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"I wished for something about a rose," he said mischievously.
Their Mariposa Legend
A Romance of Santa Catalina
By Charlotte Herr
Frontispiece by Orrin White
Copyright, 1921 By Charlotte Bronte Herr
First Issue May, 1921
Post Printing and Binding Co. Pasadena, Cal.
To Little Bruce Parker
Who Loved Stories
Sir Francis Starts It
It began to happen a long time ago, centuries ago, when, in a fragrant rush of rain, spring came one day to Punagwandah, fairest of the Channel Islands. Beneath the golden mists of sunrise danced a radiant sea. On steeply sloping hillsides where thickets of wild lilac bloomed, the lark shook from his tiny throat a tumult of glad music. In shadowed niches of the canyons lilies waited to fill with light their gleaming ivory cups. Spring in very truth was there.
And looking down upon it from her cavern bower high above the beach, watched the Princess Wildenai. Kneeling there, the light of dawn shining on her long black hair, she was, herself, the sweetest blossom of the spring. Loveliest was she among all the maidens of the Mariposa and of royal blood besides; although of this the great chief Torquam, who even at that moment lay sleeping in his lodge of deerskin on the crescent beach below, knew more than he had ever told.
With eyes rapt, her breath scarcely stirring the folds of softest fawnskin drawn across her breast, the princess bent her gaze to where the waves ran silver on the ocean's distant rim. There she knew the sun must rise and, as the first dazzling ray sparkled across the water, she rose slowly until she stood erect, a slender, graceful figure against the dim, gray rocks, and stretching her arms toward the East, spoke in the musical words of her people.
"Oh, Waken-ate, great spirit-father," she pleaded, "have mercy on me. Grant to me, thy humble daughter, one only boon. Grant, I pray thee, that it need not be I wed with Torquam's friend, the pale-face stranger. Well knowest thou I would not disobey my father, him the bravest and most powerful of all thy warriors, him whom his people delight to honor, and whom I strive to please. All the more I feel my duty since, many moons ago, they laid my mother underneath the flowers. Yet, even so, I cannot find it in my heart to wed with Don Cabrillo, dearly as does my father wish it. Can'st thou not then, in thy great power, turn his heart, oh lord of spirits, that he no longer may desire it? Help me in this, my only trial, I pray thee, and in all else will I be indeed his loyal daughter, - in all else save alone in this one thing!"
Her arms fell. Slowly she sank again to her knees, bending her head until her forehead touched the ground. For many minutes she lay thus prostrate while the glory of the rising sun bathed the sea in splendor. Yet, when at last she rose, her eyes were dim with tears.
But now from the beach below there drifted up to her the sounds of a village astir. Shrill voices of women mingled with the crackling of freshly kindled fires. A canoe, pushed hastily into the water, grated harshly on the pebbles. Still the maiden did not stir. Leaning against the rocky ledge, her chin in her hands, she gazed listlessly out over the shining sea. If any interests lived for her among the dark-skinned people beneath the cliffs, for the moment at least she gave no sign.
Then, suddenly, above the ordinary din of the Indian village, rose the hoarse shouting of men. Wildenai lifted her eyes, - eyes that widened first with wonder, then with fear. For there, far down the shoreline to the south, her sails gleaming white against the walls of rock behind her as she rounded a distant point, a ship came slowly into view. With wildly beating heart the young girl watched the vessel tack to clear the long curve of the coast. But once before in all her life had she seen such another monster winged canoe, and that had been when Senor Don Cabrillo first cast anchor in the Bay of Moons below, now almost a year ago. For many a week had the young man lingered, renewing the friendship with the Mariposa cemented more than eighteen years before when his father, hindered by storms in his adventurous journey up the coast, cast anchor off the shore, - the first white man to see their island. Nor was the lingering without result. Torquam he taught to speak the Spanish tongue, learning in his turn safer and easier routes to the gold fields of the north, while not the least among the treasures carried with him when at last he sailed away did he hold the promise that the beautiful daughter of the chief should become his bride when next he touched upon that shore. Could this, then, be the Spaniard's fleet returning? Was the Great Spirit powerless, after all, to save her? In sore bewilderment and terror Wildenai watched the distant ship.
Nearer and nearer it came. But, as its outline grew each moment more distinct, gradually her fears departed. For this was not the clumsy Spanish galleon she remembered. The prow was not nearly so high, nor was the incoming vessel as large in any respect as had been that other. Yet, though fear died, wonder grew. What new variety of strangers, then, was about to visit them? For that the ship intended to anchor she was by this time sure. Steadily it bore on until within a scant half mile of the crescent shaped beach where lay the royal village of the tribe. At length, as if in fear to trust themselves closer to the rocky shore, the crew were seen to bring the vessel sharply about. An anchor was cast over, the creaking of the hawsers distinctly audible in the clear morning air, and a few moments later a small boat was lowered. Into this boat immediately several sailors swung themselves and after a short delay, amidst the shouting of the Indians, now running in wild excitement up and down the beach, the men picked up their oars and started for the land.
Up the stony trail leading to her cavern scrambled an Indian runner, a lithe youth who flung himself breathless at her feet.
"Thy father, oh princess, sends me to summon thee to his lodge. Strangers, - paleface strangers, - enemies, who can tell, are coming. See, - the ship!" With dark forefinger he pointed toward the sea. "Torquam would have thee hide with the rest of the women in the cave at the Great Rock. There Kathah-galwa wilt keep thee safe, he says. Make haste, oh Wildenai!"
"And am I not as safe up here?" returned the princess, calmly. "Be not so lost in thy terror, oh Norqua. I, too, have seen the ship and I fear not. Yet will I obey if so my father bids," she added quickly. "Go thou ahead. I follow." And hastily gathering together some reeds and colored grasses lying on the ledge, parts of an unfinished basket upon which, evidently, she had during some previous visit been at work, she flung them into a corner of the cavern and ran lightly down the narrow path leading to the village.
Here all by this time was tense excitement, the dramatic, ungoverned excitement of children. While with shrill cries two or three of the women gathered the little ones together, the rest pulled frantically at the poles holding each tepee in place. Still apparently quite unmoved, Wildenai sought first her father standing surprised but unafraid in the doorway of his lodge. Tall and spare and stern he looked, straight as some lonely pine on the slopes of distant San Jacinto. Yet even in the stress of such a moment a tender light stole into his eyes as they rested upon his motherless daughter.
Wildenai made obeisance and for a brief moment the two surveyed each other in silence. Then,
"It is well thou art come, my beloved one," spoke the chief. "Stranger pale-faces will soon be amongst us."
