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The Little Lady of Lagunitas by Richard Henry Savage

Part 6 out of 8

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and resumes his task. Spirited and artistic in execution, the copy
betokens a rare talent.

Day after day, on his visits, the padre sees the glowing canvas
nearing completion. He is strangely attracted to the resolute young

Dark-eyed and graceful, the young painter is on the threshold
of manhood. With seemingly few friends or acquaintances, he works
unremittingly. Padre Francisco learns that he is a self-supporting
art-student. He avows frankly that art copying brings him both his
living and further education.

Fran‡ois Ribaut is anxious to know why this ardent youth toils,
when his fellows are in the field fighting the invaders. He is
astonished when the young man tells him he is an American.

"You are a Frenchman in your language and bearing," says the priest

The young artist laughs.

"I was educated here, mon pere, but I was born in Louisiana. My
name is Armand Valois."

The old priest's eyes glisten.

"I knew an American named Valois, in California. He was a Louisianan

The youth drops his brush. His eyes search the padre's face. "His
name?" he eagerly asks.

"He was called Maxime Valois," says the priest, Sadly. "He went
into the Southern war and was killed."

The artist springs from his seat. Leading the priest to a recessed
window-seat, he says, quietly:

"Mon pere, tell me of him. He was my cousin, and the last of my
family. I am now the only Valois."

Padre Francisco overstays his hour of relaxation. For the artist
learns of the heroic death of his gallant kinsman, and all the
chronicles of Lagunitas.

"But you must come to me. I must see you often and tell you more,"
concludes the good old priest. He gives Armand his residence,
a religious establishment near Notre Dame, where he can spend his
days under the shadows of the great mystery-haunted fane.

Armand tells the priest his slender history.

Left penniless by his aged father's death, the whirlwind of
the Southern war swept away the last of his property. Old family
friends, scattered and poor, cannot help him. He has been his own
master for years. His simple annals are soon finished. He tells
of his heart comrade, Raoul Dauvray (his senior a few years), now
fighting in the Army of the Loire. The priest learns that the
young American remained, to be a son in the household, while Raoul,
a fellow art-student of past years, has drawn his sword for France.

Agitated by the discovery, Padre Francisco promises to visit the
young man soon. It seems all so strange. A new romance! Truly the
world is small after all. Is it destiny or chance?

In a few weeks, Fran‡ois Ribaut is the beloved of that little circle,
where Josephine Dauvray is the household ruler. Priest and youth
are friends by the memory of the dead soldier of the Confederacy.
Armand writes to New Orleans and obtains full details of the death,
in the hour of victory, of the gallant Californian. His correspondent
says, briefly, "Colonel Henry Peyton, who succeeded your relative
in command of the regiment, left here after the war, for Mexico
or South America. He has never been heard from. He is the one man
who could give you the fullest details of the last days of your
kinsman--if he still lives."

Thundering war rolls nearer the gates of Paris. The horrible days
of approaching siege and present danger, added to the gloom of the
national humiliation, make the little household a sad one. Padre
Francisco finds a handsome invalid officer one day at the artist's
home. Raoul Dauvray, severely wounded, is destined to months of
inaction. There is a brother's bond between the two younger men.
Padre Francisco lends his presence to cheer the invalid. Father and
mother are busied with growing cares, for the siege closes in.

The public galleries are now all closed. The days of "decheance"
are over. France is struggling out of the hands of tyranny under
the invaders' scourge into the nameless horrors of the Commune.

It is impossible to get away, and unsafe to stay. The streets are
filled with the mad unrest of the seething population. By the side
of the young officer of the Garde Mobile, Fran‡ois Ribaut ministers
and speeds the recovery of the chafing warrior. Thunder of guns
and rattle of musketry nearer, daily, bring fresh alarms. Armand
Valois has thrown away the palette and is at last on the ramparts
with his brother artists, fighting for France. The boy has no
country, for his blood is as true to the Lost Cause as the gallant
cousin who laid down his life at Atlanta. He can fight for France,
for he feels he has no other country now. It has been his foster-mother.

Bright and helpful, demure and neat-handed, is the little nurse,
who is the life of the household. Padre Francisco already loves
the child. "Louise Moreau" is a pretty, quiet little maiden of
twelve. Good Josephine Dauvray has told the priest of the coming
of the child. He listens to the whole story. He sighs to think
of some dark intrigue, behind the mask of this poor child's humble
history. He gravely warns Josephine to tell him all the details of
this strange affair. The motherly care and protection of Josephine
has rendered the shy child happy. She knows no home but her little
nest with the Dauvrays. Her education is suited to her modest station
in life. The substantial payments and furtive visits of the woman
who is responsible for her, tell the priest there is here a mystery
to probe.

Josephine casts down her eyes when PŠre Fran‡ois asks her sternly
if she has not traced the woman who is the only link between her
charge and the past. Interest against duty.

"I have followed her, mon pere, but I do not know her home. She
comes irregularly, sometimes on foot, sometimes in a carriage. I have
always lost all traces. She must have friends here, but I cannot
find them, for she was sent to us by others to give this child a

"This must be looked into," murmurs the priest.

He interrogates the soldier and also Armand when he returns from
the lines, as the siege drags slowly on. They know nothing save
the fact of the child's being friendless. It may be right; it may
be wrong. "Voila tout." It's the way of Paris.

The priest is much disturbed in mind. Since his conversations with
Armand Valois he feels a vague unrest in his heart as to the young
artist's rights in Lagunitas. Does none of that great estate go to
Armand? Is this equitable? There must be some share of the domain,
which would legally descend to him. In the days of the convalescence
of Raoul Dauvray, the two friends of the soldier-artist, now waiting
the orders for the great attack, commune as to his rights. It would
not be well to disturb him with false hopes.

The gentle old priest tells Raoul the whole story of Lagunitas.

"Mon pere," says the sculptor, "I think there is something wrong
with the affairs of that estate. This great Judge may wish you
out of the way. He may wish to keep Armand out of his rights. He
is deceiving you. It would be well, when brighter days come, that
Armand should go to the western land and see this man."

"But he is poor," Raoul sighs, "and he cannot go."

"If he writes to the 'avocat,' the man will be on his guard."

PŠre Fran‡ois takes many a pinch of snuff. He ponders from day to
day. When the fatal days of the surrender of Paris come, Armand
returns saddened and war-worn, but safe. The victorious columns
of the great German "imperator" march under the Arc de Triomphe.
Their bayonets shine in the Bois de Boulogne. Thundering cannon at
Versailles bellow a salute to the new-crowned Emperor of Germany.

The days of the long siege have been dreadful. Privation, the
streams of wounded, and the dull boom of the guns of the forts are
sad witnesses of the ruin of war.

When to the siege and the shame of surrender, the awful scenes
of the Commune are added, each day has a new trial. Raoul is well
enough to be out, now. The two young men guard the household.
Aristide Dauvray is gloomily helpless at his fireside. Armand
busies himself in painting and sketching. PŠre Fran‡ois' visits are
furtive, for the priest's frock is a poor safeguard now. Already
the blood of the two murdered French generals, Lecomte and
Clement-Thomas, cries to heaven for vengeance against rash mutiny.

Raoul Dauvray foresees the downfall of the socialistic mob. After
consultation, he decides to take a place where he can protect the
little household when the walls are stormed. He escapes by night
to the lines of the Versaillese.

For, maddened Paris is now fighting all France. In his capacity of
officer, he can at once insure the personal safety of his friends
when the city is taken.

The red flag floats on the Hotel de Ville. The very streets
are unsafe. Starvation faces the circle around Aristide Dauvray's
hearth. Mad adventurers, foolish dreamers, vain "bourgeois"
generals, head the Communists. Dombrowski, Cluseret, Flourens, the
human tigers Ferre and Lullier, Duval, Bergeret, and Eudes, stalk
in the stolen robes of power. Gloomy nights close sad and dreary
days. From Issy and Vanvres huge shells curve their airy flight,
to carry havoc from French guns into French ranks.

Hell seems to have vomited forth its scum. Uncanny beings lurk at
the corners. Wild with cognac and absinthe, the unruly mob commits
every wanton act which unbridled wickedness can suggest. Good men
are powerless, and women exposed to every insult. Public trade is
suspended. Robbery and official pillage increase. The creatures of
a day give way quickly to each other. Gallant Rossell, who passed
the Prussian lines to serve France, indignantly sheathes his sword.
He is neither a Nero nor a mountebank.

Alas, for the talented youth! a death volley from his old engineer
troops awaits him at the Buttes de Chaumont. To die the dishonored
death of a felon, a deserter!

Alas, for France: bright of face and hard of heart! Tigress queen,
devouring your noblest children.

While Thiers proclaims the law, he draws around him the wreck of
a great army. A bloody victory over demented brethren hangs awful
laurels on the French sword: De Gallifet, Vinoy, Ducrot, L'Admirault,
Cissey, D'Aurelle de Palladines, Besson and Charrette surround the
unlucky veteran, Marshal McMahon, Duc de Magenta. General Le Flo,
the Minister of War, hurls this great army against the two hundred
and fifty-two battalions of National Guards within the walls of
Paris. These fools have a thousand cannon.

