The Crusade of the Excelsior eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 271 pages of information about The Crusade of the Excelsior.
broad plaza, evidently the public resort of the little town.  Encompassing this open space, a few red-tiled roofs could be faintly seen in the gathering gloom.  Chocolate and thin spiced cakes were served in the veranda, pending the preparations for a more formal banquet.  Already Miss Keene had been singled out from her companions for the special attentions of her hosts, male and female, to her embarrassment and confusion.  Already Dona Isabel, the sister of the Alcalde, had drawn her aside, and, with caressing frankness, had begun to question her in broken English,—­

“But Miss Keene is no name.  The Dona Keene is of nothing.”

“Well, you may call me Eleanor, if you like,” said Miss Keene, smiling.

“Dona Leonor—­so; that is good,” said Dona Isabel, clapping her hands like a child.  “But how are you?”

“I beg your pardon,” said Miss Keene, greatly amused, “but I don’t understand.”

“Ah, Caramba!  What are you, little one?” Seeing that her guest still looked puzzled, she continued,—­“Ah!  Mother of God!  Why are your friends so polite to you?  Why does every one love you so?”

“Do they?  Well,” stammered Miss Keene, with one of her rare, dazzling smiles, and her cheeks girlishly rosy with naive embarrassment, “I suppose they think I am pretty.”

“Pretty!  Ah, yes, you are!” said Dona Isabel, gazing at her curiously.  “But it is not all that.”

“What is it, then?” asked Miss Keene demurely.

“You are a—­a—­Dama de Grandeza!”

CHAPTER VI.

Hail and farewell.”

Supper was served in the inner room opening from the corridor lit by a few swinging lanterns of polished horn and a dozen wax candles of sacerdotal size and suggestion.  The apartment, though spacious, was low and crypt-like, and was not relieved by the two deep oven-like hearths that warmed it without the play of firelight.  But when the company had assembled it was evident that the velvet jackets, gold lace, silver buttons, and red sashes of the entertainers not only lost their tawdry and theatrical appearance in the half decorous and thoughtful gloom, but actually seemed more in harmony with it than the modern dresses of the guests.  It was the Excelsior party who looked strange and bizarre in these surroundings; to the sensitive fancy of Miss Keene, Mrs. Brimmer’s Parisian toilet had an air of provincial assumption; her own pretty Zouave jacket and black silk skirt horrified her with its apparent ostentatious eccentricity; and Mrs. Markham and Miss Chubb seemed dowdy and overdressed beside the satin mantillas and black lace of the Senoritas.  Nor were the gentlemen less outres:  the stiff correctness of Mr. Banks, and the lighter foppishness of Winslow and Crosby, not to mention Senor Perkins’ more pronounced unconventionality, appeared as burlesques of their own characters in a play.  The crowning contrast was reached by Captain Bunker, who, in accordance with the habits of the mercantile marine of that period when in port, wore a shore-going suit of black broadcloth, with a tall hat, high shirt collar, and diamond pin.  Seated next to the Commander, it was no longer Don Miguel who looked old-fashioned, it was Captain Bunker who appeared impossible.

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The Crusade of the Excelsior from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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