"Wildenai feels no fear, my father," quietly answered the girl.
"If they come in friendship," quickly Torquam replied, "then indeed may all be well. But the ship is not of the Senor's fleet, and if so be that we must fight, thou wert better hidden in the cave. We shall see."
Bending her head in mute acquiescence the girl moved away to join the group of women now almost ready to depart.
Meantime the vessel's long boat, driven onward by the stout arms of three strong sailors, steadily approached the bay.
"What think'st thou then, Rufus Broadmead, of this fool's errand to the savages?" inquired one of these, resting upon his oars for a moment that he might the better listen to the tumult on the shore. "Wot ye not that if water had been the only boon he craves the captain had fared much better on the mainland? Besides, did not I myself overhear the Apache only yesterday tell him of a certainty that the tribes over there were away on the warpath? But no, by the mass, here must we risk our precious scalps to row into the very teeth of the heathen, and that to humor the whim of as obstinate an Englishman as ever sailed aboard Her Majesty's fleets!" and without awaiting any reply he lowered his oars in disgust.
The others laughed.
"Hast been, then, so stupid, brother Giles, for all thy listening with thy big ears, as not to know 'tis Spanish treasure ever and naught else our captain seeks? Water, - pouf!" the speaker made a rough grimace, "water may well serve as an excuse, and what to bold Sir Francis were the lives of half a dozen seamen when booty for the queen lies in the balance? The Apache told him, too, - thou see'st thou hast not played the listening game alone, for, hiding behind the fo'castle door myself, I heard him say it, - that here lay that famous island, San - how is't they call it? San Catlina - I know not how 'tis spoken, - some Spanish lingo not fit for English tongues! At any rate 'twas here your Spanish robber, Don Cabrillo, and, for the matter of that, his precious son as well, stopped to seek direction ere they found the land of gold. The savage sware besides they were a gentle tribe, not given to war and murder like the rest. I hearkened well, forsooth, knowing past doubt I would be een one o' those chosen to try 'em out. The devil take the Apache an he lied," he added fiercely, "I'll break his head across till even he shrieks out for help when I get back!"
He paused to gaze fearfully at the stern cliffs now looming close at hand, beneath which the excited natives still ran back and forth, pointing with frantic gestures at the boat.
The third man spoke. He was smaller than the other two and darker, with a sly look about his eyes and mouth in strong contrast to the bluff frankness of his comrades. So far he had appeared content to listen in amused silence, but now with a short laugh he interrupted.
"The Apache did not lie. This is the island Santa Catalina, though that, mark you, is not the Indian name. And right well can the chief who rules here direct our captain also to the goldfields of the north. But hearkee, comrades. 'Tis not Drake will reap the profits this time!" He lowered his voice mysteriously as though fearful of being overheard, albeit nothing was nearer than his two companions and the clear, green stretch of water. "Have ye not observed the boy who travels with the captain? - the boy I serve, - the one they call Sir Harry? To my mind, cub though he be, 'tis he who rules the ship. Hast never noticed how the great Drake himself bends to his slightest wish?"
"Aye, marry, that have I! And who, then, is he, think'st thou?" inquired the man who had spoken first.
"Some close kin to the queen, - that much I know," the other answered quickly, "the heir to some great dukedom, mayhap, in disguise to see the world and make a fortune. 'Tis his desire we land, so much he told me, and 'tis to learn more than directions, my hearties, and that I'll warrant ye! But, look ye, the water grows too shallow! We can use the oars no longer."
And even as he spoke the boat grated upon the pebbles. An incoming breaker would have carried it ashore, but before the sailors could take advantage of this help or even so much as ship their oars, half a dozen swarthy youths had waded out and, with shouts and gestures, whether of welcome or hostility the Englishmen had no means of knowing, pushed it high upon the beach. At once, then, for well they realized the danger of delay, and with a stolid courage born of many a like adventure, the seamen leaped fearlessly out upon the sand. In their hands they held aloft bolts of brightly colored cloth snatched on the instant from the bottom of the boat. These they offered for the wondering inspection of the women who, observing the small number of invaders, were cautiously returning. To the warriors grouped about the chief they proffered knives of which the steel blades, set in strong handles of bone, glistened in the sun. Eagerly, yet with a certain unexpected formality, the men accepted these, passing them for examination from one to another with many a grunt of satisfaction. To be sure, no brave among them but might the next moment decide to try out the merits of his gift upon the bestower, but this danger the adventurers had to risk. More timidly the women, their eyes fixed wistfully upon the gaudy red and yellow cloth, approached the strangers, offering in their turn bits of abalone shell polished to iridescent beauty.
They seemed in truth a gentle, friendly people, so much so that at length the sailors, deeming it safe to undertake the second part of their errand, began to plead for water and to request, besides, an interview between their captain and the chief. All this by means of signs in which they displayed no little wit and skill, the Englishmen accomplished until, well on toward the middle of the morning, they made ready to return to the ship, the casks they had brought brimming with sweet mountain water, while with them they bore as well the promise of an interview of state between the great chief Torquam and Sir Francis Drake, to take place upon the beach at sunset.
And then at once the little village of Toyobet seethed again with excitement. For these good paleface friends and their god-like commander a fitting welcome must be prepared. Fleet-footed messengers, bearing flaming torches, sped in hot haste along the mountain trails that all who saw might know without words spoken of the assembling of the tribe. To the distant village at the isthmus they hurried, and to the cove on the western coast, some twenty miles away, to which a band of warriors had gone several days before to hunt the otter. That no one among his people might remain in ignorance of his command, Torquam even caused signal fires to be kindled on each of the twin peaks, extinct volcanoes, near the center of the island. Smoke rising there was visible from every corner of his land, and woe to any subject who dared to disregard that warning!
Throughout the long bright day the women toiled, preparing a ceremonial feast. Three antelope, a deer, and half a dozen of the wild sheep which roamed the hills were killed and placed for roasting over deep pits dug in the sand. Nor did any member of the tribe forget in his own crude fashion to deck himself for the occasion. The warriors adorned their heads with feathers and daubed their cheeks and lips with ochre. The women clothed themselves in loose-hanging tunics of doeskin girt with strings of wampum, and hung about their tawny shoulders the lovely greens and blues of uncut turquoise. Meanwhile, also, the great chief Torquam donned his ceremonial dress, a string of eagle feathers held by the crimsoned quills of the porcupine and extending down his back until almost it touched the ground. About his neck, as token of his priesthood, he threw the bear-claw necklace, known far and wide among the tribes for its famous powers of healing. Wildenai alone made no change except to bind the satin black of her hair still more smoothly within a fillet of silver. In the center of the band, so that it rested just above her brow, a strange device appeared, a circle enclosing many rays, - the royal insignia of the tribe which only the daughter of the chief might wear.
