Part 2 out of 3
people. Thatcher was a masculine reasoner, Carmen a feminine
feeler,--if I may be pardoned the expression. Thatcher wanted to
get at certain facts, and argue therefrom. Carmen wanted to get at
certain feelings, and then fit the facts to THEM.
"But I am NOT blaming you, Miss Carmen," he said gravely. "It WAS
stupid in me to confront you here with the property claimed by your
uncle and occupied by me, but it was a mistake,--no!" he added
hastily, "it was not a mistake. You knew it, and I didn't. You
overlooked it before you came, and I was too glad to overlook it
after you were here."
"Of course," said Carmen pettishly, "I am the only one to be
blamed. It's like you MEN!" (Mem. She was just fifteen, and
uttered this awful 'resume' of experience just as if it hadn't been
taught to her in her cradle.)
Feminine generalities always stagger a man. Thatcher said nothing.
Carmen became more enraged.
"Why did you want to take Uncle Victor's property, then?" she asked
"I don't know that it is your uncle's property."
"You--don't--know? Have you seen the application with Governor
Micheltorena's indorsement? Have you heard the witnesses?" she
"Signatures may be forged and witnesses lie," said Thatcher
"What is it you call 'forged'?"
Thatcher instantly recalled the fact that the Spanish language held
no synonym for "forgery." The act was apparently an invention of
el Diablo Americano. So he said, with a slight smile in his kindly
"Anybody wicked enough and dexterous enough can imitate another's
handwriting. When this is used to benefit fraud, we call it
'forgery.' I beg your pardon,--Miss De Haro, Miss Carmen,--what is
She had suddenly lapsed against a tree, quite helpless, nerveless,
and with staring eyes fixed on his. As yet an embryo woman,
inexperienced and ignorant, the sex's instinct was potential; she
had in one plunge fathomed all that his reason had been years
Thatcher saw only that she was pained, that she was helpless: that
was enough. "It is possible that your uncle may have been
deceived," he began; "many honest men have been fooled by clever
but deceitful tricksters, men and women--"
"Stop! Madre de Dios! WILL YOU STOP?"
Thatcher for an instant recoiled from the flashing eyes and white
face of the little figure that had, with menacing and clenched baby
fingers, strode to his side. He stopped. "Where is this
application,--this forgery?" she asked. "Show it to me!"
Thatcher felt relieved, and smiled the superior smile of our sex
over feminine ignorance. "You could hardly expect me to be trusted
with your uncle's vouchers. His papers of course are in the hands
of his counsel."
"And when can I leave this place?" she asked passionately.
"If you consult my wishes you will stay, if only long enough to
forgive me. But if I have offended you unknowingly, and you are
"I can go to-morrow at sunrise if I like?"
"As you will," returned Thatcher gravely.
They walked slowly back to the house, Thatcher with a masculine
sense of being unreasonably afflicted, Carmen with a woman's
instinct of being hopelessly crushed. No word was spoken until
they reached the door. Then Carmen suddenly, in her old, impulsive
way, and in a childlike treble, sang out merrily, "Good night, O
Don Royal, and pleasant dreams. Hasta manana."
Thatcher stood dumb and astounded at this capricious girl. She
saw his mystification instantly. "It is for the old Cat!" she
whispered, jerking her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of
the sleeping Mrs. P. "Good night,--go!"
He went to give orders for a peon to attend the ladies and their
equipage the next day. He awoke to find Miss De Haro gone, with
her escort, towards Monterey. And without the Plodgitt.
He could not conceal his surprise from the latter lady. She, left
alone,--a not altogether unavailable victim to the wiles of our
sex,--was embarrassed. But not so much that she could not say to
Thatcher: "I told you so,--gone to her uncle. . . . To tell him
"All. D--n it, WHAT can she tell him?" roared Thatcher, stung out
of his self-control.
"Nothing, I hope, that she should not," said Mrs. P., and chastely
She was right. Miss Carmen posted to Monterey, running her horse
nearly off its legs to do it, and then sent back her beast and
escort, saying she would rejoin Mrs. Plodgitt by steamer at San
Francisco. Then she went boldly to the law office of Saponaceous
Wood, District Attorney and whilom solicitor of her uncle.
With the majority of masculine Monterey Miss Carmen was known and
respectfully admired, despite the infelix reputation of her
kinsman. Mr. Wood was glad to see her, and awkwardly gallant.
Miss Carmen was cool and business-like; she had come from her uncle
to "regard" the papers in the "Red-Rock Rancho" case. They were
instantly produced. Carmen turned to the application for the
grant. Her cheek paled slightly. With her clear memory and
wonderful fidelity of perception she could not be mistaken. THE
SIGNATURE OF MICHELTORENA WAS IN HER OWN HANDWRITING!
Yet she looked up to the lawyer with a smile: "May I take these
papers for an hour to my uncle?"
Even an older and better man than the District Attorney could not
have resisted those drooping lids and that gentle voice.
"I will return them in an hour."
She was as good as her word, and within the hour dropped the papers
and a little courtesy to her uncle's legal advocate, and that night
took the steamer to San Francisco.
The next morning Victor Garcia, a little the worse for the previous
night's dissipation, reeled into Wood's office. "I have fears for
my niece Carmen. She is with the enemy," he said thickly. "Look
you at this."
It was an anonymous letter (in Mrs. Plodgitt's own awkward fist)
advising him of the fact that his niece was bought by the enemy,
and cautioning him against her.
"Impossible," said the lawyer; "it was only last week she sent thee
Victor blushed, even through his ensanguined cheeks, and made an
impatient gesture with his hand.
"Besides," added the lawyer coolly, "she has been here to examine
the papers at thy request, and returned them of yesterday."
Victor gasped: "And-you-you-gave them to her?"
"All? Even the application and the signature?"
"Certainly,--you sent her."
"Sent her? The devil's own daughter?" shrieked Garcia. "No! A
hundred million times, no! Quick, before it is too late. Give to
me the papers."
Mr. Wood reproduced the file. Garcia ran over it with trembling
fingers until at last he clutched the fateful document. Not
content with opening it and glancing at its text and signature, he
took it to the window.
"It is the same," he muttered with a sigh of relief.
"Of course it is," said Mr. Wood sharply. "The papers are all
there. You're a fool, Victor Garcia!"
And so he was. And, for the matter of that, so was Mr. Saponaceous
Wood, of counsel.
Meanwhile Miss De Haro returned to San Francisco and resumed her
work. A day or two later she was joined by her landlady. Mrs. P.
had too large a nature to permit an anonymous letter, written by
her own hand, to stand between her and her demeanor to her little
lodger. So she coddled her and flattered her and depicted in
slightly exaggerated colors the grief of Don Royal at her sudden
departure. All of which Miss Carmen received in a demure, kitten-
like way, but still kept quietly at her work. In due time Don
Royal's order was completed; still she had leisure and inclination
enough to add certain touches to her ghastly sketch of the
Nevertheless, as Don Royal did not return, through excess of
business, Mrs. Plodgitt turned an honest penny by letting his room,
temporarily, to two quiet Mexicans, who, but for a beastly habit of
cigarrito smoking which tainted the whole house, were fair enough
lodgers. If they failed in making the acquaintance of their fair
countrywoman, Miss De Haro, it was through the lady's pre-
occupation in her own work, and not through their ostentatious
"Miss De Haro is peculiar," explained the politic Mrs. Plodgitt to
her guests; "she makes no acquaintances, which I consider bad for
her business. If it had not been for me, she would not have known
Royal Thatcher, the great quicksilver miner,--and had his order for
a picture of his mine!"
The two foreign gentlemen exchanged glances. One said, "Ah, God!
this is bad," and the other, "It is not possible;" and then, when
the landlady's back was turned, introduced themselves with a
skeleton key into the then vacant bedroom and studio of their fair
countrywoman, who was absent sketching. "Thou observest," said Mr.
Pedro, refugee, to Miguel, ex-ecclesiastic, "that this Americano is
all-powerful, and that this Victor, drunkard as he is, is right in
"Of a verity, yes," replied Miguel, "thou dost remember it was
Jovita Castro who, for her Americano lover, betrayed the Sobriente
claim. It is only with us, my Pedro, that the Mexican spirit, the
real God and Liberty, yet lives!"
They shook hands nobly and with sentimental fervor, and then went
to work, i. e., the rummaging over the trunks, drawers, and
portmanteaus of the poor little painter, Carmen de Haro, and even
ripped up the mattress of her virginal cot. But they found not
what they sought.
"What is that yonder on the easel, covered with a cloth?" said
Miguel: "it is a trick of these artists to put their valuables
Pedro strode to the easel and tore away the muslin curtain that
veiled it; then uttered a shriek that appalled his comrade and
brought him to his side.
"In the name of God," said Miguel hastily, "are you trying to alarm
The ex-vaquero was trembling like a child. "Look," he said
hoarsely, "look, do you see? It is the hand of God," and fainted
on the floor!
Miguel looked. It was Carmen's partly-finished sketch of the
deserted furnace. The figure of Concho, thrown out strongly by the
camp fire, occupied the left foreground. But to balance her
picture she had evidently been obliged to introduce another,--the
face and figure of Pedro, on all fours, creeping towards the
PART III.--IN CONGRESS
WHO LOBBIED FOR IT
It was a midsummer's day in Washington. Even at early morning,
while the sun was yet level with the faces of pedestrians in its
broad, shadeless avenues, it was insufferably hot. Later the
avenues themselves shone like the diverging rays of another sun,--
the Capitol,--a thing to be feared by the naked eye. Later yet it
grew hotter, and then a mist arose from the Potomac, and blotted
out the blazing arch above, and presently piled up along the
horizon delusive thunder clouds, that spent their strength and
substance elsewhere, and left it hotter than before. Towards
evening the sun came out invigorated, having cleared the heavenly
brow of perspiration, but leaving its fever unabated.
