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Port O' Gold by Louis John Stellman

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A History-Romance of the San Francisco Argonauts



[Illustration: As they looked the sunlight triumphed, scattering
the fog into queer floating shapes, luminous and fraught with weird
suggestions.... One might have thought a splendid city lay before
them, ... impalpable, yet triumphant, with its hint of destiny.]


Oft from my window have I seen the day
Break o'er thy roofs and towers like a dream
In mystic silver, mirrored by the Bay,
Bedecked with shadow craft ... and then a gleam
Of golden sunlight cleaving swiftly sure
Some narrow cloud-rift--limning hill or plain
With flecks of gypsy-radiance that endure
But for the moment and are gone again.

Then I have ventured on thy strident streets,
Mid whir of traffic in the vibrant hour
When Commerce with its clashing cymbal greets
The mighty Mammon in his pomp of power....
And in the quiet dusk of eventide,
As wearied toilers quit the marts of Trade,
Have I been of their pageant--or allied
With Passion's revel in the Night Parade.

Oh, I have known thee in a thousand moods
And lived a thousand lives within thy bounds;
Adventured with the throng that laughs or broods,
Trod all thy cloisters and thy pleasure grounds,
Seen thee, in travail from the fiery torch,
Betrayed by Greed, smirched by thy sons' disgrace--
Rise with a spirit that no flame can scorch
To make thyself a new and honored place.

Ah, Good Gray City! Let me sing thy song
Of western splendor, vigorous and bold;
In vice or virtue unashamed and strong--
Stormy of mien but with a heart of gold!
I love thee, San Francisco; I am proud
Of all thy scars and trophies, praise or blame
And from thy wind-swept hills I cry aloud
The everlasting glory of thy name.


This is the story of San Francisco. When a newspaper editor summoned me
from the mountains to write a serial he said:

"I've sent for you because I believe you love this city more than any
other writer of my acquaintance or knowledge. And I believe the true
story of San Francisco will make a more dramatic, vivid, human narrative
than any fiction I've ever read.

"Take all the time you want. Get everything straight, and _put all
you've got into this story_. I'm going to wake up the town with it."

To the best of my ability, I followed the editor's instructions. He
declared himself satisfied. The public responded generously. The serial
was a success.

But, ah! I wish I might have written it much better ... or that Robert
Louis Stevenson, for instance, might have done it in my stead.

"Port O' Gold" is history with a fiction thread to string its episodes
upon. Most of the characters are men and women who have lived and played
their parts exactly as described herein. The background and chronology
are as accurate as extensive and painstaking research can make them.

People have informed me that my fictional characters, vide Benito, "took
hold of them" more than the "real ones" ... which is natural enough,
perhaps, since they are my own brain-children, while the others are
merely adopted. Nor is this anything to be deplored. The writer, after
all, is first an entertainer. Indirectly he may edify, inform or teach.
My only claim is that I've tried to tell the story of the city that I
love as truly and attractively as I was able. My only hope is that I
have been worthy of the task.

Valuable aid in the accumulation of historical data for this volume was
given by:

Robert Rea, librarian, San Francisco Public Library;

Mary A. Byrne, manager Reference Department, San Francisco Public

John Howell and John J. Newbegin, booksellers and collectors of
Californiana, for whose cheerful interest and many courtesies the author
is sincerely grateful.



I Yerba Buena.
II The Gambled Patrimony.
III The Gringo Ships.
IV American Occupation.
V An Offer and a Threat.
VI The First Election.
VII The Rancheros Revolt.
VIII McTurpin's Coup.
IX The Elopement.
X Hull "Capitulates".
XI San Francisco is Named.
XII The New York Volunteers.
XIII The "Sydney Ducks".
XIV The Auction on the Beach.
XV The Beginning of Law.
XVI Gold! Gold! Gold!
XVII The Quest of Fortune.
XVIII News of Benito.
XIX The Veiled Woman.
XX A Call in the Night.
XXI Outfacing the Enemy.
XXII Shots in the Dark.
XXIII The New Arrival.
XXIV The Chaos of '49.
XXV Retrieving a Birthright.
XXVI Fire! Fire! Fire!
XXVII Politics and a Warning.
XXVIII On the Trail of McTurpin.
XXIX The Squatter Conspiracy.
XXX "Growing Pains".
XXXI The Vigilance Committee.
XXXII The People's Jury.
XXXIII The Reckoning.
XXXIV The Hanging of Jenkins.
XXXV The People and the Law.
XXXVI Fevers of Finance.
XXXVII "Give Us Our Savings".
XXXVIII King Starts the Bulletin.
XXXIX Richardson and Cora.
XL The Storm Gathers.
XLI The Fateful Encounter.
XLII The Committee Organizes.
XLIII Governor Johnson Mediates.
XLIV The Truce is Broken.
XLV The Committee Strikes.
XLVI Retribution.
XLVII Hints of Civil War.
XLVIII Sherman Resigns.
XLIX Terry Stabs Hopkins.
L The Committee Disbands.
LI Senator Broderick.
LII A Trip to Chinatown.
LIII Enter Po Lun.
LIV The "Field of Honor".
LV The Southern Plot.
LVI Some War Reactions.
LVII Waters Pays the Price.
LVIII McTurpin Turns Informer.
LIX The Comstock Furore.
LX The Shattered Bubble.
LXI Desperate Finance.
LXII Adolph Sutro's Tunnel.
LXIII Lees Solves a Mystery.
LXIV An Idol Topples.
LXV Industrial Unrest.
LXVI The Pick-Handle Parade.
LXVII Dennis Kearney.
LXVIII The Woman Reporter.
LXIX A New Generation.
LXX Robert and Maizie.
LXXI The Blind Boss.
LXXII Fate Takes a Hand.
LXXIII The Return.
LXXIV The "Reformer".
LXXV A Nocturnal Adventure.
LXXVI Politics and Romance.
LXXVII Aleta's Problem.
LXXVIII The Fateful Morn.
LXXIX The Turmoil.
LXXX Aftermath.
LXXXI Readjustment.
LXXXIII In the Toils.
LXXXIV The Net Closes.
LXXXV The Seven Plagues.
LXXXVI A New City Government.
LXXXVII Norah Finds Out.
LXXXVIII The Shooting of Heney.
LXXXIX Defeat of the Prosecution.
XC The Measure of Redemption.
XCI Conclusion.


As they looked, the sunlight triumphed, scattering the fog into queer,
floating shapes, luminous and fraught with weird suggestions.... One
might have thought a splendid city lay before them, ... impalpable, yet
triumphant, with its hint of destiny.

"Ah, Senor," Inez' smile had faded, ... "they have cause for hatred".

Men with shovels, leveling the sand-hills, piled the wagons high with
shimmering grains which were ... dumped into pile-surrounded bogs. San
Francisco reached farther and farther out into the bay.

Samuel Brannan rode through the streets, holding a pint flask of
gold-dust in one hand ... and whooping like a madman: "Gold! Gold! Gold!
From the American River".

Passersby who laughed at the inscription witnessed simultaneously the
rescue of an almost submerged donkey by means of an improvised derrick.

Broderick's commanding figure was seen rushing hither and thither....
"You and two others. Blow up or pull down that building," he indicated a
sprawling, ramshackle structure.

There sat the redoubtable captain, all the ... austerity of his West
Point manner melted in the indignity of sneezes and wheezes.... "Money!
God Almighty! Sherman, there's not a loose dollar in town".

"Draw and defend yourself," he said loudly. He shut his eyes and a
little puff of smoke seemed to spring from the end of his fingers,
followed ... by a sharp report.

In front of the building on a high platform, two men stood.... A
half-suppressed roar went up from the throng.

Terry, who had taken careful aim, now fired. Broderick staggered,
recovered himself. Slowly he sank to one knee.

The concourse broke into applause. Then it was hysteria, pandemonium.
Fifty thousand knew their city was safe for Anti-Slavery.

Half a thousand jobless workers, armed and reckless, marched toward the
docks. They bore torches.... "A hell-bent crew," said Ellis.

"My boy ... you're wasting your time as a reporter. Listen," he laid a
hand upon Francisco's knee. "I've a job for you.... The new Mayor will
need a secretary".

"Perhaps I shall find me a man--big, strong, impressive--with a mind
easily led.... Then I shall train him to be a leader.... I shall furnish
the brain".

"I am going South," Francisco told his son. "I cannot bear this".

All at once he stepped forward.... Tears were streaming down his face.
Then the judge's question, clearly heard, "What is your plea?" "Guilty!"
Ruef returned.




"Blessed be the Saints. It is the Punta de Los Reyes." The speaker was a
bearded man of middle years. A certain nobleness about him like an
ermine garment of authority was purely of the spirit, for he was neither
of imposing height nor of commanding presence. His clothing hung about
him loosely and recent illness had drawn haggard lines upon his face.
But his eyes flashed like an eagle's, and the hand which pointed
northward, though it trembled, had the fine dramatic grace of one who
leads in its imperious gesture. He swept from his head the once
magnificent hat with its scarred velour and windtorn plume, bending one
knee in a movement of silent reverence and thanksgiving. This was Gaspar
de Portola, October 31,1769.

Near him stood his aides. All of them were travel-stained, careworn with
hardship and fatigue. Following their chieftain they uncovered and
knelt. To one side and a little below the apex of a rocky promontory
that contained the little group, Christian Indians, muleteers and
soldados crossed themselves and looked up questioningly. In a dozen
litters sick men tossed and moaned. A mule brayed raucously, startling
flocks of wild geese to flight from nearby cliffs, a herd of deer on a
mad stampede inland.

Portola rose and swept the horizon with his half-fevered gaze. To the
south lay the rugged shore line with its sea-corroded cliffs, indented
at one point into a half-moon of glistening beach and sweeping on again
into vanishing and reappearing shapes of mist.

Far to the northwest a giant arm of land reached out into the water,
high and stark and rocky; further on a group of white farallones lay in
the tossing foam and over them great flocks of seabirds dipped and
circled. Finally, along the coast to the northward, they descried those
chalk cliffs which Francis Drake had aptly named New Albion, and still
beyond, what seemed to be the mouth of an inlet.

