Part 2 out of 5
walked before her down the length of the veranda.
``It would be very selfish to keep it all to my self,'' she said.
``Couldn't we share it?'' They had left the others seated facing
the bay, with MacWilliams and young Langham on the broad steps of
the veranda, and the younger sister and her father sitting in
long bamboo steamer-chairs above them.
Clay and Miss Langham were quite alone. From the high cliff on
which the Palms stood they could look down the narrow inlet that
joined the ocean and see the moonlight turning the water into a
rippling ladder of light and gilding the dark green leaves of the
palms near them with a border of silver. Directly below them lay
the waters of the bay, reflecting the red and green lights of the
ships at anchor, and beyond them again were the yellow lights of
the town, rising one above the other as the city crept up the
hill. And back of all were the mountains, grim and mysterious,
with white clouds sleeping in their huge valleys, like masses of
Except for the ceaseless murmur of the insect life about them the
night was absolutely still--so still that the striking of the
ships' bells in the harbor came to them sharply across the
surface of the water, and they could hear from time to time the
splash of some great fish and the steady creaking of an oar in a
rowlock that grew fainter and fainter as it grew further
away, until it was drowned in the distance. Miss Langham was for
a long time silent. She stood with her hands clasped behind her,
gazing from side to side into the moonlight, and had apparently
forgotten that Clay was present.
``Well,'' he said at last, ``I think you appreciate it properly.
I was afraid you would exclaim about it, and say it was fine, or
charming, or something.''
Miss Langham turned to him and smiled slightly. ``And you told
me once that you knew me so very well,'' she said.
Clay chose to forget much that he had said on that night when he
had first met her. He knew that he had been bold then, and had
dared to be so because he did not think he would see her again;
but, now that he was to meet her every day through several
months, it seemed better to him that they should grow to know
each other as they really were, simply and sincerely, and without
forcing the situation in any way.
So he replied, ``I don't know you so well now. You must remember
I haven't seen you for a year.''
``Yes, but you hadn't seen me for twenty-two years then,'' she
answered. ``I don't think you have changed much,'' she went on.
``I expected to find you gray with cares. Ted wrote us about
the way you work all day at the mines and sit up all night over
calculations and plans and reports. But you don't show it. When
are you going to take us over the mines? To-morrow? I am very
anxious to see them, but I suppose father will want to inspect
them first. Hope knows all about them, I believe; she knows
their names, and how much you have taken out, and how much you
have put in, too, and what MacWilliams's railroad cost, and who
got the contract for the ore pier. Ted told us in his letters,
and she used to work it out on the map in father's study. She is
a most energetic child; I think sometimes she should have been a
boy. I wish I could be the help to any one that she is to my
father and to me. Whenever I am blue or down she makes fun of
``Why should you ever be blue?'' asked Clay, abruptly.
``There is no real reason, I suppose,'' the girl answered,
smiling, ``except that life is so very easy for me that I have to
invent some woes. I should be better for a few reverses.'' And
then she went on in a lower voice, and turning her head away,
``In our family there is no woman older than I am to whom I can
go with questions that trouble me. Hope is like a boy, as I
said, and plays with Ted, and my father is very busy with his
affairs, and since my mother died I have been very much
alone. A man cannot understand. And I cannot understand why I
should be speaking to you about myself and my troubles,
except--'' she added, a little wistfully, ``that you once said
you were interested in me, even if it was as long as a year ago.
And because I want you to be very kind to me, as you have been to
Ted, and I hope that we are going to be very good friends.''
She was so beautiful, standing in the shadow with the moonlight
about her and with her hand held out to him, that Clay felt as
though the scene were hardly real. He took her hand in his and
held it for a moment. His pleasure in the sweet friendliness of
her manner and in her beauty was so great that it kept him
``Friends!'' he laughed under his breath. ``I don't think there
is much danger of our not being friends. The danger lies,'' he
went on, smiling, ``in my not being able to stop there.''
Miss Langham made no sign that she had heard him, but turned and
walked out into the moonlight and down the porch to where the
others were sitting.
Young Langham had ordered a native orchestra of guitars and reed
instruments from the town to serenade his people, and they were
standing in front of the house in the moonlight as Miss
Langham and Clay came forward. They played the shrill, eerie
music of their country with a passion and feeling that filled out
the strange tropical scene around them; but Clay heard them only
as an accompaniment to his own thoughts, and as a part of the
beautiful night and the tall, beautiful girl who had dominated
it. He watched her from the shadow as she sat leaning easily
forward and looking into the night. The moonlight fell full upon
her, and though she did not once look at him or turn her head in
his direction, he felt as though she must be conscious of his
presence, as though there were already an understanding between
them which she herself had established. She had asked him to be
her friend. That was only a pretty speech, perhaps; but she had
spoken of herself, and had hinted at her perplexities and her
loneliness, and he argued that while it was no compliment to be
asked to share another's pleasure, it must mean something when
one was allowed to learn a little of another's troubles.
And while his mind was flattered and aroused by this promise of
confidence between them, he was rejoicing in the rare quality of
her beauty, and in the thought that she was to be near him, and
near him here, of all places. It seemed a very wonderful thing
to Clay--something that could only have happened in a novel or a
play. For while the man and the hour frequently appeared
together, he had found that the one woman in the world and the
place and the man was a much more difficult combination to bring
into effect. No one, he assured himself thankfully, could have
designed a more lovely setting for his love-story, if it was to
be a love-story, and he hoped it was, than this into which she
had come of her own free will. It was a land of romance and
adventure, of guitars and latticed windows, of warm brilliant
days and gorgeous silent nights, under purple heavens and white
stars. And he was to have her all to himself, with no one near
to interrupt, no other friends, even, and no possible rival. She
was not guarded now by a complex social system, with its
responsibilities. He was the most lucky of men. Others had only
seen her in her drawing-room or in an opera-box, but he was free
to ford mountain-streams at her side, or ride with her under
arches of the great palms, or to play a guitar boldly beneath her
window. He was free to come and go at any hour; not only free to
do so, but the very nature of his duties made it necessary that
they should be thrown constantly together.
The music of the violins moved him and touched him deeply, and
stirred depths at which he had not guessed. It made him humble
and deeply grateful, and he felt how mean and unworthy he was
of such great happiness. He had never loved any woman as he felt
that he could love this woman, as he hoped that he was to love
her. For he was not so far blinded by her beauty and by what he
guessed her character to be, as to imagine that he really knew
her. He only knew what he hoped she was, what he believed the
soul must be that looked out of those kind, beautiful eyes, and
that found utterance in that wonderful voice which could control
him and move him by a word.
He felt, as he looked at the group before him, how lonely his own
life had been, how hard he had worked for so little--for what
other men found ready at hand when they were born into the world.
He felt almost a touch of self-pity at his own imperfectness; and
the power of his will and his confidence in himself, of which he
was so proud, seemed misplaced and little. And then he wondered
if he had not neglected chances; but in answer to this his
injured self-love rose to rebut the idea that he had wasted any
portion of his time, and he assured himself that he had done the
work that he had cut out for himself to do as best he could; no
one but himself knew with what courage and spirit. And so he sat
combating with himself, hoping one moment that she would
prove what he believed her to be, and the next, scandalized at
his temerity in daring to think of her at all.
The spell lifted as the music ceased, and Clay brought himself
back to the moment and looked about him as though he were waking
from a dream and had expected to see the scene disappear and the
figures near him fade into the moonlight.
Young Langham had taken a guitar from one of the musicians and
pressed it upon MacWilliams, with imperative directions to sing
such and such songs, of which, in their isolation, they had grown
to think most highly, and MacWilliams was protesting in much
MacWilliams had a tenor voice which he maltreated in the most
villanous manner by singing directly through his nose. He had a
taste for sentimental songs, in which ``kiss'' rhymed with
``bliss,'' and in which ``the people cry'' was always sure to be
followed with ``as she goes by, that's pretty Katie Moody,'' or
``Rosie McIntyre.'' He had gathered his songs at the side of
camp-fires, and in canteens at the first section-house of a new
railroad, and his original collection of ballads had had but few
additions in several years. MacWilliams at first was shy, which
was quite a new development, until he made them promise to
laugh if they wanted to laugh, explaining that he would not
mind that so much as he would the idea that he thought he was
The song of which he was especially fond was one called ``He
never cares to wander from his own Fireside,'' which was
especially appropriate in coming from a man who had visited
almost every spot in the three Americas, except his home, in ten
years. MacWilliams always ended the evening's entertainment with
this chorus, no matter how many times it had been sung
previously, and seemed to regard it with much the same veneration
that the true Briton feels for his national anthem.
The words of the chorus were:
``He never cares to wander from his own fireside,
He never cares to wander or to roam.
With his babies on his knee,
He's as happy as can be,
For there's no place like Home, Sweet Home.''
MacWilliams loved accidentals, and what he called ``barber-shop
chords.'' He used a beautiful accidental at the word ``be,'' of
which he was very fond, and he used to hang on that note for a
long time, so that those in the extreme rear of the hall, as he
was wont to explain, should get the full benefit of it. And it
was his custom to emphasize ``for'' in the last line by
speaking instead of singing it, and then coming to a full stop
before dashing on again with the excellent truth that ``there is
NO place like Home, Sweet Home.''
The men at the mines used to laugh at him and his song at first,
but they saw that it was not to be so laughed away, and that he
regarded it with some peculiar sentiment. So they suffered him
to sing it in peace.
MacWilliams went through his repertoire to the unconcealed
amusement of young Langham and Hope. When he had finished he
asked Hope if she knew a comic song of which he had only heard by
reputation. One of the men at the mines had gained a certain
celebrity by claiming to have heard it in the States, but as he
gave a completely new set of words to the tune of the ``Wearing
of the Green'' as the true version, his veracity was doubted.
Hope said she knew it, of course, and they all went into the
drawing-room, where the men grouped themselves about the piano.
It was a night they remembered long afterward. Hope sat at the
piano protesting and laughing, but singing the songs of which the
new-comers had become so weary, but which the three men heard
open-eyed, and hailed with shouts of pleasure. The others
enjoyed them and their delight, as though they were people in a
play expressing themselves in this extravagant manner for
their entertainment, until they understood how poverty-stricken
their lives had been and that they were not only enjoying the
music for itself, but because it was characteristic of all that
they had left behind them. It was pathetic to hear them boast of
having read of a certain song in such a paper, and of the fact
that they knew the plot of a late comic opera and the names of
those who had played in it, and that it had or had not been
acceptable to the New York public.
