by Laura E. Richards
BOOKS FOR GIRLS
By Laura E. Richards
The MARGARET SERIES
The HILDEGARDE SERIES
DANA ESTES &COMPANY
Estes Press, Summer St., Boston
[Illustration: RITA MONTFORT DREW HER DAGGER AND WAITED.]
LAURA E. RICHARDS
PEGGY, MARGARET MONTFORT, THREE
ETHELDRED B. BARRY
DANA ESTES &COMPANY
BY DANA ESTES&COMPANY
Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds &Co.
Boston, Mass., U.S.A.
FIVE GIRLS I KNOW
IN THE TOWN OF SAINT JO
If this story should seem extravagant to any of
my readers, I can only refer them to some one
of the many published accounts of the
Spanish-American War. They will find that many
delicate and tenderly nurtured girls were
forced to endure dangers and privations
compared to which Rita's adventures seem like
L. E. R.
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. ON
CHAPTER IV. THE
CAMP AMONG THE
CHAPTER V. TO
CHAPTER VI. IN
CHAPTER IX. IN
CHAPTER XII. FOR
CHAPTER XV. A
CHAPTER I. THREATENING WEATHER.
Señor the illustrious Don John Montfort.
Honoured Señor and Brother:There are several months that I
wrote to inform you of the deeply deplored death of my lamented
husband, Señor Don Richard Montfort. Your letter of condolation and
advice was balm poured upon my bleeding wounds, received before
yesterday at the hands of my banker, Don Miguel Pietoso. You are the
brother of my adored husband, your words are as if spoken from his
casket. You tell me, stay at home, remain in quietness, till these
alarms of war are over. Alas! respectable señor, to accomplish this?
Havana is since the shocking affair of the Maine in uproar; on
each side are threats, are cries, Death to the Americanos! My bewept
angel, Don Richard, was in his heart Spanish, by birth American; I see
brows black upon meme, a Castilian!when I go from my house. Already
they speak of to burn the houses of wealthy Americans, to drive forth
those dwelling in.
Again, señor, my daughter, your niece Margaritawhat to do, I ask
you, of this young person? She is Cuban, she is fanatic, she is
impossible. I apply myself to instruct her as her station and fortune
demand, as befits a Spanish lady of rank; she insubordinates me, she
makes mockery of my position as head of her house. She teach her parrot
to cry Viva Cuba Libre! She play at open windows her guitar, songs of
Cuban rebels, forbidden by the authorities. I exert my power, I exhort,
I command,she laughs me at the nose, and sings more loud. I attend
that in few days we are all the two in prison. What to do? you already
know that her betrothed, Señor Santillo de Santayana, is dead a year
ago of a calenture. Her grief was excessive; she intended to die, and
made preparation costing large sums of money for her obsequies. She
forget all now, she says, for her country. In this alarming time, the
freedom her father permitted her (his extreme philanthropy overcoming
his judgmatism) becomes impossible. I implore you, highly honoured
señor and brother, to write your commands to this unhappy child, that
she submit herself to me, her guardian in nature, until you can assert
your legal potencies. I intend shortly to make retreat in the holy
convent of the White Sisters, few miles from here. Rita accompanionates
me, and I trust there to change the spirit of rebellion so shocking in
a young person unmarried, into the soul docile and sheep-like as
becomes a highly native Spanish maiden. The Sisters are of justice
celebrated for their pious austerities and the firmness of their rule.
Rita will remain with them until peace is assured, or until your
emissaries apport distinct advice.
For me, your kind and gracious inquiries would have watered my heart
were it not already blasted. Desolation must attend my remaining years;
but through them all I shall be, dear señor and brother, your most
grateful and in affliction devoted sister and servant,
MARIA CONCEPCION DE NARAGUA MONTFORT.
Havana, April 30, 1898.
DEAREST, DEAREST UNCLE:My stepmother says she has written to you
concerning me. I implore you, as you loved your brother, my sainted
father, to believe no single word she says. This woman is of a
duplicity, a falseness, impossible for your lofty soul to comprehend.
It needs a Cuban, my uncle, to understand a Spaniard. She wants to take
me to the convent, to those terrible White Sisters, who will shave my
head and lacerate my flesh with heated scourges,Manuela has told me
about them; scourges of iron chains knotted and made hot,me, a
Protestant, daughter of a free American. Uncle John, it is my corpse
alone that she will carry there, understand that! Never will I go
alive. I have daggers; here on my wall are many of them, beautifully
arranged; I polish them daily, it is my one mournful pleasure; they are
sharp as lightning, and their lustre dazzles the eye. I have poison
also; a drop, and the daughter of your brother is white and cold at the
feet of her murderess. Enough! she will be avenged. Carlos Montfort
lives; and you, too, I know it, I feel it, would spring, would leap
across the sea to avenge your Rita, who fondly loves you. Hear me
swear, my uncle, on my knees; never, never will I go alive to that
place of death, the convent. (I pray you to pardon this blot; I spilt
the ink, kneeling in passion; what would you have?)
BELOVED MARGUERITE:I have written to our dear and honoured uncle
of the perils which surround me. My life, my reason, are at stake. It
may be that I have but a few weeks more to live. Every day, therefore,
dearest, let me pour out my soul to you, now my one comfort on earth,
since my heart was laid in the grave of my Santayana.
It is night; all the house is wrapped in slumber; I alone wake and
weep. I seldom sleep now, save by fitful snatches. I sit as at this
moment, by my little table, my taper illuminated, in my peignoir (you
would be pleased with my peignoir, my poor Marguerite! it is white
mousseline d'Inde, flowing very full from the shoulders, falling in
veritable clouds about me, with deep ruffles of Valenciennes and bands
of insertion; the ribbons white, of course; maidens should mourn in
white, is it not so, Marguerite? no colour has approached me since my
bereavement; fortunately black and white are both becoming to me, while
that other, Concepcion, looks like a sick orange in either. Even the
flowers in my room are solely white.)
It seems a thousand years since I heard from you, my cool snow-pearl
of cousins. Write more often to your Rita, she implores you. I pine for
news of you, of Uncle John, of all at dear, dear Fernley. Alas! how
young I was there! a simple child, sporting among the Northern daisies.
Now, in the whirlwind of my passionate existence, I look back to that
peaceful summer. For you, Marguerite, the green oasis, the palm-trees,
the crystal spring; for me, the sand storm and the fiery death. No
matter! I live and die a daughter of Cuba, the gold star on my brow,
the three colours painted on my heart. Good night, beloved! I kiss the
happy paper that goes to you. Till to-morrow, and while I live,
HAVANA, May 1, 1898.
Not until afternoon goes the mail steamer, Marguerite, only pearl of
my heart. I wrote you a few burning words last night; then I flung
myself on my bed, hoping to lose my sorrows for a few minutes in sleep.
I slept, a thing hardly known to me at present; it was the sleep of
exhaustion, Marguerite. When I woke, Manuela was putting back the
curtains to let in the light of dawn. It is still early morning, fresh
and dewy, and I am here in the garden. At no time of the day is the
garden more beautiful than now, in the purity of the day's birth. I
have described it to you at night, with the cocuyos gleaming
like lamps in the green dusk of the orange-trees, or the moonlight
striking the world to silver. I wish you could see it nowthis garden
of my soul, so soon, it may be, to be destroyed by ruthless hands of
savage Spaniards. The palms stand like stately pillars; till the green
plumes wave in the morning breeze, one fancies a temple or cathedral,
with aisles of crowned verdure. Behind these stand the banana-trees,
rows and rows, with clusters hanging thick, crimson and gold. Would
Peggy be happy here, do you think? Poor little Peggy! How often I long
to cut down a tree, to send her whole bunches of the fruit she delights
in. The mangoes, too! I used to think I could not live without mangoes.
When I went to you, it appeared that I must die without my fruits; now
their rich pulp dries untasted by my lips: what have I to do with food,
save the bare necessary to support what life remains? I am waiting now
for my coffee; at this moment Manuela brings it, with the grape-fruit
and rolls, and places it here on the table of green marble, close by
the fountain where I sit. The fountain soothes my suffering heart, as
it tinkles in the broad basin of green marble. Nature, Marguerite,
speaks to the heart of despair. You have not known despair, my best
one; may it be long, long before you do. Among her other vices, this
woman, Concepcion, would like to starve me, in my own house. She counts
the rolls, she knows how many lumps of sugar I put in my coffee; an
hour will dawnI say no more! I am patient, Marguerite, I am
forbearing, a statue, marble in the midst of fire; but beyond a certain
point I will not endure persecution, and I say to you, let Concepcion
Montfort, the widow of my sainted father, beware!
[Illustration: IN THE GARDEN.]
Adios, my Magnolia Flower! I must feed my birds. Already they are
awake and calling the mistress they love. They hangI have told
youin large airy cages, all round under the eaves of the summer-house
beside the fountain. They are beautiful, Margaret, the Java sparrows,
the little love-birds, the splendid macaw, the paroquets, and
mocking-birds; but king among them all is Chiquito, our parrot,
Marguerite, yours and mine, the one link here that binds me to my
Northern home; for I may call Fernley my home, Uncle John has said it;
the lonely orphan can think of one spot where tender hearts beat for
her, not passionately, but with steadfast pulses. Chico is in superb
health; he isI tell you every timea revelation in the animal
kingdom. More than this, he is a bird of heart; he feels for me, feels
intensely, in this dark time. Only yesterday he bit old Julio severely;
I am persuaded it was his love for me that prompted the act. Julio is a
Spaniard of the Spaniards, the slave of Concepcion. He attempted to
cajole my Chico, he offered him sugar. To-day he goes with his arm in a
sling, and curses the Cuban bird, with threats against his life. Never
mind, Marguerite! a time will soon comeI can say no more. I am dumb;
the grave is less silent; but do you think your Rita will submit
eternally to tyranny and despotism? No, you know she will not, it is
not her nature. You look, my best one, for some outbreak of my
passionate nature, you attend that the volcano spring some sudden hour
into flame, overwhelming all in its path. You are right, heart of my
heart. You shall not be disappointed. Rita will prove herself worthy of
your love. How? hush! ask not, dream not! trust me and be silent.
MARGARITA DE SAN REAL MONTFORT.
CHAPTER II. THE STORM BURSTS.
GREATLY HONOURED SIR:I permit myself the privilege of addressing
your Excellency, my name being known to you as man of business of late
your admired brother, Señor Don Ricardo Montfort. I find myself, señor,
in a position of great hardness between the two admirable ladies,
Señora Montfort, widow of Don Ricardo, and his beautiful daughter, the
Señorita Margarita. These ladies, admirable, as I have said, in beauty,
character, and abilities, find it, nevertheless, impossible to live in
harmony. As man of affairs, I am present at painful scenes, which wring
the heart. Each cries to me to save her from the other. The señora
desires to make retreat at the convent of the White Sisters, thrice
holy and beatified persons, but of a strictness repugnant to the lively
and ardent spirit of the señorita. Last evening took place a terrible
enactment, at which I most unluckily assisted. Señora Montfort
permitted her lofty spirit to assert itself more strongly than her
delicate corporosity was able to endure, and fell into violent
hystericality. Her shrieks wanted little of arousing the neighbourhood;
the servants became appalled and lost their reason. Señorita Margarita
maintained her calmness, and even refused to consider the señora's
condition as serious. On the assurance of the young lady and the
señora's maid, I was obliged to accept the belief that the señora would
shortly recover if left to herself, and came away in deep grief,
leaving that illustrious matronI speak with respectin fits upon the
floor. One would have said, a child of six deprived of its toy. Greatly
honoured Señor Montfort, I am a man no longer young. Having myself no
conjugal ameliorations, I make no pretence to comprehend the more
delicate and complex nature of females. I am cut to the heart; the
señora scrupled not to address me as Old Fool. Heaven is my witness
that I have endeavoured of my best lights to smoothen the path for her
well-born and at present bereaved feet. But what can I do? Neither lady
will listen to me. The señorita, let me hasten to say, shows me always
a tender, I might without too great a presumption say a filial,
kindness. I held her in my arms from the day of her birth, señor; she
is the flower of the world to me. When she takes me by the hands and
says, Dear old Donito Miguelito, let me do as I desire and all will be
well! I have no strength to resist her. Had I a house of my own, I
would take this charming child home with me, to be my daughter while
she would; buta bachelor living in two roomswhat would you, señor?
it is not possible. Deign, I beseech you, to consider this my
respectful report, and if circumstances are proprietary come to my
assistance, or send me instructions how to act.
Accept, señor, the assurance of my perfect consideration, and
Your obedient, humble servant,
TO THE HONOURABLE SEÑOR DON JOHN MONTFORT.
Honoured and dear Brother:Since I wrote you last week,
things the most frightful have happened. Rita's conduct grew more and
more violent and unruled; in despair, I sent for Don Miguel. This old
man, though of irreproached character, is of a weakness pitiable to see
in one wearing the form of mankind. I called upon him to uphold me, and
command Rita to obey the wife of her father. He had only smooth words
for each of us, and endeavoured to charm this wretched child, when
terror should have been his weapon. I leave you to imagine if she was
influenced by his gentle admonitions. To my face she caressed him, and
he responded to her caresses. Don Miguel is an old man, eighty years of
age, but nevertheless my anger, my just anger, rose to a height beyond
my power of control. I fainted from excess of emotion; I lay as one
dead, and no heart stirred of my sufferings. Since then I have been in
my bed, with no power more than has a babe of the cradle. This morning
Margarita came to me and expressed regret for her conduct, saying that
she was willing from now to submit herself to my righteous authority. I
forgave her,I am a Christian, dear brother, and cannot forget the
principles of my holy religion,and we embraced with tears. This
evening we go to the convent, where I hope to find ease for my
soul-wounds and to subdue the frightful disposition of my stepdaughter.
I feel it my duty to relate these occurrences to you, dear and honoured
brother, for I feel that I may succumb under the weight of my
afflictions. We start this evening, and Don Miguel will inform you of
our departure and safe arrival at the holy convent, whither he
Permit me to express, dear brother, the sentiments of exalted
consideration with which I must ever regard you as next in blood to my
adored consort, and believe me
MARIA CONCEPCION DE NARAGUA MONTFORT.
GREATLY HONOURED AND ILLUSTRIOUS SIR:Let me entreat you to prepare
yourself for news of alarming nature. Yesterday evening I was honoured
by the commands of the Señora Montfort, that I convey her and Señorita
Margarita to the holy convent of the White Sisters. My age, señor, is
such that a scene of emotion is infinitely distressing to me, but I
could not disobey the commands of this illustrious lady, the widow of
my kindest patron and friend. I went, prepared for tears, for outcries,
perhaps for violent resistance, for the ardent and high-strung nature
of my beloved Señorita Margarita is well known to me. Figure to
yourself, honoured señor, my surprise at finding this charming damsel
calm, composed, even smiling. She greeted me with her accustomed
tenderness; a more enchanting personality does not, I am assured, adorn
the earth than that of this lovely child. She bade me have no alarms
for her, that all was well, she was reconciled to her lot; indeed, she
added that she could not now wish things otherwise. Amazed, but also
enchanted with her docility and sweetness, I gave her an old man's
blessing, and my prayers that the rigour of the holy Sisters might be
softened toward her tender and high-spirited youth. She replied that
she had no fear of the Sisters; that in truth she thought they would
give her no trouble of any kind. I was ravished with this assurance,
having, I may confess it to you, señor, dreaded the contact between the
señorita and the holy Mother, a woman of incredible force and piety.
But I must hasten my narrative. At seven o'clock last evening two
volantes were in readiness at the door of the Montfort mansion. The
first was driven by the señora's own man, the second by Pasquale, a
negro devoted since childhood to the señorita. The señora would have
placed her daughter in the first of these vehicles; but no! the
señorita sprang lightly into the second volante, followed by her maid,
a young person, also tenderly attached to her. Interposing myself to
produce calm, I persuade the admirable señora to take the position that
etiquette commanded, in the first carriage. It is done; I seat myself
by her side; procession is made. The way to the convent of the White
Sisters, señor, is a steep and rugged one; on either hand are savage
passes, are mountains of precipitation. To conceive what happened, how
is it possible? When we reached the convent gate, the second volante
was empty. Assassinated with terror, I make demand of Pasquale; he
admits that he may have slept during the long traject up the hill. He
swears that he heard no sound, that no word was addressed to him. He
calls the saints to witness that he is innocent; the saints make no
reply, but that is not uncommon. I search; I rend the air with my
cries; alone silence responds to me. The señora is carried fainting
into the convent, and I return to Havana, a man distracted. I should
say that in the carriage was found the long mantle in which the
señorita had been gracefully attired; to its fold a note pinned,
addressed me in affectionate terms, begging her dear Donito Miguelito
not to have fear, that she was going to Don Carlos, her brother, and
all would be well. Since then is two days, señor, that I have not
closed the eye. I attend a fit of illness, from grief and anxiousness.
In duty I intelligence you of this dolorous event, praying you not to
think me guilty of sin without pardon. I have deputed a messenger of
trust to scrub thoroughly the country in search of Don Carlos, death to
await him if he return without news of my beloved señorita. He is gone
now twelve hours. If it arrive me at any moment the tidings, I make
instantly to convey them to your Excellency, whether of joy or
Receive, highly honoured señor, the assurance of my consideration
the most elevated.
CHAPTER III. ON THE WAY.
Ah, señorita! what will become of us? I can go no farther. Will
this wilderness never end?
Courage, Manuela! Courage, daughter of Cuba! See, it is growing
light already. Look at those streaks of gold in the east. A few
moments, and the sky will be bright; then we shall see where we are
going, and all will be well. In the meantime, we are free, and on Cuban
soil. What can harm us?
Rita looked around her with kindling eyes. She was standing on a
rock that jutted from the hillside; it was a friendly rock, and they
had been sleeping under it, wrapped in their warm cloaks, for the night
was cool. A group of palms nodded their green plumes over the rock; on
every side stretched a tangle of shrubs and tall grasses, broken here
and there by palms, or by rocks like this. Standing thus in the early
morning light, Rita was a picturesque figure indeed. She was dressed in
a blouse and short skirt of black serge, with a white kerchief knotted
around her throat, and another twisted carelessly around her
broad-brimmed straw hat. Her beautiful face was alight with eager
inquiry and determination; her eyes roved over the landscape, as if
seeking some familiar figure; but all was strange so far. Manuela,
crouching at the foot of the rock, had lost, for the moment, all the
fire of her patriotism. She was cold, poor Manuela; also, she had had a
heavy bag to carry, and her arms ached, and she was hungry, and, if the
truth must be told, rather cross. It was absurd to bring all these
things into the desert. What use for the white silk blouse, or the lace
fichu? but indeed they had no weight, whereas this monster of a
How is Chico? asked Rita, coming down from the rock. Poor bird!
what does he think of our wandering? he must be in need of food,
Manuela. You brought the box of seed?
I did, señorita; as to the need of birdseed in a wilderness of
hideous forest, I have nothing to say. My fingers are so cramped from
carrying this detestable cage, I shall never recover the full use of
them. But the señorita must be obeyed.
Assuredly she must be obeyed! said Rita; and a flash of her eyes
added force to the words. Could I have come away, I ask you, and left
this faithful, this patriot bird, to starve, or be murdered outright?
Old Julio would have wrung his neck, you know it well, Manuela, the
first time he spoke out from his heart, spoke the words of freedom and
patriotism that his mistress has taught him. Poor Chiquito! thou lovest
me? thou art glad that I brought thee away from that place of tyranny
and bloodshed? speak to thy mistress, Chico!
But Chico's spirits had been ruffled, as well as Manuela's, by being
carried about in his cage, at unseemly hours, when he should have been
hanging quietly in the verandah, where he belonged. He looked sulky,
and only said, Caramba! no mi gusta!
He is hungry! he starves! cried Rita; give me the seed! Sitting
down on the rock, she proceeded to feed the parrot, as composedly as if
they were indeed on the wide shaded verandah, instead of on a wild
hillside, far from sight or sound of anything human.
And the señorita's own breakfast? said Manuela at last, when
Chiquito had had enough, and had deigned to relax a little, and even to
mutter, Mi gustan todas! Is the señorita not also dying of
hunger? for myself, I perish, but that is of little consequence, save
that my death will leave the señorita alonewith the parrot.
Rita burst into merry laughter. My poor Manuela! she said. Thou
shalt not perish. Breakfast? we will have it this moment. Where is the
The bag being produced,it really was a heavy one, and it was
hardly to be wondered at that Manuela should be a little peevish about
it,Rita drew from it a substantial box of chocolate, and a tin of
biscuits. My child, we breakfast! she announced. If kings desire to
breakfast more royally, I make them my compliment. For free Cubans,
bread and chocolate is a feast. Feast, then, Manuela mine. Eat, and be
Breador rather, delicate biscuits, and chocolate, were indeed a
feast to the two hungry girls. They nibbled and crunched, and Manuela's
spirits rose with every bite. Rita's had no need to rise. She was
having a real adventure; her dreams were coming true; she was a
bona-fide heroine, in a bona-fide situation. What have we in the
bag, best of Manuelas? she asked. I told you in a general way; I even
added some trifles, for Carlos's comfort; poor dear Carlos! But tell me
what you put in, my best one!
Manuela cast a rueful glance at the plump valise.
The white silk blouse, she said; the white peignoir with
In case of sickness! cried Rita, interrupting. You would not have
me ill, far from my home, and bereft of every slightest comfort,
Manuela? surely you would not; I know your kind heart too well.
Besides, the peignoir weighs nothing; a feather, a puff of vapour. Go
on! what else?
