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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSoldiers Of Fortune - Chapter X
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Soldiers Of Fortune - Chapter X Post by :C9Mouse Category :Long Stories Author :Richard Harding Davis Date :March 2011 Read :3578

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Soldiers Of Fortune - Chapter X

Clay and Langham left MacWilliams and Stuart to look after their
prisoner, and returned to the Palms, where they dined in state,
and made no reference, while the women were present, to the
events of the day.

The moon rose late that night, and as Hope watched it, from where
she sat at the dinner-table facing the open windows, she saw the
figure of a man standing outlined in silhouette upon the edge of
the cliff. He was dressed in the uniform of a sailor, and the
moonlight played along the barrel of a rifle upon which he
leaned, motionless and menacing, like a sentry on a rampart.

Hope opened her lips to speak, and then closed them again, and
smiled with pleasurable excitement. A moment later King, who sat
on her right, called one of the servants to his side and
whispered some instructions, pointing meanwhile at the wine upon
the table. And a minute after, Hope saw the white figure of the
servant cross the garden and approach the sentinel. She saw the
sentry fling his gun sharply to his hip, and then, after a
moment's parley, toss it up to his shoulder and disappear from
sight among the plants of the garden.

The men did not leave the table with the ladies, as was their
custom, but remained in the dining-room, and drew their chairs
closer together.

Mr. Langham would not believe that the downfall of the Government
was as imminent as the others believed it to be. It was only
after much argument, and with great reluctance, that he had even
allowed King to arm half of his crew, and to place them on guard
around the Palms. Clay warned him that in the disorder that
followed every successful revolution, the homes of unpopular
members of the Cabinet were often burned, and that he feared,
should Mendoza succeed, and Alvarez fall, that the mob might
possibly vent its victorious wrath on the Palms because it was
the home of the alien, who had, as they thought, robbed the
country of the iron mines. Mr. Langham said he did not think the
people would tramp five miles into the country seeking vengeance.

There was an American man-of-war lying in the harbor of Truxillo,
a seaport of the republic that bounded Olancho on the south, and
Clay was in favor of sending to her captain by Weimer, the
Consul, and asking him to anchor off Valencia, to protect
American interests. The run would take but a few hours, and
the sight of the vessel's white hull in the harbor would, he
thought, have a salutary effect upon the revolutionists. But Mr.
Langham said, firmly, that he would not ask for help until he
needed it.

``Well, I'm sorry,'' said Clay. ``I should very much like to
have that man-of-war here. However, if you say no, we will try
to get along without her. But, for the present, I think you had
better imagine yourself back in New York, and let us have an
entirely free hand. We've gone too far to drop out,'' he went
on, laughing at the sight of Mr. Langham's gloomy countenance.
``We've got to fight them now. It's against human nature not to
do it.''

Mr. Langham looked appealingly at his son and at King.

They both smiled back at him in unanimous disapproval of his
policy of non-interference.

``Oh, very well,'' he said, at last. ``You gentlemen can go
ahead, kill, burn, and destroy if you wish. But, considering the
fact that it is my property you are all fighting about, I really
think I might have something to say in the matter.'' Mr. Langham
gazed about him helplessly, and shook his head.

``My doctor sends me down here from a quiet, happy home,'' he
protested, with humorous pathos, ``that I may rest and get
away from excitement, and here I am with armed men patrolling my
garden-paths, with a lot of filibusters plotting at my own
dinner-table, and a civil war likely to break out, entirely on my
account. And Dr. Winter told me this was the only place that
would cure my nervous prostration!''

Hope joined Clay as soon as the men left the dining-room, and
beckoned him to the farther end of the veranda. ``Well, what is
it?'' she said.

``What is what?'' laughed Clay. He seated himself on the rail of
the veranda, with his face to the avenue and the driveway leading
to the house. They could hear the others from the back of the
house, and the voice of young Langham, who was giving an
imitation of MacWilliams, and singing with peculiar emphasis,
``There is no place like Home, Sweet Home.''

