues good or bad for humankind, Is happy as a lover; and attired With sudden brightness, like a man inspired; And through the heat of conflict keeps the law In calmness made; and sees what he foresaw, Or, if an unexpected call succeed, Come when it will, is equal to the need." —WORDSWORTH.

"Ah! love, let us be true To one another, through the world which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams!"

The gathering at Don Valasco's was constantly repeated in various degrees of splendor among the loyal Mexicans of the city. They were as fully convinced of the justice of their cause as the Americans were. "They had graciously permitted Americans to make homes in their country; now they wanted not only to build heretic churches and sell heretic bibles, but also to govern Texas after their own fashion." From a Mexican point of view the American settlers were a godless, atheistical, quarrelsome set of ingrates. For eaten bread is soon forgotten, and Mexicans disliked to remember that their own independence had been won by the aid of the very men they were now trying to force into subjection.

The two parties were already in array in every house in the city. The Senora at variance with her daughters, their Irish cook quarrelling with their Mexican servants, only represented a state of things nearly universal. And after the failure of the Mexicans at Gonzales to disarm the Americans, the animosity constantly increased.

In every church, the priests—more bitter, fierce and revengeful than either the civil or military power—urged on the people an exterminating war. A black flag waved from the Missions, and fired every heart with an unrelenting vengeance and hatred. To slay a heretic was a free pass through the dolorous pains of purgatory. For the priesthood foresaw that the triumph of the American element meant the triumph of freedom of conscience, and the abolition of their own despotism. To them the struggle was one involving all the privileges of their order; and they urged on the fight with passionate denunciations of the foe, and with magnificent promises of spiritual favors and blessings. In the fortress, the plaza, the houses, the churches, the streets, their fiery words kept society in a ferment.

But through all this turmoil the small duties of life went on. Soldiers were parading the streets, and keeping watch on the flat roofs of the houses; men were solemly{sic} swearing allegiance to Santa Anna, or flying by night to the camp of the Americans; life and death were held at a pin's fee; but eating and dressing, dancing and flirting were pursued with an eagerness typical of pleasure caught in the passing.

And every hour these elements gathered intensity. The always restless populace of San Antonio was at a feverish point of impatience. They wanted the war at their own doors. They wanted the quarrel fought out on their own streets. Business took a secondary place. Men fingered weapons and dreamed of blood, until the temper of the town was as boisterous and vehement as the temper of the amphitheatre when impatiently waiting for the bulls and the matadores.

Nor was it possible for Antonia to lock the door upon this pervading spirit. After Doctor Worth's flight, it became necessary for her to assume control over the household. She had promised him to do so, and she was resolved, in spite of all opposition, to follow out his instructions. But it was by no means an easy task.

Fray Ignatius had both the Senora and Rachela completely under his subjection. Molly, the Irish cook, was already dissatisfied. The doctor had saved her life and given her a good home and generous wages, and while the doctor was happy and prosperous Molly was accordingly grateful. But a few words from the priest set affairs in a far pleasanter light to her. She was a true Catholic; the saints sent the heretic doctor to help. It was therefore the saints to whom gratitude was due. Had she not earned her good wage? And would not Don Angel Sandoval give her a still larger sum? Or even the Brothers at the Mission of San Jose? Molly listened to these words with a complacent pleasure. She reflected that it would be much more agreeable to her to be where she could entirely forget that she had ever been hungry and friendless, and lying at death's door.

Antonia knew also that Rachela was at heart unfaithful, and soon the conviction was forced on her that servants are never faithful beyond the line of their own interest—that it is, indeed, against certain primary laws of nature to expect it. Certainly, it was impossible to doubt that there was in all their dependents a kind of satisfaction in their misfortunes.

The doctor had done them favors—how unpleasant was their memory! The Senora had offended them by the splendor of her dress, and her complacent air of happiness. Antonia's American ways and her habit of sitting for hours with a book in her hand were a great irritation.

"She wishes to be thought wiser than other women—as wise as even a holy priest—SHE! that never goes to mass, and is nearly a heretic," said the house steward; "and as for the Senorita Isabel, a little trouble will be good for her! Holy Mary! the way she has been pampered and petted! It is an absurdity. 'Little dear,' and 'angel,' are the hardest words she hears. Si! if God did not mercifully abate a little the rich they would grow to be 'almightys.'"

