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Remember the Alamo
by Amelia E. Barr
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"Go to your room, Antonia. You have not only sinned; you have made me sin also. Alas! Alas! Miserable mother! Holy Maria! pray for me."

"Mi madre, I am innocent of wrong. I have committed no sin. Is it a sin to obey my father? Isabel, darling, speak for me."

"But, then, what have you done, Antonia?"

"Fray Ignatius wants us to go to the convent. I refused. My father made me promise to do so. Is not our first duty to our father? Mother, is it not?

"No, no; to God—and to Fray Ignatius, as the priest of God. He says we ought to go to the convent. He knows best. We have been disobedient and wicked."

"Isabel, speak, my dear one. Tell mi madre if you think we should go."

There was a moment's wavering, and then Isabel went to her mother and caressed her as only Isabel could caress her, and with the kisses, she said boldly: "Mi madre, we will not go to the convent. Not any of us. It is a dreadful place, even for a happy child. Oh, how cold and still are the Sisters! They are like stone figures that move about."

"Hush, child! I cannot listen to you! Go away! I must be alone. I must think. I must pray. Only the Mother of Sorrows can help me."

It was a miserable sequence to the happy night, and Antonia was really terrified at the position in which she found herself. If the Americans should fall, nothing but flight, or uncompromising submission to Fray Ignatius, remained for her. She knew only too well how miserable her life could be made; what moral torture could be inflicted; what spiritual servitude exacted. In a moment of time she had comprehended her danger, and her heart sank and sickened with a genuine physical terror.

The cold was still severe, and no one answered her call for wood. Isabel crouched, white and shivering, over the dying embers, and it was she who first uttered the fear Antonia had refused to admit to herself—"Suppose the servants are forbidden to wait upon us!"

"I will bring wood myself, dearest." She was greatly comforted by the word "us." She could almost have wept for joy of the sympathy it included. For thought is rapid in such crucial moments, and she had decided that even flight with her would be a kinder fate for Isabel, than the cruel tender mercies of the Sisters and the convent.

They could not talk much. The thought of their mother's anguish, and of the separation put between them and their household, shocked and terrified them. Vainly they called for fuel. At dinner time no table was laid, and no preparations made for the meal. Then Antonia went into the kitchen. She took with her food, and cooked it. She brought wood into the parlor, and made up the fire. Fortunately, her northern education had given her plenty of resources for such emergencies. Two or three savory dishes were soon ready, and the small table set upon a warm, bright hearth.

The Senora had evidently not been included in the ban, for Rachela attended with ostentatious care to her comfort; but Isabel had rolled herself up in a wadded silk coverlet and gone to sleep. Antonia awakened her with a kiss. "Come, queridita, and get your dinner."

"But is it possible? I thought Fray Ignatius had forbidden it."

"He cannot forbid me to wait upon you, my darling one. And he cannot turn the flour into dust, and the meat into stone. There is a good dinner ready; and you are hungry, no doubt."

"For three hours I have been faint. Ah! you have made me a custard also! You are a very comforter."

But the girl was still and sad, and Antonia was hard pressed to find any real comfort for her. For she knew that their only hope lay in the immediate attack of the American force, and its success; and she did not think it wise to hide from her sister the alternatives that lay before them if the Americans failed.

"I am afraid," said Isabel; "and so unhappy. A very sad business is life. I cannot think how any one can care to live."

"Remember Luis, and our father, and Jack, and Thomas, and our dear mother, who this morning stood between us and Fray Ignatius. Will you let this priest turn the sky black above you?"

"And also, men will fight. What for? Who can tell? The Americans want so much of everything. Naturally they do not get all they want. What do they do? Fight, and get killed. Then they go into the next world, and complain of people. As for Luis, I do not expect to see him again."

Fortunately, the norther moderated at sunset. Life then seemed so much more possible. Adverse elements intensify adverse fortune, and the physical suffering from the cold had also benumbed Antonia's spirits, and made her less hopeful and less clear-visioned. But when she awoke at the gray dawn of the next day, she awoke with a different spirit. She had regained herself. She rose quietly, and looked out towards the city. The black flag from the Alamo and the Missions hung above it. She looked at the ominous standards, and then the tears sprang to her eyes; she lifted her face and her hands to heaven, and a few words, swifter than light, sprang from her soul into the ear of the Eternal Father of Spirits.

The answer came with the petition—came with the crack of rifle shots; precise, regular, unceasing.

"Oh God! I thank Thee! Lord of Hosts, Thou art a great multitude! Isabel! Isabel! The Americans are attacking the city! Our father will fight his way back to his home! Fray Ignatius can not come to-day. Oh, I am so happy! So happy! Listen! How the Mexicans are shouting! They are cheering on the men! What a turmoil!"

"Jesu, Maria, have mercy!" cried Isabel, clasping her crucifix and falling upon her knees.

"Oh, Isabel, pray for our father, that his angel may overshadow him with strong wings."

"And Luis?"

"And Luis, and Thomas, and Jack, and Dare. There are prayers for them all, and love enough to make them. Hark! there are the drums, and the trumpets, and the gallop of the cavalry. Come, dearest, let us go to our mother. To day, no one will remember Fray Ignatius."



CHAPTER IX. THE STORMING OF THE ALAMO.

"Now, hearts, Be ribbed with iron for this one attempt: Set ope' your sluices, send the vigorous blood Through every active limb for our relief."

"Now they begin the tragic play, And with their smoky cannon banish day."

"Endure and conquer. God will soon dispose To future good our past and present woes: Resume your courage, and dismiss your care; An hour will come with pleasure to relate Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate."

The Senora was already dressed. She turned with a face full of fear and anger to her daughters as they entered her room—

"These American diablos! They are attacking the city. They will take it—that is to be expected—who can fight diablos? And what is to become of us? Oh, Antonia! Why did you prevent Fray Ignatius? We might now have been safe in the convent", and Rachela nodded her head in assent, with an insufferable air of reproof and toleration.

Antonia saw that the time had not yet come for pleading her own cause. She left Isabel with her mother. The Senora's breakfast was waiting, and she offered to share it with her youngest daughter. Antonia went downstairs to prepare for herself some coffee. She was surprised and pleased to find it made. For a certain thought had come to Molly in the night and she had acted upon it—

"The praist is a strange praist, and almost as black as a nagur; and I'd be a poor body, I think, to let him be meddling wid my work. Shure, I never heard of the like of such interfering in Ireland, nor in the States at all!" Then turning to the Mexican cook, Manuel—"You may lave the fire alone till I bees done wid it."

"Fray Ignatius will not give you absolution if you disobey him."

"He can be kaping the same then. There is an Irish praist at San Patricio, and I'll be going there for my absolution; and I'll be getting none any nearer that an Irish soul will be a pin the better for. I'll say that, standing in the church, to the saints themselves; and so be aff wid you and let the fire alone till I bees done wid it."

But it was not Molly's place to serve the food she cooked, and she did not trouble herself about the serving. When she had asserted her right to control her own work, and do it or neglect it as it seemed good to herself alone, she was satisfied. Over Antonia—who was at least half a Mexican—she acknowledged a Mexican priest to have authority; and she had no intention of interfering between Fray Ignatius and his lawful flock. She was smoking her pipe by the fire when Antonia entered the kitchen, and she neither lifted her eyes nor spoke to her.

Against such unreasonable isolation Antonia could not help a feeling of anger; and she heard with satisfaction the regular crack of the rifles. Her thought was—"They will make these people find their tongues also, very soon." She was exceedingly anxious for information; and, as she ate her roll and drank her coffees she was considering how they could gain it. For even if Fray Ignatius were able to visit them, his report would be colored by his prejudices and his desires, and could not be relied on.

Her heart fluttered and sank; she was hot and cold, sanguine and fearful. She could not endure the idea of a suspense unrelieved by any reliable word. For the siege might be a long one. San Antonio was strongly walled and defended. The Alamo fortress stood in its centre. It had forty-eight cannon, and a garrison of a thousand men. Before it could be reached, the city had to be taken; and the inhabitants would in the main fight desperately for their homes.

As soon as she was alone with her mother, she pointed out these facts to her. "Let me write to Lopez Navarro, mi madre. He is a friend."

"Of the Americans! Si."

"Of freedom. He will send us word."

"Are you forgetful of what is moral and respectable, Antonia? That a young lady should write to Lopez Navarro—a man that is unmarried—is such a thing as never before happened! He would think the world had come to an end, or worse."

"Dear mother! In a time of trouble like this, who would think wrong of us? Surely you might write."

"As you say, Antonia. Tell me, then, who will take the letter."

"The peon Ortiz will take it. This morning he brought in wood and kindled the fire, and I saw in his face the kindness of his heart."

After some further persuasion, the Senora agreed to write; and Ortiz undertook the commission, with a nod of understanding. Then there remained nothing to be done but to listen and to watch. Fortunately, however, Rachela found the centre of interest among the servants in the kitchen; and the Senora and her daughter could converse without espionage.

