Part 3 out of 4
The lady shrugged her shoulders disdainfully. "That's all right
enough, I reckon. There's a hundred thousand dollars in the
syndicate. Maw put in twenty thousand, and Custer's bound to make
it go--particularly as there's some talk of a compromise. But
Malcolm's a crank, and I reckon if it wasn't for the compromise the
syndicate wouldn't have much show. Why, he didn't even know that
the McHulishes had no title."
"Do you think he has been suffering under a delusion in regard to
"No; he was only a fool in the way he wanted to prove it. He
actually got these boys to think it could be filibustered into his
possession. Had a sort of idea of 'a rising in the Highlands,' you
know, like that poem or picture--which is it? And those fool boys,
and Custer among them, thought it would be great fun and a great
spree. Luckily, maw had the gumption to get Watson to write over
about it to one of his friends, a Mr.--Mr.--MacFen, a very
"Perhaps you mean Sir James MacFen," suggested the consul. "He's a
knight. And what did HE say?" he added eagerly.
"Oh, he wrote a most sensible letter," returned the lady, apparently
mollified by the title of Watson's adviser, "saying that there was
little doubt, if any, that if the American McHulishes wanted the old
estate they could get it by the expenditure of a little capital. He
offered to make the trial; that was the compromise they're talking
about. But he didn't say anything about there being no 'Lord'
"Perhaps he thought, as you were Americans, you didn't care for
THAT," said the consul dryly.
"That's no reason why we shouldn't have it if it belonged to us, or
we chose to pay for it," said the lady pertly.
"Then your changed personal relations with Mr. McHulish is the
reason why you hear so little of his progress or his expectations?"
"Yes; but he don't know that they are changed, for we haven't seen
him since we've been here, although they say he's here, and hiding
"Why should he be hiding?"
The young girl lifted her pretty brows. "Maybe he thinks it's
mysterious. Didn't I tell you he was a crank?" Yet she laughed so
naively, and with such sublime unconsciousness of any reflection on
herself, that the consul was obliged to smile too.
"You certainly do not seem to be breaking your heart as well as
your engagement," he said.
"Not much--but here comes maw. Look here," she said, turning
suddenly and coaxingly upon him, "if she asks you to come along
with us up north, you'll come, won't you? Do! It will be such
"Up north?" repeated the consul interrogatively.
"Yes; to see the property. Here's maw."
A more languid but equally well-appointed woman had entered the
room. When the ceremony of introduction was over, she turned to
her daughter and said, "Run away, dear, while I talk business with--
er--this gentleman," and, as the girl withdrew laughingly, she
half stifled a reminiscent yawn, and raised her heavy lids to the
"You've had a talk with my Elsie?"
The consul confessed to having had that pleasure.
"She speaks her mind," said Mrs. Kirkby wearily, "but she means
well, and for all her flightiness her head's level. And since her
father died she runs me," she continued with a slight laugh. After
a pause, she added abstractedly, "I suppose she told you of her
engagement to young McHulish?"
"Yes; but she said she had broken it."
Mrs. Kirkby lifted her eyebrows with an expression of relief. "It
was a piece of girl and boy foolishness, anyway," she said. "Elsie
and he were children together at MacCorkleville,--second cousins,
in fact,--and I reckon he got her fancy excited over his nobility,
and his being the chief of the McHulishes. Of course Custer will
manage to get something for the shareholders out of it,--I never
knew him to fail in a money speculation yet,--but I think that's
about all. I had an idea of going up with Elsie to take a look at
the property, and I thought of asking you to join us. Did Elsie
tell you? I know she'd like it--and so would I."
For all her indolent, purposeless manner, there was enough latent
sincerity and earnestness in her request to interest the consul.
Besides, his own curiosity in regard to this singularly supported
claim was excited, and here seemed to be an opportunity of
satisfying it. He was not quite sure, either, that his previous
antagonism to his fair countrywoman's apparent selfishness and
snobbery was entirely just. He had been absent from America a long
time; perhaps it was he himself who had changed, and lost touch
with his compatriots. And yet the demonstrative independence and
recklessness of men like Custer were less objectionable to, and
less inconsistent with, his American ideas than the snobbishness
and almost servile adaptability of the women. Or was it possible
that it was only a weakness of the sex, which no republican
nativity or education could eliminate? Nevertheless he looked up
"But the property is, I understand, scattered about in various
places," he said.
"Oh, but we mean to go only to Kelpie Island, where there is the
ruin of an old castle. Elsie must see that."
The consul thought it might be amusing. "By all means let us see
that. I shall be delighted to go with you."
His ready and unqualified assent appeared to relieve and dissipate
the lady's abstraction. She became more natural and confiding;
spoke freely of Malcolm's mania, which she seemed to accept as a
hallucination or a conviction with equal cheerfulness, and, in
brief, convinced the consul that her connection with the scheme was
only the caprice of inexperienced and unaccustomed idleness. He
left her, promising to return the next day and arrange for their
His way home lay through one of the public squares of St.
Kentigern, at an hour of the afternoon when it was crossed by
working men and women returning to their quarters from the docks
and factories. Never in any light a picturesque or even cheery
procession, there were days when its unwholesome, monotonous
poverty and dull hopelessness of prospect impressed him more
forcibly. He remembered how at first the spectacle of barefooted
girls and women slipping through fog and mist across the greasy
pavement had offended his fresh New World conception of a more
tenderly nurtured sex, until his susceptibilities seemed to have
grown as callous and hardened as the flesh he looked upon, and he
had begun to regard them from the easy local standpoint of a
distinct and differently equipped class.
It chanced, also, that this afternoon some of the male workers had
added to their usual solidity a singular trance-like intoxication.
It had often struck him before as a form of drunkenness peculiar to
the St. Kentigern laborers. Men passed him singly and silently, as
if following some vague alcoholic dream, or moving through some
Scotch mist of whiskey and water. Others clung unsteadily but as
silently together, with no trace of convivial fellowship or
hilarity in their dull fixed features and mechanically moving
limbs. There was something weird in this mirthless companionship,
and the appalling loneliness of those fixed or abstracted eyes.
Suddenly he was aware of two men who were reeling toward him under
the influence of this drug-like intoxication, and he was startled
by a likeness which one of them bore to some one he had seen; but
where, and under what circumstances, he could not determine. The
fatuous eye, the features of complacent vanity and self-satisfied
reverie were there, either intensified by drink, or perhaps
suggesting it through some other equally hopeless form of
hallucination. He turned and followed the man, trying to identify
him through his companion, who appeared to be a petty tradesman of
a shrewder, more material type. But in vain, and as the pair
turned into a side street the consul slowly retraced his steps.
But he had not proceeded far before the recollection that had
escaped him returned, and he knew that the likeness suggested by
the face he had seen was that of Malcolm McHulish.
A journey to Kelpie Island consisted of a series of consecutive
episodes by rail, by coach, and by steamboat. The consul was
already familiar with them, as indeed were most of the civilized
world, for it seemed that all roads at certain seasons led out of
and returned to St. Kentigern as a point in a vast circle wherein
travelers were sure to meet one another again, coming or going, at
certain depots and caravansaries with more or less superiority or
envy. Tourists on the road to the historic crags of Wateffa came
sharply upon other tourists returning from them, and glared
suspiciously at them, as if to wrest the dread secret from their
souls--a scrutiny which the others returned with half-humorous pity
or superior calm.
The consul knew, also, that the service by boat and rail was
admirable and skillful; for were not the righteous St.
Kentigerners of the tribe of Tubal-cain, great artificers in steel
and iron, and a mighty race of engineers before the Lord, who had
carried their calling and accent beyond the seas? He knew, too,
that the land of these delightful caravansaries overflowed with
marmalade and honey, and that the manna of delicious scones and
cakes fell even upon deserted waters of crag and heather. He knew
that their way would lie through much scenery whose rude
barrenness, and grim economy of vegetation, had been usually
accepted by cockney tourists for sublimity and grandeur; but he
knew, also, that its severity was mitigated by lowland glimpses
of sylvan luxuriance and tangled delicacy utterly unlike the
complacent snugness of an English pastoral landscape, with which
it was often confounded and misunderstood, as being tame and
It rained the day they left St. Kentigern, and the next, and
the day after that, spasmodically, as regarded local effort,
sporadically, as seen through the filmed windows of railway
carriages or from the shining decks of steamboats. There was
always a shower being sown somewhere along the valley, or
reluctantly tearing itself from a mountain-top, or being pulled
into long threads from the leaden bosom of a lake; the coach swept
in and out of them to the folding and unfolding of umbrellas and
mackintoshes, accompanied by flying beams of sunlight that raced
with the vehicle on long hillsides, and vanished at the turn of the
road. There were hat-lifting scurries of wind down the mountain-
side, small tumults in little lakes below, hysteric ebullitions on
mild, melancholy inland seas, boisterous passages of nearly half an
hour with landings on tempestuous miniature quays. All this seen
through wonderful aqueous vapor, against a background of sky
darkened at times to the depths of an India ink washed sketch, but
more usually blurred and confused on the surface like the gray
silhouette of a child's slate-pencil drawing, half rubbed from the
slate by soft palms. Occasionally a rare glinting of real sunshine
on a distant fringe of dripping larches made some frowning crest
appear to smile as through wet lashes.
Miss Elsie tucked her little feet under the mackintosh. "I know,"
she said sadly, "I should get web-footed if I stayed here long,
Why, it's like coming down from Ararat just after the deluge
Mrs. Kirkby suggested that if the sun would only shine squarely and
decently, like a Christian, for a few moments, they could see the
The consul here pointed out that the admirers of Scotch scenery
thought that this was its greatest charm. It was this misty effect
which made it so superior to what they called the vulgar chromos
and sun-pictures of less favored lands.
"You mean because it prevents folks from seeing how poor the view
The consul remarked that perhaps distance was lacking. As to the
sun shining in a Christian way, this might depend upon the local
idea of Christianity.
"Well, I don't call the scenery giddy or frivolous, certainly. And
I reckon I begin to understand the kind of sermons Malcolm's folks
brought over to MacCorkleville. I guess they didn't know much of
the heaven they only saw once a year. Why, even the highest hills--
which they call mountains here--ain't big enough to get above the
fogs of their own creating."
Feminine wit is not apt to be abstract. It struck the consul that
in Miss Elsie's sprightliness there was the usual ulterior and
personal object, and he glanced around at his fellow-passengers.
