With every demonstration of
joy Sir Rowland's division of the army were received by the good people of
Aranjuez, a very interesting town, which stands near the Tagus and Garama,
about twenty-seven miles from Madrid and twenty-one from Toledo. Aranjuez
is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills and green forests, and contains
the celebrated summer residence of the kings of Spain; around which spread
the royal gardens, justly considered the most beautiful and elegant in
Europe. The town contains a Prado, or public promenade, four miles in
length, which crosses the Tagus twice, by gaily-painted wooden bridges,
before it loses itself among the orchards and fragrant orange thickets.
The streets of the town are
perfectly regular, even monotonously so, but richly ornamented on the
outside with projecting cornices, pilasters, and balconies. There is a
quietness, and an air of dignity and 'calm repose,' about Aranjuez, which
is not often met with in Spain, but which marks it as being strictly the
residence of people of rank and fortune. The town contains three churches,
and an area for bull-fights. The Highlanders halted in the large square,
which is paved with marble, and 'contains the splendid brass statue of
Charles V. The Emperor is represented armed cap-à-pie, trampling down
heresy in the form of four arch-heretics. The statue and pedestal were
decorated with flowers— indeed, all the streets were strewed with them—in
honour of the occasion.
Wellington, who by this
time had been created a marquis, lay before Burgos, besieging the castle,
and the surrender of its garrison was looked for daily.
As the second division
expected to remain some weeks at Aranjuez, they were billeted as usual on
the inhabitants ; and the long arrears of pay having been received, they
were enabled to make themselves tolerably comfortable. The officers of the
Highlanders having so much loose cash on their hands, determined to get
rid of it as soon as possible, by giving a splendid ball to the ladies of
Aranjuez and the officers of the division.
A committee was appointed
to arrange matters, despatch the invitations, and get the palace, which
had been procured for the purpose, duly fitted up and decorated. In this
princely and spacious building the Supreme Junta of the Spanish Government
were installed, and held their first meeting in 1808. Joseph Buonaparte
occupied it previously to his retreat to Valencia, and a great quantity of
his household stuffs, crystals, etc., were found in it, very opportunely,
and seized by the committee to equip the supper-tables. From Madrid some
thousand variegated lamps were procured to illuminate the gardens and
avenues leading to the palace, and nearly twelve hundred oil-paintings,
many of them by the best ancient and modern masters, were collected from
different parts of the building, and hung up in the suites of apartments
appropriated to the festivities. The troops entered on the 1st of
October,—the ball was to be on the night of the 20th, and of course all
the unmarried ladies of Aranjuez were in a flutter,—nay, in fact, in a
state of extreme excitement about the affair. The ball, the ball to be
given by the Scottish officers, was the only subject discussed at the
soirées, tertulias, and parties at the houses of the citizens; at the
Prado, and in the cafes and tabernas in the town. The committee, which
consisted of Captain Seaton, Macdonald, and Ronald Stuart, usually met
every evening in the palace, to send off the invitations and discuss some
of King Joseph's wine.
'I must send one of these
to the young ladies of my billet,' said Alister on one occasion, as they
sat writing, folding, and sealing the cards at an open window, where they
were luxuriating in the fragrant perfume of the gardens, smoking cigars,
and sipping volnais. 'They are both young and pretty,' continued Alister,
'but sadly curbed in by an old maiden aunt, who regards them as very
'They are likely to prove
so,' said Seaton, the captain of the light company; 'the girls have superb
eyes and teeth. In this capital volnais I drink to their healths, and that
of the ex-king of Spain, to whom we are so much indebted for assisting us
with our entertainment, by leaving his "gudes and gear" behind him.'
'Here is the name of the
Condé de Truxillo,' observed Macdonald, consulting the invitation-list.
'Seaton, no notice appears as yet to have been sent him.'
'A general invitation has
been sent to the officers of his regiment. I enclosed it myself, but I
have sworn to touch these matters no more. This volnais obscured my
faculties so much yesterday, that I enclosed cards to dons which were
written to donnas, to dukes that were written to plain senores and
vice-versa. I will leave these matters to you, Mac, and Stuart, my
subaltern; while, as president of the committee, I will smoke my cigar and
drink with you, so long as the volnais lasts. Apropos, —push the decanters
condé has left the staff,' observed Stuart.
'He belongs now to the 4th Spanish Infantry;
they are with De Costa's brigade.'
'Here is a card for Senores the four most
worshipful alcaldes of Aranjuez.'
'What is the use of asking these people to a
ball?' said Seaton. 'Nothing more than mechanical citizens, whose blowsy
wives and daughters will be intruding themselves, bedizened in the dresses
of the last century.'
'It is impossible to pass them over, and
vulgarity may be excused in a magistrate. Here are invitations for the
10th Portuguese, for the Catalonian Cacadores, the 39th and British, and
all the cavalry brigades. Now, then, for the ladies.'
'God bless them!'
'Amen! Seaton. Donna Isabel de Campo, and her
four daughters. These people live near this, do they not?
'No; in the marble square, three doors from
the palace D'Alarino. Two of the light dragoons are quartered there, and a
pleasant time they seem to have of it, as the five donnas spend the day in
flirting, waltzing, or twanging the guitar and piano. And then mamma,
although a little old and stale, is of a very gay disposition.'
'A comprehensive phrase in Spain. You are a
most gossiping fellow, Seaton. It is a marvel to me how you learn the
history of people as you do. Don Felix Joaquin, knight of Calatrava,'
continued Alister, reading from the list.
'A base rogue,' was Seaton's comment, 'and one
who kissed King Joseph's hand, the day before he fled to Valencia. You, as
a true knight of Santiago, should certainly break his head for him,
I shall not take the trouble. Read on, Macdonald.
'The very noble cavalier,—what a most
unpronounceable name,—Don Zunasbul Ascasibur de Ynurritegui.'
'A fellow as mad as Cuesta himself! Invite
him, by all means.'
'He is my patron,' said Ronald; 'a fine old fellow—a true Spaniard of the
old school; and, like Cuesta, sticks to the plumed beaver and slashed
doublet of his grandfather's days. Who comes next?'
'Micer Astuto Rubio, and his lady.'
'Pshaw!' said Seaton, 'an abogado; in other
words, a rogue. Astuto? ah, he is well named; that is Spanish for craft or
chicanery, of which he has as much, I believe, as any Edinburgh W.S.'
'Donna Elvira Moro, Calle Mayor. Any scandal
about her, Seaton?
'Plenty, and to spare. The town is full of strange stories about her and
her escudero, or gentleman-usher, an office to which she suddenly raised
him from being a moco de mulasr. [A mule-driver.] His goodly proportions
pleased the eye of the widow.'
'Scandal again! The Duke of Alba de T------,
and his two daughters—Donna Olivia and Donna Virginia.'
'Three separate cards must be sent to them,'
said Stuart, inditing them while he spoke.
