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Title: Old Court Life in Spain; vol. 2/2
Author: Elliot, Frances
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old Court Life in Spain; vol. 2/2" ***

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            [Illustration: The Darro and Torre de Comares.]



                      [Illustration: decoration]

                               OLD COURT
                             LIFE IN SPAIN

                                  BY
                            FRANCES ELLIOT

              AUTHOR OF “OLD COURT LIFE IN FRANCE,” ETC.

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                             _ILLUSTRATED_

                              VOLUME II.

                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                        The Knickerbocker Press

                   The Knickerbocker Press, New York



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

                                                                    PAGE

I.--FIESTA OF THE CORPUS DOMINI                                        1

II.--DON PEDRO.--MARIA DE PADILLA.--ALBUQUERQUE                        9

III.--BLANCHE DE BOURBON                                              22

IV.--DON FADIQUE’S DECLARATION OF LOVE                                31

V.--MARRIAGE AT VALLADOLID                                            38

VI.--CLOISTER, VALLADOLID.--CASTLE OF TALAVERA                        57

VII.--DON PEDRO AND MARIA DE PADILLA                                  69

VIII.--DON FADIQUE GOES TO SEVILLE                                    80

IX.--MURDER OF DON FADIQUE                                            84

X.--DON PEDRO.--ALCAZAR.--THE QUEEN-MOTHER.--MARIA DE PADILLA         95

XI.--A NEW KING.--ENRIQUE DE TRASTAMARE                              108

XII.--DON ENRIQUE AND ALBUQUERQUE IN COUNCIL                         116

XIII.--QUEEN BLANCHE IN SANCTUARY                                    126

XIV.--DON ENRIQUE WELCOMES QUEEN BLANCHE TO TOLEDO                   131

XV.--TAKING OF TOLEDO BY DON PEDRO.--DEATH OF QUEEN BLANCHE          137

XVI.--DEATH OF MARIA DE PADILLA.--DON JUAN DE MAÑARA                 149

XVII.--DON ENRIQUE AGAIN CROWNED KING.--FLIGHT OF DON PEDRO          168

XVIII.--DON PEDRO APPEALS TO EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE TO REPLACE HIM ON
THE THRONE                                                           175

XIX.--THE BLACK PRINCE DEFEATS DON ENRIQUE AND REINSTATES DON
PEDRO.--DON ENRIQUE MURDERS DON PEDRO.--DEATH OF DON ENRIQUE         190

XX.--JUAN I.--ENRIQUE EL ENFERMO                                     203

XXI.--JUAN II. AND DOÑA ISABEL OF PORTUGAL.--EXECUTION OF THE CONDE DE
LUNA                                                                 234

XXII.--ENRIQUE IV. EL IMPOTENTE                                      268

XXIII.--FERDINAND AND ISABEL                                         288

XXIV.--LOS REYES CATOLICOS                                           302

XXV.--THE SIEGE OF GRANADA                                           311

XXVI.--THE END OF THE MOORS                                          330

XXVII.--DEATH OF ISABEL                                              339



ILLUSTRATIONS IN PHOTOGRAVURE


                                                                    PAGE

THE DARRO AND TORRE DE COMARES                             _Frontispiece_

PUERTA DEL VINO IN THE PLAZA DE LOS ALGIBES, ALHAMBRA                 24

PATIO DE LOS LEONES, THE COURT OF THE LIONS, ALHAMBRA                 68

THE HALL OF JUSTICE, ALHAMBRA                                        112

DEATH OF “EL GRAN CAPITAN” From a painting by M. Crespo, National
Exhibition of Fine Arts, Madrid, 1884                                156

SURRENDER OF GRANADA From a modern painting by F. Pradilla, in the
Palacio del Senado, Madrid                                           200

PORTRAIT OF BOABDIL EL CHICO The Generalife, Granada                 244

VIEW OF THE ALHAMBRA AND THE SIERRA NEVADA, FROM THE CHURCH OF SAN
NICHOLAS, ON THE ALBAICIN                                            286



ILLUSTRATIONS OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAVURE


A GATE OF THE COURT OF THE ORANGES, SEVILLE CATHEDRAL                 12

A VIEW IN TOLEDO                                                      34

A STREET IN TOLEDO From an etching by Chas. A. Platt                  46

A VIEW IN ALCANTARA                                                   56

CHARLES V.--1519                                                      78

A VIEW IN ARANJUEZ                                                    90

ON THE DARRO From an etching by Samuel Colman                        100

A VIEW OF GRANADA                                                    122

A WINDOW IN THE ALHAMBRA                                             134

THE AQUEDUCT NEAR GRANADA                                            144

THE GARDEN OF THE GENERALIFE, GRANADA                                164

THE INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE, ALHAMBRA                                 178

A VIEW IN SEGOVIA From the engraving by D. Roberts, after the painting
by J. Cousin                                                         190

A VIEW IN GRANADA Engraving by James B. Allen from a drawing by D.
Roberts                                                              212

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS                                                 222

THE PORT, QUAY, AND CATHEDRAL, MALAGA                                230

THE GATE OF BARCELONA From an etching by Charles A. Platt            254

QUEEN ISABELLA DICTATING HER WILL From the painting by E. Rosales in the
National Museum, Madrid                                              266

FERNANDO THE CATHOLIC                                                278

PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ISABEL THE CATHOLIC                                300

THE TOWN GATE OF THE CARMEN AT ZARAGOZA (Left as a permanent memorial of
the Siege.)                                                          310

THE HARBOUR OF CADIZ                                                 322

TOWER AND HOTEL OF SIETE SUELOS, THE ALHAMBRA, GRANADA Photo by
Valentine                                                            334

GENERAL VIEW OF RONDA Photo by J. Laurent, Madrid                    340



Old Court Life in Spain



CHAPTER I

Fiesta of the Corpus Domini


The time is early summer; the sky an unbroken sphere of blue, as deep
and smooth as a turquoise, canopying the blanched domes and pinnacles of
the cathedral and illuminating with ineffable splendour the elegant
galleries of the Giralda tower. No shade anywhere, on plaza, _patio_, or
river bank; nothing but a blazing sun, making golden motes; the thinly
leaved palms scarcely leaving a reflection on the hot earth.

It is the Fiesta of the Corpus Domini. The whole city of Seville is
astir, the procession is passing, Don Pedro following bareheaded,
attended by Don Juan de Mañara, Ferran de Castro, Don Garcia Padilla,
and many others, under a gorgeous canopy, and so delicately fair and
flaxen-haired does he look, he is more like a young saint than a king.

Behind him walk the archbishop wearing a jewelled mitre, and the chapter
in rich copes and robes, followed by the knights of the military orders
of Santiago and Calatrava, the cross upon their breasts, armed
_cap-à-pie_, with nodding plumes, each knight with his flag and
cognisance borne by page and esquire; a magnificent procession, set off
by the sombre background of monks, penitents, choristers, and chanting
canons intoning the offices of the Church.

Now all who have seen a religious procession in Spain will understand
the splendour of it. The mediæval magnificence of the robes, wrought in
plaques of solid gold and incrusted with priceless jewels, the brilliant
glow of sacred banners, the sheen of the steel caps and armour; and
above all the amazing glitter of the gigantic dolls (or _pasos_), larger
than life, dressed in the most gorgeous robes, representing the Saviour,
the Virgin, and saints and martyrs. To the sound of trumpets, drums, and
cymbals they advance in a blaze of tapers and torches, carried on
platforms of wood, through the narrow streets, over which silken awnings
are drawn from house to house, every soul present, from the king down to
the last of _los pobres_, prostrate on the stones.

The Virgin first, diamond-crowned, of gigantic height, with deep-set
glassy eyes, one big hand ablaze with rings, raised in benediction; San
Fernando, habited in steel, his helmet raised to display his glistening
visage, his royal mantle sewn with the emblem of the _Nodo_ of Castile
and Leon; the local saints, Justina and Rufina, who, refusing to
worship the Phœnician idol Salambo in her temple in Triana, suffered
martyrdom; San Tomas and San Lazarus, and the imaginary Santiago, as a
heavenly knight, Protector of Spain, clad in the white mantle of his
order, a broadsword by his side, and a glory round his casque, carrying
the baton of command.

From the balconies and the _miradores_ float damask draperies, striped
Moorish stuffs, and wreaths of feathers and flowers; fans wave
incessantly in the heavy air, and long black mantillas fall over eyes
lustrous under meshes of coal black hair--to the wild ringing of every
bell in the city, led by the boom of the Giralda, and petards exploding
as of a city taken by assault.

As the procession passes the stone balcony of the Palacio del
Ayuntamiento, Don Pedro’s mistress, Maria de Padilla, flashes forth, a
dark vision of beauty, crowned with a regal circlet as though she were a
queen, by her side her little son Alonso, dark-eyed as she is herself.

Such a sight causes the archbishop to tremble lest a speedy judgment
should follow on himself. Yet, spite of the chanting and the prayer, the
sacred _pasos_ with their hard unearthly eyes reflecting, as it were,
the horror expressed by the archbishop, Don Pedro at once arrests the
procession, and with a gracious gesture signs to Maria to descend and
take her place beside him. And so godless is he in the eyes of all men,
he would insist, but for the confusion which ensues by the sudden
stopping of such a crowd and the screaming and cries of those who were
pressed together,--when, in the confusion, the glove which he carries in
his hand, worked with the arms of Castile, drops on the ground.

Don Juan de Mañara, who is nearest to Don Pedro, rushes to pick it up,
but is forestalled by one of the chapter, a stalwart young priest, by
name Don Jaime de Colminares. As he is in the very act, on bended knee,
of returning the glove, a youth all aflame with passion rushes forth and
stabs him in the breast.

A gleam, a cry, a quiver, and all is over. Not a voice is raised, not a
hand stirs. Even the archbishop is mute in presence of the king, but his
pallid face and the terrified glances of the chapter say more than
words.

Not so Don Pedro, who stamps his foot with wrath as he faces the
assassin, the least moved among them all.

“Who are you?” asks the king, his voice trembling with rage, “who dare
to assume my prerogative of life and death?”

“My name, my lord, is Emanuel Perez,” is the prompt answer as he meets
Don Pedro’s furious glance with honest eyes.

“Why have you killed this man?” demands the king, maddened at his
coolness, his hand on the hilt of a wrought dagger at his waist, while
the archbishop and the chapter draw round to listen.

“My lord,” answers Emanuel, falling on his knees, for the majesty of the
king has subdued him, “I had my reasons. Ask me not to speak evil of
dignitaries,” and he gazes round at the rampart of glaring eyes.

“Speak,” answers the king; “the dead is silent, the living man must tell
the tale. Speak, or tortures shall make you. Were it even myself you had
to accuse, I command you, speak. The crime is public, so shall be the
punishment. I live before my people.”

Cries of “Castila! Castila!” come from the excited crowd. Caps are flung
in the air and loud _vivas!_ come from the beggars and ruffians of the
street.

Behind Don Pedro rises the Moorish arch of the Puerta del Perdon, a
sheet of delicate carving, white as snow, framing his figure as in a
picture. Above rises the cathedral, a gigantic pile of richly carved
cornices and tier above tier of carved parapets and domes, the walls
ornamented with innumerable niched figures, bosses, roses, and stars. On
one side of the street lies the murdered priest in his sacerdotal robes,
the painted dolls on the other, the stately form of the archbishop
between, his hands folded, his eyes cast down in prayer, the affrighted
chapter gathering about him in purple robes, and behind the populace
eagerly pressing round the king.

Then Emanuel speaks: “Sire, my father is a _zapatero_ (shoemaker); I
follow the same trade. We are poor but honest, no one reviles us. My
lord, I had a sister,” as the word passes his lips he quivers all over,
and looking down on the canon’s blood, which has made for itself a
little runnel among the stones, he savagely stamps on it, while at the
word “sister” a cynical smile passes over the king’s lips and the
majesty of his attitude relaxes.

“She was _hermosa_,” continues Emanuel, not noticing the change, “_muy
hermosa_. Every one looked at her. She went to confession in the
cathedral at the altar near the image of Santo Cristoforo, twice, three
times--we could not think why she went so often--then she disappeared.
We sought her everywhere, in the market, the stalls, the exchange, by
the river, in the narrow alleys, and at the gates. No one had seen her.
After some days her body was found in a deep ditch near the river. Then
we knew the truth, and who had dealt with her. Of the foul deed and who
had done it we spoke. Three days after, my father’s body was brought to
us, stabbed to the heart. Then, upon the wounds of Christ, I swore an
oath to kill the beast who wore the robe of God to defile it, and I have
kept my word.”

In the tumult of his soul, Emanuel forgot the presence of the king, the
crowd, the occasion, all but his passion of vengeance.

“And if the crime was so public,” asks the king, whose attention has
deepened as he proceeded, “and your father talked so loud that he was
stabbed for it, what punishment did the archbishop and the chapter
impose on the canon?”

“His punishment!” cries Emanuel. “Ha! that is just it. His punishment!
_Por Dios!_”--and such a volley of words comes he can scarcely
articulate--“The chapter! Yes, the chapter held a court in the sacristy
with closed doors, the villains! and condemned him _not to say Mass for
one year_!!”

“Then,” cries Don Pedro, in his harsh voice and a bitter smile on his
face, for the young man’s courage pleases him, and his honest eyes, “I
condemn you, Emanuel _el zapatero_, to pass one year without making
shoes.”

A loud shout of applause rises from the _pobres_. Those near the steps
of the cathedral repeat it to others farther off, the people in the
streets shout it to those at the windows, and these to the crowds
pressed on the terrace-roofs, so that the king’s justice is known to
all.

“Yes, my lord archbishop,” speaks the king, resuming in a moment all the
dignity of the sovereign, as he turns to where he stood carrying in his
hand the pastoral staff, a wonder of ancient workmanship--“yes, my lord
archbishop, and most venerable chapter, from whose ranks so notable a
light has been extinguished, I have spoken, I am _El Rey Justiciar_.
Rich or poor, prince or beggar are the same to me. As to you, Emanuel,”
turning to the young man, “I believe you are worthy of better things.
From this day I name you a soldier, and attach you among the Alguazils
who guard my person. Be as faithful for my honour as you have been for
your own and you shall soon be promoted to a command.”



CHAPTER II

Don Pedro--Maria de Padilla--Albuquerque


In the upper story of the Alcazar is Don Pedro’s retiring room,
overlooking the central Patio de las Doncellas below, the soft echo of
ever-bubbling fountains and runnels mingling with the songs of birds
hidden among the luxuriant foliage of palms and fragrant plants.

But little in keeping with the harmony without is the carved door by
which the apartment is entered, still hung with the heads of four unjust
judges placed there by the king as a warning to evil-doers. It is a
small and secluded room, cut off from the state apartments of the upper
story, appropriated to the use of Doña Maria del Padilla, panelled with
cedar, broken by coats of arms in red, blue, and gold shields, portraits
of kings of Castile and Moorish caliphs, emblems and badges, gilt
“castles” and rampant “lions”; the ceiling rich in carved rafters,
dividing into deep compartments, ornamented with bosses and lozenges in
the same bright hues, by which the effect of the dark wood is greatly
heightened; sconces for candles and circles for torches also on the
walls, showing that it is the habit of the king to use the room by night
as well as day. Little sun enters, and what does penetrate comes from
lofty casements darkened by panes of painted glass, reflecting in turn
on the deeply tinted _azulejo_ tiles of the floor, always so noticeable
a detail in Moorish chambers.

In a dark corner a secret stair descends to the caliph’s bedroom on the
ground floor, an arrangement suited to the erratic habits of Don Pedro,
who constantly comes and goes at all hours of the day and night and can
thus enter without being observed.

He is seated on a high-backed chair with his back to the light, a mere
youth in appearance--his stormy life ended before he was thirty--in
which one seeks in vain for the murderous epithet of _El Cruel_. But as
his face turns towards the light, the fair locks about his shoulders
darken into a dull red and the blue eyes assume a strangely sinister
expression. Opposite to him stands his great minister, Albuquerque.
During two troubled reigns he has guided the helm of state through
troubled periods of rebellion, Moorish wars, and conspiracies. At the
death of King Alfonso he skilfully maintained Mary of Portugal--his
first protectress--as regent for her son; a difficult task, for as long
as he lived Alfonso treated his mistress, Eleanor de Guzman, as a queen.

Astute and ready-witted Albuquerque has long understood the inherent
cruelty of the young king, as well as his obstinacy. He fostered his
boyish fancy for his kinswoman, Maria de Padilla, the better to rule
him, until it ripened into such an overwhelming passion that his own
influence was undermined. With good cause he curses the day he brought
her to Seville, especially since she has borne the king a son, and her
enmity to him has grown into an open attack upon his authority. Now,
with the knowledge of the queen mother, he has come with a proposition
calculated greatly to curb if not to end her power.

Albuquerque is barely past the prime of life, but his thin, deeply lined
face gives him a look of age. His black Spanish eyes are turned full on
his master. Too cunning to betray the intense anxiety he feels, only a
slight flush on his cheek tells of his emotion. Well he knows the
perverse disposition of the royal youth before him, and that the very
fact of a too great insistency will only rouse him to violent
opposition, especially on a subject touching him so nearly as that which
he has come to discuss. Still he feels that what he has to say is of
such paramount importance to the state that, spite of himself, the tones
of his voice deepen and his manner acquires a solemn earnestness.

“A disputed succession, my lord,” he urges, watching the effect of his
bold words; “Maria de Padilla’s children conspiring in every corner of
the kingdom, as do now the bastards of your father, Enrique de
Trastamare, and his brothers Don Fadique and Don Telmo. Have they not
read us a lesson in rebellion? God alone knows what an arduous task was
mine to prevent his naming his favourite, Don Enrique, to the
succession, and shutting you, my lord, up in a monastery for life. Is
Castile again to endure the same evil from which I have freed it? Invoke
not Nemesis again, my Lord. You have suffered enough from the same cause
to know its bitterness. Think what blood has flowed from that
infatuation of your father’s, and the death of Doña Eleanor still to be
avenged by the great house of Guzman.”

But here Albuquerque is arrested by such a sudden glance of fury from
the king, he wisely desists.

“Maria is my kinswoman,” he continues in another tone, skilfully
changing his line of attack. “_I_ brought her to Seville.”

Don Pedro listens in haughty silence. Dark passions gather on his brow
as the well-chosen words fall from the lips of the great minister. At
the mention of his children by Maria de Padilla he gives an indignant
start and seems about to interrupt his smoothly flowing periods. But
carried, spite of himself, by the weight of his arguments, he withholds
himself; and, with darkly glancing eyes, silently assents, especially as
the name of Enrique passes Albuquerque’s lips.

The concluding sentence as to the disinterestedness of Albuquerque in
regard to Maria de Padilla he treats with evident contempt. It is clear
that

[Illustration: A GATE OF THE COURT OF THE ORANGES, SEVILLE CATHEDRAL.]

sort of pretence does not touch him, for he well knows that it was
Maria’s determination to throw off her kinsman, not consideration of the
good of Castile, which led him to urge any measure which would weaken
her influence.

“Keep to the matter in hand,” he says sternly. “I understand you press
on me a royal marriage for reasons of State; you need not diverge from
that point. It is an act repugnant to me. Why not open war and an
alliance with England and the Black Prince?” he continues, passing his
hands slowly through the meshes of his long fair hair. “I know the
serpent’s trail is over Castile. I have crushed the mother and those
with her, but the rest of the brood I could not reach.”

“But you did well, my lord,” answers Albuquerque with a dark smile. “A
couple of Infantes more or less, ha! ha! Who cares whether they live or
die but their mother, and she was dead? To wring their necks and send
them spotless to paradise was a worthy deed. Would that their brothers
lay as low as they.”

“Do not give me all the credit,” breaks in the king, mollified by this
applause. “If ever minister acted for himself it was you. Who chose the
guards? Who bribed the captain-general? Who? But let it lie. We will not
quarrel over the spoil like low accomplices. The deed was done, and well
done;” and with a discordant laugh he joins in the ghastly jest with a
voice that freezes the blood by its merciless cruelty.

“Yes, my lord,” replies Albuquerque, “it is so. You will do well to rid
Castile of the other traitor too. For if Don Enrique de Trastamare dies
suddenly, or is _killed_” (here the astute minister pauses as if
weighing in his mind by what means the happy consummation of his death
could be accomplished), “there is his brother, the young Grand Master
Fadique, who would at once take his place, backed by the knighthood of
Santiago and Calatrava, and be upheld by all your enemies. It is the
same blood, my lord, the same ambition then as now. ‘The throne! the
throne!’ is the war-cry of the bastards, and France is ever ready to fan
the flame.”

“True,” answers Don Pedro, “I am surrounded by foes. If I am a devil,
they have made me so. From my birth, my life has been endangered by
their machinations, I and my mother also. Fadique is the best. He has a
soft face and winning ways. He says he hates his brother. He may be a
traitor,” he continues, rising from his chair and pacing up and down the
room with the uneasy step of a beast of prey. “What matter? I use him as
a tool; though,” and he suddenly stops and falls into a muse, “there was
a time, when my father was alive--we were boys then, playing in these
gardens together--that he did somewhat win my heart, and I showed it. I
was a fool then. But now, let us fight it out.” Then resuming his
restless pacing up and down: “Can I trust Fadique?” he mutters.

“Tush!” cries Albuquerque, moved out of his calmness by this unusual
sensibility; “he will stab you first and then succeed you. The treachery
of the race, their greed of power, is patent everywhere. The people
speak of it in the wine shops, the beggars make songs and sing them in
the streets, and the soldiers----”

“No, by God! Not my soldiers!” cries Pedro, quickly arresting him. “I
will not believe it. Not my soldiers! They are true! Fadique may or may
not be false, what matter? I tell you” (impatiently) “I use him as a
‘tool.’”

“My Lord,” replies Albuquerque, lifting his deep-set eyes upon his
master, “although young, I perceive you are already skilled in
kingcraft. Nothing answers like diversion. You have dealt wisely in
setting up one brother against the other. In making Fadique Grand Master
of Santiago the jealous spleen of Don Enrique is fed and nourished. He
has no position in Castile. But about that prophecy, my lord,” continues
Albuquerque--seeking to return to the important matter on which his mind
is set, which Don Pedro is obviously seeking to avoid--“of which I spoke
to your Grace. Do you intend to verify it by the lack of rightful heirs?
Pardon me, my lord, I speak in the interest of Castile. As far as your
Highness’s pleasure is concerned, I have shown that I grudge not my own
kinswoman Maria.” At her name the king turns paler than was his wont and
reseats himself. “Were I ambitious, I might scheme for a crown on her
head and on her son’s. But I appeal to your Highness if I have not ever
preferred your honour to my own? But reasons of State and the unsettled
condition of the kingdom demand not only that you espouse a great
princess, but that her hand should bring a strong alliance.”

“And the princess is called?” asks Don Pedro, with a sarcastic smile.
“Doubtless her name is ready.”

“Yes, my lord, the Lady Blanche, daughter of the Duke of Bourbon, and
niece of the most Christian King of France. Repute says she is comely,
and her great youth and motherless condition under a warlike father
promises her submissive. What says your Highness?”

“And in my turn I desire to ask _you_ a question, Albuquerque,” replies
Don Pedro, who sits in deep thought as sentence after sentence falls
from the great minister. “When do you intend afterwards to return to
Seville?”

“I, to Seville, my lord? I do not catch your Grace’s meaning. Whenever
the service of your Highness permits me.”

“I would advise you,” replies the young king, sardonically, “for your
safety, to delay it as long as possible. If you affiance me to the Lady
Blanche, you will find a warm welcome from Maria at your return. What
her revenge may hatch, you best know. I warn you. You are a bold man,
Albuquerque. Better face a lioness robbed of her whelps than an
outraged woman.”

The grave Albuquerque laughs outright. “A woman’s fury is a small
matter, your Highness, and court report says that you yourself hold it
cheap. The welfare of my master is what I regard. If your Highness holds
the obstacles as light as I do, we will have the espousals at the
Alcazar, and Maria shall hold the new queen’s robe.”

“No, no, never!” cries Don Pedro, stung into real feeling by the
remembrance of her he loved and the insult to be put on her. “If this is
done at all, it must be distant and secret. _She_ shall be spared the
knowledge until all is over. I would rather lead a dozen campaigns
against the French and Du Guesclin into the bargain in open field, than
lend my hand to this matter. I a wife--a queen--a consort--what am I to
do with her? Will she replace that other who nestles in my breast?” and
a look of love comes into his eyes which softens them into real beauty.
No one can tell what that hard face can express until that one chord is
struck to which his whole being vibrates.

“The princess will bring France in her hand and peace in your councils.
Your Highness is not bound to separate from----”

“Yes, yes, I understand; but would Maria’s proud heart accept it? ‘Peace
in my councils and strife at my board!’ I cannot undertake it. An older
man might do it, but, Albuquerque, I am young, and though men call me
_El Cruel_, I am also _El Justiciar_. Now that is not justice. She has
borne me children. She is like no other woman--I love her.”

“Leave my kinswoman to me, sire; only consent and I will answer for her.
But, my lord, forgive me if I say that if you thus _half-hearted_ enter
into this scheme, you will bring more calamity on Castile, more war and
misery than we have now to battle with. Women, my liege, are but cheap
in your eyes as yet. But any wrong done to a royal princess such as the
Lady Blanche, any insult, _any dishonour_”--the king looks up
sharply--“would bring on us the whole power of France. Your Highness
knows it,” he adds deprecatingly, watching the king’s grave face. “If
done, it must be _well_ done, or let alone.”

“And who says _no_?” answers the inscrutable young sovereign. “Who says
that I shall not become, under the Lily of France, the most adoring of
husbands; a very Hercules to his Omphale? Methinks the scene rises
before me in the _patio_ below--the daughter of France and I seated
under the palms, Nubian slaves waving feather fans over us, lest any fly
or insect touch her soft cheek, while your kinswoman Maria"--(here the
king gives a discordant laugh)--“watches behind a screen, subdued and
gentle.”

Albuquerque frowned. To this, then, had come all his wise reasonings,
his statecraft, his far-seeing policy; a jest, worse than a jest, a
scoff in the mouth of that sardonic youth whose service he held. Well he
knew him, and that once in that mocking mood no more was to be done with
him.

Raising his eyes to the cynical young face which faced him, a low laugh
still on his lips, somewhat of the contempt he felt looked out, spite of
himself, and Don Pedro marked it and for a moment yielded to the
influence of his powerful mind.

“Albuquerque, I will consider your reasons and give you my decision,” he
says, with a natural majesty of manner he knows well how to assume.
“Until then, let this matter rest. As soon as I can ride I shall order
my further progress towards Burgos. There we will hold a council as to
the threatened rising of Enrique de Trastamare. He has many followers at
Toledo and will endeavour to take the city and garrison. But my friends
the Jews, headed by Samuel Levi, will take care of my interests.”

The haughty bearing of the young king strangely jarred upon the feelings
of Albuquerque.

After all, the discussion of the marriage might be called (seeing his
relationship to Maria de Padilla) almost a _personal_ question, and that
he had been and was acting magnanimously in the matter he felt to his
heart’s core. The ill-concealed contempt of the king wounded and
offended him as it had never done before. He reddened under the mocking
glance of Don Pedro, his eyes half in jest, half in anger, fixed on him
as if reading the embarrassment of his thoughts.

At length, with a silent dignity no ridicule could reach, he slowly
gathered up his papers, and bowing low craved leave to depart. “God
preserve your Highness,” were his words. “You need not to be told I hold
your commands absolute, but, sire, as your servant, I once more crave
you to remember the prophecy of which I spoke--‘_To be stabbed and
succeeded by his brother._’ The Gitano died for these traitorous words
against your Grace, but still dying he persisted in repeating them.”

“An excellent joke, a capital pleasantry! Adieu, good Albuquerque, God
have you in His holy keeping till we next meet and you bring me some new
command,” are the king’s laughing words, to all appearance as
light-hearted as a bird.

And as Albuquerque disappears under the shadow of the Moorish arches
beyond the door, he laughs still louder.

“That parting shaft of his about the prophecy was not so bad,” he
mutters. “All the same, I wonder if it will come true. A man can but die
once, and that his worst enemy should kill him is but natural and just.
Still, most noble bastard, Don Enrique, we will have a tussle for it ere
it comes to that, and if the Lady Blanche strengthens my arm, why then,
_por Dios_, we will marry her!”

How Albuquerque’s project prospered will now appear; the present upshot
being that it was secretly arranged between the king and himself to
despatch his half-brother, the Infante Fadique, “the Grand Master” as he
was called, to Narbonne to ask the hand in marriage of the Lady Blanche,
niece of the King of France.

A mission which prospered marvellously, seeing that within a month Don
Fadique acted as his brother’s proxy at their solemn espousals in the
Gothic Cathedral of St. Just, the darkly painted figures of saints and
angels in the flamboyant windows of the choir casting down mystic
shadows on the form of a pale young girl in the very bud of youth,
kneeling at the altar beside a royal youth with the sweetest and softest
eyes, his elegant figure set off by the magnificent robes of the Grand
Master of Santiago, so stiff with gold embroidery and jewels, on mantle
and _justaucorps_, that they stood up of themselves.



CHAPTER III

Blanche de Bourbon


The Princess Blanche de Bourbon, sister to the Queen of France, wife of
Charles V., lived in the old fortress of Narbonne, beside the sea, in
those romantic days when ladies’ robes were sewn with _fleur-de-lis_ and
heraldic devices, dragons, and coats of arms--wore pointed shoes, long
chains from the waist, and high coifs and head draperies incredible in
our eyes.

She was young, only fifteen, small and delicate in stature, with a
tender, beseeching look, as seeking for fondness and protection from
those around her. By nature she was little fitted to command or to
dazzle, but rather to creep into the heart of manly affection and nestle
there.

The very name of the King of Castile gave her the horrors, and when
called into the presence of her father and told she was to marry him,
she lay three days on her bed without speaking. Imagine her feelings
when she took courage to look at his proxy, of all his brothers the most
like the king!

But Don Fadique was altogether cast in a slighter mould, fitted rather
for a lady’s bower than the stern ranks of the battle-field. His address
was soft and gentle, and no amount of provocation could call up on his
features any resemblance to that tempest-torn expression that so often
disfigured the countenance of Don Pedro. It is true that at the time of
his mother’s death, when certain suspicious circumstances pointed to
foul play, he had joined in the rebellion of his brother, Enrique, but
he had rallied afterwards to the king, and was the only one of his
family who gave him a loyal allegiance. As the nearest relation of Don
Pedro, he was selected by Albuquerque as proxy for the king.

In such haste was the great minister to avail himself of the
half-promise of marriage he had obtained--hastened by the ravages of the
Free companies of France in the north--that he immediately despatched
Don Fadique with a splendid retinue, without ever reflecting upon his
personal fitness for the mission; fitness indeed as a consort, but not
as a proxy, for he was specially created to please a lady’s eye. His
large brown eyes had the sweetest expression, and there was a womanly
softness about him, united to the manly bearing of a knight, that suited
exactly his half-military, half-religious position as Grand Master of
the order of Santiago.

Of all created beings Blanche was the simplest and the best; unselfish,
trusting, relying on the faith of others, utterly inexperienced and
easily impressed by kindness, of which she had not known much.

Her mother died at her birth. Her brothers were always away at the
court, in Touraine, or in the camp. Her women and her friend, Claire de
Coucy, were her only companions, so that when the brilliant cortège of
knights and nobles arrived at Narbonne, and Don Fadique, Grand Master of
Santiago, most becomingly attired in the splendid robes of his order, a
great jewelled cross on his breast, and a heavy chain of gems sparkling
around his neck, advanced to kiss her hand, so happy was she in the
respite from the dreaded Don Pedro, so frankly affectionate in her
sisterly confidence, that the very charm of her innocence became a fatal
snare to him.

Not that Don Fadique nourished any thought of treason towards his
brother’s bride. No plan or project of supplanting him had entered his
brain when selected by Albuquerque as nearest of blood to the king. He
had neither foreseen nor imagined the danger in which he was placed by
reason of the manifold charms of the Lady Blanche, and that he would be
more than man to resist them.

Alas for the fair-haired Grand Master! Hour by hour he yielded. Did she
love him? was the question that rang through his brain day and night. On
the answer his life depended. But how could he ask? Honour, loyalty,
chivalry forbade. Yet the time must come when he would

[Illustration: Puerta del Vino, in the Plaza de los Algibes,
Alhambra.]

have to know. Could he see this innocent creature delivered over a prey
to his licentious brother without one word of warning? Without one
devoted friend to shield her from the deadly intrigues of a court wholly
under the spell of Maria de Padilla?

And that warning. What did it mean? Love to himself? Great Heaven! And
if she did not love him in return? The doubt brought agony. A woman
would have been more easily deciphered, but this royal girl was all
simplicity and guilelessness. When her little hand rested in his as,
attired with all the pomp of the Queen of Castile, and blazing with the
rich jewels sent by Don Pedro, he, with a wildly beating heart, led her
to the nuptial supper, it lay as trustingly in his as though he had been
her brother.

Poor young Grand Master! How was he to know if that young heart
fluttered alone for him, or if those pulses beat to the music of another
voice?

A thousand good resolutions were formed when Blanche was absent. But
they were all scattered to the winds when her soft eyes rested on his,
with that appealing look that was so touching. After all, he meant no
harm, only he _must_ know whether she loved him or not. Life was
intolerable without; and as the putting of this question grew more and
more difficult as time wore on, he left Narbonne without asking it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now Blanche is at Valladolid, in the Gothic palace, with its dark
_patio_ and big angular casements, which still jut out over the street
just as they did then.

She is expecting the king, who is to arrive that very night. Need I say
that she is quite beside herself with terror? Resistance is vain; as
well might the helpless lamb resist the butcher’s knife.

The dreadful hour has come when she is to be eaten up by the royal ogre,
and she can only lie and sob in the quaint painted chamber prepared for
her. Claire de Coucy, quite unconscious of what is really breaking
Blanche’s little heart (for she has kept her own counsel in all but
hatred of Don Pedro), is busying herself about her, with many entreaties
not to make herself look a fright. Even if she does hate the king, is
there not Don Fadique, and all those other splendid Sevillianos,
specially Don Juan de Mañara, whose fame has reached Narbonne, as the
boldest lover in Spain?

“Surely it is not so hard to be a queen, and live in sunny Seville, in
the beautiful Alcazar!” says Claire, turning over the marriage ring all
the time, an uncut emerald of priceless value, which Blanche has flung
on the floor and, unlike her gentle self, stamped on.

There lie the marriage gifts. The jewelled diadem and sceptre, as Queen
of Castile; the Oriental combs and bracelets, cut in antique silver, the
collar of sapphire, the solid links of sequins, the rare Tunisian lace
and Algerine embroideries, jewelled fans, and veils of rarest lace of
such delicate texture, no one had ever seen the like before. All sent in
perfumed chests of sandalwood, covered with royal crowns.

To Claire, who is just out of a convent, and has never seen a marriage
or a bride, it does occur that Blanche is strangely still and sad; but
she supposes it is the proper thing, and that Blanche knows best, so she
goes on turning over the marriage gifts with little exclamations of
delight, as each fresh object seems to her more lovely than the last.

But when, all in a moment, as Claire is winding round her waist a light
Moorish scarf, worked in a perfect kaleidoscope of silken thread and
pearls, Blanche (unable any longer to keep silent) staggers up and falls
upon her neck, sobbing as if her heart would break, it is the most
astonishing event her small experience has ever conceived.

Much more, when Blanche, putting her rosy lips to Claire’s shell-like
ear, whispers in a voice choked with tears: “I love him, I love him! I
cannot go to Don Pedro. I know he will kill me. I hate him. I won’t go!
Be kind to me, Claire, and help me, for I love him!”--her astonishment
turns into terror, for she thinks Blanche is gone quite mad.

“Love whom?” she gasps, feeling cold all over, and letting the scarf
drop to support the quivering form of Blanche.

“Who? Why, Don Fadique to be sure,” she answers, blushing all over.
“Why--you must be blind, Claire, not to see it--at Narbonne. Who else
could it be?”

And Blanche’s fair head, covered with small child-like curls, drops upon
Claire’s friendly neck and buries itself there, as she clings to her
tighter and tighter.

“Oh, Blanche!” was all Claire could say, being too utterly staggered to
remonstrate. “Don Fadique! Why, he is your husband’s brother? Oh,
Blanche, do you mean what you say?”

“Yes, I do,” falters out Blanche, in an almost inaudible voice “I love
him, oh, I love him!”

The very uttering of these words gave her courage. The secret had passed
her lips. The spell of silence was broken.

“Don Fadique!” exclaims Claire. “Why, he must be the greatest traitor in
the world.”

“He does not know it!” returns Blanche, reddening to the roots of her
hair. “He does not guess it. He is an angel.” As she speaks, a quick,
warm light comes into her eyes, a soft flame rises on her cheeks,
kindling up her whole face with an inexpressible glow. Even her slender
figure seems to gather strength and height. “No! no! you must say
nothing against him! He is perfect.”

Claire, who was very pious, and just out of a convent, where the nuns
had taught her all men were dangerous and to be avoided, actually
recoiled. That a wife should love her lord and receive presents from him
and letters was admissible, even among the nuns--but another man!

Her pretty hands dropped from Blanche’s waist, and for some moments she
could not speak.

“What!” she exclaims at last. “Holy Mary, what a horror!” at which the
poor little queen takes courage to reply:

“A husband, Claire, why you seem to forget I have never seen him. How
can I love a man I do not know? I have seen Don Fadique. That makes a
great difference. If Don Pedro is what they say, and strangles women, I
do not see how I can ever love him. So I told my father. I did say
_that_, Claire. I suffered very much. You know it, you cruel girl. I was
brought here against my will. I shall die when I see the king, I shall
die,” she repeats shuddering. “Besides, why did he send Don Fadique to
marry me in his name? If I had never seen him, I could not love him.”

A sweet pout came over her childish face as she gazed into Claire’s
eyes, confident that these arguments must convince her.

But Claire only shook her head, and continued to stand aloof. The
teaching of the nuns still held her. Was it not better that Blanche
_should_ die and be buried, sooner than not love her husband? Yet the
gentle little queen had used a mighty weapon in talking of her death.
Death was so awful, so far away from the fresh rosy life of Claire, that
with the charming inconsistency of youth, Claire, impetuous and ardent
in all things, in a moment forgetting all about the nuns, flung her arms
round Blanche’s neck.

“Dear, dear princess,” was all she could utter, “don’t talk of death. I
know it is very wrong, but I love you too well to chide you. Promise me
that you will not speak to Don Fadique any more. Say an _Ave_ when he
comes near you, and make the sign of the Cross when you feel his eyes.
Remember, whether you like it or not, you are Don Pedro’s wife. No! no!
don’t push me away. It is true. Great princesses and queens must learn
to command themselves more than other folk. My father said so, before I
left Navarre, and that I was not to follow what you did, because you
were of royal blood.”

Then Blanche and Claire, fully reconciled, sat down side by side to talk
under the shadow of the Gothic casement, which lit up the room; the
freckled colour of the painted glass falling upon them in patches of
glowing light, as the trees outside swayed to and fro; Claire going on
about her duty to her husband and to her new country. She was quite
eloquent, and repeated all the fine things which had been taught her out
of history. Not only _Aves_ and crossings, but fasting and penance were
suggested by the ingenious Claire, as helps against temptation, until
poor Blanche, quite stupefied, took up a lute which lay upon the seat
and hummed a French love song; and Claire, remembering there was a
string of pearls loose in the wedding robe in which Blanche was to
appear before the king, kissed her and went out.



CHAPTER IV

Don Fadique’s Declaration of Love


While Blanche sat all alone, the arras gently lifted and Don Fadique
stood before her. Not gay and triumphant as she had seen him at
Narbonne, but pale and grave and habited in a grey _justaucorps_ with a
simple hood--more in the guise of a penitent than a gay young knight.

“My princess,” and he kissed her hand, carefully looking round to assure
himself that they were alone, “I am come to ask you a last favour before
the king arrives. Already his presence is signalled on the outskirts of
the city.”

At that dreaded name, Blanche, whose soft face had broken into the
sunniest of smiles as Don Fadique entered, trembled and sank back
against the wall. At that one word, “the king,” the soft glamour her
imagination had conjured up, vanished. She was the bride of the cruel
tyrant all men hated. He was at hand to claim her. She burst into tears.

“Sweet Blanche,” and Don Fadique’s eyes melted at her distress, as
taking her tenderly by the hand, upon which he impressed another
fervent kiss, he knelt on the floor before her, “be comforted, and
listen to me. The time is come when we must part. For a moment, it
seemed to me a dream of heavenly bliss, and that, standing in my
brother’s place, I could claim you for ever. But now I am less than
nothing in your eyes. Tell me, oh, tell me,” and a sigh broke from him,
so deep, his very soul seemed poured out in it, “tell me quickly, for
our time is short. You will not quite hate me?”

Some wild words were on Blanche’s lips, but remembering the
expostulations of Claire she checked them, blushed hotly over brow and
neck, hesitated, and said nothing.

“Your pity is all I dare ask,” he continues, drawing nearer and leaning
over her, as she shrinks away among a pile of embroidered cushions,
anxiously turning her eyes towards the drapery behind which Claire had
disappeared. “Of all men I am the most wretched. There is one whom I
love more than anything on earth, and I am nothing to her. If it were
not so----”

He broke off abruptly, but there is something so bitter and hopeless in
his tone that, spite of an involuntary pang of jealousy, Blanche’s eyes
turned on him full of sympathy.

“I am so sorry,” she replies, simply. “I think all the world should care
to please you. But"--the jealous feeling is growing spite of
herself--“if any one----”

At this moment Don Fadique stooped and grasped her arm with such a wild
look that she stopped. “If,” lowering his voice, “if this lady,” and he
paused to touch her hand, “loved me--could love me at all; if I could
hold her for an instant as mine own--though the whole kingdom of Spain
were between us----”

Blanche’s gaze has grown dreamy. This was love then. Simple as she was
she understood it. Oh! Claire, Claire. If he felt so, what would she
think of her, and her face paled and her lips quivered.

“Do I know the lady?” she asks, then pauses to steady her voice, while
Fadique gazes down at her with a swift searching glance, terrified by
one word to shatter the rapturous conviction which her trouble gave him.

“Yes, you know her well,” is all he says, and he seizes her hand and
covers it with kisses. “Do you love me?”

No word comes to her blanched lips, but she bows her head and softly
answers to the pressure of his fingers. On the imprisoned hand is the
diamond ring of her espousal. It _would_ gleam out, though she tries not
to see it. Oh! where was Claire? What would she say to her? Alone with
Don Fadique, she feels all her good resolves melting.

For nearly a minute Blanche let Fadique hold her hand. There was no
sound below in the _patio_ to distract them, only the chiming of the
great bells of San Pablo close by across the square, the beautiful
flamboyant portal reared against the sky.

Blanche lay quite still while Fadique covered her little hand with
kisses, even the lace ruffles she wore at her wrist he kissed.

A moment before no words could express how she dreaded the king, but
with her hand in his, listening to his muttered words of love, the earth
seemed to melt away, and she was suddenly transported to some unknown
paradise, full of infinite felicity.

She knew she was doing wrong and that Claire would bitterly reproach
her--perhaps go away in disgust and leave her.

But for all that she could not help it; and after all, what was a crown,
or Claire, or Castile, or France, or the most Christian king, her
kinsman, or her father, compared to the lover with angelic eyes kneeling
before her?

It might be that they never should be alone again, and that she might
not be allowed to speak to him, for Don Pedro was, they told her, a
devil of jealousy--_that_ she could readily believe--and that he
possessed every vice human nature can compass. If this was indeed the
last time, would it not be too cruel to be cold to Fadique in this _one
hour_ when his heart spoke to hers?

Blanche was but a child, cause and effect were unknown to her; but love,
first love, that blessed light direct from heaven, had transformed her

[Illustration: A VIEW IN TOLEDO.]

whole being, and from a simple, tranquil-hearted girl, content to pass
her days joyously as the birds do, without thought, she had become a
sensitive, anxious woman, trembling beneath that terrible prescience
that comes with the first lesson of life; and when Fadique, after a long
silence, asked her again: “Are you sure you love me? Say it once more,
Blanche, and that you will never love another man,” in a low voice she
answered earnestly: “Yes, I love you. I did not know what love was,
until you came to Narbonne,” and then, unable to bear the strain upon
her, she hid her pale face on his shoulder. “What will Don Pedro do to
me?” she cried, trembling all over with a sudden revulsion. “What will
he say to me? I feel so treacherous and wicked, and yet it is not my
fault.”

“No,” answers Fadique, pressing her slight form to his and still holding
her imprisoned hand. “It is the fault of those who forced you into such
a marriage. That is the sin; but remember, my own Blanche, though
silent, I am ever near you at the Court. One heart at least bleeds for
you.”

“I am sure I hear footsteps!” cries Blanche, starting back and standing
upright listening--“What will Claire say? Am I indeed such a sinner?”

“Claire? By Santiago! what has she to do with us? Claire? Ah! do not
look at me so, Blanche, or you will break my heart.”

“Oh, that mine was broken too, and I were dead!” she sobs.

“Then let us die together,” replies Don Fadique.

They are standing hand in hand, backed by the high Gothic casement. The
fretted frame, filled with devices, crowns, and coats of arms, casts a
pale reflex on them. The sun is setting behind the castellated towers of
San Pablo, opposite, and soft fragrant shadows gather in the chamber.
Both in their hearts are longing that this moment may last for ever.

Deeper and deeper the shadows fell, engulfing the two young figures in
its gloom, save where a shaft of vivid light fell upon them like a
sword, the point turned towards them.

“My love,” murmurs Don Fadique, passionately, “do you hear me?”

As Blanche moved in response, a sudden light was in her eyes that had
never been there before--a Moorish scarf Claire had placed around her
fell from her waist.

“This shall be my talisman,” cries Don Fadique, stooping to pick it up,
“the token of your love, and my safeguard in battle. You will not refuse
me?”

“Oh! hide it, hide it,” whispers Blanche under her breath. “Claire may
come in and miss it.”

Then there was a dead silence which neither of them broke.

Suddenly, with a crash like thunder, the clatter of horses’ feet rises
up from the _patio_; the clang of armed men is in the air, the roll of
cumbrous equipages, and the shrill voice of drums and clarions. Now a
single horseman rides in and challenges the guard. Then there is the
sound of marching of many feet and the far-off blare of trumpets.

Blanche rose to her feet, speechless with terror. Was the king already
there? Where could Claire be?

Then comes the echo of many steps in the antechamber, and Claire rushes
in through the arras as Don Fadique disappears by a door on the other
side.

Following Claire appears a tall and stately _jefe_, holding a white wand
of office, with many crosses and decorations on his breast, and a high
plumed hat in his hand, which he doffs, bowing low.

“Madam, the Queen,” says he, in a sonorous voice, again inclining
himself to the ground, “it is my duty to apprise your Majesty that the
king is now passing the drawbridge outside the city. A royal page bears
his greeting to your Grace.”

“Claire, oh, Claire!” sighs Blanche, casting herself into her arms. “Oh!
_why did you leave me?_”



CHAPTER V

Marriage at Valladolid


The ancient city of Valladolid lies on low ground and is watered by the
Pisuerga, a broad river for this waterless land.

Although so far in the north, Valladolid was at this time considered the
official capital of Castile, and therefore it was there that Blanche had
come to meet her much dreaded bridegroom.

A more uninviting city does not exist in Spain, as we see it now, and
although it suffered cruelly from the invasion of the French in the
Peninsular War, uninteresting it must always have been. No charm leads
one’s thoughts lovingly to Valladolid. The cathedral is hideous. Only
the front of San Pablo and the Collegiata de San Gregorio, a magnificent
gift of Cardinal Ximenes, dwell in the mind.

Of course, with the exception of San Pablo, these buildings were erected
centuries after Don Pedro’s reign, and one asks oneself what Valladolid
could have been then?

There are no environs. The river flows through flat banks with no
timber except long lines of thin poplars, the poorest of all trees, and
beyond, the eye wanders over endless plains towards Burgos and Salamanca
to the borders of Portugal.

But now, forgetting the present aspect of the city, we must go back to
the 3d of June, 1375, the day on which Don Pedro was to arrive to meet
the new queen, espoused in his name by his brother, the Grand Master of
Santiago, to be kept as a great festival, for which thousands had
assembled from all parts of the kingdom. For indeed, in those days of
perpetual warfare, a _fiesta_ was well esteemed, as they were very rare,
especially in the north, inhabited by a more serious and impassioned
race of hardy men than the lighthearted southerners of Andalusia.

Now this occasion had been seized as a gift from heaven, especially as
it was to take the form of a tournament, in which the Infante Don
Fadique was to take part, as well as the Infante of Aragon, and Don Juan
de Mañara, known in all ages as “Don Juan,” the favourite of the king,
gambler, reveller, and seducer, and that graceful but treacherous
knight, Don Garcia de Padilla, brother of Maria, both being in
attendance on the king. The queen-mother, Doña Maria of Portugal, had
also journeyed from Seville to welcome the young queen, and Albuquerque
followed her, full of alarm for the result of the alliance he had
brought about.

Much had been heard of the strange qualities of the young king, about
whom men’s minds were divided. Such mysterious crimes were attributed to
him, such unheard-of brutalities, that it was generally supposed he
acted under the influence of magic spells, wrought on him by his
mistress, Maria de Padilla, held by the populace as a witch accursed by
God and man.

Those who had not seen him, and they were many, and the women
especially, who had heard harrowing tales of his misdeeds, crowded into
Valladolid, where, accommodation not being easily obtained except for
the rich, the season being summer, had built themselves huts of branches
along the river, and camped out there, as near as possible to the green
_vega_ where the tournament was to be held.

And a wonderful sight it is, and almost beautiful to behold, under a
heaven one sheet of unbroken blue, golden lights resting on the gaudy
colours within the enclosed space, carpeted with grass; lofty gateways,
making the four entrances, adorned with coloured tiles in blue and gold;
tents of variegated rich stuffs, luxuriously fitted up for the
convenience of each knight about to take part in the tilt; galleries
hung with brocade and cloth of gold; turreted towers in silk striped
black and yellow, from which hang banners; fountains furnished with
bowls of silver to refresh the knights, over which court pages keep
guard; stands for the musicians, covered balconies for the ladies, where
the sparkle of dark eyes and rounded arms peep out of delicate
draperies; and in the centre, the gaudiest of all, the royal pavilion,
“as high as three lances,” blazing with cloth of gold, trimmed with
feathers and flowers, the flag of Castile and Leon floating overhead,
beside the emblazoned Nodo of Castile, and the French lilies impanelled
on the same shield--the interior protected from the sun by tinted
awnings, under which rise three crimson thrones, for the king, queen,
and queen-mother, “Matrique” to the bride, and all around the soft
whispering of leaves, the cooing of doves and pigeons, brought, Moorish
fashion, in cages, and the splash of abundant waters.