Just after sunset a letter arrived from Navarro. Rachela lingered in the room to learn its contents. But the Senora, having read them, passed the letter to Antonia and Isabel; and Rachela saw with anger that Antonia, having carefully considered it, threw it into the fire. And yet the news it brought was not unfavorable:

"SENORA MARIA FLORES WORTH:

"I send this on December the fifth, in the year of our Blessed Lord and Lady 1835. It is my honor and pleasure to tell you that the Americans, having performed miracles of valor, reached the Plaza this afternoon. Here the main body of the Mexican troops received them, and there has been severe fighting. At sunset, the Mexicans retreated within the Alamo. The Texans have taken possession of the Veramendi House, and the portion of the city surrounding it. There has been a great slaughter of our poor countrymen. I charge myself whenever I pass the Plaza, to say a paternoster for the souls who fell there. Senora Maria Flores Worth, I kiss your hands. I kiss also the hands of the Senorita Antonia, and the hands of the Senorita Isabel, and I make haste to sign myself, "Your servant, "LOPEZ NAVARRO."

This little confidence between mother and daughters restored the tone of feeling between them. They had something to talk of, personal and exclusive. In the fear and uncertainty, they forgot priestly interdiction and clung to each other with that affection which is the strength of danger and the comforter of sorrow.

On the following day the depression deepened. The sounds of battle were closer at hand. The Mexican servants had an air of insolence and triumph. Antonia feared for the evening's report—if indeed Navarro should be able to send one. She feared more when she saw the messenger early in the afternoon. "Too early is often worse than too late." The proverb shivered upon her trembling lips as she took the letter from him. The three women read it together, with sinking hearts:

"SENORA MARIA FLORES WORTH:

"This on the sixth of December, in the year of our Blessed Lord and Lady 1835. The brave, the illustrious Colonel Milam is dead. I watched him three hours in to-day's fight. A man so calm was inconceivable. He was smiling when the ball struck him—when he fell. The Texans, after his loss, retired to their quarters. This was at the hour of eleven. At the hour of one, the Mexicans made another sortie from the Alamo. The Texans rushed to meet them with an incredible vengeance. Their leader was General Burleson. He showed himself to General Cos in a sheet of flame. Such men are not to be fought. General Cos was compelled to retire to the Alamo. The battle is over for to-day. On this earth the soul has but a mortal sword. The water in the river is red with blood. The Plaza is covered with the dead and the dying. I have the honor to tell you that these 'miserables' are being attended to by the noble, the charitable Senor Doctor Worth. As I write, he is kneeling among them. My soul adores his humanity. I humbly kiss your hands, Senora, and the hands of your exalted daughters. "LOPEZ NAVARRO.

Until midnight this letter furnished the anxious, loving women with an unceasing topic of interest. The allusion to her husband made the Senora weep. She retired to her oratory and poured out her love and her fears in holy salutations, in thanksgivings and entreaties.

The next morning there was an ominous lull in the atmosphere. As men run backward to take a longer leap forward, so both armies were taking breath for a fiercer struggle. In the Worth residencia the suspense was becoming hourly harder to endure. The Senora and her daughters were hardly conscious of the home life around them. In that wonderful folk-speech which so often touches foundation truths, they were not all there. Their nobler part had projected itself beyond its limitations. It was really in the struggle. It mattered little to them now whether food was cooked or not. They were neither hungry nor sleepy. Existence was prayer and expectation.

Just before sunset Antonia saw Don Lopez coming through the garden. The Senora, accompanied by her daughters, went to meet him. His face was perplexed and troubled:

"General Cos has been joined by Ugartechea with three hundred men," he said. "You will see now that the fight will be still more determined."

And before daylight broke on the morning of the 5th, the Americans attacked the Alamo. The black flag waved above them; the city itself had the stillness of death; but for hours the dull roar and the clamorous tumult went on without cessation. The Senora lay upon her bed motionless, with hands tightly locked. She had exhausted feeling, and was passive. Antonia and Isabel wandered from window to window, hoping to see some token which would indicate the course of events.

Nothing was visible but the ferocious flag flying out above the desperate men fighting below it. So black! So cruel and defiant it looked! It seemed to darken and fill the whole atmosphere around it. And though the poor women had not dared to whisper to each other what it said to them, they knew in their own hearts that it meant, if the Americans failed, the instant and brutal massacre of every prisoner.

The husband and father were under its inhuman shadow. So most probably were Darius Grant and Luis Alveda. It was even likely that Jack might have returned ere the fight, and was with the besiegers. Every time they went to the window, it filled their hearts with horror.

In the middle of the afternoon it suddenly disappeared. Antonia watched it breathlessly. Several times before, it had been dropped by some American rifle; but this time it was not as speedily replaced. In a few minutes she uttered a shrill cry. It was in a voice so strained, so piercing, so unlike her own, that the Senora leaped from her bed. Antonia turned to meet her mother with white, parted lips. She was speechless with excess of feeling, but she pointed to the Alamo. The black flag was no longer there! A white one was flying in its place.

"IT IS A SURRENDER!" gasped Antonia. "IT IS A SURRENDER!" and, as if in response to her words, a mighty shout and a simultaneous salute of rifles hailed the emblem of victory.

An hour afterwards a little Mexican boy came running with all his speed. He brought a few lines from Don Lopez. They had evidently been written in a great hurry, and on a piece of paper torn from his pocket-book, but oh! how welcome they were. The very lack of formality gave to them a certain hurry of good fortune:

"May you and yours be God's care for many years to come, Senora! The Mexicans have surrendered the Alamo, and asked for quarter. These noble-minded Americans have given it. The Senor Doctor will bring you good news. I rejoice with you. "LOPEZ NAVARRO."

Death and captivity had been turned away from their home, and the first impulse of these pious, simple-hearted women was a prayer of thanksgiving. Then Antonia remembered the uncomfortable state of the household, and the probable necessities of the men coming back from mortal strife and the shadow of death.

She found that the news had already changed the domestic atmosphere. Every servant was attending to his duty. Every one professed a great joy in the expected arrival of the Senor. And what a happy impetus the hope gave to her own hands! How delightful it was to be once more arranging the evening meal, and brightening the rooms with fire and light!

Soon after dark they heard the swing of the garden gate, the tramp of rapid footsteps, and the high-pitched voices of excited men. The door was flung wide. The Senora forgot that it was cold. She went with outstretched arms to meet her husband. Dare and Luis were with him. They were black with the smoke of battle. Their clothing was torn and bloodstained; the awful light of the fierce struggle was still upon their faces. But they walked like heroes, and the glory of the deeds they had done crowned with its humanity, made them appear to the women that loved them but a little lower than the angels.

Doctor Worth held his wife close to his heart and kissed her tears of joy away, and murmured upon her lips the tenderest words a woman ever hears—the words a man never perfectly learns till he has loved his wife through a quarter of a century of change, and sorrow, and anxiety. And what could Antonia give Dare but the embrace, the kiss, the sweet whispers of love and pride, which were the spontaneous outcome of both hearts?

There was a moment's hesitation on the part of Luis and Isabel. The traditions of caste and country, the social bonds of centuries, held them. But Isabel snapped them asunder. She looked at Luis. His eyes were alight with love for her, his handsome face was transfigured with the nobility of the emotions that possessed him. In spite of his disordered dress, he was incomparably handsome. When he said, "Angel mio!" and bent to kiss her hand, she lifted her lovely face to his, she put her arms around his neck, she cried softly on his breast, whispering sweet little diminutives of affection and pride. Such hours as followed are very rare in this life; and they are nearly always bought with a great price—paid for in advance with sorrow and anxiety, or earned by such faithful watching and patient waiting as touches the very citadel of life.

The men were hungry; they had eaten nothing all day. How delicious was their meal! How happy and merry it made the Senora, and Antonia, and Isabel, to see them empty dish after dish; to see their unaffected enjoyment of the warm room, and bright fire, of their after-dinner coffee and tobacco. There was only one drawback to the joy of the reunion—the absence of Jack.

"His disappointment will be greater than ours," said Jack's father. "To be present at the freeing of his native city, and to bring his first laurels to his mother, was the brightest dream Jack had. But Jack is a fine rider, and is not a very fine marksman; so it was decided to send him with Houston to the Convention. We expected him back before the attack on the city began. Indeed, we were waiting for orders from the Convention to undertake it."

"Then you fought without orders, father?"

"Well, yes, Antonia—in a way. Delays in war are as dangerous as in love. We were surrounded by dragoons, who scoured the country in every direction to prevent our foraging. San Antonio HAD to be taken. Soon done was well done. On the third of December Colonel Milam stepped in front of the ranks, and asked if two hundred of the men would go with him and storm the city. The whole eleven hundred stepped forward, and gave him their hands and their word. From them two hundred of the finest marksmen were selected."

"I have to say that was a great scene, mi Roberto."

