Charles Frederick Holder.

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wondering what one among my dn
would make the most quiet toild
the occasion, when I stopped in sur-
prise beside the bed. Spread out upon
it, by Manuela's careful hands, w
costume fit for a princess, Ash<
roses in the shadow, shimmering [
in the sunlight, a web of misty lace
about the corsage and a knot of Mal-
maison roses at the breast, holding the


that the matter was settled. All that
afternoon I went about the house in
painful indecision, longing for the
courage which might have enabled me
to decline the doubtful honor of my
husband's escort. A few months be-
fore I would have been gratified by
the offer of his company. Now I
shrank from it, wondering how many
of our neighbors were already familiar
witli the shameful secret that chance
had disclosed to me.

It was late in the afternoon when I
went listlessly to my room to prepare
for the party. Old Manuela slipped
out of the door as I entered, a look of

secret of all color in their fragrant

My eyes swam with tears, and I
knelt beside the bed, pressing tin-
silken fabric to my cheek. For this
was the selfsame stuff that I had
found Raoul buying the day I was in

Manuela, with gentle insistence, held
me before the glass when she had put
the finishing touches to my toilet. .
once in my life I had the glad satis-
faction of knowing that I was beauti-
ful. The sunlight burnished my brown
hair, answering to the sheen of my
dress. My pale cheeks had borrowed



a touch of glowing crimson from the
hearts of the roses. In my eyes there
was a light so new and strange that I
involuntarily bent forward and tried to
read their mystery. Then recollecting
myself with a happy laugh, I swept
out of the room and along the passage
to where Raoul awaited me.

There was a tall pier glass at the
further end of the drawing-room, and
as I passed through the doorway fac-
ing this, I met Raoul's eyes regarding
me with undisguised pleasure. When
he wheeled about and faced me, he was
as sober and impassive as ever.

"The carriage is ready," he said.
" I go on horseback, for I must make
a short stop on the way ; but I will
easily overtake you."

Somehow this peculiar avoidance of
me neither offended nor displeased me
this night. The long silent ride gave
me the time for reflection that I needed.
Now I knew the delicate consideration
that lay behind the affectation of in-
difference, and it should no longer re-
pel me. I was glad, glad that even
when I had so cruelly misjudged him,
I had been unshaken in my deter
initiation with regard to Harry Dave-

It annoyed me to find that Mr.
Davenant was to take me out to
dinner, and his self-congratulation^
whispered to me, were odious, for they
seemed to point out the way that my
feet had so lately been unconsciously
traveling. At the table a topic of
absorbing interest was mentioned that
engaged the attention of all the guests.
Our fertile valley w r as only just passing-
through the transition stage that has
redeemed to fruit culture so many
thousands of acres of wild pasture
lands, long utilized for grazing pur-
poses. Cattlemen still occupied the
lands along the foothills and looked
impatiently at the changes taking
place in the rich lands below, which
had once been a part of the great stock
ranges. To protect the fruit-growers
and to encourage the planting of
orchards, a M No Fence ' ' law had been
passed, which threw the responsibility

of keeping their cattle within bounds
upon the stockmen, and spared the
farmers the enormous expense of fenc-
ing lands in this lightly timbered coun-
try. The Senator who had represented
San Sebastian valley in the preceding-
legislature, had "sold out" to the
cattlemen and helped to repeal this
law, and all the carefully-cultivated
fruit ranches were at the mercy of
roving bands of cattle turned loose on
the day after the law's repeal.

As I listened to the accounts of the
ravages that had already been wrought
in the beautiful orchards and gardens,
a feeling of indignation came over me
and prompted one of my rash speeches.
The apathy of Southern Californians
irritated me. It seemed to have its
root in the disposition of the Spanish
race, which had meekly submitted to
every manner of imposition and never
resented the most outrageous abuses.
Even Raoul, who certainly was not
lacking in industry, and who so faith-
fully discharged every personal duty,
appeared to have this same inertia,
this shameful indifference, when it
came to matters of public responsi-

"The people have no one to blame
but themselves/ 1 I said hotly. "If
the right sort of men would go into
politics and shoulder corruption aside,
such men as Preston would never be
put in office."

1 ' Which is why Mr. Raoul Garcia
has raised his standard and entered
the lists, to supplant this rogue in the
Senate, I suppose," said our host,
smiling at me.