'The duke is supposed to be a traitor, and in
the French interest.'
'I assure you, Seaton, his
daughters are not,' replied Ronald, writing the while. 'They are very
beautiful girls, and Lisle is a lucky dog to have his billet in the palace
of De T------. He is continually with them, either among the gardens,
riding on the Prado, or courting at home, I believe. The young senoras are
never to be seen, either at church or la Posada de los Representes,
without their most faithful cavalier and escudero, the honourable Louis
'The mess get
very little of his company just now. He never appears among us but at
parade ; and when the word "dismiss" is given, he vanishes like a ghost at
cock-crow. I wonder what the duke thinks of the matter?
'I believe, Alister, he never thinks of it at
all,' replied Seaton. 'He is too proud to hold communication with anyone,
and sits in his library, smoking Guadalaxara cigars and drinking sherry,
from dawn till sunset, keeping everyone at an awful distance.'
'But his daughters------'
'Are strictly watched by an old duenna. I got
a complete history of the family from my old gossiping patron. It appears
that when old Mahoud takes the duke to himself, the two girls will be
immensely rich. Donna Olivia, who is as gay a coquette as one can imagine,
has a castle and estate of her own, lying by the banks of the Nive, on the
French side of the Pyrenees. Her sister, Virginia, who has lately obtained
her liberty from a convent, by the Pope's dispensation dissolving her
vows, has become the leading star of Madrid and Aranjuez. By the death of
her cousin, the Marquis of Montesa—who was killed near Albuera, you will
remember,—she has succeeded to large estates in Valencia—Valencia la
hermosa, the land of wine and olives. The fair sisters are closely
besieged by all the threadbare cavaliers in the province,—fellows who
trace their pedigrees beyond King Bamba's days; so that Lisle has very
will forget them when the route comes,' said Alister. 'I have been
desperately in love about eight times, since we landed at the Black Horse
Square in Lisbon; and Louis will get over this affair, as I have done
others. The flirts of one garrison-town efface the impressions made by
those of the last.'
'Now and then a raw sub is meshed and caged, though!'
'Or an old field-officer, in desperation of
getting a wife at all ; but generally we rough it too much at present to
find time to fall in love.'
On the evening of the Highlanders' ball, all
Aranjuez was in a state of commotion: myriads of lights were burning
throughout the palace and royal gardens, where everything bore evidence of
the good taste and expedition of the committee.
For promenading, there were set apart a long
suite of rooms, extending from one wing to the other. Their floors were
tessellated, and the ceilings gilded and painted in fresco, while the
walls had been adorned by a thousand choice pictures, selected by the
committee. These rooms had quite the appearance of an exhibition; but at
intervals were hung wreaths of laurel, intermingled with festoons of
tartan plaids, garlands of flowers, glittering stars of bayonets and
claymores, pistols and muskets, which were reflected in many a polished
mirror hung between the white marble pilasters which supported the
ceilings of these splendid apartments. In every one of the long suite was
a richly-carved marble mantelpiece, and on each stood a magnificent
alabaster French clock. Behind rose tall mirrors, encircled by
gorgeously-gilt frames, all of Paris manufacture, part of King Joseph's
household stuff, abandoned by him on his hasty flight.
The rooms were brilliantly lighted up, as
indeed were the courts, 'arcades, and every part of the spacious palace.
The large hall appropriated to the dancers was decorated like the
promenade. The regimental band occupied the music-gallery, in front of
which hung the yellow silk standards of the corps. The curtains of the
twelve lofty windows were hung in festoons, showing the open casements and
steps of white marble leading to the illuminated gardens, in the bowers of
which the refreshment-tables were laid, and attended by waiters.
A Highland guard of honour, consisting of a
hundred grenadiers, were drawn up in the portico, to receive, with the
usual compliments, the magistrates and persons of rank; and the members of
the committee might be seen hurrying through the lighted rooms in puff,
dressed in their gayest uniform, ordering here and there and everywhere
the servants and attendants, and getting everything in due order before
the company began to arrive. About nine o'clock came the four pompous
alcaldes, clad in gowns of red scarlet. Three brought their wives with
them,—swarthy old ladies, wearing their hair twisted in two gigantic
tails, reaching far below their waists. Each came in an old-fashioned
carriage, attended behind by a couple of strapping alguazils, armed with
halberds or blunderbusses. The guard of honour presented arms, the drum
beat a march, and the four senores, doffing their sombreros, were ushered
into an outer apartment, where Fassifern stayed to receive the company. He
was dressed in full uniform, and wore his kilt and purse, instead of the
truis and spurs of a field-officer, and his plaid of dark-green tartan was
fastened to his left shoulder by a splendid silver brooch, which flashed
and sparkled in the light of the lustres. After the arrival of the
unfashionable alcaldes, the company continued to pour in without
intermission, until the rooms were crowded. All the staff arrived about
twelve o'clock; but the general himself, for some reason, was unable to
of the stately palace presented a scene of no ordinary splendour on that
evening. Hundreds of uniforms of cavalry and infantry officers — British,
Spanish, Portuguese, and German, were glittering everywhere. The ladies
were attired in all the colours of the rainbow, and their light floating
dresses were seen mingling among smart light dragoons, Scottish
Highlanders, green-clad cacadores, and clumsy German riflemen; and I must
remark that the latter were perhaps the most vulgar and ungainly fellows
that ever appeared in a ball-room. There were numbers of cavaliers attired
in the Spanish doublet, a close-fitting vest with sleeves. A smart mantle
dangled from their left shoulder, and nearly all wore knee-breeches and
broad white collars around their necks —a costume at once smart and
picturesque. Many wore the garbs and badges of their national military
orders: there were knights of Calatrava and Alcantara, wearing,—the former
red crosses, the latter green, upon' black velvet tunics; and knights of
'the Band,' wearing the scarlet scarf of their ancient order. But the most
picturesque costumes were those of four knights of the religious order of
Redemption, who appeared clad completely in white, with a large black
cross on the breast of the silk tunic, which reached to the knees. A white
velvet mantle flowed behind, and each wore three white feathers in a small
round cap of a flat shape, like the bonnet of a Lowlander.
These singular garbs added greatly to the
gaiety of the scene ; but if the interior of the palace presented a blaze
of splendour, the illuminated gardens were a realization of fairyland. Two
channels having been given to the Tagus, the grounds of the palace were
enclosed as an island, being completely surrounded by the stream, amid
which many a stately swan was swimming about, or slowly sailing as they
spread their snowy plumage to the breeze. The trees were thickly planted
on each side of the walks, and their boughs, which were beginning to wear
the brown tints of autumn, embraced each other, and being carefully pruned
below, formed long and beautiful sylvan arcades, such as are not to be
found in any other garden in Europe. A thousand variegated lamps,
clustering like enchanted fruit, were hung upon their boughs, or stretched
from tree to tree in festoons, illuminating with a blaze of light the
deepest recesses, where even the meridian sun could not penetrate.