"The greater for its calmness, I think. There was no shouting, no hurrahing, no obvious enthusiasm. It was the simple assertion of serious men determined to carry out their object."

"And you stormed San Antonio with two hundred men, father?"

"But every man was a picked man. A Mexican could not show his head above the ramparts and live. We had no powder and ball to waste; and I doubt if a single ball missed its aim."

"A Mexican is like a Highland Scot in one respect," said Dare; "he fights best with steel. They are good cavalry soldiers."

"There are no finer cavalry in the world than the horsemen from Santa Fe, Dare. But with powder and ball Mexicans trust entirely to luck; and luck is nowhere against Kentucky sharpshooters. Their balls very seldom reached us, though we were close to the ramparts; and we gathered them up by thousands, and sent them back with our double-Dupont powder. THEN they did damage enough. In fact, we have taken the Alamo with Mexican balls."

"Under what flag did you fight, Roberto?"

"Under the Mexican republican flag of eighteen twenty-four; but indeed, Maria, I do not think we had one in the camp. We were destitute of all the trappings of war—we had no uniforms, no music, no flags, no positive military discipline. But we had one heart and mind, and one object in view; and this four days' fight has shown what men can do, who are moved by a single, grand idea."

The Senora lay upon a sofa; the doctor sat by her side. Gradually their conversation became more low and confidential. They talked of their sons, and their probable whereabouts; of all that the Senora and her daughters had suffered from the disaffection of the servants; and the attitude taken by Fray Ignatius. And the doctor noticed, without much surprise, that his wife's political sympathies were still in a state of transition and uncertainty. She could not avoid prophesying the speedy and frightful vengeance of Mexico. She treated the success at San Antonio as one of the accidents of war. She looked forward to an early renewal of hostilities.

"My countrymen are known to me, Roberto," she said, with a touch that was almost a hope of vengeance. "They have an insurmountable honor; they will revenge this insult to it in some terrible way. If the gracious Maria holds not the hands of Santa Anna, he will utterly destroy the Americans! He will be like a tiger that has become mad."

"I am not so much afraid of Santa Anna as of Fray Ignatius. Promise me, my dear Maria, that you will not suffer yourself or your children to be decoyed by him into a convent. I should never see you again."

The discussion on this subject was long and eager. Antonia, talking with Dare a little apart, could not help hearing it and feeling great interest in her father's entreaties, even though she was discussing with Dare the plans for their future. For Dare had much to tell his betrothed. During the siege, the doctor had discovered that his intended son-in-law was a fine surgeon. Dare had, with great delicacy, been quite reticent on this subject, until circumstances made his assistance a matter of life and death; and the doctor understood and appreciated the young man's silence.

"He thinks I might have a touch of professional jealousy—he thinks I might suspect him of wanting a partnership as well as a wife; he wishes to take his full share of the dangers of war, without getting behind the shield of his profession"; these feelings the doctor understood, and he passed from Fray Ignatius to this pleasanter topic, gladly.

He told the Senora what a noble son they were going to have; he said, "when the war is over, Maria, my dear, he shall marry Antonia."

"And what do you say, Roberto, if I should give them the fine house on the Plaza that my brother Perfecto left me?"

"If you do that you will be the best mother in the world, Maria. I then will take Dare into partnership. He is good and clever; and I am a little weary of work. I shall enjoy coming home earlier to you. We will go riding and walking, and our courting days will begin again."

"Maria Santissima! How delightful that will be, Roberto! And as for our Isabel, shall we not make her happy also? Luis should have done as his own family have done; a young man to go against his mother and his uncles, that is very wicked! but, if we forgive that fault, well, then, Luis is as good as good bread."

"I think so. He began the study of the law. He must finish it. He must learn the American laws also. I am not a poor man, Maria. I will give Isabel the fortune worthy of a Yturbide or a Flores—a fortune that will make her very welcome to the Alvedas."

The Senora clasped her husband's hand with a smile. They were sweetening their own happiness with making the happiness of their children. They looked first at Antonia. She sat with Dare, earnestly talking to him in a low voice. Dare clasped in his own the dear little hand that had been promised to him. Antonia bent toward her lover; her fair head rested against his shoulder. Isabel sat in a large chair, and Luis leaned on the back of it, stooping his bright face to the lovely one which was sometimes dropped to hide her blushes, and sometimes lifted with flashing eyes to answer his tender words.

"My happiness is so great, Roberto, I am even tired of being happy. Call Rachela. I must go to sleep. To-night I cannot even say an ave."

"God hears the unspoken prayer in your heart, Maria; and to-night let me help you upstairs. My arm is stronger than Rachela's."

She rose with a little affectation of greater weakness and lassitude than she really felt. But she wished to be weak, so that her Roberto might be strong—to be quite dependent on his care and tenderness. And she let her daughters embrace her so prettily, and then offered her hand to Dare and Luis with so much grace and true kindness that both young men were enchanted.

"It is to be seen that they are gentlemen," she said, as she went slowly upstairs on her husband's arm—"and hark! that is the singing of Luis. What is it he says?" They stood still to listen. Clear and sweet were the chords of the mandolin, and melodiously to them Luis was protesting—

"Freedom shall have our shining blades! Our hearts are yours, fair Texan maids!"



CHAPTER X. THE DOCTOR AND THE PRIEST.

"I tell thee, priest, if the world were wise They would not wag one finger in your quarrels: Your heaven you promise, but our earth you covet; The Phaetons of mankind, who fire the world Which you were sent by preaching but to warm."

Your Saviour came not with a gaudy show, Nor was His kingdom of the world below: The crown He wore was of the pointed thorn In purple He was crucified, not born. They who contend for place and high degree Are not His sons, but those of Zebedee." —DRYDEN.

The exalted state of mind which the victorious men had brought home with them did not vanish with sleep. The same heroic atmosphere was in the house in the morning. Antonia's face had a brightness upon it that never yet was the result of mere flesh and blood. When she came into the usual sitting-room, Dare was already there; indeed, he had risen purposely for this hour. Their smiles and glances met each other with an instantaneous understanding. It was the old Greek greeting "REJOICE!" without the audible expression.

Never again, perhaps, in all their lives would moments so full of sweetness and splendor come to them. They were all the sweeter because blended with the homely duties that fell to Antonia's hands. As she went about ordering the breakfast, and giving to the table a festal air, Dare thought of the old Homeric heroes, and the daughters of the kings who ministered to their wants. The bravest of them had done no greater deeds of personal valor than had been done by the little band of American pioneers and hunters with whom he had fought the last four days. The princes among them had been welcomed by no sweeter and fairer women than had welcomed his companions and himself.

And, though his clothing was black with the smoke of the battle and torn with the fray, never had Dare himself looked so handsome. There was an unspeakable radiance in his fair face. The close, brown curls of his hair; his tall figure, supple and strong; his air of youth, and valor, and victory; the love-light in his eyes; the hopes in his heart, made him for the time really more than a mere mortal man. He walked like the demi-gods he was thinking of. The most glorious ideal of life, the brightest dream of love that he had ever had, found in this hour their complete realization.

The Senora did not come down; but Isabel and Luis and the doctor joined the breakfast party. Luis had evidently been to see Lopez Navarro before he did so; for he wore a new suit of dark blue velvet and silver, a sash of crimson silk, the neatest of patent leather shoes, and the most beautifully embroidered linen. Dare gave him a little smile and nod of approbation. He had not thought of fine clothing for himself; but then for the handsome, elegant, Mexican youth it seemed precisely the right thing. And Isabel, in her scarlet satin petticoat, and white embroideries and satin slippers, looked his proper mate. Dare and Antonia, and even the doctor, watched their almost childlike devotion to each other with sympathetic delight.

Oh, if such moments could only last! No, no; as a rule they last long enough. Joy wearies as well as sorrow. An abiding rapture would make itself a sorrow out of our very weakness to bear it. We should become exhausted and exacting, and be irritated by the limitations of our nature, and our inability to create and to endure an increasing rapture. It is because joy is fugitive that it leaves us a delightsome memory. It is far better, then, not to hold the rose until it withers in our fevered hand.

The three women watched their heroes go back to the city. The doctor looked very little older than his companions. He sat his horse superbly, and he lifted his hat to the proud Senora with a loving grace which neither of the young men could excel. In that far back year, when he had wooed her with the sweet words she taught him, he had not looked more manly and attractive. There is a perverse disposition in women to love personal prowess, and to adore the heroes of the battle-field; and never had the Senora loved her husband as she did at that hour.

In his capacity of physician he had done unnoticed deeds of far greater bravery—gone into a Comanche camp that was being devastated by smallpox—or galloped fifty miles; alone in the night, through woods haunted by savage men and beasts, to succor some little child struggling with croup, or some frontiersman pierced with an arrow. The Senora had always fretted and scolded a little when he thus exposed his life. But the storming of the Alamo! That was a bravery she could understand. Her Roberto was indeed a hero! Though she could not bring herself to approve the cause for which he fought, she was as sensitive as men and women always are to victorious valor and a successful cause.