Changes of linen, of course, said Manuela. The gold-mounted
toilet-set; two bottles of eau de Cologne; cigarettes for the Señorito
Don Carlos; bonbons; the ivory writing-case; the feather fan; three
pairs of shoes
Enough! enough! cried Rita. We shall do well, Manuela. You have
been an angel of thoughtfulness. You did not bring any jewels? no? I
thought perhaps the Etruscan gold set, so simple, yet so rich, might
suit my altered life well enough; but no matter. After all, what have I
to do with jewels now? The next question is, how are we to find
To find Don Carlos? echoed Manuela. You know where he is,
But, assuredly! said Rita, and she looked about her confidently.
Here! repeated Manuela.
In the mountains! said Rita, waving her hand vaguely in the
direction of the horizon. It is a search; we must look for him,
without doubt; but he isheresomewhere. Come, Manuela, do not look
so despairing. I tell you, we shall meet friends, it may be at any
turn. The mountains are full of the soldiers of Cuba; the first ones we
meet will take us to Carlos.
Yes, said Manuela. But what if we met the others, señorita? what
if we met the Spanish soldiers first? Hark! what was that?
A sound was heard close behind them; a rustling, sliding sound, as
if something or somebody were making his way swiftly through the tall
grass. Manuela clutched her mistress's arm, trembling; Rita, rather
pale, but composed, looking steadily in the direction of the noise. It
came nearerthe grass rustled and shook close beside them; and out
from the tufted tangle camethree large land-crabs, scuttling along on
their ungainly claws, and evidently in a hurry. Manuela uttered a
shriek, but Rita laughed aloud.
Good luck! she said. They are good Cubans, the land-crabs. Many a
good meal has Carlos made on them, poor fellow. If we followed them,
Manuela? They may be goingsomewhere. Let us see!
The crabs were soon out of sight, but the two girls, taking up their
burdens, followed in the direction they had taken, along the hillside,
going they knew not whither.
There seemed to be some faint suggestion of a path. The grasses were
bent aside, and broken here and there; something had trodden here,
whether feet of men or of animals one could not tell. But glad to have
any guide, however insufficient, the girls amused themselves by trying
to discover fresh marks on tree or shrub or grass-clump. It was a wild
tangle, palms and mangoes, coarse grass and savage-looking aloes, with
wild vines running riot everywhere. So far, they had seen no sign of
human life, and the sun was now well up, his rays beating down bright
and hot. Suddenly, coming to a turn on the hillside, they heard voices;
a moment later, and they were standing by a human dwelling.
[Illustration: THE FAMISHED CHILD LOOKED FROM THE BISCUIT TO THE
At first sight it looked more like the burrow of some wild animal.
It was little more than a hole dug in the side of the clay bank. Some
boughs and palm-leaves were wattled together to form a rustic porch,
and under this porch three people were sitting, on the bare
ground,two women, one young, the other old, and a little child,
evidently belonging to the young woman. They were clothed in a few
rags; their cheeks were hollow with famine, their eyes burning with
fever. The old woman was stirring a handful of meal into a pot of
water; the others looked on with painful eagerness. Rita recoiled with
a low cry of terror. She had heard of this; these were some of the
unhappy peasants who had been driven from their farms. She had never
seen anything like it before. Thisthis was not the play she had come
The women looked up, and saw the two girls standing near. Instantly
they began to cry out, in wailing voices. Go! go away! there is
nothing for you; nothing! we have not more than a mouthful for
ourselves. Take yourselves away, and leave us in peace.
Rita came forward, the tears running down her cheeks. Oh, poor
things! she cried. Poor souls, I want nothing. I am not hungry!
See!I have brought food for you. Quick, Manuela, the bagthe
biscuits, child! Give them to me! Here, thou little one, take this, and
eat; there is plenty more!
The famished child looked from the biscuit to the glowing face that
bent over it. It made a feeble movement; then drew back in fear. The
old woman still clamoured to the girls to go away; but the younger
snatched the biscuit, and began feeding the child hastily, yet
carefully. Mother, be still! she said, imperiously. Hush that noise!
do you not see this is no poor wretch like ourselves? This is a noble
lady come from heaven to bring us help. Thanks, señorita! With a
quick, graceful movement, she lifted the hem of Rita's dress and
pressed it to her lips. We were dying! she said, simply. It was the
last morsel; we meant to give it to the little one, and some one might
find it when we were dead, and keep the life in it.
But, eat; eat! cried Rita, filling the hands of both women with
chocolate and biscuits. It is dreadful, terrible! oh, I have heard of
it, I have read of it, but I had not seen, I had not known. Oh, if my
cousin Margaret were here, she would know what to do! Eat, my poor
starving ones. You shall never be hungry again if I can help it.
The child pulled its mother's ragged gown.
Is it an angel? it asked, its mouth full of chocolate.
Hear the innocent! said the mother. No, lamb, not yet an angel,
only a noble lady on the road to heaven. See, señorita! he was pretty,
while his cheeks were round and full. Still, his eyes are pretty, are
They are lovely! he is a darling! cried Rita; and she took the
child in her arms, and bent over him to hide the tears. Was this truly
Rita Montfort? Yes, the same Rita, only awake now, for the first time
now in her pretty idle life. She felt of the little limbs. They were
mere skin and bone; no sign of baby chubbiness, no curve or dimple.
Indeed, she had come but just in time. Listen! she said, presently.
Where do you come from? where is your home?
The old woman made a gesture as wide and vague as Rita's own of a
few minutes before. Our home, noble lady? the wilderness is our home
to-day. Our little farm, our cottage, our patch of cane, all gone, all
destroyed. Only the graves of our dead left.
We come from Velaya, said the young woman. It is miles from here;
we were driven out by the Spaniards. My father was killed before our
eyes; she is not herself since, poor soul; do we wonder at it? we have
wandered ever since. My husbanddo I know if he is alive or dead? He
was with our men, he knows nothing of what has happened. If he returns,
he will think us all dead. Poor Pedro! These are the conditions of war,
She spoke very quietly; but her simple words pierced deeper than the
plaints of the poor old woman.
Listen, again! said Rita. I am going to my brother; he also is
with our army; he is with the General. Do you know, can you tell me, in
what direction to look for them? When I find them, I will see; I will
have provision made for you. You must stay here now, for a few hours;
but have courage, help will come soon. My brother Carlos and the good
General will care for you. Only tell me where to find them, and all
will be well.
She spoke so confidently that hope and courage seemed to go from
her, and creep into the hearts of the forlorn creatures. The baby
smiled, and stretched out its little fleshless hands for more of the
precious food; even the old grandmother crept a little nearer, to kiss
the hand of their benefactress, and call on all the saints to bless her
and bring her to Paradise. The younger woman said there had been firing
yesterday in that direction, and she pointed westward over the brow of
a hill. They had seen no Cuban soldiers since they had been here, but a
boy had passed by this morning, on his way to join the General, and he
took the same westerly direction, and said the nearest pickets were not
And why did you not follow him? asked Rita. Why did you not go
with him, and throw yourself at the feet of our good General, as I will
do for you now? Yes, yes, I know; you were too weak, poor souls; you
had no strength to travel farther. But I am young and strong, and so is
Manuela; and we will go together, and soon we will come again, or send
help for you. Manuela, will you come with me? or will it be better for
you to stay and care for these poor ones while I seek Don Carlos?
But Manuela was, very properly, scandalised at the thought of her
young lady's going off alone on any such quest. It appeared, she said,
as if the señorita had left her excellent intelligence behind in
Havana. These people would do very well now; they had food; they had,
indeed, all there was, practically, and the señorita might herself
starve, if they did not find Don Carlos soon. That was enough, surely;
let them remain as they were.
You are right, Manuela! said Rita, nodding sagely. We must go
together. Your heart does not appear to be stirred as mine is; but
never mindthe hungry are fed, and that is the thing of importance.
Farewell, then, friends! How do they call you, that I may know how to
tell those whom I shall send?
The younger woman was named Dolores, she said. Her husband was Pedro
Valdez, and this old one was his mother. If the señorita should see
Pedroif by Heaven's mercy he should be with the General at this
moment, all would indeed be well. In any case, their prayers and
blessings would go with the señorita and her valued attendant.
Often and often, the soft Spanish speech of compliment and ceremony
sounded hollow and artificial in Rita's ears, even though she had been
used to it all her life; but there was no doubting the sincerity of
these earnest and heartfelt thanks. Her own heart felt very warm, as
she turned, with a final wave of the hands, to take a last look at the
little group by the earth-hovel.
We have made a good beginning, Manuela, she said. We have saved
three lives, I truly believe. Now we shall go on with new courage. I
feel, Manuela, that I can do anythingmeet any foe. Ah! what is that?
a snake! a horrible green snake! I faint, Manuela! I dieno, I don't.
See, I am the sister of a soldier, and I am not going to die any more,
when I see these fearful creatures. Manuela, do you observe?
Iamfirm; marble, Manuela, is soft in comparison with me. Ah, he is
gone away. This is a world of peril, my poor child. Let us hasten on;
Carlos waits for us, though he does not know it.
Talking thus, with much more of the same kind, Rita pushed on, and
Manuela followed as best she might. Rita had left the parrot's cage
under charge of Dolores, and carried the bird on her shoulder, with
only a cord fastened to his leg. Chico was well used to this, and made
no effort to fly away; indeed, he had reached an age when it was more
comfortable to sit on a soft shoulder and be fed and petted, than to
flutter among strange trees and find his living for himself; so he sat
still, crooning to himself from time to time, and cocking his bright
yellow eye at his mistress, to see what she thought of it all.
It was hard work, pushing through the jungle. The girls' hands were
scratched and torn with brambles; Rita's delicate shoes were in a sad
condition; her dress began to show more than one jagged rent. Still she
made her way forward, with undaunted zeal, cheering the weary Manuela
with jest and story. Indeed, the girl seemed thoroughly transformed,
and her Northern cousins, who had known and loved her even in her
wilful indolence, would hardly have recognised their Rita in this
valiant maiden, who made nothing of heat, dust, or even scorpions, and
pressed on and on in her quest of her brother.
After an hour of weary walking, the girls came to a road, or
something that passed for a road. There was no sign of life on it, but
there was something that made them start, then stop and look at each
other. Beside the rough path, in a tangle of vines and thorny cactus,
stood the ruin of a tiny chapel. A group of noble palms towered above
it; from the stony bank behind it bubbled a little fountain. The door
of the chapel was gone; it was long since there had been glass in the
windows, and the empty spaces showed only emptiness within; yet the
bell still hung in the mouldering belfry; the bell-rope trailed above
the sunken porch, its whole length twined with flowering creepers. It
was a strange sight.
Manuela! cried Rita; do you see?
I see the holy chapel, said Manuela, who was a good Catholic.
Some saintly man lived here in old times. Pity, that the altar is
gone. It must have been a pretty chapel, señorita.
The bell! cried Rita. Do you see the bell, Manuela? what if we
rang it, to let Carlos know that we are near? It is a good idea, a
Señorita, I implore you not to touch it! For heaven's sake,
señorita! Alas, what have you done?
Manuela clasped her hands, and fairly wailed in terror, for Rita had
grasped the bell-rope, and was pulling it with right good will. Ding!
ding! the notes rang out loud and clear. The rock behind caught up the
echo, and sent it flying across to the hill beyond. Ding! ding! The
parrot screamed, and Rita herself, after sounding two or three peals,
dropped the rope, and stood with parted lips and anxious eyes, waiting
to see what would come of it.
CHAPTER IV. THE CAMP AMONG THE HILLS.
A sound of voices! eager voices of men, calling to one another. The
tread of hasty feet, the noise of breaking bushes, of men sliding,
jumping, running, hurrying, coming every instant nearer and nearer.
What had Rita done, indeed? Manuela crouched on the mouldering floor at
her mistress's feet, too terrified even to cry out now; Rita Montfort
drew her dagger, and waited.
Next instant the narrow doorway was thronged with men; swarthy
black-browed men, ragged, hatless, shoeless, but all armed, all with
rifle cocked, all pressing forward with eager, wondering looks.
Who rang the bell? what has happened?
A babel of voices arose; Rita could not have made herself heard if
she would; and, indeed, for the moment no words came to her lips. But
there was one to speak for her. Chiquito, the old gray parrot, raised
his head from her shoulder, where he had been quietly dozing, and
flapped his wings, and cried aloud:
Viva Cuba Libre! viva Garcia! viva Gomez! a muerto Espana!
There was a moment's silence; then the voices broke out again in wild
cries and cheers.
Ah, the Cuban bird! the parrot of freedom! Welcome, señorita! You
bring us good luck! Welcome to the Cuban ladies and their glorious
bird! Viva Cuba Libre! viva Garcia! viva el papageno! long life
to the illustrious lady!
Rita, herself again, stepped from the chapel, erect and joyous,
holding the parrot aloft.
I thank you, brothers! she said. I come to seek freedom among
you; I am a daughter of Cuba. Does any among you know Don Carlos
The babel rose again. Know Don Carlos? but surely! was he not their
captain? Even now he was at the General's quarters, consulting him
about the movements of the next day. What joy! what honour for the poor
sons of Cuba to form the escort of the peerless sister of Don Carlos to
headquarters! But the distance was nothing. They would carry the
señorita and her attendant; they would make a throne, and transport
them as lightly as if swans drew them. Ah, the fortunate day! the lucky
omen of the blessed parrot!
They babbled like children, crowding round Chiquito, extolling his
beauty, his wisdom, the miracle of his timely utterance. Chiquito
seemed to think, for his part, that he had done enough. He paid no
attention to the blandishments of his ragged admirers, but turned
himself upside down, always a sign of contempt with him, said
Caramba! and would say nothing more.
A little procession was formed, the least ragged of the patriots
leading the way, Rita and Manuela following. The others crowded
together behind, exclaiming, wondering, pleased as children with this
wonderful happening. Thus they crossed a ragged hill, threaded a grove
of palms, and finally came upon an open space, roughly cleared, in the
middle of which stood a tent, with several rude huts around it. The
soldiers explained with eager gestures. Behold the tent of the
illustrious General. Behold the dwelling of Don Rodrigo, of Don Uberto,
of Don Carlos; behold, finally, Don Carlos himself, emerging from the
General's tent. The gallant ragamuffins drew back, and became on the
instant spectators at a play. A slender young man came out of the tent,
evidently to inquire the meaning of the commotion. At what he saw he
turned apparently to stone, and stood, cigarette in hand, staring at
the vision before him. But for Rita there was no hesitation now.
Running to her brother, she threw her arms around his neck with
Carlos! she cried. I have come to you. I had no one else to go
to. They were taking me to the convent, and I would have died sooner. I
have come to you, to live or die with you, for our country.
Manuela wept; the soldiers were moved to tears, and brushed their
ragged sleeves across their eyes. But Carlos Montfort did not weep.
Rita! he said, in English, returning his sister's caress
affectionately, but with little demonstration of joy. What is the
meaning of this? what induced youhow could you do such a thing as
this? where do you come from? how did you find your way? And he added
to himself, And what the mischief am I to do with you now you are
Rita explained hastily; gave a dramatic sketch of her adventures,
not forgetting the unfortunate peasants, who must, she said, be rescued
that instant from their wretched plight; and wound up with a vivid
description of the bell-ringing, the gathering of the patriot forces,
and the magnificent behaviour of her beloved Chiquito.
Good gracious! you have brought the parrot, too! cried poor
Carlos. Rita! Rita! this is too much.
At this moment a new person appeared on the scene. A tall old man,
stooping his head, came out from the tent, and greeted the wandering
damsel with grave courtesy.
Perhaps the General had seen too much of life and of war to be
surprised at anything; perhaps he was sorry for the embarrassment of
his young lieutenant, and wished to make things easier for him; however
it was, he apparently found it the most natural thing in the world for
a young lady and her maid to be wandering in the wilderness in search
of the Cuban army. The first thing, he said, was to make the señorita
comfortable, as comfortable as their limited powers would allow. She
would take his tent, of course; it was her own from that instant; but
equally of course neither Rita nor Carlos would hear of this. A
friendly dispute ensued; and it was finally decided that Rita and
Manuela were to make themselves as comfortable as might be in Carlos's
own tent, while he shared that of his commander. The General yielded
only under protest to this arrangement; yet he did yield, seeing that
resistance would distress both brother and sister. Since the señorita
would not take his tent, he said, the next best thing was that she
should accept his hospitality, such as he could offer her, within it;
or rather, before it, since the evening was warm. His men were even now
preparing the evening meal; when the señorita was refreshed and rested,
he hoped she and Don Carlos would share it with him.
Rita withdrew into the little hut, in a glow of patriotism and
enthusiasm. Manuela, she cried, did you ever see such nobleness,
such lofty yet gracious courtesy? Ah! I knew he was a man to die for.
How happy we are, to be here at last, after dreaming of it so long! I
thrill; I burn with sacred firewhat is the matter, Manuela? you look
the spirit of gloom. What has happened?
Manuela was crouching on the bare earthen floor, her shoulders
shrugged up to her ears, her dark eyes glancing around the tiny room
with every expression of marked disapproval. It was certainly not a
luxurious apartment. The low walls were of rough logs, the roof was a
ragged piece of very dingy canvas, held in place by stones here and
there. In one corner was a pile of dried grass and leaves, with a
blanket thrown over it,evidently Don Carlos's bed. There was a
camp-stool, a rude box set on end, that seemed to do duty both for
dressing and writing table, since it was littered with papers, shaving
materials, cigarette-cases, and a variety of other articles.
Manuela spread out her arms with a despairing gesture. Was this, she
asked, the place where the señorita was going to live? Where was she to
hang the dresses? where was she to lay out the dressing things? As to
making up the bed,it would be better to die at once, in Manuela's
opinion, than to liveHere Manuela stopped suddenly, for she had seen
something. Rita, whose back was turned to the doorway of the hut, was
rating her severely. Was this Manuela's patriotism, she wished to know?
had she not said, over and over again, that she was prepared to shed
the last drop of blood for their country, as she herself, Rita, was
longing to do? and now, when it was simply a question of a little
discomfort, of a few privations shared with their brave defenders, here
was Manuela complaining and fretting, like a peevish child. Well! and
what was the matter now?
Manuela had risen from her despairing position, and was now bustling
about the hut, brushing, smoothing, tidying up, with an air of smiling
alacrity. But indeed, yes! she said; the señorita put her to shame. If
the señorita could endure these trials, it was not for her poor Manuela
to complain. No, indeed, sooner would she die. And after all, the hut
was small, but that made things more handy, perhaps. The beautiful
table that this would become, if she might remove the Señor Don
Carlos's cigar-ashes? There! a scarf thrown over itah! What fortune,
that she had brought the crimson satin scarf! Behold, an exhibition of
beauty! As for the bed, she had heard fromfrom those who were
soldiers themselves, that no couch was so soft, so wooing to sleep, as
one of forest boughs. It stood to reason; there was poetry in the
thought, as the señorita justly remarked. Now, with a few nails or pegs
to hang things on, their little apartment would be complete. Let the
señorita of her goodness forget the foolishness of her poor Manuela;
she should hear no more of it; that was a promise.
Rita looked in amazement at her follower; the girl's eyes were
sparkling, her cheeks flushed, and she could not keep back the smiles
that came dimpling and rippling over her pretty face.
But what has happened to you, Manuela? cried Rita. I insist upon
knowing. What have you seen?
What had Manuela seen, to produce such a sudden and amazing change?
Nothing, surely; or next to nothing. A ragged soldier had strolled past
the door of the hut; a black-browed fellow, with a red handkerchief
tied over his head, and a black cigar nearly a foot long; but what
should that matter to Manuela?
Rita looked at her curiously, but could get no explanation, save
that Manuela had come to her senses, owing to the noble and glorious
example set her by her beloved señorita.
Well! said Rita, turning away half-petulantly. Of course I know
you are as changeable as a weathercock, Manuela. But as you were
saying, if we had a few nails, we should do well enough here. I will go
ask the Señor Don Carlos
Pardon, dearest señorita! cried Manuela, hastily. But what a pity
that would be, to disturb the señor during his arduous labours. Without
doubt the illustrious Señor Don Generalissimo (Manuela loved a title,
and always made the most of one) requires him every instant, in the
affairs of the nation. II can find some one who will get nails for
us, and drive them also.
You can find some one? repeated Rita. And whom, then, can you
Only Pepe! said Manuela, in a small voice.
Was the name a conjuring-spell? It had hardly been spoken when Pepe
himself stood in the doorway, ducking respectfully at the señorita, but
looking out of the corners of his black eyes at Manuela. Rita smiled in
spite of herself. Was this ragamuffin, barefoot, tattered, his hair in
elf-locks,was this the once elegant Pepe, the admired of himself and
all the waiting-maids of Havana? He had once been Carlos's servant,
when the young Cuban had time and taste for such idle luxuries; now he
was his fellow soldier and faithful follower.
Well, Pepe, said Rita; you also are here to welcome us, it
appears. That is well. If you could find us a few nails, my good Pepe?
the Señor Don Carlos is occupied with the General at present, and you
can help us, if you will.
Where had Rita learned this new and gracious courtesy? A few months
ago, she would have said, Pepe! drive nails! and thought no more
about it. Indeed, she could have given no explanation, save that
things were different. Perhaps our Rita is growing up, inside as well
as outside? Certainly the pretty airs and graces have given way to a
womanly and thoughtful look not at all unbecoming to any face, however
The thoughtful look deepened into anxiety, as a sudden recollection
flashed into her mind. Oh! she cried. And here I sit in peace, and
have done nothing about those poor creatures in the hut! I must go to
the General! But stay! Pepe, do you knowis there a man in the camp
called Pedro Valdez?
But, yes! Pepe said. Assuredly there was such a man. Did the
señorita require him?
Oh, please bring him! said Rita. Tell him that I have something
of importance to tell him. Quick, my good Pepe!
Pepe vanished, and soon returned, dragging by the collar a lean
scarecrow even more dilapidated than himself. Apparently the poor
fellow had been asleep, and had been roughly clutched and hauled across
the camp, for his hair was full of leaves and grass, and he was rubbing
his eyes and swearing softly under his breath, vowing vengeance on his
Silence, animal! said Pepe, admonishing him by a kick of the
presence of ladies; Behold the illustrious señorita, who does you the
honour to look at you. Attention, Swine of the Antilles!
