Chapter IV. The Shining Bands of Love.
 
    "O blest be he!  O blest be he!
        Let him all blessings prove,
     Who made the chains, the shining chains,
        The holy chains of love!"
                    --Spanish Ballad.

    "If you love a lady bright,
        Seek, and you shall find a way
        All that love would say, to say
     If you watch the occasion right."
                    --Spanish Ballad.

In the morning Isabel took breakfast with her sister. This was always a pleasant event to Antonia. She petted Isabel, she waited upon her, sweetened her chocolate, spread her cakes with honey, and listened to all her complaints of Tia Rachela. Isabel came gliding in when Antonia was about half way through the meal. Her scarlet petticoat was gorgeous, her bodice white as snow, her hair glossy as a bird's wing, but her lips drooped and trembled, and there was the shadow of tears in her eyes. Antonia kissed their white fringed lids, held the little form close in her arms, and fluttered about in that motherly way which Isabel had learned to demand and enjoy.

"What has grieved you this morning, little dove?"

"It is Tia Rachela, as usual. The cross old woman! She is going to tell mi madre something. Antonia, you must make her keep her tongue between her teeth. I promised her to confess to Fray Ignatius, and she said I must also tell mi madre. I vowed to say twenty Hail Marias and ten Glorias, and she said `I ought to go back to the convent.'"

"But what dreadful thing have you been doing, Iza?"

Iza blushed and looked into her chocolate cup, as she answered slowly: "I gave--a--flower--away. Only a suchil flower, Antonia, that--I--wore--at--my--breast--last--night."

"Whom did you give it to, Iza?"

Iza hesitated, moved her chair close to Antonia, and then hid her face on her sister's breast.

"But this is serious, darling. Surely you did not give it to Senor Houston?"

"Could you think I was so silly? When madre was talking to him last night, and when I was singing my pretty serenade, he heard nothing at all. He was thinking his own thoughts."

"Not to Senor Houston? Who then? Tell me, Iza."

"To--Don Luis."

"Don Luis! But he is not here. He went to the Colorado."

"How stupid are you, Antonia! In New York they did not teach you to put this and that together. As soon as I saw Senor Houston, I said to myself: `Don Luis was going to him; very likely they have met each other on the road; very likely Don Luis is back in San Antonio. He would not want to go away without bidding me good-by,' and, of course, I was right."

"But when did you see him last night? You never left the room."

So many things are possible. My heart said to me when the talk was going on, `Don Luis is waiting under the oleanders,' and I walked on to the balcony and there he was, and he looked so sad, and I dropped my suchil flower to him; and Rachela saw me, for I think she has a million eyes,--and that is the whole matter."

"But why did not Don Luis come in?"

"Mi madre forbade me to speak to him. That is the fault of the Valdez's."

"Then you disobeyed mi madre, and you know what Fray Ignatius and the Sisters have taught you about the fourth command."

"Oh, indeed, I did not think of the fourth command! A sin without intention has not penance; and consider, Antonia, I am now sixteen, and they would shut me up like a chicken in its shell. Antonia, sweet Antonia, speak to Rachela, and make your little Iza happy. Fear is so bad for me. See, I do not even care for my cakes and honey this morning.

"I will give Rachela the blue silk kerchief I brought from New York. She will forget a great deal for that, and then, Iza, darling, you must tell Fray Ignatius of your sin, because it is not good to have an unconfessed sin on the soul."

"Antonia, do not say such cruel things. I have confessed to you. Fray Ignatius will give me a hard penance. Perhaps he may say to mi madre: `That child had better go back to the convent. I say so, because I have knowledge.' And now I am tired of that life; I am almost a woman, Antonia, am I not?"

Antonia looked tenderly into her face. She saw some inscrutable change there. All was the same, and all was different. She did not understand that it was in the eyes, those lookouts of the soul. They had lost the frank, inquisitive stare of childhood; they were tender and misty; they reflected a heart passionate and fearful, in which love was making himself lord of all.

