Part 1 out of 5
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THE CRUSADE OF THE EXCELSIOR
by Bret Harte
PART I.--IN BONDS.
A CRUSADER AND A SIGN
IN THE FOG
"HAIL AND FAREWELL"
THE GENTLE CASTAWAYS
AN OPEN-AIR PRISON
TODOS SANTOS SOLVES THE MYSTERY
THE CAPTAIN FOLLOWS HIS SHIP
THE MOURNERS AT SAN FRANCISCO
THE MOURNERS AT TODOS SANTOS
A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE
CLOUDS AND CHANGE
A MORE IMPORTANT ARRIVAL
THE RETURN OF THE EXCELSIOR
THE CRUSADE OF THE EXCELSIOR
PART I. IN BONDS.
A CRUSADER AND A SIGN.
It was the 4th of August, 1854, off Cape Corrientes. Morning was
breaking over a heavy sea, and the closely-reefed topsails of a
barque that ran before it bearing down upon the faint outline of
the Mexican coast. Already the white peak of Colima showed, ghost-
like, in the east; already the long sweep of the Pacific was
gathering strength and volume as it swept uninterruptedly into the
opening Gulf of California.
As the cold light increased, it could be seen that the vessel
showed evidence of a long voyage and stress of weather. She had
lost one of her spars, and her starboard davits rolled emptily.
Nevertheless, her rigging was taut and ship-shape, and her decks
scrupulously clean. Indeed, in that uncertain light, the only
moving figure besides the two motionless shadows at the wheel was
engaged in scrubbing the quarter-deck--which, with its grated
settees and stacked camp-chairs, seemed to indicate the presence of
cabin passengers. For the barque Excelsior, from New York to San
Francisco, had discharged the bulk of her cargo at Callao, and had
extended her liberal cabin accommodation to swell the feverish
Californian immigration, still in its height.
Suddenly there was a slight commotion on deck. An order, issued
from some invisible depth of the cabin, was so unexpected that it
had to be repeated sternly and peremptorily. A bustle forward
ensued, two or three other shadows sprang up by the bulwarks, then
the two men bent over the wheel, the Excelsior slowly swung round
on her heel, and, with a parting salutation to the coast, bore away
to the northwest and the open sea again.
"What's up now?" growled one of the men at the wheel to his
companion, as they slowly eased up on the helm.
"'Tain't the skipper's, for he's drunk as a biled owl, and ain't
stirred out of his bunk since eight bells," said the other. "It's
the first mate's orders; but, I reckon, it's the Senor's idea."
"Then we ain't goin' on to Mazatlan?"
"Not this trip, I reckon," said the third mate, joining them.
The third mate turned and pointed to leeward. The line of coast
had already sunk enough to permit the faint silhouette of a trail
of smoke to define the horizon line of sky.
"Steamer goin' in, eh?"
"Yes. D'ye see--it might be too hot, in there!"
"Then the jig's up?"
"No. Suthin's to be done--north of St. Lucas. Hush!"
He made a gesture of silence, although the conversation, since he
had joined them, had been carried on in a continuous whisper. A
figure, evidently a passenger, had appeared on deck. One or two of
the foreign-looking crew who had drawn near the group, with a
certain undue and irregular familiarity, now slunk away again.
The passenger was a shrewd, exact, rectangular-looking man, who had
evidently never entirely succumbed to the freedom of the sea either
in his appearance or habits. He had not even his sea legs yet; and
as the barque, with the full swell of the Pacific now on her
weather bow, was plunging uncomfortably, he was fain to cling to
the stanchions. This did not, however, prevent him from noticing
the change in her position, and captiously resenting it.
"Look here--you; I say! What have we turned round for? We're
going away from the land! Ain't we going on to Mazatlan?"
The two men at the wheel looked silently forward, with that
exasperating unconcern of any landsman's interest peculiar to
marine officials. The passenger turned impatiently to the third
"But this ain't right, you know. It was understood that we were
going into Mazatlan. I've got business there."
"My orders, sir," said the mate curtly, turning away.
The practical passenger had been observant enough of sea-going
rules to recognize that this reason was final, and that it was
equally futile to demand an interview with the captain when that
gentleman was not visibly on duty. He turned angrily to the cabin
"You look disturbed, my dear Banks. I trust you haven't slept
badly," said a very gentle voice from the quarter-rail near him;
"or, perhaps, the ship's going about has upset you. It's a little
rougher on this tack."
"That's just it," returned Banks sharply. "We HAVE gone about, and
we're not going into Mazatlan at all. It's scandalous! I'll speak
to the captain--I'll complain to the consignees--I've got business
at Mazatlan--I expect letters--I"--
"Business, my dear fellow?" continued the voice, in gentle protest.
"You'll have time for business when you get to San Francisco. And
as for letters--they'll follow you there soon enough. Come over
here, my boy, and say hail and farewell to the Mexican coast--to
the land of Montezuma and Pizarro. Come here and see the mountain
range from which Balboa feasted his eyes on the broad Pacific.
The speaker, though apparently more at his ease at sea, was in
dress and appearance fully as unnautical as Banks. As he leaned
over the railing, his white, close-fitting trousers and small
patent-leather boots gave him a jaunty, half-military air, which
continued up to the second button of his black frock-coat, and then
so utterly changed its character that it was doubtful if a greater
contrast could be conceived than that offered by the widely spread
lapels of his coat, his low turned-down collar, loosely knotted
silk handkerchief, and the round, smooth-shaven, gentle, pacific
face above them. His straight long black hair, shining as if from
recent immersion, was tucked carefully behind his ears, and hung in
a heavy, even, semicircular fringe around the back of his neck
where his tall hat usually rested, as if to leave his forehead
meekly exposed to celestial criticism. When he had joined the ship
at Callao, his fellow-passengers, rashly trusting to the momentary
suggestion of his legs on the gang-plank, had pronounced him
military; meeting him later at dinner, they had regarded the mild
Methodistic contour of his breast and shoulders above the table,
and entertained the wild idea of asking him to evoke a blessing.
To complete the confusion of his appearance, he was called "Senor"
Perkins, for no other reason, apparently, than his occasional, but
masterful, use of the Spanish vernacular.
Steadying himself by one of the quarter stanchions, he waved his
right hand oratorically towards the sinking coast.
"Look at it, sir. One of the finest countries that ever came from
the hand of the Creator; a land overflowing with milk and honey;
containing, sir, in that one mountain range, the products of the
three zones--and yet the abode of the oppressed and down-trodden;
the land of faction, superstition, tyranny, and political
"That's all very well," said Banks irritably, "but Mazatlan is a
well-known commercial port, and has English and American
correspondents. There's a branch of that Boston firm--Potter,
Potts & Potter--there. The new line of steamers is going to stop
Senor Perkins' soft black eyes fell for an instant, as if
accidentally, on the third mate, but the next moment he laughed,
and, throwing back his head, inhaled, with evident relish, a long
breath of the sharp, salt air.
"Ah!" he said enthusiastically, "THAT'S better than all the
business you can pick up along a malarious coast. Open your mouth
and try to take in the free breath of the glorious North Pacific.
Ah! isn't it glorious?"
"Where's the captain?" said Banks, with despairing irritation. "I
want to see him."
"The captain," said Senor Perkins, with a bland, forgiving smile
and a slight lowering of his voice, "is, I fear, suffering from an
accident of hospitality, and keeps his state-room. The captain is
a good fellow," continued Perkins, with gentle enthusiasm; "a good
sailor and careful navigator, and exceedingly attentive to his
passengers. I shall certainly propose getting up some testimonial
"But if he's shut up in his state-room, who's giving the orders?"
began Banks angrily.
Senor Perkins put up a small, well-kept hand deprecatingly.
"Really, my dear boy, I suppose the captain cannot be omnipresent.
Some discretion must be left to the other officers. They probably
know his ideas and what is to be done better than we do. You
business men trouble yourselves too much about these things. You
should take them more philosophically. For my part I always
confide myself trustingly to these people. I enter a ship or
railroad car with perfect faith. I say to myself, 'This captain,
or this conductor, is a responsible man, selected with a view to my
safety and comfort; he understands how to procure that safety and
that comfort better than I do. He worries himself; he spends hours
and nights of vigil to look after me and carry me to my
destination. Why should I worry myself, who can only assist him by
passive obedience? Why'--" But here he was interrupted by a
headlong plunge of the Excelsior, a feminine shriek that was half a
laugh, the rapid patter of small feet and sweep of flying skirts
down the slanting deck, and the sudden and violent contact of a
The next moment he had forgotten his philosophy, and his companion
his business. Both flew to the assistance of the fair intruder,
who, albeit the least injured of the trio, clung breathlessly to
"Miss Keene!" ejaculated both gentlemen.
"Oh dear! I beg your pardon," said the young lady, reddening, with
a naive mingling of hilarity and embarrassment. "But it seemed so
stuffy in the cabin, and it seemed so easy to get out on deck and
pull myself up by the railings; and just as I got up here, I
suddenly seemed to be sliding down the roof of a house."
"And now that you're here, your courage should be rewarded," said
the Senor, gallantly assisting her to a settee, which he lashed
securely. "You are perfectly safe now," he added, holding the end
of the rope in his hand to allow a slight sliding movement of the
seat as the vessel rolled. "And here is a glorious spectacle for
you. Look! the sun is just rising."
The young girl glanced over the vast expanse before her with
sparkling eyes and a suddenly awakened fancy that checked her
embarrassed smile, and fixed her pretty, parted lips with wonder.