       *       *       *       *       *

The time fixed for the tournament was at the setting of the sun, but
from the earliest dawn the populace had crowded into every available
space, and been entertained with _seguidillas_ and _zambras_ danced by
bronzed _gitanas_ to the clink of castanets, and there were races of
tame elephants with silken howdahs, jumpers and tossers of ball, and
Moorish jugglers whose tricks were wonderful and set all the peasants
agape with joy.

It was known that the king’s brother, the Grand Master, would break a
lance, and it was thought that the young king himself would run at the
ring in honour of his bride. But this was said only by those who did not
know, for in the first place Don Pedro, a young warrior full of conceit
and constantly risking his life in battles, disdained all these courtly
pageants; and in the second place, he had arrived at Valladolid in so
bad a temper that his attendants feared to approach him.

Never was a royal bridegroom so ill-disposed for mirth as Don Pedro
when, habited in a royal mantle draped over a crimson surcoat trimmed
with fur, and wearing a helmet encircled by a crown, _panached_ with
snowy feathers, he took his seat on his throne in the centre of the
pavilion, Albuquerque, his _padrino_ or god-father, behind him, to the
cry of “Castilla! Santiago! Santiago! _Viva el Rey Justiciar!_”

Beside him, on a less elevated seat, sat his mother, Queen Maria.

As the bride-queen, white as her name, and trembling in every limb,
advances to place herself on a chair of state on his right hand, the
king--who now sees her for the first time, having purposely delayed his
entrance into Valladolid until the last possible moment--rises to salute
her; when, at the aspect of terror depicted on her face, in evident
wrath he suddenly turns to address Albuquerque, pointing contemptuously
to the poor princess who sinks back into the arms of Claire.

“_Sangre de Dio!_ Signor Conte,” mutters the king, loud enough to be
heard, “a pretty consort you have chosen. I am not wont to be considered
an ogre in ladies’ eyes, but doubtless the Lady Blanche, spite of her
baby-face, has met some _damoisel_ at her father’s court whose
remembrance turns me to a monster in her eyes. By my Patron Saint (if I
have one), before the day is over I will assure myself who is the cuckoo
who has soiled my nest.”

“My lord, these are most unworthy suspicions,” returns Albuquerque, with
that calm dignity of manner before which the king’s petulant humour so
often yields. But not so now. Surrounded by those who have fostered his
evil passions, he knows that his every look and movement will be duly
reported by her brother, Don Garcia, to Maria de Padilla.

From this moment to the end of the pageant he hardly addresses himself
to Blanche or turns towards her, but with an angry scowl, his steely
eyes wander unceasingly over the crowd of brilliant knights who, singly
or together, gallop past the royal _estrado_ to salute him and the
queen.

Spite of herself, Blanche, revived by the strong essences Claire used to
restore her, begins to be attracted by the brilliant show. She is the
chief figure in this mimic war; the noblest dames of Castile are there
to do her homage; the queen-mother comforting her with gentle words, and
when Claire, who stands behind her chair, whispers into her ear, “Do you
see him, there under the flag-staff in the centre? He wears a long white
mantle over his armour, and your scarf upon his arm. Oh! is he not
charming?” a mist passes before her eyes, the tell-tale colour mounts to
her cheeks, and forgetting Don Pedro and all her fears past, present,
and to come, she leans forward, a wild look in her eyes, towards the
spot where Don Fadique has reined up his charger, to head the knights of
Santiago preparing to salute the king and the new queen. This passed in
an instant, but not before Don Pedro had noted it, and his naturally
pallid face grows white with rage.

“Madam,” says he, addressing Blanche for the first time, who, at the
sound of his harsh voice, starts back aghast, “it seems that the favour
you deny me, you accord to my brother. Happy youth! Doubtless he will
know how to profit by it.”

Utterly unable to reply, Blanche shrank back, as if about to faint, but
terror so far gave her strength that she found voice to reply that at
Narbonne it was her duty towards his Grace to receive his brother well.

“I doubt it not, madam,” answers Don Pedro with a bitter sneer. “Yes, at
Narbonne you made good use of your time, doubtless. I was a cursed fool
to send him there,” he mutters. Then, turning his back upon her, he
addresses himself to Don Juan, the big tears streaming slowly down poor
Blanche’s cheeks.

Alas! alas! This insult seems the last drop in her cup of misery. Poor
little queen! her heart is bursting, and nothing but her horror of the
king, whose cold eyes follow her wherever she turns, prevents her sobs
from being heard by all the court.

At this moment, amid the blare of trumpets, the roll of drums and clash
of cymbals, the chimes of all the bells of the city clashing, and the
frantic shouts of the mob, pressing forward at every point where they
can find standing room along the barriers, a gallant company of knights,
attended by their esquires, galloped into the centre of the field in a
general _mêlée_; the Knight of the Dragon, Don Juan de Cerda--who, could
he have foreseen the future, would then and there have forfeited his
fealty to a recreant king; the Knight of the White Rose, Don Diego de
Guzman; the unknown knight, his turban protected by chains of finest
steel interwoven with the folds of dazzling white, and white his tunic
and mantle, on his left arm a shield, in his right hand a slender lance,
mounted on a raven-black charger, and attended by two slaves in Moorish
dress, black from casque to toe, his visor down--said to be the Moorish
king of Granada, Ben Hade, come in disguise, to break a lance with the
Christians; the two Medinas, Celi and Sidonia, a tribe of Aguilars,
every man of the name a hero in the track of war, the de Cuevas,
Cipuntes, Cabras, Perez del Pulgar, and the great southern noble, Ponce
de Leon, arrived from the plains of Xeres, where he ruled more powerful
than the king; the judges of the lists, stranger knights, marshals,
swordsmen, bowmen; pages, gorgeous in silk and samite, heralds in gold
and embroidered tabards; and last, and chiefest, in splendid armour,
the Lord of the Tournament, the Grand Master de Santiago, attended by
the knights of his order in the absence of the king.

Small of stature, but light and elegant, his heavy accoutrements can not
conceal the grace of every movement, or the mastery with which he
manages his horse, a fiery chestnut, curveting and prancing, as he takes
his place in the centre of the lists amid cries of “_Plaza! Plaza por
los Infante! Santiago! Santiago!_”

Conscious that Blanche’s eyes are upon him, and knowing nothing of what
has just passed between her and Don Pedro, and that her poor little
heart is melting in fear, he takes advantage of every opportunity to
place himself before the royal pavilion, thirsting for one look of her
sweet eyes, a gesture, a sign, to feel the assurance of her love; but he
looks in vain.

Many tilts are run. The stranger knight unhorses several riders. When
called on by the herald to raise his visor he courteously declines,
rides three times round the field, displaying his colours, the Moorish
cognisance of yellow on a black ground, then vanishes through the open
gates, his black slaves after him. Many sharp blows are then exchanged
and wounds inflicted in this mimic warfare, to the delight of the king,
who rises to his feet loudly laughing and clapping his hands as the
vanquished knights are carried from the field.

[Illustration: A STREET IN TOLEDO.

From an etching by Charles A. Platt.]

Then, to the cries of _Dios y España_, four cavaliers ride forth, with
violet surcoats over their coats of mail, and run a Moorish tilt with
reeds instead of lances, an elegant pastime of Granada worthy of the
courtly Moslems with whom Don Pedro is so much in league, while stringed
instruments strike up a joyful measure, and castanets are played by the
_gitanos_ who dance a _seguidilla_ before the king.

Many of the great nobles, offended at the insolent bearing of Don Pedro,
have not, as yet, taken their lances out of rest, but have only ridden
round at the opening of the lists, at which great wonder is expressed
among the spectators, and much discontent amid their followers.

Now, all are in honour bound to break a lance, in the _Grande Mêlée_,
with Don Fadique, who takes his place in the centre of the field.
Whether it is out of courtesy to his youth and royal rank, or that, by a
kind of miracle, his lady-love being present, his arm is strengthened to
do wonders in her eyes, many a famous noble has the worst of it, at
which wild cries are again heard of “_Santiago!_ _Viva el Gran Maestro!_
_Viva el Infante!_”

A grand procession ends the tournament, around the golden pole set up in
the centre, from which depends a laurel crown woven with pearls, which,
according to the rules, ought to be presented to the victor by the young
queen. But Don Pedro, in savage mood (for the success of his brother has
deeply angered him), has willed it otherwise.

With his large eyes fixed in a disdainful stare he gives no heed to the
tilting, and scarcely responds to the salutations of the noble knights
who gather under the pavilion.

When Don Fadique stations himself in front to salute him and the two
queens, Don Pedro--who at that moment is talking eagerly with the Lord
of Monteney, from time to time turning towards Albuquerque, as if to
inform him of some important fact--turns and fixes his eyes upon him
with such a glare of rage that Don Fadique never advances at all to
claim the guerdon he was to receive, and retreats to his tent, the king
at the same time suddenly rising, and signalling to the gaudy herald,
displaying his particoloured costume in the last rays of the sunset
which light up the west, to the delight of the townsfolk, to approach.

Like all the world the herald dreads the king, and comes riding as fast
as his horse can carry him.

“Vain knave!” says Don Pedro surveying his brilliant garb, “can you find
nothing better with which to fill your time, than serving as a popinjay
to the people? Break up the lists. I have had enough of it; and see you
do it quickly.”

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, slowly, as the day falls, along the river bank under the shade
of the poplar avenues, passes the procession, winding into the deep and
narrow streets of Burgos.

Before the cathedral, public tables are spread with highly flavoured
viands such as Spaniards love, to be washed down by strong Xeres wine
served out of great earthen jars, so big it seems as if thousands could
be satisfied.

Don Pedro would have ridden alone into the city, but for the
remonstrances of Albuquerque and of his mother, who, with tears implored
him not to rouse the suspicions of his subjects by such a disregard of
royal custom as to allow his bride to return alone.

Thus while all the citizens wait beside the tables (none caring to fall
to until the king’s return) a flourish of clarions and trumpets suddenly
announces his presence, preceded by a troop of men-at-arms in the low
cap and close-setting jerkin of that warlike time. Don Pedro himself
mounted on a coal-black war-horse, the jewelled reins held by two great
nobles, the Lord of Bertrayo and the Sevillian Don Enrique de la Cerda,
husband of Doña Maria de Coronel.

Beside him, but somewhat in the rear, rides the queen, her bridal veil
enveloping her like a shroud, and it is well so, for her ashen cheeks
and sunken eyes would tell a tale of suffering no words could express.

Following after her comes the queen-mother, mounted on a white mule shod
with gold, her eyes cast down, and with a visage full of sorrow.

As the young queen passes, the word goes round that she is an unwilling
bride. “And no wonder, poor soul,” answers a richer burgher, who has
pushed himself forward and looks into her white face, “if she knows the
sort of husband she is espousing. He kills all who come to him.”

“An ill-omened couple,” whispers a fat countrywoman into his ear. “Look
at the king, he never turns his eyes on the poor young thing, but rides
straight on, and so fast her horse cannot keep pace with him. Why does
he marry her? It is plain to see he hates her. I wonder how the young
queen will like his _harem_? They say he lives like a Moor, and keeps a
whole bevy of slaves shut up in the castle of Carmona.”

“Poor soul, I would not be in her shoes, and have to face his mistress,
Maria de Padilla,” says another woman; “and after all, why should the
king flout her if he likes a pretty face?”

“Belike some one has cast a spell on him,” observes a little man in a
black _capa_ and mantle, the city _medico_.

“Aye,” is the reply, “a jealous woman has overlooked her.”

And so it came to be understood among the crowd that the king had been
bewitched and never would care for his girl queen.

“God grant he may not murder her,” are the last words of the fat
countrywoman as they all move on to where the tables are spread.

The king meanwhile is hurrying in the most unseemly fashion, indifferent
to the discomfort he causes to those behind, especially to the Lady
Blanche, who with her two royal rein-holders, the Grand Master Don
Fadique and the Infante of Aragon, not daring to look up, is now
separated from him, which greatly mars the effect of the pageant.

The knights, having changed their armour while Queen Blanche was in her
retiring room, reappear in fanciful suits of many-coloured silk and
brocade, their helmets replaced by graceful caps, ornamented with gems
and pearls, in readiness for the nuptial banquet.

Don Juan de Mañara is most conspicuously attired in the excess of the
mode, of no great beauty, but with so bold an eye, it is said of him he
fears neither the living nor the dead. In all his wildest excesses Don
Juan is the king’s companion, but never for murder, injustice, or spoil.
No wantonness is too great for him where women are concerned, and woe to
the wife or maid who takes his fancy.

No one can rival Don Juan in the jewels he wears except the southern
lord, Ponce de Leon, whose robe of pale silver tissue is covered with
uncut stones, and his head encircled by a wreath of orient pearls taken
from a Moorish emir whom he has slain.

Don Enrique de la Cerda, the king’s favourite before Don Juan, but so
much better than he that the people of Seville call him jeeringly _El
Santo_, is attired in a dark velvet suit quite at variance with his
usual magnificence. It is rumoured that he is out of favour on account
of his beautiful wife, Doña Maria de Coronel, upon whom the king has
cast eyes of love, a distinction which, contrary to fealty and
allegiance as understood in those times, Cerda has not appreciated, and
has not only shut her up in his castle of Cerda, but is inclined to
listen to the overtures of Enrique of Trastamare and forsake the king
altogether.

       *       *       *       *       *

The board blazes with flowers, Moresque porcelain, and glittering plate;
precious candelabras of sculptured silver shed a soft light, and
jewelled vases and golden cups give it back in intensest colours, as the
king and queen enter to the sound of trumpets and take their place in
the centre, beside them the royal princes and the Infante of Aragon, the
ministers of state, and such ambassadors and envoys as have been invited
to the tournament.

Wonderful to relate, Blanche is wreathed in smiles. This is Claire’s
doing. She has contrived to convey to her a message from the Grand
Master, promising an interview for the morrow, when the king rides to
Segovia. As the brother of the king, Don Fadique sits at her side. For
an instant their hands meet, and such a thrill of pleasure shoots
through her little heart as gives her courage to face every mishap.
Child as she is, she clings to happiness. The future is an unveiled
mystery. Why despair?

From Don Fadique her eyes wander to Don Pedro, placed on her other side.
He has the same smooth face as his brother, but sterner and loftier,
and a majesty of expression all his own. He is not frowning now, and the
change is marvellous. No one could compare the two brothers.

“Who knows,” Blanche begins to ask herself, peeping at him from under
her long eyelashes, “if he really is such a monster as report gives out?
Can anything be more perfect? His long wavy hair hanging in heavy
curls.” At this moment he is leaning over her in conversation with Don
Fadique. No shade of displeasure is on his face, as he casts on her such
a glance as brings blushes to her cheek. Alas! alas! could she but read
the treachery of his heart as he plays with the lace tissue of her robe,
and lowers his voice to a soft whisper as he addresses her, she would
flee from the hall, the city, and the land.

Little did the light-hearted daughter of Navarre understand the
passions, deep down and fierce, of the Spaniards. Not voluble and
capricious like the French, but sullen, silent, sinister, hiding all
emotion under a mask. This she did not understand, nor that she had
mortally offended Don Pedro, who but dissembled his revenge, storing up
each word and look she thoughtlessly addressed to Don Fadique.

Poor Blanche!--her bright little head, encircled with the regal
diadem--let her enjoy her brief moment of triumph. Little by little her
heart is yielding to the fascinations of Don Pedro, the most brilliant
cavalier she could have conjured up even in her dreams, and she feels
that if he would but take her to his arms, she would tell him all her
tale; how every one has frightened her, and that now she is ready to
love him for ever and aye. It is all right now, and she feels so happy,
she talks incessantly to Don Fadique in the pauses, telling him all she
feels, which makes him inexpressibly wretched, and he casts on her the
most longing glances, as a precious treasure he has lost, and heaves
great sighs as he raises his eyes to her laughing face--at which she is
really grieved, trying by all possible means to console him.

Don Pedro looks on with a strange, fixed smile. Now and then he even
joins in the conversation with a loud harsh laugh, which, to say the
truth, frightens Blanche, but, delighted at the change in his bearing
towards herself, she interprets it all as “men’s ways,” and hopes in
time to grow accustomed to him. Every one could not be so gentle as the
Grand Master, who, after all, was half a priest, so Claire said; and of
the two, ignorant Blanche said in her heart, how much more she admired
the rough blunt ways of the king.

Once indeed, when talking with Don Fadique, she turned round quickly to
address Don Pedro, and met his eyes riveted on her with such a cruel
stare, she grew cold all over. And it was strange that when he gave the
signal for the company to separate, instead of leading her to the bridal
chamber, as she had been told he would, he made her a low bow and
retired attended by Don Juan de Mañara and Don Garcia de Padilla.

“I wonder if I have offended him,” she whispers to Claire, who is in
waiting behind her chair. “I am afraid something must be wrong. Surely
he ought not to have left me on our wedding night? What have I done? In
the morning he was wroth without a cause, to-night he is gracious with
still less reason.”

“You might have spoken less with the Grand Master,” is Claire’s reply.
“I cannot abide Don Pedro,” Claire says, when they have reached the
solitude of the queen’s apartment. “I am sure he has some secret chamber
where he hangs up those who do not please him, like Blue Beard in his
castle. For the sake of your life be on your guard, my queen. You may
depend on the Grand Master, but the king is _not_ to be trusted.”

“Oh, dear Claire, I am sure you are mistaken! Now I am as unhappy as
ever, just when I thought all was coming right! Why did not the
queen-mother come to the banquet? She is kind and gracious. I could have
taken courage to consult her. I have no friend but Fadique, and now I am
afraid even of him.”

And once again the tell-tale tears gather in her eyes, as she buries
herself in Claire’s arms.

“Mind, Claire, we must not meet Fadique to-morrow. It might anger the
king. And oh! he is so charming, I would do anything to please him.”

“Who?” asks Claire, leaning down to where the queen’s curly head rests
on her arm.

“Why, Don Pedro, of course,” is the answer. “No one can compare to him!
Terrible but beautiful! Oh! if he would but love me! Alas! why did he
go?” So, murmuring to each other, the queen calls in her tiring women,
and prepares for rest.

[Illustration: ALCANTARA.]



CHAPTER VI

Cloister, Valladolid.--Castle of Talavera


All sleep, save that within a most lovely cloister of Gothic arches,
over which the clustering branches of many vines tremble in the night
air, comes the sound of voices, now near, now far, as the speakers pass
and repass from opposite sides along the marble floor, and the echo of a
harsh, discordant laugh breaks the silence.

“_Por Cristo!_ I will go!” cries a loud voice, desecrating the fair
night by its rough accent, as three muffled figures emerge for a moment
into the light, where a lofty portal opens into the centre of the
cloister, filled with the graves of monks, who even in death cling to
the sacred precincts.

“I will go, and no man shall hinder me! With me shall come my trusty Don
Juan and our brother Garcia. Ha! ha! Mañara,” addressing the tallest of
the three figures, “you are always ready. How many ladies expect you in
Seville at the Calle near the Lonja? See how sober a man is your
sovereign. One lady love is all I claim. One, ineffable, divine! Now, I
ask in all fairness, and I appeal to you, Mañara, can Albuquerque here
(who has limed me like a falcon) reproach me if I fly back to the nest
of love, after I have seen the baby-faced traitress he has chosen?
_Sangre de Dio!_ The thought of Maria makes me mad.”

His speech was succeeded by a dead silence. Don Juan did not answer.
There was a brutal coarseness of expression in the king which, as a
knight and a caballero, he disapproved. Not so the third figure, Don
Garcia de Padilla, standing a little aloof, as waiting to be addressed,
who bowed to the ground, then further retreated into the gloom cast by
the shadow of the clustered columns.

Then the grave voice of Albuquerque responds: “My lord, you have no just
cause of suspicion against the queen. She is very young, and could be
moulded like wax in your hand.”

“That is my affair!” answers the king, whose choleric temper is rising.
“As facile as a dancing-girl. Nay, more so, for aught I know--for those
devils of _gitañas_ have a code of honour of their own. I have proved
her. Even in my presence she could not conceal her love for the cursed
bastard. I never wanted a wife; you forced her on me. But such a one as
this is not worthy to mate with our jester. We will duly dispose of her,
were she a thousand times cousin to the King of France.”

“Beware, my lord, what you do,” interposes Albuquerque, with the
unhesitating frankness he alone dared use.

But Don Pedro continues without heeding him: “There is a prophecy about
me, you say, of which you think much, ‘_I must kill or be killed._’
Excellent reasoning! We will see to it by-and-by. For the present, the
Lady Blanche shall spend her honeymoon in the strong castle of Talavera,
and the Grand Master may find the air of exile favourable to his
health.”

To all this, spoken in a hard, grating voice, with the incessant and
uneasy movement which always marked Don Pedro’s bursts of fury,
Albuquerque, his arms folded under his mantle, listened in silence.

Whether Don Pedro had expected some violent reproaches and was angered
that they did not come, or whether, knowing the madness of what he was
about to do, he had laid himself out to combat argument and reason, the
effect of enraging him was all the same. He trembled with passion, and
struck upon the pavement with his heel.

At length, unfolding his arms, Albuquerque speaks: “My liege, I have
guided the councils of your kingdom in the time of your father, called
‘the Wise,’ and in the regency of your mother, called ‘the Good’; I have
been your own pilot in many a stormy sea. Now I resign these gracious
powers with which you have invested me into your hands, much worthier
than mine. But before taking my leave, allow me to remind your Highness
that the truce with Aragon is expired; that by divers hostile acts you
have angered your old ally, the King of Granada, and that Enrique de
Trastamare, with his army, is marching on Toledo, where he has many and
powerful partisans. His alliance with His Most Christian Majesty was
known to me, and therefore I wrought on your Grace to espouse the Lady
Blanche, which would have traversed this scheme, and brought France to
your aid; but as----”

“Have you done?” thunders the king, so loud as to send a flight of night
birds scudding across the sky.

“No, my lord, I have not done. Behind all this is His Holiness the
Pope--long angered by the favour you show Mussulmen and Jews--seeking a
cause to place you and Castile under an interdict; the Lady Blanche of
Bourbon will serve him well for this. And as to your Castilian subjects,
I warn your Highness to proffer no offers of advancement to Cerda,
husband of Doña Maria Coronel. To my certain knowledge he is engaged in
treasonable practices with Don Enrique; and the lady, my lord--here a
cold smile for an instant lit up Albuquerque’s face--_will never
yield_!”

“To hell with them and you,” roars Don Pedro, beside himself with rage.
“You too, as report says, hold your papers in the hands of my brother,
and will meet other traitors at his camp. Cursed hypocrite and
treacherous counsellor, begone from my presence! Tread not Castilian
soil again, I warn you.”

“Except as a conqueror,” is the calm reply. “May your Highness raise the
glory of Castile as high as my desire, and you will win the world.” And
the great minister passed down the dark aisle as tranquil as on a gala
day, the shadow of the light vine-trellis clinging to the groined arches
striking upon his mantle--the sound of his footsteps growing fainter and
fainter, until finally they were lost in the murmurs of the night
breeze.

Spite of his passion a spell of silence sat upon the king. The voice of
his guardian angel rose within him, and on his lips was the cry,
“Return, return, Albuquerque;” but the good impulse promptly vanished,
and with a mocking laugh he turned to Don Juan. “Have the horses saddled
and the escort ready, I ride at break of day.” Then, striding down the
aisle, he disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

Poor Blanche! Her dream is over. She awoke to find Don Pedro gone--Don
Fadique fled--and a bench of bishops appointed to consult upon her
supposed misdeeds. Proof there was none against her--not even of
witchcraft, which was the popular accusation at times when all others
failed. But, for all that, the bishops were much too terrified at the
king not to pronounce her guilty.

The Duke of Bourbon, her father, and the most Christian king, her
brother-in-law, by the mouth of a herald sent to Seville, storm and
threaten--but what could be said against the judgment of these holy men?

Both justice and knowledge in those days lay in the Church, and Don
Pedro had managed so cunningly, and Maria de Padilla had so carefully
spread abroad diabolical accusations, that Blanche was held to be guilty
of incest.

If the marriage by proxy common among kings and great princes were not
respected as a point of chivalrous honour, by the person selected by the
husband to represent him in the sacred rite, no crowned head would be
safe. It was usual for a man of mature years to be chosen on such
occasions, not a gay young _infante_ like Don Fadique; but, on the other
hand, his near relationship to the king was deemed sufficient guarantee
for his honour, and knightly honour in those days was much more
considered than either virtue or religion.

Thus this accusation against Blanche appealed to the most violent
prejudices of the time. She was supposed to have offended against that
unwritten code which is the safeguard of kings.

No one cared for details. Degraded into a criminal, laden with contempt,
she was sent under a strong escort to the castle of Talavera de la Reina
on the Tagus, not far distant from Toledo; and Don Fadique saved his
life by flight into Portugal.

Vainly did the queen-mother warn her son of the risk he ran in thus
offending a French princess, and endeavour to procure for Blanche some
gentler treatment. Don Pedro mocked at her as he had mocked at
Albuquerque. He told her plainly that if she importuned him she should
follow Blanche into a prison. “There were plenty of castles,” he said,
“in Castile for troublesome queens, as there were cords and daggers for
traitors!”

Had Claire not been left her, Blanche would have died. Her horror of the
king returned greater than ever. “He will kill me! He will kill me!” she
kept repeating, “with a Moorish bowstring. His cruel blue eyes pierce me
like a knife. Oh! Claire, I wish it were over!”

Then she raved of Navarre and Narbonne. Called on Don Fadique for help,
and implored Claire to carry her to the convent, and bury her out of
sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

For two days they rode over the plains, avoiding the steep defiles of
the Guadarrama Mountains, expecting death at every halting-place. The
faint hope of a rescue haunted the mind of Claire, but she did not speak
of it to Blanche. Where were the Grand Master and all the noble knights
of Santiago? Surely they would not allow such a crime? But no
white-mantled horsemen came galloping over the plain; no flag of knight
or esquire fluttered in the grey atmosphere. The same dull lines seemed
endless.

At length they descended into the gorges of a deep treeless valley,
through which the broad Tagus flows by rocky boundaries, very different
from the laughing river which runs by the leafy groves of Aranjuez, and
reflects that bright and elegant palace of the Bourbons in its crystal
flood.

On a height, to the right, rose the castle of Talavera de la Reina,
built of small bricks faced with stone, an irregular fortress of Gothic
times.

As the portcullis was raised to admit Queen Blanche, Claire, whose eyes
were everywhere, was delighted to observe that it was in a ruinous
condition, having lately sustained a siege, and that it appeared
slenderly garrisoned for a royal fortress. A wild hope of escape
possessed her, especially when the governor, who advanced to hold the
queen’s bridle on bended knee, appeared in the person of a gracious
young cavalier, wearing on his breast the cross of Santiago.

Even Blanche roused herself to bestow on him a sweet smile, and
graciously replied to his words of welcome.

Conducted by him, and followed by serving-men and seneschals, Blanche
casting uneasy looks around, mounted the narrow turning stair, which led
to the dreary suite of rooms known as “the royal chambers.” At every
door stood a man-at-arms, halberd in hand, immovable as a statue.

“It seems I am considered a dangerous prisoner,” she said, turning with
a winning smile towards the governor, who walked at her left hand. “What
care two poor women require to keep fast locked up! A good watch-dog,
such as we have in Narvarre to guard the sheep, would be sufficient.”

“Madam, I grieve in aught to displease your Highness,” is the reply;
“but I act under strict command, as the king’s officer. The presence of
armed troops near Toledo gives some alarm----”

“Armed troops!” interrupts Claire, arresting Blanche’s progress with her
hand; “and who commands them?”

The governor hesitated. Claire’s eyes, a pair of brilliant orbs with
glancing Gallic fire, were turned full upon him.

“Oh, tell me, is it the Grand Master of Santiago?” cries Blanche,
thinking that Don Fadique might be near. “You are not bidden to imprison
our souls.”

“Madam,” answers the young governor, bowing to the ground, “I dare not
refuse the command of the Queen of Castile. The armed bands I speak of
are the skirmishers of Don Enrique de Trastamare, who is advancing from
the north on the city of Toledo. It is said that some French mercenaries
are with him.”

“Oh! thank the blessed Virgin for that,” ejaculates poor Blanche,
clasping her hands and uttering a silent prayer. “They have thought of
me at last. Oh, the dear French; it seems to me I could embrace the
roughest of the soldiers! Oh, that I were with them, and had never left
that pleasant land! Are they far off? Can I see them pass? Is there no
tower or battlement from which I could wave a greeting to them? Oh,
say----?”

“Madam,” answers the governor, gravely--Claire finds him extremely
sympathetic, with his dark moustache and pointed beard, small
aristocratic head, and dark black eyes, capable of saying so many
things--“I have already overstepped my duty. Your Grace must be
merciful, and press me no further. Believe me, madam, did it depend on
me, not only this wish of yours, but all others, would be met even
before expressed. I, too, come of French blood. My mother was from
Bayonne.”

“Your name?” asks Blanche. “The king is happy in possessing so loyal an
officer.”

“Alvarez de Varga,” is the reply. “As a boy, I was reared at Seville, as
one of the pages of the queen.”

“What queen?” asks Claire, hastily. “Not----”

“No, madam; my gracious mistress was Mary of Portugal. I was chosen
among many as the companion of Don Pedro.”

“Oh! the Saints protect me! then you love him?” exclaims Blanche,
shrinking back against the wall.

“Not more than is set down in my duty, madam,” is his quick reply. “In
my hands you are as safe as in the palace of Narbonne. Rather would I
sever limb from limb, than that harm should come to your Highness under
my charge.”

“Thank heaven!” was all that Blanche could murmur, for her lips had
turned bloodless from terror.

“Tell me, Don Alvarez,” asks Claire, who never let a propitious occasion
slip, “did you know Don Fadique, the Grand Master, at the Court?”

“Right well; he is my master. We were playmates together, until the
death of his mother scattered the Infantes far and wide. Don Fadique,”
he adds, reading the breathless interest expressed in both the fair
ladies’ eyes, now riveted upon him, “is of a temper to attach all who
approach him. Even the queen, with so many causes of displeasure against
the children of Doña Eleanor de Guzman, who led away the fancy of her
consort, always cherished him.”

“Tell me,” says Claire, in her eagerness placing her hand upon his arm,
“does Don Fadique ride with his brother, Don Enrique, against the king?
Will he join in the siege of Toledo?”

“Noble _demoiselle_, whom I account French from her accent,” answers Don
Alvarez, again bowing low, a great admiration breaking into his face as
his eyes wander over Claire’s tall and supple form, “your zeal for your
royal mistress touches me to the soul. But, by my faith, I do not know
where the Grand Master is; but if I did, it is not my place to tell.”

“Oh, say not so, Sir Governor,” answers Claire, “you are our only
friend. We are of all ladies the most dejected. Do not treat us
prisoners who as have done ill, but as innocent sufferers consigned to
your care.”

“Such is my conviction, fair lady,” is Don Alvarez’s answer, “but
prisoners you are. In all that I can, count on me as your slave. Will it
please your Grace"--addressing Blanche--“to pass up to the second
storey, and view the apartments which have been prepared for you?”

With a deep sigh, Blanche followed him. Her arms fell to her side. To be
so near rescue, yet bound within these walls!

As to Claire, the affairs of state did not affect her at all. She was
fully occupied in considering what advantage she could take of the
evident admiration of the governor.

Discreet as he meant to be, he could not control his eyes; one look had
betrayed him to the astute pupil of the nuns, whose zeal for Blanche
wanted no stimulating.

“I will make the governor love me, and free the queen,” was her thought,
and as, step by step, she followed Blanche up the stairs, passing by
narrow lancet windows that let in the light, the whole project
simplified itself so marvellously in her brain that already they were
careering forth upon the plains on two fleet Spanish barbs, accompanied
by Don Alvarez, to the outposts of Don Enrique de Trastamare.

[Illustration: Patio de los Leones, the Court of the Lions,
Alhambra.]



CHAPTER VII

Don Pedro and Maria de Padilla


The inner _patio_, on the left hand, as you enter the Alcazar, where
trees of magnolia and pomegranate wave together among hedges of red
roses, has always been called the _Patio de Maria Padilla_.

It is known that her royal lover raised rooms on the flat, Moorish roof,
and decorated them magnificently for her use.

Charles V. took his chapel from them, and his comfortable bed-rooms
where he could at least, with convenient surroundings, encounter his
formidable attacks of gout.

Maria’s tiring-room, with its long range of _miradores_ (windows),
immediately over Don Pedro’s gorgeous portal, is not only a capital post
of observation, but a wonder to behold. The walls, a snowy mass of
lace-work cut in stone, are relieved by encrusted tiles of a deep and
ruddy colour. Beneath the golden cupola of fretted stalactites, a
perfumed fountain sheds clouds of spray, and banks of flowers and myrtle
scent the air.

On each of the four sides are recesses for divans, on which lie piled up
cushions wrought in the looms of Granada, the walls covered with Eastern
stuffs, stiff with gold and tissue, Gothic characters wrought into
borders and tessellated edgings, each recess supported by pillars, round
which twist serpents of gold and enamel, with eyes of enormous emeralds
giving a life-like glare. Behind screens of golden trellis, woven with
the brilliant blossoms of fresh flowers, are the heavy draperies which
shroud the doorways, bearing the royal monogram and _nodo_, and in one
corner a hidden entrance leading into the apartments of Don Pedro. But
one step of her light feet, and Maria is in the presence of the king!

So lived for years this terrible beauty--a fan her sceptre, and love’s
seat her throne!

Some are born queens; others achieve greatness. There are peasant
princesses and baseborn empresses; sultanas of the buskin, and _kadines_
of the lute; modest violets, born in the purple, and imperial beauties
like the rose, unapproachable and supreme; but if ever a woman was
created to reign, it was this haughty and cynical tyrant who, under the
most enticing form, concealed a will of steel, remorseless, fearless,
merciless, and cold.

Maria has been called a witch, and her power over Don Pedro attributed
to magic, but she dealt in no charms save those that nature had bestowed
on her, and an intelligence far above her age.

Now she sits desolate, the pillared _miradores_ are closed, the heavy
curtains drawn. Not that it is night, for the summer sun blazes over the
city, and such as are abroad in the streets seek the narrow Moorish
alleys and the shadow of deep _patio_ gates to breathe.

But the lady of love is sorrowful. A heavy presentiment of evil is in
her soul. She has long known through her spies, that Albuquerque is
engaged in a conspiracy against her. What it exactly is she has been
long in finding out. Like Damocles’ sword it hung over her head, and now
she knows it! And a mad fury possesses her which she no longer cares to
control.

Not only has she overwhelmed Albuquerque with accusations, but she has
branded him as a traitor and renegade against the king.

Up to this time outward observances of courtesy have been observed
between them, especially in the presence of Don Pedro, but now words of
direct menace have passed, received on the part of Albuquerque in
dignified silence, as the paltry onslaught of an enemy he disdains.

It is war to the knife between the cool-headed minister and a passionate
woman, blinded by a sense of wrong to herself and the children she has
borne the king. Many weeks have passed since she has seen Don Pedro, who
left her in displeasure anent the burning question of his marriage. He
was going to hunt, he told her, in the mountains of Segovia, in obvious
subterfuge, for he had not been there at all, nor can she learn for
certain whether he is at Burgos or Valladolid, nor when he will return.
And this treatment from a lover, whom she has hitherto swayed with
absolute power!

As the name of Pedro rises to her lips, she raises herself and sits
upright.

“He dared to talk to me of marriage,” she cries, clenching her hands
until the henna-tipped fingers mark the palm. “Alliance with France!
Before, it was I who was to wear the crown; I, whose beauty he said was
to work miracles upon the people; I, whose craft was to sway his
councils; I, Maria de Padilla, to crush out rebellion, and now he would
bring in a stranger to put me to open shame--me and the son I have borne
him! Oh, Pedro! Pedro! Was it for this you lured me to you? No, no! This
wrong does not come from you, but from that crafty knave, Albuquerque,
who has been bribed to ruin me!”

As she spoke, all her tears seemed in an instant to dry up. Her face
grew dark, as she put back the long black hair that veiled her cheeks,
and gathered herself together where she lay.

“If it is a duel between us two, I accept it. One must fall. It shall
not be Maria de Padilla. To dare to bring a wife to Pedro. A wife! ha!
ha! Blanche of Bourbon! She shall never reign in Castile! I will prevent
it! Alliance, indeed, and marriage! I will light up such a war that they
shall curse the day they named her. What? Come into Spain to rob me of
my Pedro? Never! No, not if I call Beelzebub himself to help me!”

As she sits there, her widely opened eyes fixed on the shadowed
splendour of the walls, the gold, and the panels, the waving filagree
work, and the arches, she looks like a beautiful demon.

Then a flood of tender recollections comes to her. She thinks of the
first days when she came a young girl to her kinsman’s house in Seville,
how Albuquerque threw her in the king’s path as a humble flower he was
invited to pick up. The glory of his love, the triumph of her power,
almost a queen--more than a sultana--the crown within her grasp--and
now, fallen so low that he has left her without a word. Yes! He has
sacrificed her to his ambition; what more has she to hope? By this act
Albuquerque’s ascendancy is proclaimed. This royal marriage is a proof
of it. Pedro has many enemies--Aragon, Navarre, France, brothers and
ambitious nobles. Slowly the truth comes to her, and again she flings
herself back in an agony of despair. Again the fountain of her tears is
poured out. “Pedro! oh, Pedro!” is all she can utter.

As the king’s name passes her lips, a mailed hand puts back the arras
which hangs before the door, and he himself stands before her, the dark
steel helmet on his head, and the loose auburn locks worn long making
his naturally pallid face look whiter. Save for his breastplate, he is
in complete armour, travel-stained and mud-besplashed as one who had
ridden long and furiously. Nor does his countenance denote a mind at
ease. Every feature in his face betrays an anxiety and care seldom seen
there. Instead of that upright, masterful bearing which strikes fear
into his enemies, his manner of entering is hurried and agitated.

“You called me, Maria,” he says tenderly, gathering her prostrate form
into his arms, “and I am here.”

But ere the words have passed his lips, Maria has sprung to her feet.

“What, my lord!” she cries, with a mocking laugh, “so soon from
Valladolid? Where is the Lady Blanche? Have you tired of her already? Is
Albuquerque with you, listening behind the arras? If _he_ is a traitor
to me, _you_ are a greater.”

Then her mood changes, and tearing herself away from his outstretched
arms she flings herself back upon the divan. “Oh, you are cruel, cruel!”
she sobs. “For years you have enjoyed the treasure of my love--all I
could give you. Who swore to make me his queen before the Church? to
name my child his successor? And now you have wedded, stealthily,
secretly, treacherously, and Albuquerque has helped you! Oh, Pedro, you
have broken my heart! Go to your white-faced princess. She will deceive
you, as you have me. Let me go!” she shrieks, as the king endeavours to
draw her closer to him, and the sound of her voice echoes in the painted
vestibules as she struggles to free herself. “Touch me not. Not with a
finger. You shall not stay me; I will die as proudly as I have lived in
this palace where I have triumphed. Here, on this pavement our feet have
pressed so long together; within these halls where you have so often
dallied with me!”

Then, by a sudden movement flinging back the curtains, she rushes
forward into the open gallery of the _mirador_, but in an instant the
strong arms of Pedro are round her.

All that tenderness could devise he essays to calm her. Slowly and sadly
she yields to his touch, and listens to his entreaties for forgiveness.
No one could have recognised the cruel Pedro in this impassioned youth.
Truly it might be said she had bewitched him!

“Maria,” he whispers, covering her with kisses, as she lies faint and
exhausted in his arms, “believe me, if I am married, it is for your
good.”

“‘_My good_,’ false one? What good can come to me by losing you?”

“By making you greater than the queen!” answers, Pedro, looking down
with glowing eyes upon the lines of her exquisite figure, and that royal
contour of neck and brow that marks her supreme among women.

“But I _am_ queen,” she answers, looking up at him, as the colour
returns slowly to her cheeks. “YOUR queen. There is no other. Why did
you listen to Albuquerque and put that woman between us?”

“Ah! sweet love, why?” sighs the love-sick Pedro, his whole soul melting
as he gazes at the enchantress.

Who is like her? Who? By heaven, this black-browed Andalusian would put
the pale daughters of the north to shame, were she but a beggar!

“Yes, Maria, I hate Blanche of Bourbon as much as you! She shrank from
me with loathing. Not a smile, not a word--all were for Fadique, the
treacherous boy. _Por Dios!_ he shall be stripped of his honours, and
your brother Garcia shall take his place as Grand Master of Santiago. By
this time Fadique is on his way to Portugal. I have rooted out the
viper, and scorned the royal _demoiselle_. Mark that, Maria, _scorned
her_, and left her. Your voice called me and I am here. And I am glad of
it. Come what may. Let Du Guesclin and the French avenge her. Kings,
queens, and powers--though the whole world stands before me, I will have
none of her, I have sworn it on the Gospel.” And in a passion of newly
awakened love, he strains Maria to him in a wild embrace.

“But how can I trust you,” she whispers, her eyes meeting his. “You have
deceived me once, you may again.”

“But you are not the only one, Maria. I am also deceived, cajoled. _Por
Dios!_ my vengeance shall fall on more than her. Don Fadique--” He
paused.

“Away with these half-words,” cries Maria, the feeling of power coming
to her again as, eagerly seizing the king’s hands, she draws him to her
and brings her glowing face close to his. “What of Fadique? How could
you trust him?”

“Yes,” answers Pedro slowly. “The Judas! It was Albuquerque who insisted
on sending him as my proxy, ‘devoted to _me_,’ he said. Ha! ha!” and he
burst into a harsh laugh. “He met her at Narbonne, and passed the
nuptial ring on her finger. Let God judge the hand that smites her, for
smitten she shall be for her treason, and that speedily.”

“What?” cried Maria, her dark eyes kindling with light. “Do you really
mean----?”

“I mean what I say,” answers the king, sullenly. “The Queen of Castile
and Leon is not as a trump in a hand of cards to be passed from brother
to brother. It is a foul crime on my throne and person. At Valladolid I
saw it at a glance. So I took horse, and I am here. At least one woman
is true to me, and that is you, Maria.” And again he clasps her to his
breast. “Lie there, sweetheart, it is your home.”

“And Don Fadique?” asks Maria, her face hardening as she remembers how
the handsome Grand Master has always treated her with scant courtesy.
“Is he long to taste the bliss provided for him? Methinks that the sons
of Eleanor de Guzman live but to play tricks upon your Grace.”

“Would that they had but one neck,” roars Don Pedro, “that I could
finish them at a blow! Maria, I know you have a grudge against Fadique;
console yourself. A choice revenge awaits him and the Lady Blanche shall
pay for _all_!”

A gleam of hate passed into his eyes, and was reflected in those of
Maria, who, breathlessly listening, drank in every word.

“Some day, who knows? Life is short. A draught of Xeres wine--a silken
thread--even the too heavy pressure of a scarf. All these kill well
(accidentally of course) and may send the soul of Blanche to heaven! God
rest her soul! Do you say _Amen_, Maria? Ha! ha!”--how hollow and
mocking is his laugh!--“Are you happy now?” he asks, twisting her long
fingers in his own, and gazing at her with his full merciless eyes. “All
your enemies have fallen Maria; I wait but to strike sure.”

“And shall Blanche really die?” again whispers Maria, her eyes
glittering like a snake. “Die by some swift death? Swear it to me,
Pedro.”

He did not speak, but smiling down on her as he held her in one arm,
with his right hand, he unsheathed the jewelled dagger he wore beneath
his girdle, until the steel, catching a ray of sunlight imprisoned in
the dark room, flashes with a dangerous reflex.

“This shall settle all, love,” he answers. “Now let me go to the bath to
refresh me. See how the dust lies on me for I rode hard. I have done
sixty miles without drawing rein, with relays of

[Illustration: CHARLES V.--1519.]

horses, to come to you. Let me go,” as she clings to him as though
terrified to lose him. “We will meet anon in the gardens, and the
Moorish slaves from Granada shall dance to us.”

One more embrace, and he had picked up his plumed helmet and placed it
on his head, and down the narrow steps of the private stair his mailed
feet clanked.

Maria stood erect before the fountain which seemed to sing in the marble
basin to a wild rhythm as the spray fell, and such a murderous look came
upon her face as would have turned to stone all who were in her power.
Then, sounding a golden whistle, her slaves came running in, and with a
gesture she commanded that the curtains before the _mirador_ should be
withdrawn.

Like a conqueror, the setting sun comes blazing in, engulfing all the
gorgeous tints of wall, dome, draperies, and pavement in its rays, while
cythers, flutes, and viols make harmony without--she, moving to her
toilette, as one whose thoughts are far away, while the long locks of
her ebon hair are delicately smoothed with golden combs before a silver
mirror, ere she descends to the garden to join the king.



CHAPTER VIII

Don Fadique Goes to Seville


The Grand Master Don Fadique was not with his brother Enrique. In the
first moment of his flight from Valladolid he had crossed the frontier
into Portugal.

There, among goatherds and shepherds, for awhile he lay concealed, and
when reflection came to him in this solitude, his conscience sorely
pricked him for his disloyalty to the king. Whatever punishment his
brother and sovereign inflicted on him he felt would be his due. It was
not that he mistook Don Pedro’s mind in his treatment of the Lady
Blanche, nor did his love and pity for her suffer any diminution, but he
could not rid himself of the conviction that he had been a traitor.
Blanche’s innocence alone had preserved him from a crime.

His upright and loyal nature revolted against the thought, and in his
flight, as he struck the rowels into the glossy sides of the sorrel
jennet on which he was mounted, causing it to rear and prance, he felt
he could not put distance enough between himself and the dear object of
his love.

Poor Blanche! Sweet Blanche! Where was she now? How fared it with her?
Did she love him still? And then he checked himself for these guilty
thoughts, and drawing from his doublet his jewelled rosary, he vainly
tried to drown his thoughts in prayer.

Arrived within the strong fortress of Coimbra, on the coast of Portugal,
he heard that his brother Enrique was advancing, at the head of an army,
on Toledo, while Don Pedro lingered inactive at Seville. This seemed
most strange!

There were rumours that he was waiting for the advance of the English to
support him against the French king, furious at the imprisonment of
Blanche in the castle of Talavera on the Tagus.

At length a royal messenger arrived at Coimbra direct from the king, an
honourable messenger, wearing the _noda_ and _banda_, the bearer of a
letter from Don Pedro.

“Come to Seville,” he wrote, “dear brother, and let us live at peace. I
am about to hold a tourney and tilt of reeds on the plains of the
Guadalquivir, near the city, and I can ill lack the absence of the Grand
Master of Santiago among my knights. A friendly greeting to you, and a
safe conduct on the road. Your quarters are at the Alcazar at Seville,
from whence I write.--PEDRO.”

“And I will go!” cried Don Fadique. “It may perhaps give me the occasion
to help the queen. Perhaps Pedro has come to a better mind; he changes
suddenly. Or it may be that at this time of risings and rebellions, he
may desire the support of the knights of Santiago and the presence of
their Grand Master.”

Those of his friends and attendants at Coimbra strove vainly to dissuade
him from putting faith in the friendship of the king. It was, at best,
they represented, a rash resolve, especially to go to Seville and the
Alcazar. If he would join him, let them meet in the open camp, not put
himself into danger within a palace inhabited by Maria de Padilla.

At this Don Fadique grew wroth. “What!” he answered, “do you take me for
a craven that cannot defend himself? Maybe, surrounded by enemies, he
may think of me more kindly. Read the gracious words. Look at the royal
messenger, whom we all know as a man who would not lend himself to fraud
or treachery. My brother generously sets me free, and I can use that
freedom as well at Seville as at any other place. Let Maria de Padilla
do her worst. Rather than consume my life in this fortress, I would face
the devil himself. Enrique may join with the enemies of Castile and
bring Du Guesclin’s free lances to spoil the land, but my place is by my
brother in tournament or battle--I will go!”

Buckling on his richest suit of armour, over which he wore the short
crimson mantle of his order, with the cross of Santiago embroidered on
his breast, he set forth, accompanied by a goodly band of followers
hastily armed; also with him he took a little page, his foster-brother,
who had never left him, and loved him with the affection of a child.

On the eighth day from his departure he reached the banks of the Tagus,
at an old town called Castel Bianco, where he rested.

Now the tale runs, and I will neither deny nor assert it, that the Grand
Master received here a message from Queen Blanche, informing him how
near she was, and that at night he went out disguised, and, taking a
boat, dropped down the river to Talavera, and there saw the Lady
Blanche, thanks to the complaisance of the gallant governor--who was so
wildly in love with Claire, he could refuse her nothing. This is _said_,
and that a plan of escape was formed by which Blanche could reach
Toledo, on which the French were advancing to reinforce the army of Don
Enrique el Cavalier, and that Don Fadique at Seville should apprise her
of Don Pedro’s movements by means of the little page.

Speaking personally, I do not believe that the Grand Master ever went to
the castle or saw Blanche at all, after the remorse he had felt and the
confessions he had made, to say nothing of the danger to the queen if
Don Pedro found it out. And Don Pedro did find out everything in the
most extraordinary way, as people said, by black magic, and that Maria
de Padilla looked upon a crystal and saw all she desired to tell the
king.



CHAPTER IX

Murder of Don Fadique


On the fifteenth day from his departure from Coimbra, Don Fadique beheld
the domes and pinnacles of Seville--proud Seville as it is called--the
Empress of the Plains.

The weather is dark and stormy. Even in the sunny South such changes
occur, especially towards the equinox, to which the time approaches. As
far as the eye can reach black clouds drive angrily before a northern
blast, rushing as it were to bank themselves together towards the sea,
and the wind rattles among the windows of the few pleasure-houses which
stand outside the walls, swaying the fronds of the palms and the bamboos
as if to tear them from the ground.

By the time Don Fadique, riding faster and faster, has reached the fork
in the road beside the Hospital del Sangre, the heavens look like a
second Deluge.

“Cover yourself well, my boy,” said he to the little page, as he drew
his own dark _manto_ over his armour. “The hurricane will be soon upon
us. We shall be fortunate if we reach the Alcazar in time.”

As they passed what are now the boulevards, such trees as there were
swayed and bowed to the fierce blast, and quickly succeeding thunder was
heard among the hills. Not a sound reached them as they struck through
the streets to where the beautiful cathedral stands, consecrated as a
Christian church by Fernando el Santo, and as yet but little altered
from the mosque it was before.

