Todos Santos solves the mystery.
Notwithstanding his promise, and the
summons of the Council, Father Esteban, on parting
with the Excelsior prisoners in the San Antonio Road,
did not proceed immediately to the presence of the
Comandante. Partly anxious to inform himself
more thoroughly regarding Hurlstone’s antecedents
before entering upon legislative functions that might
concern him, partly uneasy at Brace’s allusion
to any possible ungentleness in the treatment of the
fair Americanas, and partly apprehensive that Mrs.
Brimmer might seek him at the Mission in the present
emergency, the good Father turned his steps towards
the Alcalde’s house.
Mrs. Brimmer, in a becoming morning
wrapper, half reclining in an Indian hammock in the
corridor, supported by Miss Chubb, started at his
approach. So did the young Alcalde, sympathetically
seated at her side. Padre Esteban for an instant
was himself embarrassed; Mrs. Brimmer quickly recovered
her usual bewildering naïveté.
“I knew you would come; but
if you hadn’t, I should have mustered courage
enough to go with Miss Chubb to find you at the Mission,”
she said, half coquettishly. “Not but that
Don Ramon has been all kindness and consideration,
but you know one always clings to one’s spiritual
adviser in such an emergency; and although there are
differences of opinion between us, I think I may speak
to you as freely as I would speak to my dear friend
Dr. Potts, of Trinity Chapel. Of course you don’t
know him; but you couldn’t have helped liking
him, he’s so gentle, so tactful, so refined!
But do tell me the fullest particulars of this terrible
calamity that has happened so awkwardly. Tell
me all! I fear that Don Ramon, out of kindness,
has not told me everything. I have been perfectly
frank, I told him everything who I am, who
Mr. Brimmer is, and given him even the connections
of my friend Miss Chubb. I can do no more; but
you will surely have no difficulty in finding some
one in Todos Santos who has heard of the Quincys and
Brimmers. I’ve no doubt that there are
books in your library that mention them. Of course
I can say nothing of the other passengers, except
that Mr. Brimmer would not have probably permitted
me to associate with any notorious persons. I
confess now I think I told you once before,
Clarissa that I greatly doubted Captain
“Ah,” murmured Don Ramon.
“ To make a social
selection,” continued Mrs. Brimmer. “He
may have been a good sailor, and boxed his compass,
but he lacked a knowledge of the world. Of the
other passengers I can truly say I know nothing; I
cannot think that Mr. Crosby’s sense of humor
led him into bad associations, or that he ever went
beyond verbal impropriety. Certainly nothing
in Miss Keene’s character has led me to believe
she could so far forget what was due to herself and
to us as to address a lawless mob in the streets as
she did just now; although her friend Mrs. Markham,
as I just told Don Ramon, is an advocate of Women’s
Rights and Female Suffrage, and I believe she contemplates
addressing the public from the lecturer’s platform.”
“It isn’t possible!”
interrupted Don Ramon excitedly, in mingled horror
of the masculinely rampant Mrs. Markham and admiration
of the fascinatingly feminine Mrs. Brimmer; “a
lady cannot be an orator a haranguer of
“Not in society,” responded
Mrs. Brimmer, with a sigh, “and I do not remember
to have met the lady before. The fact is, she
does not move in our circle in the upper
The Alcalde exchanged a glance with the Padre.
“Ah! you have classes? and she is of a distinct
“Decidedly,” said Mrs. Brimmer promptly.
“Pardon me,” said Padre
Esteban, with gentle persuasiveness, “but you
are speaking of your fellow-passengers. Know you
not, then, of one Hurlstone, who is believed to be
still in the ship Excelsior, and perhaps of the party
who seized it?”
“Mr. Hurlstone? it
is possible; but I know really nothing of him,”
said Mrs. Brimmer carelessly. “I don’t
think Clarissa did, either did you, dear?
Even in our enforced companionship we had to use some
reserve, and we may have drawn the line at him!
He was a friend of Miss Keene’s; indeed, she
was the only one who seemed to know him.”
“And she is now here?” asked the Padre
“No. She is with her friend
the Senora Markham, at the Presidio. The Comandante
has given her the disposition of his house,”
said Don Ramon, with a glance of grave archness at
Mrs. Brimmer; “it is not known which is the
most favored, the eloquent orator or the beautiful
and daring leader!”
