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Title: With the British Legion - A Story of the Carlist Wars
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred)
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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                       *WITH THE BRITISH LEGION*

                      A STORY OF THE CARLIST WARS


                              G. A. HENTY

      Author of "With Roberts to Pretoria" "Held Fast for England"
                        "Under Drake’s Flag" &c.


              BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
                           GLASGOW AND DUBLIN


The story of the doings of the British Legion under Sir de Lacy Evans in
Spain is but little known.  The expedition was a failure, and that from
no want of heroic courage on the part of the soldiers, but from the most
scandalous neglect and ill-treatment by the Government of Queen
Christina.  So gross was this neglect that within six months of their
arrival in the Peninsula nearly five thousand, that is to say half the
Legion, had either died from want, privation, or fever in the hospitals
of Vittoria, or were invalided home.  The remainder, although ill-fed,
ill-clothed, and with their pay nine months in arrear, showed themselves
worthy of the best traditions of the British army, and it was only at
the end of their two years’ engagement that, finding all attempts to
obtain fair treatment from the Government unavailing, they took their
discharge and returned home.

The history of their doings as described in the following story is
largely founded on a pamphlet by Alex. Somerville, a man of genius who
enlisted in the Legion; and the events subsequent to its disbandment are
taken from the work of Major Duncan, one of the Commissioners appointed
by the British Government to endeavour to see that the conditions of a
convention entered into by our Government and the leaders of the
contending parties in Spain were duly observed--a convention, however,
that had very small influence in checking the atrocities committed by
both combatants.
















                       *WITH THE BRITISH LEGION*

                              *CHAPTER I*


"Well, sir, I shall be glad to know what you intend to do next?"

There was no answer to the question, which, after a pause, was repeated
in the same cold tone.  "Don’t know, uncle," came at last from the lips
of the boy standing before him.

"Nor do I, Arthur.  This is the fourth school from which I have been
requested to remove you.  When I sent you to Shrewsbury I told you that
it was your last chance, and now here you are back again.  Your case
seems hopeless.  By the terms of your father’s will, which seems to have
been written with a prevision of what you were going to turn out, you
are not to come into your property until you arrive at the age of
twenty-five; though, as his executor, I was authorized to pay from the
incoming rents the cost of your education and clothes, and also a
certain amount for your expenses at the university, and when you took
your degree I was to let you have the sum of one hundred and fifty
pounds per year until you reached the age fixed for your coming into the
bulk of the fortune."

The speaker, Mr. Hallett, was a solicitor in Liverpool with a large
practice, which so occupied him that he was too busy to attend to other
matters.  At bottom he was not an unkindly man, but he had but little
time to give to home or family.  He had regarded it as a nuisance when
his elder brother died and left him sole trustee and guardian of his
son, then a boy of ten years old.  Arthur’s father had been an invalid
for some years before he died, and the boy had been allowed to run
almost wild, and spent the greater part of his time in the open air.
Under the tuition of the grooms he had learned to ride well, and was
often away for hours on his pony; he had a daily swim in the river that
ran through the estate, and was absolutely fearless.  He had had narrow
escapes of being killed, from falling from trees and walls, and had
fought more than one battle with village boys of his own age.

His father, a weak invalid, scarcely attempted to control him in any
way, although well aware that such training was eminently bad for him;
but he knew that his own life was drawing to a close, and he could not
bear the thought of sending him to school, as his brother had more than
once advised him to do.  He did, however, shortly before his death, take
the latter’s advice, and drew up a will which he hoped would benefit the
boy, by rendering it impossible for him to come into the property until
he was of an age to steady down.

"I foresee, Robert," the lawyer said, "that my post as guardian will be
no sinecure, and, busy as I am, I feel that I shall not have much time
to look after him personally; still, for your sake, I will do all that I
can for him.  It is, of course, impossible for me to keep him in my
house.  After the life he has led, it would be equally disagreeable to
him and to my wife, so he must go to a boarding-school."

And so at his brother’s death the solicitor made enquiries, and sent the
boy to school at Chester, where he had heard that the discipline was
good.  Four months later Arthur turned up, having run away, and almost
at the moment of his arrival there came a letter from the principal,
saying that he declined to receive him back again.

"It is not that there is anything radically wrong about him, but his
disobedience to all the rules of the school is beyond bearing.  Flogging
appears to have no effect upon him, and he is altogether incorrigible.
He has high spirits and is perfectly truthful; he is bright and
intelligent.  I had intended to tell you at the end of the half-year
that I should be glad if you would take him away, for although I do not
hesitate to use the cane when necessary, I am not a believer in breaking
a boy’s spirit; and when I find that even severe discipline is
ineffectual, I prefer to let other hands try what they can do. I
consider that his faults are the result of bad training, or rather, so
far as I can see, of no training at all until he came to me."

At his next school the boy stayed two years.  The report was similar to
that from Chester.  The boy was not a bad boy, but he was always getting
into mischief and leading others into it.  Complaints were continually
being made, by farmers and others, of the breaking down of hedges, the
robbing of orchards, and other delinquencies, in all of which deeds he
appeared to be the leader; and as punishment seemed to have no good
effect the head-master requested Mr. Hallett to remove him.

The next experiment lasted eighteen months, and he was then expelled for
leading a "barring-out" as a protest against an unpopular usher.  He had
then been sent to Shrewsbury, from which he had just returned.

"The lad," the head-master wrote, "has a good disposition. He is
intelligent, quick at his books, excellent in all athletic exercises,
honourable and manly; but he is a perpetual source of trouble.  He is
always in mischief; he is continually being met out of bounds; he is
constantly in fights--most of them, I am bound to say, incurred on
behalf of smaller boys.  His last offence is that he got out of his room
last night, broke the window of one of the masters, who had, he
considered, treated him unfairly, and threw a large number of crackers
into his room.  He was detected climbing up to his own window again by
the house master, who, having been awakened by the explosions, had
hastily gone round to the boys’ rooms.  After this I felt that I could
keep him no longer; discipline must be sustained.  At the same time I am
sorry at being compelled to say that he must leave.  He is a favourite
in the school, and has very many good qualities; and his faults are the
faults of exuberant spirits and not of a bad disposition."

"Now, to return to my question," continued Mr. Hallett, "what do you
mean to do?  You are too old to send to another school, even if one
would take you, which no decent institution would do now that you have
been expelled from four schools in succession, winding up with
Shrewsbury. I have spoken to you so often that I shall certainly not
attempt so thankless a task again.  As to your living at my house, it is
out of the question.  I am away the whole day; and your aunt tells me
that at the end of your last holidays you were making your two cousins
tomboys, and that although she liked you very much she really did not
feel equal to having you about the house for six weeks at a time.  You
cannot complain that I have not been frank with you.  I told you, when
you came home from your first school, the provisions of your father’s
will, and how matters stood.  I suppose you have thought, on your way
from Shrewsbury, as to your future?  You were well aware that I was not
the sort of man to go back from what I said.  I warned you solemnly,
when you went to Shrewsbury, that it was the last chance I should give
you, and that if you came back again to this place I should wash my
hands of you, except that I should see the terms of the will strictly
carried out.

"Of course, your father little dreamt of such a situation as has arisen,
or he would have made some provision for it; and I shall therefore
strain a point, and make you an allowance equal to the sum your
schooling has cost.  According to the wording of the will I am certainly
not empowered to do so, but I do not think that even a judge in the
Court of Chancery would raise any objection.  I have ordered your boxes
to be taken to the Falcon Hotel.  You will find there a letter from me
addressed to you, enclosing four five-pound notes.  The same sum will be
sent to you every two months to any address that you may send to me.
You will, I hope, communicate with me each time you receive your
remittance, acquainting me with what you are doing.  I may tell you that
I have determined on this course with some hopes that when you are your
own master you will gain a sufficient sense of responsibility to steady
you.  At the end of two years, if you desire to go to the university you
will receive the allowance there which would be suitable for you.  I
have thought this matter over very carefully and painfully, Arthur.  I
talked it over with your aunt last night.  She is deeply grieved, but
she agrees with me that it is as good a plan as can be devised for you.
You cannot go to school again; we cannot have you at home on our hands
for two years."

"Thank you!" the lad said; "I know I have been a frightful trouble to
you, and I am not surprised that I have worn out your patience."

"I wish you to understand, Arthur, that the course has been made easier
to your aunt and myself, because we are convinced that with all your
boyish folly you can be trusted not to do anything to disgrace your
father’s name, and that these two years of what I may call probation
will teach you to think for yourself; and at its termination you will be
ready to go to the university to prepare yourself for the life of a
country gentleman which lies before you.  If you will let me advise you
at all, I should say that as a beginning you might do worse than put a
knapsack on your back and go for a walking tour of some months through
England, Scotland, and Ireland, after which you might go on to the
Continent for a bit. I don’t like to influence your decision, but I know
that you will never be content to stay quiet, and this would be a way of
working off your superfluous energy.  Now, lad, we will shake hands.  I
am convinced that your experience during the next two years will be of
great value to you, and I ask you to believe that in what we have
decided upon we have had your own good even more than our comfort at

"I will think it over, uncle," the lad said, his face clearing up
somewhat, "and will write to tell you and my aunt what I am going to do.
I suppose you have no objection to my saying good-bye to my aunt and my
cousins before I go?"

"No objection at all.  You have done nothing dishonourable; you have let
your spirits carry you away, and have shown a lamentable contempt for
discipline.  These are fault that will cure themselves in time.  Come,
by all means, to see your aunt before you go."

Arthur Hallett left his uncle’s office in somewhat low spirits.  He was
conscious that his uncle’s indignation was natural, and that he
thoroughly deserved it.  He had had a jolly time, and he was sorry that
it was over; but he was ashamed of the trouble he had given his uncle
and aunt, and quite expected that they would not again receive him.  His
only fear had been that his uncle would at once place him with some
clergyman who made a speciality of coaching troublesome boys; and he had
determined that after the liberty and pleasant life at Shrewsbury he
could never put up with that.  But upon the way by coach to Liverpool he
had read a placard which had decided him.  It ran as follows:--

"Smart young men required for the British Legion now being formed.  A
bounty of two pounds and free kit will be given to each applicant
accepted.  For all particulars apply at the Recruiting Office, 34 the
Quay, Liverpool."

"That is just the thing for me," he said to himself.  "Till I saw that,
I had intended to enlist; but there is no chance of a war, and I expect
I should get into all sorts of mischief in no time.  This legion, I
know, is going out to fight in Spain. I read all about it some time ago.
There will be excitement there, and I dare say hard work, and possibly
short rations. However, that will make no odds to me.  It will be
something quite new, I should think, and just the life to suit me.  At
any rate I will walk down to the quay and hear what they say about it."

Going to the hotel to which his luggage had been sent, he ordered a meal
at once, and then, having eaten it, for he was hungry after his long
journey, he strolled down to the wharf. He was shown into a room where
the recruiting officer was sitting.

"I am thinking of enlisting, sir."

The officer looked at him sharply.  "Have you thought what you are
doing?" he said.


"You are not the style of recruit that comes to us.  I suppose you have
run away from school?"

"I have been sent away," Arthur said, "because I shoved some fireworks
into one of the masters’ rooms.  It happened once or twice before, and
my friends are tired of me.  I have always been getting into rows, and
they will be glad to be rid of me."

"You look more cut out for an officer than a private.  How old are you?"

"I am past sixteen."

"It’s young, but we are not particular as to age if a fellow is strong
and active.  The pay is rather better than the line here."

"It is not the pay, but the life that I want to see," the lad said.  "My
guardian has washed his hands of me for the present.  I have neither
father nor mother.  I have never had a day’s illness, and I fancy that I
am as strong as the majority of your recruits will be.  I shall come
into some money when I am of age; and I don’t know any way of passing
the time till then that will suit me better than enlisting when there is
some chance of fighting."

"There will be every chance of that," the officer said grimly. "We have
got nearly our number on board a hulk anchored in the river, and shall
sail in two days.  I myself go out in command of the party.  You give me
your word of honour that you have neither father nor mother who would
raise objections?"

"Yes, sir.  I lost my mother when I was two years old, and my father
when I was ten."

"Well, lad, I don’t see any reason why I should not take you.  We have a
miscellaneous body: a few old soldiers, some broken-down tradesmen, a
few clerks, a dozen or so runaway apprentices, a couple of dozen young
agricultural labourers, and a few young men who have come to grief in
some sort of way.  They are a rough lot, but they will soon be licked
into shape.  Our colonel started three days ago from Leith, and we shall
join the rest of the regiment somewhere on the Spanish coast.  Even I do
not know where it will be until I open my letter of instructions.  I may
tell you that if you behave well there is every chance that you will get
a commission in a couple of years.  However, I will not swear you in
now.  I will give you the night to think over it."

"Very well, sir; but I don’t think that I am likely to change my mind."

Leaving the recruiting officer, Arthur spent the afternoon in strolling
about the docks and watching the shipping, always a favourite amusement
of his during the holidays.  He had done a good deal of rowing at
Shrewsbury when there was water enough in the river, and had learnt to
sail in the holidays; and until he saw the advertisement for men for the
British Legion he had hesitated whether to enlist or to ship before the
mast.  On his way back to the hotel he bought a pamphlet explaining the
causes of the war in Spain, and, sitting down in a corner of the
coffee-room, he read this attentively.  It told him but little more than
he already knew, for the war going on in Spain excited considerable
attention and interest.

The little girl Isabella had been recently left fatherless, and was but
a cipher.  The affairs of state were in the capable hands of the regent,
her mother Christina.  Don Carlos had on his side the northern provinces
of Spain, especially the Basques.  These provinces always enjoyed
peculiar privileges, and Don Carlos had secured their allegiance by
swearing to uphold these rights.  He had the support also of a large
body of the clergy.  The provinces of Aragon and Valencia were pretty
equally divided, and fighting between the two factions was constantly
going on.  Madrid and the centre of Spain was for Isabella.  The royal
forces were superior in number to those of the Carlists, but the
inequality was corrected by the fact that the Carlist generals were
superior to those of the crown.  The Basques were sturdy fighters and
active men, capable of long marches, carrying no baggage with them, and
effecting many surprises when they were believed to be a hundred miles
away.  In England and France the Carlists had many sympathizers, but the
bulk of the people in both countries were in favour of the little queen;
and although the British government took no open part in the struggle,
they had permitted the legion, ten thousand strong, under Colonel de
Lacy Evans, to be raised openly and without hindrance for the service of
the Spanish sovereign.

Arthur Hallett went to bed and dreamed many improbable dreams, in which
he greatly distinguished himself; and in the morning went down to the
recruiting office and signed away his liberty for two years.

"Do you want any part of your bounty now?" the officer asked.

"No, sir; I suppose we shall get it before landing?"


"Do we go in the clothes we stand in?"

"Yes; the uniforms and arms will be supplied to you on landing."

"Must I go on board the hulk now?"

"No; the recruits in general go off as soon as they are sworn in, but as
you have not asked for any part of the bounty there is no occasion for
you to do so."

"Very well, sir; I will not come on board till to-morrow evening.  I
have got to get rid of my clothes and portmanteaux."

That afternoon he went up to his aunt’s.  He told them that he was going
to leave Liverpool; his plans were not settled yet, but he was certainly
going to travel.  His aunt and cousins were both greatly affected at his

"My dear aunt," he said, "I have nobody to blame but myself, and I have
to thank both you and uncle for the manner in which you have borne with
me; and I believe and hope that when I come back I shall have sobered
down. Uncle said that I might come up and say good-bye to you before I
started, and in a few days you shall hear from me. I shall not burden
myself with much luggage: just a couple of flannel shirts, a couple of
pairs of vests and drawers, stockings, and a spare pair of boots.  That
won’t make a very heavy kit. My other things I shall sell; they will be
of no good to me. And I shall get a rough shooting-coat instead of this
jacket, for which I am already growing too big.  It is all very well at
school, but a shooting-coat with pockets is much handier for walking

His cousins, who were girls of thirteen and fourteen, both cried
bitterly when he said good-bye to them, and his aunt was also in tears.

"If you are ever short of money," she said, "write to me; I will manage
to let you have some."

"I don’t think I shall be short, aunt.  I shall be able to live very
comfortably on my allowance; if I don’t, it will be my own fault.  I
have been on walking tours before, you know, and I am sure I can do on
the money."

He went off after staying for an hour.

"That is all done," he said, as he walked down the town. "If the war
goes on for seven or eight years I shall be of age when I come back,
shall have my thousand a year, and shall have sown my wild oats;" and he
laughed.  "I have certainly made a mess of it so far.  Unless the
Spaniards have changed from what they were twenty years ago, their
promises are not worth the paper they are written upon, and I expect
that we shall often go hungry to bed.  Well, I think I can stand it if
anyone can."

The next morning he called on a second-hand clothing dealer, who
examined his clothes.  Arthur was obliged to allow that most of these
had seen rough work.  However, after great bargaining he got three
pounds, a rough shooting-coat, and a good supply of shirts and
underclothes for the lot, including the portmanteau.  He kept his stock
of books, and, packing them up in a box, directed them to be sent four
days later, if he did not come for them, to his uncle’s house.  He had
already bought the knapsack, and found that he could get all his
remaining belongings into this.  At five o’clock he went down to the
quay and was taken out in a boat, with some twelve other recruits, to
the hulk.  As he reached the deck he regretted for a moment the step he
had taken.  A crowd of recruits is not at the best of times a cheering
spectacle.  Here was a miscellaneous crowd of men--many of them drunk,
some lying about sleeping off the effects of the liquor, which had been
the first purchase they had made out of their bounty money.

Others were standing looking vacantly towards the land. Some were
walking up and down restlessly, regretting, now that it was too late,
that they had enlisted.  Others were sleeping quietly, well content that
their struggle to maintain life had for the present ended.  A few men,
evidently, from their carriage, old campaigners, were gathered together
comparing their experiences, and passing unfavourable comment upon the
rest, while forward were a group of country yokels, to whom everything
was strange.  Here and there men with dejected faces--failures in trade,
men for whom fortune had been too strong--paced up and down.  A few
young fellows had escaped the general contagion, and were laughing
uproariously and playing boyish tricks upon each other.  These thought
more of their freedom from their taskmasters, and pictured for
themselves their fury on finding that they had escaped from their grasp.
A few, for the most part old soldiers, walked up and down with a
military step and carriage.  These were glad to be in the ranks
again--glad to feel that they would soon be in uniform again.  It was
the sight of these men that reanimated Arthur.  These men were soldiers;
they knew war and rejoiced at it, and he pictured that in a short time
this motley group--these drunken specimens, these careworn men--would be
turned into soldiers, their past misfortunes forgotten, with carriage
active and alert, ready to face their enemies.

"They are a rougher lot than I expected," he said to himself; "but many
of them must, like myself, have come to this through their own folly.  I
looked for a rough time of it, but scarcely so bad as this."

One of the soldiers, struck by his appearance, stopped in his walk to
speak to him.  "Well, young fellow," he said, "you look to me one of the
right sort.  Got into a scrape, and run away from home, eh?  Well, your
sort often make the best soldiers.  What shall you do with your kit?
Well, whatever you do with it, don’t let it out of your sight for the
present. If I am not mistaken, there is more than one jail-bird here.
You will be safe enough when we once get under way; but eight or ten
have already jumped overboard and got away, and you can’t count on
keeping anything till we are clear out at sea.  Look at those boats
round the hulk.  Half of them have got friends on board, and are waiting
for the chance of getting them away in spite of the sentries.  There are
twenty or thirty of us, all old hands, who will probably be non-coms.
when we are landed.

"At present we are told off on guard, and there are four of us always on
sentry duty.  I guess you won’t be long before you get stripes too.  You
have only to keep yourself steady to get on.  We have got half a dozen
officers on board--at least they are called officers, though they know
no more of soldiering than those drunken pigs in the scuppers.  That is
where our difficulty will be.  We call them the politicals. They are
most of them men Colonel Evans has appointed for services rendered to
him at Westminster.  Some of them look as if they would turn out well;
but others are sick of it already, though they have only been two or
three days on board, and are heartily wishing themselves back in their
homes. However, one can’t tell at first.  They may turn out better than
we expect.  What is your name?  Mine is James Topping."

"Mine is Arthur Hallett.  I am much obliged to you for coming to speak
to me, for I was beginning to get rather down in the mouth."

"You mean at the look of the recruits, I suppose?  They are a fair
average set, I think; only one doesn’t generally get so many together.
By the time we have been in Spain for a fortnight, they will have a
different look altogether.  I wish we had a few more country chaps among
them.  But there are not twenty here with full stomachs, except those
who are drunk with beer.  They have the making of good soldiers in them,
but just at present they are almost all down in the dumps."

"How much longer are we going to stay here?"

"I believe we tranship to-morrow into the vessel that is to carry us,
and sail next day.  I shall be precious glad when we are off.  Now, come
along with me and I will name you to a few of the right sort.  Bring
your kit along with you.  It won’t be safe to leave it about."

He went up to a party of four men of his own stamp. "Mates," he said,
"here is a young fellow of the right sort.  I wish we had a few more
dozen like him."

"Ay, ay!" another one said, looking approvingly at the active figure and
the pleasant face of the young recruit.  "He will make a good soldier,
there is no doubt; one can see that with half an eye.  He is well filled
out, too, for a young one. You ought to be in the cabin aft, not here.
And you will be there before long, unless I am mistaken.  Don’t you
think so, mates?"

