Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Rezanov, by Gertrude Atherton

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

lifted his voice in derision, while the young friar, a
recruit at the Mission, and far from enamored of
his task, strained at the rope, and an Indian pelted
the hindquarters with stones. Suddenly, the mule
flung out his heels, the enemy in the rear sprawled,
the rope flew loose, the beast with a loud bray fled
toward the willows of Dolores. But the young
priest was both agile and angry. With a flying leap
he reached the heaving back. The mule acknowl-
edged himself conquered. The body-guard trotted
on their own feet, and the party disappeared round
a bend of the hills.

Rezanov laughed heartily and even the glum vis-
age of Father Abella relaxed.

"It is a common sight, Excellency," he said. "We
are thankful to have a younger friar for such
fatiguing work. Many a time have I belabored
stubborn mules and bestrode bucking mustangs
while searching for one of these ungrateful but no
doubt chosen creatures. It is the will of God, and
we make no complaint; but we are very willing,
Father Landaeta and I, that youth should cool its
ardor in so certain a fashion while we attend to the
more reasonable duties at home."

They were dismounted at the door of the church.
The horses were led off by waiting Indians. The
soldiers on guard saluted and stepped aside, and
the party entered. Two priests in handsome vest-
ments stood before the altar, but the long dim nave
was empty. The Russians had been told that a
mass would be said in their honor, and they
marched down the church and bent their knees
with as much ceremony as had they been of the
faith of their hosts. When the short mass was
over, Rezanov bethought himself of Concha's re-
quest, and whispering its purport to Father Abella
was led to a double iron hoop stuck with tallow dips
in various stages of petition. Rezanov lit a candle
and fastened it in an empty socket. Then with a
whimsical twist of his mouth he lit and adjusted

"No doubt she has some fervent wish, like all
children," he thought apologetically. "And whether
this will help her to realize it or not, at least it will
be interesting to watch her eyes--and mouth--
when I tell her. Will she melt, or flash, or receive
my offering at her shrine as a matter of course?
I'll surprise her to-night in the middle of a dance."

He deposited a gold piece among the candles on
the table and followed Father Abella through a side
door. A corridor ran behind the long line of rooms
designed not only for priests but for travellers al-
ways sure of a welcome at these hospitable Mis-
sions. Father Abella shuffled ahead, halted on the
threshold of a large room, and ceremoniously in-
vited his guests to enter. Two other priests stood
before a table set with wine and delicate confec-
tions, their hands concealed in their wide brown
sleeves, but their unmatched physiognomies--the one
lean and jovial, the other plump and resigned--
alight with the same smile of welcome. Father
Abella mentioned them as his coadjutor Father
Martin Landaeta, and their guest Father Jose Uria
of San Jose; and then the three, with the scant rites
of genuine hospitality, applied themselves to the tick-
ling of palates long unused to ambrosial living. Re-
sponding ingenuously to the glow of their home-
made wines, they begged Rezanov to accept the Mis-
sion, burn it, plunder it, above all, to plan his own

"I hope that I am to see every detail of your great
work," replied the diplomatic guest of honor. "But
at your own leisure. Meanwhile, I beg that you
will order one of your Indians to bring in the little
presents I venture to offer as a token of my respect.
You may have heard that the presents of his Im-
perial Majesty were refused by the Mikado of
Japan. I reserved many of them for possible use in
our own possessions, particularly a piece of cloth of
gold. This I had intended for our church at New
Archangel, but finding the priests there more in
need of punishment than reward, I concluded to
bring it here and offer it as a manifest of my ad-
miration for what the great Franciscan Order of
the Most Holy Church of Rome has accomplished
in the Californias. Have I been too presump-

The priests all wore the eager expressions of chil-

"Could we not see them first?" asked Father Lan-
daeta of his superior; and Father Abella sent a ser-
vant with an order to unload the horse and bring in
the presents.

Not a vestige of reserve lingered. Priests and
guests sat about the table eating and drinking and
chatting as were they old friends reunited, and
Rezanov extracted much of the information he de-
sired. The white population--"gente de razon"--
of Alta California, the peculiar province of the
Franciscans--the Jesuits having been the first to
invade Baja California, and with little success--
numbered about two thousand, the Christianized
Indians about twenty thousand. There were nine-
teen Missions and four Presidial districts--San
Diego, close to the border of Baja California, Santa
Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. Each Mis-
sion had an immense grant of land, or rancho--
generally fifteen miles square--for the raising of
live stock, agricultural necessities, and the grape.
At the Presidio of San Francisco there were some
seventy men, including invalids; and the number
varied little at the other military centres, Rezanov
inferred, although there was a natural effort to im-
press the foreigner with the casual inferiority of
the armed force within his ken. Cattle and horses
increased so rapidly that every few years there was
a wholesale slaughter, although the agricultural
yield was enormous. What the Missions were un-
able to manufacture was sent them from Mexico,
and disposed of the small salaries of the priests;
the "Pious Fund of California" in the city of
Mexico being systematically embezzled. The first
Presidio and Mission were founded at San Diego
in July of 1769; the last at San Francisco in Sep-
tember and October of 1776.

Rezanov's polite interest in the virgin country
was cut short by the entrance of two Indians carry-
ing heavy bundles, which they opened upon the floor
without further delay.

The cloth of gold was magnificent, and the padres
handled it as rapturously as had their souls and fin-
gers been of the sex symbolized while exalted by the
essence of maternity, in whose service it would be
anointed. Rezanov looked on with an amused
sigh, yet conscious of being more comprehending
and sympathetic than if he had journeyed straight
from Europe to California. It was not the first time
he had felt a passing gratitude for his uncomfort-
able but illuminating sojourn so close to the springs
of nature.

The priests were as well pleased with the pieces
of fine English cloth; and as their own homespun
robes rasped like hair shirts, they silently but uni-
formly congratulated themselves that the color was

Father Abella turned to Rezanov, his saturnine
features relaxed.

"We are deeply grateful to your excellency, and
our prayers shall follow you always. Never have
we received presents so timely and so magnificent.
And be sure we shall not forget the brave officers
that have brought you safely to our distant shores,
nor the distinguished scholar who guards your ex-
cellency's health." He turned to Langsdorff and
repeated himself in Latin. The naturalist, whose
sharp nose was always lifted as if in protest against
oversight and ready to pounce upon and penetrate
the least of mysteries, bowed with his hand on his
heart, and translated for the benefit of the officers.

"Humph!" said Davidov in Russian. "Much the
Chamberlain will care for the prayers of the Cath-
olic Church if he has to go home with his cargo.
But he has a fine opportunity here for the display
of his diplomatic talents. I fancy they will avail him
more than they did at Nagasaki--where I am told
he swore more than once when he should have kow-
towed and grinned."

"I shouldn't like to see him grin," replied Khos-
tov, as they finally started for the outbuildings. "If
he could go as far as that he would be the most
terrible man living. Were it not for the fire in him
that melts the iron just so often he would be crafty
and cruel instead of subtle and firm. He is a for-
tunate man! There were many fairies at his cradle!
I have always envied him, and now he is going to
win that beautiful Dona Concha. She will look at
none of us."

"We will doubtless meet others as beautiful at
the ball to-night," said Davidov philosophically.
"You are not in love with a girl who has barely
spoken to you, I suppose."

"She had almost given me a rose this morning,
when Rezanov, who was flattering the good Dona
Ignacia with a moment of his attention, turned too
soon. I might have been air. She looked straight
through me. Such eyes! Such teeth! Such a form!
She is the most enchanting girl I have ever seen.
And he will monopolize her without troubling to
notice whether we even admire her or not. Pray
heaven he does not break her heart."

"He is honorable. One must admit that, if he
does fancy his own will was a personal gift from
the Almighty. Perhaps she will break his. I never
saw a more accomplished flirt."

"I know women," replied the shrewder Khos-
tov. When men like Rezanov make an effort to
please--" He shrugged his shoulders. "Some
men are the offspring of Mars and Venus and most
of us are not. We can at least be philosophers.
Let us hope the dinner will be excellent."


It proved to be the most delicate and savory repast
that had excited their appetites this side of Europe.
The friars had their consolations, and even Dona
Ignacia Arguello was less gastronomic than Father
Landaeta. Rezanov, whose epicurianism had sur-
vived a year of dried fish and the coarse luxuries
of his managers, suddenly saw all life in the light of
the humorist, and told so many amusing versions of
his adventures in the wilderness, and even of his
misadventure with Japan, that the priests choked
over their wine, and Langsdorff, who had not a
grain of humor, swelled with pride in his chance
relationship to a man who seemed able to manip-
ulate every string in the human network.

