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DOWN through the endless miles of maguey fields, gray-green and dusty under the glare of the hard turquoise sky, past huddled brown villages, leaving the Pyramids behind and picking up the faint silhouette of Mt. Orizaba on the horizon, swaying, lurching, the Vera Cruz train sped eastward, Mr. Gelbhauser's new private car "Dianthe" playing "snap-the-whip" on the end.

Young Tommy Jerrolds, who had been asked only to play with the Levering girls, and hadn't said ten words to them since they left Los Angeles, held his usual point of vantage beside Miss Millard, reveling alike in her favor and the scowls of Herman Gelbhauser, Jr., who regarded him wrathfully from across the aisle. The boy stooped to rescue the book which slipped from her lap to the floor. " That's five times in half an horn! Must be studying hard!"

Miss Millard nodded her thanks without turning her gaze from the window. "I'm too busy, Tommy."

"Heavens!" he protested, "What can you see in this endless pulque-patch? Miles upon miles of smiles, acres of mornings after——"

She shook her head impatiently. "Oh, not this, especially, but all of it—the country—the people—the air—I can't explain it!"

Her host leaned toward her, his broad face beaming. "I'm delighted that you are enjoying yourself, Miss Millard. There is, indeed, much of interest—to one capable of appreciating it."

"Whew, I guess that cut!" said young Tommy cheerfully. " But leave your sceneless scenery long anough to do your Spanish, Miss Di! Come on—we'd gone as far as 'What does Your Honor's Papa want?' 'He wants the soap,' and 'The young lady needs the silk handkerchief of the Frenchman'—(careless young lady!) Now then; 'Qué necesita la——"

"Mr. Gelbhauser, you'll have to come and play the rubber with me!" called a cross voice from the other end of the car. "Jim's asleep again!"

Herman Gelbhauser rose reluctantly, and Miss Millard turned to the boy with a quick whisper. "Tommy, you mustn't!"

"Well, you know you don't want——" he began defensively, but she cut him short.

"Sh! Do go and talk to the girls!"

"Oh, they're busy!" He looked over his shoulder to where the Misses Levering lolled in their chairs and jabbed vicious eyelets in their embroidery. "Look here, it's none of my business, but I know you're not strong for Hermie! You can't be!" His freckled face flushed hotly. "You're so beautiful and keen, you're there a million; and what's he, besides the old codger's son?" he nodded to the farthest corner of the car where a little old man with a handkerchief over his head snored gently.

Miss Millard's lip curled. "Vulgarly speaking, Tommy, he's 'there a million'— several of them."

"Don't!" said the boy sharply. "It isn't like you."

She squared herself to the window, her elbows on the sill, and watched the sliding picture with somber eyes. "I don't see why you think anything that's sordid and calculating and mean is unlike me. It's all I've known."

"Well, it's not!" doggedly. "And it makes me hot to have that bunch down there talking you over, saying you'll make up your mind on this trip whether it's to be Hermie or Chase!"

A slow blush spread over Diana Millard's beautiful face from chin to brow. "I don't know why I let you talk to me like this."

Young Tommy moved closer. "I'll tell you. Because you know I'm only a kid, and out of the running, and because I—I understand, and know you're the sweetest, finest—well, you are, and it makes me sick to hear them betting it'll be Chase, because his pictures are the rage, or Hermie, with his imitation polish and the old man's money—and the car that he named for you as near as he dared!"

From the group at the other end came the acid aftermath: "Well, naturally, when I led you the ten!"—"Make up your own signals as you go along, don't you?" A man pushed his chair back noisily, and flung himself out on to the platform, banging the door behind him.

"Hermie's car," said the boy softly, "full of sweet, jolly, congenial people who like him for himself alone! Miss Di——" The train jarred to a standstill with a great flurry of whistles and bells, and the occupants of the "Dianthe" sprang to their feet in welcoming haste.

Miss Millard stood on the lowest step and let the rest clamber past her, watching them merge into the stream of Pullman passengers who rushed to the venders of dulces and tortillas, and the shacks of the Mexicans.

"Not going to mingle?" asked Derwent Chase, joining her.

"No," said the girl disgustedly. "Look at them, crowding into their huts, stepping on the dogs, snatching up the babies, peeking into the kettles, laughing at them—ugh! We're the barbarians!"

