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Tales of Trail and Town by Bret Harte

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This etext was prepared by Donald Lainson, charlie@idirect.com.


by Bret Harte












It must be admitted that the civilizing processes of Rough and
Ready were not marked by any of the ameliorating conditions of
other improved camps. After the discovery of the famous "Eureka"
lead, there was the usual influx of gamblers and saloon-keepers;
but that was accepted as a matter of course. But it was thought
hard that, after a church was built and a new school erected, it
should suddenly be found necessary to have doors that locked,
instead of standing shamelessly open to the criticism and
temptation of wayfarers, or that portable property could no longer
be left out at night in the old fond reliance on universal
brotherhood. The habit of borrowing was stopped with the
introduction of more money into the camp, and the establishment of
rates of interest; the poorer people either took what they wanted,
or as indiscreetly bought on credit. There were better clothes to
be seen in its one long straggling street, but those who wore them
generally lacked the grim virtue of the old pioneers, and the
fairer faces that were to be seen were generally rouged. There was
a year or two of this kind of mutation, in which the youthful
barbarism of Rough and Ready might have been said to struggle with
adult civilized wickedness, and then the name itself disappeared.
By an Act of the Legislature the growing town was called "Atherly,"
after the owner of the Eureka mine,--Peter Atherly,--who had given
largess to the town in its "Waterworks" and a "Gin Mill," as the
new Atherly Hotel and its gilded bar-rooms were now called. Even
at the last moment, however, the new title of "Atherly" hung in the
balance. The romantic daughter of the pastor had said that Mr.
Atherly should be called "Atherly of Atherly," an aristocratic
title so strongly suggestive of an innovation upon democratic
principles that it was not until it was discreetly suggested that
everybody was still free to call him "Atherly, late of Rough and
Ready," that opposition ceased.

Possibly this incident may have first awakened him to the value of
his name, and some anxiety as to its origin. Roughly speaking,
Atherly's father was only a bucolic emigrant from "Mizzouri," and
his mother had done the washing for the camp on her first arrival.
The Atherlys had suffered on their overland journey from drought
and famine, with the addition of being captured by Indians, who had
held them captive for ten months. Indeed, Mr. Atherly, senior,
never recovered from the effects of his captivity, and died shortly
after Mrs. Atherly had given birth to twins, Peter and Jenny
Atherly. This was scant knowledge for Peter in the glorification
of his name through his immediate progenitors; but "Atherly of
Atherly" still sounded pleasantly, and, as the young lady had said,
smacked of old feudal days and honors. It was believed beyond
doubt, even in their simple family records,--the flyleaf of a
Bible,--that Peter Atherly's great-grandfather was an Englishman
who brought over to his Majesty's Virginian possessions his only
son, then a boy. It was not established, however, to what class of
deportation he belonged: whether he was suffering exile from
religious or judicial conviction, or if he were only one of the
articled "apprentices" who largely made up the American immigration
of those days. Howbeit, "Atherly" was undoubtedly an English name,
even suggesting respectable and landed ancestry, and Peter Atherly
was proud of it. He looked somewhat askance upon his Irish and
German fellow citizens, and talked a good deal about "race." Two
things, however, concerned him: he was not in looks certainly like
any type of modern Englishman as seen either on the stage in San
Francisco, or as an actual tourist in the mining regions, and his
accent was undoubtedly Southwestern. He was tall and dark, with
deep-set eyes in a singularly immobile countenance; he had an erect
but lithe and sinewy figure even for his thirty odd years, and
might easily have been taken for any other American except for the
single exception that his nose was distinctly Roman, and gave him a
distinguished air. There was a suggestion of Abraham Lincoln (and
even of Don Quixote) in his tall, melancholy figure and length of
limb, but nothing whatever that suggested an Englishman.

It was shortly after the christening of Atherly town that an
incident occurred which at first shook, and then the more firmly
established, his mild monomania. His widowed mother had been for
the last two years an inmate of a private asylum for inebriates,
through certain habits contracted while washing for the camp in the
first year of her widowhood. This had always been a matter of open
sympathy to Rough and Ready; but it was a secret reproach hinted at
in Atherly, although it was known that the rich Peter Atherly kept
his mother liberally supplied, and that both he and his sister
"Jinny" or Jenny Atherly visited her frequently. One day he was
telegraphed for, and on going to the asylum found Mrs. Atherly
delirious and raving. Through her son's liberality she had bribed
an attendant, and was fast succumbing to a private debauch. In the
intervals of her delirium she called Peter by name, talked
frenziedly and mysteriously of his "high connections"--alluded to
himself and his sister as being of the "true breed"--and with a
certain vigor of epithet, picked up in the familiarity of the camp
during the days when she was known as "Old Ma'am Atherly" or "Aunt
Sally," declared that they were "no corn-cracking Hoosiers,"
"hayseed pikes," nor "northern Yankee scum," and that she should
yet live to see them "holding their own lands again and the lands
of their forefathers." Quieted at last by opiates, she fell into a
more lucid but scarcely less distressing attitude. Recognizing
her son again, as well as her own fast failing condition, she
sarcastically thanked him for coming to "see her off," congratulated
him that he would soon be spared the lie and expense of keeping her
here on account of his pride, under the thin pretext of trying to
"cure" her. She knew that Sally Atherly of Rough and Ready wasn't
considered fit company for "Atherly of Atherly" by his fine new
friends. This and much more in a voice mingling maudlin sentiment
with bitter resentment, and with an ominous glitter in her bloodshot
and glairy eyes. Peter winced with a consciousness of the
half-truth of her reproaches, but the curiosity and excitement
awakened by the revelations of her frenzy were greater than his
remorse. He said quickly:--

"You were speaking of father!--of his family--his lands and
possessions. Tell me again!"

"Wot are ye givin' us?" she ejaculated in husky suspicion, opening
upon him her beady eyes, in which the film of death was already

"Tell me of father,--my father and his family! his great-
grandfather!--the Atherlys, my relations--what you were saying.
What do you know about them?"

"THAT'S all ye wanter know--is it? THAT'S what ye'r' comin' to the
old washer-woman for--is it?" she burst out with the desperation of
disgust. "Well--give it up! Ask me another!"

"But, mother--the old records, you know! The family Bible--what
you once told us--me and Jinny!"

Something gurgled in her throat like a chuckle. With the energy of
malevolence, she stammered: "There wasn't no records--there wasn't
no family Bible! it's all a lie--you hear me! Your Atherly that
you're so proud of was just a British bummer who was kicked outer
his family in England and sent to buzz round in Americky. He
honey-fogled me--Sally Magregor--out of a better family than his'n,
in Kansas, and skyugled me away, but it was a straight out
marriage, and I kin prove it. It was in the St. Louis papers, and
I've got it stored away safe enough in my trunk! You hear me! I'm
shoutin'! But he wasn't no old settler in Mizzouri--he wasn't
descended from any settler, either! He was a new man outer
England--fresh caught--and talked down his throat. And he fooled
ME--the darter of an old family that was settled on the right bank
of the Mizzouri afore Dan'l Boone came to Kentucky--with his new
philanderings. Then he broke up, and went all to pieces when we
struck Californy, and left ME--Sally Magregor, whose father had
niggers of his own--to wash for Rough and Ready! THAT'S your
Atherly! Take him! I don't want him--I've done with him! I was
done with him long afore--afore"--a cough checked her utterance,--
"afore"-- She gasped again, but the words seemed to strangle in
her throat. Intent only on her words and scarcely heeding her
sufferings, Peter was bending over her eagerly, when the doctor
rudely pulled him away and lifted her to a sitting posture. But
she never spoke again. The strongest restoratives quickly
administered only left her in a state of scarcely breathing

"Is she dying? Can't you bring her to," said the anxious Peter,
"if only for a moment, doctor?"

"I'm thinkin'," said the visiting doctor, an old Scotch army
surgeon, looking at the rich Mr. Atherly with cool, professional
contempt, "that your mother willna do any more washing for me as in
the old time, nor give up her life again to support her bairns.
And it isna my eentention to bring her back to pain for the
purposes of geeneral conversation!"

Nor, indeed, did she ever come back to any purpose, but passed away
with her unfinished sentence. And her limbs were scarcely decently
composed by the attendants before Peter was rummaging the trunk in
her room for the paper she had spoken of. It was in an old work-
box--a now faded yellow clipping from a newspaper, lying amidst
spoils of cotton thread, buttons, and beeswax, which he even then
remembered to have seen upon his mother's lap when she superadded
the sewing on of buttons to her washing of the miners' shirts. And
his dark and hollow cheek glowed with gratified sentiment as he
read the clipping.

"We hear with regret of the death of Philip Atherly, Esq., of Rough
and Ready, California. Mr. Atherly will be remembered by some of
our readers as the hero of the romantic elopement of Miss Sallie
Magregor, daughter of Colonel 'Bob' Magregor, which created such a
stir in well-to-do circles some thirty years ago. It was known
vaguely that the young couple had 'gone West,'--a then unknown
region,--but it seems that after severe trials and tribulations on
the frontier with savages, they emigrated early to Oregon, and
then, on the outbreak of the gold fever, to California. But it
will be a surprise to many to know that it has just transpired that
Mr. Atherly was the second son of Sir Ashley Atherly, an English
baronet, and by the death of his brother might have succeeded to
the property and title."

He remained for some moments looking fixedly at the paper, until
the commonplace paragraph imprinted itself upon his brain as no
line of sage or poet had ever done, and then he folded it up and
put it in his pocket. In his exaltation he felt that even the
mother he had never loved was promoted to a certain respect as his
father's wife, although he was equally conscious of a new
resentment against her for her contemptuous allusions to HIS
father, and her evident hopeless inability to comprehend his
position. His mother, he feared, was indeed low!--but HE was his
father's son! Nevertheless, he gave her a funeral at Atherly, long
remembered for its barbaric opulence and display. Thirty
carriages, procured from Sacramento at great expense, were freely
offered to his friends to join in the astounding pageant. A
wonderful casket of iron and silver, brought from San Francisco,
held the remains of the ex-washerwoman of Rough and Ready. But a
more remarkable innovation was the addition of a royal crown to the
other ornamentation of the casket. Peter Atherly's ideas of
heraldry were very vague,--Sacramento at that time offered him no
opportunity of knowing what were the arms of the Atherlys,--and the
introduction of the royal crown seemed to satisfy Peter's mind as
to what a crest MIGHT be, while to the ordinary democratic mind it
simply suggested that the corpse was English! Political criticism
being thus happily averted, Mrs. Atherly's body was laid in the
little cemetery, not far away from certain rude wooden crosses
which marked the burial-place of wanderers whose very names were
unknown, and in due time a marble shaft was erected over it. But
when, the next day, the county paper contained, in addition to the
column-and-a-half description of the funeral, the more formal
announcement of the death of "Mrs. Sallie Atherly, wife of the late
Philip Atherly, second son of Sir Ashley Atherly, of England,"
criticism and comment broke out. The old pioneers of Rough and
Ready felt that they had been imposed upon, and that in some vague
way the unfortunate woman had made them the victims of a huge
practical joke during all these years. That she had grimly enjoyed
their ignorance of her position they did not doubt. "Why, I
remember onct when I was sorter bullyraggin' her about mixin' up my
duds with Doc Simmons's, and sendin' me Whiskey Dick's old rags,
she turned round sudden with a kind of screech, and ran out into
the brush. I reckoned, at the time, that it was either 'drink' or
feelin's, and could hev kicked myself for being sassy to the old
woman, but I know now that all this time that air critter--that
barrownet's daughter-in-law--was just laughin' herself into fits in
the brush! No, sir, she played this yer camp for all it was worth,
year in and out, and we just gave ourselves away like speckled
idiots! and now she's lyin' out thar in the bone yard, and keeps on
p'intin' the joke, and a-roarin' at us in marble."