The object evidently was sitting at the end of the opposite seat,
an amused but well-behaved listener. For the rest, he was still
young and reserved, but in face, figure, and dress utterly unlike
his companions,--an Englishman of a pronounced and distinct type,
the man of society and clubs. While there was more or less hinting
of local influence in the apparel of the others,--there was a kilt,
and bare, unweather-beaten knees from Birmingham, and even the
American Elsie wore a bewitching tam-o'-shanter,--the stranger
carried easy distinction, from his tweed traveling-cap to his well-
made shoes and gaiters, as an unmistakable Southerner. His deep
and pleasantly level voice had been heard only once or twice, and
then only in answering questions, and his quiet, composed eyes
alone had responded to the young girl's provocation.
They were passing a brown glen, in the cheerless depths of which a
brown watercourse, a shade lighter, was running, and occasionally
foaming like brown beer. Beyond it heaved an arid bulk of
hillside, the scant vegetation of which, scattered like patches of
hair, made it look like the decaying hide of some huge antediluvian
ruminant. On the dreariest part of the dreary slope rose the ruins
of a tower, and crumbling walls and battlements.
"Whatever possessed folks to build there?" said Miss Elsie. "If
they were poor, it might be some excuse; but that those old swells,
or chiefs, should put up a castle in such a God-forsaken place gets
"But don't you know, they WERE poor, according to our modern ideas,
and I fancy they built these things more for defense than show, and
really more to gather in cattle--like one of your Texan ranches--
after a raid. That is, I have heard so; I rather fancy that was
the idea, wasn't it?" It was the Englishman who had spoken, and
was now looking around at the other passengers as if in easy
deference to local opinion.
"What raid?" said Miss Elsie, animatedly. "Oh, yes; I see--one of
their old border raids--moss-troopers. I used to like to read
"I fancy, don't you know," said the Englishman slowly, "that it
wasn't exactly THAT sort of thing, you know, for it's a good way
from the border; but it was one of their raids upon their
neighbors, to lift their cattle--steal 'em, in fact. That's the
way those chaps had. But of course you've read all about that.
You Americans, don't you know, are all up in these historical
"Eh, but they were often reprisals," said a Scotch passenger.
"I don't suppose they took much trouble to inquire if the beasts
belonged to an enemy," said the Englishman.
But here Miss Elsie spoke of castles generally, and averred that
the dearest wish of her life was to see Macbeth's castle at Glamis,
where Duncan was murdered. At which the Englishman, still
deferentially, mistrusted the fact that the murder had been
committed there, and thought that the castle to which Shakespeare
probably referred, if he hadn't invented the murder, too, was
farther north, at Cawdor. "You know," he added playfully, "over
there in America you've discovered that Shakespeare himself was an
This led to some retaliating brilliancy from the young lady, and
when the coach stopped at the next station their conversation had
presumably become interesting enough to justify him in securing a
seat nearer to her. The talk returning to ruins, Miss Elsie
informed him that they were going to see some on Kelpie Island.
The consul, from some instinctive impulse,--perhaps a recollection
of Custer's peculiar methods, gave her a sign of warning. But the
Englishman only lifted his eyebrows in a kind of half-humorous
"I don't think you'd like it, you know. It's a beastly place,--
rocks and sea,--worse than this, and half the time you can't see
the mainland, only a mile away. Really, you know, they oughtn't to
have induced you to take tickets there--those excursion-ticket
chaps. They're jolly frauds. It's no place for a stranger to go
"But there are the ruins of an old castle, the old seat of"--
began the astonished Miss Elsie; but she was again stopped by a
significant glance from the consul.
"I believe there was something of the kind there once--something
like your friends the cattle-stealers' castle over on that
hillside," returned the Englishman; "but the stones were taken by
the fishermen for their cabins, and the walls were quite pulled
"How dared they do that?" said the young lady indignantly. "I call
it not only sacrilege, but stealing."
"It was defrauding the owner of the property; they might as well
take his money," said Mrs. Kirkby, in languid protest.
The smile which this outburst of proprietorial indignation brought
to the face of the consul lingered with the Englishman's reply.
"But it was only robbing the old robbers, don't you know, and they
put their spoils to better use than their old masters did;
certainly to more practical use than the owners do now, for the
ruins are good for nothing."
"But the hallowed associations--the picturesqueness!" continued
Mrs. Kirkby, with languid interest.
"The associations wouldn't be anything except to the family, you
know; and I should fancy they wouldn't be either hallowed or
pleasant. As for picturesqueness, the ruins are beastly ugly;
weather-beaten instead of being mellowed by time, you know, and
bare where they ought to be hidden by vines and moss. I can't make
out why anybody sent you there, for you Americans are rather
particular about your sightseeing."
"We heard of them through a friend," said the consul, with assumed
carelessness. "Perhaps it's as good an excuse as any for a
"And very likely your friend mistook it for something else, or was
himself imposed upon," said the Englishman politely. "But you
might not think it so, and, after all," he added thoughtfully,
"it's years since I've seen it. I only meant that I could show you
something better a few miles from my place in Gloucestershire, and
not quite so far from a railway as this. If," he added with a
pleasant deliberation which was the real courtesy of his
conventionally worded speech, "you ever happened at any time to be
anywhere near Audrey Edge, and would look me up, I should be glad
to show it to you and your friends." An hour later, when he left
them at a railway station where their paths diverged, Miss Elsie
recovered a fluency that she had lately checked. "Well, I like
that! He never told us his name, or offered a card. I wonder if
they call that an invitation over here. Does he suppose anybody's
going to look up his old Audrey Edge--perhaps it's named after his
wife--to find out who HE is? He might have been civil enough to
have left his name, if he--meant anything."
"But I assure you he was perfectly sincere, and meant an
invitation," returned the consul smilingly. "Audrey Edge is
evidently a well-known place, and he a man of some position. That
is why he didn't specify either."
"Well, you won't catch me going there," said Miss Elsie.
"You would be quite right in either going or staying away," said
the consul simply.
Miss Elsie tossed her head slightly. Nevertheless, before they
left the station, she informed him that she had been told that the
station-master had addressed the stranger as "my lord," and that
another passenger had said he was "Lord Duncaster."
"And that proves"--
"That I'm right," said the young lady decisively, "and that his
invitation was a mere form."
It was after sundown when they reached the picturesque and well-
appointed hotel that lifted itself above the little fishing-village
which fronted Kelpie Island. The hotel was in as strong contrast
to the narrow, curving street of dull, comfortless-looking stone
cottages below it, as were the smart tourists who had just landed
from the steamer to the hard-visaged, roughly clad villagers who
watched them with a certain mingling of critical independence and
superior self-righteousness. As the new arrivals walked down the
main street, half beach, half thoroughfare, their baggage following
them in low trolleys drawn by porters at their heels, like a
decorous funeral, the joyless faces of the lookers-on added to the
resemblance. Beyond them, in the prolonged northern twilight, the
waters of the bay took on a peculiar pewtery brightness, but with
the usual mourning-edged border of Scotch seacoast scenery. Low
banks of cloud lay on the chill sea; the outlines of Kelpie Island
But the interior of the hotel, bright with the latest fastidiousness
in modern decoration and art-furniture, and gay with pictured
canvases and color, seemed to mock the sullen landscape, and the
sterile crags amid which the building was set. An attempt to make a
pleasance in this barren waste had resulted only in empty vases,
bleak statuary, and iron settees, as cold and slippery to the touch
as the sides of their steamer.
"It'll be a fine morning to-morra, and ther'll be a boat going away
to Kelpie for a peekneek in the ruins," said the porter, as the
consul and his fair companions looked doubtfully from the windows
of the cheerful hall.
A picnic in the sacred ruins of Kelpie! The consul saw the ladies
stiffening with indignation at this trespass upon their possible
rights and probable privileges, and glanced at them warningly.
"Do you mean to say that it is common property, and ANYBODY can go
there?" demanded Miss Elsie scornfully.
"No; it's only the hotel that owns the boat and gives the tickets--
a half-crown the passage."
"And do the owners, the McHulishes, permit this?"
The porter looked at them with a puzzled, half-pitying politeness.
He was a handsome, tall, broad-shouldered young fellow, with a
certain naive and gentle courtesy of manner that relieved his
strong accent, "Oh, ay," he said, with a reassuring smile; "ye'll
no be troubled by THEM. I'll just gang away noo, and see if I can
secure the teekets."
An elderly guest, who was examining a time-table on the wall,
turned to them as the porter disappeared.
"Ye'll be strangers noo, and not knowing that Tonalt the porter is
a McHulish hissel'?" he said deliberately.
"A what?" said the astonished Miss Elsie.
"A McHulish. Ay, one of the family. The McHulishes of Kelpie were
his own forebears. Eh, but he's a fine lad, and doin' well for the
Miss Elsie extinguished a sudden smile with her handkerchief as her
mother anxiously inquired, "And are the family as poor as that?"
"But I am not saying he's POOR, ma'am, no," replied the stranger,
with native caution. "What wi' tips and gratooities and
percentages on the teekets, it's a bit of money he'll be having in
the bank noo."
The prophecy of Donald McHulish as to the weather came true. The
next morning was bright and sunny, and the boat to Kelpie Island--
a large yawl--duly received its complement of passengers and
provision hampers. The ladies had apparently become more tolerant
of their fellow pleasure-seekers, and it appeared that Miss Elsie
had even overcome her hilarity at the discovery of what "might have
been" a relative in the person of the porter Donald. "I had a long
talk with him before breakfast this morning," she said gayly, "and
I know all about him. It appears that there are hundreds of him--
all McHulishes--all along the coast and elsewhere--only none of
them ever lived ON the island, and don't want to. But he looks
more like a 'laird' and a chief than Malcolm, and if it comes to
choosing a head of the family, remember, maw, I shall vote solid
"How can you go on so, Elsie?" said Mrs. Kirkby, with languid
protest. "Only I trust you didn't say anything to him of the
syndicate. And, thank Heaven! the property isn't here."
"No; the waiter tells me all the lovely things we had for breakfast
came from miles away. And they don't seem to have ever raised
anything on the island, from its looks. Think of having to row
three miles for the morning's milk!"
There was certainly very little appearance of vegetation on the
sterile crags that soon began to lift themselves above the steely
waves ahead. A few scraggy trees and bushes, which twisted and
writhed like vines around the square tower and crumbling walls of
an irregular but angular building, looked in their brown shadows
like part of the debris.
"It's just like a burnt-down bone-boiling factory," said Miss Elsie
critically; "and I shouldn't wonder if that really was old
McHulish's business. They couldn't have it on the mainland for its
being a nuisance."
