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Rezanov, by Gertrude Atherton

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With an Introduction by


A long list of works Gertrude Atherton has to
her credit as a writer. She is indisputably a woman
of genius. Not that her genius is distinctively
feminine, though she is in matters historical a pas-
sionate partisan. Most of the critics who approve
her work agree that in the main she views life with
somewhat of the masculine spirit of liberality. She
is as much the realist as one can be who is saturated
with the romance that is California, her birthplace
and her home, if such a true cosmopolite as she can
be said to have a home. In all she has written there
is abounding life; her grasp of character is firm;
her style has a warm, glowing plasticity, frequently
a rhythm variously expressive of all the wide range
of feeling which a writer must have to make his
or her books living things. She does no less well
in the depiction of men than in the portraiture of
women. All stand out of their vivid environment
distinctly and they are all personalities of power--
even, occasionally, of "that strong power called
weakness." And they all wear something of a glory
imparted to them by the sympathy of their creator
and interpreter. High upon any roster of our best
American writers we must enroll the name of Mrs.

Of all her books I like best this "Rezanov,"
though I have not found many to agree with me.
It is not so pretentious as others more frequently
commended. It is a simple story, almost one might
say an incident or an anecdote. It is not literally
sophisticated. For me that is its unfailing charm.
I find in it not a little of the strange, primeval
quality that makes me think of "Aucassin and Nico-
lette." For it is not so much a novel as an his-
torical idyl, not to be read without a persisting
suffusion of sympathy and never to be remembered
without a recurring tenderness. Remembered, did
I say? It is unforgettable. There are few books
of American origin that resist so well the passing
of the years, that take on more steadily the glam-
our of "the unimaginable touch of time." "Rez-
anov" is a classic, or I miss my guess. This, though
it was first published so recently as 1906.

The story has the merit of being, to some extent
historically, and wholly artistically, true. For the
matter-of-facts Mrs. Atherton provides a bibliog-
raphy of her authorities. Those authorities I
have not read, nor should others. Sufficient unto
me is the authority of the novel itself splendidly
demonstrated and established in the high court of
the reader's head and heart by the author's visu-
alizing veritism. Not twenty pages have you turned
before you know this Rezanov, privy councilor,
grand chamberlain, plenipotentiary of the Russo-
American company, imperial inspector of the ex-
treme eastern and northwestern dominions of his
imperial majesty Alexander the First, emperor of
Russia--all this and more, a man. He comes out of
mystery into the softly bright light of California,
in strength and shrewdness and dignity and per-
sonal splendor. And there is amidst it all a pathos
upon him. He commands your affection even while
suggesting a doubt whether the man may not be
overwhelmed in the diplomat, the intriguer. The
year is 1806. The monstrous apparition of Napo-
leon has loomed an omen of the doom of ancient
authority and the shattering of nations in Europe.
That faithless, incalculable idealist Alexander,
plans he knows not what of imperial glory in the
Eastern and Western world. Rezanov is his ser-
vant, a man of ambition, perhaps in all favor at
court, desirous of doing some great service for his
master. He dreams of dominion in this sun-soaked
land so lazily held in the lax grasp of Spain. He
has come from failure. He had been to Japan
with presents to the emperor, was received by minor
officials with a hospitality that poorly concealed the
fact that he was virtually a prisoner, and then dis-
missed without admission to the audience he sought
with the mikado. He had gone then to bleak, in-
hospitable Sitka, to find the settlement there in a
plague of scurvy and starvation only slightly miti-
gated by vodka. Down the coast then he sailed to
the Spanish settlement for food for the settlement.
He comes to that place where in his vision he sees
arise that city of the future which we know now
as San Francisco. Masterful man that he is, he
feels that here some great thing awaits him. The
Spaniards are wary of him. They will not trade
with him, but they receive him courteously and they
are fascinated by his self-possessed, well-poised but
withal so gracious personality. The life there at
the time is a sort of lotus-eating existence. It is
a piece of Spain translated to a more luscious, a
lovelier land, overlooking beautiful seas and peril-
ous. Into the dolce far niente Rezanov enters with
some surrender to its softening spell, but with the
courtier's prudence.

And he meets the girl, Concha Arguello. He
sees her in the setting of burning and sweet Cas-
tilian roses--a girl who has had the benefit of edu-
cation, who keeps the graces of old Madrid in this
realm beyond sea, a burgeoning bud of womanhood,
daughter of the commandante. The doom of both
is upon them at once. They have drunk the pois-
oned cup. Rezanov resists the first approaches of
the delightful delirium, remembering Russia, his
duty, his ambition, the poor starving men of the
Sitka factory. At a party he dances with Concha
and they both know that for each there is none
other. So in that setting so wild, so strange, so
remote, so lovely for the old world grace that is
made native there by this bright, deep, fond girl,
the high gods proceed to have their will upon the
two. The little community life pulses around them
the faster because they are there. Their love be-
comes a motive in the diplomatic drama which has
for end, first, the securing of food for those fam-
ishing folk at Sitka, and beyond that, possibly the
seizing of the region for Russia, lest that new
young power of the West, the United States, pre-
empt the rich domain. Concha would help the Rus-
sian to those ends immediate which he reveals to
her, and succeeds. He tells her of Russia and his
mighty position there. He would have her for his
wife, his helper in the vast imperial affairs at the
Russian capitol, his princess in his palace, augment-
ing his official and personal distinction. She shares
his vision, rising to all the heights it unfolds in a
splendid future. Child she is, but she is transformed
into a woman by the prospect not of her own pleas-
ure, but of participation in splendid achievement
with this man so keen, so supple, yet so firm in
high purpose. And as the prospect opens to her
desire and his there looms the obstacle. They can-
not marry, for Rezanov is a heretic. And now the
passion flames. This child woman will go with him.
Ah, but the church, the king of Spain, will they per-
mit? And the Czar! Rezanov will see to it that the
Czar will clear the way for them through power
exercised at Rome and at Madrid. Conditioned
upon this, the girl's parents consent.

These lovers prate very little of love. Their
desire runs too deep for mere speech. It is a desire
made up of as much spiritual as carnal fire. It is
fierce but steady in ecstacy and agony, indistinguish-
able the one from the other. Rezanov, man of the
great world, it purifies. Concha it strengthens and
makes indomitable. They will abide delay. They
will endure in faith and hope--the faith and hope
both dimmed by the vague and unshakable intui-
tion or premonition that fate has marked them for
derision. Nevertheless, they will endure.

There is a meeting on a path that overlooks where
the white seas strike their tents. It is a meeting of
little action, of few words. It is tense with the
almost inexpressible, but at its end, confronting the
doubtful future, realizing that when Rezanov goes
he may not return, this girl tells him: "I will give
myself to you forever, how much or little that may
mean here on earth. Forever!" And then that
scene in the moonlight amid the scent of the Cas-
tilian roses, when Concha, as signal of her trust in
her lover, lifts the little wisps of hair that conceal
her ears and shows them to him--it throbs with
passionate purity in memory yet.

Rezanov sails away to Sitka with provisions,
thence to Siberia, and then begins the long ride over
endless versts of land, across streams in icy flood,
in rain and cold and snow towards the capitol and
the Czar. Delays, disasters to vehicles and horses
and the maddening lengthening of time. From
drenchings and freezing comes the fever that calls
for more speed. Krasnoiarsk is reached. The fever
mounts, the traveler must stop and rest and be
cared for. His visions commingle his objective
and his memories . . . CONCHA! . . . The snowy
steppes and the inky rivers. . . . His servant en-
ters the room in the inn . . . Why . . . "Where
has Jon found Castilian roses in this barren land?"
. . . "and his unconquerably sanguine spirit flared
high before a vision of eternal and unthinkable
happiness" . . . Castilian roses! Concha Arguello
waits among them, immortal, sainted in her purity
and fidelity, ministering to her poor Indians, her
face alight with unquenchable memory and with
surety of an eventual everlasting tryst. Those Cas-
tilian roses! They perfume forever one's mem-
ories of this pair, puissant in faith, in this novel
that is a poem and a shrine of that love which lives
when death itself is dead.




As the little ship that had three times raced with
death sailed past the gray headlands and into the
straits of San Francisco on that brilliant April
morning of 1806, Rezanov forgot the bitter hu-
miliations, the mental and physical torments, the
deprivations and dangers of the past three years;
forgot those harrowing months in the harbor of
Nagasaki when the Russian bear had caged his tail
in the presence of eyes aslant; his dismay at Kam-
chatka when he had been forced to send home an-
other to vindicate his failure, and to remain in the
Tsar's incontiguous and barbarous northeastern
possessions as representative of his Imperial
Majesty, and plenipotentiary of the Company his
own genius had created; forgot the year of loneli-
ness and hardship and peril in whose jaws the
bravest was impotent; forgot even his pitiable crew,
diseased when he left Sitka, that had filled the Juno
with their groans and laments; and the bells of
youth, long still, rang in his soul once more.

"It is the spring in California," he thought, with
a sigh that curled at the edge. "However," life
had made him philosophical; "the moments of un-
reasonable happiness are the most enviable no doubt,
for there is neither gall nor satiety in the reaction.
All this is as enchanting as--well, as a woman's
promise. What lies beyond? Illiterate and mer-
cenary Spaniards, vicious natives, and boundless
ennui, one may safely wager. But if all California
is as beautiful as this, no man that has spent a
winter in Sitka should ask for more."