Down in the Bois de Boulogne, the fighting pickets pour hissing
lead into the bosoms of brothers. From the heights where the
brutal Prussian soldiery grinned over the blackened ruins of the
ill-starred Empress Eugenie's palace of St. Cloud, the cannon of
the Versaillese rain shot and shell on the walls of defenceless

PŠre Fran‡ois is a blessing in these sad and weary days. Clad
"en bourgeois," he smuggles in food and supplies. He cheers the
half-distracted Josephine. Armand Valois keeps the modest little
maiden Louise, fluttering about the home studio which he shares with
Raoul. Their casts and models, poor scanty treasures, make their
modest sanctum a wonder to the girl. Her life's romance unfolds.
Art and dawning love move her placid soul. The days of wrangling
wear away. An occasional smuggled note from Raoul bids them be of
cheer. Once or twice, the face of Marie Berard is seen at the door
for a moment.

Thrusting a packet of notes in Josephine's hand, she bids her guard
the child and keep her within her safe shelter.

The disjointed masses of Communists wind out on April 3d of the
terrible year of '71, to storm the fortified heights held by the

Only a day before, at Courbevoie, their bayonets have crossed
in fight. Mont Valerien now showers shells into Paris. Bergeret,
Duval, and Eudes lead huge masses of bloodthirsty children of the
red flag, into a battle where quickening war appalls the timid
Louise. It makes her cling close to Armand. The human family seems
changed into a pack of ravening wolves. Pouring back, defeated and
dismayed, the Communists rage in the streets. The grim fortress
of Mont Valerien has scourged the horde of Bergeret. Duval's column
flees; its defeated leader is promptly shot by the merciless
Vinoy. Fierce De Gallifet rages on the field--his troopers sabring
the socialists without quarter.

Flourens' dishonored body lies, riddled with bullets, on a dung
heap at St. Cloud.

Eudes steals away, to sneak out and hide his "loot" in foreign lands.
Red is the bloody flail with which McMahon thrashes out Communism.

The prisoned family, joined by PŠre Fran‡ois, now a fugitive, day
by day shudder at the bedlam antics and reign of blood around them.

Saintly Archbishop Darboy dies under the bullets of the Communists.
His pale face appeals to God for mercy.

Vengeance is yet to come. The clergy are now hunted in the streets!
Plunder and rapine reign! Orgies and wild wassail hold a mocking
sway in the courts of death. Unsexed women, liberated thieves, and
bloodthirsty tramps prey on the unwary, the wounded, or the feeble.
On April 3Oth, the great fort of Issy falls into the hands of the
government. Blazing shells rain, in the murky night air, down on
Paris. Continuous fighting from April 2d until May 21st makes the
regions of Auteuil, Neuilly, and Point du Jour a wasted ruin.

Frenzied fiends drag down the Colonne Vendome where the great Corsican
in bronze gazed on a scene of wanton madness never equalled. Not
even when drunken Nero mocked at the devastation of the imperial
city by the Tiber, were these horrors rivalled.

Down the beautiful green slopes into the Bois de Boulogne, the
snaky lines of sap and trench bring the octopus daily nearer to
the doomed modern Babylon. Flash of rifle gun and crack of musketry
re-echo in the great park. It is now shorn of its lovely trees,
where man and maid so lately held the trysts of love. A bloody dew
rains on devoted Paris.

A fateful Sunday is that twenty-first of May when the red-mouthed
cannon roar from dawn till dark. At eventide, the grim regulars
bayonet the last defenders of the redoubts at the Point du Jour
gates. The city is open to McMahon.

The lodgment once made, a two nights' bombardment adds to the
horrors of this living hell.

On the twenty-third, Montmartre's bloody shambles show how merciless
are the stormers. Dombrowski lies dead beside his useless guns.
All hope is lost. Murder and pillage reign in Paris.

Behind their doors, barricaded with the heavier furniture, the
family of Aristide Dauvray invoke the mercy of God. They are led
by PŠre Fran‡ois, who thinks the awful Day of Judgment may be near.
Humanity has passed its limits. Fiends and furies are the men and
women, who, crazed with drink, swarm the blood-stained streets.

In their lines, far outside, the stolid Prussians joke over their
beer, as they learn of the wholesale murder finishing red Bellona's
banquet. "The French are all crazy." They laugh.

The twenty-fourth of May arrives. Paris is aflame. Battle unceasing,
storm of shell, rattle of rifles, and cannon balls skipping down
the Champs Elysees mark this fatal day. A deep tide of human blood
flows from the Madeleine steps to the Seine. The river is now
filled with bodies. Columns of troops, with heavy tramp and ringing
platoon volleys, disperse the rallying squads of rebels, or storm
barricade after barricade. Squadrons of cavalry whirl along, and
cut down both innocent and guilty.

After three awful days more, the six thousand bodies lying among
the tombs of PŠre la Chaise tell that the last stronghold of the
Commune has been stormed. Belleville and Buttes de Chaumont are
piled with hundreds of corpses. The grim sergeants' squads are
hunting from house to house, bayoneting skulking fugitives, or
promptly shooting any persons found armed.

The noise of battle slowly sinks away. Flames and smoke soar to the
skies: the burnt offering now; the blood offering is nearly over.

Thirty superb palaces of the municipality are in flames. Under
Notre Dame's sacred roof, blackened brands and flooded petroleum
tell of the human fiends' visit.

The superb ruins of the Tuileries show what imperial France has
been. Its flaming debris runs with streams of gold, silver, and
melted crystal.

Banks, museums, and palaces have been despoiled. Boys and old
crones trade costly jewels in the streets for bread and rum. The
firing parties are sick of carnage.

Killing in cold blood ceases now, from sheer mechanical fatigue.

On the twenty-eighth, a loud knocking on the door of the house
brings Aristide Dauvray to the door. A brief parley. The obstructions
are cleared. Raoul is clasped in his father's arms. Safe at last.
Grim, bloody, powder-stained, with tattered clothes, he is yet
unwounded. A steady sergeant and half-dozen men are quickly posted
as a guard. They can breathe once more. This help is sadly needed.
In a darkened room above, little Louise Moreau lies in pain and

Grave-faced PŠre Fran‡ois is the skilful nurse and physician.
A shell fragment, bursting through a window, has torn her tender,
childish body.

Raoul rapidly makes Armand and his father known to the nearest
"poste de garde." He obtains protection for them. His own troops
are ordered to escort drafts of the swarming prisoners to the
Orangery at Versailles. Already several thousands of men, women,
and children, of all grades, are penned within the storied walls.
Here the princesses of France sported, before that other great
blood frenzy, the Revolution, seized on the Parisians.

With a brief rest, he tears himself away from a mother's arms, and
departs for the closing duties of the second siege of Paris. The
drawing in of the human prey completes the work.

Safe at last! Thank God! The family are able to look out to the
light of the sun again. They see the glittering stars of night
shine calmly down on the slaughter house, the charnel of "Paris
incendie." The silence is brooding. It seems unfamiliar after
months of siege, and battle's awful music.

In a few days the benumbed survivors crawl around the streets. Open
gates enable provisions to reach the half-famished dwellers within
the walls. Over patched bridges, the railways pour the longed-for
supplies into Paris. Fair France is fruitful, even in her year
of God's awful vengeance upon the rotten empire of "Napoleon the

PŠre Fran‡ois lingers by the bedside of the suffering girl. She
moans and tosses in the fever of her wound. Her mind is wandering.

A slender, girlish arm wanders out of the coverlid often. She lies,
with flushed cheeks and eyes strangely bright.

Tenderly replacing the innocent's little hands under the counterpane,
Fran‡ois Ribaut starts with sudden surprise.

He fastens his gaze eagerly on the poor girl's left arm.

Can there be two scars like this?

The sign of the cross.

He is amazed. The little Spanish girl, from whose baby arm he
extracted a giant poisonous thorn, bore a mark like this,--a record
of his own surgery.

At far Lagunitas, he had said, playfully to Dolores Valois:

"Your little one will never forget the cross; she will bear it

For the incision left a deep mark on baby Isabel Valois' arm.

The old priest is strangely stirred. He has a lightning flash of
suspicion. This girl has no history; no family; no name. Who is

Yet she is watched, cared for, and, even in the hours of danger,
money is provided for her. Ah, he will protect this poor lamb. But
it is sheer madness to dream of her being his lost one. True, her
age is that of the missing darling. He kneels by the bed of the
wounded innocent, and softly quavers a little old Spanish hymn. It
is a memory of his Californian days.

Great God! her lips are moving; her right hand feebly marks his
words, and as he bends over the sufferer, he hears "Santa Maria,
Madre de Dios."

Fran‡ois Ribaut falls on his knees in prayer. This nameless waif,
in her delirium, is faltering words of the cradle hymns, the baby
lispings of the heiress of Lagunitas.

A light from heaven shines upon the old priest's brow.

Is it, indeed, the heiress!

He can hear his own heart beat.

The wearied, hunted priest feels the breezes from the singing pines
once more on his fevered brow. Again he sees the soft dark eyes
of Dolores as they close in death, beautiful as the last glances
of an expiring gazelle. Her dying gaze is fixed on the crucifix in
his hand.

"I will watch over this poor lonely child," murmurs the old man,
as he throws himself on his knees, imploring the protection of the
Virgin Mother mild.

Sitting by the little sufferer, softly speaking the language of her
babyhood, the padre hears word after word, uttered by the girl in
the "patois" of Alta California.

And now he vows himself to a patient vigil over this defenceless
one. Silence, discretion, prudence. He is yet a priest.

He will track out this mysterious guardian.