The level rays of the rising sun striking the white crests of the
lifted waves had suffused the whole ocean with a pinkish opal
color: the darker parts of each wave seemed broken into facets
instead of curves, and glittered sharply. The sea seemed to have
lost its fluidity, and become vitreous; so much so, that it was
difficult to believe that the waves which splintered across the
Excelsior's bow did not fall upon her deck with the ring of
"Sindbad's Valley of Diamonds!" said the young girl, in an awed
"It's a cross sea in the Gulf of California, so the mate says,"
said Banks practically; "but I don't see why we" . . .
"The Gulf of California?" repeated the young girl, while a slight
shade of disappointment passed over her bright face; "are we then
"Not the California you mean, my dear young lady," broke in Senor
Perkins, "but the old peninsula of California, which is still a
part of Mexico. It terminates in Cape St. Lucas, a hundred miles
from here, but it's still a far cry to San Francisco, which is in
Upper California. But I fancy you don't seem as anxious as our
friend Mr. Banks to get to your journey's end," he added, with
The look of relief which had passed over Miss Keene's truthful face
gave way to one of slight embarrassment.
"It hasn't seemed long," she said hastily; and then added, as if to
turn the conversation, "What is this peninsula? I remember it on
our map at school."
"It's not of much account," interrupted Banks positively. "There
ain't a place on it you ever heard of. It's a kind of wilderness."
"I differ from you," said Senor Perkins gravely. "There are, I
have been told, some old Mexican settlements along the coast, and
there is no reason why the country shouldn't be fruitful. But you
may have a chance to judge for yourself," he continued beamingly.
Since we are not going into Mazatlan, we may drop in at some of
those places for water. It's all on our way, and we shall save the
three days we would have lost had we touched Mazatlan. That," he
added, answering an impatient interrogation in Banks' eye, "at
least, is the captain's idea, I reckon." He laughed, and went on
still gayly,--"But what's the use of anticipating? Why should we
spoil any little surprise that our gallant captain may have in
store for us? I've been trying to convert this business man to my
easy philosophy, Miss Keene, but he is incorrigible; he is actually
lamenting his lost chance of hearing the latest news at Mazatlan,
and getting the latest market quotations, instead of offering a
thanksgiving for another uninterrupted day of freedom in this
With a half humorous extravagance he unloosed his already loose
necktie, turned his Byron collar still lower, and squared his
shoulders ostentatiously to the sea breeze. Accustomed as his two
companions were to his habitually extravagant speech, it did not at
that moment seem inconsistent with the intoxicating morning air and
the exhilaration of sky and wave. A breath of awakening and
resurrection moved over the face of the waters; recreation and new-
born life sparkled everywhere; the past night seemed forever buried
in the vast and exundating sea. The reefs had been shaken out, and
every sail set to catch the steadier breeze of the day; and as the
quickening sun shone upon the dazzling canvas that seemed to
envelop them, they felt as if wrapped in the purity of a baptismal
Nevertheless, Miss Keene's eyes occasionally wandered from the
charming prospect towards the companion-ladder. Presently she
became ominously and ostentatiously interested in the view again,
and at the same moment a young man's head and shoulders appeared
above the companionway. With a bound he was on the slanting deck,
moving with the agility and adaptability of youth, and approached
the group. He was quite surprised to find Miss Keene there so
early, and Miss Keene was equally surprised at his appearance,
notwithstanding the phenomenon had occurred with singular
regularity for the last three weeks. The two spectators of this
gentle comedy received it as they had often received it before,
with a mixture of apparent astonishment and patronizing
unconsciousness, and, after a decent interval, moved away together,
leaving the young people alone.
The hesitancy and awkwardness which usually followed the first
moments of their charming isolation were this morning more than
"It seems we are not going into Mazatlan, after all," said Miss
Keene at last, without lifting her conscious eyes from the sea.
"No," returned the young fellow quickly. "I heard all about it
down below, and we had quite an indignation meeting over it. I
believe Mrs. Markham wanted to head a deputation to wait upon the
captain in his berth. It seems that the first officer, or
whosoever is running the ship, has concluded we've lost too much
time already, and we're going to strike a bee-line for Cape St.
Lucas, and give Mazatlan the go-by. We'll save four days by it. I
suppose it don't make any difference to you, Miss Keene, does it?"
"I? Oh, no!" said the girl hastily.
"I'M rather sorry," he said hesitatingly.
"Indeed. Are you tired of the ship?" she asked saucily.
"No," he replied bluntly; "but it would have given us four more
days together--four more days before we separated."
He stopped, with a heightened color. There was a moment of
silence, and the voices of Senor Perkins and Mr. Banks in political
discussion on the other side of the deck came faintly. Miss Keene
"We are a long way from San Francisco yet, and you may think
"Never!" he said, impulsively.
He had drawn closer to her, as if to emphasize his speech. She
cast a quick glance across the deck towards the two disputants, and
drew herself gently away.
"Do you know," she said suddenly, with a charming smile which
robbed the act of its sting, "I sometimes wonder if I am REALLY
going to San Francisco. I don't know how it is; but, somehow, I
never can SEE myself there."
"I wish you did, for I'M going there," he replied boldly.
Without appearing to notice the significance of his speech, she
"I have been so strongly impressed with this feeling at times that
it makes me quite superstitious. When we had that terrible storm
after we left Callao, I thought it meant that--that we were all
going down, and we should never be heard of again."
"As long as we all went together," he said, "I don't know that it
would be the worst thing that could happen. I remember that storm,
Miss Keene. And I remember"--He stopped timidly.
"What?" she replied, raising her smiling eyes for the first time to
his earnest face.
"I remember sitting up all night near your state-room, with a cork
jacket and lots of things I'd fixed up for you, and thinking I'd
die before I trusted you alone in the boat to those rascally
Lascars of the crew."
"But how would you have prevented it?" asked Miss Keene, with a
compassionate and half-maternal amusement.
"I don't know exactly," he said, coloring; "but I'd have lashed you
to some spar, or made a raft, and got you ashore on some island."
"And poor Mrs. Markham and Mrs. Brimmer--you'd have left them to
the boats and the Lascars, I suppose?" smiled Miss Keene.
"Oh, somebody would have looked after Mrs. Markham; and Mrs.
Brimmer wouldn't have gone with anybody that wasn't well connected.
But what's the use of talking?" he added ruefully. "Nothing has
happened, and nothing is going to happen. You will see yourself in
San Francisco, even if you don't see ME there. You're going to a
rich brother, Miss Keene, who has friends of his own, and who won't
care to know a poor fellow whom you tolerated on the passage, but
who don't move in Mrs. Brimmer's set, and whom Mr. Banks wouldn't
"Ah, you don't know my brother, Mr. Brace."
"Nor do you, very well, Miss Keene. You were saying, only last
night, you hardly remembered him."
The young girl sighed.
"I was very young when he went West," she said explanatorily; "but
I dare say I shall recall him. What I meant is, that he will be
very glad to know that I have been so happy here, and he will like
all those who have made me so."
"Then you have been happy?"
"Yes; very." She had withdrawn her eyes, and was looking vaguely
towards the companion-way. "Everybody has been so kind to me."
"And you are grateful to all?"
The ship gave a sudden forward plunge. Miss Keene involuntarily
clutched the air with her little hand, that had been resting on the
settee between them, and the young man caught it in his own.
"Equally?" he repeated, with an assumed playfulness that half
veiled his anxiety. "Equally--from the beaming Senor Perkins, who
smiles on all, to the gloomy Mr. Hurlstone, who smiles on no one?"
She quickly withdrew her hand, and rose. "I smell the breakfast,"
she said laughingly. "Don't be horrified, Mr. Brace, but I'm very
hungry." She laid the hand she had withdrawn lightly on his arm.
"Now help me down to the cabin."
The saloon of the Excelsior was spacious for the size of the
vessel, and was furnished in a style superior to most passenger-
ships of that epoch. The sun was shining through the sliding
windows upon the fresh and neatly arranged breakfast-table, but the
presence of the ominous "storm-racks," and partitions for glass and
china, and the absence of the more delicate passengers, still
testified to the potency of the Gulf of California. Even those
present wore an air of fatigued discontent, and the conversation
had that jerky interjectional quality which belonged to people with
a common grievance, but a different individual experience. Mr.
Winslow had been unable to shave. Mrs. Markham, incautiously and
surreptitiously opening a port-hole in her state-room for a whiff
of fresh air while dressing, had been shocked by the intrusion of
the Pacific Ocean, and was obliged to summon assistance and change
her dress. Jack Crosby, who had attired himself for tropical
shore-going in white ducks and patent leathers, shivered in the
keen northwest Trades, and bewailed the cheap cigars he had
expected to buy at Mazatlan. The entrance of Miss Keene, who
seemed to bring with her the freshness and purity of the dazzling
outer air, stirred the younger men into some gallant attention,
embarrassed, however, by a sense of self-reproach.
Senor Perkins alone retained his normal serenity. Already seated
at the table between the two fair-headed children of Mrs. Brimmer,
he was benevolently performing parental duties in her absence, and
gently supervising and preparing their victuals even while he
carried on an ethnological and political discussion with Mrs.
"Ah, my dear lady," continued the Senor, as he spread a hot biscuit
with butter and currant jelly for the youngest Miss Brimmer, "I am
afraid that, with the fastidiousness of your sex, you allow your
refined instincts against a race who only mix with ours in a menial
capacity to prejudice your views of their ability for enlightened
self-government. That may be true of the aborigines of the Old
World--like our friends the Lascars among the crew"--
"They're so snaky, dark, and deceitful-looking," interrupted Mrs.