She looked over the snarl of people on the platform to the rolling brown country where a dusty road led away to the dimpling hills. Four oxen plodded toward them, drawing a crude, two-wheeled cart piled high with golden hay, their great heads pushed forward under the heavy beam bound to their horns. Beside them pattered a peon, all in dingy white, save for his yellow sombrero and the scarlet band at his waist. A pair of forlorn minstrels, a blind man steered by a little, lame old woman, wormed their way through the crowd and halted before Diana, wailing a mournful ballad to the thin strumming of the man's guitar.

Young Jerrolds hurried back to his post. "Some class, isn't it?" he grinned. "Looks like a stage setting—all the scenery and the chorus, and—by Jiminy, look! There in the station door—'Enter the Hero!'"

STANDING in the low doorway, like a picture too large for its frame, was a tall man in well worn English riding-clothes, his fresh coloring and the fair hair under his canvas helmet in striking contrast to the dusky faces about him. He stood for a moment looking with frank curiosity at the tourists thronging the platform, his blue eyes resting for a permissible second on Miss Millard, then swung past them and boarded the car ahead.

"Say, me for him, strong!" cried Tommy warmly. "Kind of a cross between the 'Brushwood Boy' and that fellow in 'Soldiers of Fortune'! By golly, I bet that chap knows lots about this country! I'm going to talk to him! See you next station!" he raced down the platform as the train began to move, and jumped on the steps of the Pullman.

"I dare say you can spare the Infant Class? " laughed Chase, as he took Tommy's seat.

The train had hardly slowed down for the next town when the boy rushed back to the "Dianthe." "Say, Mr. Gelbhauser, there's a mighty interesting fellow in there —think you'd all enjoy him. Can I bring him in?"

-Herman, Jr., considered ponderously. "That will be as the ladies of the party wish," he said, looking only at Miss Millard.

Diana looked at the boy's eager face, and then smiled at her host: "It might be very pleasant."

"Tell your friend—if you're sure, of course, that he's a proper sort of person— that we'll be pleased to have him join us for tea," said Mr. Gelbhauser graciously, and Tommy dashed off to return with his discovery in tow.

He was one Edgar Blythe-Masterson, it seemed, late of England, and now in charge of an extensive sugar hacienda near Córdoba. The "Dianthe's" party in the main fell upon him with the cordiality born of much boredom, and he took their tea and cakes and their advances with frank appetite. Tommy, curled into an incredibly small space on the floor that he might be near his divinity, listened rapturously, looking up at her for approval when the Englishman, in answer to the queries of the other men, told of crops and conditions and politics and, by reason of quaint diction and much ingenuous earnestness, infused the simplest statement with color and warmth.

"Then it isn't all poppycock, this revolution story?" asked Chase. "There's always danger of an outbreak?"

Tommy saw Diana's dark eyes traveling consideringly from the newcomer to Herman Gelbhauser, much too carefully dressed and mannered; to Chase, weary-eyed and much too clever; to the other men of the group, modifications of the two types.

"Well, rather!" the Englishman answered with a laugh. "Down here in the tierra caliente things are always simmering, d'you see?—and the lid's just about due to fly off again. There's a charcoal-burner, a sort of half-witted chap—Florenzio something-or-other—who thinks he's had visions, and they've been rioting all over the shop, with him at their head. Oh, there'll be nothing big, you know—the Government will be down on them like a shot before they're fairly started, and stand a hundred of 'em against a wall and snuff out the revolution with a few volleys, and the vision chap will be packed off to San Juan de Ulua—the very unpleasant island prison you'll see in the harbor of Vera Cruz—to rot out his life in a cell where the water's knee-deep at high tide, and——"

"Nevertheless," Gelbhauser cut in with authority, "it's generally conceded that the Government is most excellent, and that Diaz has redeemed Mexico from a nation of savages."

"Granted," said Blythe-Masterson pleasantly. "He's a Napoleon, of a sort, is Diaz, and he's worked nothing short of a miracle with the crude stuff he took hold of, but—" he hesitated, "you can't have omelette without breaking eggs, and there's always the other view-point. And so long as there are fellows who think it a glorious privilege to get themselves shot or sealed up alive for the sake of 'Libertad,' we'll be having revolutions!"

"But, my gracious, Mr. Blythe-Masterson," chirped the elder Miss Levering, "isn't it dangerous, living in such a wild country?"

"Oh, of course, there's always the off chance that some misguided patriot will pot you on general principles, but I rub along very comfortably. Y' see, I've tucked away a run-away enganchador or two— contract laborers, you know—and the Beggars know I've a leaning to their side."

