“What’s the matter now?”
“Nothing,” said Clarence, striving to keep back the hot tears that rose in his eyes. “But you were going away without saying ‘good-by.’ You’ve been very kind to me, and—and—I want to thank you!”
A deep flush crossed Flynn’s face. Then glancing suspiciously towards the corridor, he said hurriedly,—
“Did he send you?”
“No, I came myself. I heard you going.”
“All right. Good-by.” He leaned forward as if about to take Clarence’s outstretched hand, checked himself suddenly with a grim smile, and taking from his pocket a gold coin handed it to the boy.
Clarence took it, tossed it with a proud gesture to the waiting peon, who caught it thankfully, drew back a step from Flynn, and saying, with white cheeks, “I only wanted to say good-by,” dropped his hot eyes to the ground. But it did not seem to be his own voice that had spoken, nor his own self that had prompted the act.
There was a quick interchange of glances between the departing guest and his late host, in which Flynn’s eyes flashed with an odd, admiring fire, but when Clarence raised his head again he was gone. And as the boy turned back with a broken heart towards the corridor, his cousin laid his hand upon his shoulder.
“Muy hidalgamente, Clarence,” he said pleasantly. “Yes, we shall make something of you!”
Then followed to Clarence three uneventful years. During that interval he learnt that Jackson Brant, or Don Juan Robinson—for the tie of kinship was the least factor in their relations to each other, and after the departure of Flynn was tacitly ignored by both—was more Spanish than American. An early residence in Lower California, marriage with a rich Mexican widow, whose dying childless left him sole heir, and some strange restraining idiosyncrasy of temperament had quite denationalized him. A bookish recluse, somewhat superfastidious towards his own countrymen, the more Clarence knew him the more singular appeared his acquaintance with Flynn; but as he did not exhibit more communicativeness on this point than upon their own kinship, Clarence finally concluded that it was due to the dominant character of his former friend, and thought no more about it. He entered upon the new life at El Refugio with no disturbing past. Quickly adapting himself to the lazy freedom of this hacienda existence, he spent the mornings on horseback ranging the hills among his cousin’s cattle, and the afternoons and evenings busied among his cousin’s books with equally lawless and undisciplined independence. The easy-going Don Juan, it is true, attempted to make good his rash promise to teach the boy Spanish, and actually set him a few tasks; but in a few weeks the quick-witted Clarence acquired such a colloquial proficiency from his casual acquaintance with vaqueros and small traders that he was glad to leave the matter