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And you live,” he said, with somber emphasis; then, warningly, “You are in great danger now.”
I looked around, as if expecting to see an uplifted knife. I saw only a lot of people-household negroes and the women-rising from their knees. Below, the patio was empty.
“The house is defenseless," Castro continued. We heard tumultuous voices under the gate.
O'Brien appeared in the doorway of Carlos' room with an attentive and dismayed expression on his face. I do not really think he had anything to do with what then took place. He meant to have me killed outside; but the rabble, excited by Manuel's inflammatory speeches, had that night started from the villages below with the intention of clamoring for my life. Many of their women were with them. Some of the Lugareños carried torches, others had pikes; most of them, however, had nothing but their long knives. They came in a disorderly, shouting mob along the beach, intending this not for an attack, but as a simple demonstration.
The sight of the open gate struck them with wonder. The bishop's coach blocked the entrance, and for a time they hesitated, awed by the mystery of the house and by the rites going on in there. Then two or three bolder spirits stole closer. The bishop's people, of course, did not think of offering any resistance. The very defenselessness of the house restrained the mob for a while. A few more men from outside ran in. Several women began to clamor scoldingly to them to bring the Inglez out. Then the men, encouraging each other in their audacity, advanced further under the arch.
A solitary black, the only guard left at the gate, shouted at them, “ Arria! Go back.” It had no effect. More of them crowded in, though, of course, the greater part of that mob remained outside. The black rolled big eyes. He could not stop them; he did not like to leave his post; he dared not fire. “Go back; go back," he repeated.
"Not without the Inglez," they answered.
The tumult we had heard arose when the Lugareños suddenly fell upon the sentry, and wrenched his musket from him.
This man, when disarmed, ran away. I saw him running across
the patio, on the crimson pathway, to the foot of the staircase. His shouting, “The Lugareños have risen! ” broke upon the hush of mourning. Father Antonio made a brusque movement, and Seraphina sent a startled glance in my direction.
The cloistered court, with its marble basin and a jet of water in the center, remained empty for a moment after the negro had run across; a growing clamor penetrated into it. In the midst of it I heard O'Brien's voice saying, “Why don't they shut the gate?” Immediately afterwards a woman in the gallery cried out in surprise, and I saw the Lugareños pour into the patio.
For a time that motley group of bandits stood in the light, as if intimidated by the great dignity of the house, by the mysterious prestige of the Casa, whose interior, probably, none of them had ever seen before. They gazed about silently, as if surprised to find themselves there.
It looked as if they would have retired if they had not caught sight of me. A murmur of “the Inglez" arose at once. By that time the household negroes had occupied the staircase with what weapons they could find upstairs.
Father Antonio pushed past O'Brien out of the room, and shook his arms over the balustrade.
Impious men," he cried," begone from this house of death." His eyes ilashed at the ruffians, who stared stupidly from below.
“Give us the Inglez," they growled.
Seraphina, from within, cried, " Juan." I was then near the door, but not within the room.
“The Inglez! The heretic! The traitor!" came in sullen, subdued mutter. A hoarse, reckless voice shouted, “Give him to us, and we shall go!”
“You are putting in danger all the lives in this house!” O'Brien hissed at me. “Señorita, pray do not.” He stood in the way of Seraphina, who wished to come out.
" It is you!” she cried. “It is you! It is your voice, it is your hand, it is your iniquity!”
He was confounded by her vehemence.
“Who brought him here?” he stammered. “Am I to find one of that accursed brood forever in my way? I take him to witness that for your sake
A formidable roar, “Throw us down the Inglezl” filled the patio. They were gaining assurance down there; and the ferocious clamoring of the mob outside came faintly upon our ears.
O'Brien barred the way. Don Balthasar leaned on his daughter's arm-she very straight, with tears still on her face and indignation in her eye, he bowed, and with his immovable fine features set in the calmness of age. Behind that group there were two priests, one with a scared, white face, another, black-browed, with an exalted and fanatical aspect. The light of the candles from the improvised altar fell on the bishop's small, bald head, emerging with a patient droop from the wide spread of his cope, as though he had been inclosed in a portable gold shrine. He was ready
Don Balthasar, who seemed to have heard nothing, as if suddenly waking up to his duty, left his daughter, and muttering to O'Brien, “Let me precede the bishop," came out, bare-headed, into the gallery. Father Antonio had turned away, and his heavy hand fell on O'Brien's shoulder.