"He will succeed," he said to Davidov. "He will
succeed. I almost hoped he would not, he is so in-
different--I might almost say so hostile--to my
own scientific adventures. But when he is in this
mood, when those cold eyes brim with laughter and
ordinary humanity, I am nothing better than his

Rezanov, in reply to an entreaty from Father
Uria to tell them more of his mission and of the
strange picture-book country they had never hoped
to hear of at first hand, assumed a tone of great
frankness and intimacy. "We were, with astound-
ing cleverness, treated from the first like an audi-
ence in a new theatre. After we had solemnly been
towed by a string of boats to anchor, under the
Papen mountains, all Nagasaki appeared to turn
out, men, women and children. Thousands of little
boats, decorated with flags by day and colored lan-
terns by night, and filled with people in gala attire,
swarmed about us, gazed at us through telescopes,
were so thick on the bay one could have traversed
it on foot. The imperial sailors were distinguished
by their uniforms of a large blue and white check,
suggesting the pinafores of a brobdingnagian baby.
The barges of the imperial princes were covered
with blue and white awnings and towed to the sound
of kettledrums and the loud measured cries of the
boatmen. At night the thousands of illuminated
lanterns, of every color and shade, the waving of
fans, the incessant chattering, and the more har-
monious noise that rose unceasingly above, made up
a scene as brilliant as it was juvenile and absurd.
In the daytime it was more interesting, with the
background of hills cultivated to their crests in the
form of terraces, varied with rice fields, hamlets,
groves, and paper villas encircled with little gardens
as glowing and various of color as the night lan-
terns. When, at last, I was graciously permitted to
have a residence on a point of land called Megasaki,
I was conveyed thither in the pleasure barge of the
Prince of Fisi. There was place for sixty oarsmen,
but as one of the few tokens of respect, I was en-
abled to record for the comfort of the mighty sov-
ereign whose representative I was, the barge was
towed by a long line of boats, decorated with flags,
the voices of the rowers rising and falling in meas-
ured cadence as they announced to all Japan the
honor about to be conferred upon her. I sat on a
chair of state in the central compartment of the
barge, and quite alone; my suite standing on a
raised deck beyond. Before me on a table, mar-
vellously inlaid, were my credentials. I was sur-
rounded by curtains of sky-blue silk and panels of
polished lacquer inwrought with the Imperial arms
in gold. The awning of blue and white silk was
lined with a delicate and beautiful tapestry, and the
reverse sides of the silken partitions were of canvas
painted by the masters of the country. The pol-
ished floor was covered by a magnificent carpet
woven with alarming dragons whose jaws pointed
directly at my chair of state. And such an escort
and such a reception, both of ceremony and of
curiosity, no Russian had ever boasted before.
Flags waved, kettledrums beat, fans were flung into
my very lap to autograph. The bay, the hills, were
a blaze of color and a confusion of sound. The
barracks were hung with tapestries and gay silks. I,
with my arms folded and in full uniform, my fea-
tures composed to the impassivity of one of their
own wooden gods, was the central figure of this
magnificent farce; and it may be placed to the ever-
lasting credit of the discipline of courts that not
one of my staff smiled. They stood with their arms
folded and their eyes on the inlaid devices at their

"When this first act was over and I was locked
in for the night and felt myself able to kick my way
through the flimsy walls, yet as completely a pris-
oner as if they had been of stone, I will confess
that I fell into a most undiplomatical rage; and
when I found myself played with from month to
month by a people I scorned as a grotesque mix-
ture of barbarian and mannikin, I was alternately
infuriated, and consumed with laughter at the van-
ity of men and nations."

His voice dropped from its light ironical note,
and became harsh and abrupt with reminiscent dis-
gust. "And the end of it all was failure. The
superb presents of the Tsar were rejected. These
presents: coats of black fox and ermine, vases of
fossil ivory and of marble, muskets, pistols, sabers,
magnificent lustres, table services of crystal and
porcelain, tapestries and carpets, immense mirrors,
a clock in the form of an elephant, and set with
precious stones, a portrait of the Tsar by Madame
le Brun, damasks, furs, velvets, printed cotton,
cloths, brocades of gold and silver, microscopes,
gold and silver watches, a complete electrical ma-
chine--presents in all, of the value of three hundred
thousand roubles, were returned with scant cere-
mony to the Nadeshda and I was politely told to

"But the mortification was the least of my wor-
ries. The object of the embassy was to establish not
only good will and friendship between Russia and
Japan, for which we cared little, but commercial
intercourse between this fertile country and our
northeastern and barren possessions. It would have
been greatly to the advantage of the Japanese, and
God knows it would have meant much to us."

Then Rezanov having tickled the imaginations
and delighted the curiosity of the priests, began to
play upon their heartstrings. His own voice
vibrated as he related the sufferings of the servants
of the Company, and while avoiding the nomen-
clature and details of their bodily afflictions, gave
so thrilling a hint of their terrible condition that his
audience gasped with sympathy while experiencing
no qualms in their own more fortunate stomachs.

He led their disarmed understandings as far
down the vale of tears as he deemed wise, then per-
mitted himself a magnificent burst of spontaneity.

"I must tell you the object of my mission to
California, my kind friends!" he cried, "although I
beg you will not betray me to the other powers until
I think it wise to speak myself. But I must have
your sympathy and advice. It has long been my
desire to establish relations between Russia and
Spain that should be of mutual benefit to the col-
onies of both in this part of the western hemis-
phere. I have told you of the horrible condition
and needs of my men. They must have a share in
the superfluities of this most prodigal land. But I
make no appeal to your mercy. Trade is not
founded on charity. You well know we have much
you are in daily need of. There should be a bi-
yearly interchange." He paused and looked from
one staring face to the other. He had been wise
in his appeal. They were deeply gratified at being
taken into his confidence and virtually asked to out-
wit the military authorities they detested.

Rezanov continued:

"I have brought the Juno heavy laden, my
fathers, and for the deliberate purpose of barter.
She is full of Russian and Boston goods. I shall
do my utmost to persuade your Governor to give
me of his corn and other farinaceous foods in ex-
change. It may be against your laws, and I am well
aware that for the treaty I must wait, but I beg
you in the name of humanity to point out to his ex-
cellency a way in which he can at the same time
relieve our necessities and placate his conscience."

"We will! We will!" cried Father Abella.
"Would that you had come in the disguise of a
common sea-captain, for we have hoodwinked the
commandantes more than once. But aside from the
suspicion and distrust in which Spain holds Russia
--with so distinguished a visitor as your excellency,
it would be impossible to traffic undetected. But
there must be a way out. There shall be! And will
your excellency kindly let us see the cargo? I am
sure there is much we sadly need: cloth, linen, cot-
ton, boots, shoes, casks, bottles, glasses, plates,
shears, axes, implements of husbandry, saws, sheep-
shears, iron wares--have you any of these things,

"All and more. Will you come to-morrow?"

"We will! and one way or another they shall be
ours and you shall have breadstuffs for your pitiable
subjects. We have as much need of Europe as you
can have of California, for Mexico is dilatory and
often disregards our orders altogether. One way
or another--we have your promise, Excellency?"

"I shall not leave California without accomplish-
ing what I came for," said Rezanov.


Concha boxed Rosa's ears twice while being
dressed for the ball that evening. It was true that
excitement had reigned throughout the Presidio all
day, for never had a ball been so hastily planned.
Don Luis had demurred when Concha proposed it
at breakfast; officially to entertain strangers not yet
officially received exceeded his authority. Concha,
waxing stubborn with opposition, vowed that she
would give the ball herself if he did not. Business
immediately afterward took the Commandante ad.
in. down to the Battery at Yerba Buena. Before
he left he gave orders that the large hall in the bar-
racks, where balls usually were held, should be
locked and the key given up to no one but himself.
He returned in the afternoon to find that Concha
had outwitted him. The sala of the Commandante's
house was very large. The furniture had been re-
moved and the walls hung with flags, those of
Spain on three sides, the Russian, borrowed by San-
tiago from the ship, at the head of the room. Con-
cha laughed gaily as Luis stormed about the sala
rasping his spurs on the bare floor.

"Whitewashed walls for guests from St. Peters-
burg!" she jeered, as Luis menaced the flags. "We
have little enough to offer. Besides--what more
wise than to flaunt our flag in the face of the Rus-
sian bear? Their flag, of course, is a mere idle
compliment. Let me tell you two things, Luis mio:
this morning I invited the Russians to dance to-
night, and told Padre Abella to ask all our neigh-
bors of the Mission besides; and Rafaella Sal
helped me to drape every one of those flags.
When I told her you might tear them down, she
vowed that if you did she would dance all night
with the Bostonian."

Luis lifted his shoulders and mustache to express
an attitude of contemptuous resignation, but his face
darkened, and a moment later he left the room and
strolled up the square to the grating of Rafaella Sal.

