THE MADHOUSE, AND ITS INMATES
ZAMBULLO surveyed, by turns, with much curiosity, the several rooms and the unfortunate creatures they contained; and while he was reflecting on the scene thus presented to his eyes, the Devil said to him: There they are, my master! You see insanity in every form there;—men and women, laughing idiots and raging maniacs, locks grey with age, and cheeks which still retain their bloom. Well! now I will tell you what has turned their heads: we will go from room to room, but will begin with the men.
The first whom you observe, and who appears so violent, is a political fanatic of Castile. He is a proud citizen of Madrid, in the heart of which he was born; and he is more jealous of the honour of his country than was ever citizen of ancient Rome. He went mad with chagrin at reading in the gazette, that twenty-five Spaniards had suffered themselves to be beaten by a party of fifty Portuguese.
His neighbour is a licentiate, who was so anxious to obtain a benefice, that he played the hypocrite at court during ten long years; and whose brain was turned by despair at finding himself constantly overlooked among the promotions: his madness, however, is not without its advantage; seeing that he at present imagines himself to be Archbishop of Toledo. And what if he deceive himself? His pleasure is none the less: indeed, I think, that he is so much the more to be envied; since his error is a golden dream, which will only end with his life, and he will not be called to account in the other world for the application of his revenues in this.
The next in rotation is a ward, whom his guardian declared to be insane, that he might have the uncontrolled use of his property: the poor youth has become really mad from rage at his unjust confinement. After the minor, comes a schoolmaster, who lost his wits in search of the paulo post futurum of the Greek verb; and, then again, we have a merchant, whose reason was shipwrecked with a vessel that belonged to him, although it had stood the shock of two bankruptcies which had before threatened to engulf him.
The person who is lodged in the next room is the ancient captain Zanubio, a Neapolitan cavalier, who came to establish himself in Madrid, and whom jealousy has settled where he is: you shall hear his history.
He delighted in a youthful spouse, the lady Aurora, whom he regarded as the apple of his eye. His house was absolutely inaccessible to all mankind; and Aurora never left it but for mass, always accompanied by her aged Tithon, or to breathe with him the pure air of the pleasant fields, at an estate near Alcantara, whither he sometimes led her. Despite his vigilance, however, she had been perceived at church by the cavalier Don Garcia Pacheco, who loved her from the instant that he saw her: he was an enterprising youth, and not unworthy the attention of a pretty woman whom Fortune had badly matched.
The difficulty of introducing himself into the house of Zanubio was not sufficient to deprive Don Garcia of hope. As his chin was yet unreaped, and he was fair to behold, he disguised himself as a virgin, took with him a hundred pistoles, and betook himself to the captain's seat, where, he had learned, that gentleman and his lady were shortly expected. Watching his opportunity to accost the female who acted as gardener in Zanubio's establishment, he addressed her in the style of the heroines of chivalry, who fly from some giant's towers: Kind lady, said he, I come to throw myself within your arms, and to entreat your pity. I am a maiden of Toledo, of wealth and name; but my parents would compel me to give my hand to one whom my heart disowns. To escape this tyranny, I have fled by night; and now I seek shelter from a cruel world. Here, I shall be safe from pursuit. Do not deny me, then, to dwell with you until my friends shall be inspired with more kindly sentiments. There is my purse: do not hesitate to receive it, it is all that I can give you now; but I trust the day will come when I may more properly acknowledge the service which you will render me by your protection.
The gentle gardener, especially affected by the conclusion of this touching address, replied: Dear lady, I will receive you with pleasure. I know that there are too many youthful maidens who are sacrificed to aged men; and I know too, that they are not usually reconciled to their lot. I sympathize with your afflictions: you could not have more fortunately addressed yourself than to me. Come! I will place you in a little room, where you may live in confidence of security.
Don Garcia passed four days, shut up in the gardener's cottage, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Aurora. At last she came, guarded as ever by her jealous spouse, who immediately, according to his usual custom, searched every chamber, from the cellar to the garret, to make sure that he was free from the hated form of man, which might endanger his honour. The gardener, who expected this visitation, anticipated it by informing her master of the manner in which a refuge had been sought with her by a youthful female. Zanubio, although extremely mistrustful, had not the slightest suspicion of the deceit now practised on him; he was, however, curious to see the unknown. At the interview which followed, the lady begged him to excuse her concealing her name, stating that it was a reserve which she owed to her family, which she in some sort dishonoured by her flight. She then related to him so pathetic a tale, and in a style so romantic, that the captain was charmed; and while he listened to her narration, he felt a rising inclination for this amiable damsel, which ended in an offer of his services and protection; after which he led her to his wife, flattering himself that this adventure would not end disagreeably to himself.
