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Title: Calderon the Courtier, a Tale
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
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.

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CALDERON, THE COURTIER

BY

EDWARD BULWER LYTTON



CONTENTS:

CHAPTER I. The Antechamber

CHAPTER II. The Lover and the Confidant

CHAPTER III. A Rival

CHAPTER IV. Civil Ambition, and Ecclesiastical

CHAPTER V. The true Fate of Morgana

CHAPTER VI. Web upon Web

CHAPTER VII. The open Countenance, the concealed Thoughts

CHAPTER VIII. The Escape

CHAPTER IX. The Counterplot

CHAPTER X. We reap what we sow

CHAPTER XI. Howsoever the Rivers wind, the Ocean receives them All



CALDERON, THE COURTIER.

A TALE.



CHAPTER I. THE ANTE-CHAMBER.

The Tragi-Comedy of Court Intrigue, which had ever found its principal
theatre in Spain since the accession of the House of Austria to the
throne, was represented with singular complication of incident and
brilliancy of performance during the reign of Philip the Third. That
monarch, weak, indolent, and superstitious, left the reins of government
in the hands of the Duke of Lerma. The Duke of Lerma, in his turn, mild,
easy, ostentatious, and shamefully corrupt, resigned the authority he
had thus received to Roderigo Calderon, an able and resolute upstart,
whom nature and fortune seemed equally to favour and endow. But, not
more to his talents, which were great, than to the policy of religious
persecution which he had supported and enforced, Roderigo Calderon owed
his promotion. The King and the Inquisition had, some years before our
story opens, resolved upon the general expulsion of the Moriscos
the wealthiest, the most active, the most industrious portion of the
population.

“I would sooner,” said the bigoted king--and his words were hallowed by
the enthusiasm of the Church--“depopulate my kingdom than suffer it to
harbour a single infidel.” The Duke de Lerma entered into the scheme
that lost to Spain many of her most valuable subjects, with the zeal of
a pious Catholic expectant of the Cardinal’s hat, which he afterwards
obtained. But to this scheme Calderon brought an energy, a decision,
a vehemence, and sagacity of hatred, that savoured more of personal
vengeance than religious persecution. His perseverance in this good
work established him firmly in the king’s favour; and in this he was
supported by the friendship not only of Lerma, but of Fray Louis de
Aliaga, a renowned Jesuit, and confessor to the king. The disasters
and distresses occasioned by this barbarous crusade, which crippled
the royal revenues, and seriously injured the estates of the principal
barons, from whose lands the industrious and intelligent Moriscos were
expelled, ultimately concentred a deep and general hatred upon Calderon.
But his extraordinary address and vigorous energies, his perfect
mastery of the science of intrigue, not only sustained, but continued to
augment, his power. Though the king was yet in the prime of middle age,
his health was infirm and his life precarious. Calderon had contrived,
while preserving the favour of the reigning monarch, to establish
himself as the friend and companion of the heir apparent. In this,
indeed, he had affected to yield to the policy of the king himself; for
Philip the Third had a wholesome terror of the possible ambition of his
son, who early evinced talents which might have been formidable, but for
passions which urged him into the most vicious pleasures and the most
extravagant excesses. The craft of the king was satisfied by the device
of placing about the person of the Infant one devoted to himself; nor
did his conscience, pious as he was, revolt at the profligacy which his
favourite was said to participate, and, perhaps, to encourage; since the
less popular the prince, the more powerful the king.

But all this while there was formed a powerful cabal against both the
Duke of Lerma and Don Roderigo Calderon in a quarter where it might
least have been anticipated. The cardinal-duke, naturally anxious
to cement and perpetuate his authority, had placed his son, the Duke
d’Uzeda, in a post that gave him constant access to the monarch.
The prospect of power made Uzeda eager to seize at once upon all its
advantages; and it became the object of his life to supplant his father.
This would have been easy enough but for the genius and vigilance of
Calderon, whom he hated as a rival, disdained as an upstart, and dreaded
as a foe. Philip was soon aware of the contest between the two factions,
but, in the true spirit of Spanish kingcraft he took care to play one
against the other. Nor could Calderon, powerful as he was, dare openly
to seek the ruin of Uzeda; while Uzeda, more rash, and, perhaps, more
ingenuous, entered into a thousand plots for the downfall of the prime
favourite.

The frequent missions, principally into Portugal, in which of late
Calderon had been employed, had allowed Uzeda to encroach more and more
upon the royal confidence; while the very means which Don Roderigo had
adopted to perpetuate his influence, by attaching himself to the prince,
necessarily distracted his attention from the intrigues of his rival.
Perhaps, indeed, the greatness of Calderon’s abilities made him too
arrogantly despise the machinations of the duke, who, though not without
some capacities as a courtier, was wholly incompetent to those duties of
a minister on which he had set his ambition and his grasp.

Such was the state of parties in the Court of Philip the Third at the
time in which we commence our narrative in the ante-chamber of Don
Roderigo Calderon.

“It is not to be endured,” said Don Felix de Castro, an old noble, whose
sharp features and diminutive stature proclaimed the purity of his blood
and the antiquity of his descent.

“Just three-quarters of an hour and five minutes have I waited for
audience to a fellow who would once have thought himself honoured if I
had ordered him to call my coach,” said Don Diego Sarmiento de Mendo.

“Then, if it chafe you so much, gentlemen, why come you here at all? I
dare say Don Roderigo can dispense with your attendance.”

This was said bluntly by a young noble of good mien, whose impetuous and
irritable temperament betrayed itself by an impatience of gesture and
motion unusual amongst his countrymen. Sometimes he walked, with uneven
strides, to and fro the apartments, unheeding the stately groups whom he
jostled, or the reproving looks that he attracted; sometimes he paused
abruptly, raised his eyes, muttered, twitched his cloak, or played with
his sword-knot; or, turning abruptly round upon his solemn neighbours,
as some remark on his strange bearing struck his ear, brought the blood
to many a haughty cheek by his stern gaze of defiance and disdain. It
was easy to perceive that this personage belonged to the tribe--rash,
vain, and young--who are eager to take offence, and to provoke quarrel.
Nevertheless, the cavalier had noble and great qualities. A stranger to
courts, in the camp he was renowned for a chivalrous generosity and an
extravagant valour, that emulated the ancient heroes of Spanish romaunt
and song. His was a dawn that promised a hot noon and a glorious eve.
The name of this brave soldier was Martin Fonseca. He was of an ancient
but impoverished house, and related in a remote degree to the Duke de
Lerma. In his earliest youth he had had cause to consider himself
the heir to a wealthy uncle on his mother’s side; and with those
expectations, while still but a boy, he had been invited to court by
the cardinal-duke. Here, however, the rude and blunt sincerity of his
bearing had so greatly shocked the formal hypocrisies of the court, and
had more than once so seriously offended the minister, that his powerful
kinsman gave up all thought of pushing Fonseca’s fortunes at Madrid, and
meditated some plausible excuse for banishing him from court. At this
time the rich uncle, hitherto childless, married a second time, and was
blessed with an heir. It was no longer necessary to keep terms with
Don Martin; and he suddenly received an order to join the army on the
frontiers. Here his courage soon distinguished him; but his honest
nature still stood in the way of his promotion. Several years elapsed,
and his rise had been infinitely slower than that of men not less
inferior to him in birth than merit. Some months since, he had repaired
to Madrid to enforce his claims upon the government; but instead of
advancing his suit, he had contrived to effect a serious breach with
the cardinal, and been abruptly ordered back to the camp. Once more he
appeared at Madrid; but this time it was not to plead desert and demand
honours.

In any country but Spain under the reign of Philip the Third, Martin
Fonseca would have risen early to high fortunes. But, as we have said,
his talents were not those of the flatterer or the hypocrite; and it was
a matter of astonishment to the calculators round him to see Don Martin
Fonseca in the ante-room of Roderigo Calderon, Count Oliva, Marquis de
Siete Iglesias, secretary to the King, and parasite and favourite of the
Infant of Spain.

“Why come you here at all?” repeated the young soldier.

“Senor,” answered Don Felix de Castro, with great gravity, “we have
business with Don Roderigo. Men of our station must attend to the
affairs of the state, no matter by whom transacted.”

“That is, you must crawl on your knees to ask for pensions and
governorships, and transact the affairs of the state by putting your
hands into its coffers.”

“Senor!” growled Don Felix, angrily, as his hand played with his
sword-belt.

“Tush!” said the young man, scornfully turning on his heel.

The folding-doors were thrown open, and all conversation ceased at the
entrance of Don Roderigo Calderon.

This remarkable personage had risen from the situation of a confidential
scribe to the Duke of Lerma to the nominal rank of secretary to the
King--to the real station of autocrat of Spain. The birth of the
favourite of fortune was exceedingly obscure. He had long affected
to conceal it; but when he found curiosity had proceeded into serious
investigation of his origin, he had suddenly appeared to make a virtue
of necessity; proclaimed of his own accord that his father was a common
soldier of Valladolid, and even invited to Madrid, and lodged in his
own palace, his low-born progenitor. This prudent frankness disarmed
malevolence on the score of birth. But when the old soldier died,
rumours went abroad that he had confessed on his death-bed that he
was not in any way related to Calderon; that he had submitted to an
imposture which secured to his old age so respectable and luxurious an
asylum; and that he knew not for what end Calderon had forced upon him
the honours of spurious parentship. This tale, which, ridiculed by most,
was yet believed by some, gave rise to darker reports concerning one on
whom the eyes of all Spain were fixed. It was supposed that he had
some motive beyond that of shame at their meanness, to conceal his
real origin and name. What could be that motive, if not the dread of
discovery for some black and criminal offence connected with his earlier
youth, and for which he feared the prosecution of the law? They who
affected most to watch his exterior averred that often, in his gayest
revels and proudest triumphs, his brow would lower--his countenance
change--and it was only by a visible and painful effort that he could
restore his mind to its self-possession. His career, which evinced
an utter contempt for the ordinary rules and scruples that curb even
adventurers into a seeming of honesty and virtue, appeared in some way
to justify these reports. But, at times, flashes of sudden and brilliant
magnanimity broke forth to bewilder the curious, to puzzle the examiners
of human character, and to contrast the general tenor of his ambitions
and remorseless ascent to power. His genius was confessed by all; but
it was a genius that in no way promoted the interests of his country.
It served only to prop, defend, and advance himself--to battle
difficulties--to defeat foes--to convert every accident, every chance,
into new stepping stones in his course. Whatever his birth, it was
evident that he had received every advantage of education; and scholars
extolled his learning and boasted of his patronage. While, more
recently, if the daring and wild excesses of the profligate prince were,
on the one hand, popularly imputed to the guidance of Calderon, and
increased the hatred generally conceived against him, so, on the other
hand, his influence over the future monarch seemed to promise a new
lease to his authority, and struck fear into the councils of his foes.
In fact, the power of the upstart marquis appeared so firmly rooted,
the career before him so splendid, that there were not wanted whisperers
who, in addition to his other crimes, ascribed to Roderigo Calderon
the assistance of the black art. But the black art in which that subtle
courtier was a proficient is one that dispenses with necromancy. It
was the art of devoting the highest intellect to the most selfish
purposes--an art that thrives tolerably well for a time in the great
world!

He had been for several weeks absent from Madrid on a secret mission;
and to this, his first public levee, on his return, thronged all the
rank and chivalry of Spain.

The crowd gave way, as, with haughty air, in the maturity of manhood,
the Marquis de Siete Iglesias moved along. He disdained all accessories
of dress to enhance the effect of his singularly striking exterior.
His mantle and vest of black cloth, made in the simplest fashion, were
unadorned with the jewels that then constituted the ordinary insignia of
rank. His hair, bright and glossy as the raven’s plume, curled back from
the lofty and commanding brow, which, save by one deep wrinkle between
the eyes, was not only as white but as smooth as marble. His features
were aquiline and regular; and the deep olive of his complexion seemed
pale and clear when contrasted by the rich jet of the moustache and
pointed beard. The lightness of his tall and slender but muscular
form made him appear younger than he was; and had it not been for the
supercilious and scornful arrogance of air which so seldom characterises
gentle birth, Calderon might have mingled with the loftiest magnates of
Europe and seemed to the observer the stateliest of the group. It
was one of those rare forms that are made to command the one sex and
fascinate the other. But, on a deeper scrutiny, the restlessness of
the brilliant eye--the quiver of the upper lip--a certain abruptness of
manner and speech, might have shown that greatness had brought suspicion
as well as pride. The spectators beheld the huntsman on the height;--the
huntsman saw the abyss below, and respired with difficulty the air
above.

The courtiers one by one approached the marquis, who received them with
very unequal courtesy. To the common herd he was sharp, dry, and bitter;
to the great he was obsequious, yet with a certain grace and manliness
of bearing that elevated even the character of servility; and all
the while, as he bowed low to a Medina or a Guzman, there was a half
imperceptible mockery lurking in the corners of his mouth, which seemed
to imply that while his policy cringed his heart despised. To two or
three, whom he either personally liked or honestly esteemed, he was
familiar, but brief, in his address; to those whom he had cause to
detest or to dread--his foes, his underminers--he assumed a yet greater
frankness, mingled with the most caressing insinuation of voice and
manner.