White marble statues were gleaming, and the
rushing waters of the famous jets d eau were sparkling like showers of
diamonds in the artificial light, which likewise revealed the glories of
the rich parterres, where flowers of every tint, crimson and gold, purple
and blue, orange an,d red, were yet budding and blooming in spite of the
advanced time of the year. The strains of music were wafted divinely
through the open casements of the hall, where the dancers were wreathed in
the quadrille, or wheeled round in the giddy waltz,—the light feet of the
Spanish girls gliding like those of sylphs or fairies, while their airy
drapery, floating about over the marble floors, seemed like the garments
of the same imaginary beings. What a strong contrast all this scene formed
when compared with the misery and discomfort which the troops had endured
so long, and which they were soon again doomed to suffer!
Like the other officers of the Highlanders,
Ronald was accurately attired in full uniform, wearing his cross on his
breast. His kilt, which contained ten yards of the Gordon tartan, reached
to within three inches of his knee ; from this the leg was bare to the
swell of the calf, where his silk hose of red and white dice were gartered
with knots of red ribands. A handsome brooch confined the folds of his
plaid above the left epaulette, and a tasselled sporan, the mouth of which
was hidden by a fox's head, dangled from his waist. His patron, Don
Ascasibur Ynurritegui, who was attired in the dress and armed with a long
Toledo of Charles V.'s days, had introduced him to several pretty girls,
with all of whom he had danced and flirted, promenaded, handed scarves,
bouquets, and ices, and acquitted himself as a very accomplished
caballero. For Louis Lisle he looked everywhere in vain : he was the only
Lisle, Alister?' asked he of Macdonald, who moved slowly past, with a fat
old lady leaning on his arm. Although richly jewelled and robed, she was
confoundedly ugly, and wore a white veil hanging down her broad back from
a comb at least one foot six inches high. ' It is very odd,' continued
Ronald, 'that he should absent himself on this occasion?'
'The Duke of Alba de T------ and his two
charming daughters have not yet arrived. Louis will come with them.'
'Ah; I had forgotten. I
long to see those beauties, of whom I have heard so much. But how is it
that I have not seen you dancing to-night?' 'Tush!' whispered the other
ruefully, in English. 'Campbell, designedly, I think, introduced me to
this old woman, his patrona,—wife of the Contador, or Steward of the
palace. She sticks to me like a burr, and I am compelled to waste the
night as her escudero, when so many delightful girls are present.' 'The
flower of Madrid and Aranjuez.' 'I will revenge myself on Campbell for
this trick of his.' 'Try if Blacier, of the 60th, will relieve you of her.
Germans are not very fastidious in their tastes. He is standing among the
dancers, alike regardless of place or persons, smoking his long German
pipe as coolly as he would do in a guard-room.'
Alister led the unconscious lady off, and
succeeded ' in turning her over to Blacier's command,' as he said when he
'There is Seaton,' said he, 'striving to make himself agreeable to the gay
widow of the Calle Mayor, Donna Elvira Moro.'
'Seaton can easily do that; he is a very
handsome fellow. Who is the young lady to whom Bevan has attached himself
so closely? 'One of rank, I believe, and a widow, too,—the Condesa
Estremera.' 'How gaily she flirts!'
'Poor Bevan! he is a simple fellow, and I
believe she is making a sad fool of him. Last night I saw her amusing
herself thus with one of the 34th, and—Hah! here comes Lisle, with the
duke and the young ladies. Beautiful girls!'
'Beautiful indeed!' echoed Stuart, as the tall
and portly duke, attired in an old-fashioned dress, with his broad beaver
under his left arm, and, encased in a white glove, the little hand of
Donna Olivia drooping on his right, entered the dancing-rooms, followed by
Lisle leading Donna Virginia. Both the sisters were tall and of queen-like
figures. Their dresses of white satin were richly trimmed with fine lace,
and lofty ostrich feathers nodded above their glossy ringlets, amid which
many a diamond and other gem sparkled and blazed when they moved. Long
white Spanish veils, descending from the head, hung down behind them,
giving to their figures still greater grace and dignity.
'They are lovely creatures!' said Macdonald.
'But Virginia moves like an empress among all the plumed and jewelled
beauties around her.' 'What a thrice enviable sub is Master Louis, to be
their cavalier! All eyes are turned upon them.'
'And a knight of Alcantara, yonder, leaning
against the mantelpiece, seems to eye Lisle with a very unfriendly look.
In truth, Donna Olivia appears like some being of another world. Her
features are Grecian rather than Spanish; and her eyes—by Jove! they are
brighter than diamonds, and flash like lightning when she smiles.' 'You
seem quite enraptured with her.'
'I am a connoisseur; but, fair as she is,
there is one bonnie lass in the Western Isles who to me seems fairer
still. Olivia is a bold and beautiful girl, but there is something softer,
yet not less pleasing, in the hazel eyes of Virginia.'
'Virginia! By heavens, I should know her face!
Where can I have seen it before?'
'Hush! they are moving this way, smiling and
coquetting as if they meant to be the death of us all.'
'Faith! Alister, I hope Lisle will have the
charity to introduce us.'
'Tush! A Spanish officer has carried off
Olivia. He has engaged her for the next dance. He is bowing to you,
eyes at that moment encountered those of the Condé de Truxillo. Both
bowed, and the condé, placing his arm around Olivia, wheeled her into the
circle of the waltzers, where they were seen only for a moment now and
then. Fassifern led away the duke to one of the refreshment-tables in the
garden: while Lisle, followed by the sharp eyes of many a jealous
cavalier, advanced towards Stuart and Macdonald, with Virginia leaning on
'I wish one
of you would find a partner,' said he; 'we want a vis-à-vis for the next
engaged to dance with Donna Isabel de Campo,' said Alister; 'but pray
introduce me, Louis.'
'And me,' added Ronald. 'A most lucky dog you
are!' These observations passed in English; but the formal introduction
was gone through in choice Castilian. 'I have surely had the happiness of
seeing Donna Virginia before,' said Ronald. 'It is impossible J could ever
Mother! Senor Officiale; exclaimed the young lady with an air of pretty
surprise, as she raised her fine eyebrows; 'is it possible that you
recognise me, arrayed as I now am in a garb so different from that which I
wore in the convent of Santa Cruz?'
'Do I behold the Madre Santa Martha of
Jarciejo in Donna Virginia? What riddle is this, senora?'
'A strange one truly, senor, and a very
agreeable transformation,' replied the lady, blushing and smiling as she
glanced at her figure, which was fully reflected in an opposite mirror.
'What is all this? asked Lisle in surprise.
'Then you are acquainted with each other, it seems?'
'Oh yes, Don Louis; quite old friends,
indeed,' replied the lady, with a vivacity which piqued Don Louis a
little. 'We met on a sad occasion —a very sad one, truly,—of which I will
give you the history when we are at leisure. 'Tis quite a romance, and
Cervantes of Esquivas, or Juan de Valencia, have never written anything
to lead you, Donna Virginia; the dancers are arranging themselves. Had we
not better take our places?'