``Dear me,'' Hope would cry, looking over her shoulder with a
despairing glance at her sister and father, ``they don't even
know `Tommy Atkins'!''
It was a very happy evening for them all, foreshadowing, as it
did, a continuation of just such evenings. Young Langham was
radiant with pleasure at the good account which Clay had given of
him to his father, and Mr. Langham was gratified, and proud of
the manner in which his son and heir had conducted himself; and
MacWilliams, who had never before been taken so simply and
sincerely by people of a class that he had always held in
humorous awe, felt a sudden accession of dignity, and an unhappy
fear that when they laughed at what he said, it was because its
sense was so utterly different from their point of view, and not
because they saw the humor of it. He did not know what the word
``snob'' signified, and in his roughened, easy-going nature there
was no touch of false pride; but he could not help thinking how
surprised his people would be if they could see him, whom they
regarded as a wanderer and renegade on the face of the earth and
the prodigal of the family, and for that reason the best loved,
leaning over a grand piano, while one daughter of his
much-revered president played comic songs for his delectation,
and the other, who according to the newspapers refused princes
daily, and who was the most wonderful creature he had ever seen,
poured out his coffee and brought it to him with her own hands.
The evening came to an end at last, and the new arrivals
accompanied their visitors to the veranda as they started to
their cabin for the night. Clay was asking Mr. Langham when he
wished to visit the mines, and the others were laughing over
farewell speeches, when young Langham startled them all by
hurrying down the length of the veranda and calling on them to
``Look!'' he cried, pointing down the inlet. ``Here comes a man-
of-war, or a yacht. Isn't she smart-looking? What can she want
here at this hour of the night? They won't let them land. Can
you make her out, MacWilliams?''
A long, white ship was steaming slowly up the inlet, and
passed within a few hundred feet of the cliff on which they were
``Why, it's the `Vesta'!'' exclaimed Hope, wonderingly. ``I
thought she wasn't coming for a week?''
``It can't be the `Vesta'!'' said the elder sister; ``she was not
to have sailed from Havana until to-day.''
``What do you mean?'' asked Langham. ``Is it King's boat? Do
you expect him here? Oh, what fun! I say, Clay, here's the
`Vesta,' Reggie King's yacht, and he's no end of a sport. We can
go all over the place now, and he can land us right at the door
of the mines if we want to.''
``Is it the King I met at dinner that night?'' asked Clay,
turning to Miss Langham.
``Yes,'' she said. ``He wanted us to come down on the yacht, but
we thought the steamer would be faster; so he sailed without us
and was to have touched at Havana, but he has apparently changed
his course. Doesn't she look like a phantom ship in the
Young Langham thought he could distinguish King among the white
figures on the bridge, and tossed his hat and shouted, and a man
in the stern of the yacht replied with a wave of his hand.
``That must be Mr. King,'' said Hope. ``He didn't bring any
one with him, and he seems to be the only man aft.''
They stood watching the yacht as she stopped with a rattle of
anchor-chains and a confusion of orders that came sharply across
the water, and then the party separated and the three men walked
down the hill, Langham eagerly assuring the other two that King
was a very good sort, and telling them what a treasure-house his
yacht was, and how he would have probably brought the latest
papers, and that he would certainly give a dance on board in
The men stood for some short time together, after they had
reached the office, discussing the great events of the day, and
then with cheerful good-nights disappeared into their separate
An hour later Clay stood without his coat, and with a pen in his
hand, at MacWilliams's bedside and shook him by the shoulder.
``I'm not asleep,'' said MacWilliams, sitting up; ``what is it?
What have you been doing?'' he demanded. ``Not working?''
``There were some reports came in after we left,'' said Clay,
``and I find I will have to see Kirkland to-morrow morning. Send
them word to run me down on an engine at five-thirty, will you?
I am sorry to have to wake you, but I couldn't remember in
which shack that engineer lives.''
MacWilliams jumped from his bed and began kicking about the floor
for his boots. ``Oh, that's all right,'' he said. ``I wasn't
asleep, I was just--'' he lowered his voice that Langham might
not hear him through the canvas partitions--``I was just lying
awake playing duets with the President, and racing for the
International Cup in my new centre-board yacht, that's all!''
MacWilliams buttoned a waterproof coat over his pajamas and
stamped his bare feet into his boots. ``Oh, I tell you, Clay,''
he said with a grim chuckle, ``we're mixing right in with the
four hundred, we are! I'm substitute and understudy when anybody
gets ill. We're right in our own class at last! Pure amateurs
with no professional record against us. Me and President
Langham, I guess!'' He struck a match and lit the smoky wick in a
``But now,'' he said, cheerfully, ``my time being too valuable
for me to sleep, I will go wake up that nigger engine-driver and
set his alarm clock at five-thirty. Five-thirty, I believe you
said. All right; good-night.'' And whistling cheerfully to
himself MacWilliams disappeared up the hill, his body hidden in
the darkness and his legs showing fantastically in the light
of the swinging lantern.
Clay walked out upon the veranda and stood with his back to one
of the pillars. MacWilliams and his pleasantries disturbed and
troubled him. Perhaps, after all, the boy was right. It seemed
absurd, but it was true. They were only employees of Langham--
two of the thousands of young men who were working all over the
United States to please him, to make him richer, to whom he was
only a name and a power, which meant an increase of salary or the
loss of place.
Clay laughed and shrugged his shoulders. He knew that he was not
in that class; if he did good work it was because his self-
respect demanded it of him; he did not work for Langham or the
Olancho Mining Company (Limited). And yet he turned with almost
a feeling of resentment toward the white yacht lying calmly in
magnificent repose a hundred yards from his porch.
He could see her as clearly in her circle of electric lights as
though she were a picture and held in the light of a stereopticon
on a screen. He could see her white decks, and the rails of
polished brass, and the comfortable wicker chairs and gay
cushions and flat coils of rope, and the tapering masts and
intricate rigging. How easy it was made for some men! This
one had come like the prince in the fairy tale on his magic
carpet. If Alice Langham were to leave Valencia that next day,
Clay could not follow her. He had his duties and
responsibilities; he was at another man's bidding.
But this Prince Fortunatus had but to raise anchor and start in
pursuit, knowing that he would be welcome wherever he found her.
That was the worst of it to Clay, for he knew that men did not
follow women from continent to continent without some assurance
of a friendly greeting. Clay's mind went back to the days when
he was a boy, when his father was absent fighting for a lost
cause; when his mother taught in a little schoolhouse under the
shadow of Pike's Peak, and when Kit Carson was his hero. He
thought of the poverty of those days poverty so mean and hopeless
that it was almost something to feel shame for; of the days that
followed when, an orphan and without a home, he had sailed away
from New Orleans to the Cape. How the mind of the mathematician,
which he had inherited from the Boston schoolmistress, had been
swayed by the spirit of the soldier, which he had inherited from
his father, and which led him from the mines of South Africa to
little wars in Madagascar, Egypt, and Algiers. It had been a
life as restless as the seaweed on a rock. But as he looked
back to its poor beginnings and admitted to himself its later
successes, he gave a sigh of content, and shaking off the mood
stood up and paced the length of the veranda.
He looked up the hill to the low-roofed bungalow with the palm-
leaves about it, outlined against the sky, and as motionless as
patterns cut in tin. He had built that house. He had built it
for her. That was her room where the light was shining out from
the black bulk of the house about it like a star. And beyond the
house he saw his five great mountains, the knuckles of the giant
hand, with its gauntlet of iron that lay shut and clenched in the
face of the sea that swept up whimpering before it. Clay felt a
boyish, foolish pride rise in his breast as he looked toward the
great mines he had discovered and opened, at the iron mountains
that were crumbling away before his touch.
He turned his eyes again to the blazing yacht, and this time
there was no trace of envy in them. He laughed instead, partly
with pleasure at the thought of the struggle he scented in the
air, and partly at his own braggadocio.
``I'm not afraid,'' he said, smiling, and shaking his head at the
white ship that loomed up like a man-of-war in the black waters.
``I'm not afraid to fight you for anything worth fighting for.
He bowed his bared head in good-night toward the light on the
hill, as he turned and walked back into his bedroom. ``And I
think,'' he murmured grimly, as he put out the light, ``that she
is worth fighting for.''
The work which had called Clay to the mines kept him there for
some time, and it was not until the third day after the arrival
of the Langhams that he returned again to the Palms. On the
afternoon when he climbed the hill to the bungalow he found the
Langhams as he had left them, with the difference that King now
occupied a place in the family circle. Clay was made so welcome,
and especially so by King, that he felt rather ashamed of his
sentiments toward him, and considered his three days of absence
to be well repaid by the heartiness of their greeting.
``For myself,'' said Mr. Langham, ``I don't believe you had
anything to do at the mines at all. I think you went away just
to show us how necessary you are. But if you want me to make a
good report of our resident director on my return, you had better
devote yourself less to the mines while you are here and more to
us.'' Clay said he was glad to find that his duties were to be
of so pleasant a nature, and asked them what they had seen and
what they had done.
They told him they had been nowhere, but had waited for his
return in order that he might act as their guide.
``Then you should see the city at once,'' said Clay, ``and I will
have the volante brought to the door, and we can all go in this
afternoon. There is room for the four of you inside, and I can
sit on the box-seat with the driver.''
``No,'' said King, ``let Hope or me sit on the box-seat. Then we
can practise our Spanish on the driver.''
``Not very well,'' Clay replied, ``for the driver sits on the
first horse, like a postilion. It's a sort of tandem without
reins. Haven't you seen it yet? We consider the volante our
proudest exhibit.'' So Clay ordered the volante to be brought
out, and placed them facing each other in the open carriage,
while he climbed to the box-seat, from which position of vantage
he pointed out and explained the objects of interest they passed,
after the manner of a professional guide. It was a warm,
beautiful afternoon, and the clear mists of the atmosphere
intensified the rich blue of the sky, and the brilliant colors of
the houses, and the different shades of green of the trees and
bushes that lined the highroad to the capital.