In the extent and variety of his travels Rezanov
had seen Nature more awesome of feature but
never more fair. On his immediate right as he
sailed down the straits toward the narrow entrance
to be known as the Golden Gate, there was little to
interest save the surf and the masses of outlying
rocks where the seals leapt and barked; the shore
beyond was sandy and low. But on his left the last
of the northern mountains rose straight from the
water, the warm red of its deeply indented cliffs
rich in harmony with the green of slope and height.
There was not a tree; the mountains, the promon-
tories, the hills far down on the right beyond the
sand dunes, looked like stupendous waves of lava
that had cooled into every gracious line and fold
within the art of relenting Nature; granted ages
after, a light coat of verdure to clothe the terrible
mystery of birth. The great bay, as blue and tran-
quil as a high mountain lake, as silent as if the
planet still slept after the agonies of labor, looked
to be broken by a number of promontories, rising
from their points far out in the water to the high
back of the land; but as the Juno pursued her slant-
ing way down the channel Rezanov saw that the
most imposing of these was but the end of a large
island, and that scattered near were other islands,
masses of rock like the castellated heights that rise
abruptly from the plains of Italy and Spain; far
away, narrow straits, with a glittering expanse be-
yond; while bounding the whole eastern rim of this
splendid sheet of water was a chain of violet hills,
with the pale green mist of new grass here and
there, and purple hollows that might mean groves
of trees crouching low against the cold winds of
summer; in the soft pale blue haze above and be-
yond, the lofty volcanic peak of a mountain range.
Not a human being, not a boat, not even a herd of
cattle was to be seen, and Rezanov, for a moment
forgetting to exult in the length of Russia's arm,
yielded himself to the subtle influence abroad in
the air, and felt that he could dream as he had
dreamed in a youth when the courts of Europe to
the boy were as fabulous as El Dorado in the im-
mensity of ancestral seclusions.

"It is like the approach to paradise, is it not,
Excellency?" a deferential voice murmured at his

The plenipotentiary frowned without turning his
head. Dr. Langsdorff, surgeon and naturalist, had
accompanied the Embassy to Japan, and although
Rezanov had never found any man more of a bore
and would willingly have seen the last of him at
Kamchatka, a skilful dispenser of drugs and mender
of bones was necessary in his hazardous voy-
ages, and he retained him in his suite. Langsdorff
returned his polite tolerance with all the hidden re-
sources of his spleen; but his curiosity and scientific
enthusiasm would have sustained him through
greater trials than the exactions of an autocrat,
whom at least he had never ceased to respect in the
most trying moments at Nagasaki.

"Yes," said Rezanov. "But I wonder you find
anything to admire in such unportable objects as
mountains and water. I have not seen a living
thing but gulls and seal, and God knows we had
enough of both at Sitka."

"Ah, your excellency, in a land as fertile as this,
and caressed by a climate that would coax life
from a stone, there must be an infinite number of
aquatic and aerial treasures that will add materially
to the scientific lore of Europe."

"Humph!" said Rezanov, and moved his shoulder
in an uncontrollable gesture of dismissal. But the
spell of the April morning was broken, although
the learned doctor was not to be the only offender.

The Golden Gate is but a mile in width and the
swift current carried the Juno toward a low prom-
ontory from the base of which a shrill cry suddenly
ascended. Rezanov, raising his glass, saw that what
he had taken to be a pile of fallen rocks was a fort,
and that a group of excited men stood at its gates.
Once more the plenipotentiary on a delicate mission,
he ordered the two naval officers sailing the ship
to come forward, and retired to the dignified isola-
tion of the cabin.

The high-spirited young officers, who would have
raised a gay hurrah at the sight of civilized man
had it not been for the awe in which they held
their chief, saluted the Spaniards formally, then
stood in an attitude of extreme respect; the Juno
was directly under the guns of the fort.

One of the Spaniards raised a speaking trumpet
and shouted:

"Who are you?"

No one on the Juno, save Rezanov, could speak a
word of Spanish, but the tone of the query was its
own interpreter. The oldest of the lieutenants,
through the ship's trumpet, shouted back:

"The Juno--Sitka--Russian."

The Spanish officer made a peremptory gesture
that the ship come to anchor in the shelter given by
an immense angle of the mainland, of which the
fort's point was the western extreme. The Rus-
sians, as befitted the peaceful nature of their mis-
sion, obeyed without delay. Before their resting
place, and among the sand hills a mile from the
beach, was a quadrangle of buildings some two hun-
dred feet square and surrounded by a wall about
fourteen feet high and seven feet thick. This they
knew to be the Presidio. They saw the officers that
had hailed them gallop over the hill behind the fort
to the more ambitious enclosure, and, in the square,
confer with another group that seemed to be in a
corresponding state of excitement. A few moments
later a deputation of officers, accompanied by a
priest in the brown habit of the Franciscan order,
started on horseback for the beach. Rezanov or-
dered Lieutenant Davidov and Dr. Langsdorff to
the shore as his representatives.

The Spaniards wore the undress uniform of
black and scarlet in which they had been surprised,
but their peaked straw hats were decorated with
cords of gold or silver, the tassels hanging low on
the broad brim; their high deer-skin boots were
gaily embroidered, and bristled with immense silver
spurs. The commanding officer alone had invested
himself with a gala serape, a square of red cloth
with a bound and embroidered slit for the head.
Leading the rapid procession, his left hand resting
significantly on his sword, he was a fine specimen
of the young California grandee, dark and dashing
and reckless, lithe of figure, thoroughbred, ardent.
His eyes were sparkling at the prospect of excite-
ment; not only had the Russians, by their nefarious
appropriation of the northwestern corner of the
continent and a recent piratical excursion in pursuit
of otter, inspired the Spanish Government with a
profound disapproval and mistrust, but a rumor
had run up the coast that made every sea-gull look
like the herald of a hostile fleet. This was young
Arguello's first taste of command, and life was dull
on the northern peninsula; he would have wel-
comed a declaration of war.

Davidov and Langsdorff had come to shore in
one of the JUNO'S canoes. The conversation was
held in Latin between the two men of learning.

"Who are you and whence come you?" asked the

Langsdorff, who had been severely drilled by the
plenipotentiary as to text, replied with a profound
bow: "We are Russians engaged in completing the
circumnavigation of the globe. It was our inten-
tion to go directly to Monterey and present our offi-
cial documents, as well as our respects, to your illus-
trious Governor, but owing to contrary winds and
a resultant scarcity of provisions, we were under
the necessity of putting into the nearest harbor.
The Juno is navigated by Lieutenant Davidov and
Lieutenant Khovstov, of the Imperial Navy of Rus-
sia; by gracious permission associated with the Ma-
rine of the Russo-American Company." He paused
a moment, and then swept out his trump card with
a magnificent flourish: "Our expedition is in com-
mand of His Excellency, Privy Counsellor and
Grand Chamberlain Baron Rezanov, late Ambas-
sador to the Court of Japan, Plenipotentiary of the
Russo-American Company, Imperial Inspector of
the extreme eastern and northwestern American
dominions of His Imperial Majesty, Alexander the
First, Emperor of all the Russias, whose representa-
tives in these waters he is."

The Spaniards were properly impressed as the
priest translated with the glibness of the original;
but Arguello, who announced himself as Com-
mandante ad interim of the Presidio of San Fran-
cisco during the absence of his father at Monterey,
nodded sagely several times, and then held a short
conference in Spanish with the interpreter. The
priest turned to the Russians with a smile as diplo-
matic as that which Rezanov had drilled upon the
ugly ingenuous countenance of his medicine man.

"Our illustrious Governor, Don Jose Arrillaga,
received word from the court of Spain, now quite
two years ago, of the sailing in 1803 from Kron-
stadt of the ships Nadeshda and Neva, in command
of Captain Krusenstern and Captain Lisiansky, the
former having on board the illustrious Ambassador
to Japan, the Privy Counsellor and Chamberlain de
Rezanov. It was expected that these ships would
touch at more than one of His Most Holy Catholic
Majesty's vast dominions, and all viceroys and
gobernador proprietarios were alike instructed to re-
ceive the exalted representatives of the mighty Em-
peror of Russia with hospitality and respect. But
we cannot understand why his excellency comes to
us so late and in so small a ship, rather than in the
state with which he sailed from Europe."

"The explanation is simple, my father. The
original ships, from a variety of circumstances,
were, upon our arrival at Kamchatka, at the con-
clusion of the embassy to Japan, under the neces-
sity of returning at once to Europe. His Imperial
Majesty, Alexander the First, ordered the Cham-
berlain and plenipotentiary, the representative of
imperial power in the Russo-American possessions,
to remove to the Juno for the purpose of visiting
the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, Kadiak and the
northwestern coast of America." The Tsar had
never heard of the Juno, but as Rezanov was prac-
tically his august self in these far-away waters,
there was enough of truth in this statement to ap-
pease the conscience of a subordinate.

The Spaniards were satisfied. Lieutenant Ar-
guello begged that the emissaries would return to
the ship and invite the Chamberlain and his party
to come at once to the Presidio and do it the honor
to partake of the poor hospitality it afforded. An
officer galloped furiously for horses.