As soon as Aurora beheld Don Garcia, she blushed and trembled, without knowing why. The cavalier, who perceived her uneasiness, shrewdly guessed that she had observed the attention with which he had regarded her at church. To ascertain this fact, as soon as they were alone, he said to her: Madam, I have a brother who has often spoken to me of you. He saw you for a moment at your devotions, and from that moment, which he delights to recall a thousand times each day, you have been the idol of his heart;—he loves you to madness.
As he spoke, Aurora scrutinized the features of Don Garcia, and when he had finished she replied to him: You resemble your brother too closely to permit me to remain for an instant the dupe of your stratagem: I see too clearly you are that brother in disguise. I remember, one day while at mass, my mantilla fell back from my face; it was but for an instant, but I saw that you perceived me: I afterwards watched you from curiosity, and your eyes remained fixed on my person. When I left the church, I believe that you failed not to follow me, that you might learn who I was, and the house where I dwelt. I say—I believe you did this, for my head dared not turn to observe you; as my husband was with me, jealous of my slightest motions, and would have made, of one glance, a deep crime. On the morrow and following days, when I went to the church, I always saw you; and your features have become so familiar that I know you despite your disguise.
Well, Madam, replied the lover, I must then unmask; —yes, I am a man, the victim of your charms:—it is indeed Don Garcia Pacheco whom Love brings here in the guise of the gentler sex— And you doubtless anticipate, interrupted Aurora, that I, sharing your foolish passion, shall lend myself to your design, and assist in confirming my husband in his error. You are, however, deceived: I shall at once expose the deception; my honour and my peace demand it of me. Besides, I am not sorry to have an opportunity of showing my husband that vigilance is a less certain safeguard than virtue, and that, jealous and mistrustful as he is, I am more difficult to surprise than himself.
She had hardly spoken when the captain appeared. He had indistinctly heard a portion of his wife's discourse, and requested to be informed of the subject of their conversation. We were speaking, replied Aurora, of those youthful cavaliers who dare to hope for love from ladies of a tender age, because united to a husband for whom respect claims the place of passion.
As you entered I was saying, that should such a gallant dare to address himself to me,—should he endeavour to introduce himself beneath your roof by some of those artifices to which such madmen have recourse, I should know well how to punish his audacity.
And you, Madam, said Zanubio, turning to Don Garcia, after what fashion should you treat a youthful cavalier in such a case? Our assumption of a virgin was so much disconcerted at this question, that he was unable to reply; and his embarrassment would certainly have attracted Zanubio's attention, had not, at the moment, a servant entered the apartment, to inform the captain that a person who had just arrived from Madrid wished to speak with him.
Zanubio had no sooner gone out than Don Garcia, throwing himself at Aurora's feet, exclaimed: Ah, Madam, how can you delight thus to perplex me? Could you be cruel enough to expose me to the wrath of an enraged husband? No, Pacheco, replied the lady, smiling; youthful dames who are so unfortunate as to have aged spouses are not so resentful. Be not alarmed! I could not resist the temptation to amuse myself at the expense of your fears; but that is the sum of your punishment; and it is surely not exacting too great a price for my kindness in permitting your continuance here. At these consoling words all Don Garcia's alarms were dispelled, and they yielded to hopes, of which Aurora was too kind long to delay the realization.
One day, while their reciprocal affection was manifested in a form too clear to be misunderstood, the captain surprised them. Had he been the most confiding of men, it would have been impossible, unless his confidence were not extended to his own eyes, to doubt that the lovely unknown was a man in disguise.
Furious at the scene which presented itself, he hastened to his dressing-room in search of his pistols; but, in the meanwhile, the fond couple escaped,—in their hurry to leave the apartment, double-locking the door, and taking with them the key. They lost no time in gaining a neighbouring village, in which Don Garcia had taken the precaution to leave his valet with two good horses. There, our hero, having abandoned his petticoats, and placed Aurora on a crupper on one of the steeds, mounted and rode with her to a convent, where she prayed him to leave her in the care of an aunt, its abbess; after which he returned to Madrid to await the termination of his adventure.