Nevertheless, she was one of the first to leap ashore when the
yawl's bow grated in a pebbly cove, and carried her pretty but
incongruous little slippers through the seaweed, wet sand, and
slimy cobbles with a heroism that redeemed her vanity. A
scrambling ascent of a few moments brought them to a wall with a
gap in it, which gave easy ingress to the interior of the ruins.
This was merely a little curving hollow from which the outlines of
the plan had long since faded. It was kept green by the brown
walls, which, like the crags of the mainland valleys, sheltered it
from the incessant strife of the Atlantic gales. A few pale
flowers that might have grown in a damp cellar shivered against the
stones. Scraps of newspapers, soda-water and beer bottles, highly
decorated old provision tins, and spent cartridge cases,--the
remains of chilly picnics and damp shooting luncheons,--had at
first sight lent color to the foreground by mere contrast, but the
corrosion of time and weather had blackened rather than mellowed
the walls in a way which forcibly reminded the consul of Miss
Elsie's simile of the "burnt-down factory." The view from the
square tower--a mere roost for unclean sea-fowl, from the sides of
which rags of peeling moss and vine hung like tattered clothing--
was equally depressing. The few fishermen's huts along the shore
were built of stones taken from the ruin, and roofed in with sodden
beams and timbers in the last stages of deliquescence. The thick
smoke of smouldering peat-fires came from the low chimneys, and
drifted across the ruins with the odors of drying fish.
"I've just seen a sort of ground-plan of the castle," said Miss
Elsie cheerfully. "It never had a room in it as big as our bedroom
in the hotel, and there weren't windows enough to go round. A slit
in the wall, about two inches wide by two feet long, was considered
dazzling extravagance to Malcolm's ancestors. I don't wonder some
of 'em broke out and swam over to America. That reminds me. Who
do you suppose is here--came over from the hotel in a boat of his
own, just to see maw!"
"Not Malcolm, surely."
"Not much," replied Miss Elsie, setting her small lips together.
"It's Mr. Custer. He's talking business with her now down on the
beach. They'll be here when lunch is ready."
The consul remembered the romantic plan which the enthusiastic
Custer had imparted to him in the foggy consulate at St. Kentigern,
and then thought of the matter of fact tourists, the few stolid
fishermen, and the prosaic ruins around them, and smiled. He looked
up, and saw that Miss Elsie was watching him.
"You know Mr. Custer, don't you?"
"We are old Californian friends."
"I thought so; but I think he looked a little upset when he heard
you were here, too."
He certainly was a little awkward, as if struggling with some half-
humorous embarrassment, as he came forward a few moments later with
Mrs. Kirkby. But the stimulation of the keen sea air triumphed
over the infelicities of the situation and surroundings, and the
little party were presently enjoying their well-selected luncheon
with the wholesome appetite of travel and change. The chill damp
made limp the napkins and table-cloth, and invaded the victuals;
the wind, which was rising, whistled round the walls, and made
miniature cyclones of the torn paper and dried twigs around them:
but they ate, drank, and were merry. At the end of the repast the
two gentlemen rose to light their cigars in the lee of the wall.
"I suppose you know all about Malcolm?" said Custer, after an
"My dear fellow," said the consul, somewhat impatiently, "I know
nothing about him, and you ought to know that by this time."
"I thought YOUR FRIEND, Sir James, might have told you," continued
Custer, with significant emphasis.
"I have not seen Sir James for two months."
"Well, Malcolm's a crank--always was one, I reckon, and is
reg'larly off his head now. Yes, sir; Scotch whiskey and your
friend Sir James finished him. After that dinner at MacFen's he
was done for--went wild. Danced a sword-dance, or a strathspey, or
some other blamed thing, on the table, and yelled louder than the
pipes. So they all did. Jack, I've painted the town red once
myself; I thought I knew what a first-class jamboree was: but they
were prayer-meetings to that show. Everybody was blind drunk--but
they all got over it except HIM. THEY were a different lot of men
the next day, as cool and cautious as you please, but HE was shut
up for a week, and came out crazy."
"But what's that to do with his claim?"
"Well, there ain't much use 'whooping up the boys' when only the
whooper gets wild."
"Still, that does not affect any right he may have in the
"But it affects the syndicate," said Custer gloomily; "and when we
found that he was whooping up some shopkeepers and factory hands
who claimed to belong to the clan,--and you can't heave a stone at
a dog around here without hitting a McHulish,--we concluded we
hadn't much use for him ornamentally. So we shipped him home last
"And the property?"
"Oh, that's all right," said Custer, still gloomily. "We've
effected an amicable compromise, as Sir James calls it. That means
we've taken a lot of land somewhere north, that you can shoot over--
that is, you needn't be afraid of hitting a house, or a tree, or a
man anywhere; and we've got a strip more of the same sort on the
seashore somewhere off here, occupied only by some gay galoots
called crofters, and you can raise a lawsuit and an imprecation on
every acre. Then there's this soul-subduing, sequestered spot, and
what's left of the old bone-boiling establishment, and the rights
of fishing and peat-burning, and otherwise creating a nuisance off
the mainland. It cost the syndicate only a hundred thousand
dollars, half cash and half in Texan and Kentucky grass lands. But
we've carried the thing through."
"I congratulate you," said the consul.
"Thanks." Custer puffed at his cigar for a few moments. "That Sir
James MacFen is a fine man."
"A large, broad, all-round man. Knows everything and everybody,
"I think so."
"Big man in the church, I should say? No slouch at a party
canvass, or ward politics, eh? As a board director, or president,
just takes the cake, don't he?"
"I believe so."
"Nothing mean about Jimmy as an advocate or an arbitrator, either,
is there? Rings the bell every time, don't he? Financiers take a
back seat when he's around? Owns half of Scotland by this time, I
The consul believed that Sir James had the reputation of being
exceedingly sagacious in financial and mercantile matters, and that
he was a man of some wealth.
"Naturally. I wonder what he'd take to come over to America, and
give the boys points," continued Custer, in meditative admiration.
"There were two or three men on Scott's River, and one Chinaman,
that we used to think smart, but they were doddering ijuts to HIM.
And as for me--I say, Jack, you didn't see any hayseed in my hair
that day I walked inter your consulate, did you?"
The consul smilingly admitted that he had not noticed these signs
of rustic innocence in his friend.
"Nor any flies? Well, for all that, when I get home I'm going to
resign. No more foreign investments for ME. When anybody calls at
the consulate and asks for H. J. Custer, say you don't know me.
And you don't. And I say, Jack, try to smooth things over for me
"With Miss Elsie?"
Custer cast a glance of profound pity upon the consul. "No with
Mrs. Kirkby, of course. See?"
The consul thought he did see, and that he had at last found a clue
to Custer's extraordinary speculation. But, like most theorists
who argue from a single fact, a few months later he might have
doubted his deduction.
He was staying at a large country-house many miles distant from the
scene of his late experiences. Already they had faded from his
memory with the departure of his compatriots from St. Kentigern.
He was smoking by the fire in the billiard-room late one night when
a fellow-guest approached him.
"Saw you didn't remember me at dinner."
The voice was hesitating, pleasant, and not quite unfamiliar. The
consul looked up, and identified the figure before him as one of
the new arrivals that day, whom, in the informal and easy courtesy
of the house, he had met with no further introduction than a vague
smile. He remembered, too, that the stranger had glanced at him
once or twice at dinner, with shy but engaging reserve.
"You must see such a lot of people, and the way things are arranged
and settled here everybody expects to look and act like everybody
else, don't you know, so you can't tell one chap from another.
Deuced annoying, eh? That's where you Americans are different, and
that's why those countrywomen of yours were so charming, don't you
know, so original. We were all together on the top of a coach in
Scotland, don't you remember? Had such a jolly time in the beastly
rain. You didn't catch my name. It's Duncaster."
The consul at once recalled his former fellow-traveler. The two
men shook hands. The Englishman took a pipe from his smoking-
jacket, and drew a chair beside the consul.
"Yes," he continued, comfortably filling his pipe, "the daughter,
Miss Kirkby, was awfully good fun; so fresh, so perfectly natural
and innocent, don't you know, and yet so extraordinarily sharp and
clever. She had some awfully good chaff over that Scotch scenery
before those Scotch tourists, do you remember? And it was all so
beastly true, too. Perhaps she's with you here?"
There was so much unexpected and unaffected interest in the young
Englishman's eyes that the consul was quite serious in his regrets
that the ladies had gone back to Paris.
"I'd like to have taken them over to Audrey Edge from here. It's
no distance by train. I did ask them in Scotland, but I suppose
they had something better to do. But you might tell them I've got
some sisters there, and that it is an old place and not half bad,
don't you know, when you write to them. You might give me their
The consul did so, and added a few pleasant words regarding their
position,--barring the syndicate,--which he had gathered from
Custer. Lord Duncaster's look of interest, far from abating,
became gently confidential.
"I suppose you must see a good deal of your countrymen in your
business, and I suppose, just like Englishmen, they differ, by
Jove! Some of them, don't you know, are rather pushing and anxious
for position, and all that sort of thing; and some of 'em, like
your friends, are quite independent and natural."
He stopped, and puffed slowly at his pipe. Presently he took it
from his mouth, with a little laugh. "I've a mind to tell you a
rather queer experience of mine. It's nothing against your people
generally, you know, nor do I fancy it's even an American type; so
you won't mind my speaking of it. I've got some property in
Scotland,--rather poor stuff you'd call it,--but, by Jove! some
Americans have been laying claim to it under some obscure plea of
relationship. There might have been something in it, although not
all they claim, but my business man, a clever chap up in your
place,--perhaps you may have heard of him, Sir James MacFen,--wrote
to me that what they really wanted were some ancestral lands with
the right to use the family name and privileges. The oddest part
of the affair was that the claimant was an impossible sort of
lunatic, and the whole thing was run by a syndicate of shrewd
Western men. As I don't care for the property, which has only been
dropping a lot of money every year for upkeep and litigation, Sir
James, who is an awfully far-sighted chap at managing, thought he
could effect a compromise, and get rid of the property at a fair
valuation. And, by Jove! he did. But what your countrymen can get
out of it,--for the shooting isn't half as good as what they can
get in their own country,--or what use the privileges are to them,
I can't fancy."
"I think I know the story," said the consul, eying his fellow-guest
attentively; "but if I remember rightly, the young man claimed to
be the rightful and only surviving heir."
The Englishman rose, and, bending over the hearth, slowly knocked
the ashes from his pipe. "That's quite impossible, don't you know.
