Part 5 out of 8
he travels, with the returning fragments of the men who are now
homeward bound. All is silent now. From wood and hill no rattling
fire wakes the stillness of these days. The blackened ruins and
the wide swath cut by Sherman tell him how true was the prediction
that the men of the Northwest would "hew their way to the Gulf
with their swords." He finds the grave of Valois, when dismantled
and crippled Atlanta receives him again. Standing there, alone, the
pageantry of war has rolled away. The battle-fields are covered
with wild roses. The birds nest in the woods where Death once reigned
supreme. High in the air over Atlanta the flag of the country waves,
on the garrison parade, with not a single star erased.
On his way to a self-appointed exile, the Virginian has seen the
wasted fields, blackened ruins, and idle disheartened communities
of the conquered, families brought to misery, and the young
arms-bearing generation blotted out. Hut and manor-house have been
licked up by the red torch of war. The hollow-eyed women, suffering
children, and dazed, improvident negroes, wander around aimlessly.
Bridges, mills and factories in ruins tell of the stranger's torch,
and the crashing work of the artillery. Tall, smokeless chimneys
point skywards as monuments of desolation.
Bowed in defeat, their strongholds are yet occupied by the
blue-coated victors. All that is left of the Southern communities
lingers in ruined homes and idle marts. They now are counting the
cost of attempted secession, in the gloom of despair.
The land is one vast graveyard. The women who mourn husbands and
lovers stray over fields of strife, and wonder where the loved one
sleeps. Friend and foe, "in one red burial blent," are lying down
in the unbroken truce of death.
Atlanta's struggle against the restless Sherman has been only
wasted valor, a bootless sacrifice. Her terrific sallies, lightning
counter-thrusts, and final struggles with the after-occupation, can
be traced in the general desolation, by every step of the horrible
art of war.
Here, by the grave of his intrepid comrade, Henry Peyton reviews
the past four years. His scars and wasted frame tell him of many
a deadly fray, and the dangers of the insane fight for State rights.
The first proud days of the war return. Hopes that have failed
long since are remembered. The levy and march to the front, the
thousand watch-fires glittering around the unbroken hosts, whose
silken-bordered banners tell of the matchless devotion of the
women clinging blindly to the cause.
Peyton thinks now of the loved and lost who bore those flags,
to-day furled forever, to the front, at Bull Run, Shiloh, the Seven
Days, Groveton, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, and
The foreign friends in Europe, the daring rovers of the sea
who carried the Stars and Bars from off New York to Singapore and
far Behring Straits. What peerless leaders. Such deep, sagacious
statesmen. The treasures of the rich South, the wealth of King
Cotton, all wasted uselessly. A popular devotion, which deeply
touched the magnanimous Grant in the supreme hour of victory, has
been lavished on the altar of the Confederacy where Davis, Lee,
and Jackson were enthroned. Fallen gods now, but still majestic
and yet revered.
Peyton thinks with an almost breaking heart of all these sacrifices
for the Lost Cause. By his friend's grave he feels that an awful
price has been paid for the glories of the short-lived Confederacy.
The noble-hearted Virginian dares not hope that there may yet be
found golden bands of brotherhood to knit together the children of
the men who fought under gray and blue. Frankly acknowledging the
injustice of the early scorn of the Northern foe, he knows, from
glances cast backward over the storied fields, the vigor of the
North was under-estimated. The men of Donelson, Antietam, Stone
River, Vicksburg, awful Gettysburg, of Winchester, and Five Forks,
are as true and tried as ever swung a soldier's blade.
He has seen the country's flag of stars stream out bravely against
the tide of defeat. If American valor needs a champion the men
who saw the "Yankees" at Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, Marye's Heights,
and holding in fire and flame the batteries of Corinth and Knoxville,
will swear the embittered foes were worthy of each other.
The defeated Confederate veteran, as he plucks a rose from the grass
growing over the gallant Valois, bitterly remembers the useless
sacrifices of the whole Southern army to the "Virginia policy." A
son of the "old State" himself, he can feel now, in the sorrow and
silence of defeat, that the early triumphs of the war were wasted.
The great warlike generation was frittered away on the Potomac.
Devoted to Lee, he still mourns the lost months of the fall of '61,
when, flushed with triumph, the Confederates could have entered
Washington. Then Maryland would have risen "en masse." Foreign
lands would have been won over. An aggressive policy even in 1862,
after the Peninsula, might have changed the final result. The dead
Californian's regrets for the abandonment of all effort in the
Pacific, the cutting-off and uselessness of the great trans-Mississippi
region, all return to him in vain sorrow.
By Maxime Valois' grave, Peyton wonders if the battle-consecrated
blood of the sons has washed away the sins of the fathers. He
knows not of the brighter days, when the past shall seem a vision
of romance. When our country will smile in peace and brotherhood,
from ocean to ocean. Sadly he uncovers his head. He leaves Maxime
Valois lying in the proud silence of the soldier's grave--"dead on
the field of honor."
To New Orleans Colonel Peyton repairs. On making search, he finds
that Judge Valois has not survived the collapse of the Confederacy.
His only son is abroad, in Paris. The abandoned plantations and
family property are under the usual load of debt, taxes, and all
the legal confusion of a change of rulers.
Peyton thanks the dead soldier in his heart for the considerable
legacy of his unused balances. He is placed beyond immediate
necessity. He leaves the land where the Southern Cross met defeat.
He wishes to wander over Cuba, Mexico, and toward the West. At
Havana, he finds that the documents and articles forwarded by the
agents to Judge Hardin have been duly sent though never acknowledged.
The letters taken from Colonel Valois' body he seals in a packet.
He trusts that fate may lead him some day westward. They are too
precious to risk. He may some day tell the little lady of Lagunitas,
of the gallant father whose thoughts, before his last battle, were
only for the beloved "little one." She is confided, as a trust,
from the dying to Judge Hardin. She is surely safe in the sheltering
care of Valois' oldest friend. A "Southern gentleman."
Peyton for years can bring back the tender solemnity of Maxime
Valois' face, as he reads his charge to Hardin.
"And may God deal with you and yours, as you deal with me and mine."
The devoted father's appeal would touch a heart of stone.
The folly of not beginning active war in the West; the madness of
not seizing California at the outset; the rich prizes of the Pacific
left ungathered, for has not Semmes almost driven Yankee ships from
the sea with the Alabama, and does not Waddell, with the cockle-shell
Shenandoah, burn and destroy the entire Pacific whaling fleet?
The free-booter sails half around the world, unchallenged, after
the war. Oh, coward Knights of the Golden Circle! Fools, and blind,
to let California slip from your grasp!
Maxime Valois was right. Virginian rule ruined the Confederacy.
Too late, too late!
Had Sidney Johnston lived; had Robert E. Lee been willing to
leave sacred Virginia uncovered for a fortnight in the days before
he marshalled the greatest army the Southerners ever paraded, and
invaded the North boldly, a peace would have resulted.
Peyton thinks bitterly of the irreparable loss of Sidney Johnston.
He recalls the death of peerless Jackson. Jackson, always aggressive,
active, eager to reach for the enemy, and ever successful.
Wasted months when the prestige was with the South, the fixed
determination of Lee to keep the war in Virginia, and Davis's deadly
jealousy of any leading minds, seem to have lost the brightest
chances of a glorious success.
Peyton condemns the military court of Davis and the intrenched
pageantry of Lee's idle forces. The other armies of the Confederacy
fought, half supplied, giving up all to hold the Virginia lines.
He cannot yet realize that either Sherman or Grant might have
baffled Sidney Johnston had he lived. Lee was self-conscious of
his weakness in invasion. He will not own that Philip Sheridan's
knightly sword might have reached the crest of the unconquered
Vain regret, shadowy dreams, and sad imaginings fill Colonel
Peyton's mind. The thrilling struggles of the Army of the West, its
fruitless victories, and unrewarded heroism make him proud of its
heroes. Had another policy ruled the Confederate military cabinet,
success was certain. But he is now leaving his friend's grave.
The birds are singing in the forest. As the sun lights up the dark
woods where McPherson died, into Henry Peyton's war-tried soul
enters the peace which broods over field and incense-breathing trees.
Far in the East, the suns of future years may bring happier days,
when the war wounds are healed. The brothers of the Union may find
a nobler way to reach each other's hearts than ball or bayonet.
But he cannot see these gleams of hope.
A LOST HEIRESS.--MILLIONS AT STAKE.
MOUNT DAVIDSON'S MAGIC MILLIONS.--A CALIFORNIA PLUTOCRACY.--THE
PRICE OF A CRIME.
Philip Hardin's library in San Francisco is a place for quiet labors.
A spider's parlor. September, 1864, hides the enchanted interior
with deeper shades from the idle sight-seer.
Since the stirring days of 1861, after the consecutive failures of
plot, political scheme, and plan of attack, the mysterious "chief
of the Golden Circle" has withdrawn from public practice. A marked
and dangerous man.
It would be an insult to the gallant dead whose blood watered the
fields of the South, for Philip Hardin to take the "iron-clad oath"
required now of practitioners.
Respected for his abilities, feared by his adversaries, shunned
for his pro-secession views, Philip Hardin walks alone. No overt
act can be fastened on him, Otherwise, instead of gazing on Alcatraz
Island from his mansion windows, he might be behind those frowning
walls, where the l5-inch Columbiads spread their radial lines of
fire, to cross those of the works of Black Point, Fort Point, and
Point Blunt. Many more innocent prisoners toil there. He does not
wish to swell their number. Philip Hardin dares not take that oath
in open court. His pride prevents, but, even were he to offer it,
the mockery would be too patent.
A happy excuse prevents his humiliation. Trustee of the vast
estate of Lagunitas, he has also his own affairs to direct. It is
a dignified retirement.
Another great passion fills his later days. Since the wandering
Comstock and Curry, proverbially unfortunate discoverers, like
Marshall, pointed to hundreds of millions for the "silver kings,"
along Mount Davidson's stony, breast, he gambles daily. The stock
board is his play-room.
The mining stock exchange gives his maturer years the wilder
excitements of the old El Dorado.