Apart from the herd, with folded arms, and an expression of countenance
in which much admiration was blent with some curiosity and a little
contempt, Don Martin Fonseca gazed upon the favourite.

“I have done this man a favour,” thought he; “I have contributed towards
his first rise--I am now his suppliant. Faith! I, who have never found
sincerity or gratitude in the camp, come to seek those hidden treasures
at a court! Well, we are strange puppets, we mortals!”

Don Diego Sarmiento de Mendoza had just received the smiling salutation
of Calderon, when the eye of the latter fell upon the handsome features
of Fonseca. The blood mounted to his brow; he hastily promised Don Diego
all that he desired, and hurrying back through the crowd, retired to his
private cabinet. The levee was broken up.

As Fonseca, who had caught the glance of the secretary, and who drew
no favourable omen from his sudden evanishment, slowly turned to
depart with the rest, a young man, plainly dressed, touched him on the
shoulder.

“You are Senior Don Martin Fonseca?”

“The same.”

“Follow me, if it please you, senor, to my master, Lou Roderigo
Calderon.”

Fonseca’s face brightened; he obeyed the summons; and in another moment
he was in the cabinet of the Sejanus of Spain.



CHAPTER II. THE LOVER AND THE CONFIDANT.

Calderon received the young soldier at the door of his chamber with
marked and almost affectionate respect. “Don Martin,” said he, and there
seemed a touch of true feeling in the tremor of his rich sweet voice, “I
owe you the greatest debt one man can incur to another--it was your hand
that set before my feet their first stepping-stone to power. I date my
fortunes from the hour in which I was placed in your father’s house as
your preceptor. When the cardinal-duke invited you to Madrid, I was your
companion; and when, afterwards, you joined the army, and required
no longer the services of the peaceful scholar, you demanded of your
illustrious kinsman the single favour--to provide for Calderon. I had
already been fortunate enough to win the countenance of the duke, and
from that day my rise was rapid. Since then we have never met. Dare
I hope that it is now in the power of Calderon to prove himself not
ungrateful?”

“Yes,” said Fonseca, eagerly; “it is in your power to save me from the
most absolute wretchedness that can befall me. It is in your power, at
least I think so, to render me the happiest of men!”

“Be seated, I pray you, senor. And how? I am your servant.”

“Thou knowest,” said Fonseca, “that, though the kinsman, I am not the
favourite, of the Duke of Lerma?”

“Nay, nay,” interrupted Calderon, softly, and with a bland smile;
“you misunderstand my illustrious patron: he loves you, but not your
indiscretions.”

“Yes, honesty is very indiscreet! I cannot stoop to the life of the
ante-chamber. I cannot, like the Duke of Lerma, detest my nearest
relative if his shadow cross the line of my interests. I am of the
race of Pelayo, not Oppas; and my profession, rather that of an ancient
Persian than a modern Spaniard, is to manage the steed, to wield the
sword, and to speak the truth.”

There was an earnestness and gallantry in the young man’s aspect,
manner, and voice, as he thus spoke, which afforded the strongest
contrast to the inscrutable brow and artificial softness of Calderon;
and which, indeed, for the moment, occasioned that crafty and profound
adventurer an involuntary feeling of self-humiliation.

“But,” continued Fonseca, “let this pass: I come to my story and my
request. Do you, or do you not know, that I have been for some time
attached to Beatriz Coello!”

“Beatriz,” replied Calderon, abstractedly, with an altered countenance,
“it is a sweet name--it was my mother’s!”

“Your mother’s! I thought to have heard her name was Mary Sandalen?”

“True--Mary Beatriz Sandalen,” replied Calderon, indifferently. “But
proceed. I heard, after your last visit to Madrid, when, owing to my own
absence in Portugal, I was not fortunate enough to see you, that you had
offended the duke by desiring an alliance unsuitable to your birth. Who,
then, is this Beatriz Coello?”

“An orphan of humble origin and calling. In infancy she was left to the
care of a woman who, I believe, had been her nurse; they were settled in
Seville, and the old gouvernante’s labours in embroidery maintained them
both till Beatriz was fourteen. At that time the poor woman was disabled
by a stroke of palsy from continuing her labours, and Beatriz, good
child, yearning to repay the obligation she had received, in her turn
sought to maintain her protectress. She possessed the gift of a voice
wonderful for its sweetness. This gift came to the knowledge of
the superintendent of the theatre at Seville: he made her the most
advantageous proposals to enter upon the stage. Beatriz; innocent child,
was unaware of the perils of that profession: she accepted eagerly
the means that would give comfort to the declining life of her only
friend--she became an actress. At that time we were quartered in
Seville, to keep guard on the suspected Moriscos.”

“Ah, the hated infidels!” muttered Calderon, fiercely, through his
teeth.

“I saw Beatriz, and loved her at first sight. I do not say,” added
Fonseca, with a blush, “that my suit, at the outset, was that which
alone was worthy of her; but her virtue soon won my esteem as well
as love. I left Seville to seek my father and obtain his consent to
a marriage with Beatriz. You know a hidalgo’s prejudices--they are
insuperable. Meanwhile, the fame of the beauty and voice of the young
actress reached Madrid, and hither she was removed from Seville by
royal command. To Madrid, then, I hastened, on the pretence of demanding
promotion. You, as you have stated, were absent in Portugal on some
state mission. I sought the Duke de Lerma. I implored him to give me
some post, anywhere--I recked not beneath what sky, in the vast empire
of Spain--in which, removed from the prejudices of birth and of class,
and provided with other means, less precarious than those that depend
on the sword, I might make Beatriz my wife. The polished duke was more
inexorable than the stern hidalgo. I flew to Beatriz; I told her I had
nothing but my heart and right hand to offer. She wept, and she refused
me.”

“Because you were not rich?”

“Shame on you, no! but because she would not consent to mar my fortunes,
and banish me from my native land. The next day I received a peremptory
order to rejoin the army, and with that order came a brevet of
promotion. Lover though I be, I am a Spaniard: to have disobeyed the
order would have been dishonour. Hope dawned upon me--I might rise, I
might become rich. We exchanged our vows of fidelity. I returned to the
camp. We corresponded. At last her letters alarmed me. Through all her
reserve, I saw that she was revolted by her profession, and terrified at
the persecutions to which it exposed her: the old woman, her sole guide
and companion, was dying: she was dejected and unhappy: she despaired
of our union: she expressed a desire for the refuge of the cloister. At
last came this letter, bidding me farewell for ever. Her relation was
dead; and, with the little money she had amassed, she had bought her
entrance into the convent of St. Mary of the White Sword. Imagine my
despair! I obtained leave of absence--I flew to Madrid. Beatriz
is already immured in that dreary asylum; she has entered on her
novitiate.”

“Is that the letter you refer to?” said Calderon, extending his hand.

Fonseca gave him the letter.

Hard and cold as Calderon’s character had grown, there was something in
the tone of this letter--its pure and noble sentiments, its innocence,
its affection--that touched some mystic chord in his heart. He sighed as
he laid it down.

“You are, like all of us, Don Martin,” said he, with a bitter smile,
“the dupe of a woman’s faith. But you must purchase experience for
yourself, and if, indeed, you ask my services to procure you present
bliss and future disappointment, those services are yours. It will not,
I think, be difficult to interest the queen in your favour: leave me
this letter, it is one to touch the heart of a woman. If we succeed with
the queen, who is the patroness of the convent, we may be sure to obtain
an order from court for the liberation of the novice: the next step is
one more arduous. It is not enough to restore Beatriz to freedom--we
must reconcile your family to the marriage. This cannot be done while
she is not noble; but letters patent (here Calderon smiled) could
ennoble a mushroom itself--your humble servant is an example. Such
letters may be bought or begged; I will undertake to procure them. Your
father, too, may find a dowry accompanying the title, in the shape of a
high and honourable post for yourself. You deserve much; you are beloved
in the army; you have won a high name in the world. I take shame on
myself that your fortunes have been overlooked. ‘Out of sight out of
mind;’ alas! it is a true proverb. I confess that, when I beheld you in
the ante room, I blushed for my past forgetfulness. No matter--I will
repair my fault. Men say that my patronage is misapplied--I will prove
the contrary by your promotion.”

“Generous Calderon!” said Fonseca, falteringly; “I ever hated the
judgments of the vulgar. They calumniate you; it is from envy.”

“No,” said Calderon, coldly; “I am bad enough, but I am still human.
Besides, gratitude is my policy. I have always found that it is a good
way to get on in the world to serve those who serve us.”

“But the duke?”

“Fear not; I have an oil that will smooth all the billows on that
surface. As for the letter, I say, leave it with me; I will show it to
the queen. Let me see you again tomorrow.”



CHAPTER III. A RIVAL.

Calderon’s eyes were fixed musingly on the door which closed on
Fonseca’s martial and noble form.

“Great contrasts among men!” said he, half aloud. “All the classes
into which naturalists ever divided the animal world contained not the
variety that exists between man and man. And yet, we all agree in one
object of our being--all prey on each other! Glory, which is but the
thirst of blood, makes yon soldier the tiger of his kind; other passions
have made me the serpent: both fierce, relentless, unscrupulous--both!
hero and courtier, valour and craft! Hein! I will serve this young
man--he has served me. When all other affection was torn from me, he,
then a boy, smiled on me and bade me love him. Why has he been so long
forgotten? He is not of the race that I abhor; no Moorish blood flows in
his veins; neither is he of the great and powerful, whom I dread; nor of
the crouching and the servile, whom I despise: he is one whom I can aid
without a blush.”

While Calderon thus soliloquised, the arras was lifted aside, and a
cavalier, on whose cheek was the first down of manhood, entered the
apartment.

“So, Roderigo, alone! welcome back to Madrid. Nay, seat thyself,
man--seat thyself.”

Calderon bowed with the deepest reverence; and, placing a large fauteuil
before the stranger, seated himself on stool, at a little distance.

The new comer was of sallow complexion; his gorgeous dress sparkled with
prodigal jewels. Boy as he was, there was a yet a careless loftiness,
a haughty ease, in the gesture--the bend of the neck, the wave of the
hand, which, coupled with the almost servile homage of the arrogant
favourite, would have convinced the most superficial observer that he
was born of the highest rank. A second glance would have betrayed,
in the full Austrian lip--the high, but narrow forehead--the dark,
voluptuous, but crafty and sinister eye, the features of the descendant
of Charles V. It was the Infant of Spain that stood in the chamber of
his ambitious minion.

“This is convenient, this private entrance into thy penetralia,
Roderigo. It shelters me from the prying eyes of Uzeda, who ever seeks
to cozen the sire by spying on the Son. We will pay him off one of these
days. He loves you no less than he does his prince.”

“I bear no malice to him for that, your highness. He covets the smiles
of the rising sun and rails at the humble object which, he thinks,
obstructs the beam.”

“He might be easy on that score: I hate the man, and his cold
formalities. He is ever fancying that we princes are intent on the
affairs of state, and forgets that we are mortal and that youth is the
age for the bower, not the council. My precious Calderon, life would be
dull without thee: how I rejoice at thy return, thou best inventor of
pleasure that satiety ever prayed for! Nay, blush not: some men despise
thee for thy talents: I do thee homage. By my great grandsire’s beard,
it will be a merry time at court when I am monarch, and thou minister!”

Calderon looked earnestly at the prince, but his scrutiny did not serve
to dispel a certain suspicion of the royal sincerity that ever and anon
came across the favourite’s most sanguine dreams. With all Philip’s
gaiety, there was something restrained and latent in his ambiguous
smile, and his calm, deep, brilliant eye. Calderon, immeasurably above
his lord in genius, was scarcely, perhaps, the equal of that beardless
boy in hypocrisy and craft, in selfish coldness, in matured depravity.

“Well,” resumed the prince, “I pay you not these compliments without
an object. I have need of you--great need; never did I so require your
services as at this moment; never was there so great demand on your
invention, your courage, your skill. Know, Calderon, I love!”

“My prince,” said the marquis, smiling, “it is certainly not first love.
How often has your highness--”

“No,” interrupted the prince, hastily,--“no, I never loved till now. We
never can love what we can easily win; but this, Calderon, this heart
would be a conquest. Listen. I was at the convent chapel of St. Mary of
the White Sword yesterday with the queen. Thou knowest that the abbess
once was a lady of the chamber, and the queen loves her.”

“Both of us were moved and astonished by the voice of one of the
choir--it was that of a novice. After the ceremony the queen made
inquiries touching this new Santa Cecilia; and who dost thou think
she is? No; thou wilt never guess!--the once celebrated singer--the
beautiful, the inimitable Beatriz Coello! Ah! you may well look
surprised; when actresses turn nuns, it is well-nigh time for Calderon
and Philip to turn monks. Now, you must know, Roderigo, that I, unworthy
though I be, am the cause of this conversion. There is a certain Martin
Fonseca, a kinsman of Lerma’s--thou knowest him well. I learned, some
time since, from the duke, that this young Orlando was most madly
enamoured of a low-born girl--nay, desired to wed her. The duke’s story
moved my curiosity. I found that it was the young Beatriz Coello, whom
I had already admired on the stage. Ah, Calderon, she blazed and set
during thy dull mission to Lisbon! I sought an opportunity to visit her.
I was astonished at her beauty, that seemed more dazzling in the
chamber than on the stage. I pressed my suit-in vain. Calderon, hear you
that?--in vain! Why wert thou not by? Thy arts never fail, my friend!
She was living with an old relation, or governante. The old relation
died suddenly--I took advantage of her loneliness--I entered her house
at night. By St. Jago, her virtue baffled and defeated me. The next
morning she was gone; nor could my researches discover her, until, at
the convent of St. Mary, I recognised the lost actress in the young
novice. She has fled to the convent to be true to Fonseca; she must fly
from the convent to bless the prince. This is my tale: I want thy aid.”