``Why are the men guarding the Palms, and why did you go to the
Plaza Bolivar this morning at daybreak? Alice says you left them
there. I want to know what it means. I am nearly as old as Ted,
and he knows. The men wouldn't tell me.''

``What men?''

``King's men from the `Vesta'. I saw some of them dodging around
in the bushes, and I went to find out what they were doing, and I
walked into fifteen of them at your office. They have
hammocks swung all over the veranda, and a quick-firing gun made
fast to the steps, and muskets stacked all about, just like real
soldiers, but they wouldn't tell me why.''

``We'll put you in the carcel,'' said Clay, ``if you go spying on
our forces. Your father doesn't wish you to know anything about
it, but, since you have found it out for yourself, you might as
well know what little there is to know. It's the same story.
Mendoza is getting ready to start his revolution, or, rather, he
has started it.''

``Why don't you stop him?'' asked Hope.

``You are very flattering,'' said Clay. ``Even if I could stop
him, it's not my business to do it as yet. I have to wait until
he interferes with me, or my mines, or my workmen. Alvarez is
the man who should stop him, but he is afraid. We cannot do
anything until he makes the first move. If I were the President,
I'd have Mendoza shot to-morrow morning and declare martial law.
Then I'd arrest everybody I didn't like, and levy forced loans on
all the merchants, and sail away to Paris and live happy ever
after. That's what Mendoza would do if he caught any one
plotting against him. And that's what Alvarez should do, too,
according to his lights, if he had the courage of his
convictions, and of his education. I like to see a man play
his part properly, don't you? If you are an emperor, you ought
to conduct yourself like one, as our German friend does. Or if
you are a prize-fighter, you ought to be a human bulldog.
There's no such thing as a gentlemanly pugilist, any more than
there can be a virtuous burglar. And if you're a South American
Dictator, you can't afford to be squeamish about throwing your
enemies into jail or shooting them for treason. The way to
dictate is to dictate,--not to hide indoors all day while your
wife plots for you.''

``Does she do that?'' asked Hope. ``And do you think she will be
in danger--any personal danger, if the revolution comes?''

``Well, she is very unpopular,'' Clay answered, ``and unjustly
so, I think. But it would be better, perhaps, for her if she
went as quietly as possible, when she does go.''

``Is our Captain Stuart in danger, too?'' the girl continued,
anxiously. ``Alice says they put up placards about him all over
the city last night. She saw his men tearing them down as she
was coming home. What has he done?''

``Nothing,'' Clay answered, shortly. ``He happens to be in a
false position, that's all. They think he is here because he is
not wanted in his own country; that is not so. That is not
the reason he remains here. When he was even younger than
he is now, he was wild and foolish, and spent more money than he
could afford, and lent more money to his brother-officers, I have
no doubt, than they ever paid back. He had to leave the regiment
because his father wouldn't pay his debts, and he has been
selling his sword for the last three years to one or another king
or sultan or party all over the world, in China and Madagascar,
and later in Siam. I hope you will be very kind to Stuart and
believe well of him, and that you will listen to no evil against
him. Somewhere in England Stuart has a sister like you--about
your age, I mean, that loves him very dearly, and a father whose
heart aches for him, and there is a certain royal regiment that
still drinks his health with pride. He is a lonely little chap,
and he has no sense of humor to help him out of his difficulties,
but he is a very brave gentleman. And he is here fighting for
men who are not worthy to hold his horse's bridle, because of a
woman. And I tell you this because you will hear many lies about
him--and about her. He serves her with the same sort of
chivalric devotion that his ancestors felt for the woman whose
ribbons they tied to their lances, and for whom they fought in
the lists.''

``I understand,'' Hope said, softly. ``I am glad you told
me. I shall not forget.'' She sighed and shook her head. ``I
wish they'd let you manage it for them,'' she said.

Clay laughed. ``I fear my executive ability is not of so high an
order; besides, as I haven't been born to it, my conscience might
trouble me if I had to shoot my enemies and rob the worthy
merchants. I had better stick to digging holes in the ground.
That is all I seem to be good for.''