This was the tone of the conversation of the servants of the household. It was not an unnatural tone, but it was a very unhappy one. People cannot escape from the mood of mind they habitually indulge, and from the animus of the words they habitually use; and Antonia felt and understood the antagonistic atmosphere. For the things which we know best of all are precisely the things which no one has ever told us.

The Senora, in a plain black serge gown, and black rebozo over her head, spent her time in prayers and penances. The care of her household had always been delegated to her steward, and to Rachela; while the duties that more especially belonged to her, had been fulfilled by her husband and by Antonia. In many respects she was but a grown-up baby. And so, in this great extremity, the only duty which pressed upon her was the idea of supplicating the saints to take charge of her unhappy affairs.

And Fray Ignatius was daily more hard with her. Antonia even suspected from his growing intolerance and bitterness, that the Americans were gaining unexpected advantages. But she knew nothing of what was happening. She could hear from afar off the marching and movements of soldiers; the blare of military music; the faint echoes of hurrahing multitudes; but there was no one to give her any certain information. Still, she guessed something from the anger of the priest and the reticence of the Mexican servants. If good fortune had been with Santa Anna, she was sure she would have heard of "The glorious! The invincible! The magnificent Presidente de la Republica Mexicana! The Napoleon of the West!"

It was not permitted her to go into the city. A proposal to do so had been met with a storm of angry amazement. And steam and electricity had not then annihilated distance and abolished suspense. She could but wonder and hope, and try to read the truth from a covert inspection of the face and words of Fray Ignatius.

Between this monk and herself the breach was hourly widening. With angry pain she saw her mother tortured between the fact that she loved her husband, and the horrible doubt that to love him was a mortal sin. She understood the underlying motive which prompted the priest to urge upon the Senora the removal of herself and her daughters to the convent. His offer to take charge of the Worth residencia and estate was in her conviction a proposal to rob them of all rights in it. She felt certain that whatever the Church once grasped in its iron hand, it would ever retain. And both to Isabel and herself the thought of a convent was now horrible. "They will force me to be a nun," said Isabel; "and then, what will Luis do? And they will never tell me anything about my father and my brothers. I should never hear of them. I should never see them any more; unless the good God was so kind as to let me meet them in his heaven."

And Antonia had still darker and more fearful thoughts. She had not forgotten the stories whispered to her childhood, of dreadful fates reserved for contumacious and disobedient women. Whenever Fray Ignatius looked at her she felt as if she were within the shadow of the Inquisition.

Never had days passed so wearily and anxiously. Never had nights been so terrible. The sisters did not dare to talk much together; they doubted Rachela; they were sure their words were listened to and repeated. They were not permitted to be alone with the Senora. Fray Ignatius had particularly warned Rachela to prevent this. He was gradually bringing the unhappy woman into what he called "a heavenly mind"—the influence of her daughters, he was sure, would be that of worldly affections and sinful liberty. And Rachela obeyed the confessor so faithfully, that the Senora was almost in a state of solitary confinement. Every day her will was growing weaker, her pathetic obedience more childlike and absolute.

But at midnight, when every one was asleep, Antonia stepped softly into her sister's room and talked to her. They sat in Isabel's bed clasping each other's hand in the dark, and speaking in whispers. Then Antonia warned and strengthened Isabel. She told her all her fears. She persuaded her to control her wilfulness, to be obedient, and to assume the childlike thoughtlessness which best satisfied Fray Ignatius. "He told you to-day to be happy, that he would think for you. My darling, let him believe that is the thing you want," said Antonia. "I assure you we shall be the safer for it."

"He said to me yesterday, when I asked him about the war, 'Do not inquire, child, into things you do not understand. That is to be irreligious,' and then he made the cross on his breast, as if I had put a bad thought into his heart. We are afraid all day, and we sit whispering all night about our fears; that is the state we are in. The Lord sends us nothing but misfortunes, Antonia."

"My darling, tell the Lord your sorrow, then, but do not repine to Rachela or Fray Ignatius. That is to complain to the merciless of the All-Merciful."

"Do you think I am wicked, Antonia? What excuse could I offer to His Divine Majesty, if I spoke evil to him of Rachela and Fray Ignatius?"