It was part of Don Pedro’s policy in all things to favour the Moors.
Indeed, there were times in his strange moods when he swore he was a
Mohammedan himself.

As the herald sounds his trumpet-call before the gate of the Alcazar,
waiting for the portcullis to be raised, an aged pilgrim in tattered
raiment rises up suddenly before Fadique.

“Turn back, my son. Turn while you may,” and he lays his hand on his
horse’s bridle. “Take warning by the heavens! The elements are at war.
So is man. For the sake of your dead mother I speak. Enter not the
Alcazar. Warned by a vision, I girded up my loins, and have walked from
the Sierra Morena here. As the blood of Eleanor de Guzman was shed on
the stones of Seville, so shall be yours.”

“I heed you not, old man,” answered Don Fadique, shaking him off
impatiently, provoked at his insistence in barring his progress. “Hie
you back whither you came. My brother has bid me to Seville, and I am
come,” and with that he spurred his horse forward; but the noble
animal, as though scenting some evil influence in the air, pranced and
plunged, and with the utmost difficulty was prevented from turning back.

Again the trumpet sounds a shrill blast. In vain! The Alcazar seems
turned into a castle of the dead. No guards are upon the walls, no
soldiers on the lookout in the Moorish towers which flank the
portcullis. To the summons of the men-at-arms no response is given; the
royal standard is not lowered as to an Infante Grand Master of Santiago,
nor is there any answer to the reiterated knocking of the little page
with the hilt of his sword upon the thickly barred panels of the door.
Dismally does the blue-eyed boy look up at his master, a whole soul of
love in his eyes, as if gazing at him for the last time, and loudly do
his followers murmur to each other at the strange lack of welcome.

Nor can Don Fadique account for it. Growing impatient as the rain begins
to fall, he looks about him on all sides. There is no preparation for
the tournament of which the letter of Don Pedro spoke. No line of tents
along the river bank with rich devices, or pinnacles of silken pavilions
dressed with colours and flags breaking the long lines of the Huerta.
The streets are silent and empty as the rain now pours down; the vast
mosque stands isolated and solitary, veiled by rising mists. No eager
crowd gathers round the Puerta del Sol or in the court of the Naranjos,
as when festivals and ceremonies draw strangers to Seville. The howling
of a dog alone breaks the silence.

At length, with no outward sign, the portcullis is slowly raised, and
Don Fadique, spurring his horse, gallops in, but rapidly the great
panels sink again, shutting out all his train. As the clink of the iron
bolt is heard falling into the staples, a shrill cry of agony rises in
the air. The hand of the little page who followed him on foot has been
severed from the wrist as he hung onto Don Fadique’s bridle, and lies
upon the stones before him.

Don Fadique is alone; no return is possible; his heart sinks within him
at the sight, but he can neither help the poor page shut outside, nor
liberate himself. It is too late.

Within the Patio de la Monteria the shadows of the Moorish arches rise
black in the darkness of the storm, all save the portal of Don Pedro,
which blazes out tier upon tier up to the gilded dome.

More and more astonished, Don Fadique dismounts and fastens his horse’s
bridle to an iron hook in one of the pillars, and looks round, the
glossy-skinned animal giving a whinny of delight as he passes his hand
mechanically over its sleek neck. It is the last token of affection he
is destined to receive!

Suddenly a burst of shrill laughter from the long row of _miradores_
over the portal arouses him to a full sense of his danger. That he has
been betrayed by his brother is certain.

As a drowning man is said in an instant to review all his former life,
so Don Fadique recalled the many warnings of evil which had come to him,
renewed even at the gate of the Alcazar.

Still his gallant heart did not fail, but when he saw above at the
_mirador_ a dark-haired lady leaning out with lustrous eyes, a chill
shot through his veins. He felt that his end was near.

Then in the midst of the rattle of the storm, the roll of the thunder,
and the quickly succeeding flashes of lightning, there arises a sudden
uproar, the clash of weapons, and the heavy tread of mailed feet. Nor
has Don Fadique long to wait to assure himself of the welcome Don Pedro
has prepared for him.

From under the glowing shadows of the golden portal, a band of armed men
rush forth, who drag him forward through tapestried doorways to dimly
gorgeous ante-chambers with deeply sunk cedar ceilings overhead, into
suites of halls lined with painted panels and _azulejo_ tiles darkly
resplendent in escutcheons of castle, lion, bar, tower, and that
mysterious _nodo_ which clasps Aragon with Spain,--into the precincts of
the great Patio de las Doncellas, so purely beautiful in the whiteness
of its lacy arcades.

There, upon the Caliph’s burnished throne, sits Don Pedro, a canopy of
gold over his head and damascened draperies behind. A terrible frown
knits his brow and his eyes are dilated with rage, but Don Fadique does
not heed. Forcing back the guards, he flings himself upon his knees
before him.

“Brother! brother!” he cries, “what means this hostile array? I have
come upon your word. Tell me that you have not deceived me!”

“Stand off, bold traitor!” answers the king savagely, casting him from
him. “Have you forgotten your perfidy at Narbonne? Do you think I did
not know that, and all else? Were you fool enough to imagine that I
loved you?” and as he speaks he breaks into one of those fiendish peals
of laughter, ever so terrible a climax to his wrath. “Surely, if the
Lady Blanche is your leman, you are ready to shed your blood for her
sake?”

Before this burst of passion the Grand Master stands as if turned to
stone.

“What!” continues Don Pedro, ascribing his silence to fear. “Does your
heart fail you in my presence? If so it is well,” and he arises as if
about to rush upon him.

“Do with me as you list, brother!” answers the Grand Master, “but I
swear to you, by this symbol of the living Christ"--and he raises the
jewelled cross of his sword high in the air--“for me, the queen is as
pure as when she left her mother. Let him who says other stand forth.”
With that, tearing his mailed glove from his hand, he flings it upon the
floor, the scales of the metal ringing on the marble. “Don Pedro of
Castile, will you cross swords with me?” he asks, advancing to the foot
of the throne where Don Pedro has seated himself, his eyes gleaming with
fury. “By my faith!” and scorn is in Don Fadique’s voice, “you do well
not to defend so vile a charge. Blood enough has flowed--my mother’s, my
little brother’s, and now my own, whom you have lured here treacherously
to slay. Oh! shame and disgrace of knighthood!”

“Miscreant!” roars Don Pedro, wounded to the quick at this reproach.
“Prepare to die! On earth your time is short, and, _por Dios!_ you
deserve your fate, you smooth-faced hypocrite! Better to be an open foe
like Enrique, than a caitiff conspirator! Out on you, you bastard! I
will not cross swords with you!”

Stung by his insolence, Don Fadique is rushing upon him, when Don Garcia
de Padilla interposes from behind and holds him back.

“Señor Infante, Grand Master of Santiago, you are my prisoner,” he says,
laying his hand on his shoulder, and the men-at-arms move forward from
the entrance to where he stands.

“I am no man’s prisoner!” cries Don Fadique, putting his hand on his
sword. “If all were as faithful to the king, he would have truer
followers than he has. Nor shall you take me, vile instrument of a
strumpet’s vengeance,” turning to draw his weapon upon Don Garcia, but
the hilt of the sword had become so entangled in the embroidered scarf
he wears, taken from the queen at Valladolid, nothing will move it.

[Illustration: A VIEW IN ARANJUEZ.]

“Officers,” commands the king, rising from the throne and passing on
through the gilded arches into the Hall of the Ambassadors beyond, with
that majesty he knows so well how to assume--“do your duty.”

But the guards held back, spite of the order of the king. Don Fadique
was an Infante, a great caballero, almost equal to Don Pedro, the Grand
Master of Santiago, and moreover, though unarmed, boldly facing them.

“Traitors!” exclaims Don Garcia, drawing his rapier, “do you hesitate?”
Then they all fell on Don Fadique, and a struggle for life ensued.

“God and Santiago to my aid!” cries Fadique, rushing from side to side
of the open _patio_ pursued by the men-at-arms, Don Garcia all the while
standing in his place, and Don Pedro from behind the arches suddenly
appearing, and shouting out: “At him! At him! Traitor and bastard! Kill
him!”

At last, one of the officers--Hermanes by name, excited by the anger of
the king, and seeing that the others were but half-hearted in their
attack, touched by the desperate defence of an unarmed man--struck Don
Fadique such a blow on the shoulder as felled him to the ground, with
his face downwards, the rest falling on him until he died, his long
auburn hair, clotted with blood, making a glory round him where he lay.

From the depths of the _patio_ Maria de Padilla appeared, her taper
fingers clasping the pearl embroideries of her long robe with such
force, that as she moved she strewed them on the floor. She had seen
all, hidden by the panels of a Moorish door.

Not for an instant had Don Fadique escaped her, from the moment he
entered the Court of the Monteria until his mutilated body lay before
her. He was her prey. Now she could assure herself that life was gone.
In the calm of death he was beautiful, the last agony only marked in the
widely open eyes, full of defiance, and the bloodless lips parted as
with a groan.

So like was the dead face to Don Pedro, that for an instant Maria’s
heart melted, and she turned away.

“What, Maria,” exclaimed Don Pedro, sneeringly, “fear you to look on the
face of a dead enemy? Rather tremble before a living one! The boy is
dead; all traitors deserve to die”; and advancing from where he stood in
the archway, he spurned the body with his foot, laying bare the pool of
blood in which it lay.

And strange to say, after the lapse of five centuries, the stain is
there on the marble pavement _still_, close under three clustered
pillars of green porphyry, supporting a richly worked Moorish arch.

But before Maria can reply, a shrill cry rises from the white pillars
that makes the _patio_ ring, and an ancient dame hurries forward, and
with her stick puts back the guards who stand around.

With a horrified glance at the upturned face of the dead Grand Master,
she turns upon the king:

“What bloody work is this, Don Pedro? I have a right to ask, for I
reared you both at my breast. Oh! my child, my child!” sinking down
beside him on the ground, and tenderly gathering the dead form in her
arms. “Oh, my Fadique, my little one. So much you were alike, the
queen-mother only knew you from the crown embroidered on Pedro’s robe.
Even the queen loved the boy.” Then with a piercing shriek she raises
herself from the ground, and her sunken eyes travel round upon the
group, first on the king, then on Maria de Padilla. “Let the hand that
struck him be accursed!”

“He was my enemy, and I killed him,” answers Don Pedro, but he did not
chide her, nor question her right to speak.

“It is that accursed woman!” and the nurse raises her bony fingers and
points towards Maria as her tall figure disappears in the deep shadow of
the arches. “May Satan take her! And that soon! She has falsely accused
him. Oh, Pedro! I loved you as much as him. Now I curse you, you cruel
king! By the same bloody death shall you also die. The witch!” shaking
her fist towards the spot where Maria has vanished; “a thousand such as
_she_ may be found in Spain, but who will replace the true brother that
you have lost?” As she speaks, a strange fire shines in her dim eyes,
and her wrinkled face is transfigured with a sudden light. The voice in
which she speaks seems not her own, but strong and vigorous, as though a
wave of youth had passed over her.

“I have spoken,” and she fell prostrate on the body of Don Fadique as
the captain of the guard drew his sword, as if to smite her, and his men
made a circle round.

“Ask the king if I shall die,” turning to Don Pedro, who has covered his
face with his hands. “I care not, but let me lay him on my breast. Oh!
child of my love, the youngest and the best!”

“Harm her not, Ruy Gomez,” orders the king, “and let her go.” And in
deep thought he turns away.

In his general contempt for all mankind, the king held his nurse in
great esteem. When he was sick or wounded she tended him, and in his
darkest moods she could approach him when others fled.

But for his promise to Maria de Padilla, he would never have slain a
brother who came in peace, under his roof, and now another is to die
likewise; he had given her his word. Thinking of all this his brow grew
dark as he mounted the secret stair which led into his retiring-room,
with the skeleton heads of the four unjust judges hung over the door.

No one dared enter, and for three days and nights he lay there in
darkness.



CHAPTER X

Don Pedro--Alcazar--The Queen-Mother--Maria de Padilla


The Hall of the Ambassadors, literally a blaze of iris hues and gold, is
crowned by a lofty dome, and sheeted with a Moorish mosaic of
mother-of-pearl and crystal.

Around range the medallions of the ancient Gothic kings, over four
golden-barred balconies breaking the richness of the wall, dividing
triply-grouped arches, light as dreams, resting on pillars of green and
red porphyry, so tall and slender it seems as if a breath would shatter
them.

From an open portal is disclosed a palace garden flushed with roses, and
bordered by blossoming orange-trees, set in large porcelain pots.
Butterflies flutter round delicate fountains banked up with tropical
plants exquisite in perfume, and long vistas of bowery walks exclude the
sun.

A warm and genial air beats in from without, and permeates around. Nor
is the fairness of the earth less than the brightness of the
sky--intensely blue, not a cloud visible; and although the Alcazar
stands in the midst of a noisy city, the silence and solitude are
complete.

Everything in this apartment is disposed for the king. He is greatly
changed. A mortal illness has seized him, and he has barely escaped with
his life. As he moves feebly along the marble floor, he is supported on
either side by Don Juan de Mañara and Garcia de Padilla, then sinks
exhausted upon a pile of eastern cushions prepared for him on an
_estrado_. Naturally the two favourites, who tend him with anxious care,
hate each other with the deadly bitterness of rivals, ever on the watch
to turn every word and action against each other; especially Garcia de
Padilla, a coarse likeness of his beautiful sister, always on the
lookout for his own interests, and ready to pander to the basest vices
of the king.

It would really seem as if the prayers and litanies offered up for Don
Pedro’s life (especially by his Jewish subjects, whom he greatly
favours) have been efficacious in saving his life.

Pale and feeble as he now appears, the steely hardness of his blue eyes
is even more remarkable than in health, and the harsh intonation of his
voice comes with a strange vigour from one so weak.

As he sinks exhausted on a divan, a waft of music comes from the _patio_
without, a twanging of guitars deftly handled, and the silver tone of
viols, with the clapping of hands of the Nubian slaves who swarm in the
palace; the music ever and anon broken by the soft tones of a lute,
played with infinite skill by a Moorish captive, whose nimble fingers
mark and accentuate the rhythm.

“What do the fools mean?” demands Don Pedro, as burst after burst of
music penetrates into the hall.

“Rejoicing, my lord,” answers Garcia, “at your Highness’s happy
recovery.”

“Recovery--_por Dios!_ and it was time, unless I was to chant the rest
of my life in purgatory. Is it true that, counting on the report of my
death, the bastard Enrique has had himself crowned at Toledo, and struts
at the Alcazar like any peacock? Can it be possible my brain is weak? or
was it a dream in my delirium?”

A silence follows, which neither the supple Garcia nor the politic Don
Juan cares to break. Absolute quiet has been enjoined. Yet it is as much
as their heads are worth not to reply.

“If you do not find your tongues quickly, my friends, the axe shall
silence them for ever. Ho! slave,” and with a loud sound, he strikes
with a handle of iron on a plate of steel.

In an instant the music ceases, and a gigantic Nubian, perfectly
unclothed, appears armed with a marble-hilted javelin.

Something in the sudden apparition of this grotesque figure, as if the
earth had opened to cast him forth, so strikes the fancy of the king
that he laughs aloud.

“Begone, Hassan,” he says, “I did but jest; the necks of my loving
companions are precious. But, _amigos mios_, I counsel you, trifle not
with me. I am patient at no time, and now that my reason is scarcely
settled from the disturbance it has had, I am dangerous to play with.”

“Play with!” replies Don Juan, who cares little for threats of any kind.
“God forbid! Your Grace knows I fear nought. You shall judge of my
faithfulness, for I am here ready to answer all you please to ask.”

“How _here_?” asks Don Pedro, reddening with a sudden flush. “Where else
should you be?”

“Why, with the new king at Toledo,” promptly answers Mañara, nettled at
the mention of the axe. “The new king, who is crowned by right and
authority of the Holy Father, Urban V.; Don Pedro of Castile being
legally and civilly defunct, by reason of the ban of excommunication
pronounced against him, it is the fashion now to cry, ‘Long live _El Rey
Enrique el Caballero_.’ Perhaps your Grace did not know that you were
already dead?”

As he speaks an ashy pallor spreads over the king’s face, and out of his
bloodless lips the words come thickly:

“So, so, at Toledo!” he gasps, clenching his hands in the cushions at
his head. “Crowned? My brain turns. It was not a dream?”

“By my faith, no, an army is encamped outside on the Tagus, a garrison
within. The troops a little mixed in nationality it is true, but the
promise of the support of the great companies under Du Guesclin, to be
sent to restore the Lady Blanche----”

“Restore the Lady Blanche? Why, she is locked up in the castle of
Talavera, out of which no woman ever came alive. It is you, Don Juan,
who play the fool!” exclaims Pedro, raising himself up, and seizing him
savagely by the shoulder. “By the living Christ! your life is in my
hand.”

“I care not,” is the retort, shaking off the king’s hand, who, weaker
than he deems himself, falls back muttering curses. “Your Grace has
questioned me, I tell the truth. Don Enrique holds Toledo, the Lady
Blanche is with him. Here is Don Garcia, ask him, if you doubt me. The
queen, your mother, had no power to march troops against the Conde de
Trastamare while you lay between life and death.”

As he speaks, a sullen fury falls on the king. He sits perfectly
motionless, his head pressed between his hands.

“Call hither the Lady Padilla,” he says, in a voice so veiled it is
scarcely audible.

So quickly did her presence answer the summons it would seem as though
she had been hiding near at hand. Her dark face shone out against the
glitter of the many-hued hall. A long white robe falls to her feet, and
she waits until the king addresses her.

“In my sickness, Maria,” says Don Pedro, in a voice that still sounds
unfamiliar to those around (Maria starts with an alarmed glance and
looks at him), “you tended me night and day. Why were you silent on what
touches me so nearly as the advance of Enrique upon Toledo and the
escape of the queen?”

“Because,” answers Maria, her eyes softening into a glance of ineffable
love, “your life was dearer to me than all else. What did it matter if
the Bastard reigned from the Pyrenees to the Pillars of Hercules if my
Pedro died?”

“There spoke the true woman!” exclaims the king. “Now, by my faith, you
have conquered me, Maria, quite.” Then taking her hand, he draws her
down upon the seat beside him.

“Listen to me, Juan and Garcia,” turning to them, “you know me, I am _El
Rey Justiciar_. In evidence of the love I bear this lady, and to put to
rest once for all any questions which might arise by reason of the many
traitors around me, at my death, I declare as successor to the throne of
Castile, the Infante Alonso, Maria de Padilla’s son. At the earliest
moment our ministers shall ratify the act, and call on my nobles to do
homage to him as my heir. Are you satisfied now, sweet one? This will
seal the bond,” and he draws her face, glowing with triumph, towards his
own, and impresses a kiss on her warm lips.

“And Blanche?” whispers Maria in an undertone, but not so low but that
both Don Juan and her brother hear.

[Illustration: ON THE DARRO.

From an etching by Samuel Colman.]

“Ah, Maria, will you still keep me to my bargain?” answers Don Pedro,
with a sigh.

“Yes,” quickly responds Maria, “I do, especially now that she is at
large.”

“At large? I cannot believe it. But, Maria--Blanche, divorced and
dishonoured, cannot harm you. I shall never set eyes on her again.”

“Yes, sire, but as long as she lives, she will raise up France against
you.”

“And if she dies, do you think they will let me bide?”

“My sister,” puts in Don Garcia, “leave the matter to the judgment of
the king. Urge him no more, I pray you, at a moment he has, by such a
signal act of favour, named your child successor to the throne.”

“Truly, I love not Blanche,” says Don Pedro, “I will speedily take
Toledo, and imprison her where she shall not escape. But _her life_----”

“Yes, _her life_!” cries Maria, rising from the _estrado_. “It is mine,
you promised me. I claim it.”

“Now, _por Dios_, Maria, but you press me sore. Is it that you seek to
be queen yourself?”

“Perhaps,” she answers, carelessly. “What if I do? Have you not told me
a thousand times I was born to wear a crown?”

“This is no time for trifling,” answers Don Pedro, sternly. “I have made
your son a future king. Let that suffice. The blood of Fadique clings to
me still. I saw him in my fever, there, outside, in the _patio_, where
he fell bathed in blood. And now another ghost will haunt me in that
pale-faced _demoiselle_. So nearly had I passed into the silent land
beyond the grave that to my weakened brain shadows came to me as real. I
fain would add no more to that dim company which rise up in the silent
night to curse me.”

As the words pass his lips, a page, fancifully attired as an Eastern
slave, appears between the golden pillars of the hall, and, after
prostrating himself on the ground, raises his arms aloft in Moorish
fashion, and announces: “The queen-mother.”

Hastily advancing, Mary of Portugal stands before her son. On her face
are the signs of deep emotion, almost of terror, as she hastily observes
the impression her presence has produced.

“My son,” she says, in a low voice, “my son,” and as she speaks the
words she stretches out her arms to embrace him. Then raising her head,
her eyes fall upon the figure of Maria de Padilla, erect in the shadow
behind, and in a moment the words she was about to utter die on her
lips, and a tremor passes over her.

“You here!” her face flushing crimson, “you--Jezebel--that come between
my son and me. I might have guessed it. I came to speak of mercy, before
you who live by blood. Of honour--to one who never knew the word. Well
do I know you and the current of your thoughts, and that you would
prompt my son to an act of cruelty that will shake his very throne, and
place him in the certainty of an alliance of vengeance.”

Silent, inscrutable, stands Maria, but Don Pedro interposes: “To what
action do you allude, my mother?” he asks.

“What!” answers the queen, exasperated by his manner. “The intended
murder of Blanche, in order that she may reign.”

“And if so,” comes from Maria, in a deep-toned voice, “Doña Maria, the
Queen, what is that to you?”

“I speak not to you,” is Mary’s answer, her passion waxing hot. “I am
here to address my son. Think you, sire, the Queen of France will hear
unmoved that her sister’s life has been sacrificed to _her_? That the
alliance on which you count, of Aragon and Navarre, will stand when the
hosts of France, led by Du Guesclin, shall scour Castile? Already a new
king has risen in Toledo who rests his title on this royal lady’s name
whom this false woman would lead you to sacrifice. Restore to Blanche
her rights, and the league against you will fall asunder.”

“Madam,” answered Don Pedro, “I am the guardian of the crown I wear.
Meanwhile, I warn you,” and he broke off to give one of those strange
discordant laughs, “that, like my sainted father, your husband, beauty
with me is paramount. She whom nature crowns is queen. Behold her here,”
taking Maria by the hand. “I command you, therefore, Doña Maria, my
mother, in my presence to treat the Lady Padilla with the respect her
many charms command. To me she is the brightest jewel in my crown, and I
will prove it, too, shortly to you and all the world.”

As he paused, the queen’s countenance fell, and her whole attitude
changed. Exposed to the full battery of Maria’s insolent eyes, it was
_she_ who appeared the suppliant, and _Maria_ the queen.

“My son,” she says, speaking in a very different tone to that she used
on entering, “will you not grant me the same power of speech you accord
to the least of your subjects?”

“Have you any more to say, madam?” he asks, turning wearily from her.
“If not, the audience is ended. When I stood in need of help in my fever
and lay between life and death, you feared to enter.”

“Oh, Pedro,” cries the unhappy mother, the tears streaming down her
face, “believe it not. On my knees I entreated that fiend who rules you
to let me pass, and she barred my access by the guards, whom she had the
insolence to command to arrest the mother of their king! It was I, as
self-appointed regent, that have kept the realm together when it was
believed that you were dead! That you find any troops or treasure is due
to _me_.

“Ah! Pedro,” she continues, advancing to where he lay, and seizing one
of his unwilling hands, “let us speak together alone. I would convince
you that in sparing the life of Blanche you insure your own;” and she
turns such an imploring glance at him, that it touches even his hard
heart.

“Will it please you, fair lady, to give place for a short space to the
queen-mother?” says Don Pedro, addressing Maria, whose attitude has
never changed.

“Whatever your Grace commands shall be my duty to obey,” is her answer,
the submission of her words contrasting strangely with the dark scowl
which knits her brow.

“Be it so, sweetheart. I have that to say touching yourself, which will
surprise her. It were best said in your absence.” And rising feebly
upright, he leads her by the hand into the inner _patio_, and lover-like
kisses her hand.

At this moment, Garcia de Padilla, who has remained an unobserved
witness of the interview, rushes forward, and, with effusive courtesy,
offers his arm to the king to assist him to his seat, bows to the
ground, and is lost to view among the pillars.

Then, resuming the conversation with the queen: “You forget, my mother,”
says Don Pedro, as he places her beside him (it is said, he never was
more dangerous than when he assumed a gracious air), “that this
_demoiselle_ of France, who bears my name, has been convicted of incest
with my brother Fadique by a council of bishops appointed for that
purpose, and that, far from being a prisoner, she is at this moment
free, in the city of Toledo, under the chivalric custody of my rival
and successor, Enrique el Caballero. You forget I am superseded,
dishonoured. Ha! ha! Yes! dishonoured by these bastards, whom you had
not the sense to wring the necks of, when they were young.”

“Yes, Pedro, but I am confident all this will be set right. I have
received such assurance during your illness, from Toledo, that I know
you will overcome your brother whenever you take the field. As to
Blanche----”

“Yes, madam,” interrupting her, “but as yet I am too weak to wield a
weapon. I think you can have little to say to me,” he adds coldly, “that
the Lady Padilla could not hear. It is her son I have named my
successor, and the lady declares she is my lawful wife. What if I
proclaim her such to the assembled Cortes?”

“Mother of God!” cries the queen, clasping her hands, a look of absolute
horror on her face, “give me patience! To be so mocked at by my son!
Such madness is impossible!”

“Not a whit! Not a whit!” he exclaims, facing the infuriated queen.
“Now, by the heavens above, Blanche of Bourbon shall die! And speedily
too! My mind is made up.”

Alas! The strain upon the unhappy mother is too great. As the king
utters these words, she staggers backwards, a deadly pallor overspreads
her face, and with a wild cry of “My son! My son!” holding out her arms
in the vain hope of his support, she falls fainting on the floor, and is
borne away by her ladies waiting without in the _Patio de las
Doncellas_.



CHAPTER XI

A New King--Enrique de Trastamare


Again we are at Toledo, on the banks of the dark Tagus, a river full and
strong, flowing for three hundred and seventy-three miles from the
lonely mountains of Biscay to the port of Lisbon.

The wild and melancholy Tagus! A very river of fate, now darkly rushing
beside blackening rocks, now meandering sweetly by the meadows of the
Huerta del Rey, whispering by the Baths of Florinda under King Wamba’s
old palace, or turning the Moorish mills which still supply the city
with corn.

Many and many a tale could old Tagus tell of races come and gone since
the Jews fled to Tarshish when Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar,
but black and silent it goes its way under the walls of the stuccoed
palace of the Taller del Moro, where all the guests bidden to a festival
were slain; the Gothic-towered church of San Juan de los Reyes, with its
masses of votive chains hung outside, and the ancient synagogues of La
Blanca and El Transido, trellised with honeycombed carvings on the
walls, the Holy of Holies shrouded by eastern veils. An arch-ancient
river, as one may say, looking into streets so narrow that Roman consuls
and Gothic kings had to pass on foot or in litters.

Hebrews, Romans, Goths, and Moors have possessed Toledo, but of all it
is the Moor who has most left his mark. Moorish is the Puerta del Sol by
which you enter, a magnificent Arab arch blazing in the sun, and Moorish
is the Alcazar which crowns the hill with its long façade of _miradores_
and towers.

Here the new king, Enrique de Trastamare--by his own election--holds his
court, accompanied by that great minister, Albuquerque, who has turned
against his late master, Don Pedro, and the powerful northern noble, Don
Rodrique Alvarez, who devotes his riches and his weapons to his cause.

From the first, Enrique wisely threw in his chance with the northern
powers, and now the repudiation and imprisonment of Queen Blanche has
given a new strength to his alliance.

The ire of the French king is greatly roused by the ill-usage of his
sister-in-law; Navarre is with him to a man, and Aragon friendly.

To many, Enrique has come as a saviour to a much-tormented land. No one
was safe from the attacks of Don Pedro, and his own discontented
subjects appealed to the Pope, who has placed Castile under an
interdict.

If Don Pedro dies, his brother will undoubtedly succeed him. If he
lives, he is strong enough to fight him. As yet but a few of his allies
have joined him, but report says he is speedily to be reinforced by _Les
Grandes Compagnies_ under the Constable Bertrand du Guesclin, so that
the bold step of marching on Toledo was not so foolhardy an enterprise
as it appears.

The adjacent hills are white with his tents, and squadrons of horse are
posted low down on the banks of the Tagus to guard the bridge and the
Moorish mills which supply the city with bread.

His flag--a tower on a red ground--proudly floats over the city, and
men-at-arms, bowmen, soldiers, knights, and that promiscuous rabble
which follows a camp, pass and repass through the narrow streets, where,
side by side with the rich fruits and products of the land are
locksmiths and workers in steel blades as thin and fine as a needle, yet
more fatal than an axe, the heavier scimitars and broadswords in common
use, and hamps and chains and locks; painters who expose gaudy
likenesses of saints and madonnas; moulders of Moorish _azulejo_ tiles,
the deep rich colour lighting up the dark holes which serve for shops;
skilled wood-carvers of roofs and spandrels, crests and medallions;
workers in brass with forge and file; and carpenters with planks of wood
and heaps of shavings--all these different trades piled pell-mell on
each other.

In hot weather an awning is stretched across the _calle_, where a big
tree leans out, serving as a lounge for Asturian porters, ready to bear
any weight, close to a blank wall, with an elaborate doorway sunk into
the soil, and green with mildew, leading to a synagogue up a narrow
alley.

In front a _paseo_, or plaza, is planted with rows of trees, overhanging
the gorge of the Tagus, and rough benches are set, on which two Jews are
seated engaged in earnest talk.

Although under the rule of Don Pedro the Jews are in such favour that it
is said by his enemies he has adopted their faith, they still, from
habit, wear their national dress, a long, loosely-fitting gabardine with
a girdle, long yellow boots lined with fur, and a high, square cap of a
peculiar cut.

Such is the costume of the two men; the elder, Father Isaac, with the
aquiline nose and piercing black eyes of his nation, his thin features
ending in a long beard; the younger, Cornelius, of the same type, but
ruddier and stouter, and with far less distinction in his coarse
physiognomy.

“By the God of Abraham, El Caballero Don Enrique shall rue it!” speaks
this one in a louder tone, seeing that the plaza is utterly deserted for
the street, the hum of which reaches them dimly, broken by the continual
chiming of the bells from the cathedral close by. “His entrance into the
city was a surprise. Without that renegade Ben Hassan’s help, he could
not have kept his unruly troops together--already the Aragonese had
threatened to go back. And now he is safe in the Alcazar, and refuses
to meet the bond. ‘_He will pay when he is at Seville_,’ he says,--very
fine!”

“At Seville he will never be,” answers the elder Jew in a lower tone, a
gleam of hatred lighting up his deep-set eyes, “at least, while Don
Pedro lives. At no better interest can we place our gold than to
maintain him who is the rightful king and the friend of Israel. Ben
Hassan is a traitor, and deserves to die as a scapegoat for his people.”

“You speak well, Father Isaac,” is the rejoinder. “Think you that Don
Pedro will ever forgive our tribe? His spies are everywhere; and he is
sure to know, though _he_ now lies sick at Seville.”

From long habits of caution, to this direct question the old Jew for
awhile did not answer; then, with a cautious glance round to see that no
one lurked among the trees, replied:

“A trusty Hebrew is on the way to Seville, to offer the king the
supplies he may require; also charged with rich presents of jewels, and
a crown of fine gold to Maria de Padilla. Were _she_ queen, Israel would
return to its ancient glory in the land.”

“They say Blanche of Navarre has escaped, and is in sanctuary in the
cathedral. Is this true, Father Isaac?”

“I know not, for certain; but if she expects help from France, by the
body of Moses, son Cornelius, before it comes Enrique will not be here.”

“I understand the will of our nation is to expel him, Father Isaac; but
have they the _power_?”

[Illustration: The Hall of Justice, Alhambra.]

“Gold, my son, gold is the axle on which turns the world. By this the
humble Israelite is often stronger than kings. Our only danger is lest
the destroying angel strike Don Pedro dead. While he lives, the
protector of the Hebrews shall be richly furnished for his enterprise,
and we of the tribe of Levi within this city will spread ducats
broadcast to pave the way. Had it not been for that renegade Hassan
(whom the Almighty consume in Gehenna), our conspiracy were already
ripe.”

“And do you think this great outlay of our hard-won substance needed?”
asks the younger Jew, a hungry look in his eyes, like a dog robbed of
his bone. “Father Isaac, Don Pedro is not sure. May not Samuel Levi have
misreckoned? A man who turns against his own blood and dabbles with
Moorish superstitions is little to be counted on.”

“Impossible,” answers the elder man, his black eye lighting up with the
fire of youth. “By the great Jehovah! let no such miscalculation mar our
action. The oppression of ages on our nation has made us cowards. A
craven race we are. We will--and we will not--if it costs us gold. Now
our very existence in this land of Castile hangs on Don Pedro; Don
Enrique hates us. The French will torture us and spoil us, as do the
hunters for the soft fur that wraps the bosom of the hapless hare. Once
let us have news from Samuel Levi that the king is recovered, and has
marched from Seville upon Toledo, these hands of mine,” and he holds up
his pointed, delicate fingers, “shall open to him a postern.”

“There will be much bloodshed,” answers Cornelius, thoughtfully, “and
our dwellings may be sacked.”

“Bury our treasure, then, son Cornelius, we must bear that. The Hebrews
in Toledo, once masters before the Moors, are still numerous. Our foes
are divided. All is prepared. The bribes are ready. He can raise no
gold. Already the ground is mined under his feet, and then"--and he
stretches forth his hand and points to the vast expanse of river,
mountain, rocky gorge, and undulating plain, the white tents of the
pretender visible through the foliage--“this alien camp shall give place
to the royal standard, and the Hebrew name again be raised high among
the nations. Then, son Cornelius, we shall receive what interest we
choose to ask for our gold.”

“But blood will flow in rivers, my father, before that comes; who knows
if not ours?”

“Speak not of it, my son,” answers the older man, veiling his face with
his hands, “I love neither danger nor poison. If Blanche dies"--but what
he was about to say is drowned in a tumult of voices rising from the
street, and soon a rabble of boys and men fill the _paseo_, while below,
the music of trumpets and fifes thunders through the close alley, as a
gallant body of knights, attended by their esquires, march towards the
old square of the Zocodover (restricted as to size, as is all else in
Toledo), where the lists have been prepared for a passage of arms
between the chief officers of Aragon and Navarre.



CHAPTER XII

Don Enrique and Albuquerque in Council


The scene changes to the Arab court of the Alcazar, where, under lines
of granite columns, knights and courtiers, heralds and pages, pass in
and out. Nothing speaks of a city entered by surprise, and held on
chance.

To look at the radiant scene, on which a fierce sun shoots down, no one
would imagine that, but a few weeks since, Don Enrique was wandering
over Spain, an outcast and a rebel.

Presently a burly, thick-set noble appears, wearing a dark velvet
_manto_, high fur-edged cap, and Cordoba boots, provided with spurs
which clank as he moves. His presence instantly impresses silence on
those around; for Don Jaime Alvarez is as rough in his manners as are
his native Asturian mountains; not a man to be trifled with at home or
abroad. He at least clearly estimates the dangers of the present
position, and casts a grim scowl on the frivolous idlers loitering
about.

As he leans over the balustrade, halfway up the sculptured marble stair,
his eye wanders round as if in search of some one, and again he frowns
as he notes the careless bearing of the sentinels who guard the
entrance, and the peals of laughter which break from time to time from
the undercurrent of talk below.

But he has not long to wait. His satisfied glance shows it as a dark
figure emerges from the crowd and he is joined by Albuquerque, much
changed since his last interview with Don Pedro in the cloisters of the
church of San Juan at Valladolid. The great minister, disgusted by the
ingratitude of his master and the insults of Maria de Padilla, has
changed sides, and is now attached to the varying fortunes of Don
Enrique. He is thinner, and slightly bent, and his once commanding eyes
are dimmer and sadder.

As he approaches Don Jaime, an audible sigh passes his lips. Now,
instead of at once settling the affairs of state with the unruly Don
Pedro, who bears more respect to him than to any one else, he must
consult with a colleague who naturally regards him with suspicion as a
renegade, who from a bitter enemy has become a doubtful friend.

“Shall we sit apart in the gallery?” Albuquerque asks, after ceremonious
greetings have been exchanged between the rival counsellors, as they
mount the steps together to the upper gallery, supported by slender
pillars rising from a carved balustrade of singular richness in scroll
work, stars, and arabesques; “or shall we enter the apartments?”

“The heat is great,” is the reply, “let us remain here.”

“Have you informed Don Enrique of the news?” anxiously asks Albuquerque,
eyeing doubtfully the set face of the man before him. “I myself have not
seen him this morning.”

“If you mean his Grace the king, I have not either,” answers Don Jaime
drily, his naturally ill-favoured countenance darkening into a most
unpleasant expression.

“But he must instantly know what has happened,” returns Albuquerque.

“His Grace, as I understand,” replies Don Jaime, “is somewhat
indisposed, and has not yet risen.”

“Nevertheless, let us go to him instantly,” urges Albuquerque, “the
greatest results depend on what has occurred.”

“I scarcely view the matter in that light,” answers the other coldly.
“We conquer or we fall by the fortune of war. It is not a struggle in
which a woman more or less----”

“A woman!” breaks in Albuquerque; “but this is a queen, who carries in
her hand France and Navarre. She is here, in sanctuary within the
cathedral. The importance of her presence cannot be underrated.”

“It is natural that _you_ should think so,” retorts Don Jaime, with a
sneer. “You brought her into Spain to establish alliances for Don Pedro.
Now these have failed, you would use her on the other side.”

“But, my lord, while we are here bandying unseemly words,” replies
Albuquerque, unmoved by the covert insult implied, “time flies. Let us
at once crave an audience of Don Enrique, and expose to him our views.”

“His Highness King Enrique, you mean, I presume,” replies Don Jaime,
greatly nettled. “This is the second time I have corrected you, my lord
minister. _You_, at least, should not question the title which your
abandonment of his brother’s cause so greatly facilitated. This, and the
excommunication of the Pope of Rome which legalised it.”

But Albuquerque was not to be drawn into further discussion on so
dangerous a subject. He simply bowed and made way for the Asturian noble
to pass first under the carved portal which led into the royal rooms.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a small but lofty chamber, wainscotted with wrought walnut wood and
lighted by one of those high casements which run along the front of the
Alcazar and give so much dignity to the noble façade, sits Enrique el
Caballero.

Quite young, but older than Don Pedro, this son of the unhappy Eleonora
de Guzman has already braved death again and again with dauntless
valour. In person he is tall and fair like his brothers. The same
well-cut features, and chestnut hair lying in crisp, close curls under a
velvet cap, thrown back on a broad, clear brow, and a skin so delicate
that the choice lace collar worn at his neck is not more white.

It is not for nothing that Enrique is named El Caballero. A suave
gentleness, almost feminine, is the characteristic of his face. Frank,
firm, and courteous, he charms all who approach him; but when offended,
like a true Spaniard, he can be both unforgiving and vindictive. A
certain mobile expression about his mouth tells of strong passions
ill-repressed, but the gracious smile so readily called up is as a mask
to his feelings. Altogether, a man capable of the tenderest benevolence
and of the bitterest hate.

Of all the children of Eleonora de Guzman, Enrique is the cleverest and
the best. Often wandering alone in the mountains, and only saved from
starvation by the shepherds of the grassy Biscayan valleys--fighting
with the freebooters who lurk on the frontiers, escaping into Navarre,
where he vainly pleads for help, or despatching unavailing offers to the
French king of firm alliance and support if he places him on the
throne--Enrique has ever maintained himself orthodox to the Church, and
as such is openly favoured by the Pope.

Thus, little by little, he has collected a band of followers about him;
and now, confident of help from France, and strengthened in his claims
by the report of Don Pedro’s death, he has entered Toledo.

As he sits at a table covered with papers, a sheet of
heavily-embroidered drapery at his back, a more gallant young prince
would be hard to find, as, doffing for a moment his jewelled cap, he
signs to Albuquerque and Don Jaime to be seated.

“To what good fortune,” he asks, “am I indebted for this early visit?”

“My lord,” replies Albuquerque, as he places himself beside the table,
“I am already late in imparting the important intelligence. The Lady
Blanche of Bourbon has escaped, and is now within the cathedral. Your
brother, Don Pedro, is restored to health, and is advancing on this
city.”

In a moment the smiling face of the young prince changes to an
expression of gravest thought.

“By the bones of Santiago, this is a wondrous change!” he exclaims. “My
brother, though still civilly deceased, rises from a bed of death to
fight me, and the lady comes to aid me. Is she alone?”

“As far as we know,” is the reply, “one female attendant only is with
her. The Lady Blanche is invaluable as a hostage.”

“In what sense?”

“Your Highness may at once dictate peace to Don Pedro by giving her up.”

“Never!” cries Don Enrique. “Even to speak of it is a crime. My lord,”
rising and turning sharply on Albuquerque, “you forget whom you now
serve. The perfidious policy of my brother never shall be mine.”

“I do not advocate perfidy,” is the dignified reply of the unmoved
statesman, “but it is my duty to point out your Grace’s present
advantage.”

“Away with such proposals!” exclaims Enrique, his cheeks reddening under
the waves of chestnut hair. “By the Queen of Heaven! I hold you a poor
counsellor to advocate such crooked means. As a sister I greet her and
will protect her. Her youth and hapless fate touch me deeply. Poor
Fadique! how well he loved her! It cost him his life.”

After this brief passage of arms between the new king and his former
enemy, Enrique reseats himself, his face still aglow with emotion, and
signs to Albuquerque, who has also risen, to do the same. It is the
minister who speaks first, with the imperturbable composure of a man who
cares no more for the chances of life than for the throw of dice upon a
board.

“Your Grace is sure of the support of the Great Companies, if you can
hold Toledo until they arrive.”

“_If_,” quickly rejoins Don Enrique. “_If_, where is the doubt? Look out
beyond,” and he points to the opposite hills over the dark gorge through
which the Tagus flows; “are not those our tents glistening in the light?
Are not those our standards flying in the wind? The lances of our
gallant squadrons of horse catching the sun? Below our body of archers,
whose special charge it is to guard our person? Does all Spain show a
company of men more gallant? Every one of them would die

[Illustration: A VIEW OF GRANADA.]

rather than harm come to me! Listen to the trumpet-call ringing on the
heights! Hark! it is answered from the garrison within the city. Are
these not more than enough to keep possession of what we have?”

A long silence follows.

“God forbid, your Grace,” Albuquerque replies, while the triumphant
glances of Don Jaime seem to shame the coldness of his manner, “that I
say aught to arrest the natural ardour of so chivalrous a prince. But
there are many dangers which make me venture to suggest a peace. Your
Highness entered Toledo by surprise; a strong party, especially among
the Jews within the city, favours your brother. Your army is made up of
many ill-assorted elements. The Castilian hates the Aragonese; the men
of Portugal are jeered at for their coarseness by such French
mercenaries as have joined your standard. Toledo is a large and
straggling city, ill-calculated to resist a siege without a much larger
garrison than you possess. And as to his Grace, my late master, who
knows but that his sickness is but a feint to put you off your guard?
True that the Lady Blanche is here, and that both France and Navarre may
send reinforcements, as soon as time allows, but they are not here.
Besides, our funds run low. The devil take the Hebrews in this city! The
interest they demand is so exorbitant I know not where to find money to
pay the troops, who are already clamouring for pay.”

“The chance of war, the chance of war!” cries Don Enrique, chafing under
these prudent considerations. “Fortune favours the bold. Had I reasoned
thus on the rugged slopes of the Asturias, I should not be sitting now
within these walls. What say you, Don Jaime, ever so faithful to me in
all changes?”

“I say that your Grace is born to reign.”

“Yes,” is the reply, “there is something within me that tells me so. No
matter what happens, my star will prevail. The throne, the throne,
nothing but the throne!” As he speaks an almost glorified look shines on
his face, in which all the charm of the expression is brought out by a
radiant smile, as he gazes over the expanse of city and plain to the
snow-tipped range of Guadarrama, dim in the distance.

“Does he see visions, this boy?” thought Albuquerque, gravely observing
him and but little impressed by this outburst of youthful confidence.
“Pardon me, my lord, if I recall you to the present time. You will
surely at once visit the Lady Blanche, and free her from the discomforts
of the cathedral; the worthy chapter will be at a loss how to entertain
so delicate a princess.”

“Yes, yes, I will at once proceed to the cathedral to offer her such
hospitality as a soldier can command. Call the _jefe_ of my household,
and cause the state apartments to be prepared as are fitting for her,
and such attendants as have escaped with her.”

“And what is far more important,” adds Albuquerque, “I will send off
instant despatches to the most Christian king, informing him of the
presence of his kinswoman, and urge on him the need of quick support.”

“May the Christian king not chance to remember that it was _you_,
Albuquerque, who brought her into Spain? The sight of your name may
raise suspicion. But no matter,” observing the frown which rises on his
face at the ill-timed jest. “By my faith! I would not be in the shoes of
the Governor of Talavera, who has favoured the queen’s escape; for
favour her he must, else she never would have passed the gates of that
invincible fortress. Pedro will invent new tortures to punish him; what
say you, Albuquerque?” and more than a touch of irony betrays itself in
Don Enrique’s voice as he recalls the sufferings the policy of
Albuquerque have entailed on him. “Your kinswoman, Maria, too, will have
a new grudge against me, and work some diabolical charm. Methinks I see
myself in effigy, burning upon a blazing pile, my life-blood ebbing as,
drop by drop, the wax falls into the flame! Ha! ha! If it were only with
witches and warlocks I had to do! But God is with the just! and the Holy
Father’s blessing is potent.”

No answering look of mirth responded to his words; a sad expression was
on the fallen minister’s brow as he gravely saluted and quitted the
chamber, leaving Enrique and Don Jaime to arrange the preparations for
his immediate visit to the cathedral.



CHAPTER XIII

Queen Blanche in Sanctuary


The bright morning which broke so auspiciously at the Alcazar has
darkened. The deep shadows of gathering clouds press up from the horizon
and veil the city in a soft mist. The many towers and domes of the
Cathedral rise up like landmarks on a shadowy sea; the delicate tracery
of the gilded spire, capped by a crown of thorns, catching some latent
sunbeam hidden in the lining of a cloud, alone stands out apparent in
the gloom.

Like the Cathedral of Seville, the original Gothic church, in which the
Wambas and the Witicas had worshipped according to the Gothic creed from
the earliest ages, had become a mosque under the Moors, to be again
consecrated by San Fernando, who, smelling blasphemy in the very walls,
pulled them down and laid the foundations of the present church,
finished two centuries later, in the florid style of that _barocco_
union of the east and west so common in Spain.

Nothing can be worse than the situation. It stands absolutely in a hole.
But it is within that this shrine of marble is wonderful. The clustered
pillars of five vast naves, a marble space in the centre as wide and
long as a hippodrome, the solid bulk of the _retablo_ a blaze of gold,
separating the high altar from the nave; the sculptured semi-circle of
the absis broken by chapels, niches, shrines, and tombs sunk in the
deepness of shadow, where kings and archbishops repose; the superb
pavement in marble, lapis lazuli, porphyry, and agate lighting up the
floor, rare pictures on the walls, statues, carvings, and huge bronze
doors leading into the choir, the double pulpits coated with gold, the
glorious screen in _alto relievo_, and the superbly painted windows
casting down warm shadows as of ruby, emerald, and sapphire on the
floor.

Deeper and deeper fall the shadows, and more and more solemn gathers the
half-light, save for a glimmer far in the distance where a dim lamp
burns before an altar of most delicate tracery flanked by two lofty
windows, the front shut in by a brazen rail, while a lacelike shroud of
exquisite stonework rises behind, reaching as with giant leaps to the
heavily groined roof.

In the farthest corner, crouching beside the altar, sits Blanche, her
feet resting on an embroidered cope, brought by the pitying priests,
Claire close beside her. Both are so still in the waves of gloom
outside, that they might pass for statues on a tomb, pressed close
together, habited in hood and cape as Carmelites.

“I shall die,” whispers Blanche, “if no one comes before night,” and a
cold shudder passes over her.

“Dear Blanche, keep a good heart, after all we have gone through. Here
at least we are safe. I wish to heaven,” adds Claire, “_he_ were, who
has staked his life to bring us here.”

“Ah, Claire, you are in love, and that comforts you. I have no one to
care for me since I parted with Fadique, God grant that he is saved.
But, Claire, are you quite sure that the priest understood he was to
inform the Conde de Trastamare that I am here?”

“Yes,” is the answer; “what a miracle it was that he is in possession of
Toledo. Had it been Don Pedro, he would have broken the sanctuary as
sure as fate.”

“I should like to see this Enrique de Trastamare,” whispers Blanche, her
white face lighting up for an instant at the thought of a possible
protector. “I am sure he is good, because he fights against that
horrible monster Pedro. After all, I am a queen; the King of France will
rescue me. You remember the Governor of Talavera said the French were
marching on Toledo, and that was why we were to come here. For my part I
would have rather gone in quite another direction, towards Navarre. Ah!
how I tremble when I think of it all, and that mule that kicked me off,
just as we were leaving the castle by the narrow path! I wonder I was
not killed; I am sure I am bruised!”

“And our danger,” adds Claire, glad to see Blanche’s mind disengaged
from the continual terror she endures, “when we passed the outer tents
of the encampment, in our Carmelite disguise (how clever of the governor
to think of it), and those soldiers asked us so rudely if we would
absolve them! Oh, how I shake when I think of it. All seemed over with
us; and so it would have been, if that handsome Aragonese knight had not
come up, and perceived from our accent that we were French, and
conducted us across the lines,” here Claire breaks off with a heavy
sigh, and Blanche kisses her tenderly and inquires what ails her.

“Can you ask? When you know I cannot tell if he is safe across the
frontier, my valiant Raoul! Alas! alas! if he falls into Don Pedro’s
hands! Oh, the noble heart!” and she puts her hands before her eyes to
shut out the horrid image her fancy has called up. “When he gave his
love to me, I told him he must save my queen, else I would never look at
him!”

“But this is a fearful place!” cries Blanche in a louder voice, peeping
out into the nave, the desolation of her position coming over her. “Do
you hear that noise!” as a sudden echo rebounds from aisle to aisle. “I
am sure there are spirits here,” and trembling all over, she clings to
Claire.