Even the later citizens in Atherly felt an equal resentment against
her, but from different motives. That her drinking habits and her
powerful vocabulary were all the effect of her aristocratic
alliance they never doubted. And, although it brought the virtues
of their own superior republican sobriety into greater contrast,
they felt a scandal at having been tricked into attending this
gilded funeral of dissipated rank. Peter Atherly found himself
unpopular in his own town. The sober who drank from his free
"Waterworks," and the giddy ones who imbibed at his "Gin Mill,"
equally criticised him. He could not understand it; his peculiar
predilections had been accepted before, when they were mere
presumptions; why should they not NOW, when they were admitted
facts? He was conscious of no change in himself since the funeral!
Yet the criticism went on. Presently it took the milder but more
contagious form of ridicule. In his own hotel, built with his own
money, and in his own presence, he had heard a reckless frequenter
of the bar-room decline some proffered refreshment on the ground
that "he only drank with his titled relatives." A local humorist,
amidst the applause of an admiring crowd at the post-office window,
had openly accused the postmaster of withholding letters to him
from his only surviving brother, "the Dook of Doncherknow." "The
ole dooky never onct missed the mail to let me know wot's goin' on
in me childhood's home," remarked the humorist plaintively; "and
yer's this dod-blasted gov'ment mule of a postmaster keepin' me
letters back!" Letters with pretentious and gilded coats of arms,
taken from the decorated inner lining of cigar-boxes, were posted
to prominent citizens. The neighboring and unregenerated
settlement of Red Dog was more outrageous in its contribution. The
Red Dog "Sentinel," in commenting on the death of "Haulbowline
Tom," a drunken English man-o'-war's man, said: "It may not be
generally known that our regretted fellow citizen, while serving on
H. M. S. Boxer, was secretly married to Queen Kikalu of the
Friendly Group; but, unlike some of our prosperous neighbors, he
never boasted of his royal alliance, and resisted with steady
British pluck any invitation to share the throne. Indeed, any
allusion to the subject affected him deeply. There are those among
us who will remember the beautiful portrait of his royal bride
tattooed upon his left arm with the royal crest and the crossed
flags of the two nations." Only Peter Atherly and his sister
understood the sting inflicted either by accident or design in the
latter sentence. Both he and his sister had some singular
hieroglyphic branded on their arms,--probably a reminiscence of
their life on the plains in their infant Indian captivity. But
there was no mistaking the general sentiment. The criticisms of a
small town may become inevasible. Atherly determined to take the
first opportunity to leave Rough and Ready. He was rich; his
property was secure; there was no reason why he should stay where
his family pretensions were a drawback. And a further circumstance
determined his resolution.

He was awaiting his sister in his new house on a little crest above
the town. She had been at the time of her mother's death, and
since, a private boarder in the Sacred Heart Convent at Santa Clara,
whence she had been summoned to the funeral, but had returned the
next day. Few people had noticed in her brother's carriage the
veiled figure which might have belonged to one of the religious
orders; still less did they remember the dark, lank, heavy-browed
girl who had sometimes been seen about Rough and Ready. For she had
her brother's melancholy, and greater reticence, and had continued
of her own free will, long after her girlish pupilage at the
convent, to live secluded under its maternal roof without taking
orders. A general suspicion that she was either a religious
"crank," or considered herself too good to live in a mountain mining
town, had not contributed to her brother's popularity. In her
abstraction from worldly ambitions she had, naturally, taken no part
in her brother's family pretensions. He had given her an
independent allowance, and she was supposed to be equally a sharer
in his good fortune. Yet she had suddenly declared her intention of
returning to Atherly, to consult him on affairs of importance.
Peter was both surprised and eager; there was but little affection
between them, but, preoccupied with his one idea, he was satisfied
that she wanted to talk about the family.

But he was amazed, disappointed, and disconcerted. For Jenny
Atherly, the sober recluse of Santa Clara, hidden in her sombre
draperies at the funeral, was no longer to be recognized in the
fashionable, smartly but somewhat over-dressed woman he saw before
him. In spite of her large features and the distinguishing Roman
nose, like his own, she looked even pretty in her excitement. She
had left the convent, she was tired of the life there, she was
satisfied that a religious vocation would not suit her. In brief,
she intended to enjoy herself like other women. If he really felt
a pride in the family he ought to take her out, like other
brothers, and "give her a show." He could do it there if he liked,
and she would keep house for him. If he didn't want to, she must
have enough money to keep her fashionably in San Francisco. But
she wanted excitement, and that she WOULD HAVE! She wanted to go
to balls, theatres, and entertainments, and she intended to! Her
voice grew quite high, and her dark cheek glowed with some new-
found emotion.

Astounded as he was, Peter succumbed. It was better that she
should indulge her astounding caprice under his roof than
elsewhere. It would not do for the sister of an Atherly to provoke
scandal. He gave entertainments, picnics, and parties, and "Jinny"
Atherly plunged into these mild festivities with the enthusiasm of
a schoolgirl. She not only could dance with feverish energy all
night, but next day could mount a horse--she was a fearless rider--
and lead the most accomplished horsemen. She was a good shot, she
walked with the untiring foot of a coyote, she threaded the woods
with the instinct of a pioneer. Peter regarded her with a singular
mingling of astonishment and fear. Surely she had not learned this
at school! These were not the teachings nor the sports of the good
sisters! He once dared to interrogate her regarding this change in
her habits. "I always FELT like it," she answered quickly, "but I
kept it down. I used sometimes to feel that I couldn't stand it
any longer, but must rush out and do something," she said
passionately; "but," she went on with furtive eyes, and a sudden
wild timidity like that of a fawn, "I was afraid! I was afraid IT
WAS LIKE MOTHER! It seemed to me to be HER blood that was rising
in me, and I kept it down,--I didn't want to be like her,--and I
prayed and struggled against it. Did you," she said, suddenly
grasping his hand, "ever feel like that?"

But Peter never had. His melancholy faith in his father's race had
left no thought of his mother's blood mingling with it. "But," he
said gravely, "believing this, why did you change?"

"Because I could hold out no longer. I should have gone crazy.
Times I wanted to take some of those meek nuns, some of those
white-faced pupils with their blue eyes and wavy flaxen hair, and
strangle them. I couldn't strive and pray and struggle any longer
THERE, and so I came here to let myself out! I suppose when I get
married--and I ought to, with my money--it may change me! You
don't suppose," she said, with a return of her wild-animal-like
timidity, "it is anything that was in FATHER, in those ATHERLYS,--
do you?"

But Peter had no idea of anything but virtue in the Atherly blood;
he had heard that the upper class of Europeans were fond of field
sports and of hunting; it was odd that his sister should inherit
this propensity and not he. He regarded her more kindly for this
evidence of race. "You think of getting married?" he said more
gently, yet with a certain brotherly doubt that any man could like
her enough, even with her money. "Is there any one here would--
suit you?" he added diplomatically.

"No--I hate them all!" she burst out. "There isn't one I don't
despise for his sickening, foppish, womanish airs."

Nevertheless, it was quite evident that some of the men were
attracted by her singular originality and a certain good
comradeship in her ways. And it was on one of their riding
excursions that Peter noticed that she was singled out by a good-
looking, blond-haired young lawyer of the town for his especial
attentions. As the cavalcade straggled in climbing the mountain,
the young fellow rode close to her saddle-bow, and as the distance
lengthened between the other stragglers, they at last were quite
alone. When the trail became more densely wooded, Peter quite lost
sight of them. But when, a few moments later, having lost the
trail himself, they again appeared in the distance before him, he
was so amazed that he unconsciously halted. For the two horses
were walking side by side, and the stranger's arm was round his
sister's waist.

Had Peter any sense of humor he might have smiled at this weakness
in his Amazonian sister, but he saw only the serious, practical
side of the situation, with, of course, its inevitable relation to
his one controlling idea. The young man was in good practice, and
would have made an eligible husband to any one else. But was he
fit to mate with an Atherly? What would those as yet unknown and
powerful relatives say to it? At the same time he could not help
knowing that "Jinny," in the eccentricities of her virgin
spinsterhood, might be equally objectionable to them, as she
certainly was a severe trial to him here. If she were off his
hands he might be able to prosecute his search for his relatives
with more freedom. After all, there were mesalliances in all
families, and being a woman she was not in the direct line.
Instead, therefore, of spurring forward to join them, he lingered a
little until they passed out of sight, and until he was joined by a
companion from behind. Him, too, he purposely delayed. They were
walking slowly, breathing their mustangs, when his companion
suddenly uttered a cry of alarm, and sprang from his horse. For on
the trail before them lay the young lawyer quite unconscious, with
his riderless steed nipping the young leaves of the underbrush. He
was evidently stunned by a fall, although across his face was a
livid welt which might have been caused by collision with the small
elastic limb of a sapling, or a blow from a riding-whip; happily
the last idea was only in Peter's mind. As they lifted him up he
came slowly to consciousness. He was bewildered and dazed at
first, but as he began to speak the color came back freshly to his
face. He could not conceive, he stammered, what had happened. He
was riding with Miss Atherly, and he supposed his horse had slipped
upon some withered pine needles and thrown him! A spasm of pain
crossed his face suddenly, and he lifted his hand to the top of his
head. Was he hurt THERE? No, but perhaps his hair, which was
flowing and curly, had caught in the branches--like Absalom's! He
tried to smile, and even begged them to assist him to his horse
that he might follow his fair companion, who would be wondering
where he was; but Peter, satisfied that he had received no serious
injury, hurriedly enjoined him to stay, while he himself would
follow his sister. Putting spurs to his horse, he succeeded, in
spite of the slippery trail, in overtaking her near the summit. At
the sound of his horse's hoofs she wheeled quickly, came dashing
furiously towards him, and only pulled up at the sound of his
voice. But she had not time to change her first attitude and
expression, which was something which perplexed and alarmed him.
Her long lithe figure was half crouching, half clinging to the
horse's back, her loosened hair flying over her shoulders, her dark
eyes gleaming with an odd nymph-like mischief. Her white teeth
flashed as she recognized him, but her laugh was still mocking and
uncanny. He took refuge in indignation.

"What has happened?" he said sharply.

"The fool tried to kiss me!" she said simply. "And I--I--let out
at him--like mother!"

Nevertheless, she gave him one of those shy, timid glances he had
noticed before, and began coiling something around her fingers,
with a suggestion of coy embarrassment, indescribably inconsistent
with her previous masculine independence.

"You might have killed him," said Peter angrily.

"Perhaps I might! OUGHT I have killed him, Peter?" she said
anxiously, yet with the same winning, timid smile. If she had not
been his sister, he would have thought her quite handsome.

"As it is," he said impetuously, "you have made a frightful scandal

"HE won't say anything about it--will he?" she inquired shyly,
still twisting the something around her finger.

Peter did not reply; perhaps the young lawyer really loved her and
would keep her secret! But he was vexed, and there was something
maniacal in her twisting fingers. "What have you got there?" he
said sharply.

She shook the object in the air before her with a laugh. "Only a
lock of his hair," she said gayly; "but I didn't CUT it off!"

"Throw it away, and come here!" he said angrily.

