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Romance

By L. FRANK TOOKER

Author of “Under Rocking Skies”

Illustrations by Gerald Leake

noon, and

IT
T was very hot in Camagüey that after. They disclosed, Caxton was pleased to

very still. High in the bur- fancy, the presence of gentle breeding; but nished-silver sky a vulture wheeled slowly the eyes were beautiful and held the poon motionless wings, the only living crea- t'entiality of supreme devotion. He told ture that Caxton's wandering gaze en- hinself that they could be no other than countered. A lingering touch of the ner- the

eyes of a young girl as yet untouched vous restlessness that had forced him to by love or great joy or sorrow, so starry seek a long rest in the tropics had driven pure was their gaze, so fearlessly childlike. him forth from his hotel while all Cama- A certain susceptibility of his nature to güey was hushed in the siesta, and already romantic influences that had something alregretting his abnormal activity, he had most boyish in its disregard of convention stopped for a moment in the shadowed re- was deeply stirred. The familiar story of cess of an orange-hued wall. Above the Cuvier's power to reconstruct a prehistop of the opposite wall of the narrow toric animal from a single bone came to street he caught the sound of the heaving him now with none of his old awe of surge of wind-blown boughs; but there Cuvier's genius. From these eyes alone, was no coolness in the sound or in the ac- he told himself fervidly, he might with tual

pressure of the trade-wind on his reasonable certainty reconstruct their harAushed face. He gasped in the hot rush of monious abode. All at once he awoke to the scented air; for a moment he felt the the length of his scrutiny. light-headed and incorporeal sensation of “Pardon, Señorita,” he said. “I was one suddenly awakened from fevered sleep. hardly aware of my rude staring.”

The feeling passed, and presently he Something that he was pleased to transbecame aware of a new sensation : he felt late as amused interest came to her eyes as that he was not alone. Turning slowly,

Turning slowly, she said: his gaze met the fixed look of a woman's “I could have gone away, Señor.” eyes.

A narrow, grated window set in the "But you did not,” he replied. "Ah, shadowed wall brought its sill slightly you would know that it was not intenabove the level of his head, and above the tional rudeness. I might have known that sill, a little back from the opening, her you would understand.” eyes gazed straight into his.

"Understand?" she repeated questionThe black mantilla that dropped to the ingly. edge of her clearly marked brows was held “All that I saw in your eyes,” he exin such fashion that only the

eyes,

plained. narrow setting of face, and the slender Unmistakably her eyes laughed then. hand that held the mantilla in place were “The señor is perhaps a fortune-teller?" to be seen.

The rimming face and the she queried mockingly. hand were ivory-hued, the fingers delicate, “No; only confident of your past," he shapely, and untouched by marks of to:l. answered.

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“And that past is, the señor thinks-is "Yes, I suppose I must go now," he re- is—” Her eyes searched him question- plied sadly. His feet, however, appeared ingly.

to consider the question debatable; they “Very beautiful,” he promptly re- made no move to depart. sponded.

“Now, in the yet so great heat!” she She laughed then; but suddenly she exclaimed. “Señor, you crazy? No one

" leaned forward impetuously, and said with shall come here at this hour. You think a little quaver of excitement in her voice: I am so wicked to desire anybody to walk

"Listen, Señor! In all my life nothing in the hot sun now?" so exciting as this has ever before hap- You wicked !” he exclaimed. “I have pened to me. So

very

beautiful like that it seen only your eyes, but I know you are has been! The great dullness—that is how good and—beautiful. I know." He looked I call it. And now I am very much fright- up into her face like one who has burned ened, me.

You think that is very funny, all his bridges behind him. "Señorita, do Señor, to be frightened because of the you believe in fate?" he asked suddenly. speaking to some man?”

“Fate?” she repeated. “You mean“Not funny," he gravely answered. “I She paused expectantly. should be very sorry to think I had made "Yes," he said, "some power, I don't you unhappy in any way."

know what, that brings people together, “Oh, but not unhappy, Señor!" she has- surely, inevitably, and perhaps from the tened to reassure him. "Frightened - only very corners of the earth; and when they a little frightened. Sufficient to make the at last stand face to face, it is as though heart beat with rapidity, you understand, nothing else could have possibly happened. but not to cause some unhappiness. Au Two months ago I had never heard of contraire, Señor."