For," he added, as he stood up in front of the fire in face,
figure, and careless repose more decidedly English than ever, "you
see my title of Duncaster only came to me through an uncle, but I
am the direct and sole heir of the old family, and the Scotch
property. I don't perhaps look like a Scot,--we've been settled in
England some time,--but," he continued with an invincible English
drawling deliberation, "I--am--really--you--know--what they call
AN EPISODE OF WEST WOODLANDS.
The rain was dripping monotonously from the scant eaves of the
little church of the Sidon Brethren at West Woodlands. Hewn out of
the very heart of a thicket of buckeye spruce and alder, unsunned
and unblown upon by any wind, it was so green and unseasoned in its
solitude that it seemed a part of the arboreal growth, and on damp
Sundays to have taken root again and sprouted. There were moss and
shining spots on the underside of the unplaned rafters, little
green pools of infusoria stood on the ledge of the windows whose
panes were at times suddenly clouded by mysterious unknown breaths
from without or within. It was oppressed with an extravagance of
leaves at all seasons, whether in summer, when green and limp they
crowded the porch, doorways, and shutters, or when penetrating
knot-holes and interstices of shingle and clapboard, on some
creeping vine, they unexpectedly burst and bourgeoned on the walls
like banners; or later, when they rotted in brown heaps in corners,
outlined the edges of the floor with a thin yellow border, or
invaded the ranks of the high-backed benches which served as pews.
There had been a continuous rustling at the porch and the shaking
out of waterproofs and closing of umbrellas until the half-filled
church was already redolent of damp dyes and the sulphur of India
rubber. The eyes of the congregation were turned to the door with
something more than the usual curiosity and expectation. For the
new revivalist preacher from Horse Shoe Bay was coming that
morning. Already voices of authority were heard approaching, and
keeping up their conversation to the very door of the sacred
edifice in marked contrast with the awed and bashful whisperings in
the porch of the ordinary congregation. The worshipers recognized
the voices of Deacons Shadwell and Bradley; in the reverential hush
of the building they seemed charged with undue importance.
"It was set back in the road for quiet in the Lord's work," said
"Yes, but it oughtn't be hidden! Let your light so shine before
men, you know, Brother Bradley," returned a deep voice,
unrecognized and unfamiliar--presumably that of the newcomer.
"It wouldn't take much to move it--on skids and rollers--nearer to
the road," suggested Shadwell tentatively.
"No, but if you left it stranded there in the wind and sun, green
and sappy as it is now, ye'd have every seam and crack startin'
till the ribs shone through, and no amount of calkin' would make it
watertight agin. No; my idea is--clear out the brush and shadder
around it! Let the light shine in upon it! Make the waste places
glad around it, but keep it THERE! And that's my idea o' gen'ral
missionary work; that's how the gospel orter be rooted."
Here the bell, which from the plain open four-posted belfry above
had been clanging with a metallic sharpness that had an odd
impatient worldliness about it, suddenly ceased.
"That bell," said Bradley's voice, with the same suggestion of
conveying important truths to the listening congregation within,
"was took from the wreck of the Tamalpais. Brother Horley bought
it at auction at Horse Shoe Bay and presented it. You know the
Tamalpais ran ashore on Skinner's Reef, jest off here."
"Yes, with plenty of sea room, not half a gale o' wind blowing, and
her real course fifty miles to westward! The whole watch must have
drunk or sunk in slothful idleness," returned the deep voice again.
A momentary pause followed, and then the two deacons entered the
church with the stranger.
He appeared to be a powerfully-built man, with a square, beardless
chin; a face that carried one or two scars of smallpox and a deeper
one of a less peaceful suggestion, set in a complexion weather-
beaten to the color of Spanish leather. Two small, moist gray
eyes, that glistened with every emotion, seemed to contradict the
hard expression of the other features. He was dressed in cheap
black, like the two deacons, with the exception of a loose, black
alpaca coat and the usual black silk neckerchief tied in a large
bow under a turndown collar,--the general sign and symbol of a
minister of his sect. He walked directly to the raised platform at
the end of the chapel, where stood a table on which was a pitcher
of water, a glass and hymnbook, and a tall upright desk holding a
Bible. Glancing over these details, he suddenly paused, carefully
lifted some hitherto undetected object from the desk beside the
Bible, and, stooping gently, placed it upon the floor. As it
hopped away the congregation saw that it was a small green frog.
The intrusion was by no means an unusual one, but some odd contrast
between this powerful man and the little animal affected them
profoundly. No one--even the youngest--smiled; every one--even the
youngest--became suddenly attentive. Turning over the leaves of
the hymnbook, he then gave out the first two lines of a hymn. The
choir accordion in the front side bench awoke like an infant into
wailing life, and Cissy Appleby, soprano, took up a little more
musically the lugubrious chant. At the close of the verse the
preacher joined in, after a sailor fashion, with a breezy bass that
seemed to fill the little building with the trouble of the sea.
Then followed prayer from Deacon Shadwell, broken by "Amens" from
the preacher, with a nautical suggestion of "Ay, ay," about them,
and he began his sermon.
It was, as those who knew his methods might have expected, a
suggestion of the conversation they had already overheard. He
likened the little chapel, choked with umbrage and rotting in its
dampness, to the gospel seed sown in crowded places, famishing in
the midst of plenty, and sterile from the absorptions of the more
active life around it. He pointed out again the true work of the
pioneer missionary; the careful pruning and elimination of those
forces that grew up with the Christian's life, which many people
foolishly believed were a part of it. "The WORLD must live and the
WORD must live," said they, and there were easy-going brethren who
thought they could live together. But he warned them that the
World was always closing upon--"shaddering"--and strangling the
Word, unless kept down, and that "fair seemin' settlement," or
city, which appeared to be "bustin' and bloomin'" with life and
progress, was really "hustlin' and jostlin'" the Word of God, even
in the midst of these "fancy spires and steeples" it had erected to
its glory. It was the work of the missionary pioneer to keep down
or root out this carnal, worldly growth as much in the settlement
as in the wilderness. Some were for getting over the difficulty by
dragging the mere wasted "letter of the Word," or the rotten and
withered husks of it, into the highways and byways, where the
"blazin'" scorn of the World would finish it. A low, penitential
groan from Deacon Shadwell followed this accusing illustration.
But the preacher would tell them that the only way was to boldly
attack this rankly growing World around them; to clear out fresh
paths for the Truth, and let the sunlight of Heaven stream among
There was little doubt that the congregation was moved. Whatever
they might have thought of the application, the fact itself was
patent. The rheumatic Beaseleys felt the truth of it in their
aching bones; it came home to the fever and ague stricken Filgees
in their damp seats against the sappy wall; it echoed plainly in
the chronic cough of Sister Mary Strutt and Widow Doddridge; and
Cissy Appleby, with her round brown eyes fixed upon the speaker,
remembering how the starch had been taken out of her Sunday frocks,
how her long ringlets had become uncurled, her frills limp, and
even her ribbons lustreless, felt that indeed a prophet had arisen
One or two, however, were disappointed that he had as yet given no
indication of that powerful exhortatory emotion for which he was
famed, and which had been said to excite certain corresponding
corybantic symptoms among his sensitive female worshipers. When
the service was over, and the congregation crowded around him,
Sister Mary Strutt, on the outer fringe of the assembly, confided
to Sister Evans that she had "hearn tell how that when he was over
at Soquel he prayed that pow'ful that all the wimmen got fits and
tremblin' spells, and ole Mrs. Jackson had to be hauled off his
legs that she was kneelin' and claspin' while wrestling with the
"I reckon we seemed kinder strange to him this morning, and he
wanted to jest feel his way to our hearts first," exclaimed Brother
Jonas Steers politely. "He'll be more at home at evenin' service.
It's queer that some of the best exhortin' work is done arter early
candlelight. I reckon he's goin' to stop over with Deacon Bradley
But it appeared that the new preacher, now formally introduced as
Brother Seabright, was intending to walk over to Hemlock Mills to
dinner. He only asked to be directed the nearest way; he would not
trouble Brother Shadwell or Deacon Bradley to come with him.
"But here's Cissy Appleby lives within a mile o' thar, and you
could go along with her. She'd jest admire to show you the way,"
interrupted Brother Shadwell. "Wouldn't you, Cissy?"
Thus appealed to, the young chorister--a tall girl of sixteen or
seventeen--timidly raised her eyes to Brother Seabright as he was
about to repeat his former protestation, and he stopped.
"Ef the young lady IS goin' that way, it's only fair to accept her
kindness in a Christian sperit," he said gently.
Cissy turned with a mingling of apology and bashfulness towards a
young fellow who seemed to be acting as her escort, but who was
hesitating in an equal bashfulness, when Seabright added: "And
perhaps our young friend will come too?"
But the young friend drew back with a confused laugh, and Brother
Seabright and Cissy passed out from the porch together. For a few
moments they mingled with the stream and conversation of the
departing congregation, but presently Cissy timidly indicated a
diverging bypath, and they both turned into it.
It was much warmer in the open than it had been in the chapel and
thicket, and Cissy, by way of relieving a certain awkward tension
of silence, took off the waterproof cloak and slung it on her arm.
This disclosed her five long brown cable-like curls that hung down
her shoulders, reaching below her waist in some forgotten fashion
of girlhood. They were Cissy's peculiar adornment, remarkable for
their length, thickness, and the extraordinary youthfulness
imparted to a figure otherwise precociously matured. In some
wavering doubt of her actual years and privileges, Brother
Seabright offered to carry her cloak for her, but she declined it
with a rustic and youthful pertinacity that seemed to settle the
question. In fact, Cissy was as much embarrassed as she was
flattered by the company of this distinguished stranger. However,
it would be known to all West Woodland that he had walked home with
her, while nobody but herself would know that they had scarcely
exchanged a word. She noticed how he lounged on with a heavy,
rolling gait, sometimes a little before or behind her as the path
narrowed. At such times when they accidentally came in contact in
passing, she felt a half uneasy, physical consciousness of him,
which she referred to his size, the scars on his face, or some
latent hardness of expression, but was relieved to see that he had
not observed it. Yet this was the man that made grown women cry;
she thought of old Mrs. Jackson fervently grasping the plodding
ankles before her, and a hysteric desire to laugh, with the fear
that he might see it on her face, overcame her. Then she wondered
if he was going to walk all the way home without speaking, yet she
knew she would be more embarrassed if he began to talk to her.
Suddenly he stopped, and she bumped up against him.
