Puslapio vaizdai

above he paused, turned doubtfully toward the nearest door, and knocked hesitatingly. There was no response. Ramirez knocked again more sharply and decidedly. This resulted in a quick rattling of the lock, the sudden opening of the door, and the abrupt appearance of a man in ragged alpaca coat and frayed trowsers. He stared fiercely at Ramirez, said in English, "what in h! next door!" and as abruptly slammed the door in Ramirez's face. Ramirez entered hastily the room indicated by the savage stranger, and was at once greeted by a dense cloud of smoke and the sound of welcoming voices.

Around a long table covered with quaintlooking legal papers, maps and parchments, a half dozen men were seated. The greater number were past the middle age, dark-featured and grizzled-haired, and one, whose wrinkled face was the color and texture of redwood bark, was bowed with decrepitude.

"He had one hundred and two years day before yesterday. He is the principal witness to Micheltorrena's signature in the Castro claim," exclaimed Don Pedro.

"Is he able to remember?" asked Ramirez.

"Who knows?" said Don Pedro, shrugging his shoulder. "He will swear; it is enough."

"What animal have we in the next room ?" asked Ramirez. "Is it wolf or bear?"

"The Señor Perkins," said Don Pedro. Why is he?"


"He translates."

Here Ramirez related with some vehemence how he mistook the room, and the stranger's brusque salutation. The company listened attentively and even respectfully. An American audience would have laughed. The present company did not alter their serious demeanor; a breach of politeness to a stranger was a matter of grave importance even to these doubtful characters. Pedro explained:


"Ah, so it is believed that God has visited him here." He tapped his forehead. "He is not of their country fashion at all. He has punctuality, he has secrecy, he has the habitude. When strikes the clock three he is here; when it strikes nine he is gone. Six hours to work in that room! Ah, Heavens! The quantity of work-it is astounding! Folios! Volumes! Good! it is done. Punctually at nine of the night he takes up a paper left on his desk by his padrone, in which is enwrapped ten dollars

the golden eagle, and he departs for that day. They tell to me that five dollars is gone at the gambling table, but no more! then five dollars for subsistence-always the same. Always! Always! He is a scholarso profound, so admirable! He has the Spanish, the French, perfect. He is worth his weight in gold to the lawyers-you understand—but they cannot use him. To them he says: 'I translate, lies or what not! Who knows? I care not-but no more.' He is wonderful!”

The allusion to the gaming table revived Victor's recollection, and his intention in his present visit. "Thou hast told me, Don Pedro," he said, lowering his voice in confidence, "how much is fashioned the testimony of the witnesses in regard of the old land grants by the Governors and Alcaldes. Good. Is it so ?"

Don Pedro glanced around the room. "Of those that are here to-night five will swear as they are prepared by me-you comprehend-and there is a Governor, a Military Secretary, an Alcalde, a Commandante, and saints preserve us! an Archbishop! They are respectable caballeros; but they have been robbed, you comprehend, by the Americanos. What matters ? They have been taught a lesson. They will get the best price for their memory. Eh? They will sell it where it pays best. Believe me, Victor; it is so."

66 Good," ," said Victor. "Listen; if there was a man-a brigand, a devil-an American!-who had extorted from Pico a grantyou comprehend-a grant, formal, and regular, and recorded-accepted of the Land Commission-and some one, eh ?—even myself, should say to you it is all wrong, my friend, my brother-ah!"

"From Pico?" asked Don Pedro.

"Si, from Pico, in '47," responded Victor, -"a grant."

Don Pedro rose, opened a secretary in the corner, and took out some badly printed, yellowish blanks, with a seal in the right hand lower corner.

"Custom House paper from Monterey," explained Don Pedro, "blank with Governor Pico's signature and rubric. Comprehendest thou, Victor, my friend? A second grant is simple enough!"

Victor's eyes sparkled.

"But two for the same land, my brother?" Don Pedro shrugged his shoulders, and rolled a fresh cigarito.

"There are two for nearly every grant of his late Excellency. Art thou certain, my

brave friend, there are not three to this, of which thou speakest? If there be but oneHoly Mother! it is nothing. Surely the land has no value. Where is this modest property? How many leagues square? Come, we will retire in this room, and thou may'st talk undisturbed. There is excellent aguardiente too, my Victor, come," and Don Pedro rose, conducted Victor into a smaller apartment, and closed the door.