There was a chorus of assent.

"I did not join with any idea of getting promotion," Arthur said with a
laugh.  "I have come out for the fun of the thing, and I mean to make
the best of it.  I expected it would be rough work, and I made up my
mind to stick to it."

"I reckon it will be," one of the men, who was older than the rest,
said.  "I joined as a youngster just before Vittoria, and if I had my
choice I would rather campaign in any other country.  The Spaniards are
brutes, and there was not one of us that would not have pitched into
them rather than into the French.  However, I served my full time and
got my pension; but when I saw that there was a chance of service again
and no questions asked as to age, I was only too glad to put my name
down for it, and was promised my old berth as sergeant-major."

"I should have enlisted for the cavalry," Arthur said, "but they seem
taking recruits only for the infantry."

"I don’t suppose they would be able to find horses for cavalry.  Well, I
don’t know which has the best of it.  It is easier to ride than to
march, but you have heavier work, what with patrols and night guard.  I
hear that there are shiploads of men going from Leith and Dublin and the
Thames, so I dare say there will be enough of your sort to make up a
squadron if they decide to form a cavalry corps."  He drew out a
pocket-book.  "I will put you into the 25th mess, in which there is one
vacancy.  Your mates are a decent set of young fellows.  I picked out
those that I thought would get on well together.

"Are you salted yet?"

"Salted?" Arthur repeated.

"Yes; accustomed to the sea."

"No, but I have done a good deal of sailing, sometimes in rough weather,
and I don’t think I shall feel sea-sick."

"Your mess is the last on the right-hand side aft.  Supper will be
served in a few minutes, so you can take your kit down there.  I don’t
think anyone will be likely to touch it there--in the first place,
because it is rather a dark corner, and in the second place, because we
have got sentries posted at each hatchway, and no one is allowed to
bring anything up on deck; so I think you will be safe in leaving
anything there.

"Thank you, sergeant!  I will go down at once, and put my kit there and
look round."

"I will bet that he has run away from home," the sergeant said, as
Arthur disappeared down the gangway.  "I wish we had got a few more of
that sort.  I will put a tick against his name. He is young--not above
seventeen, I should say--but he has the makings of an officer about him.
There is one cavalry officer aft.  If I get a chance, I will say a good
word for him. He is just the lad for the cavalry, not too much weight,
active and cheery.  He seems to have all his wits about him, which is
more than I can say for most of the officers, as far as I have seen of
them.  Still, they will lick into shape presently, though I foresee that
the officers will be our weak point.  They may be the right stuff, but
they don’t know their duty at all. There is a captain among them who
doesn’t know his drill, and one doesn’t expect that in a captain.  It is
the same with many of the others; they are nearly all raw.  However, I
hope that the majors know their duty, and will be able to get them into
shape soon.  It was the same with the great war.  Whole regiments were
ordered on service who were fresh to it, but they soon learned to take
their place with the best of them.  It is astonishing how quickly men
pick up their work when there is an enemy in front of them."

Arthur groped his way below.  It was already growing dusk, and only two
or three ports were open.  Picking his way along, to avoid tripping over
men lying hopelessly drunk on the floor, he reached the spot that the
sergeant had indicated to him, and placed his kit in the corner.  In a
few minutes the men began to pour down, some of them descending to the
deck below.  Lamps were lighted and hung up to the beams, and under the
orders of the old soldiers they took their places at the tables.

Arthur was not hungry, as he had had a good meal before coming off, but
sat down and looked round at the five men who were to be his associates
during the voyage.  Two of them he put down as clerks.  One of these was
a pleasant-faced young fellow who had evidently just thrown up his
situation to take to a life of adventure; the other was thin and pale,
and he guessed him to be a man who had for some reason or other lost his
employment and had enlisted as a last resource; the other three were
respectable men of the small trader class.

The meal, which was the first that had been served since mid-day,
consisted of a bowl of soup each and a large hunch of bread.  After the
first spoonful or two they began to talk.

"Well," the young man facing Arthur said, "this is not so bad as being
quite starved, for I came on board just after dinner was served.  I
suppose we are going to be together for the voyage.  My name is Roper,
Jack Roper.  I hated the desk, and so here I am."

"I got into a row at school and am going to see a bit of the world,"
Arthur said.  "My name is Arthur Hallett."

"I had a little business, but it was so little that I could not live on
it, so I thought that I would try soldiering.  My name is John Perkins."

"I left, gentlemen," another man said, "because I was married.  I come
from Manchester.  By nature I am a peaceable man, and like quiet.  I
could not get either peace or quiet at home, and I don’t suppose that I
shall get either here.  Still, I would rather put up with anything that
can come than with my life at home.  My name is John Humphrey."

"I preferred the risk of being shot to the certainty of being starved,"
the other clerk said.  "This basin of pea-soup is the first food I have
tasted for two days.  My name is William Hopkins."

"I," said the last man, "am a tragedian.  Tragedy did not suffice to
keep me alive; the country did not appreciate me, and I came to the
conclusion that I would be an actor in this tragedy in Spain.  My name
is Peter Mowser."

"I hope it is not going to be a tragedy as far as any of us are
concerned," Jack Roper laughed.  "I don’t expect that we shall have a
great deal of fighting to do."

"I don’t know," Arthur said.  "The Spaniards did not fight well in the
Peninsula, but I think they will do better against each other.  I rather
hope they will, for we shall find it very dull if they don’t.  I shall
be really obliged if you will take my soup," he went on, speaking to the
half-starved clerk. "I had dinner before I came on board, so I can’t
touch this. As you came on board without dining, you must want it.

"I do want it," the other said, gratefully accepting the offer.  "They
did not pay me my bounty till I came on board, and I was really faint
from hunger, and it seemed hard to be starving and to have money in my
pocket without a chance of buying anything to eat."

When they had all finished, one of the old soldiers came round.  "One of
you by turns will take the plates and spoons of the rest and wash them."

"I will begin," Jack Roper said.

"Well then, you are Number One;" and he numbered them off as they sat.
"You will change after dinner to-morrow. It will be your duty to fetch
the rations from the cook-house and to wash up.  Anyone who is badly
sea-sick can defer his turn;" and he passed on to the next table.

The iron legs supporting the table were folded up under it, and the
table itself shut against the side of the ship.  They learned that no
one would be allowed to go up, so, sitting in a group, they talked over
the life before them.  Arthur was glad to find that Roper would also
enlist in the cavalry if a regiment were formed, he having been brought
up in the country.

"I was a fool," he said, "ever to leave it.  My father was a farmer, and
gave me a fair education.  I had two elder brothers, and they both
remained on the farm, while I was sent to a desk in Liverpool.  I stood
it for two years, and even if I leave my bones in Spain I shall not
regret the change.  I should have enlisted long ago in the army, but
things are everywhere quiet now, and I did not see that life in barracks
would be much more lively than a stool in an office."

While they chatted in this way a great noise was going on on both decks.
In spite of the efforts of the old soldiers to keep order, some of the
men shouted and sang.  Others, who were just recovering from
drunkenness, sat with their hands to their heads.  Quiet men shrank away
into corners. Some parties of jovial fellows produced packs of cards,
and, sitting down under a lantern, sat down to play.

At nine o’clock the lights were extinguished, and the men, wrapping
themselves in blankets that had been served round, lay down, and in half
an hour quiet reigned.

                              *CHAPTER II*

                               *IN SPAIN*

At six o’clock all hands were called on deck and ordered to have a wash.
For this, buckets were utilized.  A few stripped only to the waist, but
many, among whom were Arthur and Roper, undressed and poured water over
each other, feeling the need of it after the night in the close and
crowded cabin.  With the fresh morning all were inclined to take a more
cheerful view of things, and at eight o’clock enjoyed breakfast.  Then
they went up on deck again, and those who smoked lit their pipes.  As
before, boats came up round the ship, and those which had provisions
were allowed to come alongside, and sell their goods to the men who had
money. Most of those on board had already got rid of their small
advances, but the new-comers had all a few shillings in their pockets,
and freely spent them.

Arthur and his companion each bought two dozen hard-boiled eggs and a
dozen buns.  Others bought spirits for a final carousal.  A few stood
looking mournfully at the shore. A little farther out were boats
containing friends or relatives, and three or four men at different
times jumped suddenly overboard and struck out for them; then half a
dozen of the non-commissioned officers jumped into a boat lying
alongside and gave chase, and there were fierce battles--the weapons
being oars, pieces of coal, and other missiles.  In all cases, however,
they succeeded in bringing the deserters back, and these were at once
ironed and sent below.  The officers remained on the poop smoking and
talking.  They were all in uniform, but most of them did not attempt to
exercise their new functions.  One or two, however, who had served
before, went about among the men, chatting with them, pointing out to
them that they had enlisted of their own free-will, that it was no
manner of use for them to kick against the pricks, and that they would
find things much better when they had shaken down.

One of these came up to Arthur and Roper when they were talking
together.  "So you have put your name down for a cavalry corps if one is
raised," he said to them, as he looked at the list of his men; "and I
can see that you will both make good soldiers in a short time.  Keep
away from spirits, lads, and don’t take much of the native wine, and you
will soon have stripes on your arms.  I shall keep my eye on you both,
and push you forward if you deserve it."  Having then ticked their names
on his list, he went on.

As they finished their dinner the steamer which had been chartered for
their conveyance to Spain came alongside.  The old soldiers formed the
others up in line, and they went on board.  Their scanty belongings were
all stowed away, and the officers then came down and inspected them.
The vessel was larger than the hulk, and they were not packed so closely
as before.  The ports were open and the deck fresh and airy, and even
the most downcast of the force cheered up.

"They are a curious-looking lot," one of the newly-appointed officers
said to the cavalry captain, glancing contemptuously at the motley group
on deck.

"They will look very different when they get their uniforms," the
cavalry man said sharply, "and are a pretty fair sample. As far as I can
see, I have no reason to grumble at my lot. There are eight or ten
countrymen among them, and as many fellows from the town who, have had
experience in handling horses.  One is a particularly smart young
fellow.  He is rather young yet, but, unless I am mistaken, will turn
out a capital soldier.  He is a gentleman, evidently.  I should say that
he had got into some scrape at school or at home, and bolted.  He is the
best-dressed man on board, and, if I am not mistaken, he will not be
long in winning his promotion.  He is well-bred, whoever he is.  I shall
be glad to have him as one of my subalterns.  That is the man chatting
with another against the bulwark.  The other will turn out a good man
too, but he is not of the same stamp.  The sergeant-major spoke to me
about the first this morning when he went through the list with me.  I
should say that he was a public-school boy; you can seldom mistake

Next morning the vessel started at daybreak.  As soon as they were out
of the river some sail was also got on her.

Late the evening before, Arthur had handed a letter to the recruiting
officer as he went on shore, asking him to post it for him in the

"My dear Uncle and Aunt,

"This is written on board the steamer bound with recruits for the
British Legion in Spain.  It seems to me that a couple of years’
soldiering will do me more good than merely strolling about the country
with a knapsack on my back.  I had made up my mind to enlist in this
force as I came up to Liverpool.  It seemed to me by far the best way of
keeping me out of mischief.  I shall see a new country and new life, and
no doubt shall have some rough work to go through.  I thought it as well
not to mention my intention to you, but I hope that you will not
disapprove of it.  They are a miscellaneous lot on board, but a few good
fellows seem to be among them, and I have no doubt that I shall get on
very well.  I don’t know much about the rights and wrongs of this
quarrel in Spain, but I suppose that, as the Legion is supported by the
government, I am on the right side.

"At any rate, the little queen is a child, and there is more
satisfaction in fighting for her than there would be for a king.  We
don’t look like fighting men at present, but I suppose we shall brighten
up presently; and as a first step they have served out to each of us a
slop dress, which gives us a uniform sort of appearance, and we
certainly look more respectable than we did yesterday when I came on
board.  I expect we shall take to fighting presently.  I am making fun
of it, because I suppose it is my nature to do so; but for all that, I
am really very sorry that I have given you so much trouble, and I expect
to be steadier by the time I come back again.  I have enlisted for two
years, but if I like the life I shall keep on at it till I come of
age--that is, if I do not get cut off by a bullet.  I shall send you
letters when I get the chance, but you must not expect them regularly,
for I fancy we shall have very few opportunities for posting them.
Please give my love to the girls, and say I will bring them home some
Spanish mantillas and things when I come back.

"With much love, I remain,
       "Your affectionate Nephew."

The voyage was without incident.  The sea was never really rough, but
the greater portion of the men wore desperately ill.  Arthur, however,
felt perfectly well, and enjoyed the voyage; laughing and chatting with
the old soldiers, helping the sick as well as he could, and relishing
his food--only Roper and himself being able to partake of the meals. On
the fifth day after starting, the steamer came in sight of land.  The
sick men were now beginning to recover, and all came up on deck to look
at it, and cheerfulness succeeded the late depression.  At mid-day they
entered the creek upon which stood the town of Santander, and crowded
boats assembled round the ship as she dropped anchor three miles higher
up at the village of Astellero.  Before the force landed, muskets and
bayonets were served out, together with belts.

The next day drilling began, or rather was supposed to begin; but as the
men had all got their bounty, and some of them the money for which they
had sold their clothes, most of them spent their time in the wine-shops,
and a large proportion of them were helplessly drunk.  Their regular
uniforms had now been served out to them, but it was only this that
showed them to be soldiers.  Arthur and his companion were among those
who for the first few days attended drill.  They were both put in the
same company; and as their captain was an old officer, and did his best
to get his men into order, they very quickly picked up the rough drill,
which was at present all that could be expected; and before they had
been there a fortnight they were both appointed corporals.  By this time
most of the men had spent all their money.  The drill therefore became
well attended, and the motley crowd began to have the appearance of
soldiers.  Two or three other transports had now come in, and the number
in camp had swollen largely.

Insubordination was punished severely by the unstinted use of the cat,
and this caused the men to appreciate the fact that they were no longer
their own masters.  Even the sergeants were able to sentence evil-doers
to four dozen lashes, and as they were always moving about among the
men, these comparatively minor floggings had more influence in sobering
them than the very severe sentences inflicted by the regular
courts-martial.  The colonel, Godfrey, was an excellent officer for the
post.  He could, when necessary, be very severe, but his manner was
mild, and he avoided punishment unless it was absolutely necessary, in
which case he showed no mercy.  He was liked by the men, who generally
spoke of him as "Daddy".

Ten days after landing, a steamer came in to fetch the troops to the
town of Bilbao.  Coming near the mouth of the Bilbao river, it was found
dangerous to enter.  A heavy swell was running, and a large barque was
at the time going to pieces on the sands.  The steamer was therefore
sent back to Castri, twelve miles away.  Here the force was landed and
quartered in a convent, and the next day a company of the 9th Regiment
came down to escort them through the mountains, as ammunition had not
yet been served out, and Carlists were known to be in the hills.

The people of this place were civil and friendly, and the men enjoyed
their short stay.  At daybreak next morning the troops were roused
early, and soon they were collected outside the town.  When they got to
a difficult gorge they were halted for an hour, and the
brigadier-general, Colonel Shaw, told them that the Carlists were in
their neighbourhood, and that they must be perfectly steady and quiet if
fire were opened upon them.  However, they met with no enemies, and
after a march of about twenty miles they got to Portugalete, where they
were to stay for some time.  The work was hard, the drill continuous.
The natives here were hostile, and several of the men were stabbed in
the streets.

The people throughout Northern Spain were, as a rule, bitterly hostile;
the province was semi-independent, with a republican form of government,
and the peasantry entirely under the control of their grandees and
priests.  They cared little about the succession, but a great deal about
their privileges.  The government wished to deprive them of some of
these privileges, and to make them contribute a fair share towards the
revenue of the country.  Don Carlos, on the other hand, had promised to
support their ancient rights, and for these they were all ready to
fight.  He had also a certain following in the southern provinces, for
the ancient law in Spain prevented females from ascending the throne.
Ferdinand had before his death abrogated this law, and appointed as his
successor his little girl Isabella; but Don Carlos, who was the next
male heir, protested against this change of law, and claimed the
sovereignty himself.

To add to the confusion that reigned throughout the country, the
government of the regent was hopelessly corrupt. The ministers had all
their own hangers-on--their generals whom they wished to push forward,
their own avaricious schemes to realize; and the consequence was that,
so far, the Carlists had more than held their own.

The latter were thorough fighters, able to march long distances, and to
strike heavy blows where they were least expected.  Their leader,
Zumalacarreguy, had so far baffled Mina, and inflicted heavy losses upon
him.  The war was conducted with terrible ferocity, little quarter being
given on either side, although the British government had intervened,
and induced both parties to sign a convention by which they agreed to
conduct the war on more humane principles. Zumalacarreguy had but some
eight thousand men, but was able in case of need to add largely to
these.  The queen’s party had twenty-three thousand, but of these nine
thousand were locked up in garrison towns.  Mina was thwarted by the
ministry of war at Madrid, and hampered by the fact that the Carlists
had spies in every village, who reported the movements of his troops to
the enemy.  His cruelty, too, drove numbers of those who would otherwise
have remained neutral, to the Carlist side.

From the day on which he landed at Santander, Arthur had devoted every
spare moment to the study of Spanish, and he found that his Latin helped
him considerably.  He had made the acquaintance of an Irish priest, who
was glad to add to his scanty stipend by teaching him Spanish, for which
purpose Arthur had drawn a small sum from his store.

The time passed slowly at Portugalete.

"It is all very well for you, Hallett," Jack Roper said, "to be grinding
away at Spanish, but I don’t see that it will do us much good.  I know
that you have made up your mind to get a commission as soon as you can.
I should not care about having one even if I could get it.  As far as I
can see, the berth of a non-commissioned officer is as comfortable as
that of a colonel.  He has no responsibility as long as he does his work
all right, and he has none of the anxiety that the officers experience.
I never was any hand at learning, beyond reading and writing, which were
necessary to me as a clerk.  I came out here for the fun of the thing,
and mean to get as much amusement out of it as I can; though I cannot
say that the fun has begun yet.  This beastly convent is like an
ice-house, and we don’t even get good rations.  No wonder the men are
going sick in dozens."

"No; we might do better there certainly.  I suppose it will be all right
later on, when we get a little straight.  At present there is no doubt
that there is a good deal to be desired."

Even to his chum, Arthur had not mentioned his reserve of twenty-five
pounds.  He thought it probable that the time would come when it would
be of great use to him, and he resolved to keep it intact as long as he
could.  When not busy at drill, or working at the language, Arthur
maintained his high spirits, and he and his chum took a large share in
keeping the men of their company in a good temper.  Ten days after
arriving at Portugalete the regiment moved up to Bilbao with the 10th
Regiment, and both were quartered in a huge convent which had been
abandoned.  The view from here was magnificent, rich pasture covering
the lofty hills to their summits.

General Evans had now arrived.  He was the beau ideal of a soldier,
handsome, with a dark complexion and black moustache; his face was
thoughtful in repose but bright and animated in movement.  Five feet ten
inches in height, and well built, he rode good horses, and always placed
himself at the post of danger.  Unfortunately he had too much kindness
of manner and tried to please everyone.  As a rule he mitigated
sentences of courts-martial, and objected to the shooting of anyone; but
he suffered his soldiers to die in thousands rather than importune the
Spanish government.

The force now marched to Vittoria, and reached that town without serious
fighting, though they had a little skirmishing by the way.  Here they
were fated to remain for some months. The life was monotonous, the town
crowded with troops, the arrangements of all kinds detestably bad.
Sickness began to attack great numbers, owing to the bad food and the
insanitary condition of the quarters assigned to them.  The whole Legion
were assembled at Vittoria, and for some weeks, beyond marching out and
back to the town, they had no employment.  One day, two months after
their arrival there, the officer who had spoken to Arthur when he first
went on board the ship at Liverpool sent for him.

"Hallett," he said, "I have watched you closely since you joined.  Your
conduct has been excellent.  I have spoken to the colonel about it, and
he in turn has spoken to General Evans.  A number of officers have
already either gone home sick or died, and he has been pleased to grant
you a commission, to which I am sure you will do credit.  I will take
you now to the colonel, who will formally acquaint you with the change
in your position, and I am glad to know that you will be appointed to my
company.  I hear that you have been working hard at Spanish, and that
you can already get on very fairly with it.  This will, of course, be a
great advantage to you, and I recommend you to continue the study until
you can speak the language fluently."

"I am greatly obliged to you, sir," Arthur said.  "I can assure you that
I will do my best to deserve your kind recommendation."

"Not at all.  You have fairly earned your commission. That you were a
gentleman, I saw at once when I first met you, and noted you down for
promotion when a vacancy should occur.  I shall certainly be a gainer by
the transaction, for Mauleverer was practically of no use to me; and I
was not sorry when he went off.  Now, if you will come with me to the
colonel, who has himself noticed your smartness and activity, we will
get the formal part of the business over."

Colonel Godfrey was in the room with the majority of his officers.

"I am glad to say, Mr. Hallett," he began, "that General Evans has
bestowed a commission upon you.  I am sure you will do credit to it, and
we shall all gladly welcome you among us.  A man who has proved himself
so attentive to his duty on every occasion should certainly make a good
officer. You will be attached to Captain Buller’s company."

The officers all shook hands with their new comrade, and his own captain
expressed great satisfaction at his promotion, "Although," he said, "I
myself shall be a loser by it."

