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Volume io



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Stories by

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Copyright, 1884, by


By T. a. Janvier.

WHEN the Conde de Monterey, being then
Viceroy of this gracious realm of New-
Spain, sent his viceregal commissioners, attended
by holy priests, up into the northern country to
choose a site for an outpost city, there was found
no spot more beautiful, none more worthy to be
crowned, than this where the city of Monterey
stands to-day. And so the commissioners halted
beside the noble spring, the ojo de agua^ that gushes
out from its tangle of white pebbles in what now
is the very heart of the town ; and the priests set
up the sacred cross and sang a sweet song of praise
and thankfulness to the good God who had so well
guided them to where they would be ; and the
colonists entered in and possessed the land.

This all happened upon a fair day now close
upon three hundred years gone by. From century

•% Century Magazine ^ September, 1884.


to century the city has grown, yet always in accord
with the lines established by its founders. The
houses a-building now are as the houses built three
hundred years ago ; and, going yet farther into the
past, as the houses which were built by the Moors
when they came into the Gothic peninsula, bring-
ing with them the life and customs of a land that
even then was old. So it has come to pass that the
traveler who sojourns here — having happily left
behind him on the farther side of the Rio Grande
the bustle and confusion and hurtful toil of this
overpowering nineteenth century — very w^ell can
believe himself transported back to that blessed
time and country in which the picturesque was
ranked above the practical, and in which not the
least of human virtues was the virtue of repose.

Very beautiful is the site of Monterey : its noble
flanking mountains, the Silla and the Mitras, are
east and west of it ; its grand rampart, the Sierra
Madre, sweeps majestically from flank to flank to
the southward, and its outlying breastwork, a
range of far-away blue peaks, is seen mistily off in
the north. And the city is in keeping with its set-
ting. The quaint, mysterious houses, inclosing
sunny gardens and tree-planted court-yards ; the
great catnedral where, in the dusk of evening, at
vespers, one may see each night new w^onders,
Rembrandt-like, beautiful, in light and shade ; the
church of St. Francis, and the old ruined church
beside it — built, first of all, in honor of the saint
who had guided the Viceroy's commissioners so


well ; the bowery plaza., with the great dolphin-
fountain in its centre, and the plazuelas, also with
fountains and tree-clad ; the narrow streets ; the
old-time market-place, alive with groups of buyers
and sellers fit to make glad a painter's heart — all
these picturesque glories, together with many
more, unite to make the perfect picturesqueness of

Yet Pancha, who had been born in Monterey,
and who never had been but a league away from it
in the whole seventeen years of her life-time, did
not know that the city in which she lived was pict-
uresque at all. She did know, though, that she
loved it very dearly. Quite the saddest time that
she had ever passed through was the week that she
had spent once at the Villa de Guadalupe — a league
away to the eastward, at the Silla's foot — with her
Aunt Antonia. It was not that tia Antonia was
not good to her, nor that life at the Villa de Gua-
dalupe — as well conducted a little town, be it said,
with as quaint a little church, as you will find in
the whole State of Nuevo Leon — was not pleasant
in its way ; but it was that she longed for her own
home. And when, coming back at last to the city,
perched on the forward portion of tio Tadeo's
burro., she peeped over the burro s long ears — at the
place w^here the road turns suddenly just before it
dips to cross the valley — and caught sight once
more of the dome of the cathedral, and the clock-
tower of the market-house, and the old Bishop's
palace on its hill in the far background, with the


Mitras rising beyond, and a flame of red and gold
above the Sierra left when the sun went down, —
when Pancha's longing eyes rested once more on
all these dear sights of home, she buried her little
face in tio Tadeo's pudgy shoulder and fairly
sobbed for joy.

Many a person, though, coming a stranger and
with a stranger's prejudices into this gentle, lovely
Mexican land, would have thought Pancha's love
of home quite incomprehensible ; for her home,
the house in which she dwelt, was not lovely to
eyes brought up with a rigorous faith in right
angles and the monotonous regularity of American
city walls. In point of fact, persons of this sort
might have held — and, after their light, with some
show of justice — that Pancha's home was not a
house at all.