In a week or so, a normal condition is re-established in conquered
Paris. Though the yellowstone houses are pitted with the scourge
of ball and mitraille, the streets are safe. Humanity's wrecks
are cleared away. Huge, smoking ruins tell of the mad barbarity of
the floods of released criminals. The gashed and torn beauties of
the Bois de Boulogne; battered fortifications, ruined temples of
Justice, Art, and Commerce, and the blood-splashed corridors of
the Madeleine are still eloquent of anarchy.

The reign of blood is over at last, for, in heaps of shattered
humanity, the corses of the last Communists are lying in awful
silence in the desecrated marble wilderness of PŠre la Chaise.

The heights of Montmartre area Golgotha. Trade slowly opens its
doors. The curious foreigner pokes, a human raven, over the scenes
of carnage. Disjointed household organizations rearrange themselves.
The railway trains once more run regularly. Laughter, clinking
of glasses, and smirking loiterers on the boulevards testify that
thoughtless, heartless Paris is itself once more. "Vive la bagatelle."

Fran‡ois Ribaut at last regains his home of religious seclusion.
Louise is convalescent, and needs rest and quiet. There is no want
of money in the Dauvray household. The liberal douceurs of Louise
Moreau's mysterious guardian, furnish all present needs.

"Thank God!" cries PŠre Frangois, when he remembers that he has
the fund intact, which he received from the haughty Hardin.

He can follow the quest of justice. He has the means to trace
the clouded history of this child of mystery. A nameless girl who
speaks only French, yet in her wandering dreams recalls the Spanish
cradle-hymns of lost Isabel.

Already the energy of the vivacious French is applied to the care
of what is left, and the repair of the damages of the reign of
demons. The rebuilding of their loved "altars of Mammon" begins.
The foreign colony, disturbed like a flock of gulls on a lonely
rock, flutters back as soon as the battle blast is over. Aristide
Dauvray finds instant promotion in his calling. The hiding Communists
are hunted down and swell the vast crowd of wretches in the Orangery.

Already, all tribunals are busy. Deportation or death awaits the
leaders of the revolt.

Raoul Dauvray, whose regiment is returned from its fortnight's guard
duty at Versailles, is permitted to revisit his family. Peace now
signed--the peace of disgrace--enables the decimated Garde Mobile
to be disbanded. In a few weeks, he will be a sculptor again. A
soldier no more. France needs him no longer in the field.

By the family Lares and Penates the young soldier tells of
the awful sights of Versailles. The thousand captured cannon of
the Communists, splashed with human blood, the wanton ruin of the
lovely grounds of the Bois, dear to the Parisian heart, and all the
strange scenes of the gleaning of the fields of death show how the
touch of anarchy has seared the heart of France. Raoul's adventures
are a nightly recital.

"I had one strange adventure," says the handsome soldier, knocking
the ashes from his cigar. "I was on guard with my company in command
of the main gate of the Orangery, the night after the crushing of
these devils at Montmartre. The field officer of the day was away.
Among other prisoners brought over, to be turned into that wild
human menagerie, was a beautiful woman, richly dressed. She was
arrested in a carriage, escaping from the lines with a young girl.
Their driver was also arrested. He was detained as a witness.

"She had not been searched, but was sent over for special examination.
She was in agony. I tried to pacify her. She declared she was an
American, and begged me to send at once for the officers of the
American Legation. It was very late. The best I could do was to give
her a room and put a trusty sergeant in charge. I sent a messenger
instantly to the American Legation with a letter. She was in mortal
terror of her life. She showed me a portmanteau, with magnificent
jewels and valuables. I calmed her terrified child. The lady insisted
I should take charge of her jewels and papers. I said:

"'Madame, I do not know you.'

"She cried, 'A French officer is always a gentleman.'

"In the morning before I marched off guard, a carriage with a foreign
gentleman and one of the attach‚s of the United States Embassy,
came with a special order from General Le Fl“ for her release. She
had told me she was trying to get out of Paris with her child, who
had been in a convent. It was situated in the midst of the fighting
and had been cut off. Passing many fearful risks, she was finally
arrested as 'suspicious.'

"She persists in saying I saved her life. She would have been
robbed, truly, in that mad whirl of human devils penned up there
under the chassepots of the guards on the walls. Oh! it was horrible."

The young soldier paused.

"She thanked me, and was gracious enough not to offer me a reward.
I am bidden to call on her in a few days, as soon as we are tranquil,
and receive her thanks.

"I have never seen such beauty in woman," continues the officer.

"A Venus in form; a daughter of the South, in complexion,--and her
thrilling eyes!"

Gentle Louise murmurs, "And the young lady?"

"A Peri not out of the gates of Paradise," cries the enthusiastic

"What is she? who is she?" cried the circle. Even PŠre Fran‡ois
lifted his head in curiosity. Raoul threw two cards on the table.
A dainty coronet with the words,

{Madame Natalie de Santos, 97 Champs Elysees.}

appeared on one; the other read,

{Le Comte Ernesto Villa Rocca, Jockey Club.}

"And you are going to call?" said Armand.

"Certainly," replies Raoul. "I told the lady I was an artist.
She wishes to give me a commission for a bust of herself. I hope
she will; I want to be again at my work. I am tired of all this

That looked-for day comes. France struggles to her feet, and loads
the Teuton with gold. He retires sullenly to where he shows his
grim cannons, domineering the lovely valleys of Alsace and the
fruitful fields of Lorraine.

Louise Moreau is well now. The visits of her responsible guardian
are resumed. Adroit as a priest can be, PŠre Fran‡ois cannot run
down this visitor. Too sly to call in others, too proud to use a
hireling, in patience the priest bides his time.

Not a word yet to the fair girl, who goes singing now around the
house. A few questions prove to Fran‡ois Ribaut that the girl has
no settled memory of her past. He speaks, in her presence, the
language of the Spaniard. No sign of understanding. He describes
his old home in the hills of Mariposa. The placid child never
raises her head from her sewing.

Is he mistaken? No; on her pretty arm, the crucial star still

"How did you get that mark, my child?" he asks placidly.

"I know not, mon pŠre; it has been there since I can remember."

The girl drops her eyes. She knows there is a break in her
history. The earliest thing she can remember of her childhood is
sailing--sailing on sapphire seas, past sculptured hills. Long days
spent, gazing on the lonely sea-bird's flight.

The priest realizes there is a well-guarded secret. The regular
visitor does not speak TO the child, but OF her.

PŠre Fran‡ois has given Josephine his orders, but there is no
tripping in the cold business-like actions of the woman who pays.

PŠre Fran‡ois is determined to take both the young men into his
confidence. He will prevent any removal of this child, without the
legal responsibility of some one. If they should take the alarm?
How could he stop them? The law! But how and why?

Raoul Dauvray is in high spirits. After his regiment is disbanded,
he is not slow to call at the splendid residence on the Champs
Elys‚es. In truth, he goes frequently.

The splendors of that lovely home, "Madame de Santos'" gracious
reception, and a royal offer for his artistic skill, cause him to
feel that she is indeed a good fairy.

A modelling room in the splendid residence is assigned him. Count
Villa Rocca, who has all an Italian's love of the arts, lingers
near Natalie de Santos, with ill-concealed jealousy of the young
sculptor. To be handsome, smooth, talented, jealous--all this is
Villa Rocca's "m‚tier." He is a true Italian.



Paris is a human hive. Thousands labor to restore its beauty. The
stream of life ebbs and flows once more on the boulevards. The
galleries reopen. Armand labors in the Louvre. He finished the
velvet-eyed Madonna, copied after Murillo's magic hand. He chafes
under Raoul's laurels. The boy would be a man. Every day the
sculptor tells of the home of the wealthy Spaniard. The girl is at
her convent again. Raoul meets Madame Natalie "en ami de maison."

He tells of Count Villa Rocca's wooing. Marriage may crown the
devotion of the courtly lover.

The bust in marble is a success. Raoul is in the flush of glory.
His patroness directs him to idealize for her "Helen of Troy."

Armand selects as his next copy, a grand inspiration of womanly
beauty. He, too, must pluck a laurel wreath.

Under the stress of emulation, his fingers tremble in nervous ardor.
He has chosen a subject which has myriad worshippers.

Day by day, admirers recognize the true spirit of the masterpiece.

Throngs surround the painter, who strains his artistic heart.

A voice startles him, as the last touches are being laid on:

"Young man, will you sell this here picture?"

"That depends," rejoins Armand. His use of the vernacular charms
the stranger.

"Have you set a price?" cries the visitor, in rough Western English.

"I have not as yet," the copyist answers.

He surveys the speaker, a man of fifty years, whose dress and manner
speak of prosperity in efflorescent form.

The diamond pin, huge watch-chain, rich jewelled buttons, and
gold-headed cane, prove him an American Croesus.

"Well, when it's done, you bring it to my hotel. Everyone knows
me. I will give you what you want for it. It's way up; better than
the original," says the Argonaut, with a leer at its loveliness.

He drops his card on the moist canvas. The nettled artist reads,

{{Colonel Joseph Woods, California. Grand Hotel.}}

on the imposing pasteboard.

The good-humored Woods nods.

"Yes sir, that's me. Every one in London, Paris, and New York,
knows Joe Woods.

"Good at the bank," he chuckles.

"What's your name?" he says abruptly.

Armand rises bowing, and handing his card to the stranger:

"Armand Valois."