“Prince,” said Calderon, gravely, “thou knowest the laws of Spain; the
rigour of the Church. I dare not--”

“Pshaw. No scruples--my rank will bear thee harmless. Nay, look not so
demure; why, even thou, see, hast thy Armida. This billet in a female
hand--Heaven and earth Calderon! What name is this? Beatriz Coello!
Darest thou have crossed my path? Speak, sir!--speak!”

“Your highness,” said Calderon, with a mixture of respect and dignity
in his manner--“your highness, hear me. My first benefactor, my beloved
pupil, my earliest patron, was the same Don Martin Fonseca who seeks
this girl with an honest love. This morning he has visited me, to
implore my intercession on his behalf. Oh, prince! turn not away:
thou knowest not half his merit. Thou knowest not the value of such
subjects--men of the old iron race of Spain. Thou hast a noble and royal
heart: be not the rival to the defender of thy crown. Bless this brave
soldier--spare this poor orphan--and one generous act of self-denial
shall give thee absolution for a thousand pleasures.”

“This from Roderigo Calderon!” said the prince, with bitter sneer. “Man,
know thy station and thy profession. When I want homilies, I seek my
confessor; when I have resolved on a vice, I come to thee. A truce with
this bombast. For Fonseca, he shall be consoled; and when he shall learn
who is his rival, he is a traitor if he remain discontented with his
lot. Thou shalt aid me, Calderon!”

“Your highness will pardon me--no!”

“Do I hear right? No! Art thou not my minion--my instrument? Can I not
destroy as I have helped to raise thee? Thy fortunes have turned thy
brain. The king already suspects and dislikes thee; thy foe, Uzeda, has
his ear. The people execrate thee. If I abandon thee, thou art lost.
Look to it!”

Calderon remained mute and erect, with his arms folded on his breast,
and his cheek flushed with suppressed passions. Philip gazed at him
earnestly, and then, muttering to himself, approached the favourite with
an altered air.

“Come, Calderon--I have been hasty-you maddened me; I meant not to wound
you. Thou art honest, I think thou lovest me; and I will own, that
in ordinary circumstances thy advice would be good, and thy scruples
laudable. But I tell thee that I adore this girl; that I have set all
my hopes upon her; that, at whatever cost, whatever risks, she must be
mine. Wilt thou desert me? Wilt thou on whose faith I have ever leaned
so trustingly, forsake thy friend and thy prince for this brawling
soldier? No; I wrong thee.”

“Oh!” said Calderon, with much semblance of emotion, “I would lay down
my life in your service, and I have often surrendered my conscience to
your lightest will. But this would be so base a perfidy in me! He has
confided his life of life to my hands. How canst even thou count on my
faith if thou knowest me false to another?”

“False! art thou not false to me? Have I not confided to thee, and dost
thou not desert me--nay, perhaps, betray? How wouldst thou serve this
Fonseca? How liberate the novice?”

“By an order of the court. Your royal mother--”

“Enough!” said the prince, fiercely; “do so. Thou shalt have leisure for
repentance.”

As he spoke, Philip strode to the door. Calderon, alarmed and anxious,
sought to detain him; but the prince broke disdainfully away, and
Calderon was again alone.



CHAPTER IV. CIVIL AMBITION, AND ECCLESIASTICAL.

Scarcely had the prince vanished, before the door that led from the
anteroom was opened, and an old man, in the ecclesiastical garb, entered
the secretary’s cabinet.

“Do I intrude, my son?” said the churchman.

“No, father, no; I never more desired your presence--your counsel. It is
not often that I stand halting and irresolute between the two magnets of
interest and conscience: this is one of those rare dilemmas.”

Here Calderon rapidly narrated the substance of his conversation with
Fonseca, and of the subsequent communication with the prince.

“You see,” he said, in conclusion, “how critical is my position. On one
side, my obligations to Fonseca, my promise to a benefactor, a friend
to the boy I assisted to rear. Nor is that all: the prince asks me to
connive at the abstraction of a novice from a consecrated house. What
peril--what hazard! On the other side, if I refuse, the displeasure, the
vengeance of the prince, for whose favour I have already half forfeited
that of the king; and who, were he once to frown upon me, would
encourage all my enemies--in other phrase, the whole court--in one
united attempt at my ruin.”

“It is a stern trial,” said the monk, gravely; “and one that may well
excite your fear.”

“Fear, Aliaga!--ha! ha!--fear!” said Calderon, laughing scornfully. “Did
true ambition ever know fear? Have we not the old Castilian proverb,
that tells us ‘He who has climbed the first step to power has left
terror a thousand leagues behind’? No, it is not fear that renders
me irresolute; it is wisdom, and some touch, some remnant of human
nature--philosophers would call it virtue; you priests, religion.”

“Son,” said the priest, “when, as one of that sublime calling, which
enables us to place our unshodden feet upon the necks of kings, I felt
that I had the power to serve and to exalt you; when as confessor to
Philip, I backed the patronage of Lerma, recommended you to the royal
notice, and brought you into the sunshine of the royal favour--it was
because I had read in your heart and brain those qualities of which the
spiritual masters of the world ever seek to avail their cause. I knew
thee brave, crafty, aspiring, unscrupulous. I knew that thou wouldest
not shrink at the means that could secure to thee a noble end. Yea,
when, years ago, in the valley of the Xenil, I saw thee bathe thy hands
in the blood of thy foe, and heard thy laugh of exulting scorn;--when I,
alone master of thy secret, beheld thee afterwards flying from thy home
stained with a second murder, but still calm, stern, and lord of thine
own reason, my knowledge of mankind told me, ‘Of such men are high
converts and mighty instruments made!’”

The priest paused; for Calderon heard him not. His cheek was livid,
his eyes closed, his chest heaved wildly. “Horrible remembrance!” he
muttered; “fatal love--dread revenge! Inez--Inez, what hast thou to
answer for!”

“Be soothed, my son; I meant not to tear the bandage from thy wounds.”

“Who speaks?” cried Calderon, starting. “Ha, priest! priest! I thought
I heard the Dead. Talk on, talk on: talk of the world--the
Inquisition--thy plots--the torture--the rack! Talk of aught that will
lead me back from the past.”

“No; let me for a moment lead thee thither, in order to portray the
future that awaits thee. When, at night, I found thee--the blood-stained
fugitive--cowering beneath the shadow of the forest, dost thou remember
that I laid my hand upon thine arm, and said to thee, ‘Thy life is in my
power’? From that hour, thy disdain of my threats, of myself, of thine
own life--all made me view thee as one born to advance our immortal
cause. I led thee to safety far away; I won thy friendship and thy
confidence. Thou becamest one of us--one of the great Order of Jesus.
Subsequently, I placed thee as the tutor to young Fonseca, then heir to
great fortunes. The second marriage of his uncle, and the heir that
by that marriage interposed between him and the honour of his house,
rendered the probable alliance of the youth profitless to us. But thou
hadst procured his friendship. He presented thee to the Duke of Lerma.
I was just then appointed confessor to the king; I found that years had
ripened thy genius, and memory had blunted in thee all the affections of
the flesh. Above all, hating, as thou didst, the very name of the Moor,
thou wert the man of men to aid in our great design of expelling the
accursed race from the land of Spain. Enough--I served thee, and thou
didst repay us. Thou hast washed out thy crime in the blood of the
infidel--thou art safe from detection. In Roderigo Calderon, Marquis
de Siete Iglesias, who will suspect the Roderigo Nunez--the murderous
student of Salamanca? Our device of the false father stifled even
curiosity. Thou mayest wake to the future, nor tremble at one shadow in
the past. The brightest hopes are before us both; but to realise them,
we must continue the same path. We must never halt at an obstacle in our
way. We must hold that to be no crime which advances our common objects.
Mesh upon mesh we must entangle the future monarch in our web: thou,
by the nets of pleasure; I, by those of superstition. The day that sees
Philip the Fourth upon the throne, must be a day of jubilee for the
Brotherhood and the Inquisition. When thou art prime minister, and I
grand inquisitor--that time must come--we shall have the power to extend
the sway of the sect of Loyola to the ends of the Christian world. The
Inquisition itself our tool, posterity shall regard us as the apostles
of intellectual faith. And thinkest thou, that, for the attainment of
these great ends, we can have the tender scruples of common men?
Perish a thousand Fonsecas--ten thousand novices, ere thou lose, by the
strength of a hair, thy hold over the senses and soul of the licentious
Philip! At whatever hazard, save thy power; for with it are bound, as
mariners to a plank, the hopes of those who make the mind a sceptre.”

“Thy enthusiasm blinds and misleads thee, Aliaga,” said Calderon,
coldly. “For me, I tell thee now, as I have told thee before, that I
care not a rush for thy grand objects. Let mankind serve itself--I look
to myself alone. But fear not my faith; my interests and my very life
are identified with thee and thy fellow-fanatics. If I desert thee, thou
art too deep in my secrets not to undo me; and were I to slay thee, in
order to silence thy testimony, I know enough of thy fraternity to know
that I should but raise up a multitude of avengers. As for this matter,
you give me wise, if not pious counsel. I will consider well of it.
Adieu! The hour summons me to attend the king.”



CHAPTER V. THE TRUE FATA MORGANA.

In the royal chamber, before a table covered with papers, sat the King
and his secretary. Grave, sullen, and taciturn, there was little in
the habitual manner of Philip the Third that could betray to the
most experienced courtier the outward symptoms of favour or caprice.
Education had fitted him for the cloister, but the necessities of
despotism had added acute cunning to slavish superstition. The business
for which Calderon had been summoned was despatched, with a silence
broken but by monosyllables from the king, and brief explanations from
the secretary; and Philip, rising, gave the signal for Calderon to
retire. It was then that the king, turning a dull but steadfast eye upon
the marquis, said, with a kind of effort, as if speech were painful to
him,

“The prince left me but a minute before your entrance--have you seen him
since your return?”

“Your majesty, yes. He honoured me this morning with his presence.”

“On state affairs?”

“Your majesty knows, I trust, that your servant treats of state affairs
only with your August self, or your appointed ministers.”

“The prince has favoured you, Don Roderigo.”

“Your majesty commanded me to seek that favour.”

“It is true. Happy the monarch whose faithful servant is the confidant
of the heir to his crown!”

“Could the prince harbour one thought displeasing to your majesty, I
think I could detect and quell it at its birth. But your majesty is
blessed in a grateful son.”

“I believe it. His love of pleasure decoys him from ambition--so it
should be. I am not an austere parent. Keep his favour, Don Roderigo; it
pleases me. Hast thou offended him in aught?”

“I trust I have not incurred so great a misfortune.”

“He spoke not of thee with his usual praises--I noticed it. I tell thee
this that thou mayest rectify what is wrong. Thou canst not serve me
more than by guarding him from all friendships save with those whose
affection to myself I can trust. I have said enough.”

“Such has ever been my object. Bat I have not the youth of the prince,
and men speak ill of me, that, in order to gain his confidence, I share
in his pursuits.”

“It matters not what they say of thee. Faithful ministers are rarely
eulogised by the populace or the court. Thou knowest my mind: I repeat,
lose not the prince’s favour.” Calderon bowed low, and withdrew. As he
passed through the apartments of the palace, he crossed a gallery, in
which he perceived, stationed by a window, the young prince and his own
arch-foe, the Duke d’Uzeda. At the same instant, from an opposite door,
entered the Cardinal-Duke de Lerma; and the same unwelcome conjunction
of hostile planets smote the eyes of that intriguing minister. Precisely
because Uzeda was the duke’s son was he the man in the world whom the
duke most dreaded and suspected.

Whoever is acquainted with the Spanish comedy will not fail to have
remarked the prodigality of intrigue and counter-intrigue upon which its
interest is made to depend. In this, the Spanish comedy was the faithful
mirror of the Spanish life, especially in the circles of a court. Men
lived in a perfect labyrinth of plot and counter-plot. The spirit of
finesse, manoeuvre, subtlety, and double-dealing pervaded every family.
Not a house that was not divided against itself.

As Lerma turned his eyes from the unwelcome spectacle of such sudden
familiarity between Uzeda and the heir-apparent--a familiarity which it
had been his chief care to guard against--his glance fell on Calderon.
He beckoned to him in silence, and retired, unobserved by the two
confabulators, through the same door by which he had entered. Calderon
took the hint, and followed him. The duke entered a small room, and
carefully closed the door.

“How is this, Calderon?” he asked, but in a timid tone, for the weak old
man stood in awe of his favourite. “Whence this new and most ill-boding
league?”