Camagüey. I had been working too hard “Then I am glad that I stopped at your and had to rest, and by the merest chance, window and stared,” he declared.

it seemed, wandered down here-here in "Yes, Señor," she said meekly.

Camagüey. Did any one ever before start "I did not know it was your window- out for a walk in Camagüey in the hour any one's window," he continued. “You of the siesta? Well, I did to-day. And, see, I was very lonely. I have been ill, Señorita, have you often looked out of this and to-day I felt restless, and could not window at this hour?" stay in my room; but when I had come She shook her head. this far I realized that I was still too weak “I do not remember ever looking," she to be hurrying through your streets at this replied. “To-day I was restless. Somehour. I felt a little ill, and stopped here thing," she paused. in the shade. Then, curiously indeed, I “But you looked to-day," he said felt you were near, and turned. Perhaps eagerly, “and I stared up into your face. that is why I stared-at first, because I You see? Something has brought it felt a little ill.”

strangely about-fate. It had to be." “Señor! You been ill, yet walk at this “Certainly it seems very strange, Sehour in the sun!” she cried. “You want ñor," she replied. She seemed impressed, to get dead? Señor!"

but suddenly she looked up with a little "It was very foolish, I know," he con- laugh as she went on: “And now you will fessed.

go away, and when next I look out the "It was wicked," she declared, “very window I shall see only the empty street, wrong."

as before.

That fate is very funny, I "Yet I am glad,” he said ; “for now I think - to take so great trouble for so little have seen you."

thing." “You must walk very slow to your "Not little," he protested. "I have

. " house, and keep very still for the longest seen you. I no longer care to go away.” time," she told him with tender severity. “It would be very funny for the señor

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to stand there always-very inconve- "No, Señor; I mean interesting," she nient," she declared, and laughed again. answered.

“But to come back, Señorita ?” he asked "Well, that is something," he said, with eagerly. "Would you be angry? Would

a smile. you again look out?”

But she had not finished. “But the señor forgets he has been ill,” “Ah,”—she sighed softly,—“I she reminded him gently. “It is unwise to pleased just to look at the señor. He is walk in the sun at such times.” She shook very beautiful— like the St. Michael in the her head slowly. “No, Señor, I cannot stained-glass window above the altar in permit. I shall sleep very sound at this the church. Since I was a little child I hour always.”

have always looked at that most. Alas! “But is there no other way?” he per- sometimes I forget to listen to the padre sisted. “I could prove to your father and from watching the light on his face. You you that I am-oh, all the things that a have the same bright hair, Señor, the same father might wish to know. Is there no proud look. Are you very proud, Señor?" way? Señorita, I must know you better.” Were her eyes laughing, or were they

Her eyes dropped for a moment; then tenderly questioning? Certainly her voice slowly she shook her head.

was gently grave. Yet surely it sounded “My father would be very much sur- like mockery. Was she mocking him? prised, I think; yes, very angry,” she re- Had she a subtle coquetry beyond that of plied. “Never have I spoken like this to other women that he had known? He a stranger. My father he is very kind, could not be sure. But her eyes-surely but he has his own thoughts; he expects they were wells of truth. He brushed his them to be ours. My country is different doubts aside. from yours, Señor-much different."

“I am very proud to know that I am "But your thoughts, Señorita!” he said like your St. Michael," he replied. eagerly. “Would you not be willing for “Oh, so much, Señor!” she exclaimed. me to see you again? It need mean noth- “Go to see him in the church that you, ing to you. We have met in such a

too, may know.” strange way, I-well, it would be pretty If

you would only be there, too!” he hard to have it all end like this.”

cried. To that she made no reply, and “But the señor has not even seen me presently he added: “But which church now,” she reminded him. “He might be is it, Señorita ? There are so many!” very much disappointed, very sorry, some "Did I say?" she answered. She shook

7 day.”

her head sadly. “I fear, Señor, you are "Never!" he exclaimed. "So sure of not thinking of going to see St. Michael that am I that I don't even ask to sec your or even to pray.”