Dispute sprang up among them. Since July 14th they had been searching
between this place and San Diego for the port of Monterey. "Perhaps this
is the place," said Crespi, the priest, reluctantly. "Vizcaino may have
been amiss when he located it in 37 degrees."

"Yes," spoke Captain Fernando de Rivera, "these explorers are careless
dogs. One seldom finds the places they map out so gaily. And what do
they care who dies of the hunger or scurvy--drinking their flagons in
Mexico or Madrid? A curse, say I, on the lot of them."

Portola turned an irritated glance of disapproval on his henchmen. "What
say you, my pathfinder?" he addressed Sergeant Jose Ortega, chief
of Scouts.

"That no one may be certain, your excellency," the scout-chief answered.
"But," his eyes met those of his commander with a look of grim
significance, "one may learn."

Portola laid a hand almost affectionately on the other's leather-covered
shoulder. Here was a man after his heart. Always he had been ahead of
the van, selecting camp sites, clearing ways through impenetrable brush,
fighting off hostile savages. Now, ill and hungry as he was, for rations
had for several days been down to four tortillas per man, Ortega was
ready to set forth again.

"You had better rest, Saldado. You are far from well. Start to-morrow."

Ortega shrugged. "Meanwhile they mutter," his eyes jerked to the
indiscriminate company below.

"When men march and have a motive, they forget their grievances. When
they lie in camp the devil stalks about and puts mischief into their
thought. I have been a soldier for fourteen years, your excellency."

"And I for thirty," said the other dryly, but he smiled. "You are
right, my sergeant. Go. And may your patron saint, the reverend father
of Assisi, aid you."

Ortega saluted and withdrew. "I will require three days with your
excellency's grace," he said. Portola nodded and observed Ortega's sharp
commands wheel a dozen mounted soldados into line. They galloped past
him, their lances at salute and dashed with a clatter of hoofs into the
valley below.

Young Francisco Garvez spurred his big mare forward till he rode beside
the sergeant. A tall, half-lanky lad he was with the eager prescience of
youth, its dreams and something of its shyness hidden in the dark
alertness of his mien.

"Whither now, my sergeant?" he inquired with a trace of pertness as he
laid a hand upon the other's pommel. "Do we search again for that
elusive Monterey? Methinks Vizcaino dreamed it in his cups." He smiled,
a flash of strong, white teeth relieving the half-weary relaxation of
his features, and Ortega turning, answered him:

"Perhaps the good St. Francis hid it from our eyes--that we might first
discover this puerto christened in his honor. We have three days to
reach the Punta de los Reyes, which Vizcaino named for the kings
of Cologne."

For a time the two rode on in silence. Then young Garvez muttered: "It
is well for Portola that your soldados love you.... Else the expedition
had not come thus far." The sergeant looked at his companion
smolderingly, but he did not speak. He knew as well as anyone that the
Governor's life was in danger; that conspiracy was in the air. And it
was for this he had taken with him all the stronger malcontents. Yes,
they loved him--whatever treachery might have brooded in their minds.
His eyes kindled with the knowledge. He led them at a good pace forward
over hill and dale, through rough and briery undergrowth, fording here
and there a stream, spurring tired horses over spans of dragging sand
until darkness made further progress impossible. But with the break of
day he was on again after a scanty meal. Just at sunrise he led his
party up to a commanding headland where he paused to rest. His winded
mount and that of Garvez panted side by side upon the crest while his
troopers, single file, picked their way up the narrow trail. Below them
was the Bay of San Francisco guarded by the swirling narrows of the
Golden Gate. And over the brown hilltops of the Contra Costa a great
golden ball of sunlight battled with the lacy mists of dawn.

It was a picture to impress one with its mystery and magnificence. The
two men gazed upon it with an oddly blended sense of awe and exultation.
And as they looked the sunlight triumphed, scattering the fog into queer
floating shapes, luminous and fraught with weird suggestions of castle,
dome, of turret, minaret and towering spire. One might have thought a
splendid city lay before them in the barren cove of sand-dunes, a city
impalpable, yet triumphant, with its hint of destiny; translucent silver
and gold, shifting and amazing--gone in a flash as the sun's full
radiance burst forth through the vapor-screen.

"It was like a sign from Heaven!" Garvez breathed.

Ortega crossed himself. The younger man went on, "Something like a voice
within me seemed to say 'Here shall you find your home--you and your
children and their children's children.'"

Ortega looked down at the dawn-gold on the waters and the tree-ringed
cove. Here and there small herds of deer drank from a stream or browsed
upon the scant verdure of sandy meadows. In a distant grove a score of
Indian tepees raised their cone shapes to the sky; lazy plumes of
blue-white smoke curled upward. Canoes, rafts of tules, skillfully bound
together, carried dark-skinned natives over wind-tossed waters, the ends
of their double paddles flashing in the sun.

"One may not know the ways of God." Ortega spoke a trifle bruskly. "What
is plain to me is that we cannot journey farther. This estero cuts our
path in two. And in three days we cannot circle it to reach the Contra
Costa. We must return and make report to the commander."

He wheeled and shouted a command to his troopers. The cavalcade rode
south but young Francisco turning in the saddle cast a farewell glance
toward the shining bay. "Port O' Gold!" he whispered raptly, "some day
men shall know your fame around the world!"




It was 1845. Three quarters of a century had passed since young
Francisco Garvez, as he rode beside Portola's chief of Scouts, glimpsed
the mystic vision of a city rising from the sandy shores of San
Francisco Bay.

Garvez, so tradition held, had taken for his spouse an Indian maiden
educated by the mission padres of far San Diego. For his service as
soldado of old Spain he had been granted many acres near the Mission of
Dolores and his son, through marriage, had combined this with another
large estate. There a second generation of the Garvez family had looked
down from a palatial hacienda upon spreading grain-fields, wide-reaching
pastures and corrals of blooded stock. They had seen the Mission era wax
and wane and Mexico cast off the governmental shackles of Madrid. They
had looked askance upon the coming of the "Gringo" and Francisco Garvez
II, in the feebleness of age, had railed against the destiny that gave
his youngest daughter to a Yankee engineer. He had bade her choose
between allegiance to an honored race and exile with one whom he termed
an unknown, alien interloper. But in the end he had forgiven, when she
chose, as is the wont of women, Love's eternal path. Thus the Garvez
rancho, at his death became the Windham ranch and there dwelt Dona Anita
with her children Inez and Benito, for her husband, "Don Roberto"
Windham lingered with an engineering expedition in the wilds of Oregon.

Just nineteen was young Benito, straight and slim, combining in his
fledgling soul the austere heritage of Anglo-Saxons with the leaping
fires of Castile. Fondly, yet with something anxious in her glance, his
mother watched the boy as he sprang nimbly to the saddle of his favorite
horse. He was like her husband, strong and self-reliant. Yet,--she
sighed involuntarily with the thought,--he had much of the manner of her
handsome and ill-fated brother, Don Diego, victim of a duel that had
followed cards and wine.

"Why so troubled, madre mia?" The little hand of Inez stole into her
mother's reassuringly. "Is it that you fear for our Benito when he rides
among the Gringos of the puebla?"

Her dark crowned and exquisite head rose proudly and her eyes flashed as
she watched her brother riding with the grace of splendid horsemanship
toward the distant town of Yerba Buena. "He can take care of himself,"
she ended with, a toss of her head.

"To be sure, my little one," the Dona Windham answered smiling. No doubt
it was a foolish apprehension she decided. If only the Dona Briones who
lived on a ranchita near the bay-shore did not gossip so of the
Americano games of chance. And if only she might know what took Benito
there so frequently.

* * * * *

Benito spurred his horse toward the puebla. A well-filled purse jingled
in his pocket and now and then he tossed a silver coin to some
importuning Indian along the road. As he passed the little ranch-house
of Dona Briones he waved his hat gaily in answer to her invitation to
stop. Benito called her Tia Juana. Large and motherly she was, a woman
of untiring energy who, all alone cultivated the ranchito which supplied
milk, butter, eggs and vegetables to ships which anchored in the cove of
Yerba Buena. She was the friend of all sick and unfortunate beings, the
secret ally of deserting sailors whom she often hid from searching
parties. Benito was her special favorite and now she sighed and shook
her head as he rode on. She had heard of his losses at the gringo game
called "pokkere." She mistrusted it together with all other alien

Benito reached the little hamlet dreaming in the sun, a welter of
scrambled habitations. There was the little ship's cabin, called Kent
Hall, where dwelt that genial spirit, Nathan Spear, his father's friend.
Nearby was the dwelling, carpenter and blacksmith shop of Calvert Davis;
the homes of Victor Pruden, French savant and secretary to Governor
Alvarado; Thompson the hide trader who married Concepcion Avila,
reigning beauty of her day; Stephen Smith, pioneer saw-miller, who
brought the first pianos to California.

Where a spring gushed forth and furnished water to the ships, Juan
Fuller had his washhouse. Within a stone's throw was the grist mill of
Daniel Sill where a mule turned, with the frequent interruptions of his
balky temperament, a crude and ponderous treadmill. Grain laden ox-carts
stood along the road before it.

Farther down was Finch's, better known as John the Tinker's bowling
alley; Cooper's groggery, nicknamed "Jack the Sailor's," Vioget's house,
later to be Yerba Buena's first hotel. The new warehouse of William
Leidesdorff stood close to the waterline and, at the head of the plaza,
the customs house built by Indians at the governor's order looked down
on the shipping.

Benito reined his horse as he reached the Plaza where a dozen other
mounts were tethered and left his steed to crop the short grass without
the formality of hitching. He remembered how, nine years ago, Don Jacob
Primer Leese had given a grand ball to celebrate the completion of his
wooden casa, the first of its kind in Yerba Buena. There had been music
and feasting with barbecued meats and the firing of guns to commemorate
the fourth of July which was the birth of Americano independence. Long
ago Leese had moved his quarters farther from the beach and sold his
famous casa to the Hudson's Bay company. Half perfunctorily, young
Windham made his way there, entered and sat down in the big trading room
where sailormen were usually assembled to discourse profanely of the
perils of the sea. Benito liked to hear them and to listen to the
drunken boasts of Factor William Rae, who threatened that his company
would drive all Yankee traders out of California. Sometimes Spear would
be there, sardonically witty, drinking heavily but never befuddled by
his liquor. But today the place was silent, practically deserted so
Benito, after a glass of fiery Scotch liquor with the factor, made his
way into the road again. There a hand fell on his shoulder and Spear's
hearty voice saluted him:

"How fares it at the ranch, Camerado?"