A few moments later they were still more deeply
impressed by the appearance of their distinguished
visitor as he stood erect in the boat that brought
him to shore. In full uniform of dark green and
gold lace, with cocked hat and the splendid order of
St. Ann on his breast, Rezanov was by far the finest
specimen of a man the Californians, themselves of
ampler build than their European ancestors, had
ever beheld. Of commanding stature and physique,
with an air of highest breeding and repose, he
looked both a man of the great world and an intol-
erant leader of men. His long oval face was thin
and somewhat lined, the mouth heavily moulded
and closely set, suggestive of sarcasm and humor;
the nose long, with arching and flexible nostrils.
His eyes, seldom widely opened, were light blue,
very keen, usually cold. Like many other men of
his position in Europe, he had discarded wig and
queue and wore his short fair hair unpowdered.

It was a singularly imposing but hardly attractive
presence, thought young Arguello, until Rezanov,
after stepping on shore and bowing formally, sud-
denly smiled and held out his hand. Then the im-
pressionable Spaniard "melted like a woman," as
he told his sister, Concha, and would have embraced
the stranger on either cheek had not awe lingered
to temper his enthusiasm. But Rezanov never made
a stauncher friend than Louis Arguello, who vowed
to the last of his days that the one man who had
fulfilled his ideal of the grand seigneur was he that
sailed in from the North on that fateful April
morning of 1806.


As Rezanov, heading the procession with young
Arguello, entered the wide gates of the Presidio, he
received an impression memorably different from
that which led earlier travelers to describe it in-
clemently as a large square surrounded by mud
houses, thatched with reeds. It is true that the walls
were of adobe and the roofs of tule, nor was there
a tree on the sand hills encircling the stronghold.
But in this early springtime--the summer of the
peninsula--the hills showed patches of verdure, and
all the low white buildings were covered by a net-
work of soft dull green and archaic pink. The Cas-
tilian rose, full and fluted, and of a chaste and pene-
trating fragrance, hung singly and in clusters on the
pillars of the dwellings, on the barracks and chapel,
from the very roofs; bloomed upon bushes as high
as young trees. The Presidio was as delicately per-
fumed as a lady's bower, and its cannon faced the
ever-changing hues of water and island and hill.

As the party approached, heads of all ages ap-
peared between the vines, and there was a low mur-
mur of irrepressible curiosity and delight.

"We do not see many strangers in this lonely
land," said Arguello apologetically. "And never
before have we had so distinguished a guest as your
excellency. It was always a gala day when ever a
Boston skipper came in with a few bales of goods
and a complexion like the hides we sold him. Now,
alas! they are no longer permitted to enter our
ports. Governor Arrillaga will have none of contra-
band trade and slaying of our otter. And as for
Europeans other than Spaniards, save for an Eng-
lish sea captain now and then, they know naught of
our existence."

But Rezanov had not come to California on the
impulse of a moment. He replied suavely: "There
you are mistaken. Your illustrious father, Don
Jose Mario de Arguello, is well known to us as the
most respected, eminent and influential character in
the Californias. It was my intention, after paying
a visit of ceremony to his excellency, Governor Ar-
rillaga, to come to San Francisco for the sole pur-
pose of meeting a man whose record has inspired
me with the deepest interest. And we have all
heard such wonderful tales of your California, of
its beauty, its fertility, of the beneficent lives of
your missionaries--so different from ours--and of
the hospitality and elegance of the Spaniards, that
it has been the objective point of my travels, and I
have found it difficult to curb my impatience while
attending to imperative duties elsewhere."

"Ay! senor!" exclaimed the young Californian.
"What you say fills me with a pride I cannot ex-
press, and I can only regret that the reports of our
poor habitations should be so sadly exaggerated.
Such as our possessions are, however, they are yours
while you deign to remain in our midst. This is
my father's house. I beg that you will regard it as
your own. Burn it if you will!" he cried with
more enthusiasm than commonly enlivened the
phrases of hospitality. "He will be proud to know
that a lifetime of severe attention to duty and of
devotion to his King have won him fame abroad
as well as at home. He has risen to his present
position from the ranks, but he is of pure Spanish
blood, not a drop of Indian; and my mother was a
Moraga, of the best blood of Spain," he added art-
lessly. "As to the beauty and variety of our country,
senor, of course you will visit our opulent south;
but--" They had dismounted at the Comman-
dante's house in the southeast corner of the square.
Arguello impulsively led Rezanov back to the gates
and pointed to the east. "I have crossed those
mountains and the mountains beyond, Excellency,
and seen fertile and beautiful valleys of a vast ex-
tent, watered by five rivers and bound far, far away
by mountains covered with snow and gigantic trees.
The valley beyond the southern edge of the bay,
where the Missions of Santa Clara and San Jose
are, is also rich, but those between the ranges is an
empire; and one day when the King sends us more
colonists, we shall recompense Spain for all she has

"I congratulate you!" Rezanov, indifferent to his
host's ancestral tree, had lifted an alert ear. His
quick incisive brain was at work. "I should like to
stretch my legs over a horse for a week at a time,
and even to climb your highest mountains. You
may imagine how much exercise a man may get on
a vessel of two hundred and six tons, and it is
thirty-two days since I left Sitka. To look upon a
vast expanse of green--to say nothing of possible
sport--after a winter of incessant rain and impene-
trable forests--what a prospect! I beg you will take
me off into the wilderness as soon as possible."

"I promise you the Governor shall not withhold
his consent--and there are bear and deer--quail,
wild duck--your excellency will enjoy that beauti-
ful wild country as I have done." Arguello was
enchanted at the prospect of fresh adventure in the
company of this fascinating stranger. "But we are
once more at our poor abode, senor. I beg you to
remember that it is your own."

They ascended the steps of the piazza, suddenly
deserted, and it seemed to Rezanov that every sense
in his being quivered responsively to the poignant
sweetness of the Castilian roses. He throbbed
with a sudden exultant premonition that he stood
on the threshold of an historic future, with a pagan
joy in mere existence, a sudden rush of desire for
the keen wild happiness of youth. Such is the
elixir of California in the north and the spring.

They entered a long sala typical of its day and
of many to come; whitewashed walls hung with
colored prints of the Virgin and saints; horsehair
furniture, matting, deep window seats; and a
perennial coolness. The Chamberlain (his court
title and the one commonly attached to his name)
made himself as comfortable as the slippery chair
would permit, and Arguello went for his mother.

Langsdorff, who had lingered on the piazza with
the priest, entered in a moment.

"The good padre tells me that this rose of Cas-
tile is the only imported flower in California," he
cried, with enthusiasm, for although not a bot-
anist, there was a bump between his eyes as big
as a child's fist and he had a nose like the prow
of a toy ship. "Many cuttings were brought from

"What difference does it make where it came
from?" interrupted Rezanov testily. "Is it not
enough that it is beautiful, but it must have a pin
stuck through it like some poor devil of a butter-

"Your excellency has also the habit to probe
into things he deems worthy of his attention," re-
torted the offended scientist; but he was obliged
to closet his wrath. An inner door opened and
the host reappeared with his mother and a fair
demonstration of her virtues. She was a very
large woman dressed loosely in black, but she car-
ried herself with an air of complete, if somewhat
sleepy, dignity, and it was evident that her beauty
had been great. Her full face had lost its con-
tours, but time had spared the fine Roman nose and
the white skin, that birthright of the high-bred
Castilian. Arguello presented his family ceremo-
niously as the guest of honor rose and bowed with
formal deference.

"My mother, Dona Ignacia Arguello, your ex-
cellency, who unites with me in praying that you
will regard our home as yours during your so-
journ in the north. My sister, Maria de la Con-
cepcion Marcella Arguello, and my little sisters,
Ana Paula and Gertrudis Rudisinda. My
brothers: Gervasio--soldado distinguido of the
San Francisco Company; Santiago, a cadet in the
same company; Francesco and Toribio, whose
presence at the table I beg you will overlook, for
when we are so fortunate as to be all together,
senor, we cannot bear to be separated. My oldest
brother, alas--Ignacio--is studying for holy or-
ders in Mexico, and my sister Isabel visits at the
Presidio of Santa Barbara. I beg that you will be
seated, Excellency." And he continued the intro-
duction to the lesser luminaries, with equal cour-
tesy but fewer periods.

Rezanov exchanged a few pleasant words with
his smiling hostess before she returned to her dis-
tracted maids preparing the dinner; but his eyes
during Arguello's declamation had wandered with
a singular fidelity to the beautiful face of the eld-
est daughter of the house. She had responded
with a humorous twinkle in her magnificent black
eyes and not a hint of diffidence. As she entered
the room his brain had flashed out the thought:
"Thank heaven for a pretty girl after these three
abominable years!" Possibly his pleasure would
have been salted with pique had he guessed that her
thought was the twin of his own. He was the
first man of any world more considerable than the
petty court of the viceroy of Mexico that had vis-
ited California in her time, and excellent as she
found his tall military figure and pale cold face,
the novelty of the circumstance fluttered her more.