Hope looked up at him, quickly, in surprise.

``What do you mean by that?'' she demanded. There was a tone of
such sharp reproach in her voice that Clay felt himself put on
the defensive.

``I mean nothing by it,'' he said. ``Your sister and I had a
talk the other day about a man's making the best of himself, and
it opened my eyes to--to many things. It was a very healthy
lesson.''

``It could not have been a very healthy lesson,'' Hope replied,
severely, ``if it makes you speak of your work slightingly, as
you did then. That didn't sound at all natural, or like you. It
sounded like Alice. Tell me, did Alice say that?''

The pleasure of hearing Hope take his part against himself was so
comforting to Clay that he hesitated in answering in order to
enjoy it the longer. Her enthusiasm touched him deeply, and he
wondered if she were enthusiastic because she was young, or
because she was sure she was right, and that he was in the wrong.

``It started this way,'' Clay began, carefully. He was anxious
to be quite fair to Miss Langham, but he found it difficult to
give her point of view correctly, while he was hungering for a
word that would re-establish him in his own good opinion. ``Your
sister said she did not think very much of what I had done, but
she explained kindly that she hoped for better things from me.
But what troubles me is, that I will never do anything much
better or very different in kind from the work I have done
lately, and so I am a bit discouraged about it in consequence.
You see,'' said Clay, ``when I come to die, and they ask me what
I have done with my ten fingers, I suppose I will have to say,
`Well, I built such and such railroads, and I dug up so many tons
of ore, and opened new countries, and helped make other men
rich.' I can't urge in my behalf that I happen to have been so
fortunate as to have gained the good-will of yourself or your
sister. That is quite reason enough to me, perhaps, for having
lived, but it might not appeal to them. I want to feel that I
have accomplished something outside of myself--something that
will remain after I go. Even if it is only a breakwater or a
patent coupling. When I am dead it will not matter to any one
what I personally was, whether I was a bore or a most
charming companion, or whether I had red hair or blue. It is the
work that will tell. And when your sister, whose judgment is the
judgment of the outside world, more or less, says that the work
is not worth while, I naturally feel a bit discouraged. It meant
so much to me, and it hurt me to find it meant so little to
others.''

Hope remained silent for some time, but the rigidity of her
attitude, and the tightness with which she pressed her lips
together, showed that her mind was deeply occupied. They both
sat silent for some few moments, looking down toward the distant
lights of the city. At the farther end of the double row of
bushes that lined the avenue they could see one of King's
sentries passing to and fro across the roadway, a long black
shadow on the moonlit road.

``You are very unfair to yourself,'' the girl said at last, ``and
Alice does not represent the opinion of the world, only of a very
small part of it--her own little world. She does not know how
little it is. And you are wrong as to what they will ask you at
the end. What will they care whether you built railroads or
painted impressionist pictures? They will ask you `What have you
made of yourself? Have you been fine, and strong, and sincere?'
That is what they will ask. And we like you because you are
all of these things, and because you look at life so cheerfully,
and are unafraid. We do not like men because they build
railroads, or because they are prime ministers. We like them for
what they are themselves. And as to your work!'' Hope added, and
then paused in eloquent silence. ``I think it is a grand work,
and a noble work, full of hardships and self-sacrifices. I do
not know of any man who has done more with his life than you have
done with yours.'' She stopped and controlled her voice before
she spoke again. ``You should be very proud,'' she said.

Clay lowered his eyes and sat silent, looking down the roadway.
The thought that the girl felt what she said so deeply, and that
the fact that she had said it meant more to him than anything
else in the world could mean, left him thrilled and trembling.
He wanted to reach out his hand and seize both of hers, and tell
her how much she was to him, but it seemed like taking advantage
of the truths of a confessional, or of a child's innocent
confidences.

``No, Miss Hope,'' he answered, with an effort to speak lightly,
``I wish I could believe you, but I know myself better than any
one else can, and I know that while my bridges may stand
examination--_I can't.''

Hope turned and looked at him with eyes full of such sweet
meaning that he was forced to turn his own away.