"Moderately," the young man answered, "for my mother waits impatiently
the coming of my father. She is very lonely since my uncle died. Though
Inez tries to comfort her, she, too, is apprehensive. The time set by my
father for home-coming is long past."

"It is the way of women," Spear said gently. "Give them my respects. If
you ride toward home I will accompany you a portion of the way."

Benito turned an almost furtive glance on his companion. "Not yet," ...
he answered hastily, "a thousand pardons, senor. I have other
errands here."

He nodded half impatiently and made his way along the embarcadero. Spear
saw him turn into the drinking place of Cooper.

A stranger caught Spear's glance and smiled significantly. "I saw the
lad last night at poker with a crowd that's not above a crooked deal....
Someone should stop him." In the voice was tentative suggestion.

"I've no authority," Spear answered shortly. He turned his back upon the
other and strode toward the plaza.



The stranger took his way toward the waterfront and into "Jack the
Sailor's." Cooper, who had earned this nickname, stood behind a counter
of rough boards polishing its top with a much soiled towel. He hailed
the newcomer eagerly. "Hello, Alvin Potts! What brought you here? And
how is all at Monterey?"

"All's well enough," said Potts, concisely. He glanced about. Several
crude structures, scarcely deserving the name of tables, were centers of
interest for rings of rough and ill-assorted men. There were
loud-voiced, bearded fellows from the whaler's crew. In tarpaulins and
caps pulled low upon their brows; swarthy Russians with oily, brutish
faces and slow movements--relics of the abandoned colony at Fort Ross;
suave, soft-spoken Spaniards in broad-brimmed hats, braided short coats
and laced trousers tucked into shining boots; vaqueros with colored
handkerchiefs about their heads and sashes around their middles. A few
Americans were sprinkled here and there. Usually one player at each
table was of the sleek and graceful type, which marks the gambler. And
usually he was the winner. Now and then a man threw down his cards,
pushed a little pile of money to the center of the table and shuffled
out. Cooper passed between them, serving tall, black bottles from which
men poured their potions according to impulse; they did not drink in
unison. Each player snatched a liquid stimulus when the need arose. And
one whose shaky nerves required many of these spurs was young Benito.

Potts observed the pale face and the hectic, burning eyes with a
frowning disapproval. Presently he drew John Cooper to one side.

"He's no business here, that lad ... you know it, Jack," Potts said,
accusingly. The saloon keeper threw wide his arms in a significant

"He won't stay away ... I've told him half a dozen times. No one can
reason with that headstrong fool."

"Who's that he's playing with?" asked Potts. "I mean the dark one with a

An impressive and outstanding figure was the man Potts designated.
Stocky, sinister of eye and with a mouth whose half-sardonic smile drew
the lips a little out of line, he combed his thick black hair now and
then with delicate, long-fingered hands. They had a deftness and a
lightning energy, those fingers with their perfectly groomed nails,
which boded little good to his opponents. He sat back calmly in strange
contrast to the feverish uncontrol of other players. Now and then he
flashed a swift glance round the circle of his fellow players. Before
him was a heap of gold and silver. They watched him deal with the
uncanny skill of a conjurer before Jack Cooper answered.

"That's Aleck McTurpin from Australia. Thought you knew him."

"One of the Sydney coves?"

"Not quite so loud," the other cautioned hastily. "They call him
that--behind his back. But who's to tell? I'd like to get the lad out of
his clutches well enough."

"Think I'll watch the game," Potts said, and sauntered to the table. He
laid a friendly hand on Windham's shoulder. Benito's pile of coin was
nearly gone. McTurpin dealt. It was a jack-pot, evidently, for a heavy
stake of gold and silver was upon the center of the board. Benito's hand
shook as he raised his cards. He reached forth and refilled his glass,
gulping the contents avidly.

"Dos cartos," he replied in Spanish to the dealer's inquiry. Potts
glanced at the three cards which Benito had retained. Each was a king.

The young man eyed his first draw with a slight frown and seemed to
hesitate before he lifted up the second. Then a little sucking gasp came
from his throat.

"Senor," he began as McTurpin eyed him curiously, "I have little left to
wager. Luck has been my enemy of late. Yet," he smiled a trembling
little smile, "I hold certain cards which give me confidence. I should
like to play a big stake--once, before I leave--"

"How big?" asked McTurpin, coldly, but his eye was eager.

The Spanish-American faced him straightly. "As big as you like, amigo
... if you will accept my note."

McTurpin's teeth shut with a click. "What security, young fellow?" he

"My ranch," replied Benito. "It is worth, they say, ten thousand of your

McTurpin covered his cards with his hands. "You want to lay me this
ranch against--what?"

"Five thousand dollars--that is fair enough," Benito answered. He was
trembling with excitement. McTurpin watched him hawk-like, seeming to
consider. "Bring us ink and paper, Jack," he called to Cooper, and when
the latter had complied, he wrote some half a dozen lines upon a sheet.

"Sign that. Get two witnesses ... you, Jack, and this fellow here," he
indicated Potts imperiously. He laid his cards face down upon the table
and extracted deftly from some inner pocket a thick roll of greenbacks.
Slowly, almost meticulously, he counted them before the gaping tableful
of players. Fifty hundred-dollar bills.

"American greenbacks," he spoke crisply. "A side bet with our friend,
the Senor Windham." He shoved the money toward the center of the table,
slightly apart from the rest.

Benito waveringly picked up the pen. It shook in his unsteady fingers.
"Wait," Potts pleaded. But the young man brooked no intervention. With a
flourish he affixed his signature. McTurpin picked up the pen as Benito
dropped it. "Put your name on as a witness," he demanded of the host.
"Jack the Sailor" shook his head. "I've no part in this," he said, and
turned his back upon them. "Nor I," Potts answered to a similar

McTurpin took the paper. "Well, it doesn't matter. You've all seen him
sign it: You ... and you ... and you." His finger pointed to a trio of
the nearest players, and their nods sufficed him, evidently. He weighted
the contract with a gold-piece from his own plethoric pile.

"Show down! Show down!" cried the others. Triumphantly Benito laid five
cards upon the table. Four of them were kings. A little cry of
satisfaction arose, for sympathy was with the younger player. McTurpin
sat unmoved. Then he threw an ace upon the table. Followed it with a
second. Then a third. And, amid wondering murmurs, a fourth.

He reached out his hand for the stakes. Benito sat quite still. The
victorious light had gone out of his eyes, but not a muscle moved. One
might have thought him paralyzed or turned to stone by his misfortune.
McTurpin's hand closed almost stealthily upon the paper. There was a
smile of cool and calculating satisfaction on his thin lips as he drew
the stake toward him.

Then with an electrifying suddenness, Benito sprang upon him. "Cheat!"
he screamed. "You fleeced me like a robber. I knew. I understood it when
you looked at me like that."

Quick as McTurpin was in parrying attack--for he had frequent need of
such defense--the onslaught of Benito found him unprepared. He went over
backward, the young man's fingers on his throat. From the overturned
table money rattled to the floor and rolled into distant corners.
Hastily the non-combatants sought a refuge from expected bullets. But
no pistol barked. McTurpin's strength far overmatched that of the other.
Instantly he was on his feet. Benito's second rush was countered by a
blow upon the jaw. The boy fell heavily.

McTurpin smoothed his ruffled plumage and picked up the scattered coins.
"Take the young idiot home," he said across his shoulder, as he strode
out. "Pour a little whisky down his throat. He isn't hurt."



Government was but a name in Yerba Buena. A gringo engineer named
Fremont with a rabble of adventurers had overthrown the valiant Vallejo
at Sonora and declared a California Republic. He had spiked the cannon
at the Presidio. And now a gringo sloop-of-war was in the bay, some said
with orders to reduce the port. Almost simultaneously an English frigate
came and there were rumors of a war between the Anglo-Saxon nations.

The prefect, Don Rafael Pinto, had already joined the fleeing Governor
Castro. Commandante Francisco Sanchez, having sent his soldiers to
augment the Castro forces in the south, was without a garrison and had
retired to his rancho.

Nevertheless, had the Senora Windham, with her son and daughter, called
upon Sub-prefect Guerrero in hope of justice. Her rancho was being taken
from her. Already McTurpin had pre-empted a portion of the grant and
only the armed opposition of the Windham vaqueros prevented an entire

Though Guerrero listened, courteous and punctilious, he had obviously no
power to afford relief. He was a curiously nervous man of polished
manners whose eyelids twitched at intervals with a sort of slow St.
Vitus' dance.

"What can I do, Senora?" with a blend of whimsicality and desperation.
"I am an official without a staff. And Sanchez a commander stripped of
his soldados." He stepped to the door with them and looked down upon the
dancing, rippling waters of the bay, where two ships rode.

"Let these gringos fight it out together. This McTurpin is an Inglese,
I am told, from their far colony across the sea. If the Americanos
triumph take your claim to them. If not, God save you, my senora.
I cannot."

Don Guillermo Richardson, the former harbormaster, came up the hill as
Dona Anita emerged from the Alcalde's office. He was a friend of her
husband--a gringo--but trusted by the Spanish Californians, many of whom
he had befriended. To him Mrs. Windham turned half desperately,
confessing in a rush of words her family's plight. "What is to become of
us?" she questioned passionately. "Ah, that my Roberto were here! He
would know how to deal with these desperadoes." She gestured angrily
toward the sloop-of-war which rode at anchor in the Bay.

"You have nothing to fear, my friend," returned Richardson with a trace
of asperity. "Commodore Sloat is a gentleman. He is, I understand, to
seize Monterey and raise the the American flag there tomorrow. Yet his
instructions are that Californians are to be shown every courtesy."