“Be comforted, my queen. Some one will come. The priest who serves us is
very kind, and he assured me of the favour of the chapter. Believe me,
we shall not be forgotten. Collect yourself, dear princess. You know
what Raoul said of Don Enrique?”

“Oh, I am dead of cold and fright!” answers Blanche, bursting into
tears. “I care not if I die--one stab and all is over! I dream every
night of Don Pedro, a dagger in his hand, and just as I am about to
escape, the point falls here,” and she lays her hand upon her neck. “I
know it will end so. All die who offend Don Pedro.”

“See!” cries Claire, as the darkness enveloping the lengthening lines of
the gigantic pillars lifts, and a glint of light strikes like living
fire on the famous statue of the Virgin, recovered from the Moors by San
Fernando, seated upon an altar on a silver throne, and glittering with
jewels, an exquisite canopy of fretted pinnacles of saints shrouding it,
“See! the Holy Mother herself has come to comfort us.”



CHAPTER XIV

Don Enrique Welcomes Queen Blanche to Toledo


Hours pass, struck out from the Giralda tower in many-toned bells, each
bell with its own name and recognised by its tone. Figures had glided in
and out, dwarfed to pigmies by the vast size. Groups had formed at
distant shrines, to vanish as they came. Veiled women had knelt on the
marble pavement, and a crowd had gathered round a preacher in a far-off
aisle.

At length, when hope seemed dead, the shrill blast of trumpets and the
clatter of horses’ feet came to the ears of the ever-watchful Claire,
from the direction of the Puerta de los Leones, dull at first, and low,
but marvellously distinct.

Then steadily advancing footsteps are heard approaching, the heavy tread
as of a company of armed men whose mailed feet fall heavy on the marble
pavement.

With beating hearts Blanche and Claire start to their feet to await
their doom.

The glare of many torches is thrown forward, calling up fantastic
shapes; an armed figure emerges, clearly defined against the light, a
long Castilian sword at his side, and a mailed hand is stretched
forward.

“Welcome to Toledo, madam,” says the voice of Enrique de Trastamare.
“Never could we have esteemed ourselves more happy in the fortune of war
than by your presence.”

As he speaks Blanche throws herself at his feet; her veil falls back.
She weeps, but her tears do not mar the fresh beauty of her face.

“Save me, my lord!” she cries. “Save me, for the love of God.”

She clasps her hands, as if addressing a deity. Her sobs drown her
voice, which still murmurs, “Save me! Save me!”

Enrique’s eyes fill with tears. He stoops and raises her, imprinting on
her cheek a royal kiss of welcome.

“You will not betray me to Don Pedro?” she whispers, seizing his mailed
hand.

“Betray you!” he answers, greatly moved. “Rather die! If I am a crowned
king, I am no less a belted knight. There is no right of chivalry more
precious than the succour of distress, especially that of a royal lady
allied to us by marriage. Our entrance into the city of Toledo was by
surprise; there are here no noble ladies to form your court at the
Alcazar; but such rough welcome as a soldier can afford is yours, fair
queen. I pray you to honour our quarters with your presence, where I
have already ordered such preparations to be made as are possible.”

Something in the voice and aspect of Enrique so powerfully reminded
Blanche of Fadique, that she remained utterly speechless, to the great
distress of Claire, who whispered into her ear, “For the sake of the
Virgin, who has sent him, thank him as he deserves.”

Enrique, quickly penetrating the sense of the words, saluting her
graciously, replied:

“I desire no thanks from the queen. If I did, I much mistake me if the
noble _demoiselle_ with whom I speak could not as fittingly reply as her
mistress.”

At this compliment, spoken with all the charm of Spanish gallantry,
Claire blushes deeply, and holds down her head.

“Pardon me, my lord,” and Blanche stops suddenly as Enrique draws her
gently forward in the direction of the portal, “if I ask of the welfare
of your brother, the Grand Master?”

Her voice trembled as she named him, and her face grew ashy white.
Instead of answering her, Enrique paused abruptly and laid his
disengaged hand on her shoulder, as if to support her. His silence, and
the care with which he bore her up alarmed her. Slowly she turned her
eyes upon his face, clouded by grief, and a faint cry escaped her.

“Is he dead?” she asked, in a voice almost inaudible.

“He is,” was the answer.

“By whose hand did he fall?”

“By that of my brother, Don Pedro. He called him to the Alcazar, and
smote him in the Hall of the Ambassadors at Seville.”

Exhausted by the long ride from Talavera, the vigil in the cathedral,
and the agitation of meeting with Don Enrique, this cruel blow was too
much. Ere he had spoken Blanche fell into a swoon so death-like that as
Claire knelt before her under the glare of the torches, she asked
herself if life would ever return?

Great was the compassion of Don Enrique as he looked down on her fair
young face.

“Let the nearest leech be summoned instantly,” he commands, turning to
an attendant. “Meanwhile, ask the good fathers if they have no strong
waters to sprinkle on the queen, or no relics at hand which, by their
virtue, will bring the dead to life. Even I, a soldier, have heard in
camp of the virtue of Santa Leocadia, whose bones lie in the Sacristy.
Let every means be tried. Madam,” turning to Claire, vainly trying by
every art to revive her mistress, “my royal sister is happy indeed to
possess such a friend; I will myself remain and assist you.”

The strong waters brought by the priests effected no immediate cure. No
relics were forthcoming. It was not deemed meet that Santa Leocadia
should be removed from her consecrated shrine at the command of a
newly-made king, not sure of

[Illustration: A WINDOW IN THE ALHAMBRA.]

his title. For, be it noted, the appearance of the Pretender, Enrique de
Trastamare, in the cathedral, and his determination to carry away the
Lady Blanche was most unwelcome to the chapter, who were thus deprived
of their sanctuary dues, the actually reigning sovereign alone having
the privilege of recompensing them.

At length a leech arrives in the person of an aged Jew well-known in her
city at the beginning and end of life. Quickly he opens a vein, and as,
drop by drop, the blood flows over the delicate skin, her eyes open, and
again she breathes.

No sooner has consciousness returned to the queen than it is Claire’s
turn to give way. Tottering backwards she seems about to fall. But the
brave girl, ever faithful to her charge, forces herself to overcome the
passing weakness and tend her mistress, on whose pale cheeks a faint
tinge of colour has stolen.

“Dear Blanche, hear me!” cries Claire, passionately seizing her hand and
carrying the cold fingers to her lips. “On my knees I conjure you to
live, for yourself, for me! For France, our pleasant land, where we
shall return. Rouse yourself, Blanche. Sit up,” and she essays to raise
her in her arms, while Enrique, with looks of the tenderest pity,
assists her.

At length, more dead than alive, she is placed on a litter bearing the
device of “the Castle” (the same as was used by the pious Queen
Berengaria when she came to Mass), and is carried from the cathedral up
the hill to the square of the Zocodover, on her way to the Alcazar.



CHAPTER XV

Taking of Toledo by Don Pedro--Death of Queen Blanche


Within an incredibly short time Don Pedro marched from Seville with a
well-disciplined army and gained possession of Toledo, principally by
the connivance of the Jews, Father Isaac himself with his own hands
opening the postern of the Gate of San Martino. Many of the citizens who
had believed the king to be dead or dying, at the news of his approach
joined themselves with the Jews in a close conspiracy in his favour,
greatly strengthening his cause.

The siege was short and rapid. Don Enrique had only time to escape by
night from the Alcazar in disguise, with his most faithful adherents;
his showy but inefficient army, comprised, as Albuquerque had reminded
him, of so many heterogeneous elements, ill-paid and ill-fed, melted
away before the disciplined troops of his brother, and Blanche, poor
Blanche, was seized in the Alcazar and sent far away from all hope of
succour into Andalusia to the castle of Xeres.

But this is not enough for Don Pedro. After the most solemn promises of
pardon to those citizens of Toledo who had acknowledged his brother, no
sooner had he manned the walls and floated the “Castle and the Lion” at
the four towers of the Alcazar, than every one of his brother’s
adherents was denounced.

In this, Father Isaac did cruel service, gratifying the private
vengeance of his nation under the pretext of treachery to the king. A
terrible massacre followed; head after head was struck off in the
presence of Don Pedro, until the executioners rested from sheer fatigue.

“I am _El Rey Justiciar_,” are his cruel words, “let my enemies feel
there is no mercy for traitors.” One of the accused, an old _caballero_,
who had refused to pay an exorbitant interest to a Jew, a friend of
Father Isaac’s, was a venerable citizen of good repute, who had taken no
part in the insurrection. His son rushed forward and implored the king
to spare him. “Take my life, my lord!” cried he, “not his!” and he flung
himself upon his knees before him in an agony of supplication.

“Not a whit, not a whit!” answered Don Pedro commanding his guards to
drive him back. “If you so love death, share it together,” and the
father and son both fell under the axe.

The barbarous death of Doña Urraca de Osorrio at this time has become
historical. When Don Pedro learned that her husband, Alvarez de Guzman
(the son of Guzman el Bueno, who saved Spain from the Moors at the
siege of Tarifa), had gone over to his brother in the siege of Toledo,
he caused her to be seized and burnt alive in the public square of
Seville before the Ayuntamiento. Her maid, Leonora Davilo, was with her.
As the wind was high at the time, Doña Urraca’s clothes were displaced,
and her body exposed to the jeers of the brutal Sevillianos, when the
faithful Leonora leaped into the flames, and casting herself as a veil
on her mistress was burned with her. Thus they are both represented on
Doña Urraca’s monument in the church of San Isidoro at Santa Ponce, a
short distance from Seville, built by Guzman el Bueno, with little idea
that his own daughter-in-law would be interred there under circumstances
of such horror.

And now the great name of Albuquerque is heard for the last time.
Faithful to the cause of Don Enrique as he had been to that of Don
Pedro, he met his former master, at his particular request, at the
ancient town of Toro, lying in the open expanse of plains between
Salamanca and Zamora, in order to endeavour to negotiate better terms
for his new master.

Of what passed between Don Pedro and his great minister there is no
record, but the sudden death of Albuquerque immediately after the
interview is not without suspicion of foul play.

       *       *       *       *       *

The southern district of Spain, within the bounds of Andalusia,
extending from Seville to Cadiz, is still a mystery as in days of yore.
Great open alluvial plains, utterly treeless, stretch into boundless
perspectives, the home of the wild bull in its pristine ferocity. The
Guadalquivir flows onwards in a torpid tide among canals and open
trenches down to the sea, a most unpoetic river in all but the name. All
is grey, misty, and desolate, a “no man’s land,” to which even the waves
of the Mediterranean bring no delight, for the shallow beach sends back
the water so far it barely covers the sandy shore.

On these shores the old Continent of Europe seems to die out, to make
place for the youthful splendour of Africa opposite, visible in the line
of the picturesque Atlas range rising across the straits; old Europe
worn out, and melting into the sea before the defiance of its stalwart
rival.

Xeres de la Frontiera is the only town on this low marshy coast. The
Xeres of that day--not famed for wine and commerce as in our time--was a
small fortified place taken from the Moors, enclosed by walls; and
precisely because the Xeres of that day was desolate and lonely, it was
selected for the place of the queen’s imprisonment.

Blanche--oh! so changed! her young face drawn, her delicate cheeks
marked with fine lines, her childlike eyes dim, her slight figure bowed
as if by age, her flaxen curls streaked with grey, although she has
scarcely reached the years of womanhood--is indeed an object of
compassion! All hope gone, knowing that she must die. And so living day
by day as the months roll on and she measures the dull routine of
sunrise and sunset across those cruel plains, which cut her off from all
humanity.

One image haunts her, the gallant young Infante who dared to love her.
And from him her thoughts wander to his brother, El Caballero, who was
about to send her to Navarre with an escort when he was surprised at
Toledo, and is now almost as helpless as herself; in her enfeebled brain
the lineaments of the two brothers become mingled, and the gentle
Fadique seems to live again in the gracious Enrique, whom all men love.

What matter? She is doomed. Incapable of hate or love; no passion is
left within her. Even the craving for liberty is gone. She feels she
could not use it, were it hers; and thus she sits, day after day, on the
summit of a castellated tower, under a low wall, hand in hand with
Claire.

That she has loved or been loved seems so impossible, a feeble smile
rises on her lips as she thinks of it. That she has been born to pomp
and greatness is equally incredible in her abject condition. To hold a
flower in her hand, to scent the perfume of herbs borne by the breeze,
to watch the flight of sea-gulls which skim across the plain, to note
the accidents of the seasons, golden autumn breaking into grey winter,
then passing to the glad garments of the spring, on the shadowy outlines
of the mountains of La Mancha, is to her mind as a never-ending wonder
that the world should thus go on. It is _she_ alone who is dead, while
all nature lives triumphant!

The entrance of the old crone who performs such menial offices as she
requires is a boon as something human, yet even she scowls at her with
envy because she is a queen.

“What devil’s deed have you in your mind?” she mutters, as she sweeps
the floor, casting malignant glances at Blanche, seated beside Claire.
“Are you expecting a saviour, mistress? Ha! ha! None will come to Xeres.
You do not answer? You can weep, therefore you can speak.”

“We are French,” answers Claire, speaking for Blanche. “We mean you no
offence by our silence. But, for the sake of mercy, tell us, good
mother, is there really no means of escape from this prison?”

“None,” answers the woman, pursing up her thin lips as if it gave her a
certain satisfaction. “Think not of it. From hence you go to the gates
of death. I can tell you that. Misfortune is the road to a better world.
It comforts me to think you are as wretched as I am myself. Fare you
well, ladies, till to-morrow. There is not a chamber in the castle nor a
step on the stairs that is not slippery with human blood. They die,
every soul of them, who come here.”

As she speaks she turns her back to go, when Blanche rushes after her.
Roused from her torpor by these horrible words, she seizes the old hag
by the shoulders and looks wildly into her eyes.

“Richly, richly would my father requite you, did you save me.”

“Your father?” retorts the woman. “Where is he? Meanwhile they would
wring my old neck, and you be no better. No! no!”

“Stay! stay!” cries Blanche, keeping hold on her. “It consoles me to
hear another voice and not always to listen to the owls hooting outside,
or the ticking of the death-watch in the walls.”

“Let go,” answers the old woman, extricating herself rudely from her
weak grasp, “or you shall serve yourselves, mistresses. I cannot help
you. When I was young I could not protect myself. Here, not the Holy
Virgin herself can save you.” As she speaks she bars the door and
disappears, a sneering smile upon her face, furrowed with wrinkles.

Except this woman, no one but the governor enters. He is a stern, morose
Castilian, eliminating all expression from his face as he looks at
Blanche, yet with a certain kindliness of expression and gesture he
cannot altogether disguise, which pains her, for she would gladly think
that the world is as dead and buried as she is herself. Not even Claire
can comfort her now--Claire, her whole soul in her eyes, watching her
every movement, while her own thoughts turn to the fate of the lover
who, at her command, risked his life to liberate the queen.

One evening, sitting together at sunset on the tower, the sound of
horses’ feet galloping rapidly on the grass rouses them. A white terror
is in Blanche’s eyes as she fixes them on Claire, who, leaning over, can
perceive a little company of men-at-arms rapidly approaching, bearing a
flag with the king’s badge.

_No word is said_, but when the governor enters, as is his custom, to
serve their evening meal, Claire, standing behind her chair, observes
his eyes, at moments when he thinks Blanche’s attention is distracted,
fixed on Blanche with a glance full of pity.

_No word is said_, but below, in the courtyard, comes the sound of a
loud harsh voice; the step of sentinels louder and quicker, and around
an unwonted stir.

Blanche, sitting listless, pays no heed, but Claire goes and comes in
the narrow tower, peering through the small arched slits which serve for
light, listening to every sound. Then all dies away as night closes.

“For to-night we are safe,” is her thought; but suddenly in the
darkness, to her sharp ears comes that same harsh voice with which she
seems familiar. She has heard it at Valladolid. Can it be the king? One
purpose only could bring him here, the death of Blanche. Ah! how can she
save her? If to give her life, how gladly she would be the sacrifice! A
thousand wild schemes whirl in her brain; but she says nothing, and
Blanche,

[Illustration: THE AQUEDUCT NEAR GRANADA.]

save that she has turned deadly pale, has not spoken.

But when the moonlight comes, and Claire is unbinding the long tresses
of her hair and combing out those childish curls, now half grey, which
lent so sweet an expression to her innocent young face when she came to
Valladolid, a knock is heard at the door, and lo! a priest enters.

Now as, from time to time, Blanche has been allowed to confess, this
does not startle Claire as much as it might seem; but when the priest
says, entering the vaulted chamber and addressing Blanche, “My daughter,
have you prayed?” she knows that her hour has come.

A piercing scream escapes from Claire as she falls on her knees beside
her mistress, but Blanche rises up with the aspect of a queen.

“My father,” she answers, “I pray always, for I have died out of the
world.”

“It is well, my daughter,” and the priest raises his hand over her in
benediction as she kneels before him; but there is a tremor in his voice
he cannot suppress, and old as he is and practised in the ways of death,
tears stand in his eyes as he looks at her young face.

A solemn silence follows neither cares to break.

It is the priest, who speaks first in a voice which trembles spite of
himself.

“It is not without reason, my daughter, that we are enjoined to pray. We
know not when God may see fit to call our souls to him.”

“I understand,” answers Blanche in a voice so low it can only be heard
by reason of the great silence, “you mean I am to die.”

“My daughter,” and now, unable to command his grief, sobs shake his
words, and poor Claire, clinging wildly to her mistress, as if by her
loving arms she could keep her in life, utters the most piercing cries.

“My sister,” and Blanche turns to her, “for such you are in love,
disturb not my last hour with your grief, but rather rejoice with me
that I am leaving a world in which I have suffered so much. I wonder I
have been allowed to live so long. But, my father,” addressing the
priest, “listen to me before I die: I am innocent of the crime imputed
to me. I was condemned unheard. But there is a tribunal above, before
the living God, to absolve me. There I summon my husband, the King of
Castile, to appear. We shall meet shortly. By the sword he has lived;
and by the sword he shall die. It has been revealed to me.”

“My daughter,” replies the priest, taking her hand in his, “such
invocations are wicked. Leave vengeance to God.”

Blanche bows her head in obedience. But the prophecy is uttered, and the
dark spirits which keep watch over human life have heard and noted it.

Then calling for paper, which Claire, gathering herself up from the
floor, gave her with trembling hands, hanging over her the while as if
each breath she drew was precious beyond life, Blanche wrote some words
addressed to Don Pedro, and bound the paper with a black ribbon from her
neck.

“I pray you, my father, to hold what is here written as sacred. Deliver
it in person to the king. Tell him you saw me die.”

So calm is Blanche and her voice so clear, as she fixes her large eyes
steadfastly on the priest, as if looking beyond him into another world,
that neither he nor Claire dare trouble her with words.

Then she confesses, kneeling on the stones, and at the conclusion,
taking the priest’s hand in hers, she meekly kisses it, and begs to be
interred at Xeres.

“For else,” she says, “they may dispute the possession of my body in
death as they have done in life, and the king’s mistress, Maria de
Padilla, might do some dishonour to it, which is not meet, seeing that I
am of royal blood, and the rightful Queen of Castile.”

And even in the agony of her grief Claire wondered to hear Blanche speak
with such dignity and judgment, for, up to that time since they had left
Toledo, her senses had seemed dulled, and she had said nothing of all
that was in her mind.

Anon the low door creaks on its hinges and a figure appears, completely
shrouded in black. The head is covered by a cowl with slits for eyes; in
one hand is a torch, which throws a glare in the chamber like blood;
the other lies concealed in the mantle.

At this horrible sight Blanche loses all her composure. She shrieks
aloud, and burying herself in the arms of Claire clings closely to the
stone walls.

But the priest exhorting her with holy words, she speedily regains her
courage, and turning to the executioner speaks with a gentle voice.

“Friend, I pardon you. You must obey the king, who sends you, as I do in
dying here.” And rising to her feet, a kind of glory gathers on her
face; all her young beauty comes back to her again, such as she was
when, as a happy girl, she left Narbonne a bride.

“I am but eighteen years old, and I am about to die, a virgin, as I have
lived. The crown which was put on my head was one of sorrow; I hope to
find a better in another world. My father,” turning to the priest, who
is bowed down with grief, “if it be possible, commend me to my sister,
the Queen of France, and to my father, and tell them I have not
disgraced them by any act.”

And with these words upon her lips, she kneels down, the executioner
seizes her, and passes the fatal bowstring round her throat.

       *       *       *       *       *

According to a legend of the time, Blanche of Bourbon was interred in
the old cathedral at Xeres, but as an entirely new building was erected
in 1695, no record of her burying-place remains.



CHAPTER XVI

Death of Maria de Padilla--Don Juan de Mañara


Foremost in the fighting at Toledo, when Don Pedro drove out Don Enrique
de Trastamare and took Queen Blanche prisoner, was his favourite, Don
Juan de Mañara, an historical profligate of no small fame in poetry and
music, and dreaded by husbands and fathers.

Vainly did they lock the gates of their _patios_ and put iron bars over
the windows; he penetrated everywhere. The _Commendatore_ whom Don Juan
killed in a duel about his daughter Doña Anna, was but one of the many
whom he had injured, only the _Commendatore_ cursed him, and the curse
cleaved to him, although it is not true that as a _statue_, he invited
him to supper, as he does in Mozart’s opera, and was dragged down to
hell.

The stage Don Giovanni is a very elegant señor, with fine feathers,
bright clothes, golden chains, velvets, and lace; but the real man
clothed himself as plainly as his master, Don Pedro, in a dark doublet,
with a leather _capa_, or head-piece, quite innocent of gew-gaws, and
as heavy a mantle as a Castilian can wear.

Living in warlike times, when men rapped out their swords on every
occasion, Don Juan was ready for whatever adventure might befall, giving
no quarter and receiving none; little given to vanity of any sort, or
smoothness of speech in the passages of the _duelo_ or on the
battle-field, spending his leisure between the dice-box and the wine
flagon.

In person he was dark-featured, too bronzed and weather-beaten for
actual beauty, but with plenty of that dash and bravery which please a
lady’s eye. Careless, remorseless, sensual, neither God nor devil had
terrors for him, but he never shed blood wantonly, and was incapable of
butchering women, like his master, or of treacherous assassination or
murder of any kind.

How he remained in favour so long, spite of his outspoken comments on
Don Pedro, was due to his well-tried devotion. His contempt for the
whole family of the Padillas was notorious, specially for Don Garcia,
whom he qualified as a base flatterer and parasite, ready to sell Don
Pedro like Judas Iscariot.

Don Pedro had few friends; revolt and hatred had thinned his party, and
the followers of Enrique de Trastamare were continually increased by the
horror of some new crime.

Had the king given heed to Don Juan he would never have sacrificed Doña
Bianca or the Grand Master Fadique to the jealous fury of Maria de
Padilla. Every mishap which had been foretold by Albuquerque and the
queen-mother had followed, as was indeed apparent, after these cruel
deeds.

At this time his life and his throne were in jeopardy and he knew it.
Not only had the death of Blanche moved France to the core and allied
Charles V. with Enrique, but it had so profoundly offended the Castilian
sense of honour that a formal remonstrance was drawn up by his own
nobles, an insult at which his fierce temper flamed out, and but for the
certainty of coming war a bloody punishment would have been the result.

“The throne! the throne!” is the war-cry of El Caballero, who, no longer
a fugitive, has constituted himself the avenger of the queen; and word
has come to Seville that Aragon and Navarre have declared in his favour,
as well as many of the cities in old Castile, and that Blanche’s
kinsman, the Comte de la Marche, of the royal blood of St. Louis, has
joined Du Guesclin and the _Grande Compagnie_ despatched by the King of
France, now marching south to join them.

Hitherto prosperous in his wickedness, since Blanche’s death a curse
cleaves to Don Pedro. Has he read her letter and does he know that she
has summoned him to appear at the heavenly tribunal, where neither lying
nor hypocrisy will avail him? Who can say? Dead or alive, Don Pedro is
inscrutable.

At this time Maria de Padilla falls suddenly sick of a mortal malady.
Stretched on an Oriental couch of purple stuff, within her golden-walled
chamber she lies longing for the return of Don Pedro, far away battling
in Aragon. Plunged in the torpor of a sudden fever, her hand vaguely
wanders among the meshes of her glossy hair, still sown with the pearls
she had placed there overnight. From whom does she shrink, this terrible
beauty, gathering herself together until her henna-tipped fingers
sinking into her flesh, she cries loudly for Don Pedro, and shriek after
shriek comes from her as she flings herself into the arms of her slaves?

It is an evil death, haunted by phantoms. No priest comes to soothe her
dying moments. She is held to be a witch, in league with the Evil One.
The sacraments of the Church cannot be brought to such as she. But on
Don Pedro’s return to Seville she is laid to rest in the cathedral under
the dome of the Capilla Real, beside the sovereigns of Castile, and such
regal titles as were refused her in life are given to her in death.

The Cortes are assembled, and Don Pedro solemnly proclaims her his
lawful wife and her children, one son and three daughters, legitimate.
No one believes it, though witnesses are called as having been present
at the ceremony, but no one dares to deny it and Maria de Padilla is
buried as she has lived--a queen.

Whatever Don Pedro feels at the loss of the woman he loved, he conceals
it. This is no time for grief. Furious at the growing success of El
Caballero, Don Pedro signs a hasty peace with Aragon, and threatens to
attack his ancient allies, the Moors.

Much alarmed, they send an ambassador to Seville, in the person of
Mahomed Barbarossa, the _Rey Bermejo_, charged with rich presents to
appease him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the midst of a superb procession rides the Red King, the
accoutrements of his horse set with jewelled fringes; on his head he
wears the green turban of the followers of the Prophet, and in the
centre, conspicuous among a galaxy of gems, three enormous rubies are
set, the middle one, known as “the Balax,” big as a pigeon’s egg. When
he beholds Don Pedro in royal robes, standing on the threshold of his
gorgeous portal, surrounded by such of the brilliant Castilians who as
yet are true to him, the dusky emir is moved to smile, and as he
dismounts to kiss Don Pedro’s hand, the Balax gleaming like fire on his
head, his steely blue eyes fix on it greedily, and it is clear to Don
Juan who stands behind, that strong passion of some kind moves him.

Long he contemplates in silence the turban of the Moor; then, turning
abruptly to Don Juan, he whispers: “What right has the Infidel to wear
such gems? While my treasury is empty he comes here to flaunt them in my
face. Mark me, _amigo mio_, I will have that Balax before the day is
old. It is worth a king’s ransom and will some day stand me in good
stead.”

“I pray your Grace not to contemplate so villainous a project,” is Don
Juan’s reply. “You have enemies enough, methinks, without making more. I
will not help you. I am willing to second you, as my liege and
sovereign, in the field or the _duelo_, to the death, but by St. Helena
or any other male or female saint, I cannot stand by you in a matter of
open spoiling of your guest.”

“No, but the gems, the gems,” returns the king in the same whisper. “I
never saw the like! I cannot take my eyes from them!”

“That may or may not be. It is no concern of mine, my lord. I am no
merchant to adjudge their value; nor do I care for such toys except on
the bosom of the fair, where I would be before your Grace in plucking
them. Otherwise, let every man and every Moor, I say, possess his own;
and if the emir likes to deck himself like a peacock he is free for me.”

       *       *       *       *       *

As the day falls and the bells of the Giralda tower and of all the
towers in the churches of Seville have ceased their clang, a sumptuous
banquet is spread in the Hall of the Ambassadors.

Darker and darker grows Don Pedro’s brow as the feast continues, and
more and more anxiously his eyes turn towards the entrance leading into
the Patio de las Doncellas.

As the innumerable courses of _pilaus_ and curries, conserves and
sweetmeats are served in honour of his guests, with the finest wines of
Xeres and Malaga, and golden basins with perfumed water and embroidered
napkins are offered between each course, Don Pedro can scarcely master
his impatience.

A stony silence falls on all the company from the grim humour of the
king. Don Juan is absent, but Don Rodrigues with the other familiars are
there, and Emanuel _El Zapatero_, now captain of the body-guard, stands
behind his chair, and as if conscious that something is about to happen,
never takes his eyes from his master’s face.

But the strangeness of the position reaches its climax when the emir,
rising from the gold-embroidered divan on which he is stretched to
pledge the king, Don Pedro neither moves nor responds in any way, but
sits with his eyes fixed, as if fascinated, on the Balax in his turban.

Suddenly, at some secret sign given by Emanuel, he strikes the table
with his fist, and from each of the pillared openings the hall is filled
with troops, armed to the teeth, and behind his chair arises, as if by
magic, the naked figure of a Nubian slave bearing an axe.

Ere one can draw breath he falls upon the Red King, who, taken unawares,
has not even time to draw his dagger. At the same moment each Moorish
knight is seized from behind by a Castilian trooper and dragged into the
outer court of the Monteria, where he finds his horse, arms, and slave,
receiving at the same time stern injunctions to cross the frontier of
Castile before sunrise.

Alone in the hall, Don Pedro advances to where the unhappy Red King lies
dead upon the floor, hard by the spot where the blood of Don Fadique
stains the marble.

“Dog, and son of a dog!” he exclaims, “did you think to come to Seville
to rival _me_? Dead or alive, I will have the rubies,” and, stooping
down with his own hand he plucks them from his turban. “Such a stone as
this,” he says, reflectively, holding up the Balax to the light, as if
unable to detach his eyes from it, “I never saw, though I am cunning in
gems. It is unequalled. It may save my crown. Who knows? Till then I
will cherish it as a lover does his mistress. In my bosom I will place
thee, wondrous stone, next to my heart of hearts.”[A]

       *       *       *       *       *

Don Juan, though wholly disapproving these barbarities as useless and
uncivilised, instead of falling away from his master like the rest,
applies himself to strengthen his cause. To the dissipated and the young
he holds out the prospect of unlimited license; to the ambitious, power;
to

[Illustration: Death of “El Gran Capitan.”

From a Painting by M. Crespo.

National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Madrid, 1884.]

the covetous, domains. Nothing is left undone that can determine the
wavering and secure the doubtful. “The ultimate success of the pretender
of Trastamare,” he says, “is an event utterly improbable; and even
should he come, it would only be to enrich his own followers by a
fearful reckoning among those who have opposed him.”

Subtle arguments these, and admirably suited to the temper of the times,
when men’s minds were swayed either by venal and selfish motives, or by
the terror of ruin and massacre.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don Juan lives in a narrow street, a stone’s throw from the gate of the
Alcazar. His house still remains, a curious monument of the times; a
small, low building with a quaint projecting attic and casements guarded
by rows of low Saracenic arches.

Of course there is a fountain in the small pillared _patio_ where he
received his friends. If it is the same little pillar of spray as in Don
Juan’s time hummed and splashed through the long summer days, I cannot
say, or if he was served by the identical Leporello we know so well, and
scolded by the shrewish wife Doña Elvira, who always sings in “_alt_.”
But it is certain that the low door of his house gave access nightly to
crowds of rollicking guests and fair masked señoras, and that the king
in disguise often stepped across the street from the Alcazar to take
part in the revelry.

The real Don Juan lives in evil times. Seville is growing desperate
with the tyranny of the king. The name of Enrique el Caballero is
whispered everywhere as a saviour to an oppressed people. It is said
indeed that he has again been proclaimed king at Cahorra by his
followers, at the head of the _Grandes Compagnies_, and that Charles V.
of France treats with him as friend to friend.

The priests despise Don Pedro because he lies under an interdict, and no
masses can be said in the churches; the libertines hate him because he
judges them severely and gives such large measure to himself; and the
lovers and husbands because no woman is safe.

No two men are of the same mind in this divided city. The houses are
barricaded, the towers turned into fortresses, the iron lattices of the
windows, where true lovers whisper, into loopholes for pikes and arrows;
the black crosses in the plazas are stained with blood, and the dead
often lie unburied in the _calle_. In all these disorders Don Juan is a
leader, cutting down the king’s enemies like dogs, and anathematising
all rebels to his cause. “Let us make merry ere we die,” is the cry of
the _Sevillianos_, not knowing what may befall; and so they pass the
time in the certainty of coming warfare between Don Enrique and the
king, in rioting and profligacy.

The very priests live like gallants, and the nuns trail silken gowns.
Merry-makings and orgies are held even in the churches, and drinking and
dancing are common among the graves, much to Don Juan’s delight as a
scoffer and a blasphemer, who gaily foots it to a rattling measure with
the bones.

From dancing the citizens get to fighting; a few cry for Don Pedro, but
more shout for El Caballero and thus from bad to worse the evil days
pass along.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a homely proverb which says, “The devil will have his own.”
This is proved in the history of Don Juan de Mañara. During an orgy, at
which another noted gallant and profligate, Don Santiago de Augebo, is
present, a _gitana_ of great beauty slips in to sell flowers to the
noble señors lounging in drunken mirth among the wine-cups.

Impudent gitana! Swords are drawn and a free fight for her possession
instantly ensues, Don Santiago getting the upper hand and seizing on
her, spite of her screams.

“Now, by all the saints and devils!” cries Don Juan, touched by the
genuine terror of the girl, “give us also a chance, Señor Caballero,”
and as the other opposes him, although in his own house, he draws his
rapier and falls on him with such thundering blows that Santiago sinks
insensible on the floor.

The gitana, somewhat above her class, and very beautiful, kisses Don
Juan’s hand, which he returns by raising her and pressing his lips to
hers. Then plunging his hand into the depths of his doublet he pulls out
a well-filled purse, which he gives her with a glance out of his wicked
eyes, such as the stage Don Giovanni bestows on Zerlina and with like
effect, much to the amazement of the company, who rise up to shout and
laugh as he conducts her with mock solemnity to the gate of the
_patio_--especially Don Santiago, by this time recovered, and swearing
secret vengeance on Don Juan.

To the Leporello of that day, by name Gesuelo, Don Juan secretly issues
his commands to find out all he can about the gitana, which is done by
the ready-witted knave, who tells him her name is Caritad, and that her
father abandoned her mother at her birth.

But next morning, with the fumes of last night’s wine the image of
Caritad vanishes, and he orders a great supper in honour of Don Pedro,
to which all the gallants of Seville are bidden.

“Death to the king’s enemies” is the toast, and Don Pedro himself graces
the board with his presence. But a cloud of care rests on his young
face. All looks dark. The Black Prince, on whose help he has so firmly
relied, has not responded to his repeated calls for help, while Enrique
is supported by the presence of the redoubtable Du Guesclin or
_Clayquin_ as he is called in contemporary history. Now they have
entered Spain, and actually Toledo, Burgos, Salamanca, Palencia, and
other cities of the north are with them. The King of Portugal is
doubtful in his allegiance, the passes of the Pyrenees swarm with French
adventurers and rebels, tramping down to join Enrique’s camp at
Logroño; and worse than all, his little son, Alonso, Maria de Padilla’s
child, his only male heir and successor, is dying. Ever since the death
of Blanche the horrors of a violent and speedy death possess him. Do as
he will, curse, carouse, murder, and blaspheme, he cannot shake off the
sinister foreboding. The murder of the _Rey Bermejo_ has alienated the
Moors, and Seville, his own Seville, is wavering.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the banquet proceeds and the heads of the guests begin to turn under
the effect of the choice wines of Andalusia, passed round in golden cups
and goblets, Don Juan suddenly rises and drinks the health of the
_hereditary ally of Castile_--the hero of Crécy and Poitiers--Edward,
the Black Prince--now lying encamped in Guienne at Bordeaux; extols his
prowess and generosity, and cunningly passing on to vaunt the respect
and affection he bears to his master the king, announces his speedy
arrival in Spain with the flower of the English chivalry unrivalled in
the world.

Don Juan knows this is a lie, and that the Black Prince has shown no
sign, but that matters little if only he can succeed in impressing the
company with the belief that he is on the road to fight Don Enrique.
Indeed, to do this is the principal aim of the banquet, and he takes
care to bring forward the intelligence at a moment when no one is in a
condition either to canvass or to dispute it.

The name of the Black Prince is coupled with those of the English
knights who accompany him--Captain de Buch, Thomas of Canterbury,
Montfort, and the gallant and elegant Chandos. The feats of arms
performed in the taking of Toledo by Don Pedro are remembered, and also
the ugliness of the women, except indeed the Jewesses. The humiliating
particulars of Don Enrique’s flight are detailed, and loud laughter
ensues at his sham coronation at Burgos. But no one dares to mention
that the _Grandes Compagnies_ have entered Castile commanded by the
Comte de la Marche, of the royal blood of St. Louis, and Du Guesclin,
and that with Don Enrique they are marching upon Seville!

At the mention of his brother’s name the king’s passion blazes out; he
clenches his fist and the veins swell on his forehead. Starting to his
feet, his blue eyes travel round the room, as if he would read on each
countenance the bias of the mind within. Then, seizing a jewelled cup,
which he holds on high, he drinks: “Death to the bastard, and by the
Holy Cross of Compostella may he burn in Hell!”

There is a pause. No one echoes this savage curse of brother to brother.
Even the well-seasoned profligates around are sobered for an instant by
the unnatural toast.

In the general silence which follows, Leporello or Gesuelo makes his
way to his master with a musk-scented letter in his hand, bound with a
blue ribbon.

Cutting the ribbon with his dagger, Don Juan (like a man accustomed to
such missives) glances at the signature, then lets it fall. What matter?
It is signed Amina. Who is Amina? He has already forgotten!

When the king rises to depart, Don Juan accompanies him to the portal of
the Alcazar, followed by the soberer guests. The open letter lies upon
the floor. It is perceived by Don Santiago who, raising it on the point
of his rapier, reads these words aloud: “Come to me, false one, come ere
I die. Amina.”

Shouts of laughter follow, and deep draughts of wine are drunk to speed
her parting soul to purgatory; not forgetting the health of the gitana
Caritad, with whom Don Santiago swears he will cut out Don Juan.

Meanwhile Don Juan wanders on from the Alcazar into the dark streets. A
vague notion possesses him he is going to visit some one, but if it be
his new love Caritad, or his ancient flame Amina, of whom he has long
lost sight, or both, he cannot clearly define. From the streets he turns
into the Plaza de San Francesco, and perceives a light in a house
opposite the Palace of the Ayuntamiento (the first floor still remains,
all _miradores_, like the wooden houses in England). On approaching, a
silken ladder appears attached to the balcony.

“By St. Anthony! a public tryst!” Don Juan mutters. “Which of the fair
ones I seek thus openly hangs out the signal?”

Then he falls into a deep cogitation as to the owner of the house. But
Gesuelo has the list of the three hundred and three noble ladies he
loves in Seville, and such peasants too who are worthy of his attention,
and it was thus he came to know Zerlina, and gave such trouble to that
poor fool Masetto. For the life of him, he cannot now remember who lives
here, but in a confused way he recalls the letter which he feels for in
his vest and misses.

“Confusion,” he mutters to himself. “Into whose hands has it fallen?
Meanwhile, here goes!” he cries aloud, “Caritad or the Devil; it is all
the same to me, so it be a woman,” and he vaults on the rounds of the
ladder and swings himself up to the bars of the balcony.

Within he pauses. All is dark. Somehow, the abundant moon shining
outside does not penetrate into the room. To see clearly he must remove
his mask, when he discerns from an inner chamber the glimmering of a
taper.

Drawing his sword he rushes forward and finds himself before a couch
closely shrouded. With haste he removes the draperies and beholds a lady
sleeping. Stooping to observe her more closely, with a beating heart he
removes a veil, and his eyes fix themselves on the hideous aspect of a
corpse festering in its shroud! _This is his first warning._

[Illustration: THE GARDEN OF THE GENERALIFE, GRANADA.]

Later, at midnight, in the ancient quarter of the Macerena, Don Juan
falls in with a funeral procession, with torches, singing, and banners.
It is some grandee of high degree, doubtless--there are so many muffled
figures, mutes carrying silver horns, the insignia of knighthood borne
upon a shield, a saddled horse led by a shadowy page, and the dim forms
of priests and monks chanting death dirges.

Don Juan can recall no death at court or among the nobles, and this is
plainly a funeral of quality. Nor can he explain a midnight burial, a
thing unknown except in time of war or plague; so, advancing from the
dark gateway where he stood to let the procession pass, he addresses
himself to one of the muffled figures and asks: “Whose body are they
bearing to the Osario at this strange time?”

“Don Juan de Mañara” is the reply. “Will you follow, and say a prayer
for his sinful soul?”

As these words are spoken, the procession seems to pause, and one
advances who flings back the wreaths of flowers which lie around the
face, and lo! Don Juan beholds his own visage in the coffin!

Spellbound he seems to join the ghastly throng which wends its way to
the Church of Santa Iñes. Here other spectral priests appear to meet it
and carry the bier into the nave, where next morning he is found by the
nuns, coming into matins, insensible on the floor! _This is the second
warning._

After this the name of Don Juan was heard no more at court. Whither he
went, no one knew, not even Gesuelo. At length he was discovered in a
monastic dress, living in a hospital he had founded for the old and
bedridden, on the banks of the Guadalquivir, opposite the Golden Tower
where Don Pedro kept his treasure,--a quaint old building which still
remains close to the custom-house. You cannot pass a day in Seville
without remarking it as you follow along the wharf crowded with merchant
ships and steamers, placed a little back but conspicuous by its
whiteness.

       *       *       *       *       *

On an ancient portal, much ornamented in that _barocco_ style into which
Seville fell when ceasing to be Moorish, are graven these words:

    Sancta Caridad
    Domus Pauperum
      Scala Cœli.

On one side are the high windows of a Gothic hall, where aged men sit,
so shrunk and old one seems to think death has forgotten them. A low
iron-bound door leads you farther into the nave of a noble church,
supported by twisted pillars such as Raphael loved to paint as the
background of his frescoes.

It is very still and rather dark, for red blinds are drawn over the
windows, but you plainly perceive the high altar, gay with coloured
marbles, and on the highest step where you plant your foot there is a
monumental slab let into the pavement, engraven with these words:

        Cenizas del peor
    Nombre que ha habido
        en el Mundo,
    Don Juan de Mañara.[B]

The disappearance of Don Juan from the stormy scene was little heeded by
Don Pedro in all the confusion of civil war. He was but a bolder sinner
than the rest, and that he had turned from the devil to the priest was a
contemptible proof of weakness.

No gallant rode down the bank of the Guadalquivir without launching a
sneer at the old Gothic pile where, habited in sackcloth, he tended the
sick and the dying to the last day of his life.

A riotous band still remained about the king for midnight adventure, to
spoil churches, sack convents, waylay travellers, fight duels, and
guzzle good Val de Peñas within the gilded walls of the Alcazar. But
even the terrified nobles by-and-by fall away from Don Pedro, who has
hardened into such a tyrant men fly from him as from a fiend.



CHAPTER XVII

Don Enrique again Crowned King--Flight of Don Pedro


The time has now come that Don Pedro knows not where to turn. All Spain
is divided by civil war. Seville, his own Seville, is full of
conspirators, awaiting the arrival of Don Enrique to declare for him;
and the Black Prince, on whom he so confidently reckoned, remains
absolutely deaf to his appeals.

Even were he willing to repent, he is for ever shut out from salvation
in this world and the next. No church is open to him; no priest, however
base, dare shrive him for his sins. He is as one accursed.

What those words were, traced by the dying hand of Blanche, no man yet
knows--not his closest friends, and they are few; but ever since a
strange gloom clings to him which never lifts, and in his sleep he
wrestles as in throes of agony.

Events succeed each other with dramatic rapidity. His ally, Charles the
Bad, King of Navarre, alarmed at the passage of the French, breaks the
alliance and joins with the King of Aragon against him.

Enrique, worshipped by his followers, is again solemnly crowned within
the ancient capital of Burgos, in that lovely cathedral, embroidered
like a state robe, lately completed, his _padrino_ and godfather being
the great warrior Du Guesclin, the first commander of the age, although
it is said he can neither read nor write.

The Comte de la Marche, cousin of Blanche, and also of the House of
Bourbon, represents the King of France, and stands on his right hand on
the steps of the high altar, under that glorious window which floods the
space with light, along with marshals and generals, Castilian and
French, condes and great lords of Aragon, and a lordly show of knights
and _caballeros_ from Leon and Andalusia.

The troops are, as usual in such levies, mixed in nationalities and
wanting in unity and discipline, but commanded by Du Guesclin who dares
contemplate defeat?

“Remember, most valiant constable,” had said to him his master Charles,
the King of France, son of the unfortunate John, prisoner in England, “I
shall owe you more than if you gained me a province, if you destroy the
murderer of Blanche.”

Nor should this command be forgotten in Du Guesclin’s justification
later on; Charles was his liege lord; he had issued his orders, and in
the feudal spirit of the age, at _any price_ Du Guesclin is bound to
obey.

       *       *       *       *       *

Open and generous, Enrique makes gifts to all, forgetting he has as yet
nothing to bestow. Condes and princedoms drop from his hand on all
around (real _châteaux en Espagne_). There is no end to his _largesse_,
and so successful is this method that in twenty-five days he holds the
south and marches on Toledo, where he is received with cries of “Long
live Enrique the merciful, who comes to save us from our enemy, Don
Pedro.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Again Enrique is at the lordly Alcazar overlooking the everlasting
plains, from whence he was so ignominiously driven by Don Pedro and the
Jews. Again behold him, the very picture of a young king whom fortune
favours, as he descends the stately flights of stairs and moves once
more among the magnificent ranges of colonnades which hold up the great
_patio_, to receive the salutations of long lines of knights and nobles
who have flocked from all parts to his standard.

What a tossing of feathers and flash of arms around! True lovers’ knots
on shields and shoulders, helmets shaded with waving plumes, lances
bound with gaily-embroidered scarves, the inlaid handles of swords and
falchions sparkling with gems, and corselets and breastplates bound in
with glittering girdles.

Enrique comes in war but he wears the dress of peace, as one at ease,
certain of success. Let Pedro flaunt the morions, casques, shields,
bucklers, and weapons of conflict, Enrique has already assumed the
_débonnaire_ air of a well-established monarch sure of his subjects’
love. (That he is a bastard with no legal right to the throne is
forgotten in the general triumph.)

Graceful and polished in his manners as becomes _El Rey Caballero_, the
personal charm he exercises over all who approach him is unbounded,
especially when compared to the morose cynicism of Don Pedro, who mocks
ere he destroys.

Sir Hugh Calverley and many English knights and esquires of the free
companies which have overrun France in the late wars are with him during
the present inactivity of the Black Prince at Bordeaux, and his old
friend and loyal supporter, the Asturian noble, Don Jaime Alvarez, rules
his counsels as heretofore. Pope Urban V., incensed at the blasphemies
and profligacy of Don Pedro, subsidises and blesses him. Even the rough
warrior Du Guesclin yields to the fascination of his address, an
influence destined soon to lead him to the commission of a crime by
which his good name is for ever tarnished.

No female element fills in the frame of this chivalrous court. He has a
wife, her name casually occurs, but there all information ends. At all
events, no woman takes a prominent part in his career, as with his
brother Don Pedro.

Meanwhile the king, warned by his ministers that he is no longer safe in
Seville, rides out of the gates guarded by a small troop of men-at-arms,
commanded by the faithful Emanuel, and accompanied by his chancellor,
Fernando de Castro, Don Martino Lopez de Cordova, Grand Master of
Alcantara, Don Diego Gomez, Don Mem Rodrigues, a warlike captain who has
taken the place of Don Juan de Mañara in his confidence, and some
others.

You may count his adherents on your fingers they are so few. Even that
pampered villain Garcia de Padilla has forsaken him since his sister’s
death, and gone over to the winning side, and along with him are Orosco,
Mendoza, and La Vega.

The three daughters of Maria de Padilla accompany him, young girls whose
names leave no record on the page of history--Costanza married John of
Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III., and thus established a
claim, often asserted but never seriously entertained, to the throne of
Castile; and Isabel, the younger, espoused his brother Edmund of
Cambridge.

But, dearer than child or friend, Don Pedro carries with him his
treasure and the famous ruby (Balax) of the Moors hid in his bosom.

       *       *       *       *       *

The outlook is not cheerful. Spite of his constant boast of close
alliance with the English, the Black Prince at Bordeaux as yet has made
no sign. It is true that his daughter Costanza is at this time affianced
to her cousin, the Infante of Portugal, and Don Pedro rides straight
over the Sierra Morena to the frontier, certain of the protection of his
uncle the king.

Don Diego Gomez is sent forward from Talavera, where he waits, to
hasten the marriage. The Infanta is ready; with her she brings the crown
of Castile, the jewels of her mother, Maria de Padilla, and such dower
as is required; anything he has, even the Balax, so that Costanza is
wedded!

It is a matter of life or death. All depends on Portugal. An uncle, an
ally, a natural protector--it is impossible he can fail.

Don Diego returns. The King of Portugal will not receive him. He
declines the marriage with Costanza for his son, the visionary crown,
treasure, all--and warns Don Pedro sternly from crossing the borders of
his kingdom upon peril of his life.

Many of his followers now forsake him in his need. But the chancellor,
Don Fernando de Castro, is faithful, and Mem Rodrigues and Emanuel are
ready to offer up their lives.

An absolute fugitive, Don Pedro craves from his uncle a safe conduct
into Galicia, the only province in Spain, except Murcia, which still
acknowledges him as sovereign.

In this miserable plight he arrives in the fruitful valley of beautiful
Monterey in a most disconsolate condition, at the very moment that Don
Enrique and Du Guesclin enter the city of Seville.

Yet even now the track of blood follows Don Pedro. As he passes through
Santiago, the holy city of pilgrimage, where lie the relics of the
Protector of Spain, after dining in company with the Archbishop, he
calls him to the gate and has him murdered before his eyes, as well as
the _Decano_ or Dean, within the precincts of the cathedral.

       *       *       *       *       *

Express after express flies in swift-rigged boat across the Bay of
Biscay to Bayonne, addressed to the Black Prince and to his ally, that
arrant traitor, the King of Navarre, who is with him at Bordeaux.

No answer comes. At last, driven to despair, Don Pedro himself rides
forward to the coast, fits out a galley at La Groyne, and sets sail for
Bayonne, escorted by all the vessels he can find, to plead his cause in
person before the Prince of Wales.



CHAPTER XVIII

Don Pedro Appeals to Edward the Black Prince to Replace Him on the
Throne


The Black Prince--so named from the dark colour of his armour, and only
fifteen years old when he was made a knight on the victorious field of
Crécy by his father Edward III., and named by him Duke of Guienne and
Seneschal of Aquitaine,--is the most notable figure of his day.
Fabulously brave and romantically merciful, his modesty and generosity
are only equalled by his military skill. Bearing in the field the device
of the King of Bohemia, killed in the battle of Crécy, three plumes
erect, with the motto “_Ich dien_,” his sword has never known defeat.

