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fragrance of winter, he thought that his nostrils would burst. His ear- drums were splitting with the thunder of cannon. Suddenly Hill caught him by the arm.

"Look!" he cried. "There be Alvarado and Castro over there, and Micheltorena on t' other side. Ain't they magnificent specimens? Why, what's the matter?"

"Let me go!" said Roldan. His face was deeply flushed, his eyes blazed. "Come, Adan! come, Adan!" he shouted. "An Alvarado! an Alvarado!"

"Holy smoke!" cried Hill. "You don't say you're meanin' to fight after sweatin' fur a month to git clear of the hull business?"

But Roldan, grasping the bridle of the less enthusiastic Adan, was already far ahead. The boys rode straight into the melee, firing through the smoke until their ammunition was exhausted. Even Adan after the first few moments lost all sense of fear, and following Roldan's example, snatched the gun from a fallen soldier and fired and reloaded until his hands were blistered, and his eyes half sightless with smoke.

Roldan, obeying his dominant instinct, pushed his way rapidly to the front, attracting much attention. Some one recognised him, and during one of the many pauses of this not very systematic and furious battle some one cheered the little don. The cheer was taken up vociferously. It boomed across the battlefield. A moment later a man came dashing across with a flag of truce: the cheering was supposed by the enemy to herald the advance of reinforcements. The truce was accepted without explanations, and Roldan was hurried into the presence of Alvarado. That famous governor was sitting on a magnificent charger, caparisoned with carved leather, red velvet, silver, and gold. His black eyes were smiling, although the rest of his pale stern face was composed.

"So this is the runaway," he said. "I demanded you from your father, and he was much embarrassed to confess that you had fled to escape the conscription. Well, I am glad you did, for you have saved the day for me. But it is time you were in Monterey, for you've got the face of the leader of men, and the sooner your education begins the better. Will you come with me? Your father will not refuse."

The blood was pounding in Roldan's ears, but he managed to reply calmly that he would go.

He was then presented to General Castro, a man of fine military bearing, with classic features, but dark and stern. His eyes were as sombre as Alvarado's: doubtless both knew that their day would be short, their great gifts wasted in this far-away land, as remote from the great civilisations where lasting reputations are made as had it been on another planet.

He shook Roldan warmly by the hand, but he did not smile.

"Yes," he said, "it will be a pleasure to train you; and as you are young and malleable you will adapt yourself to the new order of things when it comes. Both Alvarado and I will write to your father; I am sure he will send you to us in Monterey."

And then they graciously dismissed him.

As the boys left the battlefield they came upon Hill, who was sitting on a hillock eating a sandwich. When Roldan had told his story the American replied:

"Shake! Rolly, you've got a heap o' genius, but you've got a durned sight more luck. You'll git there--one way or nother--if the skies fall. And I wish ye luck, I do for a fact."

"Don Jim," said Roldan, gravely, "have you another sandwich? We are very hungry."


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