Poor Zanubio, finding himself imprisoned, shouted with all his lungs, and a servant, hearing his voice, hastened to his assistance: but, if Love laughs at locksmiths, locks are sometimes extremely unaccommodating. In vain did the servant and the captain try to force the door; and at last the latter, his wrath increasing with his efforts, rushed to the window, and threw himself from it, his pistols in his hands: he fell upon his back, wounded his head, and when his attendants arrived they found him senseless. He was carried bleeding to his chamber, and by deluging him with water, and by other gentle torments used on such occasions, they succeeded in bringing him to life; but his fury returned with his senses. Where is my wife? he cried. To this interrogatory they replied, by informing him that they had seen her pass from the garden, in company with the unknown lady, by a little private door. He immediately demanded his pistols, which they dared not refuse him, ordered a horse to be saddled, and without reflecting on his wound, set out, but by another road, in pursuit of the lovers. The day passed in this fruitless search; and when he stopped for the night at a village inn, to repose himself, the fatigue and irritation of his wound brought on a fever and delirium, which nearly cost him his life.
The rest is told in a few words. The captain, after being confined to his bed for a fortnight, in the village, returned still unwell to his country seat; and there, by continually dwelling on his misfortune, he shortly afterwards lost his reason. The relations of Aurora were no sooner informed of this event, than they caused him to be brought to Madrid, and confined where you now see him; and they have resolved that his wife shall remain in the convent for some years to come, as a punishment for her indiscretion, or, more properly, for a fault which their own cupidity placed her in a situation to be tempted to commit.
The next to whom I shall direct your attention, continued the Devil, is the Signor Don Blaz Desdichado, a worthy cavalier, whose deplorable malady is also owing to the loss of his wife, but by death. That indeed surprises me, said Don Cleophas. A husband whom the death of his wife renders insane! Well! that is more than I ever expected to spring from conjugal love. Not so fast! interrupted Asmodeus: Don Blaz did not lose his reason with his wife; but because, having no children, he was obliged to return to the parents of the deceased fifty thousand ducats which he had received with her, and which the marriage contract compelled him to restore.
Ah! that is another affair, replied Leandro; the matter is by no means so wonderful as I imagined. But tell me, if you please, who is that young man that is skipping about like a kid in the next room, and from time to time stopping to laugh until he holds his sides? He is a lively fool enough. Yes, replied the Cripple, and it was excess of joy which made him mad. He was porter to a person of quality; when one day, hearing of the death of a rich contador, to whose wealth he was sole heir, he was so affected by the joyous news that his head was not proof against his good fortune.
We have now come to that tall youth who is twanging the guitar, and accompanying the pathetic strain with his voice: his is a melancholy madness. He is a lover, whom the excessive severity of his mistress reduced to despair, until they were obliged to enclose him here. Alas! how I pity him, exclaimed the Student; permit me to express my sorrow for his misfortune;—it is one to which every susceptible heart is exposed. Were it my own fate to love a disdainful beauty, I know not but that I too should love to madness. I can believe you, replied the Demon: that sentiment would stamp you for a true Castilian. One must be born in the centre of that ancient kingdom to be capable of loving until reason sinks with a despised heart. Your Frenchman is not so tender; and would you appreciate the difference between a gay Parisian and a fiery Spaniard in this respect, I need only repeat to you the song which you poor fool is singing, and which his passion inspires even at this moment:
Mine eyes gush o'er with floods of wild desire,
And hopeless love burns fiercely in my breast;
Yet not my tears can quench my bosom's fire,
Nor passion's fire my scalding tears arrest.
[Ardo y lloro sin sosiego
Llorando y ardiendo tanto,
Que ni el llanto apaga el fuego,
Ni el fuego consume el llanto.]
It is thus sings a true Castilian whom his lady slights; and now I will repeat to you the words in which a Frenchman told his griefs, in a similar case, only a few days ago:
She who within my bosom reigns,
A tyrant's stern control maintains;
Nor sighs, nor tears, nor prayers can move
The least relenting look of love.
A kind word, kindly spoken, might
Have turn'd my darkness into light:
But, since my suit is urged in vain,
I fly to feed my griefs with Payen.
[L'objet qui règne dans mon cœur
Est toujours insensible a mon amour fidèle.
Mes soins, mes soupirs, ma langueur,
Ne sauraient attendrir cette beauté cruelle.
O ciel! est-il un sort plus affreux que le mien?
Ah! puisque je ne puis lui plaire,
Je renonce au jour qui m'éclaire;
Venez, mes chers amis, m'enterrer chez Payen.]
This Payen is undoubtedly a tavern-keeper? said Don Cleophas. Exactly so, replied the Devil. But let us continue our observations. Let us then turn to the women, exclaimed Leandro; I am impatient to hear their histories. I will yield to your impatience, answered the Spirit; but there are yet two or three unfortunates on this side of the house, whom I would first shew to you: you may profit by their unhappiness.
