Christine and I found her there. She was a small,
dark-skinned, yellow-eyed child, the offspring of the ocean and
the heats, tawny, lithe and wild, shy yet fearless—not
unlike one of the little brown deer that bounded through the
open reaches of the pine barren behind the house. She did not
come to us—we came to her: we loomed into her life like
genii from another world, and she was partly afraid and partly
proud of us. For were we not her guests?—proud
thought!—and, better still, were we not women? "I have
only seen three women in all my life," said Felipa, inspecting
us gravely, "and I like women. I am a woman too, although these
clothes of the son of Pedro make me appear as a boy: I wear
them on account of the boat and the hauling in of the fish. The
son of Pedro being dead at a convenient age, and his clothes
fitting me, what would you have? It was manifestly a chance not
to be despised. But when I am grown I shall wear robes long and
beautiful like the señora's." The little creature was
dressed in a boy's suit of dark-blue linen, much the worse for
wear, and torn.
"If you are a girl, why do you not mend your clothes?" I
"Do you mend, señora?"
"Certainly: all women sew and mend."
"The other lady?"
Christine laughed as she lay at ease upon the brown carpet
of pine needles, warm and aromatic after the tropic day's
sunshine. "The child has divined me already, Catherine," she
Christine was a tall, lissome maid, with an unusually long
stretch of arm, long sloping shoulders and a long fair throat:
her straight hair fell to her knees when unbound, and its clear
flaxen hue had not one shade of gold, as her clear gray eyes
had not one shade of blue. Her small, straight, rose-leaf lips
parted over small, dazzlingly white teeth, and the outline of
her face in profile reminded you of an etching in its
distinctness, although it was by no means perfect according to
the rules of art. Still, what a comfort it was, after the
blurred outlines and smudged profiles many of us
possess—seen to best advantage, I think, in church on
Sundays, crowned with flower-decked bonnets, listening calmly
serene to favorite ministers, unconscious of noses! When
Christine had finished her laugh—and she never hurried
anything, but took the full taste of it—she stretched out
her arm carelessly and patted Felipa's curly head. The child
caught the descending hand and kissed the long white
It was a wild place where we were, yet not new or
crude—the coast of Florida, that old-new land, with its
deserted plantations, its skies of Paradise, and its broad
wastes open to the changeless sunshine. The old house stood on
the edge of the dry land, where the pine barren ended and the
salt marsh began: in front curved the tide-water river that
seemed ever trying to come up close to the barren and make its
acquaintance, but could not quite succeed, since it must always
turn and flee at a fixed hour, like Cinderella at the ball,
leaving not a silver slipper, but purple driftwood and bright
sea-weeds, brought in from the Gulf Stream outside. A planked
platform ran out into the marsh from the edge of the barren,
and at its end the boats were moored; for although at high tide
the river was at our feet, at low tide it was far away out in
the green waste somewhere, and if we wanted it we must go and
seek it. We did not want it, however: we let it glide up to us
twice a day with its fresh salt odors and flotsam of the ocean,
and the rest of the time we wandered over the barrens or lay
under the trees looking up into the wonderful blue above,
listening to the winds as they rushed across from sea to sea. I
was an artist, poor and painstaking: Christine was my kind
friend. She had brought
me South because my cough was troublesome, and here because
Edward Bowne recommended the place. He and three
fellow-sportsmen were down at the Madre Lagoon, farther south;
I thought it probable we should see him, without his three
fellow-sportsmen, before very long.
"Who were the three women you have seen, Felipa?" said
"The grandmother, an Indian woman of the Seminoles who comes
sometimes with baskets, and the wife of Miguel of the island.
But they are all old, and their skins are curled: I like better
the silver skin of the señora."
Poor little Felipa lived on the edge of the great salt marsh
alone with her grand-parents, for her mother was dead. The
yellow old couple were slow-witted Minorcans, part pagan, part
Catholic, and wholly ignorant: their minds rarely rose above
the level of their orange trees and their fish-nets. Felipa's
father was a Spanish sailor, and as he had died only the year
before, the child's Spanish was fairly correct, and we could
converse with her readily, although we were slow to comprehend
the patois of the old people, which seemed to borrow as much
from the Italian tongue and the Greek as from its mother
Spanish. "I know a great deal," Felipa remarked confidently,
"for my father taught me. He had sailed on the ocean out of
sight of land, and he knew many things. These he taught to me.
Do the gracious ladies think there is anything else to
One of the gracious ladies thought not, decidedly: in answer
to my remonstrance, expressed in English, she said, "Teach a
child like that, and you ruin her."
"Ruin her happiness—the same thing."