Woods whistles a resounding call. The "flaneurs" start in

"Say; you speak English. By heavens! you look like him. Did you ever
know a Colonel Valois, of California?" He gazes at the boy eagerly.

"I never met him, sir, but he was the last of my family. He was
killed in the Southern war."

"Look here, young man, you pack up them there paint-brushes, and
send that picture down to my rooms. You've got to dine with me
to-night, my boy. I'll give you a dinner to open your eyes."

The painter really opens his eyes in amazement.

"You knew my relative in California?"

"We dug this gold together," the stranger almost shouts, as he
taps his huge watch-chain. "We were old pardners," he says, with
a moistened eye.

There was a huskiness in the man's voice; not born of the mellow
cognac he loved.

No; Joe Woods was far away then, in the days of his sturdy youth.
He was swinging the pick once more on the bars of the American
River, and listening to its music rippling along under the giant
pines of California.

The young painter's form brought back to "Honest Joe" the unreturning
brave, the chum of his happiest days.

Armand murmurs, "Are you sure you wish this picture?"

"Dead sure, young man. You let me run this thing. Now, I won't take
'no.' You just get a carriage, and get this all down to my hotel.
You can finish it there. I've got to go down to my bank, and you
be there to meet me. You'll have a good dinner; you bet you will.
God! what a man Valois was. Dead and gone, poor fellow!

"Now, I'm off! don't you linger now."

He strides to his carriage, followed by a crowd of "valets de place."
All know Joe Woods, the big-souled mining magnate. He always leaves
a golden trail.

Armand imagines the fairy of good luck has set him dreaming. No;
it is all true.

He packs up his kit, and sends for a coupe. Giving orders as to
the picture, he repairs to the home of the Dauvrays for his toilet.
He tells PŠre Fran‡ois of his good fortune.

"Joe Woods, did you say," murmurs the priest. "He was a friend of
Valois. He is rich. Tell him I remember him. He knows who I am. I
would like to see him."

There is a strange light in Fran‡ois Ribaut's eye. Here is a
friend; perhaps, an ally. He must think, must think.

The old priest taps his snuff-box uneasily.

In a "cabinet particulier" of the Grand Hotel restaurant, Woods
pours out to the young man, stories of days of toil and danger;
lynching scenes, gambling rows, "shooting scrapes," and all
kaleidoscopic scenes of the "flush days of the Sacramento Valley."

Armand learns his cousin's life in California. He imparts to the
Colonel, now joyous over his "becassine aux truffes" and Chambertin,
the meagre details he has of the death of the man who fell in the
intoxicating hour of victory on fierce Hood's fiercest field.

Colonel Joe Woods drains his glass in silence.

"My boy," he suddenly says, "Valois left an enormous estate; don't
you come in anywhere?"

"I never knew of his will," replies Armand. "I want you, Colonel,
to meet my old friend PŠre Fran‡ois, who was the priest at
this Lagunitas. He tells me, a Judge Hardin has charge of all the

Joe Woods drops the knife with which he is cutting the tip of his
imperial cigar.

"By Heavens! If that old wolf has got his claws on it, it's a long
fight. I'll see your Padre. I knew him. Now, my boy," says Colonel
Joe, "I've got no wife, and no children," he adds proudly.

"I'll take you over to California with me, and we'll see old Hardin.
I'm no lawyer, but you ought to hear of the whole details. We'll
round him up. Let's go up to my room and look at your picture."

Throwing the waiter a douceur worthy of his financial grade, the
new friends retire to the Colonel's rooms.

Here the spoils of the jeweler, the atelier, and studio, are
strangely mingled. Joe Woods buys anything he likes. A decanter
of Bourbon, a box of the very primest Havanas, and a business-like
revolver, lying on the table, indicate his free and easy ways.

Letters in heaps prove that "mon brave Colonel Woods" is even known
to the pretty free-lances who fight under the rosy banner of Venus

In hearty terms, the Californian vents his enthusiasm.

"By the way, my boy, I forgot something." He dashes off a check
and hands it to the young painter.

"Tell me where to send for a man to frame this picture in good
shape," he simply says.

He looks uneasily at the young man, whose senses fail him when he
sees that the check is for five thousand francs.

"Is that all right?" he says cheerfully, nudging Armand in the ribs.
"Cash on delivery, you know. I want another by and by. I'll pick
out a picture I want copied. I'm going to build me a bachelor
ranch on Nob Hill: Ophir Villa." He grins over some pet "deal" in
his favorite Comstock. Dulcet memories.

For Colonel Joe Woods is a man of "the Golden Days of the Pacific."
He too has "arrived."

The boy murmurs his thanks. "Now look here, I've got to run over
to the Cafe Anglais, and see some men from the West. You give me
your house number. I'll come in and see the padre to-morrow evening.

"Stay; you had better come and fetch me. Take dinner with me
to-morrow, and we'll drive down in a hack."

The Colonel slips his pistol in its pocket, winks, takes a pull
at the cocktail of the American, old Kentucky's silver stream, and
grasps his gold-headed club. He is ready now to meet friend or

Joy in his heart, good humor on his face, jingling a few "twenties,"
which he carries from habit, he grasps a handful of cigars, and
pushes the happy boy out of the open door.

"Oh! never mind that; I've got a French fellow sleeping around here
somewhere," he cries, as Armand signals the sanctum is unlocked.
"He always turns up if any one but HIMSELF tries to steal anything.
He's got a patent on that," laughs the "Croesus of the American

Armand paints no stroke the next day. He confers with PŠre Fran‡ois.
He is paralyzed when the cashier of the "Credit Lyonnais" hands
him five crisp one-thousand-franc notes. Colonel Joe Woods' check
is of international potency. It is not, then, a mere dream.

When the jovial Colonel is introduced to the family circle he
is at home in ten minutes. His good nature carries off easily his
halting French. He falls into sudden friendship with the young
soldier-sculptor. He compliments Madame Josephine. He pleases the
modest Louise, and is at home at once with Padre Francisco.

After a friendly chat, he says resolutely:

"Now, padre, you and I want to have a talk over our young friend
here. Let us go up to his room a little."

Seated in the boy's studio, Woods shows the practical sense which
carried him to the front in the struggle for wealth.

"I tell you what I'll do," he says. "I'm going out to the coast
in a month or so. I'll look this up a little. If I want our young
friend here, I'll send you a cable, and you can start him out to
me. My banker will rig him out in good style. Just as well he comes
under another name. See? Padre, you take a ride with me to-morrow.
We will talk it all over."

The Californian's questions and sagacity charm the padre. He is
now smoking one of those blessed "Imperiales." An innocent pleasure.

They rise to join the circle below. A thought animates the priest.

Yes, he will confer with the clear-headed man and tell him of the
child below, whose pathway is unguarded by a parent's love.

Around the frugal board Colonel Joe enters into the family spirit.
He insists on having Raoul come to him for a conference about his
portraiture in marble.

"I have just finished a bust of Madame de Santos, the beautiful
Mexican lady," remarks Raoul.

Colonel Joe bounds from his chair. "By hokey, young man, you are
a bonanza. Do you know her well?" he eagerly asks.

The sculptor tells how he saved her from the bedlam horrors of the

The miner whistles. "Well, you control the stock, I should say.
Now, she's the very woman, Gwin, and Erlanger, and old Slidell,
and a whole lot told me about. I want you to take me up there," he

"I will see Madame de Santos to-morrow," remarks Raoul, diplomatically.

"Tell her I'm a friend of her Southern friends. They're scattered
now. Most of them busted," says Wood calmly. "I must see her. See
here, padre; we'll do the thing in style. You go and call with me,
and keep me straight." The priest assents.

In gayest mood the Colonel bids Raoul come to him for this most
fashionable call. Claiming the padre for breakfast and the ride
of the morrow, he rattles off to his rooms, leaving an astounded

Golden claims to their friendly gratitude bound them together.

Colonel Joe has the "dejeuner a deux" in his rooms. He says, "More
homelike, padre, you know," ushering the priest to the table. Under
the influence of Chablis, the Californians become intimate.

Raoul arrives with news that Madame de Santos will be pleased to have
the gentlemen call next day in the afternoon. After an arrangement
about the bust, the horses, champing before the doors, bear the elders
to the Bois, now beginning to abandon its battle-field appearance.

Long is their conference on that ride. PŠre Fran‡ois is thoughtful,
as he spends his evening hour at dominoes with Aristide Dauvray.
His eyes stray to fair Louise, busied with her needie. At last,
he has a man of the world to lean on, in tracing up this child's
parentage. Raoul and Armand are deep in schemes to enrich Joe's queer
collection, the nucleus of that "bachelor ranch," "Ophir Villa."

In all the bravery of diamonds and goldsmithing the Westerner
descends from his carriage, at the doors of Madame de Santos, next

Pale-faced, aristocratic PŠre Fran‡ois is a foil to the "occidental
king." Mind and matter.

Waiting for the Donna, the gentlemen admire her salon.

Pictures, objets d'art, dainty bibelots, show the elegance of a
queen of the "monde."

"Beats a steamboat," murmurs Colonel Joe, as the goddess enters
the domain.

There is every grace in her manner. She inquires as to mutual
friends of the "Southern set." Her praises of Raoul are justified
in the beautiful bust, a creation of loveliness, on its Algerian
onyx pedestal.

Colonel Joe Woods is enchanted. He wonders if he has ever seen this
classic face before.

