“You—You’re mad,” he finally gasped. “Esteban, tell her what it means.”
But this Esteban could not do, for he himself had not the faintest notion of what was in store for him. War seemed to him a glorious thing; he had been told that the hills were peopled with patriots. He was very young, his heart was ablaze with hatred for the Spaniards and for Pancho Cueto. He longed to risk his life for a free Cuba. Therefore he said: “Rosa shall do as she pleases. If we must be exiles we shall share each other’s hardships. It will not be for long.”
“Idiot!” stormed the fat man. “Better that you gave her to the sharks below San Severino. There is no law, no safety for women outside of the cities. The island is in anarchy. These patriots you talk about are the blacks, the mulattoes, the—lowest, laziest savages in Cuba.”
“Please! Don Mario!” the girl pleaded. “I cannot marry you, for—I love another.”
“I love another. I’m betrothed to O’Reilly, the American—and he’s coming back to marry me.”
De Castano twisted himself laboriously out of his chair and waddled toward the door. He was purple with rage and mortification. On the threshold he paused to wheeze: “Very well, then. Go! I’m done with both of you. I would have lent you a hand with this rascal Cueto, but now he will fall heir to your entire property. Well, it is a time for bandits! I—I—” Unable to think of a parting speech sufficiently bitter to match his disappointment, Don Mario plunged out into the sunlight, muttering and stammering to himself.
Within an hour the twins were on their way up the Yumuri, toward the home of Asensio and Evangelina; for it was thither that they naturally turned. It was well that they had made haste, for as they rode down into the valley, up the other side of the hill from Matanzas came a squad of the Guardia Civil, and at its head rode Pancho Cueto.
A CRY FROM THE WILDERNESS
New York seemed almost like a foreign city to Johnnie O’Reilly when he stepped out into it on the morning after his arrival. For one thing it was bleak and cold: the north wind, hailing direct from Baffin’s Bay, had teeth, and it bit so cruelly that he was glad when he found shelter in the building which housed the offices of the Carter Importing Company. The tropics had thinned O’Reilly’s blood, for the Cuban winds bear a kiss instead of a sting; therefore he paused in the lower hallway, jostled by the morning crowds, and tried to warm himself. The truth is O’Reilly was not only cold, but frightened.
He was far from weak-hearted. In fact, few O’Reillys were that, and Johnnie had an ingrained self-assurance which might have been mistaken for impudence, but for the winning smile that went with it. Yet all the way from Havana he had seen in his mind’s eye old Sam Carter intrenched behind his flat-topped desk, and that picture had more than once caused him to forget the carefully rehearsed speech in which he intended to resign his position as an employee and his prospects as a son-in-law.