Concha well knew that the frank gray eyes of the
Bostonian--all citizens of the United States were
Bostonians in that part of the world, for only Bos-
ton skippers had the enterprise to venture so far--
were for no one but herself. But his face was
bony and freckled, and his figure less in height and
vigor than her own. He was rich and well-born,
but shy and very modest. Concha Arguello, La
Favorita of California, was for some such dashing
caballero as Don Antonio Castro of Monterey, or
Ignacio Sal, the most adventurous rider of the
north. Meanwhile he could look at her and adore
her in secret, and Dona Rafaella Sal was very kind
and danced as well as himself. He never dreamed
that he was being used as a stalking horse to keep
alive in the best match in the Californias the jealous
desire for exclusive possession that had animated
him in 1800 when he had applied through the Vice-
roy of Mexico for royal consent to his marriage
with the Favorita of her year. That was six years
ago and never a word had come from Madrid. Luis
was faithful, but men were men, and girls grew
older every day. So the wise Rafaella was alter-
nately indifferent and alluring, the object of more
admiration than a maid could always repel, yet with
wells of sentiment that only one man could dis-
cover. And the American was patient, and even
had he known, would not in the least have minded
the use she made of him. He still could look at
Concha Arguello.

William Sturgis had sailed in one of his father's
ships, now six years ago, from Boston in search of
health. The ship in a dense fog had gone on the
rocks in the straits between the Farallones and
the Bay of San Francisco. He alone, and after
long hours of struggle with the wicked currents,
not even knowing in what direction land might be,
was flung, senseless, on the shore below the Fort.
For the next month he was an invalid in the house
of the Commandante. Fortunately, his papers and
money were sewn in an oilskin belt and his father's
name was well known in California. Moreover,
there never was a more likable youth. His illness
interested all the matrons and maids of the Presidio
in his fate; when he recovered, his good dancing
and unselfishness gave him a permanent place in the
regard of the women, while his entire absence of
beauty, and his ability to hold his own in the mess
room, established his position with the men.

In due course word of his plight reached Boston,
and a ship was immediately despatched, not only to
bring the castaway home, but with the fine ward-
robe necessary to a young gentleman of his station.
But the same ship brought word of his father's
death--his mother had gone long since--and as
there were brothers enamored of the business he
hated, he decided to remain in the country that had
won his heart and given him health. For some time
there was demur on the part of the authorities;
Spain welcomed no foreigners in her colonies.
But Sturgis swore a mighty oath that he would
never despatch a letter uninspected by the Com-
mandante, that he would make no excursions into
the heart of the country, that he would neither en-
gage in traffic nor interfere in politics. Then hav-
ing already won the affections of the Governor, he
was permitted to remain, even to rent an acre of
land from the Church in the sheltered Mission val-
ley, and build himself a house. Here he raised
fruit and vegetables for his own hospitable table,
chickens and game cocks. Books and other lux-
uries came by every ship from Boston; until for a
long interval ships came no more. One of these
days, when the power of the priests had abated, and
the jealousy which would keep all Californians land-
less but themselves was counterbalanced by a great
increase in population, he meant to have a ranch
down in the south where the sun shone all the year
round and he could ride half the day with his
vaqueros after the finest cattle in the country. He
should never marry because he could not marry
Concha Arguello, but he could think of her, see her
sometimes; and in a land where a man was neither
frozen in winter nor grilled in summer, where life
could be led in the open, and the tendency was to
idle and dream, domestic happiness called on a
feebler note than in less equable climes. In his
heart he was desperately jealous of Concha's fav-
ored cavaliers, but it was a jealousy without hatred,
and his kind, earnest, often humorous eyes, were
always assuring his lady of an imperishable desire
to serve her without reward. Of course Concha
treated him with as little consideration as so humble
a swain deserved; but in her heart she liked him bet-
ter than either Castro or Sal, for he talked to her
of something besides rodeos and balls, racing and
cock-fights; he had taught her English and lent her
many books. Moreover, he neither sighed nor lan-
guished, nor ever had sung at her grating. But
she regarded him merely as an intelligence, a well
of refreshment in her stagnant life, never as a man.

"Rose," she said, as she caught her hair into a
high golden comb that had been worn in Spain by
many a beauty of the house of Moraga, and spiked
the knot with two long pins globed at the end with
gold, while the maid fastened her slippers and
smoothed the pink silk stockings over the thin in-
step above; "what is a lover like? Is it like meet-
ing one of the saints of heaven?"

"No, senorita."

"Like what, then?"

"Like--like nothing but himself, senorita. You
would not have him otherwise."

"Oh, stupid one! Hast thou no imagination?
Fancy any man being well enough as he is! For
instance, there is Don Antonio, who is so hand-
some and fiery, and Don Ignacio, who can sing and
dance and ride as no one else in all the Californias,
and Don Weeliam Sturgis, who is very clever and
true. If I could roll them into one--a tamale of
corn and chicken and peppers--there would be a
man almost to my liking. But even then--not
quite. And one man--what nonsense! I have too
much color to-night, Rosa."

"No, senorita, you have never been so beautiful.
When the lover comes and you love him, senorita,
you will think him greater than our natural king
and lord, and all other men poor Indians."

"But how shall I know?"

"Your heart will tell you, senorita."

"My heart? My father and my mother will
choose for me a husband whom I shall love as all
other women love their husbands--just enough and
no more. Then--I suppose--I shall never know?"

"Would you marry at your parents' bidding, like
a child, senorita? I do not think you would."

Concha looked at the girl in astonishment, but
with a greater astonishment she suddenly realized
that she would not. Even her little fingers stiffened
in a rush of personality, of passionate resentment
against the shackles bound by the ages about the
feminine ego. Her individuality, long budding,
burst into flower; her eyes gazed far beyond her
radiant image in the mirror with a look of terrified
but dauntless insight; then moved slowly to the girl
that sat weeping on the floor.

"I know not what thy sin was," she said musingly.
"But I have heard it said thou didst obey no law
but thine own will--and his. Why should the pun-
ishment have been so terrible? Thou hast sworn to
me thou didst not help to murder the woman."

"I cannot tell you, senorita. You will never
know anything of sin; but of love--yes, I think you
will know that, and before very long."

"Before long?" Concha's lips parted and the ner-
vous color she had deprecated left her cheeks.
"What meanest thou, Rosa?" Her voice rose

And the Indian, with the insight of her own
tragedy, replied: "The Russian has come for you,
senorita. You will go with him, far away to the
north and the snow. These others never could win
your heart; but this man who looks like a king, and
as if many women had loved him, and he had cared
little-- Oh, senorita, Carlos was only a poor In-
dian, but the men that women love all have some-
thing that makes them brothers--the Great Rus-
sian and the poor man who goes mad for a moment
and kills one woman that he may live with another
forever. The great Russian is free, but he is the
same, senorita--he too could kill for love, and such
are the men we women die for!"

Concha, ambitious and romantic, eager for the
brilliant life the advent of this Russian nobleman
seemed to herald, had assured Santiago that he
would love her; but they had been the empty words
of the Favorita of many conquests; of love and pas-
sion she had known, suspected, nothing. As she
watched Rosa, huddled and convulsed, little pointed
arrows flew into her brain. Girls in those old Span-
ish days went to the altar with a serene faith in
miracles, and it was a matter of honor among those
that preceded their friends to abet the parents in a
custom which assuredly did not err on the side of
ugliness. Concha had a larger vocabulary than
other Californians of her sex, for she had read
many books, and if never a novel, she knew some-
thing of poetry. Sturgis had filled the sala with
the sonorous roll of his favorite masters and it had
pleased her ear; but the language of passion had
been so many beautiful words, neither vibrating nor
lingering in her consciousness. But the rude expres-
sion of the miserable woman at her feet, whose
sobs grew more uncontrollable every moment, made
it forever impossible that she should prattle again
as she had to Santiago and Rezanov in the last day
and night; and although she felt as if straining her
eyes in the dark, her cheeks burned once more, and
she rose uneasily and walked to the window.

She returned in a moment and stood over Rosa,
but her voice when she spoke had lost its hoarseness
and was cold and irritated.

"Control thyself," she said. "And go and bathe
thine eyes. Wouldst look like a tomato when it is
time to pass the dulces and wines? And think no
more of thy lover until he can come out of prison
and marry thee." She drew herself away as the
woman attempted to clutch her skirts. "Go," she
said. "The musicians are tuning."


"The sash, Excellency?" Jon longed to see his
master in full regalia once more, and after all, was
not this an embassy of a sort? But Rezanov, who
already regarded his reflection with some humor,
shook his head.

"I'll go as far as decency permits, for no one is
so impressed by external magnificence as the Span-
iard. But full dress uniform and orders are enough;
an ambassador's sash and they might suspect I took
them for the children they are. Children are not
always fools. My stock is too tight. Remember
that I am to dance, and am too tall for most wom-
men's pretty little ears. And I doubt if an ear is
less thirsty for being so provocatively screened."

Jon, a "prince" whose family had fallen upon evil
days long since, but whose thin, clever fingers were
no mean inheritance, unwound and readjusted the
folds of soft batiste, that most becoming neck ves-
ture man has ever worn. He fain would have
pressed the matter of the sash, but Rezanov, most
indulgent of masters to this devoted servant, was
never patient of insistence. Jon also regretted the
powdered wig and queue, which he privately thought
more befitting a fine gentleman than his own hair,
even though the latter were thick and bright. He
said tentatively:

"I notice these Californians still wear the hair
long; and with their gay ribbons and showy hats
look much better no doubt than if they followed a
fashion of which it would seem they had not heard
--and perhaps do not admire. I ventured to pack
two of your excellency's wigs when we were leav-
ing St. Petersburg--"

"Good heavens, no!" cried Rezanov, rising to his
feet and casting a last impatient glance at the mir-
ror. "When a man has escaped from a furnace
does he run back of his own accord? My brain
would cook under a wig in this climate, and I need
all my wits--for more reasons than one." And he
went up on deck.