"I drive in the Bois," says madame, with an arch glance.

She knows the Californian is a feature of that parade, with his
team. Paris rings with Colonel Joe's exploits.

"No poor stock for me," is Colonel Joe's motto.

With a cunning glance in his eyes, the miner asks: "Were you ever
in California, madame?"

Her lips tremble as she says, "Years ago I was in San Francisco."

Colonel Joe is thoughtful. His glance follows madame, who is ringing
a silver bell.

The butler bows.

"I shall not drive this afternoon," she says.

With graceful hospitality, she charms PŠre Fran‡ois. Chat about
the Church and France follows.

The gentlemen are about to take their leave. Madame de Santos,
observing that PŠre Fran‡ois speaks Spanish as well as French,
invites him to call again. She would be glad to consult him in
spiritual matters.

Colonel Joe speaks of California, and asks if he may be of any

"I have no interests there," the lady replies with constraint.

Passing into the hall, PŠre Fran‡ois stands amazed as if he sees
a ghost.

"What's the matter, padre?" queries Colonel Joe as they enter their

"Did you see that maid who passed us as we left the salon?" remarks
the padre.

"Yes, and a good-looking woman too," says the Californian.

"That woman is the guardian of Louise Moreau," the padre hastily

"Look here! What are you telling me?" cries the Colonel.

"There's some deviltry up! I'm sorry I must leave. But how do you
know?" he continues.

The priest tells him about artful Josephine, whose womanly curiosity
has been piqued. He has seen this person on her visits. Useless to
trace her. Entering an arcade or some great shop, she has baffled
pursuit. Through the Bois, the friends commune over this mystery.

"I'll fix you out," says Woods, with a shout. "I've got a fellow
here who watched some people for me on a mining deal. I'll rip that
household skeleton all to pieces. We'll dissect it!"

He cries: "Now, padre, I'm a-going to back you through this affair,"
as they sit in his rooms over a good dinner. Colonel Joe has sent
all his people away. He wants no listeners. As he pours the Cliquot,
he says, "You give me a week and I'll post you. Listen to me. You
can see there is an object in hiding that child. Keep her safely
guarded. Show no suspicion. You make friends with the lady. Leave
the maid dead alone. Take it easy, padre; we'll get them. I'll tell
my bankers to back you up. I'll take you down; I'll make you solid.

"All I fear is they will get frightened and take her off. You people
have got to watch her. They'll run her off, if they suspect. Poor
little kid.

"It's strange," says the miner; "they could have put this poor
little one out of the way easy. But they don't want that. Want her
alive, but kept on the quiet. I suppose there's somebody else," he

"By Jove! that's it. There's property or money hanging on her
existence. Now, padre, I'll talk plain. You priests are pretty sly.
You write your people about this child. I'll see you have money.
My banker will work the whole municipality of Paris for you.

"That's it; we've got it." The miner's fist makes the glasses
rattle, as he quaffs his wine.

"Don't lose sight of her a minute. Don't show your hand."

The priest rolls home in Joe's carriage. He busies himself the
next days with going to the bank, conferring with his fellows, and
awaking the vigilance of Josephine.

It is left to the priest and his ally from the ranks of "Mammon" to
follow these tangled threads. The younger men know nothing, save
the injunctions to Josephine.

Ten days after this visit, Colonel Joe, who has run over to London,
where he closed some financial matters of note, sends post-haste
to PŠre Fran‡ois this note:

"Come up, padre. I've got a whole history for you. It will make
your eyes open. I want you to talk to the detective."

Even the Californian's horses are not quick enough to-day for the

Ushered in, he finds Colonel Joe on the broad grin.

Accepting a cigar, his host cries, "We've struck it rich. A mare's
nest. Now, Vimont, give my friend your report."

Joe Woods smokes steadily, as Jules Vimont reads from his note-book:

"Madame Natalie de Santos arrived in Paris with two young girls,
one of whom is at the Sacre-Coeur under the name of Isabel Valois;
the other is the child who is visited by Marie Berard, her maid.
She is called Louise Moreau."

PŠre Fran‡ois listens to this recital. The detective gives a
description of the beautiful stranger, and at length.

Joe interrogates. The priest gravely nods until the recital is
finished. Vimont shuts his book with a snap and disappears, at a
nod from the miner. The friends are alone.

PŠre Fran‡ois is silent. His face is pale. Joe is alarmed at his
feeling. Forcing a draught of Bourbon on the padre, Joe cries,
"What is the matter?"

"I see it now," murmurs the priest. "The children have been changed.
For what object?"

He tells Woods of the proofs gained in days of Louise's illness.

"Your little friend is the heiress of Lagunitas?" Woods asks.

"I am sure of it. We must prove it."

"Leave that to me," bursts out Joe, striding the room, puffing at
his cigar.

"How will you do it?" falters the priest.

"I will find the father of the other child," Joe yells. "I am
going to California. I will root up this business. I have a copy
of Vimont's notes. You write me all you remember of this history.
Meanwhile, not a word. No change in your game. You make foothold
in that house on the Elysees.

"There was no railroad when these people came here. I will get
the lists of passengers and steamer reports, I have friends in the
Pacific Mail."

Joe warms up. "Yes, sir. I'll find who is responsible for that
extra child. The man who is, is the party putting up for all this
splendor here. I think if I can stop the money supplies, we can
break their lines. I think my old 'companero,' Judge Hardin, is
the head-devil of this deal.

"It's just like him.

"Now, padre, I have got something to amuse me. You do just as I
tell you, and we'll checkmate this quiet game.

"We are not on the bedrock yet, but we've struck the vein. Don't
you say a word to a living soul here.

"I'll have that maid watched, and tell Vimont to give you all the
particulars of her cuttings-up.

"She's not the master-mind of this. She has never been to the
convent. There's a keynote in keeping these girls apart. I think
our handsome friend, Madame de Santos, is playing a sharp game."
In two days he has vanished.

In his voyage to New York and to the Pacific, Joe thinks over
every turn of this intrigue. If Hardin tries to hide Armand Valois'
fortune, why should he dabble in the mystery of these girls?

Crossing the plains, where the buffalo still roam by thousands,
Woods meets in the smoking-room many old friends. A soldierly-looking
traveller attracts his attention. The division superintendent
makes Colonel Peyton and Colonel Woods acquainted. Their friendship
ripens rapidly. Joe Woods, a Southern sympathizer, has gained his
colonelcy by the consent of his Western friends. It is a brevet
of financial importance. Learning his friend is a veteran of the
"Stars and Bars," and a Virginian, the Westerner pledges many a cup
to their common cause. To the battle-torn flag of the Confederacy,
now furled forever.

As the train rattles down Echo Canyon, Peyton tells of the hopes
once held of a rising in the West.

Woods is interested. When Peyton mentions "Maxime Valois," the
Croesus grasps his hand convulsively.

"Did you serve with him?" Joe queries with eagerness. "He was my
pardner and chum."

"He died in my arms at Peachtree Creek," answers Peyton.

Joe embraces Peyton. "He was a game man, Colonel."

Peyton answers: "The bravest man I ever saw. I often think of
him, in the whirl of that struggle for De Gress's battery. Lying
on the sod with the Yankee flag clutched in his hand, its silk was
fresh-striped with his own heart's blood. The last sound he heard
was the roar of those guns, as we turned them on the enemy."

"God! What a fight for that battery!" The Californian listens,
with bated breath, to the Virginian. He tells him of the youthful
quest for gold.

The war brotherhood of the two passes in sad review. Peyton tells
him of the night before Valois' death.

Joe Woods' eyes glisten. He cries over the recital. An eager
question rises to his lips. He chokes it down.

As Peyton finishes, Woods remarks:

"Peyton, I am going to get off at Reno, and go to Virginia City.
You come with me. I want to know about Valois' last days."

Peyton is glad to have a mentor in the West. He has gained neither
peace nor fortune in wandering under the fringing palms of Latin

Toiling up the Sierra Nevada, Woods shows Peyton where Valois won
his golden spurs as a pathfinder.

"I have a favor to ask of you, Peyton," says Joe. "I want to hunt
up that boy in Paris. I'm no lawyer, but I think he ought to have
some of this great estate. Now, Hardin is a devil for slyness. I
want you to keep silent as to Valois till I give you the word.
I'll see you into some good things here. It may take time to work
my game. I don't want Hardin to suspect. He's an attorney of the
bank. He counsels the railroad. He would spy out every move."

"By the way, Colonel Woods," Peyton replies, "I have the papers
yet which were found on Valois' body. I sealed them up. They are
stained with his blood. I could not trust them to chances. I intended
to return them to his child. I have never examined them."

Joe bounds from his seat. "A ten-strike! Now, you take a look at
them when we reach 'Frisco.' If there are any to throw a light on
his affairs, tell me. Don't breathe a word till I tell you. I will
probe the matter. I'll break Hardin's lines, you bet." The speculator
dares not tell Peyton his hopes, his fears, his suspicions.

San Francisco is reached. Peyton has "done the Comstock." He is
tired of drifts, gallery, machinery, miners, and the "laissez-aller"
of Nevada hospitality. The comfort of Colonel Joe's bachelor
establishment places the stranger in touch with the occidental

Received with open arms by the Confederate sympathizers, Peyton is
soon "on the stock market." He little dreams that Joe has given
one of his many brokers word to carry a stiff account for the
Virginian. Pay him all gains, and charge all losses to the "Woods

Peyton is thrilled with the stock gambling of California Street.
Every one is mad. Servants, lawyers, hod carriers, merchants,
old maids, widows, mechanics, sly wives, thieving clerks, and the
"demi-monde," all throng to the portals of the "Big Board." It
is a money-mania. Beauty, old age, callow boyhood, fading manhood,
all chase the bubble values of the "kiting stocks."