``To the right, as we descend,'' said Clay, speaking over his
shoulder, ``you see a tin house. It is the home of the
resident director of the Olancho Mining Company (Limited), and of
his able lieutenants, Mr. Theodore Langham and Mr. MacWilliams.
The building on the extreme left is the round-house, in which Mr.
MacWilliams stores his three locomotive engines, and in the far
middle-distance is Mr. MacWilliams himself in the act of
repairing a water-tank. He is the one in a suit of blue
overalls, and as his language at such times is free, we will
drive rapidly on and not embarrass him. Besides,'' added the
engineer, with the happy laugh of a boy who had been treated to a
holiday, ``I am sure that I am not setting him the example of
fixity to duty which he should expect from his chief.''
They passed between high hedges of Spanish bayonet, and came to
mud cabins thatched with palm-leaves, and alive with naked,
little brown-bodied children, who laughed and cheered to them as
``It's a very beautiful country for the pueblo,'' was Clay's
comment. ``Different parts of the same tree furnish them with
food, shelter, and clothing, and the sun gives them fuel, and the
Government changes so often that they can always dodge the tax-
From the mud cabins they came to more substantial one-story
houses of adobe, with the walls painted in two distinct
colors, blue, pink, or yellow, with red-tiled roofs, and the
names with which they had been christened in bold black letters
above the entrances. Then the carriage rattled over paved
streets, and they drove between houses of two stories painted
more decorously in pink and light blue, with wide-open windows,
guarded by heavy bars of finely wrought iron and ornamented with
scrollwork in stucco. The principal streets were given up to
stores and cafe's, all wide open to the pavement and protected
from the sun by brilliantly striped awnings, and gay with the
national colors of Olancho in flags and streamers. In front of
them sat officers in uniform, and the dark-skinned dandies of
Valencia, in white duck suits and Panama hats, toying with
tortoise shell canes, which could be converted, if the occasion
demanded, into blades of Toledo steel. In the streets were
priests and bare-legged mule drivers, and ragged ranchmen with
red-caped cloaks hanging to their sandals, and negro women, with
bare shoulders and long trains, vending lottery tickets and
rolling huge cigars between their lips. It was an old story to
Clay and King, but none of the others had seen a Spanish-American
city before; they were familiar with the Far East and the
Mediterranean, but not with the fierce, hot tropics of their
sister continent, and so their eyes were wide open, and they
kept calling continually to one another to notice some new place
They in their turn did not escape from notice or comment. The
two sisters would have been conspicuous anywhere--in a queen's
drawing-room or on an Indian reservation. Theirs was a type that
the caballeros and senoritas did not know. With them dark
hair was always associated with dark complexions, the rich
duskiness of which was always vulgarized by a coat of powder, and
this fair blending of pink and white skin under masses of black
hair was strangely new, so that each of the few women who were to
be met on the street turned to look after the carriage, while the
American women admired their mantillas, and felt that the straw
sailor-hats they wore had become heavy and unfeminine.
Clay was very happy in picking out what was most characteristic
and picturesque, and every street into which he directed the
driver to take them seemed to possess some building or monument
that was of peculiar interest. They did not know that he had
mapped out this ride many times before, and was taking them over
a route which he had already travelled with them in imagination.
King knew what the capital would be like before he entered it,
from his experience of other South American cities, but he acted
as though it were all new to him, and allowed Clay to
explain, and to give the reason for those features of the place
that were unusual and characteristic. Clay noticed this and
appealed to him from time to time, when he was in doubt; but the
other only smiled back and shook his head, as much as to say,
``This is your city; they would rather hear about it from you.''
Clay took them to the principal shops, where the two girls held
whispered consultations over lace mantillas, which they had at
once determined to adopt, and bought the gorgeous paper fans,
covered with brilliant pictures of bull-fighters in suits of
silver tinsel; and from these open stores he led them to a dingy
little shop, where there was old silver and precious hand-painted
fans of mother-of-pearl that had been pawned by families who had
risked and lost all in some revolution; and then to another shop,
where two old maiden ladies made a particularly good guava; and
to tobacconists, where the men bought a few of the native cigars,
which, as they were a monopoly of the Government, were as bad as
Government monopolies always are.
Clay felt a sudden fondness for the city, so grateful was he to
it for entertaining her as it did, and for putting its best front
forward for her delectation. He wanted to thank some one for
building the quaint old convent, with its yellow walls
washed to an orange tint, and black in spots with dampness; and
for the fountain covered with green moss that stood before its
gate, and around which were gathered the girls and women of the
neighborhood with red water-jars on their shoulders, and little
donkeys buried under stacks of yellow sugar-cane, and the negro
drivers of the city's green water-carts, and the blue wagons that
carried the manufactured ice. Toward five o'clock they decided
to spend the rest of the day in the city, and to telephone for
the two boys to join them at La Venus, the great restaurant on
the plaza, where Clay had invited them to dine.
He suggested that they should fill out the time meanwhile by a
call on the President, and after a search for cards in various
pocketbooks, they drove to the Government palace, which stood in
an open square in the heart of the city.
As they arrived the President and his wife were leaving for their
afternoon drive on the Alameda, the fashionable parade-ground of
the city, and the state carriage and a squad of cavalry appeared
from the side of the palace as the visitors drove up to the
entrance. But at the sight of Clay, General Alvarez and his wife
retreated to the house again and made them welcome. The
President led the men into his reception-room and
entertained them with champagne and cigarettes, not manufactured
by his Government; and his wife, after first conducting the girls
through the state drawing-room, where the late sunlight shone
gloomily on strange old portraits of assassinated presidents and
victorious generals, and garish yellow silk furniture, brought
them to her own apartments, and gave them tea after a civilized
fashion, and showed them how glad she was to see some one of her
own world again.
During their short visit Madame Alvarez talked a greater part of
the time herself, addressing what she said to Miss Langham, but
looking at Hope. It was unusual for Hope to be singled out in
this way when her sister was present, and both the sisters
noticed it and spoke of it afterwards. They thought Madame
Alvarez very beautiful and distinguished-looking, and she
impressed them, even after that short knowledge of her, as a
woman of great force of character.
``She was very well dressed for a Spanish woman,'' was Miss
Langham's comment, later in the afternoon. ``But everything she
had on was just a year behind the fashions, or twelve steamer
days behind, as Mr. MacWilliams puts it.''
``She reminded me,'' said Hope, ``of a black panther I saw once
in a circus.''
``Dear me!'' exclaimed the sister, ``I don't see that at all.
Hope said she did not know why; she was not given to analyzing
her impressions or offering reasons for them. ``Because the
panther looked so unhappy,'' she explained, doubtfully, ``and
restless; and he kept pacing up and down all the time, and
hitting his head against the bars as he walked as though he liked
the pain. Madame Alvarez seemed to me to be just like that--as
though she were shut up somewhere and wanted to be free.''
When Madame Alvarez and the two sisters had joined the men, they
all walked together to the terrace, and the visitors waited until
the President and his wife should take their departure. Hope
noticed, in advance of the escort of native cavalry, an auburn-
haired, fair-skinned young man who was sitting an English saddle.
The officer's eyes were blue and frank and attractive-looking,
even as they then were fixed ahead of him with a military lack of
expression; but he came to life very suddenly when the President
called to him, and prodded his horse up to the steps and
dismounted. He was introduced by Alvarez as ``Captain Stuart of
my household troops, late of the Gordon Highlanders. Captain
Stuart,'' said the President, laying his hand affectionately on
the younger man's epaulette, ``takes care of my life and the
safety of my home and family. He could have the command of the
army if he wished; but no, he is fond of us, and he tells me we
are in more need of protection from our friends at home than from
our enemies on the frontier. Perhaps he knows best. I trust
him, Mr. Langham,'' added the President, solemnly, ``as I trust
no other man in all this country.''
``I am very glad to meet Captain Stuart, I am sure,'' said Mr.
Langham, smiling, and appreciating how the shyness of the
Englishman must be suffering under the praises of the Spaniard.
And Stuart was indeed so embarrassed that he flushed under his
tan, and assured Clay, while shaking hands with them all, that he
was delighted to make his acquaintance; at which the others
laughed, and Stuart came to himself sufficiently to laugh with
them, and to accept Clay's invitation to dine with them later.
They found the two boys waiting in the cafe' of the restaurant
where they had arranged to meet, and they ascended the steps
together to the table on the balcony that Clay had reserved for
The young engineer appeared at his best as host. The
responsibility of seeing that a half-dozen others were amused and
content sat well upon him; and as course followed course, and
the wines changed, and the candles left the rest of the room
in darkness and showed only the table and the faces around it,
they all became rapidly more merry and the conversation
Clay knew the kind of table-talk to which the Langhams were
accustomed, and used the material around his table in such a way
that the talk there was vastly different. From King he drew
forth tales of the buried cities he had first explored, and then
robbed of their ugliest idols. He urged MacWilliams to tell
carefully edited stories of life along the Chagres before the
Scandal came, and of the fastnesses of the Andes; and even Stuart
grew braver and remembered ``something of the same sort'' he had
seen at Fort Nilt, in Upper Burma.
``Of course,'' was Clay's comment at the conclusion of one of
these narratives, ``being an Englishman, Stuart left out the
point of the story, which was that he blew in the gates of the
fort with a charge of dynamite. He got a D. S. O. for doing
``Being an Englishman,'' said Hope, smiling encouragingly on the
conscious Stuart, ``he naturally would leave that out.''
Mr. Langham and his daughters formed an eager audience. They had
never before met at one table three men who had known such
experiences, and who spoke of them as though they must be as
familiar in the lives of the others as in their own--men who
spoiled in the telling stories that would have furnished
incidents for melodramas, and who impressed their hearers more
with what they left unsaid, and what was only suggested, than
what in their view was the most important point.
The dinner came to an end at last, and Mr. Langham proposed that
they should go down and walk with the people in the plaza; but
his two daughters preferred to remain as spectators on the
balcony, and Clay and Stuart stayed with them.
``At last!'' sighed Clay, under his breath, seating himself at
Miss Langham's side as she sat leaning forward with her arms upon
the railing and looking down into the plaza below. She made no
sign at first that she had heard him, but as the voices of Stuart
and Hope rose from the other end of the balcony she turned her
head and asked, ``Why at last?''