"By the way," Captain Buller said, "fortunately for you young Barkley
died yesterday, and the best thing that you can do is to take over his
uniform.  There are no means of sending it down, and no one will dispute
the possession of it with you. Certainly it will be of no use to his
friends, and you may be sure that during the next twenty-four hours it
would be stolen. I will go with you at once, and order Peter, his
servant, to hand it over to you.

"He had a very good horse too.  You may as well take possession of that
also.  I will advance you, if you like, five pounds, which you can give
to the paymaster, who will hand it, with his arrears of pay, to the poor
fellow’s relatives.  It is as well to put the thing on a legitimate

"Thank you very much, Captain Buller! but I have money enough to pay for

"All the better," the officer said.

The captain went with him and saw that he got the uniform. "I should
think you could not do better than take on the servant.  He is a good
man, and, between ourselves, too good for the poor fellow who has gone.
He is an Irishman."

He opened the door and called "Peter!"

"Peter," he said, "Mr. Hallett is now one of my ensigns, and he will
take you on if you like."

"Sure and I would like it, your honour.  I was wondering if I should
have to go into the ranks again, and it is rather a dale I’d stop as I

"Mr. Hallett has arranged to take over your late master’s things, and to
buy his horse, and will, of course, occupy his room, so that you will
find no difference in your duties."

"Well, sor, it will make no difference to me, and what difference there
is will be for the better.  Lieutenant Barkley was a kind gentleman, but
he was very soft, sir, and was always ailing.  I have no doubt that Mr.
Hallett will be a good gentleman to serve under, for there is no man
better liked in the regiment."

Left to himself, Arthur at once changed his uniform.  His new one, he
found, fitted him as well as if it had been made for him.  Then he went
down to the stables and looked at his purchase.  It was in somewhat poor
condition, but a fine animal.

"See that he has plenty of forage," he said to the soldier. "He
evidently wants more than he gets.  You had better buy him some in the
town every day till he gets into good condition."

"He is just wearying for work, your honour.  Mr. Barkley was not famous
on horseback, and when he had to march he generally led his horse a good
part of the way; and he was not out on him more than half a dozen times
since we landed six months ago."

Then Arthur went out to the convent yard.  Roper at once came up to him
and saluted.  "So you have gone up, sir!  I felt sure you would."

"Yes, Roper, and I wish you would come up too."

"It would never have done, sir.  I make a pretty good non-commissioned
officer, and manage not to get drunk till I am off duty, but I am not
fit to be an officer, and should have said so at once if they had asked
me.  I shall miss you badly, but I shall probably see you every day, and
I mean to make an exchange into your company if I can manage it.

"I will speak to Captain Buller about it, I have no doubt he will be
willing enough to exchange you.  However, whether or not, we can always
be friends."

"You may be sure of that, sir."

It was now lunch time, and Arthur went into the mess-room, where he
received hearty congratulations, and soon settled down in his place.

That evening he wrote a long letter to his aunt, telling her of his
promotion.  "I think," he concluded, "that it will not be long before we
move.  We have a fairly large body of troops here now, Spanish as well
as ourselves.  Why we have not moved before this, is more than I can
make out, but I suppose the big-wigs know.  When we do begin, I hope we
shall go on in earnest, for this delay is very trying.  The hospitals
here are all full of sick, and nothing would do us so much good as to
have a sharp brush with the enemy."

Most of the officers found life at Vittoria terribly dull, but to Arthur
the time passed pleasantly enough.  He spent two or three hours a day
working hard at Spanish, and he went every morning to a teacher of
fencing, reasoning that as the sword was now his weapon he ought to be
able to use it.  Some of the officers were inclined to laugh at the time
he expended on study and exercise, but he retorted that it was a good
deal more pleasant than sitting in cafés trying to kill time.  But,
indeed, there was plenty to do.  The hardships suffered by the troops
were extreme; no pay was forthcoming; the amount of rations served out
was barely sufficient to keep life together. The quarters assigned to
them were bitterly cold, and they suffered terribly throughout the
winter.  Hundreds died; thousands were so reduced by illness that they
had to be sent down to the seaport, where very many more died; large
numbers were invalided home, and but a comparatively small portion ever
took their places again in the ranks of the Legion.

The officers did all they could to mitigate the sufferings of the men,
but they, too, received no pay; and, except in the matter of quarters,
were as badly off as the others.  Some of them who were men of fortune
were able to get little comforts for the sick; the rest could only show
their sympathy by visiting them, and talking cheeringly to them.  And,
indeed, the disgust and fury of the men were so great that, had they
received orders to do so, they would joyfully have set out on the march
south, cut their way through the Carlists and Christinos alike, and made
at least an effort to overthrow the government that had broken all its
engagements to them and left them to die like dogs.  What still more
enraged them was, that while all this time they were left to starve, the
magazines Of the Spanish troops were full, and the men well fed and

With spring there was a slight improvement in matters.  The
remonstrances of the British general and the British government had had
some slight effect.  A small amount of pay was issued, and rations were
served out with a little more regularity.

There was joy in every heart when it became known that the long period
of inactivity had come to an end, and that a move was about to be made.
As long as they formed part of the force commanded by the Spanish
general Cordova, they felt that nothing could be done.  The Carlists
occupied the hills round Vittoria, and at times sent parties almost up
to the town, but nothing could arouse Cordova from his lethargy, or
induce him to make any serious efforts to dislodge the enemy.  He was,
it was reported, going to co-operate with General Evans by attacking the
rear of the Carlists, while the Legion was to attempt to drive them back
from the strong positions they occupied outside San Sebastian; but both
officers and men scoffed at the idea that Cordova would move out of
Vittoria, and the general opinion was that the Legion would do better if
it relied upon its own fighting powers rather than upon any Spanish

By this time the mob of men who composed the Legion had been, by
incessant drill, converted into soldiers, who only wanted a baptism of
fire to take their place side by side with veterans.  In point of
appearance they were not much to look at.  The clothes in which for
nearly six months they had lived and slept were almost in rags, but
their bearing was erect. Suffering had set a stern expression on their
faces, and General Evans, as they marched out from Vittoria, felt that
they could be thoroughly relied on.  Many who had just recovered from
sickness were still thin and feeble, and really unfit for work, but all
who could possibly accompany the force had obtained their release from
hospital, and were the envy of many hundreds of their comrades who were
incapable of moving, and of whom the greater part were destined never to
leave Vittoria.

As the Carlists lay between Vittoria and San Sebastian, the force was
compelled to march down to Santander.  The men enjoyed the change; the
fresh warm breezes of spring reanimated them.  Many, it was true, were
forced to lag behind, but most of these afterwards rejoined, though some
were murdered by the peasantry, who were, to a man, hostile.  A strong
rear-guard, however, moved slowly behind the column, collecting those
who had fallen by the way, and only arriving at Santander twenty-four
hours after the rest.  As soon as the head of the column reached
Santander they were taken on board ship.  There was only sufficient
transport to carry half the Legion, but the distance was short, and in
four days half the force were assembled at San Sebastian.

All felt that the change from Vittoria was a pleasant one. San Sebastian
stands at the extremity of a low sandy tongue of land washed on the east
by the Urumea, and on the north and west by the Bay of Biscay, and
attached to the mainland only on the south by a narrow isthmus.  It was
strong both by nature and art, being defended by walls and bastions, and
almost free from the possibility of attack on the sea or river faces by
the fact that, except at low tide, there was scarce room for troops to
be landed near the foot of the walls.  The town had been almost
destroyed by being fired by the French in the memorable siege of 1813,
when it cost the British nearly fifteen thousand men in killed and
wounded to capture it. The fire had been a great advantage to it, for
the narrow streets and alleys had been swept away and replaced by broad
streets and well-built houses.  The inhabitants here were divided in
their sympathies, the mercantile classes being with the Christinos.

The heights beyond the end of the low peninsula were occupied by the
Carlists in great force.  Their motive in thus wasting their strength
when they might have been better employed in the field was not very
clear to Arthur and his brother officers.  It was certain that they
could not carry the place by assault; and as the sea was open to its
defenders, it was equally impossible for them to reduce it by hunger.

The place showed few signs of being beleaguered.  The town was full, as
it contained many refugee families from the surrounding country.  The
shops were well filled with goods. In the evening the promenades were
thronged with well-dressed people, who paraded up and down to the
strains of military music.  The cafés were crowded, and everywhere there
was an appearance of life and animation.  The people viewed with
astonishment the ragged appearance of the regiment as they landed, and
many small kindnesses were shown to them.  The effect of the sea air and
the bright sun did much for the troops, and in a week after their
arrival they had so far smartened themselves up that they made a decent
show.  The officers fraternized with those of the ships of war, and
although its numbers were sadly thinned since its arrival in Spain, the
Legion had recovered much of its jauntiness and self-confidence.

"This is a glorious change," Arthur said to one of his comrades, as they
leant on the battlements and looked out over the sea.  A good many ships
were in the port, some of them transports, others laden with stores; and
the sounds of music in the town came to their ears.  "One begins to feel
that after all one did not make a great mistake in entering the
Legion--not that I have ever greatly repented the step.  I have been
most fortunate in getting promotion.  I have come to speak Spanish
decently, and I have certainly learnt how to fence."

"I don’t see that the last part is likely to be of much use, Hallett.
When one does get into a hand-to-hand fight I don’t expect one has much
time to think of the niceties of fencing. One just hits out as one can."

"Yes, if one is not a thorough good fencer; but if one is not, he finds
it more natural to strike a downright blow than to thrust.  Besides, I
don’t know that I have learnt fencing so much in order to defend myself
as because it is a fine exercise in itself.  It strengthens all one’s
muscles amazingly, and at Vittoria it enabled one, two or three hours a
day, to forget all the misery that was being suffered by the men.  Last,
and I may say not least, of its advantages is that it will enable one to
fight.  I am not thinking of fighting battles, but of duels.  I observed
from the first a great many of these Spanish officers seem to treat us
in a very cavalier sort of manner, which is a thing that I do not feel
at all inclined to put up with.  I believe most Spanish gentlemen learn
to fence as a matter of course.  I don’t know whether it is so, but so I
have been told, and I was determined to be able to give any one of them
a lesson if he attempted any impertinence towards me.  My master at
Vittoria said, before I came away, that I had become a very strong
fencer--as strong, indeed, as any pupil he had ever had, and that it was
quite astonishing that I should have learned so much in the course of
four or five months.  I have already engaged another master here, and I
mean to stick to him till I feel that I can hold my own with anyone."

"If you can do it in skill, I should say that you could certainly do it
in strength, Hallett; you look as if you were made of whip-cord.  You
have got height, a good pair of shoulders, and any amount of activity.
You have broadened out amazingly since I first saw you, and I should
certainly say that you would be an awkward customer to any of these
dons, who are, for the most part, in spite of all their swagger, an
undersized lot."

"Yes, they have certainly not much to boast of in the way of strength;
with a few exceptions, I would not mind taking on any two of them with
one arm tied behind me."

"I wish I had given up three hours a day, all the time we were at
Vittoria, working at their language, Hallett.  I see that you have
gained a lot by it.  You are able to chat away with the Spanish officers
and chaff with the Spanish girls, while most of us are no better than
dummies.  Of course we have all picked up a few phrases--some
complimentary, but for the most part quite the reverse--as a medium in
our conversation with the natives, but they don’t go far in polite
society, though they do assist us a bit when we want to sharpen up some
of these mule-drivers or men with the waggons."

"Why don’t you begin to learn fencing?  It will occupy your time anyhow,
though I don’t say that you would find it as useful as Spanish."

"I will think of it, Hallett, as soon as this fight has come off.  They
say we shall attack the enemy’s lines before long. I shall not have time
to learn much before that, and I may as well take it easily till then,
as I may not come out of it alive. I was looking at the enemy yesterday
from the other side of the town.  They seem amazingly strong.  I can see
by my glasses that they have covered the whole face of the hill with
entrenchments and loopholed all the houses, and I think these Carlists
are obstinate fellows and will fight hard."

"Well, I do hope that Evans will attack as soon as the whole Legion
comes up, without waiting for Cordova.  He is a hopeless brute, and I
have not the least expectation of his setting his troops in motion to
help us."

"I am wholly with you," his friend said.  "As far as we have seen
hitherto, it is evident that if there is any fighting to be done we
shall have to do it.  These Christino commanders seem to have only one
idea, and that is to avoid an engagement. We have heard that
Zumalacarreguy has been marching about capturing towns, collecting
spoil, and playing old gooseberry wherever he has gone, and dodging
successfully any efforts the Christinos have made to bring him to a
fight. It is just the same thing round Vittoria.  That brute Cordova
stops there in the big house that he has taken possession of. He eats,
drinks, and enjoys himself; but as for marching out to fight the
Carlists, the idea seems never to have occurred to him.  Well, it is
time we were turning back, for it is the hour for the promenade; and I
must say that I like looking at the señoras even if it is beyond my
power to talk to them."

                             *CHAPTER III*

                             *AN ADVENTURE*

Arthur found his knowledge of Spanish very useful to him at San
Sebastian.  He soon made the acquaintance of many of the young men of
the town, and was invited by them to feasts and dances at their houses,
where he became a general favourite by his frankness and the enjoyment
with which he entered into the amusements.  Although he could converse
very fairly on ordinary subjects, he had not as yet learned the language
of compliment, and his blunt phrases greatly amused the Spanish girls.
He was indeed far more awkward with them than with their brothers or
husbands. Except with his own cousins, who were a good deal younger than
himself, and whom he had never thought of complimenting in the smallest
degree, he had never known anything of the other sex.  He had the usual
boyish contempt for girls, and had almost regarded them as inferior
animals. Consequently he was quite at sea with these laughing,
black-eyed señorettas, with their fluttering fans, their pretty
gestures, and their black mantillas.

"Señor Inglese," one of them said with a smile, "do you know that you
are a very rude man?"

"I am shocked to hear it," he said.  "How am I rude?  I admire you all,
but I can’t go about telling you so."

"We don’t all wish to be admired, señor; there would be no satisfaction
if you admired every one; but we do all expect pretty speeches nicely
and delicately put, speeches which without meaning much would imply that
you are wholly at our service."

"I am afraid, señoretta, that it will be a long time before my Spanish
enables me to do that sort of thing.  If it came to the question of
putting my arm round your waist and giving you a kiss, I could manage
it, but to pay you all sorts of compliments is quite beyond me."

"It would not do at all for you to behave so rudely as that, señor," the
girl laughed; "that would be quite an unknown thing.  It is respectful
homage that we require, and such homage can be rendered by the eyes
alone without its being necessary to speak it."

Arthur laughed.  "But my eyes have never been trained to that sort of
expression, señoretta, and I should no more know how to do it than how
to fly.  When I was a boy I kissed girls under the mistletoe, but that
is only a sort of romp and goes for nothing.  I do not think that I have
ever paid a girl a compliment in my life."

"What do you mean by the mistletoe, señor?  I have never heard of such a

Arthur explained, as well as he could, the mysteries of this vegetable.

"What!" she exclaimed.  "You kiss a girl in sight of other people!  But
it is dreadful--it is barbarism!  No Spanish girl could suffer such a

"I fancy you would, if it were a Spanish custom," he laughed.  "I own
that I could never see much fun in it; still, it was one of the things
that you were expected to do at Christmas.  However, I can assure you
that I have no idea of introducing the custom here; and I will promise
you that if I do kiss you it will not be in public."

"But you must never think of such a thing," the girl said, horrified.
"It would be terrible!  No girl permits a man to kiss her unless he is
affianced, and then only very, very occasionally."

"I will take note of that, señoretta, and will wait till I am affianced
before I begin."

"And will it be an English girl, or a Spaniard?"

"An English girl," Arthur said bluntly.  "I do not say that the Spanish
girls are not very nice, but their ways are not our ways, and they are
not of our religion, and their friends would disapprove; in fact, there
are all sorts of objections."

"You think them prettier than we are?" the girl said, with a toss of her

"No, señoretta, I do not say that.  I have seen many Spanish girls quite
as pretty as English girls, but it is a different kind of beauty--one
that we are not accustomed to, any more than you are accustomed to the
appearance and ways of an Englishman.  The two races are like oil and
water: you may stir them about as much as you like, they never really

"I suppose that is so," she said, more seriously than she had spoken
before.  "They say that Englishmen make good husbands, and that they are
not jealous, as Spanish men are, all of which must be very nice; still,
of course there are drawbacks to them.  Well, señor, we must talk this
over another time, for here is my cavalier coming to claim me for the
next dance."

Arthur was chatting with a young Spanish officer whose acquaintance he
had made, when the latter said:

"I wish I could go up those hills to-morrow.  I have an uncle living up
there.  He is a Carlist, and he has a pretty daughter who is to be
married to a Carlist officer to-morrow evening.  I would give a good
deal to be able to be there, but I don’t see how it is to be managed.  I
might get there easily enough, for I could borrow a small boat and row
up the Urumea after dusk, land beyond their outposts, and make my way
round there; but of course I should be known when I got there.  I am
sure my uncle would be very glad to see me, but I should be recognized
at once by some of his friends."

"You might disguise yourself," Arthur said.  "Put on a big pair of false
moustachios, and of course dress as a civilian."

"I dare say it might be done," the young officer said, "if I had
somebody to go with me."

"It would be a great lark," Arthur said, "and I don’t suppose there
could be much danger in it.  Even if you were detected they would hardly
make a row at a wedding."

"No, I don’t suppose I should be hurt; but the feeling between the two
parties is very strong, and, as you know, quarter is very seldom given
on either side."

"Yes, your methods of war can hardly be called civilized, señor."

As they stood looking at the hill, Arthur turned the matter over in his
mind.  He knew that the general was very anxious to obtain some
knowledge of the Carlist trenches and fortifications. If he were to
volunteer to accompany this officer he might be able to obtain a good
deal of information on the subject.  To do so he would be obliged, after
the wedding, to make his way straight down the hill instead of coming
back to the boat, but this, he thought, would not be so very difficult.
While anyone coming up the hill would be closely questioned, it was
hardly likely that so much care would be taken in the case of those
walking down, for the Carlists would be constantly going up and down to
get provisions from the villages.  There should be no difficulty in
getting down to the trenches at the foot of the hill, but from there one
would have to run the gauntlet.  Still, the chances of being shot in the
dark would not be great, and the information that he might obtain would
be invaluable.

After thinking it over for a minute or two, he said to his companion:

"I have never seen a Spanish wedding, señor, and should certainly like
to do so.  If you would take me with you, I should be very glad to
accompany you."

"Would you?" the young fellow said.  "Well, you know, it would be a
dangerous business.  If I were suspected, I have no doubt that my uncle
would protect me: he is a colonel in their service.  And if the worst
were to happen, I should be made a prisoner.  But if they were to find
you out, I fear that they would show you no mercy, and that even my
uncle would not be able to save you."

"I don’t think they would find me out," Arthur said.  "I can talk well
enough to pass muster, if I did not enter into any long conversation,
which I could take care not to do.  I should, of course, keep very much
in the background, as you yourself would do, I suppose.  At a wedding
like this would not a good many officers and others attend who are not
intimate friends of the family?"

"Oh, yes! my uncle’s house will be virtually open to all comers.  I
shouldn’t speak to anyone but my cousin, who is a great friend of mine,
and I should manage to get close enough to her to whisper in her ear who
I am, and give her my good wishes.  No, I don’t think the risk can be
very great, and if you are quite in earnest I should be glad of your
company. Mind, if there is a row you will have to take care of yourself,
and I shall look after myself."

"Certainly.  I understand that I should go in with you and do as you do.
I should keep in the background, and go quietly off at the end of the
evening.  If by any chance I am discovered I should simply make a bolt
for it.  The nights are dark, and as I am a pretty good runner I don’t
think the risk of being overtaken would be great.

"Will you arrange about the boat?  And if you will tell me where it will
be lying, I will meet you there to-morrow evening at any time you like
to name."

"It will be quite dark by seven, and we will start at that hour.  But
can you row?  I own that I cannot."

"Yes, I can row," Arthur said.  "Now, what disguise would you advise me
to take?"

"Certainly the best disguise would be that of a Carlist officer, but I
don’t know how it will be possible to get it. There has been some
fighting between their men and ours, and a good many have been killed on
both sides.  The dead are generally stripped by ruffians of the town,
and I have no doubt that in some of the shops in the poorer quarters
some Carlist uniforms may be found.  Of course they are not likely to be
exhibited for sale now; the shopkeepers will be reserving them till the
Carlists come in, which they are sure to do sooner or later.  My soldier
servant is a smart fellow.  I will send him down this afternoon to
forage about, and I have no doubt that he will succeed in getting one of
medium size for a tall man.  But if you come down to my quarters this
evening you will see what he has got; and if it is not large enough for
you, I have no doubt it can easily be altered to fit you properly."

"That is a capital idea," Arthur said, "and would suit me admirably.
Then I will come down, as you say, this evening, and see how your man
has succeeded."

"It will be a rare adventure," the young Spaniard said.  "I told my
cousin months ago that I would dance at her wedding, and as things were
growing black then, she laughed in my face and laid me a wager that I
wouldn’t.  It will be great fun letting her know that I have won."

When Arthur went to the Spanish officer’s quarters that evening he found
him examining two uniforms laid out on his table.

"My man has just brought these in," he said.  "One of them will fit me
well enough, but I am afraid that the other will never meet across your

The coat was a little short for him, but this was not very noticeable.
It met round the waist, but was three inches too small round the chest.