The city was deserted. The few who remained apparently buried
themselves from the garish light of day in some dim, cloistered
recess of shop, hotel, or restaurant; and the perspiring stranger,
dazed by the outer glare, who broke in upon their quiet,
sequestered repose, confronted collarless and coatless specters of
the past, with fans in their hands, who, after dreamily going
through some perfunctory business, immediately retired to sleep
after the stranger had gone. Congressmen and Senators had long
since returned to their several constituencies with the various
information that the country was going to ruin, or that the outlook
never was more hopeful and cheering, as the tastes of their
constituency indicated. A few Cabinet officers still lingered,
having by this time become convinced that they could do nothing
their own way, or indeed in any way but the old way, and getting
gloomily resigned to their situation. A body of learned,
cultivated men, representing the highest legal tribunal in the
land, still lingered in a vague idea of earning the scant salary
bestowed upon them by the economical founders of the Government,
and listened patiently to the arguments of counsel, whose fees for
advocacy of claims before them would have paid the life income of
half the bench. There was Mr. Attorney-General and his assistants
still protecting the Government's millions from rapacious hands,
and drawing the yearly public pittance that their wealthier private
antagonists would have scarce given as a retainer to their junior
counsel. The little standing army of departmental employes,--
the helpless victims of the most senseless and idiotic form of
discipline the world has known,--a discipline so made up of caprice,
expediency, cowardice, and tyranny that its reform meant revolution,
not to be tolerated by legislators and lawgivers, or a despotism in
which half a dozen accidentally-chosen men interpreted their
prejudices or preferences as being that Reform. Administration
after administration and Party after Party had persisted in their
desperate attempts to fit the youthful colonial garments, made by
our Fathers after a by-gone fashion, over the expanded limits and
generous outline of a matured nation. There were patches here and
there; there were grievous rents and holes here and there; there
were ludicrous and painful exposures of growing limbs everywhere;
and the Party in Power and the Party out of Power could do nothing
but mend and patch, and revamp and cleanse and scour, and
occasionally, in the wildness of despair, suggest even the cutting
off the rebellious limbs that persisted in growing beyond the
swaddling clothes of its infancy.
It was a capital of Contradictions and Inconsistencies. At one end
of the Avenue sat the responsible High Keeper of the military
honor, valor, and war-like prestige of a great nation, without the
power to pay his own troops their legal dues until some selfish
quarrel between Party and Party was settled. Hard by sat another
Secretary, whose established functions seemed to be the
misrepresentation of the nation abroad by the least characteristic
of its classes, the politicians,--and only then when they had been
defeated as politicians, and when their constituents had declared
them no longer worthy to be even THEIR representatives. This
National Absurdity was only equaled by another, wherein an ex-
Politician was for four years expected to uphold the honor of a
flag of a great nation over an ocean he had never tempted, with a
discipline the rudiments of which he could scarcely acquire before
he was removed, or his term of office expired, receiving his orders
from a superior officer as ignorant of his special duties as
himself, and subjected to the revision of a Congress cognizant of
him only as a politician. At the farther end of the Avenue was
another department so vast in its extent and so varied in its
functions that few of the really great practical workers of the
land would have accepted its responsibility for ten times its
salary, but which the most perfect constitution in the world handed
over to men who were obliged to make it a stepping stone to future
preferment. There was another department, more suggestive of its
financial functions from the occasional extravagances or economies
exhibited in its payrolls,--successive Congresses having taken
other matters out of its hands,--presided over by an official who
bore the title and responsibility of the Custodian and Disburser of
the Nation's Purse, and received a salary that a bank-President
would have sniffed at. For it was part of this Constitutional
Inconsistency and Administrative Absurdity that in the matter of
honor, justice, fidelity to trust, and even business integrity, the
official was always expected to be the superior of the Government
he represented. Yet the crowning Inconsistency was that, from time
to time, it was submitted to the sovereign people to declare if
these various Inconsistencies were not really the perfect
expression of the most perfect Government the world had known. And
it is to be recorded that the unanimous voices of Representative,
Orator, and Unfettered Poetry were that it was!
Even the public press lent itself to the Great Inconsistency. It
was as clear as crystal to the journal on one side of the Avenue
that the country was going to the dogs unless the SPIRIT of the
Fathers once more reanimated the public; it was equally clear to
the journal on the other side of the Avenue that only a rigid
adherence to the LETTER of the Fathers would save the nation from
decline. It was obvious to the first-named journal that the
"letter" meant Government patronage to the other journal; it was
patent to that journal that the "shekels" of Senator X really
animated the spirit of the Fathers. Yet all agreed it was a great
and good and perfect government,--subject only to the predatory
incursions of a Hydra-headed monster known as a "Ring." The Ring's
origin was wrapped in secrecy, its fecundity was alarming; but
although its rapacity was preternatural, its digestion was perfect
and easy. It circumvolved all affairs in an atmosphere of mystery;
it clouded all things with the dust and ashes of distrust. All
disappointment of place, of avarice, of incompetency or ambition,
was clearly attributable to it. It even permeated private and
social life; there were Rings in our kitchen and household service;
in our public schools, that kept the active intelligences of our
children passive; there were Rings of engaging, handsome, dissolute
young fellows, who kept us moral but unengaging seniors from the
favors of the fair; there were subtle, conspiring Rings among our
creditors, which sent us into bankruptcy and restricted our credit.
In fact it would not be hazardous to say that all that was
calamitous in public and private experience was clearly traceable
to that combination of power in a minority over weakness in a
majority--known as a Ring.
Haply there was a body of demigods, as yet uninvoked, who should
speedily settle all that. When Smith of Minnesota, Robinson of
Vermont, and Jones of Georgia returned to Congress from these rural
seclusions so potent with information and so freed from local
prejudices, it was understood, vaguely, that great things would be
done. This was always understood. There never was a time in the
history of American politics when, to use the expression of the
journals before alluded to, "the present session of Congress" did
not "bid fair to be the most momentous in our history," and did
not, as far as the facts go, leave a vast amount of unfinished
important business lying hopelessly upon its desks, having "bolted"
the rest as rashly and with as little regard to digestion or
assimilation as the American traveller has for his railway
In this capital, on this languid midsummer day, in an upper room of
one of its second-rate hotels, the Honorable Pratt C. Gashwiler sat
at his writing-table. There are certain large, fleshy men with
whom the omission of even a necktie or collar has all the effect of
an indecent exposure. The Hon. Mr. Gashwiler, in his trousers and
shirt, was a sight to be avoided by the modest eye. There were
such palpable suggestions of vast extents of unctuous flesh in the
slight glimpse offered by his open throat that his dishabille
should have been as private as his business. Nevertheless, when
there was a knock at his door he unhesitatingly said, "Come in!"--
pushing away a goblet crowned with a certain aromatic herb with his
right hand, while he drew towards him with his left a few proof
slips of his forthcoming speech. The Gashwiler brow became, as it
were, intelligently abstracted.
The intruder regarded Gashwiler with a glance of familiar
recognition from his right eye, while his left took in a rapid
survey of the papers on the table, and gleamed sardonically.
"You are at work, I see," he said apologetically.
"Yes," replied the Congressman, with an air of perfunctory
weariness,--"one of my speeches. Those d----d printers make
such a mess of it; I suppose I don't write a very fine hand."
If the gifted Gashwiler had added that he did not write a very
intelligent hand, or a very grammatical hand, and that his spelling
was faulty, he would have been truthful, although the copy and
proof before him might not have borne him out. The near fact was
that the speech was composed and written by one Expectant Dobbs, a
poor retainer of Gashwiler, and the honorable member's labor as a
proof-reader was confined to the introduction of such words as
"anarchy," "oligarchy," "satrap," "palladium," and "Argus-eyed" in
the proof, with little relevancy as to position or place, and no
perceptible effect as to argument.
The stranger saw all this with his wicked left eye, but continued
to beam mildly with his right. Removing the coat and waistcoat of
Gashwiler from a chair, he drew it towards the table, pushing aside
a portly, loud-ticking watch,--the very image of Gashwiler,--that
lay beside him, and, resting his elbows on the proofs, said:
"Have you anything new?" asked the parliamentary Gashwiler.
"Much! a woman!" replied the stranger.
The astute Gashwiler, waiting further information, concluded to
receive this fact gaily and gallantly. "A woman?--my dear Mr.
Wiles,--of course! The dear creatures," he continued, with a fat,
offensive chuckle, "somehow are always making their charming
presence felt. Ha! ha! A man, sir, in public life becomes
accustomed to that sort of thing, and knows when he must be
agreeable,--agreeable, sir, but firm! I've had my experience,
sir,--my OWN experience,"--and the Congressman leaned back in his
chair, not unlike a robust St. Anthony who had withstood one
temptation to thrive on another.
"Yes," said Wiles impatiently, "but d--n it, she's on the OTHER
"The other side!" repeated Gashwiler vacantly.
"Yes, she's a niece of Garcia's. A little she devil."
"But Garcia's on our side," rejoined Gashwiler.
"Yes, but she is bought by the Ring."
"A woman!" sneered Mr. Gashwiler; "what can she do with men who
won't be made fools of? Is she so handsome?"
"I never saw any great beauty in her," said Wiles shortly,
"although they say that she's rather caught that d----d Thatcher,
in spite of his coldness. At any rate, she is his protegee. But
she isn't the sort you're thinking of, Gashwiler. They say she
knows, or pretends to know, something about the grant. She may
have got hold of some of her uncle's papers. Those Greasers were
always d----d fools; and, if he did anything foolish, like as not
he bungled or didn't cover up his tracks. And with his knowledge
and facilities too! Why, if I'd--" but here Mr. Wiles stopped to
sigh over the inequalities of fortune that wasted opportunities on
the less skillful scamp.
Mr. Gashwiler became dignified. "She can do nothing with us," he
Wiles turned his wicked eye on him. "Manuel and Miguel, who sold
out to our man, are afraid of her. They were our witnesses. I
verily believe they'd take back everything if she got after them.
And as for Pedro, he thinks she holds the power of life and death
"Pedro! life and death,--what's all this?" said the astonished
Wiles saw his blunder, but saw also that he had gone too far to
stop. "Pedro," he said, "was strongly suspected of having murdered
Concho, one of the original locators."
Mr. Gashwiler turned white as a sheet, and then flushed again into
an apoplectic glow. "Do you dare to say," he began as soon as he
could find his tongue and his legs, for in the exercise of his
congressional functions these extreme members supported each
other,--"do you mean to say," he stammered in rising rage, "that
you have dared to deceive an American lawgiver into legislating
upon a measure connected with a capital offense? Do I understand
you to say, sir, that murder stands upon the record--stands upon
the record, sir,--of this cause to which, as a representative of
Remus, I have lent my official aid? Do you mean to say that you
have deceived my constituency, whose sacred trust I hold, in
inveigling me to hiding a crime from the Argus eyes of justice?"
And Mr. Gashwiler looked towards the bell-pull as if about to
summon a servant to witness this outrage against the established
"The murder, if it WAS a murder, took place before Garcia entered
upon this claim, or had a footing in this court," returned Wiles
blandly, "and is no part of the record."