Washoe, Nevada Territory, or the State of Nevada, the new "Silverado"
drives all men crazy. A city shines now along the breast of the
Storey County peaks, nine thousand feet above the sea. The dulness
of California's evolution is broken by the rush to Washoe. Already
the hardy prospectors spread out in that great hunt for treasure
which will bring Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, crowned aspirants,
bearing gifts of gold and silver, to the gates of the Union. The
whole West is a land of hidden treasures.
Speculation's mad fever seized on Hardin from the days of 1860.
Shares, stocks, operations, schemes, all the wild devices of hazard,
fill up his days with exciting successes and damning failures.
His name, prestige, and credit, carry him to the front. As in
the early days, his cool brain and nerve mark him as a desperate
gamester. But his stakes are now gigantic.
Secure in his mansion house, with private wires in his study,
he operates through many brokers and agents. His interrupted law
business is transferred to less prominent Southern advocates.
Philip Hardin's fine hand is everywhere. Reliable dependants,
old prospecting friends and clients, keep him informed by private
cipher of every changing turn of the brilliant Virginia City
Hardin gambles for pleasure, for vanity, and for excitement. Led
on by his desire to stand out from the mass of men, he throws his
fortune, mixed with the funds of Lagunitas, into the maelstrom of
California Street. Success and defeat alternate.
It is a transition time. While war rages in the East, the California
merchant kings are doubling fortunes in the cowardly money piracy
known as California's secession. The "specific contract act" is
the real repudiation of the government's lawful money. This stab in
the back is given to the struggling Union by the well-fed freedom
shriekers of the Union League. They howl, in public, over their
devotion to the interests of the land.
The future railroad kings of the Pacific, Stanford, Hopkins, Crocker,
Huntington, Colton, and their allies, are grasping the gigantic
benefits flowing from the Pacific Railroad, recommended by themselves
as a war measure. Heroes.
The yet uncrowned bonanza kings are men of obscure employment, or
salaried miners working for wages which would not in a month pay
their petty cash of a day in a few years.
Quiet Jim Flood, easy O'Brien, sly Jones, sturdy Mackay, and that
guileless innocent, "Jim Fair," are toiling miners or "business
men." Their peculiar talents are hidden by the obscurity of humdrum,
Hands soon to sway the financial sceptre, either mix the dulcet
cocktail, swing the pick, or else light with the miner's candle
the Aladdin caves to which they grope and burrow in daily danger,
deep hidden from public view. These "silver kings" are only in
These two groups of remarkable men, the future railroad princes,
and the budding bonanza kings, represent cunning, daring, energy,
fortitude, and the remarkable powers of transition of the Western
The future land barons are as yet merely sly, waiting schemers. They
are trusting to compound interest, rotten officials, and neglected
laws to get possession of ducal domains. The bankers, merchant princes,
and stock operators are writing their names fast in California's
strange "Libro d'oro." All is restlessness. All is a mere waiting
for the turbid floods of seething human life to settle down. In
the newer discoveries of Nevada, in the suspense of the war, the
railroads are yet only half finished, croaked at mournfully by the
befogged Solons of the press. All is transition.
It is only when the first generation of children born in California
will reach maturity in the 'eighties; only when the tide of carefully
planned migration from North and South, after the war, reaches the
West, that life becomes regular. Only when the railways make the
new State a world's thoroughfare, and the slavery stain is washed
from our flag, that civilization plants the foundations of her
solid temples along the Pacific.
There is no crystallization until the generation of mere adventurers
begin to drop into graves on hillside and by the sea. The first
gold-seekers must pass out from active affairs before the real
State is honestly builded up.
No man, not even Philip Hardin, could foresee, with the undecided
problems of 1860, what would be the status of California in ten
years, as to law, finance, commerce, or morals.
A sudden start might take the mass of the people to a new Frazer
River or another Australia. They might rush to the wilds of some
frontier treasury of nature, now unknown.
Even Philip Hardin dared not dream that humble bar-keepers would
blossom out into great bank presidents, that signatures, once
potent only on the saloon "slate," would be smiled on by "friend
Rothschild" and "brother Baring." The "lightning changes" of the
burlesque social life of Western America begin to appear. It is
a wild dream that the hands now toiling with the pick or carrying
the miner's tin dinner-pail, would close in friendship on the
aristocratic palm of H.R.H. Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales.
The "chambermaid's own" romances would not dare to predict that
ladies bred to the broom and tub or the useful omnipotent "fry
pan," would smile on duchesses, crony with princesses, or regulate
their visiting lists by the "Almanach de Gotha."
Their great magician is Gold. In power, in pleasing witchery of
potent influence; insidious flattery of pleasure; in remorseless
persecution of the penniless, all wonders are its work. Ariel,
Mephisto, Moloch, thou, Gold! King Gold! and thy brother, Silver!
While Philip Hardin speculated from his lofty eyrie, the San
Francisco hills are now covered with the unsubstantial palaces of
the first successful residents. He dared not dream that the redwood
boxes called mansions, in which the wealthy lived in the days of
'60, would give way to the lordly castles of "Nob Hill."
These castles, whether of railroad tyrant, bonanza baron, or banking
conspirator, were yet castles in the air.
Perched in lofty isolation now, they architecturally dominate
the meaner huts below. Vulgar monuments of a social upheaval which
beggars the old stories of fairy changelings, of Sancho Panza, of
"Barney the Baron," or "Monte Cristo."
In the days of '60, Philip Hardin is too busy with plot and scheme,
with daily plunging, and dreaming over the fate of Lagunitas, to
notice the social elevation of the more aspiring male and female
adventurers. The rising tide of wealth grows. Judicious use of early
gained riches, trips to Europe, furtive lessons, the necessities
of the changed station, and an unlimited cheek and astounding
adaptability change the lucky men and women whom fortune's dower
has ennobled. They are all now "howling swells."
Some never reach as high as the "Monarchs of Mount Davidson," who
were pretty high up at the start, nearly a mile and a half. In many
cases, King Midas's Court shows very fairly scattered promotions.
Society's shoddy geometry gives a short-cut for "my lady's maid"
to become "my lady." She surely knows "how to dress." The lady who
entertains well, in some cases does so with long experience as
a successful professional cook.
Some who dropped into California with another woman's husband,
forget, while rolling in their carriages, that they ever had one
of their own. Children with no legal parents have not learned the
meaning of "filius nullius." From the bejewelled mass of vigorous,
keen upstarts, now enriched by stocks, the hardy children of the
great bonanzas, rises the chorus, "Let the past rest. We have passed
the gates of Gold."
To the "newer nobility of California," is given local golden patents.
They cover modest paternal names and many shady personal antecedents.
In a land without a past, the suddenly enriched speculators reign
in mart and parlor. They rule society and the Exchange. In a great
many cases, a judicious rearrangement of marriage proves that the
new-made millionnaires value their recently acquired "old wines"
and "ancient pictures," more than their aging wives. They bring
much warmth of social color into the local breezy atmosphere of
this animated Western picture, these new arrangements of Hymen.
Hardin, plunging into the general madness of stock speculation,
destined to reign for twenty years, keeps his own counsel. He sneers
not at the households queened over by the "Doubtful Loveliness"
of the "Rearranged Aristocracy of the Pacific." He has certain
twinges when he hears the laughing girl child at play in the bowers
of his park. While the ex-queen of the El Dorado, now a marvel of
womanly beauty, gazes on that dancing child, she cannot yet see,
among the many flashing gems loading her hands, the plain circlet
of a wedding ring.
No deeper consecration than the red blood of the murdered gambler
ever sealed the lawless union of the "Chief of the Golden Circle"
with the peerless "Empress of Rouge et Noir."
Her facile moods, restrained passions, blind devotion, and
self-acquired charms of education, keep Philip Hardin strangely
faithful to a dark bond.
Luxury, in its most insidious forms, woos to dreamy enjoyment the
not guileless Adam and Eve of this hidden western Paradise.
There is neither shame nor the canker of regret brooding over these
"children of knowledge," who have tasted the clusters of the "Tree
Within and without, it is the same. Philip Hardin is not the only
knave and unpunished murderer in high place. His "Gulnare" is not
the only lovely woman here, who bears unabashed the burden of
a hideous past. A merit is peculiar to this guilty, world-defying
pair. They seek no friends, obtrude on no external circles, and
parade no lying sham before local respectability.
It is not so with others. The bench, the forum, the highest
places, the dazzling daily displays of rough luxury, are thronged
by transformed "Nanas" and resolute climbers of the social trapeze. The
shameless motto flaunts on their free-lance banners, golden-bordered:
"Pour y parvenir."
Philip Hardin smiles, on the rare occasions when he enters the
higher circles of "society," to see how many fair faces light up,
in strange places, with a smile of recognition. How many rosy lips
are closed with taper fingers, hinting, "Don't ask me how I got
here; I AM! here!"
In his heartless indifference to the general good, he greets the
promoted "ladies" with grave courtesy. It is otherwise with the
upstart men. His pride of brain and life-long station makes him
haughtily indifferent to them. He will not grovel with these meaner
A sardonic grin relaxes his dark visage as he sees them go forth
to "shine" in the East and "abroad."
Why should not the men of many aliases, the heroes of brawl and
murder, of theft and speculation, freely mix with the more polished
money sharks swarming in the Eastern seas of financial piracy?
"Arcades ambo!" Bonanza bullion rings truer than the paper millions
of shoddy and petroleum. The alert, bright free-lances of the
West are generally more interesting than the "shoddy" magnates or
"contract" princes of the war. They are, at least, robust adventurers;
the others are only money-ennobled Eastern mushrooms.
The Western parvenu is the more picturesque. The cunning railroad
princes have, at least, built SOMETHING. It is a nobler work than
the paper constructions of Wall Street operators. It may be jeered,
that these men "builded better than they knew." Hardin feels that
on one point they never can be ridiculed, even by Eastern magnate,
English promoter, or French financier. They can safely affirm they
grasped all they could. They left no humble sheaf unreaped in the
clean-cut fields of their work. They took all in sight.
Hardin recognizes the clean work of the Western money grabbers,
as well and truly done. The railroad gang, bonanza barons, and
banking clique, sweep the threshing floor. Nothing escapes them.