Felipa had a dog, a second self—a great gaunt yellow
creature of unknown breed, with crooked legs, big feet and the
name Drollo. What Drollo meant, or whether it was an
abbreviation, we never knew, but there was a certain
satisfaction in it, for the dog was droll: the fact that the
Minorcan title, whatever it was, meant nothing of that kind,
made it all the better. We never saw Felipa without Drollo.
"They look a good deal alike," observed Christine—"the
"For shame!" I said.
But it was true. The child's bronzed yellow skin and soft
eyes were not unlike the dog's, but her head was crowned with a
mass of short black curls, while Drollo had only his two great
flapping ears and his low smooth head. Give him an inch or two
more of skull, and what a creature a dog would be! For love and
faithfulness even now what man can match him? But, although
ugly, Felipa was a picturesque little object always, whether
attired in boy's clothes or in her own forlorn bodice and
skirt. Olive-hued and meagre-faced, lithe and thin, she flew
over the pine barrens like a creature of air, laughing to feel
her short curls toss and her thin childish arms buoyed up on
the breeze as she ran, with Drollo barking behind. For she
loved the winds, and always knew when they were
coming—whether down from the north, in from the ocean, or
across from the Gulf of Mexico: she watched for them, sitting
in the doorway, where she could feel their first breath, and
she taught us the signal of the clouds. She was a queer little
thing: we used to find her sometimes dancing alone out on the
barren in a circle she had marked out with pine-cones, and once
she confided to us that she talked to the trees. "They hear,"
she said in a whisper: "you should see how knowing they look,
and how their leaves listen."
Once we came upon her most secret lair in a dense thicket of
thorn-myrtle and wild smilax, a little bower she had made,
where was hidden a horrible-looking image formed of the rough
pieces of saw-palmetto grubbed up by old Bartolo from his
garden. She must have dragged these fragments thither one by
one, and with infinite pains bound them together with her rude
withes of strong marsh-grass, until at last she had formed a
rough trunk with crooked arms and a sort of a head, the red
hairy surface of the palmetto looking not unlike the skin of
some beast, and making the creature all the more grotesque. This fetich was kept
crowned with flowers, and after this we often saw the child
stealing away with Drollo to carry to it portions of her meals
or a new-found treasure—a sea-shell, a broken saucer, or
a fragment of ribbon. The food always mysteriously disappeared,
and my suspicion is that Drollo used to go back secretly in the
night and devour it, asking no questions and telling no lies:
it fitted in nicely, however, Drollo merely performing the
ancient part of the priests of Jupiter, men who have been much
admired. "What a little pagan she is!" I said.
"Oh no, it is only her doll," replied Christine.
I tried several times to paint Felipa during these first
weeks, but those eyes of hers always evaded me. They were, as I
have said before, yellow—that is, they were brown with
yellow lights—and they stared at you with the most
inflexible openness. The child had the full-curved, half-open
mouth of the tropics, and a low Greek forehead. "Why isn't she
pretty?" I said.
"She is hideous," replied Christine: "look at her
Now, Felipa's arms were unpleasant; they were brown
and lean, scratched and stained, and they terminated in a pair
of determined little paws that could hold on like grim Death. I
shall never forget coming upon a tableau one day out on the
barren—a little Florida cow and Felipa, she holding on by
the horns, and the beast with its small fore feet stubbornly
set in the sand; girl pulling one way, cow the other; both
silent and determined. It was a hard contest, but the girl
"And if you pass over her elbows, there are her feet,"
continued Christine languidly. For she was a sybaritic lover of
the fine linens of life, that friend of mine—a
pre-Raphaelite lady with clinging draperies and a
mediæval clasp on her belt. Her whole being rebelled
against ugliness, and the mere sight of a sharp-nosed,
light-eyed woman on a cold day made her uncomfortable for
"Have we not feet, too?" I replied sharply.
But I knew what she meant. Bare feet are not pleasant to the
eye now-a-days, whatever they may have been in the days of the
ancient Greeks; and Felipa's little brown insteps were half the
time torn or bruised by the thorns of the chapparal. Besides,
there was always the disagreeable idea that she might step upon
something cold and squirming when she prowled through the
thickets knee-deep in the matted grasses. Snakes abounded,
although we never saw them; but Felipa went up to their very
doors, as it were, and rang the bell defiantly.
One day old Grandfather Bartolo took the child with him down
to the coast: she was always wild to go to the beach, where she
could gather shells and sea-beans, and chase the little
ocean-birds that ran along close to the waves with that swift
gliding motion of theirs, and where she could listen to the
roar of the breakers. We were several miles up the river, and
to go down to the ocean was quite a voyage to Felipa. She bade
us good-bye joyously; then ran back to hug Christine a second
time, then to the boat again; then back.