I looked at him and then at Raoul.

" It is not pleasant to plunge in the
political mire. I could scarcely have
brought myself to do it, were it not to
save the homes and redeem the honor
of the valley."

His voice thrilled and his eye kindled
with his concluding words. It was the
first time we ever exchanged a look of
perfect sympathy.

11 1 don't believe that you knew of his
candidacy. I believe that you have
learned it this moment for the first



time," said Harry Davenant, in a sig-
nificant undertone.

44 Mr. Davenant, my husband and I
have no confidences that we do not
share," I said aloud, that all at the
table might hear.

Davenant flushed a fiery red. No-
body had heard his speech, but, know-
ing him well, the men shot mirthful
glances at him. and the ladies tried to
appear as if they had not observed the
incident. I glanced timidly in Raoul's
direction. He and I alone knew that
my speech was a daring fabrication.
Surprise, gratitude, profound respect
were the message his eyes conveyed to

From that moment Raoul seemed to
put away his accustomed restraint, and
I saw him in his true guise, a deep,
clear thinker, a polished conversation-
alist, whose words were never too
many and ever to the point. Davenant
attempted to hold a discussion with
him, but soon floundered, hopelessly
out of his depth. Yet when Raoul
saw that half the company, including
almost every woman, was being ex-
cluded from the conversation, he was
quick to shift it to topics in which all
could participate.

Before the meal was half finished,
a messenger arrived and a note was
brought to him. He looked dismayed
as he read it.

" They expect me to speak at Los
Penascos to-night," naming a village
six miles away. ' ' I have had no
notification, no "

11 Don't say no chance for prepara-
tion, Sefior. You can easily dispense
with that. Mrs. Garcia, your husband
is the best extemporaneous speaker we
have ever found in the county," said
our host, turning to me. " We must
be grateful to Preston for helping us
to discover him. He will distinguish
himself in the Senate. I predict that
we shall have him in Congress some

I looked up at Raoul, stalwart,
strong, his grave face intense with
purpose, and wondered that I could
ever have thought him dull and com-

monplace. He excused himself to the
company. A sudden intense desire
possessed me to go with him and hear
him speak that night.

" Raoul, take me with you." I cried.

He looked at me for a moment v
fully, as if wondering what caprice led
me to make this plea.

44 It is not best The road is rough.
I must ride fast for I am already late.
Yet I do not like the thought of hav-
ing you go home attended only by

44 If I might have the pleasure. ' ' put
in Davenant eagerly.

Raoul brushed him aside as if lie
had been a fly.

44 If Mr. Maynard would be n
kind," he began.

44 Certainly. Garcia, leave your wife
to my care," returned our host, rising
to accompany him to the door. Raoul
hesitated one instant, then crossed the
room, stooped over me one moment,
and was gone.

All the life and cheer of the com-
pany seemed to depart with Raoul.
Our host and hostess seemed singu-
larly overcast, and made a sorry feint
at eating. As for me, the kiss my
husband had left on my forehead
seemed to burn like a living flame.
When we rose from the table it w .
relief to find that they made but a
faint protest against my desire to re-
turn home at once.

We rode for a considerable distance
without speaking. Mr. Maynard was
the first to break the silence.

44 Mrs. Garcia, I do not wish to alarm
you, but if you can influence your
husband, try to discourage his taking
unnecessary risks. The cattlemen
highly incensed against him. They
have made bitter threats. I do not
like this unexpected call he has had

He had voiced my own brooding
anxiety, vague and undefined be!
Mr. Maynard went on as if to exc
the liberty he had taken.

44 We live so far apart that my wife
and I have not seen so much of you as
we would have liked, but I cannot help



being interested in all connected with
you. I knew your father very well
before he lost his property, my child."

'•My father — lost his property?
My father was a rich man, Mr. May-

" Ah ! Then I was misinformed."
He corrected himself quickly.

His quick evasion aroused my sus-

11 Mr. Maynard, tell me truly. I am
not a. child. I am a woman. I must

He honored me by believing in my

"Your father lost his money in
speculation two years or more ago.
He died penniless, and in debt."

"And all the pretty things that I
have had, the money with which I
have been so liberally supplied ? "

"Comes from Raoul Garcia.''