He begins to feel, in the giant speculations of 1862 and 1863, that
luck can desert even an old gamester, at life's exciting table. He
suffers enormously, yet Lagunitas's resources are behind him.
In the long fight of the street, victory perches with the strongest
battalions. Philip Hardin cannot know that men toiling by the day
in obscure places now, will yet exchange cigars with royal princes.
They will hobnob with the Hapsburgs. They will enter racing bets
in the jewelled notebooks of grand dukes. They copy the luxuries,
the inborn vices of the blue blood of Europe's crowned Sardanapalian
From saloon to salon, from kitchen to kirmess, from the faro table
to the Queen's drawing-room, from the canvas trousers of the miner
to Poole's creations, from the calico frock of the housemaid to
Worth's dazzling masterpieces, from making omelets to sneering at
operas, the great social lightning-change act goes on.
Philip Hardin loves his splendid home, where the foot of Hortense
Duval sinks in the tufted glories of Persia and the Wilton looms.
He does not marvel to see ex-cattle-drovers, promoted waiters,
lucky lemonade-sellers, and Pike County discoverers, buying gold
watch-chains by the pound. They boast huge golden time-pieces,
like young melons. Their diamond cluster pins are as resplendent
as crystal door-knobs.
Fair hands, fresh from the healthful contact of washing-soda, wave
recognition to him from coupe or victoria. In some cases these are
driven by the millionnaire himself, who insists on "holding the
The newspapers, in the recherche society columns, refer to the
grandeur of the "Gold Hill" outfit, the Virginia City "gang," the
Reese River "hummers," or the Eberhardt "crowd." These are the
These lucky children of fortune mingle with the stock-brokers, who,
resplendent in attire, and haughty of demeanor, fill the thousand
offices of speculation. They disdain the meaner element, as they
tool their drags over the Cliff Road to bathe in champagne, and
listen to the tawdry Phrynes and bedraggled Aspasias who share
their vulture feast of the moment.
It is a second descent of male and female harpies. Human nature,
loosened from long restraint by the war, has flooded the coast with
the moral debris of the conflict. It is a reign of the Bacchanals.
"After all," thinks Philip Hardin, as he sees these dazzling rockets
rise, with golden trails, into the social darkness of the Western
skies, "they are really the upper classes here. Their power of
propulsion to the zenith is inherent in themselves. If they mingle,
in time, with the aristocratic noblesse of Europe, they may infuse
a certain picturesque element." Hardin realizes that some of the
children of these millionnaires of a day will play at school with
young princes, their girls will marry titles, and adorn their smallest
belongings with excrescent coronets and coats of arms, won in the
queer lottery of marriage.
"It is well," the cold lawyer muses. "After all, many of the
aristocracy of Europe are the descendants of expert horse-thieves,
hired bravos, knights who delighted to roast the merchant for his
fat money-bags, or spit the howling peasant on their spears. Many
soft-handed European dames feel the fiery blood burning in their
ardent bosoms. In some cases, a reminder of the beauty whose easy
complaisance caught a monarch's smile and earned an infamous title.
Rapine, murder, lust, oppression, high-handed bullying, servile
slavishness in every vile abandonment, have bred up delicate,
dreamy aristocrats. Their ancestors, by the two strains, were either
red-handed marauders, or easy Delilahs."
The God-given title to batten in luxury, is one which depends now
on the possession of golden wealth. It finally burns its gleaming
pathway through every barrier.
With direct Western frankness, the Pacific "jeunesse doree" will
date from bonanza or railroad deal. Spoliated don, stolen franchise,
giant stock-job, easy political "coup de main," government lands
scooped in, or vast tracts of timber stolen under the law's easy
formalities, are their quarterings. Whiskey sellers, adventuresses,
and the minor fry of fighting henchmen, make up the glittering
train of these knights. The diamond-decked dames of this "Golden
Circle" exclaim in happy chorus, as they sit in the easy-chairs of
wealth's thronging courts:
"This is the way we long have sought, And mourned because we found
But riding behind Philip Hardin is the grim horseman, Care. He mourns
his interrupted political career. The end of the war approaches.
His spirited sultana now points to the lovely child. Her resolute
lips speak boldly of marriage.
Hardin wonders if any refluent political wave may throw him up to
the senate or the governor's chair. His powers rust in retirement.
He fears the day when his stewardship of Lagunitas may be at an
He warily determines to get rid of Padre Francisco as soon as
possible. The death of Donna Dolores places all in his hands. As he
confers with the quick-witted ex-queen of the El Dorado, he decides
that he must remove the young Mariposa heiress to San Francisco.
It is done. Philip Hardin cannot travel continually to watch over
"Kaintuck" and the sorrowing padre alone are left at Lagunitas. The
roses fall unheeded in the dead lady's bower. On this visit, when
Hardin takes the child to the mansion on the hill, he learns the
padre only awaits the return of Maxime Valois, to retire to France.
Unaware of the great strength of the North and East, the padre
feels the land may be held in the clutches of war a long period. He
would fain end his days among the friends of his youth. As he draws
toward old age, he yearns for France. Hardin promises to assist
the wishes of the old priest.
After Padre Francisco retires to the silent cottage by the chapel,
Hardin learns from "Kaintuck" a most momentous secret. There are
gold quartz mines of fabulous richness on the Lagunitas grant.
Slyly extracting a few tons of rock, "Kaintuck" has had these ores
worked, and gives Philip Hardin the marvellous results.
Hardin's dark face lights up: "Have you written Colonel Valois of
this?" "Not a word," frankly says "Kaintuck."
"Judge, I did not want to bring a swarm of squatters over our lines.
I thought to tell you alone, and you could act with secrecy. If
they stake off claims, we will have a rush on our hands."
Hardin orders the strictest silence. As he lies in the guest chamber
of Lagunitas, Philip Hardin is haunted all night by a wild unrest.
If Lagunitas were only his. There is only Valois between him and
the hidden millions in these quartz veins. Will no Yankee bullet
do its work?
The tireless brain works on, as crafty Philip Hardin slumbers
that night. Visions of violence, of hidden traps, of well-planned
crime, haunt his dreams. Only "Kaintuck" knows. Secretly, bit by
bit, he has brought in these ores. They have been smuggled out and
worked, with no trace of their real origin. No one knows but one.
Though old "Kaintuck" feels no shadow over his safety, the sweep
of the dark angel's wing is chilling his brow. He knows too much.
When Hardin returns to San Francisco he busies himself with
Lagunitas. His brow is dark as he paces the deck of the Stockton
steamer. Hortense Duval has provided him with a servant of great
discretion to care for the child. Marie Berard is the typical
French maid. Deft, neat-handed, she has an eye like a hawk. Her
little pet weaknesses and her vices give spice to an otherwise
The boat steams down past the tule sloughs. Hardin's cigar burns
late on the deck as he plots alone.
When he looks over his accumulated letters, he seizes eagerly a
packet of papers marked "Havana." Great God!
He has read of Sherman's occupation of Atlanta. The struggle of
Peachtree Creek brought curses on Tecumseh's grizzled head. Now,
with a wildly beating heart, he learns of the death of Colonel
Valois among the captured guns of De Gress. As the last pages are
scanned, he tears open the legal documents. The cold beads stand
out on his brow. He is master now. The king is dead!
He rings for Madame Duval. With shaking hand, he pours a draught
from the nearest decanter. He is utterly unnerved. The prize is at
last within his grasp. It shall be his alone!
Lighting a fresh cigar he paces the room, a human tiger. There is
but one frail girl child between him and Lagunitas, with its uncoined
millions. He must act. To be deep and subtle as a thieving Greek,
to be cold and sneaking as an Apache, to be as murderous as a Malay
creeping, creese in hand, over the bulwarks of a merchantman,--all
that is to be only himself. Power is his for aye.
But to be logically correct, to be wise and safe in secret moves.
Time to think? Yes. Can he trust Hortense Duval? Partly. He needs
that devilish woman's wit of hers. Will he tell her all? No.
Professional prudence rules. A dark scheme has formulated itself
in his brain, bounding under the blow of the brandy.
He will get Hortense out of the State, under the pretext of
sending the colonel's child to Paris. The orphan's education must
He will have no one know of the existence of Valois' mine. If
"Kaintuck" were only gone. Yes! Yes! the secret of the mines. If
the priest were only in France and locked up in his cloister. The
long minority of the child gives time to reap the golden harvest.
A sudden thought: the child may not live! His teeth chatter. As he
paces the room, Hortense enters. She sees on his face the shadow
of important things.
"What has happened, Philip?" she eagerly asks.
"Sit down, Hortense. Listen to me," says Hardin, as he sees the
doors all secure.
Her heart beats fast. Is this the end of all? She has feared it
"How would you like to live in Paris?" he ejaculates.
He watches her keenly, pacing to and fro. A wild hope leaps up.
Will he retire, and live his days out abroad? Is the marriage to
come at last?
"Philip, I don't understand you," she murmurs. Her bosom heaves
within its rich silks, under its priceless laces. The sparkling
diamonds in her hair glisten, as she gazes on his inscrutable face.
Is this heaven or hell? Paradise or a lonely exile? To have a name
at last for her child?
"Colonel Valois was killed at the battles near Atlanta. I have
just received from the Havana bankers the final letters of Major
Peyton, his friend." Hardin speaks firmly.
"Under the will, that child Isabel inherits the vast property. She
must be educated in France. Some one must take care of her."
Hortense leans over, eagerly. What does he mean? "There is no one but
me to look after her. The cursed Yankees will probably devastate
the South. I dare not probate his will just now. There is confiscation
and all such folly."
Philip Hardin resumes his walk. "I do not wish to pay heavy war
taxes and succession tax on all this great estate. I must remain
here and watch it. I must keep the child's existence and where-abouts
quiet. The courts could worry me about her removal. Can I trust
you, Hortense?" His eyes are wolfish. He stops and fixes a burning
glance on her. She returns it steadily.
"What do you wish me to do?" she says, warily.
It will be years and years she must remain abroad.
"Can I trust you to go over with that child, and watch her while
I guard this great estate? You shall have all that money and my
influence can do for you. You can live as an independent lady and
see the great world."