"You are sure it is not spread upon the record?"
"I am. You can judge for yourself."
Mr. Gashwiler walked to the window, returned to the table, finished
his liquor in a single gulp, and then, with a slight resumption of
"That alters the case."
Wiles glanced with his left eye at the Congressman. The right
placidly looked out of the window. Presently he said quietly,
"I've brought you the certificates of stock; do you wish them made
out in your own name?"
Mr. Gashwiler tried hard to look as if he were trying to recall the
meaning of Wiles's words. "Oh!--ah!--umph!--let me see,--oh, yes,
the certificates,--certainly! Of course you will make them out in
the name of my secretary, Mr. Expectant Dobbs. They will perhaps
repay him for the extra clerical labor required in the prosecution
of your claim. He is a worthy young man. Although not a public
officer, yet he is so near to me that perhaps I am wrong in
permitting him to accept a fee for private interests. An American
representative cannot be too cautious, Mr. Wiles. Perhaps you had
better have also a blank transfer. The stock is, I understand, yet
in the future. Mr. Dobbs, though talented and praiseworthy, is
poor; he may wish to realize. If some--ahem! some FRIEND--better
circumstanced should choose to advance the cash to him and run the
risk,--why, it would only be an act of kindness."
"You are proverbially generous, Mr. Gashwiler," said Wiles, opening
and shutting his left eye like a dark lantern on the benevolent
"Youth, when faithful and painstaking, should be encouraged,"
replied Mr. Gashwiler. "I lately had occasion to point this out in
a few remarks I had to make before the Sabbath school reunion at
Remus. Thank you, I will see that they are--ahem!--conveyed to
him. I shall give them to him with my own hand," he concluded,
falling back in his chair, as if the better to contemplate the
perspective of his own generosity and condescension. Mr. Wiles
took his hat and turned to go. Before he reached the door Mr.
Gashwiler returned to the social level with a chuckle:
"You say this woman, this Garcia's niece, is handsome and smart?"
"I can set another woman on the track that'll euchre her every
Mr. Wiles was too clever to appear to notice the sudden lapse in
the Congressman's dignity, and only said, with his right eye:
"By G-d, I WILL, or I don't know how to represent Remus."
Mr. Wiles thanked him with his right eye, and looked a dagger with
his left. "Good," he said, and added persuasively: "Does she live
The Congressman nodded assent. "An awfully handsome woman,--a
particular friend of mine!" Mr. Gashwiler here looked as if he
would not mind to have been rallied a little over his intimacy with
the fair one; but the astute Mr. Wiles was at the same moment
making up his mind, after interpreting the Congressman's look and
manner, that he must know this fair incognita if he wished to sway
Gashwiler. He determined to bide his time, and withdrew.
The door was scarcely closed upon him when another knock diverted
Mr. Gashwiler's attention from his proofs. The door opened to a
young man with sandy hair and anxious face. He entered the room
deprecatingly, as if conscious of the presence of a powerful being,
to be supplicated and feared. Mr. Gashwiler did not attempt to
disabuse his mind. "Busy, you see," he said shortly, "correcting
"I hope it is acceptable?" said the young man timidly.
"Well--yes--it will do," said Gashwiler; "indeed I may say it is
satisfactory on the whole," he added with the appearance of a large
generosity; "quite satisfactory."
"You have no news, I suppose," continued the young man, with a
slight flush, born of pride or expectation.
"No, nothing as yet." Mr. Gashwiler paused as if a thought had
"I have thought," he said, finally, "that some position--such as a
secretaryship with me--would help you to a better appointment.
Now, supposing that I make you my private secretary, giving you
some important and confidential business. Eh?"
Dobbs looked at his patron with a certain wistful, dog-like
expectancy, moved himself excitedly on his chair seat in a peculiar
canine-like anticipation of gratitude, strongly suggesting that he
would have wagged his tail if he had one. At which Mr. Gashwiler
became more impressive.
"Indeed, I may say I anticipated it by certain papers I have put in
your charge and in your name, only taking from you a transfer that
might enable me to satisfy my conscience hereafter in recommending
you as my--ahem!--private secretary. Perhaps, as a mere form, you
might now, while you are here, put your name to these transfers,
and, so to speak, begin your duties at once."
The glow of pride and hope that mantled the cheek of poor Dobbs
might have melted a harder heart than Gashwiler's. But the
senatorial toga had invested Mr. Gashwiler with a more than Roman
stoicism towards the feelings of others, and he only fell back in
his chair in the pose of conscious rectitude as Dobbs hurriedly
signed the paper.
"I shall place them in my portman-tell," said Gashwiler, suiting
the word to the action, "for safe keeping. I need not inform you,
who are now, as it were, on the threshold of official life, that
perfect and inviolable secrecy in all affairs of State"--Mr. G.
here motioned toward his portmanteau as if it contained a treaty at
least--"is most essential and necessary."
Dobbs assented. "Then my duties will keep me with you here?" he
"No, no," said Gashwiler hastily; then, correcting himself, he
added: "that is--for the present--no!"
Poor Dobbs's face fell. The near fact was that he had lately had
notice to quit his present lodgings in consequence of arrears in
his rent, and he had a hopeful reliance that his confidential
occupation would carry bread and lodging with it. But he only
asked if there were any new papers to make out.
"Ahem! not at present; the fact is I am obliged to give so much of
my time to callers--I have to-day been obliged to see half a dozen--
that I must lock myself up and say 'Not at home' for the rest of
the day." Feeling that this was an intimation that the interview
was over, the new private secretary, a little dashed as to his near
hopes, but still sanguine of the future, humbly took his leave.
But here a certain Providence, perhaps mindful of poor Dobbs, threw
into his simple hands--to be used or not, if he were worthy or
capable of using it--a certain power and advantage. He had
descended the staircase, and was passing through the lower
corridor, when he was made the unwilling witness of a remarkable
It appeared that Mr. Wiles, who had quitted Gashwiler's presence as
Dobbs was announced, had other business in the hotel, and in
pursuance of it had knocked at room No. 90. In response to the
gruff voice that bade him enter, Mr. Wiles opened the door, and
espied the figure of a tall, muscular, fiery-bearded man extended
on the bed, with the bedclothes carefully tucked under his chin,
and his arms lying flat by his side.
Mr. Wiles beamed with his right cheek, and advanced to the bed as
if to take the hand of the stranger, who, however, neither by word
or sign responded to his salutation.
"Perhaps I'm intruding?" said Mr. Wiles blandly.
"Perhaps you are," said Red Beard dryly.
Mr. Wiles forced a smile on his right cheek, which he turned to the
smiter, but permitted the left to indulge in unlimited malevolence.
"I wanted merely to know if you have looked into that matter?" he
"I've looked into it and round it and across it and over it and
through it," responded the man gravely, with his eyes fixed on
"And you have perused all the papers?" continued Mr. Wiles.
"I've read every paper, every speech, every affidavit, every
decision, every argument," said the stranger as if repeating a
Mr. Wiles attempted to conceal his embarrassment by an easy, right-
handed smile, that went off sardonically on the left, and
continued: "Then I hope, my dear sir, that, having thoroughly
mastered the case, you are inclined to be favorable to us?"
The gentleman in the bed did not reply, but apparently nestled more
closely beneath the coverlids.
"I have brought the shares I spoke of," continued Mr. Wiles,
"Hev you a friend within call?" interrupted the recumbent man
"I don't quite understand!" smiled Mr. Wiles. "Of course any name
you might suggest--"
"Hev you a friend, any chap that you might waltz in here at a
moment's call?" continued the man in bed. "No? Do you know any of
them waiters in the house? Thar's a bell over yan!" and he
motioned with his eyes towards the wall, but did not otherwise move
"No," said Wiles, becoming slightly suspicious and wrathful.
"Mebbe a stranger might do? I reckon thar's one passin' in the
hall. Call him in,--he'll do!"
Wiles opened the door a little impatiently, yet inquisitively, as
Dobbs passed. The man in bed called out, "Oh, stranger!" and, as
Dobbs stopped, said, "Come yar."
Dobbs entered a little timidly, as was his habit with strangers.
"I don't know who you be--nor care, I reckon," said the stranger.
"This yer man"--pointing to Wiles--"is Wiles. I'm Josh Sibblee of
Fresno, Member of Congress from the 4th Congressional District of
Californy. I'm jist lying here, with a derringer into each hand,--
jist lying here kivered up and holdin' in on'y to keep from blowin'
the top o' this d----d skunk's head off. I kinder feel I can't
hold in any longer. What I want to say to ye, stranger, is that
this yer skunk--which his name is Wiles--hez bin tryin' his d--dest
to get a bribe onto Josh, and Josh, outo respect for his
constituents, is jist waitin' for some stranger to waltz in and
stop the d--dest fight--"
"But, my dear Mr. Sibblee, there must be some mistake," said Wiles
"Mistake? Strip me!"
"No! No!" said Wiles, hurriedly, as the simple-minded Dobbs was
about to draw down the coverlid.
"Take him away," said the Hon. Mr. Sibblee, "before I disgrace my
constituency. They said I'd be in jail afore I get through the
session. Ef you've got any humanity, stranger, snake him out, and
pow'ful quick, too."
Dobbs, quite white and aghast, looked at Wiles and hesitated.
There was a slight movement in the bed. Both men started for the
door; and the next minute it closed very decidedly on the member
HOW IT WAS LOBBIED FOR
The Hon. Pratt C. Gashwiler, M.C., was of course unaware of the
incident described in the last chapter. His secret, even if it had
been discovered by Dobbs, was safe in that gentleman's innocent and
honorable hands, and certainly was not of a quality that Mr. Wiles,
at present, would have cared to expose. For, in spite of Mr.
Wiles's discomfiture, he still had enough experience of character
to know that the irate member from Fresno would be satisfied with
his own peculiar manner of vindicating his own personal integrity,
and would not make a public scandal of it. Again, Wiles was
convinced that Dobbs was equally implicated with Gashwiler, and
would be silent for his own sake. So that poor Dobbs, as is too
often the fate of simple but weak natures, had full credit for
duplicity by every rascal in the land.