"I thought you wanted to go, child?" I said, a little
impatiently, for I was reading aloud, and these small
irruptions were disturbing.
"Yes," said Felipa, "I want to go; and still—Perhaps
if the gracious señora would kiss me again—"
Christine only patted her cheek and told her to run away:
she obeyed, but there was a wistful look in her eyes, and even
after the boat had started her face, watching us from the
stern, haunted me.
"Now that the little monkey has gone, I may be able at last
to catch and fix a likeness of her," I said: "in this case a
recollection is better than the changing quicksilver
"You take it as a study of ugliness, I suppose?"
"Do not be so hard upon the child, Christine."
"Hard? Why, she adores me," said my friend, going off to her
hammock under the tree.
Several days passed, and the boat returned
not. I accomplished a
fine amount of work, and Christine a fine amount of swinging in
the hammock and dreaming. At length one afternoon I gave my
final touch, and carried my sketch over to the pre-Raphaelite
lady for criticism. "What do you see?" I said.
"I see a wild-looking child with yellow eyes, a mat of curly
black hair, a lank little bodice, her two thin brown arms
embracing a gaunt old dog with crooked legs, big feet and
"Is that all?"
"You do not see latent beauty, proud courage, and a possible
great gulf of love in that poor wild little face?"
"Nothing of the kind," replied Christine decidedly. "I see
an ugly little girl: that is all."
The next day the boat returned, and brought back five
persons—the old grandfather, Felipa, Drollo, Miguel of
the island and—Edward Bowne.
"Already?" I said.
"Tired of the Madre, Kitty: thought I would come up here and
see you for a while. I knew you must be pining for me."
"Certainly," I replied: "do you not see how I have wasted
He drew my arm through his and raced me down the plank-walk
toward the shore, where I arrived laughing and out of
"Where is Christine?" he asked.
I came back into the traces at once: "Over there in the
hammock. You wish to go to the house first, I suppose?"
"Of course not."
"But she did not come to meet you, Edward, although she knew
you had landed."
"Of course not, also."
"I do not understand you two."
"And of course not, a third time," said Edward, looking down
at me with a smile. "What do quiet, peaceful little artists
know about war?"
"Is it war?"
"Something very like it, Kitty. What is that you are
"Oh! my new sketch. What do you think of it?"
"Good, very good. Some little girl about here, I
"Why, it is Felipa!"
"And who is Felipa? Seems to me I have seen that old dog,
"Of course you have: he was in the boat with you, and so was
Felipa, but she was dressed in boy's clothes, and that gives
her a different look."
"Oh! that boy? I remember him. His name is Philip. He is a
funny little fellow," said Edward calmly.
"Her name is Felipa, and she is not a boy or a funny little
fellow at all," I replied.
"Isn't she? I thought she was both," replied Ned carelessly,
and then he went off toward the hammock. I turned away after
noting Christine's cool greeting, and went back to the
Felipa came bounding to meet me. "What is his name?" she
"Buon—Buona: I cannot say it."
"Bowne, child—Edward Bowne."
"Oh! Eduardo: I know that. Eduardo—Eduardo—a
name of honey."
She flew off singing the name, followed by Drollo carrying
his mistress's palmetto basket in his big patient mouth; but
when I passed the house a few moments afterward she was
singing, or rather talking volubly of, another
name—"Miguel," and "the wife of Miguel," who were
apparently important personages on the canvas of her life. As
it happened, I never really saw that wife of Miguel, who
seemingly had no name of her own; but I imagined her. She lived
on a sandbar in the ocean not far from the mouth of our river;
she drove pelicans like ducks with a long switch, and she had a
tame eagle; she had an old horse also, who dragged the
driftwood across the sand on a sledge, and this old horse
seemed like a giant horse always, outlined as he ever was
against the flat bar and the sky. She went out at dawn, and she
went out at sunset, but during the middle of the burning day
she sat at home and polished sea-beans, for which she obtained
untold sums: she was very tall, she was very yellow, and she
had but one eye. These items, one by one, had been dropped by Felipa at various
times, and it was with curiosity that I gazed upon the original
Miguel, the possessor of this remarkable spouse. He was a
grave-eyed, yellow man, who said little and thought less,
applying cui bono? to mental much as the city man
applies it to bodily exertion, and therefore achieving, I
think, a finer degree of inanition. The tame eagle, the
pelicans, were nothing to him, and when I saw his lethargic,
gentle countenance my own curiosity about them seemed to die
away in haze, as though I had breathed in an invisible opiate.
He came, he went, and that was all: exit Miguel.
Felipa was constantly with us now. She and Drollo followed
the three of us wherever we went—followed the two also
whenever I stayed behind to sketch, as I often stayed, for in
those days I was trying to catch the secret of the barrens: a
hopeless effort, I know it now. "Stay with me, Felipa," I said;
for it was natural to suppose that the lovers might like to be
alone. (I call them lovers for want of a better name, but they
were more like haters: however, in such cases it is nearly the
same thing.) And then Christine, hearing this, would
immediately call "Felipa!" and the child would dart after them,
happy as a bird. She wore her boy's suit now all the time,
because the señora had said she "looked well in it."
What the señora really said was, that in boy's clothes
she looked less like a grasshopper. But this had been
translated as above by Edward Bowne when Felipa suddenly
descended upon him one day and demanded to be instantly told
what the gracious lady was saying about her; for she seemed to
know by intuition when we spoke of her, although we talked in
English and mentioned no names. When told, her small face
beamed, and she kissed Christine's hand joyfully and bounded
away. Christine took out her beautiful handkerchief and wiped
"Christine," I said, "do you remember the fate of the proud
girl who walked upon bread?"
"You think that I may starve for kisses some time?" said my
friend, going on with the wiping.
"Not while I am alive," called out Edward from behind. His
style of courtship was of the sledge-hammer sort
sometimes. But he did not get much for it on that day; only
lofty tolerance, which seemed to amuse him greatly.
Edward played with Felipa very much as if she was a rubber
toy or a trapeze performer. He held her out at arm's length in
mid-air, he poised her on his shoulder, he tossed her up into
the low myrtle trees, and dangled her by her little belt over
the claret-colored pools on the barren; but he could not
frighten her: she only laughed and grew wilder and wilder, like
a squirrel. "She has muscles and nerves of steel," he said
"Do put her down: she is too excitable for such games," I
said in French, for Felipa seemed to divine our English now.
"See the color she has."
For there was a trail of dark red over the child's thin oval
cheeks which made her look strangely unlike herself. As she
caught our eyes fixed upon her she suddenly stopped her
climbing and came and sat at Christine's feet. "Some day I
shall wear robes like the señora's," she said, passing
her hand over the soft fabric; "and I think," she added after
some slow consideration, "that my face will be like the
Edward burst out laughing. The little creature stopped
abruptly and scanned his face.
"Do not tease her," I said.
Quick as a flash she veered around upon me. "He does not
tease me," she said angrily in Spanish; "and, besides, what if
he does? I like it." She looked at me with gleaming eyes and
stamped her foot.
"What a little tempest!" said Christine.
Then Edward, man-like, began to explain. "You could not look
much like this lady, Felipa," he said, "because you are so
dark, you know."
"Am I dark?"
"Very dark; but many people are dark, of course; and for my
part I always liked dark eyes," said this mendacious
"Do you like my eyes?" asked Felipa anxiously. "Indeed I do: they are
like the eyes of a dear little calf I once owned when I was a
The child was satisfied, and went back to her place beside
Christine. "Yes, I shall wear robes like this," she said
dreamily, drawing the flowing drapery over her knees clad in
the little linen trousers, and scanning the effect: "they would
trail behind me—so." Her bare feet peeped out below the
hem, and again we all laughed, the little brown toes looked so
comical coming out from the silk and the snowy embroideries.
She came down to reality at once, looked at us, looked at
herself, and for the first time seemed to comprehend the
difference. Then suddenly she threw herself down on the ground
like a little animal, and buried her head in her arms. She
would not speak, she would not look up: she only relaxed one
arm a little to take in Drollo, and then lay motionless. Drollo
looked at us out of one eye solemnly from his uncomfortable
position, as much as to say, "No use: leave her to me." So
after a while we went away and left them there.
That evening I heard a low knock at my door. "Come in," I
said, and Felipa entered. I hardly knew her. She was dressed in
a flowered muslin gown which had probably belonged to her
mother, and she wore her grandmother's stockings and large
baggy slippers: on her mat of curly hair was perched a
high-crowned, stiff white cap adorned with a ribbon streamer,
and her lank little neck, coming out of the big gown, was
decked with a chain of large sea-beans, like exaggerated
lockets. She carried a Cuban fan in her hand which was as large
as a parasol, and Drollo, walking behind, fairly clanked with
the chain of sea-shells which she had wound around him from
head to tail. The droll tableau and the supreme pride on
Felipa's countenance overcame me, and I laughed aloud. A sudden
cloud of rage and disappointment came over the poor child's
face: she threw her cap on the floor and stamped on it; she
tore off her necklace and writhed herself out of her big
flowered gown, and running to Drollo, nearly strangled him in
her fierce efforts to drag off his shell chains. Then, a
half-dressed, wild little phantom, she seized me by the skirts
and dragged me toward the looking-glass. "You are not pretty
either," she cried. "Look at yourself! look at yourself!"