'Certainly, senor; but our vis-à-vis,
remember. Shall I introduce your friend to the Condesa Estremera?—she
'The Condesa is engaged; she appears resolved
to make quite a conquest of Bevan of ours.'
'Are we to look all night for a vis-à-vis? Oh,
here comes my sister Olivia; she is beautiful enough to make him die of
love, and I shall introduce him, if it was only to make Truxillo jealous.'
Truxillo regarded Stuart with no pleasant eye
as he carried off his donna. However, he endeavoured to dissemble, and
said with a smile, 'I congratulate you, senor, on obtaining the highest
order of knighthood that a Spanish king can confer. You will find it easy
work to protect the pilgrims who visit Compostella from the insults of the
Moors in the nineteenth century. I am myself a commander of the order,' he
added, displaying a richer cross, around' which was the motto,—Sanguine
'I am again
to be the rival of this fiery condé. I am always in some confounded
scrape,' thought Ronald, as he led his partner to her place.
'Santa Anna, senor! these rooms are
suffocating,' said the lady.
'As soon as the dance is ended, permit me to
have the honour of leading you to the garden.'
'Pray relieve me of my scarf.' The thin gauze
screen was transferred from the white shoulders of Olivia to Ronald's arm.
'See, senor,—the Condesa; how well she is
looking. Ah! had she only worn her tiarra on her black curls, she would
have been matchless.'
'Impossible, while Donna Olivia is present.'
'Look at that officer of Villamur's
regiment,—a handsome cavalier; he bows. How do you do, Pedro? What can
that old knight of Calatrava be whispering to the rich widow of the Calle
Mayor? Ah, I would give the world to know! How they smile at each other!
Love must be very agreeable. Santos! I have dropped my fan. Quick, senor;
pick it up, before the feet of the dancers------A thousand thanks,' she
added, as Ronald restored it to her. 'I would not have it destroyed for
the universe,—'tis a present from Don Carlos Avallo: he, too, is looking
this way. How d'ye do, Carlos? and thus did Olivia run on during all the
intervals between the figures of the dance.
No sooner was the quadrille over, than the
gallopade was proposed.
'Viva la gallopade! cavaliers,' cried Cameron,
striking his hands together. Lisle still kept Virginia, and Ronald her gay
sister, and all the cavaliers of Old and New Castile grew hot with
indignation and jealousy. Away flew the dancers to the crash of music from
the orchestra. The scene was indeed glorious. A hundred couples went round
hand in hand, plumes waving, ear-rings trembling, jewels and epaulettes,
stars and medals, flashing and glittering, spurs and poniards clanking,
the light feet and muslin drapery of the graceful Spanish girls flying
about and mingling with the buckled shoes and dark green tartans of the
Highlanders. Bravo! It was beautiful.
The dance was over, and the ladies, breathless
and overcome, with bosoms panting, cheeks blushing, and eyes sparkling,
clung to the arms of their cavaliers, who led them through the open
casements to promenade in the cool gardens, where the female waiters,
little sylph-like girls about twelve or fifteen years old, clad in white,
with their black curls streaming about, glided through the illuminated
arbours and walks, handing ices to the ladies, and cool and sparkling
champagne or Malaga to the gentlemen. When promenading with Olivia through
one of the beautiful walks, from each side of which he was constantly
culling fresh flowers for her bouquet, Ronald heard familiar voices
conversing in an orange-bower, the interior of which was brilliantly
illuminated with particoloured lamps.
'Yes, sir; we turned their flank, and fell
upon them with the bayonet, and with God's help cut to pieces every
mother's son of them in five minutes,' said Campbell, within the bower,
striking his heavy hand emphatically on the seat; adding afterwards, in
another tone, 'most excellent champagne this, Don Ascasibur, and much
obliged we are to the ex-king of Spain for leaving it here to be drunk by
take the ex-king!' replied Ynurritegui. 'And so it was as you tell, that
this very noble old cavalier was slain?'
'Ay, sir; the shot struck him here, and he
fell, sword in hand, from his saddle. A gallant fellow was Sir Ralph, and
under his command I was initiated into all the sublime mysteries of
has been fighting Egypt over again to my patron] thought Stuart. 'Major,'
said he, looking in, 'how can you and Don Ascasibur be so ungallant as to
forsake the ladies for champagne flasks? Fie upon you! senores.'
'The ladies will not break their hearts; such
a fright old Ynurritegui is!' whispered Olivia behind her fan.
'Campbell, do you mean to sit here all night?'
said Chisholm, looking in on the other side, as he passed with a lady.
'They are arranging themselves for the galope again.'
'It is fit only for subs,' replied the major
testily. 'The idea of a field-officer galloping any way but on horseback!'
'It seems quite the rage here at Aranjuez,'
said Stuart, as Chisholm moved off. 'But then the girls here galope so
beautifully, they are in the right to have it so. So, major, you do not
mean to join the dancers to-night?'
'Yes' answered the other, shaking the flasks,
which all proved empty ; 'but neither at waltz, quadrille, or galope. I
have no idea of flying round a room at the rate of ten miles an hour in
mortal terror the while of crushing the ladies' dear little feet and white
satin shoes with my heavy brogues. Besides, the dance is too intricate for
me— "chassez to the right and left, turn your partner, balancez, turn
again, galopade à la chassez to places!" Pooh ! I would rather dance
Tullochgorum, or the Ruighle Thulaichean, or any other decent fling; but I
have no love for your Spanish dances and galopade quadrilles. They ill
become the sporran and breacan-an-feile of the Highlandman, and are no
more to be compared to a strathspey than a Toledo is to a real fluted
Andrea Ferrara.' The major snapped his fingers, and chanted, with a loud
voice, from the Grant's reel:
'There needs nae be sae great a phrase,
Wi' dringing dull Italian lays;
I wadna gie our ain strathspeys
For half a hundred score o' em.
'They're douff an' dowie at the best,
Douff and dowie, douff and dowie;
They're douff an' dowie at the best,
Wi' a' their variorum.
'They're douff an' dowie at the best,
Their allegros and a' the rest;
They canna please a Highland taste,
Compared wi' Tullochgorum.'
Stuart was leading away Donna Olivia, who
laughed excessively at the major's song, which sounded wondrously uncouth
to her ears, when Campbell called to him. 'I say, Stuart,' said he, 'I am
going to show the ladies here a new fling. I have sent for Ranald Dhu and
the six pipers; Fassifern, Ronald Macdonuil, and myself are about to
sword dance. We astonished old Mohammed Djedda with it in Egypt. You must
be most happy, but I am the honoured cavalier of one of the prettiest
girls in Aranjuez, and it is impossible I can join you ; but we will
witness it in the hall.'