From which it may be inferred that nothing occurred to disturb the
security of Gashwiler. When the door closed upon Mr. Wiles, he
indited a note which, with a costly but exceedingly distasteful
bouquet,--rearranged by his own fat fingers, and discord and
incongruity visible in every combination of color,--he sent off by
a special messenger. Then he proceeded to make his toilet,--an
operation rarely graceful or picturesque in our sex, and an insult
to the spectator when obesity is superadded. When he had put on a
clean shirt, of which there was grossly too much, and added a white
waistcoat, that seemed to accent his rotundity, he completed his
attire with a black frock coat of the latest style, and surveyed
himself complacently before a mirror. It is to be recorded that,
however satisfactory the result might have been to Mr. Gashwiler,
it was not so to the disinterested spectator. There are some men
on whom "that deformed thief, Fashion," avenges himself by making
their clothes appear perennially new. The gloss of the tailor's
iron never disappears; the creases of the shelf perpetually rise in
judgment against the wearer. Novelty was the general suggestion of
Mr. Gashwiler's full-dress,--it was never his HABITUDE;--and "Our
own Make," "Nobby," and the "Latest Style, only $15," was as patent
on the legislator's broad back as if it still retained the shop-
Thus arrayed, within an hour he complacently followed the note and
his floral offering. The house he sought had been once the
residence of a foreign Ambassador, who had loyally represented his
government in a single unimportant treaty, now forgotten, and in
various receptions and dinners, still actively remembered by
occasional visits to its salon; now the average dreary American
parlor. "Dear me," the fascinating Mr. X would say, "but do you
know, love, in this very room I remember meeting the distinguished
Marquis of Monte Pio;" or perhaps the fashionable Jones of the
State Department instantly crushed the decayed friend he was
perfunctorily visiting by saying, "'Pon my soul, YOU here;--why,
the last time I was in this room I gossiped for an hour with the
Countess de Castenet in that very corner." For, with the recall of
the aforesaid Ambassador, the mansion had become a boarding-place,
kept by the wife of a departmental clerk.
Perhaps there was nothing in the history of the house more quaint
and philosophic than the story of its present occupant. Roger
Fauquier had been a departmental clerk for forty years. It was at
once his practical good luck and his misfortune to have been early
appointed to a position which required a thorough and complete
knowledge of the formulas and routine of a department that expended
millions of the public funds. Fauquier, on a poor salary,
diminishing instead of increasing with his service, had seen
successive administrations bud and blossom and decay, but had kept
his position through the fact that his knowledge was a necessity to
the successive chiefs and employes. Once it was true that he had
been summarily removed by a new Secretary, to make room for a camp
follower, whose exhaustive and intellectual services in a political
campaign had made him eminently fit for anything; but the alarming
discovery that the new clerk's knowledge of grammar and etymology
was even worse than that of the Secretary himself, and that,
through ignorance of detail, the business of that department was
retarded to a damage to the Government of over half a million of
dollars, led to the reinstatement of Mr. Fauquier--AT A LOWER
SALARY. For it was felt that something was wrong somewhere, and as
it had always been the custom of Congress and the administration to
cut down salaries as the first step to reform, they made of Mr.
Fauquier a moral example. A gentleman born, of somewhat expensive
tastes, having lived up to his former salary, this change brought
another bread-winner into the field, Mrs. Fauquier, who tried, more
or less unsuccessfully, to turn her old Southern habits of
hospitality to remunerative account. But as poor Fauquier could
never be prevailed upon to present a bill to a gentleman, sir, and
as some of the scions of the best Southern families were still
waiting for, or had been recently dismissed from, a position, the
experiment was a pecuniary failure. Yet the house was of excellent
repute and well patronized; indeed, it was worth something to see
old Fauquier sitting at the head of his own table, in something of
his ancestral style, relating anecdotes of great men now dead and
gone, interrupted only by occasional visits from importunate
Prominent among what Mr. Fauquier called his "little family" was a
black-eyed lady of great powers of fascination, and considerable
local reputation as a flirt. Nevertheless, these social
aberrations were amply condoned by a facile and complacent husband,
who looked with a lenient and even admiring eye upon the little
lady's amusement, and to a certain extent lent a tacit indorsement
to her conduct. Nobody minded Hopkinson; in the blaze of Mrs.
Hopkinson's fascinations he was completely lost sight of. A few
married women with unduly sensitive husbands, and several single
ladies of the best and longest standing, reflected severely on her
conduct. The younger men of course admired her, but I think she
got her chief support from old fogies like ourselves. For it is
your quiet, self-conceited, complacent, philosophic, broad-waisted
paterfamilias who, after all, is the one to whom the gay and giddy
of the proverbially impulsive, unselfish sex owe their place in the
social firmament. We are never inclined to be captious; we laugh
at as a folly what our wives and daughters condemn as a fault; OUR
"withers are unwrung," yet we still confess to the fascinations of
a pretty face. We know, bless us, from dear experience, the exact
value of one woman's opinion of another; we want our brilliant
little friend to shine; it is only the moths who will burn their
two-penny immature wings in the flame! And why should they not?
Nature has been pleased to supply more moths than candles! Go to!--
give the pretty creature--be she maid, wife, or widow--a show!
And so, my dear sir, while mater-familias bends her black brows in
disgust, we smile our superior little smile, and extend to Mistress
Anonyma our gracious indorsement. And if giddiness is grateful, or
if folly is friendly,--well, of course, we can't help that. Indeed
it rather proves our theory.
I had intended to say something about Hopkinson; but really there
is very little to say. He was invariably good humored. A few
ladies once tried to show him that he really ought to feel worse
than he did about the conduct of his wife; and it is recorded that
Hopkinson, in an excess of good humor and kindliness, promised to
do so. Indeed the good fellow was so accessible that it is said
that young DeLancy of the Tape Department confided to Hopkinson his
jealousy of a rival; and revealed the awful secret that he
(DeLancy) had reason to expect more loyalty from his (Hopkinson's)
wife. The good fellow is reported to have been very sympathetic,
and to have promised Delaney to lend whatever influence he had with
Mrs. Hopkinson in his favor. "You see," he said explanatorily to
DeLancy, "she has a good deal to attend to lately, and I suppose
has got rather careless,--that's women's ways. But if I can't
bring her round I'll speak to Gashwiler,--I'll get him to use his
influence with Mrs. Hop. So cheer up, my boy, HE'LL make it all
The appearance of a bouquet on the table of Mrs. Hopkinson was no
rare event; nevertheless, Mr. Gashwiler's was not there. Its
hideous contrasts had offended her woman's eye,--it is observable
that good taste survives the wreck of all the other feminine
virtues,--and she had distributed it to make boutonnieres for other
gentlemen. Yet, when he appeared, she said to him hastily, putting
her little hand over the cardiac region:
"I'm so glad you came. But you gave me SUCH a fright an hour ago."
Mr. Gashwiler was both pleased and astounded. "What have I done,
my dear Mrs. Hopkinson?" he began.
"Oh, don't talk," she said sadly. "What have you done, indeed!
Why, you sent me that beautiful bouquet. I could not mistake your
taste in the arrangement of the flowers;--but my husband was here.
You know his jealousy. I was obliged to conceal it from him.
never--promise me now--NEVER do it again."
Mr. Gashwiler gallantly protested.
"No! I am serious! I was so agitated: he must have seen me blush."
Nothing but the gross flattery to this speech could have clouded
its manifest absurdity to the Gashwiler consciousness. But Mr.
Gashwiler had already succumbed to the girlish half-timidity with
which it was uttered. Nevertheless, he could not help saying:
"But why should he be so jealous now? Only day before yesterday I
saw Simpson of Duluth hand you a nosegay right before him!"
"Ah," returned the lady, "he was outwardly calm THEN, but you know
nothing of the scene that occurred between us after you left."
"But," gasped the practical Gashwiler, "Simpson had given your
husband that contract,--a cool fifty thousand in his pocket!"
Mrs. Hopkinson looked as dignifiedly at Gashwiler as was consistent
with five feet three (the extra three inches being a pyramidal
structure of straw-colored hair), a frond of faint curls, a pair of
laughing blue eyes, and a small belted waist. Then she said, with
a casting down of her lids:
"You forget that my husband loves me." And for once the minx
appeared to look penitent. It was becoming; but as it had been
originally practiced in a simple white dress, relieved only with
pale-blue ribbons, it was not entirely in keeping with be-flounced
lavender and rose-colored trimmings. Yet the woman who hesitates
between her moral expression and the harmony of her dress is lost.
And Mrs. Hopkinson was victrix by her very audacity.
Mr. Gashwiler was flattered. The most dissolute man likes the
appearance of virtue. "But graces and accomplishments like yours,
dear Mrs. Hopkinson," he said oleaginously, "belong to the whole
country." Which, with something between a courtesy and a strut, he
endeavored to represent. "And I shall want to avail myself of
all," he added, "in the matter of the Castro claim. A little
supper at Welcker's, a glass or two of champagne, and a single
flash of those bright eyes, and the thing is done."
"But," said Mrs. Hopkinson, "I've promised Josiah that I would give
up all those frivolities, and although my conscience is clear, you
know how people talk! Josiah hears it. Why, only last night, at a
reception at the Patagonian Minister's, every woman in the room
gossiped about me because I led the german with him. As if a
married woman, whose husband was interested in the Government,
could not be civil to the representative of a friendly power?"
Mr. Gashwiler did not see how Mr. Hopkinson's late contract for
supplying salt pork and canned provisions to the army of the United
States should make his wife susceptible to the advances of foreign
princes; but he prudently kept that to himself. Still, not being
himself a diplomat, he could not help saying:
"But I understood that Mr. Hopkinson did not object to your
interesting yourself in this claim, and you know some of the
The lady started, and said:
"Stock! Dear Mr. Gashwiler, for Heaven's sake don't mention that
hideous name to me. Stock, I am sick of it! Have you gentlemen no
other topic for a lady?"
She punctuated her sentence with a mischievous look at her
interlocutor. For a second time I regret to say that Mr. Gashwiler
succumbed. The Roman constituency at Remus, it is to be hoped,
were happily ignorant of this last defection of their great
legislator. Mr. Gashwiler instantly forgot his theme,--began to
ply the lady with a certain bovine-like gallantry, which it is to
be said to her credit she parried with a playful, terrier-like
dexterity, when the servant suddenly announced, "Mr. Wiles."
Gashwiler started. Not so Mrs. Hopkinson, who, however, prudently
and quietly removed her own chair several inches from Gashwiler's.
"Do you know Mr. Wiles?" she asked pleasantly.
"No! That is, I--ah--yes, I may say I have had some business
relations with him," responded Gashwiler rising.
"Won't you stay?" she added pleadingly. "Do!"
