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"Lavender' sticks," repeated the señora, slowly, shaking her head; "I do not know what that is that you eall lavender sticks. Tulita," she continued, turning to her daughter, "de que esta hablando el caballero? Que son palitos do lavandrila, hija mia, sabes tul" Yes, Tulita kuew. At the sound of the familiar words her face flushed hotly, and then grew very pale. What was the matter? Had she offended some law in regard to the sale of lavender sticks, and were these sherifïs come to arrest her? Or- more dreadful thought - were hers so badly made that the people who had bought thom came to make complaint to her mother? Then she heard the gentlemen say something about souvenirs of California, aunts in the east, all of the lavender sticks at the hotel being sold, and taking tho liberty of coming to ÏIrs. Luna varita lierself to see if she would make him a dozen more. All of her lavender sticks sold! Could it be possible? Tulita's heart gave a happy bound, and in the excitement of the moment sho turned to her bewilderxl mother and poured forth her confession, in what Mr. Brown afterward declared was the most musical Spanish he had ever heard in his life. This was followed by quick, sharp questions from the mother, and pleading, faltering answers from the girl, and then what seemed a torrent of repreach and protest feil from the lips of the señora. "It seems," said Mr. Benton, in a low tone to his friend, "that the old lady was not posted." "No, confoimd you," indignantly whispered Mr. Brown, "you have let the little girl in for a nico seolding." Then the Señora Luna varita, with flushed face and glistening eyes, turned to the two gentlemen and said, with diguity and pathos: "Señores, I have to make the apology to you. It is my daughter that makes thesethese" "Lavender sticks," suggestod Benton, pleasantly. "These lavender sticks, and Idid not know. She is a young lady, and I would not have her do work. Sainted Mother! it is bad enough for me, who am old. And I did not Jchow, you understand? Not that my daughter ever does anything without telling me," sheadded, hastily; "no, señor, neverl She has no secrets from her mother. But her father is dead and we are poor." Here the senora's voice faltered a little, and one of the tears tliat had been gathering in hor eyes rolled slowly down her face. "We are poor, and I have to work, and my daughter, she loves me, and she says it makes her sad to see me sew, sew, all the time sew, and she do nothing, and so she makes these things to help her poor mother. That is the way of it, senor. She is a good daughter, and- and - " here the senora's feeling overcame her, and, turning to Tulita, who had stolen to her 8ide, with a little gesture of surrender she allowed her tears to flow unrestrained. Quickly putting her arms around her mother'g neck, Tulita drew her head down upon her shoulder, and spoke to her soothingly in Spanish. Then, turning gravely, almost defiantly to the young men, she said: "My mother has not been very well for the last few days, señores, and to-night she is not herself. You will excuse her." At this, both of the gentlemen arose, and Mr. Brown, speaking for the first time, said: "We are very sorry, indeed we are. We had no idea that- that your mother was not well. In fact, I hope that you will pardon us for taking the liberty of calling on you about so trifling a matter. " Now, although Mr. Brown's apology was not very eloquent, there was a sincerity and sympathetic feeling in the young man's voice tnat maüe lts way to the hearts of both of the women. The señora raised her head, and, drying her eyes, said, with smiling simplicity: "Ah, senor, do not teel distressed because I cry a little. I oftencry; I am not very strong since my husband died. But it is notbing." Tulita meanwhile, haring arisen, had gone to the door, in the evident expectation of the immediate departure of her unexpected guests. In faet, Mr. Brown himself stood hat in hand ready to go, but Mr. Benton was lingering to make some reply to the senora'a words. Then Mr. Brown, on the impulse of the moment, said to the girl,.who stood near him, "You are not annoyed or angry with me - with us, I mean, for coming?" "Why should I be!" replied Tulita, with dignity. "It is of no consequenee. " "May I hope, then, that you will make the lavender sticks for me? I will cali for them of course," said Mr. Brown. "I will make some moro for sale at the news stand," replied Tulita; "no doubt you can get them there," Having admiuistered which little cut TuJita turned her big dark eyes severely upon the still tarrying Mr. Benton. Brown, convinced now that their visit had displeased the young lady, also turned and glared at the cause of nis discomfiture. What was their Burprise to find that Mr. Benton had reseated himself aud that he and the señora had apparently Lranehed into an extended conversation. 