Dona "Concha" Arguello was the beauty of
California, and although her years were but six-
teen her blood was Spanish, and she carried her
tall deep figure and fine head with the grace and
dignity of an accomplished woman. She had in-
herited the white skin and delicate Roman-Span-
ish profile of the Moragas, but there was an in-
telligent fire in her eyes, a sharp accentuation of
nostril, and a full mobility of mouth, childish, half-
developed as that feature still was, that betrayed
a strong cross-current forcing the placid maternal
flow into rugged and unexplored channels, while
assimilating its fine qualities of pride and high
breeding. Gervasio and Santiago resembled their
sister in coloring and profile, but lacked her subtle
quality of personality and divine innocence. Luis
was more the mother's son than the father's--sav-
ing his olive skin; a grandee, modified by the sim-
plicities of a soldier's life, amiable and upright.
Dona Ignacia recognized in Concha the quintes-
sence of the two opposing streams, and had long
since ceased to impose upon a girl who had little
else but her liberties, the conventional restrictions
of the Spanish maiden. Concha had already re-
ceived many offers of marriage and regarded men
as mere swingers of incense. Moreover, her cul-
tivated mind was filled with ideals and ideas far
beyond anything California would yield in her day.

As Rezanov, upon Dona Ignacia's retreat,
walked directly over to her, she smilingly seated
herself on a sofa and swept aside her voluminous
white skirts. She was not sure that she liked him,
but in no doubt whatever of her delight at his

Her manners were very simple and artless, as
are the manners of most women whom Nature has
gifted with complexity and depth.

"It is now two years and more that we have
been excited over the prospect of this visit," she
said. "But if you will tell me what you have been
doing all this time, I, at least, will forgive you;
for you will never be able to imagine, senor, how
I long to hear of the great world. I stare at the
map, then at the few pictures we have. I know
many books of travel by heart; but I am afraid
my imagination is a poor one, for I cannot con-
jure up great cities filled with people--thousands
of people! DIOS DE MI ALMA! A world where
there is something besides mountains and water,
grain fields, orchards, forests, earthquakes, and
climate? Will you, senor?"

"For quite as many hours as you will listen to
me. I propose a compact. You shall improve my
Spanish. I will impart all I know of Europe--
and of Asia--if your curiosity reaches that far."

"Even of Japan?" There was a wicked spark
in her eye.

"I see you already have some knowledge of the
cause of my delay." His voice was even, but a
wound smarted. "It is quite true, senorita, that
the first embassy to Japan, from which we hoped
so much, was a humiliating failure, and that I was
played with for six months by a people whom we
had regarded as a nation of monkeys. When my
health began to suffer from the long confinement
on shipboard--we had previously been fourteen
months at sea--and I asked to be permitted to
live on shore while my claims to an audience were
under consideration, I was removed with my suite
to a cage on a strip of land nearly surrounded with
water, where I had less liberty and exercise than on
shipboard. Finally, I had a ridiculous interview
with a 'great man,' in which I accomplished nothing
but the preservation of what personal dignity a man
may while sitting on his heels; the superb presents
of the Tsar were returned to me, and I was politely
told to leave. Japan wanted neither the friendship
of Russia nor her gimcracks. That, senorita, is the
history of the first Russian Embassy--for the tenta-
tive visit of Adam Lanxmann, twelve years before,
can be dignified by no such title--to Oriental waters.
It is to be hoped that Count Golofkin, who was to
undertake a similar mission to China, has met with
a better fate."

Underneath the polished armour of a man who
was a courtier when he chose and the dominating
spirit always, he was hot and quick of temper. His
light cold eyes glowed with resentment at the danc-
ing lights in hers, as he cynically gave her a bald
abstract of the unfortunate mission. He reflected
that commonly he would have fitted a different
mask to the ugly skull of fact, but this young bar-
barian, as he chose to regard her, excited the ele-
mental truth in him, defying him to appear at his
worst. He was astonished to see her eyes suddenly
soften and her mouth tremble.

"It must have been a hateful experience--hate-
ful!" Her voice, beginning on its usual low soft
note, rose to a hoarse pitch of indignation. "I
should have killed somebody! To be a man, and
strong, and caressed all one's life by fortune--and
to be as helpless as an Indian! Madre de dios!"

"I shall take my revenge," said Rezanov shortly;
but the wound closed, and once more he became
aware of the poignant sweetness of Castilian roses.
Concha wore one in her soft dusky hair, and an-
other where the little round jacket of white linen,
gaily embroidered with pink, met on her bosom.
But if sentiment tempted him he was quickly poised
by her next remarks. She uttered them in a low
tone, although the animated conversation of the rest
of the party would have permitted the two on the
sofa to exchange the vows of love unheard.

"But what a practice for your diplomatic talents,
Excellency! Poor California! At least let me be
the first to hear what you have come for?" Her
voice dropped to a soft cooing note, although her
eyes twinkled. "For the love of God, senor! I am
so bored in this life on the edge of the world! To
see the seams and ravelings of a diplomatic in-
trigue! I have read and heard of many, but never
had I hoped to link my finger in anything subtler
than a quarrel between priest and Governor, or the
jealousy of Los Angeles for Monterey. I even will
help you--if you mean no harm to my father or my
country. And I am not a friend to scorn, senor,
for my blessed father is as wax in my hands, the
dear old Governor adores me, and even Padre
Abella, who thinks himself a great diplomat, and
is watching us out of the corner of his eye, while
I make him believe you pay me so many compli-
ments my poor little head turns round--Bueno
senor!" As she raised her voice she plucked the
rose from her dress and tossed it to Rezanov. Then
she lifted her chin and pouted her childish lips at
the ironical smile of the priest.

Rezanov was close to betraying his surprise; but
as he cherished a belief that the souls of all pretty
women went to school to the devil before entering
upon earthly enterprise, he wondered that he had
been open to the illusion of complete ingenuousness
in a descendant of one of the oldest and subtlest
civilizations of earth. Within that luminous shell
of youth there were, no doubt, whispering memories
of men and women steeped in court intrigue from
birth, of triumphant beauties that had lived for love
and their power over the passions of men as ardent
as himself. It was quite possible that she might be
as useful as she desired. But his impulses were in
leash. He merely looked and murmured his ad-

"Better ask, what chance have I, a defenceless
man, who has not seen a charming woman for three
years, against such practised art? If you can hood-
wink a Spanish priest, and manipulate a Governor
who has won the confidence of the most suspicious
court in Europe, what fortune for a barbarian of
the north? Less than with Japan, I should think."

He divested the rose of its thorns and many
tight little buds, and thrust the stem underneath the
star of St. Ann. She lifted her chin again and
tossed her head.

"You do not trust me, but you will. I fancy it
will be before long--for it is quite true that the
Californians are not so easily outwitted. And--
even did I not help you, I would not--I vow, senor!
--betray you. Is it true that Russia is at war with


"Have you not heard? It was for that we were
all so excited this morning. We thought your ship
might be the first of a fleet."

"I have heard no such rumor, and you may dis-
miss it. Russia is too much occupied with Napo-
leon Bonaparte, who has had himself crowned Em-
peror, and by this time is probably at war with
half Europe--"

She interrupted him with flashing eye. The pink
in her cheeks had turned red. The thin nostrils of
her pretty Roman nose fluttered like paper. "Ah!"
she exclaimed, again with that note of hoarseness
in her voice. "There is a great man, not a mere
king on a throne his ancestors made for him. Papa
hates him because he has seized a throne. AY YI!
DIOS, but you should hear the words fly when we go
to war together. But I do not care that"--she
snapped her firm white fingers--"for all the Bour-
bons that are in Europe. Bonaparte! Do you know
him? Have you seen him?"

"I have seen him insult poor Markov, our ambas-
sador to France, when I can assure you that he
looked like neither a demi-god nor a gentleman.
When you have improved my Spanish I will tell you
many anecdotes of him. Meanwhile, am I to as-
sume that you reserve your admiration for the man
that carves his career in defiance of the rusty old

"I do! I do! My father was of the people, a
poor boy. He has risen to be the most powerful of
all Californians, although the King he adores never
makes him Gobernador Proprietario. I tell him he
should be the first to recognize the genius and the
ambitions of a Bonaparte. The mere thought hor-
rifies him. But in me that same strong plebeian
blood makes another cry, and if my father had but
enough men at his back, and the will to make him-
self King of the Californias--Madre de Dios! how
I should help him!"

"At least I know her better than she knows me,"
thought Rezanov, as the inner door was thrown
open and another bare room with a long table laden
with savory food on a superb silver service was re-
vealed. "And if I know anything of women, I can
trust her--for as long as she may be necessary, at
all events."


"Santiago!" whispered Concha. "Do not go
down to the ship. Take me for a walk. I have
much to say."

Santiago, who had not been asked to form one of
the escort upon the return of the Russians to the
Juno for the night, felt injured and sulky and
deigned no reply.

"If you do not, I'll not braid your hair to-mor-
row," said his sister, giving his arm a little shake;
and he succumbed. The luxuriant tresses of the
male Arguellos were combed and braided and tied
with a ribbon every morning by the women of the
family, and Concha's fingers were the gentlest and
deftest. And Concha and Santiago were more inti-
mate than even the rest of that united family. They
had studied and read together, were equally dis-
satisfied with their narrow existence, ambitious for
a wider experience. Santiago consoled himself with
cards and training roosters for battle, and otherwise
as a man may. He was but fifteen, this haughty,
severe-looking young hidalgo, but while in some re-
spects many years older than his sister, in others
he was younger, for he possessed none of her
illuminating instinct.

She led him through a postern gate, round the
first of the dunes, and they were alone in a waste of
sand. She demanded abruptly:

"What do you think of our illustrious visitor?"