Mr. Gashwiler's prudence always got the better of his gallantry.
"Not now," he responded in some nervousness. "Perhaps I had better
go now, in view of what you have just said about gossip. You need
not mention my name to this-er--this--Mr. Wiles." And with one eye
on the door, and an awkward dash of his lips at the lady's fingers,
There was no introductory formula to Mr. Wiles's interview. He
dashed at once in medias res. "Gashwiler knows a woman that, he
says, can help us against that Spanish girl who is coming here with
proofs, prettiness, fascination, and what not! You must find her
"Why?" asked the lady laughingly.
"Because I don't trust that Gashwiler. A woman with a pretty face
and an ounce of brains could sell him out; aye, and US with him."
"Oh, say TWO ounces of brains. Mr. Wiles, Mr. Gashwiler is no
"Possibly, except when your sex is concerned, and it is very likely
that the woman is his superior."
"I should think so," said Mrs. Hopkinson with a mischievous look.
"Ah, you know her, then?"
"Not so well as I know him," said Mrs. H. quite seriously. "I wish
"Well, you'll find out if she's to be trusted! You are laughing,--
it is a serious matter! This woman--"
Mrs. Hopkinson dropped him a charming courtesy and said,
A RACE FOR IT
Royal Thatcher worked hard. That the boyish little painter who
shared his hospitality at the "Blue Mass" mine should afterward
have little part in his active life seemed not inconsistent with
his habits. At present the mine was his only mistress, claiming
his entire time, exasperating him with fickleness, but still
requiring that supreme devotion of which his nature was capable.
It is possible that Miss Carmen saw this too, and so set about with
feminine tact, if not to supplement, at least to make her rival
less pertinacious and absorbing. Apart from this object, she
zealously labored in her profession, yet with small pecuniary
result, I fear. Local art was at a discount in California. The
scenery of the country had not yet become famous; rather it was
reserved for a certain Eastern artist, already famous, to make it
so; and people cared little for the reproduction, under their very
noses, of that which they saw continually with their own eyes, and
valued not. So that little Mistress Carmen was fain to divert her
artist soul to support her plump little material body; and made
divers excursions into the regions of ceramic art, painting on
velvet, illuminating missals, decorating china, and the like. I
have in my possession some wax flowers--a startling fuchsia and a
bewildering dahlia--sold for a mere pittance by this little lady,
whose pictures lately took the prize at a foreign exhibition,
shortly after she had been half starved by a California public, and
claimed by a California press as its fostered child of genius.
Of these struggles and triumphs Thatcher had no knowledge; yet he
was perhaps more startled than he would own to himself when, one
December day, he received this despatch: "Come to Washington at
once.--Carmen de Haro."
"Carmen de Haro!" I grieve to state that such was the preoccupation
of this man, elected by fate to be the hero of the solitary amatory
episode of his story, that for a moment he could not recall her.
When the honest little figure that had so manfully stood up against
him, and had proved her sex by afterwards running away from him,
came back at last to his memory, he was at first mystified and then
self-reproachful. He had been, he felt vaguely, untrue to himself.
He had been remiss to the self-confessed daughter of his enemy.
Yet why should she telegraph to him, and what was she doing in
Washington? To all these speculations it is to be said to his
credit that he looked for no sentimental or romantic answer.
Royal Thatcher was naturally modest and self-depreciating in his
relations to the other sex, as indeed most men who are apt to be
successful with women generally are, despite a vast degree of
superannuated bosh to the contrary. To the half dozen women who are
startled by sheer audacity into submission there are scores who are
piqued by a self-respectful patience; and where a women has to do
half the wooing, she generally makes a pretty sure thing of it.
In his bewilderment Thatcher had overlooked a letter lying on his
table. It was from his Washington lawyer. The concluding
paragraph caught his eye,--"Perhaps it would be well if you came
here yourself. Roscommon is here; and they say there is a niece of
Garcia's, lately appeared, who is likely to get up a strong social
sympathy for the old Mexican. I don't know that they expect to
prove anything by her; but I'm told she is attractive and clever,
and has enlisted the sympathies of the delegation." Thatcher laid
the letter down a little indignantly. Strong men are quite as
liable as weak women are to sudden inconsistencies on any question
they may have in common. What right had this poor little bud he
had cherished,--he was quite satisfied now that he had cherished
her, and really had suffered from her absence,--what right had she
to suddenly blossom in the sunshine of power to be, perhaps,
plucked and worn by one of his enemies? He did not agree with his
lawyer that she was in any way connected with his enemies: he
trusted to her masculine loyalty that far. But here was something
vaguely dangerous to the feminine mind,--position, flattery, power.
He was almost as firmly satisfied now that he had been wronged and
neglected as he had been positive a few moments before that he had
been remiss in his attention. The irritation, although momentary,
was enough to decide this strong man. He telegraphed to San
Francisco; and, having missed the steamer, secured an overland
passage to Washington; thought better of it, and partly changed his
mind an hour after the ticket was purchased; but, manlike, having
once made a practical step in a wrong direction, he kept on rather
than admit an inconsistency to himself. Yet he was not entirely
satisfied that his journey was a business one. The impulsive, weak
little Mistress Carmen had prudently scored one against the strong
Only a small part of the present great trans-continental railway at
this time had been built, and was but piers at either end of a
desolate and wild expanse as yet unbridged. When the overland
traveller left the rail at Reno, he left, as it were, civilization
with it; and, until he reached the Nebraska frontier, the rest of
his road was only the old emigrant trail traversed by the coaches
of the Overland Company. Excepting a part of "Devil's Canyon," the
way was unpicturesque and flat; and the passage of the Rocky
Mountains, far from suggesting the alleged poetry of that region,
was only a reminder of those sterile distances of a level New
The journey was a dreary monotony that was scarcely enlivened by
its discomforts, never amounting to actual accident or incident,
but utterly destructive to all nervous tissue. Insanity often
supervened. "On the third day out," said Hank Monk, driver,
speaking casually but charitably of a "fare,"--"on the third day
out, after axing no end of questions and getting no answers, he
took to chewing straws that he picked outer the cushion, and
kussin' to hisself. From that very day I knew it was all over with
him, and I handed him over to his friends at 'Shy Ann,' strapped to
the back seat, and ravin' and cussin' at Ben Holliday, the
gent'manly proprietor." It is presumed that the unfortunate
tourist's indignation was excited at the late Mr. Benjamin
Holliday, then the proprietor of the line,--an evidence of his
insanity that no one who knew that large-hearted, fastidious, and
elegantly-cultured Californian, since allied to foreign nobility,
will for a moment doubt.
Mr. Royal Thatcher was too old and experienced a mountaineer to do
aught but accept patiently and cynically his brother Californian's
method of increasing his profits. As it was generally understood
that any one who came from California by that route had some dark
design, the victim received little sympathy. Thatcher's equable
temperament and indomitable will stood him in good stead, and
helped him cheerfully in this emergency. He ate his scant meals,
and otherwise took care of the functions of his weak human nature,
when and where he could, without grumbling, and at times earned
even the praise of his driver by his ability to "rough it." Which
"roughing it," by the way, meant the ability of the passengers to
accept the incompetency of the Company. It is true there were
times when he regretted that he had not taken the steamer; but then
he reflected that he was one of a Vigilance Committee, sworn to
hang that admirable man, the late Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt,
for certain practices and cruelties done upon the bodies of certain
steerage passengers by his line, and for divers irregularities in
their transportation. I mention this fact merely to show how so
practical and stout a voyager as Thatcher might have confounded the
perplexities attending the administration of a great steamship
company with selfish greed and brutality; and that he, with other
Californians, may not have known the fact, since recorded by the
Commodore's family clergyman, that the great millionaire was always
true to the hymns of his childhood.
Nevertheless, Thatcher found time to be cheerful and helpful to his
fellow passengers, and even to be so far interesting to "Yuba
Bill," the driver, as to have the box seat placed at his disposal.
"But," said Thatcher, in some concern, "the box seat was purchased
by that other gentleman in Sacramento. He paid extra for it, and
his name's on your way-bill!" "That," said Yuba Bill, scornfully,
"don't fetch me even ef he'd chartered the whole shebang. Look
yar, do you reckon I'm goin' to spile my temper by setting next to
a man with a game eye? And such an eye! Gewhillikins! Why, darn
my skin, the other day when we war watering at Webster's, he got
down and passed in front of the off-leader,--that yer pinto colt
that's bin accustomed to injins, grizzlies, and buffalo, and I'm
bless ef, when her eye tackled his, ef she didn't jist git up and
rar round that I reckoned I'd hev to go down and take them blinders
off from HER eyes and clap on HIS." "But he paid the money, and is
entitled to his seat," persisted Thatcher. "Mebbe he is--in the
office of the Kempeny," growled Yuba Bill; "but it's time some
folks knowed that out in the plains I run this yer team myself."--A
fact which was self-evident to most of the passengers. "I suppose
his authority is as absolute on this dreary waste as a ship
captain's in mid ocean," exclaimed Thatcher to the baleful-eyed
stranger. Mr. Wiles--whom the reader has recognized--assented with
the public side of his face, but looked vengeance at Yuba Bill with
the other, while Thatcher, innocent of the presence of one of his
worst enemies, placated Bill so far as to restore Wiles to his
rights. Wiles thanked him. "Shall I have the pleasure of your
company far?" Wiles asked insinuatingly. "To Washington," replied
Thatcher frankly. "Washington is a gay city during the session,"
again suggested the stranger. "I'm going on business," said
A trifling incident occurred at Pine-Tree Crossing which did not
heighten Yuba Bill's admiration of the stranger. As Bill opened
the double-locked box in the "boot" of the coach--sacred to Wells,
Fargo & Co.'s Express and the Overland Company's treasures--Mr.
Wiles perceived a small, black morocco portemanteau among the
parcels. "Ah, you carry baggage there too?" he said sweetly. "Not
often," responded Yuba Bill shortly. "Ah, this then contains
valuables?" "It belongs to that man whose seat you've got," said
Yuba Bill, who, for insulting purposes of his own, preferred to
establish the fiction that Wiles was an interloper; "and ef he
reckons, in a sorter mixed kempeny like this, to lock up his
portmantle, I don't know who's business it is. Who?" continued
Bill, lashing himself into a simulated rage, "who, in blank, is
running this yer team? Hey? Mebbe you think, sittin' up thar on
the box seat, you are. Mebbe you think you kin see round corners
with that thar eye, and kin pull up for teams round corners, on
down grades, a mile ahead?" But here Thatcher, who, with something
of Lancelot's concern for Modred, had a noble pity for all
infirmities, interfered so sternly that Yuba Bill stopped.