'Are you coming, Beutonf" said Brown, impatieutly. "In a minute, my dear fellow," replied his friend; "I have just discovered that Mrs. Luna varita and I have a whole lot of mutual friends up in San Francisco." And the señora herself, turning to her daugkter, eoufinned this in quite an animated way, repeating several ñames, evidently those of the friends referred to. Then Mr. Brown's eyes sought Tulita's with such solemn protest that she in her turn couldnothelp smiling. Common politeness forced her to say, "Will you not sit down?" Butno, Mr. Brown would not sit down; he preferred to do penalice standing. Then he looked so uuhappy, casting gloomy glances at his friend, which that gentleman ignored, thatTulitaflnally began tofeel a little pity for the young man. Perhaps she had been too severe. After all he was very evidently a gentleman, and was not bad looking, and he had the good tasto to appreciate her lavender sticks. And so, after a little hesitation, she ventured to ask him if he was a stranger in San Diego. She almost laughed again to see how grateful he looked for this bit of condescension. In fact this young mail waö &u muue-si ana courxeous - so diuerent from his companion, for instance - it was really a pleasure to encourage him a little. Then gradually Mr. Brown eeased to cast remonstrative glances at his friend, and presently, when he saw that he was keeping Miss Lunavarita standing, he consented to sit down. It was growing dark when Mr. Brown again arose to his feet and erclaimed, peremptorily, "Come, Benton, we must go! I don't know what Mrs. Lunavarita and her daughter will think of us." Now, even if Mrs. Lunavarita's daughter had cared to give expression to her thoughts just then, she was the next moment rendered speechless by her mother's behavior. Giving Mr. Benton her hand as he bade her good night, the señora said, in a pleased and most vivacious manner, "Good uight, señor, I shall look for you to-inorrow at 10 o'clock, and then we will take our little ride." After leaving the house Mr. Benton and Mr. Brown plodded along through the dusk and dust in silence for somo minutes. Then Mr. Benton said, "Women are strange creatures." Tu whieh trite remark his companion made no reply. But, having arrlved at the end of his reflections, and broken the silence, Mr. Benton continued: "Do you remember my telling you, Prank, that I had a sort of suporstition that your Í3 investment was going to bring us luck?" And as Brown assented, with a nod of his head, "Well, I think it has, though I had no idea when I ihquired the name of your friends, of the people next door, that the luck was all ready, laid away in la vender, as it were, waiting for us to eome and get it. Mrs. Lunavarita has 200 or 300 acres of land over on the sea ■hora. What do you think of thati It is the same oíd story. They once owned leagues and this is all they havo left, and they have got that, as JIrs. Lunavarita says, because it is not worth anything, although she is wrong there. At any rate she is holding it for her daughter, hoping that it may be worth something some day. It is all they have got. Two thousand dollars is the highest figure she has tliought of. If it is anything like she describes it, and if she will let me liandle it, I propose to make it worth $100,000 in the next year." "Look here.Tom," said Brown, impulsively, "if you do get hold of this thing, you will do the best you can by Mrs. Lunavarita, won't youi" "My dear fellow," said Mr. Benton in a rather cold tone, "is it necessary to ask me that? I am not a devourer of widows and orphans." "Oh, hang it, don't betouchy," said Brown. "You know I did not mean anything like that. Only these two women are so lonely, and innocent, aud plucky, they really have made quite an impression on me." "I noticed that one of them seemed to," replied Mr. Benton, dryly, "but I did not observe the other had. As for the proposition, if everything turns out as I expect, it was a lucky day for Mrs. Lunavarita when I knocked at her door. And now let us quit work for the day, and go and have a respectable dinner as a send off for the new firm of Benton & Brown, real estáte dealers." A year and a half have elapsed. It is Christmas Eve. Once more Tulita is watching the sun set, but this time from another home, where Point Lorna does not intervene its huge bulk, where she can see tho golden disc slipping down between the blue of the Pacific and the blue of the evening sky, until the last burnished tip disappears. Then the soft warm air is filled with rich color as the afterglow stains sky and water with its hues. Turning away, Tulita proceeds with her occupation of gathering roses which this celestial pageant had interrupted, while the air grows heavy ■with their perfume. Behind Tulita is a large so called "Queen Anne" cottage, and on the veranda sits her mother, lazily rocking and fanning herself. Next to the señora sits an elderly gentleman, and