"Neither of them are our friends; do you think so?"

"Fray Ignatius looks like a goblin; he gives me a shiver when he looks at me; and as for Rachela—I already hate her!"

"Do not trust her. You need not hate her, Isabel."

"Antonia, I know that I shall eternally hate her; for I am sure that our angels are at variance."

In conversations like these the anxious girls passed the long, and often very cold, nights. The days were still worse, for as November went slowly away the circumstances which surrounded their lives appeared to constantly gather a more decided and a bitterer tone. December, that had always been such a month of happiness, bright with Christmas expectations and Christmas joys, came in with a terribly severe, wet norther. The great log fires only warmed the atmosphere immediately surrounding them, and Isabel and Antonia sat gloomily within it all day. It seemed to Antonia as if her heart had come to the very end of hope; and that something must happen.

The rain lashed the earth; the wind roared around the house, and filled it with unusual noises. The cold was a torture that few found themselves able to endure. But it brought a compensation. Fray Ignatius did not leave the Mission comforts; and Rachela could not bear to go prowling about the corridors and passages. She established herself in the Senora's room, and remained there. And very early in the evening she said "she had an outrageous headache," and went to her room.

Then Antonia and Isabel sat awhile by their mother's bed. They talked in whispers of their father and brothers, and when the Senora cried, they kissed her sobs into silence and wiped her tears away. In that hour, if Fray Ignatius had known it, they undid, in a great measure, the work to which he had given more than a month of patient and deeply-reflective labor. For with the girls, there was the wondrous charm of love and nature; but with the priest, only a splendid ideal of a Church universal that was to swallow up all the claims of love and all the ties of nature.

It was nearly nine o'clock when Antonia and Isabel returned to the parlor fire. Their hearts were full of sorrow for their mother, and of fears for their own future. For this confidence had shown them how firmly the refuge of the convent had been planted in the anxious ideas of the Senora. Fortunately, the cold had driven the servants either to the kitchen fire or to their beds, and they could talk over the subject without fear of interference.

"Are you sleepy, queridita?"—(little dear).

"I think I shall never go to sleep again, Antonia. If I shut my eyes I shall find myself in the convent; and I do not want to go there even in a dream. Do you know Mother Teresa? Well then, I could tell you things. And she does not like me, I am sure of that; quite sure."

"My darling, I am going to make us a cup of tea. It will do us good."

"If indeed it were chocolate!"

"I cannot make chocolate now; but you shall have a great deal of sugar in your cup, and something good to eat also. There, my darling, put your chair close to the fire, and we will sit here until we are quite sleepy."

With the words she went into the kitchen. Molly was nodding over her beads, in the comfortable radius made by the blazing logs; no one else was present but a young peon. He brought a small kettle to the parlor fire, and lifted a table to the hearth, and then replenished the pile of logs for burning during the night. Isabel, cuddling in a large chair, watched Antonia, as she went softly about putting on the table such delicacies as she could find at that hour. Tamales and cold duck, sweet cake and the guava jelly that was Isabel's favorite dainty. There was a little comfort in the sight of these things; and also, in the bright silver teapot standing so cheerfully on the hearth, and diffusing through the room a warm perfume, at once soothing and exhilarating.

"I really think I shall like that American tea to-night, Antonia, but you must half fill my cup with those little blocks of sugar—quite half fill it, Antonia; and have you found cream, my dear one? Then a great deal of cream."

Antonia stood still a moment and looked at the drowsy little beauty. Her eyes were closed, and her head nestled comfortably in a corner of the padded chair. Then a hand upon the door-handle arrested her attention, and Antonia turned her eyes from Isabel and watched it. Ortiz, the peon, put his head within the room, and then disappeared; but oh, wonder and joy! Don Luis entered swiftly after him; and before any one could say a word, he was kneeling by Isabel kissing her hand and mingling his exclamations of rapture with hers.

Antonia looked with amazement and delight at this apparition. How had he come? She put her hand upon his sleeve; it was scarcely wet. His dress was splendid; if he had been going to a tertullia of the highest class, he could not have been more richly adorned. And the storm was yet raging! It was a miracle.

"Dear Luis, sit down! Here is a chair close to Iza! Tell her your secrets a few minutes, and I will go for mi madre. O yes! She will come! You shall see, Iza! And then, Luis, we shall have some supper."