``Oh, you couldn't understand,'' laughed Clay. ``You have not
been looking forward to just one thing and then had it come true.
It is the only thing that ever did come true to me, and I thought
it never would.''
``You don't try to make me understand,'' said the girl,
smiling, but without turning her eyes from the moving spectacle
below her. Clay considered her challenge silently. He did not
know just how much it might mean from her, and the smile robbed
it of all serious intent; so he, too, turned and looked down into
the great square below them, content, now that she was alone with
him, to take his time.
At one end of the plaza the President's band was playing native
waltzes that came throbbing through the trees and beating softly
above the rustling skirts and clinking spurs of the senoritas
and officers, sweeping by in two opposite circles around the
edges of the tessellated pavements. Above the palms around the
square arose the dim, white facade of the cathedral, with the
bronze statue of Anduella, the liberator of Olancho, who answered
with his upraised arm and cocked hat the cheers of an imaginary
populace. Clay's had been an unobtrusive part in the evening's
entertainment, but he saw that the others had been pleased, and
felt a certain satisfaction in thinking that King himself could
not have planned and carried out a dinner more admirable in every
way. He was gratified that they should know him to be not
altogether a barbarian. But what he best liked to remember was
that whenever he had spoken she had listened, even when her eyes
were turned away and she was pretending to listen to some
one else. He tormented himself by wondering whether this was
because he interested her only as a new and strange character, or
whether she felt in some way how eagerly he was seeking her
approbation. For the first time in his life he found himself
considering what he was about to say, and he suited it for her
possible liking. It was at least some satisfaction that she had,
if only for the time being, singled him out as of especial
interest, and he assured himself that the fault would be his if
her interest failed. He no longer looked on himself as an
Stuart's voice arose from the farther end of the balcony, where
the white figure of Hope showed dimly in the darkness.
``They are talking about you over there,'' said Miss Langham,
turning toward him.
``Well, I don't mind,'' answered Clay, ``as long as they talk
about me--over there.''
Miss Langham shook her head. ``You are very frank and
audacious,'' she replied, doubtfully, ``but it is rather pleasant
as a change.''
``I don't call that audacious, to say I don't want to be
interrupted when I am talking to you. Aren't the men you meet
generally audacious?'' he asked. ``I can see why not--though,''
he continued, ``you awe them.''
``I can't think that's a nice way to affect people,'' protested
Miss Langham, after a pause. ``I don't awe you, do I?''
``Oh, you affect me in many different ways,'' returned Clay,
cheerfully. ``Sometimes I am very much afraid of you, and then
again my feelings are only those of unlimited admiration.''
``There, again, what did I tell you?'' said Miss Langham.
``Well, I can't help doing that,'' said Clay. ``That is one of
the few privileges that is left to a man in my position--it
doesn't matter what I say. That is the advantage of being of no
account and hopelessly detrimental. The eligible men of the
world, you see, have to be so very careful. A Prime Minister,
for instance, can't talk as he wishes, and call names if he wants
to, or write letters, even. Whatever he says is so important,
because he says it, that he must be very discreet. I am so
unimportant that no one minds what I say, and so I say it. It's
the only comfort I have.''
``Are you in the habit of going around the world saying whatever
you choose to every woman you happen to--to--'' Miss Langham
``To admire very much,'' suggested Clay.
``To meet,'' corrected Miss Langham. ``Because, if you are, it
is a very dangerous and selfish practice, and I think your
theory of non-responsibility is a very wicked one.''
``Well, I wouldn't say it to a child,'' mused Clay, ``but to one
who must have heard it before--''
``And who, you think, would like to hear it again, perhaps,''
interrupted Miss Langham.
``No, not at all,'' said Clay. ``I don't say it to give her
pleasure, but because it gives me pleasure to say what I think.''
``If we are to continue good friends, Mr. Clay,'' said Miss
Langham, in decisive tones, ``we must keep our relationship on
more of a social and less of a personal basis. It was all very
well that first night I met you,'' she went on, in a kindly tone.
``You rushed in then and by a sort of tour de force made me
think a great deal about myself and also about you. Your stories
of cherished photographs and distant devotion and all that were
very interesting; but now we are to be together a great deal, and
if we are to talk about ourselves all the time, I for one shall
grow very tired of it. As a matter of fact you don't know what
your feelings are concerning me, and until you do we will talk
less about them and more about the things you are certain of.
When are you going to take us to the mines, for instance, and who
was Anduella, the Liberator of Olancho, on that pedestal
over there? Now, isn't that much more instructive?''
Clay smiled grimly and made no answer, but sat with knitted brows
looking out across the trees of the plaza. His face was so
serious and he was apparently giving such earnest consideration
to what she had said that Miss Langham felt an uneasy sense of
remorse. And, moreover, the young man's profile, as he sat
looking away from her, was very fine, and the head on his broad
shoulders was as well-modelled as the head of an Athenian statue.
Miss Langham was not insensible to beauty of any sort, and she
regarded the profile with perplexity and with a softening spirit.
``You understand,'' she said, gently, being quite certain that
she did not understand this new order of young man herself.
``You are not offended with me?'' she asked.
Clay turned and frowned, and then smiled in a puzzled way and
stretched out his hand toward the equestrian statue in the plaza.
``Andulla or Anduella, the Treaty-Maker, as they call him, was
born in 1700,'' he said; ``he was a most picturesque sort of a
chap, and freed this country from the yoke of Spain. One of the
stories they tell of him gives you a good idea of his
character.'' And so, without any change of expression or
reference to what had just passed between them, Clay
continued through the remainder of their stay on the balcony to
discourse in humorous, graphic phrases on the history of Olancho,
its heroes, and its revolutions, the buccaneers and pirates of
the old days, and the concession-hunters and filibusters of the
present. It was some time before Miss Langham was able to give
him her full attention, for she was considering whether he could
be so foolish as to have taken offence at what she said, and
whether he would speak of it again, and in wondering whether a
personal basis for conversation was not, after all, more
entertaining than anecdotes of the victories and heroism of dead
and buried Spaniards.
``That Captain Stuart,'' said Hope to her sister, as they drove
home together through the moonlight, ``I like him very much. He
seems to have such a simple idea of what is right and good. It
is like a child talking. Why, I am really much older than he is
in everything but years--why is that?''
``I suppose it's because we always talk before you as though you
were a grown-up person,'' said her sister. ``But I agree with
you about Captain Stuart; only, why is he down here? If he is a
gentleman, why is he not in his own army? Was he forced to leave
``Oh, he seems to have a very good position here,'' said Mr.
Langham. ``In England, at his age, he would be only a second-
lieutenant. Don't you remember what the President said, that he
would trust him with the command of his army? That's certainly a
responsible position, and it shows great confidence in him.''
``Not so great, it seems to me,'' said King, carelessly, ``as he
is showing him in making him the guardian of his hearth and home.
Did you hear what he said to-day? `He guards my home and my
family.' I don't think a man's home and family are among the
things he can afford to leave to the protection of stray English
subalterns. From all I hear, it would be better if President
Alvarez did less plotting and protected his own house himself.''
``The young man did not strike me as the sort of person,'' said
Mr. Langham, warmly, ``who would be likely to break his word to
the man who is feeding him and sheltering him, and whose uniform
he wears. I don't think the President's home is in any danger
from within. Madame Alvarez--''
Clay turned suddenly in his place on the box-seat of the
carriage, where he had been sitting, a silent, misty statue in
the moonlight, and peered down on those in the carriage below
``Madame Alvarez needs no protection, as you were about to
say, Mr. Langham,'' he interrupted, quickly. ``Those who know
her could say nothing against her, and those who do not know her
would not so far forget themselves as to dare to do it. Have you
noticed the effect of the moonlight on the walls of the
convent?'' he continued, gently. ``It makes them quite white.''
``No,'' exclaimed Mr. Langham and King, hurriedly, as they both
turned and gazed with absorbing interest at the convent on the
hills above them.
Before the sisters went to sleep that night Hope came to the door
of her sister's room and watched Alice admiringly as she sat
before the mirror brushing out her hair.
``I think it's going to be fine down here; don't you, Alice?''
she asked. ``Everything is so different from what it is at home,
and so beautiful, and I like the men we've met. Isn't that Mr.
MacWilliams funny--and he is so tough. And Captain Stuart--it is
a pity he's shy. The only thing he seems to be able to talk
about is Mr. Clay. He worships Mr. Clay!''
``Yes,'' assented her sister, ``I noticed on the balcony that you
seemed to have found some way to make him speak.''
``Well, that was it. He likes to talk about Mr. Clay, and I
wanted to listen. Oh! he is a fine man. He has done more
``Who? Captain Stuart?''
``No--Mr. Clay. He's been in three real wars and about a dozen
little ones, and he's built thousands of miles of railroads, I
don't know how many thousands, but Captain Stuart knows; and he
built the highest bridge in Peru. It swings in the air across a
chasm, and it rocks when the wind blows. And the German Emperor
made him a Baron.''
``I don't know. I couldn't understand. It was something about
plans for fortifications. He, Mr. Clay, put up a fort in the
harbor of Rio Janeiro during a revolution, and the officers on a
German man-of-war saw it and copied the plans, and the Germans
built one just like it, only larger, on the Baltic, and when the
Emperor found out whose design it was, he sent Mr. Clay the order
of something-or-other, and made him a Baron.''
``Really,'' exclaimed the elder sister, ``isn't he afraid that
some one will marry him for his title?''
``Oh, well, you can laugh, but I think it's pretty fine, and so
does Ted,'' added Hope, with the air of one who propounds a final
``Oh, I beg your pardon,'' laughed Alice. ``If Ted approves we
must all go down and worship.''
``And father, too,'' continued Hope. ``He said he thought Mr.
Clay was one of the most remarkable men for his years that he had
Miss Langham's eyes were hidden by the masses of her black hair
that she had shaken over her face, and she said nothing.
``And I liked the way he shut Reggie King up too,'' continued
Hope, stoutly, ``when he and father were talking that way about
``Yes, upon my word,'' exclaimed her sister, impatiently tossing
her hair back over her shoulders. ``I really cannot see that
Madame Alvarez is in need of any champion. I thought Mr. Clay
made it very much worse by rushing in the way he did. Why should
he take it upon himself to correct a man as old as my father?''