Thus adjured, poor Pedro straightened himself, made the best bow he
could, and stood sheepishly before Rita, trying furtively to brush a
few of the sticks and straws off his ragged clothing.
You are Pedro Valdez? asked Rita.
At the service of the illustrious señorita. Yes, he was Pedro
Valdez; in no condition to appear in such company, but nevertheless her
slave and her beast of burden.
Oh, listen! cried Rita, her eyes softening with compassion and
anxiety. You have a wife, Pedro Valdez,a wife and a dear little
child, is it not so? and your mothershe is old and weak. When have
you seen them all, Valdez? Where did you leave them?
The man looked bewildered. Leave them, señorita? I left them at
home, in our village. They were well, all was well, when I came away.
Has anything befallen them?
They are safe! All is well with them now, or will be well, when you
go to them. They are near here, Valdez. The Spaniards broke up the
village, do you see? Dolores and your mother fled with the little one.
The village was burned, and many souls perished; but Dolores was so
strong, so brave, that she got the old mother away alive and safe, and
the child as well. They have suffered terribly, my poor man; you must
look to find them pale and thin, but they are alive, and all will be
well when once they have found you.
Seeing Valdez overcome for the moment, Rita hastened to the
General's tent and told her story, begging that the husband and father
might be allowed to go at once to the relief of his suffering family.
And he shall bring them here, shall he not? she cried, eagerly.
They cannot be separated again, can they, dear Señor General? you will
make room for Doloresthat is the wife; oh, such a brave woman! and
the old mother, and the dear little child!
The General looked puzzled; a look half quizzical, half sad, stole
over his fine face; while he hesitated, Carlos broke out hastily:
Rita! you are too unreasonable! Do you think we are in a city here? do
you think the General has everything at his command, to maintain an
establishment of women and children? It is not to be thought of. We
have no room, no supplies, no conveniences of any kind; they must go
They can have my house! cried Rita, Your house, brother Carlos,
which you have given to me. I will sleep in a hammock, under a tree.
What matter? I will live on bread and water; I will
My dear young lady! said the General, interrupting her eager
speech with a lifted hand. My dear child, if an old man may call you
so, if only we had bread for all, there would be no further question.
We would gladly take these poor people, and hundreds of other suffering
ones who fill the hills and valleys of our unhappy country. ButCarlos
is right, alas! that I must say it. Here in the mountain camp, it is
impossible for us to harbour refugees, unless for a night or so, while
other provision is making. Let Valdez bring his family here for the
nightwe can make shift to feed and shelter them so long. After
He shook his head sadly. Rita clasped her hands in distress. To be
brought face to face with the impossible was a new experience to the
spoiled child. There was a moment's silence. Then:
Señor General, she cried, I know! I see! all may yet be managed.
They shall go to our house.
To our house, Carlos's and mine, in Havana. There are servants,
troops of them; there is food, drink, everything, in abundance, in
wicked, shameful abundance. Julio shall take care of them; Julio shall
treat them as his mother and his sister. I will write commands to him;
this instant I will write.
Snatching a sheet of paper from the table, she wrote furiously for a
moment, then handed the paper to the General with a look of
satisfaction. The Generaloh, how slow he was!adjusted his glasses,
and read the paper carefully; looked at Rita; looked at Carlos, and
read the paper again. Rita clenched her little hands, but was calm as
marble, as she assured herself. Have I the señorita's permission to
read this aloud? asked the old man at last. It may be that Don
Carlos's advicea thousand thanks, señorita. He read:
JULIO:The bearer of this is the wife of
Pedro Valdez. You are to take her and her
family in, and give them the best the house
contains; the best, do you hear? put them in
the marble guest-chamber, and place the house
at their disposal. Send for Doctor Blanco to
attend them; let Teresa wait upon them, and let
her furnish them with clothes from my wardrobe.
If you do not do all this, Julio, I will have
you killed; so fail not as you value your life.
MARGARITA DE SAN REAL MONTFORT.
P.S. The Señor Don Carlos is here with me, and
echoes what I say. We are with the brave
General Sevillo, and if you dare to disobey,
terrible revenge will be taken.
The ardent patriotism of the señorita, said the General,
cautiously, is beautiful and inspiring; nevertheless, is it not
possible that a more conciliatory tone mightI would not presume to
Oh, Rita! cried Carlos. Child, when will you learn that we are no
longer acting plays at home? This is absurd!
With an impatient movement that might have been Rita's own, he
snatched the paper and tore it in two. The General cannot be troubled
with such folly! he said, shortly. Go to your room, my sister, and
repose yourself after your fatigues.
By no means! cried the kindly General, seeing Rita's eyes fill
with tears of anger and mortification. The señorita has promised to
make my tea for me this evening. Give orders, I pray you, Don Carlos,
that Valdez bring his family to us for the night; the rest can well
wait for to-morrow's light. The señorita is exhausted, I fear, with her
manifold fatigues, and she must have no more anxieties to-day. Behold
the tea at this moment! Señorita Rita, this will be the pleasantest
meal I have had since I left my home, two years ago.
No anger could stand against the General's smile. In a moment Rita
was smiling herself, though the tears still stood in her dark eyes, and
one great drop even rolled down her cheek, to the General's great
distress. Carlos, seeing with contrition his sister's effort at
self-control, bent to kiss her cheek and murmur a few affectionate
words. Soon they were all seated around the little table, Rita and the
General on camp-stools, Carlos on a box. The tea was smoking hot; what
did it matter that the nose of the teapot was broken? Rita had never
tasted anything so delicious as that cup of hot tea, without milk, and
with a morsel of sugar-cane for sweetening. The camp fare, biscuits
soaked in water and fried in bacon fat, was better, she declared, than
any food she had ever tasted in her life. To her delight, a small box
of chocolate still remained in her long-suffering bag; this she
presented to the General with her prettiest courtesy, and he vowed he
was not worthy to taste such delicacies from such a hand. So, with
interchange of compliments, and with a real friendliness that was far
better, the little feast went on gaily; and when, late in the evening,
Rita withdrew to her tent, she told Manuela that she had never enjoyed
anything so much in her life; never!
CHAPTER V. TO MARGARET.
CAMP OF THE SONS OF CUBA,
May the , Midnight.
MY MARGUERITE:What will you say when your eyes, those calm gray
eyes, rest upon the above heading? Will they open wider, I ask myself?
Will the breath come quicker between those cool rose-leaves of your
lips? It is true! you will murmur to yourself. She has done as she
said, as she swore she would. My Rita, my wild pomegranate flower, has
kept her vow; she is in the mountains with Carlos; she has taken her
place beside the defenders of her country.
Ah! you thought it was play, Marguerite, confess it! You thought the
wild Cuban girl was uttering empty breath of nothingness; you have had
no real anxiety, you never dreamed that I should really find
myselfwhere now I am. Where is it? Listen, Marguerite! My houseonce
Carlos's house, now mine by his brotherly giftstands in a little glen
of the hills. An open space, once dry grass, now bare earth, baked by
the sun, trodden by many feet; a cluster of palms, a mountain spring
gushing from a rock hard by; on every side hills, the brown, rugged
hills of Cuba, fairer to me than cloudy Alps of Italy, or those other
great mountains of which never can I remember the barbarous names. To
teach me geography, Marguerite, you never could succeed, you will
remember; more than our poor Peggy history. Poor little Peggy! I could
wish she were here with me; it would be the greatest pleasure of her
life. For you, Marguerite, the scene is too wild, too stern; but Peggy
has a martial spirit under her somewhat clumsy exterior. But I wander,
and Peggy is without doubt sleeping at this moment under the stern eye
of her schoolmistress. I began to tell you about my house, Marguerite.
So small a house you saw never. Standing, I reach up my hand and touch
the roof, of brown canvas, less fresh than once it was. Sitting, I
stretch out my armshere is one wall; therealmost, but a few feet
betweenis the other. In a corner my bedah, Marguerite! on your
white couch there, with snowy draperies falling softly about you,
consider my bed! a pile of dried grasses and leaves, shaken and tossed
anew every morning, covered with a camp blanket. I tell you, the gods
might sleep on it, and ask no better. In another corner sleeps Manuela,
my faithful maid, my humble friend, the companion of my wanderings.
Some day you shall see Manuela; she is an excellent creature.
Cultivated, no; intellinctualwhat is that for a word, Marguerite? Ah!
when will you learn Spanish, that I may pour my soul with freedom?no;
but a heart of gold, a spirit of fire and crystal. She keeps my hut
neat, she arranges my toilet,singular toilets, my dear, yet not
wholly unbecoming, I almost fancy,she helps me in a thousand ways.
She has a little love-affair, that is a keen interest to me; Pepe,
formerly the servant of Carlos, adores her, and she casts tender eyes
upon the young soldier. For me, as you know, Marguerite, these things
are for ever past, buried in the grave of my hero, in the stately tomb
that hides the ashes of the Santillos. I take a sorrowful pleasure in
watching the budding happiness of these young creatures. More of this
I sit, Marguerite, in the doorway of my little house. It is the
middle hour of the night, when tomb-yards gape, as your Shakespeare
says. Am I sleepy? No! The camp slumbers, but II am awake, and I
watch. I had a very long siesta, too. The moon is full, and the little
glade is bathed in silver light. Here in Cuba, Marguerite, the moon is
other than with you in the north. You call her pale moon, gentle moon,
I know not what. Here she shines fiercely, with passion, with
palpitations of fiery silver. The palms, the aloes, the tangled woods
about the camp, are black as night; all else is a flood of airy silver.
I float, I swim in this flood, entranced, enraptured. I ask myself,
have I lived till now? is not this the first real thrill of life I have
ever experienced? I alone wake, as I said; the others slumber
profoundly. The General in his tent; ah, that you could know him,
Marguerite! that you and my uncle could embrace this noble, this
godlike figure! He is no longer young, the snows of seventy winters
have blanched his clustering locks; it is the only sign of age. For the
rest, erect, vigorous, a knight, a paladin, ain effect, a son of
Cuba. The younger officers regard him as a divinity; they live or die
at his command. They are three, these officers; Carlos is one; the
others, Don Alonzo Ximenes, Don Uberto Cortez. Don Alonzo is not
interesting; he is fat, and rather stupid, but most good-natured. Don
Uberto is Carlos's friend, a noble young captain, much admired formerly
in Havana. I have danced with him, my cousin, in halls of rose-wreathed
marble; we meet here in the wilderness, I with my shattered affections,
he with his country's name written on his soul. It is affecting; it is
heart-stirring, Marguerite; yet think nothing of it; romance is dead
for Margarita Montfort. Carlos is my kind brother, as ever. He was
vexed at first at my coming here. Heavens! what was I to do? My
stepmother was dragging me to a convent; my days would have been spent
there, and in a short time my life would have gone out like a flame.
Out, short candle! You see I remember your Shakespeare readings, my
dearest. Can I forget anything that recalls you to me, half of my
heart? If there had been time, indeed, I might have written to my
uncle; I might even have come to you; but the hour descended like a
thunderbolt; I fled, Manuela with me. The manner of my flight? you will
ask. Marguerite, it was managedI do not boast, I am the soul of
humility, you know it!the manner of it was perfect. Listen, and you
shall hear all. You remember that in my last letterwritten, alas! in
my beloved garden, which I may never see moreI spoke with a certain
restraint, even an approach to mystery. It was thus. At first, when
that woman proposed to take me to the convent, I was a creature
distracted. The fire of madness burned in my veins, and I could think
of nothing save death or revenge. But with time came reflection; came
wisdom, Marguerite, and inflexible resolve. To those she loves,
Margarita Montfort is wax, silk, down, anything the most soft and
yielding that can be figured. To her enemies, steel and adamant are her
composition. I had two friends in that house of Spaniards; one was
Pasquale, good, faithful Pasquale, an under gardener and helper; the
other, Manuela, my maid. I have described her to youenough! I
realised that action must be of swiftness, the lightning flash, the
volcano fire that I predicted. Do not say that I did not warn you,
Marguerite; knowing me, you must have expected from my last letter what
must come. I called Manuela to my room, I made pretence that she should
arrange my hair. My hair has grown three inches, Marguerite, since I
left you; it now veritably touches the floor as I sit. Our holy
religion tells us that it is a woman's crown, yet how heavy a one at
times! I closed the door, I locked it; I caused to draw down the heavy
Persians. Then, tiger-like, I sprang upon my attendant, and laid my
hand on her mouth. Hush! I tell her. Not a word, not a sound! dare
but breathe, and you may be my death. My life, I tell you, hangs by a
thread. Hush! be silent, and tell me all. Tell me who assists Geronimo
in the stables since Pablo is ill. Manuela struggles, she releases
herself to reply
It is the answer from heaven. Pasquale, I have said, is my one
friend beside Manuela. I say to her, Do thus, and thus! give these
orders to Pasquale; tell him that it imports of your life and mine,
saying nothing of his own; that if I am not obeyed, the evil eye will
be the least of his punishments, and death without the sacraments the
end for him.
Manuela hears; she trembles; she flies to execute my commands. Then,
Margueritethen, what does the daughter of Cuba do? She goes to the
wall, to the trophy I have described to you so often. She selects her
weapons. Ah, if you could see them! First, a long slender dagger, the
steel exquisitely inlaid with gold, in a sheath of green enamel; a
dagger for a prince, Marguerite, for your Lancelot or Tristram!
Another, short and keen, the blade plain but deadly, cased in wrought
leather of Cordova. Last, my machete, my pearl of destructiveness. It
was his, my Santayana's; he procured it from Toledo, from the master
sword-maker of the universe. The blade is so fine, the eye refuses to
tell where it melts into the air; a touch, and the hardest substance is
divided exactly in two pieces. The handle, gold, set with an ancestral
emerald, which for centuries has brought victory in the field to the
arm of the hero who wore it; the sheathI forget myself; this weapon
has no sheath. When a Santillo de Santayana rides into battle, he has
no thought to sheathe his sword. These, Marguerite, are my armament;
these, and a tiny gold-mounted revolver, a gem, a toy, but a toy of
deadly purpose. Enough! I lay them apart, ready for the night. I go to
my stepmother, I smile, I make submission. I will do all she wishes; I
am a child; her age impresses me with the truth that I should not set
my will against hers. Concepcion is thirty on her next birthday; she
tells the world that she is twenty, but I know! it grinds her bones
when I remind her of her years, as they were revealed to me by a member
of her family. So! She is pleased, we embrace, the volantes are
commanded, all goes smoothly. I demand permission to take my parrot to
the convent; it is, to my surprise, accorded; I know she thought those
savage sisters would kill him the first time he uttered his noble and
The night comes, the hour of the departure. To accompany us goes my
good Don Miguel, the dear old man of whom I have told you, whom I
revere as my grandfather. My heart yearns to tell him all, to cast
myself on his venerable bosom and cry, Come with me; take me yourself
to my brother; share with us the perils and glories of the tented
field! But no! he is old, this dear friend; his hair is the snow, his
step is feeble. Hardships such as Rita must now endure would end his
feeble life. I speak no word; a marble smile is all I wear, though my
heart is rent with anguish. The carriages are at the door. Concepcion
would have me ride in the first, that she may have her eyes on me at
each instant. She suspects nothing, no; it is merely the base and
suspicious nature which reveals itself at every occasion. I refuse, I
prodigate expressions of my humility, of my determination to take the
second place, leaving the first to her; briefly, I take the second
volante, Manuela springing to my side. After some discontent, appeased
by dear Don Miguel, who is veritably an angel, and wants but death to
transport him among the saints, Concepcion mounts in the first volante.
I have seen that Pasquale is on the box of mine; I possess my soul, I
lean back and count the beats of my fevered pulse, as we ascend the
steep road, winding among hills and forests. The convent is at the top
of a long, long hill, very steep and rugged; the horses pant and
strain; humanity demands that they slacken their pace, that the
carriages are slowly, slowly, drawn up the rugged track. The night
descends, I have told you, swiftly in our southern climate; already it
is dark. On either side of the road are tall shrouded forms, which
Manuela takes for sentinels, for Spanish soldiers drawn up to watch,
perhaps to arrest us. I laugh; I see they are the aloes only, planted
here in rows along the road. Presently, at a turn of the road, a light!
a fire burning by the roadside, and soldiers running, real ones this
time, to the horses' heads. Alerta! quien va? It is the
Spanish challenge, Marguerite; it is a piquette of the Gringos, of the
hated Spaniards. They peer into the carriages, faces of savages, of
brutes, devils; I feel their glances like poisoned arrows. They demand,
Don Miguel makes answer, shows his papers. Of the instant these slaves
are cringing, are bowing to the earth. Pass, most honourable and
illustrious Señor Don Miguel Pietoso, with the heavenly ladies under
your charge! It is over. The volantes roll on. I clasp Manuela in my
arms and whisper, We are free! We mingle our tears of rapture, but
for a moment only. We approach the steepest pitch of the long hill (it
is veritably a mountain), a place beyond conception rugged and
difficult. The horses strain and tug; they are at point of exhaustion.
I look at Pasquale; Pasquale has served me since my cradle. Does his
head move, a very little, the least imaginable motion? It is too dark
to see; the moon is not yet risen. But I feel the horses checked, I
feel the carriage pause, an instant, a breath only. I step noiselessly
to the ground; the volante is low, permitting this without danger.
Manuela follows. There is not a sound, not a creak, not the rustle of a
fold. Again it is over. The volante rolls on. Manuela and I are alone,
are free in the mountains of Cuba Libre.
I have but one thought: my country, my brother! Behold me here, in
the society of one, prepared to shed my blood for the other. You would
never guess who else is with us; Chiquito, our poor old friend the
parrot, the sacred legacy of that white saint, our departed aunt. Could
I leave him behind, to unfriendly, perhaps murderous, hands? Old Julio
is a Spaniard at heart; Chiquito is a Cuban bird; his very souldo you
doubt that a bird has a soul, when I tell you that I have seen it in
his eyes, Marguerite?his very soul speaks for his country. If you
could hear him cry, Viva Cuba Libre! The camp is on fire when
they hear him. Ah, they are such brave fellows, our soldiers! poor, in
rags, half-fedit matters not! each one is a hero, and all are my
brothers. Marguerite, sleep hangs at last upon me. Good-night, beloved;
good-night, cool white soul of ivory and silver. I love thee always
devotedly. Have no fear for me. It is true that the Spaniards are all
about us in these mountains, that at any moment we may be attacked.
What of that? If the daughter of Cuba dies by her brother's side, in
her country's cause, my Marguerite will know that it is well with her.
You will shed a tear over the lonely grave among the Cuban hills; but
you will plant a wreath for Rita, a wreath of mingled laurel and
immortelle, and it will bloom eternally.
Ever, and with a thousand greetings to my honoured and admired
MARGARITA DE SAN REAL MONTFORT.
CHAPTER VI. IN THE NIGHT.
Rita drew a long breath as she folded her letter. She was in a fine
glow of mingled affection and patriotic fervour; it had been a great
relief to pour it all out in Margaret's sympathetic ear, though that
ear were a thousand miles away. Now she really must go to bed. It was
one o'clock, her watch told her. It seemed wicked, profane, to sleep
under such moonlight as this; but still, the body must be preserved.
But first, she said to herself, I must have a drop of water;
writing so long has made me thirsty.
She took up the earthen water-jar, but found it empty. Pepe had for
once been faithless; indeed, neither he nor Manuela had escaped the
witchery of the full moon, and she had had little good of them that
whole evening. She glanced at the corner where Manuela lay; the light,
regular breathing told that the girl was sound asleep. It would be a
pity to wake her from her first sweet sleep, poor Manuela. A year,
perhaps a month ago, Rita would not have hesitated an instant; but now
she murmured, Sleep, little one! I myself will fetch the water.
She stepped out into the moonlight, with the jar in her hand. All
was still as sleep itself. No sound or motion from huts or tent. Under
the palms lay a number of brown bundles, motionless. Dry leaves, piled
together for burning? no! soldiers of Cuba, wrapped in such covering as
they could find, taking their rest. Alone, beside a little heap of
twigs that still smouldered, the sentry sat; his back was turned to
her. Should she speak to him, and ask him to go to the spring for her?
No; how much more interesting to go herself! Everything looked so
different in this magic light; it was a whole new world, the moon's
fairyland; who knew what wonderful sights might meet her eyes? Besides,
her old nurse used to say that water drawn from a pure spring under the
full moon produced a matchless purity of the complexion. Her complexion
was well enough, perhaps, but stilland anyhow, it would be an
adventure, however small a one.
The girl's feet, in their soft leather slippers, made no sound on
the bare earth. The sentry did not turn his head. Silent as a cloud,
she stole across the little glade, and passed under the trees at the
farther end. Here the ground broke off suddenly in a rocky pitch, down
which one scrambled to another valley or glen lying some hundred feet
lower; the cliff (for it was steep enough to merit that name) was
mostly bare rock, but here and there a little earth had caught and
lodged, and a few seeds had dropped, and a tuft of grass or a little
tree had sprung up, defying the gulf below. A few feet only from the
upper level, just below a group of palms that nodded over the brink,
the stream gushed out from the face of the rock, clear and cold. The
soldiers had hollowed a little trough to receive the trickling stream,
and one had only to hold one's pitcher under this spout for a few
minutes, to have it filled with delicious water. Rita had often come
hither in the daytime, during the week that had now passed since her
arrival at the mountain camp. It was a wild and picturesque scene at
any time, but now the effect of the intense white light, falling on
splintered rock, hanging tree, and glancing stream was magical indeed.
Rita lay down on her face at the edge of the precipice, as she had seen
the soldiers do, and lowered her jar carefully. As the water gurgled
placidly into the jar, her eyes roved here and there, taking in every
detail of the marvellous scene before her. Never, she thought, had she
seen anything so beautiful, so unearthly in its loveliness. Peace!
silver peace, and silence, the silence ofhark! what was that?
