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ment of salutes, he did not really recognize those familiar and astonished faces, for his head was up somewhere near the moon, while his legs, in the proud shelter of their first trousers, were pleasantly afflicted with pins and needles as he moved on tiptoe beside the blonde Americana, a page beside a princess.
Miss Cherry was captivated by the native courtliness of his manners. She thought of a certain junior brother of her own, to whom the business of "tipping his hat," as he called it, to a lady occasioned such extreme anguish of mind that he would resort to the most laborious manoeuvers to avoid occasions when the performance of that rite would be expected of him. As for Próspero, he had held the tips of her fingers lightly as they had descended the marble steps of his father's house, and then with a charming little bow had offered her his arm, which she with laughing independence had declined. And now she perused with sidelong glances the infantile curve of his chin, the April fluctuations of his lips, the occasional quiver of his thick lashes, and decided that he was an amazingly cute little cavalier.
With a deep breath she expelled everything disagreeable from her mind, and gave up her spirit to the enjoyment of finding herself for a little while among a warmer, wilder people, with gallant gestures and languorous smiles. And the aromatic air, the tantalizing music, the watchful fire that glanced from under the sombreros of the peons squatting in colorful lines between the benches-all the ardor and mystery of that unknown life caused a sudden fluttering in her breast, and almost unconsciously she took her escort's arm, pressing it impulsively to her side. His dark eyes flashed to hers, and for the first time failed to flutter and droop at the encounter; this time it was her own that lost courage and hastily veiled themselves.
"That waltz," she stammered, "is n't it delicious?"
He told her the name of the composer, and begged her to promise him the privilege of dancing that waltz with her at the ball, in two weeks' time. As she gave the promise, she perceived with amusement, and not without delight, that he trembled exceedingly.
"If you continue studying the language," her mother retorted, “as industriously as you have been doing to-night, my dear, you will soon be speaking it like a native."
Alicia was impervious to irony. Critically inspecting her own pink-and-gold effulgence in the mirror, she went on:
"Of course this is also a splendid opportunity for Próspero to learn some real English, which will please the family very much, as they 've decided to send him to an American college. I do hope it won't spoil him. Is n't he a perfect darling?"
"I don't know, not having been given a chance to exchange three words with'Sh-h! Did you hear a noise?"
It had sounded like a sigh, followed by a stealthy shuffle. Alicia went to the door, which had been left ajar, and looked out upon the moonlit gallery just in time to catch a glimpse of a fleeting figure, as Próspero raced for his English dictionary, to look up the strange word "darling."
"The little rascal!" she murmured to herself. "What a baby, after all!" But to her mother she only said, as she closed the door, "It was nothing, dear; just one of those biblical-looking servants covering a parrot's cage."
"Even the parrots here speak nothing but Spanish," Mrs. Cherry pursued fretfully. "Of course I am glad to sacrifice my own comfort to any extent to help your dear father in his schemes, although I do think the syndicate might make some graceful little acknowledgment of my social services; but I'm sure that papa never dreamed of your monopolizing the only member of this household to whom it is possible to communicate the most primitive idea without screaming one's head
off. I am too old to learn to gesticulate, and I refuse to dislodge all my hairpins in the attempt. And as for your studies in Spanish," she continued warmly, as Alicia laughed, "I 'd like to know how you reconcile that pretext with the fact that I distinctly heard you and that infant Lord Chesterfield chattering away gether in French."
"French does come in handy at times," Alicia purred, "and if you were not so shy about your accent, Mama dear, you could have a really good time with Doña Elvira. I must ask her to encourage you."
"Don't do anything of the kind!" Mrs. Cherry exclaimed. "You know perfectly well that my French is not fit for foreign ears. And I do think, Alicia, that you might try to make things as easy as possible for me, after my giving way to you in everything, even introducing you here under false pretenses, so to speak."
"It is n't a case of false pretenses, Mama. I 've decided to resume my maiden name, and there was no necessity to enter into long explanations to these dear people, who, living as they do in a Catholic country, naturally know nothing about the blessings of divorce."
PRÓSPERO spent a great part of the night over his English dictionary. Again and again he conned the Spanish equivalents listed against that word "darling." A significant word, it seemed, heart-agitating, sky-transporting. He had not dreamed that the harsh, baffling English language could contain in seven letters a treasure so rare. Predilecto, querido, favorito, amado-which translation should he accept as defining his relation to Mees Cherry, avowed by her own lips? The patient compiler of that useful book could never have foreseen the ecstasy it would one day bring to a Mexican boy's heart.
