A Waif of the Plains eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 135 pages of information about A Waif of the Plains.
in his young kinsman’s hands.  Again, by one of those illogical sequences which make a lifelong reputation depend upon a single trivial act, Clarence’s social status was settled forever at El Refugio Rancho by his picturesque diversion of Flynn’s parting gift.  The grateful peon to whom the boy had scornfully tossed the coin repeated the act, gesture, and spirit of the scene to his companion, and Don Juan’s unknown and youthful relation was at once recognized as hijo de la familia, and undeniably a hidalgo born and bred.  But in the more vivid imagination of feminine El Refugio the incident reached its highest poetic form.  “It is true, Mother of God,” said Chucha of the Mill; “it was Domingo who himself relates it as it were the Creed.  When the American escort had arrived with the young gentleman, this escort, look you, being not of the same quality, he is departing again without a word of permission.  Comes to him at this moment my little hidalgo.  ’You have yourself forgotten to take from me your demission,’ he said.  This escort, thinking to make his peace with a mere muchacho, gives to him a gold piece of twenty pesos.  The little hidalgo has taken it so, and with the words, ’Ah! you would make of me your almoner to my cousin’s people,’ has given it at the moment to Domingo, and with a grace and fire admirable.”  But it is certain that Clarence’s singular simplicity and truthfulness, a faculty of being picturesquely indolent in a way that suggested a dreamy abstraction of mind rather than any vulgar tendency to bodily ease and comfort, and possibly the fact that he was a good horseman, made him a popular hero at El Refugio.  At the end of three years Don Juan found that this inexperienced and apparently idle boy of fourteen knew more of the practical ruling of the rancho than he did himself; also that this unlettered young rustic had devoured nearly all the books in his library with boyish recklessness of digestion.  He found, too, that in spite of his singular independence of action, Clarence was possessed of an invincible loyalty of principle, and that, asking no sentimental affection, and indeed yielding none, he was, without presuming on his relationship, devoted to his cousin’s interest.  It seemed that from being a glancing ray of sunshine in the house, evasive but never obtrusive, he had become a daily necessity of comfort and security to his benefactor.

Clarence was, however, astonished, when, one morning, Don Juan, with the same embarrassed manner he had shown at their first meeting, suddenly asked him, “what business he expected to follow.”  It seemed the more singular, as the speaker, like most abstracted men, had hitherto always studiously ignored the future, in their daily intercourse.  Yet this might have been either the habit of security or the caution of doubt.  Whatever it was, it was some sudden disturbance of Don Juan’s equanimity, as disconcerting to himself as it was to Clarence.  So conscious was the boy of this that, without replying to his cousin’s question, but striving in vain to recall some delinquency of his own, he asked, with his usual boyish directness—­

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A Waif of the Plains from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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