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supposed that they must have dens in caverns in the mountains, whose entrance was so concealed by rubbish, or other means, as to elude the search ; while a few were bold enough to assert that the robbers must be some of their own fellow citizens, inasmuch as pone others could anticipate so exactly all their movements, and as particularly, on one occasion, on the night of an extensive robbery, an individual in a disguise was pursued as far as the castle, and only escaped by dropping his mask, which he did in such a way as led his pursuer to suppose that he had jumped with it down a very steep precipice, while in fact he escaped under cover of the night, and the delusion of his stratagem, in a different direction. The mystery was now assuming a very painful aspect. Neighbors began to suspect each other, especially where there were any family feuds : circumstances in the conduct of individuals began to be closely scrutinized, and strange inferences were drawn from actions before perfectly barmless : a great many were brought before the alcayde on suspicion; and though they were always discharged for want of proof, still the mere fact of being arraigned on such charges, created heart-burnings and enmities, that destroyed the peace of the hitherto quiet and happy village.
The benevolent Don Vincente did all he could to soothe these natural outbursts of human passions, and was particularly industrious in trying to allay the universal suspicion that now began to get afloat, that the robbers were citizens in disguise. His largesses and benefactions were if any thing greater than ever, and there seemed no end to his vast resources for purposes of benevolence. But this created less wonder among the mass of the people, as they were ignorant of the fact that he had squandered away his other estates, and still supposed he received from them a large portion of the means he lavished upou others with such noble and extraordinary bounty.
In the mean time, the worthy Alcayde Pietro d'Almanzor sickened and died, and his son Ferdinando succeeded him in his magisterial office. Though young and inexperienced, Ferdinando prosecuted the investigation into the outrages upon the mountains with more energy and vigilance than his father. He caused several villagers, and even some retainers of Don Vincente, to be arrested and brought before him, on the charge of being concerned in these daring infractions of the public peace. Among the latter, was Don Vincente's porter, near whose lodge had been found a mask, dropped one night by the robber, in his hurry to escape pursuit. The interest created by these proceedings was intense throughout the whole surrounding country. The young alcayde held a court of investigation almost every day in the village; but although much testimony was taken, little light was thrown upon the mysterious affair. On one occasion, however, more than usual interest was manifested. It was rumored that Pedro, the servant, who was with Don Antonio at the time he was waylaid and murdered, was to be examined, and the court-room was filled with anxious listeners. Among the rest was the alcayde's young and beautiful wife, who sat near her busband, and directly in front of the witness. Pedro gave a circumstantial account of the attack upon his master on the mountains, as above detailed, and was proceeding to give a minute description of the person and
appearance of the ruffian who perpetrated the horrid deed, when the court was interrupted for a moment by the entrance of Don Vincente. He pressed through the crowd, bowing and smiling kindly upon all, and receiving on all sides the strongest manifestatious of favor, passed by near the witness, Pedro, and was proceeding to take his seat by the side of the alcayde, when a sudden exclamation of surprise and horror arrested the attention and thrilled the bosoms of all present. It proceeded from Pedro, who stood pale and trembling, with his eyes half starting from his head, but fixed upon the calm countenance of Don Vincente, half shrinking from the object, and returning quickly again to it, as if by some horrid fascination.
The agitation of the witness threw the whole court into confusion, and created the more astonishment and concern, that no one could discover any adequate cause for such extraordinary emotion. As soon as the alcayde had somewhat recovered from his surprise, he demanded of Pedro the cause of his agitation : but it was some time before he could be made to comprehend that there was any one present except Don Vincente. As soon, however, as his eye wandered from the one object, and he saw other faces around him, he exclaimed, with great vehemence, and in a tone of deep horror, pointing to Don Vincente, .There is the murderer of my master !'
The whole assembly rushed forward, as if with one accord, to seize the base traducer of so much virtue; and Pedro would have been torn to pieces on the spot, had not Don Vincente himself interfered, and waving his hand to command silence, exclaimed slowly :
• My friends, peace! Heed not this poor man's delusion. He doubtless means well, but has been deceived. Let us proceed in the examination.'
'I will at once,' said the alcayde, 'if you desire it, send this base slanderer to a dungeon, instead of seeking any more information from one so little entitled to credit.'
• By no means,' replied Don Vincente ; 'I insist that you proceed with the examination. It is possible that some fancied resemblance, which has led the witness to make this egregious mistake, may lead to the detection of the true offender.' • Well, as you please,' said the alcayde.
After you caught an accidental glimpse, as you say, of the ruffian's face, what happened next ?' inquired Don Vincente.
Pedro began now to recover his self-possession, and to perceive that he had placed himself in a very unpleasant situation. He possessed considerable natural shrewdness, when not overcome by his excessive timidity; and reflecting that at least his person was protected from violence by his very position, he felt reassured, and answered Don Vincente's questions with so much firmness and precision, that the latter evidently appeared less inclined to go very minutely into particulars. Pedro's tongue, however, had now got fairly loose, and ran over the subject as briskly as his eye did over the person of Don Vincente. Suddenly his eye was arrested by the hilt of Don Vincente's sword; but going on with his testimony, he said :
• To go back a little with the story: when the robber first fired from the shadow of the rock, and leaped down upon the path, as I
told you, he hit against the rock, and struck something which glittered as it fell from bis person, and which I picked up; and it fits here !!'
So saying, and sudden as a flash of lightning, he seized Don Vincente's sword, placed a kind of gold button upon the hilt, and thrust it immediately before the face of the alcayde.
The boldness of the deed, the suddeuness of the action, and the palpableness of the evidence, perfectly overwhelmed Don Vincente, and threw the alcayde and all the assembly into the utmost consternation and horror.