But she only tucked the little blond curl into her waist belt and
shook her head. He urged his horse forward, but she turned and
fled, laughing as he pursued her. Being the better rider she could
easily evade him whenever he got too near, and in this way they
eventually reached the town and their house long before their
companions. But she was far enough ahead of her brother to be able
to dismount and hide her trophy with childish glee before he

She was right in believing that her unfortunate cavalier would make
no revelation of her conduct, and his catastrophe passed as an
accident. But Peter could not disguise the fact that much of his
unpopularity was shared by his sister. The matrons of Atherly
believed that she was "fast," and remembered more distinctly than
ever the evil habits of her mother. That she would, in the due
course of time, "take to drink," they never doubted. Her dancing
was considered outrageous in its unfettered freedom, and her
extraordinary powers of endurance were looked upon as "masculine"
by the weaker girls whose partners she took from them. She
reciprocally looked down upon them, and made no secret of her
contempt for their small refinements and fancies. She affected
only the society of men, and even treated them with a familiarity
that was both fearless and scornful. Peter saw that it was useless
to face the opposition; Miss Atherly did not seem to encourage the
renewal of the young lawyer's attentions, although it was evident
that he was still attracted by her, nor did she seem to invite
advances from others. He must go away--and he would have to take
her with him. It seemed ridiculous that a woman of thirty, of
masculine character, should require a chaperon in a brother of
equal age; but Peter knew the singular blending of childlike
ignorance with this Amazonian quality. He had made his
arrangements for an absence from Atherly of three or four years,
and they departed together. The young fair-haired lawyer came to
the stage-coach office to see them off. Peter could detect no
sentiment in his sister's familiar farewell of her unfortunate
suitor. At New York, however, it was arranged that "Jinny" should
stay with some friends whom they had made en route, and that, if
she wished, she could come to Europe later, and join him in London.

Thus relieved of one, Peter Atherly of Atherly started on his
cherished quest of his other and more remote relations.


Peter Atherly had been four months in England, but knew little of
the country until one summer afternoon when his carriage rolled
along the well-ordered road between Nonningsby Station and Ashley

In that four months he had consulted authorities, examined records,
visited the Heralds' College, written letters, and made a few
friends. A rich American, tracing his genealogical tree, was not a
new thing--even in that day--in London; but there was something
original and simple in his methods, and so much that was grave,
reserved, and un-American in his personality, that it awakened
interest. A recognition that he was a foreigner, but a puzzled
doubt, however, of his exact nationality, which he found
everywhere, at first pained him, but he became reconciled to it at
about the same time that his English acquaintances abandoned their
own reserve and caution before the greater reticence of this
melancholy American, and actually became the questioners! In this
way his quest became known only as a disclosure of his own
courtesy, and offers of assistance were pressed eagerly upon him.
That was why Sir Edward Atherly found himself gravely puzzled, as
he sat with his family solicitor one morning in the library of
Ashley Grange.

"Humph!" said Sir Edward. "And you say he has absolutely no other
purpose in making these inquiries?"

"Positively none," returned the solicitor. "He is even willing to
sign a renunciation of any claim which might arise out of this
information. It is rather a singular case, but he seems to be a
rich man and quite able to indulge his harmless caprices."

"And you are quite sure he is Philip's son?"

"Quite, from the papers he brings me. Of course I informed him
that even if he should be able to establish a legal marriage he
could expect nothing as next of kin, as you had children of your
own. He seemed to know that already, and avowed that his only wish
was to satisfy his own mind."

"I suppose he wants to claim kinship and all that sort of thing for
society's sake?"

"I do not think so," said the solicitor dryly. "I suggested an
interview with you, but he seemed to think it quite unnecessary, if
I could give him the information he required."

"Ha!" said Sir Edward promptly, "we'll invite him here. Lady
Atherly can bring in some people to see him. Is he--ahem--What is
he like? The usual American, I suppose?"

"Not at all. Quite foreign-looking--dark, and rather like an
Italian. There is no resemblance to Mr. Philip," he said, glancing
at the painting of a flaxen-haired child fondling a greyhound under
the elms of Ashley Park.

"Ah! Yes, yes! Perhaps the mother was one of those Southern
creoles, or mulattoes," said Sir Edward with an Englishman's
tolerant regard for the vagaries of people who were clearly not
English; "they're rather attractive women, I hear."

"I think you do quite well to be civil to him," said the solicitor.
"He seems to take an interest in the family, and being rich, and
apparently only anxious to enhance the family prestige, you ought
to know him. Now, in reference to those mortgages on Appleby Farm,
if you could get"--

"Yes, yes!" said Sir Edward quickly; "we'll have him down here;
and, I say! YOU'LL come too?"

The solicitor bowed. "And, by the way," continued Sir Edward,
"there was a girl too,--wasn't there? He has a sister, I believe?"

"Yes, but he has left her in America."

"Ah, yes!--very good--yes!--of course. We'll have Lord Greyshott
and Sir Roger and old Lady Everton,--she knows all about Sir Ashley
and the family. And--er--is he young or old?"

"About thirty, I should say, Sir Edward."

"Ah, well! We'll have Lady Elfrida over from the Towers."

Had Peter known of these preparations he might have turned back to
Nonningsby without even visiting the old church in Ashley Park,
which he had been told held the ashes of his ancestors. For during
these four months the conviction that he was a foreigner and that
he had little or nothing in common with things here had been
clearly forced upon him. He could recognize some kinship in the
manners and customs of the people to those he had known in the West
and on the Atlantic coast, but not to his own individuality, and he
seemed even more a stranger here--where he had expected to feel the
thrill of consanguinity--than in the West. He had accepted the
invitation of the living Atherly for the sake of the Atherlys long
dead and forgotten. As the great quadrangle of stone and ivy
lifted itself out of the park, he looked longingly towards the
little square tower which peeped from between the yews nearer the
road. As the carriage drove up to the carved archway whence so
many Atherlys had issued into the world, he could not believe that
any of his blood had gone forth from it, or, except himself, had
ever entered it before. Once in the great house he felt like a
prisoner as he wandered through the long corridors to his room;
even the noble trees beyond his mullioned windows seemed of another
growth than those he had known.

There was no doubt that he created a sensation at Ashley Grange,
not only from his singular kinship, but from his striking
individuality. The Atherlys and their guests were fascinated and
freely admiring. His very originality, which prevented them from
comparing him with any English or American standard of excellence,
gave them a comfortable assurance of safety in their admiration.
His reserve, his seriousness, his simplicity, very unlike their
own, and yet near enough to suggest a delicate flattery, was in his
favor. So was his naive frankness in regard to his status in the
family, shown in the few words of greeting with Sir Ashley, and in
his later simple yet free admissions regarding his obscure youth,
his former poverty, and his present wealth. He boasted of neither;
he was disturbed by neither. Standing alone, a stranger, for the
first time in an assemblage of distinguished and titled men and
women, he betrayed no consciousness; surrounded for the first time
by objects which he knew his wealth could not buy, he showed the
most unmistakable indifference,--the indifference of temperament.
The ladies vied with each other to attack this unimpressible
nature,--this profound isolation from external attraction. They
followed him about, they looked into his dark, melancholy eyes; it
was impossible, they thought, that he could continue this superb
acting forever. A glance, a smile, a burst of ingenuous
confidence, a covert appeal to his chivalry would yet catch him
tripping. But the melancholy eyes that had gazed at the treasures
of Ashley Grange and the opulent ease of its guests without
kindling, opened to their first emotion,--wonder! At which Lady
Elfrida, who had ingenuously admired him, hated him a little, as
the first step towards a kindlier feeling.

The next day, having declared his intention of visiting Ashley
Church, and, as frankly, his intention of going there alone, he
slipped out in the afternoon and made his way quietly through the
park to the square ivied tower he had first seen. In this tranquil
level length of the wood there was the one spot, the churchyard,
where, oddly enough, the green earth heaved into little billows as
if to show the turbulence of that life which those who lay below
them had lately quitted. It was a relief to the somewhat studied
and formal monotony of the well-ordered woodland,--every rood, of
which had been paced by visitors, keepers, or poachers,--to find
those decrepit and bending tombstones, lurching at every angle, or
deeply sinking into the green sea of forgetfulness around them.
All this, and the trodden paths of the villagers towards that
common place of meeting, struck him as being more human than
anything he had left behind him at the Grange.

He entered the ivy-grown porch and stared for a moment at the half-
legal official parochial notices posted on the oaken door,--his
first obtrusive intimation of the combination of church and state,--
and hesitated. He was not prepared to find that this last
resting-place of his people had something to do with taxes and
tithes, and that a certain material respectability and security
attended his votive sigh. God and the reigning sovereign of the
realm preserved a decorous alliance in the royal arms that appeared
above the official notices. Presently he pushed open the door
gently and entered the nave. For a moment it seemed to him as if
the arched gloom of the woods he had left behind was repeated in
the dim aisle and vaulted roof; there was an earthy odor, as if the
church itself, springing from the fertilizing dust below, had taken
root in the soil; the chequers of light from the faded stained-
glass windows fell like the flicker of leaves on the pavement. He
paused before the cold altar, and started, for beside him lay the
recumbent figure of a warrior pillowed on his helmet with the
paraphernalia of his trade around him. A sudden childish memory of
the great Western plains, and the biers of the Indian "braves"
raised on upright poles against the staring sky and above the
sunbaked prairie, rushed upon him. There, too, had lain the
weapons of the departed chieftain; there, too, lay the Indian's
"faithful hound," here simulated by the cross-legged crusader's
canine effigy. And now, strangest of all, he found that this
unlooked-for recollection and remembrance thrilled him more at that
moment than the dead before him. Here they rested,--the Atherlys
of centuries; recumbent in armor or priestly robes, upright in
busts that were periwigged or hidden in long curls, above the
marble record of their deeds and virtues. Some of these records
were in Latin,--an unknown tongue to Peter,--some in a quaint
English almost as unintelligible; but none as foreign to him as the
dead themselves. Their banners waved above his head; their voices
filled the silent church, but fell upon his vacant eye and duller
ear. He was none of them.

Presently he was conscious of a footstep, so faint, so subtle, that
it might have come from a peregrinating ghost. He turned quickly
and saw Lady Elfrida, half bold, yet half frightened, halting
beside a pillar of the chancel. But there was nothing of the dead
about her: she was radiating and pulsating with the uncompromising
and material freshness of English girlhood. The wild rose in the
hedgerow was not more tangible than her cheek, nor the summer sky
more clearly cool and blue than her eyes. The vigor of health and
unfettered freedom of limb was in her figure from her buckled
walking-shoe to her brown hair topped by a sailor hat. The
assurance and contentment of a well-ordered life, of secured
position and freedom from vain anxieties or expectations, were
visible in every line of her refined, delicate, and evenly quiescent
features. And yet Lady Elfrida, for the first time in her girlhood,
felt a little nervous.

Yet she was frank, too, with the frankness of those who have no
thought of being misunderstood. She said she had come there out of
curiosity to see how he would "get on" with his ancestors. She had
been watching him from the chancel ever since he came,--and she was
disappointed. As far as emotion went she thought he had the
advantage of the stoniest and longest dead of them all. Perhaps he
did not like them? But he must be careful what he SAID, for some
of her own people were there,--manifestly this one. (She put the
toe of her buckled shoe on the crusader Peter had just looked at.)
And then there was another in the corner. So she had a right to
come there as well as he,--and she could act as cicerone! This one
was a De Brecy, one of King John's knights, who married an Atherly.
(She swung herself into a half-sitting posture on the effigy of the
dead knight, composed her straight short skirt over her trim
ankles, and looked up in Peter's dark face.) That would make them
some kind of relations,--wouldn't it? He must come over to Bentley
Towers and see the rest of the De Brecys in the chapel there to-
morrow. Perhaps there might be some he liked better, and who
looked more like him. For there was no one here or at the Grange
who resembled him in the least.