You observe, close by the melancholy songster, that pale and haggard face; those teeth, which gnash as though they would make nothing of the iron bars that ornament the window. Yon is an honest man, born under influence of malignant star, who, with all the merit in the world, has vainly striven, during twenty years, to secure a modest competence; he has scarcely, with all his efforts, succeeded in gaining his daily bread. His reason fled its seat, on his perceiving a worthless fellow of his acquaintance suddenly mount the top of fortune's wheel by a lucky speculation.
His neighbour, again, is an old secretary, whose head was cracked by a stroke of ingratitude, which he received from a courtier, in whose service he lived during sixty years. No praises were too great for the zeal and fidelity of this ancient servant; who, however, never claimed their just reward, content to let his assiduity and services speak for themselves. His master, far from resembling Archelaus, king of Macedonia, who refused favours when demanded, and owed them when unasked, died forgetful of his merits, leaving him just enough to pass his days in misery, and the refuge of a madhouse.
I will only detain you with one more, and it is with the man who, leaning with his elbows on the window, appears plunged in profound meditation. You see in him a Signor Hidalgo, of Tafalla, a small town of Navarre, which he left for Madrid that he might make the best use of his wealth. He was bitten with a rage for surrounding himself with the literati of the day; and as these animals are always seen to most advantage at feeding-time, he kept open house for their entertainment. Authors are an unpolished and ungrateful race; but, although they despised and snarled at their keeper, he was not contented until they had eaten him out of house and home. Poor fellow! said Zambullo; he no doubt went mad with rage at his awful stupidity. On the contrary, replied Asmodeus, it was with regret at finding himself unable to keep up his menagerie. Well! now let us pay our respects to the ladies, added the Devil.
Why! how is this? exclaimed the Student: I only see seven or eight of them. I had expected to have found them here by scores. Ah! said the Devil, smiling, but they are by no means all confined within these walls. I will take you instantly, if you wish it, to another quarter of the city, where there is a larger house than this, full of mad-women to the very roof. Do not trouble yourself, I beg, replied Don Cleophas; I am by no means anxious for their acquaintance: these will suffice. You are right, replied the Devil; and these too, are almost all youthful ladies of distinction. You may perceive by the attention which is paid to their persons, that they are not ordinary subjects. And now for the story of their madness.
In the first room is the wife of a corregidor, who went mad with rage at being termed plebeian by a lady of the court; in the second, is the spouse of the treasurer—general of the council of the Indies: anger also made her mad, at being obliged, in a narrow street, to turn back her carriage to make way for that of the duchess of Medina-Cœli. The third room is the residence of a merchant's widow, whom regret for the loss of a noble signor's hand robbed of her senses; and the fourth is occupied by a girl of highest rank, named Donna Beatrice, whose misfortunes are worth your attention.
This young lady was united by the most tender friendship with the Donna Mencia: they were indeed inseparable. It happened, however, that a handsome chevalier of the order of St. James became acquainted with them both, and they soon were rivals for his heart. As he could not marry the two, and as his affections inclined towards the Donna Mencia, he paid his court to that lady, and she shortly became his wife.
Donna Beatrice, jealous of the power of her charms, Mid mortified to excess by the preference shewn to another, conceived a passion for revenge, which, like a woman, or a good Spaniard, she nourished at the bottom of her heart. While this passion was yet in its infancy, she received from Don Jacintho de Romarate, a neglected lover of the Donna Mencia, a letter stating that, being as much insulted as herself by the marriage of his mistress, he had resolved to demand satisfaction of the chevalier for their united wrongs.
This letter gave great delight to Beatrice, who desiring but the death of the sinner, wished for nothing more than that his rival should fall beneath Jacintho's hand. While anxiously awaiting for so christianly a gratification, it happened, however, that her own brother, having chanced to quarrel with this same Jacintho, came to blows with her champion, and fell pierced with wounds of which he died. Although duty prompted Donna Beatrice to avenge her brother's death by citing his murderer before the tribunals of his country, she neglected to do so, as this would have interfered with her revenge; which demonstrates, if such proof were needed, that there is no interest so dear to a woman as that of her beauty. Need I remind you, that when Ajax violated Cassandra in the temple of Pallas, that goddess did not on the instant punish the sacrilegious Greek? No! she reserved her wrath until its victim should have first redressed the insult offered to her charms by the Judgment of the hated Paris. But, alas! Donna Beatrice, less fortunate than Minerva, never tasted the sweetness of her anticipated vengeance. Romarate perished by the sword of the chevalier, and chagrin for her wrongs, still unpunished, drove the lady into this asylum.