Nearly an hour elapsed. During that interval the sound of Victor's voice, raised in passionate recital, might have been heard by the occupants of the larger room but that they were completely involved in their own smoky atmosphere, and were perhaps politely oblivious of the stranger's business. They chatted, compared notes, and examined legal documents with the excited and pleased curiosity of men to whom business and the present importance of its results was a novelty. At a few minutes before nine Don Pedro re-appeared with Victor. I grieve to say I grieve to say that either from the reaction of the intense excitement of the morning, from the active sympathy of his friend, or from the equally soothing anodyne of aguardiente, he was somewhat incoherent, interjectional, and effusive. The effect of excessive stimulation on passionate natures like Victor's is to render them either maudlin or affectionate. Mr. Ramirez was both. He demanded with tears in his eyes to be led to the ladies. He would seek in the company of Manuela, the stout female before introduced to the reader, that sympathy which an injured, deceived, and confiding nature like his own so deeply craved.

On the staircase he ran against a stranger, precise, dignified, accurately clothed and fitted-the "Señor Perkins" just released from his slavery, a very different person from the one accidentally disclosed to him an hour before, on his probable way to the gaming table, and his habitual enjoyment of the evening of the day. In his maudlin condition, Victor would have fain exchanged views with him in regard to the general deceitfulness of the fair, and the misfortunes that attend a sincere passion, but Don Pedro hurried him below into the parlor, and out of the reach of the serenely contemptuous observation of the Señor Perkins's eye. Once in the parlor, and in the presence of the coquettish Manuela, who was still closely shawled, as if yet uncertain and doubtful in regard to the propriety of her garments above the waist, Victor, after a few vague remarks upon the general inability of the

sex to understand a nature so profoundly deep and so wildly passionate as his own, eventually succumbed in a large black haircloth arm-chair, and became helplessly and hopelessly comatose.

"We must find a bed here for him tonight," said the sympathizing, but practical Manuela; "he is not fit, poor imbecile, to be sent to his hotel. Mother of God, what is this ?"

In lifting him out of the chair into which he had subsided with a fatal tendency to slide to the floor, unless held by main force, something had fallen from his breast pocket, and Manuela had picked it up. It was the bowie-knife he had purchased that morning.

"Ah!" said Manuela, "desperate little brigand! he has been among the Americanos! Look, my uncle!"

Don Pedro took the weapon quietly from the brown hands of Manuela and examined it coolly.

"It is new, my niece," he responded, with a slight shrug of his shoulders. "The gloss is still upon its blade. We will take him to bed."



If there was a spot on earth of which the usual dead monotony of the California seasons seemed a perfectly consistent and natural expression, that spot was the ancient and time-honored pueblo and Mission of the blessed St. Anthony. The changeless, cloudless, expressionless skies of summer seemed to symbolize that aristocratic conservatism. which repelled all innovation, and was its distinguishing mark. The stranger who rode into the pueblo, in his own conveyance,―for the instincts of San Antonio refused to sanction the introduction of à stage-coach or diligence that might bring into the town irresponsible and vagabond travelers,-read in the faces of the idle, lounging peons the fact that the great rancheros who occupied the outlying grants had refused to sell their lands, long before he entered the one short walled street and open plaza, and found that he was in a town where there was no hotel or tavern, and that he was dependent entirely upon the hospitality of some courteous resident for a meal or a night's lodging.

As he drew rein in the court-yard of the first large adobe dwelling, and received the grave welcome of a strange but kindly face, he saw around him everywhere the past unchanged. The sun shone as brightly and

fiercely on the long red tiles of the low roofs, that looked as if they had been thatched with longitudinal slips of cinnamon, even as it had shone for the last hundred years; the gaunt wolf-like dogs ran out and barked at him as their fathers and mothers had barked at the preceding stranger of twenty years before. There were the few wild half-broken mustangs tethered by strong riatas before the veranda of the long low Fonda, with the sunlight glittering on their silver trappings; there were the broad, blank expanses of whitewashed adobe wall, as barren and guiltless of record as the uneventful days, as monotonous and expressionless as the staring sky above; there were the white, domeshaped towers of the Mission rising above the green of olives and pear-trees, twisted, gnarled and knotted with the rheumatism of age; there was the unchanged strip of narrow white beach, and beyond, the seavast, illimitable, and always the same. The steamers that crept slowly up the darkening coast line were something remote, unreal, and phantasmal; since the Philippine galleon had left its bleached and broken ribs in the sand in 1640, no vessel had, in the memory of man, dropped anchor in the open roadstead below the curving Point of Pines, and the white walls, and dismounted bronze cannon of the Presidio, that looked blankly and hopelessly seaward.