A crack, as of a twig breaking; a rustling, far below in the gorge;
a shuffling sound, as of soft shod feet pressing the soft earth. Rita
crouched flat to the ground, and, leaning over as far as she dared,
peered over the precipice. The bottom of the gorge was filled with a
mass of tall grasses and feathery blossoming shrubs, with here and
there a tree rising tall and straight. The leaves were black as jet in
the strong light. Gazing intently, she saw the branches tremble, wave,
separate; and against the dark leaves shone a gleam of metal, that
moved, and came nearer. Another and yet another; and now she could see
the dark faces, and the moon shone on the barrels of the carbines, and
made them glitter like silver.
Swiftly and noiselessly the girl drew back from the brink, crouching
in the grass till she reached the shadow of the grove. Then she rose to
her feet, still holding her jar of water carefully,for there was no
need of wasting that,and ran for her life.
A whispered word to the sentry, who sprang quickly enough from his
reverie beside the fire; then to the General's tent, then to Carlos,
with the same whispered message. The Gringos are here! Wake, for the
love of Heaven!
In another moment the little glade was alive with dusky figures,
springing from their beds of moss and leaves, snatching their arms,
fumbling for cartridges. The General was already among them. Carlos and
the other officers came running, buckling their sword-belts, rubbing
Where are they? all were asking in excited whispers. Who saw
them? Is it another nightmare of Pepe's?
No! no! murmured Rita. I saw them, I tell you! I saw their faces
in the moonlight. I went to get some water. They are climbing up the
cliff. I did not stop to count, but there must be many of them, from
the sound of their feet. Oh, make haste, make haste!
The General gave his orders in a low, emphatic tone. Twenty men,
with Carlos at their head, glided like shadows across the glade, and
disappeared among the trees. Rita's breath came quick, and she prepared
to follow; but the old General laid a kind hand on her arm. No, my
child! he said. You have done your country a great service this
night. Do not imperil your life needlessly. Go rather to your room, and
pray for your brother and for us all.
But prayer was far from Rita's thoughts at that moment. Dear
General, she implored, with clasped hands, the tears starting to her
eyes, Let me go! let me go! I implore you! I will pray afterward, I
truly will. I will pray while I am fighting, if you will only let me
go. See! I have come all this way to fight for my country; and must I
stay away from the first battle? Look, dear Señor General! Look at my
machete! Isn't it beautiful? it is the sword of a hero; I must use it
for him. Let me go! The beautiful face, upturned in the moonlight, the
dark eyes shining through their tears, might have softened a harder
heart than that of General Sevillo. He opened his lips to reply, his
fatherly hand still on her arm, when suddenly a sharp report was heard.
A single shot, then a volley, the shots rattling out, struck back and
forth from cliff to cliff, multiplying in hideous echoes. Then broke
out cries and groans; the crash of heavy bodies falling back among the
trees below, and shouts of Viva Cuba; and still the shots rang
out, and still the echoes cracked and snapped. Rita turned pale as
death, and clasped her hands on her bosom. Ah! Dios!
she cried. I had forgotten; there will be blood! and rushing into her
hut, she flung herself face downward on her leafy bed.
The perplexed General looked after her for a moment, pulling his
grizzled moustache. Caramba! he muttered. To understand these
feminines? Decidedly, this charming child must be sent into safety
to-morrow. And shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders, he strode
in the direction of the firing.
Ten minutes' sharp fighting, and the skirmish was over. The Spanish
guerilla was scattered, many of the guerilleros lying dead or wounded
at the foot of the precipice, the others scrambling and tumbling down
as best they might. Carlos and his men had so greatly the advantage in
position, if not in numbers, that not a single Cuban was killed, though
two or three were more or less seriously wounded. Among these was the
unfortunate Pedro Valdez, who had only that evening returned to camp,
having left his child and his old mother in a place of safety. His wife
had been allowed to remain for a short time in camp, at the request of
the surgeon, as she had had some experience in nursing. Now he was shot
in the arm, and his comrades lifted him gently, and carried him back.
His wife was waiting for him. She seemed to have expected something of
the kind, for she made no outcry; she followed quietly to the clump of
trees distant a little way from the rest of the camp, where good Doctor
Ferrando had the solitary rancho, the case of surgical instruments and
the few rolls of bandages that constituted his field hospital. A rough
table had been knocked together for operations; otherwise the sick and
wounded fared much as the rest did, sleeping on beds of leaves and dry
grass, and fighting the mosquitoes as best they might. Here the bearers
laid Pedro down, and Dolores took her place quietly at his side,
fanning away the insects that hovered in clouds about the wounded man,
holding the poor arm while the doctor dressed it, and behaving as if
her life had been spent in a hospital.
Doctor Ferrando spoke a few words of approval, but the woman heeded
them little; it was a matter of course that where there was suffering,
she should be at work. So, when Pedro presently dropped off to sleep,
she moved softly about among the wounded men, smoothing a blanket here,
changing a ligature there, doing all with light, swift fingers whose
touch healed instead of hurting.
She was sitting beside a lad, the last to be brought in from the
scene of the skirmish, when the screen of bushes by the rancho was
parted, and Rita appeared. Slowly and timidly she drew near; her face
was like marble; her eyes looked unnaturally large and dark. Dolores
made a motion to rise, but a gesture bade her keep her place.
Hush! said the young girl. Sit still, Dolores! I have
To learn, señorita? repeated the woman, humbly. The señorita was
in her grateful eyes a heaven-descended being, whose every look and
word must be law; this new bearing amazed and puzzled her.
What can this poor soul teach the noble and high-born lady? she
asked, sadly. I know nothing, not even to read; I am a poor woman
merely. The señor doctor is this moment gone to take his distinguished
siesta; do I call him for the señorita?
Rita shook her head, and crept nearer, gazing with wide eyes of fear
at the prostrate form beside which Dolores was sitting.
[Illustration: 'HUSH!' SAID THE YOUNG GIRL. 'SIT STILL.']
See, Dolores! she said; and her tone was as humble as the woman's
own. I must learnto take care of himof them! She nodded at the
sufferer. All my life, you see, I could never bear the sight of blood.
To cut my finger, I fainted at the instant. Always they said, 'Poor
child! it is her delicacy, her sensibility;' they praised me; I thought
it a fine thing, to faint, to turn pale at the word even. Nowoh,
Dolores, do you see? I desire to help my country, my brother, all the
heroes who are risking their life, are shedding theirtheir bloodfor
Cuba. I think I can fight; I forget; I see only the bright shining
blades, the victorious banners; I forget that these heroes must bleed,
that this horrible blood must flow in streams, in torrents, that oceans
of it must overwhelm us, the defenders of my country. Ay de mi!
I begged the General even now to let me fight, to let me stand beside
my Carlos, and wield my beautiful machete. Suddenly, DoloresI heard
the shots; I heardterrible sounds! screamsoh, Dios!screams of
men, perhaps of my own brother, in anguish. All at once it came over
meI cannot tell youI saw it all, the blood, the wounds, the horror
to death. I awoke from my dreams; I was a child, do you see, Dolores? I
was a child, playing at war, and thinkingthinking the thoughts of a
silly, silly child. Now I am awake; now I knowwhatwhat war means.
SoI am foolish, but I can learn; I think I can learn. You are a brave
woman; I have been watching you through the leaves for half an hour. I
saw youI saw you change those cloths; those terrible bloody cloths on
that poor man's head. At first my eyes turned round, I saw black only;
but I opened them again, I fixed them on what you held, I watched. Now
I can bear quite well to look at it. Help me, Dolores! teach meto
help as you help; teach me to care for these brothers, as you do.
Dolores looked earnestly in the beautiful young face. In spite of
the deadly pallor, she saw that the girl was fully herself, was calm
and determined. With a simple, noble gesture she lifted Rita's slender
hand to her lips, saying merely: This hand shall bring blessing to
many! come, my señorita, and see! it is so easy, when once one knows
the way of it.
Very gently the poor peasant's wife showed the rich man's daughter
the A B C of woman's work among the sick and suffering. At first Rita
could do little more than control her own nerves, and fight down the
faintness that came creeping over her at sight of the bandaged faces,
ghastly under the brown, of the torn flesh and nerveless limbs.
Gradually, however, she began to gain strength. The rough brown hand
moved so easily, so lightly; it laid hold of those terrible bandages as
if they were mere ordinary bits of linen. Surely now, she, Rita, could
do that too. As Dolores took a cloth from her husband's head, the
girl's hand was outstretched, took it quietly, and handed a fresh one
to the nurse. The cloth she took was covered with red stains. For a
moment Rita's head swam, and the world seemed to turn dark before her
eyes; but she held the thing firmly, till her sight cleared again; then
dropped it in the tub of water that stood ready, and taking up the fan
of green palm-leaf, swept it steadily to and fro, driving the clouds of
flies and mosquitoes away from the sufferer.
Coming back from his siesta half an hour later, good Doctor Ferrando
paused a moment at the entrance of the hospital grove. There were two
nurses now; the good man gazed in astonishment at the slender figure
kneeling beside one of the rough cots, fanning the wounded man, and
singing in a low, sweet voice, a song of Cuba. Several of the men were
awake, and gazing at her with delight. Dolores, with a look of quiet
happiness on her face, sat beside the bed where her husband was
sleeping peacefully. Come! said the doctor, war, after all, has its
beauty as well as its terror. Observe this heavenly sight, you
benevolent saints! he waved his cigar upward, inviting the attention
of all attendant spirits. Consider this lovely child, awakened to the
holiness of womanhood! and the General will destroy all this to-morrow,
from respect for worldly conventions! He is without doubt right; yet,
what a pity!
CHAPTER VII. CAMP SCENE.
If I must, dear Señor GeneralI will be good, I will, indeed; but
my heart will break to leave Carlos, and the camp, and you, Señor
My dear child,my dear young lady, what pleasure for me to keep
you here! the first sunshine of the war, it came with you, Señorita
Margarita. Nevertheless, duty is duty; I should be wanting in mine,
most wofully and wickedly wanting, if I allowed you to remain here, in
hourly danger, when a few hours could place you in comparative safety.
Perfect safety, I do not promise. Where shall we find it, even for our
nearest and dearest, in this poor distracted country? But with Don
Annunzio and his family you will be safe at least for a time; whereas
here The General looked around, and shrugged his shoulders,
spreading his hands out with a dramatic gesture. The Gringos have
learned the way to our mountain camp; they will not forget it. Another
attack may come any night; our camp is an outpost, placed of purpose to
guard this position, which must of necessity be one of danger. To have
women with usit is not only exposing them to the terrible
possibilities of war, but
He paused. I see! cried Rita. I see! you are too kind to say it,
but we are a burden upon you. We make harder the work; we are an
encumbrance. Dear Señor General, I go! I fly! Give me half, a quarter
of an hour, and I am gone. Never, never, will I be in the way of my
country's defenders; never! Too long we have stayed already; Manuela
shall make on the instant our packets, and in a little hour you shall
forget that we were here at all.
The good General cried out, No! no! my dear child, my dear
señorita; cease these words, I implore you. You cut me to the heart.
Consider the help that you have brought to us; consider the nursing,
the tender care that you and the wife of Valdez have given to our
sufferers, in the rancho there. Never will this be forgotten, rest
assured of that. Butit is true that you must go; yet not too soon.
This evening, when the coolness falls, Don Carlos, with a chosen
escort, will conduct you to the residence of Don Annunzio. There, I
rejoice to think that you will find, not luxury, but at least some few
of the comforts of ordinary life. Here you have suffered; your lofty
spirit will not confess it, but you haveyou must have suffered,
delicate and fragile as you are, in the rough life of a Cuban camp.
Enough! The day is before you, dearest señorita. I pray you, while it
lasts, make use of me, of all that the camp contains, in whatever way
you can imagine. I would make the day a pleasant one, if I might.
Command me, dear señorita, in anything and everything. The camp is
yours, with all it contains.
He bowed with courtly grace, and Rita courtsied and then turned
quickly away, to hide the tears that would come in spite of her. It was
a keen disappointment. When Carlos told her that morning that she must
leave the camp, she had refused pointblank. A stormy scene followed, in
which the old Rita was only too much in evidence. She raged, she wept,
she stamped her little foot. She was a Cuban, as much as he was; she
was a nurse, a daughter of the army; no human power should drive her
from the ground where she was prepared to shed her last drop of blood
for the defenders of her country. Nowa few kind, grave words from a
gray-haired man, and all was changed. She was not a necessity, she was
a hindrance; she saw that this must be so; the pain was sharp, but she
would not show it; she would never again lose her self-control, never.
Carlos should see that she was no longer a child. He had called her a
child, not half an hour ago, a naughty child, who was making trouble
for everybody. WellRita stood still; the thought came over her
suddenly,it was true! she had been childish, had been naughty.
Suppose Margaret or Peggy should behave so, stamping and storming; how
would it seem? Oh, well, that was different. Their blood was cool,
almost cold. It flowed sluggishly in their veins. She was a child of
the South; it was not to be expected that she should be like Margaret.
Yes! butthe thought would come, troubling all her mind; suppose
Margaret were here, with her calm sense, her cheerful face, and
tranquil voice; would not she be of more use, of more help, than a girl
who could not help screaming when she was in a passion?
These thoughts were new to Rita Montfort. Full of them, she walked
slowly to her hut, with bent head, and eyes full of unshed tears.
Meanwhile, the good General went back to his tent, where Carlos awaited
him with some anxiety.
Well? he asked, as the gray head bent under the tent-flaps.
Well, responded his commander. It is very well, my son. The
señoritashe is adorable, do you know it? Never have I seen a more
lovely young person! The señorita is most reasonable. She comprehends;
she understands the desolation that it is to me to send away so
delightful a visitor; neverthelessshe accepts all, with her own
Carlos shrugged his shoulders; that same exquisite grace had flashed
a dagger in his eyes not ten minutes before, vowing that it should be
sheathed in the owner's heart before she left the camp; but it was not
necessary to say this to the General. Carlos was an affectionate
brother, and was honestly relieved and glad to find that Rita had come
to her senses. He thanked General Sevillo warmly for his good offices,
and, being off duty, went in search of his sister, determining that he
would make her last day in camp a pleasant one, so far as lay in his
power. He found Rita sitting sadly in the door of her hut, watching
Manuela, who was packing up their belongings, unwillingly enough.
Manuela had enjoyed her stay in camp greatly, and thought life would be
very dull, in comparison, at Don Annunzio's cottage; but there was no
escape, and the white silk blouse and the swansdown wrapper went into
the bag with all the other fineries.
Come, Rita, said Carlos, taking his sister's hand affectionately;
come with me, and let me show you some things that you have not yet
seen. You must not forget the camp. Who knows? Some day you may come
back to pay us a visit.
Rita shook her head, and the tears came to her eyes again; but she
drove them back bravely, and smiled, and laid her hand in her
brother's; and they passed out together among the palm-trees.
Manuela looked after them, and laid her hand on her heart; it was a
gesture that she had often seen her mistress use, and it seemed to her
infinitely touching and beautiful. Ohimé, sighed Manuela. War
is terrible, indeed! To think that we must go away, just when we are so
comfortable. But where, then, is this idiot? Pepe! When I call you,
will you come, animal? Pepe!
The thicket near the rancho rustled and shook, and Pepe appeared.
This young man presented a different figure from the forlorn one that
had greeted the two girls on their first arrival at the camp. His curly
hair was now carefully brushed and oiled. The scarlet handkerchief was
still tied about his head, but it was tied now with a grace that might
have done credit to the most dandified matador in the Havana ring. His
jacket was neatly mended; altogether, Pepe was once more a
self-respecting, even a self-admiring youth. Also, he admired Manuela
immensely, and lost no opportunity of telling that she was the light of
his eyes and the flower of his soul. He was now beginning some remarks
of this description, but Manuela interrupted him, laying her pretty
brown hand unceremoniously on his lips.
For once, Pepe, endeavour to possess a small portion of sense, she
said. Listen to me! We must leave the camp.
How then, marrow of my bones! Leave the camp? You and I?
I am speaking to a monkey, then, instead of a man? The use, I ask
you, of addressing intelligent remarks to such a corporosity? My
mistress and I, simpleton. This General of yours drives us from his
quarters; he begrudges the morsel we eat, the rude hut that shelters
us. Enough! we go; even now I make preparation. Pull this strap for me,
Pepe; at least you have strength. Ah! If I were but a great stupid man,
it would be well with me this day!
But well for no one else, my idol, said Pepe, tugging away at the
strap. Desolation and despair for the rest of mankind, Rose of the
Antilles. Accidental death to this bag! why have you filled it so full?
There! it is strapped. Manuela, is it possible that I live without you?
No! I shall fall an easy victim to the first fever that comes; already
I feel it scorching my
Oh, a paralysis upon you! Can I exercise my thoughts, with the
chatter of a parrot in my ears? Attend, then, Pepe,you will miss me a
little, will you? Just a very little?
Pepe opened his mouth for new and fiery protestations, but was
bidden peremptorily to shut it again.
I desire now to hear myself speak, said Manuela. I weary, Pepe,
for the sound of my own poor little voice. Listen, then! These days I
have been here, and you have never asked me what I brought with me for
you; brought all that cruel way from the city. I knew I should find you
somewhere, my good Pepe; or, if not you, some other friend, some other
good son of Cuba. I thought of you, I remembered you, even in the rush
of our departure. See! It is yours. May it bring you fortune!
She handed him a little packet, neatly folded in white paper, and
tied with a crimson ribbon. Receiving it with dramatic eagerness, Pepe
opened it and looked with delight at its contents.
A detente! he cried. Manuela! and the most beautiful that
has been seen upon the earth. This is not for me! No! Impossible! The
General alone is worthy to wear this object of an elegance so
Reassured on this point, he proceeded to pin the emblem on his
jacket, and contemplated it with delighted pride. It was a simple thing
enough; a square of white flannel the size of an ordinary needlebook,
neatly scalloped around the edge with white silk. In the centre was
embroidered a crimson heart, and under it the words, Detente!
pienso en ti! (Be of good cheer! I think of thee!)
And did you really think of me, Manuela? cried the delighted Pepe.
Did you, bright and gay, in the splendid city, think of the lonely
Yes, I did, said Manuela, when I had nothing else to do. And now
you may go away, Pepe, I am busy; I cannot attend to you any longer.
But, said Pepe, bewildered, you called me, Manuela.
Yes; to strap my bag. It is done; I thank you. It is finished.
Andyou have given me the detente, moon of my soul!
Then you cannot complain that I never gave you anything. And now I
give you one thing more,leave to depart. Adios, Don Pepe! and
she actually shut the door of the hut in the face of her astonished
adorer, who departed muttering strange things concerning the
changeableness of all women, and of Manuela in particular.
Meanwhile, Rita and Carlos were wandering about the camp, and Rita
was seeing, as her brother promised, some things that were new to her,
even after a stay of nearly a week. She saw the kitchen, or what passed
for a kitchen,a pleasant spot under a palm-tree, where the cook was
even then toasting long strips of meat over the parilla, a kind
of gridiron, made by simply driving four stakes, and laying bits of
wood across and across them, then lighting a fire beneath.
But why does it not burn up, your parilla? asked Rita of
the long, lean, coffee-coloured soldier, picturesque and ragged, who
was turning the strips with a forked stick.
Pardon, gracious señorita, it does burn up; not the first time, nor
perhaps the second, but without doubt the third.
And then,it is but to build another. An affair of a moment,
But does not the meat often fall into the fire when it breaks?
Sufficiently often, most noble. What of that? It imparts a flavour
of its own; one brushes off the ashessoldiers do not dine at the
Hotel Royal, one must observe. May I offer the señorita a bit of this
excellent beef? This has not fallen down at all, or at most but once,
one little time.
Rita thanked him, but was not hungry. At least she would have a cup
of guarapo, the hospitable cook begged; and he hastened to bring
her a cup of polished cocoanut shell, filled with the favourite drink,
which was simply hot water with sugar dissolved in it. Rita took the
cup graciously, and drank to the health of the camp, and to the freedom
of Cuba; the cook responded with many bows and profuse thanks for the
honour she had done him, and the brother and sister passed on.
There are some good bananas near here, said Carlos; little red
ones, the kind you like, Rita. I'll fill a basket for you to take with
you; Don Annunzio's may not be so good.
They were making their way through a tangle of tall grass and young
palm-trees, when suddenly Rita stopped, and laid her hand on her
Look! she said. Look yonder, Carlos! The grass moves.
A snake, perhaps, said Carlos; or a land-crab. Stand here a
moment, and I will go forward and see.
He advanced, looking keenly at the clump of yellowish grass that
Rita had pointed out. Certainly, the grass did move. It quivered, waved
from side to side, then seemed to settle down, as if an invisible hand
were pulling it from below. Carlos drew his machete, and bent forward;
whereupon a loud yell was heard, and the clump of grass shot up into
the air, revealing a black face, and a pair of rolling eyes.
What is it? cried Rita, in terror. Carlos, come back to me! It is
Only a scout! said her brother, laughing. One of our own men on
outpost duty. Have peace, Pablo! your hour is not yet come.
Caramba! I thought it was, my captain! said the negro
scout, grinning. Better be a crab than a Cuban in these days.
He was a singular figure indeed. From head to waist he was literally
clothed in grass, bunches of it being tied over his head and round his
neck and shoulders, falling to his thighs. A pair of ragged trousers of
no particular colour completed his costume. A more perfect disguise
could not be imagined; indeed, except when he lifted his head, he was
not to be distinguished from the clumps and tufts of dry grass all
Pablo is a good scout! said Carlos, approvingly. No Gringo could
possibly see you till he stepped on you, Pablo; and then
And then! said Pablo, grinning from ear to ear; and he drew his
machete and went through an expressive pantomime which, if carried out,
would certainly have left very little of Gringo or any one else.