"I like him. He would wring your neck if you
got in his way, but has a kind heart for those that
call him master. I like that sort of a man. I wish
he would take me away with him."

"He shall--one of these days. Santiago mio, let
me whisper--" She pulled his ear down to her
lips. "He will marry me. I feel it. I know it.
He has talked to me the whole day. He has told
me grave secrets. Not even to you would I reveal
them. So many have loved me--why should not
he? I shall live in St. Petersburg, and see all
Europe!--thousands of people--Dios mio! Dios

"Indeed!" Santiago, still unamiable, responded
to this confidence with a sneer. "You aspire very
high for a little girl of the wilderness, without for-
tune, and only half a coat-of-arms, so to speak. Do
you know that this Rezanov--Dr. Langsdorff has
told us all about him--is a great noble, one of the
ten barons of Russia, and a Chamberlain in accord-
ance with a decree of Peter the Great that court
titles should be bestowed as a reward for distin-
guished services alone? He got a fortune in his
youth by marriage with a daughter of Shelikov--
that Siberian who founded the Russian colonies in
America. The wife died almost immediately, but
the Baron's influence remained with Shelikov--for
his influence at court was even greater--and after
the older man's death, with his mother-in-law, who
is uncommonly clever. Shelikov's schemes were
but little sketches beside Rezanov's, who from merely a
courtier and a gay blood about town developed into
a great man of business, with an ambition to corre-
spond. It was he who got the Imperial ukase that
gave the Russian-American Company its power to
squeeze all the other fur hunters and traders out of
the northeast, and made Rezanov and everybody
belonging to it so rich your head would swim if I
told you the number of doubloons they spend in a
year. Nobody has ever been so clever at managing
those old beasts of autocrats as he. They think him
merely the accomplished courtier, a brilliant dilet-
tante, a condescending patron of art and letters, a
devotee of pleasure, and all the time he is pulling
their befuddled old brains about to suit himself.
The Tsar Paul was a lunatic and they murdered
him, but meanwhile he signed the ukase. The Tsar
Alexander, who is not so bad nor so silly as the
others, thinks there is no man so clever as Rezanov,
who addresses him personally when sending home
his reports. Do you know what all that means?
Your plenipotentiary is not only a Chamberlain at
court, a Privy Councillor, and the Tsar himself on
this side of the world, but when his inspections and
reforms are concluded, and he is one of the wealth-
iest men in Russia, he will return to St. Petersburg
and become so high and mighty that a princess
would snap at him. And you aspire! I never
heard such nonsense."

"His excellency told me much of this," replied
Concha imperturbably. "And I am sure that he
cares nothing for princesses and will marry whom
he most admires. He would not say, but I know
he cared nothing for that poor little wife, dead so
long ago. It was a mariage de convenance, such
as all the great world is accustomed to. He will
love me more than all the fine ladies he has ever
seen. I feel it. I know it! And I am quite happy."

"Do you love him?" asked Santiago, looking
curiously at his sister's flushed and glowing face.
It seemed to him that she had never looked so
young. "Many have loved you. I had begun to
think you had no heart for men, no wish for any-
thing but admiration. And now you give your
heart in a day to this Russian--who must be nearly

"I have not thought of my heart at all. But I
could love him, of course. He is so handsome, so
kind, so grand, so gay! But love is for men and
wives--has not my mother said so? Now I think
only of St. Petersburg! of Paris! of London! of
the beautiful gowns and jewels I shall wear at court
--a red velvet train as long as a queen's, and all
embroidered with gold, a white veil spangled with
gold, a head-dress a foot high studded with jewels,
ropes of diamonds and pearls--I made him tell me
how the great ladies dressed. Ah! there is the
pleasure of being a girl--to think and dream of all
those beautiful things, not of when the wife must
live always for the husband and children. That
comes soon enough. And why should I not have
all!--there is so little in life for the girl. It seems
to me now that I have had nothing. When he asks
me to marry him he will tell me of the fine things
I shall have and the great sights I shall witness--
the ceremonies at court, the winter streets--with
snow--snow, Santiago!--where the great nobles
drive four horses through the drifts like little hills,
and are wrapped in furs like bears! The grand
military parades--how I shall laugh when I think
of our poor little Presidios with their dozen officers
strutting about--" She stopped abruptly and
bursting wildly into tears flung herself into her
brother's arms. "But I never could leave you! And
my father! my mother! all! all! Ay, Dios de mi
alma! what an ingrate I am! I should die of home-
sickness! My Santiago! My Santiago!"

Santiago patted her philosophically. "You are
not going to-morrow," he reminded her. "Don't
cross your bridges until you come to them. That is
a good proverb for maids and men. You might
take us all with you, or spend every third year or so
in California. No doubt you would need the rest.
And meanwhile remember that the high and mighty
Chamberlain has not yet asked for the honor of an
alliance with the house of Arguello, and that your
brother will match his best fighting cock against
your new white lace mantilla from Mexico, that
he is not meditating any project so detrimental to
his fortunes. Console yourself with the reflection
that if he were, our father and the priests, and the
Governor himself, would die of apoplexy. He is a
heretic--a member of the Greek Church! Hast thou
lost thy reason, Conchita? Dry your eyes and
come home to sleep, and let us hear no more of
marriage with a man who is not only a barbarian of
the north and a heretic, but so proud he does not
think a Californian good enough to wash his


It was long before Rezanov slept that night. The
usual chill had come in from the Pacific as the sun
went down, and the distinguished visitor had inti-
mated to his hosts that he should like to exercise
on shore until ready for his detested quarters; but
Arguello dared not, in the absence of his father, in-
vite the foreigner even to sleep in the house so
lavishly offered in the morning; although he had
sent such an abundance of provisions to the ship
that the poor sailors were deep in sleep, gorged like
boa-constrictors; and he could safely promise that
while the Juno remained in port her larder should
never be empty. He shared the evening bowl of
punch in the cabin, then went his way lamenting
that he could not take his new friends with him.

Rezanov paced the little deck of the Juno to keep
his blood in stir. There was no moon. The islands
and promontories on the great sheet of water were
black save for the occasional glow of an Indian
camp-fire. There was not a sound but the lapping
of the waves, the roar of distant breakers. The
great silver stars and the little green stars looked
down upon a solitude that was almost primeval, yet
mysteriously disturbed by the restless currents in
the brain of a man who had little in common with
primal forces.

Rezanov was uneasy on more scores than one.
He was annoyed and mortified at the discovery--
made over the punch bowl--that the girl he had
taken to be twenty was but sixteen. It was by no
means his first experience of the quick maturity of
southern women--but sixteen! He had never
wasted a moment on a chit before, and although he
was a man of imagination, and notwithstanding
her intelligence and dignity, he could not reconcile
properties so conflicting with any sort of feminine

And the pressing half of his mission he had con-
fided to her! No man knew better than he the
value of a tactful and witty woman in the political
dilemmas of life; more than one had given him
devoted service, nor ever yet had he made a mistake.
After several hours spent in the society of this clever,
politic, dissatisfied girl he had come to the conclu-
sion that he could trust her, and had told her of the
lamentable condition of the creatures in the employ
of the Russian-American Company; of their chronic
state of semi-starvation, of the scurvy that made
them apathetic of brain and body, and eventually
would exterminate them unless he could establish
reciprocal trade relations with California and obtain
regular supplies of farinaceous food; acknowl-
edged that he had brought a cargo of Russian and
Boston goods necessary to the well-being of the Mis-
sions and Presidios, and that he would not return
to the wretched people of Sitka, at least, without a
generous exchange of breadstuffs, dried meats, peas,
beans, barley and tallow. Not only had he no long-
er the courage to witness their misery, but his for-
tune and his career were at stake. His entire capi-
tal was invested in the Company he had founded,
and he had failed in his embassy to Japan--to the
keen mortification of the Tsar and the jubilation of
his enemies. If he left the Emperor's northeastern
dominions unreclaimed and failed to rescue the
Company from its precarious condition, he hardly
should care to return to St. Petersburg.

Dona Concha had listened to this eloquent
harangue--they sat alone at one end of the long
sala while Luis at the other toiled over letters to the
Governor and his father advising them of the for-
midable honor of the Russian's visit--in exactly
the temper he would have chosen. Her fine eyes
had melted and run over at the moving tale of the
sufferings of the servants of the Company--until
his own had softened in response and he had im-
pulsively kissed her hand; they had dilated and
flashed as he spoke of his personal apprehensions;
and when he had given her a practical explanation
of his reasons for coming to California she had
given him advice as practical in return.

He must withhold from her father and the Gov-
ernor the fact of his pressing need; they were high
officials with an inflexible sense of duty, and did all
they could to enforce the law against trading with
foreigners. He was to maintain the fiction of belt-
ing the globe, but admit that he had indulged in a
dream of commercial relations--for a benefit strictly
mutual--between neighbors as close as the Spanish
and Russians in America. This would interest
them--what would not, on the edge of the world?
--and they would agree to lay the matter, rein-
forced by a strong personal plea, before the Viceroy
of Mexico; who in turn would send it to the Cab-
inet and King at Madrid. Meanwhile, he was to
confide in the priests at the Mission. Not only
would their sympathies be enlisted, but they did
much trading under the very nose of the govern-
ment. Not for personal gain--they were vowed to
a life of poverty; but for their Indian converts;
and as there were twelve hundred at the Mission of
San Francisco, they would wink at many things con-
demnable in the abstract. He had engaged to visit
them on the morrow, and he must take presents to
tempt their impersonal cupidity, and invite them to
inspect the rest of his wares--which the Governor
would be informed his Excellency had been forced
to buy with the Juno from the Yankee skipper,
D'Wolf, and would rid himself of did opportunity

Rezanov had never received sounder advice, and
had promptly accepted it. Now, as he reflected that
it had been given by a girl of sixteen, he was divided
between admiration of her precocity and fear lest
she prove to be too young to keep a secret. More-
over, there were other considerations.