He assented to the truth of this with such grave, disarming
courtesy, and yet with such undisguised wonder,--as she appeared to
talk with greater freedom to a stranger than an American girl
would,--that she at once popped off the crusader, and accompanied
him somewhat more demurely around the church. Suddenly she stopped
with a slight exclamation.

They had halted before a tablet to the memory of a later Atherly,
an officer of his Majesty's 100th Foot, who was killed at
Braddock's defeat. The tablet was supported on the one side by a
weeping Fame, and on the other by a manacled North American Indian.
She stammered and said: "You see there are other Atherlys who went
to America even before your father," and then stopped with a sense
of having made a slip.

A wild and inexplicable resentment against this complacent
historical outrage suddenly took possession of Peter. He knew that
his rage was inconsistent with his usual calm, but he could not
help it! His swarthy cheek glowed, his dark eyes flashed, he
almost trembled with excitement as he hurriedly pointed out to Lady
Elfrida that the Indians were VICTORIOUS in that ill-fated
expedition of the British forces, and that the captive savage was
an allegorical lie. So swift and convincing was his emotion that
the young girl, knowing nothing of the subject and caring less,
shared his indignation, followed him with anxious eyes, and their
hands for an instant touched in innocent and generous sympathy.
And then--he knew not how or why--a still more wild and terrible
idea sprang up in his fancy. He knew it was madness, yet for a
moment he could only stand and grapple with it silently and
breathlessly. It was to seize this young and innocent girl, this
witness of his disappointment, this complacent and beautiful type
of all they valued here, and bear her away--a prisoner, a hostage--
he knew not why--on a galloping horse in the dust of the prairie--
far beyond the seas! It was only when he saw her cheek flush and
pale, when he saw her staring at him with helpless, frightened, but
fascinated eyes,--the eyes of the fluttering bird under the spell
of the rattlesnake,--that he drew his breath and turned bewildered
away. "And do you know, dear," she said with naive simplicity to
her sister that evening, "that although he was an American, and
everybody says that they don't care at all for those poor Indians,
he was so magnanimous in his indignation that I fancied he looked
like one of Cooper's heroes himself rather than an Atherly. It was
such a stupid thing for me to show him that tomb of Major Atherly,
you know, who fought the Americans,--didn't he?--or was it later?--
but I quite forgot he was an American." And with this belief in
her mind, and in the high expiation of a noble nature, she forbore
her characteristic raillery, and followed him meekly, manacled in
spirit like the allegorical figure, to the church porch, where they
separated, to meet on the morrow. But that morrow never came.

For late in the afternoon a cable message reached him from
California asking him to return to accept a nomination to Congress
from his own district. It determined his resolution, which for a
moment at the church porch had wavered under the bright eyes of
Lady Elfrida. He telegraphed his acceptance, hurriedly took leave
of his honestly lamenting kinsman, followed his dispatch to London,
and in a few days was on the Atlantic.

How he was received in California, how he found his sister married
to the blond lawyer, how he recovered his popularity and won his
election, are details that do not belong to this chronicle of his
quest. And that quest seems to have terminated forever with his
appearance at Washington to take his seat as Congressman.

It was the night of a levee at the White House. The East Room was
crowded with smartly dressed men and women of the capital, quaintly
simple legislators from remote States in bygone fashions, officers
in uniform, and the diplomatic circle blazing with orders. The
invoker of this brilliant assembly stood in simple evening dress
near the door,--unattended and hedged by no formality. He shook
the hand of the new Congressman heartily, congratulated him by
name, and turned smilingly to the next comer. Presently there was
a slight stir at one of the opposite doors, the crowd fell back,
and five figures stalked majestically into the centre of the room.
They were the leading chiefs of an Indian reservation coming to pay
their respects to their "Great Father," the President. Their
costumes were a mingling of the picturesque with the grotesque; of
tawdriness with magnificence; of artificial tinsel and glitter with
the regal spoils of the chase; of childlike vanity with barbaric
pride. Yet before these the glittering orders and ribbons of the
diplomats became dull and meaningless, the uniforms of the officers
mere servile livery. Their painted, immobile faces and plumed
heads towered with grave dignity above the meaner crowd; their
inscrutable eyes returned no response to the timid glances directed
towards them. They stood by themselves, alone and impassive,--yet
their presence filled the room with the sense of kings. The
unostentatious, simple republican court suddenly seemed to have
become royal. Even the interpreter who stood between their remote
dignity and the nearer civilized world acquired the status of a
court chamberlain.

When their "Great Father," apparently the less important personage,
had smilingly received them, a political colleague approached Peter
and took his arm. "Gray Eagle would like to speak with you. Come
on! Here's your chance! You may be put on the Committee on Indian
Relations, and pick up a few facts. Remember we want a firm
policy; no more palaver about the 'Great Father' and no more
blankets and guns! You know what we used to say out West, 'The
only "Good Indian" is a dead one.' So wade in, and hear what the
old plug hat has to say."

Peter permitted himself to be led to the group. Even at that
moment he remembered the figure of the Indian on the tomb at Ashley
Grange, and felt a slight flash of satisfaction over the superior
height and bearing of Gray Eagle.

"How!" said Gray Eagle. "How!" said the other four chiefs. "How!"
repeated Peter instinctively. At a gesture from Gray Eagle the
interpreter said: "Let your friend stand back; Gray Eagle has
nothing to say to him. He wishes to speak only with you."

Peter's friend reluctantly withdrew, but threw a cautioning glance
towards him. "Ugh!" said Gray Eagle. "Ugh!" said the other
chiefs. A few guttural words followed to the interpreter, who
turned, and facing Peter with the monotonous impassiveness which he
had caught from the chiefs, said: "He says he knew your father. He
was a great chief,--with many horses and many squaws. He is dead."

"My father was an Englishman,--Philip Atherly!" said Peter, with an
odd nervousness creeping over him.

The interpreter repeated the words to Grey Eagle, who, after a
guttural "Ugh!" answered in his own tongue.

"He says," continued the interpreter with a slight shrug, yet
relapsing into his former impassiveness, "that your father was a
great chief, and your mother a pale face, or white woman. She was
captured with an Englishman, but she became the wife of the chief
while in captivity. She was only released before the birth of her
children, but a year or two afterwards she brought them as infants
to see their father,--the Great Chief,--and to get the mark of
their tribe. He says you and your sister are each marked on the
left arm."

Then Gray Eagle opened his mouth and uttered his first English
sentence. "His father, big Injin, take common white squaw!
Papoose no good,--too much white squaw mother, not enough big Injin
father! Look! He big man, but no can bear pain! Ugh!"

The interpreter turned in time to catch Peter. He had fainted.


A hot afternoon on the plains. A dusty cavalcade of United States
cavalry and commissary wagons, which from a distance preserved a
certain military precision of movement, but on nearer view resolved
itself into straggling troopers in twos and fours interspersed
between the wagons, two noncommissioned officers and a guide riding
ahead, who had already fallen into the cavalry slouch, but off to
the right, smartly erect and cadet-like, the young lieutenant in
command. A wide road that had the appearance of being at once well
traveled and yet deserted, and that, although well defined under
foot, still seemed to disappear and lose itself a hundred feet
ahead in the monotonous level. A horizon that in that clear, dry,
hazeless atmosphere never mocked you, yet never changed, but kept
its eternal rim of mountains at the same height and distance from
hour to hour and day to day. Dust--a parching alkaline powder that
cracked the skin--everywhere, clinging to the hubs and spokes of
the wheels, without being disturbed by movement, incrusting the
cavalryman from his high boots to the crossed sabres of his cap;
going off in small puffs like explosions under the plunging hoofs
of the horses, but too heavy to rise and follow them. A reeking
smell of horse sweat and boot leather that lingered in the road
long after the train had passed. An external silence broken only
by the cough of a jaded horse in the suffocating dust, or the
cracking of harness leather. Within one of the wagons that seemed
a miracle of military neatness and methodical stowage, a lazy
conversation carried on by a grizzled driver and sunbrowned farrier.

"'Who be you?' sezee. 'I'm Philip Atherly, a member of Congress,'
sez the long, dark-complected man, sezee, 'and I'm on a commission
for looking into this yer Injin grievance,' sezee. 'You may be God
Almighty,' sez Nebraska Bill, sezee, 'but you look a d--d sight
more like a hoss-stealin' Apache, and we don't want any of your
psalm-singing, big-talkin' peacemakers interferin' with our ways of
treatin' pizen,--you hear me? I'm shoutin',' sezee. With that the
dark-complected man's eyes began to glisten, and he sorter squirmed
all over to get at Bill, and Bill outs with his battery.--Whoa,
will ye; what's up with YOU now?" The latter remark was directed
to the young spirited near horse he was driving, who was beginning
to be strangely excited.

"What happened then?" said the farrier lazily.

"Well," continued the driver, having momentarily quieted his horse,
"I reckoned it was about time for me to wheel into line, for
fellers of the Bill stripe, out on the plains, would ez leave plug
a man in citizen's clothes, even if he was the President himself,
as they would drop on an Injin or a nigger. 'Look here, Bill,' sez
I, 'I'm escortin' this stranger under gov'ment orders, and I'm
responsible for him. I ain't allowed to waste gov'ment powder and
shot on YOUR kind onless I've orders, but if you'll wait till I
strip off this shell* I'll lam the stuffin' outer ye, afore the
stranger.' With that Bill just danced with rage, but dassent fire,
for HE knew, and I knew, that if he'd plugged me he'd been a dead
frontiersman afore the next mornin'."

* Cavalry jacket.

"But you'd have had to give him up to the authorities, and a jury
of his own kind would have set him free."

"Not much! If you hadn't just joined, you'd know that ain't the
way o' 30th Cavalry," returned the driver. "The kernel would have
issued his orders to bring in Bill dead or alive, and the 30th
would have managed to bring him in DEAD! Then your jury might have
sat on him! Tell you what, chaps of the Bill stripe don't care
overmuch to tackle the yaller braid."*

* Characteristic trimming of cavalry jacket.

"But what's this yer Congressman interferin' for, anyway?"

"He's a rich Californian. Thinks he's got a 'call,' I reckon, to
look arter Injins, just as them Abolitionists looked arter slaves.
And get hated just as they was by the folks here,--and as WE are,
too, for the matter of that."

"Well, I dunno," rejoined the farrier, "it don't seem nateral for
white men to quarrel with each other about the way to treat an
Injin, and that Injin lyin' in ambush to shoot 'em both. And ef
gov'ment would only make up its mind how to treat 'em, instead of
one day pretendin' to be their 'Great Father' and treatin' them
like babies, and the next makin' treaties with 'em like as they wos
forriners, and the next sendin' out a handful of us to lick ten
thousand of them-- Wot's the use of ONE regiment--even two--agin a
nation--on their own ground?"

"A nation,--and on their own ground,--that's just whar you've hit
it, Softy. That's the argument of that Congressman Atherly, as
I've heard him talk with the kernel."

"And what did the kernel say?"