" Mrs. Garcia," he suddenly added,
4 ' I am going to show you a very
great proof of my confidence in your
true heart and good judgment. I am
going to tell you something that your
husband may never forgive if it should
come to his ears. The Garcias are
not rich, but they never forget a
service done by a friend. Your father
once did them a very great kindness.
He owed a debt of honor when he
died. Raoul secured it by mortgaging
his orange grove. He will free it in
time — if there are not too many
hindrances. The large subscription
you made to restore the old Mission
the other day made it necessary lor
him to ask a new loan. You are not
offended at me ? ' '

" I can never thank you enough."

I stood on the veranda as he
mounted his saddle horse and rode
away in the moonlight. The ranch
was very peaceful, and from the
servants' quarters came a cheerful
babel of tongues as Miguel halted on
his way to the stables. Within the
house it was silent and deserted, for
the Senor had retired early. Manuel a
came hurrying in to wait upon me,
but I dismissed her, telling her that I
should need her no more that night.

Left to myself, I took a light and went
to my room. Although I had been
reduced in a moment from imaginary
riches to the knowledge of this burden
of debt, I was happier than I had been
since my girlhood. I opened chests
and drawers and took from their hooks
in the closet all the pretty clothes that
Raoul had given me, and cried over
them a little and rejoiced over them
more, reminding myself of the skill in
needlework that I had learned during
my convent life. I would make them
over with my own hands. Raoul should
buy nothing more for me for months —
years to come. I would insist upon
directing our household expenses, and
by all manner of cunning economies,
which lie should never learn, the debt
would soon be lifted.

I stole to a room that looked off
toward Los Penascos. It almost
seemed as if I could see the lights of
the little settlement twinkling in the
distance, but the road that formed our
direct. connection with it, the road by
which Raoul would come, wound for
miles through a narrow cafion, a black
blur on the moonlit landscape.

Through the open window I watched
this gap in the hills, straining my ears
to catch the distant clatter of hoofs,
but only the mournful cry of some
night bird broke the stillness.

Every moment increased my anxiety
and dread.and lent new force to the fore-
bodings of my husband's friend. At
length I sprang to my feet with a sud-
den resolve. I f the meeting should be a
short one, or if, as Mr. Maynard had
intimated, there had proved to be no
meeting at all, but the call was only a
ruse to decoy him to the place, he must
have started for home long before, and
might even now be entering the mouth
of the lonely gulch. He must not
pass through it alone and unwarned.
Whom should I call — Manuela.
Miguel, stupid old Felipe — and waste
precious time in arousing them to a
sense of the possible danger, and per-
haps be laughed at among the servants
the next day for my foolish fancy ? It
was foolish : how foolish I would



prove to myself by going alone down
the untraveled road that led to the gap
in the hills, and waiting there until I
heard the beat of Sultan's hoofs.

I snatched up a dark shawl, wrap-
ping it about my head and shoulders
as I stole down the driveway and
along the dusty highway, until I came
to where the road branched off to L,os
Penascos. The canon was all in
shadow. It required all the courage I
could muster to turn into the lonely
road, its inner bank overhung with
trees and wild clematis, the outer
margin lined with treacherous bowl-
ders, draped with blackberry vines and
flowering shrubs, a charming picture
by day, gruesome by night.

There were voices around a bend
in the road. The black figures of two
men were silhouetted against the

" He'd ought to be along before
this," grumbled one.

II Shut yer cursed mouth," said the
other. " He'll be along soon enough.
D'ye hear that?"

Echoing up the gulch came the
sound of a clattering stone, detached
by a horse's hoof, and I knew Raonl
was coming, unconscious, to his

There was but one thing to do. I
dropped from the road into the tangle
of vines and brush below, and fought
my way through them. The wild
blackberry snared me in a prickly
mesh. The sharp thorns of the moun-
tain lilac bristled in my path. My
feet slipped on slimy things, and once
a cactus needle pierced mj^ foot, but
I scarcely heeded it, while a sharp
pang that was almost like physical
pain assailed me as I realized that the
pretty dress Raoul had given me was
being reduced to rags and tatters. I
could hear one of the ruffians above
proposing to " take a shot at the crit-
ter in the brush," and the other
angrily admonishing him to save his
powder for their chosen victim, and
not to alarm him while there was yet
a chance for his escape. A little
further on I regained the road, and

fled swiftly down to where Raonl,
humming an old Spanish ballad, was
leisurely climbing the grade.