From session to session, the volatile heart of San Francisco throbs
responsive to the sliding values of these paper "stock certificates."

Woods has departed for a fortnight, to look at a new ranch in San
Joaquin. He does not tell Peyton that he lingers around Lagunitas.
He knows Hardin is at San Francisco. A few hours at the county seat.
A talk with his lawyer in Stockton completes Joe's investigations.
No will of Maxime Valois has ever been filed. The estate is held
by Hardin as administrator after "temporary letters" have been
renewed. There are no accounts or settlements. Joe smiles when
he finds that Philip Hardin is guardian of one "Isabel Valois," a
minor. The estate of this child is nominal. There is no inventory
of Maxima Valois' estate on file. County courts and officials are
not likely to hurry Judge Philip Hardin.

On the train to San Francisco, Woods smokes very strong cigars
while pondering if he shall hire a lawyer in town.

"If I could only choose one who would STAY bought when I BOUGHT>
him, I'd give a long price," Joe growls. With recourse to his great
"breast-pocket code," the Missourian runs over man after man, in
his mind. A frown gathers on his brow.

"If I strike a bonanza, I may have to call in some counsel. But I
think I'll have a few words with my friend Philip Hardin."

Woods is the perfection of rosy good-humor, when he drags Hardin
away from his office next day to a cosey lunch at the "Mint."

"I want to consult you, Judge," is his excuse. Hardin, now counsel
for warring giants of finance, listens over the terrapin and birds,
to several legal posers regarding Joe's affairs. Woods has wide
influence. He is a powerful friend to placate. Hardin, easy now
in money matters, looks forward to the United States Senate. Woods
can help. He is a tower of strength.

"They will need a senator sometime, who knows law, not one of those
obscure MUD-HEADS," says Hardin to himself.

Colonel Joe finishes his Larose. He takes a stiff brandy with his
cigar, and carelessly remarks:

"How's your mine, Judge?"

"Doing well, doing well," is the reply.

"Better let me put it on the market for you. You are getting old
for that sort of bother."

"Woods, I will see you by and by. I am trustee for the Valois
estate. He left no will, and I can't give a title to the ranch till
the time for minor heirs runs out. So I am running the mine on my
own account. Some outside parties may claim heirship."

"Didn't he leave a daughter?" says Woods.

"There is a girl--she's East now, at school; but, between you and
me, old fellow, I don't know if she is legitimate or not. You know
what old times were."

Colonel Joe grins with a twinge of conscience. He has had his

"I will hold on till the limitation runs out. I don't want to cloud
the title to my mine, with litigation. It comes through Valois."

"You never heard of any Eastern heirs?" Joe remarks, gulping a
"stiffener" of brandy.

"Never," says Hardin, reaching for his hat and cane. "The Judge
died during the war. I believe his boy died in Paris. He has never
turned up. New Orleans is gone to the devil. They are all dead."

"By the way, Judge, excuse me." Woods dashes off a check for Hardin.
"I want to retain you if the 'Shooting Star' people fool with my
working the 'Golden Chariot;' I feel safe in your hands."

Even Hardin can afford to pocket Joe's check. It is a prize. Golden
bait, Joseph.

Woods says "Good-bye," floridly, to his legal friend. He takes a
coupe at the door. "Cute old devil, Hardin; I'll run him down yet,"
chuckles the miner. Joe is soon on his way to the Pacific Mail
Steamship office.

Several gray-headed officials greet the popular capitalist.

He broaches his business. "I want to see your passenger lists for
1865." He has notes of Vimont's in his hand. While the underlings
bring out dusty old folios, Joe distributes his pet cigars. He is
always welcome.

Looking over the ancient records he finds on a trip of the Golden
Gate, the following entries:

Madame de Santos,
Miss Isabel Valois,
Marie Berard and child.

He calls the bookkeeper. "Can you tell about these people?"

The man of ink scans the entry. He ponders and says:

"I'll tell you who can give you all the information, Colonel Joe.
Hardin was lawyer for this lady. He paid for their passages with
a check. We note these payments for our cash references. Here is
a pencil note: 'CK Hardin.' I remember Hardin coming himself."

"Oh, that's all right!" says the Argonaut.

An adjournment of "all hands," to "renew those pleasing assurances,"
is in order.

"Ah, my old fox!" thinks Woods. "I am going to find out who gave
Marie Berard that other child. But I won't ask YOU. YOUR TIME IS
TOO VALUABLE, Judge Philip Hardin."

He gives his driver an extra dollar at the old City Hall.

Joe Woods thinks he is alone on the quest. He knows not that the
Archbishop's secretary is reading some long Latin letters, not three
blocks away, which are dated in Paris and signed Fran‡ois Ribaut.
They refer to the records of the Mission Dolores parish. They invoke
the aid of the all-seeing eye of the Church as to the history and
rights of Isabel Valois.

PŠre Ribaut humbly begs the protection of his Grace for his protege,
Armand Valois, in case he visits California.

Philip Hardin, in his office, weaving his golden webs, darkened
here and there with black threads of crime, is deaf to the cry of
conscience. What is the orphaned girl to him? A mere human puppet.
He hears not the panther feet of the avengers of wrong on his trail.
Blind insecurity, Judge Hardin.

Woods has seized Captain Lee, and taken him out of his sanctum to
the shades of the "Bank Exchange."

The great detective captain, an encyclopedia of the unwritten
history of San Francisco, regards Woods with a twinkle in his gray
eye. The hunted, despairing criminal knows how steady that eye can
be. It has made hundreds quail.

Lee grins over his cigar. Another millionaire in trouble. "Some
woman, surely." The only question is "What woman?"

The fair sex play a mighty part in the mysteries of San Francisco.

"Lee, I want you to hunt up the history of a woman for me," says
the old miner.

The captain's smile runs all over his face. "Why, Colonel Joe!" he

"Look here; no nonsense!" says Joseph, firmly. "It's a little matter
of five thousand dollars to you, if you can trace what I want."

There is no foolishness in Lee's set features. He throws himself
back, studying his cigar ash. That five thousand dollars is an
"open sesame."

"What's her name?"

Joseph produces his notes.

"Do you remember Hardin sending some people to Panama, in '65?"
begins the Colonel. "Two women and two children. They sailed on

"Perfectly," says the iron captain, removing his cigar. "I watched
these steamers for the government. He was a Big Six in the K.G.C.,
you remember, Colonel Joe?"

Joe winces; that Golden Circle dinner comes back, when he, too,
cheered the Stars and Bars.

"I see you do remember," says Lee, throwing away his cigar. "Now
be frank, old man. Tell me your whole game."

Woods hands him the list of the passengers. He is keenly eying Lee.

"Who was that Madame de Santos?" he says eagerly.

"Is it worth five thousand to know?" says the detective, quietly.

"On the dead square," replies Joe, "Cash ready."

"Do you remember the 'Queen of the El Dorado'?" Lee simply says.

"Here! Great God, man!" cries Lee, for Joe Woods' fist comes down
on the table. Flying cigars, shattered glasses, and foaming wine
make a rare havoc around.

"By God!" shouts the oblivious Joe," the woman Hardin killed 'French
Charlie' for."

"The same," says Lee, steadily, as he picks some splintered glass
out of his goatee. "Joe, you can add a suit of clothes to that

"Stop your nonsense," says the happy Joe, ringing for the waiter
to clear away the wreck of his cyclonic fist. "The clothes are

"Where did she come from to take that boat?" demands Woods.

"From Hardin's house," says Lee.

A light breaks in on Colonel Joe's brain.

"And that woman with her?"

"Was her maid, who stayed with her from the time she left the El
Dorado, and ran the little nest on the hill. The mistress never
showed up in public."

"And the child who went with the maid?" Joe's voice trembles.

"Was Hardin's child. Its mother was the 'Queen of the El Dorado.'"

Woods looks at Lee.

"Can you give me a report, from the time of the killing of 'French
Charlie' down to the sailing?"

"Yes, I can," says the inscrutable Lee.

"Let me have it, to-morrow morning. Not a word to Hardin."

"All right, Colonel Joe," is the answer of silent Lee.

Joseph chokes down his feelings, orders a fresh bottle of wine,
some cigars, and calls for pen and ink.

While the waiter uncorks the wine, Joe says: "What do you pay for
your clothes, Lee?"

"Oh, a hundred and fifty will do," is the modest answer. "That
carries an overcoat."

Joe laughs as he beautifies a blank check with his order to himself,
to pay to himself, five thousand one hundred and fifty dollars,
and neatly indorses it, "Joseph Woods." "I guess that's the caper,
Captain," he says. This "little formality" over, the wine goes to
the right place THIS TIME.

"Now I don't want to see you any more till I get your reminiscences
of that lady," remarks Joe, reaching for his gold-headed club.

"On time, ten o'clock," is the response of the police captain.

"Have you seen her since, Joe? She was a high stepper," muses the
Captain. He has been a great connoisseur of loveliness. Many fair
ones have passed under his hands in public duty or private seance.