She rises and faces him, a beautiful, expectant goddess. "Philip,
have I been true to you these years?"
He bows his head. It is so! She has kept the bond.
"Do I go as your wife?" Her voice trembles with eagerness.
"No. But you may earn that place by strictly following my wishes."
He speaks kindly. She is a grand woman after all. Bright tears
trickle through her jewelled fingers. She has thrown herself on
the fauteuil. The woman of thirty is a royal beauty, her youthful
promise being more than verified. She is a queen of luxury.
"Listen to me, Hortense," says Hardin, softly. He seats himself
by her side and takes the lovely hands in his. His persuasive voice
flows like honey. "I am now surrounded by enemies. I am badly
compromised. I am all tied up. I fear the Union League, the government
spies, and the damned Yankee officers here. One foolish move would
utterly ruin me. If you will take this child you can take any
name you wish. No one knows you in Paris. I will have the bankers
and our Southern friends vouch for you in society. I will support
you, so you can move even in the Imperial circles. If you are
true to me, in time I will do as you wish. I dare not now." He is
plausible, and knows how to plead. This woman, loving and beloved,
cannot hold out.
"Think of our child, Philip," cries Hortense, as she throws herself
on his breast. He is moved and yet he lies.
"I do at this very moment, Hortense. I am not a rich man, for I have
lost much for the South. These Yankee laws keep me out of court.
I dare not get in their power. If I hold this estate, I will soon
be able to settle a good fortune on Irene. I swear to you, she
shall be my only heiress except yourself. You can take Irene with
you and give her a superb education. You will be doing a true
mother's duty. I will place such a credit and funds for you that
the future has no fears. When I am free to act, 'when this foolish
war is over,' I can come to you. Will you do as I wish?"
"Philip, give me till to-morrow to think. I have only you in the
world." The beautiful woman clings to him. He feels she will yield.
He is content to wait.
While they talk, the two children chatter under the window in
"Hortense, you must act at once! to-morrow! The steamer leaves in
three days. I wish you to go by Panama direct to France. New York
is no place for you. I will have much to arrange. I will give you
to-night. Now leave me, for I have many papers to draw up."
In her boudoir, Hortense Duval sits hours dreaming, her eyes fixed
on vacancy. All the hold she has on Hardin is her daily influence,
and HIS child. To go among strangers. To be alone in the world.
And yet, her child's future interests. While Hardin paces the floor
below, or toils at his cunningly worded papers, she feels she is
in the hands of a master.
Philip Hardin's late work is done. By the table he dreams over the
future. Hortense will surely work his will. He will divest himself
of the priest. He must open these mines. He will get rid of
"Kaintuck;" but how?
Dark thoughts come to him. He springs up aghast at the clatter when
his careless arm brushes off some costly trifles. With the priest
gone forever and the child in Paris, he has no stumbling block in
his way but "Kaintuck." There are ways; yes, ways.----!----!----!----!
"He must go on a journey; yes, a long, long journey." Hardin stops
here, and throwing himself on his couch, drifts out on the sea of
his uneasy dreams.
Morning proves to him Hortense is resigned; an hour's conclave
enlightens her as to the new life. Every contingency will be met.
Hortense, living in wealth's luxurious retirement, will be welcomed
as Madame Natalie de Santos, everywhere. A wealthy young widow,
speaking French and Spanish, with the best references. She will
wear a discreet mask of Southern mystery, and an acknowledged
relationship to families of Mexico and California. Her personal
appearance, tact, and wealth will be an appropriate dower to the
new acquisition of the glittering Capital of Pleasure. She is GOOD
ENOUGH for Paris.
Rapidly, every preparation moves on. The luggage of Madame de
Santos is filled with the varied possessions indicating years of
elegance. Letters to members of the Confederate court circle at
Paris are social endorsements. Wealth will do the rest.
Hardin's anxiety is to see the heiress lodged at the "Sacred Heart"
at Paris. In his capacity as guardian, he delegates sole power to
Madame Natalie de Santos. She alone can control the little lady of
Lagunitas. With every resource, special attentions will be paid to
the party, from Panama, on the French line. The hegira consists of
the two children, Marie Berard, and the nameless lady, soon to be
rebaptized "Natalie de Santos." Not unusual in California,--!--a
Vague sadness fills Hortense Duval's heart as she wanders through
her silent mansion, choosing these little belongings which are dear
to her shadowed heart. They will rob a Parisian home of suspicious
newness. The control of the heiress as well as their own child,
the ample monetary provision, and the social platform arranged for
her, prove Hardin's devotion. It is the best she can do.
True, he cannot now marry with safety. He has promised to right
that wrong in time.
There has been no want of tenderness in his years of devotion.
Hortense Duval acknowledges to herself that he dares not own her
openly, as his wife, even here. But in Paris, after a year or so.
Then he could come, at least as far as New York. He could meet
her, and by marriage, legitimize his child. Her child. The tiger's
A sudden thought strikes her. Some other woman!--Some one of REAL
station and blood. Ah, no! She shivers slightly as she paces the
room. No corner of the earth could hide him from her vengeance if
he betrays her.
The dinner of the last evening is a serious feast. As Hortense
ministers to the dark master of the house, she can see he has not
fully disclosed his ultimate plans. It is positive the child must
be hidden away at Paris from all. Hardin enjoins silence as to
the future prospects of the orphan. The little one has already
forgotten her father. She is rapidly losing all memories of her
In the silence of these last hours, Philip Hardin speaks to the
woman who has been his only intimate in years.
"Hortense, I may find a task for you which will prove your devotion,"
he begins with reluctance.
"What is it, Philip?" she falters.
He resumes. "I do not know how far I may be pushed by trouble. I
shall have to struggle and fight to hold my own. I am safe for a
time, but I may be pushed to the wall. Will you, for the sake of
our own child, do as I bid you with that Spanish brat?"
At last she sees his gloomy meaning. Is it murder? An orphan child!
"Philip," she sobs, "be careful! For MY SAKE, for YOUR OWN." She
is chilled by his cold designs.
"Only at the last. Just as I direct, I may wish you to control
the disappearance of that young one, who stands between me and our
She seizes his hands: "Swear to me that you will never deceive me."
"I do," he answers huskily.
"On the cross," she sternly says, flashing before his startled eyes
a jewelled crucifix. "I will obey you--I swear it on this--as long
as you are true." She presses her ashy lips on the cross.
He kisses it. The promise is sealed.
In a few hours, Hortense Duval, from the deck of the swift Golden
Gate, sees the sunlight fall for the last time, in long years, on
San Francisco's sandy hills.
With peculiar adroitness, in defence of her past, for the sake of
her future position, she keeps her staterooms; only walking the
decks with her maid occasionally at night. No awkward travelling
pioneer must recognize her as the lost "Beauty of the El Dorado."
A mere pretence of illness is enough.
When safely out of the harbor of Colon, on the French steamer,
she is perfectly free. Her passage tickets, made out as Madame de
Santos, are her new credentials.
She has left her old life behind her. Keen and self-possessed, with
quiet dignity she queens it on the voyage. When the French coast is
reached, her perfect mastery of herself proves she has grown into
her new position.
Philip Hardin has whispered at the last, "I want you to get rid of
your maid in a few months. It is just as well she should be out of
When out of Hardin's influence, reviewing the whole situation,
Hortense, in her real character, becomes a little fearful. What
if he should drop her? Suppose he denies her identity. He can
legally reclaim the "Heiress of Lagunitas." Hortense Duval well
knows that Philip Hardin will stop at nothing. As the French coast
nears, Hortense mentally resolves NOT to part with Marie Berard.
Marie is a valuable witness of the past relations. She is the only
safeguard she has against Hardin's manifold schemes. So far there
is no "entente cordiale" between mistress and maid. They watch
By hazard, as the children are brought out, ready for the landing,
Hortense notices the similarity of dress, the speaking resemblance
of the children. Marie Berard, proud of their toilettes, remarks,
"Madame, they are almost twins in looks."
Hortense Duval's lightning mind conceives a daring plan. She broods
in calm and quiet, as the cars bear her from Havre to Paris. She
must act quickly. She knows Hardin may use more ways of gaining
information than her own letters. His brain is fertile. His purse,
Going to an obscure hotel, she procures a carriage. She drives
alone to the Convent of the Sacre Coeur. With perfect tranquillity
she announces her wishes. The Mother Superior, personally, is charmed
with Madame de Santos. A mere mention of her banking references
is sufficient. Blest power of gold!
Madame Natalie de Santos is in good humor when she regains her
apartment. On the next morning, after a brief visit to her bankers,
who receive her "en princesse," she drives alone with her OWN
child to the Sacred Heart. While the little one prattles with some
engaging Sisters, Hortense calmly registers the nameless child
of sin as ISABEL VALOIS, THE HEIRESS OF LAGUNITAS. A year's fees
and payments are made. A handsome "outfit allowance" provides all
present needs suited to the child's station. Arranging to send the
belongings of the heiress to the convent, Hortense Duval buries
her past forever in giving to her own child the name and station
of the heiress of Lagunitas. To keep a hold on Hardin she will
place the other child where that crafty lawyer can never find her.
Her bosom swells with pride. Now, at last, she can control the
deepest plans of Philip Hardin. But if he should demand their own
child? He has no legal power over the nameless one--not even here.
Marriage first. After that, the secret. It is a MASTER STROKE.
Hortense Duval thinks only of her own child. She cares nothing
for the dead Confederate under the Georgia pines. Gentle Dolores
is sleeping in the chapel grounds at Lagunitas. Isabel Valois has
not a friend in the world!
But, Marie Berard must be won and controlled. Why not? It is
fortune for her to be true to her liberal mistress. Berard knows
Paris and has friends. She will see them. If the maid be discharged,
Hortense loses her only witness against Hardin; her only safeguard.
As Madame de Santos is ushered to her rooms, she decides to act
at once, and drop forever her past. But Marie?
Marie Berard wonders at the obscure hotel. Her brain finds no
reason for this isolation. "Ah! les modes de Paris." Madame will
soon emerge as a lovely vision.
