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Sandy (aside). What the devil does she expect?--money? No! (Aloud.) Look yer, Manuela, you ain't goin' to blow on that young gal! (Putting his arm around her waist.) Allowin' that she hez a lover, thar ain't nothin' onnateral in thet, bein' a purty sort o' gal. Why, suppose somebody should see you and me together like this, and should just let on to the old man.

Manuela. Hush! (Disengaging herself.) Hush! He is coming. Let me go, Diego. It is Don Jose!

Enter Don Jose, who walks gravely to the table, and seats himself. MANUELA retires to table.

Sandy (aside). I wonder if he saw us. I hope he did: it would shut that Manuela's mouth for a month of Sundays. (Laughs.) God forgive me for it! I've done a heap of things for that young gal Dona Jovita; but this yer gittin' soft on the Greaser maid-servant to help out the misses is a little more than Sandy Morton bargained fur.

Don Jose (to MANUELA). You can retire. Diego will attend me. (Looks at DIEGO attentively.) [Exit MANUELA.

Sandy (aside). Diego will attend him! Why, blast his yeller skin, does he allow that Sandy Morton hired out as a purty waiter-gal? Because I calkilated to feed his horses, it ain't no reason thet my dooty to animals don't stop thar. Pass his hash! (Turns to follow MANUELA, but stops.) Hello, Sandy! wot are ye doin', eh? You ain't going back on Miss Jovita, and jest spile that gal's chances to git out to-night, on'y to teach that God-forsaken old gov'ment mule manners? No! I'll humor the old man, and keep one eye out for the gal. (Comes to table, and leans familiarly over the back of DON JOSE'S chair.)

Don Jose (aside). He seems insulted and annoyed. His manner strengthens my worst suspicions. He has not expected this. (Aloud.) Chocolate, Diego.

Sandy (leaning over table carelessly). Yes, I reckon it's somewhar thar.

Don Jose (aside). He is unused to menial labor. If I should be right in my suspicions! if he really were Dona Jovita's secret lover! This gallantry with the servants only a deceit! Bueno! I will watch him. (Aloud.) Chocolate, Diego!

Sandy (aside). I wonder if the old fool reckons I'll pour it out. Well, seein's he's the oldest. (Pours chocolate awkwardly, and spills it on the table and DON JOSE.)

Don Jose (aside). He IS embarrassed. I am right. (Aloud.) Diego!

Sandy (leaning confidentially over DON JOSE'S chair). Well, old man!

Don Jose. Three months ago my daughter the Dona Jovita picked you up, a wandering vagabond, in the streets of the Mission. (Aside.) He does not seem ashamed. (Aloud.) She--she--ahem! The aguardiente, Diego.

Sandy (aside). That means the whiskey. It's wonderful how quick a man learns Spanish. (Passes the bottle, fills DON JOSE'S glass, and then his own. DON JOSE recoils in astonishment.) I looks toward ye, ole man. (Tosses off liquor.)

Don Jose (aside). This familiarity! He IS a gentleman. Bueno! (Aloud.) She was thrown from her horse; her skirt caught in the stirrup; she was dragged; you saved her life. You--

Sandy (interrupting, confidentially drawing a chair to the table, and seating himself). Look yer! I'll tell you all about it. It wasn't that gal's fault, ole man. The hoss shied at me, lying drunk in a ditch, you see; the hoss backed, the surcle broke; it warn't in human natur for her to keep her seat, and that gal rides like an angel; but the mustang throwed her. Well, I sorter got in the way o' thet hoss, and it stopped. Hevin' bin the cause o' the hoss shyin', for I reckon I didn't look much like an angel lyin' in that ditch, it was about the only squar thing for me to waltz in and help the gal. Thar, thet's about the way the thing pints. Now, don't you go and hold that agin her!

Don Jose. Well, well! She was grateful. She has a strange fondness for you Americans; and at her solicitation I gave you-- YOU, an unknown vagrant--employment here as groom. You comprehend, Diego. I, Don Jose Castro, proprietor of this rancho, with an hundred idle vaqueros on my hands,--I made a place for you.

Sandy (meditatively). Umph.

Don Jose. You said you would reform. How have you kept your word? You were drunk last Wednesday.

Sandy. Thet's so.

Don Jose. And again last Saturday.

Sandy (slowly). Look yer, ole man, don't ye be too hard on me: that was the same old drunk.

