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gaze toward her.

" You will despise me, Don Arturo — ^you,
whose countrywomen are so strong and
active, because I am so little and weak, and,
— Mother of God ! — so lazy ! But I am an
invalid, and am not yet quite recovered.
But then I am accustomed to it. I have
lain here for days, Don Arturo, doing noth-
ing. It is weary — eh ? You think ? This
watching, this waiting!— day after day —
always tibe same!"

There was something so delicately plaint-
ive and tender in the cadence of her speech
— a cadence that might, perhaps, have been
attributed to the characterisric intonation of
the Castilian feminine speech, but which
Arthiur could not help thinking was peculiar
to herself, that at the moment he dared not
lift his eyes to her, although he was con-
scious she was looking at him. But by an
impulse of safety he addressed himself to
the bed.

" You have been an invalid then — Donna
Dolores?"

"A sufferer, Don Arturo."

"Have you ever tried the benefit of
change of scene — of habits of life ? Your
ample means, your freedom from the cares
of family or kinship, offer you such oppor-



tunities," he continued, still addressing the
fan.

But the &n, as if magnetized by his gaze,
became coquettishly conscious; fluttered,
faltered, drooped, and then languidly folded
its wings. Arthur was left helpless.

"P^aps," said Donna Dolores, "who
knows?"

She paused for an instant, and then made
a sign to Manuela. The Indian woman
rose and left the room.

"I have something to tell you, Don
Arturo," she continued, " something I should
have told you this morning. It is not too
late now. But it is a secret. It is only that
I have questioned my right to tell it — ^not
that I have doubted yoiur honor, Don
Arturo, that I withheld it then."

Arthur raised his eyes to hers. It was
her turn to evade his glance. With her
long lashes dropped, she went on :

" It was five years ago, and my father —
whom may the Saints assoil — ^was alive.
Came to us then at the Presidio of San
Geronimo, a young girl — an American, a
stranger and helpless. She had escaped
fit)m a lost camp in the snowy mountains
where her family and fiiends were starving.
That was the story she told my father. It
was a probable one — was it not ? "

Arthur bowed his head but did not reply.

" But the name that she gave was not a
true one, as it appeared. My father had
sent an JSxpedkum to relieve these people,
and they had found among the dead the
person whom this young girl — ^this stranger
— assumed to be. That was their report.
The name of the young girl who was found
dead and the name of the young girl who
came to us was the same. It was Grace
Conroy."

Arthur's face did not move a muscle, nor
did he once take his eyes fit)m the drooping
lids of his companion.

" It was a grave matter — a very grave
matter. And it was the more surprising
because the young girl had at first given
another name — the name of Grace Ashley —
,which she afterward explained was the name
of the young man who helped her to escape,
and whose sister she at first assumed to be.

" My father was a good man, a kind man
— a saint, Don Arturo. It was not for him
to know if she were Grace Ashley or Grace
Conroy — it was enough for him to know
that she was alive, weak, helpless, suffering.
Against the advice of his officers, he took
her into his own house, into his own family,
into his own fatherly heart, to wait until her



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GABRIEL CONROY,



brother, or this Philip Ashley, should return.
He never returned. In six months she was
taken ill — very ill — a little child was bom —
Don Arturo — ^but in the same moment it
died and the mother died — ^both, you com-
prehend — both died — ^in my arms!"

" That was bad," said Arthur, curdy.

"I do not comprehend," said Donna
Dolores.

" Pardon. Do not misunderstand me. I
say it was bad, for I really beUeve that this
girl the mysterious stranger, with the alias^
was really Grace Conroy."

Donna Dolores raised her eyes and stared
at Arthur.

"And why?"

" Because the identification of the bodies
by the Eocpedician was hurried and imper-
fect."

" How knew you this ? "

Arthur rose and drew his chair a Kttle
nearer his fair client

" You have been good enough to intrust
me with an important and honorable secret.
Let me show my appreciation of that con-
fidence by intrusting you with one equally
important I know that the identification
was imperfect and hurried, because / was
present. In the report of the Expedicion
you will find the name, if you have not
already read it, of Lieutenant Arthur Poin-
sett. That was myself."

Donna Dolores raised herself to a sitting
posture.

" But why did you not teU me this before ? "

"Because, first, I believed you knew
that I was Lieutenant Poinsett. Because,
secondly, I did not believe that you knew
that ArUiur Poinsett and Philip Ashley were
one and the same person."