"The kernel reckoned it was his business to obey orders,--and so
should you. So shut your head! If ye wanted to talk about
gov'ment ye might say suthin' about its usin' us to convoy picnics
and excursion parties around, who come out here to have a day's
shootin', under some big-wig of a political boss or a railroad
president, with a letter to the general. And WE'RE told off to
look arter their precious skins, and keep the Injins off 'em,--and
they shootin' or skeerin' off the Injins' nat'ral game, and our
provender! Darn my skin ef there'll be much to scout for ef this
goes on. And b'gosh!--of they aren't now ringin' in a lot of
titled forriners to hunt 'big game,' as they call it,--Lord This-
and-That and Count So-and-So,--all of 'em with letters to the
general from the Washington cabinet to show 'hospitality,' or from
millionaires who've bin hobnobbin' with 'em in the old country.
And darn my skin ef some of 'em ain't bringin' their wives and
sisters along too. There was a lord and lady passed through here
under escort last week, and we're goin' to pick up some more of 'em
at Fort Biggs tomorrow,--and I reckon some of us will be told off
to act as ladies' maids or milliners. Nothin' short of a good
Injin scare, I reckon, would send them and us about our reg'lar
business. Whoa, then, will ye? At it again, are ye? What's gone
of the d--d critter?"

Here the fractious near horse was again beginning to show signs of
disturbance and active terror. His quivering nostrils were turned
towards the wind, and he almost leaped the centre pole in his
frantic effort to avoid it. The eyes of the two men were turned
instinctively in that direction. Nothing was to be seen,--the
illimitable plain and the sinking sun were all that met the eye.
But the horse continued to struggle, and the wagon stopped. Then
it was discovered that the horse of an adjacent trooper was also
laboring under the same mysterious excitement, and at the same
moment wagon No. 3 halted. The infection of some inexplicable
terror was spreading among them. Then two non-commissioned
officers came riding down the line at a sharp canter, and were
joined quickly by the young lieutenant, who gave an order. The
trumpeter instinctively raised his instrument to his lips, but was
stopped by another order.

And then, as seen by a distant observer, a singular spectacle was
unfolded. The straggling train suddenly seemed to resolve itself
into a large widening circle of horsemen, revolving round and
partly hiding the few heavy wagons that were being rapidly freed
from their struggling teams. These, too, joined the circle, and
were driven before the whirling troopers. Gradually the circle
seemed to grow smaller under the "winding-up" of those evolutions,
until the horseless wagons reappeared again, motionless, fronting
the four points of the compass, thus making the radii of a smaller
inner circle, into which the teams of the wagons as well as the
troopers' horses were closely "wound up" and densely packed
together in an immovable mass. As the circle became smaller the
troopers leaped from their horses,--which, however, continued to
blindly follow each other in the narrower circle,--and ran to the
wagons, carbines in hand. In five minutes from the time of giving
the order the straggling train was a fortified camp, the horses
corralled in the centre, the dismounted troopers securely posted
with their repeating carbines in the angles of the rude bastions
formed by the deserted wagons, and ready for an attack. The
stampede, if such it was, was stopped.

And yet no cause for it was to be seen! Nothing in earth or sky
suggested a reason for this extraordinary panic, or the marvelous
evolution that suppressed it. The guide, with three men in open
order, rode out and radiated across the empty plain, returning as
empty of result. In an hour the horses were sufficiently calmed
and fed, the camp slowly unwound itself, the teams were set to and
were led out of the circle, and as the rays of the setting sun
began to expand fanlike across the plain the cavalcade moved on.
But between them and the sinking sun, and visible through its last
rays, was a faint line of haze parallel with their track. Yet even
this, too, quickly faded away.

Had the guide, however, penetrated half a mile further to the west
he would have come upon the cause of the panic, and a spectacle
more marvelous than that he had just witnessed. For the
illimitable plain with its monotonous prospect was far from being
level; a hundred yards further on he would have slowly and
imperceptibly descended into a depression nearly a mile in width.
Here he not only would have completely lost sight of his own
cavalcade, but have come upon another thrice its length. For here
was a trailing line of jog-trotting dusky shapes, some crouching on
dwarf ponies half their size, some trailing lances, lodge-poles,
rifles, women and children after them, all moving with a monotonous
rhythmic motion as marked as the military precision of the other
cavalcade, and always on a parallel line with it. They had done so
all day, keeping touch and distance by stealthy videttes that crept
and crawled along the imperceptible slope towards the unconscious
white men. It was, no doubt, the near proximity of one of those
watchers that had touched the keen scent of the troopers' horses.

The moon came up; the two cavalcades, scarcely a mile apart, moved
on in unison together. Then suddenly the dusky caravan seemed to
arise, stretch itself out, and swept away like a morning mist
towards the west. The bugles of Fort Biggs had just rung out.

. . . . . .

Peter Atherly was up early the next morning pacing the veranda of
the commandant's house at Fort Biggs. It had been his intention to
visit the new Indian Reservation that day, but he had just received
a letter announcing an unexpected visit from his sister, who wished
to join him. He had never told her the secret of their Indian
paternity, as it had been revealed to him from the scornful lips of
Gray Eagle a year ago; he knew her strangely excitable nature;
besides, she was a wife now, and the secret would have to be shared
with her husband. When he himself had recovered from the shock of
the revelation, two things had impressed themselves upon his
reserved and gloomy nature: a horror of his previous claim upon the
Atherlys, and an infinite pity and sense of duty towards his own
race. He had devoted himself and his increasing wealth to this one
object; it seemed to him at times almost providential that his
position as a legislator, which he had accepted as a whim or fancy,
should have given him this singular opportunity.

Yet it was not an easy task or an enviable position. He was
obliged to divorce himself from his political party as well as keep
clear of the wild schemes of impractical enthusiasts, too practical
"contractors," and the still more helpless bigotry of Christian
civilizers, who would have regenerated the Indian with a text which
he did not understand and they were unable to illustrate by
example. He had expected the opposition of lawless frontiersmen
and ignorant settlers--as roughly indicated in the conversation
already recorded; indeed he had felt it difficult to argue his
humane theories under the smoking roof of a raided settler's cabin,
whose owner, however, had forgotten his own repeated provocations,
or the trespass of which he was proud. But Atherly's unaffected
and unobtrusive zeal, his fixity of purpose, his undoubted courage,
his self-abnegation, and above all the gentle melancholy and half-
philosophical wisdom of this new missionary, won him the respect
and assistance of even the most callous or the most skeptical of
officials. The Secretary of the Interior had given him carte
blanche; the President trusted him, and it was said had granted him
extraordinary powers. Oddly enough it was only his own Californian
constituency, who had once laughed at what they deemed his early
aristocratic pretensions, who now found fault with his democratic
philanthropy. That a man who had been so well received in England--
the news of his visit to Ashley Grange had been duly recorded--
should sink so low as "to take up with the Injins" of his own
country galled their republican pride. A few of his personal
friends regretted that he had not brought back from England more
conservative and fashionable graces, and had not improved his
opportunities. Unfortunately there was no essentially English
policy of trusting aborigines that they knew of.

In his gloomy self-scrutiny he had often wondered if he ought not
to openly proclaim his kinship with the despised race, but he was
always deterred by the thought of his sister and her husband, as
well as by the persistent doubt whether his advocacy of Indian
rights with his fellow countrymen would be as well served by such a
course. And here again he was perplexed by a singular incident of
his early missionary efforts which he had at first treated with
cold surprise, but to which later reflection had given a new
significance. After Gray Eagle's revelation he had made a
pilgrimage to the Indian country to verify the statements regarding
his dead father,--the Indian chief Silver Cloud. Despite the
confusion of tribal dialects he was amazed to find that the Indian
tongue came back to him almost as a forgotten boyish memory, so
that he was soon able to do without an interpreter; but not until
that functionary, who knew his secret, appeared one day as a more
significant ambassador. "Gray Eagle says if you want truly to be a
brother to his people you must take a wife among them. He loves
you--take one of his!" Peter, through whose veins--albeit of mixed
blood--ran that Puritan ice so often found throughout the Great
West, was frigidly amazed. In vain did the interpreter assure him
that the wife in question, Little Daybreak, was a wife only in
name, a prudent reserve kept by Gray Eagle in the orphan daughter
of a brother brave. But Peter was adamant. Whatever answer the
interpreter returned to Gray Eagle he never knew. But to his alarm
he presently found that the Indian maiden Little Daybreak had been
aware of Gray Eagle's offer, and had with pathetic simplicity
already considered herself Peter's spouse. During his stay at the
encampment he found her sitting before his lodge every morning. A
girl of sixteen in years, a child of six in intellect, she flashed
her little white teeth upon him when he lifted his tent flap,
content to receive his grave, melancholy bow, or patiently trotted
at his side carrying things he did not want, which she had taken
from the lodge. When he sat down to work, she remained seated at a
distance, looking at him with glistening beady eyes like
blackberries set in milk, and softly scratching the little bare
brown ankle of one foot with the turned-in toes of the other, after
an infantine fashion. Yet after he had left--a still single man,
solely though his interpreter's diplomacy, as he always believed--
he was very worried as to the wisdom of his course. Why should he
not in this way ally himself to his unfortunate race irrevocably?
Perhaps there was an answer somewhere in his consciousness which he
dared not voice to himself. Since his visit to the English
Atherlys, he had put resolutely aside everything that related to
that episode, which he now considered was an unhappy imposture.
But there were times when a vision of Lady Elfrida, gazing at him
with wondering, fascinated eyes, passed across his fancy; even the
contact with his own race and his thoughts of their wrongs recalled
to him the tomb of the soldier Atherly and the carven captive
savage supporter. He could not pass the upright supported bier of
an Indian brave--slowly desiccating in the desert air--without
seeing in the dead warrior's paraphernalia of arms and trophies
some resemblance to the cross-legged crusader on whose marble
effigy SHE had girlishly perched herself as she told the story of
her ancestors. Yet only the peaceful gloom and repose of the old
church touched him now; even she, too, with all her glory of
English girlhood, seemed to belong to that remote past. She was
part of the restful quiet of the church; the yews in the quaint old
churchyard might have waved over her as well.

Still, he was eager to see his sister, and if he should conclude to
impart to her his secret, she might advise him. At all events, he
decided to delay his departure until her arrival, a decision with
which the commanding officer concurred, as a foraging party had
that morning discovered traces of Indians in the vicinity of the
fort, and the lately arrived commissary train had reported the
unaccountable but promptly prevented stampede.

Unfortunately, his sister Jenny appeared accompanied by her
husband, who seized an early opportunity to take Peter aside and
confide to him his anxiety about her health, and the strange fits
of excitement under which she occasionally labored. Remembering
the episode of the Californian woods three years ago, Peter stared
at this good-natured, good-looking man, whose life he had always
believed she once imperiled, and wondered more than ever at their
strange union.

"Do you ever quarrel?" asked Peter bluntly.

"No," said the good-hearted fellow warmly, "never! We have never
had a harsh word; she's the dearest girl,--the best wife in the
world to me, but"--he hesitated, "you know there are times when I
think she confounds me with somebody else, and is strange!
Sometimes when we are in company she stands alone and stares at
everybody, without saying a word, as if she didn't understand them.
Or else she gets painfully excited and dances all night until she
is exhausted. I thought, perhaps," he added timidly, "that you
might know, and would tell me if she had any singular experience as
a child,--any illness, or," he went on still more gently, "if
perhaps her mother or father"--

"No," interrupted Peter almost brusquely, with the sudden conviction
that this was no time for revelation of his secret, "no, nothing."