"And our rancho?" cried the boy. "Will the Americano Capitan restore it
to us, think you, Don Guillermo?"

"I know not," said the other sadly. "You should have thought of that
before you gambled it away, my son."

Benito hung his head. Richardson passed on and the trio made their way
toward the beach. There they found Nathan Spear in excited converse with
John Cooper and William Leidesdorff.

They were discussing the probability of an occupation by the American
marines. "If they come ashore," said Leidesdorff, "I'll invite them to
my new house. There's plenty of rum for all, and we'll drink a toast to
Fremont and the California Republic as well."

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" came a cheer from several bystanders.

"I invite you all," cried Leidesdorff, waving his hands and almost
dancing in his eagerness. "Every man-jack of you in all Yerba Buena."

"How about the ladies, Leidesdorff?" called out a sailor.

"Ah, forgive me, Senora, Senorita!" cried the Dane remorsefully. He
swept off his wide-brimmed hat with an effort, for he had a fashion of
jamming it very tightly upon his head. He laid a hand enthusiastically
upon the shoulders of both Spear and Cooper. "It grows better and
better. Tomorrow, if the Captain is willing," he jerked his head toward
the Portsmouth, "tomorrow evening we shall have a grand ball. It shall
celebrate the day of independence."

"But tomorrow is the eighth of July," said Cooper.

"What matter?" Leidesdorff exclaimed, now thoroughly enthusiastic. "It's
the spirit of the thing that counts, my friends."

A crowd was assembling. Mrs. Windham and her daughter drew instinctively
aside. Benito stood between them and the growing throng as if to shield
them from a battery of curious glances.

"Will the ladies accept?" asked Leidesdorff with another exaggerated

Senora Windham, haughty and aloof, had framed a stiff refusal, but her
daughter caught her hand. "Do not antagonize them, mother," she said in
an undertone. "Let us meet this Gringo Commandante of the ship.
Perhaps," she smiled archly, "it is not beyond the possibilities I may
persuade him into giving aid."

The elder woman hesitated, glanced inquiringly at Nathan Spear who stood
beside them. He nodded. "The ladies will be pleased," he answered in
their stead. Another cheer met this announcement.



Yerba Buena awoke to the sunrise of July 8, 1846, with a spirit of
festive anticipation and a certain relief.

Today the American sloop-of-war would land its sailors and marines to
take possession of the port. Today the last remaining vestige of the
Latin's dominance would end. A strange flag, curiously gay with stripes
and stars, would fly above the customs house; strange men in uniforms of
blue, and golden braid, would occupy the seats of power. Even the name
of Yerba Buena would be altered, it was said. New Boston probably would
be its title.

Early morning brought ox-carts laden with gay, curious Spanish ladies
from surrounding ranches, piquant eager senoritas with vivacious
gestures of small hands and fluttering fans; senoras plump and placid,
slower in their movements and with brooding eyes. They wore their
laciest mantillas, silkiest gowns and daintiest footwear to impress the
alien invader. And, beside their equipages, like outriders in the
cortege of a queen, caballeros and vaqueros sat their caracoling steeds.

Sailors from the trade and whaling ships, trappers, hunters and the
motley populace of Yerba Buena made a colorful and strangely varied
picture, as they gathered with the rancheros about the Plaza.

At 8 o'clock four boats descended simultaneously from the Portsmouth's
sides. They were greeted by loud cheers from the Americans on shore and
watched with excited interest by the others. The boats landed their
crews near the spring where a sort of wharf had been constructed. They
returned for more and finally assembled seventy marines, a smaller
number of sailors and the ship's band. Captain Montgomery, in the full
dress uniform of a naval commander, reviewed his forces. Beside him
stood Lieutenant John S. Misroon, large, correct and rather awkward,
with long, restless arms; a youthful, rosy complexion and serious blue
eyes. Further back, assembling his marines in marching order, was
Lieutenant Henry Watson, a smaller man of extraordinary nervous energy.
Montgomery gave the marching order. Fife and drum struck up a lively air
and to its strains the feet of Yerba Buena's first invading army kept
uncertain step as sailors and marines toiled through the sand. Half a
thousand feet above them stood the quaint adobe customs house, its
red-tiled roof and drab adobe walls contrasting pleasantly with the
surrounding greenery of terraced hills. Below it lay the Plaza with its
flagpole, its hitching racks for horses and oxen.

Here the commander halted his men. "Lieutenant Watson," he addressed the
senior subaltern, "be so good as to request attendance by the prefect or
alcalde.... And for heaven's sake, fasten your coat, sir," he added in a
whispered aside.

Saluting with one hand, fumbling at his buttons with the other, Watson
marched into the customs house, while the populace waited agape; but he
returned very soon to report that the building was untenanted. Captain
Montgomery frowned. He had counted on the pomp and punctilio of a formal
surrender--a spectacular bit of history that would fashion gallant words
for a report. "Haul down the flag of Mexico," he said to Lieutenant
Misroon. "Run up the Stars and Stripes!"

Lieutenant Misroon gazed aloft, then down again, embarrassed. "There is
no flag, sir," he responded, and Montgomery verified his statement with
a frowning glance. "Where the devil is it, then?" he asked explosively.

A frightened clerk appeared now at the doorway of the custom house. He
bowed and scraped before the irate commander. "Pardon, Senor
Commandante," he said, quaveringly, "the flag of Mexico reposes in a
trunk with the official papers of the port. I, myself, have seen the
receiver of customs, Don Rafael Pinto, place it there."

"And where is Don Rafael?"

"Some days ago he joined the Castro forces in the South, Senor."

"Well, well!" Montgomery's tone was sharp; "there must be someone in
command. Who is he?"

"The Sub-Prefect has ridden to his rancho, Commandante."

"That disposes of the civil authorities," Montgomery reflected, "since
Port-Captain Ridley is in jail with Fremont's captives." He turned to
the clerk again. "Is there not a garrison at the Presidio?"

"They have joined the noble Castro," sighed the clerk, recovering his
equanimity. "There is only the commander Sanchez, Senor. He is also at
his rancho."

Despite his irritation, Captain Montgomery could not miss the humor of
the situation. A dry chuckle escaped him. "Run up the flag," he said to
Lieutenant Misroon, and the latter hastened to comply. An instant later
the starry banner floated high above their heads. A cheer broke out.
Hats flew into the air and from the ship's band came the stirring
strains of America's national air. Then, deep and thunderous, a gun
spoke on the Portsmouth. Another and another.

Captain Montgomery, stiff and dignified, lifted his hand and amid an
impressive silence read the proclamation of Commodore Sloat, in which
all citizens of captured ports were assured of fair and friendly
treatment and invited to become subjects of the United States. He
suggested the immediate formation of a town militia. Leidesdorff came
bustling forward.

"My house is at your service, gentlemen," he said. "And tonight," he
removed his hat and bowed toward the ladies, "tonight I bid you all to
be my guests and give our new friends welcome." He saluted Montgomery
and his aids, who, somewhat nonplussed, returned the greeting.

Nathan Spear elbowed his way to the commander's side. With him came
Senora Windham and the smiling Senorita Inez. Benito lingered rather
diffidently in the background with a group of Spanish Californians, but
was finally induced to bring them forward. There were general
handshakings. Many other rancheros, now that the ice was broken, brought
their wives and daughters for an introduction to the gringo commandante,
and Montgomery, his good humor restored, kissed many a fair hand in
response to a languishing smile. It seemed a happy and a friendly
seizure. Inez said, eyes a-sparkle, "We shall see you at the ball this
evening, Senor Commandante."

"I shall claim the first dance, Senorita," said the sailor, bowing low.
Her heart leaped as they left him, and she squeezed her brother's arm.
"He is a kindly man, Benito mio. I shall tell him of this
interloper--this McTurpin. Have no fear."

Benito smiled a little dubiously. He had less faith than Inez in the
future government of the Americans.



Aleck McTurpin, tired but exhilarated, rode toward the Windham rancho on
the morning after Leidesdorff's ball. He had made a night of it and he
was in high fettle. The Senorita Windham had granted him a dance despite
her brother's scowling disapproval. Out of the charm of that brief
association there had come into the gambler's mind a daring plan. To the
Senorita Inez he had spoken of his claim upon the Windham rancho through
her brother's note won on the gambling table. He had touched the matter
very gently, for McTurpin knew the ways of women and was not without
engaging qualities when they stood him in good stead.

Now he rode toward a tryst with Inez Windham and his heart leaped at the
prospect of another sight of her; within him like a heady wine there was
the memory of her sparkling eyes, the roguish, mischievous, half-pouting
mouth. The consciousness of something finer than his life had known
aroused in him strange devotional impulses, unfamiliar yearnings.

He and the Senorita were to meet and plan a settlement of McTurpin's
claim against the rancho. He had asked her to come alone, and, after a
swift look, half fearful, half desperate, she consented. It was an
unheard-of thing in Spanish etiquette. But he believed she would fulfill
the bargain. And if she did, he asked himself, what should he say--or
do? For, perhaps, the first time in his life McTurpin was uncertain.

Suddenly the road turned and he came upon her. She stood beside her
horse, the morning sunlight in her wondrous dark hair. The ride had
brought fresh color to her face and sparkle to her eyes. McTurpin caught
his breath before the wonder and beauty of her. Then he sprang from his
horse and bowed low. The Senorita Inez nodded almost curtly.

"I have little time, Senor," she said, uneasily. "You are late. I may be
missed." Her smile was all the more alluring for its hint of panic. "Can
we not come to the point at once? I have here certain jewels which will
pay a portion of the debt." She unclasped from her throat a necklace of
pearls he had noted at the ball. She held them out toward him. "And here
is a ring. Have you brought the paper?"

McTurpin held up a protesting hand. "You wrong me, Senorita," he
declared. "I am a gambler. Yes ... I take my chance with men and win or
lose according to the Fates. But I have yet to rob a woman of her

"It is no robbery," she demurred, hastily. "Take them, I beseech you,
and return the note. If it is not enough, we will pay more ... later ...
from the proceeds of the ranch."