The next who offer themselves to your notice are an attorney's grandmother and an aged marchioness. The ill-temper of the first so annoyed her descendant, that he very quietly got rid of her by placing her here: the other is a lady who has ever been an idol to herself, and instead of aging with becoming resignation, has never ceased to weep the decay of that beauty which formed her only happiness; and at last, one day, when her mirror told, too plainly to be doubted, that all her charms were flown, went mad.
So much the better for the ancient dame, added Leandro. In the derangement of her mind, she will no more perceive the ravages of time. Most assuredly not, replied the Devil; far from beholding in her face the marks of age, her complexion seems to her now a happy blending of the lily and the rose; she sees around her but the Graces and the Loves,—in a word, she thinks that she is Venus herself. Ah, well! exclaimed the Student, were it not better that thousands should be mad, than that they should know themselves for what they are? Undoubtedly, replied Asmodeus; but come, we have only one other female to observe; and that is she who dwells in the furthest room, and whom sleep has just visited with rest, after three days and nights of raving. Look at her well! What think you of the Donna Emerenciana? That she is beautiful, indeed, answered Zambullo. What horror, that so lovely a creature should be mad! By what fatal accident is she reduced to this dreadful situation? Listen! replied the Demon; I will tell you the story of her woes.
Illustration: What horror, that so lovely a creature should be mad!
Donna Emerenciana, only daughter of Don Guillem Stephani, lived tranquilly at Siguença, in the mansion of her father, when Don Kimen de Lizana came to trouble her repose by those attentions with which he sought to win her heart. Flattered by his gallantries, she received their homage with delight; she even had the weakness to lend herself to the artifices to which he resorted that he might speak with her in private; and in a short time exchanged with him vows of eternal love and fidelity.
The lovers were of equal birth; but the lady was one of the richest heiresses of Spain, while Don Kimen was a younger son. But there was still another obstacle to their union,—Don Guillem hated the family of the Lizana. This he never affected to conceal, whenever they were mentioned; and he seemed more averse to Don Kimen himself, than to any other of his race. Emerenciana, though deeply afflicted at her father's sentiments on this subject, which she felt boded unhappily for her passion, could not resolve to abandon its object; and she therefore continued her secret interviews with her lover, who from time to time, through the assistance of a waiting-maid, ventured even into her chamber by night.
It happened, one of these nights, that Don Guillem chanced to be awake when the gallant was thus introduced, and thought he heard a noise in his daughter's apartment, which was not far from his own. This was quite enough to arouse a father, and especially one so mistrustful as Don Guillem. Suspicious as he was, he had never imagined the possibility of his daughter's intelligence with Don Kimen; but not being of a disposition to place too much confidence in any one, he rose quietly from his bed, opened a window which looked into the street, and there patiently waited until he saw that cavalier, whom the light of the moon enabled him to recognize, descending from the balcony by a silken ladder.
What a sight for Stephani!—for the most vindictive, the most relentless mortal, that even Sicily, which gave him birth, had ever produced. He controled the first emotions of his terrible wrath, and repressed every exclamation of surprise at what he beheld, that the chief victim which his wounded pride demanded might not be warned of his fate, and attempt to escape the avenger's hand. He so far constrained himself as to wait until the morning, when his daughter had risen, ere he entered her apartment. She was alone as he approached her, with fury sparkling in his eyes; and, with a voice that made her tremble, he addressed her thus: Unworthy wretch! whom not the honour of thy race restrains from deeds of infamy, prepare to meet their due reward! This steel, he added, as he drew a dagger from his bosom, shall find a sheath within your heart, unless with truth upon your lips you name the daring villain who brought, last night, dishonour on my house.
Emerenciana was so overcome by this unexpected discovery and her father's threats, that her tongue refused its office. Ah! miserable, continued Don Guillem, thy silence and confusion tell me too plainly all thy guilt! Dost think, child, whom I blush to call mine own, that I know not what has passed? I know too well! I saw, myself, the villain, and recognized him for Don Kimen. 'Twas not enough, then, to receive a cavalier at night within thy room!—that cavalier must be the man whom most I loathe! But come! tell me how much I owe him. Speak without disguise,—thy sincerity alone can save thy shameful life.