"The doctor says," continued Lascelles with that hesitating, almost
mystic delicacy with which most gentlemen approach a subject upon
which their wives talk openly, "that it may be owing to Jenny's
peculiar state of health just now, you know, and that if--all went
well, you know, and there should be--don't you see--a little

Peter interrupted him with a start. A child! Jenny's child!
Silver Cloud's grandchild! This was a complication he had not
thought of. No! It was too late to tell his secret now. He only
nodded his head abstractedly and said coldly, "I dare say he is

Nevertheless, Jenny was looking remarkably well. Perhaps it was
the excitement of travel and new surroundings; but her tall, lithe
figure, nearly half a head taller than her husband's, was a
striking one among the officers' wives in the commandant's sitting-
room. Her olive cheek glowed with a faint illuminating color;
there was something even patrician in her slightly curved nose and
high cheek bones, and her smile, rare even in her most excited
moments, was, like her brother's, singularly fascinating. The
officers evidently thought so too, and when the young lieutenant of
the commissary escort, fresh from West Point and Flirtation Walk,
gallantly attached himself to her, the ladies were slightly
scandalized at the naive air of camaraderie with which Mrs.
Lascelles received his attentions. Even Peter was a little
disturbed. Only Lascelles, delighted with his wife's animation,
and pleased at her success, gazed at her with unqualified
admiration. Indeed, he was so satisfied with her improvement, and
so sanguine of her ultimate recovery, that he felt justified in
leaving her with her brother and returning to Omaha by the regular
mail wagon next day. There was no danger to be apprehended in her
accompanying Peter; they would have a full escort; the reservation
lay in a direction unfrequented by marauding tribes; the road was
the principal one used by the government to connect the fort with
the settlements, and well traveled; the officers' wives had often
journeyed thither.

The childish curiosity and high spirits which Jenny showed on the
journey to the reservation was increased when she reached it and
drew up before the house of the Indian agent. Peter was relieved;
he had been anxious and nervous as to any instinctive effect which
might be produced on her excitable nature by a first view of her
own kinsfolk, although she was still ignorant of her relationship.
Her interest and curiosity, however, had nothing abnormal in it.
But he was not prepared for the effect produced upon THEM at her
first appearance. A few of the braves gathered eagerly around her,
and one even addressed her in his own guttural tongue, at which she
betrayed a slight feeling of alarm; and Peter saw with satisfaction
that she drew close to him. Knowing that his old interpreter and
Gray Eagle were of a different and hostile tribe a hundred miles
away, and that his secret was safe with them, he simply introduced
her as his sister. But he presently found that the braves had
added to their curiosity a certain suspiciousness and sullen
demeanor, and he was glad to resign his sister into the hands of
the agent's wife, while he prosecuted his business of examination
and inspection. Later, on his return to the cabin, he was met by
the agent, who seemed to be with difficulty suppressing a laugh.

"Your sister is exciting quite a sensation here," he said. "Do you
know that some of these idiotic braves and the Medicine Man insist
upon it that she's A SQUAW, and that you're keeping her in
captivity against your plighted faith to them! You'll excuse me,"
he went on with an attempt to recover his gravity, "troubling you
with their d--d fool talk, and you won't say anything to HER about
it, but I thought you ought to know it on account of your position
among 'em. You don't want to lose their confidence, and you know
how easily their skeery faculties are stampeded with an idea!"

"Where is she now?" demanded Peter, with a darkening face.

"Somewhere with the squaws, I reckon. I thought she might be a
little skeered of the braves, and I've kept them away. SHE'S all
right, you know; only if you intend to stay here long I'd"--

But Peter was already striding away in the direction of a thicket
of cottonwood where he heard the ripple of women's and children's
voices. When he had penetrated it, he found his sister sitting on
a stump, surrounded by a laughing, gesticulating crowd of young
girls and old women, with a tightly swaddled papoose in her lap.
Some of them had already half mischievously, half curiously
possessed themselves of her dust cloak, hat, parasol, and gloves,
and were parading before her in their grotesque finery, apparently
as much to her childish excited amusement as their own. She was
even answering their gesticulations with equivalent gestures in her
attempt to understand them, and trying amidst shouts of laughter to
respond to the monotonous chant of the old women who were
zigzagging a dance before her. With the gayly striped blankets
lying on the ground, the strings of beads, wampum, and highly
colored feathers hanging from the trees, and the flickering lights
and shadows, it was an innocent and even idyllic picture, but the
more experienced Peter saw in the performances only the uncertain
temper and want of consecutive idea of playing animals, and the
stolid unwinking papoose in his sister's lap gave his sentiment a
momentary shock.

Seeing him approach she ran to meet him, the squaws and children
slinking away from his grave face. "I have had such a funny time,
Peter! Only to think of it, I believe they've never seen men or
women with decent clothes before,--of course the settlers' wives
don't dress much,--and I believe they'd have had everything I
possess if you hadn't come. But they're TOO funny for anything.
It was killing to see them put on my hat wrong side before, and try
to make one out of my parasol. But I like them a great deal better
than those gloomy chiefs, and I think I understand them almost.
And do you know, Peter, somehow I seem to have known them all
before. And those dear little papooses, aren't they ridiculously
lovely. I only wish"--she stopped, for Peter had somewhat
hurriedly taken the Indian boy from her arms and restored it to the
frightened mother. A singular change came over her face, and she
glanced at him quickly. But she resumed, with a heightened color,
"I like it ever so much better here than down at the fort. And
ever so much better than New York. I don't wonder that you like
them so much, Peter, and are so devoted to them. Don't be angry,
dear, because I let them have my things; I'm sure I never cared
particularly for them, and I think it would be such fun to dress as
they do." Peter remembered keenly his sudden shock at her
precipitate change to bright colors after leaving her novitiate at
the Sacred Heart. "I do hope," she went on eagerly, "that we are
going to stay a long time here."

"We are leaving to-morrow," he said curtly. "I find I have urgent
business at the fort."

And they did leave. None too soon, thought Peter and the Indian
agent, as they glanced at the faces of the dusky chiefs who had
gathered around the cabin. Luckily the presence of their cavalry
escort rendered any outbreak impossible, and the stoical
taciturnity of the race kept Peter from any verbal insult. But
Mrs. Lascelles noticed their lowering dissatisfaction, and her eyes
flashed. "I wonder you don't punish them," she said simply.

For a few days after their return she did not allude to her visit,
and Peter was beginning to think that her late impressions were as
volatile as they were childlike. He devoted himself to his
government report, and while he kept up his communications with the
reservation and the agent, for the present domiciled himself at the

Colonel Bryce, the commandant though doubtful of civilians, was not
slow to appreciate the difference of playing host to a man of
Atherly's wealth and position and even found in Peter's reserve and
melancholy an agreeable relief to the somewhat boisterous and
material recreations of garrison life, and a gentle check upon the
younger officers. For, while Peter did not gamble or drink, there
was yet an unobtrusive and gentle dignity in his abstention that
relieved him from the attitude of a prig or an "example." Mrs.
Lascelles was popular with the officers, and accepted more
tolerantly by the wives, since they recognized her harmlessness.
Once or twice she was found apparently interested in the
gesticulations of a few "friendlies" who had penetrated the parade
ground of the fort to barter beads and wampum. The colonel was
obliged at last to caution her against this, as it was found that in
her inexperience she had given them certain articles that were
contraband of the rules, and finally to stop them from an intrusion
which was becoming more frequent and annoying. Left thus to
herself, she relieved her isolation by walks beyond the precincts of
the garrison, where she frequently met those "friendly" wanderers,
chiefly squaws and children. Here she was again cautioned by the

"Don't put too much faith in those creatures, Mrs. Lascelles."

Jenny elevated her black brows and threw up her arched nose like a
charger. "I'm not afraid of old women and children," she said

"But I am," said the colonel gravely. "It's a horrible thing to
think of, but these feeble old women and innocent children are
always selected to torture the prisoners taken by the braves, and,
by Jove, they seem to like it."

Thus restricted, Mrs. Lascelles fell back upon the attentions of
Lieutenant Forsyth, whose gallantry was always as fresh as his
smart cadet-like tunics, and they took some rides together.
Whether it was military caution or the feminine discretion of the
colonel's wife,--to the quiet amusement of the other officers,--a
trooper was added to the riding party by the order of the colonel,
and thereafter it consisted of three. One night, however, the
riders did not appear at dinner, and there was considerable
uneasiness mingled with some gossip throughout the garrison. It
was already midnight before they arrived, and then with horses
blown and trembling with exhaustion, and the whole party bearing
every sign of fatigue and disturbance. The colonel said a few
sharp, decisive words to the subaltern, who, pale and reticent,
plucked at his little moustache, but took the whole blame upon
himself. HE and Mrs. Lascelles had, he said, outridden the trooper
and got lost; it was late when Cassidy (the trooper) found them,
but it was no fault of HIS, and they had to ride at the top of
their speed to cover the ground between them and the fort. It was
noticed that Mrs. Lascelles scarcely spoke to Forsyth, and turned
abruptly away from the colonel's interrogations and went to her

Peter, absorbed in his report, scarcely noticed the incident, nor
the singular restraint that seemed to fall upon the little military
household for a day or two afterwards. He had accepted the
lieutenant's story without comment or question; he knew his own
sister too well to believe that she had lent herself to a
flirtation with Forsyth; indeed, he had rather pitied the young
officer when he remembered Lascelles' experience in his early
courtship. But he was somewhat astonished one afternoon to find
the trooper Cassidy alone in his office.

"Oi thought Oi'd make bould to have a word wid ye, sorr," he said,
recovering from a stiff salute with his fingers nipping the cord of
his trousers. "It's not for meeself, sorr, although the ould man
was harrd on me, nor for the leddy, your sister, but for the sake
of the leftenant, sorr, who the ould man was harrdest on of all.
Oi was of the parrty that rode with your sister."

"Yes, yes, I remember, I heard the story," said Peter. "She and
Mr. Forsyth got lost."

"Axin' your pardin, sorr, she didn't. Mr. Forsyth loid. Loid like
an officer and a jintleman--as he is, God bless him--to save a
leddy, more betoken your sister, sorr. They never got lost, sorr.
We was all three together from the toime we shtarted till we got
back, and it's the love av God that we ever got back at all. And
it's breaking me hearrt, sorr, to see HIM goin' round with the
black looks of everybody upon him, and he a-twirlin' his moustache
and purtending not to mind."

"What do you mean?" said Peter, uneasily.

"Oi mane to be tellin' you what happened, sorr," said Cassidy
stoutly. "When we shtarted out Oi fell three files to the rear, as
became me, so as not to be in the way o' their colloguing, but
sorra a bit o' stragglin' was there, and Oi kept them afore me all
the toime. When we got to Post Oak Bottom the leddy p'ints her
whip off to the roight, and sez she: 'It's a fine bit of turf
there, Misther Forsyth,' invitin' like, and with that she gallops
away to the right. The leftenant follys her, and Oi closed up the
rear. So we rides away innoshent like amongst the trees, me
thinkin' only it wor a mighty queer place for manoovrin', until we
seed, just beyond us in the hollow, the smoke of an Injin camp and
a lot of women and childer. And Mrs. Lascelles gets off and goes
to discoursin' and blarneying wid 'em: and Oi sees Mr. Forsyth
glancin' round and lookin' oneasy. Then he goes up and sez
something to your sister, and she won't give him a hearin'. And
then he tells her she must mount and be off. And she turns upon
him, bedad, like a tayger, and bids him be off himself. Then he
comes to me and sez he, 'Oi don't like the look o' this, Cassidy,'
sez he; 'the woods behind is full of braves,' sez he. 'Thrue for
you, leftenant,' sez Oi, 'it's into a trap that the leddy hez led
us, God save her!' 'Whisht,' he sez, 'take my horse, it's the
strongest. Go beside her, and when Oi say the word lift her up
into the saddle before ye, and gallop like blazes. Oi'll bring up
the rear and the other horse.' Wid that we changed horses and
cantered up to where she was standing, and he gives the word when
she isn't lookin', and Oi grabs her up--she sthrugglin' like mad
but not utterin' a cry--and Oi lights out for the trail agin. And
sure enough the braves made as if they would folly, but the
leftenant throws the reins of her horse over the horn of his
saddle, and whips out his revolver and houlds 'em back till I've
got well away to the trail again. And then they let fly their
arrows, and begorra the next thing a BULLET whizzes by him. And
then he knows they have arrms wid 'em and are 'hostiles,' and he
rowls the nearest one over, wheelin' and fightin' and coverin' our
retreat till we gets to the road agin. And they daren't folly us
out of cover. Then the lady gets more sinsible, and the leftenant
pershuades her to mount her horse agin. But before we comes to the
fort, he sez to me: 'Cassidy,' sez he, 'not a word o' this on
account of the leddy.' And I was mum, sorr, while he was shootin'
off his mouth about him bein' lost and all that, and him bein'
bully-ragged by the kernel, and me knowin' that but for him your
sister wouldn't be between these walls here, and Oi wouldn't be
talkin' to ye. And shure, sorr, ye might be tellin's the kernel as
how the leddy was took by the hysterics, and was that loony that
she didn't know whatever she was sayin', and so get the leftenant
in favor again."