"Senorita," said McTurpin eagerly, "let us compromise this matter more
adroitly. Should I make no further claim upon your ranch than that which
I possess, why may we not be neighbors--friends?"

She tried to protest, but he rushed on, giving her no opportunity.
"Senorita, I am not a man devoid of culture. I am not a sailor or a
trapper like those ruffians below. Nor a keeper of shops. Senorita, I
will give up gambling and become a ranchero. If--" he stammered,
"If I--"

Inez Windham took a backward step. Her breath came sharply. In this
man's absurd confusion there was written plainer than his uncompleted
words could phrase it, what he meant.

"No, no," her little hands went out as if to ward off some repulsive
thing. "Senor--that is quite impossible."

McTurpin saw the look of horror, of aversion. He felt as though someone
had struck him in the face. There was a little silence. Then he
laughed, shortly.

"Impossible?" the tone was cutting. "We shall see.... This is now a
white man's country. I have offered to divide the rancho. What if I
should take it all? Where would you go? You, the proud Senora and the
shiftless young Benito?"

The Senorita Inez' lips curled. "When my father comes he will know how
to answer you," she told him, hotly.

"If he were alive he would have come long since," McTurpin answered.
"Many perish on the northern trails." He took a step toward her. "Do you
know that this morning 200 more Americans arrived on the ship Brooklyn?
They are armed and there is talk of 'running out the greasers.' Do you
know what that means? It were well to have a friend at court, my
little lady."

"Go!" the girl blazed at him. "Go, and quickly--liar that you are. My
brother and his vaqueros will know how to protect my mother and me." She
sprang upon her horse and galloped toward the rancho. McTurpin, red and
angry, watched her disappearing in a whirl of dust.

* * * * *

"Look, my brother! He has spoken truly." Inez and Benito had ridden to
the pueblo for a confirmation of McTurpin's words. They hitched their
horses at the rack in Portsmouth Square and walked down toward the
landing place. A large ship lay in the offing. Between her and the shore
many small boats laden with passengers and varied cargoes plied to
and fro.

Inez, as they descended, noted many women clad in the exaggerated
hoopskirts, the curious, short, gathered bodices and the low hats of the
early forties. She thought this apparel oddly ugly, though the faces
were not unattractive. They stood in knots, these women, some of them
gazing rather helplessly about. The younger ones were surrounded by
groups of admirers with whom they were chatting animatedly. There were
also many children capering in the sand and pointing out to one another
the strange sights of this new place. The men--hundreds of them it
seemed to Inez--were busied with constructive tasks. Already there were
many temporary habitations, mostly tents of varied shapes and sizes.
Bonfires blazed here and there. Stands of arms in ordered, regular
stacks, gave the scene a martial air. Piles of bed-clothing, household
effects, agricultural implements, lay upon the sand. A curious
instrument having a large wheel on one side caught the girl's attention.
Near it were square, shallow boxes. A pale, broad-shouldered man with
handsome regular features and brooding, poetic eyes stood beside the
machine, turning the wheel now and then, and examining the boxes. He
seemed to be a leader, for many people came to ask him questions which
he answered with decision and authority.

"Who is that?" asked Inez of Nathan Spear and Leidesdorff as the two
approached. "And what is the strange contrivance upon which he has
his hand?"

"It is a printing press," Spear answered. "Yerba Buena is soon to have a
paper for the chronicling of its metropolitan affairs. The man? Oh,
that's Sam Brannan, the elder of this band of Mormons."

"Is it true that they have come to drive us from our homes?" asked Inez

"Who, the Mormons? Lord forbid," retorted Spear. He beckoned to the
elder, who approached and was presented. Inez, as she looked into his
kindly eyes, forgot her fears. Brannan eagerly explained his printing
press. She left him feeling that he was less enemy than friend.



Captain John J. Vioget's house was the busiest place in Yerba Buena, and
John Henry Brown its most important personage. The old frame dwelling
built by a Swiss sailor in 1840 had become in turn a billiard hall and
groggery, a sort of sailors' lodging house and a hotel. Now it was the
scene of Yerba Buena's first election. About a large table sat the
election inspectors guarding the ballot box, fashioned hastily from an
empty jar of lemon syrup. Robert Ridley, recently released from Sutter's
Fort, where he had been imprisoned by the Bear Flag party, was a
candidate for office as alcalde. He opposed Lieutenant Washington
Bartlett, appointed to officiate pro tem by Captain Montgomery. Brown
was busy with his spirituous dispensing. It was made a rule, upon
Brannan's advice, that none should be served until he had voted.

Brown kept shouting: "Ship-shape, gents, and reg'lar; that's the word.
Place your vote and then you drinks.... Gord bless yer merry hearts."

Thus he harangued them into order and coaxed many a Russian, Spanish,
English and American coin across his bar. Suddenly he looked into the
eyes of Aleck McTurpin.

"Give me a brandy sling," the gambler ordered. He was in a rough mood,
which ensues from heavy and continued drinking.

"Have ye voted, Aleck?" Brown inquired.

"I vote when I please," McTurpin answered sullenly, "and I drink when it
suits me." He took from an inner pocket of his coat a derringer with
silver mountings, laid it meaningly upon the bar. "I ordered a
brandy sling."

Brown paled, but his eye did not waver. Almost casually, he spoke. "Stop
your jokin', Aleck. Rules is rules."

McTurpin's fingers closed about the pistol. His eyes were venomous.

Then Benito Windham entered. Just inside the door he paused,
uncertainly. "I have come to vote for Senor Bartlett as Alcalde,"
he declared.

A laugh greeted him. "You should not announce your choice," said
Inspector Ward severely. "The ballot is supposedly secret."

McTurpin turned, his quarrel with Brown instantly forgotten. "Throw the
little greaser out," he spoke with slow distinctness. "This is a white
man's show."

There was a startled silence. "He's drunk," Brown told them soothingly.
"Aleck's drunk. Don't listen to him."

"Drunk or not, I back my words." He waved the weapon threateningly. "Sit
down there," he ordered Windham. "If you want to vote you'll vote for a
gentleman. Write Bob Ridley's name on your ballot, or, by God! I'll fix
you." Benito, as if hypnotized, took a seat at the table and dipped his
quill in the ink. The others stirred uneasily, but made no move. There
was a moment of foreboding silence. Then a hearty voice said from the
door: "What's the matter, gentlemen?"

No one answered. McTurpin, the pistol in his hand, still stood above
Benito. The latter's fingers held the quill suspended. A drop of ink
fell on the ballot slip unnoted. Brannan, with a puzzled frown, came
forward, laid a hand upon the gambler's shoulder.

"What's the matter here?" he asked more sharply.

McTurpin turned upon him fiercely. "Go to hell!" he cried. "I'm running

Brannan's voice was quiet. "Put the pistol down!" he ordered.
Deliberately McTurpin raised his weapon. "Damn you--" But he got no
farther. Brannan's fist struck fairly on the chin. One could hear the
impact of it like a hammer blow. There was a shot, a bullet spent
against the rafters overhead. McTurpin sprawling on the
sawdust-covered floor.

* * * * *

On Windham rancho the Senora Windham waited with a faith that knew no
end for the coming of her husband. There had been vague reports from
vaguer sources that he had been captured by the northern savages. Inez
and Benito were forever at her side--save when the boy rode into town to
cull news from arriving sailors. The Spanish rancheros had all withdrawn
to the seclusion of their holdings and were on the verge of war against
the new authorities of Yerba Buena.

Washington Bartlett, recently elected Alcalde, had abused his office by
repeated confiscations of fine horses from the camponeras of
Spanish-Californians, seizing them by requisition of military authority
and giving orders on the government in exchange. This the Spaniards had
borne in silence. But abuses had become so flagrant as to pass
all bounds.

"We must arm and drive these robbers from our California," said Benito
passionately. "Sanchez has, in secret, organized one hundred caballeros.
Only wait. The day comes when we strike!"

"Benito," said his mother, sadly, "there has been enough of war. We
cannot struggle with these Yankees. They are strong and numerous. We
must keep the peace and suffer until your father comes."

"There is to be a grand ball at the casa of the Senor Leidesdorff," said
Inez. "El Grande Commandante of the Yankee squadron comes amid great
ceremony. I will gain his ear. Perchance he will undo the wrongs of this
Bartlett, the despoiler."

"Inez mia," said her brother, "do not go. No good will come of it. For
they are all alike, these foreigners."

"Ah!" she cried, reproachfully, "you say that of the Senor Brannan? Or
of Don Nathan?"

"They are good men," Benito answered, grudgingly. "Have it as you will."

* * * * *

Yerba Buena did honor to Commodore Stockton under Leidesdorff's
ever-hospitable roof. Hundreds of candles burned in sconces and
chandeliers, festoons of bunting and greenery gave the big room a
carnival air; Indian servitors flitted silently about with trays of
refreshments, and the gold lace and braid of America's navy mingled
picturesquely with the almost spectacular garb of stately Spanish
caballeros. The commodore, though undersized, was soldierly and very
brisk of manner. Stockton seemed to Inez a gallant figure. While she
danced with him, she found his brisk directness not unpleasing. He asked
her of the rancheros and of reports that came to him of their
dissatisfaction with American authority.

"They seem so cordial," he said, "these Spanish gentlemen. I cannot
believe that they hate us, as it is said."

"Ah, Senor." Inez' smile had faded and her deep and troubled eyes held
his. "They have cause for hatred, though they come in all good will to
welcome you."

As it chanced, they passed just then close to a little group in which
Alcalde Bartlett made a central figure. Two of Stockton's aids were
hanging on his words.

"Tomorrow, gentlemen, we shall go riding. I will find you each a worthy
mount. We raise fine horses on the ranches."

The fiery Sanchez, strolling by, overheard as well. Eyes ablaze, he went
on swiftly joining Vasquez and De Haro near the door. They held low
converse for an instant with their smouldering glances on the pompous
Bartlett. Then they hurried out.

[Illustration: "Ah, Senor," Inez' smile had faded ... "they have cause
for hatred."]