" I do not understand," said Donna Do-
lores slowly, in a hard metallic voice.

" I am Lieutenant Arthur Poinsett, for-
merly of the army, who, under the assumed
name of Philip Ashley, brought Grace Con-
roy out of Starvation Camp. ^ I am the
person who afterward abandoned her — the
father of her child."

He had not the slightest intenition of^
saying this when he first entered the room,*
but something in his nature, which he had
never tried to control, brought it out. He
was neither ashamed of it nor apprehensive
of its results; but, having ^aid it, leaned
back in his chair, proud, self-reliant and
self-sustained. If he had been uttering a
moral sentiment, he could not have been
externally more calm or inwardly less agi-
tated. M(ve than that, there was a certain



injured dignity in his manner, as he rose,
without giving the speechless and astonished
woman before him chance to recover her-
self, and said :

" You will be able now to know whether
your confidence has been misplaced. You
will be able now to determine what you wish
done, and whether I am the person best
calculated to assist you. I can only say.
Donna Dolores, that I am ready to act either
as your witness to the identification of the
real Grace Conroy, or as your legal adviser,
or both. When you have decided which,
you diall give me your further commands^
or dismiss me. Until then, adios /"

He bowed, waved his hand with a certain
grand courtesy, and withdrew. When Donna
Dolores raised her stupefied head, the door
had closed upon him.

When* thb conceited young gentleman
reached his own room, he was, I grieve ta
say, to some extent mentally, and, if I may-
use the word, morally exalted by the inter-
view. More than that, he was in better
spirits than he had been since his arrivaL
From his room he strode out into the corri-
dor. If his horse had been saddled, he
would have taken a sharp canter over the
low hills for exercise, pending the decision
of his fair client, but it was the hour of the
noonday siesta^ and the court-yard was
deserted. He walked to the gate and
looked across the plain. A fierce wind held
uninterrupted possession of earth and sky.
Something of its resdessness, just at that
instant, was in Arthur's breast, and, with a
glance around the corridor, and a moment-
ary hesitation, as an opening door, in a.
distant part of the building, suggested the
possibility of another summons &om Donna
Dolores, he stepped beyond the walls.

CHAPTER XXU.
THE BULLS OF THE BLESSED TRINITW

The absolute fireedom of illimitable space>
the exhilaration of the sparkling sunlip;ht»
and the excitement of the opposing wmd>
which was strong enough to oblige him to
exert a certain degree of physical strength
to overcome it, so wrought upon Arthur,
that in a few moments he had thrown oflf
the mysterious spell which the Rancho of
the Blessed Trinity appeared to have cast
over his spirits, and had placed a material
distance between himself and its gloomy
towers. The landscape, which had hitherto
seemed monotonous and uninspiring, now
became suggestive ; in the low, dome-shaped



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GABRIEL CONROY.
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567



bills beyond, that were huddled together
like half-blown earth babbles raised by the<
fiery breath of some long-dead volcano, he
fancied he saw the origin of the Mission
architecture. In the long sweep of the level
plain, he recognized the calm, uneventful
life that had left its expression in the patient
gravity of the people. In the fierce, restless
wind that blew over it — ^a wind so persistent
and perpetual that all umbrage, except a
narrow fringe of dwarfed willows defining
the line of an extinct water-course, was
hidden in sheltered canons and the leeward
slopes of the hills — he recognized something
of his own restless race, and no longer won-
dered at the barrenness of the life that was
turned toward the invader. " I dare say,"
he muttered to himself, " somewhere in the
leeward of these people's natures may exist
a luxurious growth that we shall never know.
I wonder if the Donna has not " — ^but here
he stopped, angry ; and, if the truth must
be told, a litde frightened at the persistency
with which Donna Dolores obtruded herself
into his abstract philosophy and sentiment

Posstl^y something else caused him for
the moment to dismiss her fix)m his mind.
During his rapid walk he had noticed, as an
accidental, and by no means an essential
feature of die bleak landscape, the vast herds
of crawling, purposeless catde. An entirely
new and distinct impression was now form-
ing itself in his consciousness— namely, that
they no longer were piuposeless, vagrant,
and wandering, but were actually obeying a
certain definite law of attraction, and were
moving deliberately toward an equally defi-
nite object And that object was himself!