The big gray h pped with

an intelligence almost human. Raonl
leaned forward, startled. Incredulous.

" Marian, is it yon ? "

" Raoul," I cried, "they arc- wait-
ing for you in the bend above the
spring. Turn back. Ride bat. U
me and go. I can go back the \va\ 1

For answer he stooped and lifted
me to a seat on the horse behind him.

11 Put your arms around me. II<»M
tight ! " he commanded.

He wheeled the horse and dashed
down the road to where an old moun-
tain trail crossed it, a hundred rods
below. The animal sprang bravely
up the steep ascent. So lightly did
he step, moving always in the shadow
of the brush, that it seemed as if the
waiting ruffians might be cheated into
a belief that their ears had borne false
witness. Yet our progress was pain-
fully slow. The horse labored under
his double burden.

"Oh, Raoul. I wanted to save you.
And I have only made yonr escape
more difficult."

Raoul drew off his glove and held
my left hand close pressed against his
heart. The deep, strong throb made
the blood leap in my own pulses. All
fear, all pain, all uncertainty fled.
Toiling up the rough mountain trail,
with death lurking in the pass below.
I felt a happiness, a glad exaltation
that I had never known before.

We were leaving the shelter of the
brush, and coming to a portion oi a
narrow spur which laid bare in the
moonlight, directly above where the
assassins lay in wait. His master
was putting Sultan through
Of Odd maneuvers, facing directh
wards the cation, and advancing* by
side-long steps. Even as I realized
that my husband had interposed his
own bodv as a shield between me and
death, there came a double report
from the hideous hollow. I felt a sting-
ing pain in my head, a warm stream



trickled upon my hand. Sultan made
a grand leap across the open space,
and I knew no more.

When I came to myself I was in a
room that was strange to me and yet
oddly familiar. Where had I seen
the brass bedstead on which I was ly-
ing, the faded silken canopy, the little
alabaster shrine, the quaint draped
figures on the wall ? I raised my head
weakly. A wandering branch of hon-
eysuckle strayed into the window, and
at the foot of the bed an old man's
figure bowed. Senor Garcia hastened
to my side. The solemn tenderness
in his face brought back the memory
of that terrible night.

' ' Raoul — my husband — where is he?
Ah, he was killed ! His blood fell on

"Hush, my daughter, while I tell
you," said the old man soothingly.
'■ Father of Mercies, but what can one
do when a woman cries after this fash-
ion ? As for me, I resign the task."

For I was crying hopelessly, with
hard, dry sobs that seemed to rend
my very being. Who was it that
came so quickly to my bedside, tak-
ing me into his arms, covering my
face, my neck, my hands with kisses,
calling me his dear, brave wife,
thanking God that I was restored
to him once more ? Who but Ra-
oul, alive and safe ! Heaven be
praised !

' ' And the blood, Carita ? A mere
scratch in my shoulder. It was the
other ball that was fired with deadly
aim. And a miracle saved me. Look,
my darling ! "

I had not observed that my left
hand was bandaged. He unwrapped
it tenderly. There was a deep inden-
tation in the gold circlet on the third
finger, and an ugly furrow in the
flesh beyond it.

For my wedding ring had turned
aside the bullet aimed at my hus-
band's heart.



Dear eyes whose love light is my day,

Dear rub}- lips that shame the morn',
Dear heart whose longings bid me stay

E'er by that fount where love was born ;
Bright love that hovers o'er my life,

Sweet spirit born of fragile clay —
O holy essence guard from strife

My soul, — my heart from passion's sway


THERE is an element of adventure
in a tale of smuggling that ap-
peals to the popular mind ; but
if any one imagines for a moment that
the life of the customs officers, who are
paid to keep a weather eye open for the
daring evader of the McKinley Bill's
dictum is laid on beds of roses, just let
him leave his cigar and cosy seat by
a home fire, and go out on one of the
ordinary night jaunts of these officials.
The customs force at San Francisco
is one of the best in the United States,
and under the administration of
Timothy Guy Phelps and Paris Kil-
burn, respectively collector and sur-
veyor of the port, many gigantic frauds
have been unearthed and thousands of
dollars saved the Government. The
recent disclosures, followed by the
flight of the Deputy Collector and the
dismissal of the former Appraiser, have
demonstrated that even wholesale bri-
bery of subordinates can not long with-
stand the searching inquiry going on
all the time in the customs de-
partment here. The keen detective
work of Special-Inspector Noyes, and
the untiring vigilance of Deputy-Sur-
veyor Gaskill, Chinese- Inspector Rud-
dell, Interpreter Rickards, with the
subordinate inspectors, have made it a
dangerous thing to attempt to run in
any contraband goods.