``I could trust both, I think,'' the girl said.

Clay drew a quick, deep breath, and started to his feet, as
though he had thrown off the restraint under which he had held
himself.

It was not a girl, but a woman who had spoken then, but, though
he turned eagerly toward her, he stood with his head bowed, and
did not dare to read the verdict in her eyes.

The clatter of horses' hoofs coming toward them at a gallop broke
in rudely upon the tense stillness of the moment, but neither
noticed it. ``How far,'' Clay began, in a strained voice, ``how
far,'' he asked, more steadily, ``could you trust me?''

Hope's eyes had closed for an instant, and opened again, and she
smiled upon him with a look of perfect confidence and content.
The beat of the horses' hoofs came now from the end of the
driveway, and they could hear the men at the rear of the house
pushing back their chairs and hurrying toward them. Hope raised
her head, and Clay moved toward her eagerly. The horses were
within a hundred yards. Before Hope could speak, the sentry's
voice rang out in a hoarse, sharp challenge, like an alarm of
fire on the silent night. ``Halt!'' they heard him cry.
And as the horses tore past him, and their riders did not turn to
look, he shouted again, ``Halt, damn you!'' and fired. The flash
showed a splash of red and yellow in the moonlight, and the
report started into life hundreds of echoes which carried it far
out over the waters of the harbor, and tossed it into sharp
angles, and distant corners, and in an instant a myriad of sounds
answered it; the frightened cry of night-birds, the barking of
dogs in the village below, and the footsteps of men running.

Clay glanced angrily down the avenue, and turned beseechingly to
Hope.

``Go,'' she said. ``See what is wrong,'' and moved away as
though she already felt that he could act more freely when she
was not near him.

The two horses fell back on their haunches before the steps, and
MacWilliams and Stuart tumbled out of their saddles, and
started, running back on foot in the direction from which the
shot had come, tugging at their revolvers.

``Come back,'' Clay shouted to them. ``That's all right. He was
only obeying orders. That's one of King's sentries.''

``Oh, is that it?'' said Stuart, in matter-of-fact tones, as he
turned again to the house. ``Good idea. Tell him to fire lower
next time. And, I say,'' he went on, as he bowed curtly to
the assembled company on the veranda, ``since you have got a
picket out, you had better double it. And, Clay, see that no one
leaves here without permission--no one. That's more important,
even, than keeping them out.''

``King, will you--'' Clay began.

``All right, General,'' laughed King, and walked away to meet his
sailors, who came running up the hill in great anxiety.

MacWilliams had not opened his lips, but he was bristling with
importance, and his effort to appear calm and soldierly, like
Stuart, told more plainly than speech that he was the bearer of
some invaluable secret. The sight filled young Langham with a
disquieting fear that he had missed something.

Stuart looked about him, and pulled briskly at his gauntlets.
King and his sailors were grouped together on the grass before
the house. Mr. Langham and his daughters, and Clay, were
standing on the steps, and the servants were peering around the
corners of the house.

Stuart saluted Mr. Langham, as though to attract his especial
attention, and then addressed himself in a low tone to Clay.

``It's come,'' he said. ``We've been in it since dinner-time,
and we've got a whole night's work cut out for you.'' He
was laughing with excitement, and paused for a moment to gain
breath. ``I'll tell you the worst of it first. Mendoza has sent
word to Alvarez that he wants the men at the mines to be present
at the review to-morrow. He says they must take part. He wrote
a most insolent letter. Alvarez got out of it by saying that the
men were under contract to you, and that you must give your
permission first. Mendoza sent me word that if you would not let
the men come, he would go out and fetch them in him self.''

``Indeed!'' growled Clay. ``Kirkland needs those men to-morrow
to load ore-cars for Thursday's steamer. He can't spare them.
That is our answer, and it happens to be a true one, but if it
weren't true, if to-morrow was All Saints' Day, and the men had
nothing to do but to lie in the sun and sleep, Mendoza couldn't
get them. And if he comes to take them to-morrow, he'll have to
bring his army with him to do it. And he couldn't do it then,
Mr. Langham,'' Clay cried, turning to that gentleman, ``if I had
better weapons. The five thousand dollars I wanted you to spend
on rifles, sir, two months ago, might have saved you several
millions to-morrow.''