“I know not, your eminence; remember that I am but just returned to
Madrid: it amazes me no less than it does your eminence.”

“Learn the cause of it, my good Calderon: the prince ever professed to
hate Uzeda. Restore him to those feelings thou art all in all with his
highness! If Uzeda once gain his ear, thou art lost.”

“Not so,” cried Calderon, proudly. “My service is to the king; I have
a right to his royal protection, for I have a claim on his royal
gratitude.”

“Do not deceive thyself,” said the duke, in a whisper. “The king cannot
live long: I have it from the best authority, his physician; nor is
this all--a formidable conspiracy against thee exists at court. But for
myself and the king’s confessor, Philip would consent to thy ruin.
The strong hold thou hast over him is in thy influence with the
Infanta--influence which he knows to be exerted on behalf of his own
fearful and jealous policy; that influence gone, neither I nor Aliaga
could suffice to protect thee. Enough! Shut every access to Philip’s
heart against Uzeda.” Calderon bowed in silence, and the duke hastened
to the royal cabinet.

“What a fool was I to think that I could still wear a conscience!”
 muttered Calderon, with a sneering lip; “but, Uzeda, I will baffle thee
yet.”

The next morning, the Marquis de Siete Iglesias presented himself at the
levee of the prince of Spain.

Around the favourite, as his proud stature towered above the rest,
flocked the obsequious grandees. The haughty smile was yet on his lip
when the door opened and the prince entered. The crowd, in parting
suddenly, left Calderon immediately in front of Philip; who,
after gazing on him sternly for a moment, turned away, with marked
discourtesy, from the favourite’s profound reverence, and began a low
and smiling conversation with Gonsalez de Leon, one of Calderon’s open
foes.

The crowd exchanged looks of delight and surprise; and each or the
nobles, before so wooing in their civilities to the minister, edged
cautiously away.

His mortification had but begun. Presently Uzeda, hitherto almost a
stranger to those apartments, appeared; the prince hastened to him, and
in a few minutes the duke was seen following the prince into his
private chamber. The sun of Calderon’s favour seemed set. So thought
the courtiers: not so the haughty favourite. There was even a smile of
triumph on his lip--a sanguine flush upon his pale cheek, as he turned
unheeding from the throng, and then entering his carriage, regained his
home.

He had scarcely re-entered his cabinet, ere, faithful to his
appointment, Fonseca was announced.

“What tidings, my best of friends?” exclaimed the soldier.

Calderon shook his head mournfully.

“My dear pupil,” said he, in accents of well-affected sympathy, “there
is no hope for thee. Forget this vain dream--return to the army. I can
promise thee promotion, rank, honours; but the hand of Beatriz is beyond
my power.”

“How?” said Fonseca, turning pale and sinking into a seat. “How is this?
Why so sudden a change? Has the queen--”

“I have not seen her majesty; but the king is resolved upon this matter:
so are the Inquisition. The Church complains of recent and numerous
examples of unholy and im politic relaxation of her dread power. The
court dare not interfere. The novice must be left to her own choice.”

“And there is no hope?”

“None! Return to the excitement of thy brave career.”

“Never!” cried Fonseca, with great vehemence. “If, in requital of all my
services--of life risked, blood spilt, I cannot obtain a boon so easy to
accord me, I renounce a service in which even fame has lost its charm.
And hark you, Calderon, I tell you that I will not forego this pursuit.
So fair, so innocent a victim shall not be condemned to that living
tomb. Through the walls of the nunnery, through the spies of the
Inquisition, love will find out its way; and in some distant land I will
yet unite happiness and honour. I fear not exile; I fear not reverse; I
no longer fear poverty itself. All lands, where the sound of the trumpet
is not unknown, can afford career to the soldier, who asks from Heaven
no other boon but his mistress and his sword.”

“You will seek to abstract Beatriz, then?” said Calderon, calmly and
musingly. “Yes--it may be your best course, if you take the requisite
precautions. But can you see her? can you concert with her?”

“I think so. I trust I have already paved the way to an interview.
Yesterday, after I quitted thee, I sought the convent; and, as the
chapel is one of the public sights of the city, I made my curiosity
my excuse. Happily, I recognised in the porter of the convent an old
servitor of my father’s; he had known me from a child--he dislikes his
calling--he will consent to accompany our flight, to share our fortunes:
he has promised to convey a letter from me to Beatriz, and to transmit
to me her answer.”

“The stars smile on thee, Don Martin. When thou hast learned more,
consult with me again. Now, I see a way to assist thee.”



CHAPTER VI. WEB UPON WEB.

The next day, to the discomfiture of the courtiers, Calderon and the
Infant of Spain were seen together, publicly, on the parade; and the
secretary made one of the favoured few who attended the prince at the
theatre. His favour was greater, his power more dazzling than ever it
had been known before. No cause for the breach and reconciliation being
known, some attributed it to caprice, others to the wily design of the
astute Calderon for the humiliation of Uzeda, who seemed only to have
been admitted to one smile from the rising sun in order more signally to
be reconsigned to the shade.

Meanwhile, Fonseca prospered almost beyond his hopes. Young, ardent,
sanguine, the poor novice had fled from her quiet home and the
indulgence of her free thoughts, to the chill solitude of the cloister,
little dreaming of the extent of the change. With a heart that
overflowed with the warm thoughts of love and youth, the ghostlike
shapes that flitted round her, the icy forms, the rigid ceremonials of
that life, which is but the mimicry of death, appalled and shocked
her. That she had preserved against a royal and most perilous, because
unscrupulous suitor, her fidelity to the absent Fonseca, was her sole
consolation.

Another circumstance had combined with the loss of her protectress and
the absence of Don Martin to sadden her heart and dispose her to the
cloister. On the deathbed of the old woman, who had been to her as a
mother, she had learned a secret hitherto concealed from her tender
youth. Dark and tragic were the influences of the star which had shone
upon her birth, gloomy the heritage of memories associated with
her parentage. A letter, of which she now became the guardian and
treasurer--a letter, in her mother’s hand-woke tears more deep and
bitter than she had ever shed for herself. In that letter she read the
strength and the fidelity, the sorrow and the gloom, of woman’s love;
and a dreary foreboding told her that the shadow of the mother’s fate
was cast over the child’s. Such were the thoughts that made the cloister
welcome, till the desolation of the shelter was tried and known. But
when, through the agency of the porter, Fonseca’s letter reached her,
all other feelings gave way to the burst of natural and passionate
emotion. The absent had returned, again wooed, was still faithful.
The awful vow was not spoken--she might yet be his. She answered; she
chided; she spoke of doubt, of peril, of fear for him, of maiden shame;
but her affection coloured every word, and the letter was full of hope.
The correspondence continued; the energetic remonstrances of Fonseca,
the pure and fervent attachment of the novice, led more and more rapidly
and surely to the inevitable result. Beatriz yielded to the prayer of
her lover; she consented to the scheme of escape and flight that he
proposed.

Late at evening Fonseca sought Calderon. The marquis was in the gardens
of his splendid mansion.

The moonlight streamed over many a row of orange-trees and
pomegranates--many a white and richly sculptured vase, on its marble
pedestal--many a fountain, that scattered its low music round the
breathless air. Upon a terrace that commanded a stately view of the
spires and palaces of Madrid stood Calderon, alone; beside him,
one solitary and gigantic aloe cast its deep gloom of shade and his
motionless attitude, his folded arms, his face partially lifted to
the starlit heavens, bespoke the earnestness and concentration of his
thoughts.

“Why does this shudder come over me?” said, he, half aloud. “It was thus
in that dismal hour which preceded the knowledge of my shame--the deed
of a dark revenge--the revolution of my eventful and wondrous life! Ah!
how happy was I once! a contented and tranquil student; a believer
in those eyes that were to me as the stars to the astrologer. But the
golden age passed into that of iron. And now,” added Calderon, with a
self-mocking sneer, “comes the era which the poets have not chronicled;
for fraud, and hypocrisy, and vice, know no poets!”

The quick step of Fonseca interrupted the courtier’s reverie. He turned,
knit his brow, and sighed heavily, as if nerving himself to some effort;
but his brow was smooth, and his aspect cheerful, ere Fonseca reached
his side.

“Give me joy--give me joy, dear Calderon! she has consented. Now, then,
your promised aid.”

“You can depend upon the fidelity of your friendly porter?

“With my life.”

“A master key to the back-door of the chapel has been made?”

“See, I have it.”

“And Beatriz can contrive to secrete herself in the confessional at the
hour of the night prayers?”

“There is no doubt of her doing so with safety. The number of the
novices is so great, that one of them cannot well be missed.”

“So much, then, for your part of the enterprise. Now for mine. You know
that solitary house in the suburbs, on the high road to Fuencarral,
which I pointed out to you yesterday? Well, the owner is a creature
of mine. There, horses shall be in waiting; there, disguises shall be
prepared. Beatriz must necessarily divest herself of the professional
dress; you had better choose meaner garments for yourself. Drop those
hidalgo titles of which your father is so proud, and pass off yourself
and the novice as a notary and his wife, about to visit France on a
lawsuit of inheritance. One of my secretaries shall provide you with a
pass. Meanwhile, to-morrow, I shall be the first officially to hear of
the flight of the novice, and I will set the pursuers on a wrong scent.
Have I not arranged all things properly, my Fonseca?”

“You are our guardian angel!” cried Don Martin, fervently. “The prayers
of Beatriz will be registered in your behalf above--prayers that will
reach the Great Throne as easily from the open valleys of France as in
the gloomy cloisters of Madrid. At midnight, to-morrow, then, we seek
the house you have described to us.”

“Ay, at midnight, all shall be prepared.”

With a light step and exulting heart, Fonseca turned from the palace of
Calderon. Naturally sanguine and high-spirited, visions of hope and joy
floated before his eyes, and the future seemed to him a land owning but
the twin deities of Glory and Love.

He had reached about the centre of the streets in which Calderon’s abode
was placed, when six men, who for some moments had been watching him
from a little distance, approached.

“I believe,” said the one who appeared the chief of the band, “that I
have the honor to address Senior Don Martin Fonseca?”

“Such is my name.”

“In the name of the king we arrest you. Follow us.”

“Arrest! on what plea? What is my offence?”

“It is stated on this writ, signed by his Eminence the Cardinal-Duke de
Lerma. You are charged with the crime of desertion.”

“Thou liest, knave! I had the general’s free permission to quit the
camp.”

“We have said all--follow!”

Fonseca, naturally of the most impetuous and passionate character, was
not, in that moment, in a mood to calculate coldly all the consequences
of resistance. Arrest--imprisonment--on the eve before that which was
to see him the deliverer of Beatriz, constituted a sentence of such
despair, that all other considerations vanished before it. He set his
teeth firmly, drew his sword, dashed aside the alguazil who attempted
to obstruct his path, and strode grimly on, shaking one clenched hand in
defiance, while, with the other, he waved the good Toledo that had often
blazed in the van of battle, at the war-cry of “St. Iago and Spain!”

The alguazils closed round the soldier, and the clash of swords was
already heard; when suddenly torches borne on high threw their glare
across the moonlit street, and two running footmen called out, “Make way
for the most noble the Marquis de Siete Iglesias!” At that name, Fonseca
dropped the point of his weapon; the alguazils themselves drew aside;
and the tall figure and pale countenance of Calderon were visible
amongst the group.

“What means this brawl in the open streets at this late hour?” said the
minister, sternly.

“Calderon!” exclaimed Fonseca; “this is indeed fortunate. These caitiffs
have dared to lay hands on a soldier of Spain, and to forge for their
villany the name of his own kinsman, the Duke de Lerma.”

“Your charge against this gentleman?” asked Calderon, calmly, turning to
the principal alguazil, who placed the writ of arrest in the secretary’s
hand. Calderon read it leisurely, and raised his hat as he returned it
to the alguazil: he then drew aside Fonseca.

“Are you mad?” said he, in a whisper. “Do you think you can resist the
law? Had I not arrived so opportunely you would have converted a slight
accusation into a capital offence. Go with these men: do not fear; I
will see the duke, and obtain your immediate release. To-morrow I will
visit and accompany you home.”

Fonseca, still half beside himself with rage, would have replied, but
Calderon significantly placed his finger on his lip and turned to the
alguazils.

“There is a mistake here: it will be rectified to-morrow. Treat this
cavalier with all the respect and worship due to his birth and merits.
Go, Don Martin, go,” he added, in a lower voice; “go, unless you desire
to lose Beatriz for ever. Nothing but obedience can save you from the
imprisonment of half a life!”

Awed and subdued by this threat, Fonseca, in gloomy silence, placed
his sword in its sheath, and sullenly followed the alguazils. Calderon
watched them depart with a thoughtful and absent look; then, starting
from his reverie, he bade his torchbearers proceed, and resumed his way
to the Prince of Spain.



CHAPTER VII. THE OPEN COUNTENANCE, THE CONCEALED THOUGHTS

The next day, at noon, Calderon visited Fonseca in his place of
confinement. The young man was seated by a window that overlooked a
large dull court-yard, with a neglected and broken fountain in the
centre, leaning his cheek upon his hand. His long hair was dishevelled,
his dress disordered, and a gloomy frown darkened features naturally
open and ingenuous. He started to his feet as Calderon approached. “My
release--you have brought my release--let us forth!”