"Does your company like to have you risk antagonizing the Government? " asked Herman, Jr.

"My—oh, I'm for myself, you see. Yes, it makes it rather jolly. I shouldn't like being accountable. My word, here's Orizaba, and I'm getting off here! I've enjoyed meeting you no end! You'll be staying over in Córdoba, of course, and you'll all come out to the hacienda for tea? Or— better still—stop the night? That would be jolly! I've a goodish bit of room, for I'm expecting the people from home over this year, and I can perfectly well put you up. I'll call it a promise, then?"

He stood with Ins hand on young Tommy's shoulder, his cheery glance running over the languid group till it rested eagerly on Miss Millard.

"Good-by, then, for a bit—Beg pardon? You're having the car cut off here? You're staying over in Orizaba? Oh, I say, what luck!" he dropped into his chair again with frank delight.

AND so it fell out that when the "Dianthe" started on the wonderful drop from Orizaba to Córdoba three days later, on a marvelous green and gold morning, it was the Englishman who sat beside Miss Millard on the observation platform, Tommy standing guard close by, and Messrs. Gelbhauser and Chase hovering unhappily in the middle distance. The boy managed to whisper in her ear: "Guess I'm poor as a discoverer—T. Columbus Jerrolds, please write!" And Diana blushed "the blushiest blush you ever saw," Tommy wrote his mother afterwards, "and there your Angel Son sat, playing the Human Barbed Wire Fence, listening to scraps like—'And so you've been in Surrey,' (beeen, Mumsie!) 'almost in sight of my home! Only fancy!'—and Chase and Hermie thirsting for my gore!"

All too soon there was Córdoba smiling up at them, and then Cordoba station, with the villagers drawn up to meet the train for all the world like a comic-opera chorus, and a slim Mexican with Chesterfieldian manners riding a dancing horse and leading another to meet Blythe-Masterson, who called a hearty "Hello, Romaldo! How are you?"

"Señor," replied Romaldo with a glittering smile, with great difficulty removing his sombrero and restraining both horses, "I am your Honor's servant who kisses your hands, and all is well at Las Golondrinas!"

They watched the Englishman mount and ride away, the elegant Romaldo falling correctly behind, but his master pulled up sharply at a shrill cry, leaning down to greet a droll little row lined- up to meet him. There were two tiny boys, almost eclipsed by sombreros, and three small girls with heads sedately covered by rebosas, the youngest sucking a bashful finger. He leaned gravely down to shake each one by the hand, rummaged in his pocket for a parcel of dulces, waved again to the "Dianthe" and clattered off down the sunny street.

Mr. Gelbhauser's party climbed on the mule-car which rims between the station and the town and were jolted through avenues of tropical trees, past the clamor of the market-place, beside the gay plaza with the old cathedral on its edge, into the heart of the tierra caliente.

"Wonder which way his hacienda is?" said Tommy. "Will we go out to-day or to-morrow?"

"I don't know that we will go either today or to-morrow," answered his host crisply. "We are probably capable of entertaining ourselves during our brief stay. There seems nothing to see—besides the laziest set of idlers we've seen yet!"

"That fellow frivoling away his time with the Saratoga, for instance? " asked Tommy sweetly, pointing to a slender youth with a heavy trunk slung on his back and a basket in his hands. "Or his friend loafing along behind with the four suit-cases and the two satchels?"

"The gentleman transplanting the boiler seems to be rather busy, too," laughed Chase, nodding toward an aguador, trotting briskly under his enormous water-jar, and Herman, Jr., joined grudgingly in the laugh.

Perhaps it was the aftermath of that irritation that held him in its grip in the delicious cool of the evening, as they strolled back from the concert in the Alameda, when not even Diana's face under a pale blue rebosa could light his gloom. Nor could the excellent supper the porters had set out in the "Dianthe," for he stood moodily apart while the others ate, hinting darkly of an early morning departure. A crowd—some who had been listening to the concert and others who had swelled the number—came swarming down to the station, singing and shouting, and halted near the car.

"I wonder if our friends are merely out for the air, or if this is a rally?" said Chase. "Looks rather promising."

The crowd swayed nearer, gesticulating and pointing to the windows of the "Dianthe."

"Oh, please," cried the younger Miss Levering timidly, "mayn't we have the shades down?"

"I see no reason why," said Gelbhauser sourly.