Antonia was not without experience. There was in New York a gay, handsome youth, to whom her thoughts lovingly turned. She had promised to trust him, and to wait for him, and neither silence nor distance had weakened her faith or her affection. Don Luis had also made her understand how hard it was to leave Isabel, just when he had hoped to woo and win her. He had asked her to watch over his beloved, and to say a word in his favor when all others would be condemning him.

Her sympathy had been almost a promise, and, indeed, she thought Isabel could hardly have a more suitable lover. He was handsome, gallant, rich, and of good morals and noble family. They had been much together in their lives; their childish affection had been permitted; she felt quite sure that the parents of both had contemplated a stronger affection and a more lasting tie between them.

And evidently Don Luis had advanced further in his suit than the Senora was aware of. He had not been able to resist the charm of secretly wooing the fresh young girl he hoped to make his wife. Their love must be authorized and sanctioned; true, he wished that; but the charm of winning the prize before it was given was irresistible. Antonia comprehended all without many words; but she took her sister into the garden, where they could be quite alone, and she sought the girl's confidence because she was sure she could be to her a loving guide.

Isabel was ready enough to talk, and the morning was conducive to confidence. They strolled slowly between the myrtle hedges in the sweet gloom of overshadowing trees, hearing only like a faint musical confusion the mingled murmur of the city.

"It was just here," said Isabel. "I was walking and sitting and doing nothing at all but looking at the trees and the birds and feeling happy, and Don Luis came to me. He might have come down from the skies, I was so astonished. And he looked so handsome, and he said such words! Oh, Antonia! they went straight to my heart."

"When was this, dear?"

"It was in the morning. I had been to mass with Rachela. I had said every prayer with my whole heart, and Rachela told me I might stay in the garden until the sun grew hot. And as soon as Rachela was gone, Don Luis came--came just as sudden as an angel."

"He must have followed you from mass."

"Perhaps."

"He should not have done that."

"If a thing is delightful, nobody should do it. Luis said he knew that it was decided that we should marry, but that he wanted me to be his wife because I loved him. His face was shining with joy, his eyes were like two stars, he called me his life, his adorable mistress, his queen, and he knelt down and took my hands and kissed them. I was too happy to speak."

"Oh, Iza!"

"Very well, Antonia! It is easy to say `Oh, Iza'; but what would you have done? And reflect on this; no one, not even Rachela, saw him. So then, our angels were quite agreeable and willing. And I--I was in such joy, that I went straight in and told Holy Maria of my happiness. But when a person has not been in love, how can they know; and I see that you are going to say as Sister Sacrementa said to Lores Valdez--`You are a wicked girl, and such things are not to be spoken of!'"

"Oh, my darling one, I am not so cruel. I think you did nothing very wrong, Iza. When love comes into your soul, it is like a new life. If it is a pure, good love, it is a kind of murder to kill it in any way."

"It has just struck me, Antonia, that you may be in love also."

"When I was in New York, our brother Jack had a friend, and he loved me, and I loved him."

"But did grandmamma let him talk to you?"

"He came every night. We went walking and driving. In the summer we sailed upon the river; in the winter we skated upon the ice. He helped me with my lessons. He went with me to church."

"And was grandmamma with you?"

"Very seldom. Often Jack was with us; more often we were quite alone."

"Holy Virgin! Who ever heard tell of such good fortune? Consuelo Ladrello had never been an hour alone with Don Domingo before they were married."

"A good girl does not need a duenna to watch her; that is what I think. And an American girl, pure and free, would not suffer herself to be watched by any woman, old or young. Her lover comes boldly into her home; she is too proud, to meet him in secret."

"Ah! that would be a perfect joy. That is what I would like! But fancy what Rachela would say; and mi madre would cover her eyes and refuse to see me if I said such words. Believe this. It was in the spring Luis told me that he loved me, and though I have seen him often since, he has never found another moment to speak to me alone, not for one five minutes. Oh, Antonia! let me have one five minutes this afternoon! He is going away, and there is to be war, and I may never, never see him again!"

"Do not weep, little dove. How can you see him this afternoon?"

"He will be here, in this very place, I know he will. When he put the suchil flower to his lips last night he made me understand it. This afternoon, during the hour of siesta, will you come with me? Only for five minutes, Antonia! You can manage Rachela, I am sure you can."

"I can manage Rachela, and you shall have one whole hour, Iza. One whole hour! Come, now, we must make a visit to our mother. She will be wondering at our delay."

The Senora had not yet risen. She had taken her chocolate and smoked her cigarito, but was still drowsing. "I have had a bad night, children," she said full of dreadful dreams. It must have been that American. Yet, Holy Mother, how handsome he is! And I assure you that he has the good manners of a courtier. Still, it was an imprudence, and Senora Valdez will make some great thing of it."

"You were in your own house, mother. What has Senora Valdez to do with the guest in it? We might as well make some great thing about Captain Morello being present at her party."

"I have to say to you, Antonia, that Morello is a Castilian; his family is without a cross. He has the parchments of his noble ancestry to show."

And Senor Houston is an American--Scotch-American, he said, last night. Pardon, my mother, but do you know what the men of Scotland are?"

"Si!, They are monsters! Fray Ignatius has told me. They are heretics of the worst kind. It is their special delight to put to death good Catholic priests. I saw that in a book; it must be true."

"Oh, no, mother! It is not true! It is mere nonsense. Scotchmen do not molest priests, women, and children. They are the greatest fighters in the world."

"Quien sabe? Who has taught you so much about these savages?"

"Indeed, mother, they are not savages. They are a very learned race of men, and very pious also. Jack has many Scotch-American friends. I know one of them very well"; and with the last words her face flushed, and her voice fell insensibly into slow and soft inflections.

"Jack knows many of them! That is likely. Your father would send him to New York. All kinds of men are in New York. Fray Ignatius says they have to keep an army of police there. No wonder! And my son is so full of nobilities, so generous, so honorable, he will not keep himself exclusive. He is the true resemblance of my brother Don Juan Flores. Juan was always pitying the poor and making friends with those beneath him. At last he went into the convent of the Bernardines and died like a very saint."

"I think our Jack will be more likely to die like a very hero. If there is any thing Jack hates, it is oppression. He would right a beggar, if he saw him wronged."

"Poco a poco! I am tired of rights and wrongs. Let us talk a little about our dresses, for there will be a gay winter. Senora Valdez assured me of it; many soldiers are coming here, and we shall have parties, and cock-fights, and, perhaps, even a bull-feast."

"Oh!" cried Isabel clapping her hands enthusiastically; "a bull-feast! That is what I long to see!"

At this moment the doctor entered the room, and Isabel ran to meet him. No father could have resisted her pretty ways, her kisses, her endearments, her coaxing diminutives of speech, her childlike loveliness and simplicity.

"What is making you so happy, Queridita?"[1]

[1] Little dear.

"Mi madre says there is perhaps to be a bullfeast this winter. Holy Virgin, think of it! That is the one thing I long to see!"

With her clinging arms around him, and her eager face lifted to his for sympathy, the father could not dash the hope which he knew in his heart was very unlikely to be realized. Neither did he think it necessary to express opposition or disapproval for what had as yet no tangible existence. So he answered her with smiles and caresses, and a little quotation which committed him to nothing:

        "As, Panem et Circenses was the cry
        Among the Roman populace of old;
        So, Pany Toros! is the cry of Spain."

The Senora smiled appreciatively and put out her hand. "Pan y Toros!" she repeated. "And have you reflected, children, that no other nation in the world cries it. Only Spain and her children! That is because only men of the Spanish race are brave enough to fight bulls, and only Spanish bulls are brave enough to fight men."

She was quite pleased with herself for this speech, and finding no one inclined to dispute the statement, she went on to describe a festival of bulls she had been present at in the city of Mexico. The subject delighted her, and she grew eloquent over it; and, conscious only of Isabel's shining eyes and enthusiastic interest, she did not notice the air of thoughtfulness which had settled over her husband's face, nor yet Antonia's ill-disguised weariness and anxiety.