Three years have now elapsed in peace, during which time he has resided
in royal state at Bordeaux with his wife, “the fair maid of Kent,” a
period of inaction as irksome to himself as to those stormy spirits
about him.

Nothing therefore could be more welcome to him than the news that Don
Pedro had actually disembarked at Bayonne to solicit his help to regain
his crown. As yet the policy of England had been undecided; now his
father must take a side, and the prospect of war fills him with joy.

Promptly he despatches the Lord of Payme and other nobles to welcome him
when he lands, and to bring him with all honour to Bordeaux.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sumptuous pavilion prepared for their meeting lies outside the city,
among pleasant meadows by the banks of the wide Garonne, that noble
estuary which cuts into the land with the importance of an inland sea.

It is shaped in three compartments, the central one occupied by the
Black Prince, that to the right assigned to Don Pedro, and that to the
left to the King of Navarre, at the present moment paying his court to
Prince Edward as holding the winning hand.

The interior is lined with rich tissues and brocaded silks, the
draperies of cloth of gold held up by swords and lances, battle-axes and
steel helmets--giving a warlike aspect to what would otherwise have been
simply a luxurious and splendid bower.

Skins of animals killed in the chase cover the floor and are also
attached to the lower portion of the pillars which support the light
roof, adorned with flags and banners, the standard of St. George
conspicuous in the front. Beneath, on a table, lies a glancing axe,
ready, if needful, for all emergencies.

Outside, the building is covered with silken curtains under ranges of
feathers, tassels, and streamers flaunting in the light breeze, and at
the tented entrance are placed two large shields, one bearing the
cognisance of the Black Prince, the other the arms of England quartered
with the _fleur-de-lis_ of France.

Around gathers a brilliant court. Seneschals bedecked with chains of
gold, chamberlains in rich robes, worked with the escutcheons of England
and of Aquitaine, pages, warriors, the captains of companies who have
followed Edward in all his wars, hoary soldiers grown grey in many
battles, nobles arrayed in historic armour come down from generations of
warlike ancestors, bearing great names, Gallic and English, illustrious
in themselves and enhancing the greatness of their master. The two
younger brothers of the Prince of Wales, John of Gaunt, as brilliant as
a popinjay, to be ever known in history as “Time-honoured Lancaster,”
his younger brother, Edmund, Duke of York and Cambridge, a gallant young
prince--both wearing the blue badge of the new Order of the Garter at
their knee, and emulous of attracting the notice of Don Pedro’s young
daughters, of whose beauty report says much. The two Marshals of
Aquitaine, Sir Guiscard of Angoulême and Sir Stephen Coffington;
Beauchamp, Lord of Abergavenny, Lord Ralph Neville of Warwick, Clayton,
Sir John Tyrrell, Sir Hugh Hastings, the trusted ally of England Jean de
Montfort, and, though last, not least, the manly figure of Chandos, of
whom in these wars one hears so much--politician, tactician, and
constable of all the provinces of France. Others may assume various
modes and fantastic changes in dress and accoutrement, but Chandos never
changes and always appears in armour of proof, arrayed to take the
field.

In the centre, backed by the fanciful outline of the gay pavilion,
stands the Black Prince, ready at the first imitation of Don Pedro’s
arrival to advance and welcome him to his domains.

To suit the occasion, he is attired in a costume equally recalling the
court and the camp. A loose surcoat of blue velvet, heavily embroidered
with the arms of England, partly conceals the light suit of chain armour
which clings to his form; at his waist is a girdle to which an axe and
sword are attached, and on his head a cap edged by a jewelled coronet,
from which rise the three heron’s feathers of his device.

Lofty in nature is the prince, square and solid in limb and chest, his
hair cut short as convenient for his helmet, his upper lip, after the
Norman fashion, covered with a thick moustache which mingled with his
beard, light brown in colour, and long and luxuriant. Somewhat prominent
large hazel eyes look out of a well-moulded face remarkable for mildness
of expression, his whole personality singularly engaging, an impression
only heightened as the fine curves of his lips open with the candour of
a natural smile.

“Our ally tarries on the way,” he says, scanning

[Illustration: THE INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE, ALHAMBRA.]

the bare expanse of the sandy track before him, bordering the Garonne,
broken by the lines of vineyards in the more cultivated lands. “Perhaps
he would make us feel that we have been remiss in replying to his
various messages. Nothing but absolute obedience to my father’s order
would have kept me so long silent, in face of the news of his great
need.”

The prince addresses himself to Chandos, who stands immediately behind
him, his wrinkled countenance already showing marks of the hard life he
has led in camps and battles, but, as he speaks, he lays his hand
lightly on the shoulder of his brother Lancaster, looking out with eager
eyes in the same direction as himself.

“How now, my young gallant, are you impatient to behold the Spanish
beauties? Who knows if you do not lose your fickle heart to one? These
señoritas of Andalusia must surely inherit some of their mother, Maria
de Padilla’s boasted charms.”

The downy cheeks of young Lancaster turn to a rosy red at general
attention being thus openly called to him. He turns aside, somewhat
annoyed that his curiosity has been detected by his brother, and mutters
something about a leveret of a certain breed which he expects from
Spain. The excuse is received by the prince with a light laugh, and in a
lower voice he continues his conversation with Chandos.

“I confess that nothing but the king’s actual presence on English soil
would have decided me to look with favour on the expedition he comes to
propose.”

“I agree with you, my lord,” is the answer of Chandos. “A campaign in
the centre of Spain is a dangerous venture with a nation of enemies at
our back.”

“Yet,” adds the Black Prince, and a serious expression comes into his
eyes, “the personal appeal of an allied prince is difficult to refuse,
especially under the present circumstances of his arrival. But much as I
should rejoice once more to draw the sword, I can bind myself to nothing
but an interchange of courtesies at present.”

“Right, my lord,” answers Chandos, “I am of the same mind as your Grace.
Besides, it appears to my humble judgment that a sovereign rejected by
the whole nation cannot have an altogether clean chronicle to show.
Report, at least, is not favourable to Don Pedro, who has gained the
nickname of _El Cruel_.”

“Tut, tut,” answers the prince impatiently, “subjects must obey their
masters. I myself have no patience with these Castilian nobles who call
in a bastard in place of their lawful king. Until I see cause to change,
my sympathies are all with Don Pedro.”

“But your Highness will promise nothing, I trust, without direct
permission of the king, your father?”

“Of course not,” answers the prince. “Have I not said so? My powers, as
yours, are limited to our provinces of Guienne and Aquitaine. A descent
into Spain altogether exceeds my instructions; but I shall much marvel
if the king, my honoured father, and his ministers do not share my
feelings in the matter of our ancient ally, driven to such straits as
_personally_ to present himself with his daughters, a suppliant at our
court.”

Chandos bowed but made no further observation. It was clear his mind was
against Don Pedro, of whose wanton acts of cruelty and bad faith he had
heard so much. As far as his counsels were concerned, he would have the
King of Castile bound down so strictly that he could not escape from his
engagements. He knew that the loyal nature of the prince was too ready
to take every man at his own value, especially at a time when he and his
young brothers were longing to take the field.

At this moment the King of Navarre appeared, coming from the interior of
the pavilion, a ready smile on his lip little indicative of the
treachery within.

“Will your Grace join us,” asks the Black Prince, receiving him with the
gracious courtesy so natural to him that it was felt alike by all, “in a
descent into Spain, which undoubtedly will be the purport of the king’s
visit to us here?”

Now, as the King of Navarre has secretly sworn upon the Sacrament an
alliance with Enrique de Trastamare, giving him and the _Grandes
Compagnies_ of Du Guesclin passage over the Pyrenees at the same moment
that he is joining with the Black Prince in the friendly reception of
Don Pedro--this question, so frankly put, is difficult to parry. Before
the open gaze of Edward his keen eyes drop, and with some hesitation he
is understood to say that where the hero of England leads he will gladly
follow, but that the smallness of his kingdom, placed between two great
powers, will prevent his personal interference in the war.

Turning from him with a frown, the prince again anxiously directs his
eyes to the path along the banks of the river by which Don Pedro is to
approach. This time he does not look in vain.

In the track of a vivid sun ray, which bursts from a mass of clouds on
the western horizon, the brilliant colours of flags and banners break
among the green branches of a low avenue of willows, to be caught up and
reflected in the broad current of the Garonne; the dark forms of mounted
horsemen on caracoling steeds are followed by lords and attendants
standing out on the grey landscape, in all the bravery of those romantic
times where embroidered devices, crests, arms, and mottoes form a
necessary part of dress, along with richly inlaid arms and costly robes
edged with fur.

First rides Don Pedro, mounted on a Spanish barb, caparisoned with
velvet housings; but as a fugitive and a suppliant he has rejected all
the pompous display prepared for him, and appears in a dark cap and
sombre mantle which covers his high black boots worn to the thigh.

Close beside him appear Emanuel and Mem Rodrigues, whose watchful eyes
never leave him, among friends or foes. Whatever he may be to others, he
is dear to them, and they well know in what continual danger he lives.

Behind him come his three daughters, the youngest but a lovely child,
each mounted on easy-going jennets, his chancellor, and the few of his
court who have not forsaken him on the road.

The mournful appearance of Don Pedro and the consciousness that he has
been wanting to his royal guest in the attention due to an ally, so move
the warm heart of the Black Prince that, bowing to the ground, he
advances rapidly to embrace him, while Don Pedro, who has at once
dismounted, would only have kissed his hand.

“Welcome, sire, to the territory of England,” cries the prince,
addressing him in the French tongue, which both speak fluently. “I
esteem myself happy to offer my personal homage to your Grace in my own
name and in that of my royal father.”

“I thank you,” is Don Pedro’s laconic answer, turning upon him a curious
gaze in which something of the bitterness of the disregarded suppliant
appears. That he, an anointed sovereign, had been forced by the prince’s
coldness to journey here, raises in his breast a wave of bitter pride
which, in his revengeful nature, may in part explain the perfidy of his
subsequent conduct.

“And you, fair flowers of Spain,” continues the Black Prince, turning to
the Infantas, who had also dismounted and who gather timidly round the
prince to make obeisance, “I would welcome you also, and express my deep
regret that my consort, the Princess of Wales, to whose tender care I
would have consigned you, has by reason of her condition not been able
to leave Angoulême to meet you. Meanwhile, my brothers of Lancaster and
York, nearer of your age and therefore more apt than myself in judging
of your needs, will take her place in all necessary courtesies.”

John of Gaunt bashfully advances to take his place among the young
princesses with his brother, both much encouraged by the glimpse of the
lovely eyes of Doña Costanza, glowing like stars under the folds of a
black mantilla which descends almost to her feet, while Don Pedro
gravely acknowledges the salutations of the warriors and the court, and
expresses his thanks for the magnificence of the courtesy with which he
has been received.

“Can the stricken heart of a sovereign know comfort,” he says, in his
high and trillant voice, singularly unpleasant after the agreeable
intonation of the Black Prince, “against whom his people and those of
his own blood have turned traitors, it is alone at the hands of your
Grace. This moment of meeting with you, most illustrious Prince, is the
only instant of consolation I have enjoyed since I left my rebellious
country, given up to the horrors of civil war. I come in the guise of a
beggar, but it is to one who can replace me on the throne.”

Whether Don Pedro, from long habits of hypocrisy, really believed what
he said is doubtful, but he had at least the art of convincing those
whom he addressed. This faculty of deceit, his specious flattery, his
royal air, even under the modest garb he wore, at once fascinated the
frank and open-hearted prince, overjoyed at the prospect of a speedy
campaign to reinstate him.

As they pass into the pavilion where a sumptuous collation has been
prepared, Edward himself, spite of the protest of his guest, not only
offers to the king the golden embossed salver of scented water to wash
his hands, but during the first course stands to serve him, behind his
chair, before taking his own seat at the board.

“I know my place as a subject,” are his words, “and I pray your Grace
not to impede me in the fulfilment of my duty.”

Not so Chandos, who observes Don Pedro at his ease, and marks with
suspicion the sinister expression of his young face, and the falseness
of the smile he calls up in answer to the hearty greetings of the
prince.

Adversity and dissipation had already scored with hard lines that yet
boy-like countenance. The faultless mould of feature is still there, as
we see it perpetuated in the bust at Seville, but a perfidious glance
mars its beauty.

Small and thin in stature, Don Pedro is entirely overtopped by the
English prince, who sits erect and strong as a young oak beside the
willow-like suppleness of his Spanish guest.

Much discussion of ways and means takes place between them after the
collation, the Black Prince lending a willing ear to the representations
of Don Pedro and his reiterated promises to reinstate the English king
in such subsidies as should be advanced to him in order to raise a
fighting army to take the field.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Bordeaux Don Pedro passes to Angoulême with his daughters--in the
same state, accompanied by the Black Prince, his young brother, the King
of Navarre, and the Duke of Lancaster, in whose young heart the girlish
beauty of Doña Costanza has made a serious impression--to salute the
princess, who is daily expecting her confinement.

The reticence of the Black Prince alarmed Don Pedro. No decision of any
kind as to the support he had come to seek could be extracted from him;
open-hearted and honest almost to a fault, he had been so earnestly
implored by Chandos to enter into no semblance of an engagement before
he had obtained the assent of his father, Edward III., that he
absolutely put a bridle on his lips whenever Don Pedro sought speciously
to approach the subject so near his heart, until he had received the
royal sanction. That such sanction would come he felt convinced, the
very idea of an open attack upon royalty (in those feudal times held so
sacred and inviolable) would probably have sufficed to ensure the
consent of King Edward, but more amply so when united to the political
advantages ensured by a close alliance with Castile.

Not only is a formal permission demanded by the Black Prince himself to
march into Spain, but it is backed by the official protest of Don Pedro
against the manifold wrongs and injuries inflicted on him.

Of gifts the Black Prince will have none. To him jewels and treasures
come as ignoble bribes; but in the meantime at least it is open to Don
Pedro to lavish presents on the Princess of Wales as an indirect mode of
gaining her goodwill. A table of curious workmanship, set with priceless
gems, is presented and long preserved in England, and, though last not
least, the precious Balax, destined so strangely to find a central place
in the English crown.

Nothing could exceed the lavish promises of Don Pedro. The lordship of
Biscay, which, as close to Guienne, is important, is conferred on the
Black Prince and his heirs for ever, signed with the seal of Castile, a
curious state document which remains in England to this day--Pedro
binding himself also, by the most solemn oaths, to pay large subsidies
to the English troops, and equal parts of the general cost of the war to
the Prince himself; a rich dower to the Infanta Costanza, forthwith
affianced to the young Duke of Lancaster, already languishing in a not
hopeless passion which is, he thinks, to insure to him the crown of
Spain--she, in the meantime, as well as her two sisters, to remain at
Bayonne as hostages for her father’s word.

All this was concluded in the presence of Charles of Navarre, surnamed
“the Bad,” who, having secretly largely facilitated the passage of the
_Grandes Compagnies_ into Spain against Don Pedro, now receives from him
the grant of the provinces of Guipuzcoa and Alava, the town of Vittoria,
and any other he may choose to claim, upon condition that he will serve
in person in the coming expedition against Don Enrique.

As to the Black Prince, the martial ardour within him is already at
fever heat. There is something inexpressibly attractive to him in the
prospect of meeting his ancient rival, Du Guesclin, in the field. The
constable had good reason for extolling the magnanimity of the prince in
the matter of his brother Oliver, taken prisoner in the battle of
Poitiers by Thomas of Canterbury--and though ready to engage against
each other in battle, their feeling is of friends.

In these days of mercenary warfare no shame was felt in passing from one
side to the other if the pay was good. “To live by the sword” was a
noble profession, and the needy knight or commoner must go where battle
leads.

From the Black Prince downwards, every English trooper and archer was
enthusiastic in the cause of Don Pedro. Even the calm Chandos was
infected, if not convinced, in the face of such constant denials, and
specious explanations on his part. Like his master Plantagenet he
grudged every day that detained him inactive in Guienne until the
authority of Edward III. was received.

As a preliminary, heralds were at once sent into Castile to summon the
English and Gascon knights who had taken service with _Don Henry the
Bastard_ (so was the brilliant Caballero designated in these state
papers) “to repair to the prince’s standard with all speed,” an order
instantly obeyed by Sir Hugh Calverley, Sir Eustace d’Ambrecourt, Walter
Hewitt, and the Lords of Devereux and Neville, to the considerable
weakening of Don Enrique’s army.

At length the long-desired decision came from the council, assembled at
the Court of Windsor, 1366, which set forth that it was “noble and
honourable, as well as just and advantageous, to assist Don Pedro, King
of Castile and Leon, in his legal rights,” and that his Highness Edward
Prince of Wales, was authorised to march with the forces he might think
fit to effect the same, under the command of Lord John Chandos, High
Constable of Aquitaine, Sir Guiscard d’Angoulême, Sir Stephen Coffington
the great standard-bearer of St. George, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny,
Neville, Clayton, Tyrrell, Hastings, Cheney, Boteler, Willoughby,
Felton, Loring, the prince’s grand chamberlain and bannister, besides
his foreign followers, De Buch, D’Armagnac, D’Albert, and others.



CHAPTER XIX

The Black Prince Defeats Don Enrique and Reinstates Don Pedro.--Don
Enrique Murders Don Pedro.--Death of Don Enrique.


We are in a romantic age of youth and _fanfaronnade_. Our _dramatis
personæ_ are overflowing with the sap of life. Of the three
Plantagenets, the Black Prince is in the prime of life and fame, his two
young brothers in the heyday of valour and love. Don Pedro, little past
thirty, a professed lady killer and seducer, and Enrique de Trastamare,
the ideal Caballero, a few years older. Add to these those who have
vanished from the scene, Blanche of Castile, but fifteen when she was
married, and Maria de Padilla, dying in the flower of her days, there
results a circle of youth, beauty, and romance unparalleled in history.

As for a tournament these ardent spirits prepare for battle. Only Du
Guesclin is wise and old, also Chandos, who endeavours to allay the
universal ferment in men’s blood. But what is their influence against
the spirit of the age?

When Don Enrique finds himself on the 3d of

[Illustration: A VIEW IN SEGOVIA.

From the engraving by D. Roberts after the painting by J. Cousin.]
April, 1367, face to face with the Black Prince, he has but one idea, to
rush on him at once and make an end! Strategy and prudence are cast to
the winds. “Let us fight like true knights and carry the crown upon a
lance!” is his idea.

Envoys arrive from France and entreat him to avoid a general engagement
with the English chivalry, the finest in the world, led by the Prince of
Wales, but he will have none of their advice. He will fight at once, and
even shifts his advantageous position, against the counsel of Du
Guesclin, on the other side of a small river which divides the camps--to
deal his blows nearer.

“Your Grace will be beat,” says Du Guesclin, scanning with
well-practised eye the battle-field.

“I tell you that this very night I shall be either dead or a prisoner.”

“I shall win!” cries the enthusiastic Caballero. “Santiago and Spain are
with me. But as the Prince of Wales is a valiant knight, and my brother
a lying traitor, that he may know the realm is mine, and that I am
fighting in support of my right, I will send him a cartel to tell him
what is my intent.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“I well perceive,” said the Black Prince, more prudent in his councils,
but as enthusiastic as the rest, when informed of this intention, “that
the bastard Enrique is a valiant prince and shows good courage; so, not
to be behind him in courtesy, I will also address to him a letter in
which I will call on him, according to the laws of honour, to
relinquish the crown which he has unjustly seized.”

Upon which--always following out the idea of a knightly encounter in
which each side sets forth their right by the voice of a herald or
trumpeter--Enrique replies: “To the most puissant Edward, Prince of
Wales, Duke of Aquitaine and Guienne: that King Don Pedro has not, as he
pretends, and as the prince imagines, governed his kingdom well, but as
a tyrant and a traitor, verily giving orders to murder the Lady Blanche,
his lawful wife, and Doña Leonora d’Aragon, his aunt--also his cousins
of the royal blood--and Doña Bianca de Villena for her goods; that also
he killed his three brothers, Don Fadique, Juan, and Pedro, as well as
Martin Gil d’Albuquerque his minister, Don Juan d’Aragon and others; and
that neither did he respect the wives and daughters of divers nobles, or
the rights of the Pope and the Church,--_for which cause and others too
long to be detailed_, and having no _allegiance or followers_ in the
kingdom, his subjects, to deliver themselves from so dangerous a ruler,
have been pleased to name us his successor with universal acclamation.”

But this royal exchange of courtesies did not deter the Black Prince
from fighting desperately. A complete victory was gained at Navarrete.
Enrique lost all his train and equipage, the great Constable Du Guesclin
being the victim as he had foretold, and taken prisoner.

Prostrate on his knees, Don Pedro thanks the Black Prince, who modestly
replies as he raises and embraces him:

“Not to me, but to God, who has given us the victory, give praise.”

This happened on a Saturday. Next day Don Pedro formally requested the
Black Prince to allow him “to put to death all his rebellious soldiers,
so that they might raise no more disturbance in the kingdom against
him.”

“Never, by the blood of Christ!” cried the indignant Plantagenet,
horrified at his bloodthirsty ally; “I did not come into the kingdom of
Spain to act as your Grace’s headsman, but as your defender.” And from
that moment their cordial relations ceased, and the germs of that
coolness and suspicion were sown which so soon led to a formal breach
between them.

“You will find that the King of Castile is not worth the trouble you
have taken to reinstate him,” observed Du Guesclin to the Black Prince,
who, treated him, as his prisoner, with every kind of distinction and
soon after set him at liberty without ransom.

“I begin to think you are right,” was the prince’s answer, deeply moved
at Don Pedro’s cruelty.

Nor did he in this only show the cloven foot. The subsidies he had
promised for the troops were unpaid; all his engagements were broken. As
soon as he found himself once more safe in Seville and reinstated in his
rights, incessant expresses were sent to Burgos, where the prince
lodged, in the ancient monastery of Las Huelgas, outside the gates,
still remaining a most interesting monument of that chivalric time, and
to Valladolid where he moved later--but _no money_.

Nor was the province of Biscay ever ceded to him. In fact the only item
that was fulfilled of the agreement was the marriage of the ardent young
Lancaster with Costanza de Castila.

At length, after the delay of many months, disgusted and disillusioned,
the Black Prince led back his army to Bordeaux, bearing the germs of the
fatal malady of which he died soon after.

Again the scales of fortune turn in this strife between brother and
brother. Deprived of the support of the English, the monstrous cruelties
of Don Pedro again alienate all his subjects, and Don Enrique, supported
by France and Aragon, in company with Du Guesclin, again leads an army
into the field.

“I swear, by the cross of Christ,” cries the romantic Caballero, so apt
a prototype of that fantastic time, “that alive I will never again leave
Castile!” And by a succession of events too complicated to detail, he
does again possess the kingdom, and Don Pedro, defeated and driven at
bay, finds himself blockaded in the castle of Montiel, Don Enrique and
Du Guesclin holding the country round.

       *       *       *       *       *

The castle of Montiel lies on the side of an escarped and precipitous
rock, amid the rugged flanks of the Sierra Morena, that lofty barrier
which divides Spain from Portugal. It is a fortress of no great size,
but at that time it was surrounded by strong walls, and from its
position deemed impregnable.

Beneath open dark caves, the refuge of hunters and shepherds, emerald
breasted valleys musical with streams, and arrowy peaks known only to
the eagle and the heron; the black defiles of the _Despeñaperros_ break
between where the dead bodies of Moors once carpeted the soil--and
beyond the bare corn tracts of La Mancha open out, and smiling vine
terraces purple with fruit.

(Dear to the modern mind is the name of the Sierra Morena, as Don
Quixote’s country, where you may follow him as a living man between
Montiel and Toledo. The Cueva de Montesino, where he sojourned with
Sancho Panza, the Posada de la Melodia, where he cut the necks of the
wine-skins for Moors, the Venta de las Cardenas, where Dorothea and her
lover were wounded, the scene of his penance in the mountain cleft, and
Sierra Nueva, where he liberated the slaves.)

Below, in the Campo de Montiel, beside the bare shores of a chain of
lakes bordering the course of the river Guadiana, Don Enrique and Du
Guesclin are watching in their tents. _How can they seize the king?_

This question is asked twenty times a day. No one answers; and, if they
seize him, _what will they do with him?_ To this there is no answer
either.

There are no traitors in the castle of Montiel. Mem Rodrigues is with
the king, along with the faithful Emanuel, and the governor, Garcia
Morano, is a true man.

Now it happens that Mem Rodrigues is very friendly with Du Guesclin, in
that in-and-out fashion common between foes who drink out of the same
wine cup to-day and run at each other’s throats to-morrow.

Hearing that he, Du Guesclin, commands a detachment of the troops below,
Rodrigues sends him a message, requesting a private meeting, which Du
Guesclin willingly grants, along with a safe conduct.

Within his tent they meet and exchange mutual compliments. Mem Rodrigues
does not affect to deny the straits in which his master lies, or Du
Guesclin his determination to take him.

Then Mem Rodrigues, in a casual way, observes to the great leader, who
sits in deep thought, leaning his forehead on his hand at a table with
weapons ranged at his touch: “That whatever reward Don Enrique may have
offered him in treasure, titles, or lands, the dukedom of Soria for
instance (an entire province lying under Navarre, almost a kingdom in
itself), my master, Don Pedro, will make good and more, if you will let
him go.”

Encouraged by the silence of Du Guesclin, who has never moved, Mem
Rodrigues continues: “Surely, it will redound more to your honour,
Señor Condestable, to release so great a king, rather than to set up a
pretender.”

As if touched by a scorpion, the burly Breton starts, his rugged
features darken, and a dangerous glitter lights up his deep-set eyes.

“By my troth, Sir Knight,” he answers, clenching his fist and letting it
fall heavily on the table, causing the arquebuse and daggers on it to
rattle ominously, “do you take me, Bertrand Du Guesclin, for a knave or
for a fool, to act such a traitor’s part? Speak to me no more on such a
subject, if you desire to continue my friend.”

So Mem Rodrigues says no more, and returns to the castle discomfited.

Of all this Don Enrique is informed. “I thank you, gallant Du Guesclin,”
is his answer, “for this and all other marks of your regard. Methinks,
all the same, I am better able to reward your service than Pedro,
without a rood of land, now for the second time driven forth by his
people. Further pleasure me now, I pray you, in this matter, by
informing your friend Mem Rodrigues, that you will do all you can to
forward his desire if he will prevail on the king to come to your tent
to arrange means of escape.”

Now the drift of this speech was plain to the Breton leader, neither
wanting in cunning nor foresight. He had sent back Mem Rodrigues with an
angry denial, now he is bidden to call him again, and eat his own words
in a treacherous message. Can he doubt the purpose of Don Enrique?

A look passes between them. Death is in their eyes. Nothing more is
said.

The treason is obvious; Du Guesclin asks time for reflection.

Reflect he did, and decided, and by that act fouled his glorious blazon
with a blot never to be effaced!

       *       *       *       *       *

Abandoned by all, without winter provisions or friends, those still with
him unable to help him, the unfortunate Don Pedro, upon the strength of
a safe conduct, sworn to by Du Guesclin, determines to capitulate.

It is in the month of March, on the 23d. In those elevated peaks winter
still reigns. Snow lies thick on the mountains, blocking the deep
ravines, and rending giant cliffs.

Far below, in a cold mist, lies the wide-spreading plains of La Mancha.
No ray of sun breaks the veil, as Don Pedro, on horseback, emerges from
the portcullis of the castle, clad in a heavy mantle which entirely
conceals his figure, the hood pressed over his face. As he passes
beneath, his eye catches the figure of an eagle over the arch, and under
it the words “_Torre de Estrella_.” With horror he remembers that in the
letter which Blanche addressed to him before her execution (where she
solemnly calls on him to meet her beyond the grave), it is at the
“_Torre de Estrella_” she foretells that he shall die.

Great as is the shock at that moment, he tries to laugh it off. He
never has cared for prophecies, why now? But something about it strikes
his senses with awe. Words from the dead are certain to come true. This
is distinctly a message. What matter? And the same reckless courage
comes over him as of old. If to die, he will sell his life dearly.
Perhaps it is a dream. Who knows?

So, carefully guiding his steed, he passes down the narrow path,
zigzagging the descent in wide-lying circles. The wind rises and howls
in his face, the crannies of the rocks groan as if haunted by demons,
and a storm of sleet and hail strikes full upon him, driving him back
each step he takes. Hardly can the wiry little horse he bestrides make
way against the blast. But, in one of those rapid changes so common in
the south, before he has reached the plain the fleecy clouds have
lifted, driven back by the raging wind, the sky clears, and a sickly sun
shines out on the surface of the lakes, beside which the tents of the
encampment lie, protected by strong barricades, under groups of low
scrub and tempest-torn oaks.

No guard turns out to receive him, no flourish of trumpets heralds his
approach; the sentinels, enveloped in heavy garments to shield them from
the cold, pass to and fro indifferent beneath the banner of Castile,
floating wildly in the wind, nor do they salute him as he enters the
tent.

After a few words have passed between Don Pedro and Du Guesclin, whose
embarrassment is apparent as he parries his questions as to the plan
formed for his escape, and alarmed at the manner in which he is
received, he moves forward and calls to Mem Rodrigues, who has remained
outside the tent, in a loud voice.

“Let us go!” are his words; “it is time.”

Seizing the bridle of his horse he is about to mount, when he is
intercepted by one of Du Guesclin’s cousins.

“Wait a moment, my lord,” he says; “there is no haste,” and he draws him
again into the tent.

Before he can reply, Don Enrique, who is watching, appears close to Don
Pedro, armed at all points.

At first Don Pedro does not recognise him, not having seen him for many
years, until the same cousin who seized the bridle of his horse,
whispers:

“Sire, take care, your enemy is upon you,” and Enrique, now face to face
with his brother, calls out in a voice which comes to him as a sinister
echo out of long past years:

“Where is that son of a Jew who calls himself King of Castile?”

Upon which, dropping his mantle, Don Pedro, his face convulsed with
passion, shouts out:

“You are a liar, Enrique de Trastamare. It is I who am king, the lawful
son of King Alonso.”

Then, with all the concentrated fury of years of ferocious hate, the
brothers fall upon each other in a death grapple.

[Illustration: Surrender of Granada.

From a Modern Painting by F. Pradilla, in the Palacio del Senado,
Madrid.]

Don Pedro, being the stronger of the two, throws Don Enrique on the
floor. Laying his hand on his dagger, he is about to finish him, when
the powerful form of Du Guesclin is thrust forward. For a moment his
dark scathed face gazes down on the deadly struggle; then with the
words, “_Mi quito in pungo rey freza seriva, mon Señor, ye n’ote et ne
mets pas Roi mars u’ters, mon seigneur_,” he seizes Don Pedro by the leg
and turns him over on the undermost side. Enrique, thus freed from his
grasp, drawing out a long poniard, instantly stabs him in the breast,
after which the whole party fall to and finish him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus was Blanche’s prophecy fulfilled, “That at the _Torre de Estrella_
by a violent death Don Pedro should die and answer for her murder in
another world.” As Don Pedro had left unburied the body of his brother,
Don Fadique, in the court of the Alcazar, so was his own body left
exposed for three days on the earth, bathed in blood, that all might see
he was really dead; also the bodies of Mem Rodrigues and Emanuel, who
had rushed in to aid their master, and were killed in the struggle.

The governor of Montiel at once surrendered, and was pardoned by
Enrique, as was the chancellor Fernando de Castro, over whose tomb was
placed this inscription:--

“_Aqui yace Don Fernando Perez de Castro, toda la fedelidad de España._”

Thus all that remained of this “high and mighty king, Don Pedro,” as
set forth on his portal in Alcazar of Seville, were his three
illegitimate daughters, Costanza and Isabel, married to the brothers of
the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Edmund of
Cambridge, Duke of York; Beatrix, the oldest, becoming a nun.

After all, El Caballero died young, reigning but eleven years, and it is
recorded that on his deathbed he heartily repented of his rebellion and
the murder of his brother.

“Be faithful to France,” said he to his son Juan, who succeeded him,
1380; “but above all, draw to your side the followers of my brother
Pedro. They are true _hidalgos_, who were faithful to him on the losing
side.”

Bertrand Du Guesclin, or Claquin, received the price of his baseness in
the Dukedoms of Molinos and Soria, but, as with Judas, the possession of
great riches gave him no pleasure. He afterwards sold them for a small
sum and returned to France, a sorrowing and a dishonoured man; and
Charles the Bad received, I am happy to say, the reward of his treason
in a series of defeats at the hand of Enrique de Trastamare.



CHAPTER XX

Juan I.--Enrique el Enfermo


The Court vacillates between Burgos and Valladolid, both cities of the
plain. Since the death of Don Pedro the charms of Seville are neglected.

All the fighting is in the north, mostly with Aragon and Portugal.

Valladolid (Belad-Waled of the Moors) remains much the same dull, ugly
town, without a charm; to be greatly favoured by-and-by by Philip the
Second, when his time comes to reign, as one of the centres of the
Inquisition, and a convenient place to burn heretics in the great Plaza.

But Burgos has become a noble city, much altered and embellished since
the homely days of the Cid Campeador, when his Suelo stood on the ridge
of the hill facing east, near the royal castle where he and Doña Ximena
were received at their marriage with such honour by King Fernando and
the queen.

The king was always talking, but Ximena held down her head and seldom
gave an answer to anything he said. “It is better sure to be _silent_
than _meaningless_,” she said.

Fernando el Santo, in succession to Fernando the First, afterwards laid
the foundations of the cathedral standing at the base of the hill, and
his successors finished it; that gracious sanctuary which rears itself,
so pure and white, out of the tawny land. Too ornate and minute perhaps,
but lovely all the same--pointed steeples transparent in fine stone-work
and open to the sky, an army of statues glistening in the sun up to the
spandrels and the dome, and semicircles, colonettes, and arches by the
score--every ledge and cornice filled, until the eye turns away fatigued
by the prodigality of ornament. Inside the _coro_ a mass of golden
entablatures is lighted with ranges of painted windows, filling the nave
with a kaleidoscope of colour, and the fourteen chapels which line the
walls, each complete in itself--Condestable and Santiago, San Enrique
and San Juan, each with carved _retablos_, a statue or a monument in the
midst. That of Condestable, so named from Don Pedro de Velasco, Grand
Constable of Spain, where he and his wife are extended on an alabaster
tomb in the elaborate costume of the day, necklace, ruff, brocade, and
head-dress; even to the tiny curls on the back of the little spaniel
lying at the lady’s feet, half hidden by the folds of her dress, in so
natural a position one asks oneself what will the little creature do
when he wakes and finds his mistress dead?

Outside, the gaily-tinted streets are variegated as in a patchwork of
colour, and over against the dried-up banks of the river Arlanzon
(where the tournament was held for the marriage of Don Pedro and Queen
Blanche), the grand old gothic gateway of Santa Maria appears, from out
of which the Cid rode to join the Moors when no one dared to give him a
crust of bread in Burgos.

       *       *       *       *       *

The time is morning, and an unclouded sun has just risen above the
horizon. Already the idlest and the most eager are afoot, to secure a
good position for the review to be held by King Juan I.

Before the clock has struck ten from the cathedral, the crowd has so
increased that the whole plain is alive with horsemen and
foot-passengers, _cabelleros_ splendidly mounted, _ricoshombres_ in
chariots and _portantini_, and peasants with sturdy stride: every one
muffled up to the eyes, which is the fashion of Castilians, even when it
is hot--all making their way, on the grass or by country roads and
foot-paths, to the Cartuga de Miraflores seen from afar on the summit of
a chalky down, sweet with the perfume of thyme and rosemary, over which
the summer clouds strike light shadows. Flourishes of trumpets announce
the passage of knights with glistening helmets, and the glitter of
gold-embroidered banners, masses of moving horsemen and squadrons of
troops, mixed with crescent flags and turbans of many colours, the light
Barbary horses caracoling here and there, covered with nets of coins and
chains, catching the sunbeams; announcing the presence of an army and
the evolutions of many troops, especially of a picked body habited like
Berbers, who gallop forward in gallant style, brandishing their
scimitars to the rattle of drums and fifes. Anon a mounted figure dashes
out from the main body of troops, wearing a suit of light chain armour
in which gold is the chief metal, a spiked crown mixing with the
feathers of his casque, mounted on a heavy-flanked charger of the old
gothic breed so loved by the sovereigns of Spain, which he fiercely
urges forward with spur and heel in front of the rapidly riding Berbers,
until the unwieldy animal, gored by the sharp rowels of steel, rears and
turns aside, dashing the crowned rider onto the ground, where he lies
motionless!

A cry of horror rises from the field. The king is wounded! The king is
unhorsed; he is dead! Knights in their light panoply are arrested in
their charge; courtiers in jewelled mantles on ambling jennets rein up;
men-at-arms, young pages with nodding plumes on silken caps, all, all,
in one dense mass, gathering around the fallen figure of the king, Juan
I., son of Henry of Trastamare (1379), who came out to review some
regiments just arrived from Africa habited to represent the Moors, and
going through their graceful evolutions with lance and scimitar.

Unhappy king! There he lies, a corpse! He never moved, and is borne off
from the field on a trestle hastily formed of gilded lances laid across,
covered with the flag of Castile, a melancholy spectacle, his soldiers
following with many a moistened eye, to be buried in the cathedral,
beneath gorgeous gold panels in the _coro_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The race of Trastamare, destined soon to end, brings short and troubled
reigns, in which the superstitious may read an ever-present curse in the
fratricide of Don Pedro.

The last words of Don Enrique el Caballero were a warning to his son
Juan not to follow his footsteps, “but to cherish the followers of Don
Pedro, who were faithful in adversity"--a curious glimpse into the
idiosyncrasy of his mind at the moment when the crown for which he had
sacrificed his honour as a knight and his fealty as a brother is fading
from him as he approaches the misty confines of another world. “Verily
his sin will find him out,” says the Bible, and so it was with Henry of
Trastamare. Juan I., his son, dies a miserable death at thirty-four
(A.D. 1390) on a mimic battle-field.

He had none of the bloodthirsty instincts of his family. He fought with
English and Portuguese because it was the duty of kings of that day to
fight, but with no ferocity of temperament or greed of conquest. He had
inherited the softer qualities of the winning Caballero whom all men
loved, before the unnatural cruelty of his brother, and the sting of
repeated reverses drove him to the commission of a crime which will ever
cling to his name.

Juan is succeeded by his young son Enrique, known as _El Enfermo_, under
a Council of Regency, presided over by the Archbishop of Toledo and the
Marqués de Villena.

No wonder the child of eleven is sick and tired of life under the
oppressive surroundings in which he lives.

The Marqués de Villena, a grandee with the privilege of wearing his hat
in the royal presence, and irritable and sarcastic when he dares, turns
the royal boy’s blood cold when he rivets upon him his keen black eyes.
Under the guise of devotion to his person he exercises over him every
species of petty tyranny, and when, driven beyond his patience, the
gentle Don Enrique pouts his lip and knits his young brow, he calls in
the archbishop to help him, who, in his turn, exhorts the unhappy young
king to conform in all things to the will of “the Regents” placed over
him under God. Else--here the stately prelate pauses with a significant
glance upwards, not to the sky, for these scenes generally take place
within the palace, but all the same invoking the Divine wrath upon the
disobedient child, who, well understanding what the archbishop means, is
seized with such an access of unknown and mysterious terror as leaves
him a helpless victim in their hands.

According to these two (there are other nobles in the Council of
Regency, such as Don Pedro de Mendoza, the treasurer who disposes of the
revenue, but the archbishop and Villena chiefly rule Castile) Enrique
is to have no eyes, ears, or senses, but at their bidding. If he asks a
question as to the matters of his kingdom, commands a largess to be
disbursed, or expresses a wish for liberty to hunt or exercise himself
in arms, or to entertain his friends, he is at once treated like a
troublesome child and silenced.

Little by little, as time goes on, a sense of wrong and injustice
rankles in his heart which neither the marquess nor the archbishop
understands, but they continue assiduously to divide between them the
power and the revenues of Castile.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don Enrique is now sixteen; yet, as the years pass, the strength of his
young life does not come to him in robustness of frame or sinew. Music
is his passion--the old ballads which we hear as dance tunes in modern
Spain, _gallardas_ and _seguidillas_ set to words--and the chase, a
strange taste in one so weak. Between these pursuits his time is chiefly
passed; nor are those who govern him at all displeased that such simple
pleasures should occupy his thoughts and divert him from any possible
interference in affairs of state.

One other comfort he has in life, the company of Don Garcia de Haro. He
is a few years older than himself, and was placed with him as a
companion by his father, almost from his birth, to cheer him in his many
childish ailments, and share in the amusements of his solitary
childhood. And now, in his dull life as king, with no one to sympathise
with or love him, he clings to Garcia as to a kindred soul. With this
intercourse the Regents dare not meddle, although Garcia, who is much
more experienced than the king, may, in course of time, become dangerous
to their interests. But a certain martinet warns them not to rouse by
interference the latent passions of the young king, whose reserved and
silent nature is as a sealed book to their understanding.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the two friends are riding side by side down the steep hill from the
ancient castle of Sahagun, a stronghold belted in by machicolated walls,
situated to the north of Burgos, where the court has gone for the
enjoyment of hunting in the abundant Vega watered by the river Cea. A
capital place for snipe, partridge, and woodcock, with the chance of
stags or even of wild boars driven down by cold or hunger from the
adjacent mountains.

A slender retinue follows Don Enrique, for it is not in the policy of
the Regents to indulge him in much state, “the revenues being needed for
the necessities of the kingdom,” he is told, and the court expenses,
consequently, must be curtailed.

“But what matters!” is his thought, as he loosens the reins on the neck
of the noble Andalusian barb on which he is mounted, with a coat as
sleek as silk, as it bounds forward, swift as the wind, over the turf.
Garcia is with him, and they are hastening at the top of their speed to
spend a happy afternoon together with music and song in an old
pavilion, built by the Moors as a garden house or _delicias_, at some
miles distant from Sahagun.

“Now, Garcia, I do feel like a king,” shouts Don Enrique, turning in his
saddle, the wind catching his words and flinging them back to his
companion, a little in the rear. “I am out of reach of the marquess. No,
not even the awful archbishop can threaten me here.”

“Ah! my lord,” returns Garcia de Haro, speaking under the influence of
the same rapid movement, his words barely reaching the ear for which
they are intended, “may it ever be so!”

“It shall!” cries the king, turning carelessly on his saddle to cast a
hurried glance, full of affection, at him. “IT SHALL, IT SHALL!”

Now they are passing on a true Spanish road, full of holes and overlaid
with stones, on by the aqueduct into a cool avenue, all fluttering with
elm leaves, past the _Cruz del Campo_--and what a campo, as flat as my
hand--the sky glowing over them like an opal, to the murmur of many
waters and a rush of streams, onto a high plateau, where the pleasant
air cheerfully fills the lungs as with the flavour of new wine; through
corn fields and olive grounds and fig gardens and vineyards, bordered by
low banks; the pleasant songs of the farmers in their ears, as with a
lazy team of fat oxen they plough the fertile earth. A scent as of
blossoming beans is in the air; the berries of the ripening olives toss
over their heads; folks pass and repass on donkeys, and rough men lead
files of mules, all with a “_Vaya con Dios_,” open-eyed at the young
king, uncovering his head in silent courtesy, though the hoofs of his
horse scatter pebbles in their faces.

Now they are passing a lonely village, the whole population sitting at
their doors, a stool placed close by, with a white cloth and a plate for
charity, round which gather the blind and the cripples, impelling
themselves forward at the risk of their lives, but the cavalcade rushes
by too quickly to stop to relieve them.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last they have reached the Moorish _Quinta_, a low, flat-roofed
building with a _tapia_ border, flanked by towers, from one of which
floats the flag of Spain, the front cut by long rows of _miradores_ and
shutterless casements staring upon them like unlidded eyes.

The drawbridge is down and the sculptured portal open. Not a creature is
about to salute the king, but a posse of fierce dogs, the Penates of the
place, break out from behind a wall and fly at the horses’ heels, who
highly resent the attack with many kicks and plunges, to the imminent
danger of the riders, while terrified cows rush in from the woods to
increase the confusion, then bolt into space, pursued by the dogs.

All this time not a soul has appeared. The page who has accompanied the
king advances to

[Illustration: A VIEW IN GRANADA.

Engraved by James B. Allen from a drawing by D. Roberts.]

assist him to dismount, as well as his old attendant, Martos, but,
before they can reach him, he has sprung lightly from the saddle, and
looks around.

“What! no one to receive me?” he says, with a light laugh, but a frown
is on his face all the same. “Do the Regents hold me for a schoolboy, to
be punished when I go abroad?”

“Such disrespect is not to be endured,” returns Garcia, of a much more
impetuous temperament than the king, which betrays itself by the
impatience with which he paces up and down, searching every corner, then
sounding a horn he wears across his shoulders; but the long-drawn notes
bring no response save innumerable echoes and a dense flight of birds
from the old building, frightened from their nests.

“It makes my blood boil to see your Grace so treated,” cries Garcia,
returning with heightened colour to the king’s side. “How dare the
Regents----”

“Tush! tush! Garcia, I am sure it is accidental.”

“Impossible, my lord! I myself announced your intention of taking your
midday meal here. You observe the flag is flying.”

All this time the bevy of dogs keep up such a chorus of barking that
they can hardly hear themselves speak, closing round them as if
determined for an attack.

“Let them bark,” says the king, carelessly, fronting one savage old
hound with fiery eyes and tail erect, about to leap on him.

Martos and the page, seriously alarmed, rush to his rescue with sticks
and stones.

“Better this noise than silence. The dogs after all are doing their
duty, which my servants are _not_. Perhaps their barking will bring out
some one to stable our horses. See how wet the flanks of the poor beasts
are and how they tremble. Look to them well, Juanito,” to the page, who,
doffing his plumed cap, bows to the ground, “I would not have Zulema
take any harm for half the kingdom I do NOT rule. We have ridden hard
and long; let us hope that a good repast awaits us. I have a keen
appetite.”

“I do not see where it is to come from,” answers Garcia, following the
king over the drawbridge into the _patio_.

It was a lovely place, this Moorish _patio_, shut in by walls delicately
embroidered and diapered in stone, supported by ranges of horseshoe
arches, light as a dream, grouped on double pillars as white as snow,
the central space traversed by walks paved with coloured tiles, followed
by rustic arches cut in yew in fanciful devices of pyramids and crowns,
from which hung coloured lanterns in the summer nights when the harem
made holiday here long ago, a bubbling fountain in the midst, cutting
tiny canals edged with flowers.

“Here I could live and die!” exclaims the young king, standing entranced
in the centre, the sound of many waters flowing from jets and tunnels
mingling with the songs of birds emboldened by the stillness and
fluttering in the boughs. “Give me my zither and lute, I should never
care to return to Burgos. Come, Garcia,” turning to his companion, “let
us explore the interior of this fair mansion.”

But Garcia, not at all poetical by nature, and who is growing every
moment more indignant at the absence of the _jefe_ and the lack of every
preparation, follows him in silence under a colonnade from which the
various apartments open out through doors of cedar wood into an Arab
hall--a blaze of gorgeous colour.

“This passes all belief!” cried Garcia, looking round, unable any longer
to suppress his feelings. “It is high time that your Grace emancipates
yourself. If this insult leads to the fall of the Regents (and you are
already sixteen, and competent to reign), it will satisfy me better than
the choicest meal ever served to mortal, though I confess I am as hungry
as a wolf.”

“But, our Lady defend us!” he cried, as he suddenly caught sight of the
dismal face of Martos, “what brings you with such a woful countenance?
Speak, man! Have the dogs bitten you?”

“No, no!” answered Martos, with a grim smile. “No, but the dinner!”

“Have the dogs eaten it, then, instead of you?” asked the king.

The major-domo shook his head sorrowfully. “Dinner, my lord and master,
there is none.”

“No dinner!” broke in Garcia. “Do you mean to say nothing is provided
for the king?”

“Nothing! nothing!” cried Martos in despair, clasping his hands.

“I assure your Grace I told them you were coming,” broke in Garcia. “I
gave the Marqués de Villena due notice. I am not to blame.”

“I am sure you are not, dear Garcia. Good Martos, do not vex yourself.
Call such people together as you can find, and have the game we shot on
the way fashioned into a _salmis_. It will make a delicious dish.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Then Martos and a page appeared, carrying a single dish, and placed it
on the table.

“How is this?” cried the king, with more anger than he had yet shown.
“Where are the servants I pay to serve this palace? Where is the _jefe_
whose duty it is to receive his sovereign?”

“Gone, my lord and master, gone no one knows whither. Nothing left but a
crippled scullion and those cursed dogs, who fly upon us every time we
move.”

“I must look to these matters more closely,” said the young king, roused
at last to a sense of his position. “As my tutors and governors are so
careless of the charge conferred on them by my father, it is time that I
should relieve them of their office.”

A delighted look overspread Garcia’s face, and a sardonic grin from
Martos indicated that he had much more to say if he dared.

“Speak freely, my faithful Martos,” said the king, “if you have anything
to tell me.”

Garcia eagerly listened.

“It is a great liberty, Altezza, for one so humble as I am to interfere
in the affairs of those so much above me, but I have cause to know that
your Highness’s governors are not worthy of the confidence reposed in
them.”

“Did I not say so?” interposed Garcia. “They hated me too much to be
honest.”

“Proceed, Martos, I see you have not told me all.”

“True, my lord. And there _is_ something of which I would fain inform
your Grace,” continued he, speaking in a whisper, with a careful look
round. “I know that there is to be a great _fiesta_ given at the house
of the Archbishop of Toledo to-night. All the _grandiose_ are bidden,
and all the cooks in Burgos will attend. There will be plenty of food
_there_,” with a sly glance at the solitary dish of game yet untouched
lying on a huge table.

As the old man spoke, the king’s face changed to a graver look than it
seemed possible for those placid features to assume.

“I understand,” he answered, “while the King of Castile is without a
dinner, his Regents and nobles feast. Alas! I am often weak in health,
which leads me to shrink from the duties of my office, but, _por Dios_!
I am strong in spirit, and I will settle these _caballeros_ as they
deserve.”