A few minutes afterwards the pipers arrived,
and preparations were made for the Highland dance. Claymores were taken
from the wall, and laid across each other on the floor. The colonel,
Campbell, and two other officers, took their places, while seven pipers
stood at the end of the hall, and on a given signal struck up an
'Santa Maria!' screamed the senoras, and 'Morte de Dios!' growled the
senores, while they covered their ears with their hands to protect them
from 'so dangerous an invasion.' Many an English and Irish officer did so
likewise, for the sound of the pipes in the vaulted hall was tremendous.
Away went the dancers to the sound of the first note, and continued to
leap, skip, and 'hooch and hoo!' while they flung about in true Scottish
spirit and agility, moving with miraculous precision among the bare blades
of the claymores, while applauses loud and long rewarded them. 'Twas a new
sight indeed to the Spaniards, and the eyes of every Scotsman present
lighted up with enthusiasm, although many of them had never witnessed the
martial dance before. Long after the others had resumed their seats, the
gigantic Campbell, strong, active, and filled with perfect delight,
continued to dance, wave his arms and the folds of his enormous kilt and
plaid, until at last compelled to sink into a seat, amid loud huzzas and
Quadrilles, galopades, and waltzes again followed, and before the ball
broke up, the light of the morning sun had replaced the illuminations of
the palace and its gardens. Then came the gallant farewells, and shawls,
mantillas, and furred shoes were in requisition, the gentlemen making
themselves as busy as possible in wrapping up the ladies to protect them
from the chill morning air; and then, muffling themselves in their cloaks,
many an officer and cavalier strode away behind the lumbering carriage or
sedan, which conveyed to her home some lady to whom they had been
particularly attentive during the night, and whom, as in duty bound, they
wished to squire to the door of her own residence,—the streets of
Continental cities not being very safe at these hours, when picaros and
valiantes of every kind are on the watch, to exercise their talents on the
unsuspecting or unprotected.
On the following evening a grand bull-fight
was to be held in the marble square, for the entertainment of the British.
The splendid mansion of the Duke of Alba de T------formed nearly a whole
side of this elegant Plaza, and from its windows an excellent view could
be obtained. The Condé de Truxillo, Fassifern, Seaton, Lisle, and Stuart,
and many other officers, dined with the duke that day. The ladies were all
smiles and beauty, although a little pale with the fatigues of the
preceding-evening; but Olivia, and her cousin the bright-eyed condesa,
were as gay and vivacious as ever. The dinner, which consisted of a
variety of stews, cutlets, and light confectionery, began by a course of
fruit, just as ours ends. Afterwards came chocolate, and cigars for those
gentlemen who chose to lounge on the balconies, and plenty of flirting,
waltzing, singing, and music of the piano and guitar, for those who
remained with the ladies.
During the whole day preparations had been
making for the approaching display. All the streets leading to the Plaza
were strongly barricaded with bullock-cars, mule-carts, and everything
that could serve to enclose the arena and prevent the escape of the bulls.
Four of them were imprisoned in a den at one
end of the square, where they were undergoing a process of torture, being
goaded by steel pikes through holes in the roof, to rouse them to the
requisite pitch of madness and ferocity. It was a beautiful sunny evening,
and about four o'clock the people began to collect; at six the Plaza was
crowded to excess,—the balconies, roofs, and windows were all taken
possession of, and hundreds of pennons, streamers, and garlands flaunted
from the houses; while the bands of the 28th and the 6th Portuguese
Cacadores filled the air with strains of music, and delight shone in every
Spanish eye at the amusement promised by their favourite national pastime.
The guests of the duke occupied the large
balcony, which extended along the front of his house. It was covered with
a piece of tapestry, and the ladies were seated in front, while their
cavaliers stood behind. Here Stuart missed the condé, who had been by
Donna Olivia's side all day. He was about to inquire for him when
Balthazzar suddenly appeared in the arena, arrayed in a very singular
garb. A small velvet cap was on his head, fully displaying his short curly
hair and fine features. He wore a close-fitting doublet of black cloth
slashed with white; a mantle of a bright orange-colour hung on his left
arm, and in his right hand he carried a short pike about five feet long,
the head of which was of bright steel. Three other cavaliers, similarly
accoutred, made their appearance in the arena, and the people raised a cry
of 'Viva Baltazar, el valiente soldado! Viva el gracios caballero
Ascasibur Ynurritegui! Here are the bulls! Here are the bulls!'
Balthazzar kissed his hand to Donna Olivia,
who threw him a flower from her breast, and he placed it in his cap.
'Beware, my poor condé,' said she, 'and be not
over rash. Remember that your foes are bulls from Xamara.'
'Are they different from any other bulls,
Donna Virginia?' asked Louis.
'Oh! have you not heard? They are the very
fiercest in Spain,— perhaps in the world. When once aroused, nothing tames
them but being slain.'
'And to these the condé is about to oppose
himself. Are you not concerned for his safety, senoras?'
'Balthazzar has a sharp pike and a sure heel,'
answered Olivia, fanning herself, 'and I have no fears for him.'
'Have you ever seen anyone killed in the
'Yes. A bull
of Xamara tossed our poor cousin, the Condé Estremera, into the air, and
he came down dead.'
'And still you like this sport?' said Cameron— 'sport which our Scottish
ladies would shudder to look upon.'
'Yes, senor. O viva Santissima!' answered all
the ladies at once, clapping their white hands; 'here come the bulls!'
A shout of delight from the multitude shook
the Plaza. A sort of portcullis had been raised, and forth from his den
rushed a bull into the arena, his eyes darting fire, with nostrils
dilated, and mouth covered with foam, the hair of his neck bristling up
like the mane of a lion, and every muscle quivering with the torture he
had undergone. He rolled his red eyes about, as if to select a convenient
object to attack. The condé waved his orange mantle across the face of the
bull, which, uttering a roar, plunged forward upon him. Closely pursued by
his formidable adversary, Truxillo ran round the arena. This was the most
dangerous part of the game, as a fall, or the least false step, would be
certain death. At the moment when the bull was preparing for a grand
plunge 'with hoof and horn,' the condé sprung over a barrier, dropping his
mantle as he did so. It was instantly transfixed and tossed into the air
by the bull, which was now attacked in the rear by Don Ascasibur, who
carried a red mantle and a pike, which he plunged into the brawny flank of
the victim. With a roar of fury and agony, the beast thundered over the
marble pavement after his assailant, but was diverted from the pursuit,
being pierced by the pikes of a third and fourth cavalier, who kept him
galloping round the arena in every direction, dropping their mantles and
leaping the barriers whenever the danger became too pressing, until he
sunk exhausted and bloody at the base of the statue of Charles V., where
the condé put an end to its agony by plunging his pike repeatedly into its
body. Three others were slain in the same manner, and all the performers
had narrow escapes for their lives at different times. The four bulls were
sent away to the kitchen of the Casa de los Locos, for the patients and
the poor people of the town. Extraordinary agility, skill, and courage
were displayed by the four cavaliers in this daring Spanish game, which
though not less cruel, had in. it, by the personal risk incurred,
something infinitely nobler and more chivalric than the brutal custom of
bull-baiting, which so long disgraced South Britain.