Rachela was in a state of rebellion. Nothing but the express orders of Fray Ignatius, to remain where she was, prevented her leaving the Worths; for the freedom so suddenly given to Isabel had filled her with indignation. She was longing to be in some house where she could give adequate expression to the diabolical temper she felt it right to indulge.

In the afternoon it was some relief to see the confessor coming up the garden. He had resumed his usual deliberate pace. His hands were folded upon his breast. He looked as the mournful Jeremiah may have looked, when he had the burden of a heavy prophecy to deliver.

The Senora sat down with a doggedly sullen air, which Antonia understood very well. It meant, "I am not to be forced to take any way but my own, to-day"; and the wise priest understood her mood as soon as he entered the room. He put behind him the reproof he had been meditating. He stimulated her curiosity; he asked her sympathy. No man knew better than Fray Ignatius, when to assume sacerdotal authority and when to lay it aside.

And the Senora was never proof against the compliment of his personal friendship. The fight, as it affected himself and his brotherhood and the convent, was full of interest to her. She smiled at Brother Servando's childish alarm; she was angry at an insult offered to the venerable abbot; she condoled with the Sisters, wept at the danger that the famous statue of the Virgin de Los Reinedias had been exposed to; and was altogether as sympathetic as he could desire, until her own affairs were mentioned.

"And you also, my daughter? The sword has pierced your heart too, I am sure! To know that your husband and sons were fighting against your God and your country! Holy Mother! How great must have been your grief. But, for your comfort, I tell you that the saints who have suffered a fiery martyrdom stand at the feet of those who, like you, endure the continual crucifixion of their affections."

The Senora was silent, but not displeased and the priest then ventured a little further:

"But there is an end to all trials, daughter and I now absolve you from the further struggle. Decide this day for your God and your country. Make an offering to Almighty God and the Holy Mother of your earthly love. Give yourself and your daughters and all that you have to the benign and merciful Church. Show these rebels and heretics—these ungrateful recipients of Mexican bounty—what a true Catholic is capable of. His Divine Majesty and the Holy Mary demand this supreme sacrifice from you."

"Father, I have my husband, and my sons; to them, also, I owe some duties."

"The Church will absolve you from them."

"It would break my heart."

"Listen then: If it is your right hand, or your right eye—that is, if it is your husband, or your child—you are commanded to give them up; or—it is God's word—there is only hell fire."

"Mother of Sorrows, pity me! What shall I do?"

She looked with the terror of a child into the dark, cruel face of the priest. It was as immovably stern as if carved out of stone. Then her eyes sought those of Antonia, who sat at a distant window with her embroidery in her hand. She let it fall when her mother's pitiful, uncertain glance asked from her strength and counsel. She rose and went to her. Never had the tall, fair girl looked so noble. A sorrowful majesty, that had something in it of pity and something of anger, gave to her countenance, her movements, and even her speech, a kind of authority.

"Dear mother, do as the beloved and kindhearted Ruth did. Like you, she married one not of her race and not of her religion. Even when God had taken him from her, she chose to remain with his people—to leave her own people and abide with his mother. For this act God blessed her, and all nations in all ages have honored her."

"Ruth! Ruth! Ruth! What has Ruth to do with the question? Presumptuous one! Ruth was a heathen woman—a Moabite—a race ten times accursed."

"Pardon, father. Ruth was the ancestress of our blessed Saviour, and of the Virgin Mary."

"Believe not the wicked one, Senora? She is blinded with false knowledge. She is a heretic. I have long suspected it. She has not been to confession for nine months."

"You wrong me, father. Every day, twice a day, I confess my sins humbly."

"Chito! You are in outrageous sin. But, then, what else? I hear, indeed, that you read wicked books—even upon your knees you read them."

"I read my Bible, father."

"Bring it to me. How could a child like you read the Bible? It is a book for bishops and archbishops, and the Immaculate Father himself. What an arrogance? What an insolence of self-conceit must possess so young a heart? Saints of God! It confounds me."

The girl stood with burning cheeks gazing at the proud, passionate man, but she did not obey his order.

"Senora, my daughter! See you with your own eyes the fruit of your sin. Will you dare to become a partner in such wickedness?"

"Antonia! Antonia! Go at once and bring here this wicked book. Oh, how can you make so miserable a mother who loves you so much?"

In a few moments Antonia returned with the objectionable book. "My dear grandmother gave it to me," she said. "Look, mi madre, here is my name in her writing. Is it conceivable that she would give to your Antonia a book that she ought not to read?"

The Senora took it in her hands and turned the leaves very much as a child might turn those of a book in an unknown tongue, in which there were no illustrations nor anything that looked the least interesting. It was a pretty volume of moderate size, bound in purple morocco, and fastened with gilt clasps.

"I see the word GOD in it very often, Fray Ignatius. Perhaps, indeed, it is not bad."

"It is a heretic Bible, I am sure. Could anything be more sinful, more disrespectful to God, more dangerous for a young girl?" and as he said the words he took it from the Senora's listless hands, glanced at the obnoxious title-page, and then, stepping hastily to the hearth, flung the book upon the burning logs.

With a cry of horror, pain, amazement, all blended, Antonia sprang towards the fire, but Fray Ignatius stood with outstretched arms, before it.

"Stand back!" he cried. "To save your soul from eternal fires, I burn the book that has misled you!"

"Oh, my Bible! Oh, my Bible! Oh, mother! mother!" and sobbing and crying out in her fear and anger, she fled down stairs and called the peon Ortiz.

"Do you know where to find the Senor Doctor? If you do, Ortiz, take the swiftest horse and bring him here."

The man looked with anger into the girl's troubled face. For a moment he was something unlike himself. "I can find him; I will bring him in fifteen minutes. Corpus Christi it is here he should be."

The saddled horse in the stable was mounted as he muttered one adjuration and oath after another, and Antonia sat down at the window to watch for the result of her message. Fortunately, Rachela had been so interested in the proceedings, and so determined to know all about them, that she seized the opportunity of the outcry to fly to "her poor Senora," and thus was ignorant of the most unusual step taken by Antonia.

Indeed, no one was aware of it but herself and Ortiz; and the servants in the kitchen looked with a curious interest at the doctor riding into the stable yard as if his life depended upon his speed. Perhaps it did. All of them stopped their work to speculate upon the circumstance.

They saw him fling himself from the saddle they saw Antonia run to meet him; they heard her voice full of distress—they knew it was the voice of complaint. They were aware it was answered by a stamp on the flagged hall of the doctor's iron-heeled boot—which rang through the whole house, and which was but the accompaniment of the fierce exclamation that went with it.

They heard them mount the stairs together, and then they were left to their imaginations. As for Antonia, she was almost terrified at the storm she had raised. Never had she seen anger so terrible. Yet, though he had not said a word directly to her, she was aware of his full sympathy. He grasped her hand, and entered the Senora's room with her. His first order was to Rachela—

"Leave the house in five minutes; no, in three minutes. I will tell Ortiz to send your clothes after you. Go!"

"My Senora! Fray I—"

"Go!" he thundered. "Out of my house! Fly! I will not endure you another moment."

The impetus of his words was like a great wind. They drove the woman before him, and he shut the door behind her with a terrifying and amazing rage. Then he turned to the priest—

"Fray Ignatius, you have abused my hospitality, and my patience. You shall do so no longer. For twenty-six years I have suffered your interference-"

"The Senor is a prudent man. The wise bear what they cannot resist"; and with a gentle smile and lifted eyebrows Fray Ignatius crossed himself.

"I have respected your faith, though it was the faith of a bigot; and your opinions, though they were false and cruel, because you believed honestly in them. But you shall not again interfere with my wife, or my children, or my servants, or my house."

"The Senor Doctor is not prince, or pope. 'Shall,' and 'SHALL NOT,' no one but my own ecclesiastical superiors can say to me."

"I say, you shall not again terrify my wife and insult my daughter, and disorganize my whole household! And, as the God of my mother hears me, you shall not again burn up His Holy Word under my roof. Never, while I dwell beneath it, enter my gates, or cross my threshold, or address yourself to any that bear my name, or eat my bread." With the words, he walked to the door and held it open. It was impossible to mistake the unspoken order, and there was something in the concentrated yet controlled passion of Robert Worth which even the haughty priest did not care to irritate beyond its bounds.

He gathered his robe together, and with lifted eyes muttered an ejaculatory prayer. Then he said in slow, cold, precise tones:

"For the present, I go. Very good. I shall come back again. The saints will take care of that. Senora, I give you my blessing. Senor, you may yet find the curse of a poor priest an inconvenience."

He crossed himself at the door, and cast a last look at the Senora, who had thrown herself upon her knees, and was crying out to Mary and the saints in a passion of excuses and reproaches. She was deaf to all her husband said. She would not suffer Antonia to approach her. She felt that now was the hour of her supreme trial. She had tolerated the rebellion of her husband, and her sons, and her daughter, and now she was justly punished. They had driven away from her the confessor, and the maid who had been her counsellor and her reliance from her girlhood.