“My dear pupil, be ruled, be calm. I have seen the duke: the cause of
your imprisonment is as I suspected. Some imprudent words, overheard,
perhaps, but by your valet, have escaped you; words intimating your
resolution not to abandon Beatriz. You know your kinsman, a mail
of doubts and fears,--of forms, ceremonies, and scruples. From very
affection for his kindred and yourself he has contrived your arrest;
all my expostulations have been in vain. I fear your imprisonment
may continue, either until you give a solemn promise to renounce all
endeavor to dissuade Beatriz from the final vows, or until she herself
has pronounced them.”

Fonseca, as if stupefied, stared a moment at Calderon, and then burst
into a wild laugh. Calderon continued:

“Nevertheless, do not despair. Be patient; I am ever about the duke;
nay, I have the courage, in your cause, to appeal even to the king
himself.”

“And to-night she expects me--to-night she was to be free!”

“We can convey the intelligence of your mischance to her: the porter
will befriend you.”

“Away, false friend, or powerless protector, that you are! Are your
promises of aid come to this? But I care not; my case, my wrongs, shall
be laid before the king; I will inquire if it be thus that Philip the
Third treats the defenders of his crown. Don Roderigo Calderon, will you
place my memorial in the hands of your royal master? Do this, and I will
thank you.”

“No, Fonseca, I will not ruin you; the king would pass your memorial to
the Duke de Lerma. Tush! this is not the way that men of sense deal with
misfortune. Think you I should be what I now am, if, in every reverse, I
had raved, and not reflected? Sit down, and let us think of what can now
be done.”

“Nothing, unless the prison door open by sunset!”

“Stay, a thought strikes me. The term of your imprisonment ceases when
you relinquish the hope of Beatriz. But what if the duke could believe
that Beatriz relinquished you? What, for instance, if she fled from the
convent, as you proposed, and we could persuade the duke that it was
with another?”

“Ah! be silent!”

“Nay, what advantages in this scheme--what safety! If she fly alone,
or, as supposed, with another lover, the duke will have no interest in
pursuit, in punishment. She is not of that birth that the state will
take the trouble, very actively, to interfere: she may reach France in
safety; ay, a thousand times more safely than if she fled with you,
a hidalgo and a man of rank, whom the state would have an interest to
reclaim, and to whom the Inquisition, hating the nobles, would impute
the crime of sacrilege. It is an excellent thought! Your imprisonment
may be the salvation of you both: your plan may succeed still better
without your intervention; and, after a few days, the duke, believing
that your resentment must necessarily replace your love, will order your
release; you can join Beatriz on the frontier, and escape with her to
France.”

“But,” said Fonseca, struck, but not convinced, by the suggestion of
Calderon, “who will take my place with Beatriz? who penetrate into the
gardens? who bear her from the convent?”

“That, for your sake, will I do. Perhaps,” added Calderon, smiling, “a
courtier may manage such an intrigue with even more dexterity than a
soldier. I will bear her to the house we spoke of; there I know she can
lie hid in safety, till the languid pursuit of uninterested officials
shall cease, and thence I can easily find means to transport her, under
safe and honourable escort, to any place it may please you to appoint.”

“And think you Beatriz will fly with you, a stranger? Impossible! Your
plan pleases me not.”

“Nor does it please me,” said Calderon, coldly; “the risks I proposed
to run are too imminent to be contemplated complacently: I thank you for
releasing me from my offer; nor should I have made it, Fonseca, but
from this fear, what if to-morrow the duke himself (he is a churchman,
remember) see the novice? what if he terrify her with threats against
yourself? what if he induce the abbess and the Church to abridge the
novitiate? what if Beatriz be compelled or awed into taking the veil?
what if you be released even next week and find her lost to you for
ever?”

“They cannot--they dare not!”

“The duke dares all things for ambition; your alliance with Beatriz he
would hold a disgrace to his house. Think not my warnings are without
foundation--I speak from authority; such is the course the Duke de Lerma
has resolved upon. Nothing else could have induced me to offer to
brave for your sake all the hazard of outraging the law and braving the
terrors of the Inquisition. But let us think of some other plan. Is
your escape possible? I fear not. No; you must trust to my chance of
persuading the duke into prosecuting the matter no further; trust
to some mightier scheme engrossing all his thoughts; to a fit of
good-humour after his siesta; or, perhaps, an attack of the gout, or a
stroke of apoplexy. Such, after all, are the chances of human felicity,
the pivots on which turns the solemn wheel of human life.”

Fonseca made no reply for some moments; he traversed the room with hasty
and disordered strides, and at last stopped abruptly.

“Calderon, there is no option; I must throw myself on your generosity,
your faith, your friendship. I will write to Beatriz; I will tell her,
for my sake, to confide in you.”

As he spoke, Don Martin turned to the table, and wrote a hasty and
impassioned note, in which he implored the novice to trust herself to
the directions of Don Roderigo Calderon, his best, his only friend; and,
as he placed this letter in the hands of the courtier he turned aside to
conceal his emotions. Calderon himself was deeply moved: his cheek was
flushed, and his hand seemed tremulous as it took the letter.

“Remember,” said Fonseca, “that I trust to you my life of life. As you
are true to me, may Heaven be merciful to you!”

Calderon made no answer, but turned to the door. “Stay,” said Fonseca;
“I had forgot this--here is the master key.”

“True; how dull I was! And the porter--will he attend to thy proxy?”

“Doubt it not. Accost him with the word, ‘Grenada.’ But he expects to
share the flight.”

“That can be arranged. To-morrow you will hear of my success. Farewell!”



CHAPTER VIII. THE ESCAPE

It was midnight in the chapel of the convent.

The moonlight shone with exceeding lustre through the tall casements,
and lit into a ghastly semblance of life the marble images of saint
and martyr, that threw their long shadows over the consecrated floor.
Nothing could well be conceived more dreary, solemn, and sepulchral than
that holy place: its distained and time-hallowed walls; the impenetrable
mass of darkness that gathered into those recesses which the moonlight
failed to reach; its antique and massive tombs, above which reclined
the sculptured effigies of some departed patroness or abbess, who had
exchanged a living grave for the Mansions of the Blest. But there--oh,
wonderful human heart!--even there, in that spot, the very homily and
warning against earthly affections and mortal hopes--even there, couldst
thou beat with as wild, as bright, and as pure a passion as ever heaved
the breast and shone in the eyes of Beauty, in the free air that ripples
the Guadiana, or amidst the twilight dance of Castilian maids.

A tall figure, wrapped from head to foot in a cloak, passed slowly up
the aisle. But light and cautious though the footstep, it woke a low,
hollow, ominous echo, that seemed more than the step itself to disturb
the sanctity of the place. It paused opposite to a confessional, which
was but dimly visible through the shadows around it. And then there
emerged timidly a female form; and a soft voice whispered “It is thou,
Fonseca!”

“Hist!” was the answer; “he waits without. Be quick; speak not--come.”

Beatriz recoiled in surprise and alarm at the voice of a stranger; but
the man, seizing her by the hand, drew her hastily from the chapel, and
hurried her across the garden, through a small postern door, which stood
ajar, into an obscure street bordering the convent wall. Here stood the
expectant porter, with a bundle in his hand, which he opened, and took
thence a long cloak, such as the women of middling rank in Madrid wore
in the winter season, with the customary mantilla or veil. With these,
still without speaking, the stranger hastily shrouded the form of the
novice, and once more hurried her on till about a hundred yards from
the garden gate he came to a carriage, into which he lifted Beatriz,
whispered a few words to the porter, seated himself by the side of the
novice, and the vehicle drove rapidly away.

It was some moments before Beatriz could sufficiently recover from her
first agitation and terror, to feel alive to all the strangeness of her
situation. She was alone with a stranger; where was Fonseca? She turned
towards her companion.

“Who art thou?” she said, “whither art thou leading me-and why--”

“Why is not Don Martin by thy side? Pardon me, senora: I have a billet
for thee from Fonseca; in a few minutes thou wilt know all.”

At this time the vehicle came suddenly in the midst of a train of
footmen and equipages that choked up the way. There was a brilliant
entertainment at the French embassy; and thither flocked, all the
rank and chivalry of Madrid. Calderon drew down the blind and hastily
enjoined silence on Beatriz. It was some minutes before the driver
extricated himself from the throng; and then, as if to make amends for
the delay, he put his horses to their full speed, and carefully selected
the most obscure and solitary thoroughfares. At length, the carriage
entered the range of suburbs which still at this day the traveller
passes on his road from Madrid to France. The horses stopped before a
lonely house that stood a little apart from the road, and which from
the fashion of its architecture appeared of considerable antiquity. The
stranger descended and knocked twice at the door: it was opened by
an old man, whose exaggerated features, bended frame, and long beard,
proclaimed him of the race of Israel. After a short and whispered
parley, the stranger returned to Beatriz, gravely assisted her from the
carriage, and, leading her across the threshold, and up a flight of rude
stairs, dimly lighted, entered a chamber richly furnished. The walls
were hung with stuffs of gorgeous colouring and elaborate design.
Pedestals of the whitest marble placed at each corner of the room
supported candelabra of silver. The sofas and couches were of the heavy
but sumptuous fashion which then prevailed in the palaces of France and
Spain; and of which Venice (the true model of the barbaric decorations
with which Louis the Fourteenth corrupted the taste of Paris) was
probably the original inventor. In an alcove, beneath a silken canopy,
was prepared a table, laden with wines, fruits, and viands; and
altogether the elegance and luxury that characterised the apartment
were in strong and strange contrast with the half-ruined exterior of
the abode, the gloomy and rude approach to the chamber, and the mean and
servile aspect of the Jew, who stood, or rather cowered by the door,
as if waiting for further orders. With a wave of the hand the stranger
dismissed the Israelite; and then, approaching Beatriz, presented to her
Fonseca’s letter.

As with an enchanting mixture of modesty and eagerness Beatriz, half
averting her face, bent over the well-known characters, Calderon gazed
upon her with a scrutinising and curious eye.

The courtier was not, in this instance, altogether the villain that from
outward appearances the reader may have deemed him. His plan was this:
he had resolved on compliance with the wishes of the prince--his safety
rested on that compliance. But Fonseca was not to be sacrificed without
reserve. Profoundly despising womankind, and firmly persuaded of their
constitutional treachery and deceit, Calderon could not believe the
actress that angel of light and purity which she seemed to the enamoured
Fonseca. He had resolved to subject her to the ordeal of the prince’s
addresses. If she fell, should he not save his friend from being the
dupe of an artful _intriguante_?--should he not deserve the thanks
of Don Martin for the very temptation to which Beatriz was now to be
submitted? If he could convince Fonseca of her falsehood, he should
stand acquitted to his friend, while he should have secured his interest
with the prince. But if, on the other hand, Beatriz came spotless
through the trial; if the prince, stung by her obstinate virtue, should
menace to sink courtship into violence, Calderon knew that it would not
be in the first or second interview that the novice would have any real
danger to apprehend; and he should have leisure to concert her escape
by such means as would completely conceal from the prince his own
connivance at her flight. Such was the compromise that Calderon had
effected between his conscience and his ambition. But while he gazed
upon the novice, though her features were turned from him, and half
veiled by the headdress she had assumed, strange feelings, ominous and
startling, like those remembrances of the Past which sometimes come in
the guise of prophecies of the Future, thronged, indistinct and dim,
upon his breast. The unconscious and exquisite grace of her form, its
touching youth, an air of innocence diffused around it, a something
helpless, and pleading to man’s protection, in the very slightness
of her beautiful but fairy-like proportions, seemed to reproach his
treachery, and to awaken whatever of pity or human softness remained in
his heart.

The novice had read the letter; and turning, in the impulse of surprise
and alarm, to Calderon for explanation, for the first time she remarked
his features and his aspect; for he had then laid aside his cloak, and
the broad Spanish hat with its heavy plume. It was thus that their eyes
met, and, as they did so, Beatriz, starting from her seat, uttered a
wild cry--

“And thy name is Calderon--Don Roderigo Calderon?--is it possible?
Hadst thou never another name?” she exclaimed; and, as she spoke, she
approached him slowly and fearfully.

“Lady, Calderon is my name,” replied the marquis: but his voice
faltered. “But thine--thine--is it, in truth, Beatriz Coello?”

Beatriz made no reply, but continued to advance, till her very breath
came upon his cheek; she then laid her hand upon his arm, and looked
up into his face with a gaze so earnest, so intent, so prolonged, that
Calderon, but for a strange and terrible thought--half of wonder, half
of suspicion, which had gradually crept into his soul, and now usurped
it--might have doubted whether the reason of the poor novice was not
unsettled.

Slowly Beatriz withdrew her eyes, and they fell upon a large mirror
opposite, which reflected in full light the features of Calderon and
herself. It was then--her natural bloom having faded into a paleness
scarcely less statue-like than that which characterised the cheek of
Calderon himself, and all the sweet play and mobility of feature that
belong to first youth being replaced by a rigid and marble stillness of
expression--it was then that a remarkable resemblance between these two
persons became visible and startling. That resemblance struck alike, and
in the same instant, both Beatriz and Calderon; and both, gazing on the
mirror, uttered an involuntary and simultaneous exclamation.