Crossing the city of Monterey from west to east
is a little valley, the arroyo of Santa Lucia, into
which, midway in its passage, comes through an-
other arroyo of a few hundred yards in length the
water from the ojo de agua — the great spring where-
at the Conde's commissioners paused content, and
beside which, the holy fathers sang songs of praise.
Along both banks of these two little valleys grow
trees, and canebrakes, and banana groves, and all
manner of bushes and most pleasant grass ; and in
among the bushes and trees, here and there, are
little huts of wattled golden cane overlaid with a
thatch of brown. And it was in one of these y-^^r^/i-,
standing a stone's throw below the causeway that


crosses the arroyo of the ojo de agtia, upon the point
of land that juts out between the two valleys be-
fore they become one, that Pancha was born, and
where most contentedly she lived. Over the Jacal
towered a great pecan tree ; and a banana grew
graciously beside it, and back of it was a huddle
of feathery, waving canes. Truly it was not a
grand home, but Pancha loved it ; nor would she
have exchanged it even for one of the fine houses
whose stone walls you could see above and beyond
it, showing grayly through the green of the trees.
For nearly all the years of her little life the love
of the beautiful city of Monterey, of her poor little
home that yet was so dear to her, of the good father
and mother who had cared for her so well since
she came to them from the kind God who sends
beautiful children into the world, for her little
brother and sister, the twins Antonio and Antonia,
who gave a world of trouble, — for they were sad
pickles, — but who repaid her by a world of child-
ish lovingness for her care : for nearly all her life
long these loves had sufficed to fill and to satisfy
Pancha's heart. But within a year now a new love,
a love that was stronger and deeper than all of these
put together, had come to her and had grown to
be a part of her life. And Pancha knew, down in
the depths of her heart, that this love had begun
on the very first day that her eyes had rested upon
Pepe's gallant figure and handsome face — the day
when Pepe, having been made captain of a brave
company of contrabandistas, had come up to Monte-


rey to partake of the Holy Sacrament at Easter,
and to be blessed by his old father, and to, receive
the congratulations of his friends.

Pancha's father, Christobal, a worthy cargador
who never in the whole twenty years that he had
discharged the responsible duties of his calling had
lost or injured a single article confided to his care,
and old Manuel, who held the honorable position
of sereno — a member of the night-watch — in the city
of Monterey, had known each other from a time
long before Pancha was born ; and from a full un-
derstanding of each other's good qualities, and
from certain affinities and common tastes, the two
old fellows had come in the course of years to be
the closest friends. Cristobal the cargador — better
known, being a little bandy-legged man, as Toba-
lito — was scarcely less delighted than was Man-
uel himself when Pepe — a motherless lad who had
grown to manhood in the care of a good aunt —
came up from his home in Tamaulipas that Easter-
tide to tell of his good fortune. The boy was a
gallant boy, they both agreed, — as they drank his
health more times than was quite good for them in
Paras brandy of the best, on which never a tlaco of
duty had been paid, — and before him had opened
now a magnificent future. Being a captain of con-
trabandistas at twenty-two, what might he not be at
thirty ? His fortune was assured ! And old Cata-
lina shared in this joy of her husband's and of her
husband's friend, and drank also, relishingly, a lit-
tle mug of brandy to Pepe's good fortune — present


and to come. Even the twins, Antonio and Ante*
nia, entered into the spirit of the festive occasion,
and manifested their appreciation of it by refrain-
ing from signal mischief for the space of a whole
hour : at the end of which period Pancha, perceiv-
ing that they were engaged in imitating the proc-
ess of washing clothes in the stream, and judging
rightly that the earnestness of their operations
boded no good, was just in time to rescue the yel-
low cat from a watery grave.

And it was on this happy day, as Pancha knew
afterward, that her love for Pepe first began.