These last words, terrible as they were, brought with them some slight hope to the unfortunate girl of escaping the fate which menaced her, and she recovered from her fright sufficiently to enable her to reply: Signor, I cannot deny that I am guilty of listening to Lizana; but I call Heaven to witness for the purity of his sentiments and conduct. Aware as he was of your hatred for his name, he dared not to ask your sanction for his addresses; but it was for no other end than to confer with me how that sanction might be obtained that he sought, and I permitted, his coming here. And who, then, asked Stephani, was the willing instrument through which you exchanged your communications? It was, replied his daughter, one of your pages to whom we were indebted for that kindness. Enough, interrupted the father; and now to execute the design for which I come! Thereupon, displaying his poniard, he made Emerenciana sit down, and placing paper and ink before her, compelled her to write to her lover the following letter which he dictated:—
"Dearest Love,—only delight of my life,—I hasten to inform you that my father has just set out for his estate, whence he will not return until tomorrow. Lose not this happy opportunity. I doubt not you will watch for the coming night with as much impatience as your beloved
As soon as this treacherous letter was written and sealed, Don Guillem said to his daughter: And now summon the page who so well performs the duties you impose on him, and direct him to carry this note to Don Kimen: but hope not to deceive me; I shall conceal myself behind the drapery of your room, whence I can observe your slightest movement; and if while you charge him with this commission you speak one word, or make the smallest sign which may give him suspicion of your message, I will plunge this dagger in your heart. Emerenciana knew her father too well to dare to disobey him: the page was called, and the letter placed as usual in his hands.
Not until then did Stephani put up his weapon; but he did not leave his daughter for a moment during the day, nor would he let any one approach her, so that she could communicate to Lizana intelligence of the snare which was spread for him. Accordingly, when night came, the youthful gallant hastened to the wished-for meeting; but hardly had he entered the door of his mistress's house before he found himself seized by three powerful men, who disarmed him in a moment, tied a bandage over his mouth to prevent his cries, another over his eyes, and bound his hands behind his back. They then placed him in a carriage, which was waiting for the purpose, and having all mounted therein for complete security of the betrayed cavalier's person, they carried him to the seat of Stephani, situated near the village of Miedes, four leagues from Siguença, where they arrived before daybreak.
The first care of the signor was to cause Don Kimen to be placed in a vault which received but a feeble light from a hole near the top, so small, that escape by that was impossible. He then ordered Julio, a confidential servant, to feed him with bread and water only, to give him but a truss of straw to sleep on, and to say to him every time he carried him food: Here, base seducer; it is thus that Don Guillem treats those who are mad enough to dare to insult him! The cruel Sicilian was hardly less severe in his treatment of his daughter: he imprisoned her in a chamber which looked into a small court yard, deprived her of her attendants, and placed her in the custody of a duenna whom he had chosen because she was unequalled for her skill in tormenting those committed to her charge.
Having thus disposed of the two lovers, he was by no means contented with the punishment already inflicted on them: he had resolved to get rid of Don Kimen, and had only not done so at once because he wished to avoid any unpleasant consequences which might follow his crime; to manage which, appeared to be somewhat difficult. As he had employed three of his servants in the abduction of the cavalier, he could hardly hope that a secret known to so many persons would always remain undiscovered:—what then was he to do, to shun any impertinent explanations which justice might think it necessary to demand? His resolve was worthy of a conqueror: he assembled his accomplices in a small pavilion a short distance from the chateau, and after telling them how highly satisfied he was with their zeal, he stated that he had brought them there to receive a substantial reward for their services in money, and that he had prepared a little festival, which he invited them to share. They sat down to enjoy themselves, little dreaming that it was a feast of death; for when their brains were heated with wine, the worthy Julio by his master's order brought in a poisoned bowl, which soon ended their rejoicing. The pair then fired the pavilion, and before the flames had brought around them the inhabitants of the neighbouring village, they assassinated Emerenciana's two female attendants and the page of whom I have spoken, and threw their bodies into the burning heap. It was really amusing, while the remains of these poor wretches were consuming in this infernal pile, which the peasants strove in vain to extinguish, to witness the profound grief displayed by our Sicilian: he appeared inconsolable for the loss of his domestics.
Nothing remaining to be feared from any want of discretion on the part of his coadjutors, which might have betrayed him, he thus addressed his confidant: My dear Julio, my mind is now at peace, and the life of Don Kimen is at my mercy; but, before I immolate him to my wounded honour, I would enjoy the sweet delight of making him feel how much he has offended me:—the misery and horror of a long and solitary confinement will be more dreadful to him than death itself. In truth, Lizana was by no means comfortable; and, hopeless of ever leaving the dungeon where he wasted, he would have welcomed death as a cheap release from his sufferings.