I 've heard your voice and seen “I'd pray fast enough if you were there, your eyes. That is enough for me." for thankfulness and joy,” he declared

"The señor is very quick-sudden," she with fervor. said in a low voice.

“That is very wrong to pray only when "But sure, Señorita," he replied; "I you are glad," she said gravely. "Such know my own mind. Can't it be managed prayers rise no higher than the lips that in some way? Would you not be willing speak them. You should pray when you to see me again ?”

have the

great disappointment-for She looked at him gravely as he spoke, strength to bear it. " and when he had ended she said with the "Was that your St. Michael's way?” frankness of a child :

he asked boldly. "No, he tried to do "I never before saw any one like the things-did them. Must I be like him señor-never.”

only in looks, Señorita? Will you tell me “Do you mean silly, rude?” he asked what church?” dubiously.

It was only for a moment that she hesi

face now.

aware.

tated, and then he saw her eyes take on A week passed, and Caxton still lina new light as she said demurely:

gered on in Camagüey, though no longer "Would St. Michael ask for help, Se- under any delusion as to the possibility of ñor? I ask, who do not know. He did meeting the girl with the eyes. No matter things you say.” She stepped back what his social standing at home, he was quickly, and he saw her no more. at last aware that in his present position

He accepted her last words as a chal- it would not count, that nothing would lenge. In the course of the next twelve count. Even his hope of catching a casual hours he learned much. That Don Mi- glimpse of the girl at church seemed desguel Alvarez y Morny lived in the house tined to be denied him, for though he in under the window of which he had stood ; time found the church of the St. Michael that Don Miguel was rich and proud and and spent hours in it and in the shaded high tempered; that he had four sons and little plaza before it, he saw no one enter five daughters, two of the latter married; it that he could even remotely liken to the that he hated Americans of the North, girl of his search. though he had once admired them greatly, The romantic temperament needs little and had educated his sons in Northern to feed upon, but with nothing at all, it schools and his daughters in the Convent soon languishes, and at the end of his of the Ursulines in New Orleans; that fruitless week the fascination of the girl his wife was dead, and he ruled his house began to grow dim in Caxton's mind. As like a lord of feudal days-all this he it faded, the charm of Camagüey also belearned. That it was nothing to the point gan to pass, and one afternoon as he sat so far as it concerned the identity of the alone at a little round table in the patio girl with whom he had talked he was sadly of his hotel, the heavy scents of the flow

To which daughter had heering court, the great red water-jars, the spoken? Could he even be sure that it fronds of the palmettos, the limpid blue was a daughter at all? But she had spoken of the tropic sky, seemed like the setting of her father in a way that seemed to point of some fevered dream from which he had to Don Miguel, and her confession of the suddenly awakened in his right mind. At dullness of her life and her perturbation that moment his longing for the bracing at speaking to a man had about it a hint coolness of his Northern spring was overof maiden unsophistication. Surely she whelming. He would depart at once, he must be one of the three still unmarried, told himself impatiently, and as Francisco, he decided. His pride in his deduction his elderly waiter, came softly forward gave him new courage and hope.

with the light repast that he had ordered He did not go to the house again at the more for the purpose of bridging the draghour of the siesta, but at other hours, day ging hours that lay between the end of the and night, he haunted it; but though he siesta and the time when he might stroll now and then caught a glimpse of a cov- through the city with the least discomfort ered carriage returning to the house with rather than for refreshment, he began to its freight of sedate and mantilla-hooded question Francisco concerning the earliest forms, no eyes ever flashed bright or veiled hour of a departing train. Francisco made glances toward him as the carriage passed no direct reply. into the courtyard and the heavy, green "Ah, the señor is going?” he said in a gates closed behind it. Don Miguel him- tone that had about it an implication of self he saw often, a dark little man with personal loss. “But he will come again? a stern face and a high look of pride, who And soon? He has learned to love Camamade his way through the city mostly in güey ?"

? solitude, and shunned the social diversions “I have come a long way, you know, that brought the men of Camagüey to the Francisco," he replied — "too long to think cafés at night with a certain relaxation of of coming again, I fear." their usual formality.

"But a road is shorter the second time

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" "There are things that one must forget. And- and a Dios, dear Señor!'

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