“We are especially glad always to hear of our friends from the Southwest,” said he, at last, with a slight addition of formality in tone and attitude.
At these words I saw my lady’s eyes flicker. “It is fate, Senor,” said she, again casting down her eyes, and spreading out her hands as in resignation, “fate which left Texas and Mexico not always one.”
“That may be,” said Mr. Calhoun. “Perhaps fate, also, that those of kin should cling together.”
“How can a mere woman know?” My lady shrugged her very graceful and beautiful shoulders—somewhat mature shoulders now, but still beautiful.
“Dear Senora,” said Mr. Calhoun, “there are so many things a woman may not know. For instance, how could she know if her husband should perchance leave the legation to which he was attached and pay a visit to another nation?”
Again the slight flickering of her eyes, but again her hands were outspread in protest.
“How indeed, Senor?”
“What if my young aide here, Mr. Trist, should tell you that he has seen your husband some hundreds of miles away and in conference with a lady supposed to be somewhat friendly towards—”
“Ah, you mean that baroness—!”
So soon had the shaft gone home! Her woman’s jealousy had offered a point unexpectedly weak. Calhoun bowed, without a smile upon his face.
“Mr. Pakenham, the British minister, is disposed to be friendly to this same lady. Your husband and a certain officer of the British Navy called upon this same lady last week in Montreal—informally. It is sometimes unfortunate that plans are divulged. To me it seemed only wise and fit that you should not let any of these little personal matters make for us greater complications in these perilous times. I think you understand me, perhaps, Senora Yturrio?”
She gurgled low in her throat at this, any sort of sound, meaning to remain ambiguous. But Calhoun was merciless.
“It is not within dignity, Senora, for me to make trouble between a lady and her husband. But we must have friends with us under our flag, or know that they are not our friends. You are welcome in my house. Your husband is welcome in the house of our republic. There are certain duties, even thus.”
Only now and again she turned upon him the light of her splendid eyes, searching him.
“If I should recall again, gently, my dear Senora, the fact that your husband was with that particular woman—if I should say, that Mexico has been found under the flag of England, while supposed to be under our flag—if I should add that one of the representatives of the Mexican legation had been discovered in handing over to England certain secrets of this country and of the Republic of Texas—why, then, what answer, think you, Senora, Mexico would make to me?”
“But Senor Calhoun does not mean—does not dare to say—”
“I do dare it; I do mean it! I can tell you all that Mexico plans, and all that Texas plans. All the secrets are out; and since we know them, we purpose immediate annexation of the Republic of Texas! Though it means war, Texas shall be ours! This has been forced upon us by the perfidy of other nations.”