"You see that I am in heaven already, Antonia; though, indeed, I am also hungry and thirsty, my sister."

Antonia was not a minute in reaching her mother's room. The unhappy lady was half-lying among the large pillows of her gilded bed, wide awake. Her black eyes were fixed upon a crucifix at its foot, and she was slowly murmuring prayers upon her rosary.

"Madre! Madre! Luis is here, Luis is here! Come quick, mi madre. Here are your stockings and slippers, and your gown, and your mantilla—no, no, no, do not call Rachela. Luis has news of my father, and of Jack! Oh, madre, he has a letter from Jack to you! Come dear, come, in a few minutes you will be ready."

She was urging and kissing the trembling woman, and dressing her in despite of her faint effort to delay—to call Rachela—to bring Luis to her room. In ten minutes she was ready. She went down softly, like a frightened child, Antonia cheering and encouraging her in whispers.

When she entered the cheerful parlor the shadow of a smile flitted over her wan face. Luis ran to meet her. He drew the couch close to the hearth; he helped Antonia arrange her comfortably upon it. He made her tea, and kissed her hands when he put it into them. And then Isabel made Luis a cup, and cut his tamales, and waited upon him with such pretty service, that the happy lover thought he was eating a meal in Paradise.

For a few minutes it had been only this ordinary gladness of reunion; but it was impossible to ignore longer the anxiety in the eyes that asked him so many questions. He took two letters from his pockets and gave them to the Senora. They were from her husband and Jack. Her hands trembled; she kissed them fervently; and as she placed them in her breast her tears dropped down upon them.

Antonia opened the real conversation with that never-failing wedge, the weather. "You came through the storm, Luis? Yet you are not wet, scarcely? Now then, explain this miracle."

"I went first to Lopez Navarro's. Do you not know this festa dress? It is the one Lopez bought for the feast of St. James. He lent it to me, for I assure you that my own clothing was like that of a beggar man. It was impossible that I could see my angel on earth in it."

"But in such weather? You can not have come far to-day?"

"Senorita, there are things which are impossible, quite impossible! That is one of them. Early this morning the north wind advanced upon us, sword in hand. It will last fifty hours, and we shall know something more about it before they are over. Very well, but it was also absolutely necessary that some one should reach San Antonio to-night; and I was so happy as to persuade General Burleson to send me. The Holy Lady has given me my reward."

"Have you seen the Senor Doctor lately; Luis," asked the Senora.

"I left him at nightfall."

"At nightfall! But that is impossible!"

"It is true. The army of the Americans is but a few miles from San Antonio."

"Grace of God! Luis!"

"As you say, Senora. It is the grace of God. Did you not know?"

"We know nothing but what Fray Ignatius tells us—that the Americans have been everywhere pulling down churches, and granting martyrdom to the priests, and that everywhere miraculous retributions have pursued them."

"Was Gonzales a retribution? The Senor Doctor came to us while we were there. God be blessed; but he startled us like the rattle of rifle-shots in the midnight! 'Why were you not at Goliad?' he cried. 'There were three hundred stand of arms there, and cannon, and plenty of provisions. Why were they not yours?' You would have thought, Senora, he had been a soldier all his life. The men caught fire when he came near them, and we went to Goliad like eagles flying for their prey. We took the town, and the garrison, and all the arms and military stores. I will tell you something that came to pass there. At midnight, as I and Jack stood with the Senor Doctor by the camp-fire, a stranger rode up to us. It was Colonel Milam. He was flying from a Mexican prison and had not heard of the revolt of the Americans. He made the camp ring with his shout of delight. He was impatient for the morning. He was the first man that entered the garrison. Bravissimo! What a soldier is he!"

"I remember! I remember!" cried the Senora. "Mi Roberto brought him here once. So splendid a man I never saw before. So tall, so handsome, so gallant, so like a hero. He is an American from—well, then, I have forgotten the place."

"From Kentucky. He fought with the Mexicans when they were fighting for their liberty; but when they wanted a king and a dictator he resigned his commision{sic} and was thrown into prison. He has a long bill against Santa Anna."

"We must not forget, Luis," said the Senora with a little flash of her old temper, "that Santa Anna represents to good Catholics the triumph of Holy Church."