"Oh, excuse me!" she stammered hurriedly.
"Eh?" He evidently had not noticed the collision. "Did you
"No!--that is--it wasn't anything," returned the girl, coloring.
But he had quite forgotten her, and was looking intently before
him. They had come to a break in the fringe of woodland, and upon
a sudden view of the ocean. At this point the low line of coast-
range which sheltered the valley of West Woodlands was abruptly
cloven by a gorge that crumbled and fell away seaward to the shore
of Horse Shoe Bay. On its northern trend stretched the settlement
of Horse Shoe to the promontory of Whale Mouth Point, with its
outlying reef of rocks curved inwards like the vast submerged jaw
of some marine monster, through whose blunt, tooth-like projections
the ship-long swell of the Pacific streamed and fell. On the
southern shore the light yellow sands of Punta de las Concepcion
glittered like sunshine all the way to the olive-gardens and white
domes of the Mission. The two shores seemed to typify the two
different climates and civilizations separated by the bay.
The heavy, woodland atmosphere was quickened by the salt breath of
the sea. The stranger inhaled it meditatively.
"That's the reef where the Tamalpais struck," he said, "and more'n
fifty miles out of her course--yes, more'n fifty miles from where
she should have bin! It don't look nat'ral. No--it--don't--look--
As he seemed to be speaking to himself, the young girl, who had
been gazing with far greater interest at the foreign-looking
southern shore, felt confused and did not reply. Then, as if
recalling her presence, Brother Seabright turned to her and said:--
"Yes, young lady; and when you hear the old bell of the Tamalpais,
and think of how it came here, you may rejoice in the goodness of
the Lord that made even those who strayed from the straight course
and the true reckoning the means of testifying onto Him."
But the young are quicker to detect attitudes and affectation than
we are apt to imagine; and Cissy could distinguish a certain other
straying in this afterthought or moral of the preacher called up by
her presence, and knew that it was not the real interest which the
view had evoked. She had heard that he had been a sailor, and,
with the tact of her sex, answered with what she thought would
"I was a little girl when it happened, and I heard that some
sailors got ashore down there, and climbed up this gully from the
rocks below. And they camped that night--for there were no houses
at West Woodlands then--just in the woods where our chapel now
stands. It was funny, wasn't it?--I mean," she corrected herself
bashfully, "it was strange they chanced to come just there?"
But she had evidently hit the point of interest.
"What became of them?" he said quickly. "They never came to Horse
Shoe Settlement, where the others landed from the wreck. I never
heard of that boat's crew or of ANY landing HERE."
"No. They kept on over the range south to the Mission. I reckon
they didn't know there was a way down on this side to Horse Shoe,"
Brother Seabright moved on and continued his slow, plodding march.
But he kept a little nearer Cissy, and she was conscious that he
occasionally looked at her. Presently he said:--
"You have a heavenly gift, Miss Appleby."
Cissy flushed, and her hand involuntarily went to one of her long,
distinguishing curls. It might be THAT. The preacher continued:--
"Yes; a voice like yours is a heavenly gift. And you have properly
devoted it to His service. Have you been singing long?"
"About two years. But I've got to study a heap yet."
"The little birds don't think it necessary to study to praise Him,"
said the preacher sententiously.
It occurred to Cissy that this was very unfair argument. She said
"But the little birds don't have to follow words in the hymn-books.
You don't give out lines to larks and bobolinks," and blushed.
The preacher smiled. It was a very engaging smile, Cissy thought,
that lightened his hard mouth. It enabled her to take heart of
grace, and presently to chatter like the very birds she had
disparaged. Oh yes; she knew she had to learn a great deal more.
She had studied "some" already. She was taking lessons over at
Point Concepcion, where her aunt had friends, and she went three
times a week. The gentleman who taught her was not a Catholic,
and, of course, he knew she was a Protestant. She would have
preferred to live there, but her mother and father were both dead,
and had left her with her aunt. She liked it better because it was
sunnier and brighter there. She loved the sun and warmth. She had
listened to what he had said about the dampness and gloom of the
chapel. It was true. The dampness was that dreadful sometimes it
just ruined her clothes, and even made her hoarse. Did he think
they would really take his advice and clear out the woods round the
"Would you like it?" he asked pleasantly.
"And you think you wouldn't pine so much for the sunshine and
warmth of the Mission?
"I'm not pining," said Cissy with a toss of her curls, "for
anything or anybody; but I think the woods ought to be cleared out.
It's just as it was when the runaways hid there."
"When the RUNAWAYS HID THERE!" said Brother Seabright quickly.
"Why, the boat's crew," said Cissy.
"Why do you call them runaways?"
"I don't know. Didn't YOU?" said Cissy simply. "Didn't you say
they never came back to Horse Shoe Bay. Perhaps I had it from
aunty. But I know it's damp and creepy; and when I was littler I
used to be frightened to be alone there practicing."
"Why?" said the preacher quickly.
"Oh, I don't know," hurried on Cissy, with a vague impression that
she had said too much. "Only my fancy, I guess."
"Well," said Brother Seabright after a pause; "we'll see what can
be done to make a clearing there. Birds sing best in the sunshine,
and YOU ought to have some say about it."
Cissy's dimples and blushes came together this time. "That's our
house," she said suddenly, with a slight accent of relief, pointing
to a weather-beaten farmhouse on the edge of the gorge. "I turn
off here, but you keep straight on for the Mills; they're back in
the woods a piece. But," she stammered with a sudden sense of
shame of forgotten hospitality, "won't you come in and see aunty?"
"No, thank you, not now." He stopped, turning his gaze from the
house to her. "How old is your house? Was it there at the time of
"Yes," said Cissy.
"It's odd that the crew did not come there for help, eh?"
"Maybe they overlooked it in the darkness and the storm," said
Cissy simply. "Good-by, sir."
The preacher held her hand for an instant in his powerful, but
gently graduated grasp. "Good-by until evening service."
"Yes, sir," said Cissy.
The young girl tripped on towards her house a little agitated and
conscious, and yet a little proud as she saw the faces of her aunt,
her uncle, her two cousins, and even her discarded escort, Jo
Adams, at the windows, watching her.
"So," said her aunt, as she entered breathlessly, "ye walked home
with the preacher! It was a speshal providence and manifestation
for ye, Cissy. I hope ye was mannerly and humble--and profited by
the words of grace."
"I don't know," said Cissy, putting aside her hat and cloak
listlessly. "He didn't talk much of anything--but the old wreck of
"What?" said her aunt quickly.
"The wreck of the Tamalpais, and the boat's crew that came up the
gorge," repeated the young girl.
"And what did HE know about the boat's crew?" said her aunt
hurriedly, fixing her black eyes on Cissy.
"Nothing except what I told him."
"What YOU told him!" echoed her aunt, with an ominous color filling
the sallow hollows of her cheek.
"Yes! He has been a sailor, you know--and I thought it would
interest him; and it did! He thought it strange."
"Cecilia Jane Appleby," said her aunt shrilly, "do you mean to say
that you threw away your chances of salvation and saving grace just
to tell gossiping tales that you knew was lies, and evil report,
and false witnesses!"
"I only talked of what I'd heard, aunt Vashti," said Cecilia
indignantly. "And he afterwards talked of--of--my voice, and said
I had a heavenly gift," she added, with a slight quiver of her lip.
Aunt Vashti regarded the girl sharply.
"And you may thank the Lord for that heavenly gift," she said, in a
slightly lowered voice; "for ef ye hadn't to use it tonight, I'd
shut ye up in your room, to make it pay for yer foolish gaddin'
TONGUE! And I reckon I'll escort ye to chapel tonight myself,
miss, and get shut o' some of this foolishness."
The broad plaza of the Mission de la Concepcion had been baking
in the day-long sunlight. Shining drifts from the outlying sand
dunes, blown across the ill-paved roadway, radiated the heat in the
faces of the few loungers like the pricking of liliputian arrows,
and invaded even the cactus hedges. The hot air visibly quivered
over the dark red tiles of the tienda roof as if they were
undergoing a second burning. The black shadow of a chimney on the
whitewashed adobe wall was like a door or cavernous opening in the
wall itself; the tops of the olive and pear trees seen above it
were russet and sere already in the fierce light. Even the moist
breath of the sea beyond had quite evaporated before it crossed the
plaza, and now rustled the leaves in the Mission garden with a dry,
Nevertheless, it seemed to Cissy Appleby, as she crossed the plaza,
a very welcome change from West Woodlands. Although the late
winter rains had ceased a month ago,--a few days after the
revivalist preacher had left,--the woods around the chapel were
still sodden and heavy, and the threatened improvement in its site
had not taken place. Neither had the preacher himself alluded to
it again; his evening sermon--the only other one he preached there--
was unexciting, and he had, in fact, left West Woodlands without
any display of that extraordinary exhortatory faculty for which he
was famous. Yet Cissy, in spite of her enjoyment of the dry, hot
Mission, remembered him, and also recalled, albeit poutingly, his
blunt suggesting that she was "pining for it." Nevertheless, she
would like to have sung for him HERE--supposing it was possible to
conceive of a Sidon Brotherhood Chapel at the Mission. It was a
great pity, she thought, that the Sidon Brotherhood and the
Franciscan Brotherhood were not more brotherly TOWARDS EACH OTHER.