       *       *       *       *       *

That same night the Casa del Cordon, in the great Plaza of Burgos, where
the Regents lived, was blazed bright as day. Circles of light blazed in
the heavily mullioned casements of the front, where the arms of Mendoza
Velasco appear within a deep entablature, surrounded by carved figures,
each line and detail of the building defined by low Moorish lamps softly
glimmering, and armorial shields. Crowds of men-at-arms and alguazils
stationed along the street bore torches of resin, casting fiery gleams
upon the pavement, crowded as far as the eye could reach with Burgolese
notables come out to see the show, wrapped in their everlasting
_mantos_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Passing through a lofty guard-room with raftered ceiling--the walls hung
with tapestry--where casques and shields of antique pattern shone out,
side by side with crescent banners and scimitars captured from the
Moors, the guests arrive and are ushered into a Gothic hall of
sculptured oak heavily carved, a richly wrought balustraded gallery
breaking the lines high up under the cornice. All the great names of
Burgos are present. The Villacruces, De Vaca, Peralta, Gomez, Laynes,
descendants of the Cid Campeador, Lerma, De Bilbas, and Mendoza, making
their way to tables ranged transversely across the dais at the upper
end, bright with golden lamps, fed with delicately-scented oil, each
place set with cups and sturdy flagons enriched with jewels, trophies of
Arab filigree work, taken from the Moors, and gilded shields all
wreathed with fruit and flowers to represent a garden of delight.

In the centre of the board, on two chairs more elevated than the rest,
sit the Archbishop of Toledo, his pale face outlined against the panels
of dark oak; and opposite to him the courtly figure of the Marqués de
Villena, his handsome features greatly set off by the quaint
half-ecclesiastical costume he wears of the Master of Calatrava, with
belt and sword, the cross of Christ embroidered on his breast.

The days are past when the great nobles come to feasts in plumed casques
and chain armour, as knights ready to mount and ride as the trumpet note
sounds. Now more peaceful times have come, the land of castles has
expelled the Moors--shut up in the east of Spain among the mountains of
Granada where they are soon to be attacked--and the great chiefs can
display their taste in abundance of costly jewels and apparel of brocade
and velvet, samite and silk, crimson, purple, and yellow, close-fitting
to display the person, with mantles trimmed with miniver or ermine; the
long skirts worn to the ankle, embroidered with all the art the needle
could attain, with the crests, cognisances, and initials of the wearer,
pointed shoes and golden girdles thick with gems, holding glittering
daggers, the head covered with graceful caps or furred bonnets adorned
with circlets of jewels and plumes placed on flowing locks trimmed
according to the fashion of the time.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amid the bustle of attendants rushing to and fro with ponderous dishes,
and skins of wine to replenish the flagons, and the joyous talk of the
numerous guests echoing down the hall in which the deep sonorous voice
of the archbishop is prominent by bursts of loud laughter and noisy
jests as deep draughts of the finest vintages of Val de Peñas and Xeres
mount into the brain, the feast proceeds, each guest pledging his
neighbour, the Conde de Peralta drinking to Don Pedro de Mendoza, in his
turn bowing to the Conde de Lerma, who, rising in his chair and bowing
low, carries his full goblet towards the Marqués de Villena, who with
lofty courtesy acknowledges the toast, and forthwith fills his golden
cup to drink wassail to the archbishop.

“I will warrant your Grace of not dying of old age with this vintage,”
cries Don Pedro de Mendoza, addressing the archbishop as he has risen in
his place to return the compliment, eying the generous liquor with the
loving eyes of a connoisseur. “It is enough to carry a man far into a
hundred years.”

All at once the conversation is arrested by the soft notes of a Moorish
zither; just the sweep of the cords and a tap or two on the sounding
board, _galopando_, then the plaintive _cana_ or cry rises, preluding
the _cancionero_ of the Cid--ever the popular hero of Burgos--sung with
such exquisite sweetness that the entire company is hushed.

    Si es Español
    Don Rodrigue
    Español fue el
    fuente andalla.

“What new constellation has your greatness procured us?” asks Don
Silvela Velasco, turning to the Marqués de Villena--a known lover of
music. “Who is he? Not the young king himself, with all his talent, can
excel him.”

“He sings well,” is the answer of the marquess, listening attentively
until the final _cadenza_, and giving his opinion with the decision of a
master. “But I know nothing of him. Minstrels were commanded to be
present, and he is come. His voice and the music please me. I am
accounted, as you know, my lords, a judge in these matters. You are
aware that if the king has any merit, he owes it entirely to my
training.”

Again the sweet voice sounds, this time with more power in its tones.

“Who is he? Can no one tell us?” asked the archbishop, breaking off in a
discussion of the value of certain jewels which he had purchased from a
Jew.

“A wandering _estudiante_ who is travelling through the north,”
answered the chamberlain, advancing with doffed cap and bended knee; for
the Regents exacted the same respect in addressing them as the kings of
Castile; “recommended to me by a friend as skilled in his art.”

“That cannot be doubted,” said the archbishop. “Bring him round, that we
may judge of his appearance.”

This command was promptly obeyed, and a youth stood forward on the edge
of the dais, habited in a long dark mantle of coarse cloth, sandals on
his bare feet, and a mass of thick fair hair combed down so straight
under a pointed cap it was almost impossible to distinguish his
features. Not that he appeared the least dismayed, but stood perfectly
at his ease in front of the radiance of the scented lamps, his zither in
his hand, minutely surveying the faces of those before him.

“Your looks proclaim you young,” said the archbishop, struck for a
moment with a fancied resemblance to some one he had seen. “Where do you
come from? By our Lady of Saragossa, you have a pleasant voice.”

“Grandeza,” answered the minstrel, “I am an orphan, of good birth,
reduced to the greatest want. To-day, upon my word, I have not eaten a
meal.”

“Poor boy! here you shall have your fill. How long have you been so
reduced?”

“Since my father’s death, your Grace. He died when I was a child, and
the wicked governors

[Illustration: CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.]

he placed over me have despoiled me of my inheritance. You see me,
mighty señors, reduced to sing for food.”

“A right good youth, and worthy of largess,” observed Don Pedro de
Mendoza, ill-famed as the most ruthless squanderer of the royal
treasure. (If Don Pedro could have scanned the expression of the face
before him, he might have seen such a smile of scorn gathering about the
thin lips as would have startled him.)

“The saints bless you!” was the reply, “and deal with you as you do to
others. As for me,” with a deep sigh, “I am not only starving, but at
this present time I know that my sinful guardians are carousing at my
expense.”

“The Virgin protect us!” exclaimed the archbishop. “Did ever man hear of
such infamy!”

“If the youth speaks truth,” returned Villena, not to be behindhand in
the expression of sympathy, “the matter should be submitted to the
king’s judges, and right done in ample restitution.”

“Otherwise it were a disgrace to the government of the Regents,” put in
Don Pedro de Mendoza.

“Restitution is not sufficient,” sententiously observed the archbishop
in a pompous voice, intended to impress the company with his high sense
of justice. “If the guilt of his guardians be proved, death is their
proper due.”

“Methinks your holiness is somewhat severe,” put in the minstrel, making
a low obeisance.

“Not at all, not at all! We rule Castile and Leon, not the king, who is
disabled by bodily infirmities. It is _our_ duty to have justice done.”

“What noble sentiments!” exclaimed the singer, clasping his hands.
“Happy is the king to possess such servants! I leave my appeal with you,
my lords, confident that you will see me righted.”

But what he said, though spoken low and in an altered voice, had such a
familiar ring in it as to make the archbishop again look sharply at him;
then, as if satisfied, he turned away.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the festival had continued far into the night, and, as the fumes of
the generous wine mounted to their brains, the guests spoke more and
more openly to each other.

Again had the voice of the minstrel been raised, during a momentary
pause, as he intoned with extraordinary power and skill _The March of
Bernardo del Carpio_:

    With three thousand men of Leon, from the city Bernardo goes
    To preserve the name and glory of old Pelayo’s woes.

And as his notes rang out in the great hall, the enthusiasm he excited
so mastered the stately company that they rose _en masse_ to drink to
the health of Castile.

“And of the Regents!” cried Mendoza, “our capable leaders! Don Enrique
must be put aside. He is sick and unfit to reign. What say you,
Caballeros? Methinks the race of Trastamare is played out.”

“Agreed! agreed!” came from all sides.

“And who can better replace him than the Regents?” cried the Conde de
Lerma, who had good reason to tremble lest, when the young king came to
reign, he should discover the villainies of which he had been guilty.

“And I! and I!” shouted Velasco and Peralta, tossing high their goblets.

Indeed, the whole company was in a state of violent excitement, to which
not only the wine, but the patriotic ballads of the minstrel had much
contributed.

“My lords! my lords!” cried the archbishop, rising from his seat,
seriously alarmed at the imprudent vehemence of his partisans, “these
are matters not to be lightly mentioned. Such words are treason if they
get abroad. To-morrow is the _fiesta_ of the young king. His Grace has
invited us to a special _tertulia_ in honour of the event. I drink to
his health, and better capacity to fill the high place he inherits!”

A palpable sneer was in his voice as he added these words in a low tone.

“Yes, the _fiesta_ of our king,” added the Marqués de Villena, amid a
general chorus of mocking laughter. He was no more loyal than the
prelate, but less hypocritical, and, like him, fully aware of the
dangerous consequences, should any premature knowledge of a conspiracy
get abroad. “I pray you, Grandezas, to disperse quietly. Whatever be in
your minds, this is no place to discuss it.”

And so they parted, each one to his abode, attended by bands of armed
followers with torches.

The singer was left alone, but he was met at the portal by a friend,
attired like himself as an _estudiante_, and thus together they passed
unheeded into the night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Great curiosity was felt, especially by Don Pedro de Mendoza, the
treasurer, as to how the king had obtained money to defray the expenses
of the _tertulia_ which had been announced. Mendoza knew that the
coffers were empty. Had he borrowed money from the King of Aragon, or
some powerful northern noble? Had he unearthed a treasure, or contracted
with the Jews? If so, how could it happen that he was ignorant of it?

Again all the great nobles assembled, and many more, from south and
north, who had not been present at the entertainment in the Casa del
Cordon, composed especially of the supporters of the Regents.

Most of those who came from afar had never seen the king (so purposely
was he secluded), and looked on him as a sickly youth, destined soon to
follow his father to the tomb. It was this idea, indeed, sedulously
spread abroad, which added so much to the prestige of the Regents. If
the king died, who was to succeed him?

When the cedar doors are thrown open, a huge undecorated gallery is
disclosed, devoid of any furniture except bare wooden tables and benches
placed on either side.

At the head the young king is seated in a chair of state, surmounted by
the arms of Spain. On one side the hereditary Constable of Castile
(_Condestable_) supports him, clad in complete armour; on the other the
chamberlain, Don Martinez de Velases, who introduces the company. As
each feudatory advances, Don Enrique inclines his head. His manner is
courteous but very cold, as he raises his hand to signify the special
place assigned to each at the table, where a piece of bread and a cup of
water are placed.

Not even the rigid rules of formal etiquette imposed on the Spanish
Court can conceal the amazement of each grandee as he takes his place on
the hard bench, but the presence of the young king checks all outward
expression.

As the Regents enter and sit down with the rest (no special seat having
been assigned them) a momentary flush passes over the king’s face.

“I fear the food provided does not suit your palates,” he says, at last,
unable any longer to affect to misunderstand the astonished glances
each one exchanges with the other, specially the Archbishop of Toledo,
who, with a highly offended air, places himself before his portion of
bread and water; “but I myself am frugally fed. I hope this may
reconcile you to it.”

“Is the young king mad?” is whispered round the room, as each guest
endeavours to swallow the unpalatable food; “or is it the caprice of a
silly boy, soon to be deposed?” Indeed, in this sense, the
eccentricities of this so-called banquet are very agreeable to the
greater number present, as plainly displaying his incapacity for
reigning.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, Don Enrique, seated at the head of the board, has partaken of
his portion of bread and water with apparent relish.

“If your Graces,” he says, breaking an icy silence, “are not contented
with the _first_ course I have offered you, I hope the second will be
more to your taste. Will you follow me, Grandezas?” rising from his
chair.

“A second course!” There was, then, something prepared to eat, and a
buzz of satisfaction passed round, as each _caballero_ left his hard
bench to follow the young king.

       *       *       *       *       *

A vast hall lay beyond, of interminable extent, dimly lighted, and hung
with black. A coffin, covered with a pall, lay beside an altar in the
midst, surmounted with a crucifix. Shrouds lay beside it, with
implements to dig a grave, and all the other ghastly paraphernalia of
the dead.

“Close the doors, jefe,” said the king, in a voice of command never
heard from his lips before, as he placed himself like a young judge in
front of the altar. “You see, my lords, the second course I serve to
you. But before you partake of it, I would address some questions to
those who have up to this time governed in my name. Stand forth,
Archbishop of Toledo, joint Regent of the kingdom, and tell me how many
kings you have known in Castile?”

“Excellency,” answered the bewildered prelate, growing cold under the
apprehension that not only the king was mad, but was about to murder
him, “I have known three: your grandsire of glorious memory, your
father, Don Juan, and yourself.”

“For shame, your Grace!” exclaimed Enrique, in an austere tone. “What! A
prelate lie? How dare you, at your age, assert that you have known only
_three_ kings, when _I_, who have barely reached man’s estate, can
reckon at least double the number? Yes, my assembled nobles, barons,
princes, prelates, knights, and _ricoshombres_, who know me so little as
to think, because I am young and inexperienced, I can be deceived. Six
sovereigns reign in Castile besides the lawful heir, carefully excluded
from all power, to the damage of the state. Now I call upon the usurpers
of my rights, especially the most venerable archbishop,” launching at
him a look of bitter reproach, “his Grace the Marqués de Villena, Master
of Santiago, also the treasurer, bearing the high name of Don Pedro de
Mendoza, and the other ‘kings’ to lay their submission at my feet!”

Words cannot paint the consternation of the noble company at these words
and at the commanding aspect of the young king as he stood forth, the
awful emblems of death behind him.

What doom was he about to pronounce? What judgment would he pass on the
guilty? And it need not be said how many of those present felt
themselves to be such, and with the superstitious horror of the age at
anything unusual, trembled lest by some occult knowledge he had read
their treacherous thoughts.

Then came denials, vehement asseverations, protestations, and
recriminations; loudest of all, because most in danger, sounded the
sonorous voice of the archbishop and the mellifluous tones of Villena.

“If we have erred,” cried the marquess, “it is only by excess of zeal to
spare your Highness from the burden of public affairs.”

But Don Enrique, far from being pacified by these protestations, grew
more and more indignant as one after another of the Regents invoked
every saint in the calendar in protest of their innocence.

       *       *       *       *       *

“There is yet another pledge to be fulfilled,” said the king, addressing
the archbishop, who, bold as he was, literally trembled under the clear

[Illustration: THE PORT, QUAY, AND CATHEDRAL, MALAGA.]

gaze fixed on him, as though he read his inmost thoughts. “At the
banquet with which you regaled the court so lavishly, while I was kept
without a _maravedi_, you remember a young singer, whose wrongs at the
hands of his guardians you promised to redress. I am that unhappy youth,
and by the wounds of Christ, I swear that you shall keep your word!”

A dead silence followed. No one dared to speak, lest he might hasten the
catastrophe all felt was impending.

At a sign from the king, the curtains before the doors were withdrawn,
and in a blaze of light the Alcaide of Burgos appeared in his furred cap
and gown, on one side of him a priest arrayed as for a funeral mass, and
on the other the headsman in a red robe, a gleaming axe resting on his
shoulder.

“Nothing now remains, my lords,” continued the king, “but to carry out
the sentence you have passed on yourselves. Prepare for death, Regents
of Castile; and you, executioner, stand forth! See that your instrument
is in good order. We desire not to cause needless pain, nor that these
guilty souls should go unshriven; therefore, holy father,” turning to
the priest, “such respite as is required for confession shall be
granted.”

No sooner had these awful words passed the king’s lips, spoken with the
air and bearing of a sovereign determined to be obeyed than the
archbishop and the Marqués de Villena cast themselves before him on
their knees.

“Grant us but life, son of the noble Trastamare,” pleaded the
archbishop, suddenly seizing the king’s hand, as, gazing earnestly into
his face, he became aware of a certain yielding in his bearing as he
contemplated the humiliation of those two great statesmen, for so many
years masters of Castile. “Give us life at least to repent of our
misdeeds.”

“I will,” answered Don Enrique, “upon certain conditions,” the sweet
smile natural to him lighting up his face as he graciously raised them
from their knees; “but it must be true repentance and no falling back
into mortal sin. You are my witnesses, hidalgos,” turning to the
assembled nobles standing closely pressed together, in a common fear of
some general accusation, “of their own sentence against themselves, and
now of my generous pardon. Now listen, my Lord Archbishop,” addressing
the prelate who had so often tyrannised over his childhood, standing
with his hands clasped in humble attitude before him, “and you, Villena,
Master of Santiago, and Mendoza; on this day sixteen years ago I was
born. Never, while I live, shall my birthday be darkened by deeds of
blood, but you shall remain in strict imprisonment until a full
restitution is made to the State of your shameful spoliation. Those of
my guests whom I have summoned here as spectators to profit by the
lesson may depart in peace, but those of the Regency, ‘_the Kings_,’ as
they are called, shall be conducted to prison by my faithful
_balasterdos_, there to remain till justice is satisfied. Guards,
remove the prisoners!”

       *       *       *       *       *

“It will all come out well,” whispered Don Pedro de Mendoza, a gay and
rollicking cavalier, not easily intimidated, to the Marqués de Villena,
much more cast down at his fall, as they passed up the horrible
apartment out amid sheaves of glittering lances. “He has never found out
we meant to depose him. Lucky for us, or our heads might really have
been cut off!”

       *       *       *       *       *

That the charming young king did not live to verify the promise of his
youth (A.D. 1407) is one of the misfortunes of history. The delicate
scabbard was not stout enough to hold the noble blade. In other words,
his feeble health gave way under the cares of sovereignty. He died
prematurely at the early age of twenty-eight, leaving an infant son, Don
Juan II., to succeed him. Doña Catalina, his wife, or, as we know her,
Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of Costanza (the daughter of Pedro the
Cruel), married to John of Gaunt, was appointed regent for her son--a
placid, good-tempered princess, by reason of her English blood, and a
great favourite with the Castilians.



CHAPTER XXI

Juan II. and Doña Isabel of Portugal--Execution of the Conde de Luna


Burgos and Valladolid never were capitals in the modern acceptation of
the word, but they were at this time the centre of court life.

The short lives of the illegitimate branch of the House of Castile, and
their personal insignificance, intensified rather than detracted from
the dramatic vicissitudes of their reigns.

Juan, son of Enrique de Trastamare (1390), died young by a fall from his
horse. His son, El Enfermo, who ended his life at twenty-eight,
inaugurated the romantic episode of _the Regents_. The infancy of Juan
II. called forth the powerful personality of the Conde de Luna, and the
vice and folly of Enrique IV. brought forward his sister Isabel, wife of
Ferdinand the Catholic, into extraordinary prominence in the politics of
Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this time Queen Catalina holds her court at Burgos--a fat, foolish
dowager, by no means inheriting the fierce passions of her
grandparents--Don Pedro el Cruel and Maria de Padilla. In close
alliance with the highly cultivated Moors, as had been her husband El
Enfermo, Catalina also favours the fine arts, and educates her son to
love those elegant _cancioneros_ sung by her husband with such art, the
metre of which will never be surpassed.

Hundreds of these romances, current in that day, were softened and
refined into real poetry, and as such have come down to us as absolute
gems. Long stories in prose too, such as Amadis de Gaul, began now to be
written, to be followed by the _Romaunt of the Rose_, as also many
learned treatises on government and science, taken from the Arabic; and,
wonder of wonders, Don Pedro Ayala actually translated Livy into
Spanish!

In this literary movement the good Queen Catalina took part, and
inducted her little son into an amount of learning remarkable in that
age. He was fond of books and could speak and versify fluently in Latin.
Courage he had, and knowledge he acquired, growing up under his mother’s
care a gentle, indolent young prince like his father, but absolutely
without will, which made him a prey to the first resolute spirit who
gained his confidence.

Such a one was found in the person of Don Alvarez de Luna, Conde de
Gormaz, the last representative of the ideal Knight of Spain. Bold,
romantic, brave, his masterful individuality imposed itself on the
artistic temperament of the young king much as an eagle might foster and
protect a helpless dove.

As the descendant of a noble Biscayan family, whose ancestors had done
good service to Enrique de Trastamare in his many sudden flights and
rapid advances in the wild passes of the Pyrenees, Luna had claims on
the young king. Ever the prominent figure in court and camp, Don Juan
from his birth had been thrown into his companionship, whose handsome
person and courtly manners charmed his boyish taste and resulted in an
ascendancy so absolute as to absorb all the power of the state. Nor
could remonstrance, conspiracy, or open acts of revolt for many years
shake his position. Indeed, opposition only seemed to endear him to Don
Juan, who rapidly advanced him to the high office of Constable of
Castile and Leon and Grand Master of Santiago.

Possessed of the entire love and confidence of his master, the court was
filled with his kindred and partisans; Don Juan saw with his eyes and
regulated every action at his pleasure. Even in the matter of his
marriage, instead of uniting himself to the French Princess Fredegonde,
whom he preferred, at Luna’s desire he espoused his cousin, Doña Isabel
of Portugal.

Such an excess of favour naturally raised an immense animosity against
him. Every noble and _ricohombre_ in Castile hated him on his own
account. The Infante of Aragon headed a party to dethrone him. All this
at length coming to the knowledge of Don Juan, caused him throes of
extreme doubt as to his conduct, overruled for a time by the masterful
will of Luna, but to bear fruit at length as the consequence of the
inherent weakness of his nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

Young as he still was, Don Juan had been twice married. The new queen,
his cousin, was a dark-complexioned beauty, with a skin like a ripe
peach and the keen black eyes of a Zingara. No sooner had she arrived at
Burgos than she came to understand that she owed her position solely to
the favour of Luna, and that Don Juan would have preferred the French
princess. Nothing could be more galling to her pride, and Isabel was
very proud. At once she resolved upon his ruin, and steadily carried out
her plan. If Juan was to be governed by a favourite, it should be
herself.

All through his long reign she battled with his weakness, and was
destined to suffer from a series of domestic mortifications caused by
the helpless vacillation of his temper. In common with the kings his
predecessors of the Trastamare line, he was too vacillating to be
capable of much real feeling. But the young queen would tolerate no
divided sway. Arrogant and ambitious by nature, she resolved to exercise
an absolute control over his conduct. Now the Conde de Luna formed an
insuperable barrier to her scheme. He must be removed, but his fall
should be brought about by no violent action, lest Don Juan’s sensitive
nature should take alarm. Her arms must be the wily weapons of her sex;
she must work on the king’s admiration for her--as a poetic embodiment
of his fancy--and his amiable desire to gratify her in all things.

       *       *       *       *       *

So well did she act her part that he gradually grew cold towards his
favourite. His advice, formerly so anxiously sought, was not asked; many
acts were performed without his knowledge. Even his company, up to this
time indispensable as the air he breathed, was dispensed with for days
at a time. Such a change could not but be noted by the keen eyes of
Luna, but his belief in his ascendancy and the necessity of his counsels
was too absolute to give him as yet any serious uneasiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don Juan, newly married to a princess selected by himself, whose person
pleased his fickle taste, was preoccupied and in love. These changes
were but as passing clouds--the horizon beyond was clear. He would soon
tire, as he did of every one else, and return to him as before. Such was
the belief on which he acted, leaving the queen to mature her plans
unopposed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The king is seated alone with the queen in the castle of Burgos at a
table of inlaid marble, spread with wine. Books, too, are placed near at
hand, for he is never without his favourite author, John de Menu. The
room is small and lofty, a species of closet such as is found so often
in royal palaces of that date, and was invariably chosen as a royal
retiring-room. The walls are panelled in oak, pencilled with gold, on
which is stretched rare tapestry, representing in all the flush of
silken thread the encounters of the Christians against the
Moors--Pelazzo in the cave of Cavadonga, and the triumph of the Cid.
Steel mirrors, in richly carved frames of those massive patterns
peculiar to Spain, fling back the brilliant sunshine. It is a blaze of
light and colour. Velvet hangings heavy with gold shroud the low doors
and shade the narrow windows, which are open. Bright in the pure air
stream in the branches of fragrant limes, long walnut leaves and
sycamores--within an enclosed garden, shrouded by a quaint old tower
which forms part of the city walls.

Isabel, in the first flush of her radiant youth, looks a perfect picture
for a poet, in a long white robe, brocaded with gold, her pointed shoes
just appearing from under the folds, a row of large pearls binds her
head, setting off the ebony blackness of her hair. Her sparkling eyes
bent on the king entrance him more than his favourite ballads. She might
be Egilona, or Doña Teresa, or Angelica moving before him. The day, the
soft air, the silence, create a mesmerism about her which fires his
sentimental nature and makes her for the moment paramount to all else.

Nor is she at all indifferent to the attentions of the young sovereign,
her lord, who sits smoking opposite her, so daintily apparelled in a
velvet surcoat sown with pearls and bound with dark fur, open sleeves
hanging from the shoulder displaying his delicate hands, in the mode of
the day; a white bonnet, set with a large jewel, resting on his flowing
locks. No wonder that this graceful refinement of his nature has gained
her heart, that delicate symmetry of face and form he inherits from his
father and grandfather, El Rey Caballero.

Turning his large, inexpressive eyes towards her as she speaks, he bows,
and, raising her hand to his lips, pledges her in a cup of Val de Peñas.

“How sweet is this solitude in your company,” he says, heaving a deep
sigh of relief as he sinks back on the chair. “I would fain turn a few
verses in honour of my beautiful consort, but the day is too hot.” Here
he tries to conceal a yawn but does not quite succeed; then, looking
round, “It is astonishing that for once we are left alone; but the
constable has not interrupted us with affairs of state.”

“Why do you permit these unseemly liberties, my lord?” asks the queen
sharply.

Don Juan does not reply, but kisses her jewelled hand, laying it
caressingly on his own. What a solace to have to deal with this queenly
creature instead of the imperious constable, always urging on him some
imperative command, or to be plagued by those who call themselves “the
friends of his dynasty,” constantly insisting with equal persistency on
the necessity of his banishment! Between the two his life has become a
burden, to say nothing of the freaks of his young son, the Prince of the
Asturias (the first to bear that title), who passes his whole time in a
succession of rebellions.

“It is not for me, my _Reina_,” he answers at last, “to abuse the
constable, I leave that to my son Henry. But for Luna, I should never
have possessed the treasure of this little hand.” Again he passes his
long white fingers over hers, turning the rings she wears to the light
and examining them one by one, as though he would fain find a pretext
for retaining them in his own.

A cloud passes over the glowing face of the queen. She suddenly
remembers that she was imposed on him by the Conde de Luna as a reason
of state.

This puts her in a rage whenever she thinks of it.

“Do you imagine, my lord, that that recommends him to me?” she answers,
in a tone which betrays her feelings. “How do I know that you do not
still prefer the French Princess Fredegonde to me?”

A blush and a faint denial is the reply, and a murmured assurance that
such perfection as she possesses makes him the envy of all the
sovereigns his neighbours. The timid Don Juan shrinks from any form of
attack; he is so tormented that he scents trouble in the air.

The queen sees her advantage, and continues: “Believe me, I, at least,
love you, if you care for that. Too much so, indeed, to bear to see you
so overshadowed as you are. Your son, too, is drawing away your
subjects from you. A great sacrifice must be made or you will never
reign.”

“A sacrifice?” answers Don Juan vaguely. He affects not to understand
her, but reddens with annoyance at this false note in the harmony of
their interview.

“Oh, Juan, how can you pretend to mistake me!” she cries, clasping her
hands; “is it the first time I have told you that while the constable
lives I shall never have a happy hour?” Her countenance saddens with
real or pretended distress; a deep sigh heaves her bosom, upon which
rests a collar of jewels and strings of Orient pearls. With her kerchief
she wipes away imaginary tears. Don Juan, who is vaguely contemplating
her as a vision of beauty, is suddenly greatly distressed, and rises to
comfort her. She puts him back with a pettish motion, and with a
troubled air he resumes his seat.

“How do I know,” she continues, in a lower voice, “that the magic arts
Luna exercises over _you_ may not be employed against _me_?”

“Magic arts!” faintly ejaculates the king.

“Yes, my lord, all Spain knows it, and is weary of the wickedness of
this presumptuous man. It is by infernal arts that he sways you. He will
bring the kingdom to destruction. Did he not, like a traitor, turn back
from the walls of Granada when the Zegrins were with you, and he should
have led your victorious army into the walls of the Alhambra? Does he
not conspire with the Infante of Aragon against your life?”

So vivid is the picture she calls up of the misdeeds of Luna, that real
tears now course each other down her cheeks. She believes in what she
says, and this gives conviction to her words. She believes him to be
guilty of all of which he is accused, and she knows that he will cross
her influence with Don Juan. Above all, she dreads the mysterious action
of that occult power he is said to possess. Superstition and ignorance
go together in her mind. A Portuguese princess of the fourteenth century
is alive to all the prejudices of the time.

“What!” cries Don Juan, starting up from his chair in a burst of
generous feeling, which he is quite incapable of sustaining, “can you,
my queen, ask me seriously to dismiss from my councils and from my heart
the hero who has so faithfully upheld the glory of Castile? The tales
you accept as true are but the suggestions of envy. The constable has
ever done his duty. What do I not owe him! Was it not he who rescued me
as a boy from the strong fortress of Tordesillas, where a powerful
league, headed by my treacherous cousin, the Infante of Aragon, would
have shut me up for life? Who was it that, when the Moors, emboldened by
the weakness of Castile, refused to pay the tribute, led on our armies
against them and forced them to submission? And if he did not enter the
city of Granada the fault was not in him, but in my seditious nobles,
whose divided counsels forced him to retreat. Is this the man, the
bulwark of my throne, who alone has stood by his king against the
factious nobles, the conspiracies of his kindred, and the machinations
of his own son? Would you have me deprive _him_ of the honours he so
well deserves? High Constable I have created him, and such, by the Holy
Mother, he shall die.”

So unexpected an outburst completely overset all the queen’s
calculations. Was her influence so small for the great task she had
undertaken? she asked herself, as she gazed in wonder at the virile
expression which sat on the king’s chiselled features, and gave such
unwonted energy to his words.

She smiled, however, as she replied: “Aye, my liege, all this may be
true, but why has Don Alvarez de Luna shown this great zeal for his
king? Because, while he defended his cause he was forwarding that
ambition for which he has sold his soul. The interests of Don Juan de
Castile are his own. Believe me in this, my dear and honoured lord,
though I risk your displeasure in saying so.”

“Such indeed are the accusations of his enemies,” answered the king,
already cooling down from his brief display of impetuosity; in fact, he
was now turning over in a helpless confusion of ideas whether indeed the
constable was in league with the devil, as Isabel represented, and if
magic really gave him the extraordinary influence he exercised over him.
“Surely you must allow, my queen,

[Illustration: Portrait of Boabdil el Chico. The Generalife,
Granada.]

that it is rather Luna’s genius and courage which provoke the jealousy
of my nobles?”

“Fatal have been those qualities to the kingdom!” cried the queen, at
once seizing on the advantage his hesitation afforded her. “The whole
nation is alarmed. No one more than I,” she added, her voice deepening
into a delicious whisper as a blush overspread her face. She paused, the
colour spreading over throat and neck. “What am I, to resist this
universal charmer,” she added, “an untutored girl, when the queen, your
Highness’s first consort, is said to have yielded to his blandishments?”

“That is a base calumny!” answered Don Juan, again galvanised into a
momentary show of feeling. “I do not believe it; I never did. I had the
word of the queen. Alvarez himself denied it on the sacraments. I pray
you, Doña the Queen,” turning somewhat haughtily upon Isabel, whose
fingers were playing with the pearls upon her neck, her eyes modestly
turned down, “do not revive so painful a suspicion. The honour of a
Queen of Castile is impregnable. It is treason to doubt it.”

“It is because I am true to you, Juan, that I tremble. The dread of this
diabolical man haunts me. He may cast a spell on me also.”

Though her look was determined, she spoke in a soft voice, flashing a
look on the king out of those dark orbs of hers which seemed to catch
the rays of the outer sunshine and strike straight into his heart. Then
she extended her hand with a smile so sweet in its dignity as altogether
to melt his sensitive nature, always realising in her the heroine of his
poetic dreams.

“What rapture to be thus loved!” he murmured. “Can I deny this exquisite
creature anything she desires?” No one, he told himself, had ever been
so sweet as she. Ought he not to guard her from any chance of peril?
Might not the accusation she had recalled be true? He had never dared to
examine too closely the relations between the constable and the late
Queen Maria de Aragon. How different was Isabel! Her thoughts were all
for him. What ought he to do?

An abyss of unfathomable doubt engulfed him. Was Luna indeed an agent of
the Evil One as she said, or was he his devoted servant and friend? And
all the time these clashing thoughts were chasing each other through his
weary brain, Isabel, by a caressing movement, was drawing closer and
closer to him as he listened to the soft tones of her voice, so
different to the authoritative accents of the constable.

“Fie, fie, my dear lord,” she was saying, “is it meet that he make of
you but a painted image? A phantom in the state? With sorrow and shame
your nobles behold it. Can you wonder that the prince hates him?
Resolve, by one bold act, to rid yourself of him for ever. Banish him,
imprison him, execute him, so that you reign.”

The sound of her words still lingered like music in the warm air, when
a silver bell sounded in the ante-room, the tapestry before the door was
withdrawn, and a page entered, making a profound obeisance.

“Don Juan the King,” he said, “the most revered the Bishop of Avila
waits without on urgent business of state. He comes as the messenger of
the Conde de Luna; he has already conferred with the secretary, Don
Diego de Bavena.”

At this announcement, the queen hastily left her seat, bowed low to Don
Juan, who kissed her hand with the utmost ceremony and led her to the
door, where she again saluted him before joining her _dueñas_-in-waiting.

But the words had been spoken, the impression made, and, however Isabel
might resent the intrusion of the bishop, she had almost persuaded the
king that the days of the haughty favourite were numbered.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whatever were the faults or the misdeeds of the House of Trastamare, the
courtesy of their manners was beyond dispute.

Nothing could have been more inopportune than the entrance of the Bishop
of Avila, but Don Juan received him in so royal a fashion he could not
for a moment have imagined he was not welcome.

“To what happy chance do I owe your presence?” asked the king.

“Nothing auspicious brings me to your Highness,” was the reply, “in
place of the High Constable.”

“Is he not coming?” asked the king quickly, a look of relief spreading
over his face.

“He is not; a most base calumny prevents him. The Conde de Luna is
accused of having caused the assassination of Don Alfonso de Vivars.
Until his sovereign publicly justifies him, he prefers to retire to his
castle of Portello.”

“What! Vivars murdered!” cried Don Juan, evincing genuine emotion at the
news. “How did this come about? I know he is a violent opponent of the
constable, but what grounds are there for suspicion that he is concerned
in his death?”

“None that I know of,” answered the bishop, “except public report, which
is alien to the Conde de Luna.”

“But I can give your Grace reasons,” cried a voice from within, “if you
will listen to me, which you never do,” and the Prince of the Asturias
stormed into the room.

“Peace! Infante, or speak with more respect,” said the king, the whole
equilibrium of his gentle character overset by this turbulent onslaught.

Don Enrique was so violent and headstrong, that his father positively
dreaded the sight of him when they met, which was not often. Not one
jot, however, did this terrible son yield of his insolent bearing.

“Respect to whom respect is due, my lord,” were his words, his young
face crimson with rage and defiance. “I presume that this holy
ecclesiastic (that is the word, though it is nought in this case) is
imparting to you the news of the new crime of your favourite. He is
ready at getting rid of his enemies; but this time it is done so boldly
in the broad face of day the whole nation cries shame. Will your Grace
create him to some new honour to reward him?”

As he spoke, the prince looked so furious as he advanced close to his
father that the bishop interposed, but in vain.

“It is of no use,” he continued, fronting the king almost with menace,
“to give you proofs of the guilt of the constable in this atrocious
vengeance on an enemy; you would not believe me if I did. But I do not
intend to be silent. I shall address the nation, which has already
judged him for what he is.”

All this time the king had stood silent, contemplating his son with an
expression of contempt. He was used to his violence.

“Whatever you say will be undutiful,” he replied at last, “and unfitting
for a father’s ear to hear.”

“Yes, if you call it so,” cried the prince, not at all impressed by this
reproof, spoken with more gentleness than seemed possible. “Until you
send that arch-impostor, Luna, to the scaffold, we shall never be
friends.”

“Then let us remain enemies,” replied the king with dignity; “I will do
no man’s bidding.”

But this forbearance only angered the prince all the more.

“The traitor who sold victory over the Moors for a bribe in a basket of
figs is then to be let off? Under the walls of Granada he did it, the
villain!”

“Be silent, Infante!” cried the king; “you know that story is a lie!”

“By Santiago, I hold it for the truth,” quickly replied the prince. “How
comes he by such revenues if he takes no bribes? Not this alone, but
many. What need has he of twenty thousand freedmen at his heels when he
travels--more than your Highness requires? Has he told you, or have you,
my lord bishop, his confidant, that the King of Navarre is advancing on
Pamplona? By the living God, my father, if you do not banish this
upstart I will join with him against you! Think well of it, my lord. I
am brave in the field. I stay not at home, toying with a new wife,
singing ballads and _romanceros_, nor have I poets to amuse me, or Latin
books to peruse. But the people will follow me. You and your favourite
will be alone, and I shall reign over Navarre, Aragon, Leon, and Castile
before you die! Ha! ha!”

With these wild words on his lips, the Prince of the Asturias retired as
noisily as he had come, leaving the king, his father, in a state of the
deepest dejection. No suffering to him was so great as anger and
dispute. Almost rather would he have resigned the crown to his son than
endure his sneers. But Luna had always combated this idea vigorously;
and now he had married a new queen, and he would like to reign, if only
to display her beauty by his side. A feeling of relief came over him
that at least she and the prince were not joined together against him,
although both were working for the same end--the fall of the constable.

With a deep sigh he sank upon a chair; such violence unhinged him. He
could not at once collect his ideas sufficiently to resume his
conversation. Then he remembered the murder and the invasion of Navarre.

“Is what the Infante says about Navarre true?” he asked the bishop, who
stood respectfully aloof.

“Yes, my lord, they are in force before Pamplona.”

“And he will join them,” muttered the king; “he will disgrace me.” Then
aloud, “I pray you, reverend father, to furnish me with the details of
this assassination. Am I to understand that the constable is still at
Portello?”

“Yes, my lord, he is awaiting judgment.”

“Now who will command my armies?” cried Don Juan, driven to despair by
all this accumulation of trouble. “Little do they know what the
constable is, who seek his destruction! I pray you, good bishop, to
retire for to-day. I am indisposed. Go to Portello and take the
constable’s orders as to the disposal of the troops against the King of
Navarre. Summon the constable to hasten to me at once.”

“No, my lord, he cannot come before his trial.”

“By the holy Santiago! was ever a man so tormented as I?” exclaimed Don
Juan, wringing his hands. “I shall have to lead the troops against my
own son, if he carries out his rebellious intention. Adieu, my lord
bishop. Salute Luna for me. I never missed him so much as now.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Whether the Conde de Luna was really guilty of the crimes imputed to him
will ever remain an historic problem. He offered no defence now or
before. Either he was too conscious of his innocence, or too proud to
justify himself.

At length, pressed on all sides, the half-imbecile king signed the order
for his arrest, glad at any price to rid himself of importunity. A body
of troops under Zuñiga were secretly despatched to surround the castle
of Portello, where he had remained since his accusation.

All these preparations could not altogether escape the knowledge of
Luna, but, with a fatality common to great ministers, he despised his
enemies too much to take any measures against them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Within a darkened chamber the constable sits in the castle of Portello;
no other guards or alguazils man the walls but such as habitually attend
on his person. The magnificence of his household has been greatly
reduced, as if in deference to the accusations against him. Until lately
the cynosure of all eyes, the dispenser of all honours at court and in
the camp, he has come to lead a solitary life.

Lost in deep thought he rests his head upon his hand, sitting at a table
covered with piles of parchments and papers, under which lies a naked
sword.

The night is gathering around. All the noises of the little town have
died out. The bells of the churches have long since been silent; the
_couvre-feu_ has tolled; the sharp click of the _sereno’s_ metal stick
has ceased to strike on the pavement, and the voices of some late
revellers have died away in the night wind.

Still the constable sits on. That the thoughts which so absorb him are
painful the furrows upon his forehead show, and the deep sighs which
occasionally escape him. At all times indifferent to the accessories of
dress, now in the middle of life, the plainness of his attire presents a
remarkable contrast to the splendour of the court. His mantle and vest
are of black cloth of simplest fashion, and he wears none of those
jewels which constitute the habitual insignia of rank.

The beauty of his countenance is remarkable. Long black hair, bright and
glossy, curls back from his lofty brow, his features aquiline and
pointed, of the true Spanish type, give great expression to his eyes, of
a somewhat mystic expression, and the deep olive of his skin brings into
prominence the rich jet of his pointed beard and moustache. The
lightness of his figure and his slender make, not only impart to him
height, but make him appear much younger than he really is.

Nor is there any indication about him as he sits so motionless at the
table, under the light of a massive silver candelabra, of that
supercilious arrogance which has so greatly incensed his enemies.

Altogether he looks born to command men and to fascinate women. Skilled
in every accomplishment of the age, fabulously brave, a type of manly
beauty, no wonder that Mary of Aragon succumbed to his power and beauty,
in contrast to the feebleness of her husband; nor that Isabel, her
successor, believing him to exercise magic arts, shrinks from his
contact. But the magic of which they accuse him is in the man himself.
Luna is the magician, and his commanding intellect, as of a Titan among
minnows, has brought his name down from a remote period as one of the
most remarkable characters recorded in history.

       *       *       *       *       *

The low oaken door within the keep in which the chamber of the constable
is situated opens suddenly, and an aged _jefe_ stands before him; behind
him is his page, Morales.

Resenting any intrusion on his solitude, he looks up sharply, and his
eyes fix themselves on them with a menacing expression.

“How dare you enter uncalled for?” he asks in a stern voice, addressing
his devoted servant, Gotor, whose white face and trembling limbs
announce some extraordinary agitation. “Why are you shaking so, old
man?”

“Oh, my lord! my lord! Listen! The royal

[Illustration: THE GATE OF BARCELONA.

From an etching by Charles A. Platt.]

troops have arrived after dark; they surround the town.”

“Well! What of that?”

“You are in danger, my dear master!” cries Gotor, clasping his hands and
approaching nearer to the table at which Luna is seated. “You must
instantly conceal yourself until you can escape. I have a disguise ready
without.”

“Escape!” cries the constable, rising from his chair. “Never! I have
lived in danger of my life for the last twenty years. I care not for the
petty plots of traitors whom I will soon hang up as high as Haman.”

“But the king, my lord! The king--he has forsaken you. He sends these
troops. I know it,” put in Morales, coming to the front in spite of the
terror with which the constable inspires him. “Hearing the movement in
the town, I have been down among the alguazils who accompany the troops.
They say that their mission is to seize the High Constable and carry him
to Valladolid a prisoner. Fly, my dear master! Let _us_ die for you!”
More eager than Gotor, the tears stream from Morales’s eyes as he dares
to advance and touch the Conde on the arm.

“No,” answers Luna, shaking him off, and with a stately step turning to
pace up and down the chamber. “It is false that Don Juan has himself
sent for me. He may be foolish, weak, deceived; but he will never betray
his faithful friend.”

“For the love of God, believe me!” pleads Morales, again pressing on
the Conde, no muscle of whose face had changed.

“That my enemies are below I do not doubt,” he replies, “but that they
are sent by the king, no voice but his own shall convince me.”

“Then, my dear master, we must defend you. Call our slender garrison
together, and man the walls with their crossbows.”

No reply comes. Gotor hastily turns towards the door, but the impetuous
Morales is before him. The heavy panels turn on their hinges, the lock
closes loudly in the silence, and Luna is again alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

What could those devoted servants do against the strong force under
Conde de Zuniga? A few crossbows were discharged, some swords were
drawn. Morales fell wounded, Gotor was taken prisoner, and the besieged
were overpowered.

Zuniga, furious at the opposition, appeared on the platform in front of
the castle gate clad in a complete suit of dark armour greaved with
steel, wearing his visor down, preceded by a herald bearing the red and
yellow flag of Spain.

“In the name of Don Juan, King of Castile and Leon,” cries the herald.
“Oh, hear, hear him. I, Don Alfonso de Zuniga, leading the armies of the
king, command Don Alvarez de Luna, Constable of Castile and Leon,
instantly to surrender his person for trial on the charge of foul
murder, or the castle of Portello shall be consigned to the flames.
Lord High Constable, I call on you, in the king’s name, to answer.”

“I am here to reply to the Conde de Zuniga,” answers Luna, appearing
under the arch of a Gothic window over the gallery, with the same
dignity of presence as if he were receiving him as a guest. A blind
confidence in his power over the king still possesses him, and, besides,
to his haughty spirit, the humiliation of submission to his enemies is
bitterer than death.

“Answer me also. What mean you, Don Alfonso de Zuniga, by besieging my
castle?”

A tone of offended dignity is in his voice, but he does not condescend
to any other expression.

“I come on a warrant from the king,” answers Zuniga, displaying a
parchment which he hands to the herald, who holds it up extended on a
lance.

“The king!” cries Luna, with more passion than he has yet shown. “It is
a lie! This is some foul scheme to trap me into your hands.”

“Look at that document,” cries Zuniga, chafing under the insolent
bearing of the constable, and as the sun, which has now risen, shines
upon the rocky platform on which they stand before the castle, the
brilliant colours of “the castle and the lion,” are plainly displayed
emblazoned on the sheet. “If you submit,” continues Zuniga, advancing to
where Luna stands at the casement, “such respect as your rank entitles
you to is guaranteed; I swear it on the honour of a Castilian. My orders
are to conduct you to Valladolid in honourable custody, and to demand
your sword.”

“Take my life with it, if you list!” cries Luna, in a voice of bitter
anguish, “if my lord and master has in truth given me into your hands.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The one desire of Luna was to obtain an interview with the king. Well
did he estimate his craven and helpless nature and that, if once
admitted to his presence, the long supremacy he had exercised over him
would at once return. The queen was equally determined that so dangerous
an interview should not take place. It was the influence of the moment
which always decided Don Juan, if any decision he ever had at all.

“I will not admit the Conde de Luna to my presence,” was his answer to
the messengers sent to Burgos.

“Nor has such a traitor the right to ask it,” added the queen--who now
habitually took part in the Council of State--standing behind him, her
dark eyes flashing fire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three long days passed within the noble hall with the _artesonado_
ceiling, where Luna was confined in the Casa de las Argollas (the iron
links), still entire and standing in the Plaza Viega of
Valladolid--three days of terrible suspense, yet with the absolute
assurance that Don Juan would relent. He had been guilty of no crime; he
deserved no punishment from the master he had so faithfully served. His
arrogant nature was maddened under the delay, but he suppressed the
expression of his indignation until he should stand face to face with
the king.

The long hours passed, no message came. Then, yielding to the alarm of
the friends who had gathered round him, he wrote that historic letter,
each word of which has come down to us.

“Forty-five years of my life, King Don Juan, have been passed in your
service; nor have I ever heard a word of complaint from your lips. The
favours you have showered on me were greater than my deserts, and
certainly more than my desire. To my prosperity one thing was
wanting--_caution_. In the days when you loved me I should have retired
from court and enjoyed in an honourable retreat the well-earned proofs
of your munificence.

“But I was either too generous or presumptuous, and I continued to lead
the state as long as I deemed my sovereign needed me. In this, O King of
Castile, I was myself deceived.”

       *       *       *       *       *

So completely had Don Juan’s heart at this time been hardened against
him, that, resolute for once, instead of a reply, the trial of the High
Constable was decided on. The crimes of which he was accused were many.
First, the assassination of the Conde de Vivars; then vague charges of
embezzlement of the royal revenues, of having possessed himself by magic
of the will of the king and of his late queen; of being a tyrant,
without specifying any act of tyranny, and of usurping the royal
authority, without stating on what occasion.

So irregular and illegal were the conditions of the tribunal, composed
of accusers and judges, that it went far toward proving not only his
innocence, but a preconceived conclusion against him. He was condemned
to death.

Still he could not be brought to believe in his danger. When the
sentence was read to him, he bowed his grand head, covered with the
glossy curls, and was silent. A defiant smile parted his lips, as,
roused from his usual apathy, his eyes travelled slowly round from one
to the other of his judges.

Had not a fortune-teller predicted he should die in _Cadahalso_, the
name of one of his fiefs? And he was now in prison in Valladolid! But he
forgot that, in Spanish, _Cadahalso_ also means _scaffold_, and that on
the scaffold he was condemned to die.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was condemned, but the warrant of death had not yet been signed by
the king; at any time he might revoke it. The queen knew this and
watched him.

The fatal paper lay on a table in his retiring-room, untouched. Long Don
Juan contemplated it in silence, absorbed in more gloomy reflections
than he had ever felt before.

He imagined he was alone, but the queen, who never left him, was
concealed behind the arras.

Poor helpless, foolish sovereign! the atrocity of the act bewildered
him. A confusion of ideas troubled his spirit. As he gazed, the letters
stood out as if in characters of blood before his eyes.

What! he told himself, as he cast sad glances upon the paper, and pang
after pang of real sorrow shot from his inmost soul--the death of Luna,
whom he had loved when yet a little child, and his firm hand upheld his
tottering steps! The man in whom he had placed implicit trust and whose
genius left to him only the luxury, not the cares, of sovereignty. Luna,
the brave, the poetic knight, whose romantic career had fired his fancy
with the enthusiasm of a second Cid! Luna, his favourite, friend, the
support of his throne! The touch of his familiar hand seemed to grasp
his own! The superb majesty of his presence became tangible to him as he
paced up and down the apartment, a prey to a waking vision, called up by
the vivid image of his life. The constable! Always the constable! Where
was he? Would he answer to his call, and make his life pleasant to him
as heretofore? For a moment he forgot the existence of the queen. Her
blandishments and pleadings faded away as a mist before the sun. His
weak mind, unable to battle with such a tumult of ideas, recalled no
reason why his great minister should not be before him. THERE, opposite,
on the seat where he had sat so many years, and raised his sonorous
voice to comfort him. Dead! Condemned! Impossible! It was an evil dream.
His hand was already outstretched to rend the parchment, the sight of
which had caused him such agitation, and by swift messengers to recall
him to his side, when Queen Isabel stood before him.

“What! my dear lord!” she cried, in that melodious voice which she never
allowed to reach his ears but as a harmony, laying her hand upon his as
she spoke and drawing him from the table where the sentence lay, “can it
be true that you hesitate, when my safety and that of the nation are at
stake?”

In a confused silence he listened.