In the years of her service with Hortense Duval, Marie has quietly
enriched herself. She knows the day of parting comes in all unlawful
connections. Time and fading charms, coldness and the lassitude of
habit, eat away the golden chain till it drops off. "On se range
The "femme de chambre" knows too much to ever think of imposing
on Judge Hardin. He is too sly. It is from Madame de Santos the
golden stream must flow.
Self-satisfied, Marie Berard smiles in her cat-like way as she thinks
of a nice little house in Paris. Its income will support her. She
will nurse this situation with care. It is a gold mine.
There is no wonderment in her keen eyes when Madame de Santos returns
without the child she took away. A French maid never wonders. But
she is astonished when her mistress, calling her, calmly says,
pointing to the lonely orphan:
"Marie, I wish you to aid me to get rid of this child. Do you know
any one in Paris whom we can trust?"
"Will Madame kindly explain?" the maid gasps, her visions of that
snug house becoming more definite.
"Sit down, Marie," the newly christened Madame de Santos commands.
"I will trust you. You shall be richly rewarded."
The Frenchwoman's eyes glitter. The golden shower she has longed
for, "Auri sacra fames."
"You may trust me perfectly, Madame."
"I wish you to understand me fully. We must act at once. I will see
no friends till this girl is out of the way. Then I shall at once
arrange my household."
"Does the young lady not go to the convent?" says the astonished
servant, a trifle maliciously.
"Certainly not," coldly says Hortense. "My own child shall be the
heiress of that fortune. She is already at the Sacred Heart."
Marie Berard's keen eye sees the plot. An exchange of children.
The nameless child shall be dowered with millions. Her own future
"Does any one know of this plan?" the maid eagerly asks.
"Only you and I," is the response.
Ah! Revenge on her stately tyrant lover. The maid dreams of a golden
shower. That snug hotel. It is a delicious moment. "What do you
wish me to do, Madame?" Marie is now cool.
"Find a place, at once, where the child can be well treated in
a 'bourgeois' family. I want you to place her as if she were your
own. I wish no one to ever see me or know of me in this matter."
The maid's eyes sparkle. Fortune's wheel turns. "And I shall be--"
"You may be suspected to be the mother. No one can learn anything
from the child. I wish her to be raised in ignorance."
Madame de Santos is a genius in a quiet way. It is true, the
prattling heiress, on the threshold of a new life, speaks only
Spanish and a little English. She has forgotten her father. Even
now her mother fades from her mind. A few passing months will sweep
away all memories of Lagunitas. The children are nearly the same
age, and not dissimilar.
"And the Judge?" murmurs the servant.
"I will take care of that," sharply says Hortense.
"Madame, it is a very great responsibility," begins the sly maid,
now confidante. There is a strong sharp accent on the "very."
"I will pay you as you never dreamed of being paid." Madame Natalie
is cool and quiet. Gold, blessed gold!
"It is well. I am yours for life," says Marie Berard. The two women's
eyes meet. They understand one another. Feline, prehensile nerves.
Then, action at once. Hortense hands the woman a package of
bank-notes. "Leave here as if for a walk. Take a 'fiacre' on the
street, and go to your friends. You tell me you have some discreet
ones. Tell them you have a child to take care of. Say no more.
They will guess the rest. I want the child to be left to-morrow
morning. After your return we can arrange her present needs. The
rest you can provide through your friends. I want you to see the
child once a week, not oftener. Go."
In ten minutes Marie Berard is rolling away to her advisers. Her
letter has already announced her arrival. She knows her Paris. If
a French maid has a heart history, hers is a succession of former
Madame Natalie de Santos closes the doors. While her emissary is
gone she examines the child thoroughly. Not a single blemish or
peculiar mark on the girl, save a crossed scar on her left arm,
between the wrist and elbow. Some surgical operation of trifling
nature has left a mark in its healing, which will be visible for
Making careful mental note, the impatient woman awaits her servant's
Seated, she watches the orphan child trifling with her playthings.
Hortense Duval feels no twinge of conscience. Her own child shall
be lifted far beyond the storms of fate. If Hardin acts rightly,
all is well. If he attempts to betray her, all the better. She
will guard the heiress of Mariposa with her life. She shall become
Should Hardin die before he marries her, the base-born child is
then sure of the millions. She will make her a woman of the world.
When the great property is safely hers, then she can trust HER OWN
As to the poor orphan, buried in Paris, educated as a "bourgeoise,"
she will never see her face, save perhaps, as a passing stranger.
The child can be happy in the solid comforts of a middle-class
family. It is good enough for her.
And Marie Berard. She needs her, at all cost, as a protection, the
only bulwark against any dark scheme of Hardin's. Her tool, and
her one witness.
Ten years in the mansion on the hills of San Francisco have
given her an insight into Philip Hardin's desperate moves on the
chessboard of life. Love, faith, truth, she dares not expect. A
lack of fatherly tenderness to the child he has wronged; his refusal
to put a wedding ring on her own finger, tell her the truth. She
knows her hold is slight. But NOW the very millions of Lagunitas
shall fight against him. Move for move in the play. Blow for blow,
if it comes to a violent rupture.
Hortensc Duval might lose her hold on cold Philip Hardin. The
scheming beauty smiles when she thinks how true Marie Berard will
be to the new Madame de Santos. A thorough adventuress, she can
count on her fellow-conspirator. Two smart women, with a solid
golden bond, united against a distant, aging man.
Marie returns, her business-like manner showing no change. "I have
found the family," she says. "They will take the child at once."
In the evening every arrangement is made for an early departure.
It is a rare day's work.
Marie Berard conducts the friendless child to its new home, in the
morning hours. The luggage and belongings are despatched. All is
over. Safe at last.
Free to move, as soon as the maid returns, Hortense at once leaves
her modest quarters. The bills are all paid. Their belongings are
packed as for departure. To the Hotel Meurice, by a roundabout
route, mistress and maid repair. Hortense Duval is no more. A new
Madame de Santos, in superb apartments, proceeds to arrange her
entree into future social greatness. A modern miracle.
No one has seen the children together in Paris. On the steamer not
a suspicion was raised. Natalie de Santos breathes freely. A few
days of preparation makes Madame "au fait" in the newest fashions.
Her notes, cartes de visite, dazzling "batterie de toilette," and
every belonging bear crest, monogram, and initial of the new-born
Securely lodged in an aristocratic apartment, Madame de Santos
receives her bankers, and the members of the Southern circle,
to whom the Judge has given her the freemasonry of his influence.
Madame de Santos is now a social fact, soon to find her old life a
waning memory. The glittering splendors of the court gaieties are
her everyday enjoyments.
Keenly watching all Californians, protected by her former retirement,
her foreign appearance and glamour of wealth impose on all. She
soon almost forgets herself and that dark past before the days of
the El Dorado. She is at last secure within wealth's impregnable
ramparts, and defies adverse fate.
An apartment on the Champs Elysees is judiciously chosen by her
bankers. Marie Berard, with her useful allies, aids in the selection
of the exquisite adornment. Her own treasures aid in the "ensemble."
The servants, the equipage of perfect appointment, all her
surroundings bespeak the innate refinement of the woman who has
for long years pleased even the exacting Hardin.
Natalie de Santos has not neglected to properly report by telegraph
and mail to the guardian of the person and future millions of Col.
Valois' only child.
Her attitude toward society is quiet, dignified, without haste or
ostentation. A beautiful woman, talented, free, rich, and "a la
mode," can easily reach the social pleasures of that gaudy set who
now throng the Tuileries.
There is not a care on Natalie de Santos' mind. Her own child is
visited, with a growing secret pleasure. She thrives in the hands
of the gentle ladies of the Sacred Heart.
Regularly, Marie Berard brings reports of the other child, whose
existence is important for the present.
Madame de Santos, discreetly veiled, finds time to observe the
location and movements of the orphan. Marie Berard's selection
has been excellent.
"Louise Moreau" is the new name of the changeling heiress, now
daily becoming more contented in her new home.
Aristide Dauvray has a happy household. A master decorative workman,
only lacking a touch of genius to be a sculptor, his pride is in
his artistic handiwork. His happiness in his good wife Josephine.
His heart centres in his talented boy.
To educate his only son Raoul, to be able to develop his marked
talent as an artist, has been Aristide's one ambition. The
proposition to take the girl, and the liberal payments promised,
assure the artistic future of Raoul. Marie Berard has appreciated
that the life of this orphan child is the measure of her own golden
fortunes. Good Josephine becomes attached to the shy, sweet little
wanderer, who forgets, day by day, in the new life of Cinderella,
her babyish glimpses of any other land.
Natalie de Santos is safe. Pressing her silken couch, she rests
in splendor. Her letters from Hardin are clear, yet not always
satisfactory. Years of daily observance have taught her to read
his character. As letter after letter arrives she cons them all
together. Not a word of personal tenderness. Not an expression which
would betray any of their secrets. With no address or signature,
they are full only in directions. He is called for a length of time
to Lagunitas, to put the estate in "general order."
Removed from the sway of Hardin, Natalie relies upon herself. Her
buoyant wings bear her on in society. Recognized as an opponent
of the North, she meets those lingering Southern sympathizers who
have little side coteries yet in glittering Paris.
Adulation of her beauty and sparkling wit fires her genius. Her
French is classic. The sealed book of her youth gives no hint of
where her fine idiom came from. Merrily Marie Berard recounts to
the luxurious social star the efforts of sly dames and soft-voiced
messieurs to fathom the "De Santos'" past.
Marie Berard is irreproachable; never presuming. She can wait.
Madame Natalie's stormy past has taught her to trust no one. It
is her rule from the first that no one shall see Isabel Valois,
the pet of the Sacred Heart Convent, but herself. Little remains
in a month or two, with either child, of its cradle memories. The
months spent by the two girls in mastering a new language are final
extinguishers of the past.
Without undue affectation of piety, Madame de Santos gives liberally.
The good nuns strive to fit the young heiress for her dazzling
Keenly curious of the dangers of the situation, Natalie writes Hardin
that she has sent her own child away to a country institution, to
prevent awkward inquiry. As months roll on, drawn in by the whirlpool
of pleasure, Natalie de Santos' letters become brief. They are only
statements of affairs to her absent "financial agent."