Rezanov, although in his earlier years he had so
far sacrificed his interests and played into the hands
of his enemies, in avoiding the too embarrassing par-
tiality of Catherine the Great, had nevertheless held
a high place at court by right of birth, and been a
man of the world always; rarely absent from St.
Petersburg during the last and least susceptible part
of the imperial courtesan's life, the brief reign of
Paul, and the two years between the accession of
Alexander and the sailing of the Nadeshda. More-
over, there was hardly another court of importance
in Europe with which he was not familiar, and few
men had had a more complete experience of life.
And the life of a courtier, a diplomat, a traveller,
noble, wealthy, agreeable to women by divine right,
with active enemies and a horde of flatterers, in
daily contact with the meaner and more disin-
genuous corners of human nature, is not conducive
to a broad optimism and a sweet and immutable
Christianity. Rezanov inevitably was more or less
cynical and blase', and too long versed in the ways
of courts and courtiers to retain more than a whim-
sical tolerance of the naked truth and an apprecia-
tion of its excellence as a diplomatic manoeuvre.
Nevertheless, he was by nature too impetuous ever
to become under any provocation a dishonest man,
and too normally a gentleman to deviate from a
certain personal code of honor. He might come to
California with fair words and a very definite in-
tention of annexing it to Russia at the first oppor-
tunity, but he was incapable of abusing the hospi-
tality of the Arguellos by making love to their six-
teen-year-old daughter. Had she been of the years
he had assumed, he would have had less scruple in
embarking upon a flirtation, both for the pastime
and the use he might make of her. A Spanish
beauty of twenty, still unmarried, would be more
than his match. But a child, however precocious,
inevitably would fall in love with the first uncom-
mon stranger she met; and Rezanov, less vain than
most men of his kind, and with a fundamental hu-
manity that was the chief cause in his efforts to im-
prove the condition of his wretched promuschleniki,
had no taste for the role of heart-breaker.

But the girl had proved her timeliness; would, if
trustworthy, be of further use in inclining her
father and the Governor toward such of his de-
signs as he had any intentions of revealing; and,
weighing carefully his conversations with her, he
was disposed to believe that she would screen and
abet him through vanity and love of intrigue. After
the dinner, in the seclusion of the sala, he had taken
pains to explore for the causes of her mental ma-
turity. Concha had told him of Don Jose Arguello's
ambition that his children in their youth should have
the education he had been forced to acquire in his
manhood; he had taught them himself, and not-
withstanding his piety and the disapproval of the
priests, had permitted them to read the histories,
travels, and biographies he received once a year
from the City of Mexico. Rezanov had met
Madame de Stael and other bas bleus, and given
them no more of his society than politeness de-
manded, but although astonished at the amount of
information this young girl had assimilated, he
found nothing in her manner of wearing her intel-
lectual crown to offend his fastidious taste. She
was wholly artless in her love of books and of dis-
cussing them; and nothing in their contents had dis-
turbed the sweetest innocence he had ever met. Of
the little arts of coquetry she was mistress by inheri-
tance and much provocation, but her unawakened
inner life breathed the simplicity and purity of the
elemental roses that hovered about her in his
thoughts. Her very unsusceptibility made the game
more dangerous; if it piqued him--and he aspired
to be no more than human--he either should have
to marry her, or nurse a sore spot in his conscience
for the rest of his life; and for neither alternative
had he the least relish.

He dismissed the subject at last with an impatient
shrug. Perhaps he was a conceited ass, as his Eng-
lish friends would say; perhaps the Governor would
be more amenable than she had represented. No
man could forecast events. It was enough to be

But his thoughts swung to a theme as little dis-
burdening. His needs, as he had confided to Con-
cha, were very pressing. The dry or frozen fish,
the sea dogs, the fat of whales, upon which the em-
ployees of the Company were forced to subsist in
the least hospitable of climes, had ravaged them
with scorbutic diseases until their numbers were so
reduced by death and desertion that there was dan-
ger of depopulation and the consequent bankruptcy
of the Company. Since June of the preceding year
until his departure from New Archangel in the pre-
vious month, he had been actively engaged in inspec-
tion of the Company's holdings from Kamchatka
to Sitka: reforming abuses, establishing schools
and libraries, conceiving measures to protect the
fur-bearing animals from reckless slaughter both
by the promuschleniki and marauding foreigners;
punishing and banishing the worst offenders against
the Company's laws; encouraging the faithful, and
sharing hardships with them that sent memories of
former luxuries and pleasures scurrying off to the
realms of fantasy. But his rule would be incom-
plete and his efforts end in failure if the miserable
Russians and natives in the employ of the Com-
pany were not vitalized by proper food and cheered
with the hope of its permanence.

In Santiago's story of the Russian visitor's
achievements and status there was the common
mingling of truth and fiction the exalted never fail
to inspire. Rezanov, although he had accomplished
great ends against greater odds, was too little of a
courtier at heart ever to have been a prime favorite
in St. Petersburg until the accession of a ruler with
whom he had something in common. A dissolute
woman and a crack-brained despot were the last to
appreciate an original and independent mind, and
the seclusion of Alexander had been so complete
during the lifetime of his father that Rezanov barely
had known him by sight. But the Tsarovitz, en-
thusiastic for reform and a passionate admirer of
enterprise, knew of Rezanov, and no sooner did he
mount his gory throne than he confirmed the Cham-
berlain in his enterprise, and two years later made
him a Privy Counsellor, invested him with the order
of St. Ann, and chose him for the critical embassy
to the verdant realm with the blind and gateless

Rezanov had conquered so far in life even less by
address than by the demonstration of abilities very
singular in a man of his birth and education. When
he met Shelikov, during the Siberian merchant-
trader's visit to St. Petersburg in 1788, he was a
young man with little interest in life outside of its
pleasures, and a patrimony that enabled him to
command them to no great extent and barely to
maintain the dignity of his rank. Shelikov's plan
to obtain a monopoly of the fur trade in the islands
and territories added by his Company to Russia,
possibly throughout the entire possession, thus pre-
venting the destruction of sables, seals, otters, and
foxes by small traders and foreigners, interested
him at once; or possibly he was merely fascinated
at first by the shrewd and dauntless representative
of a class with which he had never before come
in contact. The accidental acquaintance ripened
into intimacy, Rezanov became a partner in the
Shelikov-Golikov Company, and married the daugh-
ter of his new friend. After the death of his
father-in-law, in 1795, his ambitions and business
abilities, now fully awake, prompted him to obtain
for himself and his partners rights analogous to
those granted by England to the East India Com-
pany. Shelikov had won little more than half the
power and privileges he had solicited of Catherine,
although he had amalgamated the two leading com-
panies, drawn in several others, and built ships and
factories and forts to protect them. And if the
regnant merchants made large fortunes, the enter-
prise in general suffered from the rivalries between
the various companies, and above all from lack of
imperial support.

Rezanov, his plans made, brought to bear all the
considerable influence he was able to command,
called upon all his resources of brain and address,
and brought Catherine to the point of consenting
to sign the charter he needed. Before it was ready
for the imperial signature she died. Rezanov was
forced to begin again with her ill-balanced and in-
tractable son. Natalie Shelikov, his famous mother-
in-law, the old shareholders of the Company, and
the many new ones that had subscribed to Rezanov's
ambitious project, gave themselves up to despair.
For a time the outlook was dark. The personal
enemies of Rezanov and the bitter and persistent
opponents of the companies threw themselves eager-
ly into the scale with tales of brutality of the mer-
chants and the threatened extirpation of the fur-
bearing animals. Paul announced his attention to
abolish all the companies and close the colonies to
traders big and little.

But the enemy had a very subtle antagonist in
Rezanov. Apparently dismissing the subject, he ap-
plied himself to gaining a personal ascendancy over
the erratic but impressionable Tsar. No one in the
opposing camp could compare with him in that fine
balance of charm and brain which was his peculiar
gift, or in the adroit manipulation of a mind pro-
pelled mainly by vanity. He studied Paul's moods
and character, discovered that after some senseless
act of oppression he suffered from a corresponding
remorse, and was susceptible to any plan that would
increase his power and add lustre to his name. The
commercial and historic advantages of prosperous
northeastern possessions were artfully instilled. At
the opportune moment Rezanov laid before him a
scheme, mature in every detail, for a great com-
pany that would add to the wealth of Russia, and
convince Europe of the sound commercial sense and
immortal wisdom of its sovereign. Without more
ado he obtained his charter.