Look where he would ; before, behind, on
either side, — ^north, east, south, west,— on
the bleak hill-tops, on the slope of ^tfalday
across the dried up arrayo^ there were the
same converging hues of slowly moving
objects toward a single focus-^himself 1
Although walking briskly, and with a certiin
definiteness of purpose, he was apparently
the only unchangmg, fixed, and limited
point in the now active landscape. Every-
thing that rose above the dead, barren level
was now moving slowly, irresistibly, instinct-
ively, but unmistakably, toward one common
center — himself! Alone and unsupported,
he was the helpless, unconscious nucleus of
a slowly gathering force, almost immeasura-
able in its immensity and power !

At first the idea was amusing and gro-
tesque. Then it became picturesque. TTien
it became something for practical considera-
tion. And then — ^but no I— with the quick



and unerring instincts of a powerful will, he
choked down the next consideration before
it had time to fasten upon or paralyze his
strength. He stopped and turned. The
Rancho of the Blessed Trinity was gone I
Had it suddenly sunk in the earth, or had
he diverged ftova his path? Neither; he
had simply walked over the litde devadon
in the plain beside the arroyo and corral^
and had ahready left the Rancho two miles
bdiind him.

It was not the only surprise that came
upon him suddenly like a blow between the
eyes. The same mysterious attraction had
been operating in his rear, and when he
turned to retrace his steps toward the Mis-
sion, he faced the staring eyes of a hundred
bulls not fifty yards away. As he fiu:ed
them, the nearest turned, die next rank fol-
lowed their exam[^e, the next the same, and
the next, imtil in the distance he could see
the movement repeated with mihtary pre-
cision and sequence. With a sense of relief,
that he put aside as quickly as he had the
sense of fear, he quickened his pace, until
the nearest bull ahead broke into a gende
trot, which was communicated tine by line
to the cattle beyond, until the whole herd
before him undulated like a vast monotonous,
sea. He continued on across the arroyo and
past the corral until the blinding and pene-
trating cloud of dust, raised by die plunging
hoofe of the moving mass before him, caused
him to stop. A dull reverberation of the
plain — a sound that at first might have been
attributed to a passing earthquake— now
became so distinct that he turned. Not
twenty yards behind him rose the advance
wall of another vast, tumultuous sea of tossing
horns and undulating backs that had been
slowly following his retreat ! He had for-
gotten that he was surrounded.

The nearest wete now so close upon him
that he could observe them separately. They
were neither large, powerful, vindictive, nor
ferocious. On the contrary, they were thin,
wasted, haggard, anxious beasts— econom-
ically equipped and gotten up, the better to
wresde with a six months' drought, occa-
sional famine, and the incessant buffeting of
the wind — wild and untamable, but their
staring eyes and nervous limbs expressed
only wonder and curiosity. And when he
ran toward them with a shout, thev turned,
as had the others, file by file, ana rank by
rank, and in a moment were, like the others,
in full retreat. Rather, let me say, retreated
as the others ?uui retreated, for when he
faced about again to retrace his steps toward



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GABRIEL CONROY.

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the Mission, he fronted the bossy bucklers
and inextricable horns of those he had driven
only a few moments ago before him. They
had availed themselves of his diversion with
the rear guard to return.

With the rapidity of a quick intellect and
swift perceptions, Arthur saw at once the
resisdess logic and utter hopelessness of his
situation. The inevitable culmination of all
this was only a question of time — and a very
brief period. Would it be sufficient to enable
him to reach the casa? No! Could he
regain the corral? Perhaps. Between it
and himself already were a thousand catde.
Would they continue to retreat as he ad-
vanced ? Possibly. But would he be over-
taken meanwhile by those in his rear ?

He answered the question himself by
drawing from his waistcoat pocket his only
weapon, a small " Derringer," and taking
aim at the foremost bull. The shot took
effect in the animal's shoulder, and he fell
upon his knees. As Arthur had expected,
his nearer comrades stopped and sniffed at
their helpless companion. But, as Arthur
had not expected, the eager crowd pressing
behind overbore them and their wounded
brother, and in another instant the unfortu-
nate animal was prostrate, and his life beaten
out by the trampling hoofs of the resistless,
blind, and eager crowd that followed. With
a terrible intuition that it was a foreshadow-
ing of his own fate, Arthur turned in the
direction of the corral, and ran for his very
life!

