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Doña Ceferina rose then, rather majestically all things considered. "Escalante," she said, "I must beg you not to make a jest of such a thing before me. The girl is a shameless, wanton hussy. After all the hours I've spent telling her about the deceitfulness of men, and all the hours Father Isidro has talked to all of them, and after she went to the Mass only last Sunday-" Doña Ceferina retired, all her chins in air, and almost banged a door behind her.
Don Feliciano looked after her, still thoughtful. Then he turned to me. "Do you," he asked me gravely, "see any gain in putting the man in jail?"
"No real gain," I answered.
The old man's eyes grew suddenly soft and tender. "They are so very young," he said apologetically. "They hardly knew what they were doing. But it's done. Don't you think," he asked a little wistfully, "that under the circumstances it would be better to get them married? Then they could have a house and some children, and it would be pleasanter for everybody than a jail would be. I don't like jails very well."
"Much pleasanter," I agreed. "But as a punishment-"
Don Feliciano looked downcast again. "I wasn't thinking of punishments," he admitted. "The fact is," he said suddenly, with the hangdog air of one beginning a confession
"Escalante," Doña Ceferina called, opening her door a crack and shooting her words into the room, it must be distinctly understood-distintamente entendido-that under no circumstances does that girl return to this house. After telling her all I have, and teaching her the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin till she could say it backwards-"
"If you'd rather," Don Feliciano suggested mildly, "they could live at the plantation after they are married. Perhaps it would be pleas
"If I'd rather!" cried the unseen lady. "Thank God, Escalante, it's no affair of mine. Besides, you ought to know that all the houses at the plantation are occupied."
"Well," said Don Feliciano, still suggestively, "since you feel they'd better go to the plantation, we can build them a house. Perhaps it is better. The man works there. Building a house is very little bother, and as you feel it would be pleasanter-"
"As I feel!" Doña Ceferina spluttered. "I feel jail for both of them. But of course if you feel 'pleasanter,' that ends it. I'm tired of 'pleasanters.' I don't believe in encouraging such doings and building houses for them, but no es cosa mia. The girl is a shameless one. I wash my hands of her. Pleasanter! I wash my hands of that!" Doña Ceferina's door closed with an emphasis SO convincing that even through the wall I fancied I could hear her splashing imaginary water.
I might have been even a little less at ease as an onlooker at this small domestic squall had not Don Feliciano been so very much at ease himself.
"I'm so glad," he murmured, "to find that you both agree with me. Now we'll have them married at once."
"Having first," I suggested, "taken your errant bride and bridegroom into custody."
"That," said he, "will not be necessary. The fact is," he added, his hangdog air returning, "the-the man sent up the first thing this morning to ask if I'd advance him the cost of a wedding out of his year-afternext's wages. He's a bit in debt. 'And-and the fact is, I said I would."
"Then," said I, "they didn't really run away at all."
"That's about it," said Don Feliciano. "The fact is," he added again, rising, "I shall have to ask you to permit my absence for half an hour.
The girl wouldn't stop crying till I'd said I would forgive them and give the bride away. The fact is," he added still again, shaking my hands formally and looking about for a hat which lay in plain sight before him, "the fact is, they are waiting for me at the foot of the stairway. So if you won't be offended at my brief absence-"
Doña Ceferina's door opened. "Escalante," she said imperiously, "I've been making up a bundle of that hussy's clothes. She left them all here, just as if she expected me to save them for her! And here's a mantilla. You understand, I wash my hands of her, and I still think jail is the place. But if she is to be married, I won't have one of my maids married looking like a ragamuffin. So I've put in a mantilla. It's an old one; she can keep it. I never want to touch the thing again. But every girl ought to be married in a mantilla.”
"I will send a muchacho for the things," Don Feliciano answered. "You are very thoughtful. As you say"
abruptly, and her husband turned to
thrust into huge chinelas of purple velvet, and the girl, bright in her gaudy finery and with the soft lace of Doña Ceferina's gift thrown over her glossy hair, walked hand in hand for all the world to see. And all the world swarmed out of the little shops and flung good wishes at them. Last of all, closing the procession, pranced an impish muchacho, much delighted by the event and the prominence it brought him. He was carrying dot and trousseau together, tied up in a big red handkerchief.