In the course of an hour all the bulls had
fallen in succession, and yielded the palm to their four tormentors, who
were greeted with enthusiastic applause by the multitude, on whose
shoulders they were lifted up, and carried by force triumphantly round the
display was over, the condé resumed the brown uniform and silver
epaulettes of the 4th Spanish Infantry, and rejoined the duke's guests in
the balcony, from which they were beholding other feats of dexterity. A
tall and powerful Spaniard, Gaspar Alozegui, the strongest and most
athletic man in the two Castiles, entered the arena, bearing a large
cannon-shot and a sledge-hammer. He waved his broad hat to the populace,
who cheered their favourite, as no man yet had rivalled him in feats of
strength and agility. Taking up the cannon-shot, the weight of which I
have forgotten, he poised it for a moment in his hand, and then tossing it
from him, sent it whizzing along the pavement, where it rebounded against
the wall of a house, and lay still. Alozegui arrogantly challenged any man
among the thousands there assembled to throw it within ten feet of the
spot where it then lay, offering in that case to forfeit a purse of ten
onzas, presented to the victor by the fair paironas of the day - the
daughters of the Duke of Alba de T------. Alozegui looked around him
triumphantly; but no man answered the challenge, which was not delivered
in very moderate language, and he now grasped the shaft of his ponderous
hammer. Swinging it thrice round his head, he hurled it from his hand with
the speed of a thunderbolt. The crowd for a moment held their breath, and
the gaze of their eyes followed the semicircle which it described through
the air. It alighted close by the shot, and again the cheers of the people
broke forth ; after which Gaspar repeated his challenge, in the same
an insolent dog as this Alozegui deserves to be beaten,' said the condé.
'He has thrown well,' observed Stuart, as he
leant over the balcony; 'yet the sport loses its zest when there is no
Alozegui!' said Donna Olivia. 'He deserves to kiss my hand, and should,
but for his bushy black beard.'
'I am convinced that my servant, Dugald Mhor,
old as he is, will throw these matters farther,' said Fassifern, who was
indignant at Alozegui's challenge, and burned with eagerness to see him
beaten. He spoke in English—'I suppose Dugald is below among the servants.
He followed me here. As sure as my name is John Cameron, he will beat
one inquire if he is below.'
'I say, colonel,' cried Seaton, who was seated
at the other end of the balcony, with his glass at his eye; 'surely
Campbell of ours is about to answer the challenge of the Spaniard. He has
entered the arena.'
'Now, by heavens ! well done, Colin, and Dugald Mhor too,—honest old
Dugald! Look to yourself, Micer Alozegui; you will scarcely hold the prize
against two such men,' said Cameron, in great glee. 'Major, are you about
to contend with this impudent loon?'
'We are, indeed,' replied Campbell, 'and hard
work the braggadocio will have to beat us. Dugald and I are comrades
to-day, and mean to show these dons the mettle of Highlandmen, and what
sort of muscle brose and brochan can produce. I have hurled a stone three
times the size of that shot from Craigfianteoch into Lochawe, and mean to
strain every nerve to give the dons a surprise. I thought it a shame that
so many British men should stand by quietly and let a Spaniard boast thus.
Throwing the hammer is a national amusement, and I hope that neither don
nor devil will beat a Scotsman at it. After we have conquered Senor
Alozegui, Dugald and I will challenge the whole crowd to a game at quoits
or shinty, whichever they like best.'
Alozegui, on understanding that they had
answered the challenges, laid the shot and hammer before them, carefully
marking the places where they lay: a needless precaution, as he very soon
Cameron, my man, take you the shot,' said the major, 'and let them see
that you are "steel to the bane." Ye showed true mettle the day Alexandria
was fought, and can do so here, lyart though your pow may be. I will take
the fore-hammer; and now, my lads ! here are two decent Highlandmen,
against all the bearded braggarts on this side of the Pyrenees.'
'I am auld enough to be his gutcher twice ower
and mair, as my siller haffets and runkled cheeks may tell you; but I will
never shrink frae the task when a Heiland gentleman like your honour
commands me,' said Dugald, as he cast down his bonnet, sword, and plaid;
and taking up the ball as if it had been a walnut, without once looking at
it, threw it over the houses at the end of the square, by a single swing
of his arm.
Cameron for ever! Well done, Dugald!' exclaimed the major. •A foot lower,
and the Emperor had lost his head, which would have spoiled all. the
laughed, stroked down his white hairs, and casting his plaid around him,
withdrew under the balcony where the delighted Fassifern was standing. He
received a cheer, though not a very cordial one, from the people; and
Alozegui bestowed upon him a most formidable scowl of rage and hatred, to
which he replied by a laugh, and a direction to 'gie the gowd he had tint
to the puir folk.' Now came the major's turn, and the Spaniard began to
tremble for his fame. The former, after examining the ponderous hammer, to
assure himself that the handle was firmly fixed into it, swung it once
around his head, and straining every muscle to conquer, cast it from his
hand with a force and swiftness truly amazing. Describing a complete arch
over the spacious Plaza, it whirled through the air, and passing over the
houses of an adjacent street, lighted among the reeds on the banks of the
Tagus, where it was discovered next day. However, it could not be found
for that night; and the only reward Campbell received from the Spaniards
for his prowess was the half-muttered ejaculation of astonishment at the
flight taken by the missile. The dons were very angry at their hero being
beaten by a foreigner and a heretic, and so astonished at his wonderful
strength, that they readily adopted the opinion of some old Capuchine
padres ' that he had been assisted by the devil.'
'Hoich, major! weel done!' shouted old Dugald,
waving his bonnet. 'Fair play a' the warld ower,—Cothrain na feine, [' The
equal battle of the Fingalians,'—a Highland proverb.] as we say at hame in
Lochiel. Ferntosh and barley-bannock are the stuff to mak' men o'; no
accadenty and snail-broth,—devil tak' them baith!'
'Long life to you, major !' cried many of the
Highlanders ; and hundreds of soldiers belonging to the 66th, 34th, and
other corps of the division, huzzaed him loudly. On receiving from the
duke's contador (steward) the purse of thirty onzas, Campbell, knowing
that Dugald was too proud to touch a maravedi of the money, placed it in
the hands of Alozegui, telling him not to be cast down, as Dugald and
himself had beaten better men than ever trod the realm of Spain. This
taunt only stung more deeply the fiery and enraged Spaniard, who scorned
to receive the purse, which he tossed among the people, and, leaping over
the barriers, disappeared. Campbell waved his hummel-bonnet (a plain cap
without feathers) to the assembled multitude, and withdrew to finish the
right over a pig-skin with Don Ascasibur, and tell endless narratives,
about Egypt and Sir Ralph.