There, while awaiting his horses and escort, he
had another glimpse of the happy Arcadian life of
the Californians. Over the sand hills through
which he had floundered twice that day rode young
men in gala attire, a maiden, her attire as brilliant
as the sunset along the western summits, on the
saddle before them. These saddles were heavy with
silver, the blanket beneath was embroidered with
both silver and gold. Gay light laughter floated out
on the cool evening breeze to the little ship in the

"It has been a good day," thought Rezanov, low-
ering his glass. "It is like her to arrange so charm-
ing a finale."

When he arrived at the Presidio the guitars were
tinkling and the sala was full of eager and somber
faces. The Californians had come early, deter-
mined to witness the arrival of the Russians. Very
pretty most of the girls were, and by no means a
bevy of brunettes. There was hair of every shade
of brown, looped over the ears, drawn high and
confined by the high comb and the long pins; and
Rafaella Sal, with her red hair and gray eyes, was
still celebrated as a beauty, although no longer in
her first youth--she was twenty-two, and should
have been a matron and mother long since! But
she looked very handsome and coquettish in her
daring yellow frock that no other red head would
have dared to wear, and she displayed three ropes
of Baja California pearls; one strand being the com-
mon possession. The matrons, young and old, wore
heavy satins or brocades, either red or yellow, but
the maids were in flowered silks, sometimes with
coquettish little jacket, generally with long pointed
bodice and full flowing skirt. Concha's frock was
made in this fashion, but quite different otherwise;
an aunt in the City of Mexico being mindful at
whiles of the cravings of relatives in exile. It was
of a soft shimmering white stuff covered with gold
spangles and cut to reveal her young neck and arms.
She stood at the head of the room with her mother
as Rezanov entered, and he noticed for the first
time how tall she was. She held herself proudly;
mischievous twinkle, nor child-like trust, nor flashing
coquetry possessed her eyes; these, even more star-
like than usual, nevertheless looked upon her guests
with a dignified composure. Her lips, her skin,
were luminous. In this well-cut evening gown he
saw that her figure was superb; and that she could
command stateliness as well as vivacity moved her
toward a pedestal in his regard that had been occu-
pied by few and never for long.

Rezanov, in his splendid uniform and blazing
orders, filled the sala with his presence as he walked
past the rows of bright critical eyes toward his
hostesses. The young lips of the maids parted with
delight and the men frowned. For the first time
William Sturgis felt the sickness of jealousy instead
of its not unagreeable pain. Davidov and Khostov,
both handsome and well-bred young men, were also
in full naval uniform, and by no means ignored;
while Langsdorff, in the severe black of the scholar,
was an admirable foil.

Rezanov, wondering at the subtle change in
Concha, bowed ceremoniously and murmured:
"You will give me the first dance, senorita?"

"Certainly, Excellency. Are you not the guest
of honor?"

She motioned to the Indian musicians, fiddles
and guitars fairly leaped to position, and in a mo-
ment Rezanov enjoyed the novel delusion of en-
circling a girl's floating wraith.

"We can waltz, you see! Are you not sur-

"It is but one accomplishment the more. I feared
a preference for your native dances, but ventured
to hope you would teach me."

"They are easy to learn. You will watch us
dance the contra-danza after this."

"With whom do you dance it?"

Her black eyelashes were very thick; he barely
caught the glance she shot him.

"The Russian bear growls," she said lightly.
"Did you expect to dance every dance with me?"

"I came for no other purpose."

"You would have several duels to fight to-mor-

"I have no objection."

"You have fought others, then?" Her voice was
the softer with the effort to turn its edge.

"No more than most men, I suppose. May I ask
how many have been fought for you?"

"My memory is no better than yours. Why
should I burden it with trifles?"

"True. It doubtless is charged with matters far
more serious than the desires of mere men. Tell
me, senorita, what is your dearest wish?" He had
bent his head and fixed his powerful gaze on her
stubborn lashes. As he hoped, she raised startled
eyes in which an angry glitter dawned.

"My dearest wish? If I had one should I tell
you? Why do you ask me such a question?"

"Because I lit a candle at the Mission to-day that
you might realize it," he answered, smiling.

To his surprise he saw a flash of terror in her
eyes before she dropped them, and felt her shiver.
But she answered coldly:

"You have wasted a candle, senor. I have never
had a wish that was not instantly gratified. But I
thank you for the kind thought. Will you finish
this waltz with my friend, and the fiancee of Luis,
Rafaella Sal? She has quarrelled with Luis, I see;
Don Weeliam is dancing with Carolina Xime'no, and
she cares to waltz with no one else. Pardon me if
I say that no one has ever waltzed as well as your
excellency, and I must not be selfish."

"I will release you if you are tired, but otherwise
I shall do myself the honor to waltz with your
friend later."

"I must look after my other guests," she said
coldly; and he was led with what grace he could
summon to the fair but sulky Rafaella.

"How am I to help flirting with that girl?" he
thought as he mechanically guided another light and
graceful partner through the crowded room. "If
she were one girl I might resist. But since eleven
o'clock yesterday morning she has been three. And
if she was twenty yesterday, twelve this morning,
she is twenty-eight to-night, and this might be a
court ball in Madrid. I shall leave the day after I
bring the Governor to terms."

He sat beside Dona Ignacia during the contra-
danza and found the scene remarkably brilliant and
animated considering the primitive conditions. In
addition to the bright flags on the wall and the vivid
colors of the women, the officers of the Presidio and
forts wore full dress uniform, either white coats
with red velvet vest, red pantaloons and sash, or
white trousers and scarlet coat and waistcoat faced
with green. The young men from the Mission wore
small clothes of a black silk, fastened at the knee
with silver buckles, and white silk stockings; two
gentlemen from Monterey wore the evening costume
of the capital, dove-colored small clothes, with white
silk waistcoat and stockings, and much fine lawn
and lace. The room was well lighted by many
wicks stuck in lumps of tallow. The Indian musi-
cians, soldiers recruited from a superior tribe in
the Santa Clara valley, were clad almost entirely
in scarlet, and danced sometimes as they played;
and Indian girls, in short red skirts and snow-white
smocks open at the throat, their long hair decorated
with flowers and ribbons, already passed about wine
and dulces. The windows were open. The sweet
night air blew in.

The contra-danza was not unlike the square
dances of England except that it was far more
graceful, and the men rivalled the women in their
supple glidings and bendings, doublings and sway-
ings. Concha danced with Ignacio Sal, Rafaella
with William Sturgis; their pliant grace, as facile
as grain rippling before the wind, would have put the
best ballet in Europe to the blush. Concha's skirts
swept Rezanov's feet, her little slippers twinkled
before his admiring eyes, and he lost no sinuous
turn or undulation of her beautiful figure; but she
never vouchsafed him a glance.

When the dance finished his host introduced him
to the prettiest of the girls and he paid them as many
compliments as their heads would stand. He even
took some trouble to talk to them, if only to fathom
the sources of their unlikeness to Concha Arguello.
He concluded that the gulf that separated her from
these charming, vivacious, shallow young girls was
not dug by education alone. Individualities were
rare enough in Europe; out here, in earthly, but
sparsely settled paradises, they must be rarer still;
but that one had wandered into the lovely shell of
Concha Arguello he no longer doubted. The fact
that it had developed haphazardly, with little or no
help from her sentience, and was still fluid and un-
certain, but multiplied her in interest and charm.
The women to whom he was accustomed knew
themselves, consequently were no riddle to a man of
his experience, but here he had an odd sense of hav-
ing entered into a compact in the dark with a girl
who might one day symbolize some high and im-
passioned ideal he had cherished in the days before
ideals had been cast aside with the negative virtues
that bred them.

As he coolly studied the good looks of the young
caballeros and the plain intellectual face and slight
little figure of the Bostonian, noted the utter in-
difference with which they were treated by the
Favorita of Presidio and Mission, he felt a sudden
rush of arrogance, a youthful tingling of nerves,
the same prophetic sense of imminent happiness and
power that his first contact with the light electrical
air and the beauty of the country had induced.
After all, he was but forty-two. Life on the whole
had been very kind to him. And, although he did
not realize it as yet, his frame, blighted by the rigors
of the past three years, was already sensible to a
renewal of juice and sap. He admitted that he was
more interested than he had been for many years,
and that if he was not in love, he tingled with a
very natural masculine desire for an adventure with
a pretty girl.