Then at last when, in the sunset, level rays of light rested golden on the bay and turned to amethyst the distant mountains on the mainland, all was ready. Once again, this time to the weird music of tom-toms and the beating of drums, a boat was lowered from the ship while on the shore the Indians watched.
It was in truth a picture not soon to be forgotten. Behind the mirrored Bay of Moons, its crescent of sand gleaming white against the rocks, the bands of dusky men and women stood motionless as statues in the quiet light of the setting sun, while in the doorway of his lodge, his daughter close beside him, Torquam waited with simple dignity to receive his guests, the fair-skinned strangers.
At length along the beach advanced the little group of English, friends and fellow adventurers with the most renowned of all their great queen's buccaneers. Beside Sir Francis himself marched young Harold of Wessex, little more than a boy in years, yet dreaded and feared in his own land even then - a possible heir to Elizabeth's throne. Some short distance in front of these two, standard bearers carried the flags of Merry England, each glorious with fringes and tassels of gold. Well might such banners dazzle the eyes and wits of simple savages.
Yet, possibly, for all that, had it not been for the lengthy ceremonial of the peace-pipe, Wildenai could not have taken time to observe so closely, in stolen glances from beneath her long black lashes, the splendor of the young noble standing proudly erect beside his captain; nor could he have stared so often, with no attempt to hide his admiration, at the dark beauty of the princess.
Perhaps, too, if fate had not contrived to place them side by side at the feast which followed, young Harold might never have discovered that an Indian girl, however beautiful, possessed the wit to learn a foreign language. Yet it was certainly Spanish and that well spoken in which, at length, she softly asked of her father a question intended obviously for himself.
Under cover of one of the Indian dances with which, from time to time, the feast was enlivened, he leaned impulsively toward her.
"Can'st speak the Spanish tongue?" he hastily inquired.
The princess dropped her eyes. For a moment she remained silent as if debating to what extent such boldness might involve her. Then, with a glance as shy as if some deer gazed at him startled from the thicket,
"Yes, mon senor," she answered simply. "I learned it when Don Cabrillo came to Punagwandah many moons ago."
After that it was only that one thing led to another, as was sometimes true of men and maidens even in the days so long gone by. For, as if by common consent, then, they drew a little apart from the rest, where, throwing himself on the sand beside her while the firelight threw flickering shadows among the rocks, the young man related fragments of his story, - of the long journey across the sea, something of his home in England, and of the brilliant court of the great queen wherein he had served as gentleman-in-waiting. So had he served, yet soon, but here her guest had suddenly flushed and paused as though he spoke too hastily or of what he should not. To all of it the princess listened with fast-beating heart and a desire, ever growing, to make herself a place in this splendid stranger's world. Was not she then, also, the daughter of a king? Yet how different and how unimportant beside that wonderful woman of whom he spoke! For father she boasted the great chief Torquam, feared by every tribe in the north and rich because of the gold hidden in many a canyon among the distant mountains; yet her woman's instinct told her that to this proud Englishman her people were at best little more than a curiosity, almost, indeed, a cause for laughter.
When at last the feast was finished, Torquam rose, and removing with slow solemnity his crest of eagle feathers, he placed it upon the head of Sir Francis, a seal of everlasting friendship. With difficulty young Harold suppressed a smile. But the older man, as well aware of what the situation demanded as he was keenly alive to its danger, received the attention with a gravity fully equal to that of his host. Indeed, he went still further.
"Most gracious hast thou been, oh Torquam, all wise chief of the Mariposa," he began in carefully chosen Spanish, "nor shall thy kingly gift remain unrequited. Listen, oh Torquam! On yonder vessel I carry steeds like those of which I told you. For a journey over the mountains of the north we have brought them. One there is, swifter of foot than all the rest. Him will I cause my men to lower into the boat and bring to you after our return tonight."
In silence Torquam inclined his head. Nothing could have pleased him more. He would be the first then, of all his tribe to own one of those strange yet wondrous creatures never before seen in his world until the Spanish landed! Yet only the eager gleam in his eyes betrayed his pleasure. But Harold of Wessex stared at his captain in blank astonishment, for the gift he had just bestowed with such apparent carelessness was the most valuable bit of cargo in the ship, a costly Arabian horse intended for the young noble's own special comfort and convenience during the search for gold on which they were bound. Was Drake gone suddenly mad, then, thus to throw away, and that without permission, his choicest property on a mere savage? Hot with resentment he was about to interfere; but before he could obey the rash impulse his better judgment prevailed, and just in time he remembered how, on several other such occasions, his very life had been saved by some swift expedient of Drake's and his tact in handling the natives.
Slowly Sir Francis continued, and now one watching intently might have sensed from the gleam in his eyes that he had reached the real point in the interview.
"One question, nevertheless, would I ask of all-wise Torquam before we part." He hesitated, searching the impassive face of the Indian. "Can'st tell me of a Spaniard, one Cabrillo, son to that arch pirate of Spain, who, since his father's death, still sails upon these waters? To him I bear a message," - again he paused while the heart of Wildenai beat in sudden panic beneath her fawnskin tunic; but Torquam's face remained blank as a page unwritten, - "a message from our queen," added Drake. The last words were uttered with significance.
The Indian slowly shook his head.
"The noble white chief asks what is unknown to any man," he answered. "The young Cabrillo once landed, 'tis true, on Punagwandah. Many moons ago it was. Where he is now, how should Torquam know?"
In his bitter disappointment the hand of the Englishman sought the hilt of his sword. Instantly a ring of warriors closed darkly about the chief.
"Nay then, 'tis but by chance I asked thee, thinking thou mightst tell me. It matters not. The gift I promised thee will come, as I said, tonight."
He turned to go and young Harold rose to follow. Then, perceiving the dark eyes of the princess fixed wistfully upon him, he hesitated and, obeying a sudden impulse, he stepped hastily to her side.
"When they return with the gift for thy father," he whispered, "I will come with them," he smiled into her soft eyes shining with pleased surprise, "and I will bring a gift to thee as well, oh Wildenai, fairest of maidens!"
Drake gave a sharp command. His followers sprang to their feet, and without further ceremony the party passed quickly down the beach to their boat.