"That's my business," sturdy Joe mutters, with an unearthly wink.
"You give me back my check, old man, and I'll tell you what _I_

Lee laughs. "I'm not so curious, Colonel."

They shake hands, and the gray old wolf goes to his den to muse
over what has sent Joe Woods on a quest for this "fallen star."

Lee wastes no time in mooning. The check is a "pleasing reality."
The memories of Hortense Duval are dearer to Joe than to him. His
pen indites the results of that watchful espionage which covers
so many unread leaves of private life in San Francisco.

There is an innocent smile on Woods' face when he strolls into
his own office and asks Peyton to give him the evening in quiet.
Strongly attracted by the Virginian, Woods has now a double interest
in his new friend.

In the sanctum, Woods says, "Peyton, I am going to tell you a
story, but you must first show me the papers you have kept so long
of poor Valois."

Peyton rises without a word. He returns with a packet.

"Here you are, Woods. I have not examined them yet. Now, what is

"You told me Valois made a will before he died, Peyton," begins

"He did, and wrote to Hardin. He wrote to the French priest at his

Woods starts. "Ha, the damned scoundrel! Go on; go on." Joe knows
PŠre Fran‡ois never got that letter. "I read those documents. His
letter of last wishes to Hardin. When I was in Havana, I found
Hardin never acknowledged the papers."

Woods sees it all. He listens as Peyton tells the story.

"We have to do with a villain," says Joe. "He destroyed the papers
or has hidden them. Colonel, open this packet." Joe's voice is

With reverent hand, Peyton spreads the papers before the miner.
There are stains upon them. Separating them, he arranges them one
by one. Suddenly he gives a gasp.

"My God! Colonel Joe, look there!"

Woods springs to his side.

It is a "message from the dead."

Yes, lying for years unread, between the last letters of his wife
and the tidings of her death, is an envelop addressed:

Major Henry Peyton,
Fourteenth Louisiana Inf'y,

Tears trickle through Peyton's fingers, as he raises his head, and
breaks the seal.

"Read it, Major," says Woods huskily. He is moved to the core of
his heart. It brings old days back.

Peyton reads:

Atlanta--In the field,
July 21, 1864.

My Dear Peyton:--I am oppressed with a strange unrest about my
child! I do not fear to meet death to-morrow. I feel it will take
me away from my sadness. I am ready. Our flag is falling. I do not
wish to live to see it in the dust. But I am a father. As I honor
you, for the brotherhood of our life together, I charge you to
watch over my child. Hardin is old; something might happen to him.
I forgot a second appointment in the will; I name you as co-executor
with him. Show him this. It is my dying wish. He is a man of honor.
I have left all my estate to my beloved child, Isabel Valois. It
is only right; the property came by my marriage with my wife, her
dead mother. In the case of the death of my child, search out the
heirs of Judge Valois and see the property fairly divided among
them. Hardin is the soul of honor, and will aid you in all. I desire
this to be a codicil to my will, and regarded as such. I could not
ask you to ride out again for me this wild night before my last

The will you witnessed, is the necessary act of the death of my
wife. If you live through the war, never forget

Your friend and comrade, MAXIME VALOIS.

P.S. If you go to California, look up Joe Woods. He is as true a
man as ever breathed, and would be kind to my little girl. Padre
Francisco Ribaut married me at Lagunitas to my Dolores. Good-bye
and good-night. M.V.

The men gaze at each other across the table, touched by this solemn
voice sweeping down the path of dead years. That lonely grave by
the lines of Atlanta seemed to have opened to a dead father's love.
Peyton saw the past in a new light. Valois' reckless gallantry that
day was an immolation. His wife's death had unsettled him.

Joe Woods' rugged breast heaved in sorrow as he said, "Peyton,
I will stand by that child. So help me, God! And he thought of me
at the last--he thought of me!" The old miner chokes down a rising
sob. Both are in tears.

"Look here, Colonel!" said Woods briskly. "This will never do! You
will want to cheer up a little, for your trip, you know."

"Trip?" says the wondering Virginian.

"Why, yes," innocently remarks Joseph Woods. "You are going to
New Orleans to look up about the Valois boy. Then you are to see
those bankers at Havana, and get proof before the Consul-General
about the documents. I want you to send your affidavit to me. I've
got a lawyer in New York, who is a man. I'll write him. You can
tell him all. I'm coming on there soon. After you get to New York
from Havana, you will go to Paris and stay there till I come."

Peyton smiles even in his sadness. "That's a long journey, but I
am yours, Colonel. Why do I go to Paris?"

"You are going to answer the letter of that dead man," impressively
remarks Joseph.

"How?" murmurs Peyton.

"By being a father to his lonely child and watching over her.
There's two girls there. You can keep an eye on them both. I'll
trap this old scoundrel here. You've got to leave this town. He
might suspect YOU when I start MY machinery.

"I'll plow deep here. I'll meet you in New York. Now, I want you
to take to-morrow's train. I'll run your stock account, Colonel
Henry," Woods remarks, with a laugh.

The next day, Peyton speeds away on his errand after receiving the
old miner's last orders. His whispered adieu was: "I'm going to
stand by my dead pardner's kid, for he thought of me at the last."



Peyton's good-bye rings in Woods' ears as the train leaves. The
boxes and parcels forced on the Confederate veteran, are tokens
of his affection. The cognac and cigars are of his own selection.
Joe's taste in creature comforts is excellent, and better than his

On the ferry, Joe surveys San Francisco complacently from the

"I've got those documents in the vaults. I'll have Peyton's evidence.
I rather fancy Captain Lee's biography will interest that dame in
Paris. I will prospect my friend Hardin's surroundings. He must
have some devil to do his dirty work. I will do a bit of 'coyote
work' myself. It's a case of dog eat dog, here."

Joseph classes all underhand business as "coyote work." He appreciates
the neatness with which that furtive Western beast has taken his
boots, soap, his breakfast and camp treasures under his nose.

Invincible, invisible, is the coyote.

"By Heavens! I'll make that old wolf Hardin jump yet!" Joseph swears
a pardonable oath.

After writing several telling letters to the Padre and Vimont, he
feels like a little stroll. He ordered Vimont to guard Louise Moreau
at any cost. "No funny business," he mutters.

"If she's the girl, that scoundrel might try to remove her from
this world," thinks Joseph. "As for the other girl, he's got a
tiger cat to fight in the 'de Santos.'"

Colonel Woods beams in upon the clerks of Judge Hardin. That magnate
is absent. The senatorial contest is presaged by much wire-pulling.

"I don't see the young man who used to run this shebang," carelessly
remarks the Croesus.

"Mr. Jaggers is not here any longer," smartly replies his pert
successor, to whom the fall of Jaggers was a veritable bonanza.

"What's the matter with him?" says Woods. "I wanted him to do a
job of copying for me."

The incumbent airily indicates the pantomime of conveying the too
frequent Bourbon to his lips.

"Oh, I see! The old thing," calmly says Woods. "Fired out for

The youth nods. "He is around Montgomery Street. You 'most always
will catch him around the 'old corner' saloon."

Joseph Woods is familiar with that resort of bibulous lawyers. He
wanders out aimlessly.

While Barney McFadden, the barkeeper, surveys Colonel Joseph
swallowing his extra cocktail, he admires himself in the mirror.
He dusts off his diamond pin with a silk handkerchief.

"Jaggers! Oh, yes; know him well. In back room playing pedro. Want

Woods bows. The laconic Ganymede drags Jaggers away from his ten-cent

Impelled by a telegraphic wink, Barney deftly duplicates the favorite
tipple of the Californian. The Golden State has been sustained in
its growth, by myriads of cocktails. It is the State coat of arms.

"Want to see me? Certainly, Colonel." Jaggers is aroused.

In a private room, Jaggers wails over his discharge. His pocket
is his only fear. Otherwise, he is in Heaven. His life now, is all
"Cocktails and poker!" "Poker and cocktails!" It leaves him little
time for business. Woods knows his man--a useful tool.

"Look here, Jaggers; I know your time is valuable." Jaggers bows
gravely; he smells a new twenty-dollar piece; it will extend his
"cocktail account." "I want you to do some business for me." Jaggers
looks stately.

"I'm your man, Colonel," says Jaggers, who is, strange to say, very
expert in his line. The trouble with Jaggers is, the saloon is not
near enough to Judge Hardin's office. The OFFICE should be in the
SALOON. It would save useless walking.

"I want you to search a title for me," says Colonel Joe, from
behind a cloud of smoke. Jaggers sniffs the aroma. Joseph hands
him several "Excepcionales."

Jaggers becomes dignified and cool. "Is there money in it, Colonel?"
he says, with a gleam of his ferret eyes.

"Big money," decisively says Woods.

"I'm very busy now," objects Jaggers. He thinks of his ten-cent
ante in that pedro game.

"I want you to give me your idea of the title to the Lagunitas
mine. I am thinking of buying in," continues Joe. "I'll give you
five hundred dollars, in cold twenties, if you tell me what you

"How soon?" Jaggers says, with a gasp.

"Right off!" ejaculates Woods, banging the bell for two more

Jaggers drains the fiery compound. He whispers with burning breath
in Woods' ears:

"Make it a cool thousand, and swear you'll look out for me. I'll
give the thing dead away. You know what a son-of-a-gun Hardin is?"