The difficulties in the way of the
customs officers at San Francisco are
perhaps greater than those any others

have to contend against, owing to the
principal contraband article — Ophwi.
This admits of being smuggled in
every manner conceivable to the
imagination. And again, the Chinese,
who are foremost in the work of
bringing it in, are the craftiest pc<
on earth and the most difficult to deal

There are few classes of people
who exercise more cunning in carrying
out their work than the smuggler.^. In
bringing contraband goods into a large
port like San Francisco, there is n<>
bold, daring work of hand-to-hand en-
counters with the ' ' coastguard " of the
novel — no rakish craft lying off shore
awaiting the signal rocket to run her
cargo in. Bold men there are, and
bad, who engage in such work, but
there is little question of persona] bo
ery with them, their boldness lying
entirely in their methods. When it
comes to " ways that are dark " the
opium smuggler is alive to every < on-
ceivable device to bring in the costly

When it is known that prepared
opium brings very close to $20 a pound
in'San Francisco, and that the dut;
$12 a pound, the incentive to bring it
in without paying tribute to Uncle S
is apparent. Li Yuen, or Hong Kong
opium is the finest of the product.
while the Victoria opium is the next
in quality.

One of the favorite methods of




smuggling the drug on steamers
coming from British Columbia is by
means of the false-bottomed trunk.
Beneath the false bottom many
hundreds of dollars in opium can
be placed. The Chinese resort to all
manner of devices, down to false heels
and soles to their shoes. They have
even been known to bring in the drug
in grindstones, which have had holes
drilled in them, and then covered so
cleverly that even experts could not
detect that the stones had been tam-
pered with. Within a month a large
quantity of opium was discovered in a
shipment of salmon from Portland.
It has even been brought in
barrels of nut oil. During the latter
part of the past } r ear, fully $15,000
worth was discovered in a shipment of
playing cards sent down by way of
Portland, though originally packed in

The vigilance of the customs men
has made it so difficult to smuggle any
large quantities in on the regular
China steamers, that the heavy contra-
band shipments are generally run in
on " tramp ' ' steamers or sailers. One
of the boldest pieces of work was dis-
covered in February, 1891, when
over $40,000 worth was seized from
the bark Bischoff. This was invoiced
as choiv, and consigned to Sang Yuen,
a mythical personage for whose cre-
ators the officials are still yearning.
Several vessels, arriving previous to the
Bischoff, had large consignments of
choiv for Sang Yuen, and the supposi-
tion is that many hundred thousands'
worth have been brought into the
port in this manner by the mythical
heathen. So cleverly was the entire
affair manipulated, that a large portion
of the goods was carted to a store in
Fish Alley, in the Chinese quarter,
before the fraud was discovered. By
the time the deception had been found
out, the goods had vanished, and in-
quiries for Sang Yuen brought out the
usual "no sabbe" from the stolid
heathen there. Choiv is a kind of pre-
pared food, composed of chopped vege-
tables. It is brought here in large

quantities for the use of the Chinese
population, and the wily fathers of the
mythical Yuen were alert to take ad-
vantage of the large importations, to
run in their opium under that designa-

The customs men are kept well
posted by the authorities at other
ports, whenever suspicious shipments
are made, and whenever any large
amounts of contraband opium are ex-
pected on an incoming vessel, look-out
boats are stationed by the "heads"
inside of Fort Point, to intercept
smugglers' accomplices picking up
packages of the drug that are thrown
overboard. This is a common method
of " running in " contrabands, as it is
a hard matter to tell just where, along
the vessel's course, the goods will be
dropped. Many times, large quantities
of opium have been thrown overboard
as high Up as Point Reyes, where they
have been picked Up by the smugglers
and shipped into the city by rail in
butter kegs, which excite no comment
coming from a dairy country. In
former years, large lots were picked up
and smuggled in by way of Saucelito.
Little did the patrons of one of Sauce-
lito's wharf restaurants think that the
polished hardwood ceiling above them

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 76 of 120)