"I might differ from you there, and say that the higher blonde
types like the Anglo-Saxon--to say nothing of the wily Greeks--were
the deceitful races: it might be difficult for any of us to say
what a sly and deceitful man should be like"--
"Oor not detheitful--oor a dood man," interpolated the youngest
Miss Brimmer, fondly regarding the biscuit.
"Thank you, Missie," beamed the Senor; "but to return: our Lascar
friends, Mrs. Markham, belong to an earlier Asiatic type of
civilization already decayed or relapsed to barbarism, while the
aborigines of the New World now existing have never known it--or,
like the Aztecs, have perished with it. The modern North American
aborigine has not yet got beyond the tribal condition; mingled with
Caucasian blood as he is in Mexico and Central America, he is
perfectly capable of self-government."
"Then why has he never obtained it?" asked Mrs. Markham.
"He has always been oppressed and kept down by colonists of the
Latin races; he has been little better than a slave to his
oppressor for the last two centuries," said Senor Perkins, with a
slight darkening of his soft eyes.
"Injins is pizen," whispered Mr. Winslow to Miss Keene.
"Who would be free, you know, the poet says, ought themselves to
light out from the shoulder, and all that sort of thing," suggested
Crosby, with cheerful vagueness.
"True; but a little assistance and encouragement from mankind
generally would help them," continued the Senor. "Ah! my dear Mrs.
Markham, if they could even count on the intelligent sympathy of
women like yourself, their independence would be assured. And
think what a proud privilege to have contributed to such a result,
to have assisted at the birth of the ideal American Republic, for
such it would be--a Republic of one blood, one faith, one history."
"What on earth, or sea, ever set the old man off again?" inquired
Crosby, in an aggrieved whisper. "It's two weeks since he's given
us any Central American independent flapdoodle--long enough for
those nigger injins to have had half a dozen revolutions. You know
that the vessels that put into San Juan have saluted one flag in
the morning, and have been fired at under another in the
"Hush!" said Miss Keene. "He's so kind! Look at him now, taking
off the pinafores of those children and tidying them. He is kinder
to them than their nurse, and more judicious than their mother.
And half his talk with Mrs. Markham now is only to please her,
because she thinks she knows politics. He's always trying to do
good to somebody."
"That's so," exclaimed Brace, eager to share Miss Keene's
sentiments; "and he's so good to those outlandish niggers in the
crew. I don't see how the captain could get on with the crew
without him; he's the only one who can talk their gibberish and
keep them quiet. I've seen him myself quietly drop down among them
when they were wrangling. In my opinion," continued the young
fellow, lowering his voice somewhat ostentatiously, "you'll find
out when we get to port that he's stopped the beginning of many a
mutiny among them."
"I reckon they'd make short work of a man like him," said Winslow,
whose superciliousness was by no means lessened by the community of
sentiment between Miss Keene and Brace. "I reckon, his political
reforms, and his poetical high-falutin' wouldn't go as far in the
forecastle among live men as it does in the cabin with a lot of
women. You'll more likely find that he's been some sort of steward
on a steamer, and he's working his passage with us. That's where
he gets that smooth, equally-attentive-to-anybody sort of style.
The way he skirmished around Mrs. Brimmer and Mrs. Markham with a
basin the other day when it was so rough convinced ME. It was a
little too professional to suit my style."
"I suppose that was the reason why you went below so suddenly,"
rejoined Brace, whose too sensitive blood was beginning to burn in
his cheeks and eyes.
"It's a shame to stay below this morning," said Miss Keene,
instinctively recognizing the cause of the discord and its remedy.
"I'm going on deck again--if I can manage to get there."
The three gentlemen sprang to accompany her; and, in their efforts
to keep their physical balance and hers equally, the social
equilibrium was restored.
By noon, however, the heavy cross-sea had abated, and the Excelsior
bore west. When she once more rose and fell regularly on the long
rhythmical swell of the Pacific, most of the passengers regained
the deck. Even Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb ventured from their
staterooms, and were conveyed to and installed in some state on a
temporary divan of cushions and shawls on the lee side. For even
in this small republic of equal cabin passengers the undemocratic
and distinction-loving sex had managed to create a sham
exclusiveness. Mrs. Brimmer, as the daughter of a rich Bostonian,
the sister of a prominent lawyer, and the wife of a successful San
Francisco merchant, who was popularly supposed to be part-owner of
the Excelsior, was recognized, and alternately caressed and hated
as their superior. A majority of the male passengers, owning no
actual or prospective matrimonial subjection to those charming
toad-eaters, I am afraid continued to enjoy a mild and debasing
equality among themselves, mitigated only by the concessions of
occasional gallantry. To them, Mrs. Brimmer was a rather pretty,
refined, well-dressed woman, whose languid pallor, aristocratic
spareness, and utter fastidiousness did not, however, preclude a
certain nervous intensity which occasionally lit up her weary eyes
with a dangerous phosphorescence, under their brown fringes.
Equally acceptable was Miss Chubb, her friend and traveling
companion; a tall, well-bred girl, with faint salmon-pink hair and
complexion, that darkened to a fiery brown in her shortsighted
Between these ladies and Mrs. Markham and Miss Keene existed an
enthusiastic tolerance, which, however, could never be mistaken for
a generous rivalry. Of the greater popularity of Miss Keene as the
recognized belle of the Excelsior there could be no question; nor
was there any from Mrs. Brimmer and her friend. The intellectual
preeminence of Mrs. Markham was equally, and no less ostentatiously,
granted. "Mrs. Markham is so clever; I delight to hear you converse
together," Mrs. Brimmer would say to Senor Perkins, "though I'm sure
I hardly dare talk to her myself. She might easily go into the
lecture-field--perhaps she expects to do so in California. My dear
Clarissa"--to Miss Chubb--"don't she remind you a little of Aunt
Jane Winthrop's governess, whom we came so near taking to Paris with
us, but couldn't on account of her defective French?"
When "The Excelsior Banner and South Sea Bubble" was published in
lat. 15 N. and long. 105 W., to which Mrs. Markham contributed the
editorials and essays, and Senor Perkins three columns of
sentimental poetry, Mrs. Brimmer did not withhold her praise of the
fair editor. When the Excelsior "Recrossed the Line," with a
suitable tableau vivant and pageant, and Miss Keene as California,
in white and blue, welcomed from the hands of Neptune (Senor
Perkins) and Amphitrite (Mrs. Markham) her fair sister,
Massachusetts (Mrs. Brimmer), and New York (Miss Chubb), Mrs.
Brimmer was most enthusiastic of the beauty of Miss Keene.
On the present morning Mr. Banks found his disappointment at not
going into Mazatlan languidly shared by Mrs. Brimmer. That lady
even made a place for him on the cushions beside her, as she
pensively expressed her belief that her husband would be still more
"Mr. Brimmer, you know, has correspondents at Mazatlan, and no
doubt he has made particular arrangements for our reception and
entertainment while there. I should not wonder if he was very
indignant. And if, as I fear, the officials of the place, knowing
Mr. Brimmer's position--and my own connections--have prepared to
show us social courtesies, it may be a graver affair. I shouldn't
be surprised if our Government were obliged to take notice of it.
There is a Captain-General of port--isn't there? I think my
husband spoke of him."
"Oh, he's probably been shot long ago," broke in Mr. Crosby
cheerfully. "They put in a new man every revolution. If the wrong
party's got in, they've likely shipped your husband's correspondent
too, and might be waiting to get a reception for you with nigger
soldiers and ball cartridges. Shouldn't wonder if the skipper got
wind of something of the kind, and that's why he didn't put in. If
your husband hadn't been so well known, you see, we might have
slipped in all right."
Mrs. Brimmer received this speech with the languid obliviousness of
perception she usually meted out to this chartered jester.
"Do you really think so, Mr. Crosby? And would you have been
afraid to leave your cabin--or are you joking? You know I never
know when you are. It is very dreadful, either way."
But here Miss Chubb, with ready tact, interrupted any possible
retort from Mr. Crosby.
"Look," she said, pointing to some of the other passengers, who, at
a little distance, had grouped about the first mate in animated
discussion. "I wonder what those gentlemen are so interested
about. Do go and see."
Before he could reply, Mr. Winslow, detaching himself from the
group, hurried towards them.
"Here's a row: Hurlstone is missing! Can't be found anywhere!
They think he's fallen overboard!"
The two frightened exclamations from Miss Chubb and Mrs. Brimmer
diverted attention from the sudden paleness of Miss Keene, who had
impulsively approached them.
"Impossible!" she said hurriedly.
"I fear it is so," said Brace, who had followed Winslow; "although,"
he added in a lower tone, with an angry glance at the latter, "that
brute need not have blustered it out to frighten everybody. They're
searching the ship again, but there seems no hope. He hasn't been
seen since last night. He was supposed to be in his state-room--but
as nobody missed him--you know how odd and reserved he was--it was
only when the steward couldn't find him, and began to inquire, that
everybody remembered they hadn't seen him all day. You are
frightened, Miss Keene; pray sit down. That fellow Winslow ought to
have had more sense."
"It seems so horrible that nobody knew it," said the young girl,
shuddering; "that we sat here laughing and talking, while perhaps
he was-- Good heavens! what's that?"
A gruff order had been given: in the bustle that ensued the ship
began to fall off to leeward; a number of the crew had sprung to
the davits of the quarter boat.
"We're going about, and they're lowering a boat, that's all; but
it's as good as hopeless," said Brace. "The accident must have
happened before daylight, or it would have been seen by the watch.
It was probably long before we came on deck," he added gently; "so
comfort yourself, Miss Keene, you could have seen nothing."