Luis devoutly crossed himself. "I am her dutiful son, I assure you, Senora—always."

A warning glance from Antonia changed the conversation. There was plenty to tell which touched them mainly on the side of the family, and the Senora listened, with pride which she could not conceal, to the exploits of her husband and sons, though she did not permit herself to confess the feeling. And her heart softened to her children. Without acknowledging the tie between Isabel and Luis, she permitted or was oblivious to the favors it allowed.

Certainly many little formalities could be dispensed with, in a meeting so unexpected and so eventful. When the pleasant impromptu meal was over, even the Senora had eaten and drunk with enjoyment. Then Luis set the table behind them, and they drew closer to the fire, Luis holding Isabel's hand, and Antonia her mother's. The Senora took a cigarette from Luis, and Isabel sometimes put that of Luis between her rosy lips. At the dark, cold midnight they found an hour or two of sweetest consolation. It was indeed hard to weary these three heart-starved women; they asked question after question, and when any brought out the comical side of camp life they forget their pleasure was almost a clandestine one, and laughed outright.

In the very midst of such a laugh, Rachela entered the room. She stood in speechless amazement, gazing with a dark, malicious face upon the happy group. "Senorita Isabel!" she screamed; "but this is abominable! At the midnight also! Who could have believed in such wickedness? Grace of Mary, it is inconceivable!"

She laid her hand roughly on Isabel's shoulder, and Luis removed it with as little courtesy. "You were not called," he said, with the haughty insolence of a Mexican noble to a servant—"Depart."

"My Senora! Listen! You yourself also—you will die. You that are really weak—so broken-hearted—"

Then a miracle occurred. The Senora threw off the nightmare of selfish sorrow and spiritual sentimentality which had held her in bondage. She took the cigarito from her lips with a scornful air, and repeated the words of Luis:

"You were not called. Depart."

"The Senorita Isabel?"

"Is in my care. Her mother's care! do you understand?"

"My Senora, Fray Ignatius—"

"Saints in heaven! But this is intolerable! Go."

Then Rachela closed the door with a clang which echoed through the house. And say as we will, the malice of the wicked is never quite futile. It was impossible after this interruption to recall the happy spirit dismissed by it; and Rachela had the consolation, as she muttered beside the fire in the Senora's room, this conviction. So that when she heard the party breaking up half an hour afterwards, she complimented herself upon her influence.

"Will Jack come and see me soon, and the Senor Doctor?" questioned the Senora, anxiously, as she held the hand of Luis in parting.

"Jack is on a secret message to General Houston. His return advices will find us, I trust, in San Antonio. But until we have taken the city, no American can safely enter it. For this reason, when it was necessary to give Lopez Navarro certain instructions, I volunteered to bring them. By the Virgin of Guadalupe! I have had my reward," he said, lifting the Senora's hand and kissing it.

"But, then, even you are in danger."

"Si! If I am discovered; but, blessed be the hand of God! Luis Alveda knows where he is going, and how to get there."

"I have heard," said the Senora in a hushed voice, "that there are to be no prisoners. That is Santa Anna's order."

"I heard it twenty days ago, and am still suffocating over it."

"Ah, Luis, you do not know the man yet! I heard Fray Ignatius say that."

"We know him well; and also what he is capable of"; and Luis plucked his mustache fiercely, as he bowed a silent farewell to the ladies.

"Holy Maria! How brave he is!" said Isabel, with a flash of pride that conquered her desire to weep. "How brave he is! Certainly, if he meets Santa Anna, he will kill him."

They went very quietly up-stairs. The Senora was anticipating the interview she expected with Rachela, and, perhaps wisely, she isolated herself in an atmosphere of sullen and haughty silence. She would accept nothing from her, not even sympathy or flattery; and, in a curt dismission, managed to make her feel the immeasurable distance between a high-born lady of the house of Flores, and a poor manola that she had taken from the streets of Madrid. Rachela knew the Senora was thinking of this circumstance; the thought was in her voice, and it cowed and snubbed the woman, her nature being essentially as low as her birth.