"I will speak with the colonel to-night," said Peter gloomily.

"Lord save yer honor," returned the trooper gratefully, "and if ye
could be sayin' that the LEDDY tould you,--it would only be the
merest taste of a loi ye'd be tellin',--and you'd save me from
breakin' me word to the leftenant."

"I shall of course speak to my sister first," returned Peter, with
a guilty consciousness that he had accepted the trooper's story
mainly from his previous knowledge of his sister's character.
Nevertheless, in spite of this foregone conclusion, he DID speak to
her. To his surprise she did not deny it. Lieutenant Forsyth,--a
vain and conceited fool,--whose silly attentions she had accepted
solely that she might get recreation beyond the fort,--had presumed
to tell her what SHE must do! As if SHE was one of those stupid
officers' wives or sisters! And it never would have happened if
he--Peter--had let her remain at the reservation with the Indian
agent's wife, or if "Charley" (the gentle Lascelles) were here! HE
would have let her go, or taken her there. Besides all the while
she was among friends; HIS, Peter's own friends,--the people whose
cause he was championing! In vain did Peter try to point out to
her that these "people" were still children in mind and impulse,
and capable of vacillation or even treachery. He remembered he was
talking to a child in mind and impulse, who had shown the same
qualities, and in trying to convince her of her danger he felt he
was only voicing the common arguments of his opponents.

He spoke also to the colonel, excusing her through her ignorance,
her trust in his influence with the savages, and the general
derangement of her health. The colonel, relieved of his suspicions
of a promising young officer, was gentle and sympathetic, but firm
as to Peter's future course. In a moment of caprice and
willfulness she might imperil the garrison as she had her escort,
and, more than that, she was imperiling Peter's influence with the
Indians. Absurd stories had come to his ears regarding the
attitude of the reservation towards him. He thought she ought to
return home as quickly as possible. Fortunately an opportunity
offered. The general commanding had advised him of the visit to
the fort of a party of English tourists who had been shooting in
the vicinity, and who were making the fort the farthest point of
their western excursion. There were three or four ladies in the
party, and as they would be returning to the line of railroad under
escort, she could easily accompany them. This, added Colonel
Carter, was also Mrs. Carter's opinion,--she was a woman of
experience, and had a married daughter of her own. In the mean
time Peter had better not broach the subject to his sister, but
trust to the arrival of the strangers, who would remain for a week,
and who would undoubtedly divert Mrs. Lascelles' impressible mind,
and eventually make the proposition more natural and attractive.

In the interval Peter revisited the reservation, and endeavored to
pacify the irritation that had sprung from his previous inspection.
The outrage at Post Oak Bottom he was assured had no relation to
the incident at the reservation, but was committed by some
stragglers from other tribes who had not yet accepted the
government bounty, yet had not been thus far classified as
"hostile." There had been no "Ghost Dancing" nor other indication
of disturbance. The colonel had not deemed it necessary to send
out an exemplary force, or make a counter demonstration. The
incident was allowed to drop. At the reservation Peter had ignored
the previous conduct of the chiefs towards him; had with quiet
courage exposed himself fully--unarmed and unattended--amongst
them, and had as fully let it be known that this previous incident
was the reason that his sister had not accompanied him on his
second visit. He left them at the close of the second day more
satisfied in his mind, and perhaps in a more enthusiastic attitude
towards his report.

As he came within sound of the sunset bugles, he struck a narrower
trail which led to the fort, through an oasis of oaks and
cottonwoods and a small stream or "branch," which afterwards lost
itself in the dusty plain. He had already passed a few settler's
cabins, a sutler's shop, and other buildings that had sprung up
around this armed nucleus of civilization--which, in due season,
was to become a frontier town. But as yet the brief wood was wild
and secluded; frequented only by the women and children of the
fort, within whose protecting bounds it stood, and to whose formal
"parade," and trim white and green cottage "quarters," it afforded
an agreeable relief. As he rode abstractedly forward under the low
cottonwood vault he felt a strange influence stealing over him, an
influence that was not only a present experience but at the same
time a far-off memory. The concave vault above deepened; the
sunset light from the level horizon beyond streamed through the
leaves as through the chequers of stained glass windows; through
the two shafts before him stretched the pillared aisles of Ashley
Church! He was riding as in a dream, and when a figure suddenly
slipped across his pathway from a column-like tree trunk, he woke
with the disturbance and sense of unreality of a dream. For he saw
Lady Elfrida standing before him!

It was not a mere memory conjured up by association, for although
the figure, face, and attitude were the same, there were certain
changes of costume which the eye of recollection noticed. In place
of the smart narrow-brimmed sailor hat he remembered, she was
wearing a slouched cavalry hat with a gold cord around its crown,
that, with all its becomingness and picturesque audacity, seemed to
become characteristic and respectable, as a crest to her refined
head, and as historic as a Lely canvas. She wore a flannel shirt,
belted in at her slight waist with a band of yellow leather,
defining her small hips, and short straight pleatless skirts that
fell to her trim ankles and buckled leather shoes. She was fresh
and cool, wholesome and clean, free and unfettered; indeed, her
beauty seemed only an afterthought or accident. So much so that
when Peter saw her afterwards, amidst the billowy, gauzy, and
challenging graces of the officer's wives, who were dressed in
their best and prettiest frocks to welcome her, the eye turned
naturally from that suggestion of enhancement to the girl who
seemed to defy it. She was clearly not an idealized memory, a
spirit or a ghost, but naturalistic and rosy; he thought a trifle
rosier, as she laughingly addressed him:--

"I suppose it isn't quite fair to surprise you like that," she
said, with an honest girlish hand-shake, "for you see I know all
about you now, and what you are doing here, and even when you were
expected; and I dare say you thought we were still in England, if
you remembered us at all. And we haven't met since that day at
Ashley Church when I put my foot in it,--or rather on your pet
protege's, the Indian's: you remember Major Atherly's tomb? And to
think that all the while we didn't know that you were a public man
and a great political reformer, and had a fad like this. Why, we'd
have got up meetings for you, and my father would have presided,--
he's always fond of doing these things,--and we'd have passed
resolutions, and given you subscriptions, and Bibles, and flannel
shirts, and revolvers--but I believe you draw the line at that. My
brother was saying only the other day that you weren't half praised
enough for going in for this sort of thing when you were so rich,
and needn't care. And so that's why you rushed away from Ashley
Grange,--just to come here and work out your mission?"

His whole life, his first wild Californian dream, his English
visit, the revelation of Gray Eagle, the final collapse of his old
beliefs, were whirling through his brain to the music of this clear
young voice. And by some cruel irony of circumstance it seemed now
to even mock his later dreams of expiation as it also called back
his unhappy experience of the last week.

"Have you--have you"--he stammered with a faint smile, "seen my

"Not yet," said Lady Elfrida. "I believe she is not well and is
confined to her room; you will introduce me, won't you?" she added
eagerly. "Of course, when we heard that there was an Atherly here
we inquired about you; and I told them you were a relation of
ours," she went on with a half-mischievous shyness,--"you remember
the de Bracys,--and they seemed surprised and rather curious. I
suppose one does not talk so much about these things over here, and
I dare say you have so much to occupy your mind you don't talk of
us in England." With the quickness of a refined perception she saw
a slight shade in his face, and changed the subject. "And we have
had such a jolly time; we have met so many pleasant people; and
they've all been so awfully good to us, from the officials and
officers down to the plainest working-man. And all so naturally
too--so different from us. I sometimes think we have to work
ourselves up to be civil to strangers." "No," she went on gayly,
in answer to his protesting gesture, and his stammered reminder of
his own reception. "No. You came as a sort of kinsman, and Sir
Edward knew all about you before he asked you down to the Grange--
or even sent over for me from the Towers. No! you Americans take
people on their 'face value,' as my brother Reggy says, and we
always want to know what are the 'securities.' And then American
men are more gallant, though," she declared mischievously, "I think
you are an exception in that way. Indeed," she went on, "the more
I see of your countrymen the less you seem like them. You are more
like us,--more like an Englishman--indeed, more like an Englishman
than most Englishmen,--I mean in the matter of reserve and all that
sort of thing, you know. It's odd,--isn't it? Is your sister like

"You shall judge for yourself," said Peter with a gayety that was
forced in proportion as his forebodings became more gloomy. Would
his sister's peculiarities--even her secret--be safe from the clear
eyes of the young girl?

"I know I shall like her," said Lady Elfrida, simply. "I mean to
make friends with her before we leave, and I hope to see a great
deal of her; and," she said with a naive non sequitur, that,
however, had its painful significance to Peter, "I do want you to
show me some Indians--your Indians, you know YOUR friends. I've
seen some of them, of course; I am afraid I am a little prejudiced,
for I did not like them. You see my taste has to be educated, I
suppose; but I thought them so foolishly vain and presuming."

"That is their perfect childishness," said Peter quickly. "It is
not, I believe, considered a moral defect," he added bitterly.

Lady Elfrida laughed, and yet at the same moment a look of appeal
that was in itself quite as childlike shone in her blue eyes.
"There, I have blundered again, I know; but I told you I have such
ridiculous prejudices! And I really want to like them as you do.
Only," she laughed again, "it seems strange that YOU, of all men,
should have interested yourself in people so totally different to
you. But what will be the result if your efforts are successful?
Will they remain a distinct race? Will you make citizens,
soldiers, congressmen, governors of them? Will they intermarry
with the whites? Is that a part of your plan? I hope not!"

It was a part of Peter's sensitive excitement that even through the
unconscious irony of this speech he was noticing the difference
between the young English girl's evident interest in a political
problem and the utter indifference of his own countrywomen. Here
was a girl scarcely out of her teens, with no pretension to being a
blue stocking, with half the aplomb of an American girl of her own
age, gravely considering a question of political economy. Oddly
enough, it added to his other irritation, and he said almost
abruptly, "Why not?"

She took the question literally and with a little youthful
timidity. "But these mixed races never attain to anything, do
they? I thought that was understood. But," she added with
feminine quickness, "and I suppose it's again only a PERSONAL
argument, YOU wouldn't like your sister to have married an Indian,
would you?"

The irony of the situation had reached its climax to Peter. It
didn't seem to be his voice that said, "I can answer by an argument
still more personal. I have even thought myself of marrying an
Indian woman."