``I suppose because Madame Alvarez is a friend of his,'' Hope
``My dear child, a beautiful woman can always find some man to
take her part,'' said Miss Langham. ``But I've no doubt,'' she
added, rising and kissing her sister good-night, ``that he is all
that your Captain Stuart thinks him; but he is not going to keep
us awake any longer, is he, even if he does show such gallant
interest in old ladies?''
``Old ladies!'' exclaimed Hope in amazement.
But her sister only laughed and waved her out of the room, and
Hope walked away frowning in much perplexity.
The visit to the city was imitated on the three succeeding
evenings by similar excursions. On one night they returned to
the plaza, and the other two were spent in drifting down the
harbor and along the coast on King's yacht. The President and
Madame Alvarez were King's guests on one of these moonlight
excursions, and were saluted by the proper number of guns, and
their native band played on the forward deck. Clay felt that
King held the centre of the stage for the time being, and
obliterated himself completely. He thought of his own paddle-
wheel tug-boat that he had had painted and gilded in her honor,
and smiled grimly.
MacWilliams approached him as he sat leaning back on the rail and
looking up, with the eye of a man who had served before the mast,
at the lacework of spars and rigging above him. MacWilliams came
toward him on tiptoe and dropped carefully into a wicker chair.
``There don't seem to be any door-mats on this boat,'' he said.
``In every other respect she seems fitted out quite
complete; all the latest magazines and enamelled bathtubs,
and Chinese waiter-boys with cock-tails up their sleeves. But
there ought to be a mat at the top of each of those stairways
that hang over the side, otherwise some one is sure to soil the
deck. Have you been down in the engine-room yet?'' he asked.
``Well, don't go, then,'' he advised, solemnly. ``It will only
make you feel badly. I have asked the Admiral if I can send
those half-breed engine drivers over to-morrow to show them what
a clean engine-room looks like. I've just been talking to the
chief. His name's MacKenzie, and I told him I was Scotch myself,
and he said it `was a greet pleesure' to find a gentleman so well
acquainted with the movements of machinery. He thought I was one
of King's friends, I guess, so I didn't tell him I pulled a lever
for a living myself. I gave him a cigar though, and he said,
`Thankee, sir,' and touched his cap to me.''
MacWilliams chuckled at the recollection, and crossed his legs
comfortably. ``One of King's cigars, too,'' he said. ``Real
Havana; he leaves them lying around loose in the cabin. Have you
had one? Ted Langham and I took about a box between us.''
Clay made no answer, and MacWilliams settled himself contentedly
in the great wicker chair and puffed grandly on a huge cigar.
``It's demoralizing, isn't it?'' he said at last.
``What?'' asked Clay, absently.
``Oh, this associating with white people again, as we're doing
now. It spoils you for tortillas and rice, doesn't it? It's
going to be great fun while it lasts, but when they've all gone,
and Ted's gone, too, and the yacht's vanished, and we fall back
to tramping around the plaza twice a week, it won't be gay, will
it? No; it won't be gay. We're having the spree of our lives
now, I guess, but there's going to be a difference in the
``Oh, it's worth a headache, I think,'' said Clay, as he shrugged
his shoulders and walked away to find Miss Langham.
The day set for the visit to the mines rose bright and clear.
MacWilliams had rigged out his single passenger-car with rugs and
cushions, and flags flew from its canvas top that flapped and
billowed in the wind of the slow-moving train. Their
observation-car, as MacWilliams termed it, was placed in front of
the locomotive, and they were pushed gently along the narrow
rails between forests of Manaca palms, and through swamps and
jungles, and at times over the limestone formation along the
coast, where the waves dashed as high as the smokestack of the
locomotive, covering the excursionists with a sprinkling of white
spray. Thousands of land-crabs, painted red and black and
yellow, scrambled with a rattle like dead men's bones across the
rails to be crushed by the hundreds under the wheels of the
Juggernaut; great lizards ran from sunny rocks at the sound of
their approach, and a deer bounded across the tracks fifty feet
in front of the cow-catcher. MacWilliams escorted Hope out into
the cab of the locomotive, and taught her how to increase and
slacken the speed of the engine, until she showed an unruly
desire to throw the lever open altogether and shoot them off the
rails into the ocean beyond.
Clay sat at the back of the car with Miss Langham, and told her
and her father of the difficulties with which young MacWilliams
had had to contend. Miss Langham found her chief pleasure in
noting the attention which her father gave to all that Clay had
to tell him. Knowing her father as she did, and being familiar
with his manner toward other men, she knew that he was treating
Clay with unusual consideration. And this pleased her greatly,
for it justified her own interest in him. She regarded Clay as a
discovery of her own, but she was glad to have her opinion of him
shared by others.
Their coming was a great event in the history of the mines.
Kirkland, the foreman, and Chapman, who handled the
dynamite, Weimer, the Consul, and the native doctor, who cared
for the fever-stricken and the casualties, were all at the
station to meet them in the whitest of white duck and with a
bunch of ponies to carry them on their tour of inspection, and
the village of mudDcabins and zinc-huts that stood clear of the
bare sunbaked earth on whitewashed wooden piles was as clean as
Clay's hundred policemen could sweep it. Mr. Langham rode in
advance of the cavalcade, and the head of each of the different
departments took his turn in riding at his side, and explained
what had been done, and showed him the proud result. The village
was empty, except for the families of the native workmen and the
ownerless dogs, the scavengers of the colony, that snarled and
barked and ran leaping in front of the ponies' heads.
Rising abruptly above the zinc village, lay the first of the five
great hills, with its open front cut into great terraces, on
which the men clung like flies on the side of a wall, some of
them in groups around an opening, or in couples pounding a steel
bar that a fellow-workman turned in his bare hands, while others
gathered about the panting steam-drills that shook the solid rock
with fierce, short blows, and hid the men about them in a
throbbing curtain of steam. Self-important little dummy-
engines, dragging long trains of ore-cars, rolled and rocked on
the uneven surface of the ground, and swung around corners with
warning screeches of their whistles. They could see, on peaks
outlined against the sky, the signal-men waving their red flags,
and then plunging down the mountain-side out of danger, as the
earth rumbled and shook and vomited out a shower of stones and
rubbish into the calm hot air. It was a spectacle of desperate
activity and puzzling to the uninitiated, for it seemed to be
scattered over an unlimited extent, with no head nor direction,
and with each man, or each group of men, working alone, like rag-
pickers on a heap of ashes.
After the first half-hour of curious interest Miss Langham
admitted to herself that she was disappointed. She confessed she
had hoped that Clay would explain the meaning of the mines to
her, and act as her escort over the mountains which he was
blowing into pieces.
But it was King, somewhat bored by the ceaseless noise and heat,
and her brother, incoherently enthusiastic, who rode at her side,
while Clay moved on in advance and seemed to have forgotten her
existence. She watched him pointing up at the openings in the
mountains and down at the ore-road, or stooping to pick up a
piece of ore from the ground in cowboy fashion, without
leaving his saddle, and pounding it on the pommel before he
passed it to the others. And, again, he would stand for minutes
at a time up to his boot-tops in the sliding waste, with his
bridle rein over his arm and his thumbs in his belt, listening to
what his lieutenants were saying, and glancing quickly from them
to Mr. Langham to see if he were following the technicalities of
their speech. All of the men who had welcomed the appearance of
the women on their arrival with such obvious delight and with so
much embarrassment seemed now as oblivious of their presence as
Miss Langham pushed her horse up into the group beside Hope, who
had kept her pony close at Clay's side from the beginning; but
she could not make out what it was they were saying, and no one
seemed to think it necessary to explain. She caught Clay's eye
at last and smiled brightly at him; but, after staring at her for
fully a minute, until Kirkland had finished speaking, she heard
him say, ``Yes, that's it exactly; in open-face workings there is
no other way,'' and so showed her that he had not been even
conscious of her presence. But a few minutes later she saw him
look up at Hope, folding his arms across his chest tightly and
shaking his head. ``You see it was the only thing to do,'' she
heard him say, as though he were defending some course of
action, and as though Hope were one of those who must be
convinced. ``If we had cut the opening on the first level, there
was the danger of the whole thing sinking in, so we had to begin
to clear away at the top and work down. That's why I ordered the
bucket-trolley. As it turned out, we saved money by it.''
Hope nodded her head slightly. ``That's what I told father when
Ted wrote us about it,'' she said; ``but you haven't done it at
``Oh, but it's like this, Miss--'' Kirkland replied, eagerly.
``It's because Washington is a solider foundation. We can cut
openings all over it and they won't cave, but this hill is most
all rubbish; it's the poorest stuff in the mines.''
Hope nodded her head again and crowded her pony on after the
moving group, but her sister and King did not follow. King
looked at her and smiled. ``Hope is very enthusiastic,'' he
said. ``Where did she pick it up?''
``Oh, she and father used to go over it in his study last winter
after Ted came down here,'' Miss Langham answered, with a touch
of impatience in her tone. ``Isn't there some place where we can
go to get out of this heat?''
Weimer, the Consul, heard her and led her back to Kirkland's
bungalow, that hung like an eagle's nest from a projecting cliff.
From its porch they could look down the valley over the greater
part of the mines, and beyond to where the Caribbean Sea lay
flashing in the heat.
``I saw very few Americans down there, Weimer,'' said King. ``I
thought Clay had imported a lot of them.''
``About three hundred altogether, wild Irishmen and negroes,''
said the Consul; ``but we use the native soldiers chiefly. They
can stand the climate better, and, besides,'' he added, ``they
act as a reserve in case of trouble. They are Mendoza's men, and
Clay is trying to win them away from him.''
``I don't understand,'' said King.
Weimer looked around him and waited until Kirkland's servant had
deposited a tray full of bottles and glasses on a table near
them, and had departed. ``The talk is,'' he said, ``that Alvarez
means to proclaim a dictatorship in his own favor before the
spring elections. You've heard of that, haven't you?'' King
shook his head.
``Oh, tell us about it,'' said Miss Langham; ``I should so like
to be in plots and conspiracies.''