Woods bows. He DON'T know, but he is going to find out. "I'll give
you a job in my mine (the Golden Chariot), as time-keeper. You can
keep drunk all your life, except at roll-call. If Hardin hunts you
up there, I'll have the foreman pitch him down the shaft. Is this

"Honor bright!" says Jaggers, extending his palm. "Honor bright!"
says Joseph, who dares not look too joyous.

Jaggers muses over another cocktail. "You go to the bank, and get
a thousand dollars clean stuff. Give me a coup‚. I'll give you the
things you want, in half an hour. I've got 'em stowed away. Don't
follow me!"

Woods nods, and throws him a double-eagle. "I'll be here when
you come back. Keep sober till we're done. I'll give you a pass
to Virginia City, so you can finish your drunk in high altitudes.
It's healthier, my boy!" Joe winks.

Jaggers is off like a shot. Colonel Joseph walks two blocks to the
bank. He returns with fifty yellow double-eagles.

"Got to fight coyote style to catch a coyote!" is the murmur
of Colonel Woods to his inward monitor. "It's for the fatherless

"Barney," impressively says Joseph, "make me a good cocktail this
time! Send 'em in, ANY WAY, when that young man returns. His life
is insured. _I_ have to work for a living. Make one for yourself.
YOU are responsible."

Barney's chef d'oeuvre wins a smile from the genial son of Missouri.
As the last drops trickle down his throat, Jaggers enters. He has
had external cocktails. He is flushed, but triumphant.

"Colonel, you're a man of honor. There's your stuff." He throws an
envelope on the table.

Joseph Woods opens the packet. "Just count that, young man, while
I look at these."

He peruses the papers handed him, with interest. Jaggers follows

"This is all you have. Anything else in the office?" says Woods.

"Not a scratch. Colonel, I thought they would come in handy."
Jaggers' work is done.

"Take care of your money, my lad. It is yours," says Woods. He
rings for Barney, and indites a note to his foreman at the "Golden
Chariot." "You better get up there, to-night, Jaggers," he says,
handing him the note and a pass. "Your appointment is only good
for that train. You give that note to Hank Daly. He'll supply you
all the whiskey you want, free. By the way, the boys up there play
poker pretty well. Now you keep cool, or you'll get shot as well
as lose your money. Don't you forget to stay there, if it's ten
years till I want you. Daly will have orders for you.

"If you come back here, Hardin will kill you like a dog, if he
finds this out."

"And you?" murmurs Jaggers, who is imbibing the stirrup cup.

"Oh, I'll look out for that!" remarks cheerful Joe Woods. Armed
with substantial "persuaders," Jaggers leaves with an agent of
Barney's. He has orders to see Jaggers and his "baggage," started
for Virginia City.

Jaggers beams. Joe Woods never drops a friend. His future smiles
before him. Exit Jaggers.

Woods reads the documents. One is a press copy of a letter dated
January, 1864, addressed to Colonel Maxime Valois, from Hardin,
asking him to sell him the quartz claims on the Lagunitas grant.

The answer of Valois is written while recovering from his wounds.
It reads:

"TALLULAH, GEORGIA, March 1, 1864.

"MY DEAR HARDIN: I have your letter, asking me to sell you the
quartz leads on the Lagunitas grant. I am still suffering from my
wound, and must be brief.

"I cannot do this. My title is the title of my wife. I have no right
to dispose of her property by inheritance, without her consent.
She has my child to look after. As the ranch income may fail some
day, I will not cut off her chances to sell. It is her property. I
would not cloud it. I will join my regiment soon. If the war ends
and I live to return, I will arrange with you. I have no power to
do this, now, as my wife would have to join in the sale. I will
not ask her to diminish the value of the tract. I leave no lien on
this property. My wife and child have it free from incumbrance if
I die.

"Address me at Atlanta, Georgia.


"I think I hold four aces now, Mr. Philip Hardin," says Woods,
contemplating himself in the mirror over the bar as he settles with
the gorgeous Barney.

"By the way," remarks Woods, "Barney; if that young man owes you a
bill, send it around to my office." Barney escorts his visitor to
the door, bowing gratefully. Woods departs in a quandary.

"I guess I'll gather up all my documents, and take a look over
things. New York is the place for me to get a square opinion."

When Woods reaches New York he meets Peyton, successful in his
tour for evidence. On consultation with Judge Davis, his adviser,
Woods sends Peyton to Tallulah. It is likely Valois' papers may be
found, for the Colonel "joined" hurriedly on the last advance of
Sherman. Colonel Joseph imparts his ideas to his counsel. A certified
copy of the transfer recorded by Hardin, of the Lagunitas mine,
is sent on by Jaggers, directed in his trip by Hank Daly from the

In five days a despatch from Tallulah gladdens the miner, who longs
for Paris:

"Found and examined baggage. Original letter in my hands. Coming
with all. Many other papers.


On the Virginian's arrival Judge Davis instructs the friends. Woods
insists on Peyton taking joint charge of the quest for the orphan's

"Hardin is responsible under his trusteeship. You can't force
Peyton on him as co-executor. He has concealed the will. A suit
now would warn the villain and endanger the child's life. Take the
certified copy of the transfer to Paris. Get the priest's deposition
that the document is forged; then guard the girl as if she were
your life. In a few years the heiress will be entitled to claim her
estate. Keep the child near Paris, but change her residence often.
Watch the maid and Madame de Santos. Follow them to California.
Produce the girl you claim to be the heiress. I will give you a
letter to an advocate in Paris, who will close up the proof. Beware
of Hardin! If he suspects, the child's life may be in danger!"

"I'll kill him myself if there is any foul play!" roars Joe Woods.

"My dear Colonel, that would not bring the child back," remarks
Judge Davis, smiling at his handsome counsel fee. "Count on me!
Use the cable."

On the Atlantic the guardians agree on their duties. "I will
interview Madame de Santos when I close some business in London,"
says Woods grimly.

Peyton, with credentials to Padre Francisco, speeds from Liverpool
to Paris. He arrives none too soon.

Philip Hardin's villany strikes from afar!

Judge Hardin, passing the county seat, on his way to the mine,
looks in to obtain his annual tax papers. A voluble official remarks:

"Going to sell your mine, Judge?"

"Certainly not, sir," replies the would-be Senator, with hauteur.

"Excuse me. You sent for certified copies of the title. We thought
you were putting it on the market."

Hardin grows paler than his wont. Some one has been on the trail.
He asks no questions. His cipher-book is at San Francisco. Who is
on the track? He cannot divine. The man applying was a stranger
who attracted no attention. The Judge telegraphs to the mine for
his foreman to come to San Francisco. He returns to his house on
the hill. From his private safe he extracts the last letters of
Natalie de Santos.

Since her urgent appeal, she has been brief and cold. She is
waiting. Is this her stroke? He will see. Has anyone seen the child
and made disclosures? His heart flutters. He must now placate
Natalie. The child must be quickly removed from Paris. He dare not
give a reason. No, but he can use a bribe.

After several futile attempts he pens this cipher:

Remove child instantly to Dresden. Telegraph your address on
arrival. Definite settlement as you wished. Remember your promise.
Directions by mail. Imperative.


Hardin chafes anxiously before a reply reaches him. When he reads
it, he rages like a fiend. It clearly reads:

I will not obey. Marry me first. Come here. Keep your oath. I will
keep my promise. A settlement on the other child is no safeguard
to me. She must have a name. Letters final. Useless to telegraph.

When Hardin's rage subsides, he reviews the situation in his
palace. He is safe for years from an accounting, yet it is coming
on. If he brings the heiress to California, it will precipitate it.
Secret plans for the Senate of the United States are now maturing.
Marriage with Hortense. Impossible. His friends urge his giving
his name to an ambitious lady of the "blue blood" of his Southern
home. She is a relative of the head of the Democratic capitalists.
This is a "sine qua non." The lady has claims on these honors.
It has been a secret bargain to give his hand in return for that
seat. Hortense talks madness. Never.

As for facing her, he dare not. He has established her. She is
too subtle to risk herself out of the lines she has found safe.
Who can be the "Deus ex machina"?

Ah, that Italian meddler, Villa Rocca! Hardin weaves a scheme. He
will wait her letters. If the Italian is his enemy, he will lure
him to California and then----

Ah, yes, till then, patience--the patience of the tiger crouching
at the water-pool for his coming prey.

Peyton loses no time in Paris. He reaches the home of Aristide
Dauvray. He is welcomed by the circle. The young artists are busy
with brush and modelling tool. Woods' patronage has been a blessing.
The fame of his orders has been extended by the exhibition of the
works ordered by him. His bankers have directed the attention of
the travelling Americans to the young man.

Louise Moreau is no longer a bud, but an opening rose. So fair is
she, so lovely, that Armand feels his heart beat quicker when the
girl nears his canvas to admire his skill. By the direction of PŠre
Fran‡ois, she leaves the house no more for her lessons. There is
a secret guard of loving hearts around her.

PŠre Fran‡ois meets Peyton with open arms. They are to be joint
guardians over the innocent child of destiny.

At Peyton's hotel, the men commune. It is not strange that the
ex-Confederate is comfortably settled opposite the Dauvray mansion!
In an exchange of opinion with the able Josephine, it is agreed
that one of the young men or the Colonel shall be always at hand.

Woods meditates a "coup de maŒtre." He intends, on his arrival, to
remove the girl Louise where no malignity of Hardin can reach her,
to some place where even Marie B‚rard will be powerless. He will

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