Clay's words seemed to bear some special significance to Stuart
and MacWilliams, for they both laughed, and Stuart pushed
Clay up the steps before him.

``Come inside,'' he said. ``That is why we are here.
MacWilliams has found out where Burke hid his shipment of arms.
We are going to try and get them to-night.'' He hurried into the
dining-room, and the others grouped themselves about the table.
``Tell them about it, MacWilliams,'' Stuart commanded. ``I will
see that no one overhears you.''

MacWilliams was pushed into Mr. Langham's place at the head of
the long table, and the others dragged their chairs up close
around him. King put the candles at the opposite end of the
table, and set some decanters and glasses in the centre. ``To
look as though we were just enjoying ourselves,'' he explained,
pleasantly.

Mr. Langham, with his fine, delicate fingers beating nervously on
the table, observed the scene as an on-looker, rather than as the
person chiefly interested. He smiled as he appreciated the
incongruity of the tableau, and the contrast which the actors
presented to the situation. He imagined how much it would amuse
his contemporaries of the Union Club, at home, if they could see
him then, with the still, tropical night outside, the candles
reflected on the polished table and on the angles of the
decanters, and showing the intent faces of the young girls
and the men leaning eagerly forward around MacWilliams, who sat
conscious and embarrassed, his hair dishevelled, and his face
covered with dust, while Stuart paced up and down in the shadow,
his sabre clanking as he walked.

``Well, it happened like this,'' MacWilliams began, nervously,
and addressing himself to Clay. ``Stuart and I put Burke safely
in a cell by himself. It was one of the old ones that face the
street. There was a narrow window in it, about eight feet above
the floor, and no means of his reaching it, even if he stood on a
chair. We stationed two troopers before the door, and sent out
to a cafe' across the street for our dinners. I finished mine
about nine o'clock, and said `Good night' to Stuart, and started
to come out here. I went across the street first, however, to
give the restaurant man some orders about Burke's breakfast. It
is a narrow street, you know, with a long garden-wall and a row
of little shops on one side, and with the jail-wall taking up all
of the other side. The street was empty when I left the jail,
except for the sentry on guard in front of it, but just as I was
leaving the restaurant I saw one of Stuart's police come out and
peer up and down the street and over at the shops. He looked
frightened and anxious, and as I wasn't taking chances on
anything, I stepped back into the restaurant and watched him
through the window. He waited until the sentry had turned his
back, and started away from him on his post, and then I saw him
drop his sabre so that it rang on the sidewalk. He was standing,
I noticed then, directly under the third window from the door of
the jail. That was the window of Burke's cell. When I grasped
that fact I got out my gun and walked to the door of the
restaurant. Just as I reached it a piece of paper shot out
through the bars of Burke's cell and fell at the policeman's
feet, and he stamped his boot down on it and looked all around
again to see if any one had noticed him. I thought that was my
cue, and I ran across the street with my gun pointed, and shouted
to him to give me the paper. He jumped about a foot when he
first saw me, but he was game, for he grabbed up the paper and
stuck it in his mouth and began to chew on it. I was right up on
him then, and I hit him on the chin with my left fist and knocked
him down against the wall, and dropped on him with both knees and
choked him till I made him spit out the paper--and two teeth,''
MacWilliams added, with a conscientious regard for details.
``The sentry turned just then and came at me with his bayonet,
but I put my finger to my lips, and that surprised him, so
that he didn't know just what to do, and hesitated. You
see, I didn't want Burke to hear the row outside, so I grabbed my
policeman by the collar and pointed to the jail-door, and the
sentry ran back and brought out Stuart and the guard. Stuart was
pretty mad when he saw his policeman all bloody. He thought it
would prejudice his other men against us, but I explained out
loud that the man had been insolent, and I asked Stuart to take
us both to his private room for a hearing, and, of course, when I
told him what had happened, he wanted to punch the chap, too. We
put him ourselves into a cell where he could not communicate with
any one, and then we read the paper. Stuart has it,'' said
MacWilliams, pushing back his chair, ``and he'll tell you the
rest.'' There was a pause, in which every one seemed to take
time to breathe, and then a chorus of questions and explanations.