This momentous instrument granted to the "Rus-
sian-American Company under our Highest Protec-
tion," "full privileges, for a period of twenty years
on the coast of northwestern America, beginning
from latitude 55 degrees north, and including the
chain of islands extending from Kamchatka north-
ward, and southward to Japan; the exclusive right
to all enterprises, whether hunting, trading, or build-
ing, and to new discoveries; with strict prohibition
from profiting from any of these pursuits, not only
to all parties who might engage in them on their
own responsibility, but also to those who formerly
had ships and establishments there, except those who
have united with the new Company." All private
traders who refused to join the Company were to
be allowed to sell their property and depart in

Thus was formed the first of the Trusts in
America; and the United States never has had so
formidable a menace to her territorial greatness as
this Russian nobleman who paced that night the
wretched deck of the little ship he had bought from
one of her skippers. Perturbed in mind at his re-
cent failures and immediate prospects, he was no
less determined to take California from the Span-
iards either by absorption or force.

On his way from New Archangel to San Fran-
cisco he had met with his second failure since leav-
ing St. Petersburg. It was his intention to move
the Sitkan colony down to the mouth of the Colum-
bia River; not only pressed by the need of a more
beneficent soil, but as a first insidious advance upon
San Francisco Bay. Upon this trip it would be
enough to make a survey of the ground and bury a
copper plate inscribed: "Possession of the Rus-
sian Empire." The Juno had encountered terrific
storms. After three desperate attempts to reach
the mouth of the river, Rezanov had been forced to
relinquish the enterprise for the moment and hasten
with his diseased and almost useless crew to the
nearest port. It was true that the attempt could be
made again later, but Rezanov, sanguine of tem-
perament, was correspondingly depressed by failure
and disposed to regard it as an ill-omen.

An ambassador inspired by heaven could have
accomplished no more with the Japanese at that
mediaeval stage of their development than he had
done, and the most indomitable of men cannot yet
control the winds of heaven; but sovereigns are
rarely governed by logic, and frequently by the fav-
orite at hand. The privilege of writing personally
to the Tsar, in his case, meant more and less than
appeared on the surface. It was a measure to keep
the reports of the Company out of the hands of the
Admiralty College, its bitterest enemy, and always
jealous of the Civil Service. Nevertheless, Rezanov
knew that he had no immediate reason to apprehend
the loss of Alexander's friendship and esteem; and
if he placed the Company, in which all the imperial
family had bought shares, on a sounder basis than
ever before, and doubled its earnings by insuring the
health of its employees, he would meet, when in St.
Petersburg again, with practically no opposition to
his highest ambitions. These ambitions he delib-
erately kept in a fluid state for the present.
Whether he should aspire to great authority in the
government, or choose to rule with the absolute
powers of the Tsar himself these already vast pos-
sessions on the Pacific--to be extended indefinitely
--would be decided by events. All his inherited and
cultivated instincts yearned for the brilliant and
complex civilizations of Europe, but the new world
had taken a firm hold upon his humaner and
appealed more insidiously to his despotic. More-
over, Europe, torn up by that human earthquake,
Napoleon Bonaparte, must lose the greater half of
its sweetness and savor. All that, however, could
be determined upon his return to St. Petersburg in
the autumn.

But meanwhile he must succeed with these Cali-
fornians, or they might prove, toy soldiers as they
were, more perilous to his fortunes than enemies at
court. He could not afford another failure; and
news of this attempt and an exposition of all that
depended upon it were already on the road to the
capital of Russia.

He had known, of course, of the law that forbade
the Spanish colonies to trade with foreign ships,
but he had relied partly upon the use he could make
of the orders given by the Spanish King at the
request of the Tsar regarding the expedition under
Krusenstern, partly upon his own wit and address.
But although the royal order had insured him imme-
diate hospitality and saved him many wearisome
formalities, he had already discovered that the
Spanish on the far rim of their empire had lost
nothing of their connate suspicion. Rather, their
isolation made them the more wary. Although they
little appreciated the richness and variousness of
California's soil, and not at all this wonderful bay
that would accommodate the combined navies of the
world, pocketing several, the pious zeal of the clergy
in behalf of the Indians, and the general policy of
Spain to hold all of the western hemisphere that
disintegrating forces would permit, made her as
tenacious of this vast territory she had so sparsely
populated as had she been aware that its founda-
tions were of gold, conceived that its climate and
soil were a more enduring source of wealth than
ever she would command again. If Rezanov was
not gifted with the prospector's sense for ores--
although he had taken note of Arguello's casual ref-
erence to a vein of silver and lead in the Monterey
hills--no man ever more thoroughly appreciated the
visible resources of California than he. Baranhov,
chief-manager of the Company, had talked with
American and British skippers for twenty years, and
every item he had accumulated Rezanov had
extracted. To-day he had drawn further informa-
tion from Concha and her brothers; and their art-
less descriptions as well as this incomparable bay
had filled him with enthusiasm. What a gift to
Russia! What an achievement to his immortal
credit! The fog rolled in from the Pacific in great
white waves and stealthily enfolded him, obliterated
the sea and the land. But he did not see it. Appre-
hension left him. Once more he fell to dreaming.
In the course of a few years the Company would
attract a large population to the mouth of the
Columbia River, be strong enough to make use of
any favorable turn in European politics and sweep
down upon California. The geographical position
of Mexico, the arid and desolate, herbless and
waterless wastes intervening, would prohibit her
sending any considerable assistance overland; and,
all powerful at court by that time, he would take
care that the Russian navy inspired Spain with a
distaste for remote Pacific waters. He had long
since recovered from the disappointment induced
by the orders compelling him to remain in the col-
onies. The great Company he had heretofore re-
garded merely as a source of income and a means of
advancing his ambitions, he now loved as his child.
Even during the marches over frozen swamps and
mountains, during the terrible winter in Sitka when
he had become familiar with illness and even with
hunger, his ardor had grown, as well as his deter-
mination to force Russia into the front rank of
Commercial Europe. The United States he barely
considered. He respected the new country for
the independent spirit and military genius that
had routed so powerful a nation as Great Britain,
but he thought of her only as a new and tentative
civilization on the far shores of the Atlantic. After
some experience of travel in Siberia, and knowing
the immensity and primeval conditions of north-
western America, he did not think it probable that
the little cluster of states, barely able to walk alone,
would indulge in dreams of expansion for many
years to come. He had heard of the projected ex-
pedition of Lewis and Clarke to the mouth of the
Columbia, but--perhaps he was too Russian--he
did not take any adventure seriously that had not
a mighty nation at its back. And as it was almost
the half of a century from that night before the
American flag flew over the Custom House of Mon-
terey, there is reason to believe that Russian aggres-
sion under the leadership of so energetic and re-
sourceful a spirit as Nicolai Petrovich de Rezanov
was in a fair way to make history first in the New
Albion of Drake and the California of the incompe-
tent Spaniard.


The Russians were to call at the house of the Com-
mandante on their way to the Mission, and Concha
herself made the chocolate with which they were
to be detained for another hour. It was another spark-
ling morning, one of the few that came between
winter and summer, summer and winter, and made
even this bleak peninsula a land of enchantment be-
fore the cold winds took the sand hills up by their
foundations and drove them down to Yerba Buena,
submerging the battery and every green thing by
the way; or the great fogs rolled down from the
tule lands of the north and in from the sea, making
the shivering San Franciscan forget that not ten
miles away the sun was as prodigal as youth. For
a few weeks San Francisco had her springtime,
when the days were warm and the air of a wonder-
ful lightness and brightness, the atmosphere so clear
that the flowers might be seen on the islands, when
man walked with wings on his feet and a song in his
heart; when the past was done with, the future
mattered not, the present with its ever changing
hues on bay and hill, its cool electrical breezes stir-
ring imagination and pulse, was all in all.

And it was in San Francisco's springtime that
Concha Arguello made chocolate for the Russian
to whom she was to give a niche in the history of
her land; and sang at her task. She whirled the
molinillo in each cup as it was filled, whipping the
fragrant liquid to froth; pausing only to scold when
her servant stained one of the dainty saucers or
cups. Poor Rosa did not sing, although the spring
attuned her broken spirit to a gentler melancholy
than when the winds howled and the fog was cold
in her marrow. She had been sentenced by the last
Governor, the wise Borica, to eight years of domes-
tic servitude in the house of Don Jose Arguello for
abetting her lover in the murder of his wife. Con-
cha, thoughtless in many things, did what she could
to exorcise the terror and despair that stared from
the eyes of the Indian and puzzled her deeply. Rosa
adored her young mistress and exulted even when
Concha's voice rose in wrath; for was not she
noticed by the loveliest senorita in all the Cali-
fornias, while others, envious and spiteful to a poor
girl no worse than themselves, were ignored?

Concha's cheeks were as pink as the Castilian
roses that grew even before the kitchen door and
were quivering at the moment under the impas-
sioned carolling of a choir of larks. Her black eyes
were full of dancing lights, like the imprisoned sum-
flecks under the rose bush, and never had indolent
Spanish hands moved so quickly.

"Mira! Mira!" she cried to the luckless Rosa.
"That is the third time thou hast spilt the chocolate.
Thy hands are of wood when they should be of
air. A soft bit of linen to clean them, not that
coarse rag. Dios de mi alma! I shall send for

"For the love of Mary, senorita, have pity!"
wailed Rosa. "There--see--thanks to the Virgin I
have poured three cups without spilling a drop. And
this rag is of soft linen. Look, Dona Concha, is it
not true?"

"Bueno; take care thou leavest not one drop on
a saucer and I will forgive thee--do not kiss my
hand now, foolish one! How can I whirl the moli-
nillo? Be always good and I will burn a candle for
thee every time I go to the Mission. The Russians
go to the Mission this morning. Hast thou seen the
Russians, Rosa?"

