« PreviousContinue »
and that the vision itself was but the type of some impending calamity ; nevertheless, he subdued his own fears before the lady, and endeavoured to divert her thoughts till the arrival of her husband.
After a tedious interval, at length the door was suddenly flung open, and he leaped in ; and rushing to his wife they embraced in silence for several sweet minutes, till separating a little, that they might gaze on each other, the lady remarked that his arm was bound up in a bloody handkerchief.
" Nay," said he, perceiving her alarm ; " it is no very grievous hurt, though I have been assailed by robbers in my way hither : but, alas ! what greater injury hath grief wrought upon thee !" for with her maidenly figure, she had all the careful countenance of a matron in years.
Indeed, it was easy to conceive how their hearts had suffered and hungered for each other by their present passionate endearments, for they soon crowded into a few short minutes all the hoarded affection of years. But such joy as theirs is often but the brief wonder of unhappy lives; and so, in the very summit of delight, they were interrupted by Don Rodrigo, who, with looks full of terror, declared that the house was beset by the police, and presently a loud knocking was heard at the outer gates. At this alarm, the two unfortunates started asunder, and listened till they heard even the throbbings of their own fearful hearts. But at the second knocking, the gentleman, quitting his wife, and drawing his sword, stared wildly about him with eyes that seemed to flash out sparkles of unnatural fire.
"Ha!'' said he, casting a terrible glance upon Rodrigo; " have I sold my life to such a devil?" and suddenly springing upon him and tearing him down to the ground, he thrust his sword fiercely into his bosom.
And indeed it seemed but too reasonable that Rodrigo, who alone had known the secret of the Exile's arrival, had betrayed him to the government. Notwithstanding, at the first flush of the blood, as it gushed out as if in reproach of the weapon, the gentleman made an effort to raise his friend again from the floor; but in the meantime the police had enfor- . ced their entrance, and now made him their prisoner without any resistance. He begged merely that his arms might be left unbound, but immediately attempting in his frenzy to do some injury to his wife, and reviling her, through madness, with the very venom and aspect of a serpent, the officers hurried him instantly to his prison. All the time that he was being fettered he seemed quite unconscious, and altogether in some dream foreign to his condition ; but as the door closed and the bolts grated harshly on the outside, he recovered his senses, and made answer with a deep groan.
At first he believed he had no company in his misery, but presently he heard a rustling of straw, with a clanking of chains in one corner of the dungeon, which was a very dark one, and a man in irons came up slowly towards the grate. The little light sufficed to show that his countenance was a very horrid one, although hidden for the most part in his black, bushy hair; and he had besides but one eye: by which tokens the gentleman readily recognized him, as one of the banditti who had set upon him in the forest.
" So, senor," said he, " I perceive that one foul night has netted us both; and therein I have done to thee one more injury than I designed ; but my plunder has all gone before the council, and along with it, thy papers: so if there be aught treasonable in them that brings thee to this cage, my ill luck must be blamed for it, which is likely to bring us both to the same gallows.'''
At this discourse the gentleman fell into a fresh frenzy, but less of madness than of bitter grief and remorse : every word avenging upon him the stab which he had inflicted on his dear friend Rodrigo. He cast himself, therefore, on the hard floor, and would have dashed his tortured brains against the stones, but for the struggles of the robber, who, hardhearted and savage as he had been by profession, was yet touched with strange pity at the sight of so passionate a grief. It settled upon him afterwards to a deep dejection, and in this condition, after some weeks' confinement, the wretched gentleman was finally released without any trial, by an order of the council. This change, however, which should have been a blessing to any other, produced no alleviation of his malady. It was nothing in the world to him that he was free to revisit its sunshine, and partake of all its natural delights—and above all, enjoy the consolations and the sweets of domestic affection. Though there was one ever gazing upon him with an almost breaking heart, he neither felt his own misery nor hers, but looked upon all things with an eye bright and fiery indeed at times; but not, like the stars, illuminate with knowledge.