"Isn't it just possible," said Diana dryly, "that the sight of us at our fifth meal may be a little irritating to people who may have difficulty in getting two?"

His heavy face flushed unpleasantly. "You've become inoculated with British-Mexican Socialism, I see, but I shall pay no attention to them. It is not our affair if they choose the vicinity of our car for their meeting."

"Revolution, rim away, Come again some other day, Little Hermie wants to play!" chanted Tommy softly, and the Misses Levering giggled nervously. Gelbhauser, who had caught the drift, wheeled on the boy with his face stormy, but a stone whizzed through the window, grazing his cheek and just breaking the skin.

"That settles it!" he shouted, running into his state-room, while a pocket edition of pandemonium reigned in the car, and returning with his revolver.

"Gelbhauser, are you crazy?" cried Chase, springing at him. "What——"

"I'll show you!" he screamed furiously. "I'll show you how to deal with these cattle!" Shaking off the restraining hand he fired into the crowd. There was a cry of rage and pain, and then all that had gone before in the way of noise became as the calm of a Slimmer day—shrieks, curses, a fusillade of stones, a knife which gleamed past Diana and imbedded itself in the wall.

Chase and Tommy sprang to the doors, calling to the rest to pull the shades, and the members of the "Dianthe's" party looked at each other in pallid silence while the menacing roar grew louder. Then, suddenly, a new note was added to the tumult —a shout which sent the color flooding back into Miss Millard's white face. "I knew he would come for us!" she said, with a little laugh, and Tommy threw open the door to admit Blythe-Masterson, breathless and imperative.

"Quick!" he gasped. "You'll have to run for it! I heard they were meeting, and hurried to——" He looked at the pistol in Gelbhauser's limp hand. "You had the bad luck to wing Florenzio—the visionchap, and there's the deuce to pay! Get the women out of the window on that side—it's dark—Romaldo's there—he'll take you to the hacienda! Quick, I say! I'll stand them off here till you get a bit of a start!"

Tommy and Chase had flown to obey him as he spoke, but Herman, Jr., brandished his pistol hysterically. "Am I to abandon my car to these savages?"

"Man alive!" shouted the Englishman, "I'll do my best to save your car, but I'm trying to save your skin! Quick, I tell you!" He opened the door and shouted something in Spanish to the mob, then slammed it again and ran to Tommy and caught his arm. "I say, you'll look after her?"

"Bet your neck!" said the boy. briefly, and Blythe-Masterson went out on the platform and shut the door behind him.

THE elegant Romaldo was receiving the limp and terrified ladies from the arms of Tommy and Chase, and when they were all on thfe ground he pointed to the left, motioned for silence, -and set off through the dark at a run, the Americans stumbling after him. Diana had been the last to be lifted down, and she clutched Tommy's hand and hung. back.

"What will they do to him?" she whispered fiercely. "We can't——"

"Come along!" said Tommy importantly. "He told me to take care of you!" Diana stood still. "Tommy, did he, honestly? When? What did he say?"

"Come on!" panted the boy, pulling her. "Do you think this is a pink tea? Hurry!" From the other side of the car they could hear the Englishman's voice in earnest expostulation, and the yells and hisses of the crowd.

"Tommy, they'll kill him! We can't leave——"

"Now you've done it! They're coming round! Pull that thing over your face. Sh! Back into the shadow!"

A section of the crowd swayed round the end of the car, and Tommy dragged1 Miss Millard deeper into the shade, creeping beside the car to the end of it, then stumbling and pushing through the friendly dark, jostled by the mob, which was breaking and surging to all sides. They made a spurt to a freight-car, and leaned against it, gasping.

"Sh!" breathed Tommy. "If anybody comes near, say something Spanish—anything!"

"I c-can't think of anything but the soap, or the silk handkerchief of the Frenchman!" she whispered wildly. "Oh, Tommy, they're coming this way!"

They ran on again, Tommy pulling and urging. "Run! Run! Didn't you ever play basket-ball? Didn't you ever play tag? Faster!"

On through the soft, murky darkness, away from the station and the lights, till the sound of the voices grew faint and died away, and Miss Millard sank down in rebellion. "Not—another—inch—Tommy! OH, if I ever—breathe again!"

"And now we're lost, like the Babes in the Wood," said Tommy.

"Never mind," said Diana, breathless but serene, "he'll come for us! He'll find us!"