Cissy belonged to the former by hereditary right, locality, and
circumstance, but it is to be feared that her theology was
She entered a lane between the Mission wall and a lighter iron
fenced inclosure, once a part of the garden, but now the
appurtenance of a private dwelling that was reconstructed over the
heavy adobe shell of some forgotten structure of the old
ecclesiastical founders. It was pierced by many windows and
openings, and that sunlight and publicity which the former padres
had jealously excluded was now wooed from long balconies and
verandas by the new proprietor, a well to do American. Elisha
Braggs, whose name was generously and euphoniously translated by
his native neighbors into "Don Eliseo," although a heretic, had
given largess to the church in the way of restoring its earthquake-
shaken tower, and in presenting a new organ to its dilapidated
choir. He had further endeared himself to the conservative Spanish
population by introducing no obtrusive improvements; by distributing
his means through the old channels; by apparently inciting no
further alien immigration, but contenting himself to live alone
among them, adopting their habits, customs, and language. A
harmless musical taste, and a disposition to instruct the young boy
choristers, was equally balanced by great skill in horsemanship and
the personal management of a ranche of wild cattle on the inland
Consciously pretty, and prettily conscious in her white-starched,
rose-sprigged muslin, her pink parasol, beribboned gypsy hat, and
the long mane-like curls that swung over her shoulders, Cissy
entered the house and was shown to the large low drawing-room on
the ground-floor. She once more inhaled its hot potpourri
fragrance, in which the spice of the Castilian rose-leaves of the
garden was dominant. A few boys, whom she recognized as the
choristers of the Mission and her fellow-pupils, were already
awaiting her with some degree of anxiety and impatience. This
fact, and a certain quick animation that sprang to the blue eyes of
the master of the house as the rose-sprigged frock and long curls
appeared at the doorway, showed that Cissy was clearly the favorite
Elisha Braggs was a man of middle age, with a figure somewhat
rounded by the adipose curves of a comfortable life, and an air of
fastidiousness which was, however, occasionally at variance with
what seemed to be his original condition. He greeted Cissy with a
certain nervous overconsciousness of his duties as host and
teacher, and then plunged abruptly into the lesson. It lasted an
hour, Cissy tactfully dividing his somewhat exclusive instruction
with the others, and even interpreting it to their slower
comprehension. When it was over, the choristers shyly departed,
according to their usual custom, leaving Cissy and Don Eliseo--and
occasionally one of the padres to more informal practicing and
performance. Neither the ingenuousness of Cissy nor the worldly
caution of aunt Vashti had ever questioned the propriety of these
prolonged and secluded seances; and the young girl herself,
although by no means unaccustomed to the bashful attentions of the
youth of West Woodlands, had never dreamed of these later musical
interviews as being anything but an ordinary recreation of her art.
The feeling of gratitude and kindness she had for Don Eliseo, her
aunt's friend, had never left her conscious or embarrassed when she
was alone with him. But to-day, possibly from his own nervousness
and preoccupation, she was aware of some vague uneasiness, and at
an early opportunity rose to go. But Don Eliseo gently laid his
hand on hers and said:--
"Don't go yet; I want to talk to you." His touch suddenly reminded
her that once or twice before he had done the same thing, and she
had been disagreeably impressed by it. But she lifted her brown
eyes to his with an unconsciousness that was more crushing than a
withdrawal of her hand, and waited for him to go on.
"It is such a long way for you to come, and you have so little time
to stay when you are here, that I am thinking of asking your aunt
to let you live here at the Mission, as a pupil, in the house of
the Senora Hernandez, until your lessons are finished. Padre Jose
will attend to the rest of your education. Would you like it?"
Poor Cissy's eyes leaped up in unaffected and sparkling affirmation
before her tongue replied. To bask in this beloved sunshine for
days together; to have this quaint Spanish life before her eyes,
and those soft Spanish accents in her ears; to forget herself in
wandering in the old-time Mission garden beyond; to have daily
access to Mr. Braggs's piano and the organ of the church--this was
indeed the realization of her fondest dreams! Yet she hesitated.
Somewhere in her inherited Puritan nature was a vague conviction
that it was wrong, and it seemed even to find an echo in the
warning of the preacher: this was what she was "pining for."
"I don't know," she stammered. "I must ask auntie; I shouldn't
like to leave her; and there's the chapel."
"Isn't that revivalist preacher enough to run it for a while?" said
her companion, half-sneeringly.
The remark was not a tactful one.
"Mr. Seabright hasn't been here for a month," she answered somewhat
quickly. "But he's coming next Sunday, and I'm glad of it. He's a
very good man. And there's nothing he don't notice. He saw how
silly it was to stick the chapel into the very heart of the woods,
and he told them so."
"And I suppose he'll run up a brand-new meeting-house out on the
road," said Braggs, smiling.
"No, he's going to open up the woods, and let the sun and light in,
and clear out the underbrush."
"And what's that for?"
There was such an utter and abrupt change in the speaker's voice
and manner--which until then had been lazily fastidious and
confident--that Cissy was startled. And the change being rude and
dictatorial, she was startled into opposition. She had wanted to
say that the improvement had been suggested by HER, but she took a
more aggressive attitude.
"Brother Seabright says it's a question of religion and morals.
It's a scandal and a wrong, and a disgrace to the Word, that the
chapel should have been put there."
Don Eliseo's face turned so white and waxy that Cissy would have
noticed it had she not femininely looked away while taking this
"I suppose that's a part of his sensation style, and very
effective," he said, resuming his former voice and manner. "I must
try to hear him some day. But, now, in regard to your coming here,
of course I shall consult your aunt, although I imagine she will
have no objection. I only wanted to know how YOU felt about it."
He again laid his hand on hers.
"I should like to come very much," said Cissy timidly; "and it's
very kind of you, I'm sure; but you'll see what auntie says, won't
you?" She withdrew her hand after momentarily grasping his, as if
his own act had been only a parting salutation, and departed.
Aunt Vashti received Cissy's account of her interview with a grim
satisfaction. She did not know what ideas young gals had nowadays,
but in HER time she'd been fit to jump outer her skin at such an
offer from such a good man as Elisha Braggs. And he was a rich
man, too. And ef he was goin' to give her an edication free, it
wasn't goin' to stop there. For her part, she didn't like to put
ideas in young girls' heads,--goodness knows they'd enough
foolishness already; but if Cissy made a Christian use of her
gifts, and 'tended to her edication and privileges, and made
herself a fit helpmeet for any man, she would say that there were
few men in these parts that was as "comf'ble ketch" as Lish Braggs,
or would make as good a husband and provider.
The blood suddenly left Cissy's cheeks and then returned with
uncomfortable heat. Her aunt's words had suddenly revealed to her
the meaning of the uneasiness she had felt in Braggs's house that
morning--the old repulsion that had come at his touch. She had
never thought of him as a suitor or a beau before, yet it now
seemed perfectly plain to her that this was the ulterior meaning of
his generosity. And yet she received that intelligence with the
same mixed emotions with which she had received his offer to
educate her. She did not conceal from herself the pride and
satisfaction she felt in this presumptive selection of her as his
wife; the worldly advantages that it promised; nor that it was a
destiny far beyond her deserts. Yet she was conscious of exactly
the same sense of wrong-doing in her preferences--something that
seemed vaguely akin to that "conviction of sin" of which she had
heard so much--as when she received his offer of education. It was
this mixture of fear and satisfaction that caused her alternate
paling and flushing, yet this time it was the fear that came first.
Perhaps she was becoming unduly sensitive. The secretiveness of
her sex came to her aid here, and she awkwardly changed the
subject. Aunt Vashti, complacently believing that her words had
fallen on fruitful soil, discreetly said no more.
It was a hot morning when Cissy walked alone to chapel early next
Sunday. There was a dry irritation in the air which even the
northwest trades, blowing through the seaward gorge, could not
temper, and for the first time in her life she looked forward to
the leafy seclusion of the buried chapel with a feeling of longing.
She had avoided her youthful escort, for she wished to practice
alone for an hour before the service with the new harmonium that
had taken the place of the old accordion and its unskillful
performer. Perhaps, too, there was a timid desire to be at her
best on the return of Brother Seabright, and to show him, with a
new performance, that the "heavenly gift" had not been neglected.
She opened the chapel with the key she always carried, "swished"
away an intrusive squirrel, left the door and window open for a
moment, until the beating of frightened wings against the rafters
had ceased, and, after carefully examining the floor for spiders,
mice, and other creeping things, brushed away a few fallen leaves
and twigs from the top of the harmonium. Then, with her long curls
tossed over her shoulders and hanging limply down the back of her
new maple-leaf yellow frock,--which was also a timid recognition of
Brother Seabright's return,--and her brown eyes turned to the
rafters, this rustic St. Cecilia of the Coast Range began to sing.
The shell of the little building dilated with the melody; the
sashes of the windows pulsated, the two ejected linnets joined in
timidly from their coign of vantage in the belfry outside, and the
limp vines above the porch swayed like her curls. Once she thought
she heard stealthy footsteps without; once she was almost certain
she felt the brushing of somebody outside against the thin walls of
the chapel, and once she stopped to glance quickly at the window
with a strange instinct that some one was looking at her. But she
quickly reflected that Brother Seabright would come there only when
the deacons did, and with them. Why she should think that it was
Brother Seabright, or why Brother Seabright should come thus and at
such a time, she could not have explained.
He did not, in fact, make his appearance until later, and after the
congregation had quite filled the chapel; he did not, moreover,
appear to notice her as she sat there, and when he gave out the
hymn he seemed to have quietly overlooked the new harmonium. She
sang her best, however, and more than one of the audience thought
that "little Sister Appleby" had greatly improved. Indeed, it
would not have seemed strange to some--remembering Brother
Seabright's discursive oratory--if he had made some allusion to it.
But he did not. His heavy eyes moved slowly over the congregation,
and he began.
As usual he did not take a text. But he would talk to them that
morning about "The Conviction of Sin" and the sense of wrong-doing
that was innate in the sinner. This included all form of
temptation, for what was temptation but the inborn consciousness
of something to struggle against, and that was sin! At this
apparently concise exposition of her own feelings in regard to Don
Eliseo's offer, Cissy felt herself blushing to the roots of her
curls. Could it be possible that Brother Seabright had heard of
her temptation to leave West Woodlands, and that this warning was
intended for her? He did not even look in her direction. Yet his
next sentence seemed to be an answer to her own mental query.
"Folks might ask," he continued, "if even the young and
inexperienced should feel this--or was there a state of innocent
guilt without consciousness?" He would answer that question by
telling them what had happened to him that morning. He had come to
the chapel, not by the road, but through the tangled woods behind
them (Cissy started)--through the thick brush and undergrowth that
was choking the life out of this little chapel--the wilderness that
he had believed was never before trodden by human feet, and was
known only to roaming beasts and vermin. But that was where he was
In the stillness and listening silence, a sudden cough from some
one in one of the back benches produced that instantaneous
diversion of attention common to humanity on such occasions.
Cissy's curls swung round with the others. But she was surprised
to see that Mr. Braggs was seated in one of the benches near the
door, and from the fact of his holding a handkerchief to his mouth,
and being gazed at by his neighbors, it was evident that it was he
who had coughed. Perhaps he had come to West Woodlands to talk to
her aunt! With the preacher before her, and her probable suitor
behind her, she felt herself again blushing.
Brother Seabright continued. Yes, he was WRONG, for there before
him, in the depths of the forest, were two children. They were
looking at a bush of "pizon berries,"--the deadly nightshade, as it
was fitly called,--and one was warning the other of its dangerous
"But how do you know it's the 'pizon berry'?" asked the other.
"Because it's larger, and nicer, and bigger, and easier to get than
the real good ones," returned the other.