He was living in a realm of enchantment. To think that already, on the very day of their meeting, he and his blonde Venus should have arrived at intimacies
far transcending any that are possible in Mexico except between the wedded or the wicked! In stark freedom, miraculously unchaperoned, they had talked together, walked together, boldly linked their very arms! In his ribs he still treasured the warmth of her; in his fingers throbbed the memory that for one electric instant their hands had fluttered, dove-like,
each to each. Small enough, those tender contacts; yet by such is the life force unchained: Popo found himself looking into a seething volcano, which was his own manhood. That discovery, conflicting as it did with the religious quality of his love, disturbed him mightily. Sublimely he invoked all his spiritual strength to subdue the volcano. And his travail was richly rewarded. The volcano became transformed magically into a fount of pellucid purity in which, bathing his exhausted soul, young Popo became a saint.
In that interesting but arduous capacity he labored for many days, during which Miss Cherry created no further occasion for their being alone together, but seemed to throw him in the way of her mama, a trial which he endured with fiery fortitude. He was living the spiritual life with rigorous intensity, a victim of the eternal mandate that those fountains of purity into which idealism has power to transform the most troublesome of volcanoes should be of a temperature little short of the boiling-point.
His dark eyes kept his divinity faithfully informed of his anguish and his worship, and her blue ones discreetly accepted the offering. Once or twice their hands met lightly, and it seemed that the shock might have given birth to flaming worlds. When alone with her mama, Alicia showed signs of an irritable ardor which Mrs. Cherry, with secret complacency, set down to regrets for the too hastily renounced blessings of matrimony.
"Poor old Ned!" the mother sighed one night. "Your father has seen him, and tells me that he looks dreadful."
ON the morning of the night of the ball the entire party, to escape from the majordomo and his gang of hammering decorators, motored into the country on a visit to Popo's grandmother, whose house sheltered three priests and a score of orphan girls, and was noted for its florid magnificence of the Maximilian period.
Popo hoped that some mention might be made in Alicia's hearing of his grandmother's oft-expressed intention to bequeath the place to him, and he was much gratified when the saintly old lady, who wore a mustache á la española, brought up the subject, and dilated upon it at some length, telling Popo that he must
tinue to make the house blessed by the presence of the three padres, but that she would make provision for the orphans to be taken elsewhere, out of his way, a precaution she mentioned to an accompaniment of winks and innuendos which greatly amused all the company, including the padres, only Alicia and Popo showing signs of distress.
After dinner, which occurred early in the afternoon, Popo manoeuvered Alicia apart from the others in the garden. His eyes telegraphed a desperate plea, to which hers consented, and he took her by the hand, and they ran through a green archway into a terraced Italian garden peopled with marble nymphs and fauns, from which they escaped by a little side gate into an avenue of orange-blossoms. Presently they were laboring over rougher ground, where their feet crushed the fat stems of lilies, and then they turned and descended a roughly cut path winding down the scarred, dripping face of a cliff into the green depth of a little cañon, at the upper end of which a cascade resembling a scarf flung over a wall sang a song of eternity, and baptized the tall treeferns that climbed in disorderly rivalry for its kisses.
Alicia breathed deeply the cool, mossscented air. The trembling boy, suddenly appalled at the bounty of life in presenting him with this sovereign concatenation of the hour, the place, and the woman, could only stammer irrelevantly, as he switched at the leaves with his cane:
"There is a cave in there behind the waterfall. One looks through the moving water as through a thick window, but one gets wet. Sometimes I come here alone, all alone, without going to the house, and mamagrande never knows. The road we came by passes just below, crossing this little stream, where thou didst remark the tall bamboos before we saw the porter's lodge. The mud wall is low, and I tie my horse in the bamboo thicket."
"Why do you come here?" she asked, her eyes tracing the Indian character in the clear line of his profile and the dusky undertone of his cheek.
"It is my caprice to meditate here. From my childhood I have loved the cañoncito in a peculiar way. Thou wilt laugh at me-no? Well, I have always
eyes and delightfully passionate tones in his voice; and, anyhow, it was simply delicious to be made love to in a foreign language.
She was extremely pleased, too, to note that her own heart was going pitapat in a fashion quite uncomfortable and sweet and girly. She would n't have missed that sensation for a good deal. What a com
Drawn by F. Luis Mora
WELL, I RAG-TIMED UP IN MY BEST TRA-LA-LA STYLE, BUT HE HALTED
Alicia, a confirmed matinée girl, wished that all her woman friends might have seen her at that moment (she had on a sweet frock and a perfectly darling hat), the child had suffered!
dor, now I know that the spirit I once felt and loved in secret was a prophecy Yes, Alicia mine, for thee this
fort to a bruised heart to be loved like He was calling her his saint. If that Edward could only hear him! Per
place has waited long-for thee, thou haps, after all, she was a saint. Yes, she adored image of all beauty, queen of my felt that she certainly was, or could be if heart, object of my prayers, whose purity she tried. Now he was repeating some has sanctified my life."
verses that he had made to her in Spanish. Such musical words! One had to come to the hot countries to discover what emotion was; and as for love-making! How
As he bowed his bared head before her
that had just been addressed to her by the she laid her hands, as in benediction, leading man. He was a thought juvenile, where a bronze light glanced upon the
glossy, black waves of his hair; and that
but he had lovely, adoring