Five horsemen rode into the morning sunshine down El Camino Real toward
the south. One was Washington Bartlett, alcalde of Yerba Buena, whose
rather pursy figure sat with an ungainly lack of grace the mettled horse
which he bestrode. It was none other than Senora Windham's favorite and
beloved mare "Diablo," filched from the Windham stables several days
before. In compensation she received a bit of paper signifying that the
animal was commandeered "for military necessity."

The rancheros were patient fellows, Bartlett reflected. If his
conscience smote him sometimes, he took refuge in the knowledge that
America was still at war with Mexico and that these horses were the
property of alien enemies. Non-combatants, possibly. Yet they had failed
in declaration of allegiance to the United States.

"I'll show you some excellent horseflesh today," he promised his
companions. "And, what's better, you shall have your pick."

"Well, that's extraordinarily good of you, alcalde," said the man who
rode beside him. "But ... do you mean one gets these glorious
animals--for love?"

"Not--er--exactly," Bartlett answered. "You see, my deputies and
officers, like yourself, must ride about to make their observations and
reports. Such are the needs of war."

"Of course," another rider nodded understandingly. "And as alcalde you
have many deputies."

"As well as many--er--observation officers like ourselves to supply," a
third supplemented, slyly dropping one eyelid.

The fourth man said nothing for a time. Then, rather unexpectedly, he
asked: "And what do you give them in exchange, alcalde?"

Bartlett turned in some surprise. "I give them notes of hand," he
answered half resentfully. "Notes redeemable in American gold--when the
war is over."

"And, are these notes negotiable security? Will your shop-keepers accept
them in lieu of coin?"

"At proper discounts--yes," said Bartlett, flushing.

"I have heard," the other remarked almost musingly, "that they are
redeemable at from fifteen to twenty per cent. And that the only man who
accepts them at even half of their face value is McTurpin the gambler."

"That is not my business," Bartlett answered brusquely. The quintet rode
on, absorbed and silent. Below them swept green reaches of ranch land,
dotted here and there with cattle and horses or the picturesque
haciendas of old Spanish families. The camino stretched white and broad
before them, winding through rolling hillocks, shaded sometimes by huge
overhanging trees.

"Isn't this Francisco Sanchez, whom we go to visit, a soldier, a former
commandante of your town, alcalde?" asked a rider.

"Yes, the same one who ran away when Montgomery came." Bartlett laughed.
"It was several days before he dared come out of the brush to take a
look at the 'gringo invader.'"

"I met him at the reception to Commodore Stockton," said the man who
rode beside Bartlett. "He didn't impress me as a timid chap, exactly.
Something of a fire-eater, I'd have said."

"Oh, they're all fire-eaters--on the surface," Bartlett's tone was
disdainful. "But you may all judge for yourselves in a moment. For, if
I'm not mistaken, he's coming up the road to meet us."

"By jove, he sits his horse like a king," said Bartlett's companion,
admiringly. "Who are those chaps with him? Looks like a sort
of--reception committee."

"They are Guerrero and Vasquez and--oh, yes, young Benito Windham,"
Bartlett answered. He spurred his horse and the others followed; there
was something about the half careless formation of the four riders ahead
which vaguely troubled the alcalde.

"Buenos dias, caballeros," he saluted in his faulty Spanish.

"Buenos dias, senors," Sanchez spoke with unusual crispness. "You have
come for horses, doubtless, amigo alcalde?"

"Ah--er--yes," said Bartlett. "The necessities of war are great," he
added apologetically.

"And suppose we refuse?" Benito Windham pressed forward, blazing out the
words in passionate anger. "Suppose we deny your manufactured
requisitions? Whence came the horse you sit like a very clown? I will
tell you, tyrant and despoiler. It was stolen from my mother by
your thieves."

"Benito, hold your peace," said Sanchez sternly. "I will deal with this
good gentleman and his friends. They shall be our guests for a time."

As though the words had been a signal, five lariats descended apparently
from a clear sky, each falling over the head of a member of Bartlett's
party. They settled neatly and were tightened, pinning the arms of
riders helplessly.

"Well done, amigos," commented Sanchez as a quintet of grinning vaqueros
rode up from the rear. "As you have so aptly said, the necessities of
war are paramount, alcalde."

"What's the meaning of this?" demanded Bartlett. "Release us instantly,
or you shall suffer. Do you think," he sneered, "that a handful of
greasers can defy the United States?"

"Perchance, with so important an official as the great Alcalde Bartlett
for your hostage, we can reach a compromise on certain points," said
Sanchez. "Come, you shall suffer no hardship, if you accept the
situation reasonably."

"I warn you that this means death or imprisonment to all of you,"
Bartlett shouted.

"Ah, senor, the risks of war are many." Sanchez' teeth flashed. He
clucked to his horse and the little cavalcade wound, single-file, up a
narrow horse-trail toward the hills.

They passed many bands of horsemen, all armed, saluting Sanchez as their
chief. Among them were owners and vaqueros from a score of ranches.
There was something grim, determined in their manner which foreboded
serious trouble.

One of Bartlett's fellow-captives leaned toward him, whispering: "Those
fellows mean business. They're like hornets if you stir 'em up too far,
these greasers."

"Yes, by Jove! And they mean to sting!" said another.



Yerba Buena was in an uproar. Sanchez' capture of Alcalde Bartlett and
his party had brought home with a vengeance the war which hitherto was
but an echo from far Mexico. Now the peaceful pueblo was an armed camp.
Volunteers rode in from San Jose, San Juan and other nearby pueblos,
asking for a chance to "fight the greasers." All the ranches of the
countryside buzzed with a martial ardor. Vaqueros, spurred with jangling
silver-mounted harness, toward Francisco Sanchez' stronghold in the
Santa Clara hills to battle with the "gringo tyrants."

Commander Hull of the "Warren" had sent a hundred sailors and marines
from his sloop, post haste, to quell the rebellion. Couriers rode to and
fro between his headquarters in the custom house and the punitive
expedition under Captain Ward Marston which was scouting the Santa Clara
plains in search of the enemy.

Even now the battle waged, no doubt, for Marston that morning reported a
brush with the enemy, had asked for reinforcements. Hull had sent post
haste a pack of ill assorted and undrilled adventurers from among the
new arrivals. That was 9 o'clock and now the sun had passed its noon
meridian--with no courier.

William Leidesdorff came strolling up, his expression placid, smiling as
always. He was warm from toiling up the hill and paused, panting, hat in
hand, to mop his brow with a large red 'kerchief.

"Ha! Commander!" he saluted. "And how goes it this morning?"

Hull glanced at him half irritated, half amused. One could never quite
be angry at this fellow nor in tune with him. Leidesdorff, with his
cherubic grin, his plump, comfortable body, the close-cropped hair, side
whiskers and moustache, framing and embellishing his round face with an
ornate symmetry, was like a bearded cupid. Hull handed him the latest
dispatch. "Nothing since then, confound it!" he said gloomily.

"Ah, well," spoke Leidesdorff, with unction, "one should not be alarmed.
What is that cloud of dust on the horizon? A courier perhaps."

It proved to be Samuel Brannan, dusty and weary, with dispatches from
Captain Ward which Hull almost snatched from his hand. A group of men
and women who had watched his arrival, gathered about asking questions.
Nathan Spear spoke first. He had been too ill to join the Americans, but
had furnished them horses and arms. "How goes it with our 'army,' Sam?"
he asked.

"None too well," said Brannan. "Those greasers can fight and they've a
good leader. Everyone of them would die for Sanchez. And everyone's a
sharpshooter. For a time they amused themselves this morning knocking
off our hats--it rather demoralized the recruits."

Hull, with an imprecation, crushed the dispatch and turned to Brannan.
"We must have more men and quickly," he announced. "Ward asks for
instant reinforcements.... Can you recruit--say fifty--from
your colony?"

"Impossible," said Brannan, shortly. "I have sent all who can ride or
manage a rifle." He came a little closer and regarded the commander
steadily. "Did Ward write anything about a parley?" he inquired.

"Yes," said Hull. "He indicates that peace might be arranged if I will
give a guarantee against further horse or cattle commandeering."

"May I suggest that such a course is wise--and just?"

"Damn it, sir! You'd have me treat with these--these brigands!" the
other shouted. "Never. They've defied the United States by laying
violent hands on an official. They've wounded two of my marines."

He turned to the crowd which had assembled. "Do you hear that? Two
Americans wounded. Five held in captivity--including your alcalde. Shall
we stand that passively? Shall we let the enemy dictate terms?"

"No, no!" a voice shouted. "Fight to the last ditch. Kill the greasers.
Hang them to a tree. I'm with you, horse and gun. Who else?"

"I, I, I," a score made answer. They pressed forward. "Who's to lead
us?" asked the first speaker.

Brannan stepped forward but Commander Hull raised a protesting hand. "I
shall send a corporal of marines from the Warren. You will rest your
horse, since I cannot spare you a fresh mount, and hold yourself in
readiness to act as a courier, Mr. Brannan." He summoned an orderly and
sent him to the Warren with an order to Corporal Smith. Meanwhile the
volunteers assembled in the square, thirty-four in all; men of half a
dozen nationalities. One giant Russian loomed above them, a Goliath on a
great roan horse. And near him, to accentuate the contrast, an elderly
moustached, imperialed Frenchman on a mare as under-sized and spirited
as himself.

Brannan and Leidesdorff watched them galloping down the camino ten
minutes later under the guidance of a smart young corporal.

"I trust it will soon be over," said the former. "I saw Benito Windham
riding beside Sanchez in the battle today."

* * * * *

The Senorita Inez' head was high that afternoon when McTurpin came upon
her suddenly in the patio of the Windham hacienda. She rose haughtily.
"Senor, this intrusion is unpardonable. If my brother was within
call--" McTurpin bowed low. There was a touch of mockery in his eye.
"It is about your brother that I've come to talk with you, Miss Inez."

The girl's hand sought her breast. "Benito! He is not--" Words failed

"No, not dead--yet," McTurpin answered.