This was a year past, now ; and for many months
Pancha had been gladdened by the knowledge that
her love was returned — though, as yet, this sweet
certainty had not come to her in words. Indeed,
during the past twelvemonth Pepe had been but
little in Monterey. As became a young captain of
conirabandisias who longed to prove that he deserved
to wear his spurs, his time had been passed for the
most part in making handsome dashes from the
Zona Libre into the interior. Already the fame of
his brilliant exploits was great along the frontier ;
already to the luckless officers of the contraresguardo
his name was a mocking and a reproach. What
with his knowledge of the mountain paths and hid-
ing-places, his boldness and his prudence, his infor-
mation^coming it might be treason to say from
where, but always exact and trustworth}^ — of where
the revenue people would be at any hour of any
day or night, the contraresguardo seemed to have no


more chance of catching him than they had of
catching the wind of heaven or the moon itself.

Once, indeed, Pepe had a narrow escape. At
the outskirts of Lampazos word came to him that
the customs guard was at his very heels. There
was no hiding-place near ; to run for it with a train
of heavily laden burros was of no earthly use at all ;
to run for it without the burros would have been a
disgrace. And Pepe did not attempt to run. As
fast as they could be driven he drove the burros
into the town, and halted them in squads of three
and four at friendly houses ; spoke a word or two
at each door, and then galloped off w^ith his men
into the outer wilderness of chaparral. And when,
ten minutes later, the men of the contraresguardo
came flourishing into Lampazos, certain of victory
at last, not a vestige of the cojitrabando could they
find ! True, in the patios of a dozen houses were
certain weary-looking burros whose backs were
v/arm, and near them ^vere pack-saddles which
were warm also ; but what had been upon those
pack-saddles no man could surely say. The expla-
nation vouchsafed that the lading had been fire-
wood was not, all things considered, wholly satis-
factory ; but it could not be disproved. And as the
possession of warm pack-saddles and warm-backed
burros is not an indictable offense even in Mexico^
the contraresguardo could do nothing better in the
premises than swear with much heartiness and ride
sullenly away. And to the honor of Lampazos be
it said that when, in due course of time, Pepe re-


turned and withdrew his burro-tro^xn from the town,
not a single package of the contrabando had been
stolen or lost !

So Pepe, by his genius and his good luck, proved
his right to wear his spurs. And the merchants of
the interior held him in high esteem ; and people
generally looked upon him as a rising young man ;
and Pancha, who read aright the story told by his
bold yet tender brown eyes, suffered herself to love
this gallant captain of contrabandistas with all her

Yet while this was the first time that Pancha had
loved, it was not the first time that love had been
given her. A dozen young fellows, as everybody
knew, and as even she, though quite to herself,
demurely acknowledged, were in love with her to
their very ears. One or two of them had gone so
far, indeed, as to open communications, through
proper representatives, for the rare favor of her
hand. The most earnest, though the least demon-
strative of these, was a certain captain in the con-
traresguardo^ by name Pedro ; a good fellow in his
way, but quite shut out beyond the pale of reputa-
ble society, of course, by his unfortunate calling.

Naturally Pancha never was likely to think very
seriously of loving Pedro ; yet pity for him, acting
on her gentle heart, had made her in some sort his
friend. It was not altogether his fault that he was
an officer of the contraresguardo^ and other people
besides Pancha believed that but for this blight
upon him a good career might have been his. But


luck had been against Pedro from the very day of
his birth ; for when he was born his mother died,
and a little later his father died also. Being thus
left lonely in the world, he fell into the keeping of
his uncle, Padre Juan, a grim priest who, having
lost all happiness in life himself, saw little reason
why he should seek to make the lives of others
glad. Dismally the boy grew up in this narrow,
cheerless home. The Padre fain would have made
of him a priest also ; but against this fate Pedro
rebelled, and accepted, while yet a boy, the alter-
native means of livelihood that his uncle offered
him in the service of the co?ifraresguardo.