Her grief and terror were genuine, and therefore pitiful; and, in spite of his annoyance, the doctor recognized the fact. In a moment, as soon as they were alone, he put aside his anger. He knelt beside her, he soothed her with tender words, he pleaded the justice of his indignation. And ere long she began to listen to his excuses, and to complain to him:

He had been born a heretic, and therefore might be excused a little, even by Almighty God. But Antonia! Her sin was beyond endurance. She herself, and the good Sisters, and Fray Ignatius, had all taught her in her infancy the true religion. And her Roberto must see that this was a holy war—a war for the Holy Catholic Church. No wonder Fray Ignatius was angry.

"My dear Maria, every church thinks itself right; and all other churches wrong. God looks at the heart. If it is right, it makes all worship true. But when the Americans have won Texas, they will give to every one freedom to worship God as they wish."

"Saints in heaven, Roberto! That day comes not. One victory! Bah! That is an accident. The Mexicans are a very brave people,—the bravest in the world. Did they not drive the Spaniards out of their country; and it is not to be contradicted that the Spaniards have conquered all other nations. That I saw in a book. The insult the Americans have given to Mexico will be revenged. Her honor has been compromised before the world. Very well, it will be made bright again; yes, Fray Ignatius says with blood and fire it will be made bright."

"And in the mean time, Maria, we have taken from them the city they love best of all. An hour ago I saw, General Cos, with eleven hundred Mexican soldiers, pass before a little band of less than two hundred Americans and lay down their arms. These defenders of the Alamo had all been blessed by the priests. Their banners had been anointed with holy oil and holy water. They had all received absolution everyday before the fight began; they had been promised a free passage through purgatory and a triumphant entry into heaven."

"Well, I will tell you something; Fray Ignatius showed it to me—it was a paper printed. The rebels and their wives and children are to be sent from this earth—you may know where they will all go, Roberto—Congress says so. The States will give their treasures. The archbishops will give the episcopal treasures. The convents will give their gems and gold ornaments. Ten thousand men had left for San Antonio, and ten thousand more are to follow; the whole under our great President Santa Anna. Oh, yes! The rebels in Washington are to be punished also. It is well known that they sent soldiers to Nacogdoches. Mexicans are not blind moles, and they have their intelligence, you know. All the States who have helped these outrageous ingrates are to be devastated, and you will see that your famous Washington will be turned into a heap of stories. I have seen these words in print, Roberto. I assure you, that it is not just a little breath—what one or another says—it is the printed orders of the Mexican government. That is something these Americans will have to pay attention to."

The doctor sighed, and answered the sorrowful, credulous woman with a kiss. What was the use of reasoning with simplicity so ignorant and so confident? He turned the conversation to a subject that always roused her best and kindest feelings—her son Jack.

"I have just seen young Dewees, Maria. He and Jack left San Felipe together. Dewees brought instructions to General Burleson; and Jack carried others to Fannin, at Goliad."

She took her husband's hands and kissed them. "That indeed! Oh, Roberto! If I could only see my Jack once more! I have had a constant accusation to bear about him. Till I kiss my boy again, the world will be all dark before my face. If Our Lady will grant me this miraculous favor, I will always afterwards be exceedingly religious. I will give all my desires to the other world."

"Dearest Maria, God did not put us in this world to be always desiring another. There is no need, mi queridita, to give up this life as a bad affair. We shall be very happy again, soon.

"As you say. If I could only see Jack! For that, I would promise God Almighty and you Roberto to be happy. I would forgive the rebels and the heretics—for they are well acquainted with hell road, and will guide each other there without my wish."

"I am sure if Jack has one day he will come to you. And when he hears of the surrender of General Cos—"

"Well now, it was God's will that General Cos should surrender. What more can be said? It is sufficient."

"Let me call Antonia. She is miserable at your displeasure; and it is not Antonia's fault."

"Pardon me, Roberto. I have seen Antonia. She is not agreeable and obedient to Fray Ignatius."

"She has been very wickedly used by him; and I fear he intends to do her evil."

"It is not convenient to discuss the subject now. I will see Isabel; she is a good child—my only comfort. Paciencia! there is Luis Alveda singing; Isabel will now be deaf to all else"; and she rose with a sigh and walked towards the casement looking into the garden.

Luis was coming up the oleander walk. The pretty trees were thinner now, and had only a pink blossom here and there. But the bright winter sun shone through them, and fell upon Luis and Isabel. For she had also seen him coming, and had gone to meet him, with a little rainbow-tinted shawl over her head. She looked so piquant and so happy. She seemed such a proper mate for the handsome youth at her side that a word of dissent was not possible. The doctor said only, "She is so like you, Maria. I remember when you were still more lovely, and when from your balcony you made me with a smile the happiest man in the world."

Such words were never lost ones; for the Senora had a true and great love for her husband. She gave him again a smile, she put her hand in his, and then there were no further conciliations required. They stood in the sunshine of their own hearts, and listened a moment to the gay youth, singing, how at—

The strong old Alamo Two hundred men, with rifles true, Shot down a thousand of the foe, And broke the triple ramparts through; And dropped the flag as black as night, For Freedom's green and red and white.[3]



CHAPTER XI. A HAPPY TRUCE.

"Well, honor is the subject of my story; I cannot tell what you and other men Think of this life; but for my single self, I had as lief not be, as live to be In awe of such a thing as I myself."

"Two truths are told As happy prologues to the swelling act, Of the imperial theme."

"This is the eve of Christmas, No sleep from night to morn; The Virgin is in travail, At twelve will the Child be born."

Cities have not only a certain physiognomy; they have also a decided mental and moral character, and a definite political tendency. There are good and bad cities, artistic and commercial cities, scholarly and manufacturing cities, aristocratic and radical cities. San Antonio, in its political and social character, was a thoroughly radical city. Its population, composed in a large measure of adventurous units from various nationalities, had that fluid rather than fixed character, which is susceptible to new ideas. For they were generally men who had found the restraints of the centuries behind them to be intolerable—men to whom freedom was the grand ideal of life.

It maybe easily undertood{sic} that this element in the population of San Antonio was a powerful one, and that a little of such leaven would stir into activity a people who, beneath the crust of their formal piety, had still something left of that pride and adventurous spirit which distinguished the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabel.

In fact, no city on the American continent has such a bloody record as San Antonio. From its settlement by the warlike monks of 1692, to its final capture by the Americans in 1836, it was well named "the city of the sword." The Comanche and the white man fought around its walls their forty years' battle for supremacy. From 1810 to 1821 its streets were constantly bloody with the fight between the royalists and republicans, and the city and the citadel passed from, one party to the other continually. And when it came to the question of freedom and American domination, San Antonio was, as it had ever been, the great Texan battle-field.

Its citizens then were well used to the fortunes and changes of war. Men were living who had seen the horrors of the auto da fe and the splendors of viceregal authority. Insurgent nobles, fighting priests, revolutionizing Americans, all sorts and conditions of men, all chances and changes of religious and military power, had ruled it with a temporary absolutism during their generation.

In the main there was a favorable feeling regarding its occupation by the Americans. The most lawless of them were law-abiding in comparison with any kind of victorious Mexicans. Americans protected private property, they honored women, they observed the sanctity of every man's home; "and, as for being heretics, that was an affair for the saints and the priests; the comfortable benefits of the Holy Catholic Church, had not been vouchsafed to all nations."

Political changes are favorable to religious tolerance, and the priests themselves had been sensible of a great decrease in their influence during the pending struggle. Prominent Mexicans had given aid and comfort to the Americans in spite of their spiritual orders, and there were many men who, like Lopez Navarro, did not dare to go to confession, because they would have been compelled to acknowledge themselves rebels.

When the doctor and Dare and Luis reached the Plaza, the morning after the surrender, they found the city already astir. Thousands of women were in the churches saying masses for the dead; the men stood at their store doors or sat smoking on their balconies, chatting with the passers-by or watching the movements of the victorious army and the evacuation of the conquered one.

Nearly all of the brave two hundred occupied the Plaza. They were still greatly excited by the miraculous ecstacy of victory. But when soldiers in the death-pang rejoice under its influence, what wonder that the living feel its intoxicating rapture? They talked and walked as if they already walked the streets of Mexico. All things seemed possible to them. The royalty of their carriage, the authority in their faces, gave dignity even to their deerskin clothing. Its primitive character was its distinction, and the wearers looked like the demi-gods of the heroic stage of history.

Lopez Navarro touched the doctor and directed his attention to them. "Does the world, Senor, contain the stuff to make their counterparts?"

"They are Americans, Navarro. And though there are a variety of Americans, they have only one opinion about submitting to tyrants—THEY WON'T DO IT!"