With a trembling and hasty hand the novice searched amidst the folds of
her robe, and drew forth a small leathern case, closed with clasps of
silver. She touched the spring, and took out a miniature, upon which she
cast a rapid and wild glance; then, lifting her eyes to Calderon, she
cried, “It must be so--it is, it is my father!” and fell motionless at
his feet.

Calderon did not for some moments heed the condition of the novice: that
chamber, the meditated victim, the present time, the coming evil--all
were swept away from his soul; he was transported back into the past,
with the two dread Spirits, Memory and Conscience! His knees knocked
together, his aspect was livid, the cold drops stood upon his brow; he
muttered incoherently and then bent down, and took up the picture. It
was the face of a man in the plain garb of a Salamanca student, and in
the first flush of youth; the noble brow, serene and calm, and stamped
alike with candour and courage; the smooth cheek, rich with the hues
of health; the lips, parting in a happy smile, and eloquent of joy and
hope; it was the face of that wily, grasping, ambitious, unscrupulous
man, when life had yet brought no sin; it was, as if the ghost of youth
were come back to accuse the crimes of manhood! The miniature fell from
his hand--he groaned aloud. Then gazing on the prostrate form of the
novice, he said--“Poor wretch! can I believe that thou art indeed of
mine own race and blood; or rather, does not nature, that stamped these
lineaments on thy countenance, deceive and mock me? If she, thy mother,
lied, why not nature herself?”

He raised the novice in his arms, and gazed long and wistfully upon her
lifeless, but almost lovely features. She moved not--she scarcely seemed
to breathe; yet he fancied he felt her embrace tightening round him--he
fancied he heard again the voice that had hailed him “FATHER!” His heart
beat aloud, the divine instinct overpowered all things, he pressed a
passionate kiss upon her forehead, and his tears fell fast and warm upon
her cheek. But again the dark remembrance crossed him, and he shuddered,
placed the novice hastily on one of the couches, and shouted aloud.

The Jew appeared and was ordered to summon Jacinta. A young woman of the
same persuasion, and of harsh and forbidding exterior, entered, and to
her care Calderon briefly consigned the yet insensible Beatriz.

While Jacinta unlaced the dress, and chafed the temples, of the novice,
Calderon seemed buried in gloomy thought. At last he strode slowly away,
as if to quit the chamber, when his foot struck against the case of the
picture, and his eye rested upon a paper which lay therein, folded and
embedded. He took it up, and, lifting aside the hangings, hurried into a
small cabinet lighted by a single lamp. Here, alone and unseen, Calderon
read the following letter:


“TO RODERIGO NUNEZ.

“Will this letter ever meet thine eyes? I know not; but it is comfort to
write to thee on the bed of death; and were it not for that horrible and
haunting thought that thou believest me--me whose very life was in thy
love--faithless and dishonoured, even death itself would be the sweeter
because it comes from the loss of thee. Yes, something tells me that
these lines will not be written in vain; that thou wilt read them yet,
when this hand is still and this brain at rest, and that then thou
wilt feel that I could not have dared to write to thee if I were not
innocent; that in every word thou wilt recognise the evidence that is
strong as the voice of thousands,--the simple but solemn evidence
of faith and truth. What! when for thee I deserted all--home, and a
father’s love, wealth, and the name I had inherited from Moors who had
been monarchs in their day--couldst thou think that I had not made the
love of thee the core, and life, and principle of my very being! And one
short year, could that suffice to shake my faith?--one year of marriage,
but two months of absence? You left me, left that dear home, by the
silver Xenil. For love did not suffice to you; ambition began to stir
within you, and you called it ‘love.’ You said, ‘It grieved you that I
was poor; that you could not restore to me the luxury and wealth I had
lost.’ (Alas! why did you turn so incredulously from my assurance, that
in you, and you alone, were centred my ambition and pride?) You declared
that the vain readers of the stars had foretold at your cradle that
you were predestined to lofty honours and dazzling power, and that
the prophecy would work out its own fulfilment. You left me to seek in
Madrid your relation who had risen into the favour of a minister, and
from whose love you expected to gain an opening to your career. Do
you remember how we parted? how you kissed away my tears, and how they
gushed forth again? how again and again you said, ‘Farewell!’ and again
and again returned as if we could never part? And I took my babe, but
a few weeks born, from her cradle, and placed her in thy arms, and bade
thee see that she had already learned thy smile; and were these the
signs of falsehood? Oh, how I pined for the sound of thy footstep when
thou wert gone! how all the summer had vanished from the landscape; and
how, turning to thy child, I fancied I again beheld thee! The day after
thou hadst left me there was a knock at the cottage; the nurse opened
it, and there entered your former rival, whom my father had sought
to force upon me, the richest of the descendants of the Moor, Arraez
Ferrares. Why linger on this hateful subject? He had tracked us to our
home, he had learned thy absence, he came to insult me with his vows. By
the Blessed Mother, whom thou hast taught me to adore, by the terror
and pang of death, by my hopes of Heaven, I am innocent, Roderigo, I am
innocent! Oh, how couldst thou be so deceived? He quitted the cottage,
discomfited and enraged; again he sought me, and again and again;
and when the door was closed upon him, he waylaid my steps. Lone and
defenceless as we were, thy wife and child, with but one attendant I
feared him not; but I trembled at thy return, for I knew that thou went
a Spaniard, a Castilian, and that beneath thy calm and gentle seeming
lurked pride, and jealousy, and revenge. Thy letter came, the only
letter since thy absence, the last letter from thee I may ever weep
over, and lay upon my heart. Thy relation was dead, and his wealth
enriched a nearer heir. Thou wert to return. The day in which I might
expect thee approached--it arrived. During the last week I had seen and
heard no more of Ferrares. I trusted that he had at length discovered
the vanity of his pursuit. I walked into the valley, thy child in my
arms, to meet thee; but thou didst not come. The sun set, and the light
of thine eyes replaced not the declining day. I returned home, and
watched for thee all night, but in vain. The next morning again I went
forth into the valley, and again, with a sick heart, returned to my
desolate home. It was then noon. As I approached the door I perceived
Ferrares. He forced his entrance. I told him of thy expected return, and
threatened him with thy resentment. He left me; and, terrified with a
thousand vague forebodings, I sat down to weep. The nurse, Leonarda, was
watching by the cradle of our child in the inner room.

“I was alone. Suddenly the door opened. I heard thy step; I knew it; I
knew its music. I started up. Saints of Heaven! what a meeting--what a
return! Pale, haggard, thine hands and garments dripping blood, thine
eyes blazing with insane fire, a terrible smile of mockery on thy lip,
thou stoodst before me. I would have thrown myself on thy breast; thou
didst cast me from thee; I fell on my knees, and thy blade was pointed
at my heart--the heart so full of thee! ‘He is dead,’ didst thou say, in
a hollow voice; ‘he is dead--thy paramour--take thy bed beside him!’ I
know not what I said, but it seemed to move thee; thy hand trembled, and
the point of thy weapon dropped. It was then that, hearing thy voice,
Leonarda hastened into the room, and bore in her arms thy child.
‘See,’ I exclaimed, ‘see thy daughter; see, she stretches her hands to
thee--she pleads for her mother!’ At that sight thy brow became dark,
the demon seized upon thee again. ‘Mine!’ were thy cruel words--they
ring in my ear still--‘no! she was born before the time--ha! ha!--thou
didst betray me from the first!’ With that thou didst raise thy sword;
but, even then (ah, blessed thought! even then) remorse and love palsied
thy hand, and averted thy gaze: the blow was not that of death. I fell
senseless to the ground, and when I recovered thou wert gone. Delirium
succeeded; and when once more my senses and reason returned to me, I
found by my side a holy priest, and from him, gradually, I learned
all that till then was dare. Ferrares had been found in the valley,
weltering in his blood. Borne to a neighbouring monastery, he lingered
a few days, to confess the treachery he had practised on thee; to adopt,
in his last hours, the Christian faith; and to attest his crime with
his own signature. He enjoined the monk, who had converted and confessed
him, to place this proof of my innocence in my hands. Behold it enclosed
within. If this letter ever reach thee, thou wilt learn how thy wife
was true to thee in life, and has therefore the right to bless thee in
death.”


At this passage, Calderon dropped the letter, and was seized with a
kind of paralysis, which for some moments seemed to deprive him of life
itself. When he recovered he eagerly grasped a scroll that was enclosed
in the letter, but which, hitherto, he had disregarded. Even then, so
strong were his emotions, that sight itself was obscured and dimmed,
and it was long before he could read the characters, which were already
discoloured by time.



“TO INEZ.

“I have but a few hours to live,--let me spend them in atonement and in
prayer, less for myself than thee. Thou knowest not how madly I adored
thee; and how thy hatred or indifference stung every passion into
torture. Let this pass. When I saw thee again--the forsaker of thy
faith--poor, obscure, and doomed to a peasant’s lot--daring hopes shaped
themselves into fierce resolves. Finding that thou wert inexorable, I
turned my arts upon thy husband. I knew his poverty and his ambition: we
Moors have had ample knowledge of the avarice of the Christians’. I
bade one whom I could trust to seek him out at Madrid. Wealth--lavish
wealth--wealth that could open to a Spaniard all the gates of power was
offered to him if he would renounce thee forever. Nay, in order to crush
out all love from his breast, it was told him that mine was the prior
right--that thou hadst yielded to my suit ere thou didst fly with
him--that thou didst use his love as an escape from thine own
dishonour--that thy very child owned another father. I had learned, and
I availed myself of the knowledge, that it was born before its time.
We had miscalculated the effect of this representation, backed and
supported by forged letters: instead of abandoning thee, he thought only
of revenge for his shame. As I left thy house, the last time I gazed
upon thine indignant eyes, I found the avenger, on my path! He had seen
me quit thy roof--he needed no other confirmation of the tale. I fell
into the pit which I had digged for thee. Conscience unnerved my hand
and blunted my sword: our blades scarcely crossed before his weapon
stretched me on the ground. They tell me he has fled from the anger of
the law; let him return without a fear Solemnly, and from the bed of
death, and in the sight of the last tribunal, I proclaim to justice and
the world that we fought fairly, and I perish justly. I have adopted thy
faith, though I cannot comprehend its mysteries. It is enough that it
holds out to me the only hope that we shall meet again. I direct these
lines to be transmitted to thee--an eternal proof of thy innocence and
my guilt. Ah, canst thou forgive me? I knew no sin till I knew thee.

                     “ARRAEZ FERRARES.”


Calderon paused ere he turned to the concluding lines of his wife’s
letter; and, though he remained motionless and speechless, never were
agony and despair stamped more terribly on the face of man.


                CONCLUSION OF THE LETTER OF INEZ.

“And what avails to me this testimony of my faith? thou art fled; they
cannot track thy footsteps; I shall see thee no more on earth. I am
dying fast, but not of the wound I took from thee; let not that thought
darken thy soul, my husband! No, that wound is healed. Thought is
sharper than the sword. I have pilled away for the loss of thee and thy
love! Can the shadow live without the sun? And wilt thou never place thy
hands on my daughter’s head, and bless her for her mother’s sake? Ah,
yes--yes! The saints that watch over our human destinies will one day
cast her in thy way: and the same hour that gives thee a daughter shall
redeem and hallow the memory of a wife.... Leonarda has vowed to be
a mother to our child; to tend her, work for her, rear her, though in
poverty, to virtue. I consign these letters to Leonarda’s charge, with
thy picture--never to be removed from my breast till the heart within
has ceased to beat. Not till Beatriz (I have so baptised her--it was thy
mother’s name!) has attained to the age when reason can wrestle with the
knowledge of sorrow, shall her years be shadowed with the knowledge of
our fate. Leonarda has persuaded me that Beatriz shall not take thy name
of Nunez. Our tale has excited horror--for it is not understood--and
thou art called the murderer of thy wife; and the story of our
misfortunes would cling to our daughter’s life, and reach her ears, and
perhaps mar her fate. But I know that thou wilt discover her not the
less, for Nature has a Providence of its own. When at last you meet her,
protect, guard, love her--sacred to you as she is, and shall be--the
pure but mournful legacy of love and death. I have done: I die blessing
thee!”                 “INEZ.”

Scarce had he finished those last words, ere the clock struck: it
was the hour in which the prince was to arrive. The thought restored
Calderon to the sense of the present time--the approaching peril. All
the cold calculations he had formed for the stranger-novice vanished
now. He kissed the letter passionately, placed it in his breast, and
hurried into the chamber where he had left his child. Our tale returns
to Fonseca.



CHAPTER IX. THE COUNTERPLOT.

Calderon had not long left the young soldier before the governor of the
prison entered to pay his respects to a captive of such high birth and
military reputation.

Fonseca, always blunt and impatient of mood, was not in a humour to
receive and return compliments; but the governor had scarcely seated
himself ere he struck a chord in the conversation which immediately
arrested the attention and engaged the interest of the prisoner.

“Do not fear, sir,” said he, “that you will be long detained; the power
of your enemy is great, but it will not be of duration. The storm is
already gathering round him; he must be more than man if he escapes the
thunderbolt.”