Hardin's letters are acknowledgments of satisfactory news, and
directions regarding the education of the child. He does not refer
to the future of the woman who ruled his home so long. No tenderness
for his own child appears. He is engrossed in BUSINESS, and she in
PLEASURE. Avarice is the gentlemanly passion of his later years.
"Royal days of every pleasure" for the brilliant woman; she,
ambitious and self-reliant, lives only for the happy moments.
And yet, as Natalie de Santos sweeps from palace ball or the opera,
she frames plans as to the future control of Hardin. To keep the
child he fears, where his agency can reach her, is her aim. To
place the child he would ignore, where millions will surround her,
is her ambition. With Marie Berard as friend, confidante, agent,
and spy, she can keep these two children apart. Hortense Duval and
Natalie Santos can defy the world.
Distrust of Hardin always burns in her breast. Will he dare to
attempt her life; to cut off her income; to betray her? When the
work of years is reflected in her own child's graces and charms,
will the man now aging ever give its mother the name of wife? Her
fears belie her hopes.
She must guard her own child, and conceal the other. He may live
and work out his schemes. If he acts well, she will be ready to
meet him. If not, the same.
But she has sworn in her heart of hearts, the orphan shall live.
If necessary to produce her, she alone knows her hiding place. If
fortune favors, the properties shall descend to her own child.
The year 1865 opens with the maddest gaieties. Though France is
drained of men and treasure for a foolish war in Mexico, glittering
streets, rich salons, mad merry-makings and imperial splendor do
not warn gay Lutetia she is tottering toward the dawning war-days
of gloom. The French are drunk with pleasure.
Marie Berard has now a nice little fund of ringing napoleons
securely invested, and that hoard is growing monthly. Natalie de
Santos gives freely, amply. The maid bides her time for a great
demand. She can wait.
A rare feminine genius is Natalie de Santos. The steady self-poise
of her nature prevents even a breath of scandal. Frank, daring, and
open in her pleasures, she individualizes no swain, she encourages
no one sighing lover. Her name needs no defence save the open record
of her social life. A solid, undisturbed position grows around
her. The dear-bought knowledge of her youth enables her to read
the vapid men and women around her.
As keen-eyed as a hawk, Madame Natalie watches the scholar of the
Sacred Heart. She takes good care, also, to verify the substantial
comfort and fair education of little Louise Moreau.
With silent lips she moves among the new associates of her later
days. Madame de Santos' position moves toward impregnability, as
the months roll on. A "lionne" at last.
A MARIPOSA BONANZA.--NATALIE DE SANTOS BORN IN PARIS.--THE QUEEN
OF THE EL DORADO JOINS THE GALLIC "FOUR HUNDRED."
Philip Hardin's days are busy after the steamer bears away his
"Ex-Queen of the El Dorado." There are his tangled finances to
arrange; giant speculations to follow up. The Lagunitas affairs
are pressing. That hidden mine!
Hardin sets his house in order. The establishment is reduced. He
has, now, peace for his schemes. No petticoat rule now. No prying
eyes. As the winter rain howls among his trees, he realizes that
the crash of the Confederacy will bring back clouds of stragglers
from the ruin yet to come. He must take legal possession of Lagunitas.
He has a good reason. Its hidden gold will give him power.
His public life is only cut off for a time. Gold is potent; yes,
omnipotent! He can bide his time. He must find that mine. He has
now two points to carry in his game. To rid himself of the padre
is easy, in time. To disembarrass himself of old "Kaintuck" is
His face grows bitter as he thinks of the boundless wealth to be
reached in Lagunitas's glittering quartz beds. The property must
remain in his care.
If the heiress were to die, the public administrator might take
it. He knows he is not popular. His disloyalty is too well known.
Besides, Valois' death is not yet officially proven. He has kept
his counsel. No one has seen the will. But the returning wave
of Confederates may bring news. The dead colonel was of too great
local fame to drop unheeded into his grave.
His carefully prepared papers make him the representative of Colonel
Valois. He is legal guardian of the child. He will try and induce
"Kaintuck" to quit the rancho. Then he will be able to open the
mines. If the Confederacy totters to its fall, with the control of
that wealth he may yet hold the highest place on the coast.
Dreaming over his cigar, he knows that legislatures can be bought,
governors approached, and high positions gained, by the adroit use
of gold. Bribery is of all times and places.
Telegraphing to "Kaintuck" to meet him near Stockton, at the
station, with a travelling carriage, the Judge revolves plans to
rid himself of this relic of the Valois r‚gime.
His stay at Lagunitas will be for some weeks. He has now several
agents ready to open up the mines.
A liberal use of the income of Lagunitas has buoyed up his sinking
credit. But his stock-gambling has been desperately unlucky.
Hardin revolves in his mind the displacement of old "Kaintuck."
The stage sweeps down the San Joaquin to the station, where his team
awaits him. An unwonted commotion greets him there. His arrival is
opportune. In the room which is the office, bar, and billiard-room
of the little hostelry, poor old "Kaintuck" lies dying, when the
Judge dismounts. It is the hand of fate.
During the hours of waiting, a certain freedom, induced by copious
draughts of fiery Bourbon, caused the old foreman to injudiciously
"Hurrah for Jeff Davis." He gave free vent to his peculiar Southern
A sudden quarrel with a stranger results in a quick resort to
weapons. Benumbed with age and whiskey, the old trapper is shot
while tugging at his heavy "Colt."
Before the smoke cleared away the stranger was far away. Dashing
off, he spurred his horse at full speed into the chaparral. No one
dared, no one cared, to follow a desperate man riding for his life.
Hardin orders every attention to the sufferer. Old "Kaintuck" is
going out alone on the dark river.
Hardin, steeled to scenes like this, by an exciting life, blesses
this opportune relief. "Kaintuck" is off his hands forever. Before
the Judge leaves, a rude examination by a justice precedes the
simple obsequies of the dead ranger.
One more red mound by the wayside. A few pencilled words on a shingle
mark the grave, soon to be trampled down by the feet of cattle and
horses. So, one by one, many of the old pioneers leave the theatre
of their aimless lives.
The Judge, happy at heart, bears a grave face. He drives into
Lagunitas. Its fields looked never so fair. Seated in the mansion
house, with every luxury spread out before him, his delighted eye
rests on the diamond lake gleaming in the bosom of the fair landscape.
It already seems his own.
He settles in his easy-chair with an air of conscious lordship.
Padre Francisco, studiously polite, answers every deft question.
He bears himself with the self-possession of a man merely doing
Does the priest know of the hidden gold mines? No. A few desultory
questions prove this. "Kaintuck's" lips are sealed forever in
death. The secret is safe.
Padre Francisco does not delay his request to be allowed to depart.
As he sips his ripe Mission claret, he tells Judge Hardin of the
desire of years to return to France. There are now no duties here
to hold him longer. He desires to give the Judge such family papers
as are yet in his charge. He would like practical advice as to his
departure. For he has grown into his quiet retreat and fears the
With due gravity the lawyer agrees in the change. He requests the
padre to permit him to write his San Francisco agent of the arrival
of the retiring missionary.
"If you will allow me," he says, "my agent shall furnish your
passage to Paris and arrange for all your wants."
Padre Francisco bows. It is, after all, only his due.
"When will you wish to leave?" queries Hardin.
"To-morrow, Judge. My little affairs are in readiness."
During the evening the light of the good priest glimmers late in
the lonely little sacristy. The chapel bell tolls the last vespers,
for long years, at Lagunitas.
All the precious family papers are accepted by the Judge when the
padre makes ready for his departure. The priest, with faltering
voice, says early mass, with a few attendants. Delivering up the
keys of the sacristy, chapel, and his home to the Judge, he quietly
shares the noonday meal.
If there is sadness in his heart his placid face shows it not. He
sits in the lonely room replete with memories of the past.
He is gone for a half hour, after the wily Judge lights his cigar,
to contemplate the rich domain which shall be his, from the porch
of the old home. When the priest returns, it is from the graves
of the loved dead. He has plucked the few flowers blooming there.
They are in his hand.
His eyes are moist with the silent tears of one who mourns the useless
work of long years. They have been full of sadness, separation,
spiritual defeat, and untimely death. Even Judge Hardin, merciless
as he is, feels compassion for this lonely man. He has asked nothing
of him. The situation is delicate.
"Can I do anything for you, Father Francisco?" says Hardin, with
some real feeling. He is a gentleman "in modo." The priest may be
penniless. He must not go empty-handed.
"Nothing, thank you, save to accept my adieux and my fondest blessing
for the little Isabel."
He hands Judge Hardin the address of the religious house to which
he will retire in Paris.
"I will deliver to your agent the other papers and certificates
of the family. They are stored for safety at the Mission Dolores
"My agent will have orders to do everything you wish," remarks the
Judge, as the carriage drives up for the priest.
Hardin arises, with a sudden impulse. The modest pride of this grave
old French gentleman will not be rudely intruded on. He must not,
he shall not, go away entirely empty-handed. The lawyer returns
with an envelope, and hands it to the padre.
"From the colonel," he says. "It is an order for ten thousand
dollars upon his San Francisco bankers."
"I will be taken care of by those who sent me here," simply remarks
"You can use it, father, in France, for the poor, for the friendless;
you will find some worthy objects."
The priest bows gravely, and presses the hand of the lawyer. With
one loving look around the old plaza, the sweeping forest arches,
and the rolling billows of green, he leaves the lonely lake gleaming
amid its wooded shores. Its beauty is untouched by the twenty
long years since first he wandered by its shores. A Paradise in a
forest. His few communicants have said adieu. There is nothing to
follow him but the incense-breathing murmurs of the forest branches,
from fragrant pine and stately redwood, sighing, "Go, in God's
Their wind-wafted voices speak to him of the happy past. The quiet,
saddened, patient padre trusts himself as freely to his unknown
future, as a child in its mother's cradling arms. In his simple
creed, "God is everywhere."
So Fran‡ois Ribaut goes in peace to spend a few quiet days at the
Mission Dolores church. He will then follow the wild ocean waves
back to his beloved France. "Apres vingt ans." A month sees him
nearing the beloved shores.