Attired in long robes of deepest mourning, which set off the luscious
brilliance of her complexion, she looked the ideal embodiment of woe.
Her large eyes were dull and veiled as she turned them imploringly on
the king, her whole being expressed the most poignant grief. Isabel was
perhaps the handsomest woman of her time, and, as such, bequeathed it to
her great daughter, Isabella of Aragon. She was at least the most
subtle. She knew that as long as Luna lived, the king might escape her
at any moment.

Impulsively she grasped both his hands, she laid her cheeks next to his.
Thus they stood for awhile; his arms clasped around her in a fervid
embrace. What beauty, what devotion was hers! Could he pain this
transcendent creature? These tears which lay on her eyelids like roseate
dew he could kiss off, but no further cause must be given her to shed
them.

“Oh, Juan!” she whispered, her words reaching his ears like ineffable
sighs, “why will you spare the criminal whose death I desire? Why will
you support a wretch whom every noble in your kingdom would see in his
grave? Your very crown is in danger! Your son is in revolt! Your cousin,
the Infante of Aragon, favours him; the King of Navarre----”

At the detested name of Navarre and his cousin of Aragon, who were both,
in this troubled and odious reign, continually conspiring against him,
the king gave a great start. Such energy as he possessed suddenly came
back to him.

“If you could prove that, my _Reina!_” he cried, every feature in his
face working with passion.

“I can! I can!” she answered; “the proofs are in my possession.” Then,
gently drawing him towards the table, on which lay the fatal document,
she placed a pen in his hand. “Sign, Juan,” she said, “_for the sake of
my unborn child!_”

Even at that moment his hand trembled so violently that he could
scarcely form the letters of his name.

       *       *       *       *       *

The scaffold was erected in the Plaza Mayor, in the centre of the city
of Valladolid, where so many _autos-da-fé_ came afterwards to be
celebrated under Philip II.

A large crucifix was placed in front of the stage, upon which was spread
a carpet of black velvet. The block and axe were there, but partially
concealed by the tall figure of the executioner, masked and robed in
scarlet.

From the moment he had received the intimation of his doom, the
fortitude and composure of the constable inspired respect even among his
enemies. With an unmoved countenance he met the high officers of state
at the door of the apartment he occupied in the Casa de las Argollas,
and listened to the sentence of death and the enumeration of the crimes
which were laid to his charge.

Not a word passed his lips. He might have been a statue of stone but for
a sad, tranquil smile, and the grave courtesy of the salute with which
he returned the reverences of the judges.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the trumpets sounded their shrill note, the clarion answered, and
the procession marched forward. First the parti-coloured herald with his
gay cap and tabard, rehearsing in a loud voice the reasons for which the
High Constable was to suffer. A body of men-at-arms followed in two
ranks, marching to the sound of muffled drums.

The constable himself next, mounted on a mule. He wore high-heeled shoes
with diamond buckles and an ample Castilian mantle reaching to his chin.
By his side rode his confessor.

The multitude which thronged the city to see this extraordinary sight
was immense; not only Valladolid and Burgos, but from all the burghs and
villages about for fifty miles.

As the people gazed open-eyed at the fall of the Master of Castile, much
as he was detested in life, murmurs of compassion were heard on every
side, as, with an air of dignified leisure, he dismounted, and slowly
ascended the steps of the scaffold.

Arrived at the summit, he stood for a moment lost in thought as his eyes
ranged over the sea of faces uplifted to his, surging like the troubled
action of the waves. The stone colonnade which still surrounds the Plaza
was crammed; in every window, terrace, _mirador_, and balcony, the eager
countenances of massed-up spectators seemed to clothe the walls.

Raising his plumed hat for a moment from his head, he scanned the
multitude come to see him die. In front of the scaffold stood his enemy,
Don Enrique, Infante of Aragon, whose efforts to depose Don Juan he had
for years successfully combated. Around him gathered a group of nobles
of the queen’s party.

“Tell my master and yours, Don Juan the the king,” he said, speaking in
a clear voice, addressing himself to the Infante, “that he may find the
crown fit better on his brow now that I am gone, who made it too heavy
for him.” Then turning to his page Morales, convulsed with grief, who
had followed him to the scaffold, bearing on his arm, neatly folded, a
scarlet cloak to cover his body after decapitation, his lofty bearing
softened and his voice trembled as he spoke: “Alas! my poor boy, you,
who owe me nothing, weep for me; and my master the king, who owes me so
much gratitude, desires nothing but my death!”

He then took off his hat, which he handed to Morales, together with a
ring, placing it on his finger. His face was perfectly serene and his
clustering curls hung upon his broad shoulders, scented and tended as
carefully as heretofore.

Standing in front of the platform, the crimson figure of the executioner
backing him, the whole multitude was moved to pity, and notable sounds
of lamentation rent the air.

That this public testimony of sympathy gratified him exceedingly, the
smile that lighted up his face plainly showed. He placed his hand on his
heart and again saluted the vast assembly. “No manner of death brings
shame,” he said, “if supported with courage. Nor can the end of life be
deemed premature when it has been passed at the head of the state with
probity and wisdom. I wish the King of Castile a happy life, and his
people the same prosperity I brought to them.”

He then examined the block on which his head was to be laid, loosened
the lace ruff about his throat, smoothed back his hair from his neck,
and took a black ribbon from his vest, which he handed to the
executioner to bind his hands.

After praying very fervently before the crucifix, repeating the words of
his confessor aloud, he stood up.

“I am ready,” he said; “begin!” And with a movement full of grandeur, he
knelt, rested his head on the block, and at one stroke it was severed
from the body.

[Illustration:

Photo by J. Laurent, Madrid.

QUEEN ISABELLA DICTATING HER WILL.

From the painting by E. Rosales in the National Museum, Madrid.]

This took place early in June in the year 1453; nor have Spanish
historians ever decided whether his condemnation was justified or not.
Few instances occur which present an elevation and a fall so
extraordinary and sudden. But it must be remembered that few ministers
had up to that time displayed such high gifts for government, joined to
an arrogance and ostentation that were in themselves a crime.

Twelve months after, 1454, Don Juan II. ended his long and feeble reign
of forty-eight years. Politically, he was an odious king; the deed he
had been brought to commit failed to tranquillise the kingdom and will
ever be a blot upon his name.

Even in death, she for whose sake he did it--his beloved Isabel, the
mother of his son Alfonso and of his daughter Isabel--is beside him.
Within the Carthusian Cartuja de Miraflores they lie, two miles from
Burgos, on the plain, in one of the most magnificent alabaster monuments
of the ornate Gothic style. The variety and richness of the carving are
unique; there are nothing like it in florid Spain. The recumbent figures
are in robes of state, guarded by sixteen sculptured lions. Doña Isabel
wears a high open-worked gown under a coif. In front are the royal arms
on an escutcheon elaborately worked, and wonderful niches at the sides
are filled with subjects from the Bible. Death more superbly guarded is
nowhere else to be seen than in this record of a weak but artistic
king.



CHAPTER XXII

Enrique IV. el Impotente


The court is at Segovia, that ancient city perched among the romantic
passes of the Guadarramas, north of Madrid, said to have been founded by
Hercules. The famous Roman bridge, or aqueduct, one of the wonders of
Spain, and borne as the city’s shield, joining into the ancient walls at
a length of 937 feet.

Although they agree in nothing else, Enrique el Quarto, like his father,
loved this quaint Gothic town.

Undutiful and disorderly as a son, he made a bad king. Indolent,
licentious, and ignorant, he despised learning and cultivation of all
kinds, and was by far the worst of the illegitimate Trastamares, on
whom, as has been said, a curse for the murder of Don Pedro really
seemed to rest.

Nothing they undertook answered, and it might be said of them, “their
names were written in water.” Yet, not to be too hard on Enrique, it
must be allowed he so far redeemed himself from the nullity of his
father as to lead his armies bravely in the usual campaigns against
Navarre and Aragon, besides undertaking a ten years’ crusade against
the Moors, authorised by Pope Calixtus III.; in all which, so long as he
was assisted by the friends and advisers of his amiable father, his
incapacity was concealed, but his later campaigns were unfortunate
because fought alone. Nor could his love of pomp and splendid attendance
blind his subjects to the fact that his court was a very sink of
debauchery.

It seems strange, too, that Don Enrique, who, as Prince of the Asturias,
had for years stormed against favouritism, now fell into the same fault
himself. Not with such a master of men as the Condestable de Luna, but
with an obscure and needy adventurer, called Don Beltrano de las Cuevas,
with no merit whatever but his skill in deceiving him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The court is at Segovia. At this moment Don Beltrano is crossing the
Sala de Ricebimento in the Alcazar, a Gothic Moresque apartment, with
lofty raftered ceiling and cornices of dark oak, the sides splendidly
gilt, setting off rows of royal shields and _bandieros_.

He is a striking-looking man of robust proportions, with a florid face
of that full sensual type so little seen among the thin-featured
Spaniards.

His love of display is apparent by the rich surcoat of satin and brocade
he wears, cut in the latest mode and glittering with jewels, a plumed
hat placed defiantly on one side of his head.

But you must not call him by his vulgar name of Beltrano, drunkard,
dicer, and reveller, but Sua Grandeza el Conde de Ledesma, by favour of
the King, or, more correctly speaking, of the Queen. You must also pay a
certain attention to him, upstart and braggart as he is, because it was
through his agency that the dynasty of Castile came to be merged in that
of Aragon, in the person of Isabel the great Queen, wife of Ferdinand of
Aragon, and by her marriage constituting the union of the future kingdom
of Spain.

As he passes with a step full of importance across the motes of sunshine
striking on the marble pavement from the historic window out of which
the late king, Don Juan, was let fall, as a child, by a lady of the
court, who lost her head for her carelessness, the vulgar showiness of
his dress is in conspicuous contrast to the soberly habited grandees of
the old school.

All the court, who are awaiting the arrival of the king, draw back
respectfully to make way for him. The alguazils and _ballesteros_ salute
him with reverence, and pages doff their plumed caps as he pauses for a
moment under the effigies of the early kings of Castile and Leon ranged
on either side, life size, mounted on mimic horses, armed, like their
masters, in plates of steel.

“_Ese, es el Conde de Ledesma_,” is buzzed about in whispers of
approbation, the great man himself affecting not to notice the stir he
makes, but fixing his eyes on a group near the door, who take no notice
of him. That they are persons of distinction is evident from the badges
they wear and the large attendance of pages and esquires and _jefes_.

As the count passes, he draws himself up and casts on them a
supercilious glance of defiance, at once returned with smiles of scorn
and derision.

“Here comes that wretch,” the tallest of them is saying, no other than
Don Pedro Giron, Grand Master of Calatrava.

“Vile parasite!” exclaims another.

“Hush! hush! my Lord of Benevente,” says a third; “keep silence, I pray
you, until the right moment comes.”

“The unmannerly cur!” mutters the Lord of Benevente, as Ledesma
disappears into the presence chamber. “He never saluted us. Are we, the
greatest _ricoshombres_ of Spain, absolute in our freedom, and with the
right of life and death, to be insulted by such an upstart? If the queen
can spare him [at this there is a general laugh], he will doubtless take
command in the crusade against the Moors, and be packed off with a bevy
of mistresses and mummers to amuse the king. Castile has fallen under
the rule of favourites with a vengeance! The Conde de Luna was a
_hidalgo_, but this fellow is a low impostor.”

“A vile shame!” exclaims another Marqués de Villena, who, with his uncle
Carillo, Archbishop of Toledo, is again to be found conspiring in this
court as in that of “El Enfermo.”

“Presently it will be our turn,” says the Conde de Palencia. “Don
Enrique is unworthy, and the queen--well, I do not wish to use foul
language, but there is only one word to designate _her_. We are all
agreed as to the birth of the Beltraneja, your graces.” The other two
bow, and he continues: “A worn-out voluptuary and eight years of
sterility require faith in a miracle in favour of our noble king which
he does not inspire. She was christened by the public, as soon as she
was born, ‘Beltraneja,’ after her real father. Don Enrique insists on
her succession, to exclude his brother and sister. Why this imposture
has been tolerated so long I cannot understand.”

“Such vice is disgusting; the palace is nothing but a brothel!” exclaims
the fiery Pimentel, Lord of Benevente, ever impatient and outspoken, one
of the most powerful lords in the kingdom, with broad lands in the north
and an ancient castle within the confines of Leon. “Where is our
national honour? The king has forfeited our allegiance. For the sake of
a miserable bastard he keeps his sister, Doña Isabel, shut up in the
fortress here.”

Now the Spaniard is of a silent nature, reserved and proud. His passions
are violent and deep; but once aroused he stops at nothing and is
capable of extraordinary cruelty and revenge. For one in the exalted
position of Pimentel to speak thus of his sovereign, the scandal of his
life must be outrageous.

“These are but words, my lord,” is the stern answer of Juan Pacheco,
Marqués de Villena, the crafty intriguer all through this reign as his
namesake was in that of Enrique el Enfermo, and not a whit behind
Pimentel in ancient descent, dating from the Moors. He was the man who
fought the duel where, _asi cuenta la historia_, he defied three
antagonists, as is still to be seen in marble on his tomb in the Parral
at Segovia. His commanding presence and haughty bearing imposed even on
the impetuous Pimentel. Old in intrigue and conspiracy, he passed by
mere threats as empty sound profiting nothing. “You know your remedy,”
he continues; “all the disaffected are convened to meet at the palace of
my uncle, the Archbishop of Toledo, come to Segovia for that purpose.
Your graces will not fail?”

“We will not fail,” is the answer.

       *       *       *       *       *

The place appointed for the secret council-chamber was within the
precincts of the Cathedral, in the cloisters, where life-like statues of
prophets and kings quaintly sculptured stand beside the Gothic arches;
Abraham and St. Jaime, and San Fernando holding a ring, and his consort,
Doña Beatrix.

The night was dark, and the muffled figures enveloped in ample mantles
passed unnoticed through the door with the beautiful triptych carved
over it.

In a dark room, lined with a mosaic of wood, with gold pendants on the
roof, and lit up with massive silver candelabra, stands the Archbishop
of Toledo, dismissed from his office of Minister to make way for
Ledesma. This enemy of El Impotente is a man in the prime of life, as
turbulent, fierce, and haughty as any feudal baron, his dark eyes sunk
deeply in his head, bright with the power of intellect, and unerring and
piercing; his ecclesiastical robe hanging loosely about his figure--very
different from the dignified churchman who headed the banquet at which
the young King Enrique sang as a wandering minstrel.

Prominent among the nobles who arrive is the Conde de Santilana, in the
prime of life, with that soldierly bearing so noticeable in Spain among
all who hold military command; Giron, Master of Calatrava, bland and
mild, but withal shrewd and acute, as behoves one in his prominent
position; Pimentel, Lord of Benevente, with strongly cut features on
which many a wrinkle has gathered, not from age, but from the headlong
impetuosity of his character, which has aged him before his time; the
Grand Admiral of Castile, with a weather-beaten face, showing that he
has lived a life of exposure; the Condes de Haro, Palencia, and Alba,
besides prelates and _ricoshombres_, all men of commanding eminence in
the kingdom.

But one of the number is yet wanting, the archconspirator, Villena, who,
although bearing the name of one of the regents, is of quite a different
form. He is in reality the leading spirit of them all, a man tormented
by the love of power, to attain which he is willing to meet, unmoved,
peril, or even death, with the silent constancy of a Spaniard.

No one hates Ledesma more than Villena, who, like the archbishop, was
displaced for his sake; no one has more influence over those assembled
here, not even the warlike archbishop, armed as for heaven and earth.

As Villena enters, the importance of his mission is impressed upon every
movement as he hastens to salute the exalted company, who rise as he
appears, with the utmost expression of formal courtesy, then reseat
themselves as he takes his seat at the council table beside them.

“Lords of Castile and Leon,” he says, in a full, clear voice, as he
rises to speak under the deep shadow of a deep-chiselled altar at his
back, “my words shall be short, but my purpose will be long. Let none
imagine that private vengeance for the affront put on me by the king, as
also on my kinsman, the archbishop, actuates my mind. The existence of
the state is at stake. I have a proposal to make.”

“Speak!” comes from all sides.

“I need not tell you, Grandezas, Prelates, and Ricoshombres, that the
infatuation of the king blinds him even to his personal dishonour. The
only redress lies in two courses, the dismissal and exile of Don
Beltrano, or his own dethronement. Since the birth of the child, not
issued from the blood of the Trastamares, but the ‘Beltraneja,’ the
spurious offspring of Ledesma and the Queen, measures must be taken to
insure the rightful succession to his young brother. In her cradle this
young offspring of adultery was proclaimed Princess of the Asturias and
successor to the throne, and is already affianced to the Duc de Guienne,
son of Louis XI. of France. No time is to be lost.”

“And if Don Enrique will not agree to either of these proposals?” asks
the quick-tongued Lord of Benevente.

“Then,” replies Villena, with an icy smile, drawing himself up to his
full height, “he must be dethroned, and the Infante Alfonso, whom he
keeps under observation along with his sister, Doña Isabel, proclaimed
king in his place.”

Spite of the esteem in which Villena was held, this audacious proposal
staggered the assembly. Many voices were heard in opposition, and
amongst much confusion each illustrious noble spoke his mind.

“Peace, my lords!” cried Villena, his tall figure dominating the rest.
“I speak in my own name and in that of the Archbishop of Toledo; we old
ministers of the throne and councillors of state are agreed. Never was a
nation sunk to so low an ebb. The rule of Don Alvarez de Luna was glory
to it. The proclamation of the Beltraneja as heir has brought matters to
a crisis. It is rumoured among those about him that Don Enrique was so
anxious for the birth of a child, that, knowing his own incapacity, he
has himself connived at this dishonour. Be that as it may, if the king
is incapable of guarding his own honour, we will defend it for him.”

The marquess spoke with passion. Loud acclamations followed his words.
The position was so plain, the risk so degrading to a chivalrous people.
Had this child, whom all knew to be a bastard, not been born, the
insolence of the favourite might have been tolerated, the licentious
life of the Queen Juana of Portugal passed unreproved; but in the
desperate effort to foist his daughter on the throne, Ledesma had, like
a bad player, over-reached himself.

Of the two children of Juan II., by his second queen, the charming
Isabel of Portugal, Don Alfonso and Doña Isabel, both were popular in
Castile.

All the assembled nobles had not the courage to follow Villena in his
bold course, which, if unsuccessful, might bring ruin to them and their
families as rebels to their king. All could not reckon on the favour of
Don Alfonso, if set at liberty and proclaimed Prince of the Asturias, on
which the scheming brain of the marquess counted as the plot. But a
sufficient number joined with him. The ardent spirit of the Lord of
Benevente, that young warrior of the north, was gained before the
archbishop had spoken, who, seeing the hesitation of many, now rose
slowly from his chair.

“I, too,” he said, and as his full voice made itself audible a
religious silence reigned, “as metropolitan of Spain, must raise the
standard of the church against this Ahab, who has soiled the sanctity of
the cloister by imposing a second Jezebel, in the person of his
unfaithful mistress, as Abbess of Santa Maria de las Damas, and
banishing the reverend mother to make room for this harlot. Spite of the
excommunication of the Church, the Condesa de Sandoval still rules in
the chapter. What malediction does a prince not merit who thus traffics
with the devil and leads his people into mortal sin? Anathema maranatha
on Enrique de Trastamare!”

The archbishop’s solemn imprecation carried many who had trembled at the
impetuous proposal of Villena. A deputation was named to wait upon the
king, at the head of which was the Archbishop of Toledo; but Villena
himself remained in the background. As the principal conspirator, it
behoved him to be cautious.

       *       *       *       *       *

“What!” cried Don Enrique next day, when the prelate at the head of the
deputation of nobles appeared before him in the Sala del Trono, when,
surrounded by his attendant lancers, splendidly equipped, he sat under
the _baldaquino_ on the chair of state, the whole room glittering with
gilded panels, _retablos_, and mirrors, doubling the array of hostile
figures before him, “What! you dare dictate to me--your king? How long
is it, my lord archbishop, that you, our metropolitan, set the example

[Illustration: FERNANDO THE CATHOLIC.]

of disobedience? And you, my Lord of Benevente,” as according to his
vehement nature, Pimentel had thrust himself more forward than the rest,
“who come of such ancient stock, are you not ashamed to appear as a
rebel? And you,” addressing the rest, “go back to your homes and learn
obedience. What! I am to depose my daughter Juana at your bidding?”

A loud murmur here interrupted him for a moment, and the name of
Beltrano was distinctly heard.

The colour mounted furiously to the face of the king, who, like all of
his family, was a fair and comely prince; his eyes grew dangerously
bright, and he laid his hand on the hilt of the dagger at his side.

“My lords! my lords! you try my patience too much!” he cried. “Why am I
not to have a child like any one of you? Answer! Especially after--”
here his voice dropped. They all knew what he meant, but no one believed
it. Like every member of his family, Don Enrique was unable to sustain
his passions. The awe inspired by his presence had passed. Every eye was
fixed menacingly upon him. Each noble recalled the scandal of his life
and the treason of which he was guilty in acknowledging the Beltraneja
as his heir. Face to face with the king, the indignation they felt
blazed out. No words were spoken, but the menace was clear. Don Enrique
quailed before it. He stood before the chief nobles of Castile as his
accusers. He was judged and found guilty. The expression of their
conviction was instantaneous.

Then the archbishop, with dignified calm, became the spokesman.

“Your Highness, we are here to declare that we will never acknowledge
Doña Juana as your successor. Civil war will be the result of your
insistence. Be advised, my good lord, not to drive your subjects to
extremities. Banish that vile adventurer Beltrano de las Cuevas. Call
your brother Don Alfonso, and your sister Doña Isabel to adorn the
court, and trust to your faithful subjects for the rest.”

The king maintained a stony silence. He had become ashy pale. The
hostile bearing of his nobles, the fearless words of the archbishop
showed him his danger. Like all weak natures, he was obstinate. Never
would he renounce the succession of Doña Juana; never would he dismiss
Beltrano. He must temporise, but how? As his eye passed slowly down the
ranks of those gathered before him, and he remembered that the most
powerful chief among them was not there, a feeling of defeat came over
him.

At this moment the Master of Calatrava intervened. The evident distress
of the king touched him. Attacked in his life, in his consort, the old
feudal feeling came to his rescue as to his chief.

“Cannot some accommodation be found,” were his words, “without imposing
too severe conditions on the king? Don Alfonso, his brother, can marry
the Infante Juana. This would content all parties.”

The relief this proposal gave to Don Enrique was very plain. His whole
aspect changed. Again he was the reckless prince who lived in the midst
of revellers, flatterers, and buffoons, and, dissolute by nature,
tolerated the licentious conduct of the queen. Here was the opening he
longed for, but dared not propose. An accommodation such as this would
give him time to defy this outrageous insolence with arms in his hands
and an army behind him.

A grateful smile lighted up his face; like all of his family, with
large, prominent eyes under sharply curved eyebrows, long, pointed nose
and irresolute lips which gave a shifting character to his face.

“I am ready,” he said, “to listen graciously to the desires of my
subjects. The House of Trastamare owes much to its supporters. Foremost
among them you are, my lord archbishop, and your nephew, the Marqués de
Villena, though at the present time one would not say so.”

This shaft, levelled at the archbishop, was met with a severe reprimand.

“Your ancestors, my lord, reverenced the Church. You have defiled it.”

“Let us not fall into recriminations,” cried the Grand Master Giron,
“but rather seek how our conditions can meet the king’s desires, and
rebellion be avoided.”

Then Don Enrique passed his royal word, standing before the throne, his
hand in that of the archbishop, that his brother, Don Alfonso, should,
with his sister Doña Isabel, be received at court with the honours which
were their due; that Don Alfonso, under the guardianship of the Marqués
de Villena, should be affianced to Doña Juana, and the Conde de Ledesma
be banished to his estates.

       *       *       *       *       *

Time passed; but, excepting the liberty of his brother and sister, Don
Alfonso and Doña Isabel, who were, however, closely watched by the queen
and Ledesma, none of these conditions were fulfilled.

Every abuse continued. The Conde de Ledesma lorded it as before in a
court where vice and disorder reigned paramount. Don Alfonso was not
affianced to the little Juana, and the queen continued to scandalise all
Castile. Then the Marqués de Villena decided upon action. This time he
would make his presence felt. Don Enrique, fourth of that name, must be
dethroned, (1464). His brother Alfonso proclaimed king in his place. On
the plains of Avila the nation was summoned to ratify the act.

       *       *       *       *       *

Avila stands on the summit of a wild mountain gorge, grey, colourless,
and arid. Below are piled up heaps of huge granite boulders, as if
washed by the water of the deluge. Then, beyond, line upon line of rough
and scattered rocks lead the eye to the far-distant horizon.

At first sight the town seems to be but a dolomite crown fixed on the
cliffs themselves, until the eye discerns a circle of granite walls,
broken at regular intervals by machicolated towers, to this day in
perfect preservation.

All is severe, wind-bound, arid. A mountain fortress looking towards the
fastnesses over the Escurial. War trumpets, arrows, and catapults seem
in the air; lances rattle and blood-stained banners wave. Beneath, the
eye ranges over a vast region bounded by the snow-capped mountains of
the Guadarrama. A prospect such as is seen nowhere but in Spain, where
the plains take the semblance of an earthy sea, in the large lines of
alternate sun and shade and streaks of vivid colour that undulate as on
the perpetual agitation of the waves.

And now a strange sight presents itself. On a level _vega_, a sheet of
green, illumined by the full rays of the mid-day sun, filling all nature
with a glorious light, a huge platform rises, on which stands a throne.
On it is seated a gigantic semblance of the king, wearing the pointed
crown of the Goths, the sceptre in one hand and the sword of justice at
his side. No detail is wanting to render it more real. Jewelled collar
and chain sparkle around his neck, pearls, emeralds, and rubies glow at
the girdle, confining a sumptuous robe under a royal mantle lined and
faced with miniver.

In front is planted the banner of Castile, and a whole army of
men-at-arms, crossbowmen, and lancers, guard the mimic sovereign as in
life.

All those dignitaries and prelates who took part in the conference at
the archbishop’s are there also, to a man, gathered round the platform,
to judge the king.

Beyond, a vast multitude spreads over the plain. The nation has been
summoned and it has come, and great disappointment is expressed not to
find also figures of the queen and Don Beltrano exposed for judgment, as
well as of the king.

Each craft and profession is arrayed in the costume of its order,
distinctive at that time. Monks and mendicant friars, Moorish sheikhs
from Granada and belted knights stand shoulder to shoulder with
ecclesiastics and learned professors, the military orders of Santiago
and Calatrava in half-clerical costume, and _estudiantes_ from
Salamanca, the cockle-shell on their large hats.

Nor are the picturesque peasants wanting from the northern provinces
with cloak and staff. Aragonese with hempen sandals, the heavy-mantled
Castilian who dreads the cold, and the men of Leon who till the fields.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the roll of the drum the troops march forward, the colours are
lowered, and a solemn Mass is celebrated by the Archbishop of Toledo
before the sham king, while martial bands thrill the souls of men.

Then to the blare of trumpets the young Infante Don Alfonso (only
eleven years of age) is borne in--a tall, slender boy of the delicate
type of his family, brother of Doña Isabel, who declines to appear.

His appearance is announced with deafening shouts, and countless voices
welcome him as king.

The archbishop then advances in the midst of his tonsured chapter, the
censers around him filling the air with a fragrance more intense than
the wild thyme and lavender of the Huerta, and mounts the steps of the
platform, the other nobles standing with drawn swords.

A loud trumpet-call sounds a long and melancholy note, prolonged into
infinite echoes to command attention. Every voice is hushed, every eye
directed to the platform, where a herald in his parti-coloured dress
appears, and standing between two alguazils, proceeds to read the
sentence of dethronement.

“Ye Castilians, Grandees, Ricoshombres, Prelates, Hidalgos, Esquires,
and Citizens, hear, oh! hear! The King Don Enrique the Fourth, being
unworthy of the crown, which he disgraces by many crimes, it now pleases
God, by the agency of his confederated nobles, to punish him by a
well-merited dethronement for the following reasons:

“_He is unworthy_ of a crown he cannot hold, for it is the pernicious
Don Beltrano de las Cuevas, known as the Conde de Ledesma, who rules
Castile.

“_He is unworthy_ of the sword of justice, because he administers none
among his subjects.

“_He is unworthy_ of the throne, because he is a traitor in naming a
bastard child of the queen and Beltrano de las Cuevas as his successor,
instead of his brother, his rightful heir. Let Henry the Fourth of
Castile be therefore hurled from the throne he disgraces.”

As the herald retires, the fierce-eyed metropolitan again comes to the
front, and, with great solemnity unlooses the glittering crown from the
brow of the figure and hurls it into space.

Next the Conde de Palencia mounts the platform and, less calm and
collected than the churchman, with a furious gesture tears the sword of
justice from its side.

Now it is the turn of the fiery Lord of Benevente, who presses forward,
and, with words of passion on his lips, rends the sceptre from the hand
of the image.

No sooner is this done than Don Diego Lopez de Zuniga seizes the figure
and flings it headlong from the throne to be torn and burned by the
common people, who think it a fine thing to fall upon even the semblance
of a king.

At the same moment the confederate nobles lift the Infante Don Alfonso
on their shoulders and place him on the vacant throne.

To the crafty statesman and intriguer, the Marqués de Villena, falls the
honour of investing him with the insignia of royalty. The archbishop
does

[Illustration: View of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada, from the
Church of San Nicholas, on the Albaicin.]

homage and kisses his hand, followed by each noble in his turn,
advancing towards the blushing prince, who had been with difficulty
prevailed on to act this part during the life of his brother.

The new king then mounts on a milk-white charger, covered with gold
trappings, nets, feathers, and ribbons, and attended by all the
confederates (or conspirators, as they might be called), and the vast
multitude, passes up the hill to Avila, amid universal acclamations, to
the Cathedral, where the apse forms a strong bastion in the city wall.
And here he is blessed under the gloom of deeply stained windows, while
bishops pronounce warlike orations in his honour to the boom of cannon
and the firing of arquebuses.

       *       *       *       *       *

But an unforeseen misfortune befell the confederate nobles. The young
Alfonso died. Nothing daunted, however, they at once named his sister,
the Infanta Isabel, Princess of the Asturias, heiress to the crown.



CHAPTER XXIII

Ferdinand and Isabel


We are again in the great room in the palace of Valladolid, with its low
roof and deep embowered casement, looking on the richly carved front of
San Pablo, in which Don Fadique dared to avow his ill-omened passion to
poor Blanche of Navarre.

As then, it is evening, and a warm atmosphere of tempered light plays
about the statues and foliage, tracery and shields of the Gothic façade
that rises with so much majesty in front, and flocks of grey pigeons
circle round the towers to perch upon the gargoyles and escutcheons of
the deeply arched portal, a noble specimen of the flamboyant style.

Now another princess sits in the same place, under the glow of the
coloured glass of the casement, glinting in upon the dusky panels of the
room, so dim and low and long that the farther end has already melted
into shadow.

She is young too, this princess, barely sixteen, and fair-complexioned,
with blue eyes and well-marked features, altogether a noble head, set
off by the abundant coils of auburn hair, arranged under a jewelled
coif; but there the resemblance ends.

Instead of the curly head of poor yielding Blanche, with her Gallic
vivacity and childlike eyes full of tenderness to all she loves, this
one has a natural dignity about her which at once imposes respect. She
is calm and reserved in manners and has a measured speech.

A missal is in her hand, for she is very devout, following the offices
of the church religiously, and the Ave Maria has sounded; then she
crosses herself and turns to her companion, Doña Beatrix Bobadilla, who
rises and kneels at her feet.

Now taken together they are a serious pair. Beatrix, a little older than
the Infanta, is already a strong-minded woman, destined to support her
mistress throughout her long career; and the Infanta, carefully trained
by her mother, the beloved Isabel, in the retirement of Arevalo, not far
from Avila, is possessed of that power of inspiring others with the
enthusiasm she herself feels for the noble mission which she is called
on to perform.

“It is a great risk. Infanta,” Doña Beatrix is saying, “and you are so
quiet about it. I am so agitated, I cannot sit still.”

Isabel blushes deeply. “How do you know, Beatrix, what I feel? A calm
exterior does not always mean a quiet heart. Do you think I can be
unmoved the first time I meet the prince I intend to marry, at night,
in secret, at the risk of my freedom? Should my brother discover his
presence in Castile----”

“As to that, my princess,” says Beatrix, “the Archbishop of Toledo who
brings him, is answerable. Every possible precaution has been taken in
passing the frontier. He travels at night, disguised as a servant, tends
the mules, and waits on his companions at table. Better Ferdinand of
Aragon than those strangers of Portugal and Navarre, whom the king
favours, to get you out of the way of the Beltraneja.”

“Yes, Ferdinand,” says Isabel, and she closes her missal and leans back
in her chair; “that has been my dream. I will never wed with a stranger.
Castile and Aragon must be one. No longer the unnatural strife between
these two states of the same blood, and God has chosen me as the means.”
She raises her blue eyes, and a radiant look spreads over her fair face,
on which the open forehead and brows are as finely moulded as on her
mother’s. Already she has all the command of a sovereign about her,
spite of her youthful looks.

“But, Infanta, what will that villain Don Beltrano incite the king to do
when he hears of this interview? They are in arms in the south, and
troops throng the frontier. It is plain that they are alarmed at some
news they have received. There is nothing in the world which could so
much enrage the king as your affiancing with the Infante of Aragon.”

“I cannot help it,” answers Isabel. “No duty to my brother stands in the
way. When the confederate lords, at Alfonso’s death, after his
dethronement at Avila, offered me the throne, you know, Beatrix, that I
refused it. While he lives, he is my king and my brother. Afterwards,
the succession is mine, and I shall defend it to the death. Even if the
Infante does not please me, if he agrees to my conditions I will marry
him all the same. It is not for love I call him.”

“Not please your highness!” said Beatrix, not altogether so high-minded
as her mistress, and looking at the matter in a more mundane light as
she vividly recalls the image of the man she loves and is soon to marry,
one of the stoutest partisans of Isabel. “I can understand hating such a
fellow as the Master of Calatrava. I myself gave your Highness a dagger,
rather than you should wed him; and would have seen you use it, too,
with joy. But, Holy Virgin! Why not Ferdinand? He brings Aragon with
him, and is reputed as a handsome prince, prudent and brave; then coming
like a knight-errant to rescue his princess at midnight, disguised, a
fugitive, in danger of his life.”

Isabel’s blue eyes fixed themselves on Beatrix, with a curious
expression.

“The marriages of princes are not for love, _amiga_. It is possible that
the Infante of Aragon may not consent to my conditions.”

“Oh! you will forget all that when you meet,” cries Beatrix, provoked by
her coldness, so different to her own feelings. “You will have a
greater power over him than protocols or decrees.”

As she spoke, the evening bells rang out sweetly from the towers of San
Pablo. Already the grey pigeons had left their perch on the window-sill,
and the twilight had darkened the ancient tapestry on the walls, leaving
the outline of the two youthful figures defined against the light.

“He cannot be far from Valladolid now,” said Beatrix, listening to the
bells, “if he left Dueñas as was agreed.” Isabel turned pale and sighed.
There was a languid action of her hands that told of some internal
struggle ill repressed, as the long fingers fell helplessly upon her
brocaded robe. After all she was but sixteen. She was playing the part
of a royal heroine, but she could not altogether silence the workings of
her young heart. Spite of the great soul within her, what she was about
to do came over her with dread. Not even her high resolve could
reconcile her to that risk of marrying a man repugnant to her. Besides,
her serious nature was wanting in that romantic element which, with
another girl, would invest the unknown prince with every charm, because
he was to appear in an _auréole_ of mystery.

The strange phases of her life, which had formed her character to a tone
of masculine decision, had not yet developed the softer qualities she
possessed. Born in the midst of conspiracy, she had been the toy of each
party in turn; now with her mother leading almost a cloistered life,
then dragged into the fierce magnificence of an abandoned court.
Forcibly affianced to any prince who suited the king’s politics, even
refusing food and sleep to escape from these toils. Passionately urged
by the archbishop to assume the crown on the death of her brother
Alfonso, and firmly resisting a proposal she looked on as treason, she
had already passed through the vicissitudes of a long and chequered
career ere her own life had begun. Yet her innate purity had not
suffered from contact with the vileness of others. The secrets of life
were open to her. She knew all that should be hid from the mind of an
innocent woman, but this only served to form her character to the most
rigid virtue and to make of her the great sovereign she became. Isabel’s
noble qualities had been developed under two stormy reigns--the feeble,
humiliating government of her father Juan II., and the vicious violence
and treachery of her brother Enrique. Since the death of her father she
had never known what it was to be free. Secluded after the dethronement
she had been summoned to Burgos as a pledge of the good faith of the
king; but what she had seen there had so deeply disgusted her, that she
entreated the Archbishop of Toledo, who had charge of her, to make her a
home apart with her little court at Valladolid.

And now the moment has come which will decide her life.

       *       *       *       *       *

All human lights are extinguished. The moon rides high in the heaven in
fields of azure light over the sleeping town of Valladolid. The stars
have come out one by one, doubling themselves on the shallow waters of
the Pisuerga that flows by the walls through woods of light-branched
aspen and elm. Not a breath stirs outside the old palace, so quaint in
its homely outlines, except when the _sereno_ passes and rouses the ire
of some whelping cur to bay at the full moon. Looking at that quiet
front, who could guess that a drama is to be enacted within between two
young princes, the issue of which will permanently alter the politics,
religion, and government, not only of the Old World but of the New,
shortly to be discovered by Columbus?

       *       *       *       *       *

As midnight strikes at San Pablo, the tapestry is withdrawn, and, under
the sudden glare of torches and candles, the Archbishop of Toledo
appears, leading in the upright figure of the Infante of Aragon
concealed in a cloak. With him enters Don Gutierra de Cardeñas, and, too
impatient to wait for the more formal presentation of the archbishop, he
presses on Ferdinand in front of the Infanta.

“Look at him!” he cries, “_Ese es_” (this is he), in memory of which the
Cardeñas’ shield still bears the letters S.S.

The more formal introduction of the archbishop follows.

“Doña Isabel of Castile,” says the prelate who has seen so many deaths,
births, and espousals in the House of Trastamare, putting aside the too
zealous Don Gutierra, “I bring you your affianced lord. May God and
Santiago ratify your choice!”

Face to face they stood--the spouses. He is eighteen, she sixteen; both
auburn-complexioned with the old Gothic colouring; she, marble-throated,
serene, with the shoulders of a goddess and the gesture of a queen; he,
bronzed by exposure, bright-eyed, manly, and portly; already incipient
lines gather about his mouth, to harden later into an expression of
severity and almost of cruelty; but he is gentle and smiling now, and
his soldier-like bearing suits him well.

For a moment he stands confused before Isabel, then casting from him the
hooded mantle in which he is enveloped, he kneels before her and kisses
her hand.

“Oh! my Infanta, what condescension!” he murmurs, in a low voice, a
little sharp in its tone from the habit of command. “I trembled lest I
had been too bold. But for the danger to your Highness from the
opposition of the king, I should not have dared to approach you thus.”

“You are welcome, Infante of Aragon,” says Isabel, raising him to her
side. “The archbishop has been the agent of my warmest desire in
bringing you. It is time, an armed force is about to secure me. That you
have happily passed the frontier, I thank God.” A lovely colour has
overspread her cheeks as she speaks. Her eyes are fixed on Ferdinand in
an earnest gaze, which softens into a glance of exquisite sweetness. For
the first time in her life she feels the thrill of that love which is to
last her all her life, one love, entire and single, which comes down to
us in history as the fairest example of wedded bliss. The effect she
makes on Ferdinand, bold as he is in act and nature, and knowing that he
comes as an accepted suitor for her hand, is altogether overwhelming.
Night, darkness, the mystery of their meeting--so unlike a royal
wooing--the youthful dignity of her presence, her beauty, far exceeding
report, come over him in a passionate longing to carry her away and
never let her go.

Nor does the subtle flattery of this hesitation on his part displease
her.

Softer and sweeter grows the mild fire of her eyes as she leads him
apart and seats herself beside him within the golden _estrada_ under the
rich velvet curtains, heavy with gold embroideries, of the royal canopy
at the upper end of the apartment, out of sight and hearing of the
archbishop, Beatrix, and the rest.

At length Ferdinand finds voice and tongue to speak. The landmarks of
court restraint, of tyrannous etiquette have vanished in the mystery of
this midnight meeting. He forgets that she is a great princess, that
their enemies are many and powerful, fighting for a crown. He forgets
all, save that she is there before him, a dazzling presence, sprung as
it were out of the gloom, and that if she so will it she is to be his
wife. Wild words of passion are on his lips, vague, inarticulated, his
hands clasp hers, his arm steals about the slender roundness of her
form.

Nor, for a time, can Isabel rouse herself from the gentle violence of
his touch to say plainly what is in her mind. But, putting him from her,
she speaks at last in serious tones.

“That you have won my heart, fair Infante,” she says, “I will not deny;
but had my love and my duty not been agreed, I would have called you to
me all the same.”

A shade of displeasure comes over Ferdinand’s glowing face as he flashes
a look at her of pain and mortification. So young, yet so determined!

“Aye, but you must hear me!” she adds, rising to a sudden sense of her
duty. “As future Queen of Castile, not as Isabel of Trastamare, I wed
you. To me my country is more than life; its privileges, customs, laws,
all must rest as they are; no foreign intrusion will be tolerated. As
you will be in Aragon sole ruler, in which I shall in no way interfere,
but with all my soul maintain you, so must I in Castile; and Castile, as
the most powerful state, must be your country and your abode. Our
cordial union will be the strength of Spain, but must be that of two
independent states, each ruled by its own Cortes.”

“Surely, my princess,” urges Ferdinand, who has listened to her with
evident embarrassment, “such serious discussions are premature. The
Church and custom teach that the husband must be superior to the wife.
Even if seated on the throne, a union begun in division may end ill.”

“Not in my case,” answers Isabel, with decision, “for it would be no
union at all. We are met to discuss the terms on which we wed. I have
seen too much confusion and anarchy not to speak plain. The union of
Aragon and Castile would form the unity of Spain. So would I have it
between us two. But cost me what it may (and that your loss would cost
me much after seeing you, I confess), I can consent to no division of
power; I ask none, I give none. The government of the two lands must lie
in the Cortes and the _fueros_, not in our will.” Then, noting the dark
look which has come creeping like a cloud over his handsome face, she
rises. “It is not too late, my lord, to withdraw from our engagement,
should the terms I offer you appear to you unjust.”

“What!” cries Ferdinand, starting up, “you have brought me to heaven’s
gate, and now you would turn me out? No! royal princess, not after we
have met. Let Spain live in us, and generations of kings to come hail
our name.”

“Yes, for Spain!” cries Isabel, an inspired look lighting up her face.
“For union and for Spain!” Then, as the tears come gathering in her
eyes, she trembles with emotion, and her soft voice but ill expresses
the courage of her words. “For myself let me speak. A wife more loving
or more humble you shall not find. Husband, father, all, you shall be
to me,” and she clasps his hand and raises it to her lips, spite of his
protest. She is about to kneel to him, but he withholds her in his arms.
“But for any ill to my people I will not obey; this must be clear. Too
much have they suffered from ill government, extortion, and neglect; now
it must be peace.”

“What ill could I desire to Castile?” asks Ferdinand, provoked at the
insisting of the beautiful girl, who speaks like a legislator, which, if
maintained, will cross many projects of his own to the advantage of his
kingdom.

“I know not,” she answers. “I have seen many strange things happen upon
the throne.”

“That you have, indeed, my princess,” he replies, won back by her
gentleness. “Ah! how my heart has bled for you! Nor is the succession
yet settled as it should be. The king, your brother will never give up
the hope of placing the Beltraneja on the throne. For that reason I
desire to carry you straight into Aragon, where I can defend your
rights. In that desire we are one.”

“Oh! blessed thought!” cries Isabel, clinging to him, as she speaks,
with a sense of protection and love she has never known before. “Give me
but your royal word, Infante, for the liberty of Castile, and I am yours
while this poor heart beats.”

“Enchantress!” cries Ferdinand, clasping her in his arms. “Who can
withstand you? By Santiago! you have conquered me quite, even against my
judgment. I give you my royal word that you shall reign in Castile even
as in my heart, _alone_.”

“Then with this kiss do I seal it,” she answers, breaking out all over
into a great joy, and with a cry of rapture she kisses him on the lips.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, hand in hand, they left the _estrada_ and came down to where the
archbishop and Don Gutierra, and Doña Beatrix waited.

“I am ready, my lord, to wed the prince,” said Isabel, with a proud
smile. “Give me your blessing. Before you all, I declare that I accept
for my consort the Infante of Aragon, whose nobility of soul exceeds all
my desires” (1467).

And here it may be noted that the princes were so poor that the
archbishop paid the expenses of the marriage and of their journey into
Aragon.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Segovia, Isabel was proclaimed Queen of Castile, December 14, 1474,
by her devoted subject the governor, Don Andreas de Cabrera, then
husband of her friend, Beatrix de Bobadilla. A noble company of
ricoshombres, priests, and alcades, in their robes of office, waited on
her in the Alcazar in the Sala del Trono, and escorted her, under a
purple _baldaquino_, through the city, mounted on a Spanish jennet,
preceded by an hidalgo on horseback bearing a naked sword.

“Castile, Castile, for the king and his consort, Doña Isabel!” cried the
herald.

But it was Isabel alone that received homage as

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ISABEL THE CATHOLIC.]

queen and proceeded to the cathedral to return thanks. How far this
omission pleased Don Ferdinand does not appear, but at least he had
espoused the fairest woman in Spain--after her mother--and he possessed
her entire love.

Of Don Ferdinand, Shakespeare says, “The wisest monarch that ever ruled
in Spain”; but the question is, how much of this “wisdom” was due to the
far-seeing policy of his adoring wife and to the illustrious servants
who so loyally carried out his will?



CHAPTER XXIV

Los Reyes Catolicos


The union of Ferdinand and Isabel (_Los Reyes Catolicos_) knits mediæval
with modern times.

The whole round of royal actors in the dramatic epoch move before us as
living characters on the stage of life. Their daughter Juana, _la
Folle_, her handsome husband Philippe le Bel, Duke of Burgundy, the
parents of Charles V., Katharine, her younger sister, married to King
Henry VIII., Philip II., his son Don Carlos, and Elizabeth of Spain,
bring us on to modern wars with Alva and Orange, the Armada, and our own
Queen Elizabeth.

       *       *       *       *       *

At once the royal spouses were involved in anarchy and war.

Alfonso, King of Portugal, brother to the bad queen, actually espoused
his niece, Juana la Beltraneja, then thirteen, to gain the throne. But
he was defeated by Ferdinand, and the standard of Portugal--borne by the
gallant De Almeyda first with his right hand, then with his left, when,
losing both arms, he held it in his teeth--was torn to shreds. Alfonso
retreated, and the Beltraneja, the innocent cause of so much strife and
bloodshed, disgusted with a world in which she had found nothing but
sorrow, took the black veil at the convent of Santa Chiara at Coimbra.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ferdinand was, before everything, a soldier. He lived on the
battle-field, and the queen, who followed him in all things with devoted
love, rode with him in his campaigns, mounted on a war-horse, encased in
mail, at the head of her Castilians.

When not engaged in war, she went to and fro in her own kingdom,
reforming abuses, founding convents and churches, and enforcing the
laws, fallen into much disuse during the riotous reign of her brother;
in all assisted by her great minister, Cardinal Ximenes, her friend and
secretary, Peter Martyr, Cardinal Mendoza, Garcilaso de la Vega, and,
alas! be it added, by her fanatic confessor, Cardinal Torquemada, whose
influence brought about the creation of the tribunal of the Inquisition,
“To unite more firmly,” it was said, “Church and State, and to discover
and extirpate all heresies, Jews, and unbelievers from the kingdom”
(1480).

       *       *       *       *       *

Two such sovereigns could not long leave the Moors in undisturbed
possession of the third of Spain. The north of Africa (Barbary) was
theirs, with Sicily and, afterwards, Naples. Ferdinand loved conquest
for itself, and, to the pious mind of Isabel, the conversion of the
Moslem was a duty direct from God. But as they, with a dogmatism equal
to her own, despised the Castilians as unlettered boors, and ridiculed
their religion, nothing could solve the difficulty but a cruel war.

Nor was a pretext wanting. The tribute of twelve thousand golden ducats,
paid by the Moors from the time of San Fernando for permission to
inhabit the land of Spain, was refused; and the brave knight, Don Juan
de Vega, was despatched from Cordoba to demand the cause (1478).

And this leads us to the poetic city of Granada, successor in learning
and civilisation to Cordoba of the Almoravides, vermilion-walled and
rich in running waters, snowy _patios_, domes, peristyles, and filigree
porticoes glowing with rainbow tints, where Moslem knights waylaid
pearl-crowned sultanas, and turbaned sheikhs clasped jewelled fingers.

Granada, a name of infinite suggestion in all ages. The Moslem capital
and the heart of Moorish Spain. The fastness of the Alhambra rearing its
ruddy buttresses aloft over the land. The plaza of the Bivarrambla, the
centre of tilt and tourney, the pillared bazar of the Alcayceria, gay
with eastern wares, the narrow Zacatin strewed with the ducats of
Oriental wealth, the walled-in fortress of the Albaycin commanding the
frowning gorge of the Darro, the two gardens of the Alamedas, each with
its dashing rivers, backed by the eternal snows of the mountains of the
Sierra Nevada.

What a world of beauty! The Vega, emerald green, with orange groves and
pasture, _huertas_ and _carmens_, showing between, where cool airs waft
from woods and gardens; the Xenil, like a blue ribbon, wandering to the
sea by precipices and defiles, eloquent with song under the heavy tread
of hostile hosts; the pale line of the Elvira mountains to the west, and
arid sepia-tinted range opposite, to be called in our own day “the last
sigh of the Moor,” and the airy palace of the Generalife perched on high
among dark cypress groves, backed by the naked outline of a brown hill,
“The Seat of the Moor,” under which Boabdil still is said to sit.

       *       *       *       *       *

By the gate of Elvira Don Juan de Vega entered Granada with a small but
well-chosen band, the great banner of Los Reyes borne before him by a
herald. And so stern did he and his Castilians look, and so haughty was
their carriage, that the Moors, though they hated them, let them pass
unchallenged.

As they traversed the narrow streets of Los Gomeles, they passed by the
great mosque, now the cathedral, and many palaces, the sound of water
ever in their ears, so abundantly is the city supplied.

Nor did Don Juan fail to notice, in his passage, that the city was in a
complete state of defence; the walls, of tremendous strength, manned and
furnished with the heavy artillery of the day, the outposts guarded by
deep ditches, and the Moorish soldiers many and well equipped with steel
morions, chain armour, and stout scimitars at their side.