"I can get that altered easily enough.  Do you think you can borrow a
sword from one of your comrades?  You can make some excuse that yours
has gone to be repaired, as the blade has come out of the hilt.  You
see, the pommels of our swords are so different from yours that if I
were to carry mine it would lead to our detection at once."

"Yes; no doubt I can borrow one, and I will get a belt from another on
some other excuse."

"I will take the uniform now.  Will you bring the sword and belt down to
the river?"

"Yes.  I have arranged for a boat; it will be at the San Nicola steps at
seven in the evening.  Fortunately, the tide will be running in at that
hour, so that we shall be able to drift past the Carlist outposts, and
of course it will be running out again by the time we come back."

"Capital!" Arthur said.  "Everything seems to be with us, and it will be
an adventure to laugh about for a long time."

"It will indeed!" the other said gleefully.  "How the fellows of my
regiment will envy me when I tell them where I have been!  But how about
our faces?  Do you think we can buy moustaches?"

"I have no idea," Arthur said.  "If we can’t, I intend to buy a piece of
fur with long hair, or a piece of fox skin would do, and cut out a pair
of moustaches and glue them on; I am sure they would stand any casual
inspection.  And I should darken my face and hands a little: I am rather
too fair to pass observation.  As no one would know me, I don’t see how
I could be detected.  But of course you would have to alter your face as
much as possible."

"Yes.  Well, you see, I had always worn my hair long, and now I have cut
it quite short.  I have not got much eyebrow, and I will put a few dabs
of fur on, so as to make them heavy; draw a line up each corner above
the nose, so as to give myself a scowl; and I should get my man to make
a line or two across the forehead.  I think like that I should do.
People don’t stare much at each other on such occasions; their attention
is principally occupied with looking at the bride and bridegroom, and
the ceremony."

"Very well, then.  To-morrow evening at the stairs of San Nicola."

On the following evening Arthur made his way down to the river.  He was
dressed in the simple uniform of the Carlist officers, which consisted
of a tunic and a red Basque cap, with breeches or trousers according to
the fancy of the wearer.  He was first at the rendezvous, but five
minutes later his friend Sebastian Romero arrived.

"You have not been here long, I hope?" the latter said. "I was kept
talking by the major just as I wanted to disguise myself."

"No; I have only been here a few minutes."

"The boat is tied to a stake.  I don’t think the tide has reached her

"No; I went down to see her directly I got here.  She will be afloat in
a few minutes."

In five minutes they were off, Sebastian sitting in the stern as Arthur
took the sculls.

"I will row across to the other side at once," Arthur said; "by keeping
close to that bank we shall not run the risk of being detected by their
outposts on this side.  I can row for the first mile, then as we shall
be nearly opposite them, we can drift up for as much farther; by that
time we should be beyond their lines, and can cross the stream and

"Yes, I think so," the other agreed.  "We have to get well past the
hill, for certainly they have works right up to the top.  Of course we
can see them through our glasses, but the ground is so broken with
walls, gardens, and houses that we can’t exactly see where their strong
points are, and certainly not where the Carlists are most strongly
posted. We hear such different accounts from the country people who come
in, that we cannot believe them in the slightest, especially as we know
that they are Carlists almost to a man, and would naturally try to
deceive us."

With steady strokes Arthur rowed along, keeping close under the bank and
taking care to avoid making a splash. Presently they could hear a murmur
of talk on the opposite bank, and he stopped rowing.  The stream was
running up hard, and in less than half an hour they were well beyond the
Carlists’ lines.  Crossing the river then, they landed at a spot from
which a path led up the hill.  Sebastian said that his uncle’s house was
situated about a quarter of a mile from the top.

"When we are once in the house, Sebastian, I think we had better not
keep near each other; then, if one is by any chance detected the other
can make a bolt for it."

"Yes; I think we might as well keep apart.  I am more likely to be
detected than you, but the risk of discovery would be greater for you
than for me.  As a relative, it would be thought natural that I should
wish to be at the wedding.  I might be shot by the Carlists, but my
uncle would take my part, and at any rate it would be evident that I did
not come as a spy; whereas, if you were caught it would be very awkward
for you, though of course I should say that you came as my friend, and
had no idea of entering their lines.  Still, it would be very awkward;
and if you should see that I am taken, I advise you to slip quietly off
at once."

Arthur, however, had no intention of remaining any time at the house and
waiting till his companion was ready to leave, for the latter would
certainly object to share in his own plan of making his way down through
the Carlist lines. And as he was going in a way as Sebastian’s guest, he
could not very well leave him.  The house was but a quarter of a mile,
his friend had said, from the upper line of the works; and, even if
detected, he could, with the advantage of a surprise, easily get there
before being overtaken.  Not, indeed, that he expected to be pursued.
His intention was to slip away quietly soon after getting to the house,
and to stroll down to the lines, where it was improbable in the extreme
that he would be challenged.

"If by any chance I should not turn up, Sebastian, when you want to come
away, you had better go down to the boat and wait there for a quarter of
an hour, and then push off. You may not be able to row much, but you
could certainly manage to get over to the other side, and then you would
only have to let her drift."

"Yes; but there can be no reason why we should not come away together."

"Well, you see, one or other of us may be suspected, and it may be
necessary to slip off.  I don’t say that it is likely at all, but there
is nothing like being prepared for all emergencies."

After a quarter of an hour’s walk they reached the house. It was, as
they had expected, full of officers and friends.  The ceremony had just
been concluded, and many were going up to the bride and bridegroom
offering their congratulations.  Music was being played, and servants
were handing round refreshments. Sebastian joined those clustered round
the newly-married pair, while Arthur mingled with those standing in
groups round the room.  He had scarcely been there a minute when he
noticed that the eyes of two or three of his neighbours were fixed upon
him curiously.  Wondering why their attention should be attracted to
him, he put his hand up to his face, and to his horror found that half
his moustache was gone.  He had become warm when rowing, and this had
doubtless moistened the gum with which he had fastened them on to his

He at once made for the door, but as he left the room he glanced round
and saw that three or four of the men who had observed him were speaking
together and making after him. The moment he was outside he started to
run.  He had gone but twenty yards when there was a shout behind him.
This unexpected discovery had altogether upset his plans.  He had
calculated on being able to stroll quietly down into the Carlist lines.
Now he would have to exert himself to the utmost to get there before his
pursuers, who were close upon him.  He ran at the top of his speed,
looking round once or twice as he did so.  He gained on his pursuers,
who, now convinced that there was something wrong, exerted themselves to
the utmost to overtake him.  As he neared the brow of the hill he could
hear talking and laughing in front of him, and soon he came upon a line
of fires round which soldiers were gathered. His pursuers now, though he
could no longer see them, began to shout loudly, "A spy, a spy!  Seize

For a moment or two the talk by the fire ceased, and the men stood
listening to the cries.  They were therefore unprepared for action when
Arthur dashed through them--he had no time to choose a place--and
knocked over two or three who endeavoured to grasp him.  In a moment he
was running down the hill with a hundred men in pursuit.  Presently he
saw a high embankment ahead of him, which he knew must be the highest
point of the defences.  He ran up it, and, when he reached the top,
jumped.  It was a fall of some fifteen feet, but the ground was soft
where he alighted, and, picking himself up, he ran on.  He had not gone
fifty yards when a musket was fired from the top of the embankment.
This was followed by a dozen others, and the fire grew into a roar.
Evidently the Carlists, in their bewilderment as to what had happened,
were firing at random.  Presently he came to a wall, which he vaulted
over as a number of men ran up.

"What are they firing about?"

"Don’t you see it is a Christino surprise?" he said.  "Open fire at
once, or they will be upon you."

Instantly the men obeyed his orders.  Others ran up and joined them, and
Arthur strolled quietly away.  He met numbers of men running up.

"Hurry up, hurry up!" he said.  "The Christinos have attacked us from
behind and carried the upper line.  Run on! I am on my way to fetch up
all the men."


In five minutes the fire ceased.  Evidently some officer had come down
from the upper trenches, and passed word along the lines that the alarm
was false.  By this time, however, Arthur was some distance down the
hill, and had little fear of being discovered.  No one, indeed, paid any
attention to him. The Carlists were all discussing the meaning of the
heavy firing and its sudden cessation.  Some officers who had come down
from the second line explained that it was all a mistake, and that no
one could say how it had arisen.  All that they had been able to gather
was that someone had run down, that a sudden alarm had been given by
somebody, and that the troops had fired wildly.  They were enquiring
into the matter at the top of the hill; at present it was all a mystery.
Arthur spent a couple of hours gradually making his way down, examining
the defences and noting their position, seeing in what strength the
various loopholed houses were held, until at last he came to the lowest
line, a deep trench with a high embankment, and salients thrown out to
take any attacking force in flank.  Here, as everywhere, he was
questioned; but always replied that, as far as he knew, it had been a
sudden panic, possibly an attempt by the Christinos to draw their
attention to that point while an attack was made below. He therefore
enjoined them to be on their guard.  He sallied out at an opening in one
of the angles made for the outlying pickets to run in, if attacked.  He
now proceeded very cautiously, and a hundred yards down he saw two
figures ahead of him.  He walked up to them.

"Is all well?" he asked.

"Everything is quiet in front of us," the men said, "as far as we have
heard.  But some thought that they heard heavy bodies of men marching
this way."

"I am going out some little distance to find out.  Be sure that you
don’t fire at me as I come back."

Without waiting for an answer he went on.  He heard one say to the
other: "He talks queerly; didn’t you notice it?"

"Yes, I thought his language seemed strange.  But, you see, he did not
speak in Basque, and we don’t know much Spanish.  Anyhow, we cannot do
anything now.  We will question him when he comes back again."

Highly satisfied with his success, Arthur walked on until he was
challenged by a sentry ahead.  He answered in English "A friend!", for
he detected at once that the challenger belonged to the Legion.

"And who are you at all?" came from the sentry.

"I am one of your officers," he said.  "Lieutenant Hallett. I have been
in the Carlist camp."

"Come on, then, and let’s have a look at ye.  It is a mighty noise that
they have been makin’ up there."

"Yes; they have been having a scrimmage among themselves."  He had now
come up to the sentry.

"Well, sor, I can’t see yes," the man said; "but it is clear that you
are English, and that is good enough for me. Whether you are Lieutenant
Hallett or not, I don’t know; but I shouldn’t be any wiser if I did see
you, seeing that I don’t know the gentleman.  There are half a dozen of
the boys down the hill with the sergeant at that house you can just make
out fifty yards away.  You had best go down to them and explain."

"All right, and good-night!" and Arthur walked on.

Arthur was passed without difficulty through the outposts, and when he
reached the town he found that Sebastian had already returned to his own

"My dear friend," the latter exclaimed, springing to his feet, "I am
delighted to see you.  I have been in a terrible state of alarm as to
your safety.  I had just whispered to my cousin who I was, when there
was a sudden uproar, and many of the guests ran out of the room
suddenly.  I looked round in vain for you.  There was a general
confusion, and five or six minutes later there was the sound of heavy
firing, and all the rest of the guests made off in a great hurry.  Of
course I went out too, and waited till some of the company came back.
None of them seemed to know exactly what had happened, but all were of
opinion that a spy of some sort had been discovered at the wedding.  He
had been pursued, had run down through the lines, and a heavy fire had
been opened upon him, and none doubted but that he was killed.
Curiously enough, the men of the second line of defences had opened fire
on those in the upper one.  Why, no one knew.  It could only be supposed
that they believed that a Christino force had captured the upper line of
trenches.  I did not stop to hear later news, but made off to the boat
in hopes of finding you there.  I waited a quarter of an hour, as you
told me, and then got in and floated down the river.  I could not keep
her to one side, as you did, and found that it was better to let her go
as she liked.  Fortunately there was such a stir in the Carlist camp
that I passed down the river unobserved, and managed with a good deal of
difficulty to get the boat ashore here.  I have been back now about half
an hour."

"Well, I managed to get through without much difficulty," Arthur said,
"and found out a good deal about their defences."

"Now, you had better have a glass of wine and a piece of bread.  That is
all I can offer you.  But as I suppose you did not get any refreshments
up there, you must be hungry."

Arthur remained for half an hour, and then left.  On the following
morning he went after breakfast to his colonel, and told him of the
adventure of the previous evening.

"You have done wonderfully well, Hallett, and the information you have
gained will be of the greatest importance to us. You had better come
across with me to the general at once."

The colonel at first went in alone, but presently he came out again and
called Arthur in.  "So you have been into the Carlist lines, Mr.
Hallett?" the general said.  "It was a very plucky action.  Please tell
me all about it."

Arthur related how, when a Spanish officer had said that he should like
to go to the wedding of a cousin, the idea had struck him that if he
accompanied him he might obtain some information as to the Carlist
lines, and so had encouraged him in the project.  He had intended to
slip away unnoticed, but unfortunately he was betrayed, as soon as he
entered the room, by the loss of a portion of his moustache.  He then
recounted the whole adventure, and handed in a full report of the
Carlist defences which he had that morning written.

The general looked through it.  "This is of the greatest importance to
us, Mr. Hallett.  It is the first authentic information we have received
of the position and strength of their lines, and will be of the utmost
utility when we attack them, which we shall do before many days.  You
have certainly used your eyes to advantage.  I shall study your report
at leisure, and it will be of the greatest use to me in making my
dispositions for the attack.  I shall certainly not forget the service
you have rendered us.  It shows that you have a head to plan, and
courage and determination to carry your ideas into effect.  It shows
also that you have made the best use of your time, and have acquired a
sufficient knowledge of Spanish to be able to pass as a Spaniard in a
short conversation.  You have done very well, sir; very well, indeed!
And if you go on as you have begun, will certainly rise in the
profession you have chosen."

Arthur retired much gratified by the general’s commendation. When he
told his adventure to his comrades they could at first hardly believe
it, until the colonel himself mentioned the fact, and held Arthur up as
an example of what even a young officer could accomplish if he chose to
go out of the beaten path to devote himself to the study of a language,
and to keep his eyes open and take advantage of any opportunity that
might present itself.  He charged them, however, to say nothing of this
outside the regiment, for San Sebastian was full of spies; and if it
were known that a British officer had made his way through their lines,
they might set to work and make such alterations in their dispositions
as would altogether destroy the result of Arthur’s observations.
Several of the young officers took resolutions to follow Arthur’s
example and begin the study of Spanish forthwith, but the greater
portion said that the chance would probably never occur again, and that
it was not worth while to work like niggers when the odds were so great
against any good coming from it.

Already, indeed, the greater proportion of officers in the Legion had
made up their minds to return home at the expiration of the two years
for which they had been sworn in.  The treatment the Legion had
received--the unnecessary hardships they had to encounter, the breach of
faith of the Spanish government in not supplying them with food and
keeping them for months in arrear with their pay, and thereby causing a
loss of more than a third of their number before they had fired a
shot--had sickened them of the whole business.  They were ready to
fight, but they were not prepared to starve; and had ships of war come
to take them home, they would have accepted their release with joy.  But
few of them had enlisted because they had any great interest in the
cause of Queen Isabella. They had joined the Legion from the love of
adventure and excitement, so dominant in every Englishman.  The six
months of delay and neglect had roughly disillusioned them, and most of
them regretted bitterly the comfortable homes and the many pleasures
they had left behind them.  Nevertheless, for the moment they were
satisfied.  Their sufferings and those of their men had been quickly
forgotten, for they had the enemy in front of them, and it was certain
that before very long there would be a great fight; and none felt much
doubt that, in spite of the strength of the Carlist position, and the
number of its defenders, they should get the better of the Spaniards
when they came to close quarters.

The prevailing sentiment was: "The beggars have never fought well
against either the French or us, and it is not likely that they will
begin now.  They seem to have fought fairly sometimes against each
other, but that is quite a different thing from fighting against us.
They are only half-drilled, and our fellows now are almost as well
drilled as our line.  They don’t look much, poor chaps! but they will
fight.  They are put in the humour for it, and would go at the
Christinos just as readily as at the Carlists.  They have come to the
conclusion that Spaniards are brutes, and the recollection of what they
have suffered at their hands will make them fight furiously. It was just
the same thing in the Peninsular War.  The Spaniards never kept their
promises, and our fellows were starving when their men had an abundance
of everything.  The result was that our troops hated them infinitely
worse than the French, and behaved like demons at the capture of Badajos
and Ciudad Rodrigo."

The month’s stay at San Sebastian did wonders for the Legion.  The
sailors in our warships, who were filled with pity and horror when they
embarked at Santander, never came on shore without bringing presents of
tobacco and portions of their own rations for them.  The shops were well
supplied, and the small amount of pay that the men had received enabled
them to buy many little luxuries.  As the Legion was at the time supreme
there, General Evans was enabled to obtain from the stores a fair amount
of food, and the men speedily recovered from the effects of starvation
and illness.  At last all the preparations were made.  From the manner
in which the staff-officers rode to and fro with orders, the serving out
of ball-cartridge, and other preparations, it became evident that the
time for attack was approaching, and the troops rejoiced that they were
at last to be called upon to play their part as men.

                              *CHAPTER IV*

                           *THE FIRST FIGHT*

For some days previous to the 5th of May, plans had been formed for an
attack on the enemy’s lines.  The Carlists had a double line of
fortifications.  The first of these was half a mile from San Sebastian,
and on the heights behind were numerous others, formed principally of
steep banks or deep lanes, and breastworks of earth.  Behind these, and
separated by deep hollows, were other heights similarly fortified but
more strongly entrenched, and armed with several batteries. The main
road from San Sebastian to Aranez ran through the ground, and was
strongly barricaded at various points.

The general’s force consisted of five thousand British and fifteen
hundred Spanish.  All his own troops had not yet come up, and more
Spanish troops from Santander were expected; but the general, having
seen the manner in which Cordova mismanaged matters, and not being able
to depend upon him as a tactician, determined to attack by himself. The
evening before the attack was to be made, the various commanding
officers addressed the men.  All was bustle that night.  By three
o’clock the whole of the troops moved out of the town.  The Light
Brigade, under General Reid, consisting of the Rifles, the 3rd, and an
irregular Spanish corps called the Chapelgorris, advanced against the
enemy’s lines near the river.  The Irish Brigade, consisting of the 9th,
10th, and 11th under General Shaw, moved against the centre. General
Chichester’s brigade, comprising that morning the 1st, two companies of
the 8th, and eight hundred Spaniards--the 4th, with the remainder of the
8th belonging to this brigade, not being yet landed--attacked the left
of the enemy’s lines.

The three forces had marched together as far as the convent of St.
Bartholemy, and there separated in the directions they were to take.
The officers were all on foot, for over such ground it was impossible to
advance on horseback.  Two hundred yards in front of the convent lay the
Carlist pickets, but so noiselessly were the operations carried out that
the various divisions reached the posts assigned to them undiscovered.

As Arthur marched along in the darkness he gave a hand in passing to
Roper.  "Good-bye, old fellow!" he said, "if we are not to meet again;
but we may hope to do so in the morning."  A squeeze of the hand was
exchanged, and he passed on.

It was an anxious time.  The red glare of the enemy’s picket-fires could
be seen in the distance.  The morning was dark and wet, and there was
perfect stillness as they took up the places assigned to them.  Suddenly
a Carlist gave a shout of "Qui vive!", which was answered by a shot from
one of the Chapelgorris; then there was a shout of "Forward!"

Instantly volleys broke out from the various Carlist pickets. General
Evans was in front of the advancing line.  His orders were that the men
were not to fire, but to advance well up and then charge.  The first
houses were cleared, and the out-pickets driven in.  Then, for daylight
was now breaking, the troops began to see the formidable nature of the
work before them.  The 7th Irish advanced almost without firing a shot.
Volley after volley was poured into them, and though they dropped fast,
they went steadily on with their colonel at their head.  Sweeping
forward, they gained the long building called the Windmill Battery,
though five hundred Carlists garrisoned the loopholes.  A great number
of the enemy fell in and about these houses, refusing to surrender as
prisoners, but fighting to the last till they were finally driven out.
As General Evans came up to them he exclaimed to the 7th, "You are doing
nobly, Irishmen!"

On the enemy’s right equally severe fighting was carried on; and while
the 7th carried the Windmill Battery, the Light Brigade succeeded in
establishing themselves near, and driving the enemy from other posts of
similar description.

Colonel Tupper was shot through the arm while gallantly leading his
regiment, but, lest his officers and men should be discouraged, he threw
his cloak around him to hide it, and held on with his regiment two hours
longer.  When he was again facing a heavy fire, he was shot through the
head.  On the left, the 1st and two companies of the 8th, under General
Chichester, assisted in the assault, but without much help from the
Spanish regiments.  Colonel Fortescue, of the Rifles, was very
conspicuous, being frequently engaged hand-to-hand with the Carlists;
cutting his way through bushes, over walls and other obstacles, and
dragging his men through when they were sinking in the dirt and mud.
The 7th and 9th were repulsed three separate times, but a party of the
10th came up and joined them, led by Colonel Fitzgerald.  A stone wall
was in front of them, and over this Colonel Fitzgerald sprang with a
riding-whip in his hand.  Volley after volley was poured upon them, and
the men fell as fast as they got over.  All the officers who crossed the
wall with him fell, but he stood still and ordered his men to come on.
His last words were heard by an Irishman, who sprang over the wall
saying, "Ye’ll not die by yerself, old Charlie!"