Don Jose. I am in no mood for trifling. Hark ye, friend Diego. You have seen, perhaps,--who has not?--that I am a fond, an indulgent father. But even my consideration for my daughter's strange tastes and follies has its limit. Your conduct is a disgrace to the rancho. You must go.

Sandy (meditatively). Well, I reckon, perhaps I'd better.

Don Jose (aside). His coolness is suspicious. Can it be that he expects the girl will follow him? Mother of God! perhaps it has been already planned between them. Good! Thank Heaven I can end it here. (Aloud.) Diego!

Sandy. Old man.

Don Jose. For my daughter's sake, you understand,--for her sake,-- I am willing to try you once more. Hark ye! My daughter is young, foolish, and romantic. I have reason to believe, from her conduct lately, that she has contracted an intimacy with some Americano, and that in her ignorance, her foolishness, she has allowed that man to believe that he might aspire to her hand. Good! Now listen to me. You shall stay in her service. You shall find out,--you are in her confidence,--you shall find out this American, this adventurer, this lover if you please, of the Dona Jovita my daughter; and you will tell him this,--you will tell him that a union with him is impossible, forbidden; that the hour she attempts it, without my consent, she is PENNILESS; that this estate, this rancho, passes into the hands of the Holy Church, where even your laws cannot reach it.

Sandy (leaning familiarly over the table). But suppose that he sees that little bluff, and calls ye.

Don Jose. I do not comprehend you (coldly).

Sandy. Suppose he loves that gal, and will take her as she stands, without a cent, or hide or hair of yer old cattle.

Don Jose (scornfully). Suppose--a miracle! Hark ye, Diego! It is now five years since I have known your countrymen, these smart Americanos. I have yet to know when love, sentiment, friendship, was worth any more than a money value in your market.

Sandy (truculently and drunkenly). You hev, hev ye? Well, look yar, ole man. Suppose I REFUSE. Suppose I'd rather go than act as a spy on that young gal your darter! Suppose that--hic--allowin' she's my friend, I'd rather starve in the gutters of the Mission than stand between her and the man she fancies. Hey? Suppose I would--damn me! Suppose I'd see you and your derned old rancho in-- t'other place--hic--damn me. You hear me, ole man! That's the kind o' man I am--damn me.

Don Jose (aside, rising contemptuously). It is as I suspected. Traitor. Ingrate! Satisfied that his scheme has failed, he is ready to abandon her. And this--THIS is the man for whom she has been ready to sacrifice everything,--her home, her father! (Aloud, coldly.) Be it so, Diego: you shall go.

Sandy (soberly and seriously, after a pause.) Well, I reckon I had better. (Rising.) I've a few duds, old man, to put up. It won't take me long. (Goes to L., and pauses.)

Don Jose (aside). Ah! he hesitates! He is changing his mind. (SANDY returns slowly to table, pours out glass of liquor, nods to DON JOSE, and drinks.) I looks towards ye, ole man. Adios!

[Exit SANDY.

Don Jose. His coolness is perfect. If these Americans are cayotes in their advances, they are lions in retreat! Bueno! I begin to respect him. But it will be just as well to set Concho to track him to the Mission; and I will see that he leaves the rancho alone.

[Exit Jose.

Enter hurriedly JOVITA CASTRO, in riding habit, with whip.

So! Chiquita not yet saddled, and that spy Concho haunting the plains for the last half-hour. What an air of mystery! Something awful, something deliciously dreadful, has happened! Either my amiable drunkard has forgotten to despatch Concho on his usual fool's errand, or he is himself lying helpless in some ditch. Was there ever a girl so persecuted? With a father wrapped in mystery, a lover nameless and shrouded in the obscurity of some Olympian height, and her only confidant and messenger a Bacchus instead of a Mercury! Heigh ho! And in another hour Don Juan--he told me I might call him John--will be waiting for me outside the convent wall! What if Diego fails me? To go there alone would be madness! Who else would be as charmingly unconscious and inattentive as this American vagabond! (Goes to L.) Ah, my saddle and blanket hidden! He HAS been interrupted. Some one has been watching. This freak of my father's means something. And to-night, of all nights, the night that Oakhurst was to disclose himself, and tell me all! What is to be done? Hark! (DIEGO, without, singing.)

"Oh, here's your aguardiente, Drink it down!"


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