“My country is ruined,” said she. “Also, Senor, I am ruined. As you say, I have no means of life. I have not even money to secure my passage home. That Senor Van Zandt—”
“Yes, Van Zandt did much for us, through your agency, Senora. We have benefited by that, and I therefore regret he proved faithless to you personally. I am sorry to tell you that he has signified his wish to join our army against your country. I hear also that your late friend, Mr. Polk, has forgotten most of his promises to you.”
“Him I hate also!” she broke out. “He broke his promise to Senor Van Zandt, to my husband, to me!”
Calhoun smiled in his grim fashion. “I am not surprised to hear all that, my dear lady, for you but point out a known characteristic of that gentleman. He has made me many promises which he has forgotten, and offered me even of late distinguished honors which he never meant me to accept. But, since I have been personally responsible for many of these things which have gone forward, I wish to make what personal amends I can; and ever I shall thank you for the good which you have done to this country. Believe me, Madam, you served your own country also in no ill manner. This situation could not have been prevented, and it is not your fault. I beg you to believe that. Had you and I been left alone there would have been no war.”
“But I am poor, I have nothing!” she rejoined.
There was indeed much in her situation to excite sympathy. It had been through her own act that negotiations between England and Texas were broken off. All chance of Mexico to regain property in Texas was lost through her influence with Van Zandt. Now, when all was done, here she was, deserted even by those who had been her allies in this work.
“My dear Senora,” said John Calhoun, becoming less formal and more kindly, “you shall have funds sufficient to make you comfortable at least for a time after your return to Mexico. I am not authorized to draw upon our exchequer, and you, of course, must prefer all secrecy in these matters. I regret that my personal fortune is not so large as it might be, but, in such measure as I may, I shall assist you, because I know you need assistance. In return, you must leave this country. The flag is down which once floated over the house of Mexico here.”
She hid her face behind her fan, and Calhoun turned aside.
“Senora, have you ever seen this slipper?” he asked, suddenly placing upon the table the little shoe which for a purpose I had brought with me and meantime thrown upon the table.
She flashed a dark look, and did not speak.
“One night, some time ago, your husband pursued a lady across this town to get possession of that very slipper and its contents! There was in the toe of that little shoe a message. As you know, we got from it certain information, and therefore devised certain plans, which you have helped us to carry out. Now, as perhaps you have had some personal animus against the other lady in these same complicated affairs, I have taken the liberty of sending a special messenger to ask her presence here this morning. I should like you two to meet, and, if that be possible, to part with such friendship as may exist in the premises.”