But the princess Wildenai did not leave the feasting ground. Hidden by deepening shadows she watched the ship's lights glimmer across the water. Glad indeed was she of the darkness, for a warm flush glowed in her cheeks and her heart throbbed with a strange new pleasure, a pleasure bordering close on fear, yet wholly sweet.
But when, at length, the quiet of sleep had descended upon the village, once again she sought her father. He, too, within the open doorway of his lodge, watched intently the distant ship. Without surprise he saw his daughter enter and, as she knelt upon the blanket beside him, he stretched a hand and drew her close.
"It grows cold. The wind is rising. 'Twere best to wait inside." He spoke in the musical Indian tongue. For a moment he stroked her hair in silence, then -
"What think'st thou by now of the English, Wildenai, my little wild rose?" he asked.
But the princess seemed not to have heard his question.
"My father," she began after another short silence, "I have a favor to ask of thee."
"And what may that be, my daughter?" he returned gravely.
But again the young girl made no answer and for many minutes they watched the tremulous paths of light in the wake of the vessel.
After a time he felt her hand tighten upon his arm.
"It is but the old boon over again, my father." Her voice was low as the sighing of the wind among the oak trees. "I would be freed from my promise to wed with Don Cabrillo."
An Indian is not given to caresses. Much more used was Torquam's hand to wield the war-club or the hatchet. Yet it was with fingers gentle as any woman's that he stroked the smooth black head at his knee.
"Doubtest thou then, my motherless one, the judgment of him who loves thee?" he asked.
"I doubt it not, my father," answered his daughter. "Yet would I not wed with the Spaniard," she added stubbornly.
"The blue-eyed senor from England" - there was a hint of humor in his tone, - "he it is who steals thy fancy! Is it not so, my Wildenai?"
Then, after a moment: "Right well knowest thou my only wish is to make thee happy." Again his voice, though gentle, grew serious almost to sadness. "No mere whim it is that counsels me to wed thee to Cabrillo. "There is something - " He paused, continuing with effort, - "a reason I have never told thee why it seems most fitting. Now I will tell thee. That reason is because, because, my Wildenai, thou art Spanish born thyself."
The princess drew a hasty breath. In the darkness he felt rather than saw her startled eyes upon him.
"My father!" The exclamation, filled with pain as well as astonishment, touched him to the quick. Tenderly he drew her to him. Then briefly, as was the Indian way, yet with the pictured phrasing which caused each scene to spring into vivid life before the young girl's eyes, he told her of the day, already more than eighteen years gone by, when, in the wake of a long midwinter storm, the first sailing vessel ever beheld by his people had fled for refuge to their bay; and of the little girl carefully brought to shore by her old nurse in the first boat to touch the beach. A mere baby she was, too young to know aught of her misfortune, yet a princess royal, rudely dispossessed of her right to the throne of Spain, and smuggled aboard the adventurer Cabrillo's ship to be dropped in some out-of-the-way corner of the western world. Even then, he made it clear, she might have perished, - since little recked the Spanish explorer what should happen, well knowing that upon his return no questions would be asked, - had it not been for his Indian wife. She, lacking children of her own, had taken an instant fancy to the dark-eyed little girl, a fancy so strong that nothing would do but they must adopt her as their own daughter into the tribe to belong forever, according to their law, she and her children, to the Mariposa.
"Nor, because thy mother - for ever was she a true mother to thee - thought that it might grieve thee, have any of my people ever given thee cause to doubt that thou wert native born," he finished proudly. "Loyal have they been, doing all they could to make thee happy. But now that thy Indian mother is dead, and I myself grow old, I thought to wed thee, knowing his desire, to the son of that same Cabrillo who brought thee to us, for I long to be sure, when at length I go, that thou art safe, - at home."
He waited then and in the silence only the low weeping of the girl was heard. At length the old chief spoke again, and now in his voice love conquered disappointment.
"Much do I desire it, but that matters not. I would not have thee unhappy. I myself will tell the senor that what he hopes for cannot be."
Slowly Wildenai bent her head until it touched his feet. Then she nestled close against him.
"I thank thee, oh my father!" she cried, and all her voice was music because of her joy. "And thou art still my father," she added, earnestly. "What care I to go to Spain? I will stay always with thee."
"For a time, it may be. Yet have a care, little wild rose," he cautioned, smiling, "Let not the Englishman lure thee away! He, too, may not be all that thou thinkest."
And even as he spoke, in mocking confirmation of his words, there came to them suddenly from across the water, the distant creaking of ropes, the snapping of sails flung hastily to the wind. Before their unbelieving eyes the vessel swung about and put slowly out to sea. Dumb with amazement they watched until the last faint light flickered into darkness. Not until the remotest chance of a mistake was past did the old chief rise, trembling with rage, to his feet.
"See'st thou now what I meant, my daughter? The English pale-faces know not the meaning of honor, - no, nor of gratitude either!"
He lifted his long spear from the ground and shook it fiercely.
"The words of the Mariposa are few," he cried, "but their revenge is sure. Let but an Englishman set foot again on Punagwandah and, swifter than the arrow leaves the bowstring, he dies!"
And at once, without answer, in the silence of suffering which only the wild things of the earth understand, Wildenai crept from the lodge, her heart heavy with its own bitter disappointment. Noiselessly she passed among the tepees where her father's people slept. Not one of them should ever know how far dwelt slumber from her own eyes that night. Up the steep trail beyond the Bay of Moons she climbed and flung herself weeping on the bed of skins within the cavern.
"Oh, thou false one," she moaned, "why did'st thou promise then, when never did'st thou mean to keep it?"
Yet nothing had been farther from the young Englishman's thoughts when he left her than faithlessness to his word. On reaching the ship again he had gone directly to his cabin. Here he took from its small but richly embroidered case a slender chain of gold, threaded so closely with garnets that even in the dim light of the one flaring lantern, the only illumination the room could boast, it glowed, a glancing stream of crimson, in his hand. This he carried to the light and as he examined it under the lantern he smiled.
"Never saw the little maid such jewels before, I'll warrant me! Yet, beshrew my heart, but she deserves them. Indian though she be, still is she, nevertheless, the loveliest woman that ever mine eyes have looked upon!"
Then, stowing the necklace carefully away in his belt, he went at once in search of the commander.
But at this point an unexpected difficulty had presented itself. He found Sir Francis in close conversation with his pilot.