"It seems so dreadful," murmured the young girl, "that he wasn't
even missed. Why," she said, suddenly raising her soft eyes to
Brace, "YOU must have noticed his absence; why, even I"-- She
stopped with a slight confusion, that was, however, luckily
diverted by the irrepressible Winslow.
"The skipper's been routed out at last, and is giving orders. He
don't look as if his hat fitted him any too comfortably this
morning, does he?" he laughed, as a stout, grizzled man, with
congested face and eyes, and a peremptory voice husky with
alcoholic irritation, suddenly appeared among the group by the
wheel. "I reckon he's cursing his luck at having to heave-to and
lose this wind."
"But for a human creature's life!" exclaimed Mrs. Markham in
"That's just it. Laying-to now ain't going to save anybody's life,
and he knows it. He's doin' it for show, just for a clean record
in the log, and to satisfy you people here, who'd kick up a row if
"Then you believe he's lost?" said Miss Keene, with glistening
"There ain't a doubt of it," returned Winslow shortly.
"I don't agree with you," said a gentle voice.
They turned quickly towards the benevolent face of Senor Perkins,
who had just joined them.
"I differ from my young friend," continued the Senor courteously,
"because the accident must have happened at about daybreak, when we
were close inshore. It would not be impossible for a good swimmer
to reach the land, or even," continued Senor Perkins, in answer to
the ray of hope that gleamed in Miss Keene's soft eyes, "for him to
have been picked up by some passing vessel. The smoke of a large
steamer was sighted between us and the land at about that time."
"A steamer!" ejaculated Banks eagerly; "that was one of the new
line with the mails. How provoking!"
He was thinking of his lost letters. Miss Keene turned, heart-
sick, away. Worse than the ghastly interruption to their easy
idyllic life was this grim revelation of selfishness. She began to
doubt if even the hysterical excitement of her sister passengers
was not merely a pleasant titillation of their bored and inactive
"I believe the Senor is right, Miss Keene," said Brace, taking her
aside, "and I'll tell you why." He stopped, looked around him, and
went on in a lower voice, "There are some circumstances about the
affair which look more like deliberation than an accident. He has
left nothing behind him of any value or that gives any clue. If it
was a suicide he would have left some letter behind for somebody--
people always do, you know, at such times--and he would have chosen
the open sea. It seems more probable that he threw himself
overboard with the intention of reaching the shore."
"But why should he want to leave the ship?" echoed the young girl
"Perhaps he found out that we were NOT going to Mazatlan, and this
was his only chance; it must have happened just as the ship went
about and stood off from shore again."
"But I don't understand," continued Miss Keene, with a pretty
knitting of her brows, "why he should be so dreadfully anxious to
get ashore now."
The young fellow looked at her with the superior smile of youthful
"Suppose he had particular reasons for not going to San Francisco,
where our laws could reach him! Suppose he had committed some
offense! Suppose he was afraid of being questioned or recognized!"
The young girl rose indignantly.
"This is really too shameful! Who dare talk like that?"
Brace colored quickly.
"Who? Why, everybody," he stammered, for a moment abandoning his
attitude of individual acumen; "it's the talk of the ship."
"Is it? And before they know whether he's alive or dead--perhaps
even while he is still struggling with death--all they can do is to
take his character away!" she repeated, with flashing eyes.
"And I'm even worse than they are," he returned, his temper rising
with his color. "I ought to have known I was talking to one of HIS
friends, instead of one whom I thought was MINE. I beg your
He turned away as Miss Keene, apparently not heeding his pique,
crossed the deck, and entered into conversation with Mrs. Markham.
It is to be feared that she found little consolation among the
other passengers, or even those of her own sex, whom this profound
event had united in a certain freemasonry of sympathy and interest--
to the exclusion of their former cliques. She soon learned, as
the return of the boats to the ship and the ship to her course
might have clearly told her, that there was no chance of recovering
the missing passenger. She learned that the theory advanced by
Brace was the one generally held by them; but with an added romance
of detail, that excited at once their commiseration and admiration.
Mrs. Brimmer remembered to have heard him, the second or third
night out from Callao, groaning in his state-room; but having
mistakenly referred the emotion to ordinary seasickness, she had no
doubt lost an opportunity for confidential disclosure. "I am
sure," she added, "that had somebody as resolute and practical as
you, dear Mrs. Markham, approached him the next day, he would have
revealed his sorrow." Miss Chubb was quite certain that she had
seen him one night, in tears, by the quarter railing. "I saw his
eyes glistening under his slouched hat as I passed. I remember
thinking, at the time, that he oughtn't to have been left alone
with such a dreadful temptation before him to slip overboard and
end his sorrow or his crime." Mrs. Markham also remembered that it
was about five o'clock--or was it six?--that morning when she
distinctly thought she had heard a splash, and she was almost
impelled to get up and look out of the bull's-eye. She should
never forgive herself for resisting that impulse, for she was
positive now that she would have seen his ghastly face in the
water. Some indignation was felt that the captain, after a cursory
survey of his stateroom, had ordered it to be locked until his fate
was more positively known, and the usual seals placed on his
effects for their delivery to the authorities at San Francisco. It
was believed that some clue to his secret would be found among his
personal chattels, if only in the form of a keepsake, a locket, or
a bit of jewelry. Miss Chubb had noticed that he wore a seal ring,
but not on the engagement-finger. In some vague feminine way it
was admitted without discussion that one of their own sex was mixed
up in the affair, and, with the exception of Miss Keene, general
credence was given to the theory that Mazatlan contained his
loadstar--the fatal partner and accomplice of his crime, the siren
that allured him to his watery grave. I regret to say that the
facts gathered by the gentlemen were equally ineffective. The
steward who had attended the missing man was obliged to confess
that their most protracted and confidential conversation had been
on the comparative efficiency of ship biscuits and soda crackers.
Mr. Banks, who was known to have spoken to him, could only remember
that one warm evening, in reply to a casual remark about the
weather, the missing man, burying his ears further in the turned-up
collar of his pea-jacket, had stated, "'It was cold enough to
freeze the ears off a brass monkey,'--a remark, no doubt, sir,
intended to convey a reason for his hiding his own." Only Senor
Perkins retained his serene optimism unimpaired.
"Take my word for it, we shall yet hear good news of our missing
friend. Let us at least believe it until we know otherwise. Ah!
my dear Mrs. Markham, why should the Unknown always fill us with
apprehension? Its surprises are equally often agreeable."
"But we have all been so happy before this; and this seems such an
unnecessary and cruel awakening," said Miss Keene, lifting her sad
eyes to the speaker, "that I can't help thinking it's the beginning
of the end. Good heavens! what's that?"
She had started at the dark figure of one of the foreign-looking
sailors, who seemed to have suddenly risen out of the deck beside
"The Senor Perkins," he said, with an apologetic gesture of his
hand to his hatless head.
"You want ME, my good man?" asked Senor Perkins paternally.
"Si, Senor; the mate wishes to see the Patrono," he said in
"I will come presently."
The sailor hesitated. Senor Perkins took a step nearer to him
benignantly. The man raised his eyes to Senor Perkins, and said,--
"Bueno!" returned the Senor gently. "Excuse me, ladies, for a
"Perhaps it is some news of poor Mr. Hurlstone?" said Miss Keene,
with an instinctive girlish movement of hope.
"Who knows?" returned Senor Perkins, waving his hand as he gayly
tripped after his guide. "Let us believe in the best, dear young
lady, the best!"
Without exchanging another word with his escort, Senor Perkins
followed him to the main hatch, where they descended and groped
their way through the half obscurity of the lower deck. Here they
passed one or two shadows, that, recognizing the Senor, seemed to
draw aside in a half awed, half suppressed shyness, as of caged
animals in the presence of their trainer. At the fore-hatch they
again descended, passing a figure that appeared to be keeping watch
at the foot of the ladder, and almost instantly came upon a group
lit up by the glare of a bull's-eye lantern. It was composed of
the first and second mate, a vicious-looking Peruvian sailor with a
bandaged head, and, to the Senor's astonishment, the missing
passenger Hurlstone, seated on the deck, heavily ironed.
"Tell him what you know, Pedro," said the first mate to the
Peruvian sailor curtly.
"It was just daybreak, Patrono, before we put about," began the man
in Spanish, "that I thought I saw some one gliding along towards
the fore-hatch; but I lost sight of him. After we had tumbled up
to go on the other tack, I heard a noise in the fore-hold. I went
down and found HIM," pointing to Hurlstone, "hiding there. He had
some provisions stowed away beside him, and that package. I
grabbed him, Patrono. He broke away and struck me here"--he
pointed to his still wet bandage--"and would have got out overboard
through the port, but the second mate heard the row and came down
just in time to stop him."
"When was this?" asked Senor Perkins.
"Guardia di Diana."
"You were chattering, you fellows."
"Quien sabe?" said the Peruvian, lifting his shoulders.
"How does he explain himself?"
"He refuses to speak."
"Take off his irons," said Senor Perkins, in English.
"But"--expostulated the first mate, with a warning gesture.
"I said--take off his irons," repeated Senor Perkins in a dry and
The two mates released the shackles. The prisoner raised his eyes
to Senor Perkins. He was a slightly built man of about thirty,
fair-haired and hollow-cheeked. His short upper lip was lifted
over his teeth, as if from hurried or labored breathing; but his
features were regular and determined, and his large blue eyes shone
with a strange abstraction of courage and fatuity.
"That will do," continued the Senor, in the same tone. "Now leave
him with me."
The two mates looked at each other, and hesitated; but at a glance
from Perkins, turned, and ascended the ladder again. The Peruvian
"Go!" said the Senor sharply.