Is your post near here? show it! The señorita would like to see how
a Cuban scout lives.
Pablo, a man of few words, gave a pleased nod, and scuttled away
through the bush, beckoning them to follow. Rita, stepping carefully
along, holding her brother's hand, kept her eyes on the scout for a few
moments; then he seemed to melt into the rest of the grass, and was
gone. A few steps more, and they almost fell over him, as his black
face popped up again, shaking back its grassy fringes.
Behold the domicile of Pablo! he said, with a magnificent gesture.
The property, with all it contains, of the señorita and the Señor
Captain Don Carlos.
Brother and sister tried to look becomingly impressed as they
surveyed the domain. Close under a waving palm-tree a rag of brown
canvas was stretched on two sticks laid across upright branches stuck
in the ground. Under this awning was space for a man to sit, or even to
lie down, if he did not mind his feet being in the sun. A small iron
pot, hung on three sticks over some blackened stones, showed where the
householder did his cooking; a heap of leaves and grass answered for
bed and pillows; this was the domicile of Pablo.
Breaking a twig from a neighbouring shrub, the scout bent over the
pot, and speared a plantain, which he offered to Rita with grave
courtesy. She took it with equal dignity, thanking him with her most
gracious smile, and ate it daintily, praising its flavour and the
perfection of its cooking till the good negro's face shone with
And you stay here alone, Pablo? she asked. How long? you are not
afraid? No, of course not that; you are a soldier. But lonely! is it
not very lonely here, at night above all?
Pablo spread out his hands. Señorita, possiblyif it were not for
the crabs. These good soulsthey have the disposition of a
Christian!sit with me, in the intervals of their occupations, and are
excellent company. They cannot talk, but that suits me very well. Then,
there is always the chance of some one coming byas to-day, when the
Blessed Virgin sends the señorita and the Señor Don Carlos. Also at any
moment the devil may send me a Gringo; their scouts are as plenty as
scorpions. No, señorita, I am not lonely. It is a fine life! In a
prison, you see, it would be quite otherwise.
But there are other ways of living, Pablo, beside scouting and
going to prison, said Rita, much amused.
Without doubt! Without doubt! said Pablo, cheerfully. And
assuredly neither would befit the señorita. May she live as happy as
she is beautiful, the sun being black beside her. Adios,
señorita; adios, Señor Captain Don Carlos!
Adios, good Pablo! good luck to you and your crabs! and
laughing and waving a salute, they left the scout nodding his
grass-crowned head like a transformed mandarin, and went back to the
CHAPTER VIII. THE PACIFICOS.
A long, low adobe house, brilliantly white with plaster; a verandah
with swinging hammocks; the inevitable green blinds; the inevitable
cane and banana patch; this was Don Annunzio's. Don Annunzio Carreno
himself (to give him his full name for once, though he seldom heard or
used it) sat in a large rocking-chair on the verandah, smoking. He was
enormously stout and supremely placid, and he looked the picture of
peace and prosperity, in his spotless white suit and broad-brimmed hat.
To Rita, weary after her ten miles' ride from the camp, the whole
place seemed a page out of a picture-book. Her mind was filled with
rugged and startling images: the rude hospital, with its ghastly sights
and homely though devoted tendance; the ragged soldiers, with head or
arm bound in bloody bandages; the camp fire and kitchen, the scout in
his grassy panoply. Her eyes had grown accustomed to sights like these,
and the bright whiteness of house and householder, the trim array of
flower-beds and kitchen-garden, struck her as strange and artificial.
She felt as if Don Annunzio ought to be wound up from behind, and was
whimsically surprised to see him rise and come forward to meet them.
Carlos made his explanation, and presented General Sevillo's letter.
Don Annunzio's hat was already in his hand and he was bowing to Rita
with all the grace his size allowed; but now he implored them to enter
the house, which he declared he occupied henceforward only at their
If the señorita will graciously descend! said the good man. On
the instant I call my wife. Prudencia! Where are you, then? Visitors,
Prudencia; visitors of distinction. Hasten quickly!
A woman appeared in the doorway; tall and lean, clad in brown
calico, with a sun-bonnet to match, but with apron and kerchief as
snowy as Don Annunzio's ducks.
For the land's sake! said Señora Carreno.
Rita looked up quickly.
Visitors, my love! Don Annunzio explained rapidly, in good enough
English. The Señor Captain and the Señorita Montfort, bringing a note
from his Excellency General Sevillo. The señorita will remain with us
for some days; I have placed all at her disposal; I
There, Noonsey! said the lady, not unkindly. You set down, and
let me see what's goin' on.
She laid a powerful hand on her husband's shoulder, and pushed him
into his chair again; then advanced to the verandah steps, regarding
the newcomers with frank but cheerful scrutiny.
What's all this? she said. Good mornin'! Yes, it's a fine day.
Won't you step in?
Carlos told his story, and asked permission for his sister and her
maid to spend some days at the house until some permanent place could
be found for her.
The señora considered with frowning brows, not of anger but of
Well, she said, I did say I wouldn't take no more boarders. I had
trouble with the last ones, and said I'd got through accommodatin'
folks. StillI dunno but we could managedoes she understand when
she's spoke toEnglish, I mean?
Yes, indeed, I do! cried Rita, coming forward. I am only half
Cuban; it is good to hear you speak. If you will let me stay, I will
try to give little trouble. May I stay, please?
Well, I guess you may! cried the New England woman. You walk
right in and lay off your things, and make yourself to home. The idea!
Why didn't you saywhy, it's as good as a meal o' victuals to hear you
speak. Been to the States, have you? Well, now, if that don't beat all!
Noonsey, you go and tell José we shall want them chickens for supper.
Set down, young man! This your hired gal, dear? Does she speak English?
Well no, I s'pose not.
She said a few words to Manuela in Spanish which, if not melodious,
was intelligible, and then led Rita into the house, talking all the
Here's the settin'-room; and here's the spare-room off'n it. There!
lay your things on the bed, dear. I keep on talkin', when all the time
I want to hear you talk. It is good to hear your native speech, say
what they will. Husband, he does his best, to please me; but it's like
as though he was speakin' molasses, some way. Been in the States to
school, did you say?
Rita told her story: of her American father, who had always spoken
English with her and her brother; of the summer spent in the North with
her uncle and cousins. Oh, she said, you are right. I used to think
that I was two-thirds Cuban; I thought I cared little, little, for the
American part of me. Nowbut it is music to hear you speak, Señora
S'pose you call me Marm Prudence! said the good woman, half-shyly.
I don't see as 'twould be any harm, and I should like dretful well to
hear the name again. I was a widow when I married Don Noonzio. Yes'm.
My first husband was captain of a fruit schooner. I voyaged with him
considerable. He died in Santiago, and I never went back home: I
couldn't seem to. I washed and sewed for families I knew, and then
bumbye I married Don Noonzio. He gave me a good home, and he's a good
provider. There's times, though, that I'm terrible homesick. There! I
don't know what I should do if 'twa'n't for my settin'-room. Did you
notice it, comin' through? I just go there and set sometimes, and look
round, and cry. It does me a sight o' good.
Rita had indeed glanced around the sitting-room as she passed
through it, but it said nothing to her. The six haircloth chairs, the
marble-topped centre-table with its wool and bead mat, its glass lamp
with the red wick, its photograph-album and gilt family Bible, did not
speak her language. Neither did the mantelpiece, with its two china
poodles and its bunches of dried grasses in vases of red and white
Bohemian glass. The Cuban girl could not know how eloquent were all
these things to the exiled Vermont woman; but she looked sympathetic,
and felt so, her heart warming to the homely soul, with her rugged
speech and awkward gestures.
Marm Prudence now insisted that her guest must be tired, and brought
out a superb quilt, powdered with red and blue stars, to tuck her up
under; but word came that Captain Montfort was going, and Rita hurried
out to the verandah to bid him farewell. Carlos took her in his arms,
affectionately. How is it, then, little sister? he asked. Are you
reconciled at all? Can you stay here in peace a little, with these good
Rita returned his caress heartily. You were right, Carlos! she
said. You and the dear General were both right. It was wonderful to be
there in camp; I shall never forget it; I hope I shall be better all my
life for it; but I could not have stayed long, I see that now. Here I
shall be taken care of; here I shall rest, as under a grandmother's
care. This good Marm Prudence,that is what I am to call her,
Carlos,already I love her, already she tends me as a bird tends her
young. Ah, Carlos, you will not neglect Chico? I leave him as a sacred
legacy. The men implored me so. They said the bird had brought them
good fortune once, and would be their salvation again; I had not the
heart to take him from them. You will see that they do not feed him too
much? Already he has had a fit of illness from too much kindness on the
part of our faithful soldiers. Thank you! and have no thought of me, my
brother; all will be well with me. Return to your glorious duty, son of
Cuba. It may be that even here, in this peaceful spot, it may be given
to your Rita to serve the mother we both adore. Adios, Carlos!
Heaven be with thee!
Carlos, who was of a practical turn of mind, was always
uncomfortable when Rita spread her rhetorical wings. He did not see why
she could not speak plain English. But he kissed her affectionately,
heartily glad that he could leave her content with her surroundings;
and with a cordial farewell to the good people of the house, he rode
away, followed by his clanking orderlies, leading the horse Rita had
While all this had been going on, Manuela had been arranging her
mistress's things; shaking out the crumpled dresses, brushing off the
bits of grass and broken straw that clung to hem and ruffle, mementoes
of the days in camp. Manuela sighed over these relics, and shook her
Poor Pepe! she said. If only he does not fall into a fever from
grief! Ah, love is a terrible thing! Dios! what a rent in the
señorita's serge skirt! A paralysis on the brambles in that place! yet
it was a good place. At least there was life. One heard voices,
neighing of horses, jingling of stirrups. Here we shall grow into two
young cabbages beside that old one, my señorita and her poor Manuela.
Ah, life is very sad!
Here Manuela chanced to look out of the window, and saw a handsome
Creole boy leading a horse to water in the courtyard. Instantly her
face lighted up. She flew to the looking-glass, and was arranging her
hair with passionate eagerness, when the door opened, and Rita entered,
followed by their kind hostess. Manuela started, then turned to drop a
demure courtsey. I was examining the glass, she explained, to see if
it was fit for the señorita to use. These common mirrors, you
understand, they draw the countenance this way, that way, she
expressed her meaning in vivid pantomime,one thinks one's visage of
caoutchouc. But this is passable; I assure you, señorita, passable.
Well, I declare! said Marm Prudence. My best looking-glass, that
I brought from Chelsea, Massachusetts, when I was first married! If it
ain't good enough for you, young woman, you're free to do without it,
and so I tell you.
She spoke with some severity, but softened instantly as she turned
to Rita. Now you'll lie down and rest you a spell, won't you, dear?
she said. I must go and see about supper, and I sha'n't be satisfied
till I see you tucked up under my 'Old Glory spread.' That's what I
call it; it has the colours, you see. There! comfortable? Now you shut
your pretty eyes, and have a good sleep. And you, she added, turning
to Manuela, can come and help me a spell, if you've nothing better to
do. I'm short-handed; help is turrible skurce in war-time, and I can
keep you out of Satan's hands, if nothing else.
CHAPTER IX. IN HIDING.
You busy, Miss Margaritty?
It was Marm Prudence's voice, and at the sound Rita opened her door
quickly. She and Manuela had been holding a mournful consultation over
the state of her wardrobe, which had had rough usage during the past
two weeks, and she was glad of an interruption.
I thought mebbe you'd like to come and set with me a spell while I
Oh, yes! cried Rita, eagerly. And may I not work, too? Isn't
there something I can do to help?
Why, I should be pleased! said the good woman. I'm braidin' hats
for the soldiers. I promised a dozen to-morrow night. It's pretty work;
mebbe you'd like to try.
For the soldiers? For our soldiers? Oh, what joy, Marm Prudencia!
No, Prudence, you like better that. Show me, please! I burn to begin.
Why, you're real eager, ain't you? said Marm Prudence. Now I'm
glad I spoke; I thought mebbe 'twould suit you. Young folks like to be
In a few minutes the two were seated on the cool inner verandah,
looking out on the garden, with a great basket between them, heaped
with delicate strips of palmetto leaf, white and smooth.
Husband, he whittles 'em for me, Marm Prudence explained. It's
occupation for him. Fleshy as he is, he can't get about none too much,
and this keeps his hands busy. It's hard to be a man and lose the
activity of your limbs. But there! there's compensations, I always say.
If Noonsey was as he was ten years ago, he'd be off with the rest, and
then where'd I be?
ThenRita's eyes flashed, and she bent nearer her hostess, and
spoke low. Then you are not at heart pacificos, Marm Prudence.
On the surface, I understand, I comprehend, it is necessary; but au
fond, in your secret hearts, you are with us; you are Cubans. Is it
not so? It must be so!
Oh, land, yes! said Marm Prudence, composedly. I'm an American,
you see; and husband, he's a Cuban five generations back. We don't have
no dealin's with the Gringos, more than we're obleeged to. Livin' right
close t' the road as we do, we can't let out the way we feel, but I
guess there's mighty few Mambis about here but knows where to come when
they want things. There ain't many so bold as your brother, to come in
open daylight, but come night, they're often as thick as bats about the
garden here. There! I have to shoo' em off sometimes; yet I like to
have 'em, too.
Rita's face glowed with excitement. Oh, Marm Prudence, she cried;
how glorious! Oh, what fortune, what joy, to be here with you! We will
work together; we will toil; our blood shall flow in fountains, if it
is needed. Embrace me, mother of Cuba!
Marm Prudence put on her spectacles, and surveyed the excited girl
with some anxiety.
Let me feel your pult, dear! she said, soothingly. You got a
touch o' sun, like as not, riding in that heat this morning. Now
there's no call to get worked up, or talk about blood-sheddin'.
Blood-sheddin' ain't in our line, yours nor mine, nor husband's
neither. Fur as doin' goes, we're all pacificos here, Miss
Margaritty, and you mustn't forget that. Just wait a minute, and I'll
go and git you a cup of my balm-tea; 'tis real steadyin' to the nerves,
and I expect yours is strung up some with all you've be'n through.
Rita protested that she was perfectly well, and not at all excited;
but she submitted, and drank the balm-tea meekly, as it was cold and
It is my ardent nature! she explained. It is the fire of my
patriotism which consumes me. Do you not feel it, Marm Prudence,
oftentimes, like a flame in your bosom?
No, Marm Prudence was not aware that she did. Things took folks
different, she said, placidly. She had an aunt when she was a little
gal, that used to have spasms reg'lar every time she heard the baker's
cart. Some thought she had had hopes of the baker before he married a
widow woman, but you couldn't always account for these things. What a
pretty braid Rita was getting!
[Illustration: 'WAS SUCH A HAT EVER SEEN IN PARIS?']
Indeed, the work suited Rita's nimble fingers to perfection, and
yard after yard of snowy braid rolled over her lap and grew into a pile
at her feet. She was eager to make her first hat. After an hour or two
of braiding, she discovered that it suited Manuela's genius better than
her own. The basket of splints was turned over to the willing
handmaiden, and good-natured Marm Prudence showed Rita how to sew the
braids together smooth and flat, and initiated her into the mysteries
of crown and brim. In a creditably short space of time, Rita, with
infinite pride, held her first hat aloft, and twirled it round and
round on her finger.
But, it is perfect! she cried. The shape, the colour, the air of
it. Manuela, quick! a mirror! hold it for meso! look! She took the
ribbon from her belt, and began to twist it in one coquettish knot
after another about the hat, which she had set on her dark hair.
Is that chic? Is it adorable, I ask you? Was such a hat ever
seen in Paris? Never! I wear no other from this day on; hear me swear
it! It will become the rage; I will make it so. Orno! I will keep to
myself the secret, and others will die of envy. I name it, Manuela. The
Prudencia, for thee, my kind hostess. Why do you laugh?
Marm Prudence was twinkling in her quiet way. I was only thinkin'
there'd have to be one soldier boy go without his hat to-morrow! she
said, good-humouredly. It does look nice on you, though, Miss
Margaritty, that's certin.
Blushing scarlet, Rita tore the hat from her head.
Ah! she cried, casting it on the floor. Wretch, ingrate,
serpent that I am! Take away the glass, girl! take it away; break
it into a thousand pieces, to shame my vanity, and never speak to me of
hats again. Henceforward I tie a shawl over my head, for the remainder
of my life; I have said it.
Much depressed, she worked away in silence, as if her life depended
upon it. Manuela, shrugging her shoulders, carried off the glass, but
did not think it necessary to obey the injunction to break it. She was
used to her señorita's outbreaks, and returned placidly to her braiding
as if nothing had happened.
The good hostess regarded her pretty visitor with some alarm,
mingled with amusement and admiration. She might have her hands full,
she thought, if she attempted to keep this young lady occupied, and out
of mischief. The time when she was asleep was likely to be the most
peaceful time in Casa Annunzio. Yet how pretty she was! and what a
pleasure it was to hear her speak, something between a bird and a
flute. On the whole, Marm Prudence thought her coming a thing to be
Talking with Don Annunzio himself that evening, Rita found him far
less guarded than his wife in his expression of patriotic zeal. He
echoed her saying, that every Mambi in the country knew where to come
when he wanted anything; and he went on to draw lurid pictures of what
he would do to the Gringos if he but had the power.
See, señorita! he said, in his wheezy, asthmatic voice. I am
powerless, am I not? Already of a certain age, I am afflicted with an
accession of flesh; moreover, I am short of breath, owing to this
apoplexy of an asthma. Worse than this, my legs, if the señorita can
pardon the allusion, refuse now these two years to do their office.
With two sticks, I can hobble about the house and garden; without them,
behold me a fixture. How, then? When the war breaks out, I go to my
General, to General Sevillo, under whom I served in the ten years' war.
I say to him, 'Things are thus and thus with me, but still I would
serve my country. Give me a horse, and let me ride with you as an
orderly.' Alas! it may not be. 'Annunzio,' he says, 'your day of
service in the field is over. Stay at home, and help our men when they
call upon you. Thus you can do more good ten-fold than you could do in
Ohimé! my heart is broken; it is reduced to powder, but what
will you? reason, joined to authority,I am but a simple man, and I
obey. Since then, I sit and whittle splints for my admirable wife. A
woman, señorita, to rule a nation! The Gringos pass by, and see me
working at my trade. I greet them civilly, I supply requisitions when
backed by authority; again, what will you? I suffer in silence till
their back is turned, and my maledictions accompany them along the
road. Ah! if none of them had longer life than I wish him, the road
would be encumbered with corpses. Then,draw your chair nearer,
señorita, if you will have the infinite graciousness,then, at
nightit may be this very nightthe others come. Hush! yesthe
Mambis; the sons of Cuba. Quietly, by ones, by twos, they appear,
dropping from the sky, rising from the earth. Thenha! then, you shall
see. Not a word more, Señorita Margarita! Donna Prudencia is a pearl,
an empress among women, but rightly named; she complains that I talk
too much on these subjects. But when one's heart is in the field, and
one's legs refuse to follow,again, what would you? No matter! silence
is golden! Wait but a little, and you shall see. Who knows? It may be
this very night.
Thus Don Annunzio, with many nods and winks, and gestures of
dramatic caution. His words fanned the flame of Rita's zeal, and she
longed for one of the promised nocturnal visits. That night and the
next she was constantly waking, listening for a whisper, the clank of a
chain, the jingle of a spur; but none came, and the nights passed as
peacefully as the days. The dozen, and more, were completed; and then,
in spite of her vow, Rita found time to make one for herself, certainly
as pretty a hat as heart could desire. So pretty, Rita thought it a
thousand pities that there was no one beside Don Annunzio and Marm
Prudence to see her in it. She sighed, and thought of the camp among
the hills, of Carlos and the General, and Don Uberto.
One day, soon after noon, Marm Prudence asked Rita if she would like
to take a walk with her. Rita assented eagerly, and put on her pretty
hat. She looked on with surprise as Marm Prudence proceeded to take
from a cupboard an ample covered basket, from which protruded the neck
of a bottle and some plump red bananas.
Are we going on a picnic, then? she asked.
The good woman nodded. You'll see, time enough! she said. It's a
picnic for somebody, if not for us, Miss Margaritty. Look, dear! is Don
Noonsey out in the ro'd there?
Don Annunzio was out in the road, having made what was quite a
journey for him, down the verandah steps, along the garden walk, and
across the sunny road. He now stood shading his eyes with his hand,
looking this way and that with anxious glances.
At length, All is quiet! he said. The road is clear, and no sign
anywhere. Make haste then, mi alma, and cross while yet all is
Beckoning to Rita, Marm Prudence slipped out and across the road
swiftly, not pausing till she had gained the screen of a thick clump of
cacti. Rita kept close to her side, drinking the mystery like wine.
They stood for a few moments behind the aloes; then Don Annunzio spoke
All is still perfect, and you may go without fear. Carry my best
greetings whither you are going. At the proper hour I will await you
here, and signal when return is safe.
Without wasting words, his wife waved her hand, and turning, plunged
into the forest, followed by the delighted Rita.
The tangle of underbrush was higher than their heads, but they made
their way quickly, and Rita soon saw that a narrow path wound along
through the bush, and that the ground under her feet had been trodden
many times. The trees towered high above the dense undergrowth, some
leafy and branching, others, the palms, tossing their single plume
aloft. Open near the wood, the wood grew thicker and thicker, till it
stood like a wall on either side of the narrow footpath; the twigs and
leaves, broken and crushed here and there, showed, like the path, the
traces of frequent passage.
Rita was burning with curiosity, yet she would not for worlds have
asked a question. They were nearing every moment the heart of the
mystery; she would not spoil the dramatic effect by prying into it too
Suddenly, a gleam of sunlight struck through the trees. They were
near the end of the wood, then. A few steps more, and she caught her
breath, with a low cry of amazement.