On the fourth day they struck a blinding snow-storm, while
ascending the dreary plateau that henceforward for six hundred
miles was to be their roadbed. The horses, after floundering
through the drift, gave out completely on reaching the next
station, and the prospects ahead, to all but the experienced eye,
looked doubtful. A few passengers advised taking to sledges,
others a postponement of the journey until the weather changed.
Yuba Bill alone was for pressing forward as they were. "Two miles
more and we're on the high grade, whar the wind is strong enough to
blow you through the windy, and jist peart enough to pack away over
them cliffs every inch of snow that falls. I'll jist skirmish
round in and out o' them drifts on these four wheels whar ye can't
drag one o' them flat-bottomed dry-goods boxes through a drift."
Bill had a California whip's contempt for a sledge. But he was
warmly seconded by Thatcher, who had the next best thing to
experience, the instinct that taught him to read character, and
take advantage of another man's experience. "Them that wants to
stop kin do so," said Bill authoritatively, cutting the Gordian
knot; "them as wants to take a sledge can do so,--thar's one in the
barn. Them as wants to go on with me and the relay will come on."
Mr. Wiles selected the sledge and a driver, a few remained for the
next stage, and Thatcher, with two others, decided to accompany
Yuba Bill. These changes took up some valuable time; and the storm
continuing, the stage was run under the shed, the passengers
gathering around the station fire; and not until after midnight did
Yuba Bill put in the relays. "I wish you a good journey," said
Wiles, as he drove from the shed as Bill entered. Bill vouchsafed
no reply, but, addressing himself to the driver, said curtly, as if
giving an order for the delivery of goods, "Shove him out at
Rawlings," and passed contemptuously around to the tail board of
the sled, and returned to the harnessing of his relay.
The moon came out and shone high as Yuba Bill once more took the
reins in his hands. The wind, which instantly attacked them as
they reached the level, seemed to make the driver's theory
plausible, and for half a mile the roadbed was swept clean, and
frozen hard. Further on a tongue of snow, extending from a boulder
to the right, reached across their path to the height of two or
three feet. But Yuba Bill dashed through a part of it, and by
skillful maneuvering circumvented the rest. But even as the
obstacle was passed, the coach dropped with an ominous lurch on one
side, and the off fore wheel flew off in the darkness. Bill threw
the horses back on their haunches; but, before their momentum could
be checked, the near hind wheel slipped away, the vehicle rocked
violently, plunged backwards and forwards, and stopped.
Yuba Bill was on the road in an instant with his lantern. Then
followed an outbreak of profanity which I regret, for artistic
purposes, exceeds that generous limit which a sympathizing public
has already extended to me in the explication of character. Let me
state, therefore, that in a very few moments he succeeded in
disparaging the characters of his employers, their male and female
relatives, the coach builder, the station keeper, the road on which
he travelled, and the travellers themselves, with occasional broad
expletives addressed to himself and his own relatives. For the
spirit of this and a more cultivated poetry of expression, I beg to
refer the temperate reader to the 3d chapter of Job.
The passengers knew Bill, and sat, conservative, patient, and
expectant. As yet the cause of the catastrophe was not known.
At last Thatcher's voice came from the box seat:
"What's up, Bill?"
"Not a blank lynch pin in the whole blank coach," was the answer.
There was a dead silence. Yuba Bill executed a wild war dance of
"Blank the blank ENCHANTED thing to blank!"
(I beg here to refer the fastidious and cultivated reader to the
only adjective I have dared transcribe of this actual oath which I
once had the honor of hearing. He will I trust not fail to
recognize the old classic daemon in this wild western objurgation.)
"Who did it?" asked Thatcher.
Yuba Bill did not reply, but dashed up again to the box, unlocked
the "boot," and screamed out:
"The man that stole your portmantle,--Wiles!"
"Don't worry about that, Bill. A 'biled' shirt, an extra collar,
and a few papers. Nothing more."
Yuba Bill slowly descended. When he reached the ground, he plucked
Thatcher aside by his coat sleeve:
"Ye don't mean to say ye had nothing in that bag ye was trying to
get away with?"
"No," said the laughing Thatcher frankly.
"And that Wiles warn't one o' them detectives?"
"Not to my knowledge, certainly."
Yuba Bill sighed sadly, and returned to assist in the replacing of
the coach on its wheels again.
"Never mind, Bill," said one of the passengers sympathizingly,
"we'll catch that man Wiles at Rawlings sure;" and he looked around
at the inchoate vigilance committee, already "rounding into form"
"Ketch him!" returned Yuba Bill, derisively, "why we've got to go
back to the station; and afore we're off agin he's pinted fur
Clarmont on the relay we lose. Ketch him! H-ll's full of such
There was clearly nothing to do but to go back to the station to
await the repairing of the coach. While this was being done Yuba
Bill again drew Thatcher aside:
"I allers suspected that chap's game eye, but I didn't somehow
allow for anything like this. I reckoned it was only the square
thing to look arter things gen'rally, and 'specially your traps.
So, to purvent troubil, and keep things about ekal, ez he was goin'
away, I sorter lifted this yer bag of hiz outer the tail board of
his sleigh. I don't know as it is any exchange or compensation,
but it may give ye a chance to spot him agin, or him you. It
strikes me as bein' far-minded and squar';" and with these words
he deposited at the feet of the astounded Thatcher the black
travelling bag of Mr. Wiles.
"But, Bill,--see here! I can't take this!" interrupted Thatcher
hastily. "You can't swear that he's taken my bag,--and--and,--
blank it all,--this won't do, you know. I've no right to this
man's things, even if--"
"Hold your hosses," said Bill gravely; "I ondertook to take charge
o' your traps. I didn't--at least that d----d wall-eyed-- Thar's
a portmantle! I don't know who's it is. Take it."
Half amused, half embarrassed, yet still protesting, Thatcher took
the bag in his hands.
"Ye might open it in my presence," suggested Yuba Bill gravely.
Thatcher, half laughingly, did so. It was full of papers and semi-
legal-looking documents. Thatcher's own name on one of them caught
his eye; he opened the paper hastily and perused it. The smile
faded from his lips.
"Well," said Yuba Bill, "suppose we call it a fair exchange at
Thatcher was still examining the papers. Suddenly this cautious,
strong-minded man looked up into Yuba Bill's waiting face, and said
quietly, in the despicable slang of the epoch and region:
"It's a go! Suppose we do."
HOW IT BECAME FAMOUS
Yuba Bill was right in believing that Wiles would lose no time at
Rawlings. He left there on a fleet horse before Bill had returned
with the broken-down coach to the last station, and distanced the
telegram sent to detain him two hours. Leaving the stage road and
its dangerous telegraphic stations, he pushed southward to Denver
over the army trail, in company with a half-breed packer, crossing
the Missouri before Thatcher had reached Julesburg. When Thatcher
was at Omaha, Wiles was already in St. Louis; and as the Pullman
car containing the hero of the "Blue Mass" mine rolled into
Chicago, Wiles was already walking the streets of the national
capital. Nevertheless, he had time en route to sink in the waters
of the North Platte, with many expressions of disgust, the little
black portmanteau belonging to Thatcher, containing his dressing
case, a few unimportant letters, and an extra shirt, to wonder why
simple men did not travel with their important documents and
valuables, and to set on foot some prudent and cautious inquiries
regarding his own lost carpet bag and its important contents.
But for these trifles he had every reason to be satisfied with the
progress of his plans. "It's all right," said Mrs. Hopkinson
merrily; "while you and Gashwiler have been working with your
'stock,' and treating the whole world as if it could be bribed,
I've done more with that earnest, self-believing, self-deceiving,
and perfectly pathetic Roscommon than all you fellows put together.
Why, I've told his pitiful story, and drawn tears from the eyes of
Senators and Cabinet Ministers. More than that, I've introduced
him into society, put him in a dress coat,--such a figure!--and you
know how the best folk worship everything that is outre as the
sincere thing. I've made him a complete success. Why, only the
other night, when Senator Misnancy and Judge Fitzdawdle were here,
after making him tell his story,--which you know I think he really
believes,--I sang 'There came to the beach a poor Exile of Erin,'
and my husband told me afterwards it was worth at least a dozen
"But about this rival of yours,--this niece of Garcia's?"
"Another of your blunders; you men know nothing of women. Firstly,
she's a swarthy little brunette, with dots for eyes; and strides
like a man, dresses like a dowdy, don't wear stays, and has no
style. Then, she's a single woman, and alone; and, although she
affects to be an artist, and has Bohemian ways, don't you see she
can't go into society without a chaperon or somebody to go with
"But," persisted Wiles, "she must have some power; there's Judge
Mason and Senator Peabody, who are constantly talking about her;
and Dinwiddie of Virginia escorted her through the Capitol the
Mistress Hopkinson laughed. "Mason and Peabody aspire to be
thought literary and artistic, and Dinwiddie wanted to pique ME!"
"But Thatcher is no fool--"
"Is Thatcher a lady's man?" queried the lady suddenly.
"Hardly, I should say," responded Wiles. "He pretends to be
absorbed in his swindle and devoted to his mine; and I don't think
that even you--" he stopped with a slight sneer.
"There, you are misunderstanding me again, and, what is worse, you
are misunderstanding your case. Thatcher is pleased with her
because he has probably seen no one else. Wait till he comes to
Washington and has an opportunity for comparison;" and she cast a
frank glance at her mirror, where Wiles, with a sardonic bow, left
Mr. Gashwiler was quite as confident of his own success with
Congress. "We are within a few days of the end of the session.
We will manage to have it taken up and rushed through before that
fellow Thatcher knows what he is about."
"If it could be done before he gets here," said Wiles, "it's a
reasonably sure thing. He is delayed two days: he might have been
delayed longer." Here Mr. Wiles sighed. If the accident had
happened on a mountain road, and the stage had been precipitated
over the abyss, what valuable time would have been saved, and
success become a surety. But Mr. Wiles's functions as an advocate
did not include murder; at least, he was doubtful if it could be
taxed as costs.
"We need have no fears, sir," resumed Mr. Gashwiler; "The matter is
now in the hands of the highest tribunal of appeal in the country.
It will meet, sir, with inflexible justice. I have already
prepared some remarks--"
"By the way," interrupted Wiles infelicitously, "where's your young
man,--your private secretary,--Dobbs?"