"God in Heaven! Tell me," said the girl, imploringly! "He is wounded?
Dying?" McTurpin took a seat beside her on the rustic bench. "Benito
isn't dead--nor wounded so far as I know. But," his tone held an ominous
meaning, "it might be better if he were."

"I--I do not understand," said Inez, staring.

"Then let me make it clear." McTurpin struck a fist against his palm.
"Your brother is American. Very well. And what is an American who takes
up arms against his country?"

The girl sprang up. "It is a lie. Benito fights for freedom, justice

"That is not the view of our American Commander," McTurpin rose and
faced her. "The law of war is that a man who fights against his country
is a traitor." His eyes held hers hypnotically. "When this revolt is
over there will be imprisonment or pardon for the Spanish-Californians.
_But Benito will be hanged_."

Inez Windham swayed. One hand grasped at the bench-back for support; the
other clutched her bodice near the throat. "Benito," she said almost in
a whisper. Then she turned upon McTurpin furiously. "Go," she cried. "I
do not believe you. Go!"

But McTurpin did not stir. "It is the law of nations," he declared, "no
use denying it, Miss Windham."

"Why did you come to tell me this? To torture me?"

"To save you--and your brother?"

"How?" she asked fiercely.

"I have influence with Alcalde Bartlett." The gambler smiled. "He owes
me--more than he can pay. But if that fails ..." he turned toward her
eagerly, "I have means to accomplish his escape."

"And the price," she stammered. "There is a price, isn't there?"

His gaze met hers directly, "You, little Inez."



Two riders, a man and a veiled woman evidently young, halted their
horses in Portsmouth Square, where the former alighted and offered an
arm to his companion. She, however, disdaining his assistance, sprang
lightly from the saddle and, turning her back on him, gazed, motionless,
toward the bay. There was something arresting and curiously dramatic
about the whole performance, something that hinted of impending tragedy.
The slight figure with its listless droop and stony immobility caught
and clutched the sympathies of Nathan Spear as he was passing by. The
man was Alec McTurpin; the girl, no doubt, some light o' love from a
neighboring pueblo. Yet there was a disturbing familiarity about her.

Spear watched them go across the square toward the City Hotel, a long,
one-story adobe structure built by Leidesdorff as a store and home. On
the veranda stood the stocky figure of Proprietor Brown, smoking a long
pipe and conversing with half a dozen roughly dressed men who lounged
about the entrance. He looked up wonderingly as McTurpin approached. The
latter drew him to one side and appeared to make certain demands to
which Brown acquiesced by a curt nod, as if reluctant. Then the man and
woman passed around a corner of the building, the loungers peering
curiously after them.

A little later Spear observed the gambler issue forth alone and journey
rapidly toward the landing dock. He noted that a strange ship rode at
anchor. It must have come within the hour, he decided. Impelled by
curiosity, he descended in McTurpin's wake.

"What ship is that?" he asked of Leidesdorff.

"I haven't learned her name. She's from the north coast with a lot of
sick men. They've the scurvy and flux, I'm told. Dr. Jones has
gone aboard."

"I wonder what McTurpin's doing at the ship?" said Spear. "He'll get no
gambling victims out of ailing seamen."

"It's something else he wants, I fancy," said Bob Ridley, coming from
the dock toward them. "He's looking for a preacher--"

"Preacher?" cried the other men in unison.

"Yes," responded Ridley. "Aleck's going to be married, the sly dog. And
since the padres will have nothing to do with him, he's hard pressed.
Perhaps the wench is a stickler for proprieties," he laughed. "Someone
told him there was a sky pilot aboard the ship!"

* * * * *

Inez Windham removed her veil. She was in a small room, almost dark,
where McTurpin had left her after locking the door on the outside. It
was like a cell, with one small window high and narrow which let in a
straggling transmitted light, dimming mercifully the crude outlines of a
wooden stool, a bedstead of rough lumber, covered by soiled blankets, a
box-like commode upon which stood a pitcher and basin of heavy crockery.

The walls were very thin. From beyond them, in what was evidently a
public chamber, came snatches of talk interspersed with oaths, a click
of poker chips and coin, now and then a song. An odor of rank tobacco
seeped through the muslin-covered walls. With a sudden feeling of
nausea, of complete despair, the girl threw herself face down upon
the bed.

For a time Inez lay there, oblivious to all save the misery of her
fate. If only her father had not gone with those northern engineers! If
only Benito were here to advise her! Benito, her beloved brother, in
whose path the gallows loomed. It was that picture which had caused her
to yield to McTurpin. Even darker, now, was the picture of her own
future. A gambler's wife! Her hand sought a jewelled dagger which she
always carried in her coiffure. Her fingers closed about the hilt with a
certain solace. After Benito was safe--

Voices in the next room caught her interest by a mention of the Santa
Clara battle.

"Hull is fighting mad," she heard. "He promises to bring the greasers to
their knees. It's unconditional surrender or no quarter, Brannan says."

"First catch your pig--then butcher it," said another, meaningly. "The
Spaniards have the best of it thus far. Hull's shouting frantically for
reinforcements. Well, he won't get me. I think the rancheros have their
side as well as we. If this stiff-necked commander would listen
to reason."

"He hasn't heard the other side," the first speaker resumed. "If he knew
what Alcalde Bartlett had done to these poor devils through his horse
and cattle raids--"

A third man laughed. "He'll never learn that, partner, have no fear;
who'll tell him?"

"Well, here's to Uncle Sam," said a fourth voice. Followed a clink of
glasses. Inez Windham sat up swiftly and dried her eyes. A daring
thought had come to her.

Why should not she tell Commander Hull the truth!

She rose and smoothed her ruffled gown. A swift look from the window
revealed that the road was clear. Inez began tugging at the door. It
resisted her efforts, but she renewed the battle with all the fury of
her youthful strength. Finally the flimsy lock gave a bit beneath her
efforts; a narrow slit appeared between the door and jamb in which she
forced her hands and thus secured a great purchase. Then, one foot
against the wall, she tugged and pried and pulled until, with a sudden
crack, the bar to liberty sprang open.

She was free.

Just across the Plaza the custom house looked down at her, the late sun
glinting redly on its tiles. There, no doubt, she would find Commander
Hull. She hastened forward.

"Not so fast, my dear!"

A hand fell on her shoulder rudely. With, a gasp she looked up at

Beside the gambler, whose eyes burned angrily, Inez perceived a tall,
lean, bearded stranger.

"Let me go!" she demanded.

"I have brought the parson," said McTurpin. "We can be married at once."

"I--I--let us wait a little," stammered Inez.

"Why?" the gambler asked suspiciously. "Where were you going?"

"Nowhere," she evaded, "for a walk--"

"Well, you can walk back to the hotel, my lady," said McTurpin. "I have
little time to waste. And there's Benito to consider," he concluded.
Suddenly he put an arm about her waist and kissed her. Inez thought of
her brother and tried to submit. But she could not repress a little cry
of aversion, of fear. The bearded man stepped forward. "Hold up a bit,
partner," he drawled. "This doesn't look quite regular. Don't you wish
to marry him, young lady?"

"Of course she does," McTurpin blustered. "She rode all the way in from
her mother's ranch to be my wife." He glared at Inez. "Isn't it true?"
he flung at her. "Tell him."

She nodded her head miserably. But the stranger was not satisfied. "Let
go of her," he said, and when McTurpin tailed to heed the order, sinewy
fingers on the gambler's wrist enforced it.

"Now, tell me, Miss, what's wrong?" the bearded one invited. "Has this
fellow some hold on you? Is he forcing you into this marriage?"

Again the girl nodded dumbly.

"She lies," said McTurpin, venomously, but the words were scarcely out
of his mouth before the stranger's fist drove them back. McTurpin
staggered. "Damn you!" he shouted, "I teach you to meddle between a man
and his woman."

Inez saw something gleam in his hand as the two men sprang upon each
other. She heard another blow, a groan. Screaming, she fled uphill
toward the custom house.



Like a startled deer, Inez Windham fled from McTurpin and the stranger,
her little, high-heeled slippers sinking unheeded into the horse-trodden
mire of Portsmouth Square, her silk skirt spattered and soiled; her
hair, freed from the protecting mantilla, blowing in the searching trade
wind. Thus, as Commander Hull sat upon the custom house veranda, reading
the latest dispatch from Captain Ward, she burst upon him--a flushed,
disheveled, lovely vision with fear-stricken eyes.

"Senor," she panted, "Senor Commandante ... I must speak with you at

Hull rose. "My dear young lady"--he regarded her with patent
consternation--"my dear young lady ... w-what is wrong?"

She was painfully aware of her bedraggled state, the whirlwind lack of
ceremony with which she had propelled herself into his presence.
Suddenly words failed her, she was conscious that an arm stretched
toward her as she swayed. Next she lay upon a couch in an inner chamber,
the commander, in his blue-and-gold-braid stiffness bending over her,
gravely anxious.

She rose at once, ignoring his protesting gesture.

"I--I fainted?" she asked perplexedly. Hull nodded. "Something excited
you. A fight in the street below. A man was stabbed--"

"Oh!" The white face of the bearded stranger sprang into her memory, "Is
he dead?"

"No, but badly hurt, I fancy," said the Commander. "They have taken him
to the City Hotel."

Desperately, she forced herself to speak. "I have come, senor, to ask a
pardon for my brother. He is very dear to me--and to my mother"--she
clasped her hands and held them toward him supplicatingly. "Senor, if
Benito should be captured--you will have mercy?"

The commander regarded her with puzzled interest. "Who is Benito, little

"His name is Windham. My father was a gring--Americano, Commandante."

Hull frowned. "An American ... fighting against his country?" he said

"Ah, sir"--the girl came closer in her earnestness--"he does not fight
against the United States ... only against robbers who would hide behind
its flag." In her tone there was the outraged indignation of a suffering
people. "Horse thieves, cattle robbers."

"Hush," said Hull, "you must not speak thus of American officials. Their
seizures, I am told, were unavoidable--for military needs alone."