This was the conversation interrupted by Ortiz and the message he brought, and the doctor was thoroughly sobered by the events following. He was not inclined to believe, as the majority of the troops did, that Mexico was conquered. He expected that the Senora's prediction would be verified. And the personal enmity which the priesthood felt to him induced a depressing sense of personal disaster.

Nothing in the house or the city seemed inclined to settle. It took a few days to draw up the articles of capitulation and clear the town of General Cos and the Mexican troops. And he had no faith in their agreement to "retire from Texas, and never again carry arms against the Americans." He knew that they did not consider it any sin to make "a mental reservation" against a heretic. He was quite sure that if Cos met reinforcements, he would have to be fought over again immediately.

And amid these public cares and considerations, he had serious private ones. The Senora was still under the control of Fray Ignatius. It required all the influence of his own personal presence and affection to break the spiritual captivity in which he held her. He knew that the priest had long been his enemy.

He saw that Antonia was hated by him. He was in the shadow of a terror worse than death—that of a long, hopeless captivity. A dungeon and a convent might become to them a living grave, in which cruelty and despair would slowly gnaw life away.

And yet, for a day or two he resolved not to speak of his terror. The Senora was so happy in his presence, and she had such kind confidences to give him about her plans for her children's future, that he could not bear to alarm her. And the children also were so full of youth's enthusiasms and love's sweet dreams. Till the last moment why should he awaken them? And as the strongest mental element in a home gives the tone to it, so Dare and Antonia, with the doctor behind them, gave to the Mexican household almost an American freedom of intercourse and community of pleasure.

The Senora came to the parlor far more frequently, and in her own apartments her children visited her with but slight ceremony. They discussed all together their future plans. They talked over a wonderful journey which they were to take in company to New Orleans, and Washington, and New York, and perhaps even to London and Paris—"who could tell, if the Senora would be so good as to enjoy herself?" They ate more together. They got into the habit of congregating about the same hearthstone. It was the Senora's first real experience of domestic life.

In about six days the Mexican forces left the city. The terms of surrender granted General Cos struck the Mexicans with a kind of wonder. They had fought with the express declaration that they would take no American prisoner. Yet the Americans not only permitted Cos and his troops to leave under parole of honor, but gave them their arms and sufficient ammunition to protect themselves from the Indians on their journey home. They allowed them also all their private property. They furnished them with the provisions necessary to reach the Rio Grande. They took charge of their sick and wounded. They set all the Mexican prisoners at liberty—in short, so great was their generosity and courtesy that the Mexicans were unable to comprehend their motives.

Even Lopez was troubled at it. "I assure you," he said to Dr. Worth, "they will despise such civility; they will not believe in its sincerity. At this very blessed hour of God, they are accusing the Americans of being afraid to press their advantage. Simply, you will have the fight to make over again. I say this, because I know Santa Anna."

"Santa Anna is but a man, Lopez."

"Me perdonas! He is however a man who knows a trick more than the devil. One must be careful of a bull in front, of a mule behind, and of a monk and Santa Anna on all sides. At the word monk, Lopez glanced significantly at a passing priest, and Doctor Worth saw that it was Fray Ignatius.

"He sprinkled the Mexican troops with holy water, and blessed them as they left the city this morning. He has the ear of General Cos. He is not a man to offend, I assure you, Doctor."

The doctor walked thoughtfully away. San Antonio was full of his friends, yet never had he felt himself and his family to be in so much danger. And the words of Lopez had struck a responding chord in his own consciousness. The careless bravery, the splendid generosity of his countrymen was at least premature. He went through the city with observing eyes, and saw much to trouble him.

The gates of Alamo were open. Crockett lounged upon his rifle in the Plaza. A little crowd was around him, and the big Tennesseean hunter was talking to them. Shouts of laughter, bravas of enthusiasm, answered the homely wit and stirring periods that had over and over "made room for Colonel Crockett," both in the Tennessee Legislature and the United States Congress. His rifle seemed a part of him—a kind of third arm. His confident manner, his manliness and bravery, turned his wit into wisdom. The young fellows around found in him their typical leader.

The elegant James Bowie was sitting on the verandah of the Veramendi House, calmly smoking. His fair, handsome face, clear blue eyes and mild manners, gave no indication of the gigantic physical strength and tremendous coolness and courage of the man who never tolerated an enemy in his presence. Burleson and Travis were talking under the shade of a China tree, and there were little groups of American soldiers on every street; this was what he saw, and yet a terrible sense of insecurity oppressed him.

The city, moreover, was not settling to its usual business, though there were many preparations for public and private entertainments. After passing Colonel Bowie, he met David Burnett. The shrewd statesman from New Jersey had a shadow upon his face. He stopped Doctor Worth and spoke frankly to him. "We are in greater danger now than when we were under fire," he said. "Santa Anna will come on us like a lion from the swellings of Jordan. I wish Houston knew our position as it really is. We must either have more men to defend this city or we must blow up the Alamo and be ready to leave it at a moment's notice."

"Why were such favorable terms given to General Cos and his troops? I cannot understand it."

"I will tell you an amazing fact. When Cos ran up that white flag on the Alamo, we had not a single round of ammunition left; complaisance was necessary until Cos made over to us the Mexican arms, ammunition, property and money."

Worth turned and looked at the fort. A great red flag on which was the word T-E-X-A-S floated from its battlements, and there were two men standing on its roof, with their faces westward.

"They are the lookouts," said Burnett, "and we have scouts through the surrounding country; but Santa Anna will come, when he comes, with tens of thousands."

"And there is a line where even the coolest courage and the most brilliant bravery succumbs to mere numbers—Eh!"

"That is what I mean, Doctor."

"Where is Houston?"

"On the Brazos, at the small town of Washington. The council have established headquarters there."

Their conversation was interrupted by the ringing of a little bell, and the doleful supplications of a priest followed by a crowd of idle men and women. He was begging, "for the sake of the Holy Virgin," alms to say masses for the soul of an unfortunate, who had not left a peso for his burial. He droned on, and no one noticed him until James Bowie stretched his tall figure, sauntered up to the monk and dropped a gold piece into his cap. He did not stay to hear the exclamations and the gracias, but with steps that rang like metal upon metal took his way to the Alamo.

However, dangers postponed make the most timorous indifferent to them; and when General Cos did not return, and nothing was heard of Santa Anna, every one began to take up their ordinary life again. The temper of the Americans also encouraged this disposition. They were discovered neither to be bloodthirsty nor cannibals. It was even seen that they enjoyed the fandango and the monte tables, and that a proposition for a bullfight at Christmas was not opposed by them.

And in spite of all anxieties, there were many sweet and unusual pleasures in the Worth home. The discipline of the troops was so lenient that Dare and Luis—one or both—were generally there in the evenings. Their turns as scouts or watchman at the Alamo only made more delightful the hours when they were exempted from these duties. As for the doctor, he had been released from all obligations but those pertaining to his profession, and Antonia, noticed that he spent every hour he could spare with the Senora. For some reason, he appeared determined to strengthen his influence over her.

On Christmas Eve the old city was very gay. The churches were decorated, and splendidly dressed men and women passed in and out with smiles and congratulations. The fandangoes and the gambling houses were all open. From the huertas around, great numbers of families had come to receive absolution and keep the Nativity. Their rich clothing and air of idleness gave a holiday feeling to the streets noisy with the buzzing of the guitar, the metallic throb of the cithara, the murmurs of voices, and the cries of the hawkers. Priests, Mexicans, Indians and Americans touched each other on the narrow thoroughfares, but that indescribable feeling of good will which comes with Christmas pervaded the atmosphere, and gave, even in the midst of war and danger, a sense of anticipated pleasure.

At the Worth residence there was a household feast. The Senora and her daughters were in full dress. They were waiting for the dear ones who had promised to join them at the Angelus. One by one the houses around were illuminated. Parties of simple musicians began to pass each other continually—they were going to serenade the blessed Mary all night long. As Antonia closed the balcony window, half a dozen of these young boys passed the garden hedge singing to the clacking of their castanets—

"This is the eve of Christmas, No sleep from night to morn, The Virgin is in travail, At twelve will the Child be born."

Luis appeared at the same moment. He caught up the wild melody and came up the garden path singing it. Dare and the doctor followed him. It struck Antonia that they were talking of a change, or of something important. But there was no time for observation. Isabel, radiant in crimson satin, with her white mantilla over her head, darted forward to meet Luis, and turned his song to the Virgin into a little adulation for herself. Dare and the doctor took Antonia's hands, and there was something in the silent clasp of each which made her heart tremble.

But she was not one of those foolish women who enquire after misfortune. She could wait and let the evil news find her, and by so doing she won many a bright hour from the advancing shadows. The Senora was in unusual spirits. She had obtained a new confessor. "A man of the most seraphic mind, and, moreover, so fortunate as to be connected with the house of Flores." He had been gentle to her in the matter of penances, and not set her religious obligations above her capacities. Consequently, the Senora had laid aside her penitential garments. She was in full Castilian costume, and looked very handsome. But Antonia, who had been in New York during those years when she would otherwise have been learning how to wear a mantilla and use a fan, did not attempt such difficulties of the toilet. She knew that she would look unnatural in them, and she adhered to the American fashions of her day. But in a plain frock of dark satin trimmed with minever bands, she looked exceedingly noble and lovely.