There was a rush by the others, and the position was won. The second
line of defences had now given way, the only position of importance
remaining being the fort of Lugariz. Here the enemy were massed.  Men
tried to climb up the slippery slope to its foot, but fell or slipped
back again.  Until nine o’clock the troops were baffled.  At this moment
the two vessels with the 4th and 8th entered the bay.  The boats were
instantly launched and the men brought ashore.  As they landed they
threw their knapsacks down on the sand.  The two ships of war opened a
storm of ball and shell at the fort. Colonel Godfrey, as soon as he
arrived with the two regiments, at once rushed into the thick of the
combat.  The batteries continued to fire until they were at the foot of
the wall.  A breach was made and the troops rushed in, but the Carlists
for a time still kept up a heavy musketry fire from the rear.

The 3rd made at the same time a determined charge on a fort that had
been resolutely defended for a long time. The fight here was very stiff.
Fortescue and Swan were both wounded, and Brigadier Reid was shot
through the breast. Fourteen field-officers and captains, and double
that number of subalterns, were either killed or wounded.

At last all opposition ceased.  The Carlists drew off sullenly.  The
bugles rang out the recall, and the scattered and exhausted troops
gathered together in regiments.  They had good reason to be proud of
themselves.  Older soldiers could not have fought more bravely than
these men, none of whom had been under fire before.  The 6th and 7th
Regiments suffered the greatest loss, the number of killed and wounded
amounting to more than a quarter of their entire strength. The total
loss was seventy-five officers and eight hundred and forty-eight
privates.  Many of the wounded died after the engagement.  Four pieces
of artillery were taken.

When the fight was over, Arthur Hallett leant against a wall panting and
exhausted.  It seemed to him almost like a dream, and he could hardly
believe that he had come through the desperate struggle without a
scratch.  Excepting only when for a time it was brought to a stand-still
by Fort Lugariz, the regiment had been incessantly fighting.  Now
pushing forward, now falling back, now broken up into parties, now
gathering together again; sometimes loading and firing as quickly as
possible at the walls and houses, from which flashed shot as quickly in
return; then dashing over walls and across gardens, storming houses, and
driving all before them.  There had been an anxious time when they could
not struggle up to the foot of the fort, but were forced to lie quiet,
to shield themselves as they best could from the fire from its summit
until the vessels of war beat down an angle of the wall to make an

It seemed to him well-nigh impossible that he could have come out of the
turmoil alive.  He was soon, however, aroused.  The bugles were ringing
out, and the unwounded men formed up in order that their names could be
taken, after which the work of collecting the wounded began in earnest.

"I am glad to see you have come out all right, Hallett," Captain Buller
said.  "Poor Prince is killed, and I should think pretty nearly half the
company.  It is the sharpest fight I ever went through.  If it had been
much sharper there would not have been anyone left to tell the story."

"I am sorry to see that you are hurt, sir."

"My wound is not serious; it was a thrust with a bayonet through the
arm.  However, I have got my majority.  You had got five or six steps
before, owing to men being sent home.  I should think there must be at
least seven or eight vacancies now among the lieutenants.  One’s only
consolation is that it is an ill wind that blows no one good."

As soon as the roll was called, the work of carrying down the wounded
began, and Arthur had time to go and look for Roper.  To his great
satisfaction he found that he also was uninjured.  They exchanged a
hearty hand-shake.

"We are very fortunate to have both got through it, Roper."

"I am glad indeed," the other said.  "I wondered several times how you
were faring, but there was very little time for thinking."

"No; we must talk it over with each other when we have leisure.  We must
help to get all these poor fellows down before we can think of anything
else.  Well, it is satisfactory that we have had a good fight at last.
I had begun to have great doubts whether we were ever going to fight at

"Yes; they cannot say any more that the Legion is of no use for
fighting.  It has been our first chance, and I think we have made the
most of it."

Then they separated; and it was late in the afternoon before the work of
collecting all the wounded was finished.  In the meantime a number of
townspeople had been hired to dig graves, and by nightfall all the dead
were buried.  Some of the troops slept on the ground they had won, the
rest marched down into the town; rations were served out, and as soon as
these were cooked and eaten all went to sleep. Arthur’s regiment was one
of those that remained on the hill, and the officers all gathered in one
of the houses that had been carried by storm.  The bodies of the dead
Carlists had been carried out, and fires had been lighted.  After they
had eaten a meal, Arthur and two other officers started on the rounds to
see that the watch were vigilant, for the Carlists had not fallen back
far, and might at any moment make an attempt to recover the lost ground.
Each of them had two orderlies, and these carried lanterns.  The night
was dark, and it was next to impossible to make their way about over the
broken ground, which was still thickly strewn with dead Carlists.  They
were heartily glad when, an hour later, they were gathered by the fire.

As they would have to turn out again in another hour they agreed that it
was of no use to sleep, and they chatted in low tones of the events of
the day.  All agreed that it had been worse than they had expected, and
that the enemy had fought with great bravery.

"They are sturdy fellows and not to be despised," a captain said.  "I
certainly did not think they would fight so well.  If they had fought
like that against the French there would have been no occasion for us to
send an army to help them.  However, we have a right to be proud of the
Legion; they have done gallantly.  It is a pity that we have lost
something like three thousand men by sickness.  It would have made a
vast difference if we had had our full force here."

"Anyhow, it was lucky," Arthur said, "that the other two regiments came
up in the middle of it, for they had fairly brought us to a stand-still.
Well, I suppose it is time for us to turn out again.  At any rate it is
a consolation that we shall get some sleep to-morrow."

Next day the general sent for Arthur.  "I must thank you again," he
said, "for the information you gained for us, Mr. Hallett.  But for it I
don’t think we should have managed to win our way so far, for we learnt
from it the weak and the strong points, and were able to take several of
their most formidable redoubts, which would otherwise, I think, have
been more than we could manage.  I shall have pleasure in mentioning
your name in my report of the action, and shall remember you if anyone
is wanted for special service."

"Thank you, sir!  I can assure you that I have never thought of such a
thing, and only carried out my plan in the hope that I might gain some
information which would be useful to you when the time came to attack.
I have already been extremely fortunate in obtaining a commission
although altogether without interest, and can only hope that in future I
may again be able in some way to be of use to you."

Arthur afterwards went to have a chat with Roper.  "Well, Roper, we have
had our first battle; what did you think of it?"

"I had no time to think about it at all.  It was just load and fire, and
’Go at them, lads!’, then falling back, and then trying again.  It was
certainly a good deal worse than I had expected.  I don’t think that I
was frightened.  My one idea was that I wanted to get at them."

"That is a good deal like what I felt, Roper.  I know I wondered
occasionally that I lived through such a storm of musket balls.
Sometimes it seemed as if nothing could exist in it."

"All the time I was astonished at the courage the Carlists showed.  We
had so made up our minds that they would not stand against us for a
moment that I was quite taken aback when I found that they were fighting
just as hard as ourselves."

"Not quite so hard, Roper," Arthur said.  "They fought hard, I admit,
but when we got among them with the bayonet we always had the best of
it.  The beggars could stand bullets, but they did not like steel."

"We lost heavily, sir."

"I am sorry to say that we did.  We lost particularly heavily among the

"Yes, sir.  Everyone was saying how gallantly they showed the way.  I
hardly expected some of them to do so well.  Of course one has no means
of knowing; but there is a sort of general idea that an officer who
doesn’t look after his men, or seem to take any interest in them, is not
the sort of fellow who would lead them well in a fight."

"I don’t see why that should be so, Roper.  A man may be very
kind-hearted, and yet not extraordinarily plucky; while, on the other
hand, a pretty hard sort of man may have any amount of courage."

"I suppose that is so, sir; but somehow one seems to think that a man
who is a good fellow one way will be a good fellow another."

When off duty some of the officers would often go out for a sail, and
one day four of his friends asked Arthur to accompany them.

"I don’t think the weather looks very settled," he said; "still, there
mayn’t be any change till we are back.  Anyhow, I am ready to go."

"That is right.  You know you understand managing a boat, and that is
more than can be said for the rest of us. We don’t propose to be out
more than two or three hours.

"Well, it makes a change, anyhow.  After drill is over, there is little
enough to do in the town till the evening; it is all right then.  The
better class seem to sleep during the day; at any rate, they don’t show
outside their houses.  And though they are friendly enough when you meet
them on the promenade, they are very chary of asking you to call, or
anything of that sort, except when they have regular receptions."

Accordingly they went down and hired a boat, and put out. A sail was
hoisted, and as the wind was dead behind them they ran out merrily.
They passed within a quarter of a mile of the men-of-war.

"There is a man on that ship waving his arms and shouting," Arthur said.
"I rather think he is shouting to us."

"No; I expect he is shouting to someone on the other ship," one of the
others replied.


They thought no more of it, and kept their course.  When they had gone
five miles Arthur said: "I think we had better be making for home again.
We shall have to beat all the way, and the wind is freshening; besides,
I don’t like the look of the clouds coming up over the hills."

The others, who were enjoying themselves, said: "Oh, we will go a bit
farther; it would be a pity to cut our trip short."

They held on for another couple of miles, and then Arthur said: "I am
sure we had better turn.  You hardly recognize how hard the wind is
blowing; we are running before it, and she keeps on an even keel.  You
will find matters altogether different when we have once put about."

"Well, turn if you like, Hallett.  It really seems a pity."

"Well, before I bring her into the wind we had better let the sail run
down and put two reefs into it.  I fancy we shall have to reef it close
down before we have done."

The others saw by the serious expression on Arthur’s face that he was
thoroughly in earnest, and they lowered the sail and reefed it.  As soon
as this was done, Arthur put the helm down and the boat came up into the
wind.  As she did so, she heeled over so far that one or two of the
others grasped the gunwale, fearing that she was going over.

"She is all right at present," Arthur said, as she started off on her
new course; "but I wish we were five miles nearer the land.  I can see
she won’t look up very near the wind, and we shall have a long beat
before we get in."

Half an hour later the sail was close-reefed, but even under this small
spread of canvas she heeled over till her lee-rail was close to the

"You were right, Hallett, and we were fools not to follow your advice,"
one of the others said.  "I don’t know much about sailing, but I
understand enough to see that we have a very tough job before us; and
the wind is getting stronger every moment."

Five minutes later Arthur said: "There is a black squall coming across
the water.  We had better lower the sail altogether till it has passed.
I have no very strong hopes, however, that it will be over for some
time.  There is no break in the clouds, and I have quite lost sight of
the shore."

His advice was taken.  The mast was lowered and the sail rolled up, and
two officers got out oars.

"You had better get them all out," Arthur said; "it is as much as we
shall be able to do to keep her head to the storm. Now, all row quietly.
The squall will be on us in a couple of minutes; when it comes, you will
have to put your whole strength into it.  It is fortunate that I am
steering with this short oar.  If she had had a rudder we should never
have kept her straight, for she will be hardly moving through the

There was a sudden splash of rain, then a pause, and then it came down
in bucketfuls, while the wind literally howled. For a time the exertions
of the four rowers, and of Arthur at the steering oar, kept her head
straight; but after a quarter of an hour the rowers, unaccustomed to
prolonged exertions, began to flag.  Arthur changed places with the
stroke-oar, and the boat again made a little way; but the advantage
gained by his strength was more than counterbalanced by the want of
skill of the helmsman, and at the end of five minutes’ rowing the boat’s
head fell off, and the wind caught it and whirled it round.

"Oars in!" Arthur shouted.  "I will take the helm again. You four had
better sit down in the bottom of the boat.  A big sea will be getting up
very soon."

"How long is it going to last?" Sinclair said, when they had all
crouched at the bottom of the boat.

"It may last two or three days, and the wind could not be in a worse
quarter.  If it shifts, we might make either the coast of Spain or
France; but it is a south-easter, and will blow us right out into the
bay.  It is lucky you brought those two bottles of wine and that loaf of
bread with you; we shall want them badly before we see land again.  I
wish to goodness we had run in to that man-of-war.  I have no doubt at
all now that the man was hailing us, and that they were going to caution
us against going out farther.  However, wishing is useless; we have got
to grin and bear it."

"We were fools not to take your advice earlier, Hallett."

"I don’t think it would have made much difference," Arthur said.  "If we
had turned then, we could not have got back before the squall struck us,
and we should have been blown out just as we have been now."

He was now sitting in the bottom of the boat also, still holding the
steering oar.  There was, however, but little to do with it, the boat
was running straight before the wind.

"What pace do you think we are going through the water?" Sharman
shouted, for they could scarcely hear each other speak.

"About six or seven knots, I should say."

"Then if it goes on for three days we shall be something like five
hundred miles out?"

Arthur nodded.  "I hope it won’t keep on blowing as long as that.
Besides, there may be some shift in the wind that would enable us to
make either France or Spain.  If not, we have only one chance, and that
is, we may be picked up by some passing ship."

There was little more talk.  They were all sitting close together in the
stern, as Arthur said that by so doing the greater draught aft would
enable the boat to keep her course dead before the wind without
steering.  Each felt that it was more cheerful being thus close
together, even if there was nothing to talk about.

Sinclair proposed that they should have a little wine to warm
themselves, but Arthur at once said: "We must not think of such a thing.
We have all had breakfast, and it must last us till to-morrow morning.
We may have to eke out the wine for a fortnight; those two bottles are
of vital importance to us.  As long as it keeps on raining we shall not
suffer from thirst.  By the way, it would be a good plan to shake out
the sail and spread it on the seats with the oars over it, lashed into
their places by the sheet.  In that way we shall be able to catch the
water that runs off it in the baler."

"There is a lot in the bottom."

"Yes, but it is principally sea-water.  You had better shift a bit
forward.  The waves are beginning to break over her stern, and we must
keep her more on an even keel."

Night came on.  The gale was blowing with unabated force, and the sea
was high, but the boat rode easily over it, for she was a large craft,
and would have required double the number on board to take her down to
her bearings.  Fortunately the water was warm, so that while there was
not a dry thread on them, they did not suffer from cold.  As night came
on, they rearranged their sail.  They put one of the stretchers across
the boat with its ends resting on the gunwale some five feet from the
bow.  The oars were lashed to this, sloping downward into the bottom of
the boat, and over them the sail was fastened, thus making a sort of
tent sufficiently large for them all to lie under.  All were worn out by
the buffeting of the wind, and in spite of the tossing of the boat, the
hardness of the boards, and their drenched clothes, they fell asleep
before long.

Morning was breaking when they awoke, and there was no change, except
that the sea was running much higher.  The first thing they did was to
bale out the boat.  Then a bottle was opened, and a little wine measured
out carefully into the wine-glass that had been brought on board.  The
loaf of bread had been placed in a locker.  This had fortunately kept
dry. A slice of it was cut off and divided into five portions.  It was
but a meagre breakfast, but all felt better after it.  Pipes and cigars
were then lighted, and they began to talk.

"What chance do you think there is of a vessel picking us up, Hallett?"

"I really can’t say; but there ought to be a fair chance if the wind is
blowing in the same direction as when we started. It would take us out,
I should think, pretty well into the course of ships going south.  There
are, besides, vessels making for Bordeaux and other French ports.  It
will be hard if we don’t run across some of them; and as we have four
oars and a sail we should be able to cut them off as they come in.  Yes,
I think our chances are good.  But even now one of us ought always to
keep on watch."

The rain had ceased falling, but the air was still thick, and heavy
clouds were passing overhead.  At one o’clock, however, these began to
break, and two hours later the sun shone out brightly.

"That is a comfort," Arthur said.  "In the first place it will dry us,
in the second place it will cheer us, and in the third it will enable us
to see a long way."

He stood up and looked round.  "I can see nothing at present," he said.
"It is only when we get on the top of a wave that we can see any

About five o’clock in the evening they made out a sail, but it was a
long way off, and was already to the west of them; and it was seen at
once that it would be absolutely useless to try and row after the ship,
as she was running rapidly along, although under a very small amount of
canvas.  Still, the sight of the vessel cheered them.  They had seen
one, and there was no reason why they should not see more.  They now
knew that the wind was blowing more from the south than it had done, and
that they were therefore running to the north.  This was an advantage,
for they would be making rather towards than away from the French coast,
and, when the wind fell, might hope to reach it.

The next morning the wind had dropped a good deal.  The day was bright
and clear, and they allowed themselves a double portion of wine and
bread.  Then they got the mast up, undid the lashings of the sail, and
hoisted it half-way up, making holes in the canvas by which they could
put an extra reef in.  Under this very reduced canvas they were able to
sail comfortably, though all of them had to sit up to windward.  The
wind had come still more round to the west of south, so they were able
to lay their course due east.

"How far are we off land, do you think, Hallett?"

"Well, we have been about sixty-six hours out.  By the course we ran the
first twenty-four, we made, at six knots an hour, about a hundred and
forty-four miles, which would put us, I should say, something like
seventy to the nearest point of France.  The next twenty-four hours we
were running nearly north, so during that time we must have kept about
the same distance from the coast.  Last night we must have been
approaching rather than running away from it.  Well, we are now going
about four knots through the water.  If the wind falls more, and we can
put up more sail, we shall walk along a little faster; but until the sea
goes down, I don’t think we can calculate upon making above five knots.
But if we are now, as I suppose, nearly in a line with the mouth of the
Loire, we may not be more than thirty or forty miles from the shore;
for, although I don’t pretend to be particularly well up in geography, I
know that the French coast runs out a good deal west till it gets to

At twelve o’clock Sinclair stood up and looked round. "I can make out a
dark line," he said, "over there to the left; it looks to me like land.
We should have seen it before but for the sail."

Arthur was as usual steering, but the others all went forward to have a
look, and Sinclair took the helm for a minute to allow him to do so.

"That is land certainly," he said.  "I should say that it is stretching
out towards Brest; but I think we had better keep straight on.  It may
take us a few more hours to get to shore, but it would save us a lot of
travelling if we were to strike the mouth of the Loire instead of Brest.
At any rate we are safe now, and can venture upon a slice of bread each
and a full glass of wine--a glass and a half in fact; that will still
leave us with half a bottle for breakfast to-morrow morning. We may
fairly calculate upon being close to land by that time."

The others were rather in favour of running to the land they saw.

"Well, look here," Arthur said: "don’t you think that it would be a
great deal easier to travel a hundred miles in this boat than to tramp
the same distance?  Besides, the coast, I believe, is very rocky all the
way along there, and we might find a difficulty in landing.  My own idea
is, that when we do make land, we must go ashore and find out where we
are, lay in a good stock of provisions, and start south again.  With the
wind as it is now, we could very nearly lie our course, and we could
certainly do so if the wind goes round a point or two farther.  I don’t
know what money you fellows have, but I have only a dollar or two in my

All examined their store, and the total only amounted to thirteen

"Thirteen dollars would go no distance towards taking us down through
France.  It would not pay for a conveyance a quarter of the distance, to
say nothing about food.  Even if we walked it, it would hardly pay for
our bread and cheese, and we should have to sleep in the open.  Then,
too, we might have a deal of difficulty in getting into Spain without
passports; and if we did get in we should find it almost impossible to
make our way to San Sebastian, as several places on the frontier are in
the hands of the Carlista.  Therefore I shall certainly stick to the
boat.  If you prefer to tramp you can do so; but I know that before you
have gone more than a day’s march, you will begin to feel very sorry
that you did not take my advice."

"There is a lot in what you say, Hallett," Sharman said, "and I for one
shall certainly stick to it."

The others at once agreed to the idea.  Arthur, being the only one who
knew anything of sailing, had throughout the voyage acted as captain,
and the fact that he had carried them through the storm safely had given
the others great confidence in him.

"I should say," Arthur went on, "that when we make land we may as well
stop for twenty-four hours.  The people will probably treat us
hospitably as shipwrecked mariners, and put us up and feed us.  We shall
all be glad of twenty-four hours’ rest; and by the time we are ready to
start again, the sea will have gone down, and we shall set out like
lions refreshed.  With a wind anywhere north of east or west, we shall
be able to lie our course comfortably; and even if the wind is light we
ought to make eighty or a hundred miles a day, and three days will take
us easily to San Sebastian."

The sun was just setting when they saw land ahead of them, and by ten
o’clock they were close to it, and could make out that it was either an
island, or a cape running out into the sea.  They sailed to the north
side of it.  The sea was smooth, so, running the boat ashore, they got
out on to a low beach.  Walking inland for some distance they threw
themselves down in a field, and as the ground was soft in comparison
with the boards at the bottom of the boat, they were very soon sound
asleep.  In the morning they finished the loaf and the wine, and then
returned to the beach.  Ascending some rising ground, they saw that half
a mile along the shore there was a village standing at some little
distance from the sea.  Towards this place, therefore, they made their

As they entered the village they were regarded with looks of
astonishment by the natives.  They were not in uniform, but their
clothes had shrunk considerably in their long drenching.  Sharman had
lost his cap.  All looked faded and bedraggled, and three days’ short
rations had left its mark on their faces.  Sinclair fortunately spoke a
little French, and was able to make the villagers understand that they
had been blown off the coast of Spain in a storm, and had landed late
the previous evening half a mile away.  The curés of the village at once
took them in, and in a short time they sat down to a hearty meal, to
which they did full justice.  They told the curé that they intended to
start next morning to sail down the coast, and learned from him that the
place where they had landed was the island of St. Nazaire, and that they
were some twenty miles from the mainland.

"I think you could not do better than sail along the coast," he said.
"Once you make the mainland you will find villages and little ports at
short distances.  At these you can buy anything you want.  Of course you
will always keep within sight of land, except when you cross the mouth
of the Gironde. I don’t know how you are off for money, gentlemen, but I
shall be happy to supply you with some, which you can send to me when
you have an opportunity."