King lifted his glass to MacWilliams, and nodded.

`` `Well done, Condor,' '' he quoted, smiling.

``Yes,'' said Clay, tapping the younger man on the shoulder as he
passed him. ``That's good work. Now show us the paper,
Stuart.''

Stuart pulled the candles toward him, and spread a slip of paper
on the table.

``Burke did this up in one of those paper boxes for wax
matches,'' he explained, ``and weighted it with a twenty-
dollar gold piece. MacWilliams kept the gold piece, I believe.''

``Going to use it for a scarf-pin,'' explained MacWilliams, in
parenthesis. ``Sort of war-medal, like the Chief's,'' he added,
smiling.

``This is in Spanish,'' Stuart explained. ``I will translate it.
It is not addressed to any one, and it is not signed, but it was
evidently written to Mendoza, and we know it is in Burke's
handwriting, for we compared it with some notes of his that we
took from him before he was locked up. He says, `I cannot keep
the appointment, as I have been arrested.' The line that follows
here,'' Stuart explained, raising his head, ``has been scratched
out, but we spent some time over it, and we made out that it
read: `It was Mr. Clay who recognized me, and ordered my arrest.
He is the best man the others have. Watch him.' We think he
rubbed that out through good feeling toward Clay. There seems to
be no other reason. He's a very good sort, this old Burke, I
think.''

``Well, never mind him; it was very decent of him, anyway,'' said
Clay. ``Go on. Get to Hecuba.''

`` `I cannot keep the appointment, as I have been arrested,' ''
repeated Stuart. `` `I landed the goods last night in safety. I
could not come in when first signalled, as the wind and tide
were both off shore. But we got all the stuff stored away
by morning. Your agent paid me in full and got my receipt.
Please consider this as the same thing--as the equivalent'--it is
difficult to translate it exactly,'' commented Stuart--`` `as the
equivalent of the receipt I was to have given when I made my
report to-night. I sent three of your guards away on my own
responsibility, for I think more than that number might attract
attention to the spot, and they might be seen from the ore-
trains.' That is the point of the note for us, of course,''
Stuart interrupted himself to say. ``Burke adds,'' he went on,
`` `that they are to make no effort to rescue him, as he is quite
comfortable, and is willing to remain in the carcel until they
are established in power.' ''

``Within sight of the ore-trains!'' exclaimed Clay. ``There are
no ore-trains but ours. It must be along the line of the road.''

``MacWilliams says he knows every foot of land along the
railroad,'' said Stuart, ``and he is sure the place Burke means
is the old fortress on the Platta inlet, because--''

``It is the only place,'' interrupted MacWilliams, ``where there
is no surf. They could run small boats up the inlet and unload
in smooth water within twenty feet of the ramparts; and another
thing, that is the only point on the line with a wagon road
running direct from it to the Capital. It's an old road, and
hasn't been travelled over for years, but it could be used.
No,'' he added, as though answering the doubt in Clay's mind,
``there is no other place. If I had a map here I could show you
in a minute; where the beach is level there is a jungle between
it and the road, and wherever there is open country, there is a
limestone formation and rocks between it and the sea, where no
boat could touch.''

``But the fortress is so conspicuous,'' Clay demurred; ``the
nearest rampart is within twenty feet of the road. Don't you
remember we measured it when we thought of laying the double
track?''

``That is just what Burke says,'' urged Stuart. ``That is the
reason he gives for leaving only three men on guard--`I think
more than that number might attract attention to the spot, as
they might be seen from the ore-trains.' ''

``Have you told any one of this?'' Clay asked. ``What have you
done so far?''