"I did not mean to laugh at you, Felipa," I said gently: "I
would not laugh at any one; and it is true I am not pretty, as
you say. I can never be pretty, child; but if you will try to
be more gentle, I could teach you how to dress yourself so that
no one would laugh at you again. I could make you a little
bright-barred skirt and a scarlet bodice: you could help, and
that would teach you to sew. But a little girl who wants all
this done for her must be quiet and good."
"I am good," said Felipa—"as good as everything."
The tears still stood in her eyes, but her anger was
forgotten: she improvised a sort of dance around my room,
followed by Drollo dragging his twisted chain, stepping on it
with his big feet, and finally winding himself up into a knot
around the chair-legs.
"Couldn't we make Drollo something too? dear old Drollo!"
said Felipa, going to him and squeezing him in an enthusiastic
embrace. I used to wonder how his poor ribs stood it: Felipa
used him as a safety-valve for her impetuous feelings.
She kissed me good-night and then asked for "the other
"Go to bed, child," I said: "I will give her your
"But I want to kiss her too," said Felipa.
She lingered at the door and would not go; she played with
the latch, and made me nervous with its clicking; at last I
ordered her out. But on opening my door half an hour afterward
there she was sitting on the floor outside in the darkness, she
and Drollo, patiently waiting. Annoyed, but unable to reprove
her, I wrapped the child in my shawl and carried her out into
the moonlight, where Christine and Edward were strolling to and
fro under the pines. "She
will not go to bed, Christine, without kissing you," I
"Funny little monkey!" said my lily friend, passively
allowing the embrace.
"Me too," said Edward, bending down. Then I carried my
bundle back satisfied.
The next day Felipa and I in secret began our labors: hers
consisted in worrying me out of my life and spoiling
material—mine in keeping my temper and trying to sew. The
result, however, was satisfactory, never mind how we got there.
I led Christine out one afternoon: Edward followed. "Do you
like tableaux?" I said. "There is one I have arranged for
Felipa sat on the edge of the low, square-curbed Spanish
well, and Drollo stood behind her, his great yellow body and
solemn head serving as a background. She wore a brown petticoat
barred with bright colors, and a little scarlet bodice fitting
her slender waist closely; a chemisette of soft cream-color
with loose sleeves covered her neck and arms, and set off the
dark hues of her cheeks and eyes; and around her curly hair a
red scarf was twisted, its fringed edges forming a drapery at
the back of the head, which, more than anything else, seemed to
bring out the latent character of her face. Brown moccasins,
red stockings and a quantity of bright beads completed her
"By Jove!" cried Edward, "the little thing is almost
Felipa understood this, and a great light came into her
face: forgetting her pose, she bounded forward to Christine's
side. "I am pretty, then?" she said with exultation: "I
am pretty, then, after all? For now you yourself have
said it—have said it."
"No, Felipa," I interposed, "the gentleman said it." For the
child had a curious habit of confounding the two identities
which puzzled me then as now. But this afternoon, this happy
afternoon, she was content, for she was allowed to sit at
Christine's feet and look up into her fair face unmolested. I
was forgotten, as usual.
"It is always so," I said to myself. But cynicism, as Mr.
Aldrich says, is a small brass field-piece that eventually
bursts and kills the artilleryman. I knew this, having been
blown up myself more than once; so I went back to my painting
and forgot the world. Our world down there on the edge of the
salt marsh, however, was a small one: when two persons went out
of it there was a vacuum at once.
One morning Felipa came sadly to my side. "They have gone
away,'" she said.
"Down to the beach to spend all the day."
"Yes, I know it."
"And without me!"
This was the climax. I looked up. The child's eyes were dry,
but there was a hollow look of disappointment in her face that
made her seem old: it was as though for an instant you caught
what her old-woman face would be half a century on.
"Why did they not take me?" she said. "I am pretty now: she
herself said it."
"They cannot always take you, Felipa," I replied, giving up
the point as to who had said it.
"Why not? I am pretty now: she herself said it," persisted
the child. "In these clothes, you know: she herself said it.
The clothes of the son of Pedro you will never see more: they
"Yes, burned," replied Felipa composedly. "I carried them
out on the barren and burned them. Drollo singed his paw. They
burned quite nicely. But they are gone, and I am pretty now,
and yet they did not take me! What shall I do?"
"Take these colors and make me a picture," I suggested.
Generally, this was a prized privilege, but to-day it did not
attract: she turned away, and a few moments after I saw her
going down to the end of the plank walk, where she stood gazing
wistfully toward the ocean. There she stayed all day, going
into camp with Drollo, and refusing to come to dinner in spite
of old Dominga's calls and beckonings. At last the patient old
grandmother went down herself to the end of the long plank walk where they were with
some bread and venison on a plate. Felipa ate but little, but
Drollo, after waiting politely until she had finished, devoured
everything that was left in his calmly hungry way, and then sat
back on his haunches with one paw on the plate, as though for
the sake of memory. Drollo's hunger was of the chronic kind: it
seemed impossible either to assuage it or to fill him. There
was a gaunt leanness about him which I am satisfied no amount
of food could ever fatten. I think he knew it too, and that
accounted for his resignation. At length, just before sunset,
the boat returned, floating up the river with the tide, old
Bartolo steering and managing the brown sails. Felipa sprang up
joyfully: I thought she would spring into the boat in her
eagerness. What did she receive for her long vigil? A short
word or two: that was all. Christine and Edward had
How do lovers quarrel ordinarily? But I should not ask that,
for these were no ordinary lovers: they were decidedly
"You should not submit to her caprices so readily," I said
the next day while strolling on the barren with Edward. (He was
not so much cast down, however, as he might have been.)
"I adore the very ground her foot touches, Kitty."
"I know it. But how will it end?"
"I will tell you: some of these days I shall win her, and
then—she will adore me."
Here Felipa came running after us, and Edward immediately
challenged her to a race: a game of romps began. If Christine
had been looking from her window, she might have thought he was
not especially disconsolate over her absence; but she was not
looking. She was never looking out of anything or for anybody.
She was always serenely content where she was. Edward and
Felipa strayed off among the pine trees, and gradually I lost
sight of them. But as I sat sketching an hour afterward Edward
came into view, carrying the child in his arms. I hurried to
"I shall never forgive myself," he said: "the little thing
has fallen and injured her foot badly, I fear."
"I do not care at all," said Felipa: "I like to have it
hurt. It is my foot, isn't it?"
These remarks she threw at me defiantly, as though I had
laid claim to the member in question. I could not help
"The other lady will not laugh," said the child proudly. And
in truth Christine, most unexpectedly, took up the rôle
of nurse. She carried Felipa to her own room—for we each
had a little cell opening out of the main apartment—and
as white-robed Charity she shone with new radiance. "Shone" is
the proper word, for through the open door of the dim cell,
with the dark little face of Felipa on her shoulder, her white
robe and skin seemed fairly to shine, as white lilies shine on
a dark night. The old grandmother left the child in our care
and watched our proceedings wistfully, very much as a dog
watches the human hands that extract the thorn from the swollen
foot of her puppy. She was grateful and asked no questions; in
fact, thought was not one of her mental processes. She did not
think much: she only felt. As for Felipa, the child lived in
rapture during those days in spite of her suffering. She
scarcely slept at all—she was too happy: I heard her
voice rippling on through the night, and Christine's low
replies. She adored her beautiful nurse.
The fourth day came: Edward Bowne walked into the cell. "Go
out and breathe the fresh air for an hour or two," he said in
the tone more of a command than a request.
"But the child will never consent," replied Christine
"Oh yes, she will: I will stay with her," said the young
man, lifting the feverish little head on his arm and passing
his hand softly over the bright eyes.
"Felipa, do you not want me?" said Christine, bending
"He stays: it is all the same," murmured the child.
"So it is. Go, Christine," said Edward with a little smile
of triumph. Without a word
Christine left the cell. But she did not go to walk: she came
to my room, and throwing herself on my bed fell in a moment
into a deep sleep, the reaction after her three nights of
wakefulness. When she awoke it was long after dark, and I had
relieved Edward in his watch.
"You will have to give it up," he said as our lily came
forth at last with sleep-flushed cheeks and starry eyes
shielded from the light. "The spell is broken: we have all been
taking care of Felipa, and she likes one as well as the
Which was not true, in my case at least, since Felipa had
openly derided my small strength when I lifted her, and beat
off the sponge with which I attempted to bathe her hot face.
"They" used no sponges, she said, only their nice cool hands;
and she wished "they" would come and take care of her again.
But Christine had resigned in toto. If Felipa did not prefer
her to all others, then Felipa could not have her: she was not
a common nurse. And indeed she was not. Her fair beauty, ideal
grace, cooing voice and the strength of her long arms and
flexible hands were like magic to the sick,
and—distraction to the well; the well in this case being
Edward Bowne looking in at the door.
"You love them very much, do you not, Felipa?" I said one
day when the child was sitting up for the first time in a
"Ah, yes: it is so delicious when they carry me," she
replied. But it was Edward who carried her.
"He is very strong," I said.
"Yes, and their long soft hair, with the smell of roses in
it too," said Felipa dreamily. But the hair was
"I shall love them for ever, and they will love me for
ever," continued the child. "Drollo too." She patted the dog's
head as she spoke, and then concluded to kiss him on his little
inch of forehead: next she offered him all her medicines and
lotions in turn, and he smelled at them grimly. "He likes to
know what I am taking," she explained.
I went on: "You love them, Felipa, and they are fond of you.
They will always remember you, no doubt."
"Remember!" cried Felipa, starting up from her cushions like
a Jack-in-the-box. "They are not going away? Never! never!"
"But of course they must go some time, for—"
But Felipa was gone. Before I could divine her intent she
had flung herself out of her chair down on to the floor, and
was crawling on her hands and knees toward the outer room. I
ran after her, but she reached the door before me, and,
dragging her bandaged foot behind her, drew herself, toward
Christine. "You are not going away! You are not! you are
not!" she sobbed, clinging to her skirts.
Christine was reading tranquilly: Edward stood at the outer
door mending his fishing-tackle. The coolness between them
remained unwarmed by so much as a breath. "Run away, child: you
disturb me," said Christine, turning over a leaf. She did not
even look at the pathetic little bundle at her feet. Pathetic
little bundles must be taught some time what ingratitude
"How can she run, lame as she is?" said Edward from the
"You are not going away, are you? Tell me you are not,"
sobbed Felipa in a passion of tears, beating on the floor with
one hand, and with the other clinging to Christine.
"I am not going," said Edward. "Do not sob so, you poor
She crawled to him, and he took her up in his arms and
soothed her into stillness again: then he carried her out on to
the barren for a breath of fresh air.
"It is a most extraordinary thing how that child confounds
you two," I said. "It is a case of color-blindness, as it
were—supposing you two were colors."
"Which we are not," replied Christine carelessly. "Do not
stray off into mysticism, Catherine."
"It is not mysticism: it is a study of character—"
"Where there is no character," replied my friend.
I gave it up, but I said to myself,
"Fate, in the next world
make me one of those long, lithe, light-haired women, will you?
I want to see how it feels."
Felipa's foot was well again, and spring had come. Soon we
must leave our lodge on the edge of the pine barren, our
outlook over the salt marsh, our river sweeping up twice a day,
bringing in the briny odors of the ocean: soon we should see no
more the eagles far above us or hear the night-cry of the great
owls, and we must go without the little fairy flowers of the
barren, so small that a hundred of them scarcely made a
tangible bouquet, yet what beauty! what sweetness! In my
portfolio were sketches and studies of the barrens, and in my
heart were hopes. Somebody says somewhere, "Hope is more than a
blessing: it is a duty and a virtue." But I fail to appreciate
preserved hope—hope put up in cans and served out in
seasons of depression. I like it fresh from the tree. And so
when I hope it is hope, and not that well-dried,
monotonous cheerfulness which makes one long to throw the
persistent smilers out of the window. Felipa danced no more on
the barrens; her illness had toned her excitable nature; she
seemed content to sit at our feet while we talked, looking up
dreamily into our faces, but no longer eagerly endeavoring to
comprehend. We were there: that was enough.
"She is growing like a reed," I said: "her illness has left
"-Minded," suggested Christine, smiling.
At this moment Felipa stroked the lady's white hand tenderly
and laid her brown cheek against it.
"Do you not feel reproached," I said.
"Why? Must we give our love to whoever loves us? A fine
parcel of paupers we should all be, wasting our inheritance in
pitiful small change! Shall I give a thousand beggars a half
hour's happiness, or shall I make one soul rich his whole life
"The latter," remarked Edward, who had come up
They gazed at each other unflinchingly. They had come to
open battle during those last days, and I knew that the end was
near. Their words had been cold as ice, cutting as steel, and I
said to myself, "At any moment." There would be a deadly
struggle, and then Christine would yield. Even I comprehended
something of what that yielding would be. There are beautiful
velvety panthers in the Asian forests, and in real life too,
"Why do they hate each other so?" Felipa said to me
"Do they hate each other?"
"Yes, for I feel it here," she answered, touching her breast
with a dramatic little gesture.
"Nonsense! Go and play with your doll, child." For I had
made her a respectable, orderly doll to take the place of the
ungainly fetich out on the barren.
Felipa gave me a look and walked away. A moment afterward
she brought the doll out of the house before my very eyes, and,
going down to the end of the dock, deliberately threw it into
the water: the tide was flowing out, and away went my toy-woman
out of sight, out to sea.
"Well!" I said to myself. "What next?"
I had not told Felipa we were going: I thought it best to
let it take her by surprise. I had various small articles of
finery ready as farewell gifts which should act as sponges to
absorb her tears. But Fate took the whole matter out of my
hands. This is how it happened. One evening in the jessamine
arbor, in the fragrant darkness of the warm spring night, the
end came: Christine was won. She glided in like a wraith, and
I, divining at once what had happened, followed her into her
little room, where I found her lying on her bed, her hands
clasped on her breast, her eyes open and veiled in soft
shadows, her white robe drenched with dew. I kissed her
fondly—I never could help loving her then or
now—and next I went out to find Edward. He had been kind
to me all my poor gray life: should I not go to him now? He was
still in the arbor, and I sat down by his side quietly: I knew
that the words would come in time. They came: what a flood!
English was not enough for him. He poured forth his love in the rich-voweled Spanish
tongue also: it has sounded doubly sweet to me ever since.
"Have you felt the wool of the
Or swan's down ever?
Or have smelt the bud o' the brier?
Or the nard in the fire?
Or ha' tasted the bag o' the bee?
Oh so white, oh so soft, oh so sweet is
said the young lover again and again; and I, listening there
in the dark fragrant night, with the dew heavy upon me, felt
glad that the old simple-hearted love was not entirely gone
from our tired metallic world.
It was late when we returned to the house. After reaching my
room I found that I had left my cloak in the arbor. It was a
strong fabric: the dew could not hurt it, but it could hurt my
sketching materials and various trifles in the wide inside
pockets—objets de luxe to me, souvenirs of happy
times, little artistic properties that I hang on the walls of
my poor studio when in the city. I went softly out into the
darkness again and sought the arbor: groping on the ground I
found, not the cloak, but—Felipa! She was crouched under
the foliage, face downward: she would not move or answer.
"What is the matter, child?" I said, but she would not
speak. I tried to draw her from her lair, but she tangled
herself stubbornly still farther among the thorny vines, and I
could not move her. I touched her neck: it was cold.
Frightened, I ran back to the house for a candle.
"Go away," she said in a low hoarse voice when I flashed the
light over her. "I know all, and I am going to die. I have
eaten the poison things in your box, and just now a snake came
on my neck and I let him. He has bitten me, I suppose, and I am
glad. Go away: I am going to die."
I looked around: there was my color-case rifled and empty,
and the other articles were scattered on the ground. "Good
Heavens, child!" I cried, "what have you eaten?"
"Enough," replied Felipa gloomily. "I knew they were
poisons: you told me so. And I let the snake stay."
By this time the household, aroused by my hurried exit with
the candle, came toward the arbor. The moment Edward appeared
Felipa rolled herself up like a hedgehog again and refused to
speak. But the old grandmother knelt down and drew the little
crouching figure into her arms with gentle tenderness,
smoothing its hair and murmuring loving words in her soft
"What is it?" said Edward; but even then his eyes were
devouring Christine, who stood in the dark, vine-wreathed
doorway like a picture in a frame. I explained.
Christine smiled softly. "Jealousy," she said in a low
voice. "I am not surprised." And of her own accord she gave
back to Edward one of his looks.
But at the first sound of her voice Felipa had started up:
she too saw the look, and wrenching herself free from old
Dominga's arms, she threw herself at Christine's feet. "Look at
me so," she cried—"me too: do not look at him. He
has forgotten poor Felipa: he does not love her any more. But
you do not forget, señora: you love
me—you love me. Say you do or I shall die!"
We were all shocked by the pallor and the wild hungry look
of her uplifted face. Edward bent down and tried to lift her in
his arms, but when she saw him a sudden fierceness came into
her eyes: they shot out yellow light and seemed to narrow to a
point of flame. Before we knew it she had turned, seized
something and plunged it into his encircling arm. It was my
little Venetian dagger.
We sprang forward; our dresses were spotted with the
fast-flowing blood; but Edward did not relax his hold on the
writhing wild little body he held until it lay exhausted in his
arms. "I am glad I did it," said the child, looking up into his
face with her inflexible eyes. "Put me down—put me down,
I say, by the gracious señora, that I may die with the
trailing of her white robe over me." And the old grandmother
with trembling hands received her and laid her down mutely at
Ah, well! Felipa did not die. The poisons wracked but did not kill her, and the snake
must have spared the little thin brown neck so despairingly
offered to him. We went away: there was nothing for us to do
but to go away as quickly as possible and leave her to her
kind. To the silent old grandfather I said, "It will pass: she
is but a child."
"She is nearly twelve, señora. Her mother was married
"But she loved them both alike, Bartolo. It is nothing: she
does not know."
"You are right, lady: she does not know," replied the old
man slowly; "but I know. It was two loves, and the
stronger thrust the knife."