"We are very much obliged to you, sir," Sinclair said, "but we have
thirteen dollars between us, which will buy us an ample supply of things
for our voyage.  We do not intend to land, but shall sail on night and
day.  Two of us are quite sufficient to manage the boat, and we can
sleep by turns."

"Thirteen dollars will be quite enough if you have fine weather and fair
winds, but it would not go far if you have to stop."

"I don’t think there is any fear of bad winds.  There would hardly be
two storms one after another at the end of the month of May; but indeed
I do not think we should run short of money were we to be eight or nine
days on the voyage. The wine is only, I suppose, about sixpence a litre,
and if we reckon a litre a day each of wine, and allow half a franc each
for bread and as much for meat, our victuals will only cost us a dollar
and a half a day, and we could treat ourselves to a franc’s worth of
fruit and still have enough money to last us a week."

The priest smiled.  "Well, sir, at that rate you can no doubt do it
comfortably, and I admit that your thirteen dollars will be ample if you
make the run in five days, which you certainly will do, unless you get
the wind right in your teeth."

They dined at the priest’s house, and he provided beds for two of them,
and found accommodation for the others in some of the cottages.  They
did their shopping that afternoon, and arranged to start at daybreak the
next morning.  This they succeeded in doing, after thanking the good
priest very heartily for his hospitality.  Many of the villagers had
been down on the previous day to look at the boat that had lived through
such a gale, and some of the others had now come to see them off.  They
headed east so as to make the shore as soon as possible, for they agreed
that as they would have nothing to guide them in case of thick weather
coming on, it was best to make the mainland, and then follow it down at
a distance of a mile or so.  The wind was blowing now from the north
west, and, spreading their full canvas, they ran down rapidly past the
island, and three hours after saw the French coast ahead.

They were now in high spirits.  They had made a wonderful voyage, and
were able to chat gaily over the talk there would be at San Sebastian
concerning their disappearance.

"I only hope there won’t be another fight before we are back," Arthur
said; "that would be horribly annoying.  If I were certain of that, I
should feel quite happy over our adventure."

The weather continued fine throughout their voyage.  The wind was
somewhat light, but sufficient to take them along at between four and
five miles an hour, and on the evening of the third day after starting
they saw the highlands of Spain rising in front of them.  On the
following morning they ran into the harbour of San Sebastian, where they
were hailed as if returning from the grave by their companions, who had
given them up for lost.

"We certainly should have been, if it hadn’t been for Hallett," Sinclair
said.  "He kept his wits about him the whole time, got us to rig a
shelter, and stuck to the helm as long as steering could do us any

The general himself sent for them and heard their account of the voyage.

"Well," he said, "all is well that ends well, and I congratulate you on
your marvellous escape.  Moreover, you have lost nothing, for there has
been no more fighting since you left."

                              *CHAPTER V*

                          *A FURIOUS STRUGGLE*

The time passed slowly.  Skirmishing went on constantly. Both parties
worked at their entrenchments.  Shots were exchanged by the batteries
from time to time.  The soldiers were in better spirits, as a certain
amount of the pay due was handed to them, and for a time even the
grumblers were contented.  Drilling went on regularly, and was done
smartly and well.  Sunday was the great day of the week.  Spanish
colours were hoisted early, and cannon fired a salute.  The church bells
began to ring, and every Spaniard, male and female, rich and poor,
started by six o’clock for the Cathedral, which was so crowded that very
many were forced to kneel outside on the plaza in front of it, the other
churches being all taken up as magazines and storehouses.  At seven
o’clock the service was over, the shopkeepers began to open their
stores, and country people and others thronged the great square.

Although firing went on as usual, sports were held down on the sands.
When the market was cleared away, the plaza was soon filled with
dancers, principally girls, who danced to the guitar.  In the crowd were
Spanish and English officers, grave dons, all the better class of the
town, the women in their black silk dresses and mantillas, peasants,
beggars, soldiers, and sailors.  Many would stroll to the ramparts and
watch the firing till eight o’clock, at which hour the Spaniards all
went to bed, and the streets were quiet save for an occasional drunken
soldier and the patrol parties.

Then there was another long interval without pay, which caused serious
disaffection.  Several of the regiments broke into open mutiny, and
absolutely refused either to obey orders or to leave their barracks.
Some of these mutinies lasted for a fortnight, and were caused partly by
want of pay and partly because many of the men believed that they had
enlisted only for a year, and, now that the period of their service was
drawing to an end, considered that ships should be arriving to take them

The officers were greatly puzzled what to do.  It was extremely doubtful
whether any of the regiments that were still obedient would, if called
upon to do so, fire upon the mutineers, and it was morally certain that
if they did so the disaffection would be so great that the whole Legion
would fall to pieces. The officers went about among the mutineers trying
to get them to return to their duty.  Some of the regiments were
pacified by distributing small sums of money among them, others were
reduced by stopping the supply of all rations, and gradually things
settled down again.

The desultory fire that had been going on for so many weeks was
succeeded, on the 1st of October, by a series of attacks by the

Heavy firing broke out at three o’clock in the morning, shot after shot
falling in the town, and so well aimed were they that none doubted but
that the gunner was one John Wilson, a deserter from the Legion, who had
once been in the Royal Artillery.  There had been many desertions from
time to time, and the Carlists were constantly shouting invitations to
our men to come over to them, promising them good pay and good
treatment--offers very enticing to men on small rations and no pay.

As the fire broke out columns of Carlist infantry advanced, driving the
pickets before them.  Some of these threw themselves into houses, and
defended themselves against overwhelming numbers.  The 3rd Regiment and
the Rifles were the first to reach the scene of action, many of them
running up in their shirts, or with their tunics all unbuttoned, having
leapt to their feet, seized their rifles, and hurried off without a
moment’s delay.  Drums were beating and bugles sounding all over the
town, the non-commissioned officers turning the men out as fast as they

The officers were riding about and getting the men to fall in. As they
arrived they were formed up behind walls and other shelters.  The 3rd
and the Rifles had checked the Carlist advance.  As the 8th Regiment
formed up, a cannon shot from the Carlist fort on the Ametza Hill fell
close to a group of officers, many of whom were knocked down by the
stones thrown up, and then went through the column, killing one man and
knocking down half a dozen others.  The men, however, laughed and joked
among themselves.  The next ball went right through the horse of a
mounted officer, killed two soldiers behind him, and a woman who was out
looking for her husband’s body, having just got news that he had been

Our artillery had now come on the scene, and, directed by Colonel
Colquhoun, an admirable and scientific officer, soon got the range.  He
himself levelled one of the cannon at a column of Carlists a mile
distant.  The ball burst just at the right moment and committed great
havoc, and the gunners of the other pieces in the battery, under his
instructions, opened such a terrible fire upon the column that it broke
and disappeared.  He then laid three guns on the Ametza fort.  They were
fired simultaneously, and to the delight of the soldiers they burst on
the parapet, carrying death and confusion among the gunners, and
killing, among others, the deserter who had given them so much trouble.
Up till ten o’clock the Carlists maintained the offensive, but at that
hour the Lancers came on to the field.  They charged in gallant style on
the south-east side of the Ametza hill, and the Carlists gave way and
ran until they reached their breastworks. Here it was impossible for the
cavalry to follow, and they at once drew off under a very heavy fire.
They then charged again and again at the various parties scattered over
the plain, moving in as perfect order as if on parade, and doing great
execution.  But for the fact that the Spanish entrenchments were so
extensive as to afford shelter for the scattered fugitives, the loss
inflicted upon them would have been extremely heavy.

The special object of the Carlist attack had been the village and fort
of Alza.  This was defended by two Spanish regiments, one of the Legion,
and a battery, and these repelled the attack with great slaughter.

A dog belonging to the Legion, which had taken part in every fight,
always marching at the head of the regiment, distinguished himself
greatly in this battle.  Strangely enough he never barked except in face
of the enemy.  He had been twice wounded, and on this occasion, in
company with a Spanish friend of his own species, advanced and retreated
with the Lancers.  They had gone on for some distance, where the balls
were flying thick, but during one advance the Spaniard tumbled over and
came back hopping on three feet.  Briton looked back but would not
retreat, and stood barking his defiance at the enemy.  Presently a ball
slightly wounded him in the throat.  He returned to his companion, who
was hobbling away, and tried to turn him, and repeatedly offered to lead
another charge by advancing a short distance himself.  Presently he got
another wound on the head.  The men lying in shelter called to him, and
he came in and got his wound partially dressed, and then at once set off
again.  His Spanish friend had in the meantime been killed, and Briton,
having in vain tried to make him rise, came back to the men and
endeavoured to get them to go out and carry his friend in.

The National Guard of San Sebastian turned out well. They had no regular
uniform, but carried a bandolier filled with cartridges, and their
rifles; and many of their women, who came out with the men, took shelter
in the woods and assisted in carrying in the wounded.

General Evans rode about with the greatest coolness through the heavy
fire, but although hundreds of bullets were aimed at him he was only hit
once through the ear.

So the fight continued all day until night put an end to it.  No attempt
was made to storm the Spanish position.  As General Evans mentioned in
his despatches, this could not have been effected without the loss of at
least five hundred men, and the capture of the entrenchments would have
been dear at the price.

After this battle there was an interval of quiet. Arrangements had been
made by General Evans with the Spanish commanders that he would not take
the offensive until they were ready to co-operate with him.  The force
was therefore again set to work to entrench, and as the men received a
pint of wine and threepence three-farthings a day in addition to the
usual twopence halfpenny, the service was a very popular one.  The extra
pay sufficed to keep the soldiers from grumbling, and the extra food
that they were able to purchase put them into better condition.

One of the well-known figures in the town was General Jauregui.  He had
been in turn a shepherd, half-soldier, and half-guerrilla; but when the
war broke out he raised a body of volunteers for the queen, and soon
attained the rank of general. He was not liked by the officers under
him, many of whom were nobles, but he was beloved by his men.  He had
many relations in the ranks, and was not ashamed to sit down and eat and
talk with them.  He possessed the rare peculiarity in a Spaniard of
being fat.

Months passed; and not until the 9th of March did it become known that
the advance was to take place the next morning.  No secret was made of
it, as the general’s desire was that the Carlists should gather to
resist him, for he wished to strike a heavy blow.  Each man was given a
peseta (equal to tenpence halfpenny) to buy tobacco and other
necessaries, and the shops of the town were crowded all day with British
soldiers.  A good deal of the money was invested in chocolate, for it
was thought probable that the battle would last more than one day, in
which case rations would not be served out.

There was no going to bed that night.  Fires were kept blazing
everywhere, and cooking-pots were hung over them. Extra flints were
served out, and new shoes for those in need of them, and men exchanged
with each other the addresses of their relations in order that news
might be sent to them if they were killed.  All night the men sat and
joked, until an officer went round and ordered them to fall in quietly.
The Spanish regiments had already turned out and taken up their places,
some on the glacis and some in close column behind one of the batteries.

As day broke, the men were called to attention, and almost
simultaneously the batteries opened fire.  A column marched against the
Ametza with such resolution that its garrison evacuated it hurriedly,
leaving many thousands of rounds of ammunition behind them.  The
fighting was desperate all along the line.  One rocky hill was taken and
retaken five times during the day.  The terror of the scene was added to
by the fact that the furze on the hills caught fire from the explosion
of the shells, and many wounded were burned to death.  Many of the
places were thickly dotted with the red coats of the Legion.

The fight continued all day, and the troops lay down and slept on the
ground they had won.  Upwards of a thousand had fallen; and the Carlists
must have suffered much more severely, for they had been exposed to the
fire of artillery while they themselves had no guns in action.  The next
day passed quietly, the artillerymen being occupied in getting their
guns up on to the height they had won.  On the second day after the
battle, in spite of a pouring rain the advance began again.  The
artillery cleared the way, turning the Carlists out of the houses they
occupied; the troops crossed the river by a bridge of boats, and moved
on without serious opposition, and were glad when the order came to halt
and occupy the houses of the deserted village.

A little beyond the village there was a hard fight the next day, but at
night the troops fell back to the houses they had occupied in the
morning.  The rain still came down.  On the following morning at twelve
it cleared.  The Carlists lay concealed until the columns got very near
to them, and then opened a tremendous fire.  At three o’clock the
engagement had become general.  Some of the troops fired away all their
ammunition and then charged with the bayonet, before which weapon the
Carlists always fell back, although they would stand against the
heaviest musketry fire.  The strongest point of defence of the Carlists
was the Venta Hill.  Round this the battle raged all day, and in the
afternoon it was decided to make a final attempt to take it.

The 8th Regiment of the Legion was in camp, and was about to start on
the attack when General Evans rode up.

"You cannot go on with your one regiment, Colonel Hogg," he said; "there
will be some more up very shortly."

"Oh, allow me, general, to go on!" Colonel Hogg said.  "I am sure we can
get through the breastwork;" and then, turning to the regiment, which
was in close column, said: "Men, would you rather go on by yourselves,
or wait for others to come on to help you?  We have a chance here that
we will not divide with another regiment."

The men answered with a tremendous cheer.

"Go on, then, brave fellows!" General Evans said; and the regiment
advanced.  The artillery were hard at work, and the scream of the
rockets sounded over the din of the musketry and guns.  The regiment
with a loud cheer emerged from the cover which concealed them, and as
they did so a blaze of fire ran along all the enemy’s defences.  The
four mounted officers galloped at their head.  Every man cheered as he
ran down into a road and then up again through hedges and across broken
ground.  A storm of bullets swept through them, and the guns on the
heights played upon them with grape, but fortunately most of the
missiles went overhead. They reached the first barricade.  The colonel
was the first to mount it, and some others climbed up; but the majority
were so out of breath with their shouting and the pace at which they had
run that they were forced to pause.  The barricade was built of turf,
and was too steep to be climbed; but the men set to work to tear it down
with their hands, and soon made a passage through which they could pass.

There was no active opposition here, for our guns sent their shells so
thickly among the Carlists that it was impossible for them to withstand
them.  As the 8th poured through, they found the ground nearly covered
with dead.  The bugles now sounded a halt, but the men were not to be
restrained, and eagerly pressed forward till they reached the top of the
hill, which the Carlists had evacuated as they neared it.  Here a
battery of four guns was taken, and the flag flying above them hauled
down.  In the battery were found two barrels, one of wine and the other
of spirits, and a tremendous rush took place.  While the men were
frantically fighting, there was an explosion and a shout of "There is a
mine underneath!", and a frightful rush to got away from the spot took
place. In the midst of this a soldier calmly walked forward and filled
his canteen and that of two of his comrades.  This action considerably
reassured the others, and the panic soon abated when it was found that
there were no more explosions. It turned out afterwards that the man who
had shown such coolness had not been able to get near the casks, and had
quietly taken out some of his ammunition from his cartridge-box, laid it
on the ground under the feet of those fighting to get at the liquor, and
shaken out the fire from his pipe on to it.  However, the contents of
the casks were soon finished.  The regiment was then re-formed, and as
it was dark they lay down in the fields.  They had won their way thus
far, but they had reached their limit.

The news of the fighting had been carried by active men all over the
country.  It was evident that the farther advance of the Legion would
place them in possession of the main road to France, and reinforcements
were called up from all sides.  Already Evans was opposed by a force far
more numerous than his own, and when the news of his advance arrived
every Carlist within fifty miles was on the road.  Espartero, who was
with his army round Bilbao, had promised to march, and General
Saarsfield, who commanded another royal army, was also to have moved, so
as to occupy the enemy’s attention, but neither had done so.  The
Carlist army had been, a week before, withdrawn from before Saarsfield,
and during the night of the 15th, ten thousand men slipped away from the
force facing that of Espartero and crossed the mountains to assist their

Espartero himself had ridden, when he heard of the progress that Evans
was making, to see with his own eyes how matters were going on.  The
fighting had again begun, and the Carlists had already been driven back
into the town of Hernani, when Don Sebastian, one of the sons of Carlos,
arrived with ten thousand infantry and three hundred cavalry. These
marched out, column after column, and the vast superiority of numbers
enabled them to not only show in force in face of the allied army, but
to threaten both its flanks.  For a time the Legion and its Spanish
allies held their ground firmly, but they had considerably more than
twice their number opposed to them, and the flanks were gradually driven
in towards the centre.  The Rifles, who were on one flank, had fought
with obstinate bravery; and on the other, two Irish regiments stubbornly
faced an overwhelming force of Carlists, and were engaged in a
hand-to-hand fight with them.  Colonel Cotter, of the 9th Cork, was
conspicuous for his gallantry. Alone he rode repeatedly into the leading
Carlist ranks, until he was completely surrounded and fell fighting to
the last.

The 6th, 7th, and 8th Regiments, who were in reserve, were soon drawn
forward into the fight.  The 6th were first called up.  The whole of the
Carlist cavalry dashed forward to attack the leading company, which
alone was available to meet them, but were received with such a
tremendous volley that they were driven backward in great confusion,
with immense loss. Two howitzers of the Marine Artillery sent showers of
grape among them, and of the fine regiment which had advanced, a
shattered group of fugitives returned.  The Carlists, working round,
threatened the artillery, and these were only saved by desperate charges
of the Lancers and the staunchness of two companies of the 6th.  The
Spanish regiments fought but badly, and by their retreat exposed the
Legion to a heavy cross-fire, which compelled them to fall back.  The
8th, the last regiment of the reserve, who had been lying concealed in a
hollow, were then called up.  Two hundred of the wounded had been left
behind in a large house, and these, as the Carlists advanced, were
bayoneted to a man. The 8th went boldly forward, and, answering nobly to
Colonel Hogg’s call upon them to charge, rushed under a tremendous fire
to a wall, on the other side of which a strong force of the Carlists
stood, while many were already crossing it.

The 8th dashed forward and bayoneted all who had crossed the wall, and
for a time fought the Carlist battalion crowded behind it; but other
troops were pushing on both to the right and left, so, threatened on
both flanks and with an overpowering force in front, the 8th sullenly
fell back.  Broken up into parties, they still fought desperately, and
were only saved by a furious charge by the Lancers.  The Carlists,
unprepared for cavalry, broke in confusion, and thus the survivors of
the 8th were able to draw off.  The regiments of Chapelgorris had
distinguished themselves during the day. They had refused to be brigaded
with the other Spanish regiments, but fought by the side of the British
with the most desperate valour; they were indeed almost annihilated.
Nevertheless, the few survivors of these and the 8th nobly beat back an
attack of the Carlists.  There was a regiment of Royal Marines on the
ground, but these were prevented by Lord John Haye, who commanded them,
from taking any prominent part in the fight, and they lost but eighteen
men wounded and none killed, while the Legion had lost very many
hundreds, two or three regiments being almost wiped out. The retreating
force passed the height of Venta, which they had so gallantly won four
days before, and only halted when they reached the lines they had
occupied previous to the 10th.

Arthur had borne his full share in the incidents of that terrible day.
He had fought as fearlessly as the best, and had brought the remains of
his company out of the fray, his captain being among the many officers
who had fallen.  So great had been the slaughter that he found himself
at the end of the day high in the list of lieutenants.  He had received
three wounds, but all were slight.  He had broken his sword in a
hand-to-hand encounter with a Carlist officer, but had ended the fight
by striking his opponent full in the face with the pommel, and
stretching him senseless on the ground.  When they reached the lines he
went across to Roper’s company, and to his great pleasure found that his
friend had escaped with only a bullet through his arm.

"This has been a dreadful day, Mr. Hallett!"

"A terrible day, Roper!  Three to one against us, I should say there

"But we made a stiff fight of it, sir; and the Legion has a right to be
proud of itself.  If the Spanish regiments had not given way, I think we
might have held our own with them."

"I doubt whether we could in any case, Roper.  They were altogether too
strong for us.  Still, we should have done better if the Spaniards had
stood, and might at any rate have retired in good order to the Venta
Hill, and held that against any attack the Carlists might have made.  I
hope I shall never see such fighting again."

"The same here," Roper said.  "I think a thousand of us can do fairly
well against two thousand of the Carlists; but when it comes to twenty
thousand against about four thousand, the odds are too great altogether,
for no one can say that the Carlists don’t fight well.  It was lucky,
sir, that the Lancers arrived when they did, for I don’t think any of us
would have got away alive if it hadn’t been for them.  I quite made up
my mind that we had all got to go down, when they came thundering up."

"It was indeed a most fortunate thing, Roper.  During the last part of
the day I had been fighting with a musket among the men, for I broke my
sword, and pistols are of no use in a fight like that.  Well, I am going
off now to see if I can be of any good in the hospital; the surgeons
must have their hands more than full."

Arthur’s offer of aid was thankfully received, and he worked all night,
assisting the surgeons by holding the patients while the amputations
were being carried out, handing them sponges and hot water, and
generally aiding them in their operations. When morning came he was so
fatigued that he made his way with difficulty to his quarters in the
town, where he flung himself down to snatch a few hours’ sleep.

There was a great hush over the camp during the day. Then only, as the
men wandered about asking questions concerning missing comrades, did the
full extent of the disaster that had befallen them make itself felt.
The gaps in the ranks were terrible.  Their missing comrades were all
gone, for the Carlists had given no quarter.  Even if not seriously
wounded, all who fell into their hands were either shot or bayoneted by
them.  It was hard, after having fought their way victoriously for three
days, that such a misfortune should befall the Legion!  Their one
consolation was that every man had done his duty, not one had turned his
back to his foe.