``Well, they're rather common down here,'' continued the Consul,
``but this one ought to interest you especially, Miss Langham,
because it is a woman who is at the head of it. Madame
Alvarez, you know, was the Countess Manueleta Hernandez before
her marriage. She belongs to one of the oldest families in
Spain. Alvarez married her in Madrid, when he was Minister
there, and when he returned to run for President, she came with
him. She's a tremendously ambitious woman, and they do say she
wants to convert the republic into a monarchy, and make her
husband King, or, more properly speaking, make herself Queen. Of
course that's absurd, but she is supposed to be plotting to turn
Olancho into a sort of dependency of Spain, as it was long ago,
and that's why she is so unpopular.''
``Indeed?'' interrupted Miss Langham, ``I did not know that she
``Oh, rather. Why, her party is called the Royalist Party
already, and only a week before you came the Liberals plastered
the city with denunciatory placards against her, calling on the
people to drive her out of the country.''
``What cowards--to fight a woman!'' exclaimed Miss Langham.
``Well, she began it first, you see,'' said the Consul.
``Who is the leader of the fight against her?'' asked King.
``General Mendoza; he is commander-in-chief and has the
greater part of the army with him, but the other candidate, old
General Rojas, is the popular choice and the best of the three.
He is Vice-President now, and if the people were ever given a
fair chance to vote for the man they want, he would
unquestionably be the next President. The mass of the people are
sick of revolutions. They've had enough of them, but they will
have to go through another before long, and if it turns against
Dr. Alvarez, I'm afraid Mr. Langham will have hard work to hold
these mines. You see, Mendoza has already threatened to seize
the whole plant and turn it into a Government monopoly.''
``And if the other one, General Rojas, gets into power, will he
seize the mines, too?''
``No, he is honest, strange to relate,'' laughed Weimer, ``but he
won't get in. Alvarez will make himself dictator, or Mendoza
will make himself President. That's why Clay treats the soldiers
here so well. He thinks he may need them against Mendoza. You
may be turning your saluting-gun on the city yet, Commodore,'' he
added, smiling, ``or, what is more likely, you'll need the yacht
to take Miss Langham and the rest of the family out of the
King smiled and Miss Langham regarded Weimer with flattering
interest. ``I've got a quick firing gun below decks,'' said
King, ``that I used in the Malaysian Peninsula on a junkful of
Black Flags, and I think I'll have it brought up. And there are
about thirty of my men on the yacht who wouldn't ask for their
wages in a year if I'd let them go on shore and mix up in a
fight. When do you suppose this--''
A heavy step and the jingle of spurs on the bare floor of the
bungalow startled the conspirators, and they turned and gazed
guiltily out at the mountain-tops above them as Clay came
hurrying out upon the porch.
``They told me you were here,'' he said, speaking to Miss
Langham. ``I'm so sorry it tired you. I should have
remembered--it is a rough trip when you're not used to it,'' he
added, remorsefully. ``But I'm glad Weimer was here to take care
``It was just a trifle hot and noisy,'' said Miss Langham,
smiling sweetly. She put her hand to her forehead with an
expression of patient suffering. ``It made my head ache a
little, but it was most interesting.'' She added, ``You are
certainly to be congratulated on your work.''
Clay glanced at her doubtfully with a troubled look, and turned
away his eyes to the busy scene below him. He was greatly hurt
that she should have cared so little, and indignant at himself
for being so unjust. Why should he expect a woman to find
interest in that hive of noise and sweating energy? But even as
he stood arguing with himself his eyes fell on a slight figure
sitting erect and graceful on her pony's back, her white habit
soiled and stained red with the ore of the mines, and green where
it had crushed against the leaves. She was coming slowly up the
trail with a body-guard of half a dozen men crowding closely
around her, telling her the difficulties of the work, and
explaining their successes, and eager for a share of her quick
Clay's eyes fixed themselves on the picture, and he smiled at its
significance. Miss Langham noticed the look, and glanced below
to see what it was that had so interested him, and then back at
him again. He was still watching the approaching cavalcade
intently, and smiling to himself. Miss Langham drew in her
breath and raised her head and shoulders quickly, like a deer
that hears a footstep in the forest, and when Hope presently
stepped out upon the porch, she turned quickly toward her, and
regarded her steadily, as though she were a stranger to her, and
as though she were trying to see her with the eyes of one who
looked at her for the first time.
``Hope!'' she said, ``do look at your dress!''
Hope's face was glowing with the unusual exercise, and her
eyes were brilliant. Her hair had slipped down beneath the visor
of her helmet.
``I am so tired--and so hungry.'' She was laughing and looking
directly at Clay. ``It has been a wonderful thing to have
seen,'' she said, tugging at her heavy gauntlet, ``and to have
done,'' she added. She pulled off her glove and held out her
hand to Clay, moist and scarred with the pressure of the reins.
``Thank you,'' she said, simply.
The master of the mines took it with a quick rush of gratitude,
and looking into the girl's eyes, saw something there that
startled him, so that he glanced quickly past her at the circle
of booted men grouped in the door behind her. They were each
smiling in appreciation of the tableau; her father and Ted,
MacWilliams and Kirkland, and all the others who had helped him.
They seemed to envy, but not to grudge, the whole credit which
the girl had given to him.
Clay thought, ``Why could it not have been the other?'' But he
said aloud, ``Thank YOU. You have given me my reward.''
Miss Langham looked down impatiently into the valley below, and
found that it seemed more hot and noisy, and more grimy than
Clay believed that Alice Langham's visit to the mines had opened
his eyes fully to vast differences between them. He laughed and
railed at himself for having dared to imagine that he was in a
position to care for her. Confident as he was at times, and sure
as he was of his ability in certain directions, he was uneasy and
fearful when he matched himself against a man of gentle birth and
gentle breeding, and one who, like King, was part of a world of
which he knew little, and to which, in his ignorance concerning
it, he attributed many advantages that it did not possess. He
believed that he would always lack the mysterious something which
these others held by right of inheritance. He was still young
and full of the illusions of youth, and so gave false values to
his own qualities, and values equally false to the qualities he
lacked. For the next week he avoided Miss Langham, unless there
were other people present, and whenever she showed him special
favor, he hastily recalled to his mind her failure to sympathize
in his work, and assured himself that if she could not interest
herself in the engineer, he did not care to have her
interested in the man. Other women had found him attractive in
himself; they had cared for his strength of will and mind, and
because he was good to look at. But he determined that this one
must sympathize with his work in the world, no matter how
unpicturesque it might seem to her. His work was the best of
him, he assured himself, and he would stand or fall with it.
It was a week after the visit to the mines that President Alvarez
gave a great ball in honor of the Langhams, to which all of the
important people of Olancho, and the Foreign Ministers were
invited. Miss Langham met Clay on the afternoon of the day set
for the ball, as she was going down the hill to join Hope and her
father at dinner on the yacht.
``Are you not coming, too?'' she asked.
``I wish I could,'' Clay answered. ``King asked me, but a
steamer-load of new machinery arrived to-day, and I have to see
it through the Custom-House.''
Miss Langham gave an impatient little laugh, and shook her head.
``You might wait until we were gone before you bother with your
machinery,'' she said.
``When you are gone I won't be in a state of mind to attend to
machinery or anything else,'' Clay answered.
Miss Langham seemed so far encouraged by this speech that she
seated herself in the boathouse at the end of the wharf. She
pushed her mantilla back from her face and looked up at him,
`` `The time has come, the walrus said,' '' she quoted, `` `to
talk of many things.' ''
Clay laughed and dropped down beside her. ``Well?'' he said.
``You have been rather unkind to me this last week,'' the girl
began, with her eyes fixed steadily on his. ``And that day at
the mines when I counted on you so, you acted abominably.''
Clay's face showed so plainly his surprise at this charge, which
he thought he only had the right to make, that Miss Langham
``I don't understand,'' said Clay, quietly. ``How did I treat
He had taken her so seriously that Miss Langham dropped her
lighter tone and spoke in one more kindly:
``I went out there to see your work at its best. I was only
interested in going because it was your work, and because it was
you who had done it all, and I expected that you would try to
explain it to me and help me to understand, but you didn't. You
treated me as though I had no interest in the matter at all, as
though I was not capable of understanding it. You did not
seem to care whether I was interested or not. In fact, you
forgot me altogether.''
Clay exhibited no evidence of a reproving conscience. ``I am
sorry you had a stupid time,'' he said, gravely.
``I did not mean that, and you know I didn't mean that,'' the
girl answered. ``I wanted to hear about it from you, because you
did it. I wasn't interested so much in what had been done, as I
was in the man who had accomplished it.''
Clay shrugged his shoulders impatiently, and looked across at
Miss Langham with a troubled smile.
``But that's just what I don't want,'' he said. ``Can't you see?
These mines and other mines like them are all I have in the
world. They are my only excuse for having lived in it so long.
I want to feel that I've done something outside of myself, and
when you say that you like me personally, it's as little
satisfaction to me as it must be to a woman to be congratulated
on her beauty, or on her fine voice. That is nothing she has
done herself. I should like you to value what I have done, not
what I happen to be.''
Miss Langham turned her eyes to the harbor, and it was some short
time before she answered.
``You are a very difficult person to please,'' she said,
``and most exacting. As a rule men are satisfied to be liked for
any reason. I confess frankly, since you insist upon it, that I
do not rise to the point of appreciating your work as the others
do. I suppose it is a fault,'' she continued, with an air that
plainly said that she considered it, on the contrary, something
of a virtue. ``And if I knew more about it technically, I might
see more in it to admire. But I am looking farther on for better
things from you. The friends who help us the most are not always
those who consider us perfect, are they?'' she asked, with a
kindly smile. She raised her eyes to the great ore-pier that
stretched out across the water, the one ugly blot in the scene of
natural beauty about them. ``I think that is all very well,''
she said; ``but I certainly expect you to do more than that. I
have met many remarkable men in all parts of the world, and I
know what a strong man is, and you have one of the strongest
personalities I have known. But you can't mean that you are
content to stop with this. You should be something bigger and
more wide-reaching and more lasting. Indeed, it hurts me to see
you wasting your time here over my father's interests. You
should exert that same energy on a broader map. You could make
yourself anything you chose. At home you would be your party's
leader in politics, or you could be a great general, or a
great financier. I say this because I know there are better
things in you, and because I want you to make the most of your
talents. I am anxious to see you put your powers to something
Miss Langham's voice carried with it such a tone of sincerity
that she almost succeeded in deceiving herself. And yet she
would have hardly cared to explain just why she had reproached
the man before her after this fashion. For she knew that when
she spoke as she had done, she was beating about to find some
reason that would justify her in not caring for him, as she knew
she could care--as she would not allow herself to care. The man
at her side had won her interest from the first, and later had
occupied her thoughts so entirely, that it troubled her peace of
mind. Yet she would not let her feeling for him wax and grow
stronger, but kept it down. And she was trying now to persuade
herself that she did this because there was something lacking in
him and not in her.