“Mrs. Markham is a married woman,”
said Mrs. Brimmer severely, “and, of course,
she can do as she pleases; but it is far different
with Miss Keene. I should scarcely consider it
proper to expose Miss Chubb to the hospitality of
a single man, without other women, and I cannot understand
how she could leave the companionship and protection
of your lovely sisters.”
The priest here rose, and, with formal
politeness, excused himself, urging the peremptory
summons of the Council.
“I scarcely expected, indeed,
to have had the pleasure of seeing my colleague here,”
he added with quiet suavity, turning to the Alcalde.
“I have already expressed my
views to the Comandante,” said the official,
with some embarrassment, “and my attendance will
hardly be required.”
The occasional misleading phosphorescence
of Mrs. Brimmer’s quiet eyes, early alluded
to in these pages, did not escape Father Esteban’s
quick perception at that moment; however, he preferred
to leave his companion to follow its aberrations rather
than to permit that fair ignis fatuus to light
him on his way by it.
“But my visit to you, Father
Esteban,” she began sweetly, “is only
“Until I have the pleasure of
anticipating it here,” said the priest, with
paternal politeness bending before the two ladies;
“but for the present, au revoir!”
“It would be an easy victory
to win this discreetly emotional Americana to the
Church,” said Father Esteban to himself, as he
crossed the plaza; “but, if I mistake not, she
would not cease to be a disturbing element even there.
However, she is not such as would give this Hurlstone
any trouble. It seems I must look elsewhere for
the brains of this party, and to find a solution of
this young man’s mystery; and, if I judge correctly,
it is with this beautiful young agitator of revolutions
and her oratorical duenna I must deal.”
He entered the low gateway of the
Presidio unchallenged, and even traversed the courtyard
without meeting a soul. The guard and sentries
had evidently withdrawn to their habitual peaceful
vocations, and the former mediaeval repose of the
venerable building had returned. There was no
one in the guard-room; but as the priest turned back
to the corridor, his quick ear was suddenly startled
by the unhallowed and inconsistent sounds of a guitar.
A monotonous voice also the Comandante’s
evidently was raised in a thin, high recitative.
The Padre passed hastily through the
guard-room, and opened the door of the passage leading
to the garden slope. Here an extraordinary group
presented itself to his astonished eyes. In the
shadow of a palm-tree, Mrs. Markham, seated on her
Saratoga trunk as on a throne, was gazing blandly
down upon the earnest features of the Commander, who,
at her feet, guitar in hand, was evidently repeating
some musical composition. His subaltern sat near
him, divided in admiration of his chief and the guest.
Miss Keene, at a little distance, aided by the secretary,
was holding an animated conversation with a short,
stout, Sancho Panza-looking man, whom the Padre recognized
as the doctor of Todos Santos.
At the apparition of the reverend
Father, the Commander started, the subaltern stared,
and even the secretary and the doctor looked discomposed.
“I am decidedly de trop this
morning,” soliloquized the ecclesiastic; but
Miss Keene cut short his reflection by running to him
frankly, with outstretched hand.
“I am so glad that you have
come,” she said, with a youthful, unrestrained
earnestness that was as convincing as it was fascinating,
“for you will help me to persuade this gentleman
that poor Captain Bunker is suffering more from excitement
of mind than body, and that bleeding him is more than
“The man’s veins are in
a burning fever and delirium from aguardiente,”
said the little doctor excitedly, “and the fire
must first be put out by the lancet.”
“He is only crazy with remorse
for having lost his ship through his own carelessness
and the treachery of others,” said Miss Keene
“He is a maniac and will kill
himself, unless his fever is subdued,” persisted
“And you would surely kill him
by your way of subduing it,” said the young
girl boldly. “Better for him, a disgraced
man of honor, to die by his own hand, than to be bled
like a calf into a feeble and helpless dissolution.
I would, if I were in his place if I had
to do it by tearing off the bandages.”
She made a swift, half unconscious
gesture of her little hand, and stopped, her beautiful
eyes sparkling, her thin pink nostrils dilated, her
red lips parted, her round throat lifted in the air,
and one small foot advanced before her. The men
glanced hurriedly at each other, and then fixed their
eyes upon her with a rapt yet frightened admiration.
To their simple minds it was Anarchy and Revolution
personified, beautiful, and victorious.
“Ah!” said the secretary
to Padre Esteban, in Spanish, “it is true! she
knows not fear! She was in the room alone with
the madman; he would let none approach but her!
She took a knife from him else the medico
“He recognized her, you see!
Ah! they know her power,” said the Comandante,
joining the group.
“You will help me, Father Esteban?”
said the young girl, letting the fire of her dark
eyes soften to a look of almost childish appeal “you
will help me to intercede for him? It is the restraint
only that is killing him that is goading
him to madness! Think of him, Father think
of him: ruined and disgraced, dying to retrieve
himself by any reckless action, any desperate chance
of recovery, and yet locked up where he can do nothing attempt
nothing not even lift a hand to pursue the
man who has helped to bring him to this!”
“But he can do nothing!
The ship is gone!” remonstrated the Comandante.
“Yes, the ship is gone; but
the ocean is still there,” said Miss Keene.
“But he has no boat.”
“He will find or make one.”
“And the fog conceals the channel.”
“He can go where they have
gone, or meet their fate. You do not know my
countrymen, Senor Comandante,” she said proudly.
“Ah, yes pardon!
They are at San Antonio the baker, the buffoon,
the two young men who dig. They are already baking
and digging and joking. We have it from my officer,
who has just returned.”
Miss Keene bit her pretty lips.
“They think it is a mistake;
they cannot believe that any intentional indignity
is offered them,” she said quietly. “Perhaps
it is well they do not.”
“They desired me to express
their condolences to the Senora,” said the Padre,
with exasperating gentleness, “and were relieved
to be assured by me of your perfect security in the
hands of these gentlemen.”
Miss Keene raised her clear eyes to
the ecclesiastic. That accomplished diplomat
of Todos Santos absolutely felt confused under the
cool scrutiny of this girl’s unbiased and unsophisticated
“Then you have seen them,”
she said, “and you know their innocence, and
the utter absurdity of this surveillance?”
“I have not seen them all,”
said the priest softly. “There is still
another a Senor Hurlstone who
is missing? Is he not?”
It was not in the possibility of Eleanor
Keene’s truthful blood to do other than respond
with a slight color to this question. She had
already concealed from every one the fact of having
seen the missing man in the Mission garden the evening
before. It did not, however, prevent her the
next moment from calmly meeting the glance of the priest
as she answered gravely,
“I believe so. But I cannot
see what that has to do with the detention of the
“Much, perhaps. It has
been said that you alone, my child, were in the confidence
of this man.”
“Who dared say that?”
exclaimed Miss Keene in English, forgetting herself
in her indignation.
“If it’s anything mean it’s
Mrs. Brimmer, I’ll bet a cooky,” said
Mrs. Markham, whose linguistic deficiencies had debarred
her from the previous conversation.
“You have only,” continued
the priest, without noticing the interruption, “to
tell us what you know of this Hurlstone’s plans, of
his complicity with Senor Perkins, or,” he added
significantly, “his opposition to them to
insure that perfect justice shall be done to all.”
Relieved that the question involved
no disclosure of her only secret regarding Hurlstone,
Miss Keene was about to repeat the truth that she
had no confidential knowledge of him, or of his absurd
alleged connection with Senor Perkins, when, with
an instinct of tact, she hesitated. Might she
not serve them all even Hurlstone himself by
saying nothing, and leaving the burden of proof to
their idiotic accusers? Was she altogether sure
that Hurlstone was entirely ignorant of Senor Perkins’
plans, or might he not have refused, at the last moment,
to join in the conspiracy, and so left the ship?
“I will not press you for your
answer now,” said the priest gently. “But
you will not, I know, keep back anything that may throw
a light on this sad affair, and perhaps help to reinstate
your friend Mr. Hurlstone in his real position.”
“If you ask me if I believe
that Mr. Hurlstone had anything to do with this conspiracy,
I should say, unhesitatingly, that I do not.
And more, I believe that he would have jumped overboard
rather than assent to so infamous an act,” said
the young girl boldly.
“Then you think he had no other
motive for leaving the ship?” said the priest
She stopped; a curious anxious look in the Padre’s
persistent eyes both annoyed and frightened her.
“What other motive could he have?” she
Father Esteban’s face lightened.
“I only ask because I think
you would have known it. Thank you for the assurance
all the same, and in return I promise you I will use
my best endeavors with the Comandante for your friend
the Captain Bunker. Adieu, my daughter.
Adieu, Madame Markham,” he said, as, taking the
arm of Don Miguel, he turned with him and the doctor
towards the guard-room. The secretary lingered
behind for a moment.
“Fear nothing,” he said,
in whispered English to Miss Keene. “I,
Ruy Sanchez, shall make you free of Capitano Bunker’s
cell,” and passed on.
“Well,” said Mrs. Markham,
when the two women were alone again. “I
don’t pretend to fathom the befogged brains
of Todos Santos; but as far as I can understand their
grown-up child’s play, they are making believe
this unfortunate Mr. Hurlstone, who may be dead for
all we know, is in revolt against the United States
Government, which is supposed to be represented by
Senor Perkins and the Excelsior think of
“But Perkins signed himself
of the Quinquinambo navy!” said Miss Keene wonderingly.
“That is firmly believed by
those idiots to be one of our States. Remember
they know nothing of what has happened anywhere in
the last fifty years. I dare say they never heard
of filibusters like Perkins, and they couldn’t
comprehend him if they had. I’ve given up
trying to enlighten them, and I think they’re
grateful for it. It makes their poor dear heads
“And it is turning mine!
But, for Heaven’s sake, tell me what part I am
supposed to act in this farce!” said Miss Keene.
“You are the friend and colleague
of Hurlstone, don’t you see?” said Mrs.
Markham. “You are two beautiful young patriots don’t
blush, my dear! endeared to each other
and a common cause, and ready to die for your country
in opposition to Perkins, and the faint-heartedness
of such neutrals as Mrs. Brimmer, Miss Chubb, the
poor Captain, and all the men whom they have packed
off to San Antonio.”
“Impossible!” said Miss
Keene, yet with an uneasy feeling that it not only
was possible, but that she herself had contributed
something to the delusion. “But how do
they account for my friendship with you you,
who are supposed to be a correspondent an
accomplice of Perkins?”
“No, no,” returned Mrs.
Markham, with a half serious smile, “I am not
allowed that honor. I am presumed to be only the
disconsolate Dulcinea of Perkins, abandoned by him,
pitied by you, and converted to the true faith at
least, that is what I make out from the broken English
of that little secretary of the Commander.”
Miss Keene winced.
“That’s all my fault,
dear,” she said, suddenly entwining her arms
round Mrs. Markham, and hiding her half embarrassed
smile on the shoulder of her strong-minded friend;
“they suggested it to me, and I half assented,
to save you. Please forgive me.”
“Don’t think I am blaming
you, my dear Eleanor,” said Mrs. Markham.
“For Heaven’s sake assent to the wildest
and most extravagant hypothesis they can offer, if
it will leave us free to arrange our own plans for
getting away. I begin to think we were not a
very harmonious party on the Excelsior, and most of
our troubles here are owing to that. We forget
we have fallen among a lot of original saints, as guileless
and as unsophisticated as our first parents, who know
nothing of our customs and antecedents. They
have accepted us on what they believe to be our own
showing. From first to last we’ve underrated
them, forgetting they are in the majority. We
can’t expect to correct the ignorance of fifty
years in twenty-four hours, and I, for one, sha’n’t
attempt it. I’d much rather trust to the
character those people would conceive of me from their
own consciousness than to one Mrs. Brimmer or Mr. Winslow
would give of me. From this moment I’ve
taken a firm resolve to leave my reputation and the
reputation of my friends entirely in their hands.
If you are wise you will do the same. They are
inclined to worship you don’t hinder
them. My belief is, if we only take things quietly,
we might find worse places to be stranded on than Todos
Santos. If Mrs. Brimmer and those men of ours,
who, I dare say, have acted as silly as the Mexicans
themselves, will only be quiet, we can have our own
way here yet.”
“And poor Captain Bunker?” said Miss Keene.
“It seems hard to say it, but,
in my opinion, he is better under lock and key, for
everybody’s good, at present. He’d
be a firebrand in the town if he got away. Meantime,
let us go to our room. It is about the time when
everybody is taking a siesta, and for two hours, thank
Heaven! we’re certain nothing more can happen.”
“I’ll join you in a moment,” said
Her quick ear had caught the sound
of voices approaching. As Mrs. Markham disappeared
in the passage, the Commander and his party reappeared
from the guard-room, taking leave of Padre Esteban.
The secretary, as he passed Miss Keene, managed to
add to his formal salutation the whispered words, “When
the Angelus rings I will await you before the grating
of his prison.”
Padre Esteban was too preoccupied
to observe this incident. As soon as he quitted
the Presidio, he hastened to the Mission with a disquieting
fear that his strange guest might have vanished.
But, crossing the silent refectory, and opening the
door of the little apartment, he was relieved to find
him stretched on the pallet in a profound slumber.
The peacefulness of the venerable walls had laid a
gentle finger on his weary eyelids.
The Padre glanced round the little
cell, and back again at the handsome suffering face
that seemed to have found surcease and rest in the
narrow walls, with a stirring of regret. But
the next moment he awakened the sleeper, and in the
briefest, almost frigid, sentences, related the events
of the morning.
The young man rose to his feet with a bitter laugh.
“You see,” he said, “God
is against me! And yet a few hours ago I dared
to think that He had guided me to a haven of rest and
“Have you told the truth to
him and to me?” said the priest sternly, “or
have you a mere political refugee taken
advantage of an old man’s weakness to forge
a foolish lie of sentimental passion?”
“What do you mean?” said
Hurlstone, turning upon him almost fiercely.
The priest rose, and drawing a folded
paper from his bosom, opened it before the eyes of
his indignant guest.
“Remember what you told me last
night in the sacred confidences of yonder holy church,
and hear what you really are from the lips of the
Council of Todos Santos.”
Smoothing out the paper, he read slowly as follows:
“Whereas, it being presented
to an Emergency Council, held at the Presidio of Todos
Santos, that the foreign barque Excelsior had mutinied,
discharged her captain and passengers, and escaped
from the waters of the bay, it was, on examination,
found and decreed that the said barque was a vessel
primarily owned by a foreign Power, then and there
confessed and admitted to be at war with Mexico and
equipped to invade one of her northern provinces.
But that the God of Liberty and Justice awakening
in the breasts of certain patriots to wit,
the heroic Senor Diego Hurlstone and the invincible
Dona Leonor the courage and discretion
to resist the tyranny and injustice of their oppressors,
caused them to mutiny and abandon the vessel rather
than become accomplices, in the company of certain
neutral and non-combatant traders and artisans, severally
known as Brace, Banks, Winslow, and Crosby; and certain
aristocrats, known as Señoras Brimmer and Chubb.
In consideration thereof, it is decreed by the Council
of Todos Santos that asylum, refuge, hospitality,
protection, amity, and alliance be offered and extended
to the patriots, Senor Diego Hurlstone, Dona Leonor,
and a certain Duenna Susana Markham, particularly
attached to Dona Leonor’s person; and that war,
reprisal, banishment, and death be declared against
Senor Perkins, his unknown aiders and abettors.
And that for the purposes of probation, and in the
interests of clemency, provisional parole shall be
extended to the alleged neutrals Brace,
Banks, Crosby, and Winslow within the limits
and boundaries of the lazaretto of San Antonio, until
their neutrality shall be established, and pending
the further pleasure of the Council. And it is
further decreed and declared that one Capitano Bunker,
formerly of the Excelsior, but now a maniac and lunatic being
irresponsible and visited of God, shall be exempted
from the ordinances of this decree until his reason
shall be restored; and during that interval subjected
to the ordinary remedial and beneficent restraint
of civilization and humanity. By order of the
“The signatures and rubrics of
“Don Miguel Briones,
of the Order of San Francisco d’Assisis.
“Don Ramon Ramirez,
Alcalde of the Pueblo of Todos Santos.”