The Congressman for a moment looked confused. "He is not here.
And I must correct your error in applying that term to him. I have
never put my confidence in the hands of any one."
"But you introduced him to me as your secretary?"
"A mere honorary title, sir. A brevet rank. I might, it is true,
have thought to repose such a trust in him. But I was deceived,
sir, as I fear I am too apt to be when I permit my feelings as a
man to overcome my duty as an American legislator. Mr. Dobbs
enjoyed my patronage and the opportunity it gave me to introduce
him into public life only to abuse it. He became, I fear, deeply
indebted. His extravagance was unlimited, his ambition unbounded,
but without, sir, a cash basis. I advanced money to him from time
to time upon the little property you so generously extended to him
for his services. But it was quickly dissipated. Yet, sir, such
is the ingratitude of man that his family lately appealed to me for
assistance. I felt it was necessary to be stern, and I refused. I
would not for the sake of his family say anything, but I have
missed, sir, books from my library. On the day after he left, two
volumes of Patent Office reports and a Blue Book of Congress,
purchased that day by me at a store on Pennsylvania avenue, were
MISSING,--missing! I had difficulty, sir, great difficulty in
keeping it from the papers!"
As Mr. Wiles had heard the story already from Gashwiler's
acquaintances, with more or less free comment on the gifted
legislator's economy, he could not help thinking that the difficulty
had been great indeed. But he only fixed his malevolent eye on
Gashwiler and said:
"So he is gone, eh?"
"And you've made an enemy of him? That's bad."
Mr. Gashwiler tried to look dignifiedly unconcerned; but something
in his visitor's manner made him uneasy.
"I say it is bad, if you have. Listen. Before I left here, I
found at a boardinghouse where he had boarded, and still owed a
bill, a trunk which the landlord retained. Opening it, I found
some letters and papers to yours, with certain memoranda of his,
which I thought ought to be in YOUR possession. As an alleged
friend of his, I redeemed the trunk by paying the amount of his
bill, and secured the more valuable papers."
Gashwiler, whose face had grown apoplectically suffused as Wiles
went on, at last gasped: "But you got the trunk, and have the
"Unfortunately, no; and that's why it's bad."
"But, good God! what have you done with them?"
"I've lost them somewhere on the Overland Road."
Mr. Gashwiler sat for a few moments speechless, vacillating between
a purple rage and a pallid fear. Then he said hoarsely:
"They are all blank forgeries,--every one of them."
"Oh, no!" said Wiles, smiling blandly on his dexter side, and
enjoying the whole scene malevolently with his sinister eye. "YOUR
papers are all genuine, and I won't say are not all right, but
unfortunately I had in the same bag some memoranda of my own for
the use of my client, that, you understand, might be put to some
bad use if found by a clever man."
The two rascals looked at each other. There is on the whole really
very little "honor among thieves,"--at least great ones,--and the
inferior rascal succumbed at the reflection of what HE might do if
he were in the other rascal's place. "See here, Wiles," he said,
relaxing his dignity with the perspiration that oozed from every
pore, and made the collar of his shirt a mere limp rag. "See here,
WE"--this first use of the plural was equivalent to a confession--
"we must get them papers."
"Of course," said Wiles coolly, "if we CAN, and if Thatcher doesn't
get wind of them."
"He was on the coach when I lost them, coming East."
Mr. Gashwiler paled again. In the emergency he had recourse to the
sideboard and a bottle, forgetting Wiles. Ten minutes before Wiles
would have remained seated; but it is recorded that he rose, took
the bottle from the gifted Gashwiler's fingers, helped himself
FIRST, and then sat down.
"Yes, but, my boy," said Gashwiler, now rapidly changing situations
with the cooler Wiles; "yes, but, old fellow," he added, poking
Wiles with a fat forefinger, "don't you see the whole thing will be
up before he gets here?"
"Yes," said Wiles gloomily, "but those lazy, easy, honest men have
a way of popping up just at the nick of time. They never need
hurry; all things wait for them. Why, don't you remember that on
the very day Mrs. Hopkinson and I and you got the President to sign
that patent, that very day one of them d--n fellows turns up from
San Francisco or Australia, having taken his own time to get here,--
gets here about half an hour after the President had signed the
patent and sent it over to the office, finds the right man to
introduce him to the President, has a talk with him, makes him sign
an order countermanding its issuance, and undoes all that has been
done in six years in one hour."
"Yes, but Congress is a tribunal that does not revoke its decrees,"
said Gashwiler with a return of his old manner; "at least," he
added, observing an incredulous shrug in the shoulder of his
companion, "at least DURING THE SESSION."
"We shall see," said Wiles, quietly taking his hat.
"We shall see, sir," said the member from Remus with dignity.
WHAT CULTURE DID FOR IT
There was at this time in the Senate of the United States an
eminent and respected gentleman, scholarly, orderly, honorable,
and radical,--the fit representative of a scholarly, orderly,
honorable, and radical Commonwealth. For many years he had held
his trust with conscious rectitude, and a slight depreciation of
other forms of merit; and for as many years had been as regularly
returned to his seat by his constituency with equally conscious
rectitude in themselves and an equal skepticism regarding others.
Removed by his nature beyond the reach of certain temptations, and
by circumstances beyond even the knowledge of others, his social
and political integrity was spotless. An orator and practical
debater, his refined tastes kept him from personality, and the
public recognition of the complete unselfishness of his motives and
the magnitude of his dogmas protected him from scurrility. His
principles had never been appealed to by a bribe; he had rarely
been approached by an emotion.
A man of polished taste in art and literature, and possessing the
means to gratify it, his luxurious home was filled with treasures
he had himself collected, and further enhanced by the stamp of his
appreciation. His library had not only the elegance of adornment
that his wealth could bring and his taste approve, but a certain
refined negligence of habitual use, and the easy disorder of the
artist's workshop. All this was quickly noted by a young girl who
stood on its threshold at the close of a dull January day.
The card that had been brought to the Senator bore the name of
"Carmen de Haro"; and modestly in the right hand corner, in almost
microscopic script, the further description of herself as "Artist."
Perhaps the picturesqueness of the name, and its historic
suggestion caught the scholar's taste, for when to his request,
through his servant, that she would be kind enough to state her
business, she replied as frankly that her business was personal to
himself, he directed that she should be admitted. Then entrenching
himself behind his library table, overlooking a bastion of books,
and a glacis of pamphlets and papers, and throwing into his
forehead and eyes an expression of utter disqualification for
anything but the business before him, he calmly awaited the
She came, and for an instant stood, hesitatingly, framing herself
as a picture in the door. Mrs. Hopkinson was right,--she had "no
style," unless an original and half-foreign quaintness could be
called so. There was a desperate attempt visible to combine an
American shawl with the habits of a mantilla, and it was always
slipping from one shoulder, that was so supple and vivacious as to
betray the deficiencies of an education in stays. There was a
cluster of black curls around her low forehead, fitting her so
closely as to seem to be a part of the seal-skin cap she wore.
Once, from the force of habit, she attempted to put her shawl over
her head and talk through the folds gathered under her chin, but
an astonished look from the Senator checked her. Nevertheless,
he felt relieved, and rising, motioned her to a chair with a
heartiness he would have scarcely shown to a Parisian toilleta.
And when, with two or three quick, long steps, she reached his
side, and showed, a frank, innocent, but strong and determined
little face, feminine only in its flash of eye and beauty of lip
and chin curves, he put down the pamphlet he had taken up somewhat
ostentatiously, and gently begged to know her business.
I think I have once before spoken of her voice,--an organ more
often cultivated by my fair country-women for singing than for
speaking, which, considering that much of our practical relations
with the sex are carried on without the aid of an opera score,
seems a mistaken notion of theirs,--and of its sweetness, gentle
inflexion, and musical emphasis. She had the advantage of having
been trained in a musical language, and came of a race with whom
catarrhs and sore throats were rare. So that in a few brief
phrases she sang the Senator into acquiescence as she imparted the
plain libretto of her business,--namely, a "desire to see some of
his rare engravings."
Now the engravings in question were certain etchings of the early
Great Apprentices of the art, and were, I am happy to believe,
extremely rare. From my unprofessional view they were exceedingly
bad,--showing the mere genesis of something since perfected, but
dear, of course, to the true collector's soul. I don't believe
that Carmen really admired them either. But the minx knew that the
Senator prided himself on having the only "pot-hooks" of the great
"A," or the first artistic efforts of "B,"--I leave the real names
to be filled in by the connoisseur,--and the Senator became
interested. For the last year, two or three of these abominations
had been hanging in his study, utterly ignored by the casual
visitor. But here was appreciation! "She was," she added, "only a
poor young artist, unable to purchase such treasures, but equally
unable to resist the opportunity afforded her, even at the risk of
seeming bold, or of obtruding upon a great man's privacy," &c. &c.
This flattery, which, if offered in the usual legal tender of the
country, would have been looked upon as counterfeit, delivered here
in a foreign accent, with a slightly tropical warmth, was accepted
by the Senator as genuine. These children of the Sun are so
impulsive! We, of course, feel a little pity for the person who
thus transcends our standard of good taste and violates our
conventional canon,--but they are always sincere. The cold New
Englander saw nothing wrong in one or two direct and extravagant
compliments, that would have insured his visitor's early dismissal
if tendered in the clipped metallic phrases of the Commonwealth he
So that in a few moments the black, curly head of the little artist
and the white, flowing locks of the Senator were close together
bending over the rack that contained the engravings. It was then
that Carmen, listening to a graphic description of the early rise
of Art in the Netherlands, forgot herself and put her shawl around
her head, holding its folds in her little brown hand. In this
situation they were, at different times during the next two hours,
interrupted by five Congressmen, three Senators, a Cabinet officer,
and a Judge of the Supreme Bench,--each of whom was quickly but
courteously dismissed. Popular sentiment, however, broke out in
"Well, I'm blanked, but this gets me." (The speaker was a
"At his time o' life, too, lookin' over pictures with a gal young
enough to be his grandchild." (This from a venerable official,
since suspected of various erotic irregularities.)
"She don't handsome any." (The honorable member from Dakota.)
"This accounts for his protracted silence during the sessions." (A
serious colleague from the Senator's own State.)
"Oh, blank it all!" (Omnes.)
Four went home to tell their wives. There are few things more
touching in the matrimonial compact than the superb frankness with
which each confides to each the various irregularities of their
friends. It is upon these sacred confidences that the firm
foundations of marriage rest unshaken.