The man cast a vindictive look at the prisoner and retreated
"Did HE tell you," said the prisoner, looking after the sailor
grimly, "that I tried to bribe him to let me go, but that I
couldn't reach his figure? He wanted too much. He thought I had
some stolen money or valuables here," he added, with a bitter
laugh, pointing to the package that lay beside him.
"And you hadn't?" said Perkins shortly.
"I believe you. And now, my young friend," said Perkins, with a
singular return of his beaming gentleness, "since those two
efficient and competent officers and this energetic but
discourteous seaman are gone, would you mind telling me WHAT you
were hiding for?"
The prisoner raised his eyes on his questioner. For the last three
weeks he had lived in the small community of which the Senor was a
prominent member, but he scarcely recognized him now.
"What if I refuse?" he said.
The Senor shrugged his shoulders.
"Those two excellent men would feel it their duty to bring the
Peruvian to the captain, and I should be called to interpret to
"And I should throw myself overboard the first chance I got. I
would have done so ten minutes ago, but the mate stopped me."
His eye glistened with the same fatuous determination he had shown
at first. There was no doubt he would do as he said.
"I believe you would," said the Senor benevolently; "but I see no
present necessity for that, nor for any trouble whatever, if you
will kindly tell me WHAT I am to say."
The young man's eyes fell.
"I DID try to conceal myself in the hold," he said bluntly. "I
intended to remain there hidden while the ship was at Mazatlan. I
did not know until now that the vessel had changed her course."
"And how did you believe your absence would be accounted for?"
asked the Senor blandly.
"I thought it would be supposed that I had fallen overboard before
we entered Mazatlan."
"So that anybody seeking you there would not find you, and you
would be believed to be dead?"
"Yes." He raised his eyes quickly to Senor Perkins again. "I am
neither a thief nor a murderer," he said almost savagely, "but I do
not choose to be recognized by any one who knows me on this side of
Senor Perkins' eyes sought his, and for an instant seemed to burn
through the singular, fatuous mist that veiled them.
"My friend," he said cheerfully, after a moment's pause, "you have
just had a providential escape. I repeat it--a most providential
escape. Indeed, if I were inclined to prophesy, I would say you
were a man reserved for some special good fortune."
The prisoner stared at him with angry amazement.
"You are a confirmed somnambulist. Excuse me," continued the
Senor, with a soft, deprecating gesture; "you are, of course,
unaware of it--most victims of that singular complaint are, or at
least fail to recognize the extent of their aberration. In your
case it has only been indicated by a profound melancholy and
natural shunning of society. In a paroxysm of your disorder, you
rise in the night, fully dress yourself, and glide as unconsciously
along the deck in pursuance of some vague fancy. You pass the
honest but energetic sailor who has just left us, who thinks you
are a phantom, and fails to give the alarm; you are precipitated by
a lurch of the ship through an open hatchway: the shock renders you
insensible until you are discovered and restored."
"And who will believe this pretty story?" said the young man
"The honest sailor who picked you up, who has related it in his own
picturesque tongue to ME, who will in turn interpret it to the
captain and the other passengers," replied Senor Perkins blandly.
"And what of the two mates who were here?" said the prisoner
"They are two competent officers, who are quite content to carry
out the orders of their superiors, and who understand their duty
too well to interfere with the reports of their subordinates, on
which these orders are based. Mr. Brooks, the first officer,
though fairly intelligent and a good reader of history, is only
imperfectly acquainted with the languages, and Mr. M'Carthy's
knowledge of Spanish is confined to a few objurgations which
generally preclude extended conversation."
"And who are you," said Hurlstone, more calmly, "who are willing to
do this for a stranger?"
"A friend--equally of yours, the captain's, and the other
passengers'," replied Senor Perkins pleasantly. "A man who
believes you, my dear sir, and, even if he did not, sees no reason
to interrupt the harmony that has obtained in our little community
during our delightful passage. Were any scandal to occur, were you
to carry out your idea of throwing yourself overboard, it would, to
say nothing of my personal regret, produce a discord for which
there is no necessity, and from which no personal good can be
derived. Here at least your secret is secure, for even I do not
ask what it is; we meet here on an equality, based on our own
conduct and courtesy to each other, limited by no antecedent
prejudice, and restrained by no thought of the future. In a little
while we shall be separated--why should it not be as friends? Why
should we not look back upon our little world of this ship as a
Hurlstone gazed at the speaker with a troubled air. It was once
more the quaint benevolent figure whom he had vaguely noted among
the other passengers, and as vaguely despised. He hesitated a
moment, and then, half timidly, half reservedly, extended his hand.
"I thank you," he said, "at least for not asking my secret.
Perhaps, if it was only"--
"Your own--you might tell it," interrupted the Senor, gayly. "I
understand. I see you recognize my principle. There is no
necessity of your putting yourself to that pain, or another to that
risk. And now, my young friend, time presses. I must say a word
to our friends above, who are waiting, and I shall see that you are
taken privately to your state-room while most of the other
passengers are still on deck. If you would permit yourself the
weakness of allowing the steward to carry or assist you it would be
better. Let me advise you that the excitement of the last three
hours has not left you in your full strength. You must really give
ME the pleasure of spreading the glad tidings of your safety among
the passengers, who have been so terribly alarmed."
"They will undoubtedly be relieved," said Hurlstone, with ironical
"You wrong them," returned the Senor, with gentle reproach;
"especially the ladies."
The voice of the first mate from above here checked his further
speech, and, perhaps, prevented him, as he quickly reascended the
upper deck, from noticing the slight embarrassment of his prisoner.
The Senor's explanations to the mate were evidently explicit and
brief. In a few moments he reappeared with the steward and his
"Lean on these men," he said to Hurlstone significantly, "and do
not overestimate your strength. Thank Heaven, no bones are broken,
and you are only bruised by the fall. With a little rest, I think
we can get along without laying the captain's medicine-chest under
contribution. Our kind friend Mr. Brooks has had the lower deck
cleared, so that you may gain your state-room without alarming the
passengers or fatiguing yourself."
He pressed Hurlstone's hand as the latter resigned himself to the
steward, and was half led, half supported, through the gloom of the
lower deck. Senor Perkins remained for an instant gazing after him
with even more than his usual benevolence. Suddenly his arm was
touched almost rudely. He turned, and encountered the lowering
eyes of the Peruvian sailor.
"And what is to be done for me?" said the man roughly, in Spanish.
"Yes. Who's to pay for this?" he pointed to his bandaged head.
Without changing his bland expression, Senor Perkins apparently
allowed his soft black eyes to rest, as if fondly, on the angry
pupils of the Peruvian. The eyes of the latter presently sought
"My dear Yoto," said Senor Perkins softly, "I scarcely think that
this question of personal damage can be referred to the State. I
will, however, look into it. Meantime, let me advise you to
control your enthusiasm. Too much zeal in a subordinate is even
more fatal than laxity. For the rest, son, be vigilant--and
peaceful. Thou hast meant well, much shall be--forgiven thee. For
the present, vamos!"
He turned on his heel, and ascended to the upper deck. Here he
found the passengers thrilling with a vague excitement. A few
brief orders, a few briefer explanations, dropped by the officers,
had already whetted curiosity to the keenest point. The Senor was
instantly beset with interrogations. Gentle, compassionate, with
well-rounded periods, he related the singular accident that had
befallen Mr. Hurlstone, and his providential escape from almost
certain death. "At the most, he has now only the exhaustion of the
shock, from which a day of perfect rest will recover him; but," he
added deprecatingly, "at present he ought not to be disturbed or
The story was received by those fellow-passengers who had been
strongest in their suspicions of Hurlstone's suicide or flight,
with a keen sense of discomfiture, only mitigated by a humorous
perception of the cause of the accident. It was agreed that a man
whose ludicrous infirmity had been the cause of putting the ship
out of her course, and the passengers out of their comfortable
security, could not be wronged by attributing to him manlier and
more criminal motives. A somnambulist on shipboard was clearly a
humorous object, who might, however, become a bore. "It all
accounts for his being so deuced quiet and reserved in the
daytime," said Crosby facetiously; "he couldn't keep it up the
whole twenty-four hours. If he'd only given us a little more of
his company when he was awake, he wouldn't have gallivanted round
at night, and we'd have been thirty miles nearer port." Equal
amusement was created by the humorous suggestion that the
unfortunate man had never been entirely awake during the voyage,
and that he would now, probably for the first time, really make the
acquaintance of his fellow-voyagers. Listening to this badinage
with bland tolerance, Senor Perkins no doubt felt that, for the
maintenance of that perfect amity he so ardently apostrophized, it
was just as well that Hurlstone was in his state-room, and out of
He would have been more satisfied, however, had he been permitted
to hear the feminine comments on this incident. In the eyes of the
lady passengers Mr. Hurlstone was more a hero than ever; his
mysterious malady invested him with a vague and spiritual interest;
his escape from the awful fate reserved to him, in their excited
fancy, gave him the eclat of having ACTUALLY survived it; while the
supposed real incident of his fall through the hatchway lent him
the additional lustre of a wounded and crippled man. That
prostrate condition of active humanity, which so irresistibly
appeals to the feminine imagination as segregating their victim
from the distractions of his own sex, and, as it were, delivering
him helpless into their hands, was at once their opportunity, and
his. All the ladies volunteered to nurse him; it was with
difficulty that Mrs. Brimmer and Mrs. Markham, reinforced with
bandages, flannels, and liniments, and supported by different
theories, could be kept from the door of his state-room. Jellies,
potted meats, and delicacies from their private stores appeared on
trays at his bedside, to be courteously declined by the Senor
Perkins, in his new functions of a benevolent type of Sancho Panza
physician. To say that this pleased the gentle optimism of the
Senor is unnecessary. Even while his companion writhed under the
sting of this enforced compassion, the good man beamed philosophically
"Take care, or I shall end this cursed farce in my own way," said
Hurlstone ominously, his eyes again filming with a vague
"My dear boy," returned the Senor gently, "reflect upon the
situation. Your suffering, real or implied, produces in the hearts
of these gentle creatures a sympathy which not only exalts and
sustains their higher natures, but, I conscientiously believe,
gratifies and pleases their lower ones. Why should you deny them
this opportunity of indulging their twofold organisms, and
beguiling the tedium of the voyage, merely because of some
erroneous exhibition of fact?"
Later, Senor Perkins might have added to this exposition the
singularly stimulating effect which Hurlstone's supposed peculiarity
had upon the feminine imagination. But there were some secrets
which were not imparted even to him, and it was only to each other
that the ladies confided certain details and reminiscences. For it
now appeared that they had all heard strange noises and stealthy
steps at night; and Mrs. Brimmer was quite sure that on one occasion
the handle of her state-room door was softly turned. Mrs. Markham
also remembered distinctly that only a week before, being unable to
sleep, she had ventured out into the saloon in a dressing-gown to
get her diary, which she had left with a portfolio on a chair; that
she had a sudden consciousness of another presence in the saloon,
although she could distinguish nothing by the dim light of the
swinging lantern; and that, after quickly returning to her room, she
was quite positive she heard a door close. But the most surprising
reminiscence developed by the late incident was from Mrs. Brimmer's
nurse, Susan. As it, apparently, demonstrated the fact that Mr.
Hurlstone not only walked but TALKED in his sleep, it possessed a
more mysterious significance. It seemed that Susan was awakened one
night by the sound of voices, and, opening her door softly, saw a
figure which she at first supposed to be the Senor Perkins, but
which she now was satisfied was poor Mr. Hurlstone. As there was no
one else to be seen, the voices must have proceeded from that single
figure; and being in a strange and unknown tongue, were
inexpressibly weird and awful. When pressed to remember what was
said, she could only distinguish one word--a woman's name--Virgil--
"It must have been one of those creatures at Callao, whose pictures
you can buy for ten cents," said Mrs. Brimmer.
"If it is one of them, Susan must have made a mistake in the first
two syllables of the name," said Mrs. Markham grimly.
"But surely, Miss Keene," said Miss Chubb, turning to that young
lady, who had taken only the part of a passive listener to this
colloquy, and was gazing over the railing at the sinking sun,
"surely YOU can tell us something about this poor young man. If I
don't mistake, you are the only person he ever honored with his
"And only once, I think," said the young girl, slightly coloring.
"He happened to be sitting next to me on deck, and I believe he
spoke only out of politeness. At least, he seemed very quiet and
reserved, and talked on general topics, and I thought very
intelligently. I--should have thought--I mean," she continued
hesitatingly--"I thought he was an educated gentleman."
"That isn't at all inconsistent with photographs or sleep-walking,"
said Mrs. Brimmer, with one of her vague simplicities. "Uncle
Quincey brought home a whole sheaf of those women whom he said he'd
met; and one of my cousins, who was educated at Heidelberg, used to
walk in his sleep, as it were, all over Europe."
"Did you notice anything queer in his eyes, Miss Keene?" asked Miss
Miss Keene had noticed that his eyes were his best feature, albeit
somewhat abstracted and melancholy; but, for some vague reason she
could not explain herself, she answered hurriedly that she had seen
nothing very particular in them.
"Well," said Mrs. Markham positively, "when he's able to be out
again, I shall consider it my duty to look him up, and try to keep
him sufficiently awake in the daytime to ensure his resting better
"No one can do it, dear Mrs. Markham, better than you; and no one
would think of misunderstanding your motives," said Mrs. Brimmer
sweetly. "But it's getting late, and the air seems to be ever so
much colder. Captain Bunker says it's because we are really
nearing the Californian coast. It seems so odd! Mr. Brimmer wrote
to me that it was so hot in Sacramento that you could do something
with eggs in the sun--I forget what."
"Hatch them?" suggested Miss Chubb.
"I think so," returned Mrs. Brimmer, rising. "Let us go below."
The three ladies rustled away, but Miss Keene, throwing a wrap
around her shoulders, lingered by the railing. With one little
hand supporting her round chin, she leaned over the darkly heaving
water. She was thinking of her brief and only interview with that
lonely man whose name was now in everybody's mouth, but who, until
to-day, had been passed over by them with an unconcern equal to his
own. And yet to her refined and delicately feminine taste there
appeared no reason why he should not have mingled with his fellows,
and have accepted the homage from them that SHE was instinctively
ready to give. He seemed to her like a gentleman--and something
more. In her limited but joyous knowledge of the world--a
knowledge gathered in the happy school-life of an orphan who but
faintly remembered and never missed a parent's care--she knew
nothing of the mysterious dominance of passion, suffering, or
experience in fashioning the outward expression of men, and saw
only that Mr. Hurlstone was unlike any other. That unlikeness was
fascinating. He had said very little to her in that very brief
period. He had not talked to her with the general gallantry which
she already knew her prettiness elicited. Without knowing why, she
felt there was a subtle flattery in his tacit recognition of that
other self of which she, as yet, knew so little. She could not
remember what they had talked about--nor why. Nor was she offended
that he had never spoken to her since, nor gone beyond a grave
lifting of his hat to her when he passed.
IN THE FOG.
By noon of the following day the coast of the Peninsula of
California had been sighted to leeward. The lower temperature of
the northwest Trades had driven Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb into
their state-rooms to consult their wardrobes in view of an
impending change from the light muslins and easy languid toilets of
the Tropics. That momentous question for the moment held all other
topics in abeyance; and even Mrs. Markham and Miss Keene, though
they still kept the deck, in shawls and wraps, sighed over this
feminine evidence of the gentle passing of their summer holiday.
The gentlemen had already mounted their pea-jackets and overcoats,
with the single exception of Senor Perkins, who, in chivalrous
compliment to the elements, still bared his unfettered throat and
forehead to the breeze. The aspect of the coast, as seen from the
Excelsior's deck, seemed to bear out Mr. Banks' sweeping indictment
of the day before. A few low, dome-like hills, yellow and treeless
as sand dunes, scarcely raised themselves above the horizon. The
air, too, appeared to have taken upon itself a dry asperity; the
sun shone with a hard, practical brilliancy. Miss Keene raised her
eyes to Senor Perkins with a pretty impatience that she sometimes
indulged in, as one of the privileges of accepted beauty and petted
"I don't think much of your peninsula," she said poutingly. "It
looks dreadfully flat and uninteresting. It was a great deal nicer
on the other coast, or even at sea."
"Perhaps you are judging hastily, my dear young friend," said Senor
Perkins, with habitual tolerance. "I have heard that behind those
hills, and hidden from sight in some of the canyons, are perfect
little Edens of beauty and fruitfulness. They are like some ardent
natures that cover their approaches with the ashes of their burnt-
up fires, but only do it the better to keep intact their glowing,
vivifying, central heat."
"How very poetical, Mr. Perkins!" said Mrs. Markham, with blunt
admiration. "You ought to put that into verse."
"I have," returned Senor Perkins modestly. "They are some
reflections on--I hardly dare call them an apostrophe to--the
crater of Colima. If you will permit me to read them to you this
evening, I shall be charmed. I hope also to take that opportunity
of showing you the verses of a gifted woman, not yet known to fame,
Mrs. Euphemia M'Corkle, of Peoria, Illinois."
Mrs. Markham coughed slightly. The gifted M'Corkle was already
known to her through certain lines quoted by the Senor; and the
entire cabin had one evening fled before a larger and more
ambitious manuscript of the fair Illinoisian. Miss Keene, who
dreaded the reappearance of this poetical phantom that seemed to
haunt the Senor's fancy, could not, however, forget that she had
been touched on that occasion by a kindly moisture of eye and
tremulousness of voice in the reader; and, in spite of the hopeless
bathos of the composition, she had forgiven him. Though she did
not always understand Senor Perkins, she liked him too well to
allow him to become ridiculous to others; and at the present moment
she promptly interposed with a charming assumption of coquetry.
"You forget that you promised to let ME read the manuscript first,
and in private, and that you engaged to give me my revenge at chess
this evening. But do as you like. You are all fast becoming
faithless. I suppose it is because our holiday is drawing to a
close, and we shall soon forget we ever had any, or be ashamed we
ever played so long. Everybody seems to be getting nervous and
fidgety and preparing for civilization again. Mr. Banks, for the
last few days, has dressed himself regularly as if he were going
down town to his office, and writes letters in the corner of the
saloon as if it were a counting-house. Mr. Crosby and Mr. Winslow
do nothing but talk of their prospects, and I believe they are
drawing up articles of partnership together. Here is Mr. Brace
frightening me by telling me that my brother will lock me up, to
keep the rich miners from laying their bags of gold dust at my
feet; and Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb assure me that I haven't a
decent gown to go ashore in."
"You forget Mr. Hurlstone," said Brace, with ill-concealed
bitterness; "he seems to have time enough on his hands, and I dare
say would sympathize with you. You women like idle men."
"If we do, it's because only the idle men have the time to amuse
us," retorted Miss Keene. "But," she added, with a laugh, "I
suppose I'm getting nervous and fidgety myself; for I find myself
every now and then watching the officers and men, and listening to
the orders as if something were going to happen again. I never
felt so before; I never used to have the least concern in what you
call 'the working of the ship,' and now"--her voice, which had been
half playful, half pettish, suddenly became grave,--"and now--look
at the mate and those men forward. There certainly is something
going on, or is going to happen. What ARE they looking at?"
The mate had clambered halfway up the main ratlines, and was
looking earnestly to windward. Two or three of the crew on the
forecastle were gazing in the same direction. The group of cabin-
passengers on the quarterdeck, following their eyes, saw what
appeared to be another low shore on the opposite bow.
"Why, there's another coast there!" said Mrs. Markham.
"It's a fog-bank," said Senor Perkins gravely. He quickly crossed
the deck, exchanged a few words with the officer, and returned.
Miss Keene, who had felt a sense of relief, nevertheless questioned
his face as he again stood beside her. But he had recovered his
beaming cheerfulness. "It's nothing to alarm you," he said,
answering her glance, "but it may mean delay if we can't get out of
it. You don't mind that, I know."
"No," replied the young girl, smiling. "Besides, it would be a new
experience. We've had winds and calms--we only want fog now to
complete our adventures. Unless it's going to make everybody
cross," she continued, with a mischievous glance at Brace.
"You'll find it won't improve the temper of the officers," said
Crosby, who had joined the group. "There's nothing sailors hate
more than a fog. They can go to sleep in a hurricane between the
rolls of a ship, but a fog keeps them awake. It's the one thing
they can't shirk. There's the skipper tumbled up, too! The old
man looks wrathy, don't he? But it's no use now; we're going slap
into it, and the wind's failing!"
It was true. In the last few moments all that vast glistening
surface of metallic blue which stretched so far to windward
appeared to be slowly eaten away as if by some dull, corroding
acid; the distant horizon line of sea and sky was still distinct
and sharply cut, but the whole water between them had grown gray,
as if some invisible shadow had passed in mid-air across it. The
actual fog bank had suddenly lost its resemblance to the shore, had
lifted as a curtain, and now seemed suspended over the ship.
Gradually it descended; the top-gallant and top-sails were lost in
this mysterious vapor, yet the horizon line still glimmered
faintly. Then another mist seemed to rise from the sea and meet
it; in another instant the deck whereon they stood shrank to the
appearance of a raft adrift in a faint gray sea. With the complete
obliteration of all circumambient space, the wind fell. Their
isolation was complete.
It was notable that the first and most peculiar effect of this
misty environment was the absolute silence. The empty, invisible
sails above did not flap; the sheets and halyards hung limp; even
the faint creaking of an unseen block overhead was so startling as
to draw every eye upwards. Muffled orders from viewless figures
forward were obeyed by phantoms that moved noiselessly through the
gray sea that seemed to have invaded the deck. Even the passengers
spoke in whispers, or held their breath, in passive groups, as if
fearing to break a silence so replete with awe and anticipation.
It was next noticed that the vessel was subjected to some vague
motion; the resistance of the water had ceased, the waves no longer
hissed under her bows, or nestled and lapped under her counter; a
dreamy, irregular, and listless rocking had taken the place of the
regular undulations; at times, a faint and half delicious vertigo
seemed to overcome their senses; the ship was drifting.
Captain Bunker stood near the bitts, where his brief orders were
transmitted to the man at the almost useless wheel. At his side
Senor Perkins beamed with unshaken serenity, and hopefully replied
to the captain's half surly, half anxious queries.
"By the chart we should be well east of Los Lobos island, d'ye
see?" he said impatiently. "You don't happen to remember the
direction of the current off shore when you were running up here?"
"It's five years ago," said the Senor modestly; "but I remember we
kept well to the west to weather Cape St. Eugenio. My impression
is that there was a strong northwesterly current setting north of
"And we're in it now," said Captain Bunker shortly. "How near St.
Roque does it set?"
"Within a mile or two. I should keep away more to the west," said
Senor Perkins, "and clear"--
"I ain't asking you to run the ship," interrupted Captain Bunker
sharply. "How's her head now, Mr. Brooks?"
The seamen standing near cast a rapid glance at Senor Perkins, but
not a muscle of his bland face moved or betrayed a consciousness of
the insult. Whatever might have been the feeling towards him, at
that moment the sailors--after their fashion--admired their
captain; strong, masterful, and imperious. The danger that had
cleared his eye, throat, and brain, and left him once more the
daring and skillful navigator they knew, wiped out of their shallow
minds the vicious habit that had sunk him below their level.
It had now become perceptible to even the inexperienced eyes of the
passengers that the Excelsior was obeying some new and profound
impulse. The vague drifting had ceased, and in its place had come
a mysterious but regular movement, in which the surrounding mist
seemed to participate, until fog and vessel moved together towards
some unseen but well-defined bourne. In vain had the boats of the
Excelsior, manned by her crew, endeavored with a towing-line to
check or direct the inexplicable movement; in vain had Captain
Bunker struggled, with all the skilled weapons of seamanship,
against his invincible foe; wrapped in the impenetrable fog, the
ship moved ghost-like to what seemed to be her doom.
The anxiety of the officers had not as yet communicated itself to
the passengers; those who had been most nervous in the ordinary
onset of wind and wave looked upon the fog as a phenomenon whose
only disturbance might be delay. To Miss Keene this conveyed no
annoyance; rather that placid envelopment of cloud soothed her
fancy; she submitted herself to its soft embraces, and to the
mysterious onward movement of the ship, as if it were part of a
youthful dream. Once she thought of the ship of Sindbad, and that
fatal loadstone mountain, with an awe that was, however, half a
"You are not frightened, Miss Keene?" said a voice near her.
She started slightly. It was the voice of Mr. Hurlstone. So thick
was the fog that his face and figure appeared to come dimly out of
it, like a part of her dreaming fancy. Without replying to his
question, she said quickly,--
"You are better then, Mr. Hurlstone? We--we were all so frightened
An angry shadow crossed his thin face, and he hesitated. After a
pause he recovered himself, and said,--
"I was saying you were taking all this very quietly. I don't think
there's much danger myself. And if we should go ashore here"--
"Well?" suggested Miss Keene, ignoring this first intimation of
danger in her surprise at the man's manner.
"Well, we should all be separated only a few days earlier, that's
More frightened at the strange bitterness of his voice than by the
sense of physical peril, she was vaguely moving away towards the
dimly outlined figures of her companions when she was arrested by a
voice forward. There was a slight murmur among the passengers.
"What did he say?" asked Miss Keene, "What are 'Breakers ahead'?"
Hurlstone did not reply.
"Where away?" asked a second voice.
The murmur still continuing, Captain Bunker's hoarse voice pierced
the gloom,--"Silence fore and aft!"
The first voice repeated faintly,--
"On the larboard bow."
There was another silence. Again the voice repeated, as if
"On the starboard beam."
"We are in some passage or channel," said Hurlstone quietly.
The young girl glanced round her and saw for the first time that,
in one of those inexplicable movements she had not understood, the
other passengers had been withdrawn into a limited space of the
deck, as if through some authoritative orders, while she and her
companion had been evidently overlooked. A couple of sailors, who
had suddenly taken their positions by the quarter-boats, strengthened
the accidental separation.
"Is there some one taking care of you?" he asked, half hesitatingly;
"No," she replied quickly. "Why?"
"Well, we are very near the boat in an emergency, and you might
allow me to stay here and see you safe in it."
"But the other ladies? Mrs. Markham, and"--
"They'll take their turn after YOU," he said grimly, picking up a
wrap from the railing and throwing it over her shoulders.
"But--I don't understand!" she stammered, more embarrassed by the
situation than by any impending peril.
"There is very little danger, I think," he added impatiently.
"There is scarcely any sea; the ship has very little way on; and
these breakers are not over rocks. Listen."
She tried to listen. At first she heard nothing but the occasional
low voice of command near the wheel. Then she became conscious of
a gentle, soothing murmur through the fog to the right. She had
heard such a murmuring accompaniment to her girlish dreams at
Newport on a still summer night. There was nothing to frighten
her, but it increased her embarrassment.
"And you?" she said awkwardly, raising her soft eyes.
"Oh, if you are all going off in the boats, by Jove, I think I'll
stick to the ship!" he returned, with a frankness that would have
been rude but for its utter abstraction.
Miss Keene was silent. The ship moved gently onward. The
monotonous cry of the leadsman in the chains was the only sound
audible. The soundings were indicating shoaler water, although the
murmuring of the surf had been left far astern. The almost
imperceptible darkening of the mist on either beam seemed to show
that the Excelsior was entering some land-locked passage. The
movement of the vessel slackened, the tide was beginning to ebb.
Suddenly a wave of far-off clamor, faint but sonorous, broke across
the ship. There was an interval of breathless silence, and then it
broke again, and more distinctly. It was the sound of bells!
The thrill of awe which passed through passengers and crew at this
spiritual challenge from the vast and intangible void around them
had scarcely subsided when the captain turned to Senor Perkins with
a look of surly interrogation. The Senor brushed his hat further
back on his head, wiped his brow, and became thoughtful.
"It's too far south for Rosario," he said deprecatingly; "and the
only other mission I know of is San Carlos, and that's far inland.
But that is the Angelus, and those are mission bells, surely."
The captain turned to Mr. Brooks. The voice of invisible command
again passed along the deck, and, with a splash in the water and
the rattling of chains, the Excelsior swung slowly round on her
anchor on the bosom of what seemed a placid bay.
Miss Keene, who, in her complete absorption, had listened to the
phantom bells with an almost superstitious exaltation, had
forgotten the presence of her companion, and now turned towards
him. But he was gone. The imminent danger he had spoken of, half
slightingly, he evidently considered as past. He had taken the
opportunity offered by the slight bustle made by the lowering of
the quarter-boat and the departure of the mate on a voyage of
discovery to mingle with the crowd, and regain his state-room.
With the anchoring of the vessel, the momentary restraint was
relaxed, the passengers were allowed to pervade the deck, and Mrs.
Markham and Mr. Brace simultaneously rushed to Miss Keene's side.
"We were awfully alarmed for you, my dear," said Mrs. Markham,
"until we saw you had a protector. Do tell me--what DID he say?
He must have thought the danger great to have broken the Senor's
orders and come upon deck? What did he talk about?"
With a vivid recollection in her mind of Mr. Hurlstone's
contemptuous ignoring of the other ladies, Miss Keene became
slightly embarrassed. Her confusion was not removed by the
consciousness that the jealous eyes of Brace were fixed upon her.
"Perhaps he thought it was night, and walked upon deck in his
sleep," remarked Brace sarcastically. "He's probably gone back to
"He offered me his protection very politely, and begged to remain
to put me in the boat in case of danger," said Miss Keene,
recovering herself, and directing her reply to Mrs. Markham. "I
think that others have made me the same kind of offer--who were
wide awake," she added mischievously to Brace.
"I wouldn't be too sure that they were not foolishly dreaming too,"
returned Brace, in a lower voice.
"I should think we all were asleep or dreaming here," said Mrs.
Markham briskly. "Nobody seems to know where we are, and the only
man who might guess it--Senor Perkins--has gone off in the boat
with the mate."
"We're not a mile from shore and a Catholic church," said Crosby,
who had joined them. "I just left Mrs. Brimmer, who is very High
Church, you know, quite overcome by these Angelus bells. She's
been entreating the captain to let her go ashore for vespers. It
wouldn't be a bad idea, if we could only see what sort of a place
we've got to. It wouldn't do to go feeling round the settlement in
the dark--would it? Hallo! what's that? Oh, by Jove, that'll
finish Mrs. Brimmer, sure!"
"Hush!" said Miss Keene impulsively.
He stopped. The long-drawn cadence of a chant in thin clear
soprano voices swept through the fog from the invisible shore, rose
high above the ship, and then fell, dying away with immeasurable
sweetness and melancholy. Even when it had passed, a lingering
melody seemed to fill the deck. Two or three of the foreign
sailors crossed themselves devoutly; the other passengers withheld
their speech, and looked at each other. Afraid to break the charm
by speech, they listened again, but in vain an infinite repose
followed that seemed to pervade everything.
It was broken, at last, by the sound of oars in their rowlocks; the
boat was returning. But it was noticed that the fog had slightly
lifted from the surface of the water, for the boat was distinctly
visible two cables' length from the ship as she approached; and it
was seen that besides the first officer and Senor Perkins there
were two strangers in the boat. Everybody rushed to the side for a
nearer view of those strange inhabitants of the unknown shore; but
the boat's crew suddenly ceased rowing, and lay on their oars until
an indistinct hail and reply passed between the boat and ship.
There was a bustle forward, an unexpected thunder from the
Excelsior's eight-pounder at the bow port; Captain Bunker and the
second mate ranged themselves at the companionway, and the
passengers for the first time became aware that they were
participating at the reception of visitors of distinction, as two
strange and bizarre figures stepped upon the deck.
It was evident that the two strangers represented some exalted
military and ecclesiastical authority. This was shown in their
dress--a long-forgotten, half mediaeval costume, that to the
imaginative spectator was perfectly in keeping with their
mysterious advent, and to the more practical as startling as a
masquerade. The foremost figure wore a broad-brimmed hat of soft
felt, with tarnished gold lace, and a dark feather tucked in its
recurved flap; a short cloak of fine black cloth thrown over one
shoulder left a buff leathern jacket and breeches, ornamented with
large round silver buttons, exposed until they were met by high
boots of untanned yellow buckskin that reached halfway up the
thigh. A broad baldric of green silk hung from his shoulder across
his breast, and supported at his side a long sword with an enormous
basket hilt, through which somewhat coquettishly peeped a white
lace handkerchief. Tall and erect, in spite of the grizzled hair
and iron-gray moustaches and wrinkled face of a man of sixty, he
suddenly halted on the deck with a military precision that made the
jingling chains and bits of silver on his enormous spurs ring
again. He was followed by an ecclesiastic of apparently his own
age, but smoothly shaven, clad in a black silk sotana and sash, and
wearing the old-fashioned oblong, curl-brimmed hat sacred to "Don
Basilo," of the modern opera. Behind him appeared the genial face
of Senor Perkins, shining with the benignant courtesy of a master
"If this is a fair sample of the circus ashore, I'll take two
tickets," whispered Crosby, who had recovered his audacity.
"I have the inexpressible honor," said Senor Perkins to Captain
Bunker, with a gracious wave of his hand towards the extraordinary
figures, "to present you to the illustrious Don Miguel Briones,
Comandante of the Presidio of Todos Santos, at present hidden in
the fog, and the very reverend and pious Padre Esteban, of the
Mission of Todos Santos, likewise invisible. When I state to you,"
he continued, with a slight lifting of his voice, so as to include
the curious passengers in his explanation, "that, with very few
exceptions, this is the usual condition of the atmosphere at the
entrance to the Mission and Presidio of Todos Santos, and that the
last exception took place thirty-five years ago, when a ship
entered the harbor, you will understand why these distinguished
gentlemen have been willing to waive the formality of your waiting
upon them first, and have taken the initiative. The illustrious
Comandante has been generous to exempt you from the usual port
regulations, and to permit you to wood and to water"--
"What port regulation is he talking of?" asked Captain Bunker
"The Mexican regulations forbidding any foreign vessel to
communicate with the shore," returned Senor Perkins deprecatingly.
"Never heard of 'em. When were they given?"
The Senor turned and addressed a few words to the commander, who
stood apart in silent dignity.
"In what?--Is he mad?" said Bunker. "Does he know what year this
"The illustrious commander believes it to be the year of grace
1854," answered Senor Perkins quietly. "In the case of the only
two vessels who have touched here since 1792 the order was not
carried out because they were Mexican coasters. The illustrious
Comandante explains that the order he speaks of as on record
distinctly referred to the ship 'Columbia, which belonged to the
"General Washington!" echoed Bunker, angrily staring at the Senor.
"What's this stuff? Do you mean to say they don't know any history
later than our old Revolutionary War? Haven't they heard of the
United States among them? Nor California--that we took from them
during the late war?"
"Nor how we licked 'em out of their boots, and that's saying a good
deal," whispered Crosby, glancing at the Comandante's feet.
Senor Perkins raised a gentle, deprecating hand.
"For fifty years the Presidio and the Mission of Todos Santos have
had but this communication with the outer world," he said blandly.
"Hidden by impenetrable fogs from the ocean pathway at their door,
cut off by burning and sterile deserts from the surrounding
country, they have preserved a trust and propagated a faith in
enforced but not unhappy seclusion. The wars that have shaken
mankind, the dissensions that have even disturbed the serenity of
their own nation on the mainland, have never reached them here.
Left to themselves, they have created a blameless Arcadia and an
ideal community within an extent of twenty square leagues. Why
should we disturb their innocent complacency and tranquil enjoyment
by information which cannot increase and might impair their present
felicity? Why should we dwell upon a late political and
international episode which, while it has been a benefit to us, has
been a humiliation to them as a nation, and which might not only
imperil our position as guests, but interrupt our practical
relations to the wood and water, with which the country abounds?"
He paused, and before the captain could speak, turned to the silent
Commander, addressed him in a dozen phrases of fluent and courteous
Spanish, and once more turned to Captain Bunker.
"I have told him you are touched to the heart with his courtesy,
which you recognize as coming from the fit representative of the
great Mexican nation. He reciprocates your fraternal emotion, and
begs you to consider the Presidio and all that it contains, at your
disposition and the disposition of your friends--the passengers,
particularly those fair ladies," said Senor Perkins, turning with
graceful promptitude towards the group of lady passengers, and
slightly elevating himself on the tips of his neat boots, "whose
white hands he kisses, and at whose feet he lays the devotion of a
Mexican caballero and officer."
He waved his hand towards the Comandante, who, stepping forward,
swept the deck with his plumed hat before each of the ladies in
solemn succession. Recovering himself, he bowed more stiffly to
the male passengers, picked his handkerchief out of the hilt of his
sword, gracefully wiped his lips, pulled the end of his long gray
moustache, and became again rigid.
"The reverend father," continued Senor Perkins, turning towards the
priest, "regrets that the rules of his order prevent his extending
the same courtesy to these ladies at the Mission. But he hopes to
meet them at the Presidio, and they will avail themselves of his
aid and counsel there and everywhere."
Father Esteban, following the speaker's words with a gracious and
ready smile, at once moved forward among the passengers, offering
an antique snuff-box to the gentlemen, or passing before the ladies
with slightly uplifted benedictory palms and a caressing paternal
gesture. Mrs. Brimmer, having essayed a French sentence, was
delighted and half frightened to receive a response from the
ecclesiastic, and speedily monopolized him until he was summoned by
the Commander to the returning boat.
"A most accomplished man, my dear," said Mrs. Brimmer, as the
Excelsior's cannon again thundered after the retiring oars, "like
all of his order. He says, although Don Miguel does not speak
French, that his secretary does; and we shall have no difficulty in
making ourselves understood."
"Then you really intend to go ashore?" said Miss Keene timidly.
"Decidedly," returned Mrs. Brimmer potentially. "It would be most
unpolite, not to say insulting, if we did not accept the
invitation. You have no idea of the strictness of Spanish
etiquette. Besides, he may have heard of Mr. Brimmer."