A round hollow, dipping deep like a cup, with here and there a great
tree standing. On one side, a clear spring flowing from a rocky cleft.
Under one tree, a hammock slung, and in a hammock a man asleep. Thus
much Rita saw at the first glance. The next instant the man was on his
feet, and the long barrel of his carbine gleamed level at sight.
Alto! quien va? the challenge rang clear and sharp.
Cuba! replied Señora Carreno. For the land's sake, Mr.
Delmonty, don't start a person like that. You'd oughter know my
sunbunnit by this time.
The young man had already lowered his weapon, and showed a laughing
face of apology as he lifted his broad-brimmed hat.
I beg your pardon, Donna Prudencia, he said. I was asleep, and
dreaming; not of angels! he added, as he made another low bow, which
included Rita in its sweep of respectful courtesy.
He spoke English like an Anglo-Saxon, without trace of accent or
hesitation. His hair and complexion were brown, but a pair of bright
blue eyes lightened his face in an extraordinary manner.
Who might this be?
Mr. Delmonty, let me make ye acquainted with Miss Margaritty
Montfort! said Señora Carreno, with some ceremony. Miss Montfort is
stoppin' with us for a spell. Both of you bein' half Yankee, I judged
you might be pleased to meet up with each other.
Rita bowed with her most queenly air; then relaxed, as she met the
merry glance of the blue eyes.
Are you? she said. I am very gladbut your name is Spanish.
My father was a Cuban, said the young man; my mother is American.
She was a Russell of Claxton. He paused a moment, as if inviting
comment; but Rita, brought up in Cuba, knew nothing of the Russells of
Claxton, a famous family.
I've been in the North most of the time since I was a little
shaver, he went on, at school and college; came down here last year,
when things seemed to be brewing. Have you been much in Boston, Miss
Montfort? We might have some acquaintances in common.
Rita shook her head, and told him of her one summer in the North. I
hope to go again, she said, when our country is free. When Cuba has
no longer need of her daughters, as well as her sons, I shall gladly
return to that fair northern country.
Again she caught a quizzical glance of the blue eyes, and was
reminded, she hardly knew why, of her Uncle John. But Uncle John's eyes
You arealone here, Señor Delmonte? she asked, glancing around
the solitary dell.
Yes, said the young man, composedly. I'm in hiding.
Rita's eyes flashed. Hiding! a son of Cuba! skulking about in the
woods, while his brother soldiers were at the front, or, like Carlos,
guarding the hill passes! This was indeed being only half a Cuban. She
would have nothing to do with recreant soldiers; and she turned away
with a face of cold displeasure.
How's your foot? asked Señora Carreno, abruptly. That last
dressing fetch it, do you think?
All right! said the young man. Look! I have my shoe on. And he
held up one foot with an air of triumph. I shall be ready for the road
to-night, and take my troublesome self off your hands, Señora Carreno.
No trouble at all! said the good woman, earnestly. Not a mite of
trouble but what was pleasure, Captain Jack.
Captain Jack! where had Rita heard that name? Before she could try
to think, her hostess went on.
Well, I kinder hate to have you go, but of course you're eager,
same as all young folks are. But look here! You'd better pass the night
with us, and let me see to your foot once more, and give you a good
night's sleep in a Christian bed; and then I can mend up your things a
bit, and you lay by till night again, and start off easy and
It sounds very delightful, said the young man, with a glance at
the charming girl who would stand with her head turned away. But how
about the Gringos, Donna Prudencia? Supposing some of them should come
They won't come to-morrow! said Marm Prudence, significantly.
No? you have assurance of that? and why may they not come
Because they've come to-day, most likely!
Rita started, and turned back toward the speakers.
The Gringos? to-day? she cried.
Marm Prudence nodded. That was why I brought you here, dear, she
said; most of the reason, that is. We got word they was most likely
comin', quite a passel of 'em; and we judged it was well, Don Noonsey
and me, that they shouldn't see you. I thought mebbe, she added, with
a sly glance at the basket, that if I brought a little something
extry, we might get an invitation to take a bite of luncheon, but we
don't seem to.
Oh! but who could have supposed that I was to have all the
good things in the world? cried Delmonte, merrily. This is really too
good to be true. Help me, Donna Prudencia, while I set out the feast!
Why, this is the great day of the whole campaign.
The two unpacked the basket, with many jests and much laughter; they
were evidently old friends. Meantime Rita stood by, uncertain of her
own mood. To miss an experience, possibly terrible, certainly
thrilling; to have lost an opportunity of declaring herself a daughter
of Cuba, possibly of shooting a Spaniard for herself, and to have been
deceived, tricked like a child; this brought her slender brows
together, ominously, and made her eyes glitter in a way that Manuela
would have known well. On the other handhere was a romantic spot, a
young soldier, apparently craven, but certainly wounded, and very
good-looking; and here was luncheon, and she was desperately hungry. On
The tragedy queen disappeared, and it was a cheerful though very
dignified young person who responded gracefully to Delmonte's petition
that she would do him the favour to be seated at his humble board.
CHAPTER X. MANUELA'S OPPORTUNITY.
That was a pleasant little meal, under the great plane-tree in the
cup-shaped dell. Marm Prudence had kept, through all her years of
foreign residence, her New England touch in cookery, and Señor Delmonte
declared that it was worth a whole campaign twice over to taste her
doughnuts. They drank Cuba Libre in raspberry vinegar that had
come all the way from Vermont, and Rita was obliged to confess that
Señor Delmonte was a charming host, and that she was enjoying herself
It was late in the afternoon when she and Marm Prudence took their
way back through the forest. At first Rita was silent; but as distance
increased between them and the dell, she could not restrain her
How was it, she asked, that this young man was there alone,
separated from his companions? He said he was in hiding. Hiding! a
detestable, an unworthy word! Why should a son of Cuba be in hiding,
she wished to know! She had worked herself into a fine glow of
indignation again, and was ready to believe anything and everything bad
about the agreeable youth with the blue eyes.
I must know! she repeated, dropping her voice to a contralto note
that she was fond of. Tell me, Marm Prudence; tell me all! have I
broken the bread of a recreant?
I thought it was my bread, said Marm Prudence, dryly. I'll tell
you, if you'll give me a chance, Miss Margaritty. I supposed, though,
that you'd have heard of Jack Delmonty; Captain Jack, as they call him.
Since his last raid the Gringos have offered a big reward for him,
alive or dead. He was wounded in the foot, and thought he might hender
his troop some if he tried to go with them in that state. So he camped
here, and we've seen to him as best we could.
Rita was dumb, half with amazement, half with mortification. How was
it possible that she had been so stupid? Heard of Captain Jack? where
were her wits? the daring guerrilla leader, the pride of the Cuban
bands, the terror of all Spaniards in that part of the island. Why, he
was one of her pet heroes; onlyonly she had fancied him so utterly
different. The Captain Jack of her fancy was a gigantic person, with
blue-black curls, with eyes like wells of black light (she had been
fond of this bit of description, and often repeated it to herself), a
superb moustache, and a nose absolutely Grecian, like the Santillo nose
of tender memory. This half-Yankee stripling, blue-eyed, with a nose
thatyes, that actually turned up a little, and the merest feather of
brown laid on his upper liphow could she or any one suppose this to
be the famous cavalry leader?
Rita blushed scarlet with distress, as she remembered her bearing,
which she had tried to make as scornful as was compatible with good
manners. She had meant, had done her best, to show him that she thought
lightly of a Cuban soldier who, for what reason soever, proclaimed
himself without apology to be in hiding. To be sure, he had not
seemed to feel the rebuke as she had expected he would. Once or twice
she had caught that look of Uncle John in his eyes; the laughing,
critical, yet kindly scrutiny that always made her feel like a little
girl, and a silly girl at that. Was that what she had seemed to Captain
Delmonte? Of course it was. She had had the great, the crowning
opportunity of her life, of doing homage to a real hero (she forgot
good General Sevillo, who had been a hero in a quiet and business-like
way for sixty years), and she had lost the opportunity.
It was a very subdued Rita who returned to the house that evening.
At the edge of the wood they were met by Don Annunzio, who stood as
before, smoking his long black cigar, and scrutinising the road and the
surrounding country. A wave of his hand told them that all was well,
and they stepped quickly across the road, and in another minute were on
Don Annunzio followed them with an elaborate air of indifference;
but once seated in his great chair, he began to speak eagerly,
gesticulating with his cigar.
Dios! Prudencia, you had an inspiration from heaven this
day. What I have been through! the sole comfort is that I have lost
twenty pounds at least, from sheer anxiety. Imagine that you had not
been gone an hour, when up they ride, the guerrilla that was
reported to us yesterday. At their head, that pestiferous Col. Diego
Moreno. He dismounts, demands coffee, bananas, what there is. I go to
get them; and, the saints aiding me, I meet in the face the pretty
Manuela. Another instant, and she would have been on the verandah,
would have been seen by these swine, female curiosity having led her to
imagine a necessary errand in that direction. I seize this charming
child by the shoulders, I push her into her room. I tell her, 'Thou
hast a dangerous fever. Go to thy bed on the instant, it is a matter of
My countenance is such that she obeys without a word. She is an
admirable creature! Beauty, in the female sex
Do go on, Noonsey, said his wife, good-naturedly, and never mind
about beauty now. Land knows we have got other things to think about.
It is true, it is true, my own! replied the amiable fat man. I
return to the verandah. This man is striding up and down, cutting at my
poor vines with his apoplexy of a whip. He calls me; I stand before him
thus, civil but erect.
'Have you any strangers here, Don Annunzio?'
'No, Señor Colonel.'
It is true, señorita. To make a stranger of you, so friendly, so
graciousthe thought is intolerable.
He approaches, he regards me fixedly.
'A young lady, Señorita Montfort, and her maid, escaped from the
carriage of her stepmother, the honourable Señora Montfort, while on
the way to the convent of the White Sisters, ten days ago. A man of my
command was taken by these hill-cats of Mambis, and carried to a camp
in this neighbourhood. He escaped, and reported to me that a young lady
and her attendant were in the camp. I raided the place yesterday.'
'With success, who can doubt?' I said. Civility may be used even to
the devil, whom this officer strongly resembled.
He stamped his feet, he ground his teeth, fire flashed from his
eyes. 'They were gone!' he said. 'They had been gone but a few hours,
for the fires were still burning, but no trace of them was to be found.
I found, however, in a deserted rancho,this!' and he held up a
delicate comb of tortoise-shell.
My side-comb! cried Rita. I wondered where I had lost it. Go on,
pray, Don Annunzio.
He questioned me again, this colonel, on whom may the saints send a
lingering disease. I can swear that there is no young lady in the
house? but assuredly, I can, and do swear it, with all earnestness. He
whistles, and swears alsoin a different manner. He says, 'I must
search the house. This is an important matter. A large reward is
offered by the Señora Montfort for the discovery of this young lady.'
'Search every rat-hole, my colonel,' I reply; 'but first take your
coffee, which is ready at this moment.'
In effect, Antonia arrives at the instant with the tray. While she
is serving him, I find time to slip with the agility of the serpent
into the passage, and turn the handle of the bedroom door. 'Spotted
fever!' I cry through the crack; and am back at my post before the
colonel could see round Antonia's broad back. Good! he drinks his
coffee. He devours your cakes, my Prudencia, keeping his eye on me all
the time, and plying me with questions. I tell him all is well with us,
except the sickness.
'How then? what sickness?'
'A servant is ill with fever,' I say. 'We hope that it will not
spread through the house; it is a bad time for fever.' I see he does
not like that, he frowns, he mutters maledictions. I profess myself
ready to conduct him through my poor premises; I lead him through the
parlour, which he had not sense to admire, to the kitchen, to our own
apartment, my cherished one. All the time my heart flutters like a
wounded dove. I cry in my soul, 'All depends on the wit of that child.
If she had but gone with Prudencia to the forest!'
Finally there is no escape, we must pass the door. I stop before
it. 'Open!' says the colonel.
'Your Excellency will observe,' I say, 'that there is a dangerous
case of spotted fever in this room.'
He turns white, then black. He pulls his moustache, which resembles
At last 'How do I know?' he cries; 'You may be lying! all Cubans
are liars. The girl may be in this room!'
[Illustration: 'I THROW OPEN THE DOOR AND STEP BACK, MY HEART IN MY
I throw open the door and step back, my heart in my mouth, my eyes
flinging themselves into the apartment. Heavens! what do we see? a
hideous face projects itself from the bed. Redblacka face from the
pit! A horrible smell is in our nostrilswe hear groansenough! The
colonel staggers back, cursing. I close the door and follow him out to
the verandah. My own nerves are shaken, I admit it; it was a thing to
shatter the soul. Still cursing, he mounts his horse, and rides away
with his troop. I see them go. They carry away the best of what the
house holds, but what of that? they are gone!
I hasten, as well as my infirmity allows, to the chamber. I cry
'Manuela, is it thou?'
I am bidden to enter. I open the door, and find that admirable
child at the toilet-table, washing her face and laughing till the tears
flow. Already half of her pretty face is clean, but half still hideous
'How did you do it?' I ask her. She laughs more merrily than
before; if you have noticed, she has a laughter of silver bells, this
maiden. 'The red lip-salve,' she says, 'and a little ink. Have no fear,
Don Annunzio; it was you who discovered the fever, you know.'
'But the smell, my child? there must be something bad here,
something unhealthy; a vile smell!'
She laughs again, this child. 'I burned a piece of tortoise-shell,'
she says. 'Saint Ursula forgive me, it was one of the señorita's
side-combs, but there was nothing else at hand.'
Thus then, señorita, thus, my Prudencia, has Manuela virtually
saved our house and ourselves. Hasten to embrace her! I have already
permitted myself the salute of a father upon her charming cheek, as
simple gratitude enjoined it.
As if by magiccould she have been listening in the
passage?Manuela appeared, blushing and radiant. Donna Prudencia did
not think it necessary to kiss her, but she shook her warmly by the
hand, telling her that she was a good girl, and fit to be a Yankee, a
compliment which Manuela hardly appreciated. As for Rita, she kissed
the girl on both cheeks, and stood holding her hands, gazing at her
with wistful eyes.
Ah, Manuela, she cried; I must not begrudge it to you. You are a
heroine; you have had the opportunity, and you knew how to take it.
Daughter of Cuba, your sister blesses you.
Before Manuela could reply, Donna Prudencia broke in. There!
there! she said. Come down off your high horse, Miss Margaritty,
there's a dear; and help me to see to things. Here's Captain Delmonty
coming to-night, and them chicken-thieves of Gringos have carried off
every living thing there was to eat in the house.
CHAPTER XI. CAPTAIN JACK.
When Jack Delmonte appeared, late in the evening, he was puzzled at
the change which had come over the pretty Grand Duchess, as he had
mentally nicknamed Rita. In the afternoon she had appeared, he could
not imagine why, to regard him as a portion of the scum of the earth.
He thought her extremely pretty, and full of charm, yet he could not
help feeling provoked, in spite of his amusement, at the disdainful
curl at the corners of her mouth when she addressed him. Now, he was
equally at a loss to understand why or how the Grand Duchess was
replaced by a gentle and tender-voiced maiden, who looked up at him
from under her long curved lashes with timid and deprecatory glances.
She insisted on mixing his granita herself, and brought it in
the one valuable cup Marm Prudence possessed, a beautiful old bit of
Lowestoft. She begged to hear from his own lips about his last
raidabout all his raids. She had heard about some of them; the one
where he had swum the river under fire to rescue the little lame boy;
the other, when he had chased five Spaniards for half a mile, with no
other weapon than a banana pointed at full cock. She even knew of some
exploits that he had never heard of; and the honest captain found
himself blushing under his tan, and finally changed the subject by main
force. It was very pleasant, of course, to have this lovely creature
hanging on his words, and supplementing them with others of her own,
only too extravagantly laudatory; but a fellow must tell the truth;
andand after all, what was the meaning of it? She wouldn't look at
him, three hours ago.
Had they had a gay winter in Havana? he asked. He hadn't been to a
dance for forty years. Was she fond of dancing? of course she was. What
a pity they couldn'there he happened to glance at Rita's black dress,
and stopped short.
Miss Montfort, I beg your pardon! It was very stupid of me. I ran
on without thinking. You are in mourning. What a brute I am!
The tears had gathered in Rita's eyes, but now she smiled through
them. It is six months since my father died, she said. He was the
kindest of fathers, though, alas! Spanish in his sympathies.
Your mother? hazarded Jack, full of sympathy.
My mother died three years ago. My stepmother then followed the
tale of her persecution, her escape, and subsequent adventures. Captain
Jack was delighted with the story.
Hurrah! he exclaimed. That was tremendously plucky, you know,
going off in that way. That was fine! and you got to your brother all
right? I wonderis heare you any relation of Carlos Montfort? Not
his sister? You don't mean it. Why, I was at school with Carlos, the
first school I ever went to. An old priest kept it, in Plaza Nero.
Carlos was a good fellow, and gave me the biggest licking onceI'm
very glad we met, Miss Montfort. AndI don't mean to be impertinent,
I'm sure you know that; butwhat are you going to do now?
Alas! Rita did not know. I thought I was safe here, she said. I
was to stay here with these good people till word came from my uncle in
the States, or till there was a good escort that might take me to some
port whence I could sail to New York. NowI do not know; I begin to
tremble, Señor Delmonte. To-day, while Donna Prudencia and I were in
the forest, a Spanish guerrilla came here, looking for me. Don
Diego Moreno was in command. He is a friend of my stepmother's. I know
him, a cold, hateful man. If he had found me she shuddered.
I know Diego Moreno, too, said Delmonte; and his brow darkened.
He is not fit to look at you, much less to speak to you. Never mind,
Miss Montfort! don't be afraid; we'll manage somehow. If no better way
turns up, I'll take you to Puerto Blanco myself. Trouble is, these
fellows are rather down on me just now; but we'll manage somehow, never
fear! Hark! what's that?
He leaned forward, listening intently. A faint sound was heard,
hardly more than a breathing. Some night-bird, was it? It came from the
fringe of forest across the road. Again it sounded, two notes, a long
and a short one, soft and plaintive. A bird, certainly, thought Rita.
She started as Captain Delmonte imitated the call, repeating it twice.
Juan, he said, briefly. Reporting for orders. Here he comes!
A burly figure crossed the road in three strides. Three more brought
him to the verandah, where he saluted and stood at attention.
Well, Juan, where are the rest of you?
In the usual place, Señor Captain, four miles from here, said the
orderly. I have brought Aquila; he is here in the thicket, my own
horse also. Will you ride to-night?
To-morrow, at daybreak, Juan. I have promised Señora Carreno to
sleep one night under her roof, and convince her that my foot is
entirely well. Bring Aquila into the courtyard. All is quiet in the
All quiet, Señor Captain. Good; I bring Aquila and return to the
troop. You will be with us, then, before sunrise?
Before sunrise without fail, said Captain Jack. Buenos noches,
The trooper saluted again, and slipped back across the road; next
moment he reappeared leading a long, lean, brown horse, who walked as
if he were treading on eggshells. They passed into the courtyard and
were seen no more, Juan making his way back to the thicket by some
You do not stay with us through the day then, Mr. Delmonte? I am
sorry! said Rita.
I wish I could, indeed I do; but I must get to my fellows as soon
as possible. I shall come back, though, in a day or two, and put myself
and my troop at your orders, Miss Montfort. How would you like to lead
a troop, like Madame Hernandez? He laughed, but Rita's eyes flashed.
But I would die to do it! she cried. Ah! Señor Delmonte, once to
fight for my country, and then to diethat is my ambition.
And you'd do it well, I am sure! said Delmonte, warmly; the
fighting part, I mean. But nobody would let you die, Miss Montfort, it
would spoil the prospect.
He spoke lightly, for heroics embarrassed him, as they did Carlos.
Soon after, Donna Prudencia appeared, with bedroom candles, and
stood looking benevolently at the two young people.
I expect you've been having a good visit, she said. Well, there's
an end to all, and it's past ten o'clock, Miss Margaritty.
Rita rose with some reluctance; nor did Captain Delmonte seem
enthusiastic on the subject of going to bed.
Such a beautiful night! he said. Must you go, Miss Montfort? I
mustn't keep you up, of course. Good-bye, then, for a few days! I shall
be gone before daybreak. I'm very glad we have met.
They shook hands heartily. Rita somehow did not find words so
readily as usual. I too am glad, she said. It is somethingI have
always wished to meet the 'Star of Horsemen!'
Oh, please don't! cried Jack, in distress. That was just a
joke of those idiots of mine. Good gracious! if you go to calling
names, Miss Montfort, I shall not dare to come back again. Good night!
It was long before Rita could sleep. She lay with wide-open eyes,
conjuring up one scene after another, in all of which Captain Delmonte
played the hero's part, and she the heroine's. He was rescuing her
single-handed from a regiment of Spaniards; they were galloping
together at the head of a troop, driving the Gringos like sheep before
them. Or, he was wounded on the field of battle, and she was kneeling
beside him, holding water to his lips, and blessing the good Cuban
surgeon who had taught her bandaging in the camp among the hills. At
length, hero and heroine, Cuban and Spaniard, faded away, and she slept
What is it? what is the matter? Rita sprang up in her bed and
listened. The sound that had awakened her was repeated: a knock at the
door; a voice, low but imperative; the voice of Jack Delmonte.
Miss Montfort! are you awake?
Yes; what has happened?
The Gringos! Dress yourself quickly, and come out. You can dress in
Yes; oh, yes! I will come. Manuela! wake! wake! don't speak, but
dress yourself; the Spaniards are here.
Hastily, with trembling hands, the two girls put on their clothes.
No thought now of how or what; anything to cover them, and that
quickly. They hurried out into the passage; Delmonte stood there,
carbine in hand. He spoke almost in a whisper, yet every word fell
clearly on their strained ears.
