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neck, velvet breeches, a well-turned leg in black stockings. His voice was soft.
I was so disconcerted that I nodded at him.
“The señor is young and inconsiderate. Religious feelings ought to be respected." The official in black was addressing me in sad and measured tones. “This good Catholic,” he continued, eying the bearded ruffian dubiously, “ has made a formal statement to me of your impious demonstration.”
What a fatal accident, I thought, appalled; but I tried to explain the matter. I expressed regret. The other gazed at me benevolently.
“Nevertheless, señor, pray follow me. Even for your own safety. You must give some account of yourself.”
This I was firmly resolved not to give. But the Lugareño had been going through a pantomime of scrutinizing my person. He crouched up, stepped back, then to one side.
“This worthy man," began the official in black, “complains of your violence, too.
“This worthy man," I shouted stupidly, "is a pirate. He is a Rio Medio Lugareño. He is a criminal.'
The official seemed astounded, and I saw my idiotic mistake at once—too late!
Strange,” he murmured, and, at the same time, the ruffianly wretch began to shout:
It is he! The traitor! The heretic! I recognize him!” “Peace, peace!” said the man in black.
"I demand to be taken before the Juez Don Patricio for a deposition,” shrieked the Lugareño. A crowd was beginning to collect.
The official and the officer exchanged consulting glances. At a word from the latter, the soldiers closed upon me.
I felt utterly overcome, as if the earth had crumbled under my feet, and the heavens had been rent in twain. I walked between my captors across the street amongst hooting knots of people, and up the steps of the portico, as if in a frightful dream.
In the gloomy, chilly hall they made me wait. A soldier stood on each side of me, and there, absolutely before my eyes on a little table, reposed Mrs. Williams' shawl and Sebright's cap.
This was the very hall of the Palace of Justice of which Sebright had spoken. It was more than ever like an absurd dream, now. But I had the leisure to collect my wits. I could not claim the Consul's protection simply because I should have to give him a truthful account of myself, and that would mean giving up Seraphina. The Consul could not protect her. But the Lion would sail on the morrow. Sebright would understand it if Williams did not.
I trusted Sebright's sagacity. Yes, she would sail tomorrow evening. A day and a half. If I could only keep the knowledge of Seraphina from O'Brien till then—she was safe, and I should be safe, too, for my lips would be unsealed. I could claim the protection of my Consul and proclaim the villainy of the Juez.
Go in there now, señor, to be confronted with your accuser," said the official in black, appearing before me. He pointed at a small door to the left. My heart was beating steadily. I felt a sort of intrepid resignation.
THE LOT OF MAN
HY have I been brought here, your worships?” I asked, with a great deal of firmness.
There were two figures in black, the one beside, the other behind a large black table. I was placed in front of them, between two soldiers, in the center of a large, gaunt room, with bare, dirty walls, and the arms of Spain above the judge's seat.
“You are before the Juez de la Primiera Instancia," said the man in black beside the table. He wore a large and shadowy tricorn. “Be silent, and respect the procedure."
It was, without doubt, excellent advice. He whispered some words in the ear of the Judge of the First Instance. It was plain enough to me that the judge was a quite inferior official, who merely decided whether there were any case against the accused; he had, even to his clerk, an air of timidity, of doubt.
I said, “But I insist on knowing.
The clerk said, “In good time.. And then, in the same tone of disinterested official routine, he spoke to the Lugareño, who, from beside the door, rolled very frightened eyes from the judges and the clerk to myself and the soldiers—“Advance."
The judge, in a hurried, perfunctory voice, put questions to the Lugareño; the clerk scratched with a large quill on a sheet of paper.
“Where do you come from?”
“My daughter, excellency, married Pepe of the posada in the Calle.
The judge said, “Yes, yes," with an unsanguine impatience. The Lugareño's dirty hands jumped nervously on the large rim of his limp hat.
“You lodge a complaint against the señor there." The clerk pointed the end of his quill towards me. “I? God forbid, excellency,” the Lugareño bleated. Alguazil of the Criminal Court instructed me to be watchful.
"You lodge an information, then?" the Juez said.
“Maybe it is an information, excellency," the Lugareño answered, " as regards the señor there."
The Alguazil of the Criminal Court had told him, and many other men of Rio Medio, to be on the watch for me, "undoubtedly touching what had happened, as all the world knew, in Rio Medio.” He looked me full in the face with stupid insolence, and said:
At first I much doubted, for all the world said this man was dead—though others said worse things. Perhaps, who knows?"
He had seen me, he said, many times in Rio Medio, outside the Casa; on the balcony of the Casa, too. And he was sure that I was a heretic and an evil person.
It suddenly struck me that this man I was undoubtedly familiar with his face must be the lieutenant of Manuel-delPopolo, his boon companion. Without doubt, he had seen me on the balcony of the Casa.
He had gained a lot of assurance from the conciliatory manner of the Juez, and said suddenly, in a tentative way:
“An evil person; a heretic? Who knows? Perhaps it was he who incited some people there to murder his señoria, the illustrious Don.”
I said almost contemptuously, “Surely the charge against me is most absurd ? Everyone knows who I am.”
The old judge made a gentle, tired motion with his hand.
“Señor," he said, “there is no charge against you—except that no one knows who you are. You were in a place where very lamentable and inexplicable things happened; you are now in