“I’m sorry he’s not here,” Angela said. “I should have loved to see Queen Isabella’s vestments.”
“Would you? Well, you shall, if I have to turn everything in the church upside down. They must be somewhere.”
The two wandered on, peering through the dusk at the primitive paintings and decorations, made by Indians according to designs of Spanish monks.
“Do you suppose the vestments may be kept up in that gallery?” Angela suggested. “It looks a safe sort of place for treasures. But if they’re there I’m afraid we shall find them in a locked box.”
It was worth trying, and they climbed the narrow stairs that led up to a gallery curtained with twilight. There sure enough was a box, and, like the door, it was open, the key in the lock. Within, free to every hand, were the embroideries, the great treasures of the church.
“Isn’t it mysterious?” she asked, in a half-whisper, for loud tones would make jarring notes in this haunt of silence. “Can anything have happened to the Padre?”
“Things don’t happen these days,” Nick reassured her.
But he was not quite easy in his mind. “It’s too dark for you to see the vestments well. Shall I carry them downstairs?”
“No,” said Angela. “I’d rather look at them here. It’s like staring at flowers in the night. The colours come up to your eyes in the most wonderful way.”
Seeing that she meant to kneel by the open chest Nick whipped off his coat to lay under her knees, and she laughed as she named him Sir Walter Raleigh. Hilliard and Billy stood behind her, Nick stooping sometimes to examine a stole or altar-cloth she wished to show him, Billy frankly bored, until a faint sound somewhere made him prick up his ears.
“Maybe that’s the Padre now,” said he. “Shall I go and look?” Then he pattered down the steep stairway without waiting to be answered.
Angela and Nick forgot him for a moment, until his nasal young voice called excitedly from below the gallery:
“Say, Mr. Hilliard, we’re locked in!”
“What!” exclaimed Nick, straightening himself up and dropping the end of an embroidered stole.
“Some fellow’s been to the door and locked it on the outside.”
THE WISE BIRD IN THE DARK
It was very dim in the Mission church. Angela had not realized how dim until she heard the news announced through Billy’s nose. They were locked in!
Somebody had been to the door, somebody had locked it on the outside, and it was deep twilight, almost night.
Suddenly it seemed completely night. The colours of the old vestments still glowed in the dusk, like smouldering coals in a dying fire; but that was because of the rich tints, and because the eyes gazing at them were accustomed to darkness. Looking up at Nick to see what his silence meant, and whether he were nonplussed or merely deciding on a plan of action, Angela could hardly make out his features. She could see clearly only his eyes, luminous and gray.