It's not Moreno; it's Velaya's guerrilla: we must get away
before they fire the house. Give me your hand, Miss Montfort; you will
be quiet, I know. Your maid?
Manuela, you will not speak!
No, señorita! said poor Manuela, with a stifled sob.
My horse is ready saddled, Delmonte went on. If I can get you
away before they see us
Me! but what will become of the others? cried Rita, under her
breath. I cannot desert Manuela and Marm PrudenceDonna Prudencia.
I am going to save you, said Jack Delmonte, quietly. If for no
other reason, I have just given my word to Donna Prudencia. The
restI'll get back as soon as I can, that's all I can say. Follow me!
A shot rang out; another, and another. A hubbub of voices rose
within and without the house; and at the same instant a bright light
sprang up, and they saw each other's faces.
Delmonte ground his teeth. Wait! he said; and going a little way
along the passage, he peered from a window. The verandah swarmed with
armed men. The door was locked and barred, but they were smashing the
window-shutters with the butts of their carbines. He glanced along the
passage. Inside the door stood Don Annunzio, in his vast white pajamas,
firing composedly through a wicket; beside him his wife, as quietly
loading and handing him the weapons. Behind them huddled the few house
and farm servants, negroes for the most part, but among them was one
intelligent-looking young Creole. Singling him out, Delmonte led him
apart, and pointed to Manuela. Your sister! he said. Your life for
The youth nodded, and beckoned the frightened girl to stand beside
him. Rita saw no more, for Delmonte, grasping her hand firmly, led her
through the winding passage and into the inner courtyard. Pausing a
moment on the verandah, they looked through the archway at one side,
through which streamed a red glare. The cane patch was on fire, and
blazing fiercely. The flames tossed and leaped, and in front of them
men were running with torches, setting fire to sheds and out-houses.
Their shouts, the crackling and hissing of the flames, the shots and
cries from the front of the house, turned the quiet night wild with
horror. A crash behind them told that the front door had yielded.
It's run for it, now! said Delmonte, quietly. Now, then,
A few steps, and they were beside the brown horse, standing saddled
and bridled, and already quivering and straining to be off. Delmonte
lifted Rita in his arms,no time now for courtly mounting,then
sprang to the saddle before her. He spoke to the horse, who stood
trembling, but made no motion to advance.
Aquila, softly past the gatethen for life! good boy! Miss
Montfort, put your arms around me, and hold fast. Don't let go unless I
drop; then try to catch the reins, and give him his head. He knows the
Softly, slowly, Aquila crept to the archway. He might have been shod
with velvet for any sound he made. Could they get away unseen? The men
with the torches were busy at their horrid work; they could not be seen
yet from the front of the house. The horse crept forward, silent as a
phantom. They were clear of the archway. Now! whispered Delmonte.
For life, Aquila! and Aquila went, for life.
CHAPTER XII. FOR LIFE.
If we can put the fire between us and them, said Captain Jack, we
shall get off.
For a moment it seemed as if they might do it. Already they saw the
road before them, the sand glowing red in the firelight. A few more
stridesJust then, a Spanish soldier came running round the corner of
the burning cane-patch, whirling his blazing torch. He saw them, and
raised a shout. Alerta! alerta! fugitives! after them! shoot
down the Mambi dogs!
There was a rush to the corner where a score of horses stood
tethered to the fence. A dozen men leaped into the saddle and came
thundering in pursuit. Aquila gave one glance back; then stretched his
long lean neck, and settled into a gallop.
Before them the road lay straight for some distance, red here in the
crimson light, further on white under a late moon. On one side the
woods rose black and still, on the other lay open fields crossed here
and there by barbed wire fences. No living creature was to be seen on
the road. No sound was heard save the muffled beat of the horse's hoofs
on the sand, and behind, the shouts and cries of their pursuers. Were
they growing louder, those shouts? Were they gaining, or was the
distance between them widening? Rita turned her head once to look back.
I wouldn't do that! said Delmonte, quietly. Do you mind, Miss
Montfort, if I swing you round in front of me? Don't be alarmed, Aquila
is all right.
Before Rita could speak, he had dropped the reins on the horse's
neck, and lifted her bodily round to the peak of the saddle before him.
I'm sorry! he said, apologetically. I fear it is very uncomfortable;
butI canamanage better, don't you see? But to himself he was
saying, Lucky I got that done before the beggars began to shoot. Now
they may fire all they like. Stupid duffer I was, not to start right.
He had felt the girl's light figure quiver as he lifted her.
Don't be frightened, Miss Montfort, he said again. There isn't a
horse in the country that can touch Aquila when he is roused.
I am not frightened, said Rita. I amexcited, I suppose. It is
like riding on wind, isn't it?
It was true that she felt no fear; neither did she realise the peril
of their position. It was one of the dreams come true, that was all.
She was riding with Delmonte, with the Star of Horsemen. He was saving
her life. They had ridden so before, often and often; only now
Pah! a short, sharp report was heard, and a little dust
whiffed up on the road beside them. Pah! pah! another puff of
dust, and splinters flew from a tree just beyond them. Aquila twitched
his ears and stretched his long neck, and they felt the stride quicken
under them. The road rushed by; they were half-way to the turn.
Would you like to hold the reins for a bit? asked Delmonte. It
isn't really necessary, butthanks! that's very nice.
What was he doing? He had turned half round in the saddle; something
touched her hairthe butt of his carbine. I beg your pardon!
said Captain Jack. I am very clumsy, I fear.
Crack! went the carbine. Rita's ears rang with the noise; she
held the reins mechanically, only half-conscious of herself. Pah!
pah! and again crack! The blue rifle-smoke was in her eyes
and nostrils, the Mauser bullets pattered like hail on the road; and
still Aquila galloped on, never turning his head, never slackening his
mighty stride, and still the road rushed by, and the turn by the hill
Pah! Rita felt her companion wince. His left arm relaxed its
hold and dropped at his side. With his right hand he carefully replaced
his carbine in its sling.
For life, Aquila! he said softly, in Spanish; and once more Aquila
gathered his great limbs under him, and once more the terrible pace
A stone? a hole in the road? who knows? In a moment they were all
down, horse and riders flung in a heap together. The horse struggled to
his knees, then fell again. He screamed, an agonising sound, that in
Rita's excited mind seemed to mingle with the smoke and the dust in a
cloud of horror. Every moment she expected to feel the iron hoofs
crashing into her, as the frenzied creature struggled to regain his
Delmonte had sprung clear, and in an instant he was at Rita's side,
raising her. You are hurt? no? good! keep behind me, please.
He went to the horse, and tried to lift him, bent to examine him,
and then shook his head. Aquila would not rise again; his leg was
shattered. Delmonte straightened himself and looked about him. If this
had happened a hundred, fifty yards back! but now the woods were gone,
and on either hand stretched a bare savannah, broken only by the
hateful barbed wire fences. He drew his revolver quietly. The healthy
brown of his face had gone gray; his eyes were like blue steel. He
looked at Rita, and met her eyes fixed on him in a mute anguish of
Have no fear! he said. It shall be as it would with my own
sister. I know these men; they shall not touch you alive.
He bent once more over the struggling beast, and even in his agony
Aquila knew his master, and turned his eyes lovingly toward him,
expecting help; and help came.
Good-bye, lad! The pistol cracked, and the tortured limbs sank
Lie down behind him! Delmonte commanded. So! now, still.
He knelt behind the dead horse, facing the advancing Spaniards. The
revolver cracked again, and the foremost horseman dropped, shot through
the head. The troop was now close upon them; Rita could see the fierce
faces, and the gleam of their wolfish teeth. Delmonte fired again, and
another man dropped, but still the rest came on. There was no help,
Delmonte looked at Rita; she closed her eyes, expecting death. The
air was full of cries and curses. Butwhat other sound was that? Not
from before, but behind themround the turn of the roadsome one was
singing! In all the hurry of her flying thoughts Rita steadied herself
For it's whoop-la! whoop!
Git along, my little dogies;
For Wyoming shall be your new home!
What in the Rockies is going on here, anyhow?
Rita turned her head. A horseman had come around the bend, and
checked his horse, looking at the scene before him. A giant rider on a
giant horse. The moon shone on his brown uniform, his slouched felt
hat, and the carbine laid across his saddle-bow. Under the slouched hat
looked out a bronzed face, grim and bearded, lighted by eyes blue as
Rita gave one glance. Help! she cried, America, help!
America's the place! said the horseman. He waved his hand to some
one behind him, then put his horse to the gallop. Next instant he was
Delmonte started to his feet, revolver in hand. U. S. A.? he said.
You're just in time, uncle. I'm glad to see you.
Always like to be on time at a party, said the rough rider,
levelling his carbine. My fellows arein short, here they are!
There was a scurry of hoofs, a shout, and thirty horsemen swept
around the curve and came racing up.
What's up, Cap'n Jim? cried one. Have we lost the fun? Gringos,
The Spaniards had checked their horses. Four of them lay dead in the
road, and several others were wounded. At sight of the mounted troop,
they stopped and held a hurried consultation, then turned their horses
and rode away.
The giant looked at Delmonte. Want to follow? he asked. This is
your hand, comrade.
I want a horse! said Captain Jack. Miss Montfort,he turned to
Rita, who had risen to her feet, and stood pale but quiet,these are
our own good country-men. If I leave you with them but a few moments
Hold on! said the big man. What did you call the young lady?
Delmonte stared. This is Miss Montfort, he said, rather formally.
Not Rita! cried the giant. Pike's Peak and Glory Gulch! Don't
tell me it's Rita!
Oh, yes! yes! cried Rita, running forward with outstretched hands.
It isI am! and youoh, I know, I know. You are Peggy's big brother.
You are Cousin Jim!
That's what they said when they christened me! said Cousin Jim.
CHAPTER XIII. MEETINGS AND
It was no time for explanations. Jim Montfort put out a hand like a
pine knot, and gave Rita's fingers a huge shake.
Glad to find you, cousin, he said. I've been looking for you.
Now, what's up over there? He nodded in the direction of the fire.
A candela, said Delmonte, briefly. I must get back; there
are women there. If one of your men will catch me that horse
But you are wounded! cried Rita. Cousin, he is shot in the arm.
Do not let him go!
Delmonte laughed. It's nothing, Miss Montfort, he said; but
nothing at all, I assure you. When we get to camp you shall put some
carbolic acid on it, and tie it up for me; that's field practice in
Cuba. I shall be proud to be your first field patient. He spoke in his
usual laughing way; but suddenly his face changed, and he leaned toward
her swiftly, his hand on the horse's mane. I shall never forget this
timeour ride together, he said. I hope you will not forget
eitherplease? And now, Miss Montfort, I have no further right over
you. I would have done my best, I think you know that; butI must give
you into your cousin's protection. You will remain here?
Of course she will! said Cousin Jim, who had heard only the last
words. I'll go with you, comrade. Raynham, Morton, you will mount
guard by the lady.
The troopers saluted, and raised their hats civilly to Rita,
inwardly cursing their luck. Because they owned the next ranch to Jim
Montfort, was that any reason why they should lose all the fun? and why
could not girls stay at home where they belonged?
But Rita herself cried out and clasped her hands, and ran to her
cousin. Oh, Cousin JimSeñor Delmontelet me go with you! Please,
please let me go back. My poor ManuelaMarm Prudencethey may be
hurt, wounded. There can be no danger with all these brave men. Cousin,
I have been in a camp hospital, I know how to dress wounds. I can be
quietSeñor Delmonte, tell him I can be quiet!
She looked eagerly at Delmonte.
I can tell him that you are the bravest girl I ever saw, he said.
But, you have been through a great deal. I don't like to have you go
back among those rascals.
James Montfort stroked his brown beard thoughtfully.
Guess it's safe enough, he said at last. Guess there's enough of
us to handle 'em. Don't know but on the whole she'll be better off with
us. My sister Peggy wouldn't like to miss any circus there was going,
would she, little girl? Catch another of those beasts for the lady,
Rita, with one of her quick gestures, caught his great hand in both
hers. Oh, you good cousin! she cried. You dear cousin! You are the
very best and the very biggest person in the world, and I love you.
Well, well, well! said Cousin Jim, somewhat embarrassed. There,
there! so you shall, my dear; so you shall. But as for being big, you
should see Lanky 'Liph of Bone Gulch. Now therebut here is your
The horses of the dead Spaniards had been circling about them, more
or less shyly. Two of them were quickly caught by the rough riders, and
Rita and Delmonte mounted. As they did so, both glanced toward the spot
where lay the brave horse that had borne them so well.
It was for life indeed, Aquila! said Captain Jack, softly. His
eyes met Rita's, and she saw the brightness of tears in them. Next
moment they were galloping back to the residencia.
They came only just in time. Not ten minutes had passed since they
left the courtyard, but in that time the savage Spaniards had done
their work well. The house itself was in flames, and burning fiercely.
Good Don Annunzio lay dead, carbine in hand, on the steps of his ruined
home. Beside him lay the Creole youth in whose charge Delmonte had left
Manuela. The lad was still alive, for as Delmonte bent from the saddle
above him he raised his head.
I did my best, my captain! he said. They were too many.
Where are they? asked Delmonte and Montfort in one breath.
The boy pointed down the road; raised his hand to salute, and fell
[Illustration: NOW AGAIN IT WAS A RIDE FOR LIFE.]
Now again it was a ride for lifenot their own life this time. Rita
had clean forgotten herself. The thought of her faithful friend and
servant in the hands of the merciless Spaniards turned her quick blood
to fire. She galloped steadily, her eyes fixed on the cloud of dust
only a few hundred yards ahead of them, which told where the enemy was
Jim Montfort glanced at her, and nodded to himself. She'll do! he
said in his beard. Montfort grit's good grit, and she's got it. This
would be nuts to little Peggy.
Jack Delmonte, too, looked more than once at the slender figure
riding so lightly between him and the big rough rider. How beautiful
she was! He had not realised half how beautiful till now. What nerve!
what steadiness! It might be the Reina de Cuba, Donna Hernandez
herself, riding to victory.
He felt an unreasonable jealousy of Cousin Jim. Halfnay! a
quarter of an hour ago, she was riding with him; there were only they
two in the world, they and Aquila, poor Aquila,who had given his life
for theirs. She was his comrade then, his charge, hisand now she was
Miss Montfort, a young lady of fortune and position, under charge of
her cousin, a Yankee captain of rough riders; and he, Jack Delmonte,
wasnothing in particular.
As he was thinking these thoughts, Rita chanced to turn her head,
and met his gaze fixed earnestly upon her. She blushed suddenly and
deeply, the lovely colour rising in a wave over cheeks and forehead;
then turned her head sharply away.
Now I have offended her! said Jack. Idiot! and perhaps he was
not very wise.
But there was little time for thinking or blushing. The Spaniards,
seeing Delmonte, whom they regarded as the devil in person, descending
upon them in company with a giant and an army (for so they described
the band of rough riders at headquarters next day), abandoned their
prisoners. The Americans chased them for a mile or so, killed three or
four, and, as they reported, scared the rest into Kingdom Come,
leaving them only on coming to a thick wood, into which the Gringos,
leaping from their horses, vanished, and were seen no more. The victors
then returned to the forlorn little group of women and negroes, huddled
together by the roadside. Rita had already dismounted, and had Manuela
in her arms. She felt her all over, hurrying question upon question.
My child, you are not hurt? not wounded? these ruffiansdid they
dare to touch you? did they have the audacity to speak to you, Manuela?
Oh, why did I leave you? I could not help it; you saw I could not help
it. You are sure you have no hurt?
But, positively, señorita, said Manuela. See! not a scratch is on
me. Theyone fellowoffered to tie my hands; I scratched him so well
that he ran away. I am safe, safepraise be to all saints, to our Holy
Lady, and the Señor Delmonte. Butpoor Cerito, señorita? what of him?
he was with us; he fought like a lion. I saw him fall
Poor Cerito! said Rita, gravely. He was a brave, brave lad. A
thousand sons to Cuba like him!
Donna Prudencia was sitting apart on a stone by the roadside. Rita
went up to her, took her hand, and kissed her cheek. The Yankee woman
looked kindly at her and nodded comprehension, but did not speak. Rita
stood silent for a few minutes, timidly stroking the brown cheek and
white hair. Her cousin Margaret came into her mind. What would Margaret
say, if she were here? She would know the right word, she always did.
Marm Prudence, she said, presently, to have the memory of a hero,
of one who dies for his country,that is something, is it not? some
Marm Prudence did not answer at once.
Mebbe so, she said, presently. Mebbe so, Miss Margaritty. Noonzio
was a good man. Yes'm, I've lost a good husband and a good home! A good
husband and a good home! she repeated. That's all there is to it, I
expect. Her rugged face was disturbed for a moment, and she hid it in
her hands; when she looked up, she was her own composed self.
And what's the next thing? she asked. Thank you, Cap'n Delmonty,
I'm feeling first-rate. Don't you fret about me. You done all you
could. I'll never forget what you done. Poor husband's last words
before he was shot was thanking the Lord Miss Margaritty was off safe.
We knew we could trust her with you.
Indeed, said honest Delmonte, it is not me you must thank, Donna
Prudencia. I did what I could, but it was Captain Montfort and his men
who saved both her life and mine.
He told the story briefly, and Marm Prudence listened with interest.
Well, she said, that was pretty close, wasn't it? Anyway, you done
all you could, Cap'n Jack, and nobody can't do no more. And he's Miss
Margaritty's cousin, you say? I want to know! He's big enough for
three, ain't he?
Rita laughed, in spite of herself. She beckoned to Cousin Jim, who
came up and shook hands with the widow with grave sympathy. But he
seemed preoccupied, and, while they were preparing to return to the
ruined farm, he was pulling his big beard and meditating with a puzzled
Look here! he broke out at last, addressing his men. I've been
wondering what was wrong. I couldn't seem to round up, somehow, and now
I've got it. Where's that poor old Johnny? I left him with you when I
rode forward to reconnoitre.
The rough riders looked at one another, and hung their heads.
Guess he must have dropped behind, said Raynham. We didn't wait
long after you signalled to us to come on. Wecame.
That's so! clamoured the rough riders, in sheepish chorus. We
came, Cap'n Jim. That's a fact!
Wellthat's all right! said Jim. You might have brought the old
Johnny along, though, seems to me. Two of you ride back and get him;
you, Bill, and Juckins. If he seems used up, Juckins can carry him,
pony and all.
Juckins, a huge Californian, second only to Montfort in stature,
chuckled, and rode off with Raynham at a hand gallop.
Montfort turned to Rita.
I haven't had time to tell you about it before, he said. Cousin
Rita, I've been hunting for you for three days. We met an old
Johnnyan old gentleman, I should sayriding about on a pony, for all
the world like Yankee Doodle. He'd got lost, poor old duffer, among
these inferior crossroads, and didn't know whether he was in China or
Oklahoma. We picked him up, and, riding along, it came out that he was
searching for his ward, a young lady who had run away from a convent.
Ever heard of such a person, missy? He had started out alone, to ride
about Cuba till he found her. Kind of pocket Don Quixote, about five
foot high, white hair, silk clothes; highly respectable Johnny.
Don Miguel! cried Rita. Poor, dear, good Don Miguel! I have never
written to him, wicked that I am. Oh, where is he, Cousin Jim?
Come to ask him, Jim continued, it appeared that the young lady's
name was Montfort. Now, I had just had a letter from Uncle John,
wanting me to raise the island to get hold of you and ship you North at
once. He had had no letters; was alarmed, you understand. Laid up with
a bad knee, or would have come himself. I was just going to start back
to the city in search of you, when up comes Don Quixote. When he heard
I was your cousin, he fell into my arms, pony and all. Give you my word
he did! Almost lost him in my waistcoat pocket. I cheered him up a bit,
and we've been poking about together these three days, looking for
General Sevillo's camp. Thought you might be there. We were camping by
the roadside when we heard your firing. Ah! here he comes now!
The rough riders came back, their horses trotting now, instead of
galloping. Between them, ambling gently along, was a piebald pony of
amiable appearance, and on the pony sat a little old gentleman with
snow-white hair and a face as mild and gentle as the pony's own. At
sight of Rita running to meet him, he uttered a cry of joy, and checked
his horse. Next moment he had dismounted, and had her in his arms,
sobbing like a child.
Dear Donito Miguelito! cried Rita. Forgive me! please do forgive
me, for frightening you. I could not go to the convent, indeed I could
not. I am a wretch to have treated you so, but I could not go to that
Of course you could not, my child, said the good old man. Nunc
dimittis, Domine! Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Of
course you could not.
I could not live with Concepcion; don't you know I could not,
The thought is impossible, my Pearl. Speaking with all possible
respect, the Señora Montfort, though high-born and accomplished, is a
hysterical wildcat. You did well, my child; you did extremely well. So
long as I have found you, nothing matters; but, nothing at all. As my
great, my gigantic friend, my colossal preserver, el Capitan Gimmo,
says, 'Ourrah for oz!'
Hurrah! shouted the rough riders.
CHAPTER XIV. ANOTHER CAMP.
They made but a brief halt at the ruined farm. The house was
completely gutted; the widow of Don Annunzio had the clothes she stood
in, and nothing beside. She stood quietly by while her husband's body
was laid in the grave beside that of young Cerito; a shallow grave,
hastily dug in what had lately been the garden. She listened with the
same quiet face while good old Don Miguel, with faltering voice,
recited a Latin prayer. She was a Methodist, he a fervent Catholic; but
it mattered little at that moment.
By this time it was daylight. A small patch of bananas was found,
that had escaped the destroying torch, and on these the party made a
hasty meal; then they rode away, all save the negroes, who preferred to
stay in the neighbourhood where their lives had been spent.
They rode slowly, in deference to Don Miguel's age and that of his
pony. Rita, riding beside the good old man, listened to the recital of
his terrors and anxieties from the time her flight was discovered to
the present moment. These caused her real grief, and she begged again
and again for the forgiveness which he assured her was wholly
unnecessary. But when he described the hysterical rage of her
stepmother, her eyes brightened, and the colour came back to her pale
cheek. She had no doubt that Concepcion Montfort was sorry to lose her;
the larger part of her father's fortune had been settled upon her,
Rita, before his second marriage.