But he was by no means a weak man, and his
mind counted the cost even while his imagination
hummed. He had almost decided to bid Dona
Ignacia an abrupt good-night, pleading fatigue,
which his pallor indorsed, when the door of the din-
ing-room was thrown open to the liveliest of
fiddling, and a white hand with a singular sugges-
tion of tenacity both in appearance and clasp took
possession of his arm.

"My mother has gone to Gertrudis Rudisinda,
who is crying," said Concha. "It is my pleasure to
lead your excellency in to supper."

They sat side by side at the head of the long
table almost covered by the massive service of sil-
ver and loaded with evidences of Dona Ignacia's
generosity and skill; chickens in red rice and gravy,
oysters, tamales, dulces, pastries, fruits and pleasant
drinks. Luis, with Rafaella Sal dimpling and
sparkling at his side, and now quite resigned to the
semi-official nature of the ball, rose and drank the
health of the distinguished guest in long and flow-
ery praises. Rezanov responded in briefer but no
less felicitous vein, and concluded by remarking
that the only rift in the lute of his present enchant-
ing experience was the fear that whereas he had
nearly died of starvation several times during the
past three years, he was now threatened with a far
more ignominious end, so delicious and irresistible
were the temptations that beset the wayfarer in this
most hospitable land. Both speeches were gaily ap-
plauded, the conversation became animated and gen-
eral, and Concha dropped her voice to the attentive
ear beside her.

"You were very successful to-day at the Mission,

"May I ask how you know?"

"I never saw anything so serenely--arrogantly,
perhaps would be a truer description--triumphant
as your bearing when you walked down our humble
sala to-night. You looked like Caesar returned from
Gaul; but I suppose that all great conquests are
merely the sum of many small ones."

"I do not regard the friendship of so shrewd a
man as Father Abella a trifling conquest. And ac-
cording to yourself, dear senorita, it is essential to
the success of a mission upon which many lives and
my own honor depend."

"Is it really so serious?" she asked with a faint

He drew himself up stiffly and his light eyes
glowed with anger. "It is a subject I never should
have thought of introducing at a festivity like this,"
he said suavely. "May I be permitted to compli-
ment you, senorita, upon your marvellous grace in
the contra-danza? It quite turned my head, and I
am delighted to hear that you will dance alone after

Her face had flushed hotly. She dropped her
eyes and her voice trembled as she replied: "You
humiliate me, senor, and I deserve it. I--my poor
Rosa told me something of her great tragedy while
dressing me, and for the moment other things
seemed unimportant. What is hunger and court
favor beside a broken heart and a desolate life?
But that of course is the attitude of an ignorant
girl." She raised her eyes. They were soft, and
her voice was softer. "I beg that you will forgive
me, senor. And be sure that I take an even deeper
interest in your great mission than yesterday. I
have thought much about it, and while I have told
my mother nothing, I have expressed certain peev-
ish hopes that a ship would not come all the way
from Sitka without taking a hint more than one
Boston skipper must have given, and brought us
many things we need. She is quite excited over
the prospect of a new shawl for herself, and of send-
ing several as presents to the south; besides many
other things: cotton, shoes, kitchen utensils. Have
you any of these things, Excellency?"

Rezanov stared at her face, barely tinted with
color, dully wondering why it should be so different
from the one roguish, pathetically innocent, that
had haunted him all day. He asked abruptly:

"Which is the friend whose little ones you envy?
You have made me wish to see them and her?"

"That is Elena--beside Gervasio." She indicated
a young woman with soft, patient, brown eyes, the
dignity of her race and the sweetness of young
motherhood, who would have looked little older
than herself had it not been for an already shape-
less figure. "I can take you to-morrow to see them
if you wish."

She had cast down her eyes and her face was
white. Still he groped on.

"Pardon me if I say that I am surprised your
parents should permit such a woman as this Rosa
to attend you. Why should your happy life be dis-
turbed by the lamentations of an abandoned crea-
ture--who can do you no good, and possibly much

Still Concha did not raise her eyes. "I do not
think poor Rosa would do anyone harm. But per-
haps it were as well she went elsewhere. We have
had her long enough. I have taken a dislike to her.
I reproach myself bitterly, but I cannot help it. I
should like never to see her again."

"What has she told you?" Concha glanced up
swiftly. His eyes were blazing. She felt quite cer-
tain that he rolled a Russian oath under his tongue,
and she made a slight involuntary motion toward
him, her lips trembling apart.

"Nothing," she murmured. "I do not know--I
do not know. But I no longer wish her near me.
She--life is very strange and terrible, senor. You
know it well--I, so little."

Rezanov felt his breath short and his hands cold.
For a moment he made no reply. Then he smiled
charmingly and said in the conventional tone that
was ever at his command: "Of course you know
little of life in this Arcadia. One who hopes to be
numbered among the best of your friends prays
that you never may. Yes, senorita, life is strange
--strangely commonplace and disillusionizing--but
sometimes picturesque. Believe me when I say that
nothing stranger has ever befallen me than to find
out here on the lonely brink of a continent nearly
twenty thousand versts from Europe, a girl of six-
teen with the grand manner, and an intellect with-
out the detestable idiosyncrasies of the fashionable
bas bleus I have hitherto had the misfortune to en-

She was tapping the table slowly with her fork,
and he noted that her soft, childish mouth was set.
"No doubt you are quite right to put me off," she
said finally, and in a voice as even as his own. "And
my intellect would do me little good if it did not
teach me to ignore mysteries I can never hope to
fathom. There is no such thing as life in your sense
in this forgotten corner of the world, nor ever will
be in my time. If you come back and visit us
twenty years hence you will find me fat and worn
like Elena, and busy every minute like my mother
--unless, indeed, I marry Don Weeliam Sturgis
and become a great lady in Boston. It would not be
so mean a fate."

Rezanov darted a look of angry contempt at the
pale young man who was eating little and miser-
ably watching the handsome pair at the head of the
table. "You will not marry him!" he said briefly.

"I could do far worse." Concha's lashes framed
an adorable glance that sent the blood to the hair
of the sensitive youth. "You have no idea how
clever and good he is. And--Madre de Dios!--
I am so tired of California."

"But you are a part of it--the very symbol of its
future, it seems to me. I wish I had a sculptor in
my suite. I should make him model you, label the
statue 'California,' and erect it on the peak of that
big island out there."

"That is very poetical, but after all, you are only
saying that I am a pretty savage with an education
that will be more common in the next generation.
It is little consolation for an existence where the
most exciting event in a lifetime is the arrival of a
foreign ship or the inauguration of a governor."
And once more she smiled at Sturgis. He raised
his glass impulsively, and she hers in gay response. A
moment later she gave the signal to leave the table.
Rezanov followed her back to the sala chewing the
cud of many reflections.


Concha had eaten no supper. As she entered the
sala she clapped her hands, the guests ranged
themselves against the wall, the musicians, livelier
than ever, flew to their instruments; with the drift-
ing, swaying movement she could assume at will,
she went slowly, absently, to the middle of the room.
Then she let her head drop backward, as if with
the weight of her hair, and Rezanov, vaguely angry,
expected one of those appeals to the senses for
which Spanish women of another sort were
notorious. But Concha, after tapping the floor
alternately with the points and the wooden heels of
her slippers, for a few moments, suddenly made
an imperious gesture to Ignacio Sal. He sprang to
her side, took her hand, and once more there was
the same monotonous tapping of toes and heels.
Then they whirled apart, bent their lithe backs until
their brows almost touched the floor in a salute of
mock admiration, and danced to and from each
other, coquetry in the very tilt of her eyebrows, the
bare semblance of masculine indulgence on his eager,
passionate face. Suddenly to the surprise of all, she
snapped her fingers directly under his nose, waved
her hand, turned her back, and made a peremptory
gesture to that other enamoured young swain, Cap-
tain Antonio Castro of Monterey. Don Ignacio,
surprised and discomfited, retired amidst the jeers
of his friends, and Concha, with her most vivacious
and gracious manner, met Castro half way, and, tak-
ing his hand, danced up and down the sala, slowly
and with many improvisations. Then, as they re-
turned to the center of the room and stepped lightly
apart before joining in a gay whirl, she snapped her
fingers under HIS nose, made a gesture of dismissal
over her shoulder, and fluttered an uplifted hand
in the direction of Sturgis. Again there was a de-
lighted laughter, again a discomforted knight and
a triumphant partner.

"Concha always gives us something we do not
expect," said Santiago to Rezanov, whose eyes were
twinkling. "The other girls dance El Son and La
Jota very gracefully--yes. But Conchita dances
with her head, and the musicians and the partner,
when she takes one, have all they can do to follow.
She will choose you, next, senor."

Rezanov turned cold, and measured the distance
to the door. "I hope not!" he said. "I should hate
nothing so much as to make an exhibition of myself.
The dances I know--that is all very well--but to
improvise--for the love of heaven help me to get

But Santiago, who was watching his sister in-
tently, replied: "Wait a moment, Excellency. I do
not think she will choose another. I know by her
feet that she intends to dance El Son--in her own
way, of course--after all."