“Do you speak to me thus of my kinsman, the Cardinal-Duke de Lerma?”

“No, Don Martin, pardon me. I spoke of the Marquis de Siete Iglesias.
Are you so great a stranger to Madrid and to the court as to suppose
that the Cardinal de Lerma ever signs a paper but at the instance of Don
Roderigo? Nay, that he ever looks over the paper to which he sets his
hand? Depend upon it, you are here to gratify the avarice or revenge of
the Scourge of Spain.”

“Impossible!” cried Fonseca. “Don Roderigo is my friend--my intercessor.
He overwhelms me with his kindness.”

“Then you are indeed lost,” said the governor, in accents of compassion;
“the tiger always caresses his prey before he devours it. What have you
done to provoke his kindness?”

“Senor,” said Fonseca, suspiciously, “you speak with a strange want of
caution to a stranger, and against a man whose power you confess.”

“Because I am safe from his revenge; because the Inquisition have
already fixed their fatal eyes upon him; because by that Inquisition I
am not unknown nor unprotected; because I see with joy and triumph
the hour approaching that must render up to justice the pander of the
prince, the betrayer of the king, the robber of the people; because I
have an interest in thee, Don Martin, of which thou wilt be aware when
thou hast learned my name. I am Juan de la Nuza, the father of the
young officer whose life you saved in the assault of the Moriscos, in
Valentia, and I owe you an everlasting gratitude.”

There was something in the frank and hearty tone of the governor which
at once won Fonseca’s confidence. He became agitated and distracted with
suspicions of his former tutor and present patron.

“What, I ask, hast thou done to attract his notice? Calderon is not
capricious in cruelty. Art thou rich, and does he hope that thou wilt
purchase freedom with five thousand pistoles? No! Hast thou crossed the
path of his ambition? Hast thou been seen with Uzeda? or art thou
in favour with the prince? No, again! Then hast thou some wife, some
sister, some mistress, of rare accomplishments and beauty, with whom
Calderon would gorge the fancy and retain the esteem of the profligate
Infant? Ah, thou changest colour.”

“By Heaven! you madden me with these devilish surmises. Speak plainly.”

“I see thou knowest not Calderon,” said the governor, with a bitter
smile. “I do--for my niece was beautiful, and the prince wooed her--.
But enough of that: at his scaffold, or at the rack, I shall be avenged
on Roderigo Calderon. You said the Cardinal was your kinsman; you are,
then, equally related to his son, the Duke d’Uzeda. Apply not to Lerma;
he is the tool of Calderon. Apply yourself to Uzeda; he is Calderon’s
mortal foe. While Calderon gains ground with the prince, Uzeda advances
with the king. Uzeda by a word can procure thy release. The duke knows
and trusts me. Shall I be commissioned to acquaint him with thy arrest,
and entreat his intercession with Philip?”

“You give me new life! But not an hour is to be lost; this night--this
day-oh, Mother of Mercy! what image have you conjured up! fly to Uzeda,
if you would save my very reason. I myself have scarcely seen him
since my boyhood--Lerma forbade me seek his friendship. But I am of his
race--his blood.”

“Be cheered, I shall see the duke to-day. I have business with him where
you wot not. We are bringing strange events to a crisis. Hope the best.”
 With this the governor took his leave.

At the dusk of the evening, Don Juan de la Nuza, wrapped in a dark
mantle, stood before a small door deep-set in a massive and gloomy wall,
that stretched along one side of a shunned and deserted street. Without
sign of living hand, the door opened at his knock, and the governor
entered a long and narrow passage that conducted to chambers more
associated with images of awe than any in his own prison. Here he
suddenly encountered the Jesuit, Fray Louis de Aliaga, confessor to the
king.

“How fares the Grand Inquisitor?” asked De la Nuza. “He has just
breathed his last,” answered the Jesuit. “His illness--so sudden--defied
all aid. Sandoval y Roxas is with the saints.”

The governor, who was, as the reader may suppose, one of the sacred
body, crossed himself, and answered.--“With whom will rest the
appointment of the successor? Who will be first to gain the ear of the
king?”

“I know not,” replied the Jesuit; “but I am at this instant summoned to
Uzeda. Pardon my haste.”

So saying, Aliaga glided away.

“With Sandoval y Roxas,” muttered Don Juan, “dies the last protector of
Calderon and Lerma: unless, indeed, the wily marquis can persuade the
king to make Aliaga, his friend, the late cardinal’s successor. But
Aliaga seeks Uzeda--Uzeda his foe and rival. What can this portend?”

Thus soliloquising, the governor silently continued his way till he came
to a door by which stood two men, masked, who saluted him with a mute
inclination of the head. The door opened and again closed, as the
governor entered. Meanwhile, the confessor had gained the palace of
the Duke d’ Uzeda. Uzeda was not alone: with him was a man whose sallow
complexion, ill-favoured features, and simple dress strangely contrasted
the showy person and sumptuous habiliments of the duke. But the instant
this personage opened his lips, the comparison was no longer to his
prejudice. Something in the sparkle of his deep-set eye-in the singular
enchantment of his smile--and above all, in the tone of a very musical
and earnest voice, chained attention at once to his words. And, whatever
those words, there was about the man, and his mode of thought and
expression, the stamp of a mind at once crafty and commanding. This
personage was Gaspar de Guzman, then but a gentleman of the Prince’s
chamber (which post he owed to Calderon, whose creature he was supposed
to be), afterwards so celebrated in the history of Philip IV., as Count
of Olivares and prime minister of Spain.

The conversation between Guzman and Uzeda, just before the Jesuit
entered, was drawing to a close.

“You see,” said Uzeda, “that if we desire to crush Calderon, it is on
the Inquisition that we must depend. Now is the time to elect, in the
successor of Sandoval y Roxas, one pledged to the favourite’s ruin.
The reason I choose Aliaga is this,--Calderon will never suspect his
friendship, and will not, therefore, thwart us with the king. The
Jesuit, who would sell all Christendom for the sake of advancement to
his order or himself will gladly sell Calderon to obtain the chair of
the Inquisition.”

“I believe it,” replied Guzman. “I approve your choice; and you may rely
on me to destroy Calderon with the prince. I have found out the way
to rule Philip; it is by never giving him a right to despise his
favourites--it is to flatter his vanity, but not to share his vices.
Trust me, you alone--if you follow my suggestions--can be minister to
the Fourth Philip.”

Here a page entered to announce Don Fray Louis de Aliaga. Uzeda advanced
to the door, and received the holy man with profound respect.

“Be seated, father, and let me at once to business; for time presses,
and all must be despatched to-night. Before interest is made by
others with the king, we must be prompt in gaining the appointment of
Sandoval’s successor.”

“Report says that the cardinal-duke, your father, himself desires the
vacant chair of the Inquisition.”

“My poor father, he is old--his sun has set. No, Aliaga; I have thought
of one fitter for that high and stern office in a word, that appointment
rests with yourself. I can make you Grand Inquisitor of Spain--!”

“Me!” said the Jesuit, and he turned aside his face. “You jest with me,
noble son.”

“I am serious--hear me. We have been foes and rivals; why should not
our path be the same? Calderon has deprived you of friends more powerful
than himself. His hour is come. The Duke de Lerma’s downfall cannot
be avoided; if it could, I, his son, would not as, you may suppose,
withhold my hand. But business fatigues him--he is old--the affairs of
Spain are in a deplorable condition--they need younger and abler hands.
My father will not repine at a retirement suited to his years, and which
shall be made honourable to his gray hairs. But some victim must glut
the rage of the people; that victim must be the upstart Calderon; the
means of his punishment, the Inquisition. Now, you understand me. On one
condition, you shall be the successor to Sandoval. Know that I do not
promise without the power to fulfill. The instant I learned that the
late cardinal’s death was certain, I repaired to the king. I have the
promise of the appointment; and this night your name shall, if you
accept the condition, and Calderon does not, in the interim, see the
king and prevent the nomination, receive the royal sanction.”

“Our excellent Aliaga cannot hesitate,” said Don Gaspar de Guzman. “The
order of Loyola rests upon shoulders that can well support the load.”

Before that trio separated, the compact was completed. Aliaga practised
against his friend the lesson he had preached to him--that the end
sanctifies all means. Scarce had Aliaga departed ere Juan de la Nuza
entered; for Uzeda, who sought to make the Inquisition his chief
instrument of power, courted the friendship of all its officers. He
readily promised to obtain the release of Fonseca; and, in effect, it
was but little after midnight when an order arrived at the prison for
the release of Don Martin de Fonseca, accompanied by a note from the
duke to the prisoner, full of affectionate professions, and requesting
to see him the next morning.

Late as the hour was, and in spite of the expostulations of the
governor, who wished him to remain the night within the prison, in the
hope to extract from him his secret, Fonseca no sooner received the
order than he claimed and obtained his liberation.



CHAPTER X. WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.

With emotions of joy and triumph, such as had never yet agitated his
reckless and abandoned youth, the Infant of Spain bent his way towards
the lonely house on the road to Fuencarral. He descended from his
carriage when about a hundred yards from the abode, and proceeded on
foot to the appointed place.

The Jew opened the door to the prince with a hideous grin on his hollow
cheek; and Philip hastened up the stairs, and entering the chamber we
have before described, beheld, to his inconceivable consternation and
dismay, the form of Beatriz clasped in the arms of Calderon, her head
leaning on his bosom; while his voice half choked with passionate sobs
called upon her in the most endearing terms.

For a moment the prince stood, spell-bound and speechless, at the
threshold; then, striking the hilt of his sword fiercely, he exclaimed,
“Traitor! is it thus that thou hast kept thy promise? Dost thou not
tremble at my vengeance?”

“Peace! peace!” said Calderon, in an imperious, but sepulchral tone, and
waving one hand with a gesture of impatience and rebuke, while with the
other he removed the long clustering hair that fell over the pale face
of the still insensible novice. “Peace, prince of Spain; thy voice
scares back the struggling life--peace! Look up, image and relic of the
lost--the murdered--the martyr! Hush! do you hear her breathe, or is
she with her mother in that heaven which is closed on me? Live! live! my
daughter--my child--live! For thy life in the World Hereafter will _not_
be mine!”

“What means this?” said the prince, falteringly. “What delusion do thy
wiles practise upon me?”

Calderon made no answer; and at that instant Beatriz sighed heavily, and
her eyes opened.

“My child! my child!--thou art my child! Speak--let me hear thy
voice--again let it call me ‘father!’”

And Calderon dropped on his knees, and, clasping his hands fervently,
looked up imploringly in her face. The novice, now slowly returning to
life and consciousness, strove to speak: her voice failed her, but her
lips smiled arms fell feebly but endearingly upon Calderon, and her
round his neck.

“Bless thee! bless thee!” exclaimed Calderon. “Bless thee in thy sweet
mother’s name!”

While he spoke, the eyes of Beatriz caught the form of Philip, who stood
by, leaning on his sword; his face working with various passions, and
his lip curling with stern and intense disdain. Accustomed to know human
life but in its worst shapes, and Calderon only by his vices and his
arts, the voice of nature uttered no language intelligible to the
prince. He regarded the whole as some well got-up device--some trick of
the stage; and waited, with impatience and scorn, the denouement of the
imposture.

At the sight of that mocking face, Beatriz shuddered, and fell back; but
her very alarm revived her, and, starting to her feet, she exclaimed,
“Save me from that bad man--save me! My father, I am safe with thee!”

“Safe!” echoed Calderon;--“ay, safe against the world. But not,” he
added, looking round, and in a low and muttered tone, “not in this
foul abode; its very air pollutes thee. Let us hence: come--come--my
daughter!” and winding his arm round her waist, he hurried her towards
the door.

“Back, traitor!” cried Philip, placing himself full in the path of the
distracted and half delirious father, “Back! thinkest thou that I, thy
master and thy prince, am to be thus duped and thus insulted? Not for
thine own pleasures hast thou snatched her whom I have honoured with
my love from the sanctuary of the Church. Go, if thou wilt; but Beatriz
remains. This roof is sacred to my will. Back! or thy next step is on
the point of my sword.”

“Menace not, speak not, Philip--I am desperate. I am beside myself--I
cannot parley with thee. Away! by thy hopes of Heaven away! I am no
longer thy minion--thy tool. I am a father, and the protector of my
child.”

“Brave device--notable tale!” cried Philip, scornfully, and placing his
back against the door. “The little actress plays her part well, it must
be owned,--it is her trade; but thou art a bungler, my gentle Calderon.”

For a moment the courtier stood, not irresolute, but overcome with
the passions that shook to their centre a nature, the stormy and stern
elements of which the habit of years had rather mastered than quelled.
At last, with a fierce cry, he suddenly grasped the prince by the collar
of his vest; and, ere Philip could avail himself of his weapon, swung
him aside with such violence that he lost his balance and (his foot
slipping on the polished floor) fell to the ground. Calderon then opened
the door, lifted Beatriz in both his arms, and fled precipitately down
the stairs. He could no longer trust to chance and delay against the
dangers of that abode.



CHAPTER XI. HOWSOEVER THE RIVERS WIND, THE OCEAN RECEIVES THEM ALL.