``We've done nothing,'' said Stuart. ``We lost our nerve when we
found out how much we knew, and we decided we'd better leave it
to you.''

``Whatever we do must be done at once,'' said Clay. ``They will
come for the arms to-night, most likely, and we must be there
first. I agree with you entirely about the place. It is only
a question now of our being on time. There are two things
to do. The first thing is, to keep them from getting the arms,
and the second is, if we are lucky, to secure them for ourselves.
If we can pull it off properly, we ought to have those rifles in
the mines before midnight. If we are hurried or surprised, we
must dump them off the fort into the sea.'' Clay laughed and
looked about him at the men. ``We are only following out General
Bolivar's saying `When you want arms take them from the enemy.'
Now, there are three places we must cover. This house, first of
all,'' he went on, inclining his head quickly toward the two
sisters, ``then the city, and the mines. Stuart's place, of
course, is at the Palace. King must take care of this house and
those in it, and MacWilliams and Langham and I must look after
the arms. We must organize two parties, and they had better
approach the fort from here and from the mines at the same time.
I will need you to do some telegraphing for me, Mac; and, King, I
must ask you for some more men from the yacht. How many have
you?''

King answered that there were fifteen men still on board, ten of
whom would be of service. He added that they were all well
equipped for fighting.

``I believe King's a pirate in business hours,'' Clay said,
smiling. ``All right, that's good. Now go tell ten of them to
meet me at the round-house in half an hour. I will get
MacWilliams to telegraph Kirkland to run an engine and flat cars
to within a half mile of the fort on the north, and we will come
up on it with the sailors and Ted, here, from the south. You
must run the engine yourself, MacWilliams, and perhaps it would
be better, King, if your men joined us at the foot of the grounds
here and not at the round-house. None of the workmen must see
our party start. Do you agree with me?'' he asked, turning to
those in the group about him. ``Has anybody any criticism to
make?''

Stuart and King looked at one another ruefully and laughed. ``I
don't see what good I am doing in town,'' protested Stuart.
``Yes, and I don't see where I come in, either,'' growled King,
in aggrieved tones. ``These youngsters can't do it all; besides
I ought to have charge of my own men.''

``Mutiny,'' said Clay, in some perplexity, ``rank mutiny. Why,
it's only a picnic. There are but three men there. We don't
need sixteen white men to frighten off three Olanchoans.''

``I'll tell you what to do,'' cried Hope, with the air of having
discovered a plan which would be acceptable to every one, ``let's
all go.''

``Well, I certainly mean to go,'' said Mr. Langham,
decidedly. ``So some one else must stay here. Ted, you will
have to look after your sisters.''

The son and heir smiled upon his parent with a look of
affectionate wonder, and shook his head at him in fond and
pitying disapproval.

``I'll stay,'' said King. ``I have never seen such ungallant
conduct. Ladies,'' he said, ``I will protect your lives and
property, and we'll invent something exciting to do ourselves,
even if we have to bombard the Capital.''

The men bade the women good-night, and left them with King and
Mr. Langham, who had been persuaded to remain overnight, while
Stuart rode off to acquaint Alvarez and General Rojas with what
was going on.

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There was no chance for Clay to speak to Hope again, though hefelt the cruelty of having to leave her with everything betweenthem in this interrupted state. But their friends stood abouther, interested and excited over this expedition of smuggledarms, unconscious of the great miracle that had come into hislife and of his need to speak to and to touch the woman who hadwrought it. Clay felt how much more binding than the laws oflife are the little social conventions that must be observed attimes, even though the heart is leaping with joy or racked withsorrow. He stood
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Clay slept for three hours. He had left a note on the floorinstructing MacWilliams and young Langham not to go to the mines,but to waken him at ten o'clock, and by eleven the three men weregalloping off to the city. As they left the Palms they met Hopereturning from a morning ride on the Alameda, and Clay beggedher, with much concern, not to ride abroad again. There was adifference in his tone toward her. There was more anxiety in itthan the occasion seemed to justify, and he put his request inthe form of a favor to himself,
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