She was almost angry with him for being so much to her and for
not being more acceptable in little things, like the other men
she knew. So she found this fault with him in order that she
might justify her own lack of feeling.
But Clay, who only heard the words and could not go back of
them to find the motive, could not know this. He sat perfectly
still when she had finished and looked steadily out across the
harbor. His eyes fell on the ugly ore-pier, and he winced and
uttered a short grim laugh.
``That's true, what you say,'' he began, ``I haven't done much.
You are quite right. Only--'' he looked up at her curiously and
smiled--``only you should not have been the one to tell me of
Miss Langham had been so far carried away by her own point of
view that she had not considered Clay, and now that she saw what
mischief she had done, she gave a quick gasp of regret, and
leaned forward as though to add some explanation to what she had
said. But Clay stopped her. ``I mean by that,'' he said, ``that
the great part of the inspiration I have had to do what little I
have done came from you. You were a sort of promise of something
better to me. You were more of a type than an individual woman,
but your picture, the one I carry in my watch, meant all that
part of life that I have never known, the sweetness and the
nobleness and grace of civilization,--something I hoped I would
some day have time to enjoy. So you see,'' he added, with an
uncertain laugh, ``it's less pleasant to hear that I have failed
to make the most of myself from you than from almost any one
``But, Mr. Clay,'' protested the girl, anxiously, ``I think you
have done wonderfully well. I only said that I wanted you to do
more. You are so young and you have--''
Clay did not hear her. He was leaning forward looking moodily
out across the water, with his folded arms clasped across his
``I have not made the most of myself,'' he repeated; ``that is
what you said.'' He spoke the words as though she had delivered
a sentence. ``You don't think well of what I have done, of what
He drew in his breath and shook his head with a hopeless laugh,
and leaned back against the railing of the boat-house with the
weariness in his attitude of a man who has given up after a long
``No,'' he said with a bitter flippancy in his voice, ``I don't
amount to much. But, my God!'' he laughed, and turning his head
away, ``when you think what I was! This doesn't seem much to
you, and it doesn't seem much to me now that I have your point of
view on it, but when I remember!'' Clay stopped again and
pressed his lips together and shook his head. His half-closed
eyes, that seemed to be looking back into his past, lighted as
they fell on King's white yacht, and he raised his arm and
pointed to it with a wave of the hand. ``When I was sixteen
I was a sailor before the mast,'' he said, ``the sort of sailor
that King's crew out there wouldn't recognize in the same
profession. I was of so little account that I've been knocked
the length of the main deck at the end of the mate's fist, and
left to lie bleeding in the scuppers for dead. I hadn't a thing
to my name then but the clothes I wore, and I've had to go aloft
in a hurricane and cling to a swinging rope with my bare toes and
pull at a wet sheet until my finger-nails broke and started in
their sockets; and I've been a cowboy, with no companions for six
months of the year but eight thousand head of cattle and men as
dumb and untamed as the steers themselves. I've sat in my saddle
night after night, with nothing overhead but the stars, and no
sound but the noise of the steers breathing in their sleep. The
women I knew were Indian squaws, and the girls of the sailors'
dance-houses and the gambling-hells of Sioux City and Abilene,
and Callao and Port Said. That was what I was and those were
my companions. ``Why!'' he laughed, rising and striding across
the boat-house with his hands locked behind him, ``I've fought on
the mud floor of a Mexican shack, with a naked knife in my hand,
for my last dollar. I was as low and as desperate as that. And
now--'' Clay lifted his head and smiled. ``Now,'' he said,
in a lower voice and addressing Miss Langham with a return of his
usual grave politeness, ``I am able to sit beside you and talk to
you. I have risen to that. I am quite content.''
He paused and looked at Miss Langham uncertainly for a few
moments as though in doubt as to whether she would understand him
if he continued.
``And though it means nothing to you,'' he said, ``and though as
you say I am here as your father's employee, there are other
places, perhaps, where I am better known. In Edinburgh or Berlin
or Paris, if you were to ask the people of my own profession,
they could tell you something of me. If I wished it, I could
drop this active work tomorrow and continue as an adviser, as an
expert, but I like the active part better. I like doing things
myself. I don't say, `I am a salaried servant of Mr. Langham's;'
I put it differently. I say, `There are five mountains of iron.
You are to take them up and transport them from South America to
North America, where they will be turned into railroads and
ironclads.' That's my way of looking at it. It's better to bind
a laurel to the plough than to call yourself hard names. It
makes your work easier--almost noble. Cannot you see it that
Before Miss Langham could answer, a deprecatory cough from
one side of the open boat-house startled them, and turning they
saw MacWilliams coming toward them. They had been so intent upon
what Clay was saying that he had approached them over the soft
sand of the beach without their knowing it. Miss Langham
welcomed his arrival with evident pleasure.
``The launch is waiting for you at the end of the pier,''
MacWilliams said. Miss Langham rose and the three walked
together down the length of the wharf, MacWilliams moving briskly
in advance in order to enable them to continue the conversation
he had interrupted, but they followed close behind him, as though
neither of them were desirous of such an opportunity.
Hope and King had both come for Miss Langham, and while the
latter was helping her to a place on the cushions, and repeating
his regrets that the men were not coming also, Hope started the
launch, with a brisk ringing of bells and a whirl of the wheel
and a smile over her shoulder at the figures on the wharf.
``Why didn't you go?'' said Clay; ``you have no business at the
``Neither have you,'' said MacWilliams. ``But I guess we both
understand. There's no good pushing your luck too far.''
``What do you mean by that--this time?''
``Why, what have we to do with all of this?'' cried MacWilliams.
``It's what I keep telling you every day. We're not in that
class, and you're only making it harder for yourself when they've
gone. I call it cruelty to animals myself, having women like
that around. Up North, where everybody's white, you don't notice
it so much, but down here--Lord!''
``That's absurd,'' Clay answered. ``Why should you turn your
back on civilization when it comes to you, just because you're
not going back to civilization by the next steamer? Every person
you meet either helps you or hurts you. Those girls help us,
even if they do make the life here seem bare and mean.''
``Bare and mean!'' repeated MacWilliams incredulously. ``I think
that's just what they don't do. I like it all the better because
they're mixed up in it. I never took so much interest in your
mines until she took to riding over them, and I didn't think
great shakes of my old ore-road, either, but now that she's got
to acting as engineer, it's sort of nickel-plated the whole
outfit. I'm going to name the new engine after her--when it gets
here--if her old man will let me.''
``What do you mean? Miss Langham hasn't been to the mines but
once, has she?''
``Miss Langham!'' exclaimed MacWilliams. ``No, I mean the other,
Miss Hope. She comes out with Ted nearly every day now, and
she's learning how to run a locomotive. Just for fun, you
know,'' he added, reassuringly.
``I didn't suppose she had any intention of joining the
Brotherhood,'' said Clay. ``So she's been out every day, has
she? I like that,'' he commented, enthusiastically. ``She's a
fine, sweet girl.''
``Fine, sweet girl!'' growled MacWilliams. ``I should hope so.
She's the best. They don't make them any better than that, and
just think, if she's like that now, what will she be when she's
grown up, when she's learned a few things? Now her sister. You
can see just what her sister will be at thirty, and at fifty, and
at eighty. She's thoroughbred and she's the most beautiful woman
to look at I ever saw--but, my son--she is too careful. She
hasn't any illusions, and no sense of humor. And a woman with no
illusions and no sense of humor is going to be monotonous. You
can't teach her anything. You can't imagine yourself telling her
anything she doesn't know. The things we think important don't
reach her at all. They're not in her line, and in everything
else she knows more than we could ever guess at. But that Miss
Hope! It's a privilege to show her about. She wants to see
everything, and learn everything, and she goes poking her head
into openings and down shafts like a little fox terrier.
And she'll sit still and listen with her eyes wide open and tears
in them, too, and she doesn't know it--until you can't talk
yourself for just looking at her.''
Clay rose and moved on to the house in silence. He was glad that
MacWilliams had interrupted him when he did. He wondered whether
he understood Alice Langham after all. He had seen many fine
ladies before during his brief visits to London, and Berlin, and
Vienna, and they had shown him favor. He had known other women
not so fine. Spanish-American senoritas through Central and
South America, the wives and daughters of English merchants
exiled along the Pacific coast, whose fair skin and yellow hair
whitened and bleached under the hot tropical suns. He had known
many women, and he could have quoted
``Trials and troubles amany,
Have proved me;
One or two women, God bless them!
Have loved me.''
But the woman he was to marry must have all the things he lacked.
She must fill out and complete him where he was wanting. This
woman possessed all of these things. She appealed to every
ambition and to every taste he cherished, and yet he knew that he
had hesitated and mistrusted her, when he should have
declared himself eagerly and vehemently, and forced her to listen
with all the strength of his will.
Miss Langham dropped among the soft cushions of the launch with a
sense of having been rescued from herself and of delight in
finding refuge again in her own environment. The sight of King
standing in the bow beside Hope with his cigarette hanging from
his lips, and peering with half-closed eyes into the fading
light, gave her a sense of restfulness and content. She did not
know what she wished from that other strange young man. He was
so bold, so handsome, and he looked at life and spoke of it in
such a fresh, unhackneyed spirit. He might make himself anything
he pleased. But here was a man who already had everything, or
who could get it as easily as he could increase the speed of the
launch, by pulling some wire with his finger.
She recalled one day when they were all on board of this same
launch, and the machinery had broken down, and MacWilliams had
gone forward to look at it. He had called Clay to help him, and
she remembered how they had both gone down on their knees and
asked the engineer and fireman to pass them wrenches and oil-
cans, while King protested mildly, and the rest sat
helplessly in the hot glare of the sea, as the boat rose and
fell on the waves. She resented Clay's interest in the accident,
and his pleasure when he had made the machinery right once more,
and his appearance as he came back to them with oily hands and
with his face glowing from the heat of the furnace, wiping his
grimy fingers on a piece of packing. She had resented the
equality with which he treated the engineer in asking his advice,
and it rather surprised her that the crew saluted him when he
stepped into the launch again that night as though he were the
owner. She had expected that they would patronize him, and she
imagined after this incident that she detected a shade of
difference in the manner of the sailors toward Clay, as though he
had cheapened himself to them--as he had to her.