The señora also has made diligent search for you, my child! said
Don Miguel. She has offered ample rewards
I know it! said Rita. Only yesterdaycan it be that it was only
yesterday?Don Diego Moreno was herethere, I should say, at that
peaceful home that is now a heap of ashes. These Spaniards!
Had she seen Don Diego? the old man asked; and he seemed relieved
when she answered in the negative.
It is well; it is well! he said. He is a relative of the
señora's, I am aware; but it would have been unsuitable, most
What would have been unsuitable, Donito Miguelito?
Don Miguel looked confused. Anothing, my child. The Señora
Montfort had an ideaDon Diego made certain advancesin short, he
would have asked for your hand, my señoritawell, my Margarita, if you
will have it so. But I took it upon myself to refuse these overtures
without consulting you.
Rita heard a low exclamation, and turning, saw Delmonte's face like
dark fire beside her.
I beg your pardon! he said. I could not help hearing. Don Miguel,
if Diego Moreno makes any more such proposals, kindly let me know, and
I'll shoot him at sight.
Ithank you! thank you, my son! said Don Miguel, somewhat
fluttered. I hope no violence will be necessary. I used strong
language, very strong language, to Don Diego Moreno. II told him that
I considered him a person entirely objectionable, unfit to sweep the
road before the Señorita Montfort's feet. He went away very angry. I
thought we should hear no more of him; but it seems that he still
retains his presumptuous idea. Without doubt, it will be best, my dear
child, for you to seek the northern home of your family without delay.
Why, at this obviously sensible remark, should Rita feel a sinking
at the heart, and a sudden anger against her dear old friend? And
again, why, on stealing a glance at Delmonte, and seeing the trouble
reflected in his face, should her heart as suddenly spring up again,
and dance within her? What had happened?
They had ridden some miles, when Jim Montfort, on his big gray
horse, ranged alongside of Delmonte.
It appears to me, he said, that something is going on in these
woods here. I've seen two or three bits of brown that weren't bark, and
if I didn't catch the shine of a gun-barrel just now, you may call me a
Dutchman. I think I'll fire, and see what happens.
No, don't do that! said Delmonte, quietly. It's only my fellows.
They've been keeping alongside for the last half-mile, waiting for a
signal. They might as well come out now.
He gave a low call in two notes; the call Rita had heardwas it
only the night before? it seemed as if a week had passed since then.
The call was answered from the wood; and as if by magic, from every
tree, from every clump of bushes, came stealing lean brown figures,
leading equally lean horses, all armed and on the alert. They saluted,
and, at a word from the burly Juan, fell into order with the precision
of a troop on drill.
What's all this, Juan? asked Delmonte. No order was given.
Juan replied with submission that a negro boy had brought news an
hour ago that Don Annunzio's house had been burned, he and his whole
household murdered, and their captain taken prisoner; and that the
latter was being brought in irons along the road to Santiago. They,
Juan and the rest, had planned a rescue, and disposed themselves to
that end in the most advantageous manner. That they were about to fire,
when they recognised their captain's escort as Americans; and that they
then resolved to accompany the party as quietly as might be till they
came near the camp, and then make their presence known to all, as they
had at once made it known to Delmonte himself by a low call which only
he had noticed.
Not wishing to intrude, Juan concluded, with a superb salute.
Delmonte turned to his companions. Miss Montfort, he said,
Captain Montfortyou'll all come up to my place, of course, and rest,
for to-day, at least. It isn't much of a place to ask you to, butit's
quiet, at least, andyou can rest; and you must be half-starved. I
know I am.
His face was eager as a boy's. Rita's was not less so, as she gazed
at the big cousin, who stroked his beard as usual, and reflected.
I did mean to push straight on to Santiago, he said, butit's a
good bit of a way, to be sure; what do you say, little cousin? tired?
Rita blushed. Aa little tired, Cousin Jim; and very
This settled it. Captain Montfort bid Delmonte fire away. The
latter said a few rapid words to Juan, and the scout shot off like an
arrow across the fields, riding as if for his life.
An hour later, the whole party was seated around a fire, in as
comfortable a nook of the hills as guerilla leader could desire,
sipping coffee, and eating broiled chicken and fried bananas, fresh
from the parilla. The fire was built against a great rock that
rose abruptly from the dell, forming one side of it, and towering so
high that the smoke disappeared before it reached the top. Thick woods
framed the other sides of the natural fastness, and here the Cuban
riders could lie hidden for days and weeks, unsuspected, unseen, save
by the wandering birds that now and then circled above their heads. No
tents or huts here; the horses were tethered to trees; the commander's
hammock was swung in a shady thicket near the great rock; as for his
men, a ragged blanket and the soft side of a stone were all they
Rita had dressed Captain Delmonte's wound, and bandaged the arm in
approved style, Cousin Jim looking on with grunts of approval. He and
Delmonte himself both assured her that, if they were handling it, they
should simply squirt carbolic acid into it, and tie it up with anything
that came handy; but Rita shook her head gravely, and three of her
delicate handkerchiefs, brought from the long-suffering bag which
Manuela had somehow managed to save from the ruins, torn into strips,
made a very sufficient bandage. The wound was, in truth, slight.
Delmonte looked almost as if he wished it more severe, for the whole
matter of bathing and dressing could not be stretched beyond ten
minutes; but Rita's pride in her neat bandage was pretty to see, and he
watched her with delighted eyes through every stage.
Snug quarters! said Jim Montfort, approvingly, as, the breakfast
over, he stretched his huge length along the grass and looked about
him; and all the party echoed his opinion. The two captains fell into
talk of the war and its ways, while the women, wearied out, rested
after their long night of distress and fatigue. Marm Prudence chose the
dry grass, with a cloak for a pillow, but Rita curled herself
thankfully in Captain Jack's hammock, after trying in vain to persuade
him that he was an invalid, and ought to take it himself. After some
rummaging in a hole in the rock which served him for cupboard and
wardrobe, Delmonte brought her a small pillow in a somewhat
weather-beaten cover. I wish I had a better one, he said. This has
been out in the rain a good deal, and I'm afraid it smells of smoke,
but it's a great pillow for sleeping on.
Oh, thank you! said Rita. It is very comfortable indeed. How good
you are to me, Captain Delmonte. And whatever you may say, it is a
great shame for me to take your own hammock. If there were only
Oh, please don't! said Jack. It's reallyyou must not talk so,
Miss Montfort. As if there was anything I wouldn't dowhy, this
hammock will never be the same again. II meanoh, you know what I
mean, and I never could make pretty speeches. Butit is a pleasure,
andan honour, to have you here; and you can't think how much it means
to me. Good night! I meansleep well.
He added a few words of a German song relative to the desirability
of a certain lovely angel's slumbering sweetly. Rita did not understand
German, but the tone of Delmonte's voice was in no particular language,
and, tired as she was, it was some time before she went to sleep.
It was late afternoon when they took the road again. Before starting
they held a council, seated together beneath the great tree, under
whose shade Rita had slept peacefully for several hours. Jim Montfort
was the first speaker.
I take it, he said, we'd better, each one of us, say what we mean
to do. Then the sky will be clear, and we can fit in or shake apart, as
seems best in each case. We all ride together to Pine del Rio, as
Captain Delmonte is so friendly as to ride with us. After thatI'll
begin with you, ma'am. He addressed, the widow respectfully. How can
I best serve you? I am going to see my cousin safe off, and you must
call upon me for any service I can possibly render you.
She will stay with me! cried Rita. Dear Marm Prudence, you will
stay with me, will you not?
Marm Prudence shook her head, though with a look of infinite
kindliness. Thank you, dear, she said; it's like you to say it, but
I'm going home to Greenvale, Vermont. I've a sister living there yet.
I'll go back to my own folks at last, and lay my bones alongside o'
mother's. I'll never forgit you, though, Miss Margaritty, she added,
nor you, Cap'n Jack. There! I can't say much yet.
She turned away, and all were silent for a moment, as she wiped the
tears from her rugged face.
You go straight home, I suppose, sir? said Jim, addressing Don
Yes, yes! cried the little gentleman. I go to Pine del Rio with
my dear ward here. To see her safe on board a good vessel, bound for
the North; to say farewell to the joy of my old days, and put out the
light of my eyesthat is my one sad desire, Señor Montfort. After
thatI am old, I have but a short time left, and my prayers will
Well, then, it seems as if the first thing on all hands was to find
a steamer sailing for home, said Jim. If Mrs. Annunzio will take
charge of you, Cousin Rita, I think that will be the best thing. Uncle
John will send some one to meet you in New York and take you to
Fernley. How does that suit you?
Rita was silent. She had grown very pale. Delmonte looked at her
eagerly, but did not speak.
What do you say, little cousin? repeated Montfort. You have a
mind of your own, and a pretty decided one, if I'm not mistaken. Let's
Rita spoke slowly and with difficulty, her ready flow of speech
lacking for once.
Cousin Jimdear Don Miguelyou are both so kind, so good. You
too, Marm Prudence. I love the North. I love my dear uncle and
cousinah, how dearly!butI do not want to go to Fernley.
Not want to go! repeated the others.
No! indeed, indeed, I cannot go. I have been thinking, Cousin Jim,
a great deal, while all these things have been happening; these
wonderful, terrible things. II ought to have learned a great deal; I
hope I have learned a little. I have talked enough about helping my
country; too much I have talked; now I want to do something. I am going
to work in one of the hospitals. Nurses are needed, I know, every day
more of them. I do not know enoughyetto be a nurse, but I can be a
helper. I am very humble; I will do the meanest work, butbut that is
what I mean to do.
She ceased, and all the others, looking in her face, saw it bright
and lovely with earnest resolve. But Don Miguel cried out in
expostulation. It was impossible, he said. It could not be. She was too
young, too delicate, toothe proposition was monstrous. He appealed to
Captain Montfort to support him, to exercise his authority, to persuade
this dear child that the noble idea which filled her young and ardent
heart was wholly impracticable.
Jim Montfort was silent for a time, looking at Rita from under his
heavy eyebrows. PresentlyYou mean it? he said.
I mean it with all my heart! said Rita.
Well, said Jim, my opinion isconsidering my sister Peggy and
her views, to say nothing of Jean and Floramy opinion is,
Ritahurrah for you!
A month ago, Rita would have gone into violent heroics at such a
moment as this. As it was, she smiled, though her eyes filled with
tears, and said, quietly, Thank you, cousin! It is what I expected
from Peggy's brother.
May I speak? said another voice. They turned, and saw Jack
Delmonte, his blue eyes alight with eager gladness.
Ifif Miss Montfort has this noble desire to help in the good
cause, he said, it is easy for her to do it. My mother has turned her
residencia, just outside the city, into a hospital. I am going
there to-day. She needs more help, I know. Youyou would like my
mother, Miss Montfort; everybody likes my mother. She would do all she
could to make it easy for you, and she would be so gladoh, I can't
tell you how glad she would be. And I think you are quite certain to
Ah! said Rita. Have I not heard of the Saint of Las Rosas? There
is no need to tell me how good and how noble the Señora Delmonte is.
Butbut will she like me, CaptainCaptain Jack?
Will she? said Jack. Will the sun shine?
CHAPTER XV. A FOREGONE CONCLUSION.
LAS ROSAS, June , 1898.
DEAR UNCLE JOHN:Since I last wrote you, telling of our finding
Rita, and of her safe delivery to Señora Delmonte, things have been
happening. In the first place, I got a shot in my leg, in a skirmish,
and, as the bone was broken, and it didn't seem to come round as it
ought, I came here to be coddled, and am having a great time of it.
Señora Delmonte is a fine woman, sir. You don't see many such women in
a lifetime. She has a little hospital here, as complete as if she had
New York City in her back dooryard; all her own place, you understand.
Kind of Florence Nightingale woman. What's more, little Rita promises
to become her right hand; if she's given a chance, that isI'll come
to that by and by, though. The way that little girl takes hold, sir, is
a caution. She's quick, and she's quiet, and she's cheerful; and she
has brains in her head, which is a mighty good thing in a woman when
you do find it. She and Señora Delmonte are like mother and daughter
already; and this brings me to something else I want to say. It's
pretty clear that Jack Delmonte has lost his heart to this little girl
of ours. It began, I suspect, the night he carried her off from the
Spaniards; you have heard all about that; and it's been going on here,
while a little flesh wound he had was healing. Yes, sir, he's in it
deep, and no mistake; and, for that matter, I guess she is, too, though
those things aren't in my line. Anyhow, what I want to say is this:
Jack Delmonte is as fine a fellow as there is this side of the Rockies;
and I don't know that I'll stop there, barring my brother Hugh. This
war isn't going to last much longer. By some kind of miracle, this
placesugar plantation, and well paying in good timeshasn't been
meddled with; and Jack ought to be able to support a wife, if he puts
good work into the business, as he will. He's a first-rate all-round
fellow, and has brains in his headsaid that before, didn't I? well,
it's a good thing in a man, too. I'm not much of a hand at writing, as
I guess you'll see. All I mean to say is, if he and little Rita want to
hitch up a double team, my opinion is it would be a mighty good thing,
and I hope you'll give them your blessing and all that sort of thing,
when the time comes.
Much obliged for your letter, but sorry your knee still bothers you.
Father has been laid up, too, so he writes; rheumatism. I'm getting on
first-rate, and shall be out of this soon. I think a month or so more
will see the whole blooming business over, and peace declared. Time,
too! this is no kind of a country to stay in.
Your affectionate nephew,
P.S. Tell Cousin Margaret that J. D. is all right.
LAS ROSAS, June , 1898.
MY DEAR MR. MONTFORT:I wonder if you remember Mary Russell, with
whom you used to dance now and then when you came to Claxton in the old
days, we will not say how many years ago. I certainly have not
forgotten the pleasant partner who waltzed so well, and I am glad to
have the opportunity of claiming acquaintance with you. I meant to
write as soon as your niece arrived at my house, but the battle in this
neighbourhood the day after brought us such an influx of wounded that
my hands were very full, and the hasty dictated line was all I could
manage. We are now in a little eddy of the storm (which, we hope, is
nearly over), and have only a dozen men in the house, and most of these
convalescent; so I must not delay longer in assuring you of the very
great pleasure and help it has been to me to have Margarita with me.
Indeed, I hardly know what I should have done without her the first
week, as two of my nurses were ill just at the time when we were
fullest. She shows a remarkable aptitude for nursing, which is rather
singular, as she tells me that until lately she has been extremely
timid about such matters, fainting at the sight of blood, etc. You
never would think it now, to see her going about her work in the wards.
The patients idolise her, and what is more (and less common), so do the
nurses, who declare that she will miss her vocation if she does not go
into a training-school as soon as she leaves Las Rosas; but I fancy you
would not choose so arduous a life for her.
[Illustration: THE PATIENTS IDOLISE HER.]
This brings me, my dear Mr. Montfort, to what is really the chief
object in my writing to you to-day. Without beating about the bush, I
am going to say, at once and frankly, that my dear son, Jack, has
become deeply attached to this charming niece of yours. Who could be
surprised at it? she must always have been charming; but the sweetness
and thoughtfulness that I have seen growing day by day while she has
been under my charge are, I somehow fancy, a new phase of her
development. Indeed, Rita herself has told me, in her vivid way, of
some of the wild pranks of her unguided youth, as she calls it,the
child will be nineteen, I believe, on her next birthday!and we have
laughed and shaken our heads together over them. She is far more severe
upon herself than I can be, for I see the quick, impulsive nature, and
see, too, how it is being subdued and brought more and more under
control by a strong will and a good heart. A very noble woman our Rita
will make, if she has the right surroundings.
Can we give her these? that is the question; a question for you to
answer, dear Mr. Montfort. Jack saw readily, when I pointed it out to
him, that it would not be suitable for him to speak of love to an
orphan girlan heiress, too, I believewithout her guardian's express
consent. He chafes at the delay, for he is very ardent, being half
Cuban; but you may have entire confidence that he will say nothing to
Rita until I hear from you.
You can easily find out about Jack; there is nothing in his life
that he need conceal. Colonel G. and Mrs. B, in New York, Professor
Searcher and Doctor Lynx, of Blank College, will tell you of his school
and college days; and Captain Montfort will, I think, say a good word
for his record as a soldier and a patriot. Of course, in my eyes, he is
a little bit of a hero; but maternal prejudice laid aside (if such a
thing may be!), I can truly say that he is a clean, honest, high-minded
man, with a sound constitution and an excellent disposition. Add to
this a moderate income (not, I am happy to say, enough to allow him to
dispense with work, were he inclined to do so, which he is not), and a
very earnest and devoted attachment, and you have the whole case before
you. May I hope to have your answer as soon as you shall have satisfied
yourself on the various points on which you will naturally seek
information? I assure you that, with the best intentions in the world,
Jack does find it hard to restrain himself. Let me add that, if your
answer is favourable, it will make me as well as my son very happy.
Rita is all that I could wish for in a daughter; and I shall try my
best to fill a mother's place toward her.
In any case, believe me, dear Mr. Montfort,
MARY RUSSELL DELMONTE.
P.S. You may ask, does Rita return Jack's affection? I think she
SANTIAGO, June , 1898.
HONOURED SEÑOR:Your valued letter, containing inquiries on the
subject of Señor Captain John Delmonte is at hand and contents
notified. I hasten to reply with all the ardour of which I am
capacious. This young man is a nobleman; few princes have equalled him
in virtuous worth. Brave, honourable, pious (though Protestant; but
this belief is probably your own, and is held by many of those most
valuable to me, your honoured brother among them), a faithful and
obedient son, a leader beloved to rapture by his soldiers. If more
could be to say, I would hasten to cry it aloud. You tell me, with
noble frankness, he is a pretender for the hand of my beloved
Margarita; already it has been my happiness to be aware of it. Señor
Montfort, to see these two admirable young persons united in the holy
bondages of weddinglock is the last and chief wish of my life. I
earnestly beg your sanction of their unition. In Jack I find a son for
my solitary age; in Margarita a daughter, the most tender as she is the
most beautiful that the world contains. To close my aged eyes on seeing
them unified, is, I repeat it, the one wish of,
Your most obedient and humble servitor,
LAS ROSAS, June , 1898.
MY DEAR MR. MONFORT:I have just read your letter to my mother, and
I want to thank you before I do anything else. There isn't much to say,
except that I will do my best to be in some degree worthy of this
treasure, if I win it. I will try to make her happy, sir, I will
indeed. No one could be good enough for her, so I will not pretend to
She is awake now, so I must go.
LAS ROSAS, Evening.
DEAREST, DEAREST MARGARET:Why are you not here? I want youoh, I
want you so much! I am so happy, so wonderfully, almost terribly
happy, how can I put it on paper? The paper will light itself, will
burn up for joy, I think; but I will try. Listen! an hour agoit is an
evening of heaven, the moon was shining for me, for me andoh, but
wait! I was in the garden, resting after the day's work; I had been
asleep, and now would take the remainder of my free time in waking
rest. The air was balm, the roses all in blossom. Such roses were never
seen, Marguerite; the place is named for them, Las Rosas. They are in
bowers, in garlands, in heaps and moundsI smell them now. The rose is
my flower, remember that, my life long. I used to tell you it was the
jessamine; the jessamine is a simpleton, I tell you. I was picking
white roses, the kind that blushes a little warm at its heartwhen I
heard some one coming. I knew who it was; can I tell how? It was
Captain Jack. I trembled. He came to me, he spoke, he took my hand. Oh,
my dear, my dear, I cannot tell you what he said; but he loves me; he
is my Jack, I am his Rita. Marguerite, will you tell me how it can be
true? Your wild, silly, foolish Rita, playing at emotions all her
childish life: she wakes up, she begins to try to be a little like you,
my best one; and all of a sudden she finds herself in Paradise, with a
warrior angelMarguerite, I did not think of it till this moment; my
Jack is the express image of St. Michael. His nose tips up the least
bit in the worldI don't mind it; it gives life, dash, to his
wonderful face; otherwise there is no difference. My St.
Michael! my soldier, my Star of Horsemen! Marguerite, no girl was ever
so happy since the world was made. Oh, don't think me fickle; let me
tell you! In the South here, are we different? It must be so. I was
fond of Santayana; but that was in another life. I was a sentimental,
passionate child; he was handsome as a picture; it was a dream of
seventeen. Nowcan you believe that I am a little grown up? I really
think I am. Perhaps I think it most because now, for the first time, I
really want to be like you, Marguerite. I used to be so pleased
with being myselfI was the vainest creature that ever lived. Now, I
want to be like you instead; I want to be a good woman, a good wife.
Ah! what a wife you will make if you marry! But how can you marry, my
poor darling? There is only one man in the world good enough for you,
and he is mine. I cannot give him up, even to you, my saint. I have two
saints now; I ought to be a Catholic. The second one is his mother, the
Saint of Las Rosas, as she is called all through this part of the
island. Marguerite, I must strive to grow like her, too, if such a
thing were possible. I have work enough for my life, but what blessed
work! to try to make myself worthy of Jack Delmonte, my Jack, my own!
He took me to his mother; I have just come from her. I am her
daughter from that moment, she says; oh, Marguerite, I will try to be a
good one. Hear meno! I am not going to make vows any more, or talk
like girls in novels; I am just going to try. I loved her from the
first moment I saw her grave, beautiful face. She took me in her arms,
my dear; she said thingsI have come up here to weep alone, tears of
happiness. Dearest, you alone knew thoroughly the old Rita, the foolish
creature, who dies, in a way, to-night. Say good-bye to her; give her a
kiss, Marguerite, for she too loved you; but not half as dearly as does
the new, happy, blessed
MARGARITA DE SAN REAL MONTFORT.