For all this, the pueblo of San Antonio was the cynosure of the covetous American eye. Its vast leagues of fertile soil, its countless herds of cattle, the semi-tropical luxuriance of its vegetation, the salubrity of its climate, and the existence of miraculous mineral springs, were at once a temptation and an exasperation to greedy speculators of San Francisco. Happily for San Antonio, its square leagues were held by only a few of the wealthiest native gentry. The ranchos of "the Bear," of the "Holy Fisherman," of "The Blessed Trinity," comprised all of the outlying lands, and their titles were patented and secured to their native owners in the earlier days of the American occupation, while their comparative remoteness from the populous centers had protected them from the advances of foreign cupidity. But one American had ever entered upon the possession and enjoyment of this Californian Arcadia, and that was the widow of Don José Sepulvida. Eighteen months ago the excellent Sepulvida had died at the age of eightyfour, and left his charming young American wife the sole mistress of his vast estate. Attractive, of a pleasant, social temperament,

that the Donna Maria should eventually bestow her hand and the estate upon some losel Americano, who would bring ruin in the hollow disguise of "improvements" to the established and conservative life of San Antonio, was an event to be expected, feared, and, if possible, estopped by fasting and prayer.

When the Donna Maria returned from a month's visit to San Francisco after her year's widowhood, alone, and to all appearances as yet unattached, it is said that a Te Deum was sung at the Mission church. The possible defection of the widow became still more important to San Antonio, when it was remembered that the largest estate in the valley, the "Rancho of the Holy Trinity," was held by another member of this deceitful sex-the alleged natural half-breed daughter of a deceased Governor -but happily preserved from the possible fate of the widow by religious pre-occupation and the habits of a recluse. That the irony of Providence should leave the fate and future of San Antonio so largely dependent upon the results of levity, and the caprice of a susceptible sex, gave a somber tinge to the gossip of the little pueblo-if the grave, decorous discussion of Señores and Señoras could deserve that name. Nevertheless it was believed by the more devout that a miraculous interposition would eventually save San Antonio from the Americanos and destruction, and it was alleged that the patron saint, himself accomplished in the art of resisting a peculiar form of temptation, would not scruple to oppose personally any undue weakness of vanity or the flesh in helpless widowhood. Yet, even the most devout and trustful believers, as they slyly slipped aside vail or manta, to peep furtively at the Donna Maria entering chapel, in the heathenish abominations of a Parisian dress and bonnet, and a face rosy with selfconsciousness and innocent satisfaction, felt their hearts sink within them, and turned their eyes in mute supplication to the gaunt, austere patron saint pictured on the chancel wall above them, who, clutching a skull and crucifix as if for support, seemed to glare upon the pretty stranger with some trepidation and a possible doubt of his being able to resist the newer temptation.

As far as was consistent with Spanish courtesy, the Donna Maria was subject to a certain mild espionage. It was even hinted by some of the more conservative that a duenna was absolutely essential to the proper decorum of a lady representing such large

social interests as the widow Sepulvida, | although certain husbands, who had already suffered from the imperfect protection of this safeguard, offered some objection. But the pretty widow, when this proposition was gravely offered by her ghostly confessor, only shook her head and laughed. "A husband is the best duenna, Father Felipe," she said archly, and the conversation ended.

Perhaps it was as well that the gossips of San Antonio did not know how imminent was their danger, or how closely imperiled were the vast social interests of the pueblo on the 3d day of June, 1854.

It was a bright, clear morning-so clear that the distinct peaks of the San Bruno mountains seemed to have encroached upon the San Antonio valley overnight-so clear that the horizon line of the vast Pacific seemed to take in half the globe beyond. It was a morning, cold, hard, and material as granite, yet with a certain mica sparkle in its quality-a morning full of practical animal life, in which bodily exercise was absolutely essential to its perfect understanding and enjoyment. It was scarcely to be wondered that the Donna Maria Sepulvida, who was returning from a visit to her steward and major domo, attended by a single vaquero, should have thrown the reins forward on the neck of her yellow mare, "Tita," and dashed at a wild gallop down the white strip of beach that curved from the garden wall of the Mission to the Point of Pines, a league beyond. "Concho," the venerable vaquero, after vainly endeavoring to keep pace with his mistress's fiery steed, and still more capricious fancy, shrugged his shoulders, and subsided into a trot, and was soon lost among the shifting sand dunes. Completely carried away by the exhilarating air and intoxication of the exercise, the Donna Maria with her brown hair shaken loose from the confinement of her little velvet hat, the whole of a pretty foot, and at times, I fear, part of a symmetrical ankle visible below the flying folds of her gray riding-skirt, flecked here and there with the racing spume of those Homeric seas-at last reached the "Point of Pines" which defined the limits of the peninsula.

