Part 6 out of 6
authority upon all social subjects.
Luis also was wonderfully improved. The light-hearted gaiety,
which ten years ago had bubbled over in continual song, was
still there; but it was under control, evident only because it
made perpetual sunshine on his face. He had taken the
doctor's advice--completed his study of English and Mexican
law--and become a famous referee in cases of disputed Mexican
claims and title deeds. His elegant form and handsome,
olive face looked less picturesque in the dull, uncompromising
stiffness of broadcloth, cut into those peculiarly unbecoming
fashions of ugliness which the anglo-Saxon and anglo-American
affect. But it gained by the change a certain air of
reliability and importance; an air not to be dispensed with in
a young lawyer already aspiring to the seat among the
lawmakers of his State.
"We called upon Antonia," said Isabel, "as we came here. Of
course she was engaged with Lopez. They were reading a book
together; and even on such a day as this were taking, with the
most blessed indifference, a minute at a time. They will join
us on the Plaza. I represented to them that they might miss
a good position. `That has been already secured,' said Lopez,
with that exasperating repose which only the saints could
endure with patience. For that reason, I consider Antonia a
saint to permit it. As for me, I should say: `The house is
on fire, Lopez! Will it please you for once to feel a little
excited?' Luis says they read, continually, books which make
people think of great solemnities and responsibilities.
How foolish, when they are so rich, and might enjoy
"Here are the carriages," cried Thomas Worth, "and the
ceremony of to-day has its own hour. It will never come
"Your mother and I will go first, Thomas; and we will take
Abbie and your eldest son. I shall see you in your place.
Luis, bring your boy with you; he has intelligence and will
remember the man he will see to-day, and may never see again."
On the Plaza, close to the gates of the Alamo, a rostrum had
been erected; and around it were a few stands, set apart for
the carriages of the most illustrious of the families of San
Antonio. The Senora, from the shaded depths of her own,
watched their arrival. Nothing could be more characteristic
than the approach of her daughters. Antonia and Lopez,
stately and handsome, came slowly; their high-stepping horses
chafing at the irrestraint. Luis and Isabel drove to their
appointed place with a speed and clatter, accentuated by the
jingling of the silver rings of the harness and the silver
hanging buttons on the gay dress of the Mexican driver. But
the occupants of both carriages appeared to be great
favorites with the populace who thronged the Plaza, the
windows, the flat roofs of the houses, and every available
place for hearing and seeing.
The blue flag of Texas fluttered gayly over the lovely city;
and there was a salvo of cannon; then, into the sunshine and
into the sight of all stepped the man of his generation.
Nature has her royal line, and she makes no mistakes in the
kings she crowns. The physical charm of Houston was at this
time very great. His tall, ample, dignified form attracted
attention at once. His eyes penetrated the souls of all
upon whom they fell. His lips were touched with fire, and his
words thrilled and swayed men, as the wind sways the heavy
heads in a field of ripe barley.
He stretched out his arms to the people, and they stretched
out their arms to him. The magnetic chain of sympathy was
complete. The hearts of his listeners were an instrument, on
which he played the noblest, most inspiring, the sweetest of
melodies. He kindled them as flame kindles dry grass.
He showed them their future with a prophet's eye, and touched
them also with the glad diviner's rapture. They aspired,
they rejoiced at his bidding; and at the moment of their
highest enthusiasm, he cried out:
"Whatever State gave us birth, we have one native land and we
have one flag!" Instantly from the grim, blood-stained walls
of the fortress, the blessed Stars and Stripes flew out; and
in a moment a thousand smaller flags, from every high place,
gave it salutation. Then the thunder of cannon was answered
by the thunder of voices. Cannon may thunder and make no
impression; but the shout of humanity! It stirs and troubles
the deepest heart-stream. It is a cry that cannot be
resisted. It sets the gates of feeling wide open. And it was
while men were in this mood that Houston said his last words:
"I look in this glorious sunshine upon the bloody walls of the
Alamo. I remember Goliad. I carry my memory back over the
long struggle of thirty years. Do you think the young, brave
souls, fired with the love of liberty, who fell in this long
conflict have forgotten it? No! No! No! Wherever in God's
Eternity they are this day, I believe they are permitted to
know that Texas has become part of their country, and
rests forever under the flag they loved. The shouting
thousands, the booming cannon, that greeted this flag were not
all the sounds I heard! Far off, far off, yet louder than any
noise of earth, I heard from the dead years, and the dead
heroes of these years; the hurrahing of ghostly voices and the
clapping of unseen hands!"
"It was like Houston to call the dead to the triumph," said
the doctor, as he stood with the Senora in her room. He was
unbuttoning her gloves, and her tears dropped down upon his
"He is a man by himself, and none like him. I thought that I
should never forgive him for sparing the life of that
monster--Santa Anna; but to-day I forgive him even that. I am
so happy that I shall ask Holy Maria to excuse me the feeling;
for it is not good to permit one's self to be too happy; it
brings trouble. But indeed, when I looked at Thomas, I
thought how wisely he has married. It is seldom a mother can
approve of her daughter-in-law; but Abbie has many
excellencies--good manners, and a good heart, and a fortune
which is quite respectable."
"And strong principles also, Maria. She will bring up her
children to know right and wrong, and to do right."
"THAT of course. Every good mother does that. I am sure
it is a sight for the angels to see Isabel teaching her
children their prayers. Did you observe also how great a
favorite Luis is? He lifted his hat to this one and that one,
and it is certain that the next election will be in his hand."
"Perhaps--I wish Lopez would take more interest in politics.
He is a dreamer."
"But, then, a very happy dreamer." Perhaps to dream well and
pleasantly is to live a better life. Antonia is devoted to
him. She has a blessed lot. Once I did not think she would
be so fortunate."
"Lopez was prudent and patient."
"Prudent! Patient! It is a miracle to me! I assure you,
they even talk together of young Senor Grant! It is
satisfactory, but extremely strange."
"You had better sleep a little, Maria. General Houston is
coming to dinner."
"That is understood. When I spoke last to him, I was a woman
broken-hearted. To-night I will thank him for all that
he has done. Ah, Roberto! His words to-day went to my,
soul--I thought of my Juan--I thought of the vision he showed
me--I wondered if he knew--if he saw--and heard--" she leaned
her head upon her husband's breast, and he kissed away the
"He was so sweet! so beautiful! Oh, Roberto!"
"He was God's greatest gift to us. Maria! dear. Maria! I
love you for, all the children you have given me; BUT MOST
OF ALL, FOR JUAN!"