The gaps among the officers had been terrible.  Several of the regiments
had lost all their field-officers; others had suffered greatly.  Deep
were the execrations upon the Spanish generals, who should have detained
the Carlist armies facing them, but who by their lethargy had allowed
some twenty thousand men to slip away and join those with whom the
Legion had been so successfully engaged; and not a few of the men would
willingly have obeyed an order to attack the Spanish regiments, who had
deserted them as soon as the fighting began.

At first it was anticipated that the Carlists would take advantage of
their success and attempt to capture San Sebastian and there was a
general hope that they would do so, for all felt confident that they
could resist any attack that might be made.  The entrenchments were very
formidable, and a number of heavy guns were mounted upon them.  The guns
of the ships, too, would give their support.

But the Carlists were well satisfied with their success.  The greater
portion of the troops that had come from Durango, and the force opposed
to Espartero had marched away again, leaving only a sufficient number to
oppose any further attempt on the part of the defenders of San Sebastian
to take the offensive.

Of this, however, there was but little prospect.  Scarce three thousand
five hundred out of the ten thousand men of the Legion were fit for
service; disease and battle had accounted for the rest.  Besides, of the
two years for which they had enlisted there were but a few months to
run.  Had they been treated well, by far the greater portion would
willingly have remained.  At first they had felt but small interest in
the struggle in which they had enlisted.  Most of them were
ne’er-do-weels--men who had been glad to accept any offer with the
prospect of giving them a living; the Christinos were no more to them
than the Carlists.  Now the case was altogether different--the Carlists
had become their personal enemies.  They would not have come to hate
them for their doings in a fair fight.  But the fact that they massacred
every man who fell into their hands, whether wounded or not, had raised
in the minds of the soldiers a feeling of undying hatred and a burning
desire for revenge.  They had not received the treatment they had a
right to expect. They had never been properly fed since they landed;
they were still months in arrears of their pay, and then only
irregularly received the wretched pittance of twopence halfpenny a day.
If the Spanish government had deliberately set themselves to drive the
regiments into mutiny, they could not have gone about it better, and it
was certain that when the time expired few indeed would consent to
remain any longer in the ranks.

The officers were no less indignant than the men.  Their pay was nine
months in arrear, and those who had no means of their own had only
subsisted by the assistance of others better off than themselves.
Considering what they went through, it was almost a matter for surprise
that the whole Legion did not embrace the offers of the Carlist
emissaries, who were constantly at work trying to sap their loyalty to
the Christino cause, and go over in a body to the Carlist lines. After
the reverses that had befallen them, the Spanish government seemed more
indifferent than ever to their sufferings; only very occasionally,
ridiculously small amounts were sent to them, sufficient to pay the
soldiers a few pesetas apiece.  In these circumstances it was not
surprising that the drill became slack and discipline relaxed.  The
officers, deeply indignant, could not bring themselves to be severe upon
the soldiers, who suffered even more than themselves, and so took no
notice of minor acts of insubordination.

Shortly after the battle Arthur had received his usual quarterly letter
from his uncle.  "My dear Arthur," it ran, "herewith I enclose order as
usual on Messrs. Callao, of San Sebastian, for thirty pounds.  We are
all very glad to find that you have passed through the last battle
without serious wounds.  You have been most fortunate in that respect.
Your term of service will end in a few months’ time, and we trust that
at its conclusion you will return home.  I am afraid that after the life
you have been leading we can hardly hope that you will resume your
studies--indeed, it would not be reasonable to expect it.  Still, you
might travel or otherwise employ yourself a great deal better surely
than in getting yourself shot at, and that in a cause which--although no
doubt you now feel some interest--cannot affect you in the same way as
if you were fighting for your own country.

"According to other accounts, and from letters I have seen from other
members of the Legion, you must have been suffering great hardships.  No
doubt at San Sebastian these have been less cruel than they were at
Vittoria; still, they have been severe.  You tell us very little about
them, and, as I say, it is from other sources that I form this opinion.
We are all obliged to you for always writing directly after a battle,
for we are in a state of considerable anxiety until we hear from you, as
of course no details of casualties are published; and in the interval
between the first report of the fighting and the receipt of your letter
we are all very unsettled, and your cousins’ studies are greatly

"We all talk and think of you very frequently, and I am afraid that we
are inclined to pride ourselves on having a relative who has won his
commission and distinguished himself in Spain.  Still, my dear lad, I do
hope that if the term of service of the Legion is to be extended--and I
think that it probably will be--you will not be among those who remain
in the service.  The risks appear to be enormous.  More than half the
Legion are by this time either dead or invalided home.  I ask you, what
can compensate a man for running such risks, especially when, as in your
case, he is not driven by straitened circumstances to incur it? You have
done well; you have, so to speak, won your spurs. It will be something
to look back upon all your life.  Surely that is good enough.  Your
first enlistment was, to my mind, a wild and foolish business; but I own
that, annoyed as I then was, I should be still more so were you to
repeat the mistake.

"Pray think this over seriously.  Remember, pecuniarily you have no need
whatever to remain in the Legion.  You tell me that you have still most
of the money I have sent you lying by.  You have but three more years to
wait till your majority, when you will receive three hundred pounds a
year, and, if necessary, I can add something to this amount.

"Your cousins insist that you must be now almost a man, as you say that
you are over six feet, and no doubt the life that you have led must have
aged you a good deal and, I hope, taken some of your foolish
recklessness out of you. They have asked me to say that they hope you
won’t bring home a Spanish lady as a wife, and I have assured them that,
although I consider you capable of many follies, I feel convinced that
you will not commit such a crowning one as that. They and my wife all
send their love, and their earnest hopes and prayers, in which I join,
that you will come home safe and sound to us.

"I remain, my dear Arthur,
       "Your affectionate Uncle."

To this Arthur replied:--

"My dear Uncle,

"Many thanks for your letter and remittance. As to what you say about my
continuing my term of service, in the event of the Legion as a whole
re-enlisting for a further term, I cannot promise to take any particular
course at present.  You say that I can have no interest in the cause for
which I am fighting.  I can assure you that we have a very vivid
interest in it.  I grant that that was not the case at first, and that
we looked upon it in the mere spirit of adventure; but that is all
changed.  The Carlists are not like civilized enemies; they behave
rather like wild beasts.  They give no quarter, and every poor fellow
who falls into their hands--officer or soldier--is shot or bayoneted at
once.  Even the wounded are slaughtered ruthlessly.

"Now you can very well imagine the state of fury and hatred excited by
such doings.  The war has become a war of revenge, and men, when they go
into battle, hope that if they are hit it will be by a fatal shot, and
not by one which will lay them helpless on the ground, with the
certainty of being shot or bayoneted in cold blood unless the Carlists
are beaten and we hold the ground on which we have fought. I don’t say
that this is entirely the fault of the Carlists, for in the early part
of the war the Christinos were just as bad, from what I hear.  However,
that is the state of things now; and if the Legion were but well
treated, I think there is scarcely a man who would not willingly extend
his term. The fact that I have been promoted is another reason why I
might be tempted to go on.  Of course it will make no difference to me
afterwards whether I hold the rank of lieutenant or colonel at the end
of the war; but now that I have gone into the thing I want to see the
end of it.

"However, I do not think that you need feel uneasy on that score, for I
am convinced that, when the term has expired, the greater part of the
Legion will take their discharge.  Their treatment has been so
scandalous that I believe that if the order was given for the Legion to
march to Madrid, fight their way through all obstacles, and hang every
member of the government, they would receive it with joy.

"As to what the girls say about a Spanish lady, assure them that though
I am really a man in stature and strength I am still a boy at heart, and
am no more affected by the pretty graces of some of the Spanish girls
than if they were dolls. They are very jolly to chaff with, but
certainly, in my case, nothing to make love to.  I hope that by the next
time I write I shall be able to tell you I have got my company. With
love to you all,

"Yours affectionately,

                              *CHAPTER VI*

                              *A CAPTIVE*

"Have you heard that Maltravers is missing, Hallett?" Sinclair asked
Arthur one morning as he came out of his quarters.

"Missing?  No; how is he missing?"

"That is what nobody seems to know.  He was on duty last night, and went
along the line a certain distance, and then he seems to have
disappeared.  An enquiry is being made among the men on duty, but so far
there does not seem to be any explanation.  He certainly was not shot,
for there are no signs of his body.  One idea was that he might have
been taken suddenly ill, and turned off to come into the town to report
himself.  I believe a search is being made now on the ground that he
would cross, to see if he has fallen there. Of course no one thinks that
he could have deserted."

"I should think not," Arthur said.  "There are men who grumble so
continuously that one would hardly be surprised to hear that they had
taken other service, but that was not at all Maltravers’ way; he always
made the best of everything."

"Well, it is very strange."

The most exhaustive search failed to bring anything to light respecting
the missing officer.  The sentry at the last post he had visited had
observed nothing singular in his manner.  The next post was three
hundred yards away, but, although it was a dark night, the officer could
not have missed his way.  There was a sharp drop in the ground beyond
the line that he would traverse, and as the route was the same that had
been used for many months, it was scarcely possible that anyone could
miss it.  The idea that Carlists could have come down from their
entrenchments, the nearest of which was four hundred yards away, and
captured him, without the sound of a struggle reaching the ears of the
sentries to the right or left, seemed hardly possible.  Some suggested
that he might have gone suddenly out of his mind, and wandered down into
the town or to the bank of the Urumea, and there fallen in, but this
seemed to all to be wildly improbable.

The officer’s letters and papers were examined, but nothing whatever was
found that could in the slightest support the idea that he had committed
suicide.  There was nothing to do but to enter his name upon the list of
missing, and hope that he would yet turn up some day and explain the

"It is your turn for the night duty, Hallett," Sinclair said to him
three days after the strange disappearance of Maltravers.

"Yes, I know that my turn for duty begins this evening."

"Well, keep a sharp look-out, old fellow; we don’t want any more
mysterious disappearances in the regiment."

"No; one is more than sufficient.  I have been over the ground half a
dozen times during the past three days in the hopes of finding some sort
of clue, but without the least success.  Perhaps as I go round to-night
some bright idea may strike me.  Of one thing," he said with a laugh,
"you may be perfectly sure: that is, that if I don’t turn up in the
morning it will be neither desertion, suicide, nor insanity."

"No," Sinclair said; "I should certainly never suspect you of any one of
the three."

The others laughed.  "You certainly did your best to save your life on
board that boat, so we will put suicide out of the question.  As to
desertion and lunacy, I think they may be equally barred.  If you are
missing, I shall say that the pixies have carried you off."

"Yes; I think you can safely put it down to that."

After mess was over, Arthur took his pistols and sword and started to
the house that was used as the rendezvous of the officers on duty for
the night, made his usual visit to the outlying posts along a portion of
the line some three-quarters of a mile in extent, and returned.  A few
minutes before twelve he again started on the same tramp, his companion
on duty going in the other direction.  Nothing unusual happened until he
was half-way along; then, as he passed a ruined hut, he suddenly fell,
stunned by a heavy blow from behind.  He knew nothing for some time,
then he felt dimly conscious that he was being carried along.  Reviving
consciousness showed him that there were two men at his arms and two at
his legs, and that a cloak or some other woollen garment was wrapped
round and round his head, and something thrust into his mouth.  All this
was taken in little by little, for his head buzzed and ached from the
blow that had fallen upon it.

It was some time before his brain began to work in earnest. Then he
gradually came to understand that he was in the hands of the Carlists.
These four men must have stolen quietly down from their entrenchments
and hidden among the ruins of the hut, struck him to the ground,
probably with the butt-end of a musket, and were now carrying him off.
Doubtless this was the manner in which Maltravers had also been
captured.  He knew that to struggle would be absolutely useless; and
indeed, from a murmur of talk that went on around him, he judged that he
was already in the Carlist lines.  He could feel that he was being taken
up the hill.  After what seemed a very long time, his bearers came to a
stop.  A door was pushed open, and he was carried through and dropped on
the ground.  Then he heard the door close and the lock turn.  He sat up,
and took the muffler from his head and the gag from his mouth.  His head
ached as if it would split, so, knowing that there was nothing to be
done, he rolled up the muffler and, using it as a pillow, dozed off
after a time into a heavy sleep.  When he awoke, he heard talking

"This is the second five dollars each we have made, Pedro; if we go on
like this we shall soon get rich."

"I don’t see why we shouldn’t," the other said.  "As long as the nights
are dark, we can always be sure of making our way down unobserved.  We
may reckon on snatching two or three more before there is a moon, and
even then we shall be able to do it when there is rain."

"I don’t suppose we can catch many more that way," the other said.
"When they find officers keep on disappearing they will send three or
four of the men round with them, and then, of course, there will be an
end of the business.  Still, if we can catch half a dozen more we shall
not have done so badly."

As soon as day broke, Arthur sat up and looked round. He had still a
splitting headache, and there was a lump as big as an egg where the blow
had fallen.  His cap lay upon the ground near him, having apparently
been thrown in there by the men who had carried him up.  His arms had
been taken away, and he had no doubt that nothing had been left behind
that would leave any indication as to what had befallen him. The hut,
which was about twelve feet square, had evidently been inhabited by a
peasant.  It contained two or three broken pieces of rough furniture,
and the floor was littered with odds and ends of old garments, broken
crockery, &c. Two little loopholes, about six inches square, admitted a
certain amount of light when the door was closed.  Looking out of these,
he saw that the hut stood on level ground, evidently at the top of the
hill.  Numbers of Carlists lay on the ground wrapped up in their cloaks.

Two or three small huts and houses were dotted here and there on the
plain, the nearest of them being about two hundred yards away.  This one
had a garden round it, and looked as if it was still inhabited.  Like
the hut in which he was confined, it was built of stone, and was roofed
with slabs of the same material, but was larger and apparently had an
upper story or loft.

Having seen this much, he sat down until, by the stir around, he knew
that the camp was awake.  It was not until, as near as he could guess,
nine o’clock--for his watch had been taken away from him--that anyone
came near him, though he knew by the talking that there were two
sentries at the door.  Then he heard the key turn in the lock, and an
officer, who by his uniform, he thought, was a colonel, entered.  Arthur
rose to his feet.

"You are English, sir?" the colonel said.

"I am."

"Why do you fight on the side of the Christinos?  We know that you are
badly treated by them: you are half-starved and you get no pay.  Well,
sir, you are a prisoner in our hands; and I need hardly say what your
fate will be if you do not accept our terms.  If you will enter the
service of Don Carlos, you will be well-fed, well-paid, and welcomed as
a comrade.  It can make no difference to you on which side you
fight--Christino or Carlist.  You have learned what to expect from them,
neglect and suffering; with us you will have neither.  We are certain to
win in the long run.  You will get promotion and honour--the alternative
is death!  I will leave you till this evening to think over the matter."

He went out, and in a quarter of an hour two soldiers entered bearing a
dish of meat and beans, and a large jug of water.  Arthur had no
appetite; but he took a copious drink, poured some water over his cloak,
which he rolled up as a pillow, and lay down on his back, with his head
upon it.  Its coolness eased the throbbing of his wound.  As he lay he
thought over his position.  "The case is a very bad one," he said to
himself.  "Certainly I am not going to turn traitor; that needn’t be
thought of.  I have no doubt that the threat of shooting me, if I
refuse, will be carried into execution.  The question is, whether it
will be carried out at once on my refusal, or put off till to-morrow
morning. Surely they will give me another twelve hours.  If they don’t,
there is an end of it.  There is no possibility whatever of escaping in
the daylight; I don’t know that there is much chance at night, but there
may be a chance.  At any rate, I have all day to think it over."

He lay there for some hours, sitting up occasionally to pour more water
upon his pillow.  The throbbing of his head subsided somewhat, and at
one o’clock he sat up and forced himself to eat.  "Escape or no escape,"
he said, "I must keep up my strength."  When he had finished his meal he
stood up.  His head still throbbed, though the pain was much less acute.
First he went to the door and examined it: the hinges were strong and
rough, the lock was sunk in the woodwork; it was evident that it could
not be forced.

"Now," he said to himself, "I have the option of trying to get the
screws out of the hinges or cutting round the lock."  He felt in his
pocket for his knife, and gave an exclamation of disappointment when he
found that it was gone.  This was a bitter blow.  He spent some time
looking about the floor in the hopes of finding some piece of iron which
he could use for getting out the screws, but although he searched the
place most carefully, he could find nothing that would serve his

The walls of the hut were far too solid to admit of his making a way
through them.  It might, he thought, be just possible to burrow under
them; but he quickly dismissed this idea, for there was no great depth
of soil on the rock, and it was almost certain that the foundations of
the wall would be carried down to it.  He went to one of the little
windows, and stood there gazing out vaguely.  Presently he saw an old
woman come out of the nearest house, cut some vegetables, and go in
again.  He wondered what they were, and what she was going to have for
dinner, hardly knowing what current his thoughts were taking.  As he
roused himself and looked round, a fresh idea struck him.  The walls
could not be attacked, the door would defy any efforts that he could
make, the floor was altogether unpromising--but there was the roof! A
new hope sprung up in his breast as he looked up.

The roof was simply composed of slabs of stone, and although these had
been roughly plastered, the lines where one had been laid on another
showed clearly.  The slabs were from an inch to an inch and a half
thick, and about two feet square.  The walls of the cabin were about
eight feet high, and Arthur could just touch the lowest range of slabs
with the tips of his fingers; but he saw at once that the materials
within the hut would enable him to reach it easily.  There was a rough
stool some two feet high; one of its legs was gone, but by propping it
against the wall it would stand. He placed it there and mounted upon it.
It was a bit shaky, but it held his weight.  The top of his head was now
but a few inches below the slab, and he had no doubt whatever but that
he could raise it.  The two sentries, as far as he could tell, were both
in front of the cabin, and, considering its structure, it was very
improbable that there was one behind. Thus, then, if they gave him until
the next morning he could well hope to make his escape.

He was so delighted at this that he hardly felt any longer the pain in
his head.  It would, of course, be no very easy matter to make his way
down through the Carlist lines; but as he had done it before, he might
well hope to do it again. "At any rate," he said to himself, "nothing
can be done till night, and I may as well sleep till then."

He laid himself down again, this time going to sleep so soundly that he
did not hear the guards come in and put some more food down.  About six
o’clock he awoke, and at once took another meal.  Half an hour later the
colonel again came in.

"Well, sir, what is your answer?" he said.

"I do not like to turn traitor," he said.  "Certainly I have no reason
to be very grateful to the Christinos, and if the offer were that I
should resign the service I should certainly accept it; but I do not
like to fight against my old comrades."

"You would not be called upon to do so," the colonel said; "you would be
attached to one of our other armies.  We have had a good many deserters
from your lines, but we cannot utilize them because they understand so
little Spanish and no Basque.  We want an officer to lead them.  There
are plenty to make a strong company, and I will promise you that you
shall have their command and shall not be employed here."

"Give me till to-morrow to think it over, sir.  You have already taken
one of our officers; may I ask what reply he gave?"

"The obstinate fool chose death," the officer said.  "I was sorry; but,
of course, it had to be done.  I trust that you will not be so foolish.
At any rate, I will give you till to-morrow morning; but unless you are
by that time prepared to accept my offer, your fate will be the same as

So saying, he left the hut.  Thankful for the respite, Arthur went to
one of the little windows and looked out.  Numbers of fires were
burning, and the Carlist soldiers were gathered round them, some cooking
their food, others smoking and talking.  The hours passed slowly.
Arthur waited to choose a time when the camp was growing quiet, but when
there were still some sounds that might deaden any noise he might make.
At last the moment arrived when he thought he could attempt to get the
stone off, though he did not intend to try to escape till all were
asleep.  He placed the stool against the wall again, and climbed up, and
then pushed with all his strength under one of the slabs.  It gave a
little.  He tried again, and it yielded.  Working very carefully, he got
the upper end out from underneath the slab above it, then raised it,
turned it sideways, and lowered it into the hut.

The talk of the guards outside went on uninterruptedly, and it was
evident that no sound had reached their ears. Arthur sat down and
waited.  Hitherto he had felt no nervousness, but his anxiety now became
intense.  One of the guards might enter the place.  There were no
special grounds for fear that this would happen, as hitherto the
sentries had only opened the door to bring in his meals; still, they
might do so.  Again, a soldier who had been chatting with his comrades
at one fire might move off to sleep at another, and notice the hole
caused by the removal of the slab.  This was certainly very improbable
on so dark a night; still the thought of the possibility of one or other
of the two events taking place kept Arthur’s nerves on a strain.

At last everything seemed quiet.  The night was perfectly still, save
that he could hear an occasional sound of talking and laughter in the
trenches lower down the hill, where doubtless a considerable number of
the Carlists would remain on watch.  At last he felt that the moment had
come for making the attempt.  He again leant the stool against the wall,
put his hands on the edges of the two slabs by the side of the hole, and
pulled himself up.  Very noiselessly he raised himself higher and higher
till he could get his legs over the wall; then he turned, lowered
himself by his arms, and dropped.  As he did so he rolled over, and with
difficulty refrained from uttering a groan.  Instead of dropping, as he
had expected, on even ground, one of his feet had come on a rough stone
lying against the wall, and in the fall he had badly wrenched his ankle.


