Puslapio vaizdai

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 together 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."

"So much the better for them!" retorted Mrs. Cherry. "However much of a blessing divorce may be, I 've noticed that since you got your decree your face has not had one atom of real enjoyment in it until to-night."

"Until to-night!" Alicia echoed with a stoical smile. "And to-night, because you see a spark of reviving interest in my face, you try to extinguish it with reproaches!"

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"Not very hard, I 'm thinking. You wanted me to forgive him."

"No, my dear, only to take him back on probation. We can punish men for their favorite sins much more effectually by not giving them their freedom."

"I could n't be guilty of that meanness, and I shall never regret having shown some dignity. And I think that closes the subject, does n't it, dearest ?" Alicia yawned.

"Poor Edward!" her mother persisted. "How he would have enjoyed this picturesque atmosphere with you!"

Alicia calmly creamed her face.

He had not

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. 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

Drawn by F. Luis Mora


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 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 con

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

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of thee.

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Yes, Alicia mine, for thee this

that Edward could only hear him! Per

dor, now I know that the spirit I once fort to a bruised heart to be loved like felt 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. that all her woman friends might have a confirmed matinée girl, wished Such musical words! One had to come to the hot countries to discover what emoseen her at that moment (she had on a tion was; and as for love-making! How sweet frock and a perfectly darling hat), the child had suffered!

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


touch, so tender, felled Popo to the earth, where he groveled with tears and broken words and kisses for her little shoes, damp from the spongy soil. And she suddenly dropped her posings and her parasol, and forgot her complexion and her whalebones, and huddled down beside him in the bracken, hushing his sobs and wiping his face, with sweet epithets and sweeter assurances, finding a strange, wild comfort in mothering him recklessly, straight from the soul. At the height of which really promising situation she was startled by a familiar falsetto hail from her mama as the rest of the party descended into the cañoncito, whither it had been surmised that Popo had conducted Miss Cherry.

After flinging an artless yodel in response to the maternal signal, and while composing Popo and herself into lifelike attitudes suggestive of a mild absorption in the beauties of nature, she whispered in his ear:

"The next time you come here you shall have two horses to tie in the bamboos."

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To be the only blonde at a Mexican ball is to be reconciled for a few hours to the fate of being a woman. Alicia, her full-blown figure habited in the palest of pink, which seemed of the living texture of her skin, with a generous measure of diamonds winking in effective constellations upon her golden head and dazzling bosom, absorbed through every pore the enravished admiration of the beholders, and beneficently poured it forth again in magnetic waves of the happiness with which triumph enhances beauty. Popo almost swooned with rapture at this apotheosis of the being who, a few hours earlier, had actually hugged him in the arms now revealed as those of a goddess. And to-morrow! With swimming brain he repeated over and over, as if to convince himself of the incredible, "Mañana!"

Almost as acute as the emotions of Popo, in a different way, were those of a

foreign gentleman who had just been presented to the governor by the newly arrived Mr. Montague Cherry. So palpably moved was the stranger at the sight of Alicia that Mrs. Cherry laid a soothing hand on his arm and whispered a conspirator's caution. Presently he and Alicia stood face to face. Had they been Mexican, there would have ensued an emotional and edifying scene. But all that Alicia said, after one sharp inspiration of surprise, was, with an equivocal halfsmile:

"Why, Edward! Of all people!"

And the gentleman addressed as Edward, finding his voice with difficulty, blurted out hoarsely:

"How are you, Alicia?"

At which Alicia turned smilingly to compliment Doña Elvira on the decorations.

Mr. Edward P. Winterbottom was one of those fortunate persons who seem to prefigure the ideal toward which their race is striving. A thousand conscientious draftsmen, with that national ideal in their subconsciousness, were always hard at work portraying his particular type in various romantic capacities, as those of foot-ball hero, triumphant engineer, "well-known clubman," and pleased patron of the latest collar, cigarette, sauce, or mineral water. Hence he would give you the impression of having seen him before somewhere under very admirable auspices. Extremely good-looking, with long legs, a magnificent chin, and an expression of concentrated manhood, he had every claim to be classed as "wholesome," cherishing a set of opinions suitable to his excellent station in life, a proper reverence for the female of the species, and an adequate working assortment of simple emotions easily predicable by a reasonably clever woman. Of the weaknesses common to humanity he had fewer than the majority, and in the prostration of remorse and desire in which he now presented himself to Alicia he seemed to offer timber capable of being made over into a prince of lifelong protectors.