Walking the deck, he thinks often of that orphan child in Europe.
He remembers, strangely, that the Judge had neglected to give him
any clew to her present dwelling. Ah! he can write. Yes, but will
he be answered? Perhaps. But Judge Hardin is a cunning old lawyer.
Disembarrassed of the grave priest, Hardin at once sends orders
for his prospectors. A new man appears to superintend the grant.
It is with grim satisfaction he reflects that the hand of fate has
removed every obstacle to his control. His fiery energy is shown by
the rapidity with which hundreds of men swarm on ditch and flume.
They are working at mill and giant water-wheels. They are delving
and tracing the fat brown quartz, gold laden, from between the
streaks of rifted basalt and porphyry.
There is no one to spy, none to hinder now. Before the straggling
veterans of Lee and Johnston wander back to the golden West, the
quartz mine of Lagunitas yields fabulous returns.
The legacy of "Kaintuck" was wonderful. The golden bars, run
out roughly at the mine, represented to Hardin the anchor of his
tottering credit. They are the basis of a great fortune, and the
means of political prestige.
When the crash came, when the Southern flags were furled in the
awful silence of defeat and despair, the wily lawyer, safe in
Lagunitas, was crowning his golden fortunes.
Penniless, broken in pride and war-worn, the survivors of the men
whom he urged into the toils of secession, returned sadly home,
scattering aimlessly over the West. Fools of fortune.
Philip Hardin, satisfied with the absence of the infant heiress,
coldly stood aloof from the ruin of his friends.
As the months ran on, accumulating his private deposits, Judge
Hardin, engrossed in his affairs, grew indifferent even to the fate
of the woman he had so long cherished. His unacknowledged child is
naught to him.
It was easy to keep the general income and expenses of the ranch
nearly even in amount.
But the MINE was a daily temptation to the only man who knew its
real ownership. It must be his at any cost. Time must show the way.
He must have a title.
Hardin looked far into the future. His very isolation and inaction
was a proof of no overt treason. With the power of this wealth
he might, when a few years rolled away, reach lofty civic honors.
Young at sixty, as public men are considered, he wonders, looking
over the superb estate, if a high political marriage would not
reopen his career. In entertaining royally at San Francisco and
Sacramento, with solid and substantial claims in society, he may
yet be able to place his name first in the annals of the coast. A
senator. Why not? Ambition and avarice.
With prophetic insight, he knows that sectional rancor will not long
exist in California. Not really, in the war, a divided community,
a debatable land, there will be thousands of able, hardy men,
used to excitement, spreading over the West. It is a land of easy
and liberal opinion. Business and the mine's affairs cause him to
visit San Francisco frequently. He reaches out for all men as his
friends. Seated in his silent parlors, walking moodily through the
beautiful rooms, haunted with memories of the splendid "anonyma"
whose reign is yet visible, he dreams of his wasted past, his
lonely future. Can he repair it? Enveloped in smoke wreaths, from
his portico he surveys the thousand twinkling city lights below.
He is careless of the future movements of his Parisian goddess.
It cost Philip Hardin no heart-wrench to part with voluptuous Hortense
Duval. Partners in a crime, the stain of "French Charlie's" blood
crimsoned their guilty past. An analytical, cold, all-mastering
mind, he had never listened to the heart. He supposed Hortense
to be as chilly in nature as himself. Yet she writes but seldom.
Taught by his profession to dread silence from a woman, he casually
corresponds with several trusted friends of the Confederate
colony in France. What is her mystery? Madame Natalie de Santos is
now a personage. The replies tell him of her real progress in the
glittering ranks of the capital, and her singularly steady life.
As the months roll on, he becomes a little anxious. She is far
too cool and self-contained to suit him. He wishes women to lean
on him and to work his will. Does she intend to establish a thorough
position abroad, and claim some future rights? Has she views of a
settlement? Who knows?
Hardin sees too late, that in the control of both children, and
her knowledge of his past, she is now independent of his mere daily
influence. The millions of Lagunitas mine cannot be hidden. If he
recalls the heiress, will "Natalie de Santos" be as easily controlled
as "Hortense Duval"?
And his own child, what of her? Hardin dares not tie himself up by
acknowledging her claims. If he gives a large sum to the girl, it
will give his "sultana" a powerful weapon for the future.
Is she watching him through spies? She betrays no anxiety to know
anything, save what he imparts. He dare not go to Paris, for fear
of some public scandal and a rupture. He must confirm his position
there. What new friends has she there?
Ah! He will wait and make a final settlement of a handsome fortune
on the child. He will provide a future fixed income for this new
social star, now, at any rate, dependent on her obedience. Reports,
in due form, accompany the occasional communications forwarded
from the "Sacred Heart" as to the heiress. This must all be left
With a deep interest, Hardin sees the cessation of all hostilities,
the death of Lincoln, the disbandment, in peace, of the great
Bayonets glitter no more upon the crested Southern heights.
The embers of the watchfires are cold, gray ashes now. The lonely
bivouac of the dead is the last holding of the foughten fields.
While the South and East is a graveyard or in mourning, strange
to say, only a general relief is felt in the West. The great issue
easily drops out of sight. There are here no local questions, no
neighborhood hatreds, no appealing graves. Happy California! happy,
but inglorious. The railway approaches completion. A great activity
of scientific mining, enterprises of scope and local development,
urge the Western communities to action. The bonanza of Lagunitas
gives Judge Hardin even greater local prominence. He establishes
his residence at the old home in the Sierras.
With no trusted associates, he splits and divides the funds from
the mine, placing them in varied depositories. He refrains from an
undue appearance of wealth or improvement at the rancho itself.
No one knows the aggregates, the net returns, save himself. Cunning
To identify himself with the interior and southern part of the State,
he enters the higher body of the Legislature. His great experience
and unflagging hospitalities make him at once a leader.
Identified with State and mining interests, he engages public
attention. He ignores all contention, and drops the question of
the Rebellion. A hearty welcome from one and all, proves that his
commanding talents are recognized.
There are no relatives, no claims, no meddlesome legatees to question
the disposition of Colonel Valois' estate. His trusteeship is well
known, and his own influence is pre-eminent in the obscure District
Court having control of the legal formalities.
Hardin is keenly watchful of all returning ex-Confederates who might
have been witnesses of Maxime Valois' death. They do not appear.
His possession is unchallenged. His downy couch grows softer daily.
He has received the family papers left by the departing padre. They
are the baptismal papers of the little heiress. The last vouchers.
Hardin, unmoved by fear, untouched by sympathy, never thinks of
the lowly grave before the ramparts of Atlanta. The man lies there,
who appealed to his honor, to protect the orphaned child, but he
is silent in death.
He decides to quietly strip the rancho of its great metallic wealth.
He will hold the land unimproved, to be a showing in future years
should trouble come as to the settlement of the estate.
With the foresight of the advocate, Hardin fears the Valois heirs of
New Orleans. He must build up his defensive works in that quarter.
From several returned "Colonels" and "Majors" he hears of the
death of old Judge Valois.
The line of the family is extinct, save the boy in Paris, who has
been lost sight of. A wandering artist.
A sudden impulse seizes him. He likes not the ominous silence of
Natalie as to important matters.
Selecting one of his law clerks (now an employee of the estate),
he sends him to Paris, amply supplied with funds, to look up the
only scion left of the old family. He charges his agent to spare
neither money nor time in the quest. A full and detailed report of
Madame de Santos' doings and social surroundings is also ordered.
"Mingle in the circles of travelling Americans, spend a little money,
and find out what you can of her private life," are his orders. He
says nothing of the heiress.
In the gay season of 1866, Hardin, still bent on the golden quest
in the hills, reads with some astonishment, the careful "precis"
of his social spy. He writes:
"I have searched Paris all over. The old Confederate circles are
scattered now. They are out of favor at the imperial court. Even
Duke Gwin, the leader of our people, has departed. His Dukedom of
Sonora has gone up with our Confederacy. From one or two attaches
of the old Confederate agency, I learned that the boy Armand Valois
is now sixteen or seventeen years old, if living. He was educated
in one of the best schools here, and is an artist by choice. When
his father died he was left without means. I understand he intended
to make a living by selling sketches or copying pictures. I have
no description of him. There are thousands of young students lost
in this maze. I might walk over him in the Louvre and not know him.
If you wish me to advertise in the journals I might do so."
"Fool," interjects Hardin, as he reads this under the vines at
Lagunitas. "I don't care to look up an heir to Lagunitas. One is
"Now for Madame de Santos: I have by some effort worked into the
circle of gayety, where I have met her. She is royally beautiful.
I should say about thirty-five. Her position is fixed as an
'elegante." Her turnout in the Bois is in perfect taste. She goes
everywhere, entertains freely, and, if rumor is true, is very
rich. She receives great attention, as they say she is guardian of
a fabulously wealthy young girl at one of the convents here.
"Madame de Santos is very accomplished, and speaks Spanish,
French, and English equally well. I have made some progress in
her acquaintance, but since, by accident, she learned I was from
California she has been quite distant with me. No one knows her
past, here. It is supposed she has lived in Mexico, and perhaps
California. The little feminine 'Monte Cristo' is said to be Spanish
or Mexican. Madame Santos' reputation is absolutely unblemished.
In all the circle of admirers she meets, she favors but one. Count
Ernesto de Villa Rocca, an Italian nobleman, is quite the 'ami de
"I have not seen the child, save at a distance. Madame permits no
one to meet her. She only occasionally drives her out, and invariably
alone with herself.
"She visits the convent school regularly. She seems to be a vigilant
wide-awake woman of property. She goes everywhere, opera, balls,
theatres, to the Tuileries. She is popular with women of the best
set, especially the French. She sees very few Americans. She is
supposed to be Southern in her sympathies. Her life seems to be
as clear as a diamond. She has apparently no feminine weaknesses.
If there is a sign of the future, it is that she may become 'Countess
de Villa Rocca.' He is a very fine fellow, has all the Italian
graces, and has been in the 'Guardia Nobile.' He is desperately
devoted to Madame, and to do him justice, is an excellent fellow,
as Italian counts go.