Of course the objects of this comment, at least ONE of them, were
quite oblivious. "I trust," said Carmen, timidly, when they had
for the fourth time regarded in rapt admiration an abominable
something by some Dutch wood-chopper, "I trust I am not keeping you
from your great friends:"--her pretty eyelids were cast down in
tremulous distress:--"I should never forgive myself. Perhaps it is
important business of the State?"
"Oh, dear, no! THEY will come again,--it's THEIR business."
The Senator meant it kindly. It was as near the perilous edge of a
compliment as your average cultivated Boston man ever ventures, and
Carmen picked it up, femininely, by its sentimental end. "And I
suppose I shall not trouble you again?"
"I shall always be proud to place the portfolio at your disposal.
Command me at any time," said the Senator, with dignity.
"You are kind. You are good," said Carmen, "and I--I'm but,--look
you,--only a poor girl from California, that you know not."
"Pardon me, I know your country well." And indeed he could have
told her the exact number of bushels of wheat to the acre in her
own county of Monterey, its voting population, its political bias.
Yet of the more important product before him, after the manner of
book-read men, he knew nothing.
Carmen was astonished, but respectful. It transpired presently
that she was not aware of the rapid growth of the silk worm in her
own district, knew nothing of the Chinese question, and very little
of the American mining laws. Upon these questions the Senator
enlightened her fully. "Your name is historic, by the way," he
said pleasantly. "There was a Knight of Alcantara, a "De Haro,"
one of the emigrants with Las Casas."
Carmen nodded her head quickly, "Yes; my great-great-great-g-r-e-a-t
The Senator stared.
"Oh, yes. I am the niece of Victor Castro, who married my father's
"The Victor Castro of the 'Blue Mass' mine?" asked the Senator
"Yes," she said quietly.
Had the Senator been of the Gashwiler type, he would have expressed
himself, after the average masculine fashion, by a long-drawn
whistle. But his only perceptible appreciation of a sudden
astonishment and suspicion in his mind was a lowering of the social
thermometer of the room so decided that poor Carmen looked up
innocently, chilled, and drew her shawl closer around her shoulders.
"I have something more to ask," said Carmen, hanging her head,--"it
is a great, oh, a very great favor."
The Senator had retreated behind his bastion of books again, and
was visibly preparing for an assault. He saw it all now. He had
been, in some vague way, deluded. He had given confidential
audience to the niece of one of the Great Claimants before
Congress. The inevitable axe had come to the grindstone. What
might not this woman dare ask of him? He was the more implacable
that he felt he had already been prepossessed--and honestly
prepossessed--in her favor. He was angry with her for having
pleased him. Under the icy polish of his manner there were certain
Puritan callosities caused by early straight-lacing. He was not
yet quite free from his ancestor's cheerful ethics that Nature, as
represented by an Impulse, was as much to be restrained as Order
represented by a Quaker.
Without apparently noticing his manner, Carmen went on, with a
certain potential freedom of style, gesture, and manner scarcely to
be indicated in her mere words. "You know, then, I am of Spanish
blood, and that, what was my adopted country, our motto was, 'God
and Liberty.' It was of you, sir,--the great Emancipator,--the
apostle of that Liberty,--the friend of the down-trodden and
oppressed,--that I, as a child, first knew. In the histories of
this great country I have read of you, I have learned your
orations. I have longed to hear you in your own pulpit deliver the
creed of my ancestors. To hear you, of yourself, speak, ah! Madre
de Dios! what shall I say,--speak the oration eloquent,--to make
the--what you call--the debate, that is what I have for so long
hoped. Eh! Pardon,--you are thinking me foolish,--wild, eh?--a
Becoming more and more dialectical as she went on, she said
suddenly, "I have you of myself offended. You are mad of me as a
bold, bad child? It is so?"
The Senator, as visibly becoming limp and weak again behind his
entrenchments, managed to say, "Oh, no!" then, "really!" and
"I am here but for a day. I return to California in a day, as it
were to-morrow. I shall never, never hear you speak in your place
in the Capitol of this great country?"
The Senator said hastily that he feared--he in fact was convinced--
that his duty during this session was required more at his desk, in
the committee work, than in speaking, &c., &c.
"Ah," said Carmen sadly, "it is true, then, all this that I have
heard. It is true that what they have told me,--that you have
given up the great party,--that your voice is not longer heard in
the old--what you call this--eh--the old ISSUES?"
"If any one has told you that, Miss De Haro," responded the Senator
sharply, "he has spoken foolishly. You have been misinformed. May
I ask who--"
"Ah!" said Carmen, "I know not! It is in the air! I am a stranger.
Perhaps I am deceived. But it is of all. I say to them, When
shall I hear him speak? I go day after day to the Capitol, I watch
him,--the great Emancipator,--but it is of business, eh?--it is the
claim of that one, it is the tax, eh? it is the impost, it is the
post-office, but it is the great speech of human rights--never,
NEVER. I say, 'How arrives all this?' And some say, and shake
their heads, 'never again he speaks.' He is what you call 'played--
yes, it is so, eh?--played out.' I know it not,--it is a word from
Bos-ton, perhaps? They say he has--eh, I speak not the English
well--the party he has shaken, 'shook,'-- yes,--he has the party
'shaken,' eh? It is right,--it is the language of Bos-ton, eh?"
"Permit me to say, Miss De Haro," returned the Senator, rising with
some asperity, "that you seem to have been unfortunate in your
selection of acquaintances, and still more so in your ideas of the
derivations of the English tongue. The--er--the--er--expressions
you have quoted are not common to Boston, but emanate, I believe,
from the West."
Carmen de Haro contritely buried everything but her black eyes in
"No one," he continued, more gently, sitting down again, "has the
right to forecast from my past what I intend to do in the future,
or designate the means I may choose to serve the principles I hold
or the party I represent. Those are MY functions. At the same
time, should occasion--or opportunity--for we are within a day or
two of the close of the Session--"
"Yes," interrupted Carmen, sadly, "I see,--it will be some business,
some claim, something for somebody,--ah! Madre de Dios,--you will
not speak, and I--"
"When do you think of returning?" asked the Senator, with grave
politeness; "when are we to lose you?"
"I shall stay to the last,--to the end of the Session," said
Carmen. "And NOW I shall go." She got up and pulled her shawl
viciously over her shoulders, with a pretty pettishness, perhaps
the most feminine thing she had done that evening. Possibly, the
The Senator smiled affably: "You do not deserve to be disappointed
in either case; but it is later than you imagine; let me help you
on the shorter distance in my carriage; it is at the door."
He accompanied her gravely to the carriage. As it rolled away, she
buried her little figure in its ample cushions and chuckled to
herself, albeit a little hysterically. When she had reached her
destination, she found herself crying, and hastily, and somewhat
angrily, dried her eyes as she drew up at the door of her lodgings.
"How have you prospered?" asked Mr. Harlowe, of counsel for Royal
Thatcher, as he gallantly assisted her from the carriage. "I have
been waiting here for two hours; your interview must have been
prolonged,--that was a good sign."
"Don't ask me now," said Carmen, a little savagely, "I'm worn out
Mr. Harlowe bowed. "I trust you will be better to-morrow, for we
expect our friend, Mr. Thatcher."
Carmen's brown cheek flushed slightly. "He should have been here
before. Where is he? What was he doing?"
"He was snowed up on the plains. He is coming as fast as steam can
carry him; but he may be too late."
Carmen did not reply.
The lawyer lingered. "How did you find the great New-England
Senator?" he asked with a slight professional levity.
Carmen was tired, Carmen was worried, Carmen was a little self-
reproachful, and she kindled easily. Consequently she said icily:
"I found him A GENTLEMAN!"
HOW IT BECAME UNFINISHED BUSINESS
The closing of the ---- Congress was not unlike the closing of the
several preceding Congresses. There was the same unbusiness-like,
impractical haste; the same hurried, unjust, and utterly inadequate
adjustment of unfinished, ill-digested business, that would not have
been tolerated for a moment by the sovereign people in any private
interest they controlled. There were frauds rushed through; there
were long-suffering, righteous demands shelved; there were honest,
unpaid debts dishonored by scant appropriations; there were closing
scenes which only the saving sense of American humor kept from being
utterly vile. The actors, the legislators themselves, knew it, and
laughed at it; the commentators, the Press, knew it and laughed at
it; the audience, the great American people, knew it and laughed at
it. And nobody for an instant conceived that it ever, under any
circumstances, might be otherwise.
The claim of Roscommon was among the Unfinished Business. The
claimant himself, haggard, pathetic, importunate, and obstinate,
was among the Unfinished Business. Various Congressmen, more or
less interested in the success of the claim, were among the
Unfinished Business. The member from Fresno, who had changed his
derringer for a speech against the claimant, was among the
Unfinished Business. The gifted Gashwiler, uneasy in his soul over
certain other Unfinished Business in the shape of his missing
letters, but dropping oil and honey as he mingled with his
brothers, was King of Misrule and Lord of the Unfinished Business.
Pretty Mrs. Hopkinson, prudently escorted by her husband, but
imprudently ogled by admiring Congressmen, lent the charm of her
presence to the finishing of Unfinished Business. One or two
editors, who had dreams of a finished financial business, arising
out of Unfinished Business, were there also, like ancient bards, to
record with paean or threnody the completion of Unfinished
Business. Various unclean birds, scenting carrion in Unfinished
Business, hovered in the halls or roosted in the Lobby.
The lower house, under the tutelage of the gifted Gashwiler, drank
deeply of Roscommon and his intoxicating claim, and passed the
half-empty bottle to the Senate as Unfinished Business. But, alas!
in the very rush, and storm, and tempest of the unfinishing
business, an unlooked-for interruption arose in the person of a
great Senator whose power none could oppose, whose right to free
and extended utterance at all times none could gainsay. A claim
for poultry, violently seized by the army of Sherman during his
march through Georgia, from the hen-coop of an alleged loyal
Irishman, opened a constitutional question, and with it the lips
of the great Senator.
For seven hours he spoke eloquently, earnestly, convincingly. For
seven hours the old issues of party and policy were severally taken
up and dismissed in the old forcible rhetoric that had early made
him famous. Interruptions from other Senators, now forgetful
of Unfinished Business, and wild with reanimated party zeal;
interruptions from certain Senators mindful of Unfinished Business,
and unable to pass the Roscommon bottle, only spurred him to fresh
exertion. The tocsin sounded in the Senate was heard in the lower
house. Highly-excited members congregated at the doors of the