Concha circled about the room twice with Sturgis,
lifted him to the seventh heaven of expectancy, dis-
missed him as abruptly as the others. Lifting her
chin with an expression of supreme disdain for all
his sex, she stood a moment, swaying, her arms
hanging at her sides.

"I am glad she will not dance with Weeliam,"
muttered Santiago. "I love him--yes; but the
Spanish dance is not for the Bostonian."

Rezanov awaited her performance with an in-
terest that caused him some cynical amusement.
But in a moment he had surrendered to her once
more as a creature of inexhaustible surprise. The
musicians, watching her, began to play more slowly.
Concha, her arms still supine, her head lifted, her
eyes half veiled, began to dance in a stately and
measured fashion that seemed to powder her hair
and dissolve the partitions before an endless vista
of rooms. Rezanov had a sudden vision of the Hall
of the Ambassadors in the royal palace at Madrid,
where, when a young man on his travels, he had
attended a state ball. There he had seen the most
dignified beauties of Europe dance at the most for-
mal of its courts. But Concha created the illusion
of having stepped down from the throne in some
bygone fashion to dance alone for her subjects and

She raised her arms, barely budding at the top,
with a gesture that was not only the poetry of
grace but as though bestowing some royal favor;
when she curved and swayed her body, again it was
with the lofty sweetness of one too highly placed
to descend to mere seductiveness. She glided up and
down, back and forth, with a dreamy revealing mo-
tion as if assisting to shape some vague impas-
sioned image in the brain of a poet. She lifted her
little feet in a manner that transformed boards into
clouds. There were moments when she seemed
actually to soar.

"She is a little genius!" thought Rezanov en-
thusiastically. "Anything could be made of a
woman like that."

It was not her dancing alone that interested him,
but its effect on her audience. The young men had
begun with audible expressions of approval. They
were now shouting and stamping and clapping.
Suddenly, as once more she danced back to the very
center of the room, her bosom heaving, her eyes
like stars, her red lips parted, Don Ignacio, long
since recovered from his spleen, invaded his pocket
and flung a handful of silver at her feet. It was a
signal. Gold and silver coins, chains, watches,
jewels, bounced over the floor, to be laughingly
ignored. Rezanov looked on in amazement, won-
dering if this were a part of the performance and
if he should follow suit. But after a glance at the
faces of the young men, lost to everything but their
passionate admiration for the unique and beautiful
dancing of their Favorita, and when Sturgis, after
wildly searching in his pockets, tore a large pearl
from the lace of his stock, he doubted no longer--
nor hesitated. Fastened by a blue ribbon to the
fourth button of his closely fitting coat was a golden
key, the outward symbol of his rank at court. He
detached it, then made a sudden gesture that caught
her attention. For a moment their eyes met. He
tossed her the bauble, and mechanically she lifted
her hand and caught it. Then she laughed con-
fusedly, shrugged her shoulders, bowed graciously
to her audience, and signalled to the musicians to
stop. Rezanov was at her side in a moment.

"You must be tired," he said. "I insist that you
come out on the veranda and rest."

"Very well," she said indifferently; "it is quite
time we all went out to the air. Santiago mio, wilt
thou bring my reboso--the white one?"

Santiago, more flushed than his sister at her
triumphs, fetched the long strip of silk, and Rez-
anov detached her from her eager court and led her
without. Elena Castro followed closely, yet with
a cavalier of her own that her friend might talk
freely with this interesting stranger. The night air
was cool and stimulating. The hills were black
under the sparks of white fire in the high arch of the
California sky. In the Presidio square were long
blue shadows that might have been reflections of
the smoldering blue beyond the stars. Rezanov
and Concha sat on the railing at the end of the

"It is a custom--all that very material admira-
tion?" he asked.

"A very old one, but not too often followed.
Otherwise we should not prize it. But when some
Favorita outdoes herself then she receives the
greatest reward that man can think of--gold and
silver jewels. We do not dare to return the tributes
in common fashion, but they have a way of appear-
ing where they belong as soon as their owners are
supposed to have forgotten the incident. As you
are not a Californian, senor, I take the liberty of re-
turning this without any foolish subterfuge." She
handed him his contribution. "I thank you all the
same. It was a spontaneous act, and I am very

He accepted the key awkwardly, not daring to
press it upon her, with the obvious banalities. But
he felt a sudden desire to give her something, and,
nothing better offering, he gathered half a dozen
roses and laid them on her lap.

"I was disappointed that you did not wear your
roses to-night," he said. "I associate them with you
in my thoughts. Will you put one in your hair?"

She found a place for two and thrust another in
the neck of her gown. The rest she held closely in
her hands. Then he noticed that she was very
white, and again she shivered.

"You are cold and tired," he murmured, his eyes
melting to hers. "It was entrancing, but I hope
never to see you give so much of yourself to others
again." His hand in arranging the reboso touched
hers. It lingered, and she stared up at him, help-
lessly, her eyes wide, her lips parted. She reminded
him of a rabbit caught in a trap, and he had a sud-
den and violent revulsion of feeling. He rose and
offered his arm. "I should be a brute if I kept you
talking out here. Slip off and go to bed. I shall
start the guests, for I am very tired myself."


He did not talk with her again for several days. He
called in state, but remained only a few moments.
His officers went to several impromptu dances at
the Presidio and Mission, but he pleaded fatigue,
natural in the damaged state of his constitution,
and left the ship only for a gallop over the hills or
down the coast with Luis Arguello.

But he had never felt better. At the end of a
week his pallor had gone, his skin was tanned and
fresh. Even his wretched crew were different men.
They were given much leave on shore, and already
might be seen escorting the serving-women over
the hills in the late afternoon. Rezanov gave them
a long rope, although he knew they must be ger-
minating with a mutinous distaste of the Russian
north; he kept strict watch over them and would
have given a deserter his due without an instant's

The estafette that had gone with Luis' letters to
Monterey had taken one from Rezanov as well, ask-
ing permission to pay a visit of ceremony to the
Governor. Five days later the plenipotentiary re-
ceived a polite welcome to California, and protest
against another long journey; the humble servant
of the King of Spain would himself go to San
Francisco at once and offer the hospitality of Cali-
fornia to the illustrious representative of the Em-
peror of all the Russias.

Rezanov was not only annoyed at the Governor's
evident determination that he should see as little
as possible of the insignificant military equipment of
California, but at the delay to his own plans for ex-
ploration. He knew that Luis would dare take him
upon no expedition into the heart of the country
without the consent of the Governor, and he began
to doubt this consent would be given. But he was
determined to see the bay, at least, and he no sooner
read the diplomatic epistle from Monterey than he
decided to accomplish this part of his purpose before
the arrival of the Governor or Don Jose. He knew
the material he had to deal with at the moment,
but nothing of that already, no doubt, on its way to
the north.

Early in the morning after the return of the
courier he wrote an informal note to Dona Ignacia,
asking her to give him the honor of entertaining
her for a day on the Juno, and to bring all the young
people she would. As the weather was so fine, he
hoped to see them in time for chocolate at nine
o'clock. He knew that Luis, who was pressingly
included in the invitation, had left at daybreak for
his father's rancho, some thirty miles to the south.

There was a flutter at the Presidio when the invi-
tation of the Chamberlain was made known. The
compliment was not unexpected, but there had been
a lively speculation as to what form the Russian's
return of hospitality would take. Concha, whose
tides had thundered and ebbed many times since the
night of her party, submerging the happy inconse-
quence of her sixteen years, but leaving her un-
shaken spirit with wide clarified vision, felt young
to-day from sheer reaction. She would listen to no
protest from her prudent mother and smothered her
with kisses and a torrent of words.

"But, my Conchita," gasped Dona Ignacia, "I
have much to do. Thy father and his excellency
come in two days. And perhaps they would not
approve--before they are here!--to go on the for-
eign ship! If Luis were not gone! Ay yi! Ay yi!"

"We go, we go, madre mia! And his excellency
will give you a shawl. I feel it! I know it! And
if we go now we disobey no law. Have they ever
said we could not visit a foreign ship when they
were not here? We are light-headed, irresponsible
women. And if they should not let us go! If the
Governor and the Russian should disagree! Now
we have the opportunity for such a day as we never
have had before. We should be imbeciles. We go,
madre mia, we go!"

So it proved. At a few minutes before nine the
Senora Arguello, clad in her best black skirt and
jacket, a red shawl embroidered with yellow draped
over her bust with unconquerable grace, and a black
reboso folded about her fine proud head, rode down
to the beach with Ana Paula on the aquera behind
and Gertrudis Rudisinda on her arm. The boys
howled on the corridor, but the good senora felt
she could not too liberally construe the kind invita-
tion of a chamberlain of the Russian Court.