But, despite his boast of peace, the mind of Stephani knew no rest after the exploits he had recently achieved; and ere many days had passed, a new source of inquietude presented itself in the fear lest Julio, as he daily saw the prisoner for the purpose of taking him food, should suffer himself to be corrupted by promises. This fear made Don Guillem resolve to get rid of Lizana without loss of time, and then to blow out the brains of his friend Julio. But the latter was also not without his own misgivings; and, as he shrewdly suspected that were Don Kimen once out of the way, he would be found in it, he had made his resolution to take himself off some fine night, with all that was portable in the house, when the darkness would excuse his not distinguishing his master's property from his own.
While these honest gentlemen were each meditating an agreeable surprise for the other, they were one day both unwelcomely accosted at a short distance from the chateau, by about twenty archers of St. Hermandad, who surrounded, and greeted them in the name of the king and the law! At this salutation Don Guillem was somewhat confounded; but, calling the colour to his cheeks, he asked the commandant of the archers whom he sought. Yourself! replied the officer: you are accused of having unlawfully seized on Don Kimen de Lizana; and I am directed to make strict search for that cavalier within your mansion, and further to make you my prisoner. Stephani, convinced by this answer that he was lost, drew from his person a brace of pistols, exclaiming that he would suffer no one to enter his house; and that he would shoot the commandant without ceremony if he did not instantly take himself off with his troop. The leader of the holy brotherhood, despising this threat, advanced at once towards the Sicilian; who, as good as his word, fired, and wounded him slightly in the face. This wound, however, cost the life of the madman who gave it; for the archers in a moment stretched him lifeless at the feet of their injured chief. Julio surrendered himself without resistance; and, making a virtue of necessity, cleared his conscience by a frank avowal of all that had occurred,—except that, perceiving his master was really dead, he did him the honour to invest his memory with all the glory attaching to the transaction.
He then conducted the archers to the vault, where they found Lizana on his straw bed, securely bound. The unfortunate gentleman, who lived in continual expectation of death, thought it was come at last when he saw so many armed men enter his prison; and was, as you may expect, agreeably surprised to find liberators in those whom he had taken for his executioners. When they had released him from his dungeon, and received his thanks, he asked them how they had learned that he was confined in the place where they found him. That, replied the commandant, I will tell you in a few words.
The night you were entrapped, said the officer, one of Don Guillem's assistants, whose mistress resided in the neighbourhood, stole a few moments while they were waiting for you, to bid adieu to his sweetheart before his departure, and was indiscreet enough to reveal to her the project of Stephani. For a wonder, the lady kept the secret for three whole days; but when the news of the fire at Miedes reached Siguença, as every body thought it strange that all the servants of the Sicilian should have perished in the flames, she naturally took it into her head also that the fire was the work of Guillem himself. To revenge her lover's death, therefore, she sought the signor Don Felix, your father, and related to him all she knew. Don Felix, alarmed at finding you were in the hands of a man capable of everything, accompanied the lady to the corregidor, who on hearing her story had no doubt of Stephani's intentions towards you, and that he was the diabolical incendiary the woman suspected. To make inquiries into all the circumstances of the case, the corregidor instantly dispatched orders to me at Retortillo, where I live, directing me to repair with my brigade to this chateau, to find you if possible, and to take Don Guillem, dead or alive. I have happily performed my commission as regards yourself; and I only regret that it is out of my power to conduct the criminal to Siguença alive. He compelled us by his furious resistance to dispatch him on the spot.
The officer, having ended his story, thus continued: I will now, Signor Don Kimen, draw up a report of all that has happened here; I will not, however, detain you long, and we will then set out together to release your friends from the anxiety they suffer upon your account. Stay, signor commandant, interrupted Julio, I will furnish you with matter to lengthen your report: you have got another prisoner to liberate. Donna Emerenciana is confined in a dismal chamber at this chateau, guarded by a merciless duenna, who upbraids her without ceasing for her love of this cavalier, and torments her by every device she can imagine. Oh Heaven! cried Lizana, is it possible that the barbarous Stephani should not have been contented to exercise his cruelty on me alone? Let us hasten to deliver the unfortunate lady from the tyranny of her gaoler.
Julio lost no time in conducting the commandant, four or five of the archers, and Lizana, to the prison of Don Guillem's daughter. They knocked at the door; it was opened by the surprised duenna, and you may conceive the delight of Don Kimen at again beholding his mistress, after having lost her as he supposed for ever. All his hopes revived; nor could he reasonably conceive the possibility of their non-fulfilment, since he who alone stood between him and his happiness, was dead. He threw himself in ecstacy at the feet of Emerenciana; when,—picture his horror if you can,—he found, instead of the gentle girl who had listened with tender transport to his vows, a maniac. Yes! so well had the duenna succeeded in her efforts, that she had effaced the image of the lover by destroying the canvass on which it was depicted.