As his rebellion against his proposed induction
into the priesthood showed, the boy had strong
stuff in him. He had a mighty will of his own.
And there w^as this in common between him and
his grim uncle : a stern resolve, when duty was
clear, to do duty and nothing else. Therefore it
came to pass that Pedro, being entered into the
hateful service of the customs preventive force,
presently w^as recognized by his superiors as one of
the very few men of the corps who, in all ways,
were trustworthy ; and as trustworthiness is the
rarest of virtues in the cojitraresguardo^ — a service so
hated that usually only men of poor spirit will
enter it at all, — his constant loyalty brought him
quick promotion as its just reward. Yet Pedro had
no happiness in his advancement. Each step up-
ward, as he very well knew, was earned at the cost
of greater hatred and contempt. Those who w^ould


have been his friends, had the lines of his life fallen
differently, were his enemies. Nowhere could he
hope to find kindliness and love. Therefore he
grew yet more stern and silent, and yet more ear-
nestly gave himself to the full discharge of the duty
that was sacred to him because it was his duty, but
that in his heart he abhorred. Nor did he ever
waver in his faithfulness until, coming to know
Pancha, his chilled heart was warmed by her sweet
looks of friendliness, the first that ever he had
known ; and, as fate decreed, the force of duty
found arrayed against it the force of love.

Pancha had a tender, gentle nature, in which was
great kindliness ; and before she knew Pepe there
was some little chance, perhaps, that in sheer pity
of his forlornness she might have given Pedro her
love. This, of course, showed how weak and how
thoughtless Pancha was ; how ignorant of the feel-
ings of society ; how careless of the good opinion
of the world. To be sure, the possibility of her
loving Pedro never passed beyond a possibility ;
but that it went so far counted for a great deal to
him, to whom, in all his life, no single gleam nor
even faintest hope of love had ever come. The
gentle glance or two which she had cast him in her
compassionate sorrow for his friendlessness sank
down into the depths of Pedro's heart, and bred
there for her that great love — tender, yet almost
stern in its fierce intensity — to which only a pas-
sionate, repressed nature can give birth. And
through the year that passed after Pepe had gained


his captaincy, and at the same time Pancha's favor,
Pedro's love had grown yet stronger and deeper, —
growing the more, perhaps, because it was so hope-
less and so deeply hid ; but Pancha, whose very
life was wrapped in Pepe's now, had almost ceased
to remember that such a person as this rueful cap-
tain of the contraresguardo lived.

Still another life-thread was interwoven with the
life-threads of these three. Dearest of Pancha's
girl-friends was Chona, — for so was shortened and
softened her stately name, Ascencion, — daughter
of a lefiador whose jacal was near by, and with
w^hom her father had long been on friendly terms.

A grand creature was this Chona, daughter of
the lefiador. The simple folk among whom she
lived called her " La Reina, " ^nd her majestic
beauty made her look indeed a queen. Yet was
she not loved by those among whom she lived.
Her nature was as imperious as her beauty was im-
perial, and, save only Pancha, there was none who
called her friend. Because of their very unlike-
ness, these two were drawn together. Pancha had
for Chona an enthusiastic devotion ; and Chona
graciously accepted the homage rendered as her
queenly right. In the past year, though, since
Pepe's triumphal visit to Monterey, a change had
come over Chona that was beyond the understand-
ing of Pancha's simple, loving heart. She no
longer responded — even in the fitful fashion that
had been her wont — to Pancha's lovingness. She
was moody ; at times she was even harsh. More


than once Pancha, chancing to turn upon her sud-
denly, had surprised in her eyes a look that seemed
born of hate itself. This change was grievous and
strange to Pancha ; but it troubled her less than it
would have done a year before. For now her
whole heart was bright with gladness in her love
of Pepe, and with the glad hope that his love was
given her in return.

So, for Pancha at least, the time passed blithely
on. Her mood of compassion for Pedro was for-
gotten, and her loss of Chona's friendship— if ever
5h3 had possessed it— caused her no great sorrow ;
and all because her love for Pepe filled to overflow-
ing her loving heart.

This was the v/ay that matters stood the next
Easter, when Pepe again came up to Monterey to
take part in the blessed services of the church, to
see again his old father, and again to receive gra-
ciously the congratulations of his friends.