They enter the Alhambra by the three great arches of the Gate of
Justice, one within the other, bearing the talismanic signs of the hand
and the key, which no one has ever explained, and pass by the rude stone
where the Moorish kings administer justice. Challenged by the Moorish
guard, a parley ensues as to the errand on which they come.

“To deliver the Catholic sovereigns’ message to the King of Granada,”
replies Don Juan, proudly. Upon which the black-bearded Moslems open the
massive doors onto a narrow road, with sharp angles to baffle an enemy,
a road only for horses and litters, the walls orange-coloured and
glowing. And so they follow on to the broad platform where the
_alcazada_ (keep) rears its majestic front with quatrefoil arches,
bright with gaudy tiles, in the centre of a wondrous group of vermilion
towers, each with its tradition of battle and carnage, to the _patio_ of
the Alberca, a marble-lined court, bordered by canals and fragrant
hedges of myrtle and orange, an arcaded frontispiece at one end, and at
the other the sun-dyed walls of the ancient tower of Comares.

And here it must be noted that the Alhambra is a fortress following on
round the crown of a broad hill rising over Granada, and is entirely
formed of fortified walls and innumerable Moorish towers of
extraordinary solidity and various sizes, covering a vast platform
divided into arcaded courts of exquisite beauty, and that there is no
solid building at all, but lovely suites of halls following on, formed
to the taste of an Oriental people living in the open air.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don Juan is received with much formal courtesy in the court of the
Alberca--where the water cisterns are guarded by low hedges of sweet
shrubs--by the sheikhs and emirs attending on the king, a glittering
band of dark-visaged eunuchs. By them Don Juan _alone_ is led to the
tower of Comares, through marvellously worked arches dropping with
golden stalactites, a vista of vestibules of scarcely earthly beauty,
panelled and embroidered in patterns of roses, bosses, emblems, borders,
and arabesques all in pale Oriental shades of red, green, and blue; a
scene of enchantment utterly bewildering to the simple mind of the
Castilian knight. Then under more snowy arches, set with filigree edges,
as of gems, into the Hall of the Ambassadors, glowing with gold and deep
azure, with open-pillared balconies overhanging the precipitous banks of
the Darro, giving a glimpse of outer splendour to the sombre walls, to
prepare the mind of the stranger for the awful presence of Muley Hassan,
seated upon a golden throne, inclosed by screens and hangings of
jewelled embroideries fringed with pearls. Gold and silver tissues lie
at his feet, and at his back a divan of dark heads, dazzling white
turbans, and plumed casques with trembling gems; a vaulted _artesonado_
dome over his head radiant with stars scintillating in a ground of
crystal and tortoise-shell.

As the good knight, nothing daunted, stands forth in glittering armour,
before the old king, under a battery of hostile eyes, he speaks his
message in a loud, clear voice:

“I come, O Caliph of Granada! from the sovereigns of Castile and Aragon,
to demand the tribute due, for the permission to occupy the land of
Spain, conquered from your ancestors by San Fernando of Castile!”

As he listens, a bitter smile curls Muley’s bearded lips, and his hand
seeks the handle of a jewelled dagger at his side.

“Tell the Spanish rulers,” he says, in a voice tremulous with passion,
“that the sovereigns of Granada who paid tribute are all dead. My mint
coins nothing but dagger-blades and lances!”

       *       *       *       *       *

War--bitter war--spoke in these words. Nor did the haughty bearing of
the turbaned court belie the sign.

So Don Juan accepted it, but he was too discreet a knight to permit this
impression to influence the lofty courtesy of his departure, as, with
fitting salutations, he returned, filled with amazement at all the
wonders he had seen.

Nor was the impression lessened as he passed through the Court of Lions,
followed by a band of swarthy attendants, black-skinned Ethiopians and
Nubians, naked but for a white cloth about their loins, and noted the
giant forms of the marble lions filled with leaden pipes, which support
the double basins, to the verge of which the fountain rises; the Arab
porticoes and pavilions around the court, light as air, and range upon
range of snowy arches, worked with the fineness of a chiselled cup.

If architecture at all, an Oriental fantasia, utterly unreal! the
splendour of the Hall of Justice, of the Abencerrages, which follows on
either side, with long vistas of many-domed halls opening into other
_patios_, where violets, roses, and orange-trees blaze in the light,
entered by portals glowing with brilliant mosaics, a low arch, specially
pointed out to him by a noble Moor, more courteous than the rest, in the
Hall of Justice, as leading to the place of execution. Whether intended
as a hint to him of his danger, or of the swift course of justice
towards the condemned, did not appear. At any rate, Don Juan remained
perfectly unmoved; he had confessed before he started, and his life
belonged to his sovereign--but when he was joined by a flippant emir,
oiled and combed, who ventured to enter into an argument against the
Christian faith, and especially the folly of believing in the immaculate
conception of the Virgin, forgetting all the prescribed bearing of an
envoy, he dealt him a sounding blow on the head with his sheathed sword.

In an instant a noise like thunder swept through the court, and the
long lines of white arcades, at the back of the pavilion, were darkened
by masses of Africans, black as night, stolid, passionless, their silver
breastplates and long earrings shining on their dark skins, carrying
immense clubs, studded with brazen nails. In advance the captain, the
fatal bowstring hanging on his arm, and his eyes turned to obey the
gesture of command to torture or to slay.

But Muley Hassan, better instructed in the usages of courts, instantly
sent orders to respect the person and freedom of an ambassador while in
his court; and so Don Juan departed safely by the way that he had come.

The night attack on Jaén followed the defiance borne by Don Juan--a
cruel onslaught on a defenceless town, the fierce old Muley Hassan
turning a deaf ear to all remonstrance.

This was succeeded by the no less cruel assault of the sovereigns on the
castle of Alhama near Granada (described in the ballad _Ay de mi
Alhama_), by Ponce de Leon, Marqués de Cadiz, one of Ferdinand’s most
valiant captains; and the long Moorish war, destined to last ten years,
began in earnest.

[Illustration: THE TOWN GATE OF THE CARMEN AT ZARAGOZA.

(Left as a permanent memorial of the siege.)]



CHAPTER XXV

The Siege of Granada


Ferdinand, to whom war was a pastime, had taken the field with all the
pomp and circumstance of a tournament.

But the heroic defence of the Moors had given a much more serious aspect
to their conquest than he had anticipated.

Nature, too, was on their side. Save towards the sea, at the eastern
extremity of Spain, the whole kingdom of Granada is fenced in by almost
inaccessible mountains, rugged and barren, broken by dolomite cliffs and
dangerous precipices, descending sheer into rocky gorges and dimly
lighted valleys--the sentinels of the impenetrable fastnesses which shut
in the Moor.

Few were the tracks upon the mountains, and difficult to find. Narrow
the gaps which cleave these tremendous ranges towards the plain. So
narrow indeed, and walled in by such natural defences, that any army
could be shut out by a small force, and as the Moors were accomplished
warriors, and fought with a courage never surpassed, each inlet into the
land was defended at the sword’s point.

Great had been the vicissitudes of the war of extermination on one side,
and of enthusiastic defence of nation, faith, and existence on the
other. Years have passed, but the vermilion tower of the Alhambra stands
firm, and the Moors come and go in their city with the liberty of free
men.

Spite of the fall of Malaga, that great city by the sea, where summer
ever reigns, where the _Reyes Catolicos_ were very nearly assassinated
by a Moor--Loya, Antequerra, and last of all, Baza, besides many castles
and fortresses--each with romantic traditions of bloodshed and
warfare--Ferdinand is still encamped on the Vega. For thirty days it has
been overrun by his forces, and a region once so exquisite in beauty,
and fruitful in corn, olives, orchards, and gardens, has become a scene
of desolation and ruin.

Now he has just passed the bridge of Peñas, only two leagues from
Granada, after a fierce contest--a famous deed in this bloody war.

By this route the Christians have hitherto made raids into Granada, the
bridge being capable of strong resistance on either side, from the long,
narrow passage raised high on slender arches, and the ruggedness of the
surrounding banks.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now Ferdinand has called a council of war within his sumptuous tent,
literally blazing with purple and gold. A plain man in himself, accused
even of a parsimony unfitting in a king, he lives in an age of warlike
splendour, and politic in all things and wary of the opinion of those
around him, he loves the display of magnificence in the battle-field, to
strike awe into the enemy, and raise his own authority among his troops.

With a gravity which suits him well, he is seated at the head of a table
scattered with maps and papers. Nor is he in countenance or bearing
inferior to the famous chiefs and captains around him. His long hair,
falling in locks upon his shoulders, is still auburn, though thin, and
streaked with grey, his blue eyes are inscrutable, his features set and
stern; altogether a countenance which offers an unsolved problem to
posterity, as did his character, varying so greatly at different periods
of his life.

He is plainly dressed in a cloth mantle, clasped around his neck by a
single jewel; on his breast shines a silver cross, as for one engaged in
a crusade against the infidels, and his body is encased in steel.

The Infante Juan is at his side. Isabel has borne him several children,
but this is the only son, a delicate-complexioned boy, with thin,
aquiline features like his mother’s, altogether too frail for the rough
campaigns in which he accompanies his father, and singularly out of
place among the hidalgos, who are ranged according to their military
rank around the table.

At the king’s right hand is Ponce de Leon, Marqués de Cadiz, a great
southern noble, almost as powerful as himself; on the left is the Duque
de Medina Sidonia, equal almost in townships, castles, and fortresses to
a sovereign, hailing from the south also. Both have performed prodigies
of valour in the war. The reckless giant called Hernado de Pulgar sits
lower--he who rode into the city of Granada at dead of night, and fixed
on the door of the great mosque a tablet with the letters, _Ave Maria_,
then departed as he had come before the Moors had time to seize him; the
famous Gonsalvo de Cordoba, to become El Gran Capitan, and Viceroy of
Naples, in this war flashing his maiden sword, already marked by nature
in features and bearing as a master of men; the Conde de Tendilla, hero
of Alcala; El Rey and Cabra, and many others as illustrious as the
chiefs of Troy, but with no Homer to celebrate their deeds.

Now the king speaks, first rising and uncovering to salute the Council,
then reseating himself, and replacing his velvet bonnet upon his head,
in all of which formalities the Council follow him in profound silence.

“My lords,” are his words, “we are met here to decide as to the course
of the campaign. Spite of individual acts of courage, Granada is
unconquered. The walls are strong, and Boabdil’s general, Mousa, a
leader of prudence and renown, vaunts that he will drive us out by
avoiding fixed battles, and harassing our armies by perpetual skirmishes
in the mountains, and ambushes on the plain. Noble captains and
companions, this cannot thus continue; it is a blot on our arms.”

Loud sounds of assent come from all round the table. Several of the
great soldiers rise to reply, but, seeing that Ferdinand is prepared to
continue, sit down and listen with reverential attention.

“The important post of the bridge of Peñas is ours, gallantly gained”
(again voices rise in subdued acclamation, and again die away), “and by
the complete desolation of the Vega, we may in time starve the city.
But, alas! my lords, this is a work of years. Too long already for our
fame have we lingered here. The obscure city of Granada is not the only
place where the flag of Spain should be unfurled. But,” and as he
proceeds, his brows knit, and the subtle look of an unscrupulous
intriguer comes into his clear blue eyes, “there are other means beside
the sword by which the prudent general conquers. As the lion in the
fable disdains not the assistance of the fox, so do I, for my use, keep
myself informed of all that passes in the Alhambra. Treason, my lords,
will open the gates of Granada to us better than combat.”

The king’s voice drops. He waits to mark the impression of his words
among these heroic leaders who, new to the usages of modern warfare,
disdain all means but that of the sword. Murmurs of dissent are indeed
heard from the Knights of Pulgar and Aguilar, but subdued as towards
their commander.

Ponce de Leon rises. “Don Ferdinand, the King,” he says, “I have no
more doubt that under your guidance we shall stand within the courts of
the fortress rising so defiantly before us, than that the sun will rise
to-morrow, and autumn succeed summer on the plain. Stratagem is good in
warfare, though some among us think otherwise. But beware of deception,
your Highness; the Moor is like the Jew in cunning and deceit. Why not
call the queen again into the field? Her gracious presence is ever the
signal of success, and animates the soldiers. Let the saintly Isabel
exorcise the infidels by the power of her faith. At the siege of Baza it
was so. Why not now?”

“Bravely spoken, Ponce de Leon,” cries De Pulgar, swaying his huge body
to and fro with excitement.

“Let the queen appear on the Vega,” cries the Conde de Cabra and Lord
Rivers, who became so loud in his acclaim, he had to be silenced by
those who sat near.

“God is my witness,” cries Ferdinand, moved to some show of emotion by
this enthusiasm, “that I would willingly ever be accompanied by my
beloved consort; but this is a matter which neither her Highness nor any
one else can influence. I promise you, my lords, the queen shall join
us, and that shortly; but I repeat that her presence touches not the
matter in hand.”

But the warlike councillors had become so possessed with the idea of the
queen’s arrival, that for some minutes nothing could be heard.

“It is not for us to judge of your Highness’s actions,” said, speaking
last of all, the young Gonsalvo de Cordoba, whose after career showed
that he acted on the same system as his master; “your wisdom is our best
safeguard. All means are good to conquer the enemy: to plot while we
fight, to undermine while we destroy.”

“You speak well, Gonsalvo,” answered Ferdinand, smiling, as conscious of
the sympathy of a kindred spirit who can appreciate his rare qualities
of intrigue.

“I will disclose so much to my assembled chiefs as to say that I am
possessed of the sure knowledge that the powerful tribe of the
Abencerrages are about to leave the city, in secret, to join our
standard.”

At these words the whole council rose as one man, loudly to acclaim the
king; all save Gonsalvo, who, indeed, stood up like the rest, but had
already been informed by Ferdinand of this event.

“The Moorish king,” continued Ferdinand, “listening to the suggestions
of the treacherous Zigris (always art variance with the rival tribes),
believed that his queen was found in dalliance with an Abencerrage in
the garden of the Generalife, called the entire tribe together in the
Court of Lions, and barbarously butchered thirty-six of their number.
Indeed, but for a boy, a _niño_, who gave the alarm, all would have
perished. So exasperated are they, that one and all have determined to
join our camp. Already after night falls, they will steal across the
Vega; the sentries are warned, and Mousa and his master, Boabdil will be
deprived of their bravest fighters. What say you to this, my valiant
captains?”

“Sir King, we say that we are led not only by the bravest general who
ever drew sword” (it was the Duque de Medina Sidonia who spoke, and his
armed fist fell heavily on the table), “but by the wisest monarch who
has reigned since Solomon. Our confidence in your Highness is complete.
Lead on, my Lord, and we follow, even to the gates of hell.”

“God willing, I will not go there myself,” answered Ferdinand, smiling
at his impetuosity, which, indeed, was reflected in all around,
“therefore you are safe from such a danger. _Hell_, indeed! Into
_heaven_, rather, that we hope to gain in this crusade against the
infidels!” and Ferdinand crossed himself devoutly, for, sagacious as he
was, and cunning, he was capable of the utmost depths of superstition.
“But,” he continued, “spite of this important adherence, we must still
fight. To-morrow I command a strong detachment to lay waste to the Vega,
even to the city walls. Let all come to me who will join it. My lords,
the council is ended.”

Upon this the knights rose and withdrew with all that grave and stately
ceremonial which Ferdinand exacted from his followers. Only the young
prince remained.

“Juan,” said Ferdinand, casting on him a look of inexpressible
affection (deep down in his heart he was a tender man, and this only son
was an object to him of almost adoration), “early and late the Infantes
of Spain should learn the lesson of policy. It is a new science come in
with modern times. Formerly, kings and princes could only fight. Now
they use stratagem, which means the knowledge of the balance of
power--state against state, noble against noble, Church against State,
all of which would have been formerly despised, but in future will rule
the world. You see, my son, these notables of Spain? They are the
brightest jewels of my crown, but it is for me, their king, that they
should unite their brilliancy. The queen, your honoured mother, and I,
have by our entire union formed a mighty monarchy which will descend to
you, Infante. But it must be maintained, not by brute force, but by
knowledge. Santiago! by knowledge!” and as he spoke he seized Don Juan’s
delicate fingers and pressed them in his own hard palm. “You look
annoyed. Am I too fierce in my words? But by the blessed Virgin! I love
you well, Juan. See, I will conquer Granada for you. But not a lizard
runs on the painted walls of the Alhambra, but I know it. So in Spain.
All is unfolded to me within our joint kingdom. I balance the great
nobles as the player does his dice. I am called wise, my son, this is my
wisdom.” Here he again crossed himself devoutly. “Ave Maria,” he said,
“the blessed Virgin knows the hearts of men.”

Juan listened with a weary attention to his wise father, little
consonant with the statecraft to which these lessons tended. He was a
soldier who loved to march with the army and cared not for tortuous
policy.

“But I love my mother’s ways best,” said the gentle prince, suppressing
a yawn, as he sank back into his chair, “with her Grace all is truthful
and open.”

“May Heaven bless her!” cried Ferdinand. “She is a noble wife. But it is
our _union_ which makes the strength of Spain.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In the early summer Queen Isabel sets out from Cordoba to join the army,
accompanied by her eldest daughter, Isabel, to become Queen of Portugal,
attended by prelates, cardinals, and friars. Her younger children, Juana
and Catalina, remain behind.

With her, also, are Beatrix de Bobadilla, now Marquesa de Moya, her
loving friend, her secretary, Peter Martyr, the Boswell of her life, her
Almoner, the Bishop of Talavera, who, when offered the See of Salamanca,
replies he will accept nothing but the See of Granada!!! Garcilaso de la
Vega, and her court of dueñas and ladies.

The lovely Infanta has now become a stately matron, exceedingly fair,
and somewhat inclined to stoutness, spite of the constant activity of
her life. All feel the majesty of her presence, and the sway of the
enlightened mind that dictates all her actions. Mistress she remains of
herself and of her kingdom, spite of Ferdinand’s continual interference.
But her love for him is unchanged, although he is far from being the
faithful husband she deserves, and she is much tormented by jealousy.

As Queen of Castile she has assisted him in the war to the utmost of her
power. The united Cortes of Castile and Aragon have been invoked by
their own sovereigns, and each has made independent provision for the
Moorish war “_to be pursued to the end_,” as necessary to the well-being
of the nation.

It is a lovely valley she traverses on her way from Cordoba to Granada,
now followed by the rail. Here is Montilla, famous for its white wines;
old towers and castles succeed each other on the hills, and the sunny
slopes are lined by vineyards and pomegranate woods. Olive-trees, big as
ancestral oaks, make avenues as far as the eye can reach, and the damp
wind sounds like music among the reeds at the Puerte del Xenil. At the
town of Bobadilla, now a station, the huge mountains of Granada shut in
all the plain, impregnable barriers between the Christian and the Moor.

       *       *       *       *       *

The queen travels mounted on a mule, seated on a golden saddle--a rich
kirtle of velvet with hanging sleeves forms her robe, cut square on the
neck, and a long mantle and a black hat complete her attire.

As she advances through the defile, the Rock of the Lovers (_Pina de los
Enamorados_) opens to the sight, so called because a Christian knight,
who loved a Moorish maid, flung himself from the summit to die with her
in his arms.

Higher up in the mountains the queen is met by a splendid train of
knights, headed by the elegant Ponce de Leon, courtly as he is
brave--indeed, from his actions in this war he has been named the second
Cid--and Lord Rivers, the English volunteer, mounted _a la guisa_
(meaning with long stirrups), wearing over his armour a velvet cloak and
a French hat and feather, attended by pages in silk, and foot soldiers.

The earl, as eccentric as he is brave, bare-headed makes a reverence to
the queen, which she returns, at the same time graciously condescending
to compliment him on his valour in the siege of Loja, further condoling
with him on the loss of his two front teeth, knocked out by the hilt of
a Moorish scimitar.

“But Earl Rivers might,” continues Isabel, in her soft voice, bending on
him the calm lustre of her blue eyes, recorded as such a beauty in her
faultless face, “have lost the teeth by natural decay, whereas now their
lack will be esteemed a glory rather than a shame.”

To which the earl, bowing to his saddle-bow, replies that he returns
thanks to God for the honour her Highness has done him in allowing him
to meet her; that he is contented, nay, even _happy_

[Illustration: THE HARBOUR OF CADIZ.]

in the loss of his teeth seeing that it was for the service of God and
of her Highness; for God having given him all the teeth he possesses, in
depriving him of _two_ has but opened a window in the house of his body,
the more readily to observe the soul within.

As the royal cavalcade approaches the great gonfalon of Spain, the queen
makes a low reverence and passes to the right hand, awaiting Ferdinand,
who appears in state, armed _cap-à-pie_ in mail so wrought with gold it
seems all of that metal--a snowy plume waving over a diadem on his neck,
a massive chain, the links inwrought with gems of the rough workmanship
of Gothic times when everything was ponderous, mounted on a chestnut
charger, and attended by the Christian knights. But as they approach
each other, these royal spouses, in the presence of the army and in a
hostile land, it is not in the guise of mutual lovers, but as allied
sovereigns that they meet. Three formal reverences are their salutation,
the queen taking off her hat as Ferdinand approaches and formally kisses
her on the cheek. He also kisses his daughter and blesses her, and so
they pass into the camp to the lofty tent prepared for Isabel. In the
centre of the camp, not, indeed, a tent, but a pavilion in the Oriental
taste, formed of sheets of cloth of gold, divided into compartments of
painted linen lined with silk, each compartment separated from the other
by costly arras. Lances make its columns, brocade and velvet its walls,
and it covers such an extent of ground as might have been occupied by a
real palace.

       *       *       *       *       *

All lay in profound repose, the gorgeous pageant was over, the shades of
evening deepened, the stars came out serene in that large firmament, and
lighted up the streets of tents, gay with banners and devices, where the
camp-fires burned.

Alone, the queen had not retired to rest, and was offering up her
fervent prayers for the success of the war and the safety of Ferdinand.
In an instant a vivid and startling blaze burst forth beside her. The
tent was in flames. The light materials fed the fire. She had barely
time to escape from the burning embers falling about her, and to rush to
her husband’s tent. Into his arms she cast herself--the valiant queen
for a moment all the woman--in her alarm.

“The Moors have done this!” cried Ferdinand, as he listened to her
confused account. “They will be on us. Let the trumpets sound to
charge,” and hastily wrapping himself in his _manto_ he made his way
through the blazing camp to command his forces.

But no Moors were there. The towers of Granada rose white and placid in
the night. The only light, the beacon fire in the high outpost of the
Vega. No sound came from the city. For a moment the thought of magic
floated through Ferdinand’s mind. He was superstitious, and the Moors
dealt much in necromancy, but it was evident that in its course the
fire was associated with the queen (whether by purpose or accident), and
he was resolved to take advantage of this to rouse his indignant army to
action.

“Heaven,” said he, as his knights came rushing round him, “has saved the
queen. Let this danger to her life break up the camp and lead us to the
solid walls of Granada. Let us lodge her safely within the walls of the
Alhambra. Woe to the Moslem and his wiles!”

At these words lances rattled and swords leaped from the scabbard.

“Woe to the Moslem!” echoed from every side.

With the morning light a vigorous assault was made, and a fierce battle
fought among the charred wrecks of the smouldering camp. But Ferdinand’s
cold and sober policy was principally bent on restraining the fiery
spirits he commanded. Mostly he contented himself with skirmishes and
closing all the issues through which provisions could reach Granada.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the accident of the fire which led to the building of Santa Fé
(the city of Sacred Faith) in the Vega, as a permanent refuge, to
convince the Moors that nothing would turn the Christians from the
conquest.

The ruins of Santa Fé still remain on the slope of a line of low hills
opposite Granada, close by the castle of Rum or Roma, granted by
Ferdinand VII. to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War.

At Santa Fé Isabel appeared in complete armour at the head of the
Castilians. She inspected every tent, reviewed her troops, consoled,
exhorted, encouraged, a very Christian Bellona, who carried victory in
her hand.

At Santa Fé she met Columbus, and after refusing him what he needed for
his enterprise, sent after him, when he had crossed the bridge of Peñas
on his return, and consented to find funds for his departure to the New
World.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now nothing in the siege was so fatal to the Moors as the building of
Santa Fé.

While their enemies were revelling in the plenty of the land the
supplies of the city were cut off. Autumn brought them no crops, the
Christians spoiled them; all their sheep and cattle were lifted, and
famine began to be felt.

Then Boabdil, who had succeeded his father, Muley Hassan, called
together the heads of the city--the alcaides, dervishes, alfaquis, and
imams of the faith, within the great Hall of the Ambassadors, where his
father had sat. By his side his mother, Ayxa la Horra, just middle-aged,
of commanding stature, in long, ample robes, worked with jewels, her
dark hair shaded by a turban diademed with gold--and asked them, “What
is to be done?” At the momentous question every face grew white, and
they who had fought so many years so manfully, hung their heads and
wept.

For a time no voice answered until an aged alcaide rose and with a
faltering voice uttered the word “_Surrender!_”

As with one voice all joined in: “_Surrender!_” echoes up to the domed
roof, glittering with crystal damasked in deep-coloured wood--the
arabesques and the fantastic devices echo it, the fairy-like arcades
bordered with orange and lemon-trees carry it on to the women’s quarter
beyond the Court of the Alberca, where wails and shrieks repeat it.

“_Surrender!_” sounds from the towers upon the cliff down to the deep
valley of the Darro where the bubbling waters foam.

“_Surrender!_” is carried by the winds into the narrow streets of
Granada, where want and famine stalk, tangible to the eye in sunken
faces of famished men.

“_Surrender!_ Yes!” cries the aged alcaide, taking up the word. “Alas!
we have no food. None can reach us since the armed walls of Santa Fé
command the place. We are 200,000 young and old. We are all starving. Of
what avail are the Alhambra walls? The Christians are at home, well
defended. Allah has willed it. Kismet! It is done. We must surrender.”

They know it, these hard-visaged Moslems sitting round on ancient seats,
hiding their eyes under their vast turbans, swarthy warriors grizzled
with toil, and silken, effeminate courtiers, and the imperious queen
standing erect, her arms folded on her breast, yet resolute to the last.

Meanwhile, Boabdil, calm but ashen, eagerly scans each face, but speaks
not. Then the fierce Mousa, the most valiant of all the Moorish knights
and they are many, starts to his feet.

“_Surrender!_” he shouts, in a voice like a clarion. “Who dares say that
word is a traitor. _Surrender_ to whom? To Ferdinand, the Christian
king? to Isabel, his slave? They are liars, invaders, giaours! Death is
the least evil we have to fear from them. _Surrender_ means plunder,
sacking, the profanation of our mosques, the violation of our women,
whips, chains, dungeons, the fagot, and the stake. This is _surrender_!
Let him that has a man’s heart follow me to the Christian camp. There
let us die!”

But the words of Mousa brought no response. Boabdil el Chico yielded to
the general voice, and the venerable dervish, Aval-Cazem, was sent out
to Santa Fé to treat for terms with the Catholic sovereigns.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alas! Then came a night of mourning and of wailing, as the sun went down
over the Alhambra in clouds of blood.

Within the walls where they had been born and lived, there they would
linger! Among those enchanting courts, beside gushing fountains, the
song of birds, the scent of flowers. The soft shadows of pale groves,
and those painted halls, the very picture books of history and of song.

Now, all is to be abandoned. The royal treasure packed, the inlaid walls
stripped of their hangings, the gold vessels set with pearls, the carved
platters for perfumed water, the turbaned crown and royal robes and
garments woven in Persian looms, the accumulated treasures of centuries,
unknown to the outer world, unspeakable, garnered in the lace-walled
recesses of the harem.

At break of day all must depart into a cold and arid world--the stately
Sultana, La Horra, and Boabdil’s large-eyed queen, in robes of death and
mourning, bearing ashes on their heads, followed by all the pomp of an
Eastern court. Guards, slaves, mutes, and eunuchs, passed out of the
gate of the Siete Suelos, the conquered city sleeping at their feet,
while on the opposite side, by the Gate of Justice with the mystic hand,
rode in a dazzling company of Christian knights, lighted up by the
rising sun--Aragonese and Castilian horsemen with round casques, knights
in chain-armour rattling their spears, gold-tabarded trumpeters,
men-at-arms and arquebusiers with hedges of lances and bucklers, led by
the primate of Spain, bearing in his hand the silver cross to be planted
on the signal tower of the Vega.



CHAPTER XXVI

The End of the Moors


At the end of the Alameda, outside Granada, there is a bridge over the
Xenil, opening from a broad and lofty avenue of elms. How gay it is! The
murmur of the green-tinged river! The soft, warm wind among the trees,
the borders of old-fashioned flowers! How majestic the infinite
whiteness of the range of the Sierra Nevada backing all, a smooth, pure
world lost in a firmament of blue!

Beyond is a road along which carts and coaches roll, a dirty, muddy
country road, leading to Motril, and from that to the sea, passing
through barriers of mountains.

A mile or so on, a little chapel, dedicated to San Sebastian, lies to
the right, close on the road. You might pass it a thousand times without
notice, it is so dark and small. Yet, homely as it looks, there is no
place in all the range of history more sacred than this spot.

It is the 2d of January, 1492, when Boabdil el Chico, King of Granada,
mounted on a powerful war-horse, rides slowly forth from the Alhambra
by the gate of the Siete Suelos. We know his face, from a portrait in
the palace of the Generalife--a sad-expressioned visage, as of one born
to ill-luck, swarthy-complexioned, with coal-black hair under his
turban; and we know too, that at his special request, the gate of the
Siete Suelos has been walled up from that day, and so remains,
encumbered by huge masses of masonry, over which time has cast a
softening hand in trails of vine leaves and low shrubbery.

Slowly he descends the hill by a winding path still existing, cleaving
the steep ravine, very stony now, and difficult to traverse, and passing
by high walls (to be called henceforth the _Cuesta de los Matires_),
crosses the bridge over the Xenil, gallops down the road, and draws rein
before the chapel of San Sebastian, then a mosque.

His very dress is recorded. A dark mantle over an Eastern tunic of
embroidered silk, a regal crown attached to his turban, and in his hand
two keys. (Thus he is represented on a stone carving in the Capilla Real
in the cathedral.)

Before the little mosque, _Los Reyes Catolicos_ await him. They are also
on horseback: Isabel rides a white jennet, richly caparisoned. Her grand
head bound by a jewelled coif, forming a regal coronet, her face
radiant, her queenly form erect.

Ferdinand is beside her, with a sparkle in his cunning eye, which the
rigid canons of courtly reserve cannot master, so triumphant does he
feel.

Beside them is their young daughter, Catalina, to become wife of Henry
the Eighth, and her gallant brother, the delicate Infante, lately
knighted by his father upon the battle-field, and around, a brilliant
group of valiant knights: Ponce de Leon, browned by the long war, the
faultless-featured; Gonsalvo de Cordoba, that king of men, who, young as
he is, has been entrusted with the negotiations with Boabdil; Medina
Sidonia, of the noble race of Guzman; the Marqués de Villena, Fernandez,
Cifuentes Cabra, Tendila, and Monte Mayor.

Behind press in three hundred Christian captives released at the signing
of the treaty, besides bishops, monks, cardinals, statesmen, veterans,
grown grey in war, Asturian arquebusiers, Aragonese sharpshooters,
lances, banners, battle-axes, croziers, crosses, and blood-stained
trophies, all backed by the red walls of the Alhambra towering on the
hills.

Hurriedly dismounting from his horse, the unhappy Boabdil would kneel
and kiss Ferdinand’s hand, but he generously forbids it. Then the poor
humbled monarch offers the same homage to Isabel, who also graciously
declines it, a wan smile breaking over his haggard face, for in her hand
she holds that of his little son--detained as a hostage at Sante
Fé--whom he seizes and embraces.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now the moment has come when he must deliver up the insignia of
royalty, and, with the natural dignity which so rarely forsakes an
Oriental he tenders the keys of the Alhambra.

“Take them,” he says, “you have conquered. Thus, O King and Queen!
receive our kingdom and our person! Allah is great! Use us with the
clemency you have promised. Be merciful as you are strong!”

At these words, uttered as by a dying man, Isabel’s great heart melts,
and her eyes fill with tears.

Not so the astute Ferdinand. With difficulty he can suppress his joy; he
knows too well the crafty part he meant to play with Boabdil and his
kingdom, and his appealing words grate on his ears.

But, suppressing these feelings, “Doubt not, O King!” is his reply, “the
sanctity of our promise, nor that by a timely submission you should
suffer. I give you our royal word that our Moslem subjects shall find
equal justice with our own.”

Ferdinand then hands the keys to Isabel, who passes them on to her son,
Prince Juan, who in his turn gives them to the Conde de Tendila the new
Alcaide of Granada.

Then, in breathless silence, the glittering group await the signal which
is to make the Alhambra theirs. Isabel, her hands clasped in silent
prayer, Ferdinand, casting anxious glances to the fortress-crowned hill.
Behold! in the clear morning light, the silver cross borne by the Bishop
of Salamanca blazes from the citadel, the red and yellow flag of Spain
beside it, fluttering over the crescent banner, which is slowly
withdrawn. One great shout of triumph rises to the skies; trumpets
sound, artillery booms, and to the voice of the shrill clarions comes
the cry: “Santiago! Santiago! for God and for Spain!” and the pious
queen, hastily dismounting, enters the little chapel beside the road
(that morning become a Christian church), to celebrate a solemn _Te
Deum_ to the warlike music of fifes, flutes, and joy-bells.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the chapel of San Salvador on the road to Motril, the Arab walls
untouched, the altar, a rude Mithrab, under a Saracenic arch, still
standing, an incrusted dome overhead, edged with a coloured border, the
whole a little circular interior of fit proportion, and honeycombed
niches at its sides. On the outer wall an inscription, in old Spanish
letters, sets forth that:

“On this spot King Boabdil met _Los Reyes Catolicos_, and delivered to
them the keys of Granada; who, in memory of their gratitude to God for
overcoming the Moors, converted this mosque into a chapel, in honour of
San Sebastian.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The sovereigns enter the city towards nightfall (dreary in that season
of January, for Granada is a mountain place), the shadow of tossing
plumes and glancing armour falling on fields of snow, which deaden the
tramp of the war-horses and the passing of arquebusiers. But the bells
ring out

[Illustration:

Photo by Valentine.

TOWER AND HOTEL OF SIETE SUELOS, THE ALHAMBRA, GRANADA.]

triumphant in the dark air, and penetrate into the deepest recesses of
the Moorish _patios_, where every Moslem has shut himself up in black
despair.

    “There was a crying in Granada
       When the sun was going down;
     Some calling on the Trinity,
       Some calling on Mahomet.
     Thus cried the Moslem while his hands
       His own beard did tear:
    ‘Farewell! farewell, Granada!
       Thou city without peer!
     Woe! woe! thou pride of Heathendom,
       Seven hundred years and more
     Have gone, since first the faithful
       Thy royal sceptre bore.’”

At the door of the great mosque, the same on which the harebrained
knight of Pulgar with his fifteen companions as wild as himself had
fixed the tablet with the words _Ave Maria_, they halted. Like the
chapel, it had been hastily consecrated. Here the sovereigns offered up
prayer and thanksgiving.

In what part of the present cathedral did this occur? At what is now the
high altar, or within the Capilla Real?

Did any wandering spirit whisper into the ear of the still beautiful
queen, in the swell of the triumphant anthems which rise to celebrate
her fame, that there she would lie entombed with Ferdinand by her side?

The first interview of Columbus with the queen took place in the middle
of the Moorish war, when all available revenues were absorbed.

It was the Andalusian Fray Perez de Marchena, who sent him to Santa Fé,
recommending him to the Bishop of Talavera, a learned prelate, at that
time confessor to the queen and shortly to become Archbishop of Granada.

It was Talavera who presided at the council of Salamanca, before which
Columbus exhibited his charts and detailed his projects.

Like Galileo, he was rejected as a vain dreamer, not altogether free
from suspicion of magic.

A second time he came to Santa Fé, and boldly expostulated with Isabel
on her backwardness.

“Her refusal,” said Columbus, “was not in consonance with the
magnanimous spirit of her reign.”

The great queen was touched at the rough sincerity of his words.

“I will assume the undertaking,” was her reply, “for my own kingdom of
Castile. I will pawn my jewels if the money you raise is not
sufficient.”

The box or casket, with a gold pattern, which she gave him, is still
preserved in the sacristy of the cathedral at Granada. He returned it to
her filled with virgin gold, “As admiral, viceroy, and captain-general
of all islands and continents in the western ocean,” titles which
descended to his son.

The memory of Columbus (or _Colon_, as he is called in Spain, a name
continued in his present descendants, the Duques de Veragua) is
perpetuated at Seville by a large flagstone let into the marble floor
in the centre of the cathedral.

    _A Castilia y a Leon_
    _Nuovo Mundo dio Colon_,

is the motto. On either side the rude outlines of two small caravels are
cut, models of the vessels in which he started from Palos in Andalusia
in search of the new world.

In shape they resemble Grecian triremes without the bank of oars. A
raised stern bears a square metal lantern as a night signal, and
floating at the prow flies the flag of Spain.

On the deck appears the outline of a giant mariner wearing a broad
sombrero, which _may_ represent Columbus, in a thick coat, and with a
telescope to his eye.

Within the Capitular Library are his books of reference, neatly
annotated in his own clear hand, and a chart drawn by himself on
parchment--a rude sketch of the American seaboard and the surrounding
ocean, with soundings for sunken rocks; the course of winds, tides, and
currents specially noted, the parchment partly blurred, as if by marks
of sea-water.

Gazing at these relics, so neatly precise, and finished with the care of
a man who knows how to wait with the patience of genius, a tall form
rises before the eye, fair-complexioned, thin-faced, blue-eyed, and grey
at thirty, such as Queen Isabel saw him, sitting at the poop of his
little vessel, his eyes fixed on the chart, issuing orders to his
helmsman to steer into unknown seas, while around him a mutinous crew
gathers, calling on him to turn the rudder and sail home.

Time after time this happened. The sailors mutinied and threatened to
throw him overboard. Time after time his dignity and eloquence mastered
them, until that wild cry of “_Tierra! Tierra!_” broke from the
masthead, as the advancing waves gathered on the shore of San Salvador.

On his return from his fourth voyage, his constant friend and
protectress, Isabel, was dead!

This was the last drop in the cup of suffering to a broken-hearted man.
His robust constitution broke down, and he sank into a premature old
age.

At Segovia, where the court was, he presented himself to Ferdinand, but
obtained nothing but empty words. He actually lived on borrowed money
until his death.

His son and heir commuted his claims, which were enormous and
unreasonable, into a large grant of land and the title of Grandee of
Spain.



CHAPTER XXVII

Death of Isabel


The country between Salamanca and Valladolid is very flat, the finest
corn-growing region in all Spain. Now a railway passes through it, and
when the summer sun blazes on the thick shocks of wheat, they glisten as
with living flames, while the crisp, hot wind passes fluttering by. As
the sun sinks, a dazzling ball of fire, into banks of intense crimson,
the shadows of the after-glow fall long and dark. Nothing but the
horizon between earth and sky; a land, boundless, monotonous, reflecting
the stubborn will of the nation. The only kingdom in Europe which has
retained its mediæval character for good and bad, simple, grand,
immutable as its great plains!

Passing the small station of Vento de Baños, the ruins of an ancient
castle rise to the sight. It is built of small red bricks, tempered to a
pale hue by time and sunshine, and the lofty walls broken by solid
towers and bastions. From its low position the height seems great, and
for this same reason the walls are of enormous strength.

This is the Castello de la Mota, built for Juan II. in 1444, and here
his daughter, the great Isabel, has come to die.

It is not age which is killing her, for she is only fifty-four, but
sorrow has done its work upon her tender heart.

Child after child has been taken from her. First, her only son Juan,
barely twenty, always delicate, dying of a fever in the midst of
rejoicings for his marriage with a princess of France. Vainly did
Ferdinand, who had rushed to his side at the first symptoms of danger,
break the news to her gently by letter, describing his gradual decline
after he was really dead; but the shaft struck home.

“Never,” says Peter Martyr, “could the bereaved parents speak of him.”

They laid him in a sumptuous tomb in the Dominican church at Avila.

Even after the lapse of so many centuries their love appears in the
minute care with which each detail of his marble monument is wrought.
The calm, pure, upturned face of the boy, so delicate and young, the
light regal circlet on the rich curls of hair, the simple folds of
drapery, the small shapely feet, and thin, long hands; the iron
gauntlets, placed on one side to show that he was knighted by his father
in the field.

The mere artistic beauty of the work is forgotten in the anguish of the
parents, who used to sit for hours in two stalls opposite, where they
could gaze down on the effigy of their son. A picture of lonely

[Illustration:

Photo by J. Laurent, Madrid.

A GENERAL VIEW OF RONDA.]

grief sweeping the chords of passionate sorrow to all time.

Then her daughter Isabel, Queen of Portugal, whom she loved with all her
heart, died; her other daughter Juana, married to Philippe le Bel of
Burgundy, is mad, and now a mortal illness has seized herself.

       *       *       *       *       *

The queen is reclining on a couch, for she cannot sit up, in a vaulted
hall divided into various rooms by thick screens of tapestry. Not far
from her is an altar, on which the sacrament and various relics are
exposed. The glare from the lighted tapers falls on that once lovely
countenance with a cruel glare. She is greatly changed. The soft blue
eyes have become too prominent, the face has lost its delicacy of
outline, the skin its clearness, and the grey locks which have replaced
the abundant meshes of her auburn hair are gathered under a thick coil.

Nothing but her inherent majesty remains, and that unalterable
expression of calm which has distinguished her all her life, as one
ready to meet good or bad fortune with an unmoved mind.

As she lies, the great pendants of the gilded roof falling above her
head, and escutcheons and badges bordering the walls round--everything
bears the token of the joint names, Ferdinand and Isabel, entwined and
interlaced. In every detail of the furniture it appears. The heavy
carved chairs bear it, the table before her, on which stands a
crucifix, her illuminated missal, and the finely wrought silver
_casserole_ with strong essences to revive her.

Her eyes have closed in a light slumber, for she is very weak. Now she
opens them with a smile, and fixes them vaguely on the setting sun,
streaming in through the narrow Gothic casements which open into the
great court. Then a sudden look of anxiety comes into her face.

“Hiya Marquesa,” she says, addressing her friend Beatrix, who has never
left her since her illness, “what news of the king? Have despatches
arrived from Don Gonsalvo de Cordoba at Naples? Where is Peter Martyr?”

“Here, your Highness,” answers her secretary, entering at that moment
with a bundle of papers in his hand. “A great victory has been gained by
Gonsalvo on the Garigliano. The French are driven out of Naples.”

“Ah! Is it so? I have ever esteemed him a hero. But the king! Where is
he? When will he return?”

A silence follows. The queen’s countenance falls.

“His Highness was last heard of at Gerona,” answers Martyr, “with the
army.”

“War, always war!” says the queen with a deep sigh. “Once we rode out
together in the field--I wonder if he misses me!” Here she paused.
“Beatrix,” she continues, seizing her hand and wringing it in her own,
“I see by your face that something is amiss; the king’s absence, what
does it mean? My body is indeed weak, but my heart is strong. Conceal
nothing from me.”

“His Grace,” answered Beatrix, making a sign to Martyr not to speak, “is
safe with the army at Perpignan.”

“And where is the Princess Juana?”

At the mention of her daughter’s name anxiety and distress are plainly
visible on her face.

“She has left the castle” (at these words Isabel grows deadly pale),
“and she refuses to return unless she can leave at once to join the
archduke in Flanders.”

“Who attends her?” asks Isabel, speaking quickly.

“No one. She escaped alone. But her suite has been sent from the
castle.”

“Now Heaven protect us!” cries the queen, greatly agitated. “Martyr,
call to me here the Archbishop of Granada.”

“My dearest mistress,” says Beatrix, kneeling beside her and tenderly
encircling her with her arms, “these fancies of the Infanta will pass.
She is madly in love with the archduke when she is with him.”

“Alas! It is not returned,” interrupts the queen. “He only cares for the
succession, not for her.”

The arras was now raised, and the dignified figure of Talavera,
Archbishop of Granada, stood before the queen.

For years he had been her confessor, and to her death remained her
devoted friend. Raising herself on her couch with difficulty, Isabel
kissed the jewel which he wore in his episcopal ring, then sank back
exhausted on the embroidered pillows at her back.

“I pray you, my Lord Archbishop,” she says in a low voice, “by the love
you bear me and the king, to bring home to the castle the Infanta Juana,
who has escaped. Tell her from me--to whom she will not listen in
person--that it is her health that alone prevents her from joining her
husband. As soon as she has recovered from her confinement she shall
start, should the archduke still refuse to join her in Spain.”

Talavera stood before the queen, his eyes cast on the ground. He knew
that she was sending him on a fruitless errand to Juana, who, short of
main force, would obey no one. He knew how near her extravagance
bordered on madness, and that this knowledge was breaking the queen’s
heart, but the weakness in which he found her forbade his reminding her
of it.

“What I can do I will; your Highness may rely on me,” was his answer.

“Go--go at once!” cried the queen, trembling all over, and almost rising
to her feet. “Would I had strength to do it, but--but,” and she sank
back, almost fainting, into the arms of the Marquesa de Moya.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Now we are alone,” she says, in a voice perfectly composed, having
swallowed some strong medicine given to her by Beatrix. “Believe me,
Hiya, I am deluded by no false hopes. The end is near. Fain would I see
the end of these troubles. Oh, that Ferdinand were here!”

“Shall an express be sent to his Highness?” asks the marquesa,
endeavouring to master her grief.

“No, no!” cries Isabel, in a full voice, rousing to a momentary
excitement. “The king is commanding the army in France. Let me not
trouble him. He knows that I am ill. He might,”--she stops--a deep sigh
escapes her, a look of inexpressible longing comes into her eyes, fixed
on vacancy, as if, by the spell of her great love, she would draw him to
her. Even to Beatrix she would not own the anguish she feels at his
prolonged absence.

“Before I die,” she continues, “I must see the succession settled, and
the king named Regent. All the documents are prepared. I should have
liked to tell him so face to face. I will not command his presence, but
I would that he had come to me as he was wont.”

Something in the pathetic insistence with which she spoke of him told an
ill-assured mind. She dared not look at the marquesa, for she felt she
would read her thoughts.

Had Ferdinand changed? There was agony in the thought, but it was there.
That strange prescience, which so often accompanies the passing of life
into death, had come to her with a revelation more bitter than the
grave.

Worn with a life of constant hardship (in peace or war she was ever by
his side) and broken by the loss of her children, although of the same
age, she had become old while he was still comely enough to wed another
wife. She knew it. Martial, erect, the fire of youth still gleaming in
his eye, and his masterful spirit still unsubdued.

That others had pleased his fickle fancy she knew to her cost, and had
suffered from pangs of silent jealousy. But that he would be absent from
her dying bed did not seem possible.

So united had they been, the thought that he might survive her had never
troubled her. Now it was a phantom she could not banish--Ferdinand
alone!

Would another sit beside him in her place?

       *       *       *       *       *

“We wait sorrowfully in the palace all day long,” writes the faithful
chronicler of her life, Peter Martyr, “tremblingly waiting the hour when
she will quit the earth. Let us pray that we may be permitted to follow
hereafter where she will go. She so far transcends all human excellence
that there is scarcely anything mortal about her. She can hardly be said
to die, but to pass into a nobler existence. She leaves the world filled
with her renown, and she goes to enjoy life eternal with God in heaven.
I write this,” he says, “between hope and fear, while the breath is
still fluttering within her.”

But the faithful pen of the secretary does not record the presence of
Ferdinand at her side.

She was mercifully spared the knowledge of his inconstancy.

Already, during his campaigns, he had seen the young princess of
eighteen, Germaine de Foix, cousin of the King of France, whom he
married in such indecent haste, a volatile beauty, brought up at the
dissipated Court of Louis XII. For her sake (had she borne him children)
he would have severed the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, a greater
insult, if possible, to the memory of the queen than his marriage.

Indirectly, this marriage was the cause of his death. It is the busy pen
of Peter Martyr which records it.

In order to invigorate his constitution, he placed himself in the hands
of quacks. A violent fever ensued, and (in 1515) he died at Granada.

The body of Isabel had already been brought there from the Castle de la
Mota and interred within the Capilla Real.

Side by side they lie, the royal spouses united at least in death; the
truant Ferdinand yearning for the presence of his first love, and at his
own request laid beside her.

There they rest on two alabaster tombs, a marvel of exquisite
workmanship, erected to their memory by their grandson, Charles V.

A frigid smile yet lingers on the queen’s marble lips as she turns her
head lovingly towards Ferdinand, who, as in life, looks straight out,
determined and warlike as he ever was. Both wear their crowns.

Beside them, on another monument, is their daughter Juana _la loca_
(mad), her fickle Burgundian at her side. Their countenances are
averted, their position as uneasy as was their life. Troubled lines
wander over Juana’s form, and the comely head of Philip sinks on a
marble pillow in selfish rest.

The four coffins lie in a narrow cell beneath; “a small place,” said
their grandson, Charles V., “for so much greatness.”

A lofty Gothic portal separates the Capilla Real from the cathedral by a
_reja_, or iron gates, elaborately worked.

No gilded canopy obscures the figures from the light, so royal is their
simplicity, and when the radiance of the eastern sun lights up the
vaulted ceiling, knitted into broad bands into bosses, leaves, and
borders, and pictures, golden _retablos_ and sculptured saints stand out
on the subdued splendour of the walls, the effect is as a scene of
actual history, enacted in what was once the great mosque of the Moors,
conquered by the arms of these dead sovereigns (_Los Reyes Catolicos_)
and converted into this Christian sepulchre, as a triumph to last as
long as the world stands.

                                THE END

                    *       *       *       *       *

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FOOTNOTES:

 [A] The Balax of the Red King was given by Don Pedro after the battle
 of Navarrete. This is the same “fair ruby, great as a racket ball,”
 which Queen Elizabeth showed to Melville, the ambassador of Mary Queen
 of Scots, and which he asked her to bestow on his mistress, which she
 refused, and it is the identical gem which adorned the centre of the
 royal crown of Queen Victoria.

 [B] “To the memory of the greatest sinner who ever lived, Don Juan de
 Mañara.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

with an angry scrowl=> with an angry scowl {pg 43}

stituated to the north of Burgos=> situated to the north of Burgos {pg
210}

misundertand the astonished glances=> misunderstand the astonished
glances {pg 227}

so daintly apparelled=> so daintily apparelled {pg 239}

Ese, ess el Conde de Ledesma=> Ese, es el Conde de Ledesma {pg 270}

the seige of Baza=> the siege of Baza {pg 316}





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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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