Behind her rode Concha, in white with a pink
reboso; Rafaella Sal, Carolina Xime'no, Herminia
Lopez, Delfina Rivera, the only other girls at the
Presidio old enough to grace such an occasion;
Sturgis, who happened to have spent the night at
the Presidio, Gervasio, Santiago and Lieutenant
Rivera. Castro had returned to Monterey, Sal was
officer of the day, and the other young men had
sulkily declined to be the guests of a man who looked
as haughty as the Tsar himself and betrayed no dis-
position to recognize in Spain the first nation of
Europe. But no one missed them. The girls, in
their flowered muslins and bright rebosos, the men
in gay serapes and embroidered botas, looked a
fine mass of color as they galloped down to the
beach and laughed and chattered as youth must on
so glorious a morning. Even Sturgis, always care-
ful to be as nearly one with these people as his dif-
ferent appearance and temperament would permit,
wore clothes of green linen, a ruffled shirt, deer-skin
botas and sombrero.

Three of the ship's canoes awaited the guests, and
as not one of the women had ever set foot in a boat,
there was a chorus of shrieks. Dona Ignacia mur-
mured an audible prayer, and clutched Gertrudis
Rudisinda to her breast.

"Madre de Dios! The water! I cannot!" she
muttered. But Santiago took her firmly by one
elbow, Sturgis by the other, Davidov caught up the
children with a reassuring laugh, and in a moment
she was trembling in the middle of the canoe. Con-
cha had already leaped into the second and waved a
careless little salutation to the Juno. Her eyes
sparkled. Her nostrils fluttered. She felt indif-
ferent to everything but the certain pleasure of the
day. Rezanov was sure to be charming. What
mattered the morrow, and possible nights of doubt,
despair, hatred of life and wondering self-contempt?

Rezanov awaited the canoes in the prow of the
ship. He wore undress uniform and a cap instead
of the cocked hat of ceremony which had excited
their awe. He too tingled with a sense of youthful
gaiety and adventure. As he helped his guests up
the side of the vessel and listened to the delightful
laughter of the girls, saw the dancing eyes of even
the haughty and reserved Santiago, he also dismissed
the morrow from his thoughts.

As Dona Ignacia was hauled to the deck, uttering
embarrassed apologies for bringing the two little
girls, Rezanov protested that he adored children,
patted their heads and told off a young sailor to
amuse them.

Four tables on the deck were set with coffee,
chocolate, Russian tea, and strange sweets that the
cook had fashioned from ingredients to which his
skilful fingers had long been strangers.

Dona Ignacia sat beside the host, and when she
had tried both the tea and the coffee and had de-
manded the recipe of the sweets, he said casually:
"After breakfast I shall ask you to go down to the
cabin for a few moments. I bought the cargo with
the Juno, and find there are several articles which I
shall beg as a great favor to present to my kindest
hostesses and the young girls she has been good
enough to bring to my ship. Shawls and ells of
cotton and all that sort of thing are of no use to a
bachelor, and I hope you will rid me of some of

Dona Ignacia lost all interest in the breakfast,
and presently, murmuring an excuse, was escorted
by Langsdorff down to the cabin. When the light
repast was over, Rezanov made a signal to several
sailors who awaited commands, and they sprang to
the anchor and sails.

"We are going to have a cruise," announced the
host to his guests. "The bay is very smooth, there
is a fine breeze, we shall neither be becalmed nor
otherwise the sport of inclement waters. I know
that most of you have never seen this beautiful bay
and that you will enjoy its scenery as much as I

He moved to Concha's side and dropped his voice.
"This is for you, senorita," he said. "You want
change, variety, and I have planned to give you all
that I can in one day. I expect you to be happy."

"I shall be," she said dryly, "if only in watching
a diplomat get his way. You will see every corner
of our bay, and I shall have the delightful sensation
of doing something for which I cannot be held re-

He laughed. "I am quite willing that you should
understand me," he said. "But it is true that I
thought as much of you as of myself."

In a few moments the ship was under way. San-
tiago and Sturgis had gone down to the cabin to
reassure Dona Ignacia, who uttered a loud cry as
the Juno gave a preliminary lurch. Gervasio and
Rivera had opened their eyes as Rezanov abruptly
unfolded his plan, but dropped them sleepily before
the delight of the girls. After all, it was none of
their affair, and what was a bay? If they requested
him, as a point of honor, to refrain from examining
the battery of Yerba Buena with his glass, their con-
sciences would be as light as their hearts.

As Rezanov stood alone with Concha in the prow
of the ship and alternately cast softened eyes on her
intense, rapt face, and shrewd glances on the rami-
fications of the bay, he congratulated himself upon
his precipitate action and the collusion of nature.
They were sailing east, and would turn to the north
in a moment. The mountain range bent abruptly
at the entrance to the bay, encircling the immense
sheet of water in a chain of every altitude and form:
a long hard undulating line against the bright blue
sky; smooth and dimpled slopes as round as cones,
bare but for the green of their grasses; lofty ridges
tapering to hills in the curve at the north but with
blue peaks multiplying beyond. There were dense
forests in deep canyons on the mountainside, bare
and jagged heights, the graceful sweep of valleys,
promontories leaping out from the mainland like
mammoth crocodiles guarding the bay. The view
of the main waters was broken by the largest of
the islands, but far away were the hills of the east
and the soft blue peaks behind. And over all, hills
and valley and canyon and mountain, was a bright
opalescent mist. Green, pink, and other pale col-
ors gleamed as behind a thin layer of crystal.
Where the sun shone through a low white cloud
upon a distant slope there might have been a great
globe of iridescent glass illuminated within. The
water was a light, soft, filmy yet translucent blue.
Concha gazed with parted lips.

"I never knew before how wonderful it was,"
she murmured. "I have been taught to believe that
only the south is beautiful, and when we had to
come here again from Santa Barbara it was exile.
But now I am glad I was born in the north."

"I have watched the light on these hills and
islands, and what I could see of the fine lines of the
mountains ever since I came, and were there but
villas and castles, these waters would be far more
beautiful than the Lake of Como or the Bay of
Naples. But I am glad to see trees again. From
our anchorage I had but a bare glimpse of two or
three. They seem to hide from the western winds.
Are they so strong, then?"

"We have terrible winds, senor. I do not wonder
the trees crouch to the east. But I must tell you
our names." She pointed to the largest of the
islands, a great bare mass that looked as had it been,
when viscid, flung out in long folds from a central
peak, concaving here and there with its own weight.
Its southern point was on a line with a point of
mainland far to the west, and its northern, from
their vantage looking to be but a continuation of
the curve of the mainland, finished an arc of almost
perfect proportions, whose deep curve was a tumbled
mass of hills and one great mountain. "That is
Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, and it opens a triple
jaw, Luis has told me, at Point Tiburon--you will
soon see the straits between. The big rock over
there is Alcatraz, and farther away still is Yerba
Buena--that looks like a camel on its knees."

But Rezanov was examining the scene before
him. The lines of this bay within a bay were
superb, and in its wide embrace, slanting from Point
Tiburon toward an inner point two miles opposite
was another island, as steep as Alcatraz, but long
and waving of outline, with a glimpse of trees on
its crest. Rezanov, while he lost nothing of the pic-
turesque beauty surrounding him, was more deeply
interested in noting the many foundations, sheltered
and solid, for fortifications that would hold these
rich lands against the fleets of the world. Never
had he seen so many strategic advantages on one
sheet of water. The islands farther south he had
examined through his glass from the deck of the
Juno until he knew every convolution they turned
to the west.

Concha was directing his attention to the tremen-
dous angular peak rising above the tumbled hills.
"That is Mount Tamalpais--the mountain of peace.
It was named by the Indians, not by us. Sometimes
it is like a great purple shadow, and at others the
clouds fight about it like the ghosts of big sea gulls."
They were sailing past the rounded end of the
western inner point of the little bay. It was almost
detached from the bare ridge behind and half cov-
ered with oaks and willow trees. "That is Point
Sausalito. I have often looked at it through the
glass and longed for a merienda in the deep shade."
She turned to Rezanov with lips apart. "Could we
not--oh, senor!--have our dinner on shore?"

"It is only for you to select the spot. We can
sail many miles before it is time for dinner, and you
may find a place even more to your liking. I fancy
we can not go far here. It looks swampy and shal-
low. Nothing could be less romantic than to stick
in the mud."

"May I ask," said Concha demurely, "how you
dare to run the risks of an unknown sheet of water?
I have heard it said that there is more than one rock
and shoal in this bay."

"I am not as rash as I may appear," replied Reza-
nov dryly, but smiling. "In 1789 there was a chart
of this bay, taken from a Spanish MSS., published
in London; and I bought it there when I ran up
from the Nadeshda--anchored at Falmouth--three
years ago. Davidov, who, you may observe, is
steering, oblivious to the charms of even Dona Caro-
lina, knows every sounding by heart."

"Oh!" Concha shrugged her shoulders. "The
Governor, too, is very clever. It will be a drawn
battle. Perhaps I shall remain neutral after all. It
would be more amusing." The ship was turning,
and she waved her hand to the island between the
deep arc of the hilly coast. "I have heard so much
of the beauty of that island," she said, "that I have
called it La Bellissima, but I never hoped to see
anything but the back of its head, from which the
wind has blown all the hair. And now I shall. How
kind of you, senor!"