During that evening, from a thousand little
circumstances which it is needless to rehearse, it was evident to Ronald
that Louis Lisle was deeply enamoured of the beautiful Virginia; and that
she was not unfavourable to him was also manifest, although she took every
means to conceal it; but Ronald had a sharp eye for these matters. What
the opinion of the proud old duke might be on such a subject it was not
difficult to say; and his conscience would not in the least have prevented
him from employing the poinard of some matador to rid his family of such a
suitor. However, his mind was at that moment too much taken up with
political schemes to permit him to observe the growing passion between his
daughter and the young Scottish subaltern, to whom twenty days' residence
in his palace had given every opportunity to press his suit that a lover
party at the De T------palace broke up about eleven o'clock, and
ruminating on the probabilities of Louis's winning the donna, should he
really propose for her hand, Ronald passed slowly through the marble
square, and down a street leading towards his billet, which was near the
Calle Mayor. A gush of light, streaming into the darkness through the open
portal and traceried windows of an illuminated chapel, invited him to
enter, in expectation of beholding some solemn religious ceremony; but the
building was entirely empty, and the blaze of light proceeded from some
hundreds of tapers burning around the gilded shrine of the patron saint of
Aranjuez. From this spot a strong flood of crimson light glared through
the nave and chancel, tinging with the hue of blood the black marble
pavement, the slender pillars, and the groined roof of fretted stonework.
Many mouldy portraits of saints adorned the walls; around the lighted
shrine were hung certain strange memorials, placed there by the piety of
those whom the saint was supposed to have cured. Crutches, even wooden
legs, and many stuccoed casts of deformed limbs, were there displayed, all
doubtless the work of cunning priests, to impose upon the credulity of the
Spaniards. But what chiefly raised his wonder was some hundred little
images of children, with which the place was absolutely crowded.
His attention was next attracted by several
standards, the trophies of war, which hung from the highest part of the
chapel, where the roof rose somewhat in the form of a dome. These belonged
to various nations; and one, by the crescents on it, he judged to be
Moorish ; but the other two he remarked more particularly. The one was the
ensign of a British ship of war which had been wrecked on the coast of
Spain ; the other was an ancient Scottish standard of white silk, crossed
with St. Andrew's blue cross, and splendidly embroidered with silver
thistles. About the latter he could not obtain the least information,
although he made every inquiry next day. But it was probably the
regimental colour of some of the Scottish auxiliaries who served in the
Low Countries against the Emperor Charles V. Ronald was revolving in his
own mind the means of capturing or destroying both these standards, when
the entrance of the Condé de Truxillo diverted him from his purpose, and
saved to the Spaniards those trophies which most likely still adorn the
chapel royal of Aranjuez.
'What adventure are you in search of now,
senor, that you have not yet sought your billet in the Calle Mayor?
'I understand,' replied the condé, 'that the
Carbineros of Medina del Campo marched into Aranjuez about sunset. I have
a very dear brother, an officer in them, and I am searching for some one
to direct me to his quarters, late as the hour is. Manuel and I were very
dear friends in youth, being educated together at our old castle near
Truxillo; but we have not seen each other for six years, as our regiments
have always campaigned in different provinces. He was a slender youth,
without a hair on his lip, when I saw him last, but now he must be a stout
and well-whiskered cavalier. Ah, how much I long to behold him!'
'I regret, condé, that I can give you no
information as to where the quarters of the Carbineros are. Some of the
quarter-guards may perhaps inform you.'
'Ho! senor Stuart, exclaimed Truxillo, as his
eye fell on the shrine with all its little images and blazing tapers. 'Lo!
you now behold what rogues our padres are. Do you know the meaning of all
own I was somewhat puzzled to discover.' 'Well, senor,' answered Truxillo
with a loud laugh, 'all these are the images of children born unto ladies
who had long pined for them before they had visited this miraculous
shrine,—so the monks tell us.' 'Strange, if true.'
'Its reputed sanctity is truly amazing; and
all the dames of old and new Castile, Leon, and Arragon consider a visit
to this place a sovereign remedy. They are shown the tomb of the saint in
the vaults below; and its influence, aided by the attentions of a few
stout padres, certainly has brought about singular cures; and------ But
here comes my servant; he has been searching for the quarters of the
Carbineros, and will------'
'Hah!' exclaimed Truxillo, his countenance
changing as a servant belonging to the De T------family entered the
chapel; 'do you seek me?'
The servant, who wore the orange-coloured
livery of the duke, replied by whispering something into the ear of Don
Balthazzar, whose 'brow grew black as thunder.'
'Falsificador! madman! what is this you have
dared to tell me?' he exclaimed, furiously grasping the menial by the
truth, most noble condé. Release me! San Juan in the wilderness could not
speak more truly. I am faithful to you, I am, by the Virgin! Oh!------'It
is probable the fellow would never have spoken again, had not Ronald
released his neck from the clutch of the condé.
'Cavalier!' exclaimed the latter, seizing
Ronald's hand, 'I know you to be brave and honourable as man can be. I
have been basely betrayed this night. Will you follow me, that I may
recover my lost honour, or perish? A deadly insult has been offered to
'I pledge you my
word I will, Balthazzar. But what has this trembling blockhead told you?'
'Satanas! that Donna Olivia, to whom not an
hour ago I plighted my love and troth, has even now a cavalier in her
chamber.' 'Impossible; he lies!'
'He does not—I know that he does not. I have
bribed him to watch his mistress, and have long found him faithful. But
Olivia, false and base Olivia! I have long suspected her falsehood and
coquetry, and this night I will fearfully revenge them both upon herself.
It must be Carlos Avallo. Malediction! I will slay him before her face. By
our Lady of the Rock ! my most sacred oath, I swear it!'
Balthazzar rushed away from the chapel, and
Stuart followed to prevent him, if possible, from committing any outrage,
and pursued him through the dark streets at his utmost speed. In a few
seconds they stood before the mansion they had quitted but a short time
ago. It was completely involved in darkness, save one room, from the
windows of which a light straggled through the white curtains upon the
balcony from which they had witnessed the bull-fight.
'The sisters sleep in separate apartments;
that is Olivia's,' whispered Truxillo, in a voice husky with the passions
which possessed his heart. 'Did you not see a tall shadow pass the
entreat you, noble condé, to stay—to hold but for a single moment!'