And it was so. Thus was the truth revealed from the mouths of
babes and sucklings; even they were conscious of temptation and
sin! But here there was another interruption from the back
benches, which proved, however, to be only the suppressed giggle of
a boy--evidently the youthful hero of the illustration, surprised
into nervous hilarity.
The preacher then passed to the "Conviction of Sin" in its more
familiar phases. Many brothers confounded this with DISCOVERY AND
PUBLICITY. It was not their own sin "finding them out," but others
discovering it. Until that happened, they fancied themselves safe,
stilling their consciences, confounding the blinded eye of the
world with the all-seeing eye of the Lord. But were they safe even
then? Did not sooner or later the sea deliver up its dead, the
earth what was buried in it, the wild woods what its depths had
hidden? Was not the foolish secret, the guilty secret, the
forgotten sin, sure to be disclosed? Then if they could not fly
from the testimony of His works, if they could not evade even their
fellow-man, why did they not first turn to Him? Why, from the
penitent child at his mother's knee to the murderer on the
scaffold, did they only at THE LAST confess unto Him?
His voice and manner had suddenly changed. From the rough note of
accusation and challenge it had passed into the equally rough, but
broken and sympathetic, accents of appeal. Why did they hesitate
longer to confess their sin--not to man--but unto Him? Why did
they delay? Now--that evening! That very moment! This was the
appointed time! He entreated them in the name of religious faith,
in the name of a human brotherly love. His delivery was now no
longer deliberate, but hurried and panting; his speech now no
longer chosen, but made up of reiterations and repetitions,
ejaculations, and even incoherent epithets. His gestures and long
intonations which began to take the place of even that interrupted
speech affected them more than his reasoning! Short sighs escaped
them; they swayed to and fro with the rhythm of his voice and
movements. They had begun to comprehend this exacerbation of
emotion--this paroxysmal rhapsody. This was the dithyrambic
exaltation they had ardently waited for. They responded quickly.
First with groans, equally inarticulate murmurs of assent, shouts
of "Glory," and the reckless invocation of sacred names. Then a
wave of hysteria seemed to move the whole mass, and broke into
tears and sobs among the women. In her own excited consciousness
it seemed to Cissy that some actual struggle between good and evil--
like unto the casting out of devils--was shaking the little
building. She cast a hurried glance behind her and saw Mr. Braggs
sitting erect, white and scornful. She knew that she too was
shrinking from the speaker,--not from any sense of conviction, but
because he was irritating and disturbing her innate sense of
fitness and harmony,--and she was pained that Mr. Braggs should see
him thus. Meantime the weird, invisible struggle continued,
heightened and, it seemed to her, incited by the partisan groans
and exultant actions of those around her, until suddenly a wild
despairing cry arose above the conflict. A vague fear seized her--
the voice was familiar! She turned in time to see the figure of
aunt Vashti rise in her seat with a hysterical outburst, and fall
convulsively forward upon her knees! She would have rushed to her
side, but the frenzied woman was instantly caught by Deacon
Shadwell and surrounded by a group of her own sex and became
hidden. And when Cissy recovered herself she was astonished to
find Brother Seabright--with every trace of his past emotion
vanished from his hard-set face--calmly taking up his coherent
discourse in his ordinary level tones. The furious struggle of the
moment before was over; the chapel and its congregation had fallen
back into an exhausted and apathetic silence! Then the preacher
gave out the hymn--the words were singularly jubilant among that
usually mournful collection in the book before her--and Cissy began
it with a tremulous voice. But it gained strength, clearness, and
volume as she went on, and she felt thrilled throughout with a new
human sympathy she had never known before. The preacher's bass
supported her now for the first time not unmusically--and the
service was over.
Relieved, she turned quickly to join her aunt, but a hand was laid
gently upon her shoulder. It was Brother Seabright, who had just
stepped from the platform. The congregation, knowing her to be the
niece of the hysteric woman, passed out without disturbing them.
"You have, indeed, improved your gift, Sister Cecilia," he said
gravely. "You must have practiced much."
"Yes--that is, no!--only a little," stammered Cissy.
"But, excuse me, I must look after auntie," she added, drawing
"Your aunt is better, and has gone on with Sister Shadwell. She is
not in need of your help, and really would do better without you
just now. I shall see her myself presently."
"But YOU made her sick already," said Cissy, with a sudden, half-
nervous audacity. "You even frightened ME."
"Frightened you?" repeated Seabright, looking at her quickly.
"Yes," said Cissy, meeting his gaze with brown, truthful eyes.
"Yes, when you--when you--made those faces. I like to hear you
talk, but"--she stopped.
Brother Seabright's rare smile again lightened his face. But it
seemed sadder than when she had first seen it.
"Then you have been practicing again at the Mission?" he said
quietly; "and you still prefer it?"
"Yes," said Cissy. She wanted to appear as loyal to the Mission in
Brother Seabright's presence as she was faithful to West Woodlands
in Mr. Braggs's. She had no idea that this was dangerously near to
coquetry. So she said a little archly, "I don't see why YOU don't
like the Mission. You're a missionary yourself. The old padres
came here to spread the Word. So do you."
"But not in that way," he said curtly. "I've seen enough of them
when I was knocking round the world a seafaring man and a sinner.
I knew them--receivers of the ill-gotten gains of adventurers,
fools, and scoundrels. I knew them--enriched by the spoils of
persecution and oppression; gathering under their walls outlaws and
fugitives from justice, and flinging an indulgence here and an
absolution there, as they were paid for it. Don't talk to me of
THEM--I know them."
They were passing out of the chapel together, and he made an
impatient gesture as if dismissing the subject. Accustomed though
she was to the sweeping criticism of her Catholic friends by her
West Woodlands associates, she was nevertheless hurt by his
brusqueness. She dropped a little behind, and they separated at
the porch. Notwithstanding her anxiety to see her aunt, she felt
she could not now go to Deacon Shadwell's without seeming to follow
him--and after he had assured her that her help was not required!
She turned aside and made her way slowly towards her home.
There she found that her aunt had not returned, gathering from
her uncle that she was recovering from a fit of "high strikes"
(hysterics), and would be better alone. Whether he underrated her
complaint, or had a consciousness of his masculine helplessness in
such disorders, he evidently made light of it. And when Cissy,
afterwards, a little ashamed that she had allowed her momentary
pique against Brother Seabright to stand in the way of her duty,
determined to go to her aunt, instead of returning to the chapel
that evening, he did not oppose it. She learned also that Mr.
Braggs had called in the morning, but, finding that her aunt Vashti
was at chapel, he had followed her there, intending to return with
her. But he had not been seen since the service, and had evidently
returned to the Mission.
But when she reached Deacon Shadwell's house she was received by
Mrs. Shadwell only. Her aunt, said that lady, was physically
better, but Brother Seabright had left "partkler word" that she was
to see nobody. It was an extraordinary case of "findin' the Lord,"
the like of which had never been known before in West Woodlands,
and she (Cissy) would yet be proud of one of her "fammerly being
speshally selected for grace." But the "workin's o' salvation was
not to be finicked away on worldly things or even the affections of
the flesh;" and if Cissy really loved her aunt, "she wouldn't
interfere with her while she was, so to speak, still on the
mourners' bench, wrastlin' with the Sperret in their back sittin'-
room." But she might wait until Brother Seabright's return from
evening chapel after service.
Cissy waited. Nine o'clock came, but Brother Seabright did not
return. Then a small but inconsequent dignity took possession of
her, and she slightly tossed her long curls from her shoulders.
She was not going to wait for any man's permission to see her own
aunt. If auntie did not want to see her, that was enough. She
could go home alone. She didn't want any one to go with her.
Lifted and sustained by these lofty considerations, with an erect
head and slightly ruffled mane, well enwrapped in a becoming white
merino "cloud," the young girl stepped out on her homeward journey.
She had certainly enough to occupy her mind and, perhaps, justify
her independence. To have a suitor for her hand in the person of
the superior and wealthy Mr. Braggs,--for that was what his visit
that morning to West Woodlands meant,--and to be personally
complimented on her improvement by the famous Brother Seabright,
all within twelve hours, was something to be proud of, even
although it was mitigated by her aunt's illness, her suitor's
abrupt departure, and Brother Seabright's momentary coldness and
impatience. Oddly enough, this last and apparently trivial
circumstance occupied her thoughts more than the others. She found
herself looking out for him in the windings of the moonlit road,
and when, at last, she reached the turning towards the little wood
and chapel, her small feet unconsciously lingered until she felt
herself blushing under her fleecy "cloud." She looked down the
lane. From the point where she was standing the lights of the
chapel should have been plainly visible; but now all was dark. It
was nearly ten o'clock, and he must have gone home by another road.
Then a spirit of adventure seized her. She had the key of the
chapel in her pocket. She remembered she had left a small black
Spanish fan--a former gift of Mr. Braggs lying on the harmonium.
She would go and bring it away, and satisfy herself that Brother
Seabright was not there still. It was but a step, and in the clear
The lane wound before her like a silver stream, except where it was
interrupted and bridged over by jagged black shadows. The chapel
itself was black, the clustering trees around it were black also;
the porch seemed to cover an inky well of shadow; the windows were
rayless and dead, and in the chancel one still left open showed a
yawning vault of obscurity within. Nevertheless, she opened the
door softly, glided into the dark depths, and made her way to the
harmonium. But here the sound of footsteps without startled her;
she glanced hurriedly through the open window, and saw the figure
of Elisha Braggs suddenly revealed in the moonlight as he crossed
the path behind the chapel. He was closely followed by two peons,
whom she recognized as his servants at the Mission, and they each
carried a pickaxe. From their manner it was evident that they had
no suspicion of her presence in the chapel. But they had stopped
and were listening. Her heart beat quickly; with a sudden instinct
she ran and bolted the door. But it was evidently another intruder
they were watching, for she presently saw Brother Seabright quietly
cross the lane and approach the chapel. The three men had
disappeared; but there was a sudden shout, the sound of scuffling,
the deep voice of Brother Seabright saying, "Back, there, will you!
Hands off!" and a pause. She could see nothing; she listened in
every pulse. Then the voice of Brother Seabright arose again quite
clearly, slowly, and as deliberately as if it had risen from the
platform in the chapel.
"Lish Barker! I thought as much! Lish Barker, first mate of the
Tamalpais, who was said to have gone down with a boat's crew and
the ship's treasure after she struck. I THOUGHT I knew that face
"Yes," said the voice of him whom she had known as Elisha Braggs,--
"yes, and I knew YOUR face, Jim Seabright, ex-whaler, slaver,
pirate, and bo's'n of the Highflyer, marooned in the South Pacific,
where you found the Lord--ha! ha!--and became the psalm-singing,
converted American sailor preacher!"
