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lating to this mournful function, when all the capital was invited to pray for the soul of the illustrious lady. The priest of the church of San Antonio had said this and that; the grand vicar of the diocese had made difficulties about something; however, by the archbishop's special grace, no less than three altars would be draped in the cathedral.
I saw Don Balthasar smile with an ineffable satisfaction; he thanked O'Brien for his zeal, and seemed to lean more familiarly on his arm. His voice trembled with eagerness. “And now, my excellent Don Patricio, as to the number of candles. ..."
I stood for a while as if rooted to the spot, overwhelmed by my insignificance. O'Brien never once looked my way. Then, hanging my head, I went slowly up the white staircase towards my room.
Cesar, going his rounds along the gallery, shuffled his silk-clad shanks smartly between two young negroes balancing lanthorns suspended on the shafts of their halberds. That little group had a mediæval and outlandish aspect. Cesar carried a bunch of keys in one hand, his staff of office in the other. He stood aside, in his maroon velvet and gold lace, holding the three-cornered hat under his arm, bowing his gray, woolly head—the most venerable and deferential of major-domos. His attendants, backing against the wall, grounded their halberds heavily at my approach.
He stepped out to intercept me, and, with great discretion, “Señor, a word,” he said in his subdued voice. “A moment ago I have been called within the door of our señorita's apartments, She has given me this for your worship, together with many com. pliments. It is a seal. The señor will understand.”
I took it; it was a tiny seal with her monogram on it. “Yes," I said.
“And Señorita Doña Seraphina has charged me to repeat”he made a stealthy sign, as if to counteract an evil influence
-"the words, “Two lives—one death. The señor will understand.”
“Yes,” I said, looking away with a pang at my heart.
He touched my elbow. “And to trust Cesar. Señor, I dandled her when she was quite little. Let me most earnestly urge upon your worship not to go near the windows, especially if there is light in your worship's room. Evil men are gazing upon the house, and I have seen myself the glint of a musket at the end of the street. The moon grows fast, too. The señorita begs you to trust Cesar.”
“Are there many men?" I asked.
“Not many in sight; I have seen only one. But by signs, open to a man of my experience, I suspect many more to be about." Then, as I looked down on the ground, he added parenthetically, “They are poor shots, one and all, lacking the very firmness of manhood necessary to discharge a piece with a good aim. Still, señor, I am ordered to entreat you to be cautious. Strange it is that to-night, from the great revelry at the Aldea Bajo, one might think they had just visited an English ship outside.”
A ship! a ship! of any sort. But how to get out of the Casa ? Murder forbade me even as much as to look out of the windows. Was there a ship outside ? Cesar was positive there was notnot since I had arrived. Besides, the empty sea itself was unattainable, it seemed.
I pressed the seal to my lips. “Tell the señorita how I received her gift,” I said; and the old negro inclined his head lower still. “ Tell her that as the letters of her name are graved on this, so are all the words she has spoken graven on my heart.”
They went away busily, the lanthorns swinging about the axheads of the halberds, Cesar's staff tapping the stones.
I shut my door, and buried my face in the pillows of the state bed. My mental anguish was excessive; action, alone, could relieve it. I had been battling with my thoughts like a man fighting with shadows. I could see no issue to such a struggle, and prayed for something tangible to encounter-something that one could overcome or go under to. I must have fallen suddenly asleep, because there was a lion in front of me. It lashed its tail, and beyond the indistinct agitation of the brute I saw Seraphina. I tried to shout to her; no voice came out of my throat. And the lion produced a strange noise; he opened his jaws like a door. I sat up.
It was like a change of dream. A glare filled my eyes. In the wide doorway of my room, in a group of attendants, I saw a figure in a short black cloak standing, hat on head, and an arm out
of her naon my heang abo
stretched. It was Don Balthasar. He held himself more erect than I had ever seen him before. Stifled sounds of weeping, a vast, confused rumor of lamentations, running feet and slamming doors, came from behind him; his aged, dry voice, much firmer and very distinct, was speaking to me.
“You are summoned to attend the bedside of Don Carlos Riego at the hour of death, to help his soul struggling on the threshold of eternity with your prayers—as a kinsman and a friend."
A great draught swayed the lights about that black and courtly figure. All the windows and doors of the palace had been fung open for the departure of the struggling soul. Don Balthasar turned; the group of attendants was gone in a moment, with a tramp of feet and jostling of lights in the long gallery.
I ran out after them. A wavering glare came from under the arch, and, through the open gate, I saw the bulky shape of the bishop's coach waiting outside in the moonlight. A strip of cloth fell from step to step down the middle of the broad white stairs. The staircase was brilliantly lighted, and quite empty. The household was crowding the upper galleries; the sobbing murmurs of their voices fell into the deserted patio. The strip of crimson cloth laid for the bishop ran across it from the arch of the stairway to the entrance.
The door of Carlos' room stood wide open ; I saw the many candles on a table covered with white linen, the side of the big bed, surpliced figures moving within the room. There was the ringing of small bells, and sighing groans from the kneeling forms in the gallery through which I was making my way slowly.
Castro appeared at my side suddenly. “Señor,” he began, with saturnine stoicism, “he is dead. I have seen battlefields " His voice broke.
I saw, through the large portal of the death-chamber, Don Balthasar and Seraphina standing at the foot of the bed; the bowed heads of two priests; the bishop, a tiny old man, in his vestments; and Father Antonio, burly and motionless, with his chin in his hand, as if left behind after leading that soul to the very gate of Eternity. All about me, women and men were crossing themselves; and Castro, who for a moment had covered his eyes with his hand, touched my elbow.
nd, as if es sehold nie was emp
“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
boere. Then two tory of the house and for a time
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 flashed 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 "