Meanwhile Fonseca had reached the convent; had found the porter gone;
and, with a mind convulsed with apprehension and doubt, had flown on the
wings of love and fear to the house indicated by Calderon. The grim and
solitary mansion came just in sight--the moon streaming sadly over
its gray and antique walls--when he heard his name pronounced; and the
convent porter emerged from the shadow of a wall beside which he had
ensconced himself.

“Don Martin! it is thou indeed; blessed be the saints! I began to
fear--nay, I fear now, that we were deceived.”

“Speak, man, but stop me not! Speak! what horrors hast thou to utter?”

“I knew the cavalier whom thou didst send in thy place! Who knows not
Roderigo Calderon? I trembled when I saw him lift the novice into the
carriage; but I thought I should, as agreed, be companion in the flight.
Not so. Don Roderigo briefly told me to hide where I could this night;
and that to-morrow he would arrange preparations for my flight from
Madrid. My mind misgave me, for Calderon’s name is blackened by many
curses. I resolved to follow the carriage. I did so; but my breath and
speed nearly failed, when, fortunately, the carriage was stopped and
entangled by a crowd in the street. No lackeys were behind; I mounted
the footboard unobserved, and descended and hid myself when the carriage
stopped. I knew not the house, but I knew the neighbourhood, a brother
of mine lives at hand. I sought my relative for a night’s shelter. I
learned that dark stories had given to that house an evil name. It was
one of those which the Prince of Spain had consecrated to the pursuits
that had dishonoured so many families in Madrid. I resolved again to
go forth and watch. Scarce had I reached this very spot when I saw a
carriage approach rapidly. I secreted myself behind a buttress, and saw
the carriage halt; and a man descended, and walked to the house. See
there--there, by yon crossing, the carriage still waits. The man was
wrapped in a mantle. I know not whom he may be; but--”

“Heavens!” cried Fonseca, as they were now close before the door of
the house at which Calderon’s carriage still stood; “I hear a noise, a
shriek, within.”

Scarce had he spoken when the door opened. Voices were heard in loud
altercation; presently the form of the Jew was thrown on the pavement,
and dashing aside another man, who seemed striving to detain him,
Calderon appeared,--his drawn sword in his right hand, his left arm
clasped round Beatriz.

Fonseca darted forward.

“My lover! my betrothed!” exclaimed the voice of the novice: “thou are
come to save us--to save thy Beatriz!”

“Yes; and to chastise the betrayer!” exclaimed Fonseca, in a voice of
thunder. “Leave thy victim, villain! Defend thyself!”

He made a desperate lunge at Calderon while he spoke. The marquis feebly
parried the stroke.

“Hold!” he cried. “Not on me!”

“No--no!” exclaimed Beatriz, throwing herself on her father’s breast.
The words came too late. Blinded and deafened with rage, Fonseca had
again, with more sure and deadly aim, directed his weapon against his
supposed foe. The blade struck home, but not to the heart of Calderon.
It was Beatriz, bathed in her blood, who fell at the feet of her
frenzied lover.

“Daughter and mother both!” muttered Calderon; and he fell as if the
steel had pierced his own heart, beside his child. “Wretch! what hast
thou done?” muttered a voice strange to the ear of Fonseca; a voice half
stifled with Horror and, perhaps, remorse. The Prince of Spain stood on
the spot, and his feet were dabbled in the blood of the virgin martyr.
The moonlight alone lighted that spectacle of crime and death; and the
faces of all seemed ghastly beneath its beams. Beatriz turned her eyes
upon her lover, with an expression of celestial compassion and divine
forgiveness; then sinking upon Calderon’s breast, she muttered, “Pardon
him! pardon him, father! I shall tell my mother that thou hast blessed
me!”

It was not for several days after that night of terror that Calderon was
heard of at the court. His absence was unaccountable; for, though the
flight of the novice was of course known, her fate was not suspected;
and her rank had been too insignificant to create much interest in her
escape or much vigilance in pursuit. But of that absence the courtier’s
enemies well availed themselves. The plans of the cabal were ripe; and
the aid of the Inquisition by the appointment of Aliaga was added to the
machinations of Uzeda’s partisans. The king was deeply incensed at
the mysterious absence of Calderon, for which a thousand ingenious
conjectures were invented. The Duke of Lerma, infirm and enfeebled by
years, was unable to confront his foes. With imbecile despair he called
on the name of Calderon; and, when no trace of that powerful ally could
be discovered, he forbore even to seek an interview with the king.
Suddenly the storm broke. One evening Lerma received the royal order to
surrender his posts, and to quit the court by daybreak. It was in this
very hour that the door of Lerma’s chamber opened, and Roderigo Calderon
stood before him. But how changed--how blasted from his former self! His
eyes were sunk deep in their sockets, and their fire was quenched; his
cheeks were hollow, his frame bent, and when he spoke his voice was as
that of one calling from the tomb.

“Behold me, Duke de Lerma, I am returned at last!”

“Returned--blessings on thee! Where hast thou been? Why didst thou
desert me?--no matter, thou art returned! Fly to the king--tell him I am
not old! I do not want repose. Defeat the villany of my unnatural son!
They would banish me, Calderon; banish me in the very prime of my years!
My son says I am old--old! ha! ha! Fly to the prince; he too has immured
himself in his apartment. He would not see me; he will see thee!”

“Ay--the prince! we have cause to love each other!”

“Ye have indeed! Hasten, Calderon; not a moment is to be lost! Banished!
Calderon, shall I be banished?” And the old man, bursting into tears,
fell at the feet of Calderon, and clasped his knees.

“Go, go, I implore thee! Save me; I loved thee, Calderon, I always loved
thee. Shall our foes triumph? Shall the horn of the wicked be exalted?”

For a moment (so great is the mechanical power of habit) there returned
to Calderon something of his wonted energy and spirit; a light broke
from his sunken eyes; he drew himself up to the full of his stately
height: “I thought I had done with courts and with life,” said he; “but
I will make one more effort; I will not forsake you in your hour of
need. Yes, Uzeda shall be baffled; I will seek the king. Fear not, my
lord, fear not; the charm of my power is not yet broken.”

So saying, Calderon raised the cardinal from the ground, and extricating
himself from the old man’s grasp strode, with his customary air of
majestic self-reliance, to the door. Just ere he reached it, three low,
but regular knocks sounded on the panel: the door opened, and the
space without was filled with the dark forms of the officers of the
Inquisition.

“Stand!” said a deep voice; “stand, Roderigo Calderon, Marquis de Siete
Iglesias; in the name of the most Holy Inquisition, we arrest thee!”

“Aliaga!” muttered Calderon, falling back.

“Peace!” interrupted the Jesuit. “Officers, remove your prisoner.”

“Poor old man,” said Calderon, turning towards the cardinal, who stood
spell-bound and speechless, “thy life at least is safe. For me, I defy
fate! Lead on!”

The Prince of Spain soon recovered from the shock which the death of
Beatriz at first occasioned him. New pleasures chased away even remorse.
He appeared again in public a few days after the arrest of Calderon; and
he made strong intercession on behalf of his former favourite. But even
had the Inquisition desired to relax its grasp, or Uzeda to forego his
vengeance, so great was the exultation of the people at the fall of the
dreaded and obnoxious secretary, and so numerous the charges which party
malignity added to those which truth could lay at his door, that it
would have required a far bolder monarch than Philip the Third to have
braved the voice of a whole nation for the sake of a disgraced minister.
The prince himself was soon induced, by new favourites, to consider any
further interference on his part equally impolitic and vain; and the
Duke d’Uzeda and Don Gaspar de Guzman were minions quite as supple,
while they were companions infinitely more respectable.

One day, an officer, attending the levee of the prince, with whom he was
a special favourite, presented a memorial requesting the interest of
his highness for an appointment in the royal armies, that, he had just
learned by an express was vacant.

“And whose death comes so opportunely for thy rise, Don Alvar?” asked
the Infant.

“Don Martin Fonseca. He fell in the late skirmish, pierced by a hundred
wounds.”

The prince started and turned hastily away. The officer lost all favour
from that hour, and never learned his offence.

Meanwhile months passed, and Calderon still languished in his dungeon.
At last the Inquisition opened against him its dark register of
accusations. First of these charges was that of sorcery, practised
on the king; the rest were for the most part equally grotesque and
extravagant. These accusations Calderon met with a dignity which
confounded his foes, and belied the popular belief in the elements of
his character. Submitted to the rack, he bore its tortures without a
groan; and all historians have accorded concurrent testimony to the
patience and heroism which characterised the close of his wild and
meteoric career. At length Philip the Third died: the Infant ascended
the throne; that prince, for whom the ambitious courtier had perilled
alike life and soul! The people now believed that they should be
defrauded of their victim. They were mistaken. The new king, by this
time, had forgotten even the existence of the favourite of the prince.
But Guzman, who, while affecting to minister to the interests of Uzeda,
was secretly aiming at the monopoly of the royal favour, felt himself
insecure while Calderon yet lived. The operations of the Inquisition
were too slow for the impatience of his fears; and as that dread
tribunal affected never to inflict death until the accused had confessed
his guilt, the firmness of Calderon baffled the vengeance of the
ecclesiastical law. New inquiries were set on foot: a corpse was
discovered, buried in Calderon’s garden--the corpse of a female. He
was accused of the murder. Upon that charge he was transferred from
the Inquisition to the regular courts of justice. No evidence could
be produced against him; but, to the astonishment of all, he made no
defence, and his silence was held the witness of his crime. He was
adjudged to the scaffold--he smiled when he heard the sentence.

An immense crowd, one bright day in summer, were assembled in the place
of execution. A shout of savage exultation rent the air as Roderigo
Calderon, Marquis de Siete Iglesias, appeared upon the scaffold But,
when the eyes of the multitude rested--not upon that lofty and stately
form, in all the pride of manhood, which they had been accustomed to
associate with their fears of the stern genius and iron power of the
favourite--but upon a bent and spectral figure, that seemed already on
the verge of a natural grave, with a face ploughed deep with traces
of unutterable woe, and hollow eyes that looked with dim and scarce
conscious light over the human sea that murmured and swayed below, the
tide of the popular emotion changed; to rage and triumph succeeded shame
and pity. Not a hand was lifted up in accusation--not a voice was raised
in rebuke or joy. Beside Calderon stood the appointed priest, whispering
cheer and consolation.

“Fear not, my son,” said the holy man. “The pang of the body strikes
years of purgatory from thy doom. Think of this, and bless even the
agony of this hour.”

“Yes,” muttered Calderon; “I do bless this hour. Inez, thy daughter has
avenged thy murder! May Heaven accept the sacrifice! and may my eyes,
even athwart the fiery gulf, awaken upon thee!”

With that a serene and contented smile passed over the face on which
the crowd gazed with breathless awe. A minute more, and a groan, a
cry, broke from that countless multitude; and a gory and ghastly head,
severed from its trunk, was raised on high.

Two spectators of that execution were in one of the balconies that
commanded a full view of its terrors.

“So perishes my worst foe!” said Uzeda.

“We must sacrifice all things, friends as foes, in the ruthless march
of the Great Cause,” rejoined the Grand Inquisitor; but he sighed as he
spoke.

“Guzman is now with the king,” said Uzeda, turning into the chamber. “I
expect every instant a summons into the royal presence.”

“I cannot share thy sanguine hopes, my son,” said Aliaga, shaking his
head. “My profession has made me a deep reader of human character.
Gaspar de Guzman will remove every rival from his path.”

While he spoke, there entered a gentleman of the royal chamber. He
presented to the Grand Inquisitor and the expectant duke two letters
signed by the royal hand. They were the mandates of banishment and
disgrace. Not even the ghostly rank of the Grand Inquisitor, not even
the profound manoeuvres of the son of Lerma, availed them against the
vigilance and vigour of the new favourite. Simultaneously, a shout from
the changeable crowd below proclaimed that the king’s choice of his new
minister was published and approved.

And Aliaga and Uzeda exchanged glances that bespoke all the passions
that make defeated ambition the worst fiend, as they heard the mighty
cry, “LONG LIVE OLIVAREZ THE REFORMER!”

That cry came, faint and muffled, to the ears of Philip the Fourth, as
he sate in his palace with his new minister. “Whence that shout?” said
the king, hastily.

“It rises, doubtless, from the honest hearts of your loyal people at the
execution of Calderon.”

Philip shaded his face with his hand, and mused a moment: then, turning
to Olivarez with a sarcastic smile, he said: “Behold the moral of the
life of a courtier, count! What do they say of the new opera?”

At the close of his life, in disgrace and banishment, the count-duke,
for the first time since they had been uttered, called to his
recollection those words of his royal master.

‘The fate of Calderon has given rise to many tales and legends. Amongst
those who have best availed themselves of so fruitful a subject may be
ranked the late versatile and ingenious Telesforo de Trueba, in his work
on “The Romances of Spain.” In a few of the incidents, and in some
of the names, his sketch, called “The Fortunes of Calderon,” has a
resemblance to the story just concluded. The plot, characters,
and principal events, are, however, widely distinct in our several
adaptations of an ambiguous and unsatisfactory portion of Spanish
history.





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