Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/316

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MY LIFE AND LOVES.

me. Her pet aversion was Mrs. Mayhew: she called her always "the Pirate", because she said Lorna only liked "stolen goods" and wanted every man "to walk the plank into her bedroom". Lily insisted that Lorna could cry whenever she wished; but had no real affection in her and her husband filled Lily with contempt: "a well-matched pair", she exclaimed one day, "a mare and a mule, and the mare, as men say, in heat—all wet", and she wrinkled her little nose in disgust.

At the Bret Harte lecture both Rose and Lily had seats and they both understood that I would go and talk with the great man afterwards.

I expected to get a great deal from the lecture and Harte's advance agent had arranged that the hero of the evening should receive me in the Eldridge House after the address.

I was to call for him at the Hotel and take him across to the Hall. When I called, a middle-sized man came to meet me with a rather good-looking, pleasant smile and introspective, musing eyes. Harte was in evening dress that suited his slight figure and as he seemed disinclined to talk, I took him across to the Hall at once and hastened round to the front to note his entrance. He walked quite simply to the desk, arranged his notes methodically and began in a plain, conversational tone, "The Argonauts" and he repeated it, "The Argonauts of '49".

I noticed that there was no American nasal twang in his accent; but with the best of will, I can give no account of the lecture, just as I can give no portrait of the man. I recall only one phrase but think it probably the best: referring to the old-timers crossing the Great Plains, he said, "I am going to tell you of a new Crusade, a Crusade without a cross, an exodus without a prophet!"