As he ran he was conscious that the act
precipitated the inevitable catastrophe — ^but
he could think of nothing better. As he
ran, he felt, from the shaking of the earth
beneath his feet, that the act had once more
put the whole herd in equally active motion
behind him. As he ran, he noticed that the
catde before him retreatfed with something
of his own precipitation. But as he ran, he
thought of nothing but the awfril fate that
was following him, and the thought spurred
him to an almost frantic effort I have tried
to make the reader tmderstand that Arthur
was quite inaccessible to any of those weak-
nesses which mankind regard as physical
cowardice. In the defense of what he
believed to be an intellectual truth, in the
interests of his pride or his self-love, or in a
moment of passion, he would have faced
death with unbroken fortitude and calmness.
But to be the victim of an accident ; to be
the lamentable sequel of a logical succession
of chances, without motive or purpose ; to
be sacrificed for nothing — ^without proving



or disproving anything; to be trampled
to death by idiotic beasts, who had not even
the instincts of passion or revenge to justify
them ; to die the death of an ignorant tramp,
or any negligent clown — a death that had a
ghasdy ludicrousness in its method, a death
that would leave his body a shapeless,
indistinguishable, unrecognizable clod which
affection could not idealize nor friendship
reverence, — all this brought a horror with it
so keen, so exquisite, so excruciating, that
the fastidious, proud, intellectual being, flee-
ing from it, might have been die veriest
dastard that ever turned his back on danger.
And superadded to it was a superstitious
thought that for its very horror, perhaps it
was a retribution for something that he dared
not contemplate I

And it was then that his strength sud-
denly flagged. His senses began to reel.
His breath, which had kept pace with the
quick beating of his heart, mtermitted, hesi-
tated — ^was lostl Above the advancing
thunder of hoofe behind him, he thought
he heard a woman's voice. He knew now
he was going crazy; he shouted and fell,
he rose again and staggered forward a few
steps and fell again. It was over now ! A
sudden sense of some strange, subtile per-
fume, beating up through the acrid, smarting
dust of the plain, that choked his moudi
and blinded his eyes, came swooning over
him. And then the blessed interposition of
unconsciousness and peace.

He struggled back to life again with the
word " PhUip " in his ears, a throbbing brow,
and the sensation of an effort to do some-
thing that was required of him. Of all his
experience of the last few moments only the
perfume remained. He was lying alone in
the dry bed of the arroyo ; on the bank a
horse was standing, and above him bent the
dark face and darker eyes of Donna
Dolores.

"Try to recover sufficient strength to
mount that horse," she said, after a pause.

It was a woman before him. With that
innate dread which all masculine nature has
of exhibiting physical weakness before a
weaker sex, Arthur struggled to rise without
the assistance offered by the small hand of
his friend. That, however, even at that
crucial moment, he so far avaOed himself
of it, as to press it, I fear was the fact

"You came to my assistance alone?**
asked Arthur, as he struggled to his feet

"Why not? We are equal now, Don
Arturo," said Donna Dolores, with a dazzling
smile. " I saw you from my window. You



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A POET'S CONSTANCY.



5^



were rash — ^pardon me — ^foolish ! The oldest
vanquero never ventures afoot upon these
plains. But come; you shall ride with me.
There was no time to saddle another horse,
and I thought you would not care to let
others know of your adventure! Am I
right?"

There was a slight dimple of mischief in
her cheek, and a quaint sparkle in her dark
eye, as she turned her questioning gaze on
Arthur. He caught her hand and raised it
respectfully to his lips,

" You are wise as you are brave, Donna
Dolores."

"We shall see. But at present you must
believe that I am right, and do as I say.
Mount that horse — I will help you if you



are too weak — and — ^leave a space for me
behind you I "

Thus adjured, Arthur leaped into the sad-
dle. • If his bones had been broken instead
of being bruised, he would still have foimd
strength for that effort. In another instant
Donna Dolores' litde foot rested on his, and
she lightly moimted behind him.

" Home now. Hasten ; we will be there
before any one will know it," she said, as
she threw one arm around his waist, with
superb unconsciousness.

Arthur lifted the rein and dropped his
heels into the flanks of the horse. In five
minutes — the briefest, as it seemed to him,
he had ever passed — ^they were once more
within the wdls of the Blessed Trinity.