It seemed to him that what he said was irrevocable, but he was
desperate. It seemed to him that in a moment more he would have
told her his whole secret. But the young girl drew back from him
with a slight start of surprise. There may have been something in
the tone of his voice and in his manner that verged upon a
seriousness she was never contemplating in her random talk; it may
have been an uneasiness of some youthful imprudence in pressing the
subject upon a man of his superiority, and that his abrupt climax
was a rebuke. But it was only for a moment; her youthful buoyancy,
and, above all, a certain common sense that was not incompatible to
her high nature, came to her rescue. "But that," she said with
quick mischievousness, "would be a SACRIFICE taken in the interest
of these people, don't you see; and being a sacrifice, it's no

Peter saw his mistake, but there was something so innocent and
delightful in the youthful triumph of this red-lipped logician,
that he was forced to smile. I have said that his smile was rare
and fascinating, a concession wrung from his dark face and calm
beardless lips that most people found irresistible, but it was odd,
nevertheless, that Lady Elfrida now for the first time felt a
sudden and not altogether unpleasant embarrassment over the very
subject she had approached with such innocent fearlessness. There
was a new light in her eyes, a fresher color in her cheeks as she
turned her face--she knew not why--away from him. But it enabled
her to see a figure approaching them from the fort. And I grieve
to say that, perhaps for the first time in her life, Lady Elfrida
was guilty of an affected start.

"Oh, here's Reggy coming to look for me. I'd quite forgotten, but
I'm so glad. I want you to know my brother Reggy. He was always
so sorry he missed you at the Grange."

The tall, young, good-looking brown Englishman who had sauntered up
bestowed a far more critical glance upon Peter's horse than upon
Peter, but nevertheless grasped his hand heartily as his sister
introduced him. Perhaps both men were equally undemonstrative,
although the reserve of one was from temperament and the other from
education. Nevertheless Lord Reginald remarked, with a laugh, that
it was awfully jolly to be there, and that it had been a beastly
shame that he was in Scotland when Atherly was at the Grange. That
none of them had ever suspected till they came to the fort that he,
Atherly, was one of those government chappies, and so awfully keen
on Indian politics. "Friddy" had been the first to find it out,
but they thought she was chaffing. At which "Friddy," who had
suddenly resolved herself into the youthfulest of schoolgirls in
the presence of her brother, put her parasol like an Indian club
behind her back, and still rosy, beamed admiringly upon Reggy.
Then the three, Peter leading his horse, moved on towards the fort,
presently meeting "Georgy," the six-foot Guardsman cousin in
extraordinary tweeds and flannel shirt; Lord Runnybroke, uncle of
Friddy, middle-aged and flannel-shirted, a mighty hunter; Lady
Runnybroke, in a brown duster, but with a stately head that
suggested ostrich feathers; Moyler-Spence, M. P., with an eyeglass,
and the Hon. Evelyn Kayne, closely attended by the always gallant
Lieutenant Forsyth. Peter began to feel a nervous longing to be
alone on the burning plain and the empty horizon beyond them, until
he could readjust himself to these new conditions, and glanced
half-wearily around him. But his eye met Friddy's, who seemed to
have evoked this gathering with a wave of her parasol, like the
fairy of a pantomime, and he walked on in silence.

A day or two of unexpected pleasure passed for Peter. In these new
surroundings he found he could separate Lady Elfrida from his
miserable past, and the conventional restraint of Ashley Grange.
Again, the revelation of her familiar name Friddy seemed to make
her more accessible and human to him than her formal title, and
suited the girlish simplicity that lay at the foundation of her
character, of which he had seen so little before. At least so he
fancied, and so excused himself; it was delightful to find her
referring to him as an older friend; pleasant, indeed, to see that
her family tacitly recognized it, and frequently appealed to him
with the introduction, "Friddy says you can tell us," or "You and
Friddy had better arrange it between you." Even the dreaded
introduction of his sister was an agreeable surprise, owing to Lady
Elfrida's frank and sympathetic prepossession, which Jenny could
not resist. In a few moments they were walking together in serious
and apparently confidential conversation. For to Peter's wonder it
was the "Lady Elfrida" side of the English girl's nature that
seemed to have attracted Jenny, and not the playfulness of
"Friddy," and he was delighted to see that the young girl had
assumed a grave chaperonship of the tall Mrs. Lascelles that would
have done credit to Mrs. Carter or Lady Runnybroke. Had he been
less serious he might have been amused, too, at the importance of
his own position in the military outpost, through the arrival of
the strangers. That this grave political enthusiast and civilian
should be on familiar terms with a young Englishwoman of rank was
at first inconceivable to the officers. And that he had never
alluded to it before seemed to them still more remarkable.

Nevertheless, there was much liveliness and good fellowship at the
fort. Captains and lieutenants down to the youngest "cub,"
Forsyth, vied with each other to please the Englishmen, supplied
them with that characteristic American humor and anecdote which it
is an Englishman's privilege to bring away with him, and were
picturesquely and chivalrously devoted in their attentions to the
ladies, who were pleased and amused by it, though it is to be
doubted if it increased their respect for the giver, although they
were more grateful for it than the average American woman. Lady
Elfrida found the officers very entertaining and gallant.
Accustomed to the English officer, and his somewhat bored way of
treating his profession and his duties, she may have been amused at
the zeal, earnestness, and enthusiasm of these youthful warriors,
who aspired to appear as nothing but soldiers, when she contrasted
them with her Guardsmen relatives who aspired to be everything else
but that; but she kept it to herself. It was a recognized,
respectable, and even superior occupation for gentlemen in England;
what it might be in America,--who knows? She certainly found
Peter, the civilian, more attractive, for there really was nothing
English to compare him with, and she had something of the same
feeling in her friendship for Jenny, except the patronage which
Jenny seemed to solicit, and perhaps require, as a foreigner.

One afternoon the English guests, accompanied by a few of their
hosts and a small escort, were making a shooting expedition to the
vicinity of Green Spring, when Peter, plunged in his report, looked
up to find his sister entering his office. Her face was pale, and
there was something in her expression which reawakened his old
anxiety. Nevertheless he smiled, and said gently:--

"Why are you not enjoying yourself with the others?"

"I have a headache," she said, languidly, "but," lifting her eyes
suddenly to his, "why are YOU not? You are their good friend, you
know,--even their relation."

"No more than you are," he returned, with affected gayety. "But
look at the report--it is only half finished! I have already been
shirking it for them."

"You mustn't let your devotion to the Indians keep you from your
older friends," said Mrs. Lascelles, with an odd laugh. "But you
never told me about these people before, Peter; tell me now. They
were very kind to you, weren't they, on account of your

"Entirely on account of that," said Peter, with a sudden bitterness
he could not repress. "But they are very pleasant," he added
quickly, "and very simple and unaffected, in spite of their rank;
perhaps I ought to say, BECAUSE of it."

"You mean they are kind to us because they feel themselves
superior,--just as you are kind to the Indians, Peter."

"I am afraid they have no such sense of political equality towards
us, Jenny, as impels me to be just to the Indian," he said with
affected lightness. "But Lady Elfrida sympathizes with the
Indians--very much."

"She!" The emphasis which his sister put upon the personal pronoun
was unmistakable, but Peter ignored it, and so apparently did she,
as she said the next moment in a different voice, "She's very
pretty, don't you think?"

"Very," said Peter coldly.

There was a long pause. Peter slightly fingered one of the sheets
of his delayed report on his desk. His sister looked up. "I'm
afraid I'm as bad as Lady Elfrida in keeping you from your Indians;
but I had something to say to you. No matter, another time will do
when you're not so busy."

"Please go on now," said Peter, with affected unconcern, yet with a
feeling of uneasiness creeping over him.

"It was only this," said Jenny, seating herself with her elbow on
the desk and her chin in a cup-like hollow of her hand, "did you
ever think that in the interests of these poor Indians, you know,
purely for the sake of your belief in them, and just to show that
you were above vulgar prejudices,--did you ever think you could
marry one of them?"

Two thoughts flashed quickly on Peter's mind,--first, that Lady
Elfrida had repeated something of their conversation to his sister;
secondly, that some one had told her of Little Daybreak. Each was
equally disturbing. But he recovered himself quickly and said, "I
might if I thought it was required. But even a sacrifice is not
always an example."

"Then you think it would be a sacrifice?" she said, slowly raising
her dark eyes to his.

"If I did something against received opinion, against precedent,
and for aught I know against even the prejudices of those I wish to
serve, however lofty my intention was and however great the benefit
to them in the end, it would still be a sacrifice in the present."
He saw his own miserable logic and affected didactics, but he went
on lightly, "But why do you ask such a question? You haven't any
one in your mind for me, have you?"

She had risen thoughtfully and was moving towards the door.
Suddenly she turned with a quick, odd vivacity: "Perhaps I had.
Oh, Peter, there was such a lovely little squaw I saw the last time
I was at Oak Bottom! She was no darker than I am, but so
beautiful. Even in her little cotton gown and blanket, with only a
string of beads around her throat, she was as pretty as any one
here. And I dare say she could be educated and appear as well as
any white woman. I should so like to have you see her. I would
have tried to bring her to the fort, but the braves are very
jealous of their wives or daughters seeing white men, you know, and
I was afraid of the colonel."

She had spoken volubly and with a strange excitement, but even at
the moment her face changed again, and as she left the office, with
a quick laugh and parting gesture, there were tears in her eyes.

Accustomed to her moods and caprices, Peter thought little of the
intrusion, relieved as he was of his first fears. She had come to
him from loneliness and curiosity, and, perhaps, he thought with a
sad smile, from a little sisterly jealousy of the young girl who
had evinced such an interest in him, and had known him before. He
took up his pen and continued the interrupted paragraph of his

"I am satisfied that much of the mischievous and extravagant
prejudice against the half breed and all alliances of the white and
red races springs from the ignorance of the frontiersman and his
hasty generalization of facts. There is no doubt that an
intermixture of blood brings out purely superficial contrasts the
more strongly, and that against the civilizing habits and even
costumes of the half breed, certain Indian defects appear the more
strongly as in the case of the color line of the quadroon and
octoroon, but it must not be forgotten that these are only the
contrasts of specific improvement, and the inference that the
borrowed defects of a half breed exceed the original defects of the
full-blooded aborigine is utterly illogical." He stopped suddenly
and laid down his pen with a heightened color; the bugle had blown,
the guard was turning out to receive the commandant and his
returning party, among whom was Friddy.

. . . . . .

Through the illusions of depression and distance the "sink" of
Butternut Creek seemed only an incrustation of blackish moss on the
dull gray plain. It was not until one approached within half a
mile of it that it resolved itself into a copse of butternut-trees
sunken below the distant levels. Here once, in geological story,
the waters of Butternut Creek, despairing of ever crossing the
leagues of arid waste before them, had suddenly disappeared in the
providential interposition of an area of looser soil, and so given
up the effort and the ghost forever, their grave being marked by
the butternut copse, chance-sown by bird or beast in the saturated
ground. In Indian legend the "sink" commemorated the equally
providential escape of a great tribe who, surrounded by enemies,
appealed to the Great Spirit for protection, and was promptly
conveyed by subterraneous passages to the banks of the Great River
a hundred miles away. Its outer edges were already invaded by the
dust of the plain, but within them ran cool recesses, a few
openings, and the ashes of some long-forgotten camp-fires. To-day
its sombre shadows were relieved by bright colored dresses, the
jackets of the drivers of a large sutler's wagon, whose white
canvas head marked the entrance of the copse, and all the
paraphernalia of a picnic. It was a party gotten up by the foreign
guests to the ladies of the fort, prepared and arranged by the

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