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THE CONQUISTADORS A Story of the Mexico of Today


OR as long as he could remember had Don Alexander heard the name of General

Banquero spoken in the most reverential tones. In his father's house no opinion was more authoritative, no sentiment more just than that which had received its coinage in the celebrated Correspondencia between the aged hero and the President of the Banca

The meetings that were held in the hospitable halls of San Jose Ranch, Don Alexander had been taught to believe, called out the choicest spirits of Mexico. The Correspondencia, a privately printed volume, had been to Don Alexander as Holy Writ.

What Don Alexander did not know was that General Banquero's somewhat verbose patriotism was a jest on the lips of the active statesmen of the day, that the old boaster was the butt of every practical joker in the capital city, and the easy victim of unscrupulous politicians, of whom there were so many that his once great fortune had been sadly broken by their remorseless bleedings.

Of all this there was no intimation to the ravished eyes of the young Mexican. The traditional atmosphere of San Jose Ranch gave an air of importance to the most trivial daily commonplaces, so that the place

seemed alive with momentous activities. Everywhere the luxuries of European capitals mingled with the abundance of the new world. From across the patio floated the soit laughter of women. Once Don Alexander caught the flutter of draperies through the palms, and the flash of a rounded olive arm. Then his name was spoken, and he started as from a revery.

As he turned he saw a small, bent figure, with long, white hair and thin moustache whose pallor seemed to emphasize the glittering black of his little eyes.

"I am General Banquero," he announced petulantly, and then noting the young man's embarrassment, more kindly, "What does the son of my old comrade and friend desire?"

Don Alexander flushed deeply and gathered himself together for a supreme effort. He was finding it difficult to make the fine speech which

he had prepared for this meeting. Nevertheless, he managed to say a few words of it, to which his embarrassment and sincerity gave a peculiar grace.

"I desire two things, my General," he said, "and the first is to kiss the hilt of the sword of the savior of my country. The second is to meet the beautiful daughter of the great General Banquero."

"Indeed," replied the old fighter, not unembarrassed in his turn, "my daughter will be glad to second my welcome to San Jose, and as for the old sword, it hangs on yonder wall, though, you much overestimate its services in my hands. The savior of Mexico we await, but I fear that the old sword will have long rusted in its scabbard, ere his day dawn."

"Say not so," cried the ardent youth, "but speak no word and we will follow. I am one, but there are many."

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