Alicia had come to feel that she needed a protector, chiefly from herself. Presently, without committing herself, however, she favored him with a waltz. As they started off, she saw the agonized face of Popo, who had been trying to

reach her. She threw him a smile, which he lamentably failed to return. Not until then did she identify the music as that of the waltz she had promised him on the night of that first serenata. After it was over she good-naturedly missed a dance or two in search of him, meaning to make amends; but he was nowhere to be found.

WITH many apologies, Doña Elvira mentioned to Alicia, when she appeared the following morning, that the household was somewhat perturbed over the disappearance of Próspero. No one could remember having seen him since early in the progress of the ball. He had not slept in his bed, and his favorite horse was missing from the stable. Don Fernando had set the police in motion. Moreover, la mamagrande, informed by telephone, was causing masses to be said for the safety of her favorite. God would undoubtedly protect him, and meanwhile. the honored señorita and her mama would be so very gracious as to attribute any apparent neglect of the canons of hospitality to the anxieties of an unduly affectionate mother.

Alicia opened her mouth to reply to that tremulous speech, but, finding no voice, turned and bolted to her room, trying to shut out a vision of a slender boy lying self-slain among the ferns where he had received caresses and whispers of love from a goddess of light fancy and lighter faith.

She had no doubt that he was there in his cañoncito. But perhaps he yet lived, waiting for her! She would go at once. Old Ned should escort her as far as the bamboos, to be within call in case of the worst.

Old Ned was so grateful for the privilege of riding into the blossoming country with his Alicia that she rewarded him with a full narration of the Popo episode; and he received the confidence with discreet respect, swallowing any qualms of jealousy, and extolling her for the highminded sense of responsibility which now possessed her to the point of tears.

"It's all your fault, anyway," she declared as they walked their horses up a long hill.

He accepted the blame with alacrity as a breath of the dear connubial days.

continued fretfully, "and that is that the summer flirtation of our happy land simply cannot be acclimated south of the Rio Grande. These people lack the necessary imperturbability of mind, which may be one good reason why they 're not permitted to hold hands before the marriage ceremony. To complicate matters, it seems that I 'm the first blonde with the slightest claim to respectability that ever invaded this part of Mexico, and although the inhabitants have a deluded idea that blue eyes are intensely spiritual, they get exactly the same Adam-and-Eve palpitations from them that we do from the lustrous black orbs of the languishing tropics."

"Did you-ah-did you get as far as -um-kissing?" Mr. Winterbottom inquired, with an admirable air of detach


"Not quite, Edward; that was where the rest of the folks came tagging along. But I promise you this: if I find that Popo alive, I 'm going to kiss him for all I 'm worth. The unfortunate child is entitled to nothing less."

"But would n't that-hum-add fuel to the flame?" he asked anxiously.

"It would give him back his self-respect," she declared. "It is n't healthy for a high-spirited boy to feel like a worm."

MR. WINTERBOTTOM, MR. WINTERBOTTOM, while waiting. among the bamboos in company with three sociable horses, - Popo's was in possession when they arrived, -smoked one very long cigar and chewed another into pulpy remains. Alicia not having yodeled, he understood that she had found the boy alive, and he tried to derive comfort from that reflection. He had promised to preserve patience and silence, and such was his anxiety to propitiate Alicia that he managed to subjugate his native energy, although the process involved the kicking up of a good deal of soil. She reflected, when she noted on her return his carefully cheerful expression, that a long course of such discipline would go far toward regenerating him as a man and a husband.

"Well, how is our little patient today?" he inquired with gentle jocosity as he held the stirrup for her.

"I believe he 'll pull through now,"

"One thing I 've demonstrated," she Alicia responded gravely. "I 've sent him

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