"Marry, Sir, an it fit n'er so ill with thy wish," the keen-eyed old mariner was saying. "I still maintain it were a shame to lose this wind. Gift or no gift, I've sailed these latitudes before, my lord, and by heaven I swear we're not like to have such another breeze, no, not till the change of the moon, and that you know yourself, sir, is a good fortnight hence."
Sir Francis, striding back and forth within the narrow confines of the quarter deck, appeared to be weighing the old man's words with unusual care. At length, however, he turned as one who has made his decision.
"By the mass and it shall be even as you say, Jarvis," he declared. "I think myself 'twere well to push on at once. At the most they be but Indians!" The last words were spoken in a lower tone as if to himself. "'Twill matter little either way!"
It was at this point that young Harold stepped hastily forward. For, strangely enough, although on the morning of that same day such a proceeding would scarcely have appealed to him as being at all unfitting or out of the ordinary, yet now it seemed unthinkable.
"But, good sir," he interrupted, "you would not so belie your promise! To do as Jarvis here advises, - by heaven, 'twould be neither truthful nor honorable! 'Tis not like you, Sir Francis!"
Drake shot at him a surprised glance from under his bushy eyebrows, then shrugged his shoulders.
"Prate not to me, my lord, of truth or honor amongst these savages," he replied. "Did not their chief himself but even now lie to me? Well knew the rascally heathen where the Spaniard hides! The truth indeed! They know not the meaning of such words."
In vain the younger man petitioned to be allowed to deliver the promised gift with the aid of his own retinue.
"Thou can'st not get under way for two hours at best, sir," he pleaded, "and well within that time I will be back. 'Tis but a stone's throw to the shore!"
But Drake first scoffed at his rashness, then, finally losing patience, as commander of the expedition he sternly forbade him or any of his men to leave the ship.
"We dare not lose the wind," he finished emphatically, "and are like to start at any minute." Then, turning on his heel, he strode away to his cabin and shut the door behind him.
Left in this unceremonious fashion, young Harold considered a moment, glancing with anxious eyes at the dim line of the coast just visible in the darkness. For some minutes he leaned upon the rail, lost in thought.
"The old man will e'en have to bear his disappointment," he muttered at length, "but, an' heaven help me, the maid shall not!"
Then he, too, left the deck to seek out his favorite retainer, the dark, swarthy man who had sat that morning in the prow of the long boat. To him he explained his difficulty, adding grimly:
"And so thou see'st, Mortimer, that I have work cut out for thee!"
He threw an arm about the other's shoulders and in this familiar fashion the two men paced the deck together, conversing in low tones.
"And besides," observed the nobleman as they paused a moment before parting, "would'st know the truth about the matter? For all old Jarvis' prating, the Golden Hind is not like to sail before the dawn, no, nor even then! Jarvis is ever the man to make a show of much hurry, but - " he snapped his fingers scornfully, "only aid me now, unseen by anyone, to launch the Zephir, and by our virgin queen herself I swear, when once again we see the shores of Merry England, thou shalt find 'twas well worth thy trouble."
His companion smiled even while, with the trained servility of the retainer, he doffed his cap.
"Aye, truly, my lord," he answered, "but, since it were an impossible feat to get so much as a colt into the Zephir, methinks thou hast a gift of thine own to bestow on yonder pretty Indian maid!"
The blood leaped to Sir Harry's cheek. With a quick gesture he placed his hand upon his sword.
"Presume not upon my favor, Mortimer, or by heaven! - " he began angrily, but stopped suddenly as, with a fearless laugh, the man beside him pushed the half-drawn weapon back into its place.
"Nay then, not so fast, my lord," he chuckled gaily. "Hearkee, my master. I did but use my eyes during their everlasting pow-wow. Surely ye would not grudge me that! And the maid is comely, well worth a trinket from thy store. Besides," he laughed slyly, "I saw e'en more to thine interest, for methinks the princess is as much in love with thy looks as art thou with hers."
"Silence, fool! Thou hast said more than enough already. Think'st thou the son of a duke royal would look at a brown-skinned savage, an unbelieving pagan, no matter how comely, as thou call'st it, she might be!"
But the flush remained, nevertheless, on the dark cheek of the young nobleman as he strode angrily from the deck.
The moonlight had laid a quivering path of light across the water before Wildenai raised her bowed head from the ground. But, at length, drawing her blanket more closely about her, for into the night air the chill of the ocean had crept, she was about to leave the cave when a sudden sound from the beach below arrested her. For a moment she listened in silence while the shout was repeated, then stood dumb with amazement. A third time it came to her, borne on the rising wind, the terrified cry of a man in dire distress. Nor was it one of her own people who thus called out of the darkness for help. Swiftly she ran to an overhanging ledge of rock from which, by lying flat and peeping over, she could, without exposing herself, command a wide view of the sea.
At the first glance there appeared to be nothing amiss. Far beneath her the noisy breakers spilled in liquid silver on the beach. Above their musical booming no other sound could be heard. Then suddenly she saw him. A tiny boat it was, tossing dangerously close to the great rounded boulder which, together with a still larger one from which it had at some distant time been broken off, formed the outermost boundary of the curving Beach of Moons. The dark figure standing erect in the boat strove with the aid of an oar to keep it from being dashed to pieces against the giant rock. Again there floated up to her the desperate call for help. The voice was that of the English noble!
Instantly the girl sprang to her feet, and without the slightest hesitation ran lightly down the perilous incline, leaping fearlessly from rock to rock, until, within a few seconds, she stood poised above the seething surf on the top of the larger boulder. Here, balancing herself as easily and securely as a wild antelope, she raised her arms to dive. But now from the shadows below the white man called once more.
"Attempt it not, oh Wildenai! 'Tis death to leap from there!"
But without waiting even to reply, the Indian girl sprang into the waves. An instant later and he saw her arms gleam in the moonlight as, with the strong slow strokes of an experienced swimmer, she struck out for the boat. In spite of the perilous rocking of the little craft he rested on his oar to watch her for a moment in sheer admiration of her skill. But the maid knew well the danger of every instant's delay. In the very nick of time she seemed almost to throw herself between him and the rocks while, with a strength he would have believed impossible in one so small, she pulled the boat around. Then, still swimming and without a word to him, she began to push it ahead of her toward the shore. It was but a few minutes before they stood together on the beach.
And now the young noble, overcome with gratitude, fell on his knees before her and caught her hand between his own. He would have kissed it in sheer joy at his escape, but the Indian girl drew sharply back.
"Quick!" she whispered, yet remembering to speak in Spanish, "You must hide yourself at once. My father will kill you if he should find you here!"