As for the Senora, the experience did her a world of good. She waited upon herself as a princess might condescend to minister to her own wants—loftily, with a smile at her own complaisance. The very knowledge that her husband was near at hand inspired her with courage. She went to sleep assuring herself "that not even Fray Ignatius should again speak evil of her beloved, who never thought of her except with a loyal affection." For in married life, the wife can sin against love as well as fidelity; and she thought with a sob of the cowardice which had permitted Fray Ignatius to call her dear one "rebel and heretic."

"Santa Dios!" she said in a passionate whisper; "it is not a mortal sin to think differently from Santa Anna"—and then more tenderly—"those who love each other are of the same faith."

And if Fray Ignatius had seen at that moment the savage whiteness of her small teeth behind the petulant pout of her parted lips, he might have understood that this woman of small intelligence had also the unreasoning partisanship and the implacable sense of anger which generally accompanies small intelligence, and which indicates a nature governed by feeling, and utterly irresponsive to reasoning which feeling does not endorse.



CHAPTER VIII. MOTHER AND PRIEST.

. . . . "witness,

When the dark-stoled priestly crew, Came swift trooping where the trumpet Of foul Santa Anna blew." * * * * *

"Rouse thee, Wrath, and be a giant; People's Will, that hath been pliant, Long, too long;

Up, and snap the rusty chaining, Brittle bond for thy restraining, Know the hour, the weak are reigning Thou art strong.

* * * * *

"Rise and right the wrongs of ages; Balance Time's unequal pages With the sword."

It was nearly two o'clock when Don Luis mounted his horse and left the Worth residencia. The storm still raged, the night was dark, the cold intense, but the home of Lopez Navarro was scarce a quarter of a mile away; and he found him waiting his return.

"You have still an hour, Luis. Come in and sit with me."

"As you say; and I wish to show you that I am capable of a great thing. You do not believe me? Well, then give me again my own clothes. I will resign these."

"You are most welcome to them, Luis."

"But no; I am in earnest. The fight is at hand—they are too fine."

"Yes, but I will tell you—I can say anything to you—there is to be a grand day for freedom; well, then, for a festa one puts on the best that is to be got. I will even lend you my Cross of Saint James, if you wish. A young hero should be dressed like a hero. Honor my poor clothes so far as to wear them in the fight."

"Thank you, Lopez. I will not disgrace them"; and he bent forward and looked into his friend's eyes. His glance prolonged his words—went further than speech—went where speech could not reach.

"Listen to me, Luis. As a matter of precision, where now are the Americans?"

"At the mission of Espada."

"La Espada?—the sword—the name is ominous."

"Of success, Lopez."

"Is Houston, then, with you?"

"Until a few days ago. He and General Austin have gone to San Felipe."

"For what? Is not San Antonio the most important point?"

"It was decided by the vote of the army to send them there to frame a provisional government. There are plenty of fighters with us, but not one statesman but Houston. And now it is necessary that we should have legal authority to obtain loans, maintain the army in the field, and many other such things vital to our cause. Austin is to go to the United States. He will bring back men and money. Houston must draw up our declaration and manifestoes; direct the civil government; forward troops; and, in fact, set a new government in motion."

"He is the loadstone in the bosom! [2] I wonder that the Americans permitted that he should leave them."

"He, and he only, was the man to go. Ere he left, he said some strange words. I shall not, as a Mexican, forget them. In the midst of the men he stood like a god, with his great stature, and his bright, strong face. One cannot think of him as of a common mortal. Indeed, I will confess that I could only compare him with the Efreet in the Arabian tale, 'whose nostrils were like trumpets, his eyes like lamps, and who had dishevelled, dust colored hair'"

"But, to proceed; what were the strange words?"

"Thus he spoke, and his voice rang out like a clarion:

"'You will fight as men fight for their homes, and their wives, and their children, but also—remember this—the idea of Texas is in the American heart! Two generations they have carried it there! It is your destiny to make the idea a fact! As far back as eighteen nineteen, Adams wanted Texas. When Adams became president, he told Poinsett to offer Mexico a million of dollars for Texas. Clay would have voted three millions. Van Buren, in eighteen twenty-nine, told Poinsett to offer five millions for Texas. I went to Washington that year, and proposed to revolutionize Texas. I declare to you that the highest men in the land were of my mind. Only last July President Jackson offered an additional half million dollars for the Rio Grande boundary; and Mr. Secretary Forsyth said, justly or unjustly, by hook, or by crook, Texas must become part of our country. We have been longing for it for fifty years! Now, then, brothers-in-arms!' he cried, 'You are here for your homes and your freedom; but, more than that, you are here for your country!' Remember the thousands of Americans who have slipped out of history and out of memory, who have bought this land with their blood! We have held a grip on Texas for fifty years. By the soul of every American who has perished here, I charge you, No Surrender!'