'Carajo! may it be my last if I do!' replied
the other fiercely, as he grasped a carved stone ornament projecting from
the wall, and swung himself into the balcony, where he drew his sword, and
applied his eye to the opening of the window-curtains. Apprehensive that
he might commit some rash deed, Ronald followed him, but with infinite
trouble, rage having enabled the condé to climb by means which the other
could not find. He was not without some secret fears that this rival
cavalier might be Louis Lisle, and grasping Truxillo by the arm, he
detained him by main force: and had the parties within been less occupied
with themselves than they were, they must undoubtedly have heard the
half-muttered threats of Balthazzar, and the scuffling which ensued on the
half-opened casement they surveyed the chamber and its occupants. The
sleeping-place of the donna was certainly a splendid one; the hangings,
the chairs, the bed, and covering of the estrado, raised at one end of the
floor, were all of white or rose-coloured velvet, fringed and embroidered
with gold, and everything else was of corresponding richness. A lamp, the
globe of which was of rose-coloured glass, shed a warm light through the
apartment ; and three large vases of fresh flowers, placed on the verge of
the estrado, gave forth an agreeable perfume. In a splendid easy-chair,
which glittered with gilding and gilt nails, the beautiful Olivia was
seated near her toilet-table,—the looseness of her dress and the disorder
of her ringlets showing that she had been preparing for repose before her
visitor had entered by the window, a place of ingress used oftener than
the door by Spanish lovers. An officer in a Spanish cavalry uniform was
kneeling at her feet, and his cloak and helmet lay on the floor near him.
'Lo! Holy Virgin! a pretty piece of daring,'
said the lady, as they approached the window.
'Pardon me, beautiful one,' said the officer;
'and remember, that if I had not visited you thus, I might never have seen
you at all.'
what then, senor?'
'Cruel Olivia! can you trifle with a passion so earnest as mine?'
'A pretty fellow, to visit me, like a bravo,
by the window, with a sword in your hand. This will teach me to bolt my
shutters more securely. Come now, senor, I have heard quite enough of this
: you must retire. O santos! should you be seen!'
'Heartless. Olivia! and you bid me leave you
You are mighty gallant, mi amigo!'
'Remember that we march to-morrow, and I may
never see you again.'
'Well, I suppose I shall not want for a
husband. The Condé of Truxillo, Pedro de Esquivias, or Carlos Avallo will,
any of them, be glad to have me when I choose. Oh, 'tis a gay thing to be
loved by many cavaliers! But leave me, I entreat—no, command you!' said
the lady, curling up her black tresses with her white slender fingers.
'Grant me but a single kiss, Olivia, and I
will retire never to trouble you again. I will seek death in our first
encounter with the enemy.'
'You love yourself too well for that.'
'Grant me but one salute, and I leave you. Oh,
after all the misery of my long year's absence, do not refuse me that!'
'Take it, thou false picaro, and be gone,'
replied the coquettish girl, pouting her cherry mouth, towards which the
cavalier advanced his well-moustached lip.
'Perish first!' exclaimed
the enraged Truxillo, rushing forward and driving his sword through the
back and breast of the unfortunate lover. 'Die in your audacity, whoever
you are, you false interloper! Die, villain!' he added, repeating the
stab; and the cavalier died without a groan. 'Farewell for ever, false
Olivia!' cried the savage condé; 'and remember, that my love, unworthy as
you are of it, alone protects you from the effects of my fury and
disappointment!' He was about to leave the place, when his eye fell upon
the countenance of the cavalier he had so ruthlessly and rashly slain. He
was now lying stark and dead, the blood from his wounds streaming over the
oaken floor of the room. Tiuxillo groaned deeply, and striking his
forehead, staggered back, dropping his sword, while his countenance became
pale and livid.
Espiritu Santo santissimo! O Dios mio!' he cried in a husky voice, the
tone of which was heart-piercing and horrible; 'I have slain my
brother,—my brave brother! O Manuel el Carbinero,—is it you I have
murdered? Ten thousand maledictions blast you, false woman! blast you, and
follow you to all eternity! 'Tis you have wrought me this dead', sin!' and
rushing into the balcony, he sprung into the street, leaving Ronald in the
apartment of the lady, standing irresolute and stupefied with amazement at
the suddenness of this catastrophe, which came to pass in less time than I
have taken to record it. Olivia, whose voice had at first failed her in
the extremity of her terror, now shrieked long and loudly to arouse the
household, which she did so effectually, that in three minutes they were
all mustered in her chamber, armed with all sorts of weapons, and among
others Lisle with his drawn sword. Great indeed was their astonishment to
see Ronald in the sleeping-room of Donna Olivia at midnight, and an
officer lying dead on the floor, weltering in a pool of blood. All
clamorously demanded an explanation of this singular scene, and the
indignation of the old duke it is impossible to describe, such room was
there for scandal in the story of a cavalier being slain at night in the
bedroom of his daughter. Diavolo! thought he, all Spain, from Cape Ortegal
to Gibraltar, will be ringing with the tale! Some of the females attempted
to recover the lady, who had sunk on her bed in a swoon; while the others
required Ronald, in shrill tones of anger and surprise, to give a detail
of the matter. This he hesitated to do, not wishing to criminate the condé,
and still less wishing to be taken for the culprit himself.
In this dilemma the bustle and commotion were
increased by the arrival of a pompous old alcalde, who dwelt opposite, and
Senor Rubio, the notary, with six alguazils, who were for arresting Ronald
on the instant; but, laying his hand on the hilt of his dirk, he vowed to
run through the heart the first who laid a finger upon him; upon which the
limbs of the law, recoiling, began to handle the locks of their heavy
trabucos, and more blood would probably have been shed, had not the
This magistrate, whose person and authority the duke had always treated
with contempt, was very glad to have opportunity of affronting him; and
assuming as much consequence as he could, he administered an oath to
Ronald in the Spanish manner, by swearing him across his sword and dirk,
and then desiring him to relate what he knew of this matter,—and word for
word his relation was committed to writing by the keen-eyed and sharp-visaged
little notary. Englishmen might have doubted the relation; but in Spain
the words of an honourable cavalier are not to be questioned, and the
account proving satisfactory to the alcalde, in so far as concerned Ronald
Stuart, he was permitted to retire; while Senor Rubio, and the six men
with blunderbusses, were sent off in pursuit of the condé, whom they
discovered on his knees before the very shrine he had made the subject of
his jests an hour before. Three days afterwards he was tried by a general
court-martial, composed of Spanish officers,—the General de Costa being
president. Every man supposed his death to be certain, but he was, strange
to say, acquitted. Yet life was no boon to poor Truxillo, who, being
continually haunted by the miserable death of his brother, became reckless
of existence, and by throwing himself madly in the way of danger,
endeavoured to perish in expiation of the crime he had committed in the
blindness of his rage and jealousy.
This occurrence appeared for the present to be
a death-blow to the hopes of Louis Lisle. On the following day the duke
quitted Aranjuez with his family, retiring suddenly no one knew whither.
He was so much enraged against Olivia, who indeed was not to blame, that
he threatened to disgrace her for ever, by incarcerating her in the
Monasterio de los Arrepentidas of Seville, but the tears and entreaties of
Donna Virginia made him change his intention : the sisters were separated,
and for ever. Olivia was sent off to Galicia, and confined in a solitary
convent among the wild ridges of the Sierra de Mondonedo, where, if
living, she probably still resides.