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"However, Donna, I had wandered around in the desert long enough to observe that wherever Nature appears to have created a paradox, there's always a reason. If Nature makes a mistake here, she places a compensating offset over there. Here was a valley that with irrigation could be made marvelously fertile at this point, only the river had to go brackish and alkaline just where it was needed most.

Zuleika had heard that Eugénie had been much courted during the period she was on the stage, that she had numbered her ardent admirers by scores, but this man seemed too old, too forlorn, to have recently been in a position to scatter wealth at the feet of a prima donna. Besides, Mlle. d' Armilly had spoken of him as a ghost and had appeared to refer him to a period more remote.

"What is he saying?" I repeated to myself as I saw the confessor speaking to her now and again. I could bear it no longer, and I was on the point of going away when I saw her rise from her knees. Donna Ignazia, looking like a saint, came to kneel in the church, but out of my sight.

"Your mistress will breathe the air of the canals." Wonder and curiosity were alive in every countenance, but suspicion and eager attention were uppermost in the features of many. The foot of Donna Violetta had scarcely touched the pavement of the lower hall, when several menials glided down the flight and quitted the palace by its different outlets.

Donna Livia immediately bid her servants lift him into the porter's lodge, where, with the administering of spirits, the poor soprano presently revived and cast a drowning glance about the chamber. "Eight years ago, illustrious ladies," he gurgled, "I had nearly died one night of a surfeit of ortolans; and now it is of a surfeit of emptiness that I am perishing."

"Could they not destroy those too?" asked Donna Tullia, nervously. "No; they can only see one at a time, and the person who will show them will watch them. Besides, it is easy to write to the curate of the church of San Bernardino to be on his guard. We will do that in any case. The matter is perfectly plain.

I filled her pockets with sweets, and put into my own pockets two bottles of ratafia, which I handed over to the mother, who was asleep in the carriage. Donna Ignazia gratefully refused the quadruple I wished to give her, saying that if it were in my power to make such presents, I might give the money to her lover whenever he called on me.

"About twenty-five dollars' worth o' ham an' eggs," he ordered, "with some pig's ear and cauliflower on the side. I ain't had such a big appetite for my grub since I was a boy." That evening, when Donna left the eating-house for her home, it seemed to her that the Hat Ranch must be situated at least ten miles further from San Pasqual than it had been two days previous.

According to their leader, who was the very eminent personage Donna Rosetta now proposed calling upon, other measures should be adopted to liberate the Holy Father from the pestiferous influence of a rationalist varnished over with mysticism. These things Donna Rosetta had learned from the Abbé Marinier, who smiled knowingly about them in her salon.

Donna went quickly to him, and when the moon came out from behind a hurrying cloud she was enabled, with the aid of the ghastly green glare from a switch lantern which shone on his face, to observe that he was quite conscious and looking at her with untroubled boyish eyes. His hat was lying on the ground, securely anchored by the pony's left fore foot.