Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

mans.

"made friends" lightly. They did not the enemy's artillery when our ammunihave the reserve and arrogance of the tion began moving up the road. I found English, the spiritual pride of the Ger- a hundred houses in Termonde among the mans. Some of them have German blood, ruins of eleven hundred, and those houses, some French, some Dutch. Part of the spared in the house-to-house burning, were race is gay and volatile, many are heavy chalked in German script with directions and inarticulate; it is a mixed race of not to burn. In that town of thirteen which any iron-clad generalization is false. thousand people, certain of those houseBut I have seen many thousands of them holds were friends and spies of the Gerunder crisis, seen them hungry, dying, men from every class and every region; and the Perhaps it was better that people should mass impression is that they are affec- perish by the villageful in honest physical tionate, easy to blend with, open-handed, death through the agony of the bayonet trusting, immature.

and the flame than that they should go on This kindly, haphazard, unformed folk bartering away their nationality by piecewere suddenly lifted to a national self- meal. Who knows but Albert saw in his sacrifice. By one act of defiance Albert made Belgium a nation. It had been a mixed race of many tongues, selling itself little by little, all unconsciously, to the German bondage. I saw the marks of this spiritual invasion on the inner life of the Belgians—marks of a destruction more thorough than the shelling of a city. The ruins of Termonde are only the outward and visible sign of what Germany has attempted on Belgium for perhaps two generations.

Wherever I turned in Belgium, I found traces of this clever, silent German invasion. My Flemish driver, when we were surrounded by Uhlans, suddenly broke into voluble German, expressing his abject friendliness for them. At a hotel in Ghent the proprietor, believing me to be a neutral, told me he was a German with German sympathies. He had been living in Ghent for many years, making his money out of the town, but looking forward to this day of his own people. In Melle an officer pointed out to me the house of their German spy. I talked with

At a café in Ghent, while the enemy was still distant, the proprietor entertained the Belgians, and took their

A ruined church at Pervyse money, announcing to all, as he announced to me, that he was a Swiss. Now that the silent heart that the only thing to weld his Germans have taken possession, he has people together, honeycombed as they bloomed out into a full-blooded German, were, was the shedding of blood ? Perand with pride daily presides over his café haps nothing short of a supreme sacrifice, filled with German officers. Nightly back amounting to a martyrdom, could restore of our Pervyse line some spy signaled to a people so tangled in German intrigue, so

[graphic]

the man.

“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 me 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. Some

. hour. 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

"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

slow to your

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 am 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 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 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.” face now.

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

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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 he ering 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

a

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »