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The Crusade of the Excelsior by Bret Harte

Part 5 out of 5

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to devote myself to them another time."

"As you please," said the Senor, with a slight return of his old
affability. "But don't bore yourself now. Let us go on deck."

He passed out of the cabin as Hurlstone glanced, half mechanically,
at the package before him. Suddenly his cheek reddened; he
stopped, looked hurriedly at the retreating form of Perkins, and
picked up a manuscript from the packet. It was in his wife's
handwriting. A sudden idea flashed across his mind, and seemed to
illuminate the obscure monotony of the story he had just heard. He
turned hurriedly to the morocco case, and opened it with trembling
fingers. It was a daguerreotype, faded and silvered; but the
features were those of his wife!



The revolution of Todos Santos had to all appearances been effected
as peacefully as the gentle Liberator of Quinquinambo could have
wished. Two pronunciamientos, rudely printed and posted in the
Plaza, and saluted by the fickle garrison of one hundred men, who
had, however, immediately reappointed their old commander as
Generalissimo under the new regime, seemed to leave nothing to be
desired. A surging mob of vacant and wondering peons, bearing a
singular resemblance to the wild cattle and horses which
intermingled with them in blind and unceasing movement across the
Plaza and up the hilly street, and seemingly as incapable of self-
government, were alternately dispersed and stampeded or allowed to
gather again as occasion required. Some of these heterogeneous
bands were afterwards found--the revolution accomplished--gazing
stupidly on the sea, or ruminating in bovine wantonness on the
glacis before the Presidio.

Eleanor Keene, who with her countrywomen had been hurried to the
refuge of the Mission, was more disturbed and excited at the
prospect of meeting Hurlstone again than by any terror of the
insurrection. But Hurlstone was not there, and Father Esteban
received her with a coldness she could not attribute entirely to
her countrymen's supposed sympathy with the insurgents. When
Richard Keene, who would not leave his sister until he had seen her
safe under the Mission walls, ventured at her suggestion to ask
after the American recluse, Father Esteban replied dryly that,
being a Christian gentleman, Hurlstone was the only one who had the
boldness to seek out the American filibuster Perkins, on his own
ship, and remonstrate with him for his unholy crusade. For the old
priest had already become aware of Hurlstone's blunder, and he
hated Eleanor as the primary cause of the trouble. But for her,
Diego would be still with him in this emergency.

"Never mind, Nell," said Dick, noticing the disappointed eyes of
his sister as they parted, "you'll all be safe here until we
return. Between you and me, Banks, Brimmer, and I think that Brace
and Winslow have gone too far in this matter, and we're going to
stop it, unless the whole thing is over now, as they say."

"Don't believe that," said Crosby. "It's like their infernal
earthquakes; there's always a second shock, and a tidal wave to
follow. I pity Brace, Winslow, and Perkins if they get caught in

There seemed to be some reason for his skepticism, for later the
calm of the Mission Garden was broken upon by the monotonous tread
of banded men on the shell-strewn walks, and the door of the
refectory opened to the figure of Senor Perkins. A green silk sash
across his breast, a gold-laced belt, supporting a light dress-
sword and a pair of pistols, buckled around the jaunty waist of his
ordinary black frock-coat, were his scant martial suggestions. But
his hat, albeit exchanged for a soft felt one, still reposed on the
back of his benevolent head, and seemed to accent more than ever
the contrast between his peaceful shoulders and the military
smartness of his lower figure. He bowed with easy politeness to
the assembled fugitives; but before he could address them, Father
Esteban had risen to his feet,--

"I thought that this house, at least, was free from the desecrating
footsteps of lawlessness and impiety," said the priest sternly.
"How dare YOU enter here?"

"Nothing but the desire to lend my assistance to the claims of
beauty, innocence, helplessness, and--if you will allow me to add,"
with a low bow to the priest--"sanctity, caused this intrusion.
For I regret to say that, through the ill-advised counsels of some
of my fellow-patriots, the Indian tribes attached to this Mission
are in revolt, and threaten even this sacred building."

"It is false!" said Father Esteban indignantly. "Even under the
accursed manipulation of your emissaries, the miserable heathen
would not dare to raise a parricidal hand against the Church that
fostered him!"

Senor Perkins smiled gently, but sadly.

"Your belief, reverend sir, does you infinite credit. But, to save
time, let me give way to a gentleman who, I believe, possesses your
confidence. He will confirm my statement."

He drew aside, and allowed Hurlstone, who had been standing
unperceived behind, to step forward. The Padre uttered an
exclamation of pleasure. Miss Keene colored quickly. Hurlstone
cast a long and lingering glance at her, which seemed to the
embarrassed girl full of a new, strange meaning, and then advanced
quickly with outstretched hands towards Father Esteban.

"He speaks truly," he said, hurriedly, "and in the interests of
humanity alone. The Indians have been tampered with treacherously,
against his knowledge and consent. He only seeks now to prevent
the consequences of this folly by placing you and these ladies out
of reach of harm aboard of the Excelsior."

"A very proper and excellent idea," broke in Mrs. Brimmer, with
genteel precision. "You see these people evidently recognize the
fact of Mr. Brimmer's previous ownership of the Excelsior, and the
respect that is due to him. I, for one, shall accept the offer,
and insist upon Miss Chubb accompanying me."

"I shall be charmed to extend the hospitality of the Excelsior to
you on any pretext," said the Senor gallantly, "and, indeed, should
insist upon personally accompanying you and my dear friends Mrs.
Markham and Miss Keene; but, alas! I am required elsewhere. I
leave," he continued, turning towards Hurlstone, who was already
absorbed in a whispered consultation with Padre Esteban--"I leave a
sufficient escort with you to protect your party to the boats which
have brought us here. You will take them to the Excelsior, and
join me with the ship off Todos Santos in the morning. Adieu, my
friends! Good-night, and farewell!"

The priest made a vehement movement of protestation, but he was
checked by Hurlstone, as, with a low bow, Senor Perkins passed out
into the darkness. The next moment his voice was heard raised in
command, and the measured tramp of his men gradually receded and
was lost in the distance.

"Does he think," said the priest indignantly, "that I, Padre
Esteban, would desert my sacred trust, and leave His Holy Temple a
prey to sacrilegious trespass? Never, while I live, Diego! Call
him back and tell him so!"

"Rather listen to me, Father Esteban," said the young man
earnestly. "I have a plan by which this may be avoided. From my
knowledge of these Indians, I am convinced that they have been
basely tricked and cajoled by some one. I believe that they are
still amenable to reason and argument, and I am so certain that I
am ready to go down among them and make the attempt. The old Chief
and part of his band are still encamped on the shore; we could hear
them as we passed in the boats. I will go and meet them. If I
succeed in bringing them to reason I will return; if I find them
intractable, I will at least divert their attention from the
Mission long enough for you to embark these ladies with their
escort, which you will do at the end of two hours if I do not

"In two hours?" broke in Mrs. Brimmer, in sharp protest. "I
positively object. I certainly understood that Senor Perkins'
invitation, which, under the circumstances, I shall consider equal
to a command from Mr. Brimmer, was to be accepted at once and
without delay; and I certainly shall not leave Miss Chubb exposed
to imminent danger for two hours to meet the caprice of an entire
stranger to Mr. Brimmer."

"I am willing to stay with Father Esteban, if he will let me," said
Eleanor Keene quietly, "for I have faith in Mr. Hurlstone's
influence and courage, and believe he will be successful."

The young man thanked her with another demonstrative look that
brought the warm blood to her cheek.

"Well," said Mrs. Markham promptly; "I suppose if Nell stays I must
see the thing through and stay with her--even if I haven't orders
from Jimmy."

"There is no necessity that either Mr. or Mrs. Brimmer should be
disobeyed in their wishes," said Hurlstone grimly. "Luckily there
are two boats; Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb can take one of them
with half the escort, and proceed at once to the Excelsior. I will
ride with them as far as the boat. And now," he continued, turning
to the old priest, with sparkling eyes, "I have only to ask your
blessing, and the good wishes of these ladies, to go forth on my
mission of peace. If I am successful," he added, with a light
laugh, "confess that a layman and a heretic may do some service for
the Church." As the old man laid his half detaining, half
benedictory hands upon his shoulders, the young man seized the
opportunity to whisper in his ear, "Remember your promise to tell
her ALL I have told you," and, with an other glance at Miss Keene,
he marshalled Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb before him, and hurried
them to the boat.

Miss Keene looked after him with a vague felicity in the change
that seemed to have come on him, a change that she could as little
account for as her own happiness. Was it the excitement of danger
that had overcome his reserve, and set free his compressed will and
energy? She longed for her brother to see him thus--alert, strong,
and chivalrous. In her girlish faith, she had no fear for his
safety; he would conquer, he would succeed; he would come back to
them victorious! Looking up from her happy abstraction, at the
side of Mrs. Markham, who had calmly gone to sleep in an arm-chair,
she saw Father Esteban's eyes fixed upon her. With a warning
gesture of the hand towards Mrs. Markham, he rose, and, going to
the door of the sacristy, beckoned to her. The young girl
noiselessly crossed the room and followed him into the sanctuary.

Half an hour later, and while Mrs. Markham was still asleep, Father
Esteban appeared at the door of the sacristy ostentatiously taking
snuff, and using a large red handkerchief to wipe his more than
usually humid eyes. Eleanor Keene, with her chin resting on her
hand, remained sitting as he had left her, with her abstracted eyes
fixed vacantly on the lamp before the statue of the Virgin and the
half-lit gloom of the nave.

Padre Esteban had told her ALL! She now knew Hurlstone's history
even as he had hesitatingly imparted it to the old priest in this
very church--perhaps upon the very seat where she sat. She knew
the peace that he had sought for and found within these walls,
broken only by his passion for her! She knew his struggles against
the hopelessness of this new-born love, even the desperate remedy
that had been adopted against herself, and the later voluntary
exile of her lover. She knew the providential culmination of his
trouble in the news brought unconsciously by Perkins, which, but a
few hours ago, he had verified by the letters, records, and even
the certificate of death that had thus strangely been placed in his
hands! She knew all this so clearly now, that, with the instinct
of a sympathetic nature, she even fancied she had heard it before.
She knew that all the obstacles to an exchange of their affection
had been removed; that her lover only waited his opportunity to
hear from her own lips the answer that was even now struggling at
her heart. And yet she hesitated and drew back, half frightened in
the presence of her great happiness. How she longed, and yet
dreaded, to meet him! What if anything should have happened to
him?--what if he should be the victim of some treachery?--what if
he did not come?--what if?--"Good heavens! what was that?"

She was near the door of the sacristy, gazing into the dim and
shadowy church. Either she was going mad, or else the grotesque
Indian hangings of the walls were certainly moving towards her.
She rose in speechless terror, as what she had taken for an
uncouthly swathed and draped barbaric pillar suddenly glided to the
window. Crouching against the wall, she crept breathlessly towards
the entrance to the garden. Casting a hurried glance above her,
she saw the open belfry that was illuminated by the misty radiance
of the moon, darkly shadowed by hideously gibbering faces that
peered at her through the broken tracery. With a cry of horror she
threw open the garden-door; but the next moment was swallowed up in
the tumultuous tide of wild and half naked Indians who surged
against the walls of the church, and felt herself lifted from her
feet, with inarticulate cries, and borne along the garden. Even in
her mortal terror, she could recognize that the cries were not
those of rage, but of vacant satisfaction; that although she was
lifted on lithe shoulders, the grasp of her limbs was gentle, and
the few dark faces she could see around her were glistening in
childlike curiosity. Presently she felt herself placed upon the
back of a mule, that seemed to be swayed hither and thither in the
shifting mass, and the next moment the misty, tossing cortege moved
forward with a new and more definite purpose. She called aloud for
Father Esteban and Mrs. Markham; her voice appeared to flow back
upon her from the luminous wall of fog that closed around her.
Then the inarticulate, irregular outcries took upon themselves a
measured rhythm, the movement of the mass formed itself upon the
monotonous chant, the intervals grew shorter, the mule broke into a
trot, and then the whole vast multitude fell into a weird,
rhythmical, jogging quick step at her side.

Whatever was the intent of this invasion of the Mission and her own
strange abduction, she was relieved by noticing that they were
going in the same direction as that taken by Hurlstone an hour
before. Either he was cognizant of their movements, and, being
powerless to prevent their attack on the church, had stipulated
they were to bring her to him in safety, or else he was calculating
to intercept them on the way. The fog prevented her from forming
any estimation of the numbers that surrounded her, or if the Padre
and Mrs. Markham were possibly preceding her as captives in the
vanguard. She felt the breath of the sea, and knew they were
traveling along the shore; the monotonous chant and jogging motion
gradually dulled her active terror to an apathetic resignation, in
which occasionally her senses seemed to swoon and swim in the
dreamy radiance through which they passed; at times it seemed a
dream or nightmare with which she was hopelessly struggling; at
times she was taking part in an unhallowed pageant, or some heathen
sacrificial procession of which she was the destined victim.

She had no consciousness of how long the hideous journey lasted.
Her benumbed senses were suddenly awakened by a shock; the chant
had ceased, the moving mass in which she was imbedded rolled
forward once more as if by its own elasticity, and then receded
again with a jar that almost unseated her. Then the inarticulate
murmur was overborne by a voice. It was HIS! She turned blindly
towards it; but before she could utter the cry that rose to her
lips, she was again lifted from the saddle, carried forward, and
gently placed upon what seemed to be a moss-grown bank. Opening
her half swimming eyes she recognized the Indian cross. The crowd
seemed to recede before her. Her eyes closed again as a strong arm
passed around her waist.

"Speak to me, Miss Keene--Eleanor--my darling!" said Hurlstone's
voice. "O my God! they have killed her!"

With an effort she moved her head and tried to smile. Their eyes,
and then their lips met; she fainted.

When she struggled to her senses again, she was lying in the stern-
sheets of the Excelsior's boat, supported on Mrs. Markham's
shoulder. For an instant the floating veil of fog around her, and
the rhythmical movement of the boat, seemed a part of her
mysterious ride, and she raised her head with a faint cry for

"It's all right, my dear," said Mrs. Markham, soothingly; "he's
ashore with the Padre, and everything else is all right too. But
it's rather ridiculous to think that those idiotic Indians believed
the only way they could show Mr. Hurlstone that they meant us no
harm was to drag us all up to THEIR Mission, as they call that half
heathen cross of theirs--for safety against--who do you think,
dear?--the dreadful AMERICANS! And imagine all the while the Padre
and I were just behind you, bringing up the rear of the procession--
only they wouldn't let us join you because they wanted to show you
special honor as"--she sank her voice to a whisper in Eleanor's
ear--"as the future Mrs. Hurlstone! It appears they must have
noticed something about you two, the last time you were there, my
dear. And--to think--YOU never told me anything about it!"

When they reached the Excelsior, they found that Mrs. Brimmer,
having already settled herself in the best cabin, was inclined to
extend the hospitalities of the ship with the air of a hostess.
But the arrival of Hurlstone at midnight with some delegated
authority from Senor Perkins, and the unexpected getting under way
of the ship, disturbed her complacency.

"We are going through the channel into the bay of Todos Santos,"
was the brief reply vouchsafed her by Hurlstone.

"But why can't we remain here and wait for Mr. Brimmer?" she asked

"Because," responded Hurlstone grimly, "the Excelsior is expected
off the Presidio to-morrow morning to aid the insurgents."

"You don't mean to say that Miss Chubb and myself are to be put in
the attitude of arraying ourselves against the constituted
authorities--and, perhaps, Mr. Brimmer himself?" asked Mrs.
Brimmer, in genuine alarm.

"It looks so," said Hurlstone, a little maliciously; "but, no
doubt, your husband and the Senor will arrange it amicably."

To Mrs. Markham and Miss Keene he explained more satisfactorily
that the unexpected disaffection of the Indians had obliged Perkins
to so far change his plans as to disembark his entire force from
the Excelsior, and leave her with only the complement of men
necessary to navigate her through the channel of Todos Santos,
where she would peacefully await his orders, or receive his men in
case of defeat.

Nevertheless, as the night was nearly spent, Mrs. Markham and
Eleanor preferred to await the coming day on deck, and watch the
progress of the Excelsior through the mysterious channel. In a few
moments the barque began to feel the combined influence of the tide
and the slight morning breeze, and, after rounding an invisible
point, she presently rose and fell on the larger ocean swell. The
pilot, whom Hurlstone recognized as the former third mate of the
Excelsior, appeared to understand the passage perfectly; and even
Hurlstone and the ladies, who had through eight months' experience
become accustomed to the luminous obscurity of Todos Santos, could
detect the faint looming of the headland at the entrance. The same
soothing silence, even the same lulling of the unseen surf, which
broke in gentle undulations over the bar, and seemed to lift the
barque in rocking buoyancy over the slight obstruction, came back
to them as on the day of their fateful advent. The low orders of
the pilot, the cry of the leadsman in the chains, were but a part
of the restful past.

Under the combined influence of the hour and the climate, the
conversation fell into monosyllables, and Mrs. Markham dozed. The
lovers sat silently together, but the memory of a kiss was between
them. It spanned the gulf of the past with an airy bridge, over
which their secret thoughts and fancies passed and repassed with a
delicious security; henceforth they could not flee from that
memory, even if they wished; they read it in each other's lightest
glance; they felt it in the passing touch of each other's hands; it
lingered, with vague tenderness, on the most trivial interchange of
thought. Yet they spoke a little of the future. Eleanor believed
that her brother would not object to their union; he had spoken of
entering into business at Todos Santos, and perhaps when peace and
security were restored they might live together. Hurlstone did not
tell her that a brief examination of his wife's papers had shown
him that the property he had set aside for her maintenance, and
from which she had regularly drawn an income, had increased in
value, and left him a rich man. He only pressed her hand, and
whispered that her wishes should be his. They had become tenderly
silent again, as the Excelsior, now fairly in the bay, appeared to
be slowly drifting, with listless sails and idle helm, in languid
search of an anchorage. Suddenly they were startled by a cry from
the lookout.

"Sail ho!"

There was an incredulous start on the deck. The mate sprang into
the fore-rigging with an oath of protestation. But at the same
moment the tall masts and spars of a vessel suddenly rose like a
phantom out of the fog at their side. The half disciplined foreign
crew uttered a cry of rage and trepidation, and huddled like sheep
in the waist, with distracted gestures; even the two men at the
wheel forsook their post to run in dazed terror to the taffrail.
Before the mate could restore order to this chaos, the Excelsior
had drifted, with a scarcely perceptible concussion, against the
counter of the strange vessel. In an instant a dozen figures
appeared on its bulwarks, and dropped unimpeded upon the
Excelsior's deck. As the foremost one approached the mate, the
latter shrank back in consternation.

"Captain Bunker!"

"Yes," said the figure, advancing with a mocking laugh; "Captain
Bunker it is. Captain Bunker, formerly of this American barque
Excelsior, and now of the Mexican ship La Trinidad. Captain Bunker
ez larnt every foot of that passage in an open boat last August,
and didn't forget it yesterday in a big ship! Captain Bunker ez
has just landed a company of dragoons to relieve the Presidio.
What d'ye say to that, Mr. M'Carthy--eh?"

"I say," answered M'Carthy, raising his voice with a desperate
effort to recover his calmness, "I say that Perkins landed with
double that number of men yesterday around that point, and that
he'll be aboard here in half an hour to make you answer for this
insult to his ship and his Government."

"His Government!" echoed Bunker, with a hoarser laugh; "hear him!--
HIS Government! His Government died at four o'clock this morning,
when his own ringleaders gave him up to the authorities. Ha! Why,
this yer revolution is played out, old man; and Generalissimo
Leonidas Perkins is locked up in the Presidio."



The revolution was, indeed, ended. The unexpected arrival of a
relieving garrison in the bay of Todos Santos had completed what
the dissensions in the insurgents' councils had begun; the
discontents, led by Brace and Winslow, had united with the
Government against Perkins and his aliens; but a compromise had
been effected by the treacherous giving up of the Liberator himself
in return for an amnesty granted to his followers. The part that
Bunker had played in bringing about this moral catastrophe was,
however, purely adventitious. When he had recovered his health,
and subsequent events had corroborated the truth of his story, the
Mexican Government, who had compromised with Quinquinambo, was
obliged to recognize his claims by offering him command of the
missionary ship, and permission to rediscover the channel, the
secret of which had been lost for half a century to the Government.
He had arrived at the crucial moment when Perkins' command were
scattered along the seashore, and the dragoons had invested Todos
Santos without opposition.

Such was the story substantially told to Hurlstone and confirmed on
his debarkation with the ladies at Todos Santos, the Excelsior
being now in the hands of the authorities. Hurlstone did not
hesitate to express to Padre Esteban his disgust at the treachery
which had made a scapegoat of Senor Perkins. But to his surprise
the cautious priest only shrugged his shoulders as he took a
complacent pinch of snuff.

"Have a care, Diego! You are of necessity grateful to this man for
the news he has brought--nay, more, for possibly being the
instrument elected by Providence to precipitate the denouement of
that miserable woman's life--but let it not close your eyes to his
infamous political career. I admit that he was opposed to the
revolt of the heathen against us, but it was his emissaries and his
doctrines that poisoned with heresy the fountains from which they
drank. Enough! Be grateful! but do not expect ME to intercede for
Baal and Ashtaroth!"

"Intercede!" echoed Hurlstone, alarmed at the sudden sacerdotal
hardness that had overspread the old priest's face. "Surely the
Council will not be severe with the man who was betrayed into their
power by others equally guilty?"

Padre Esteban avoided Hurlstone's eyes as he answered with affected
coolness,--"Quien sabe? There will be expulsados, no doubt. The
Excelsior, which is confiscated, will be sent to Mexico with them."

"I must see Senor Perkins," said Hurlstone suddenly.

The priest hesitated.

"When?" he asked cautiously.

"At once."

"Good." He wrote a hurried line on a piece of paper, folded it,
sealed it, and gave it to Hurlstone. "You will hand that to the
Comandante. He will give you access to the prisoner."

In less than half an hour Hurlstone presented himself before the
Commander. The events of the last twenty-four hours had evidently
affected Don Miguel, for although he received Hurlstone courteously,
there was a singular reflection of the priest's harshness in his
face as he glanced over the missive. He took out his watch.

"I give you ten minutes with the prisoner, Don Diego. More, I

A little awed by the manner of the Commander, Hurlstone bowed and
followed him across the courtyard. It was filled with soldiers,
and near the gateway a double file of dragoons, with loaded
carbines, were standing at ease. Two sentries were ranged on each
side of an open door which gave upon the courtyard. The Commander
paused before it, and with a gesture invited him to enter. It was
a large square apartment, lighted only by the open door and a
grated enclosure above it. Seated in his shirtsleeves, before a
rude table, Senor Perkins was quietly writing. The shadow of
Hurlstone's figure falling across his paper caused him to look up.

Whatever anxiety Hurlstone had begun to feel, it was quickly
dissipated by the hearty, affable, and even happy greeting of the

"Ah! what! my young friend Hurlstone! Again an unexpected
pleasure," he said, extending his white hands. "And again you find
me wooing the Muse, in, I fear, hesitating numbers." He pointed to
the sheet of paper before him, which showed some attempts at
versification. "But I confess to a singular fascination in the
exercise of poetic composition, in instants of leisure like this--a
fascination which, as a man of imagination yourself, you can

"And I am sorry to find you here, Senor Perkins," began Hurlstone
frankly; "but I believe it will not be for long."

"My opinion," said the Senor, with a glance of gentle contemplation
at the distant Comandante, "as far as I may express it, coincides
with your own."

"I have come," continued Hurlstone earnestly, "to offer you my
services. I am ready," he raised his voice, with a view of being
overheard, "to bear testimony that you had no complicity in the
baser part of the late conspiracy,--the revolt of the savages, and
that you did your best to counteract the evil, although in doing so
you have sacrificed yourself. I shall claim the right to speak
from my own knowledge of the Indians and from their admission to me
that they were led away by the vague representations of Martinez,
Brace, and Winslow."

"Pardon--pardon me," said Senor Perkins deprecatingly, "you are
mistaken. My general instructions, no doubt, justified these young
gentlemen in taking, I shall not say extreme, but injudicious
measures." He glanced meaningly in the direction of the Commander,
as if to warn Hurlstone from continuing, and said gently, "But let
us talk of something else. I thank you for your gracious
intentions, but you remember that we agreed only yesterday that you
knew nothing of politics, and did not concern yourself with them.
I do not know but you are wise. Politics and the science of self-
government, although dealing with general principles, are apt to be
defined by the individual limitations of the enthusiast. What is
good for HIMSELF he too often deems is applicable to the general
public, instead of wisely understanding that what is good for THEM
must be good for himself. But," said the Senor lightly, "we are
again transgressing. We were to choose another topic. Let it be
yourself, Mr. Hurlstone. You are looking well, sir; indeed, I may
say I never saw you looking so well! Let me congratulate you.
Health is the right of youth. May you keep both!"

He shook Hurlstone's hand again with singular fervor.

There was a slight bustle and commotion at the door of the guard-
room, and the Commander's attention was called in that direction.
Hurlstone profited by the opportunity to say in a hurried whisper:

"Tell me what I can do for you;" and he hesitated to voice his
renewed uneasiness--"tell me if--if--if your case is--urgent!"

Senor Perkins lifted his shoulders and smiled with grateful

"You have already promised me to deliver those papers and
manuscripts of my deceased friend, and to endeavor to find her
relations. I do not think it is urgent, however."

"I do not mean that," said Hurlstone eagerly. "I"--but Perkins
stopped him with a sign that the Commander was returning.

Don Miguel approached them with disturbed and anxious looks.

"I have yielded to the persuasions of two ladies, Dona Leonor and
the Senora Markham, to ask you to see them for a moment," he said
to Senor Perkins. "Shall it be so? I have told them the hour is
nearly spent."

"You have told them--NOTHING MORE?" asked the Senor, in a whisper
unheard by Hurlstone.


"Let them come, then."

The Commander made a gesture to the sentries at the guard-room, who
drew back to allow Mrs. Markham and Eleanor to pass. A little
child, one of Eleanor's old Presidio pupils, who, recognizing her,
had followed her into the guard-room, now emerged with her, and
momentarily disconcerted at the presence of the Commander, ran,
with the unerring instinct of childhood, to the Senor for
protection. The filibuster smiled, and lifting the child with a
paternal gesture to his shoulder by one hand, he extended the other
to the ladies.

"The Commander," said Mrs. Markham briskly, "says it's against the
rules; that visiting time is up; and you've already got a friend
with you, and all that sort of thing; but I told him that I was
bound to see you, if only to say that if there's any meanness going
on, Susannah and James Markham ain't in it! No! But we're going
to see you put right and square in the matter; and if we can't do
it here, we'll do it, if we have to follow you to Mexico!--that's

"And I," said Eleanor, grasping the Senor's hand, and half blushing
as she glanced at Hurlstone, "see that I have already a friend here
who will help me to put in action all the sympathy I feel."