She remained for some time in apparent meditation; then, imagining herself to be the fair Angelica, besieged by the Tartars in the towers of Albraca, and the persons who filled her apartment to be so many Paladins come to her rescue, she received them with much politeness. Addressing the chief of the holy-brotherhood as Roland, Lizana as Brandimart, Julio as Hubert of the Lion, and the archers as Antifort, Clarion, Adrian, and the two sons of the Marquis Olivier, she said to them: Brave chevaliers, I no longer fear the Emperor Agrican, nor Queen Marphisa: your valour would suffice for my defence against the world itself in arms.
The officer and his followers could not resist an inclination to laugh at this heroic reception; but poor Don Kimen was so much afflicted by the unexpected condition in which he found her for whom alone he had wished to live, that reason seemed to be on the point of abandoning him also. Recovering himself however from his first surprise, and hoping that she might be brought to recognize the unhappy author of her misfortunes, he addressed her tenderly: Dearest Emerenciana, said he, it is Lizana who speaks to thee: recal thy scattered thoughts, he comes to tell thee that thy griefs are at an end. Heaven has heard the prayer of those fond hearts itself united; and its wrath has fallen on the wicked head of him who would have separated two beings made for each other.
The reply to these words was another speech from the daughter of king Galafron to the valiant defenders of Albraca, who this time however restrained their mirth. Even the commandant, whose profession was not favourable to the kindlier feelings of humanity, was touched with compassion, and observing the profound affliction of Don Kimen, said to him: Signor Cavalier, do not despair! We have, in Siguença, physicians celebrated for their skill in curing the disorders of the mind, and there is yet hope for your unfortunate lady. But let us away! You, Signor Hubert of the Lion, added he, addressing himself to Julio, you who know the whereabouts of the stables of this castle, take with you Antifort and the two sons of the Marquis Olivier, bring out the fleetest coursers from their stalls, and harness them to the car of our princess; in the meanwhile I will prepare my dispatches.
So saying, he drew out his writing materials, and having finished his report, he presented his hand to Angelica and conducted her to the court-yard, where he found a carriage with four mules, which had been prepared for her reception by the paladins. The lady was placed therein by the side of Don Kimen; and the commandant having compelled the duenna to enter also, as he thought the corregidor would be glad to have some conversation with the dame, he mounted, and they set out for Siguença. This is not all: by order of their chief, the archers bound Julio, and placed him in another carriage with the body of Don Guillem; then mounting their horses they followed the same route.
During the journey, the daughter of Stephani uttered a thousand extravagancies, every one of which was as a dagger in the heart of her lover. The presence of the duenna was an additional source of disquiet to him. It is you, infamous old woman, said he to her, it is you who by your cruelty have tortured Emerenciana to madness. The old hypocrite endeavoured to justify herself by pleading the instructions of her defunct master. It is to Don Guillem alone, said she, that her misfortunes are attributable: daily did that too rigid father visit her in her room; and it is to his reproaches and threats that the loss of her reason is owing.
On reaching Siguença, the commandant immediately went to give an account of his mission to the corregidor, who after examining Julio and the duenna found them lodgings in the prisons of that town, where they reside to this time. Lizana, after deposing to all he had suffered from Don Guillem, repaired to his father's house, where his presence restored joy to his alarmed relations. Donna Emerenciana was sent by the judge to Madrid, where she had a kind uncle by her mother's side, who desired nothing better than the administration of his niece's property, and who was nominated her guardian. As he could not creditably do otherwise than appear desirous of her restoration to sanity, he had recourse to the most famed physicians of this city; but he had nothing to fear, for, after having taken a becoming number of fees, they declared her incurable. On this decision, the guardian, no doubt, very reluctantly, placed her here; and here, most likely, she is destined to end her days.
And a sad destiny it is, cried Don Cleophas; I am really touched by her misfortunes: Donna Emerenciana deserved a better fate. And Don Kimen, added he, what is become of him? I am curious to learn how he acted. Very reasonably, replied Asmodeus: when he heard that the evil was past a remedy, he went to Spanish America. He hopes that by change of scene he may insensibly efface the remembrance of those charms that wisdom and his own peace require he should forget—But, continued the Devil, after having exhibited to you madmen who are confined, it is time I shewed to you those who deserve to be so.