"How easily you are made happy!" he said, with
a sigh. "You look like a child."

"To-day I shall be one; and you the kind fairy
god-father," she added, with some malice. "How
old are you, senor?"


"That is twenty-six years older than myself. But
your excellency might pass for thirty-five," she
added politely. "We have all said it. And now
that you are not so pale you will soon look younger
--and even more triumphant than when you came."

"I have never felt so triumphant as on this morn-
ing, dear senorita. I had not hoped to give you
so much pleasure."

Her cheeks were as pink as her reboso, her great
black eyes were dancing. Her hands strained at
the railing. "I shall see La Bellissima! La Bellis-
sima!" she cried.

They rounded the low broken point of the island,
sailed through the racing currents between the lower
end of La Bellissima and "Our Lady of the An-
gels," more slowly past what looked to be a per-
pendicular forest. From water to crest the gulches
and converging spurs of this hillside in the sea were
a dense mass of oaks, bays, underbrush; here and
there a tall slender tree with a bark like red kid and
a flirting polished leaf, at which Concha clapped her
hands as at sight of an old friend and called "El
Madrono." It was a primeval bit of nature, but
sweet and silent and peaceful; there was no sugges-
tion either of gloom or of discourteous beast.

"We shall have our dinner here, Excellency.
There on that little beach; and afterward we shall
climb to the top. See, there are trails! The In-
dians have been here."

They stood out through the straits between Point
Tiburon and the Isle of the Angels, where the tide
ran fast. Then, for the first time, was Rezanov able
to form a definite idea of the size and shape of this
great natural harbor. To the south it extended be-
yond the peninsula in an unbroken sheet for some
forty English miles. Ten miles to the north there
was a gateway between the lower hills which Luis
had alluded to as leading into the bay of Saint
Pablo, another large body of tidewater, but inferior
in depth and beauty to the Bay of San Francisco.

The mist had dissolved. The greens were vivid
where the sun shone on island and hill. The woods
of Bellissima, the groves of Point Sausalito, the for-
ests in the northern canyons, deepened to purple like
that of the great bare sweep of Tamalpais. Only
the farther peaks remained a pale misty blue, and
were of an indescribable floating delicacy.

Concha pointed to the eastern double cone. "That
is Monte del Diablo. Once they say it spouted fire,
but that was long ago, and all our volcanoes are
dead. But perhaps not so long ago. The Indians
tell the strange story that their grandfathers remem-
bered when this bay was a valley covered with oak
trees, and the rivers of the north flowed through
and emptied into Lake Merced and a rift by the
Fort. Then came a tremendous earthquake and
rent the mountains apart where you came through
--we call it the Mouth of the Gulf of the Faral-
lones--the valley sank, the sea flowed in, only these
hills that are islands now keeping their heads above
the flood. Perhaps it is true, for Drake was close
to this bay for a long while and never saw it, and
it would have given him a better shelter than the
little harbor he found a few miles higher on the
coast. I believe it was not here. Madre de Dios,
I hope California shakes no more. She would--is
it not true, Excellency?--be the most perfect coun-
try in all the world did she not have the devil in

"Are you afraid of earthquakes?" asked Rezanov,
who once more had transferred his comprehensive
gaze from battery sites to her face.

"I cross myself. It is like feeling your grave
turn over. But I fancy the poor old earth is like
the people on her; she gets tired of being good and
is all the naughtier for having been sober too long.
Don Vincente Rivera is an example; he is cold,
haughty, solemn, stern to others and himself, as
you see him; but once in a while--Madre de Dios!
The Presidio does not sleep for three nights!"

Rezanov laughed heartily, then turned abruptly
away. "Come," he said. "I had almost forgotten.
Will you ask the others to go to the cabin, while I
give orders that dinner shall be served on your

In the cabin, Concha forgot him for a few mo-
ments. Her mother, her eyes dwelling fondly upon
several shawls she hoped were intended for herself
alone, was hushing the baby to sleep in the deep
chair of his excellency. Ana Paula was playing
with an Alaskan doll she had appropriated without
ceremony. Rezanov came in when his guests were
assembled, and he had a gift for each; curious ob-
jects of Alaskan workmanship for the men, minia-
ture totem poles and fur-bordered moccasins; but
silk and cotton, linen, shawls, and find handker-
chiefs for senora and maiden.

"They are trifles," he said, in response to an en-
thusiastic chorus. "The cargo I was obliged to
take over was a very large one. You must not
protest. I shall never miss these things." And he
knew that he had sown the seeds of a rapacity simi-
lar to that implanted in the worthy bosoms of the
priests when they had paid him their promised visit.
If the Governor were insensible to diplomacy he
would have pressure brought to bear upon his offi-
cial integrity from more quarters than one.

"There are also many of the presents rejected by
the Mikado, somewhere," he added carelessly. "But
I could not find them. They must have found their
way to the bottom of the hold during one of the
storms we encountered on our way from Sitka."

He certainly looked the fairy godfather, and
quite impartial as he distributed his offerings with
a chosen word to each; his memory for little char-
acteristics was as remarkable as for names and faces.
He had taken off his cap on deck, and the breeze had
ruffled his thick fair hair, brought the blood to his
thin cheeks. The lines of his face, cut by privation
and anxiety and illness, had almost disappeared with
the renewed elasticity of the flesh, and his blue eyes
were wide open, and sparkling in sympathy with
the pleasure of his guests and the success of his own
strategy. These few insignificant Spaniards dis-
lodged, a half-dozen forts in this harbor, and the
combined navies of the world might be defied; while
a great chain of hungry settlements fattened and
prospered exceedingly on the beneficence of the most
fertile land in all the Americas.


The eastern mountains looked very close from the
crest of La Bellissima and of a singular transpar-
ency and variety of hue. It was as if the white
masses of cloud sailing low overhead flung down
great splashes of color from prismatic stores stolen
from the sun. There was a vivid pale green on the
long sweep of a rounding slope, deep violet and
pale purple in dimple and hollow, red showing
through green on a tongue of land running down
from the north; and on the lower ridges and little
islands, pale and dark blue, and the most exquisite
fields of lavender. This last tint was reflected in
the water immediately below the ridge, and farther
out there were lakelets of pale green, as if the
islands, too, had the power to mirror themselves
when the sea itself was glass.

Santiago, Davidov, Carolina Xime'no, Delfina Ri-
vera, Concha and Rezanov, had climbed to the ridge.
The other young people had given out halfway up
the steep and tangled ascent and returned to the
beach. Dona Ignacia immediately after dinner had
frankly asked her host for the hospitality of his
stateroom. She and her little ones must have their
siesta, and the good lady was convinced that so
high and mighty a personage as the Russian Cham-
berlain was all the chaperon the proprieties de-

Four of the party strayed along the crest in search
of the first wild pansies. Rezanov and Concha
looked under the sloping roof of brittle leaves into
dim falling vistas, arches, arbors, caverns, a forest
in miniature with natural terraces breaking the pre-
cipitous wall of the island.

"I should like to live here," said Concha defi-

"It would make a fine estate for summer life--or
for a honeymoon." He smiled down upon his com-
panion, who stood very tall and straight and proud
beside him. "If you conclude to marry your little
Bostonian no doubt he will buy it for you," he said.

If he had hoped to see a look of blank dismay
after his hours of devotion he was disappointed.
She made a little face.

"I do not think I could stand a desert island with
the good Weeliam. For that I should prefer one
of my own sort--Ignacio, or Fernando. Better
still, I could come here and be a hermit."

"A hermit?"

"In some ways that would suit me very well. All
human beings become tiresome, I find. I shall have
a little hut just below the crest where I can look
from my window right into the woods that are so
quiet and green and beautiful. That is a thought
that has always fascinated me. And when I walk
on the crest I can see all the beauty of mountain
and bay. What more could I want? What more
have you in your world when you know it too well,

"Nothing; but you might tire, too, of this."

"What of it? It would be the gentle sad ennui
of peace, not of disillusion, senor. How I wish you
would tell me all you know of life!"

"God forbid. And do not remind me of ennui and
disillusions. I have forgotten both in California.
Perhaps, after all, I shall not return to St. Peters-
burg. There is a vast empire here--"

"But it is not yours or Russia's to rule, Excel-
lency," she interrupted him softly.

He did not color nor start, but met her eyes with
his deep amused glance. "I, too, can dream, seno-
rita. Of a great and wonderful kingdom--that
never will exist, perhaps. I have always been called
a dreamer, but the habit has grown since I came
to this lovely unreal land of yours."

"Have you the intention to take it from us, Ex-
cellency?" she asked quietly.

"Would you betray me if you thought I had?"

Her eyes responded for a moment to the mag-
netism of his, and then she drew herself up.

"No, senor, I could not betray a man who had
been our guest, and Spain needs no assistance from
a weak girl to hold her own against Russia."

"Well said! I kiss your hands, as they say in
Vienna. But we must sail again. I told them to be

Book of the day: