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From: The Crusade Of The Excelsior

The revolution of Todos Santos had to all appearances been effected as
peacefully as the gentle Liberator of Quinquinambo could have wished.
Two pronunciamientos, rudely printed and posted in the Plaza, and
saluted by the fickle garrison of one hundred men, who had, however,
immediately reappointed their old commander as Generalissimo under the
new regime, seemed to leave nothing to be desired. A surging mob of
vacant and wondering peons, bearing a singular resemblance to the wild
cattle and horses which intermingled with them in blind and unceasing
movement across the Plaza and up the hilly street, and seemingly as
incapable of self-government, were alternately dispersed and stampeded
or allowed to gather again as occasion required. Some of these
heterogeneous bands were afterwards found--the revolution
accomplished--gazing stupidly on the sea, or ruminating in bovine
wantonness on the glacis before the Presidio.

Eleanor Keene, who with her countrywomen had been hurried to the refuge
of the Mission, was more disturbed and excited at the prospect of
meeting Hurlstone again than by any terror of the insurrection. But
Hurlstone was not there, and Father Esteban received her with a coldness
she could not attribute entirely to her countrymen's supposed sympathy
with the insurgents. When Richard Keene, who would not leave his sister
until he had seen her safe under the Mission walls, ventured at her
suggestion to ask after the American recluse, Father Esteban replied
dryly that, being a Christian gentleman, Hurlstone was the only one who
had the boldness to seek out the American filibuster Perkins, on his
own ship, and remonstrate with him for his unholy crusade. For the old
priest had already become aware of Hurlstone's blunder, and he hated
Eleanor as the primary cause of the trouble. But for her, Diego would be
still with him in this emergency.

"Never mind, Nell," said Dick, noticing the disappointed eyes of his
sister as they parted, "you'll all be safe here until we return. Between
you and me, Banks, Brimmer, and I think that Brace and Winslow have gone
too far in this matter, and we're going to stop it, unless the whole
thing is over now, as they say."

"Don't believe that," said Crosby. "It's like their infernal
earthquakes; there's always a second shock, and a tidal wave to follow.
I pity Brace, Winslow, and Perkins if they get caught in it."

There seemed to be some reason for his skepticism, for later the calm of
the Mission Garden was broken upon by the monotonous tread of banded men
on the shell-strewn walks, and the door of the refectory opened to
the figure of Senor Perkins. A green silk sash across his breast, a
gold-laced belt, supporting a light dress-sword and a pair of pistols,
buckled around the jaunty waist of his ordinary black frock-coat, were
his scant martial suggestions. But his hat, albeit exchanged for a soft
felt one, still reposed on the back of his benevolent head, and seemed
to accent more than ever the contrast between his peaceful shoulders
and the military smartness of his lower figure. He bowed with easy
politeness to the assembled fugitives; but before he could address them,
Father Esteban had risen to his feet,--

"I thought that this house, at least, was free from the desecrating
footsteps of lawlessness and impiety," said the priest sternly. "How
dare YOU enter here?"

"Nothing but the desire to lend my assistance to the claims of beauty,
innocence, helplessness, and--if you will allow me to add," with a low
bow to the priest--"sanctity, caused this intrusion. For I regret to say
that, through the ill-advised counsels of some of my fellow-patriots,
the Indian tribes attached to this Mission are in revolt, and threaten
even this sacred building."

"It is false!" said Father Esteban indignantly. "Even under the accursed
manipulation of your emissaries, the miserable heathen would not dare to
raise a parricidal hand against the Church that fostered him!"

Senor Perkins smiled gently, but sadly.

"Your belief, reverend sir, does you infinite credit. But, to save
time, let me give way to a gentleman who, I believe, possesses your
confidence. He will confirm my statement."

He drew aside, and allowed Hurlstone, who had been standing unperceived
behind, to step forward. The Padre uttered an exclamation of pleasure.
Miss Keene colored quickly. Hurlstone cast a long and lingering glance
at her, which seemed to the embarrassed girl full of a new, strange
meaning, and then advanced quickly with outstretched hands towards
Father Esteban.

"He speaks truly," he said, hurriedly, "and in the interests of humanity
alone. The Indians have been tampered with treacherously, against his
knowledge and consent. He only seeks now to prevent the consequences of
this folly by placing you and these ladies out of reach of harm aboard
of the Excelsior."

"A very proper and excellent idea," broke in Mrs. Brimmer, with genteel
precision. "You see these people evidently recognize the fact of Mr.
Brimmer's previous ownership of the Excelsior, and the respect that is
due to him. I, for one, shall accept the offer, and insist upon Miss
Chubb accompanying me."

"I shall be charmed to extend the hospitality of the Excelsior to you on
any pretext," said the Senor gallantly, "and, indeed, should insist upon
personally accompanying you and my dear friends Mrs. Markham and Miss
Keene; but, alas! I am required elsewhere. I leave," he continued,
turning towards Hurlstone, who was already absorbed in a whispered
consultation with Padre Esteban--"I leave a sufficient escort with you
to protect your party to the boats which have brought us here. You will
take them to the Excelsior, and join me with the ship off Todos Santos
in the morning. Adieu, my friends! Good-night, and farewell!"

The priest made a vehement movement of protestation, but he was checked
by Hurlstone, as, with a low bow, Senor Perkins passed out into the
darkness. The next moment his voice was heard raised in command, and
the measured tramp of his men gradually receded and was lost in the

"Does he think," said the priest indignantly, "that I, Padre Esteban,
would desert my sacred trust, and leave His Holy Temple a prey to
sacrilegious trespass? Never, while I live, Diego! Call him back and
tell him so!"

"Rather listen to me, Father Esteban," said the young man earnestly.
"I have a plan by which this may be avoided. From my knowledge of these
Indians, I am convinced that they have been basely tricked and cajoled
by some one. I believe that they are still amenable to reason and
argument, and I am so certain that I am ready to go down among them and
make the attempt. The old Chief and part of his band are still encamped
on the shore; we could hear them as we passed in the boats. I will go
and meet them. If I succeed in bringing them to reason I will return; if
I find them intractable, I will at least divert their attention from the
Mission long enough for you to embark these ladies with their escort,
which you will do at the end of two hours if I do not return."

"In two hours?" broke in Mrs. Brimmer, in sharp protest. "I positively
object. I certainly understood that Senor Perkins' invitation, which,
under the circumstances, I shall consider equal to a command from Mr.
Brimmer, was to be accepted at once and without delay; and I certainly
shall not leave Miss Chubb exposed to imminent danger for two hours to
meet the caprice of an entire stranger to Mr. Brimmer."

"I am willing to stay with Father Esteban, if he will let me," said
Eleanor Keene quietly, "for I have faith in Mr. Hurlstone's influence
and courage, and believe he will be successful."

The young man thanked her with another demonstrative look that brought
the warm blood to her cheek.

"Well," said Mrs. Markham promptly; "I suppose if Nell stays I must
see the thing through and stay with her--even if I haven't orders from

"There is no necessity that either Mr. or Mrs. Brimmer should be
disobeyed in their wishes," said Hurlstone grimly. "Luckily there are
two boats; Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb can take one of them with half
the escort, and proceed at once to the Excelsior. I will ride with them
as far as the boat. And now," he continued, turning to the old priest,
with sparkling eyes, "I have only to ask your blessing, and the good
wishes of these ladies, to go forth on my mission of peace. If I am
successful," he added, with a light laugh, "confess that a layman and
a heretic may do some service for the Church." As the old man laid his
half detaining, half benedictory hands upon his shoulders, the young man
seized the opportunity to whisper in his ear, "Remember your promise to
tell her ALL I have told you," and, with an other glance at Miss Keene,
he marshalled Mrs. Brimmer and Miss Chubb before him, and hurried them
to the boat.

Miss Keene looked after him with a vague felicity in the change that
seemed to have come on him, a change that she could as little account
for as her own happiness. Was it the excitement of danger that had
overcome his reserve, and set free his compressed will and energy? She
longed for her brother to see him thus--alert, strong, and chivalrous.
In her girlish faith, she had no fear for his safety; he would conquer,
he would succeed; he would come back to them victorious! Looking up from
her happy abstraction, at the side of Mrs. Markham, who had calmly gone
to sleep in an arm-chair, she saw Father Esteban's eyes fixed upon her.
With a warning gesture of the hand towards Mrs. Markham, he rose, and,
going to the door of the sacristy, beckoned to her. The young girl
noiselessly crossed the room and followed him into the sanctuary.

Half an hour later, and while Mrs. Markham was still asleep, Father
Esteban appeared at the door of the sacristy ostentatiously taking
snuff, and using a large red handkerchief to wipe his more than usually
humid eyes. Eleanor Keene, with her chin resting on her hand, remained
sitting as he had left her, with her abstracted eyes fixed vacantly on
the lamp before the statue of the Virgin and the half-lit gloom of the

Padre Esteban had told her ALL! She now knew Hurlstone's history even
as he had hesitatingly imparted it to the old priest in this very
church--perhaps upon the very seat where she sat. She knew the peace
that he had sought for and found within these walls, broken only by his
passion for her! She knew his struggles against the hopelessness of this
new-born love, even the desperate remedy that had been adopted against
herself, and the later voluntary exile of her lover. She knew
the providential culmination of his trouble in the news brought
unconsciously by Perkins, which, but a few hours ago, he had verified
by the letters, records, and even the certificate of death that had thus
strangely been placed in his hands! She knew all this so clearly now,
that, with the instinct of a sympathetic nature, she even fancied she
had heard it before. She knew that all the obstacles to an exchange
of their affection had been removed; that her lover only waited his
opportunity to hear from her own lips the answer that was even now
struggling at her heart. And yet she hesitated and drew back, half
frightened in the presence of her great happiness. How she longed,
and yet dreaded, to meet him! What if anything should have happened to
him?--what if he should be the victim of some treachery?--what if he did
not come?--what if?--"Good heavens! what was that?"

She was near the door of the sacristy, gazing into the dim and shadowy
church. Either she was going mad, or else the grotesque Indian hangings
of the walls were certainly moving towards her. She rose in speechless
terror, as what she had taken for an uncouthly swathed and draped
barbaric pillar suddenly glided to the window. Crouching against the
wall, she crept breathlessly towards the entrance to the garden. Casting
a hurried glance above her, she saw the open belfry that was illuminated
by the misty radiance of the moon, darkly shadowed by hideously
gibbering faces that peered at her through the broken tracery. With a
cry of horror she threw open the garden-door; but the next moment was
swallowed up in the tumultuous tide of wild and half naked Indians who
surged against the walls of the church, and felt herself lifted from her
feet, with inarticulate cries, and borne along the garden. Even in her
mortal terror, she could recognize that the cries were not those of
rage, but of vacant satisfaction; that although she was lifted on lithe
shoulders, the grasp of her limbs was gentle, and the few dark faces she
could see around her were glistening in childlike curiosity. Presently
she felt herself placed upon the back of a mule, that seemed to be
swayed hither and thither in the shifting mass, and the next moment
the misty, tossing cortege moved forward with a new and more definite
purpose. She called aloud for Father Esteban and Mrs. Markham; her voice
appeared to flow back upon her from the luminous wall of fog that
closed around her. Then the inarticulate, irregular outcries took upon
themselves a measured rhythm, the movement of the mass formed itself
upon the monotonous chant, the intervals grew shorter, the mule broke
into a trot, and then the whole vast multitude fell into a weird,
rhythmical, jogging quick step at her side.

Whatever was the intent of this invasion of the Mission and her own
strange abduction, she was relieved by noticing that they were going in
the same direction as that taken by Hurlstone an hour before. Either he
was cognizant of their movements, and, being powerless to prevent their
attack on the church, had stipulated they were to bring her to him in
safety, or else he was calculating to intercept them on the way. The fog
prevented her from forming any estimation of the numbers that surrounded
her, or if the Padre and Mrs. Markham were possibly preceding her as
captives in the vanguard. She felt the breath of the sea, and knew they
were traveling along the shore; the monotonous chant and jogging motion
gradually dulled her active terror to an apathetic resignation, in which
occasionally her senses seemed to swoon and swim in the dreamy radiance
through which they passed; at times it seemed a dream or nightmare with
which she was hopelessly struggling; at times she was taking part in an
unhallowed pageant, or some heathen sacrificial procession of which she
was the destined victim.

She had no consciousness of how long the hideous journey lasted. Her
benumbed senses were suddenly awakened by a shock; the chant had ceased,
the moving mass in which she was imbedded rolled forward once more as
if by its own elasticity, and then receded again with a jar that almost
unseated her. Then the inarticulate murmur was overborne by a voice. It
was HIS! She turned blindly towards it; but before she could utter the
cry that rose to her lips, she was again lifted from the saddle, carried
forward, and gently placed upon what seemed to be a moss-grown bank.
Opening her half swimming eyes she recognized the Indian cross. The
crowd seemed to recede before her. Her eyes closed again as a strong arm
passed around her waist.

"Speak to me, Miss Keene--Eleanor--my darling!" said Hurlstone's voice.
"O my God! they have killed her!"

With an effort she moved her head and tried to smile. Their eyes, and
then their lips met; she fainted.

When she struggled to her senses again, she was lying in the
stern-sheets of the Excelsior's boat, supported on Mrs. Markham's
shoulder. For an instant the floating veil of fog around her, and the
rhythmical movement of the boat, seemed a part of her mysterious ride,
and she raised her head with a faint cry for Hurlstone.

"It's all right, my dear," said Mrs. Markham, soothingly; "he's ashore
with the Padre, and everything else is all right too. But it's rather
ridiculous to think that those idiotic Indians believed the only way
they could show Mr. Hurlstone that they meant us no harm was to drag
us all up to THEIR Mission, as they call that half heathen cross of
theirs--for safety against--who do you think, dear?--the dreadful
AMERICANS! And imagine all the while the Padre and I were just behind
you, bringing up the rear of the procession--only they wouldn't let us
join you because they wanted to show you special honor as"--she sank her
voice to a whisper in Eleanor's ear--"as the future Mrs. Hurlstone! It
appears they must have noticed something about you two, the last time
you were there, my dear. And--to think--YOU never told me anything about

When they reached the Excelsior, they found that Mrs. Brimmer, having
already settled herself in the best cabin, was inclined to extend the
hospitalities of the ship with the air of a hostess. But the arrival of
Hurlstone at midnight with some delegated authority from Senor Perkins,
and the unexpected getting under way of the ship, disturbed her

"We are going through the channel into the bay of Todos Santos," was the
brief reply vouchsafed her by Hurlstone.

"But why can't we remain here and wait for Mr. Brimmer?" she asked

"Because," responded Hurlstone grimly, "the Excelsior is expected off
the Presidio to-morrow morning to aid the insurgents."

"You don't mean to say that Miss Chubb and myself are to be put in the
attitude of arraying ourselves against the constituted authorities--and,
perhaps, Mr. Brimmer himself?" asked Mrs. Brimmer, in genuine alarm.

"It looks so," said Hurlstone, a little maliciously; "but, no doubt,
your husband and the Senor will arrange it amicably."

To Mrs. Markham and Miss Keene he explained more satisfactorily that
the unexpected disaffection of the Indians had obliged Perkins to so far
change his plans as to disembark his entire force from the Excelsior,
and leave her with only the complement of men necessary to navigate her
through the channel of Todos Santos, where she would peacefully await
his orders, or receive his men in case of defeat.

Nevertheless, as the night was nearly spent, Mrs. Markham and Eleanor
preferred to await the coming day on deck, and watch the progress of the
Excelsior through the mysterious channel. In a few moments the barque
began to feel the combined influence of the tide and the slight morning
breeze, and, after rounding an invisible point, she presently rose and
fell on the larger ocean swell. The pilot, whom Hurlstone recognized
as the former third mate of the Excelsior, appeared to understand the
passage perfectly; and even Hurlstone and the ladies, who had through
eight months' experience become accustomed to the luminous obscurity
of Todos Santos, could detect the faint looming of the headland at the
entrance. The same soothing silence, even the same lulling of the unseen
surf, which broke in gentle undulations over the bar, and seemed to lift
the barque in rocking buoyancy over the slight obstruction, came back to
them as on the day of their fateful advent. The low orders of the pilot,
the cry of the leadsman in the chains, were but a part of the restful

Under the combined influence of the hour and the climate, the
conversation fell into monosyllables, and Mrs. Markham dozed. The lovers
sat silently together, but the memory of a kiss was between them. It
spanned the gulf of the past with an airy bridge, over which their
secret thoughts and fancies passed and repassed with a delicious
security; henceforth they could not flee from that memory, even if they
wished; they read it in each other's lightest glance; they felt it
in the passing touch of each other's hands; it lingered, with vague
tenderness, on the most trivial interchange of thought. Yet they spoke a
little of the future. Eleanor believed that her brother would not object
to their union; he had spoken of entering into business at Todos Santos,
and perhaps when peace and security were restored they might live
together. Hurlstone did not tell her that a brief examination of his
wife's papers had shown him that the property he had set aside for
her maintenance, and from which she had regularly drawn an income, had
increased in value, and left him a rich man. He only pressed her hand,
and whispered that her wishes should be his. They had become tenderly
silent again, as the Excelsior, now fairly in the bay, appeared to be
slowly drifting, with listless sails and idle helm, in languid search of
an anchorage. Suddenly they were startled by a cry from the lookout.

"Sail ho!"

There was an incredulous start on the deck. The mate sprang into the
fore-rigging with an oath of protestation. But at the same moment the
tall masts and spars of a vessel suddenly rose like a phantom out of the
fog at their side. The half disciplined foreign crew uttered a cry
of rage and trepidation, and huddled like sheep in the waist, with
distracted gestures; even the two men at the wheel forsook their post to
run in dazed terror to the taffrail. Before the mate could restore order
to this chaos, the Excelsior had drifted, with a scarcely perceptible
concussion, against the counter of the strange vessel. In an instant a
dozen figures appeared on its bulwarks, and dropped unimpeded upon the
Excelsior's deck. As the foremost one approached the mate, the latter
shrank back in consternation.

"Captain Bunker!"

"Yes," said the figure, advancing with a mocking laugh; "Captain Bunker
it is. Captain Bunker, formerly of this American barque Excelsior, and
now of the Mexican ship La Trinidad. Captain Bunker ez larnt every
foot of that passage in an open boat last August, and didn't forget it
yesterday in a big ship! Captain Bunker ez has just landed a company
of dragoons to relieve the Presidio. What d'ye say to that, Mr.

"I say," answered M'Carthy, raising his voice with a desperate effort to
recover his calmness, "I say that Perkins landed with double that number
of men yesterday around that point, and that he'll be aboard here in
half an hour to make you answer for this insult to his ship and his

"His Government!" echoed Bunker, with a hoarser laugh; "hear him!--HIS
Government! His Government died at four o'clock this morning, when
his own ringleaders gave him up to the authorities. Ha! Why, this yer
revolution is played out, old man; and Generalissimo Leonidas Perkins is
locked up in the Presidio."

Next: Liberated

Previous: The Return Of The Excelsior

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