Swiftly she concealed the boat in a tiny cove behind the boulder, a hiding place he would never have seen though it was apparently perfectly familiar to her.
"Sometimes my own canoe I keep there too," she whispered. "Now come!" and she hurried him along the beach and up an easier trail beyond the rocks to her cavern bower above.
Nor did she pause for an instant's rest until they had passed safely behind the manzanita branches which concealed the entrance. Here, motioning him to do the same, she dropped upon a pile of skins. But instead, in real concern, the young Englishman knelt again beside her.
"Thou art so wet and cold," he began anxiously, "Will it not make thee ill? Yet 'twas a wondrous feat," he added admiringly, "well conceived and carried out with skill such as any man might envy!"
The princess laughed.
'Twas nothing," she answered briefly. "I do it almost every day."
"I came to bring to thee the gift I promised," explained Lord Harold then, and from his belt he drew the little case. Eagerly he flung the gleaming string of garnets about her slim brown throat.
"Jewels brought by my father to my mother on the morning of their marriage," he told her. "When she lay dying she gave them me and told me never to part with them except I gave them to my - " He paused suddenly, "But thou hast saved my life!" he added as quickly, "Who else could ever deserve them more? Well know I my mother would wish thee to have them."
Silently, though her eyes were bright with, pleasure, the princess lifted the beautiful necklace.
"Wildenai will wear them always, senor lord," she answered softly, "for now she knows that truly you did mean to keep your word!"
And so, his mission accomplished, her guest rose hastily to his feet. He must return immediately to the ship.
"Know you not, then, that it is gone?" exclaimed the girl, amazed.
"Gone?" echoed young Harold, and stared at her astounded. He seemed not to have grasped her meaning. "Gone, said'st thou?"
"The ship was out of sight a full hour or more ere ever I heard you call," she explained.
Still he continued to gaze at her fixedly as if totally unable to comprehend what she would have him know. Then it was plain to be seen that, for the moment at least, blank despair took hold upon him. Up and down the length of the cave he strode like some imprisoned wild thing. At length, standing quite still with folded arms, he seemed to lose himself in thought.
"Battling with the surf I did not see nor hear," he muttered at last. "But he could not sail without me!" he added. Fiercely he raised his head and his eyes flashed. "He dare not so betray me!"
Wildenai, too, had been considering.
"The great white captain knew, then, that you were not on board?" she asked suddenly.
"No," replied the young man reluctantly, "that did he not. I came without his knowledge. He would have prevented me," he continued stubbornly, "and I had promised thee a gift. Never did I break my word, nor would not then. But I did not dream it possible they could get away so soon! By our virgin lady in Heaven I swear I know not what to do." And once more he seemed lost in despair.
But only for a moment. Then he turned hastily to the entrance.
"I must follow them at once," he declared impatiently, "I can overtake them even yet."
Swift as lightning the girl threw herself between him and the opening in the cave.
"No, no, senor Englishman," she cried. "It is impossible! Listen, only listen to me! What have you, then, to steer by save the stars? And you see that, drowned in moonlight, they do not shine tonight. And, more than that, you do not even know what course the vessel takes. Remember, too, that there is neither food nor drink within your boat. You would surely die ere you could ever find the ship."
Gradually she compelled him to listen to reason until, seating himself again upon the skins, he challenged her still further.
"But what, then, shall I do?" he demanded. "Can'st also tell me that?"
And with equal readiness the princess replied:
"If you will but let me I can hide you here. The cavern is my own. Here for many a moon have I worked and waited. No one would dare to enter. You will be safe. Besides, my father's anger will grow cold in time, and then I know that, if I ask him, he will help you."
His chin propped upon his hands, the young nobleman moodily considered.
"Well, do then as thou deemest best," he told her finally.
And from that moment there began for the little princess a time so wonderful that for all the rest of her life she remembered each separate hour as though it had been some beautiful word in a poem learned by heart.
With deft fingers she piled her softest doeskins for his bed.
"But what wilt thou do, tell me, if I rob thee of thy nest?" he asked, watching her with amused eyes as she worked.
"I go always to the village to sleep," she answered simply, and so left him.
But in the morning while yet the red of sunrise burned above the great peak Orazaba, she returned, bearing upon her head an olla of carved stone filled with water from a mountain spring. This in smiling silence she set before him and disappeared. Within the hour, however, she was back again and this time, kneeling on the ground, she laid at his feet the ripe fruit of the manzanita tree, lying like small red apples, dewy fresh, upon a wild-grape leaf.
"Ala - ate, see! Are they not good?" she asked triumphantly.
And so from day to day she ministered to him. Many a time as he sat, listless and moody, within his hiding-place, a handful of wild strawberries, steeped in the warm sweetness of the hills, would be pushed beneath the leafy branches that concealed the door. Sometimes she brought him bread baked from a curious kind of meal made of pounded seeds.
Once, too, when a sudden storm had chilled the air, she kindled a fire for him within a smaller cave, receding like a fire-place into the rocky wall opposite the opening. It was a long and tedious process which the man watched curiously. First, kneeling on the ground, she rubbed together two dry willow sticks until a little pile of dust had gathered. Then, still stooping, she struck two flints together until at last a spark fell into the dust. Some dry leaves were dropped upon the tiny blaze, then twigs, and lo, a fire!
In spite of himself the Englishman smiled, though a softer feeling shown in his eyes. How beautiful and yet how childish she looked kneeling there with the anxious pucker between her brows. Poor little princess, how very hard she worked to serve him!
"It takes a long time, Wildenai," he observed, "dost thou try it often?"
"Never for myself," she answered gravely. "I have no need. But I do it gladly for you." She smiled brightly back at him, then rose and moved swiftly to the doorway. "Another thing I do for you today. Wait!"
And when she returned a few minutes later she brought with her, carefully wrapped in cool green leaves, a fish freshly caught that morning.
"A brook trout, on my word, such as I have often taken in the streams at home!" exclaimed Lord Harold, amazed.
"I got it far up the canyon before the sun was risen," she answered, delighted at his surprise.
This, having quickly dressed it, she wrapped again in leaves and placed under the hot ashes to bake, and it being, evidently, a feast out of the ordinary, a merry-making to which a third guest might be bidden, suddenly Wildenai left the cavern again to return this time with a tiny gray fox perched familiarly upon her shoulder.
"'Tis Onatoa, senor Englishman," she announced, gently stroking the bushy tail of the little creature as it lay about her neck.
But from his vantage point above his rival, Onatoa merely sniffed disdainfully with his sharp black nose. He looked far from friendly.