(To be contintied)



A POET'S CONSTANCY.



A MADRIGAL.



O PRAISE is ever sweet to hear;

In simple candor I confess it;
And then, I own, *tis doubly dear.

When loving lips, — ^like yours,— express it

And yet,, when calmly I reflect

How much is due to Cupid's blindness,

Forgive me, dear, if I suspect
Your praises only prove your kindness.

Whatever virtues I may boast,

(And slight indeed is my profession,)

The one you praise and prize tlie most
May be the least in my possession.

You tell me, sweet ! you love — revere
A mind so steady and unswerving;

But never Poet yet, I fear,
Of such applause was quite deserving.



The Poet's constancy, at best,

Is Hke the Bee's — voluptuous rover;

Still constant to her honey-quest,
Though found in lily, rose, or clover.

And do I thus my faith impeach
As one untrue to Love's vocation?

A moment's patience — I beseech —
And you shall hear the explanation:

Suppose the Bee — so prone to stray.
As Fancy bids, fi-om bower to bower.

Should chance to find, some lucky day,
A wondrous honey-bearing flower;

Which, — though she sipped, and came again
As often as the day was sunny, —

Quite unexhausted should remain,
An ever-flowing fount of honey.



Such praise as she might fitly claim,
If ne'er again she proved a rover,

So much (the cases are the same)
Is due your fond and &ithfiil lover 1



Vol. XI.— 37.



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570



REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS,



REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS.



SECOND paper: JOHN ADAMS.



One of the many distinguished friends of
Colonel Ward was John Adams, Colossus
of the Congress of '76. The more one con-
templates the words and works of this states-
man, over whom there has been such bitter
and lasting controversy, the less weight one
is inclined to give to the accusations brought
against him, compared with his iUustrious
services in the cause of American independ-
ence. None among his colleagues was more
emphatically an embodiment of the heart of
our nation than John Adams. He was the
very pith of America, the incarnate spirit of
New England. His mind and body had the
strength of the hardy soil and the vigorous
climate that gave him birth. He was not
a man for fine words, or for the exercise of
the art of fascination; his was the nature
and power of the pioneer; his was the work
of die man, rather than of the gentleman.
And, as if obedient to a controlling instinct,
his capacity increasing with the severity of
opposition, he stood firm and towering as
his own New England hills. Legislative
and executive abmty were united in this
stanch statesman. For thought, and the
practical application of it, who among his
contemporaries shall be mentioned before
him ? Jefierson could pen the Declaration,
but Adams must not only lend his counsel,
but force the finished document through a
stubborn Congress. Nor could he have
carried Lee's famous Resolution, had he not
practiced himself with his own preparatory
measure of the previous May.

Rock and wood of New England was
John Adams. He knew no ties or interests
but those which bound him to his mother
earth He did not step beyond the boundary
of New England till he was nearly forty years
of age, when his State sent him to Phila-
delphia, a delegate to the first Continental
Congress. Previous to this time, his labors,
though by no means insignificant, were but
skirmishes compared to the after-batde. Now
he began that series of stupendous labors,
which none but a mental and physical giant
could have endured, continuing through
more than a quarter of a century.

From the date of his first resolution for the
instruction of the representatives of the town
of Braintree, on the subject of die Stamp Act,



his work was incessant and momentous. It is
bewildering to trace the footsteps of this pa-
triot, pushing ever forward, through and over
innumerable obstacles, upon his prophet's
pathway. Stone upon stone, he saw the
rise of the temple of liberty. His mind was
in the design, his handiwork in the manual
labor of construction.

It is lamentably true that the writings Mn
Adams has left concerning himself are firag-
mentary and lacking in method; but the
record of his public labors is enough. Those
are fit words of Jefierson : " The clearest head
and firmest heart of any man in Congress."
Add to this combination the essential ele-
ment, endurance, and the portrait is fin-
ished. Let us take the worker's own words :

" I was incessandy employed through the
whole fall, winter, and spring of 1775 ^^^
1776 in Congress during their sittings, and
on committees on mornings and evenings ;
and unquestionably did more business than
any other member of that house."

It was in the midst of these labors that
the first of the letters here offered was writ-
ten. He has shown us the main-spring of
his character: "Verbal resolutions acc4Dm-
plish nothing. ♦ ♦ Let reasoning men infer



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 98 of 163)