The meal was a very merry one, and after it Lopez Navarro joined the party and they had music and dancing, and finally gathered around the fire to hear the singing of Luis. He knew a great many of the serenades, and as he sang of the Virgin and the Babe, a sweeter peace, a more solemn joy, came to each heart. It was like bringing something of the bliss of heaven into the bliss of earth. The Senora's eyes were full of tears; she slipped her hand into her husband's and looked at him with a face which asked, "Do you not also feel the eternity of a true love?"

"How sweet and wild are these serenades, Luis!" said Antonia. "I wonder who wrote them?"

"But, then, they were never written, my sister. Out of the hearts of lonely shepherds they came; or of women spinning in their quiet houses; yes, even of soldiers in the strong places keeping their watch."

"That is the truth, Luis," answered Isabel. "And every Christmas, when I was in the convent the Sisters made a serenade to the Virgin, or a seguidilla to our blessed Lord. Very still are the Sisters, but when it comes to singing, I can assure you the angels might listen!"

"There is a seguidilla I hear everywhere," said the doctor; "and I never hear it without feeling the better for listening. It begins—'So noble a Lord.'"

"That, indeed!" cried Luis. "Who knows it not? It is the seguidilla to our blessed Lord, written by the daughter of Lope de Vega—the holy Marcela Carpio. You know it, Senora?"

"As I know my Credo, Luis."

"And you, Isabel?"

"Since I was a little one, as high as my father's knee. Rachela taught it to me."

"And you, Lopez."

"That is sure, Luis."

"And I, too!" said Antonia, smiling. "Here is your mandolin. Strike the chords, and we will all sing with you. My father will remember also." And the doctor smiled an assent, as the young man resigned Isabel's hand with a kiss, and swept the strings in that sweetness and power which flows invisibly, but none the less surely, from the heart to the instrument.

"It is to my blessed Lord and Redeemer, I sing," he said, bowing his head. Then he stood up and looked at his companions, and struck the key-note, when every one joined their voices with his in the wonderful little hymn:

So noble a Lord None serves in vain; For the pay of my love Is my love's sweet pain.

In the place of caresses Thou givest me woes; I kiss Thy hands, When I feel their blows.

For in Thy chastening, Is joy and peace; O Master and Lord! Let thy blows not cease.

I die with longing Thy face to see And sweet is the anguish Of death to me.

For, because Thou lovest me, Lover of mine! Death can but make me Utterly Thine!

The doctor was the first to speak after the sweet triumph of the notes had died away. "Many a soul I have seen pass whispering those verses," he said; "men and women, and little children."

"The good Marcela in heaven has that for her joy," answered Luis.

Lopez rose while the holy influence still lingered. He kissed the hands of every one, and held the doctor's in his own until they reached the threshold. A more than usual farewell took place there, though there were only a few whispered words.

"Farewell, Lopez! I can trust you?"

"Unto death."

"If we never meet again?"

"Still it will be FAREWELL. Thou art in God's care."

Very slowly the doctor sauntered back to the parlor, like a man who has a heavy duty to, do and hardly knows how to begin it. "But I will tell Maria first," he whispered; and then he opened the door, and saw the Senora bidding her children good-night.

"What a happy time we have had!" she was saying. "I shall never forget it. Indeed, my dears, you see how satisfactory it is to be religious. When we talk of the saints and angels, they come round us to listen to what we say; accordingly, we are full of peace and pleasure. I know that because I heard Fray—I heard a very good man say so."

She smiled happily at her husband, as she took his arm, and twice, as they went slowly upstairs together, she lifted her face for his kiss. Her gentleness and affection made it hard for him to speak; but there were words to be said that could be no longer delayed; and when he had closed the room door, he took her hands in his, and looked into her face with eyes that told her all.

"You are going away, Roberto," she whispered.

"My love! Yes! To-night—this very hour I must go! Luis and Dare also. Do not weep. I entreat you! My heart is heavy, and your tears I cannot bear."

Then she answered, with a noble Composure: "I will give you smiles and kisses. My good Roberto, so true and kind! I will try to be worthy of you. Nay, but you must not weep—Roberto!"

It was true. Quite unconsciously the troubled husband and father was weeping. "I fear to leave you, dear Maria. All is so uncertain. I can only ask you two favors; if you will grant them, you will do all that can be done to send me away with hope. Will you promise me to have nothing to do whatever with Fray Ignatius; and to resist every attempt he may make to induce you to go into a religious house of any kind?"

"I promise you, Roberto. By my mother's cross, I promise you!"

"Again, dear Maria, if you should be in any danger, promise me that you will do as Antonia and Lopez Navarro think it wisest and best."

"Go with God, my, husband. Go with God, in a good hour. All you wish, I will do."

He held her to his heart and kissed her, and she whispered amid her tender farewells to himself, messages to her soils—but especially to Juan. "Will you see Juan? If you do, tell him I repent. I send him a thousand blessings! Ah, the dear one! Kiss him for me, Roberto! Tell him how much I love him, Roberto! How I sorrow because I was cross to him! My precious one! My good son, who always loved me so dearly!"

At length Isabel came in to weep in her mother's arms. "Luis is going away," she cried. The father felt a momentary keen pang of jealousy. "I am going also, queridita," he said mournfully. Then she threw her arms around his neck and bewailed her bad fortune. "If I were the Almighty God, I would not give love and then take it away," she murmured. "I would give orders that the good people should always be happy. I would not let men like Santa Anna live. He is a measureless monster, and ought to go to the d—to purgatory, at the very least."

While the Senora soothed her complaining, the doctor left. One troubled glance of a great love he cast backward from the door ere he closed it behind him; and then his countenance suddenly changed. Stern and strong it grew, with a glow of anger in the steel-blue eyes that gave an entirely new character to it.

He called Antonia into his study, and talked with her of the crisis which was approaching, and of the conduct of their affairs in it. He showed her the places in which his gold coin was hidden. He told her on whom to rely in any emergency.

"We have sure information that General Urrea, with the vanguard of a large Mexican army, will be here next month. Santa Anna will follow him quickly. You see that the city must either be defended or our men must retreat. I am going to Houston with this dilemma. Luis and Dare will join Fannin at Goliad. Now, my dear child, you have my place to fill. If Santa Anna takes possession of San Antonio, what will you do?"

"If we are not disturbed in any way, I will keep very quiet within my own home."

"If Fray Ignatius attempts to interfere with you—what then?"

"I will fly from him, and take Isabel and mi madre with me."

"That is your only safety. I shall hear if the Americans desert the city; then I will send your brother Thomas, if by any possibility it can be done, to guard you to the eastern settlements. But I may not be able to do this—there may be no time—it cannot be depended upon—Lopez Navarro will help you all he can, and Ortiz. You may always rely on Ortiz."

"My father, I cannot trust Ortiz. Every man is a master to a peon. He would mean to do kindly, but his cowardice might make him false."

"Ortiz is no peon. He is a Mexican officer of high rank, whom Santa Anna ordered to be shot. I saved his life. He wears the clothes of a peon—that is necessary; but he has the honor and gratitude of a gentleman beneath them. If necessary, trust Ortiz fully. One thing above all others remember—FLIGHT before a convent."

"Flight! Yes, death before it! I promise you, father. When we meet again, you shall say, well done, Antonia."

It was now about midnight. They went back to the parlor. Luis and Dare sat by the dying fire. They were bent forward, close together over it, talking in a low voice. They rose when the doctor spoke, and silently kissed Antonia.

"It will be a hard ride, now," said the doctor, and Dare answered, mechanically, "but we shall manage it." He held Antonia's hand, and she went with them to the rear of the house. Their horses were standing ready saddled. Silently the men mounted. In a moment they had passed the gate, and the beat of their horses' hoofs gradually died away.

But all through the clear spaces of the sky the Christmas bells were ringing, and the serenaders were musically telling each other,

"At twelve will the Child be born!"



CHAPTER XII. DANGER AND HELP.

"A curious creed they weave, And, for the Church commands it, All men must needs believe, Though no man understands it. God loves his few pet lambs, And saves his one pet nation; The rest he largely damns, With swinging reprobation."

"The Church may loose and bind; But Mind, immortal Mind, As free as wave or wind, Came forth, O God, from Thee." —BLACKIE.

Dr. Worth had set his daughter a task of no light magnitude. It was true, that Rachela and Fray Ignatius could no longer disturb the household by their actual presence, but their power to cause unhappiness was not destroyed. Among the Mexican families loyal to Santa Anna the dismission of the priest and the duenna had been a source of much indignant gossip; for Rachela was one of those women who cry out when they are hurt, and compel others to share their trouble. The priest had not therefore found it necessary to explain WHY the Senora had called upon a new confessor. He could be silent, and possess his dignity in uncomplaining patience, for Rachela paraded his wrongs as a kind of set-off to her own.