At ten o'clock that same evening Clay began to prepare himself
for the ball at the Government palace, and MacWilliams, who was
not invited, watched him dress with critical approval that showed
no sign of envy.
The better to do honor to the President, Clay had brought out
several foreign orders, and MacWilliams helped him to tie around
his neck the collar of the Red Eagle which the German Emperor had
given him, and to fasten the ribbon and cross of the Star of
Olancho across his breast, and a Spanish Order and the Legion of
Honor to the lapel of his coat. MacWilliams surveyed the effect
of the tiny enamelled crosses with his head on one side, and with
the same air of affectionate pride and concern that a mother
shows over her daughter's first ball-dress.
``Got any more?'' he asked, anxiously.
``I have some war medals,'' Clay answered, smiling doubtfully.
``But I'm not in uniform.''
``Oh, that's all right,'' declared MacWilliams. ``Put 'em on,
put 'em all on. Give the girls a treat. Everybody will
think they were given for feats of swimming, anyway; but they
will show up well from the front. Now, then, you look like a
drum-major or a conjuring chap.''
``I do not,'' said Clay. ``I look like a French Ambassador, and
I hardly understand how you find courage to speak to me at all.''
He went up the hill in high spirits, and found the carriage at
the door and King, Mr. Langham, and Miss Langham sitting waiting
for him. They were ready to depart, and Miss Langham had but
just seated herself in the carriage when they heard hurrying
across the tiled floor a quick, light step and the rustle of
silk, and turning they saw Hope standing in the doorway, radiant
and smiling. She wore a white frock that reached to the ground,
and that left her arms and shoulders bare. Her hair was dressed
high upon her head, and she was pulling vigorously at a pair of
long, tan-colored gloves. The transformation was so complete,
and the girl looked so much older and so stately and beautiful,
that the two young men stared at her in silent admiration and
``Why, Hope!'' exclaimed her sister. ``What does this mean?''
Hope stopped in some alarm, and clasped her hair with both hands.
``What is it?'' she asked; ``is anything wrong?''
``Why, my dear child,'' said her sister, ``you're not thinking of
going with us, are you?''
``Not going?'' echoed the younger sister, in dismay. ``Why,
Alice, why not? I was asked.''
``But, Hope-- Father,'' said the elder sister, stepping out of
the carriage and turning to Mr. Langham, ``you didn't intend that
Hope should go, did you? She's not out yet.''
``Oh, nonsense,'' said Hope, defiantly. But she drew in her
breath quickly and blushed, as she saw the two young men moving
away out of hearing of this family crisis. She felt that she was
being made to look like a spoiled child. ``It doesn't count down
here,'' she said, ``and I want to go. I thought you knew I was
going all the time. Marie made this frock for me on purpose.''
``I don't think Hope is old enough,'' the elder sister said,
addressing her father, ``and if she goes to dances here, there's
no reason why she should not go to those at home.''
``But I don't want to go to dances at home,'' interrupted Hope.
Mr. Langham looked exceedingly uncomfortable, and turned
apppealingly to his elder daughter. ``What do you think,
Alice?'' he said, doubtfully.
``I'm sorry,'' Miss Langham replied, ``but I know it would
not be at all proper. I hate to seem horrid about it, Hope, but
indeed you are too young, and the men here are not the men a
young girl ought to meet.''
``You meet them, Alice,'' said Hope, but pulling off her gloves
in token of defeat.
``But, my dear child, I'm fifty years older than you are.''
``Perhaps Alice knows best, Hope,'' Mr. Langham said. ``I'm
sorry if you are disappointed.''
Hope held her head a little higher, and turned toward the door.
``I don't mind if you don't wish it, father,'' she said. ``Good-
night.'' She moved away, but apparently thought better of it,
and came back and stood smiling and nodding to them as they
seated themselves in the carriage. Mr. Langham leaned forward
and said, in a troubled voice, ``We will tell you all about it in
the morning. I'm very sorry. You won't be lonely, will you?
I'll stay with you if you wish.''
``Nonsense!'' laughed Hope. ``Why, it's given to you, father;
don't bother about me. I'll read something or other and go to
``Good-night, Cinderella,'' King called out to her.
``Good-night, Prince Charming,'' Hope answered.
Both Clay and King felt that the girl would not mind missing the
ball so much as she would the fact of having been treated like a
child in their presence, so they refrained from any expression of
sympathy or regret, but raised their hats and bowed a little more
impressively than usual as the carriage drove away.
The picture Hope made, as she stood deserted and forlorn on the
steps of the empty house in her new finery, struck Clay as
unnecessarily pathetic. He felt a strong sense of resentment
against her sister and her father, and thanked heaven devoutly
that he was out of their class, and when Miss Langham continued
to express her sorrow that she had been forced to act as she had
done, he remained silent. It seemed to Clay such a simple thing
to give children pleasure, and to remember that their woes were
always out of all proportion to the cause. Children, dumb
animals, and blind people were always grouped together in his
mind as objects demanding the most tender and constant
consideration. So the pleasure of the evening was spoiled for
him while he remembered the hurt and disappointed look in Hope's
face, and when Miss Langham asked him why he was so preoccupied,
he told her bluntly that he thought she had been very unkind to
Hope, and that her objections were absurd.
Miss Langham held herself a little more stiffly. ``Perhaps you
do not quite understand, Mr. Clay,'' she said. ``Some of us have
to conform to certain rules that the people with whom we best
like to associate have laid down for themselves. If we choose to
be conventional, it is probably because we find it makes life
easier for the greater number. You cannot think it was a
pleasant task for me. But I have given up things of much more
importance than a dance for the sake of appearances, and Hope
herself will see to-morrow that I acted for the best.''
Clay said he trusted so, but doubted it, and by way of re-
establishing himself in Miss Langham's good favor, asked her if
she could give him the next dance. But Miss Langham was not to
``I'm sorry,'' she said, ``but I believe I am engaged until
supper-time. Come and ask me then, and I'll have one saved for
you. But there is something you can do,'' she added. ``I left
my fan in the carriage--do you think you could manage to get it
for me without much trouble?''
``The carriage did not wait. I believe it was sent back,'' said
Clay, ``but I can borrow a horse from one of Stuart's men, and
ride back and get it for you, if you like.''
``How absurd!'' laughed Miss Langham, but she looked pleased,
``Oh, not at all,'' Clay answered. He was smiling down at her in
some amusement, and was apparently much entertained at his idea.
``Will you consider it an act of devotion?'' he asked.
There was so little of devotion, and so much more of mischief in
his eyes, that Miss Langham guessed he was only laughing at her,
and shook her head.
``You won't go,'' she said, turning away. She followed him with
her eyes, however, as he crossed the room, his head and shoulders
towering above the native men and women. She had never seen him
so resplendent, and she noted, with an eye that considered
trifles, the orders, and his well-fitting white gloves, and his
manner of bowing in the Continental fashion, holding his opera-
hat on his thigh, as though his hand rested on a sword. She
noticed that the little Olanchoans stopped and looked after him,
as he pushed his way among them, and she could see that the men
were telling the women who he was. Sir Julian Pindar, the old
British Minister, stopped him, and she watched them as they
laughed together over the English war medals on the American's
breast, which Sir Julian touched with his finger. He called the
French Minister and his pretty wife to look, too, and they
all laughed and talked together in great spirits, and Miss
Langham wondered if Clay was speaking in French to them.
Miss Langham did not enjoy the ball; she felt injured and
aggrieved, and she assured herself that she had been hardly used.
She had only done her duty, and yet all the sympathy had gone to
her sister, who had placed her in a trying position. She thought
it was most inconsiderate.
Hope walked slowly across the veranda when the others had gone,
and watched the carriage as long as it remained in sight. Then
she threw herself into a big arm-chair, and looked down upon her
pretty frock and her new dancing-slippers. She, too, felt badly
The moonlight fell all about her, as it had on the first night of
their arrival, a month before, but now it seemed cold and
cheerless, and gave an added sense of loneliness to the silent
house. She did not go inside to read, as she had promised to do,
but sat for the next hour looking out across the harbor. She
could not blame Alice. She considered that Alice always moved by
rules and precedents, like a queen in a game of chess, and she
wondered why. It made life so tame and uninteresting, and yet
people invariably admired Alice, and some one had spoken of her
as the noblest example of the modern gentlewoman. She was
sure she could not grow up to be any thing like that. She was
quite confident that she was going to disappoint her family. She
wondered if people would like her better if she were discreet
like Alice, and less like her brother Ted. If Mr. Clay, for
instance, would like her better? She wondered if he disapproved
of her riding on the engine with MacWilliams, and of her tearing
through the mines on her pony, and spearing with a lance of
sugar-cane at the mongrel curs that ran to snap at his flanks.
She remembered his look of astonished amusement the day he had
caught her in this impromptu pig-sticking, and she felt herself
growing red at the recollection. She was sure he thought her a
tomboy. Probably he never thought of her at all.
Hope leaned back in the chair and looked up at the stars above
the mountains and tried to think of any of her heroes and princes
in fiction who had gone through such interesting experiences as
had Mr. Clay. Some of them had done so, but they were creatures
in a book and this hero was alive, and she knew him, and had
probably made him despise her as a silly little girl who was
scolded and sent off to bed like a disobedient child. Hope felt
a choking in her throat and something like a tear creep to her
eyes: but she was surprised to find that the fact did not
make her ashamed of herself. She owned that she was wounded
and disappointed, and to make it harder she could not help
picturing Alice and Clay laughing and talking together in some
corner away from the ball-room, while she, who understood him so
well, and who could not find the words to tell him how much she
valued what he was and what he had done, was forgotten and
sitting here alone, like Cinderella, by the empty fireplace.
The picture was so pathetic as Hope drew it, that for a moment
she felt almost a touch of self-pity, but the next she laughed
scornfully at her own foolishness, and rising with an impatient
shrug, walked away in the direction of her room.