The princess laughed softly.
He does not know you yet," she defended her pet. "He will soon learn to love you, too."
"I will catch fish with thee next time thou goest," declared young Harold later as they ate together. "There's no reason I can see why I should stay mewed up forever in this cave. I fear not Indians! No, not even Torquam, thy father, himself."
For an instant Wildenai seemed alarmed. Then she laughed.
"You are afraid of nothing. I knew it!" she exclaimed with pride. "Nor would there be much danger. We will go to the other side of the island where the waves run high and the cliffs are tall and black. There will I show you the nests of the great eagles, and the antelope leaping among the rocks. And, - who can tell?" she laughed again with child-like pleasure, "perhaps we shall find a white otter!"
And, true to her word, he heard at dawn next day outside the cavern the whistle of a blackbird, a signal early contrived between them. She deemed it best, she explained, to start thus early that the darkness might conceal them until they had passed well beyond the outskirts of the village. But this danger overcome, they spent the whole day rambling fearlessly among the hills, - a long, idle, happy day. Up many a dim trail winding back into the canyons the princess led him. Through golden thickets of wild mustard they passed, coming, when he least expected it, upon glimpses of the summer sea framed between the branches of knarled old oak trees.
"They are low and crooked, and they spread themselves over the ground as do our English oaks," the young nobleman informed her.
As Wildenai had promised they discovered, poised high among the crags of the wild southern shore, the great eagles of which she had told him, measuring easily, from wing-tip to wing-tip, fully a dozen feet. The white otter, rarest and most valuable of all the game hunted by her people, eluded them, but many a small gray fox slipped away among the bushes, leaving the Englishman tingling for the chase.
At twilight, as they made their way back to the cavern, they came upon a tiny lake lying asleep within the crater of a dead volcano. From the sides little clouds of ashes rose, floating softly away on the breezes of evening. The princess gathered a handful and murmuring some musical words in her own tongue she threw them into the air.
"And would it be amiss for me to ask what 'tis you do?" questioned her companion, observing her closely.
"I was sending a prayer to Wakan-ate, the Great Spirit," she replied quietly.
"A prayer, - and borne to heaven on the wings of ashes!" He seemed amused. "But what hast thou to pray for, oh fair princess?"
Her cheeks glowing with quick color, she replied: "It were not fitting that any maiden tell for what she prays!"
The words were spoken with such gravity that the young man flushed under the rebuke.
When she left him at the doorway of the cavern that evening she said as she made a gay little gesture of farewell: "Today the land, but tomorrow we shall find still more beautiful things that lie hidden under the deep waters. You shall see!"
And once again with dawn she came. This time it was the splash of a paddle that brought him to the opening in the rock.
"Aloho-ate, lazy one!" she called gaily from below. "Make haste! The world is always loveliest while it lies waiting for the sun!"
That day, perhaps, from among them all, lived longest within the memory of young Harold, - the porpoises playing fearlessly around her canoe as the princess, with graceful, effortless strokes, paddled around one after another of the pointed tongues of rock; the flying fish, skimming the surface of the ocean until, by virtue of their speed alone, they rose like gleaming bows of silver from the foam. Intent to show him all her treasures, Wildenai guided him to a quiet stretch of water lying close to shore within the shadow of tall cliffs which rose at that point with precipitous abruptness from the sea itself.
"Here are my gardens that grow under the water," she explained, as they glided above the spot. "Look well at them. They are most beautiful."
And gazing down at her command through the clear green into the luminous depths below, he caught glimpses of these gardens of the sea where goldfish darted like tropical birds among the branches of tall tree-like stalks of swaying seaweed, and strange shapes of jade and blue floated in the shadows.
"Is it not wonderful?" she asked.
"It is indeed, my Wildenai," he answered earnestly. "Never in all my travels, methinks, have I seen aught before like this your island here! It seems to me indeed a charmed land, a kind of magic isle!"
One day it rained, the last belated rain of winter. But even the storm brought pleasures of its own, for, seated on the pile of skins beside him, the little gray fox curled contentedly at her feet, Wildenai worked at her loom. Within its dull-colored warp a blanket, woven in a strange design of mingled red, and black, and white, grew slowly beneath her busy fingers.
For hours the maiden drew the short woolen threads in and out while the young man, stretched lazily upon the ground, told her many a tale of the England he had left. Then, quite without warning, she ceased her work and sat pensively watching through the opening in the rocks the long gray swell of the sea.
"And what is it now, my princess?" laughed young Harold. "The pattern is not yet finished, nor is the rain abated."
"Ah, senor Harold lord," wistfully replied the girl, "I was but wishing I had been born one of those same fair English maids with the eyes of blue and golden hair you tell about. Then would you love me even as you do them!" she added artlessly, and leaned her chin upon her hand, considering. A secret trembled on her lips.
"And how if I were Spanish born?" she questioned, and lifted hesitating, frightened eyes to his, "dark to look at, that I know well, but even so, the white man's kind of princess, who also has a throne?"
And all unwitting Lord Harold answered scornfully, "Spanish! Say no such word to me! The English hate the Spanish!" Fiercely he caught up a pebble and sent it whirling out across the water. "Even now their robber king plans his huge armada to take our queen and rule our land, but that, by the holy virgin herself, shall never be! Sooner will every drop of blood in bonny England be spilt. Never could I make thee understand how much I hope to be at home before he comes! Spanish indeed! Nay, never let me hear the hateful word again!"
Then, noting her puzzled, downcast face, with the impulsive changeableness which had so endeared him to her, he caught one little brown hand and raised it to his lips.
"But I do love thee even as thou art, my Wildenai," he told her with the careless assurance of one much older speaking to a child. "Is not a wild rose sweet as any garden bloom? Nay, methinks 'tis often sweeter!"
Again he laughed and the little princess laughed with him now, for into her heart at his words had come a happiness so unlooked for and so wildly sweet as wholly to bewilder her. Quickly she rose, struck by a sudden thought, and running to the farthermost corner of the cavern she brushed aside a pile of leaves and lifted some stones, disclosing at length a box fashioned from the choicest cedar. Out of it, while the Englishman watched with wondering eyes, she drew a garment made of creamy doeskin, deeply fringed and trimmed besides with strings of wampum, the polished fragments of abalone shells and many-colored beads. Silently she brought it to him and when he touched it admiringly, for the dress was beautiful. "It is my marriage robe," she told him gravely.