"By the way, I met old Colonel Joe Woods here. He entertained me
in his old way. He showed me the sights. He has become very rich,
and operates in New York, London, and Paris. He is quite a swell
here. He is liberal and jolly. Rather a change from the American
River bar, to the Jockey Club at Paris. He sends you remembrances.
"I shall wait your further orders, and return on telegraph. I
cannot fathom the household mysteries of the Madame. When all Paris
says a woman is 'dead square,' we need not probe deeper. There is
no present sign of her marrying Villa Rocca, but he is the first
"So," muses the veteran intriguer Hardin, as he selects a regalia,
"my lady is wary, cautious, and blameless. Danger signals these.
I must watch this Villa Rocca. Is he a 'cavalier servente'? Can he
mean mischief? She would not marry him, I know," he murmurs.
The red danger signal's flash shows to Hardin, Marie Berard standing
by the side of Natalie and the two girls. Villa Rocca is only a
dark shade of the background as yet.
He smiles grimly.
The clicking telegraph key invokes the mysterious cable. For two
days Judge Philip paces his room a restless wolf.
His prophetic mind projects the snares which will bring them all
to his feet. He will buy this soubrette's secrets.
A French maid's greed and Punic faith can be counted on always.
With trembling fingers he tears open the cipher reply from his spy.
He reads with flaming eyes:
"Have seen girl; very knowing. Says she can tell you something
worth one hundred thousand francs. Will not talk now. Money useless
at present. She wants your definite instructions, and says, wait.
Cable me orders."
Hardin peers through the grindstone, and evolves his orders. He
acts with Napoleon's rapidity. His answer reads:
"Let her alone. Tell her to notify Laroyne & Co., 16 Rue Vivienne,
when ready to sell her goods. Wait orders."
Hardin revolves in his busy brain every turn of fortune's wheel.
Has Natalie an intrigue?
Is she already secretly married? Is the heiress of Lagunitas dead?
The labors of his waking hours and the brandy bottle only tell him
of an unfaithful woman's vagaries; a greedy lover's plots, or the
curiosity of the dark-eyed maid, whose avarice is above her fidelity.
Bah! she will tattle. No woman can resist it; they all talk.
But this Italian cur; he must be watched.
The child! Pshaw; she is a girl in frocks. But Villa Rocca is a
needy man of brains and nerve; he must be foiled.
Now, what is her game? Hardin must acknowledge that she is true
to her trust, so far.
The Judge walks over to his telegraph office, for there is a post,
telegraph, and quite a mining settlement now on the Lagunitas
He sends a cable despatch to Paris to his agent, briefly:
"Stop work. Report acceptable. Come back. Take your time leisurely,
East. Well pleased."
He does not want any misplaced zeal of his spy to alarm Natalie.
As the year 1866 rolls on, the regular reports, business drafts and
details as to Isabel Valois are the burden of the correspondence.
Natalie's heart is silent. Has she one? She has not urged him to
come back; she has not pressed the claims of her child. His agent
returns and amplifies the general reports, but he has no new facts.
The clerk drops into his usual life. He is not curious as to the
Madame. "Some collateral business of the Judge, probably," is his
While the stamps rattle away in the Lagunitas quartz mills, Judge
Hardin takes an occasional run to the city by the bay. The legislative
season approaches. Senator Hardin's rooms at the Golden Eagle are
the centre of political power. Railroads are worming their way into
politics. Franchises and charters are everywhere sought. Over the
feasts served by Hardin's colored retainers, he cements friendships
across old party lines.
As Christmas approaches in this year, the Judge receives a letter
from Natalie de Santos which rouses him from his bed of roses. He
steadies his nerves with a glass of the best cognac, as he reads
this fond epistle:
I have waited for you to refer to the future of our child. I will
not waste words. If you wished to make me happy, you would have,
before now, provided for her. I do not speak of myself. You have been
liberal enough to me. I am keeping up the position you indicated.
My child is now old enough to ask meaning questions, to be informed
of her place in the world and to be educated for it. You spoke of
a settlement for her. If anything should happen to me, what would
be her future? Isabel will be of course, in the future, a great
lady. There is nothing absolutely my own. I am dependent on you.
What I asked you, Philip, you have not given me: the name of wife.
It is for her, not for myself, I asked it. I have made myself worthy
of the position I would hold. You know our past. I wish absolutely
now, to know my child's destiny. If you will not do the mother
justice, what will you do for the child? Whose name shall she
bear? What shall she have?
Philip, I beg you to act in these matters and to remember that, if
I once was Hortense Duval, I now am NATALIE DE SANTOS.
Danger signals. Red and flaring they burn before Hardin's steady
eyes. What does she mean? Is her last clause a threat? Woman!
Hardin tosses on a weary couch several nights before he can frame
a reply. It is not a money question. In his proud position now,
forming alliances daily with the new leaders of the State, he could
not stoop to marry this woman. Never. To give the child a block sum
of money would be only to give the mother more power. To settle an
income on her might be a future stain on his name. Shall he buy
off Natalie de Santos? Does she want money alone? If he did so,
would not Villa Rocca marry her and he then have two blackmailers
on his hands? To whom can he trust Isabel Valois if he breaks with
Natalie? The girl is growing, and may ask leading questions. She
must be kept away. In a few years she not only will be marriageable,
but at eighteen her legal property must be turned over.
And to give up the Lagunitas quartz lead? Hardin's brow is gloomy. He
uses days for a decision. The letter makes him very shaky in his
mind. Is the "ex-Queen of the El Dorado" ready to strike a telling
He remembers how tiger-like her rage when she drew her dagger over
the hand of "French Charlie." She can strike at need, but what will
be her weapon now?
He sets the devilish enginery of his brain at work. His answer to
Natalie de Santos is brief but final:
"You may trust my honor. I shall provide a fund as soon as I can,
to be invested as you direct, either in your name or the other.
You can impart to the young person what you wish. In the meantime
you should educate her as a lady. If you desire an additional
allowance, write me. I have many burdens, and cannot act freely
now. Trust me yet awhile."
Philip Hardin feels no twinge as he seals this letter. No voice
from the grave can reach him. No proof exists in Natalie de Santos'
hands to verify her story.
As for Lagunitas, and orphan Isabel, he pores over every paper
left by the unsuspicious Padre Francisco. He smiles grimly. It was
a missionary parish. Its records have been all turned over to him.
He quietly destroys the whole mass of papers left at Lagunitas by
the priest. As for the marriage papers of her parents and certificate
of baptism of Isabel, he conceals them, ready for destruction at
a moment's notice.
He will wait till the seven years elapse before filing legal proof
of Maxime Valois' death.
Securing from the papers of the old mansion house, materials, old
in appearance, he quietly writes up a bill of sale of the quartz
lead known as the Lagunitas mine, to secure the forty thousand
dollars advanced by him to Maxime Valois, dated back to 1861. Days
of practice enable him to imitate the signature of Valois. He appends
the manual witness of "Kaintuck" and "Padre Francisco." They are
gone forever; one in the grave, one in a cloister.
This paper he sends quietly to record. It attracts no attention.
"Kaintuck" is dead. Valois sleeps his last sleep. From a lonely cell
in a distant French monastery, Padre Francisco will never hear of
As for Isabel Valois, he has a darker plot than mere theft and
forgery, for the future.
The years to come will strengthen his possession and drown out all
Natalie de Santos must hang dependent on his bounty. He will not
arm her with weapons against himself. He knows she will not return
to face him in California. His power there is too great. If she
dares to marry any one, her hold on him is lost. She must lie to
hide her past. Hardin smiles, for he counts upon a woman's vanity
and love of luxury. The veteran lawyer sums up the situation to
himself. She is powerless. She dares not talk. Time softens down
all passions. When safe, he will give the child some funds, but
And to bury the memory of Maxime Valois forever is his task.
Broadening his political influence, Hardin moves on to public
prominence. He knows well he can bribe or buy judge and jury,
suppress facts, and use the golden hammer in his hands, to beat
down any attack. Gold, blessed gold!
The clattering stamps ring out merry music at Lagunitas as the
months sweep by.
AN OLD PRIEST AND A YOUNG ARTIST.--THE CHANGELINGS.
As a thoroughfare of all nations, nothing excels the matchless
Louvre. Though the fatal year of 1870 summons the legions of France
under the last of the Napoleons to defeat, Paris, queen of cities,
has yet to see its days of fire and flame. The Prussians thunder
at its gates. It is "l'annee terrible. "Dissension and rapine
within. The mad wolves of the Commune are yet to rage over the
bloody paths of the German conqueror.
Yet a ceaseless crowd of strangers, a polyglot procession of all
ages and sexes, pours through these wonderful halls of art.
In the sunny afternoons of the battle year, an old French priest
wanders through these noble galleries. Pale and bowed, Fran‡ois
Ribaut dreams away his waning hours among the priceless relics of
the past. These are the hours of release from rosary and breviary.
The ebb and flow of humanity, the labors of the copyists, the
diverse types of passing human nature, all interest the padre.
He has waited in vain for responses to his frequent letters
to Judge Hardin. Perhaps the Judge is dead. Death's sickle swings
unceasingly. The little heiress may have returned to her western
native land. He waits and marvels. He finally sends a last letter
through the clergy at Mission Dolores. To this he receives a response
that they are told the young lady has returned to America and is
being educated in the Eastern States.
With a sigh Fran‡ois Ribaut abandons all hopes of seeing once more
the child he had baptized, the orphaned daughter of his friend.
She is now far from him. He feels assured he will never cross the
wild Atlantic again.
Worn and weary, waiting the approach of old age, he yet participates,
with a true Frenchman's patriotism, in the sorrows of "l'annee
terrible." Nothing brightens the future! Human nature itself seems
All is disaster. Jacques Bonhomme's blood waters in vain his native
fields. Oh, for the great Napoleon! Alas, for the days of 1805!
As he wanders among the pictures he makes friendly acquaintance
with rising artist and humble imitator. The old padre is everywhere
welcome. His very smile is a benediction.
He pauses one day at the easel of a young man who is copying a
Murillo Madonna. Intent upon his work, the artist politely answers,