But when the gentle Mistress Sepulvida was within a hundred yards of the Point she expected to round, she saw, with some chagrin, that the tide was up, and that each dash of the breaking seas sent a thin, reaching film of shining water up to the very roots of the pines. To her still further discomfi

ture, she saw also that a smart-looking cavalier had likewise reined in his horse on the other side of the Point, and was evidently watching her movements with great interest, and, as she feared, with some amusement. To go back would be to be followed by this stranger, and to meet the cynical but respectful observation of Concho; to go forward, at the worst, could be only a slight wetting, and a canter beyond the reach of observation and the stranger, who could not in decency turn back after her. All this Donna Maria saw with the swiftness of feminine intuition, and, without apparently any hesitation in her face or her intent, dashed into the surf below the Point.

Alas for feminine logic! Mistress Sepulvida's reasoning was perfect, but her premises were wrong. Tita's first dash was a brave one, and carried her half round the Point, the next was a simple flounder; the next struggle sunk her to her knees, the next to her haunches. She was in a quicksand!

"Let the horse go.

Don't struggle ! Take the end of your riata. Throw yourself flat on the next wave, and let it take you out to sea!"

Donna Maria mechanically loosed the coil of hair rope which hung over the pommel of her saddle. Then she looked around in the direction of the voice. But she saw only a riderless horse, moving slowly along the Point.


Quick! Now then!" The voice was seaward now; where, to her frightened fancy, some one appeared to be swimming. Donna Maria hesitated no longer; with the recoil of the next wave, she threw herself forward, and was carried floating a few yards, and dropped again on the treacherous sand.

"Don't move, but keep your grip on the riata!"

The next wave would have carried her back, but she began to comprehend, and, assisted by the yielding sand, held her own and her breath until the under-tow sucked her a few yards seaward; the sand was firmer now; she floated a few yards further when her arm was seized; she was conscious of being impelled swiftly through the water, of being dragged out of the surge, of all her back hair coming down, that she had left her boots behind her in the quicksand, that her rescuer was a stranger and a young man and then she fainted.

When she opened her brown eyes again she was lying on the dry sand beyond the Point, and the young man was on the beach

below her, holding both the horses-his own and Tita!

"I took the opportunity of getting your horse out. Relieved of your weight, and loosened by the tide, he got his foot over the riata, and Charley and I pulled him out. If I am not mistaken, this is Mrs. Sepulvida?" Donna Maria assented in surprise. "And I imagine this is your man coming to look for you." He pointed to Concho, who was slowly making his way among the sand dunes toward the Point. "Let me assist you on your horse again. He need not know-nobody need know-the extent of your disaster."

Donna Maria, still bewildered, permitted herself to be assisted to her saddle again, despite the consequent terrible revelation of her shoeless feet. Then she became conscious that she had not thanked her deliverer, and proceeded to do so with such embarrassment that the stranger's laughing interruption was a positive relief.

"You would thank me better if you were to set off in a stinging gallop over those sun

baked, oven-like sand-hills, and so stave off a chill! For the rest, I am Mr. Poinsett, one of your late husband's legal advisers, here on business that will most likely bring us together-I trust much more pleasantly to you than this. Good morning!"

He had already mounted his horse, and was lifting his hat. Donna Maria was not a very clever woman, but she was bright enough to see that his business brusquerie was either the concealment of a man shy of women, or the impertinence of one too familiar with them. In either case it was to be resented.

How did she do it? Ah me! She took the most favorable hypothesis. She pouted, I regret to say. Then she said. "It was all your fault!"


"Why, if you hadn't stood there, looking at me and criticising, I shouldn't have tried to go round."

With this Parthian arrow she dashed off, leaving her rescuer halting between a bow and a smile.

(To be continued.)


ONLY the sunny hours

Are numbered here,

No winter-time that lowers,
No twilight drear.

But from a golden sky

When sunbeams fall,

Though the bright moments fly,

They're counted all.

My heart its transient woe

Remembers not!

The ills of long-ago

Are half forgot;

But Childhood's round of bliss,

Youth's tender thrill,

Hope's whisper, Love's first kiss,

They haunt me still!

Sorrows are everywhere,

Joys-all too few!

Have we not had our share

Of pleasure too?

No Past the glad heart cowers,

No memories dark;

Only the sunny hours

The dial mark.

*Suggested by the inscription on a Sun-Dial: Horas non numero nisi serenas.

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