Donna Julia, dissolved in tears, rushed to ber husband's feet, imploring mercy for their benefactor; and all present, on their knees joined in the petition, for there was not one who had not experienced his kindness and generosity. Each one had some noble deed of the good Don Vincente to recount to the alcayde: some insisted that such a man could not have been guilty of murder; others thought that if guilty, he should be pardoned for the good he had done; and all agreed that, wbether guilty or innocent, the alcayde, of all men in the world, should be the last to feel any doubt how to act in such an emergency. Thus pressed on all sides, his wife weeping at his feet, and all his friends and neighbors joining in her eutreaties, the poor alcayde was sadly perplexed what to do; although his conscience told him he should merge the friend in the judge, and forget his private obligations in his public duty. While thus wavering, and overwhelmed with perplexity and grief, he was relieved in some measure by Don Vincente himself, who, recovering from his confusion, and assuming his usual calm and placid manner, thus addressed the assembly :
• My friends ! —- for I have some title to call you such, notwithstanding the confession I am about to make – I pray you listen calmly to what I have to say, and if you cannot pardon my acts, you can at least appreciate, for you have felt, my motives. The impulse of benevolence was natural to my heart, and grew into a passion by indulgence. As long as my fortune lasted, I indulged it without reserve; but the very cause that exhausted the one, added fuel to the other. I found myself almost penniless, but with habits of munificence which assumed the character of a morbid passion, without the means of gratification. Madrid, the scene of my triumphs and my enjoyments, became irksome to me; and thinking that perhaps the income of my estate here on the mountains might afford me the means of indulging my passion proportionate to the simple wants of the objects around me, I came here unconscious of the fatal violence of the flame that was consuming my bosom, and unsuspecting that the desire for doing good could become so uncontrollable as to lead directly to the perpetration of evil, and smother every principle of conscientiousness in the feeling of benevolence. But such, unfortunately, is human nature : impulses are stronger than principles; and when the former have vanquished the latter, they fall into conflict with one another. It is not until the internal fires of the earth have burst the restraints that nature imposes, and rush forth through the superincumbent crust in volcanoes, that the ferocious conflict of the elements commences ; until then, how
harmless, and how unconscious are we even of their existence, while above them, the calm sunshine sleeps upon green bank, quiet lake, and lovely flower! It was your hand,' continued he, turuing to the alcayde, that helped to break through the restraining crust of my heart; not, as you supposed, to let forth sweet waters, but fatal fires to consume and destroy. Your sorrows excited my sympathies to such a pitch, that I could restrain them no longer; and impelled by an unconquerable desire to relieve them, at all hazards, I conceived the project of furnishing Donya Julia with the requisite dowry, and removing her rival at a single stroke. The idea being conceived, impulse bore down reflection; and indeed I had no time to reflect. Don Antonio was on his way to claim your hand for his daughter. Strange infatuation! The thought of promoting your happiness so completely engrossed me, that I was totally insensible to the misery I was inflicting on others, and the crime with wbich I was polluting myself. Carried away by this impetuous passion, it was I that murdered Don Antonio, and robbing him of his money, furnished Donna Julia next morning with her dowry. I see you all shrink from me with mingled incredulity, pity, and horror. I could expect but this, so soon as my conduct should be known. All I ask is, that in condemning me you impute my crimes to their true cause.'
Don Vincente sunk back in his chair, covering his face with his hands, while his bosom heaved with contending emotions. mained silent for some moments, while the bystanders gazed in each other's faces in silent amazement.
The alcayde broke the painful silence, by saying that his own feelings, if not the law, put this case beyond his jurisdiction; and Don Vincente, seeing how much he was affected and overcome by his grief, offered of his own accord to surrender himself up to the higher authorities of the kingdom.
The next day Don Vincente was sent with an escort on his way to Madrid, there to receive his trial; but he was not doomed to witness his own disgrace amid the scenes of bis former glory; and even the last act of his life was destined to exhibit the ruling passion strong in death. On his way to the city, the horse of his guard became fractious, while passing down a narrow path on the side of a mountain, with a frightful precipice yawning below; and Don Vincente riding up to his assistance, was himself unfortunately plunged with his horse over the fearful chasm, and both were instantly dashed to pieces.
Those who on Fancy's pinions soar
Triumphant o'er their kind,
A judgment weak, or blind :
Before the King of kings,
Their eyes veil with their wings.
'Summer is gone! - the summer days are ended!'
A voice mysterious struck my wakeful ear,
Rejoicing in the glory of the year.
It was the wailing of the Autumn-wind:
And sorrow, cloud-like, brooded o'er my mind. Wide spread the scene : beauty was still around,
And more than beauty; for ihe glowing earth
And evening's colors of ethereal birth,
I looked into the heavens, and they were deep,
A lonely cloud the western gate did keep,
The Autumn sky, spotless and pure, is fraught
There can be gloom in palaces of splendor -
So Nature throws a gorgeous robe around her, When chilled by Winter's sudden grasp of death.
The daylight vanished from the mountain's head;
The round moon shone upon the waving woods, And all was silent, save the voice that said,
With mournful cadence, like far-falling floods: 'Summer is gone!. the summer days are ended! Ere with slow feet my homeward path I wended.
A few short days had passed, and forth once more
I ventured for the fresh and healthful air :
The wintry blast,
In fragments cast
The floods were riotous, and spread
Their greedy arms o’er grassy plains-
Down the terrific steep,
Cease! cease, proud Floods! your laughter,
See now upon the winged North he comes,
As ghosts unblessed among deserted tombs, With long, low-smothered groans, shall ye complain!
From the dusk glen up starts the hoary Cliff,
Waked by some fiendish scream,