CH. XII. -- The proceedings at the Castle of Loeches after his lordship's death, and the course which Santillane adopted.
THE minister, according to his last injunctions, was buried without pomp and without procession in the convent, with a dirge of our lamentations. After the funeral, Madame d' Olivarez called us together to hear the will read, with which the household had good reason to be satisfied. Every one had a legacy proportioned to his claim, and none less than two thousand crowns: mine was the largest, amounting to ten thousand pistoles, as a mark of his singular regard. The hospitals were not forgotten, and provision was made for an annual commemoration in several convents.
Madame d'Olivarez sent all the household to Madrid to receive their legacies from Don Raymond Caporis, who had orders to pay them; but I could not be of the party, in consequence of a violent fever from distress of mind, which confined me to the castle for more than a week. During that time, the reverend Dominican paid me all possible attention. He had conceived a friendship for me, which was not confined to my worldly interests, and was anxious to know how I meant to dispose of myself on my recovery. I answered that I had not yet made up my mind upon the subject: there were moments when my feelings strongly prompted towards a religious vow. Precious moments! exclaimed the Dominican, you will do well to profit by them. I advise you as a friend to retire to our convent at Madrid, for example; there to become a pious benefactor by the free gift of your whole fortune, and to die in the livery of Saint Dominic. Many very questionable Christians have made amends for a life of sin by so holy an end.
In the actual disposition of my mind, this advice was not unpalatable; and I promised to reflect upon it. But on consulting Scipio, who came to see me immediately after the monk, he treated the very notion as the phantom of a distempered brain. For shame! said he; does not your estate at Lirias offer a more eligible seclusion? If you were delighted with it formerly, the charm will be increased tenfold, now that the lapse of years has moderated your sense of pleasure, and softened down your taste to the simple beauties of nature.
It was no difficult matter to operate a change in my inclinations. My friend, said I, you carry it decidedly against the advocate of Saint Dominic. We will go back to Lirias as soon as I am well enough to travel. This happened shortly; for as the fever subsided, I soon felt myself sufficiently strong to put my design in execution. We went first to Madrid. The sight of that city gave me far other sensations than heretofore. As I knew that almost its whole population held in horror the memory of a minister, of whom I cherished the most affectionate remembrance, I could not feel at my ease within its precincts. My stay was therefore limited to five or six days, while Scipio was making the necessary arrangements for our rustication. In the meantime I waited on Caporis, and received my legacy in ready money. I likewise made my arrangements with the receivers for the regular remittance of my pensions, and settled all my affairs in due order.
The evening before our departure, I asked the son of Coselina whether he had received his farewell from Don Henry. Yes, answered he, we took leave of each other this morning with mutual civility; he went so far as to express his regret that I should quit him; but however well satisfied he might be with me, I am by no means so with him. Mutual content is like a river, which must have its banks on either side. Besides, Don Henry makes but a pitiful figure at court now; he has fallen into utter contempt; people point at him with their finger in the streets, and call him a Genoese bastard. Judge, then, for yourself, whether it is consistent with my character to keep up the connection.
We left Madrid one morning at sunrise, and went for Cuença. The following was the order of our equipment; we two in a chaise and pair, three mules, laden with baggage and money, led by two grooms and two stout footmen, well armed, in the rear; the grooms wore sabres, and the postilion had a pair of pistols in his holsters. As we were seven men in all, and six of us determined fellows, I took the road gaily, without trembling for my legacy. In the villages through which we passed our mules chimed their bells merrily, and the peasants ran to their doors to see us pass, supposing it to be at least the parade of some nobleman going to take possession of some viceroyalty.