On the night of the Valdez's party her father had said he would talk with her. Antonia was watching for the confidence, but not with any great desire. Her heart and her intelligence told her it would mean trouble, and she had that natural feeling of youth which gladly postpones the evil day. And while her father was silent she believed there were still possibilities of escape from it. So she was not sorry that he again went to his office in the city without any special word for her. It was another day stolen from the uncertain future, for the calm usage of the present, and she was determined to make happiness in it.

When all was still in the afternoon Isabel came to her. She would not put the child to the necessity of again asking her help. She rose at once, and said:

"Sit here, Iza, until I have opened the door for us. Then she took a rich silk kerchief, blue as the sky, in her hand, and went to the wide, matted hall. There she found Rachela, asleep on a cane lounge. Antonia woke her.

"Rachela, I wish to go into the garden for an hour."

The Senorita does the thing she wants to, Rachela would not presume to interfere. The Senorita became an Americano in New York."

"There are good things in New York, Rachela; for instance, this kerchief."

"That is indeed magnificent!"

"If you permit my sister to walk in the garden with me, I shall give it to you this moment."

"Dona Isabel is different. She is a Mexicaine. She must be watched continually."

"For what reason? She is as innocent as an angel."

"Let her simply grow up, and you will see that she is not innocent as the angels. Oh, indeed! I could say something about last night! Dona Isabel has no vocation for a nun; but, gracias a Dios! Rachela is not yet blind or deaf."

"Let the child go with me for an hour, Rachela. The kerchief will be so becoming to you. There is not another in San Antonio like it."

Rachela was past forty, but not yet past the age of coquetry. "It will look gorgeous with my gold ear-rings, but--"

"I will give you also the blue satin bow like it, to wear at your breast."

"Si, si! I will give the permission, Senorita--for your sake alone. The kerchief and bow are a little thing to you. To me, they will be a great adornment. You are not to leave the garden, however, and for one hour's walk only, Senorita; certainly there is time for no more."

"I will take care of Isabel; no harm shall come to her. You may keep your eyes shut for one hour, Rachela, and you may shut your ears also, and put your feet on the couch and let them rest. I will watch Isabel carefully, be sure of that."

"The child is very clever, and she has a lover already, I fear. Keep your eyes on the myrtle hedge that skirts the road. I have to say this--it is not for nothing she wants to walk with you this afternoon. She would be better fast asleep."

In a few moments the kerchief and the bow were safely folded in the capacious pocket of Rachela's apron, and Isabel and Antonia were softly treading the shady walk between the myrtle hedges. Rachela's eyes were apparently fast closed when the girls pased{sic} her, but she did not fail to notice how charmingly Isabel had dressed herself. She wore, it is true, her Spanish costume; but she had red roses at her breast, and her white lace mantilla over her head.

"Ah! she is a clever little thing!" Rachela muttered. "She knows that she is irresistible in her Castilian dress. Bah! those French frocks are enough to drive a man a mile away. I can almost forgive her now. Had she worn the French frock I would not have forgiven her. I would never have yielded again, no, not even if the Senorita Antonia should offer me her scarlet Indian shawl worked in gold. I was always a fool--Holy Mother forgive me! Well, then; I used to have my own lovers--plenty of them--handsome young arrieros and rancheros: there was Tadeo, a valento of the first class: and Buffa--and--well, I will sleep; they do not remember me, I dare say; and I have forgotten their names."

In the mean time the sisters sat down beneath a great fig- tree. No sunshine, no shower, could penetrate its thick foliage. The wide space beneath the spreading branches was a little parlor, cool and sweet, and full of soft, green lights, and the earthy smell of turf, and the wandering scents of the garden.

Isabel's eyes shone with an incomparable light. She was pale, but exquisitely beautiful, and even her hands and feet expressed the idea of expectation. Antonia had a piece of needlework in her hand. She affected the calmness she did not feel, for her heart was trembling for the tender little heart beating with so much love and anxiety beside her.

But Isabel's divination, however arrived at, was not at fault. In a few moments Don Luis lightly leaped the hedge, and without a moment's hesitation sought the shadow of the fig- tree. As he approached, Antonia looked at him with a new interest. It was not only that he loved Isabel, but that Isabel loved him. She had given him sympathy before, now she gave him a sister's affection.

"How handsome he is!" she thought. "How gallant he looks in his velvet and silver and embroidered jacket! And how eager are his steps! And how joyful his face! He is the kind of Romeo that Shakespeare dreamed about! Isabel is really an angel to him. He would really die for her. What has this Spanish knight of the sixteenth century to do in Texas in the nineteenth century?"

He answered her mental question in his own charming way. He was so happy, so radiantly happy, so persuasive, so compelling, that Antonia granted him, without a word, the favor his eyes asked for. And the lovers hardly heard the excuse she made; they understood nothing of it, only that she would be reading in the myrtle walk for one hour, and, by so doing, would protect them from intrusion.

One whole hour! Isabel had thought the promise a perfect magnificence of opportunity{.??} But how swiftly it went. Luis had not told her the half of his love and his hopes. He had been forced to speak of politics and business, and every such word was just so many stolen from far sweeter words-- words that fell like music from his lips, and were repeated with infinite power from his eyes. Low words, that had the pleading of a thousand voices in them; words full of melody, thrilling with romance; poetical, and yet real as the sunshine around them.

In lovers of a colder race, bound by conventional ties, and a dress rigorously divested of every picturesque element, such wooing might have appeared ridiculous; but in Don Luis, the most natural thing about it was its extravagance. When he knelt at the feet of his beloved and kissed her hands, the action was the unavoidable outcome of his temperament. When he said to her, "Angel mio! you are the light of my darkness, the perfume of all flowers that bloom for me, the love of my loves, my life, my youth, my lyre, my star, had I a thousand souls with which to love, I would give them all to you!" he believed every word he uttered, and he uttered every word with the passion of a believer.

He stirred into life also in the heart of Isabel a love as living as his own. In that hour she stepped outside all of her childhood's immaturities. She became a woman. She accepted with joyful tears a woman's lot of love and sorrow. She said to Antonia:

"Luis was in my heart before; now, I have put him in my soul. My soul will never die. So I shall never forget him--never cease to love him."

Rachela faithfully kept her agreement. For one hour she was asleep to all her charge did, and Isabel was in her own room when the precious sixty minutes were over. Happy? So happy that her soul seemed to have pushed her body aside, as a thing not to be taken into account. She sang like a bird for very gladsomeness. It was impossible for her to be still, and as she went about her room with little dancing, balancing movements of her hands and feet, Antonia knew that they were keeping their happy rhythmic motion to the melody love sang in her heart.

And she rejoiced with her little sister, though she was not free from a certain regret for her concession, for it is the after-reckoning with conscience that is so disagreeably strict and uncomfortable. And yet, why make an element of anger and suspicion between Isabel and her mother when there appeared to be no cause to do so? Don Luis was going away. He was in disgrace with his family--almost disinherited; the country was on the point of war, and its fortunes might give him some opportunities no one now foresaw. But if Isabel's mother had once declared that she would "never sanction the marriage," Antonia knew that, however she might afterwards regret her haste and prejudice, she would stand passionately by her decision. Was it not better, then, to prevent words being said which might cause sorrow and regret in the future?

But as regarded Isabel's father, no such reason existed. The happiness of his children was to him a more sacred thing than his own prejudices. He liked Don Luis, and his friendship with his mother, the Senora Alveda, was a long and tried one. The youth's political partialities, though bringing him at present into disgrace, were such as he himself had largely helped to form. Antonia was sure that her father would sympathize with Isabel, and excuse in her the lapse of duty which had given his little girl so much happiness. Yes, it would be right to tell him every thing, and she did not fear but Isabel would agree in her decision.

At this moment Rachela entered. The Senora wished her daughters to call upon the American manteau-maker for her, and the ride in the open carriage to the Plaza would enable them to bow to their acquaintances, and exhibit their last new dresses from New Orleans. Rachela was already prepared for the excursion, and she was not long in attiring Isabel.

"To be sure, the siesta has made you look charming this afternoon," she said, looking steadily into the girl's beaming, blushing face, "and this rose silk is enchanting. Santa Maria, how I pity the officers who will have the great fortune to see you this afternoon, and break their hearts for the sight! But you must not look at them, mark! I shall tell the Senora if you do. It is enough if they look at you. And the American way of the Senorita Antonia, which is to bow and smile to every admirer, it will but make more enchanting the becoming modesty of the high-born Mexicaine."

"Keep your tongue still, Rachela. Ah! if you strike me, I will go to my father. He will not permit it. I am not a child to be struck and scolded, and told when to open and shut my eyes. I shall do as my sister does, and the Holy Mother herself will be satisfied with me!"

"Chito! Chito!! You wicked one! Oh, Maria Santissima, cast on this child a look of compassion! The American last night has bewitched her! I said that he looked like a Jew."

"I am not wicked, Rachela; and gracias a Dios, there is no Inquisition now to put the question!"

Isabel was in a great passion, or the awful word that had made lips parch and blanch to utter it for generations would never have been launched at the offending woman's head. But its effect was magical. Rachela put up her hands palm outwards, as if to shield herself from a blow, and then without another word stooped down and tied the satin sandals on Isabel's restless feet. She was muttering prayers during the whole action, for Isabel had been quick to perceive her advantage, and was following it up by a defiant little monologue of rebellious speeches.

In the midst of this scene, Antonia entered. She was dressed for the carriage, and the carriage stood at the door waiting; but her face was full of fear, and she said, hurriedly:

"Rachela, can you not make some excuse to my mother which will permit us to remain at home? Hark! There is something wrong in the city."

In a moment the three women were on the balcony, intently, anxiously listening. Then they were aware of a strange confusion in the subtle, amber atmosphere. It was as if they heard the noise of battle afar off; and Rachela, without a word, glided away to the Senora. Isabel and Antonia stood hand in hand, listening to the vague trouble and the echo of harsh, grating voices, mingled with the blare of clarions, the roll of drums, and the rattle of scattering rifle-shots. Yet the noises were so blended together, so indistinct, so strangely expressive of both laughter and defiance, that it was impossible to identify or describe them.

Suddenly a horseman came at a rapid pace towards the house, and Antonia, leaning over the balcony, saw him deliver a note to Rachela, and then hurry away at the same reckless speed. The note was from the doctor to his wife, and it did not tend to allay their anxiety. "Keep within the house," it said; "there are difficulties in the city. In an hour or two I will be at home."

But it was near midnight when he arrived, and Antonia saw that he was a different man. He looked younger. His blue eyes shone with the light behind them. On his face there was the impress of an invincible determination. His very walk had lost its listless, gliding tread, and his steps were firm, alert and rapid.

No one had been able to go to bed until he arrived, though Isabel slept restlessly in her father's chair, and the Senora lay upon the couch, drowsing a little between her frequent attacks of weeping and angry anticipation. For she was sure it was the Americans. "Anything was possible with such a man as Sam Houston near the city."

"Perhaps it is Santa Anna," at length suggested Antonia. "He has been making trouble ever since I can remember. He was born with a sword in his hand, I think."

"Ca! And every American with a rifle in his hand! Santa Anna is a monster, but at least he fights for his own country. Texas is not the country of the Americans."

"But, indeed, they believe that Texas is their country"; and to these words Doctor Worth entered.

"What is the matter? What is the matter, Roberto? I have been made sick with these uncertainties. Why did you not come home at the Angelus?"

"I have had a good reason for my delay, Maria. About three o'clock I received a message from the Senora Alveda, and I visited her. She is in great trouble, and she had not been able to bear it with her usual fortitude. She bad fainted."

"Ah, the poor mother! She has a son who will break her heart."

"She made no complaint of Luis. She is distracted about her country, and as I came home I understood why. For she is a very shrewd woman, and she perceives that Santa Anna is preparing trouble enough for it."

"Well, then, what is it?"

"When I left her house, I noticed many Americans, as well as many Mexicans, on the streets. They were standing together, too; and there was something in their faces, and in the way their arms were carried, which was very striking and portentous. I fancied they looked coldly on me, and I was troubled by the circumstance. In the Plaza I saw the military band approaching, accompanied by half a dozen officers and a few soldiers. The noise stopped suddenly, and Captain Morello proclaimed as a bando (edict) of the highest authority, an order for all Americans to surrender their arms of every description to the officials and at the places notified."

"Very good!"

"Maria, nothing could be worse! Nothing could be more shameful and disastrous. The Americans had evidently been expecting this useless bombast, and ere the words were well uttered, they answered them with a yell of defiance. I do not think more than one proclamation was necessary, but Morello went from point to point in the city and the Americans followed him. I can tell you this, Maria: all the millions in Mexico can not take their rifles from the ten thousand Americans in Texas, able to carry them."

"We shall see! We shall see! But, Roberto, you at least will not interfere in their quarrels. You have never done so hitherto."

"No one has ever proposed to disarm me before, Maria. I tell you frankly, I will not give up a single rifle, or revolver, or weapon of any kind, that I possess. I would rather be slain with them. I have never carried arms before, but I shall carry them now. I apologize to my countrymen for not having them with me this afternoon. My dearest wife! My good Maria! do not cry in that despairing way.

You will be killed, Roberto! You will be a rebel! You will be shot like a dog, and then what will become of me and my daughters?"

"You have two sons, Maria. They will avenge their father, and protect their mother and sisters."

"I shall die of shame! I shall die of shame and sorrow!"

"Not of shame, Maria. If I permitted these men to deprive me of my arms, you might well die of shame."

"What is it? Only a gun, or a pistol, that you never use?"

"Great God, Maria! It is everything! It is honor! It is liberty! It is respect to myself! It is loyalty to my country! It is fidelity to my countrymen! It is true that for many years the garrison has fully protected us, and I have not needed to use the arms in my house. But thousands of husbands and fathers need them hourly, to procure food for their children and wives, and to protect them from the savages. One tie binds us. Their cause is my cause. Their country is my country, and their God is my God. Children, am I right or wrong?"

They both stepped swiftly to his side. Isabel laid her cheek against his, and answered him with a kiss. Antonia clasped his hand, stood close to him, and said: "We are all sure that you are right, dear father. My mother is weary and sick with anxiety, but she thinks so too. Mother always thinks as you do, father. Dear mother, here is Rachela with a cup of chocolate, and you will sleep and grow strong before morning."

But the Senora, though she suffered her daughter's caresses, did not answer them, neither did she speak to her husband, though he opened the door for her and stood waiting with a face full of anxious love for a word or a smile from her. And the miserable wife, still more miserable than her husband, noticed that Isabel did not follow her. Never before had Isabel seemed to prefer any society to her mother's, and the unhappy Senora felt the defection, even amid her graver trouble.

But Isabel had seen something new in her father that night; something that touched her awakening soul with admiration. She lingered with him and Antonia, listening with vague comprehension to their conversation, until Rachela called her angrily; and as she was not brave enough for a second rebellion that night, she obediently answered her summons.

An hour afterwards, Antonia stepped cautiously within her room. She was sleeping, and smiling in her sleep. Where was her loving, innocent soul wandering? Between the myrtle hedges and under the fig-tree with her lover? Oh, who can tell where the soul goes when sleep gives it some release? Perhaps it is at night our angels need to watch us most carefully. For the soul, in dreams, can visit evil and sorrowful places, as well as happy and holy ones. But Isabel slept and smiled, and Antonia whispered a prayer at her side ere she went to her own rest.

And the waning moon cast a pathetic beauty over the Eden-like land, till dawn brought that mystical silence in which every new day is born. Then Robert Worth rose from the chair in which he had been sitting so long, remembering the past and forecasting the future. He walked to the window, opened it, and looked towards the mountains. They had an ethereal hue, a light without rays, a clearness almost polar in its severity. But in some way their appearance infused into his soul calmness and strength.

"Liberty has always been bought with life, and the glory of the greatest nations handseled with the blood of their founders." This was the thought in his heart, as looking far off to the horizon, he asked hopefully:

       "What then, O God, shall this good land produce
        That Thou art watering it so carefully?"