But finally the appearance of blades of grass and early flowers warned them that winter was gone and that spring was at hand. Their occupation, therefore, was at an end. Now how to satisfy the folks at home and get a further extension of time was the truant’s supreme object. While he always professed obedience to parental demands, yet rebellion was brewing, for he did not want to go East—not just yet. Imperative orders to return were artfully parried. Finally remittances were withheld, but he had no use for money. Coercion was bad policy to use in his case. Thus a third and a fourth winter passed, and the young hunter was enjoying life on the Salado, where questions of state and nation did not bother him.
But this existence had an end. One day in the spring a conveyance drove up to the cabin, and an elderly, well-dressed woman alighted. With the assistance of her driver she ran the gauntlet of dogs and reached the cabin door, which was open. There, sitting inside on a dry cow-skin which was spread on the clay floor, was the object of her visit, surrounded by a group of Mexican companions, playing a game called monte. The absorbing interest taken in the cards had prevented the inmates of the jacal from noticing the lady’s approach until she stood opposite the door. On the appearance of a woman, the game instantly ceased. Recognition was mutual, but neither mother nor son spoke a word. Her eye took in the surroundings at a glance. Finally she spoke with a half-concealed imperiousness of tone, though her voice was quiet and kindly.
“Alexander, if you wish to see your mother, come to San Antonio, won’t you, please?” and turning, she retraced her steps toward the carriage.
Her son arose from his squatting posture, hitching up one side of his trousers, then the other, for he was suspenderless, and following at a distance, scratching his head and hitching his trousers alternately, he at last managed to say, “Ah, well—why—if you can wait a few moments till I change my clothes, I’ll—I’ll go with you right now.”
This being consented to, he returned to the cabin, made the necessary change, and stood before them a picture of health, bewhiskered and bronzed like a pirate. As he was halfway to the vehicle, he turned back, and taking the old black hands of Tiburcio in his own, said in good Spanish, though there was a huskiness in his voice, “That lady is my mother. I may never see you again. I don’t think I will. You may have for your own everything I leave.”