"You should have heard the shout that answered the charge. Jesu, Maria! It made my heart leap to my bosom. And ever since, the two words have filled the air. You could see men catching them on their lips. They are in their eyes, and their walk. Their hands say them. The up-toss of their heads says them. When they go into battle they will see Houston in front of them, and hear him call back 'No surrender!' Mexico cannot hold Texas against such a determined purpose, carried out by such determined men."

Lopez did not answer. He was a melancholy, well-read man, who had travelled, and to whom the idea of liberty was a passion. But the feeling of race was also strong in him, and he could not help regretting that liberty must come to Texas through an alien people—"heretics, too"—he muttered, carrying the thought out aloud. It brought others equally living to him, and he asked, "Where, then, is Doctor Worth?"

"At Espada. The army wished him to go to San Felipe with Houston, but he declined. And we want him most of all, both as a fighter and a physician. His son Thomas went in his place."

"I know not Thomas."

"Indeed, very few know him. He is one that seldom speaks. But his rifle has its word always ready."

"And Jack?"

"Jack also went to San Felipe. He is to bring back the first despatches. Jack is the darling of the camp. Ah, what a happy soul he has! One would think that it had just come from heaven, or was just going there."

"Did you see Senorita Antonia to-night?"

"Si! She is a blessing to the eyesight. So brave a young girl, so sweet, so wise; she is a miracle! If I loved not Isabel with my whole soul, I would kneel at Antonia's feet."

"That is where I also would kneel."

"Hark! how the wind roars, and how the rain thrashes the house! But our men have the shelter of one of the Panchos. You should have heard the padre threaten them with the anger of heaven and hell and General Cos. Good-bye, Lopez. I have stayed my last moment now."

"Your horse has been well fed. Listen, he is neighing for you; to Doctor Worth give my honorable regards. Is Senor Parades with you? and Perez Mexia? Say to them I keep the vow I made in their behalf. Farewell, Luis!" and Luis, who had been mounting as his friend talked, stooped from his saddle and kissed him.

It was just dawn when he reached camp, and he found Doctor Worth waiting his arrival. Fortunately there was nothing but good news for the doctor. Luis had seen everything through the medium of his own happiness, and he described the midnight meal and the Senora's amiability with the utmost freedom from anything unpleasant. Rachela's interference he treated with scornful indifference; and yet it affected Worth's mind unpleasantly. For it went straight to the source of offence. "She must have had Fray Ignatius behind her. And my poor Maria, she will be as dough for them to knead as they desire to!"

And, in fact, as he was thus thinking, the Senora was lying awake in her bed, anticipating her confessor's next visit. She was almost glad the norther was still blowing. It would give her another day's respite; and "so many things happen as the clock goes round," she reflected. Perhaps even her Roberto might arrive; it would not be more wonderful than the visit of Luis Alveda.

But very early in the day she saw the father hurrying up the oleander avenue. The wind tossed his gown, and blew his hat backward and sideways, and compelled him to make undignified haste. And such little things affect the mental poise and mood! The Senora smiled at the funny figure he made; and with the smile came a feeling of resistance to his tyranny, and a stubborn determination to defend her own conduct.

He came into her room with a doleful countenance, saying, as he crossed himself, "God be here!"

"And with you, father," answered the Senora, cheerfully—a mood she had assumed at the last moment, by a kind of instinct.

"There is evil news on every hand my daughter. The heretics are swarming like wolves around the Missions. Several of our holy brothers have endured the last extremity. These wolves will even enter the city, and you will be in danger. I have come to take you to the convent. There, Holy Mary will be your safety."

"But these wolves might attack the convent, father!"

"Our Blessed Lady is stronger than they. She has always kept her own."

"Blessed be the hand of God and Mary! will trust in them. Ah, Antonia! Listen to Fray Ignatius! He says we must go to the convent—the heretics are coming. They have even slain some priests at the Mission."