"I am not ashamed before men of my past, which every one knows,"
returned Seabright slowly. "But what of YOURS, Elisha Barker--
YOURS that has made you sham death itself to hide it from them?
What of YOURS--spent in the sloth of your ill-gotten gains! Turn,
sinner, turn! Turn, Elisha Braggs, while there is yet time!"
"Belay there, Brother Seabright; we're not INSIDE your gospel-shop
just now! Keep your palaver for those that need it. Let me pass,
before I have to teach you that you haven't to deal with a gang of
hysterical old women to-night."
"But not until you know that one of those women,--Vashti White,--
by God's grace converted of her sins, has confessed her secret and
yours, Elisha Barker! Yes! She has told me how her sister's
husband--the father of the young girl you are trying to lure away--
helped you off that night with your booty, took his miserable
reward and lived and died in exile with the rest of your wretched
crew,--afraid to return to his home and country--whilst you--
shameless and impenitent--lived in slothful ease at the Mission!"
"Liar! Let me pass!"
"Not until I know your purpose here to-night."
"Then take the consequences! Here, Pedro! Ramon! Seize him. Tie
him head and heels together, and toss him in the bush!"
The sound of scuffling recommenced. The struggle seemed fierce and
long, with no breath wasted in useless outcry. Then there was a
bright flash, a muffled report, and the stinging and fire of
gunpowder at the window.
Transfixed with fear, Cissy cast a despairing glance around her.
Ah, the bell-rope! In another instant she had grasped it
frantically in her hands.
All the fear, indignation, horror, sympathy, and wild appeal for
help that had arisen helplessly in her throat and yet remained
unuttered, now seemed to thrill through her fingers and the
tightened rope, and broke into frantic voice in the clanging metal
above her. The whole chapel, the whole woodland, the clear,
moonlit sky above was filled with its alarming accents. It
shrieked, implored, protested, summoned, and threatened, in one
ceaseless outcry, seeming to roll over and over--as, indeed, it
did--in leaps and bounds that shook the belfry. Never before, even
in the blows of the striking surges, had the bell of the Tamalpais
clamored like that! Once she heard above the turmoil the shaking
of the door against the bolt that still held firmly; once she
thought she heard Seabright's voice calling to her; once she
thought she smelled the strong smoke of burning grass. But she
kept on, until the window was suddenly darkened by a figure, and
Brother Seabright, leaping in, caught her in his arms as she was
reeling fainting, but still clinging to the rope. But his strong
presence and some powerful magnetism in his touch restored her.
"You have heard all!" he said.
"Then for your aunt's sake, for your dead father's sake, FORGET
all! That wretched man has fled with his wounded hirelings--let
his sin go with him. But the village is alarmed--the brethren may
be here any moment! Neither question nor deny what I shall tell
them. Fear nothing. God will forgive the silence that leaves the
vengeance to His hands alone!" Voices and footsteps were heard
approaching the chapel. Brother Seabright significantly pressed
her hand and strode towards the door. Deacon Shadwell was first to
"You here--Brother Seabright! What has happened?"
"God be praised!" said Brother Seabright cheerfully, "nothing of
consequence! The danger is over! Yet, but for the courage and
presence of mind of Sister Appleby a serious evil might have
been done." He paused, and with another voice turned half-
interrogatively towards her. "Some children, or a passing tramp,
had carelessly thrown matches in the underbrush, and they were
ignited beside the chapel. Sister Appleby, chancing to return here
"For my fan," said Cissy with a timid truthfulness of accent.
"Found herself unable to cope with it, and it occurred to her to
give the alarm you heard. I happened to be passing and was first
to respond. Happily the flames had made but little headway, and
were quickly beaten down. It is all over now. But let us hope
that the speedy clearing out of the underbrush and the opening of
the woods around the chapel will prevent any recurrence of the
alarm of to-night."
. . . . . .
That the lesson thus reiterated by Brother Seabright was effective,
the following extract, from the columns of the "Whale Point
Gazette," may not only be offered as evidence, but may even give
the cautious reader further light on the episode itself:--
STRANGE DISCOVERY AT WEST WOODLANDS.--THE TAMALPAIS MYSTERY AGAIN.
The improvements in the clearing around the Sidon Chapel at West
Woodlands, undertaken by the Rev. James Seabright, have disclosed
another link in the mystery which surrounded the loss of the
Tamalpais some years ago at Whale Mouth Point. It will be
remembered that the boat containing Adams & Co.'s treasure, the
Tamalpais' first officer, and a crew of four men was lost on the
rocks shortly after leaving the ill-fated vessel. None of the
bodies were ever recovered, and the treasure itself completely
baffled the search of divers and salvers. A lidless box bearing
the mark of Adams & Co., of the kind in which their treasure was
usually shipped, was yesterday found in the woods behind the
chapel, half buried in brush, bark, and windfalls. There were no
other indications, except the traces of a camp-fire at some remote
period, probably long before the building of the chapel. But how
and when the box was transported to the upland, and by whose
agency, still remains a matter of conjecture. Our reporter who
visited the Rev. Mr. Seabright, who has lately accepted the regular
ministry of the chapel, was offered every facility for information,
but it was evident that the early settlers who were cognizant of
the fact--if there were any--are either dead or have left the
THE HOME-COMING OF JIM WILKES.
For many minutes there had been no sound but the monotonous
drumming of the rain on the roof of the coach, the swishing of
wheels through the gravelly mud, and the momentary clatter of hoofs
upon some rocky outcrop in the road. Conversation had ceased; the
light-hearted young editor in the front seat, more than suspected
of dangerous levity, had relapsed into silence since the heavy man
in the middle seat had taken to regarding the ceiling with
ostentatious resignation, and the thin female beside him had
averted her respectable bonnet. An occasional lurch of the coach
brought down a fringe of raindrops from its eaves that filmed the
windows and shut out the sodden prospect already darkening into
night. There had been a momentary relief in their hurried dash
through Summit Springs, and the spectacle of certain newly arrived
County Delegates crowding the veranda of its one hotel; but that
was now three miles behind. The young editor's sole resource was
to occasionally steal a glance at the face of the one passenger who
seemed to be in sympathy with him, but who was too far away for
easy conversation. It was the half-amused, half-perplexed face of
a young man who had been for some time regarding him from a remote
corner of the coach with an odd mingling of admiring yet cogitating
interest, which, however, had never extended to any further
encouragement than a faint sad smile. Even this at last faded out
in the growing darkness; the powerful coach lamps on either side
that flashed on the wayside objects gave no light to the interior.
Everybody was slowly falling asleep. Suddenly everybody woke up to
find that the coach was apparently standing still! When it had
stopped no one knew! The young editor lowered his window. The
coach lamp on that side was missing, but nothing was to be seen.
In the distance there appeared to be a faint splashing.
"Well," called out an impatient voice from the box above; "what do
you make it?" It was the authoritative accents of Yuba Bill, the
driver, and everybody listened eagerly for the reply.
It came faintly from the distance and the splashing. "Almost four
feet here, and deepening as you go."
"No--back water from the Fork."
There was a general movement towards the doors and windows. The
splashing came nearer. Then a light flashed on the trees, the
windows, and--two feet of yellow water peacefully flowing beneath
them! The thin female gave a slight scream.
"There's no danger," said the Expressman, now wading towards them
with the coach lamp in his hand. "But we'll have to pull round out
of it and go back to the Springs. There's no getting past this
"Why didn't you let us know this before," said the heavy man
indignantly from the window.
"Jim," said the driver with that slow deliberation which instantly
enforced complete attention.
"Have you got a spare copy of that reg'lar bulletin that the Stage
Kempany issoos every ten minutes to each passenger to tell 'em
where we are, how far it is to the next place, and wots the state
o' the weather gin'rally?"
"No!" said the Expressman grimly, as he climbed to the box,
"there's not one left. Why?"
"Cos the Emperor of Chiny's inside wantin' one! Hoop! Keep your
seats down there! G'lang!" the whip cracked, there was a desperate
splashing, a backward and forward jolting of the coach, the
glistening wet flanks and tossing heads of the leaders seen for a
moment opposite the windows, a sickening swirl of the whole body of
the vehicle as if parting from its axles, a long straight dragging
pull, and--presently the welcome sound of hoofs once more beating
the firmer ground.
"Hi! Hold up--driver!"
It was the editor's quiet friend who was leaning from the window.
"Isn't Wilkes's ranch just off here?"
"Yes, half a mile along the ridge, I reckon," returned the driver
"Well, if you're not going on to-night, I'd get off and stop
"I reckon your head's level, stranger," said Bill approvingly; "for
they're about chock full at the Springs' House."
To descend, the passenger was obliged to pass out by the middle
seat and before the young editor. As he did so he cast a shy look
on him and, leaning over, said hesitatingly, in a lower voice: "I
don't think you will be able to get in at the Springs Hotel. If--
if--you care to come with me to--to--the ranch, I can take care of
The young editor--a man of action--paused for an instant only.
Then seizing his bag, he said promptly: "Thank you," and followed
his newly-found friend to the ground. The whip cracked, the coach
"You know Wilkes?" he said.
"Ye-ee-s. He's my father."
"Ah," said the editor cheerfully, "then you're going home?"
It was quite light in the open, and the stranger, after a moment's
survey of the prospect,--a survey that, however, seemed to be
characterized by his previous hesitation,--said: "This way,"
crossed the road, and began to follow a quite plain but long
disused wagon track along the slope. His manner was still so
embarrassed that the young editor, after gayly repeating his thanks
for his companion's thoughtful courtesy, followed him in silence.
At the end of ten minutes they had reached some cultivated fields
and orchards; the stranger brightened, although still with a
preoccupied air, quickened his pace, and then suddenly stopped.
When the editor reached his side he was gazing with apparently
still greater perplexity upon the level, half obliterated, and
blackened foundations of what had been a large farmhouse.
"Why, it's been burnt down!" he said thoughtfully.
The editor stared at him! Burnt down it certainly had been, but by
no means recently. Grasses were already springing up from the
charred beams in the cellar, vines were trailing over the fallen
chimneys, excavations, already old, had been made among the ruins.
"When were you here last?" the editor asked abruptly.
"Five years ago," said the stranger abstractedly.
"Five years!--and you knew nothing of THIS?"