Altogether it all seemed ever so much pleasanter for everybody than jails. The only discordant note about it was the velvet slippers. They were magenta purple, and they screamed.
Sitting there, gazing down the sunny street long after the bridal party had vanished, I fell to brooding on Don Feliciano's apologetic words. They were so young. them so much must be forgiven for impulsiveness, short-sightedness, impatience.
I'm afraid I grew rather wistful. "If only I'd had some fairy godfather," I complained.
said the friendly muchacho, arriving at that moment, "your boatman Pedro asks to see
"Master," "She is," he said, "the most. thoughtful and kind-hearted person I have known. And now, if you are sure you will forgive me " With that he spied the hat and pressed my hands again.
Presently I saw a little procession pass along the grassy street of little shops. Don Feliciano, very erect in his frail, quiet dignity, walked first. Close behind him came the two culprits. But somehow they seemed very young and unashamed and quite too happy to be culprits. The man, dressed in his best of shapeless cotton with his work-hardened feet
"Pedro?" said I. I had forgotten
"Well," said I, "let him come in," and I waited for his coming with no great willingness, remembering a bit too tardily for my comfort that I was a sojourner in Felicidad,that my home was a prau which this Pedro, who was coming in, steered aimlessly up and down the empty
(To be continued)
What Shall We Think of the Sinking
of the Lusitania ?
Sorrow for those who have lost their lives in this tragedy seems for the moment swallowed up in what we are wont to call the "larger" issues involved. But it is by no means certain that the legal and national are the largest aspects of such a deed. God judges not by numbers and majorities. In no single respect is that conception of history which underlies the narrative of the Hebrew prophets greater than in its assertion of the interference of Providence for chosen ones. At the same time, no teaching of these same prophets is more worthy of reflection or more unfailingly borne out in history, than that which says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' Let us not, then, forget to extend our earnest sympathies to those who are bereaved, and in our determination to maintain our rights, let us not take upon ourselves that prerogative of vengeance which Divine Justice reserves to itself.
From a national standpoint, no phase of the event is more disquieting than its seemingly insolent ignoring of the strong protest of our Government, framed to forestall just such a dangerous trespass on neutral rights. If the extreme anxiety of our Government to avoid hostile measures of all kinds, shown so strongly in the Mexican situation, has led Germany to believe that all representations from Washington may be ignored with impunity, we have reached a serious situation-and one not unforeseen by many who believed that we should have dealt more firmly with affairs to the south of us.
The sinking of the Lusitania ought not to bring on war, but it is to be hoped that those in authority in Germany will see that a continuance of their present policy may very easily do so, and that they will not be so ill-advised as to underestimate the seriousness to themselves of such an eventuality.
Saddest of all, perhaps, is the effect of this ruthless act on the total attitude of our people toward German culture. In this respect it is even retroactive. It affects our estimate of all German art and thought. These we' have long held in admiration for a certain combination of philosophy and mystical imagination peculiar to them, and in this admiration we have ignored certain grave and really glaring faults. Now the limelight is turned fiercely and relentlessly on these an undertone of sneering cynicism, a coarseness of humor, a brutal bluntness of sensual presentation. We shall see these things henceforth, I fear, in the engravings of Durer and the poetry of Goethe. Unintentionally but none the less surely we shall close many a German book, once frequent to our hands, and shall open it no more.
Taken in conjunction with certain other deeds, only too well attested, that point to moral failures of German culture, the sinking of the Lusitania is a world calamity. Its total effect can be overcome by one thing and one only a spirit of forgiveness sufficiently broad to countervail the evil and bring forth the good; are we great-minded enough for that? Is Germany great-minded enough to meet such a spirit half way? This is no time for boastful patriotism. It is a time for us to take account of ourselves, for never did the consequences of the absence of true Christian feeling seem more appalling.
A Prayer for Every Man
Our Father who art in heaven, guide the President of the United States, and his advisers, in this dark hour, and grant unto us all that will which shall best promote the Kingdom of Righteousness on earth.
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