"Fray Ignatius has been misinformed, dear mother. When a man wears a gown and has no arms Americans do not molest him. That is certain. As for the convent it is impossible. My father forbade it. If the Americans enter the city, he is with them. He will protect us, if we should need it, which is not likely."

"Disobedient one!"

"Pardon. I wish only to obey the commands of my father."

"I absolve you from them."

"They are between God and my soul. There is no absolution from duty."

"Grace of God! Hear you, Senora! Hear you the rebellious and disobedient one! She has defied me to my face! She is near to being anathema! She is not your daughter! She is bewitched. Some evil spirit has possession of her. Let no one touch her or speak to her; it shall be a mortal sin."

Antonia fell at her mother's knee. "Mi madre! I am your daughter, your Antonia, that you carried in your breast, and that loves you better than life. Permit me not to be accused of sin—to be called a devil. Mother, speak for me."

At this moment Isabel entered. Seeing the distress of her mother and sister she hastened to them; but Fray Ignatius stepped between, and extending his arms forbade her nearer approach.

"I forbid you to speak to your sister. I forbid you to touch her, to give her food, or water, or sympathy, until she has humbled herself, and obtained the forgiveness of her sin."

Then mother love stood up triumphant over superstition. "I and my daughter are the same," said the Senora, and she gave her hand to Antonia. "If she has sinned, we will bear the penance together; she and I together."

"I command you to stand apart. For the good of Antonia's sinful soul, I command you to withdraw yourself from her."

"She is my daughter, father. I will bear the sin and the punishment with her. The Holy Mother will understand me. To her I will go."

The door of her room was at hand; she stepped swiftly to it, and putting her daughters before her, passed in and turned the key.

The movement took the priest by surprise, and yet he was secretly satisfied with it. He had permitted himself to act with an imprudence most unusual. He had allowed the Senora to find out her own moral strength, and made a situation for her in which she had acted not only without his support, but against his authority.

"And yet," he muttered, "so much depends upon my persuading her into the convent; however, nothing now is to be done to-day, except to see Rachela. Saint Joseph! if these American heretics were only in my power! What a long joy I would make of them! I would cut a throat—just one throat—every day of my life."

The hatred which could contemplate a vengeance so long drawn out was on his dark face; yet, it is but justice to say, that he sincerely believed it to be a holy hatred. The foes of the church, he regarded as the foes of God; and his anger as a just zeal for the honor of the Lord of Hosts. Beside which, it included a far more tangible cause.

The accumulated treasures of the Missions; their gold and gems, their costly vestments and holy vessels, had been removed to the convent for safety. "These infidels of Americans give to women the honor they should give to God and Holy Church," he said to his brethren. "They will not suffer the Sisters to be molested; and our wealth will be safe wherever they are."

But this wealth was really so immense, that he believed it might be well to secure it still further, and knowing the position Dr. Worth held among his countrymen, he resolved to induce his wife and daughters to seek refuge within the convent. They were, in fact, to be held as hostages, for the protection of the property of the Church.

That he should fail in his plan was intolerable to him. He had been so confident of success. He imagined the smile on the face of Fray Sarapiam, and the warning against self-confidence he would receive from his superior; and he vowed by Saint Joseph that he would not suffer himself to be so mortified by three women.

Had he seen the Senora after the first excitement of her rebellion was over, he would have been satisfied of the validity of his authority, at least as regarded her. She flung herself at the foot of her altar, weeping and beating her breast in a passion of self-accusation and contrition. Certainly, she had stood by her daughter in the presence of the priest; but in her room she withdrew herself from the poor girl as if she were a spiritual leper.

Antonia at a distance watched the self-abasement of her mother. She could not weep, but she was white as clay, and her heart was swollen with a sense of wrong and injustice, until breathing was almost suffocation. She looked with a piteous entreaty at Isabel. Her little sister had taken a seat at the extremity of the room away from her. She watched Antonia with eyes full of terror. But there was no sympathy in her face, only an uncertainty which seemed to speak to her—to touch her—and her mother was broken-hearted with shame and grief.

The anxiety was also a dumb one. Until the Senora rose from her knees, there was not a movement made, not a word uttered. The girls waited shivering with cold, sick with fear, until she spoke. Even then her words were cold as the wind outside:

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