“ Have you no heart, no reverence, no decency?” he said. “In the name of everything you respect, I call upon you to stop this sacrilegious outbreak."
O'Brien shook off the priestly hand, and fixed his eyes upon Seraphina. I happened to be looking at his face; he seemed to be ready to go out of his mind. His jealousy, the awful torment of soul and body, made him motionless and speechless.
Seeing Don Balthasar appear by the balustrade, the ruffians below had become silent for a while. His aged, mechanical voice was heard asking distinctly:
“What do these people want?”
Seraphina, from within the room, said aloud, "They are clamoring for the life of our guest." She looked at O'Brien contemptuously, "They are doing this to please you."
“Before God, I have nothing to do with this."
It was true enough, he had nothing to do with this outbreak; and I believe he would have interfered, but, in his dismay at having lost himself in the eyes of Seraphina, in his rage against myself, he did not know how to act. No doubt he had been deceiving himself as to his position with Seraphina. He was a man
who lived on illusions, and was inclined to put implicit faith in his wishes. His desire of revenge on me, the downfall of his hopes (he could no longer deceive himself), a desperate striving of thought for their regaining, his impulse towards the impossible all these emotions paralyzed his will.
Don Balthasar beckoned to me.
"Don't go near him," said O'Brien, in a thick, mumbling voice. “I shall
I mustI put him aside. Don Balthasar took my arm. “Misguided populace," he whispered. “They have been a source of sorrow to me lately. But this wicked folly is incredible. I shall call upon them to come to their senses. My voice"
The court below was strongly lighted, so that I saw the bearded, bronzed, wild faces of the Lugareños looking up. We, also, were strongly shown by the light of the doorway behind us, and by the torches burning in the gallery.
That morning, in my helplessness, I had come to put my trust in accident-in some accident-I hardly knew of what naturemy own death, perhaps—that would find a solution for my responsibilities, put an end to my tormenting thoughts. And now the accident came with a terrible swiftness, at which I shudder to this day.
We were looking down into the patio. Don Balthasar had just said, “You are nowhere as safe as by my side," when I noticed a Lugareño withdrawing himself from the throng about the basin. His face came to me familiarly. He was the pirate with the broken nose, who had had a taste of my fist. He had the sentry's musket on his shoulder, and was slinking away towards the gate.
Don Balthasar extended his hand over the balustrade, and there was a general movement of recoil below. I wondered why the slaves on the stairs did not charge and clear the patio; but I suppose with such a mob outside there was a natural hesitation in bringing the position to an issue. The Lugareños were muttering, "Look at the Inglez!" then cried out together, " Excellency, give up this Inglez!"
Don Balthasar seemed ten years younger suddenly. I had never seen him so imposingly erect.
"Insensate!” he began, without any anger.
“He's going to fire! ” yelled Castro's voice somewhere in the gallery.
I saw a red dart in the shadow of the gate. The broken-nosed pirate had fired at me. The report, deadened in the vault, hardly reached my ears. Don Balthasar's arm seemed to swing me back. Then I felt him lean heavily on my shoulder. I did not know what had happened till I heard him say:
"Pray for me, gentlemen."
For a second after the shot, the most dead silence prevailed in the court. It was broken by an affrighted howl below: and Seraphina's voice cried piercingly:
The priest, dropping on one knee, sustained the silvery head, with its thin features already calm in death. Don Balthasar had saved my life; and his daughter flung herself upon the body. O'Brien pressed his hands to his temples, and remained motionless.
I saw the bishop, in his stiff cope, creep up to the group with the motion of a tortoise. And, for a moment, his quavering voice pronouncing the absolution was the only sound in the house.
Then a most fiendish noise broke out below. The negroes had charged, and the Lugareños, struck with terror at the unforeseen catastrophe, were rushing helter-skelter through the gate. The screaming of the maids was frightful. They ran up and down the galleries with their hair streaming. O'Brien passed me by swiftly, muttering like a madman.
I, also, got down into the courtyard in time to strike some heavy blows under the gateway; but I don't know who it was that thrust into my hands the musket which I used as a club. The sudden burst of shrieks, the cries of terror under the vault of the gate, yells of rage and consternation, silenced the mob outside. The Lugareños, appalled at what had happened, shouted most pitifully. They squeaked like the vermin they were. I brought down the clubbed musket; two went down. Of two I am sure. The rush of flying feet swept through between the walls, bearing me along. For a time a black stream of men eddied in the moonlight round