Senor Perkins drew himself up, and cast a faint look of pride
towards the Commander.

"To HEAR such assurances from beautiful and eloquent lips like
those before me," he said, with his old oratorical wave of the
hand, but a passing shadow across his mild eyes, "is more than
sufficient. In my experience of life I have been favored, at
various emergencies, by the sympathy and outspoken counsel of your
noble sex; the last time by Mrs. Euphemia M'Corkle, of Peoria,
Illinois, a lady of whom you have heard me speak--alas! now lately
deceased. A few lines at present lying on yonder table--a tribute
to her genius--will be forwarded to you, dear Mrs. Markham. But
let us change the theme. You are looking well--and you, too, Miss
Keene. From the roses that bloom on your cheeks--nourished by the
humid air of Todos Santos--I am gratified in thinking you have
forgiven me your enforced detention here."

At a gesture from the Commander he ceased, stepped back, bowed
gravely, and the ladies recognized that their brief audience had
terminated. As they passed through the gateway, looking back they
saw Perkins still standing with the child on his shoulder and
smiling affably upon them. Then the two massive doors of the
gateway swung to with a crash, the bolts were shot, and the
courtyard was impenetrable.

. . . . . .

A few moments later, the three friends had passed the outermost
angle of the fortifications, and were descending towards the beach.
By the time they had reached the sands they had fallen into a vague

A noise like the cracking and fall of some slight scaffolding
behind them arrested their attention. Hurlstone turned quickly. A
light smoke, drifting from the courtyard, was mingling with the
fog. A faint cry of "Dios y Libertad!" rose with it.

With a hurried excuse to his companions, Hurlstone ran rapidly
back, and reached the gate as it slowly rolled upon its hinges to a
file of men that issued from the courtyard. The first object that
met his eyes was the hat of Senor Perkins lying on the ground near
the wall, with a terrible suggestion in its helpless and pathetic
vacuity. A few paces further lay its late owner, with twenty
Mexican bullets in his breast, his benevolent forehead bared meekly
to the sky, as if even then mutely appealing to the higher
judgment. He was dead! The soul of the Liberator of Quinquinambo,
and of various other peoples more or less distressed and more or
less ungrateful, was itself liberated!

. . . . . .

With the death of Senor Perkins ended the Crusade of the Excelsior.
Under charge of Captain Bunker the vessel was sent to Mazatlan by
the authorities, bearing the banished and proscribed Americans,
Banks, Brace, Winslow, and Crosby; and, by permission of the
Council, also their friends, Markham and Brimmer, and the ladies,
Mrs. Brimmer, Chubb, and Markham. Hurlstone and Miss Keene alone
were invited to remain, but, on later representations, the Council
graciously included Richard Keene in the invitation, with the
concession of the right to work the mines and control the ranches
he and Hurlstone had purchased from their proscribed countrymen.
The complacency of the Council of Todos Santos may be accounted for
when it is understood that on the day the firm of Hurlstone & Keene
was really begun under the title of Mr. and Mrs. Hurlstone, Richard
had prevailed upon the Alcalde to allow him to add the piquant Dona
Isabel also to the firm under the title of Mrs. Keene. Although
the port of Todos Santos was henceforth open to all commerce, the
firm of Hurlstone & Keene long retained the monopoly of trade, and
was a recognized power of intelligent civilization and honest
progress on the Pacific coast. And none contributed more to that
result than the clever and beautiful hostess of Excelsior Lodge,
the charming country home of James Hurlstone, Esq., senior partner
of the firm. Under the truly catholic shelter of its veranda Padre
Esteban and the heretic stranger mingled harmoniously, and the
dissensions of local and central Government were forgotten.

"I said that you were a dama de grandeza, you remember," said the
youthful Mrs. Keene to Mrs. Hurlstone, "and, you see, you are!"

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