That night, while the rain tapped softly at her tepee, the princess dreamed of a wondrous land beyond the sea where proudly she walked by her white chief's side and fair women with braided, golden hair spoke kind words of welcome, smiling at her out of sweet blue eyes.
Then, without warning, came the end of all her dreams. Hurrying along the beach at sunset only a few days later, Wildenai caught the first glimpse of the returning vessel as it stole around a distant point. For the space of a second her heart stood still, then throbbed wildly, but whether with joy or pain she could not herself have told. One question only demanded all her thought. Should she let Lord Harold know? Perhaps the great white captain would not remember their bay. Perhaps, - her breath came fast, - perhaps the ship, unseen by anyone, would pass and Lord Harold remain behind content. With hands tight-clenched she watched the distant sail, fear growing in her eyes. Yet she knew that she would tell him. Nothing else was honorable. This, surely, he must decide for himself.
But tidings of such moment outran even her swift feet. She found him buckling on his swordbelt, in his eyes the glad light of some trapped bird which sees the door of its cage suddenly open.
"The ship - " she began with sinking heart.
"Yes, yes, I know! I saw it!" he answered, a fever of impatience in his voice. "'Tis Drake. I knew he dared not leave me! 'Twill soon be too close in. Needs not he risk his safety. I must go before he gains the shore."
The princess hesitated. What meant that strange heaviness at her heart? Was he not still her brave, true warrior, - her great white chief? Had he not told her that he loved her? Crossing to where he stood she bowed herself before him until her silver fillet touched his feet.
"I, too!" she whispered, "I shall go to England with thee!"
And at her words, within the little cavern there came a silence to be felt. In undisguised dismay the Englishman gazed at her where she knelt. Then:
"By the holyrood!" he muttered aghast, "She must have thought, - God only knows what she must have thought!"
He glanced hurriedly toward the doorway and back again, ashamed. Then even such impatience as was his gave way, for the moment at least, to something more chivalric. He stooped and patted awkwardly the smooth black head.
"Come, Wildenai, little wild rose, look up and speak to me. I must be going!"
But still the maid lay prostrate, clasping close his rough buskins in her little brown hands. Never in all his life had Lord Harold been so sorely uncomfortable. How was it possible she had ever imagined that he could take her with him, - that he had meant so much? Resentment grew within him at the thought, yet strangely mingled always with something far more tender. Hastily he considered, his heart torn between the desire not to wound her and dread of what he knew she wanted. To be sure the maid was beautiful, with the softened beauty of a moonlit night in summer, her eyes beneath her dusky hair like stars between the branches of dark trees, her voice that of the forest stream when it sings itself to sleep. Yet past all doubt he knew that not one among the gorgeous throng that crowded about Elizabeth would ever see that beauty, no English ear take heed to hear the music of her voice. Nay, he could even, as he thought of it, picture the amazement of the great queen, could hear her scornful laughter, should he present, to help adorn her court, a savage Indian girl! No, a thousand times no! Such disgrace he could not suffer. Nor was the maid herself, so he defended himself, fitted for such a life. Soon would she be as unhappy in England as he would be to have her there. Besides, she was but a child. Else had she never so far forgot all womanly dignity as to force herself upon him, and being but a child she would soon forget. Gently he made to raise her to her feet.
"Wildenai, little wild rose," he began again, "what thou hast asked of me thou dost well know thyself is an unheard of thing. Much as I owe to thee, and well know I that 'tis so much I never can repay it; still for thine own sweet sake 'tis not in this way thy reward must come. The long journey and the strange new life would kill thee, Wildenai." Having once begun he stumbled on, but half aware of how each word he uttered hurt her, eager only to have done with the whole sorry scene. "Thou art but a little wild flower. Thou couldst not live away from this, thy sunny island. Can'st thou not understand, my Wildenai?"
He paused, waiting for a reply; but the maiden answered nothing. Silent she lay as though in very truth she were a wild flower tossed to earth and trampled upon by some uncaring foot.
At last the man could bear it no longer. Forcibly he loosed her hands and stepped back. For a moment longer he lingered, looking down upon her in mingled impatience and regret; then, turning abruptly, he passed hastily out of the cavern and down the trail to the beach.
Still the girl lay motionless. It was as if every sense were stunned, all power of thought suspended except to grasp the one fact that made her whole world empty, - he was gone! As in a dream she heard the grating of the pebbles when he pushed his boat into the water, heard the clank of the oars as they dropped into the oar-locks. Even yet she did not move. Then, after many minutes, she crept to the opening and searched the sea with eyes almost, too dim with tears to find that for which she sought. But yes, there it was, - a black speck against the golden sunset. She watched until she had seen the distant vessel put about, making for the open sea. Ah, now she knew that he was safe aboard, - no need had they to come farther into shore. Yet still she waited, straining her eyes to see the ship sink slowly beneath the horizon. One last glint of sunlight against a white sail, and it was gone.
Then at once she rose, and moving quietly about the little cavern, she put all in perfect order with touch as tender as that of a mother preparing for its last sleep some little child. Here was the basket he had helped to weave, here the mat on which he had lain. Her fingers lingered caressingly on each thing that he had touched. There in the corner still stood the olla in which she had brought him water. How amused he had been that she could carry it on her head all the way up the hill from the spring without so much as spilling one drop! But that was all past now.
When at last everything was finished she gave the little rock-walled room one long, lingering look, the look of one who would carry in his heart the image of what he beholds all the rest of his life. Then she, too, made her way through the doorway into the deepening dusk.
On the beach below, squatted within the opened flap of his tepee, Torquam, mighty chief of the Mariposa, smoked his evening pipe. A wonderful pipe it was, long and delicately fashioned, inlaid with iridescent fragments of shell. Yet instantly he laid it aside as the slender form of his daughter darkened the doorway.
"Ah, Wildenai, little wild rose, welcome art thou as sunshine after rain!" His eyes lighted with the tenderness never seen there by any other than this motherless girl. He stretched his hand to her and the princess came silently and knelt before him.
"My father," she said firmly, though in so low a tone that Torquam bent to hear. "Oh, father, thou art always wise! Thou only knowest best. I come to thee to tell that I will wed Cabrillo. I will wed with him whenever thou dost choose!"
Taking her face between his hands, Torquam gazed long and searchingly into the sorrowful eyes of his daughter.
"And thou art wise to do so, my beloved one," he said at last. "He will make to thee a good husband." In his voice was the keen understanding of a father. "He will be kind to thee and heal thy wounded heart, my daughter. Don Cabrillo is a good man," he repeated solemnly."