And this time Pepe told his love to Pancha in
words. In the warm twilight of the spring evening
—being followed, as custom in Mexico prescribes,
by the discreet tia Antonia, also come into Monte-
rey for the Easter festival— they walked slowly
among the bushes and trees lining the bank of the
ojo de agua, passed beneath the arch of the cause-
way, and stood beside the broad, clear pool where
the water of the great spring pauses a little before
it flows outward to the stream. It was on this very
spot, say the legends of the town, that the good


Franciscan fathers, three hundred years ago, set
up the holy cross and sang their song of thankful-
ness and praise.

And here it was — while the discreet tia Antonia
manifested her discretion by standing where she
could watch closely, yet could not hear — that to
Pancha were whispered the sweet.est words that ever
she had heard, that ever she was to hear. In her
memory dwelt for a little while joyously the picture
of the dark water at her feet that, a little beyond,
grew duskily green with aquatic plants ; the mas-
sive stone causeway that cast a shadow upon them
in the waning light reflected from the red sky be-
yond the Mitras crest ; the trees beside the spring
swaying a little in the gentle evening wind ; the
hush over all of the departing day. Very dear to
Pancha was the memory of this picture — until, in
the same setting, came another picture, ghastly,
terrible, that made the place more horrible to her
than the crazing horror of a dream. But the future
was closed to her, happily, and in her heart that
Easter evening was only a perfect happiness and a
perfect love.

Later, when they went back to \.h.Q jacal oi wat-
tled cane, there was great rejoicing among the
older folk that Pepe's suit had sped so well. It
was not, of course, a surprise to anybody, this suit
of his. In point of fact, it all had been duly set-
tled beforehand between the two old men, — as a
well-conducted love affair in Mexico properly must
be, — and this dramatic climax to it was a mere nom-


inal concession to Pepe's foreign tastes, acquired
through much association with American, s upon the
frontier. So, the result being satisfactory, the
Paras brandy was brought forth again, and toasts
were drunk to Pepe's and Pancha's long happiness.
And these were followed by toasts to the success —
though that was assured in advance, of course — of
a great venture in which Pepe was about to en-
gage ; a venture that infallibly was to make him a
rich man.

The scheme that Pepe had devised was worthy
of himself. Its basis was an arrangement — made
who shall say how ? — that all the forces of the con-
traresguardo and rurales should be sent on a wild-
goose chase into the mountains, and sent far
enough to make sure that they should stay in the
mountains for a whole night and a whole day.
And, the coast being thus cleared, it was the pur-
pose of this daring captain of conirabandistas to come
up from the Zona Libre with not one, but with
three great trains of burros laden with cotitrabando^
and to bring these trains, in sections and under
cover of darkness, actually into the city of Monte-
rey ! Further, to make quite sure that in the city
he should meet with no hindrance to the execution
of his plans, he had arranged that at the hour his
trains were to enter from the east, dijacal should be
set on fire over in the western suburb. Fires occur
but rarely in Monterey, and when one does occur
all the town flocks to see it : it is better than a
fiesta. It was a stroke of genius on Pepe's part to


think of this diversion ; and the man who owned
the doomed jacal — one of Pepe's band who himself
had a share in the venture— was eager to put so
brilliant a plan into execution. Indeed, to insure
success a dozen jacals might have been profitably-
consumed, for the contrabando was to be exception-
ally rich in quality as well as great in quantity, and
the profit upon it would be something that to such
simple-minded folk as Manuel and Tobalito and
Catalina seemed almost fabulous.

The very risk of the venture, as Pepe pointed
out, constituted its safety. In the mountains there
was a chance at any time of a fight, but in the city
streets there was literally nobody to fear — " unless
the serefios should turn contraresguardo T' he sug-
gested ; whereat there was much cheerful laughter,
that of the honest sereno Manuel being loudest of

The lenador^ Tobalito's trusted friend, hearing
the sounds of festivity and snuffing the Paras
brandy from afar off, came in to join them ; and
being informed of the happy issue of Pepe's love
affair, and of Pepe's noble project, he gladly joined
in drinking the double toast and in adding his

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Online LibraryCharles Scribner's SonsStories by American authors → online text (page 1 of 11)