Such piety! Such virtues! And the outrageous conduct of the Senor Doctor! To be sure there was cause for anger at the Senorita Antonia. Oh, yes! She could crow her mind abroad! There were books—Oh, infamous books! Books not proper to be read, and the Senorita had them! Well then, if the father burned them, that was a good deed done. And he had almost been reviled for it—sent out of the house—yes, it was quite possible that he had been struck! Anything was possible from those American heretics. As for her own treatment, after twenty years service, it had been cruel, abominable, more than that—iniquitous; but about these things she had spoken, and the day of atonement would come. Justice was informing itself on the whole matter.

Such conversations continually diversified, extended, repeated on all hands, quickly aroused a prejudice against the doctor's family. Besides which, the Senora Alveda resented bitterly the visits of her son Luis to Isabel. None of the customs of a Mexican betrothal had taken place, and Rachela did not spare her imagination in describing the scandalous American familiarity that had been permitted. That, this familiarity had taken place under the eyes of the doctor and the Senora only intensified the insult. She might have forgiven clandestine meetings; but that the formalities due to the Church and herself should have been neglected was indeed unpardonable.

It soon became evident to the Senora that she had lost the good-will of her old friends, and the respect that had always been given to her social position. It was difficult for her to believe this, and she only accepted the humiliating fact after a variety of those small insults which women reserve for their own sex.

She was fond of visiting; she valued the good opinion of her caste, and in the very chill of the gravest calamities she worried her strength away over little grievances lying outside the walls of her home and the real affections of her life. And perhaps with perfect truth she asserted that SHE had done nothing to deserve this social ostracism. Others had made her miserable, but she could thank the saints none could make her guilty.

The defeat of Cos had been taken by the loyal inhabitants as a mere preliminary to the real fight. They were very little disturbed by it. It was the overt act which was necessary to convince Mexico that her clemency to Americans was a mistake, and that the ungrateful and impious race must be wiped out of existence. The newspapers not only reiterated this necessity, but proclaimed its certainty. They heralded the coming of Santa Anna, the victorious avenger, with passionate gasconading. It was a mere question of a few days or weeks, and in the meantime the people of San Antonio were "making a little profit and pleasure to themselves out of the extravagant reprobates." There was not a day in which they did not anticipate their revenge in local military displays, in dances and illuminations, in bull-fights, and in splendid religious processions.

And Antonia found it impossible to combat this influence. It was in the house as certain flavors were in certain foods, or as heat was in fire. She saw it in the faces of her servants, and felt it in their indifference to their duty. Every hour she watched more anxiously for some messenger from her father. And as day after day went by in a hopeless sameness of grief, she grew more restless under the continual small trials that encompassed her.

Towards the end of January, General Urrea, at the head of the vanguard of the Mexican army, entered Texas. His destination was La Bahia or Goliad, a strong fortress garrisoned by Americans under Colonel Fanning. Santa Anna was to leave in eight days after him. With an army of twenty thousand men he was coming to the relief of San Antonio.

The news filled the city with the wildest rejoicing. The little bells of the processions, the big bells of the churches, the firing of cannon, the hurrahs of the tumultuous people, made an uproar which reached the three lonely women through the closed windows of their rooms.

"If only Lopez Navarro would come! If he would send us some little message! Holy Mary, even he has forgotten us!" cried the Senora in a paroxysm of upbraiding sorrow.

At that moment the door opened, and Fray Ignatius passed the threshold with lifted hands and a muttered blessing. He approached the Senora, and she fell on her knees and kissed the hand with which he crossed her.

"Holy father!" she cried, "the angels sent you to a despairing woman."

"My daughter, I have guided you since your first communion; how then could I forget you? Your husband has deserted you—you, the helpless, tender lamb, whom he swore to cherish; but the blessed fold of your church stands open. Come, poor weary one, to its shelter."

"My father—"

"Listen to me! The Mexican troops are soon to arrive. Vengeance without mercy is to be dealt out. You are the wife of an American rebel; I cannot promise you your life, or your honor, if you remain here. When soldiers are drunk with blood, and women fall in their way, God have mercy upon them! I would shield even your rebellious daughter Antonia from such a fate. I open the doors of the convent to you all. There you will find safety and peace."

Isabel sat with white, parted lips and clasped hands, listening. Antonia had not moved or spoken. But with the last words the priest half-turned to her, and she came swiftly to her mother's side, and kissing her, whispered:

"Remember your promise to my father! Oh, mi madre, do not leave Isabel and me alone!"

"You, too, dear ones! We will all go together, till these dreadful days are past."

"No, no, no! Isabel and I will not go. We will die rather."

"The Senorita talks like a foolish one. Listen again! When Santa Anna comes for judgment, it will be swift and terrible. This house and estate will be forfeited. The faithful Church may hope righteously to obtain it. The sisters have long needed a good home. The convent will then come to you. You will have no shelter but the Church. Come to her arms ere her entreaties are turned to commands."

"My husband told me—"

"Saints of God! you have no husband. He has forfeited every right to advise you. Consider that, daughter; and if you trust not my advice, there is yet living your honorable uncle, the Marquis de Gonzaga."

Antonia caught eagerly at this suggestion. It at least offered some delay, in which the Senora might be strengthened to resist the coercion of Fray Ignatius.

"Mother, it is a good thought. My great-uncle will tell you what to do; and my father will not blame you for following his advice. Perhaps even he may offer his home. You are the child of his sister."

Fray Ignatius walked towards the fire-place and stood rubbing slowly his long, thin hands before the blaze, while the Senora and her daughters discussed this proposal. The half-frantic mother was little inclined to make any further effort to resist the determined will of her old confessor; but the tears of Isabel won from her a promise to see her uncle.

"Then, my daughter, lose no time. I cannot promise you many days in which choice will be left you. Go this afternoon, and to-morrow I will call for your decision."

It was not a visit that the Senora liked to make. She had deeply offended her uncle by her marriage, and their intercourse had since been of the most ceremonious and infrequent kind. But surely, at this hour, when she was left without any one to advise her steps, he would remember the tie of blood between them.

He received her with more kindness than she had anticipated. His eyes glittered in their deep sockets when she related her extremity and the priest's proposal, and his small shrunken body quivered with excitement as he answered:

"Saints and angels! Fray Ignatius is right about Santa Anna. We shall see that he will make caps for his soldiers out of the skins of these infidel ingrates. But as for going into the convent, I know not. A miserable marriage you made for yourself, Maria. Pardon, if I say so much! I let the word slip always. I was never one to bite my tongue. I am all old man—very well, come here, you and your daughters, till the days of blood are over. There is room in the house, and a few comforts in it also. I have some power with Santa Anna. He is a great man—a great man! In all his wars, good fortune flies before him."

He kissed her hands as he opened the door, and then went back to the fire, and bent, muttering, over it: "Giver of good! a true Yturbide; a gentle woman; she is like my sister Mercedes—very like her. These poor women who trust me, as I am a sinner before God, I am unhappy to deceive them."

Fray Ignatius might have divined his thoughts, for he entered at the moment, and said as he approached him:

"You have done right. The soul must be saved, if all is lost. This is not a time for the friends of the Church and of Mexico to waver. The Church is insulted every day by these foreign heretics—"

"But you are mistaken, father; the Church holds up her head, whatever happens. Even the vice-regal crown is not lost—the Church has cleft it into mitres."

Fray Ignatius smiled, but there was a curious and crafty look of inquiry on his face. "The city is turbulent, Marquis, and there is undoubtedly a great number of Mexicans opposed to Santa Anna."

"Do you not know Mexicans yet? They would be opposed to God Almighty, rather than confess they were well governed. Bah! the genius of Mexico is mutiny. They scarcely want a leader to move their madness. They rebel on any weak pretence. They bluster when they are courted; they crouch when they are oppressed. They are fools to all the world but themselves. I beg the Almighty to consider in my favor, that some over-hasty angel misplaced my lot. I should have been born in—New York."

The priest knew that he was talking for irritation, but he was too politic to favor the mood. He stood on the hearth with his hands folded behind him, and with a delightful suavity turned the conversation upon the country rather than the people. It was a glorious day in the dawn of spring. The tenderest greens, the softest blues, the freshest scents, the clearest air, the most delightful sunshine were everywhere. The white old town, with its picturesque crowds, its murmur of voices and laughter, its echoes of fife and drum, its loves and its hatreds, was at his feet; and, far off, the hazy glory of the mountains, the greenness and freshness of Paradise, the peace and freedom of the vast, unplanted places. The old marquis was insensibly led to contemplate the whole; and, in so doing, to put uppermost that pride of country which was the base of every feeling susceptible to the priest's influence.

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