on the back of the elderly gentleman's chair leans Mr. Brown, of Philadelphia. As Tulita passes the side of the porch, she dexterously tosses"a rose to the elderly gentleman, and laughs, as he successf ully catolies it, and presses it to his lips with a gallant bow. "VVell, well, well," he says, breaking the silence, "imagine being out of door without a wrap, gathering roses on Christmas Eve. And you really mean to teil me, Frank, that this place has been set out only a yearP' "Yes, sir," replied the young man, "just about. You see, father, in this country water is everything. If you eau only get plenty of water, things grow like magie. I remember that is what worried us most when we put Lunavarita town lots on the market, water was the great question, and we were afraid we would havo to pipe it f rom town. But as soon as we struck that artesian well we were fixed. Tho property doubled in value in twenty-four hours, and we sold enough lots the first week to pay for laying out the town, putting down water and sewer pipes, and subsidizing a street car line to run a motor out here. After that the people used to come and stand in line all day long at our office waiting to buy lots. We raised the price religiously on the first of each month, and now you cau't buy a lot in Lunavarita for less than $300. Water is king in California. There is a company formed to flume it down f rom the moiuitains about sixty miles f rom here; it is a good se heme, too." "Itmustcost a great deal," said the eider Mr. Brovvn, doubtfully. "Oh, no," said his son, "a million ought to doit." "A mere trifie," said the old gentleman, mimicking Frank's airy tone. "Upon my soul," he continued, with sudden energy, "if I stay here much longer I shall be as stark, staring mad as all of the rest of you are. Why, they teil me that that península over there, with that absurdly big hotel, which they will never fill ia the world" "All of the rooms are engaged already," murmured Frank, but his fathei-, with a snort of incredulity, proceeded without heeding him - "with its parks, and its drives, and its zoological gardens, and God knows what, begging your pardon, madame, they teil me that that was a sage brush desert last year. I don't believe it - I woii't believe itl" "My doar father," said his son, "two or three years ago San Diego itself was little more than that - you could have bought pretty near the whole place for a short bit. xsut a railroaü carne ín here and that brought people, and when the world at large began tojflnd out what a magnificent harbor" "There, there!" exclaimed bis father, hastily, "don't get started now. I have heard all about the harbor." "And the glorious elimate?" "Yes," said Mr. Brown, emphatically, "and the climate, too." "I am afraid you don't appreciate it, though," said his son, reproachfully. "Just think of the Boston east wind to-nlght and compare it with tuis air, where you can feel your lungs grovv. Why, I believe I have sprouted an extra one myself since I have been here." "I believe that you have, my dear boy," said the old gentleman, chuckling, "f rom the amouut oí talking that you do, I believe that you have. Kh, señora, I rather think I got him there? Did you hear that, Tulita, my dear? Ha! ha! ha!" At this moment a carriago was seen coming up the hill toward the house. "Ah!"criedTulita, "here comes Aladdin." The cariiage stopped, and Benton descended. Tulita, wavlng the bunch oí roses before his face, bade him good evening. "Well, sir,"saidthe eider Mr. Brown, "and how many towns have you built today ! " "Not many," said Benton, laughing. Then drawing from his coat pocket a package of papers, he handed it to Mr. Brown, saying: "Here are your deeds and abstracts; they are allright!" "What!" shouted Frank. "Father, have you" but here he burst out laughing. "Father," he continued, regaining his gravity, "father, look me in the eye. ís it possible that you, you, a conservativo merchant of Philadelphia, have, at the present ruinous pnces, been indulging in wild, insane speculation, that you" "There, there, Master Frank," said his father, joining in the laughter; "we all know that you have sprouted an xtra lung." "Don't mind him, Mr. Brown," said Benton. "You have got a bargain. As soon as you get your vines well under way one year's erop of raisin grapes will pay for it." "Oh, of course, of coure," said tha old gentleman, "it is bargain. They all are. i nough to my mínd," he continúen, putting his arm around Tulita and drawing her to his side, "this is the best bargain ever got in southern California." "Yes," said his son, looking at his wife proudly, "and to think that I only had to put up $3 for the option." "Men are so conceited," said Tulita, confidinglyto her f ather-in-law ; "that was not the way oí it at all. It was I who gave a dozen lavender sticks for a husband and the to wn of Luna varita. "


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