Tommy found breath to whistle "Rule Brittania;" and he whistled it again, an hour later, when he heard a galloping horse.

"My word, I'm glad to find you! I've been scouring the jungle!" The Englishman had flung himself off and was holding both Miss Millard's hands. "You're safe? You're quite sure you're not hurt?" Then reproachfully, to Tommy, "You promised mg you'd look after her!"

"Well, she——" began the boy, but a frantic cough from Diana checked him. "We were slow in getting started, and the mob cut us off from the rest. Then we beat it—my friend, Miss Diana of the chase, and me, and——"

"You shall ride my horse," Blythe-Masterson said to Miss Millard, "and Jerrolds and I will walk beside you. I didn't want to alarm the others when I saw you were not with them at the hacienda, and I told them you were safe at the hotel, so they haven't been worrying."

They set off through the velvet blackness of the night, Tommy limping wearily and considerately in the rear, and Romaldo met them at the gate of Las Golondrinas.

"Señor," he said, "I am your Honor's servant who kisses your hands, and your guests are all sleeping, save only the fat señor, who wails for his car."

Diana was given a steamer chair in the fragrant patio, and the wife of Romaldo summoned to attend her. She was also, it appeared, the señor's servant who kissed his hands, and the chief of her joys was rising at one o'clock to prepare chocolate for beautiful and famished young ladies. After that she showed Miss Millard to her room.

AND it seemed hardly an hour after her soft "Buenas noches" that she was saying "Buenos dias" beside the bed, with another cup of steaming chocolate. Diana hurried down to the patio, and found the "Dianthe's" party assembled, weary-eyed and much subdued.

"It seems beastly inhospitable to speed your going this way," said their host unhappily, "but I know you'll feel more comfortable when you've put a good bit of country between you and your adventures of last night. I got them to take your car down to Vera Cruz on the midnight freight. Romaldo will drive you to Atoyac, where you'll catch the train. I—I'm no end sorry to hurry you." He led the way to the gate, where the four-horse stage and three saddle-horses were waiting, and helped the women in.

Diana, dazed and wondering, leaned down to speak to him. "You—you are coming with us?"

"Unfortunately, no. I—er—I have things to-look after here—things to be attended to at once. It's beastly luck, but I can't possibly leave the ranch this morning. Romaldo, one moment!"

Miss Millard, watching in utter bewilderment, saw him slip a folded paper into the Mexican's hand and whisper to him earnestly. Then Romaldo leaped to the driver's seat, cracked his long whip, and they were off in a cloud of golden dust.

Young Tommy's hand found hers under the robe as he ran his horse close beside when they slowed down for a turn. "I don't know how," he whispered, "but Hermie did it! He was with him half an hour, before the rest came down, and— you saw Blythe-Masterson's face! Shall I slay Hermie at once or reserve him for torture?"

She pulled her thick veil down over her face and leaned back in the corner of the seat in silence, careless of the close-clipped smiles of the Levering girls and the hard fun in Chase's eyes. Five little days, then, was to be the sum of it all! The "Dianthe" was waiting; Herman, Jr., was waiting; life, as she had known it, was waiting. A brisk, fresh wind had swept through the hot-house, revealing it, cleansing it, but the door was shut now, and the air was danker than ever—spent, stale, heavy with forced blooms.

Gelbhauser, thudding solidly on his slim moffnt, reined in beside her, a chastened cheer on his wide face. "All's well that ends well, eh, Miss Millard? I'm sorry I was so upset last night. I hope I don't have to explain to you that it wasn't the broken window. It was the principle of the thing. By the way, Collier will be in town the night we get in, and I want to consult you about a little party——"

IN SPITE of the multiplicity of cares which kept him at home, the master of Las Golondrinas spent the morning on his upper veranda, like Sister Anne, watching every cloud of dust, and Romaldo found him waiting at the gate.

"Señor," he said, "I am your——"

"Did you give her the note, Romaldo?"

"But surely, señor, and she has read it, two times, and three. And the young sefior has laughed out with a great gladness, and torn a leaf from his book, and held his hat for her to write upon, and the fat senor has looked evilly upon——"

"Where is it?"

Romaldo had never seen his revered employer grab before. The revered employer also read two times and three.

—but I am not, not, NOT engaged to him, and I never—

"Señor," said Romaldo, politely and patiently, "I am your Honor's, servant who——"

"Saddles my horse!" cried his master. "And gets a month's wages if I make the two-ten for Vera Cruz!"