"I have seen them, senorita. Did I not serve at
table yesterday?"

"True; I had forgotten. What didst thou think
of them?"

"What matters it to such great folk what a poor
Indian girl thinks of them? They are very fair,
which may be the fashion in their country; but I
am not accustomed to it; and I like not beards."

"His excellency wore no beard--he who sat on
my mother's right and opposite to me."

"He is very grand, senorita; more grand than the
Governor, who after all has red hair and is old. He
is even grander than Don Jose, whom may the
saints preserve; or than the padres at the mission.
Perhaps he is a king, like our King and natural
lord in spain. (El rey nuestro y senor natural.)
Is he a king, senorita?"

"No, but he should be. Rosa, thou mayest have
my red cloak that came from Mexico--last year.
I have a new one and that is too small. I had
intended to give it to Ana Paula, but thou art a
good girl and should have a gay mantle for Sunday,
like the other girls. I have also a red ribbon for
thy hair--"

Rosa spilt half the contents of the chocolate pot
on the floor and Concha gave her a sound box on
the ear. However, she did not dismiss her, a sen-
tence for which the trembling girl prepared herself.

"Make more--quickly!" cried the lady of caprice.
"They come. I hear them. But this is enough for
the first. Make the rest and beat with the molinillo
as I have done, and Malia will bring all to the cor-

She ran to her room and her mirror. Both were
small, the room little more luxurious than the cell
of a nun. But the roses hung over the window,
the birds had built in the eaves, and over the wall
the sun shone in. In one corner was an altar and
a crucifix. If the walls were rough and white,
they were spotless as the hands that shook out and
then twisted high the fine dusky masses of hair.
When a fold had been drawn over either ear, in
the modest fashion of the California maid and wife,
and the tall shell comb had fastened the rest, Con-
cha instead of finishing the headdress with her long
Spanish pins, divested the stems of two half-blown
roses of their thorns and thrust them obliquely
through the knot. Her dress was of simple white
linen made with a very full skirt and little round
jacket, but embroidered by her own deft fingers
with the color she loved best. She patted her frock,
rolled down her sleeves, and went out to the "corri-
dor" to stand demurely behind her mother as the
Russians, escorted by Father Ramon Abella, rode
into the square.

Rezanov had intended merely to pay a call of
ceremony upon the hospitable Arguellos, but after
he had dismounted and kissed the hands of the
smiling senora and her beautiful daughter he was
nothing loath to linger over a cup of chocolate.

It was served out there in the shade of the vines.
Rezanov and Concha sat on the railing, and the
man stared over his cup at the girl with the roses
touching her cheeks and ruffling her hair.

"Do you like chocolate, senor?" asked Concha,
who was not in the intellectual mood of yesterday.
"I made it myself--I and my poor Rosa."

"It is the most delectable foam I have ever tasted.
I am interested to know that it has the solid founda-
tion of a name. What is the matter with your

"She is an unfortunate. Her lover killed his
wife, and it is said that she is not innocent herself.
The lover serves in chains for eight years, and she
is with us that we may make her repent and keep
her from further sin. She is unhappy and will
marry the man when his punishment is over. I am
very sorry for her."

"Fancy you living close to a woman like that!
I find it detestable."

"Why?--if I can do her good--and make her
happy, sometimes?"

"Does she ever talk about her life--before she
came here?"

"Oh, no; she is far too sad. Once only, when I
told her I would pray for her in the Mission Church,
she asked me to burn a candle that her lover might
serve his sentence more quickly and come out and
marry her. Will you light one for her to-day,

"With the greatest pleasure; if you really want
your maid to marry a man who no doubt will mur-
der her for the sake of some other woman."

"Oh, surely not! He loves her. I know that
many men love more than once, but when they are
punished like that, they must remember."

"Is it true that you are only sixteen? Is that an
impertinent question? I cannot help it. Those
years are so few, and so much wisdom has gone
into that little head."

"Sixteen is quite old." Concha drew herself up
with an air of offended dignity. "Elena Castro,
who lives on the other side, is but eighteen and she
has three little ones. The Virgin brought them in
the night and left them in the big rosebush you see
before the door--one at a time, of course. Only
the old nurse knew; the Virgin whispered it while
she was saying a prayer for Elena; and early in the
morning she came and found the dear little baby
and put it in Elena's arms. I am the godmother of
the first--Conchitita. In Santa Barbara, where we
lived for some years, Anita Amanda Carillo, the
friend of Ana Paula, is married, although she is
but twelve and sits on the floor all day and plays
with her dolls. She prays every night to the Virgin
to bring her a real baby, but she is not old enough
to take care of it and must wait. Twelve is too
young to marry." Concha shook her head. Her
eyes were wise, and Rezanov noted anew that her
mouth alone was as young as her years. "My father
would not permit such a thing. I am glad he is not
anxious we should marry soon. I should love to
have the babies, though; they are so sweet to play
with and make little dresses for. But my mother
says the Virgin does not bring the little ones to
good girls--poor Rosa had one but it died--until
their parents find them a husband first. I have
never wanted a husband--" Concha darted a
swift glance over her shoulder, but Santiago was in
the clutches of the learned doctor and wishing that
he knew no Latin; "so I go every day and play with
Elena's babies, which is well enough."

Rezanov listened to this innocent revelation with
the utmost gravity, but for the first time in many
years he was conscious of a novel fascination in a
sex to which he had paid no niggard's tribute. In
his world the married woman reigned; it was doubt-
ful if he had ever had ten minutes' conversation
with a young girl before, never with one whose face
and form were as arresting as her crystal purity.
He was fascinated, but more than ever on his guard.
As he rode over the sand hills to the Mission she
clung fast to his thoughts and he speculated upon
the woman hidden away in the depths of that lovely
shell like the deep color within the tight Castilian
buds that opened so slowly. He recalled the per-
sonalities of the young officers that surrounded her.
They were charming fellows, gay, kindly, honest;
but he felt sure that not one of them was fit to hold
the cup of life to the exquisite young lips of Concha
Arguello. The very thought disposed him to twist
their necks.


The Mission San Francisco de Assisi stood at the
head of a great valley about a league from the
Presidio and facing the eastern hills. Behind it,
yet not too close, for the priests were ever on their
guard against Indians more lustful of loot than sal-
vation, was a long irregular chain of hills, break-
ing into twin peaks on its highest ridge, with a
lone mountain outstanding. It was an imposing
but forbidding mass, as steep and bare as the walls
of a fortress; but in the distance, north and south,
as the range curved in a tapering arc that gave
the valley the appearance of a colossal stadium,
the outlines were soft in a haze of pale color. The
sheltered valley between the western heights and
the sand hills far down the bay where it turned to
the south, was green with wheat fields, and a small
herd of cattle grazed on the lower slopes. The
beauty of this superbly proportioned valley was
further enhanced by groves of oaks and bay trees,
and by a lagoon, communicating with an arm of the
bay, which the priests had named for their Lady
of Sorrows--Nuestra Senora de los Dolores. The
little sheet of water was almost round, very green
and set in a thicket of willows that were green, too,
in the springtime, and golden in summer. Near
its banks, or closer to the protecting Mission--on
whose land grant they were built--were the com-
fortable adobe homes of the few Spanish pioneers
that preferred the bracing north to the monotonous
warmth of the south. Some of these houses were
long and rambling, others built about a court; all
were surrounded by a high wall, enclosing a gar-
den where the Castilian roses grew even more lux-
uriantly than at the Presidio. The walls, like the
houses, were white, and on those of Don Juan
Moraga, a cousin of Dona Ignacia Arguello, the
roses had been trained to form a border along the
top in a fashion that reminded Rezanov of the pink
edged walls of Fiesole.

The white red-tiled church and the long line of
rooms adjoining were built of adobe with no effort
at grandeur, but with a certain noble simplicity of
outline that harmonized not only with the lofty re-
serve of the hills but with the innocent hope of creat-
ing a soul in the lowest of human bipeds. The
Indians of San Francisco were as immedicable as
they were hideous; but the fathers belabored them
with sticks and heaven with prayer, and had so far
succeeded that if as yet they had sown piety no
higher than the knees, they had trained some twelve
hundred pairs of hands to useful service.

On the right was a graveyard, with little in it as
yet but rose trees; behind the church and the many
spacious rooms built for the consolation of virtue
in the wilderness was a large building surrounding
a court. Girls and young widows occupied the cells
on the north side, and the work rooms on the east,
while the youths, under the sharp eye of a lay
brother, were opposite. All lived a life of unwill-
ing industry: cleaning and combing wool, spinning,
weaving, manufacturing chocolate, grinding corn
between stones, making shoes, fashioning the simple
garments worn by priest and Indian. Between the
main group of buildings and the natural rampart
of the "San Bruno Mountains" was the Rancheria,
where the Indian families lived in eight long rows
of isolated huts.

In spite of vigilance an Indian escaped now and
again to the mountains, where he could lie naked in
the sun and curse the fetich of civilization. As the
Russians approached, a friar, with deer-skin armor
over his cassock, was tugging at a recalcitrant mule,
while a body-guard of four Indians stood ready to
attend him down the coast in search of an enviable
brother. The mule, as if in sympathy with the
fugitive, had planted his four feet in the earth and

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