"You have never heard our side," the girl spoke bitterly. "Was it
military need that filched two hundred of our blooded horses from the
ranches? Was it military need that robbed my ailing mother of her pet,
the mare Diablo? Was it military need that gave our finest steeds to
your Alcalde for his pleasure, that enabled half a dozen false officials
to recruit their stables from our caponeras and sell horses in the open
market?" Her eyes blazed. "Senor, it was tyranny and theft, no less. Had
I been a man, like Benito, I, too, should have ridden with Sanchez."

"Can you prove these things?" asked the Commander, sternly.

"Si, senor," said Inez quickly. "It is well known hereabouts. Do not
take my word," she smiled, "I am a woman--a Spaniard, on my mother's
side. Ask your own countrymen--Samuel Brannan, Nathan Spear, William

Hull pulled at his chin reflectively. "Something of this sort I have
already heard," he said, "but I believed it idle gossip.... If your
brother had come to me, instead of riding with the enemy--"

"He is a youth, hot-blooded and impulsive, Senor Commandante." Swiftly,
and to Hull's intense embarrassment, she knelt before him. "We love him
so: my mother, who is ill, and I," she pleaded. "He is all we have....
Ah, senor, you will spare him--our Benito!"

"Get up," said Hull a trifle brusquely. His tone, too, shook a little.
"Confound it, girl, I'm not a murderer." He forced a smile. "If my men
haven't shot the young scoundrel you may have him back."

"And that," he added, as the girl rose with a shining rapture in her
eyes, "may be tomorrow." He picked up a paper from the desk and regarded
it thoughtfully. "There is truce at present. Sanchez will surrender if I
give my word that there shall be no further raids."

"And--you will do this, Commandante?" the girl asked, breathlessly.

"I--will consult with Brannan, Leidesdorff and Spear, as you suggested,"
Hull replied. But his eyes were kind. The Senorita Inez had her answer.
Impetuously, her arms went around his neck. An instant later, dazed, a
little red, a moist spot on his cheek and a lingering fragrance clinging
subtly like the touch of vanished arms, Hull watched her flying heels
upon the muddy square.

"Well, I'll be damned!" he said, explosively.

* * * * *

In the room which had been Inez' whilom prison--and which proved to be
the only one available in the City Hotel, Adrian Stanley lay tossing and
muttering. The woman who sat at his bedside watched anxiously each
movement of his lips, listening eagerly to catch the incoherent,
whispered words. For a time she could make of them no intelligent
meaning. But now, after a long and quiet interval, he began to ask
questions, though his eyes were still closed. "Am I going to die?"

"No," said Inez, for it was she, "you've lost a lot of blood, but the
doctor says there's small danger."

The bearded face looked up half quizzically. "Are you glad?"

"Oh ... yes," said Inez, with a quick-taken respiration.

"Then it's all right," the patient murmured sleepily. His eyes closed.

Inez' color heightened as she watched him. What had he meant, she
wondered, and decided that his brain was not quite clear. But, somehow,
this was not the explanation she desired.

Presently Dr. Elbert Jones came in, cheering her with his breezy, jovial

"Getting tired of your task?" he questioned. But Inez shook her head.
"He protected me," she said. "It was while defending me that he was
wounded." Her eyes searched the physician's face. "Where," she
questioned fearfully, "is--"

"McTurpin?" returned the doctor. "Lord knows. He vamoosed,
absquatulated. You'll hear no more of him, I think, Miss Windham."

For a moment the dark lashes of the patient rose as if something in the
doctor's words had caught his attention; then they fell again over weary
eyes and he appeared to sleep. But when Doctor Jones was gone, Inez
found him regarding her with unusual interest.

"Did I hear him call you Windham?" he inquired, "Inez Windham?"

"Yes, that is my name," she answered.

"And your father's?"

"He is Don Roberto Windham of the Engineers," Inez leaned forward.
"Oh!" her eyes shone with a hope she dared not trust. "Tell me, quickly,
have you news of him?"

"Yes," said Stanley. "He is ill, but will recover. He will soon return."
His eyes dwelt on the girl in silence, musingly.

"Tell me more!" she pleaded. "We believed him lost. Ah, how my mother's
health will mend when she hears this. We have waited so long...."

"I was with him in the North," said Stanley. "Often, sitting at the
camp-fire, while the others slept, he told me of his wife, his daughter,
and his son, Benito. In my coat," he pointed to a garment hanging near
the door, "you will find a letter--" He followed her swift, searching
fingers, saw her press the envelope impulsively against her heart. While
she read his eyes were on her dreamily, until at last he closed them
with a little sigh.



Evening on the Windham rancho. Far below, across a vast green stretch of
meadow sloping toward the sea, the sun sank into crimson canopies of
cloud. It was one of those perfect days which come after the first
rains, mellow and exhilarating. The Trio in the rose arbor of the patio
were silent under the spell of its beauty. Don Roberto Windham, home
again, after long months of wandering and hardship, stood beside the
chair in which Senora Windham rested against a pillow. She had mended
much since his return, and her eyes as she looked up at him held the
same flashing, fiery tenderness which in the long ago had caused her to
renounce Castilian traditions and become the bride of an Americano. At
her feet upon a low stool sat her daughter, Inez, and Windham, as he
looked down, was a little startled at her likeness to the Spanish beauty
he had met and married a generation before.

Conscious of his glance, her eyes turned upward and she held out her
hand to him. "Father, mine," she said in English, "you have made the
roses bloom again in mother's cheeks. And in my heart," she added with a
quick, impulsive tenderness.

Robert Windham bent and kissed her wind-tossed hair. "I think another
has usurped me in the latter task." He smiled, although not without a
touch of sadness. "Ah, well, Adrian is a fine young fellow. You need not
blush so furiously."

"I think he comes," said the Senora Anita, and, unconsciously, her arm
went around the girl. "Is not that his high-stepping mare and his
beanpole of a figure riding beside Benito in yon cloud of dust?"

She smiled down at Inez. "Do not mind your mother's jesting--Go now to
smooth your locks and place a rose within them--as I used to do when Don
Roberto came."

Inez rose and made her way into the casa. She heard a clatter of hoofs
and voices. At the sound of one her heart leaped strangely.

"We have famous news," she heard her brother say. "The name of Yerba
Buena has been changed to San Francisco. Here is an account of it in
Brannan's _California Star_." She heard the rustle of a paper then, once
more her brother's voice: "San Francisco!" he pronounced it lovingly.
"Some day it will be a ciudad grande--perhaps even in my time."

"A great city!" repeated his mother. "Thus my father dreamed of it....
But you will pardon us, Don Adrian, for you have other things in mind
than Yerb--than San Francisco's future. See, my little one! Even now she
comes to bid you welcome."

Inez as she joined them gave her hand to Stanley. "Ah, Don Adrian, your
color is high"--her tone was bantering, mock-anxious. "You have not,
perchance, a touch of fever?"

He eyed her hungrily. "If I have," he spoke with that slow gentleness
she loved so well, "it is no fever that requires roots or herbs....
Shall I," he came a little closer, "shall I put a name to it, Senorita?"
His words were for her ears alone. Her eyes smiled into his. "Come, let
us show you the rose garden, Senor Stanley," she said with playful
formality and placed her silk-gloved fingers on his arm.

Senora Windham's hand groped for her husband's. There were tears in her
eyes, but he bent down and kissed them away. "Anita, mia, do not grieve.
He is a good lad."

"It is not that." She hid her face against his shoulder. "It is not

"I understand," he whispered.

After a little time Benito spoke. "Mother, I learned something from the
warring of the rancheros aganist Alcalde Bartlett." He came forward and
picked up the newspaper which had fallen from his mother's lap. "I
learned," his hand fell on his father's shoulder, "that I am an

"Benito!" said his mother quickly.

"I am Don Roberto's son, as well as thine, remember, madre mia!" he
spoke with unusual gentleness. "Even with Sanchez, Vasquez and Guerrero
at my side in battle, I did not shoot to kill. Something said within,
'These men are brothers. They are of the clan of Don Roberto, of thy
father.' So I shot to miss. And when the commandante, Senor Hull,
dismissed me with kind words--he who might have hanged me as a
traitor--my heart was full of love for all his people. And contrition.
Mother, you will forgive? You, who have taught me all the pride of the
Hidalgo. For I must say the truth, to you and everyone...." He knelt at
her feet, impressing a kiss of love and reverence upon her
outstretched hand.

"Rise, my son," she said, tremulously. "You are right, and it is well."
She smiled. "Who am I to say my boy is no Americano? I, who wed the best
and noblest of them all."

There was a little silence. Inez and Don Adrian, returning, paused a
moment, half dismayed. "Come, my children," said Anita Windham.

"Ah," cried Inez, teasingly, "we are not the only ones who have been
making love." She led her companion forward. "We have come to ask your
blessing, mother, father mine," she whispered. "I," her eyes fell, "I am
taken captive by a gringo."

"Do not use that name," her mother said reprovingly. But Don Roberto
laughed. "You are the second to declare allegiance to the Stars and
Stripes." He took Benito's hand. "My son's discovered he's American,
Don Adrian."

Presently Benito spoke again. "That is not all, my father. There is soon
to be a meeting for relief of immigrants lost in the Sierra Nevada
snows. James Reed will organize an expedition from Yerb--from San
Francisco. And I wish to go. There are women and children
starving, perhaps."

"It is the Donner party. They tried a short cut and the winter overtook
them. I, too, will go," said Don Roberto.

"And I," volunteered Stanley.

But the women had it otherwise. "You have been too long gone from me,"
Anita quavered. "I would fear your loss again." And Inez argued that her
Adrian was not recovered from his wound or illness. Finally it was
decided that Benito only would accompany the expedition. The talk fell
upon other matters. Alcalde Bartlett had been discredited, though not
officially, since his return from capture by the rancheros. He was soon
to be displaced and there would be no further commandeering of horses
and cattle.

"The commandante tells me," Windham said, "that there is still no news
of the Warren's launch which was sent last December to pay the garrison
at Sutter's Fort. Bob Ridley's men, who cruised the San Joaquin and
Sacramento rivers, found nothing."

"But--the boat and its crew couldn't vanish completely?" Benito's tone

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