He did not attempt to move for a time.  The chance of passing down
through the Carlist lines was at an end.  For fully ten minutes he lay
there; then his mind was made up, and, turning over on to his face, he
began to drag himself along towards the house he had been looking at
during the day.  It was his only chance.  If he could conceal himself
there he might be safe.  When his escape was discovered in the morning
it would be supposed that he had made his way down through the lines, or
had gone out through the rear of the camp and taken to the mountains
until he could work his way back to the town.  There would certainly be
no search for him close to his prison.

It took him nearly half an hour at that slow rate of progression to make
his way to the house.  When he reached it, he raised himself on to his
sound foot, noiselessly lifted the latch, and went in.  He closed the
door behind him, and sat down against it.  Knowing nothing of the
interior arrangements, he dared not move for fear of waking the inmates.
He therefore remained there motionless, dozing occasionally, until the
first dawn of day enabled him to obtain an idea of his surroundings. The
room in which he was was unoccupied, but an open door at the back showed
where the old woman and whoever might live with her were sleeping.  A
rough ladder in the opposite corner of the room led up to an open
trap-door leading evidently to a loft.  This was what he had hoped for,
and making his way across to it he pulled himself up the ladder, and
found, as he expected, that he was in a low loft. It was half-filled
with hay and faggots, and, climbing over these, he laid himself down
behind them and lay listening.

In an hour he heard cries of alarm, followed by a great hubbub in the
camp, and had no doubt that his escape had been discovered.  Presently
he heard a stir below, and, listening, made out two voices--one, which
was, he had no doubt, that of the old woman whom he had seen, and the
other apparently that of an old man, probably her husband.  He had taken
a long draught of water the last thing before leaving the hut, and had
put the remains of the food in his pocket. He now bandaged his ankle as
well as he could, and then slept the greater part of the day.  Beyond
the quiet voices below he heard nothing, which showed that no suspicion
existed that he was hidden so close.  He was troubled only by the heat
during the day, but suffered a good deal from this.

At daybreak the next morning he made his way to the trap-door and looked
down.  On the table a large jug of water and half a loaf were standing.
He crawled down the ladder, took them both, and returned to his
hiding-place.  An hour later he heard angry talk below.  He did not
understand Basque, one of the most difficult languages to acquire, but
he guessed that the owners were railing over the loss of the jug and
bread, and doubtless putting it down to some soldier who had entered
after they had gone to sleep, and stolen them. The loss could not have
been a heavy one, but the old couple did not get over it all day, but
continued to grumble at intervals.  To him the proceeds of his theft
were invaluable. He was able to keep the bandage round his ankle bathed
with cold water, and he calculated that the bread would, with care, last
him three days, and that the water would hold out as long.

This proved to be the case.  The old man came up once during that time
with a large bowl, which he filled out of a sack containing lentils;
otherwise, Arthur was altogether undisturbed.  At the end of that time
the pain in his ankle had abated, but he could feel that it was still
very weak, and that he dared not yet attempt to walk on it.

That night he went down and refilled his jug from a pail and carried off
a loaf of bread from a cupboard.  After possessing himself of these
things, he very carefully drew back a bolt of the door.  When the old
couple awoke he heard them engaged in a furious quarrel.  They had
missed the bread, and, finding the door unbolted, the old woman had
charged her husband with neglecting to fasten it, while he was stoutly
maintaining that he had done so, and that she saw him do it.  The
quarrel lasted with more or less acerbity the whole day.  Had Arthur
possessed any money he would have placed a copper coin or two on the
table to pay for the bread he had taken; but both pockets had been
turned inside out by his captors, and he was absolutely penniless.

The loaf lasted for four days, and when it was finished he determined
that, although his ankle was still very weak, he would attempt to get
away.  He was very reluctant to again help himself from the old people’s
store.  It might be at least three days before he could enter the town,
although he hoped to be able to accomplish it in one.  Still, if his
foot should give him trouble he might have to lie up in shelter.
However, he contented himself with only taking half a loaf, and at
eleven o’clock at night, when everything was quiet, he opened the door
and went cautiously out.  His object was to get down to the Urumea,
which was but a mile and a half off, so, going back from the brow of the
hill, to avoid falling in with any sleeping Carlists, he started.

He had gone but a short way when he felt his foot beginning to pain him
badly.  At first he tried hopping, but he found that the jar of each
jump hurt him as much as if he were using the foot, and as he had no
knife he could not cut himself a stick.  He therefore sat down, and
swung himself along on his hands.  This was a slow method of
progression, and he had to stop frequently to rest his arms and wrists.
He soon gave up all idea of being able, as he had hoped, to reach the
river and to swim down past the Carlist lines before morning.  He kept
on, however, till the dawn had begun to break.  By this time he could
not be more than a quarter of a mile from the river.  Crawling into a
thick clump of bushes he lay down, and being thoroughly tired out with
his exertions he slept till mid-day.  When he awoke he ate a large hunch
of bread, and then waited until it became dark enough for him to make
another move.  As soon as night fell he set off.  It took him nearly an
hour to cross the quarter-mile of broken ground; but at length, to his
satisfaction, the bushes ceased and he saw the river twenty yards in
front of him.

He had, soon after starting from the cottage, taken the boot off his
injured foot and tied it to his waist.  He now took off the other and
fastened it by its fellow; then he stepped into the river, and found to
his satisfaction that the tide was running out.  Had it not been so, he
must have sat down and waited until the ebb began.  After wading for
some little distance, he struck out for the centre of the river; then he
turned on his back and let himself drift, turning occasionally on to his
breast and striking out carefully for a time, so as to get a change of
position.  Luckily the water was quite warm.  Presently he heard the
sound of talking, and perceived a glow of light on the stream.  He swam
across close to the other shore, and saw, as he floated down, the fires
of the Carlists stretching in zigzag lines along their entrenchments,
rising one above another.

He was confident that, plainly as he could see everything there, the
sharpest eye could not discover him so far beyond the circle of light.
Still, he did not attempt to swim until he was well beyond the fires;
then in a quarter of an hour he knew that he must be within the lines of
the Legion.  He thought, however, that it would save trouble if he were
to land abreast of the town, so he swam on until he reached the bridge
that had been thrown across the river.  Then he went ashore, having been
about two hours in the water.  The water appeared to have benefited his
ankle, for he found that he could now limp along slowly.  Making his way
to his quarters he went quietly up to his room and opened his door.  A
candle was burning there, and Roper was sitting at the table with his
head in his hands.  He looked up as Arthur entered, and then sprang to
his feet with a shout of joy.

"Thank God, you are back!  Thank God!  I have never quite given you up,
sir, although everyone else has.  Every evening when I have been off
duty I have come and sat here, as I knew that when you came back it
would be after dark."

"I am glad indeed to see you, Roper!  I have had a very narrow squeak
this time--I never want to have as narrow.  I will tell you all about it

"Your clothes are all wet, sir."

"Yes.  I must change them at once.  When I have done that, you must go
up to the colonel and report my return. I sprained one of my ankles, and
can only just hobble along, and I don’t want to put any more strain on
it than I can help; so, when I am undressed I will turn in.  By the way,
I think, before you go off you might cook me something, if there is
anything to be had."

"There is nothing here, sir."

"While I am undressing, you might run out and buy me something; cold
meat of any sort will do.  I have had nothing but bread since I went
away, and not much of that."

Arthur was in bed by the time Roper returned.

"I have got some cold meat, bread, and a bottle of wine, sir."

"Thank you, Roper!  Put them on that table and draw it to the side of
the bed.  When you have done that, please go and report my return, and
explain why I can’t come and do it myself."

He had scarcely finished the meal when the colonel came in.

"Welcome back a thousand times, Hallett!  We have all been in a terrible
way about you.  I hoped for the first two or three days, and insisted
that whatever had happened to you, you would get out of it, if there was
but the remotest possibility of escape.  Now let us know all about it.
I supposed you were carried off, as Maltravers was.  How it happened we
could not find out, but since that time every officer has made his
rounds with four men with him, and as a consequence we have had no more
disappearances.  Now, please tell me all about it."

Arthur told the story at length.

"By Jove, you have done wonderfully well!" the colonel said.  "It has
been one of the narrowest touches I ever heard of; and if you hadn’t
sprained your foot you would have been back among us within twenty-four
hours of your capture. It was lucky, indeed, that you had particularly
noticed that cottage and its occupants during the day, and that the
thought struck you to shelter in it.  Well, I won’t say anything more
now; it is ten o’clock, and I am sure you must want a good night’s

"I shall be glad, sir, if, the first thing in the morning, you will send
the surgeon round to me.  My ankle is not nearly as swollen as it was,
and I have no doubt that the few hours I spent in the water did me a lot
of good.  At the same time, I shall be very glad to have it bandaged,
and don’t want to be kept in bed by it.  Of course I shall be able to
ride, but that would be no good for my company work."

"You must leave your company work alone for a week or so.  I shall be
glad, if you find that you can ride, if you will come round to my
quarters at ten o’clock, and I will take you to the general."

The next morning Arthur lay in bed until the surgeon came. While the
latter was bandaging his ankle he had to give him a short account of his

"Well, you got through it well," the surgeon said, "but I should not
advise you to try that sort of thing again; you may not be so lucky next
time.  You have given your ankle a very awkward wrench.  I should advise
you to avoid any attempt to walk for at least a week or ten days.  If
you do, you may have to lie up for six weeks."

Roper came in to help Arthur to dress, and to make his breakfast for
him.  Arthur’s servant had been killed in the last fight, and since that
time Roper had, whenever he was off duty, installed himself in his
place.  After breakfast he brought Arthur’s horse round, and the latter
mounted and rode to the colonel’s quarters.  That officer’s horse was at
the door, and he came out at once before Arthur had dismounted.

"Don’t get off, Hallett," he said.  "Dr. Spendlow has been round here
since he left you, and said that you must on no account use your leg for
another ten days.  He said that if you would obey his orders you might
be fit for duty in a fortnight, while if you did not do so, you might be
laid up for a long time."

They rode to the general’s quarters, which were a quarter of a mile

"You must walk in here," the colonel said; "but lean on my arm, and I
will take the weight off that foot."

On the colonel sending in his name he was at once admitted. "General,"
he said, "we are stronger by one officer than I thought we were.  Mr.
Hallett has returned."

"I am indeed glad to hear it," the general said warmly, and, coming up,
he shook Arthur heartily by the hand.

"He must sit down, sir," the colonel said; "at present he has only one
available leg."

"Now, Mr. Hallett," the general said when Arthur was comfortably seated,
"please give me a full account of what has happened; it may throw light
not only upon your disappearance, but on that of Captain Maltravers.
Before you begin your story, I should like to ask whether you have seen
or heard anything of him’!"

"Yes, sir.  I am sorry to say that I did not see him, for he was
murdered by the Carlists.  The choice was given him to desert to their
side or to be killed, and he nobly chose the latter alternative."

"I am sorry indeed," the general said.  "He was a fine young fellow, and
he died a hero’s death.  What a terrible war this is--a war to the
knife!  Indeed, it seems to me more cruel and pitiless every month, in
spite of the efforts Colonel Wylde, the British commissioner, is making
to persuade both parties to desist from these atrocities.  I am afraid
that one side is almost as bad as the other.  Both declare that they
commit these murders by way of reprisals, and I am bound to say that in
the early stages of the war the Christinos were nearly as bad, if not as
bad, as the Carlists.  Since then, however, they have been somewhat
better, and have really tried, I think, to keep the Convention, to
respect the rules of war and to spare prisoners.  They have, it is true,
shot a great many, but it has been by way of reprisals for the brutality
of the Carlists, and especially of those of Cabrera, who has several
times shot women as well as men.

"And now for your story, Mr. Hallett."

Arthur again told his story at length.

"I compliment you highly on your quick-wittedness, Mr. Hallett; it
certainly saved your life.  And in such a cell as you describe, with two
armed guards at the door, it is not one man in fifty who would have
thought of escaping through the roof.  Not less sharp was it to take at
once, crippled as you were, to the only place that offered you shelter.
Altogether, it was a remarkably well-planned and well-carried-out
affair; and be assured that if any opportunity should occur, I shall
take advantage of it to utilize your services.  Now, I hope you will
obey the doctor’s orders and go back to your quarters, and stay there
till your ankle is quite well."

This Arthur did; and for the next three or four days held a sort of
levee in his quarters, almost all the officers of the Legion coming in
to see him and to hear his story, which he became perfectly tired of
telling long before the visits were over.  His companions in the
adventures in the boat were especially pleased to see him, and came in
every day to have a chat with him.

"You seem fated to get into adventures, Hallett," Sinclair, said, when
he first heard the story.  "You get nearly caught as a spy, and manage
to make your way through the enemy’s lines with a lot of valuable
information; you get blown out to sea, and you save us and yourself; and
now you get carried off, and threatened with death in twenty-four hours,
but make your escape and rejoin.  My dear fellow, I am afraid you will
at last come to a bad end.  It is evident that neither water nor bullet
has power over you, and that your exit from this world will be hastened
by a collar of hemp."

"I hope not, Sinclair; I shall do my best to avoid it. Hanging seems to
be an uncomfortable sort of death, to say nothing of its being strictly

"Well, we shall see," Sinclair said; "but I cannot help thinking that
that is what will happen to you.  Now, what is your next adventure going
to be?"

Arthur laughed.  "I must leave that to fate.  Two out of my three
adventures were certainly not brought on by myself. I was blown out to
sea owing to your obstinacy in refusing to turn back when I wanted to.
I was certainly carried off this time by no will of my own.  So that
only what you call the spy business was of my own choosing.  I can
assure you that I have had enough of adventures, and shall not get into
another if I can manage to avoid it."

Ten days later Arthur was reported fit for duty, and was very glad to
resume his regular work.

                             *CHAPTER VII*

                            *A GREAT CHANGE*

One day Colonel Godfrey sent for Arthur.  "General Evans is going to
send Major Hawkins to Madrid, and has asked me to recommend a young
officer to accompany him as his assistant.  I have mentioned your name
to him, as you speak Spanish fluently, which very few other officers can
do. He will probably remain there for some time, and will act as the
accredited representative of the Legion.  I know that I have undertaken
a certain amount of responsibility in recommending so young an officer;
but from what I have seen of you, and from the distinguished service you
rendered by going into the Carlist camp and obtaining information
concerning it, I feel convinced that you will acquit yourself well.  You
will receive the temporary rank of captain."

"I am greatly obliged to you, sir, for recommending me. I fear that I am
very young for such a position."

"You are young, certainly; but a year of campaigning has added some
years to your appearance.  And as far as height goes, you are half a
head taller than the majority of Spaniards. General Evans has asked me
to bring you over to him, so we will go at once.  Major Hawkins is now
with him."

They walked across to the general’s house.

"Good-morning, Captain Hallett!" the general said.  "I am glad to see
that your leg has quite recovered.  Your knowledge of Spanish has been
of service to us, and now it will be of advantage to yourself.  Colonel
Godfrey has, I suppose, told you of the mission which I propose for you,
namely, to accompany Major Hawkins as his assistant.  You will, of
course, be under his orders.  He also speaks Spanish, but not so
fluently as you do.  In case of his falling ill or of his being
incapacitated, you will carry on his duties.  The post will be to some
extent a permanent one.  The Spanish government pay no attention to my
letters, and it is therefore absolutely necessary that I should be
represented and my requests urged strongly upon them.  My troops are
half the time on the edge of starvation, and can get neither pay nor
rations.  I have written in the strongest manner to them.  I think it
will be as well for you to go as an officer on my staff.  The Spanish
think a great deal of dress; Captain Forstairs is going home on sick
leave, and will, I have no doubt, be glad to dispose of his uniform for
a trifle.  If it will be any inconvenience to you to buy it, I will have
any sum you require handed over to you from the chest: of course, like
other officers, you are some months in arrear with your pay. And indeed,
in any case, an allowance will be made for your uniform, unless you
should afterwards become a member of the staff."

"Thank you, sir! but I am well supplied with money, and can purchase the
articles myself.  Should I only use the uniform for a short time, I
will, at the conclusion of my mission, hand it into store."

"You will take a servant with you, as it is necessary to keep up a good
appearance.  Major Hawkins will give you all necessary instructions.  He
proposes to start to-morrow."

Greatly pleased at his appointment, Arthur first went to Captain
Forstairs’ quarters and purchased his uniform, getting it complete for a
five-pound note.  He then went to Roper.

"I am going away on a mission, Roper, and may, for anything I know,
remain for some time at Madrid.  As you know, my servant was killed the
other day, and I want another who can ride."

"I shall be very glad to go with you if you will take me," Roper said.

"But you see you are a non-commissioned officer."

"Oh, I would give up my stripes readily enough if you will take me!  I
am not very fond of the captain of my company."

"Then in that case I will go across with you and ask him to let you give
up your stripes.  You are quite sure that you would like it?"

"Quite sure; I am heartily sick of San Sebastian.  I am accustomed to
riding, and should enjoy the trip greatly."

They went away to the house where the captain was lodging, and Arthur
had no difficulty in getting him to consent to the sergeant’s
resignation, and to give him permission to accompany him.  Arthur then
bought for Roper a serviceable horse.  This done, he went to the

"I have got the uniform, and shall be ready to start in the morning,
sir," he said.

"I am glad that you are going with me, Captain Hallett," said the major,
who, having been in the Legion since its formation, knew Arthur well.
"I am sure we shall get on well together; and as I am rather shaky in my
Spanish, it will be of great assistance to have you with me.  I may tell
you that I am the bearer of a note from General Evans saying that unless
money is sent for the pay of his troops he will engage in no further
operations.  The Spanish army is regularly paid, and there can be no
reason why we should not be. More than that, he will withdraw into San
Sebastian.  We have shown brilliantly enough that we can fight, and we
have done more with our small force than Cordova has with his big army.
I am convinced that our threat to retire from the struggle will wake
them up.  At the same time, we must not be too sanguine about our
getting through.  We shall take the road by Bilbao to Vittoriti.  So far
it will be plain sailing, but after that I expect we shall find some
difficulty, for the Carlists are strongly posted a few miles from the
town.  I expect we shall have to hire a guide to take us across the
mountains.  However, we shall have plenty of time to think of that when
we get there."

Arthur now went down to the camp of the Lancers, who had arrived a few
weeks before.  They had had two or three deaths since they came, and on
making enquiries Arthur found that he could purchase for a few shillings
a Lancer’s suit. This he handed to Roper, whom he had taken with him,
and he told him to carry the suit back and put it on.

"Your clothes are not fit to be seen in," he said, "and this suit is a
very fair one.  If you give it a good cleaning to-night it will be quite
respectable, and you will look much smarter in it than in that ragged

"It looks pretty bad, certainly, sir, and is none the better for having
lost all its buttons; there is hardly a button left in the regiment.
When they are hammered down, the natives here take them as coins.  They
know nothing about money, and I expect these buttons will be passing
about as cash long after we have all cleared out of this.  I sha’n’t
know myself in my new rig-out.  The man it belonged to has evidently
taken care of it.  There is only one thing you have forgotten, sir, and
that is the saddle."

"Yes, I have forgotten that.  Here are three pounds--you had better buy

The party started early the next morning and went by boat to Bilbao,
slept there, and rode the next day to Vittoria, Here they halted for a
day, and, going to head-quarters, obtained the services of a guide to
take them across the mountains.  On starting on the following morning
they at once left the main road, and presently struck up into the hills.
The road was extremely bad, and they were forced to go at a walk; the
guide, who was mounted on a mule, rode on ahead.  They halted for the
night at a deserted hut some distance down the descent.  Here they took
shelter, congratulating themselves that another day’s ride would take
them to Burgos, where there was a strong garrison.  They had brought
provisions with them, and, having made a hearty meal, lay down for the
night.  Next morning they continued their journey, and were near the
plains when they saw a party of men hurrying towards them.

"They are Carlists!" the major said.  "It is of no use turning back or
going up the hill; they would run our horses to death.  Look here,
Captain Hallett, they will cut us off, that is evident; but we may make
our way through them.  I will put my papers in my holster.  If I fall,
snatch them out and carry them on.  Now, let us gallop."

Setting spurs to their horses, the four men dashed forward. Half a dozen
of the Carlists reached the road before them, but drew back before the
impetuosity of the charge, firing their rifles as they did so.  Without
a halt the little party dashed on at full speed.  For a time the
Carlists attempted to keep up with them, but were soon left far behind.
"I am done for!" the major said, swaying in his saddle. "They hit me as
I passed through them.  Take the papers and ride on."

"I cannot leave you, sir."  And, leaning over, Arthur caught the major
as he was falling, and lifted him on to the horse before him.  He rode
on for another half-mile, by which time the Carlists were out of sight.
But his burden had become more and more heavy in his arms, and when he
drew his horse up, he found that the major had breathed his last.

"I am hit too, sir," the major’s servant said; "I have a bullet in my

"We are not more than ten miles from Burgos now.  I am afraid there is
no chance of obtaining help until we get there. Roper, bring the major’s
horse up against mine," for the animal had followed its companions.
"That’s it.  Now tie that head-rope round the major and ride on one side
of him, and I will ride on the other.  We shall have to walk for the
rest of the distance."

It took them three hours to reach the town.  Arthur went at once to the
citadel and saw the governor.  "I have brought with me a major in our
army," he said.  "He was the bearer of a despatch to your minister of
war.  We were attacked by a party of Carlists nearly ten miles away, and
he was shot.  I beg that you will give him a military funeral, as he
fell in the cause of your queen.  I have also a trooper with me who is
severely wounded.  I will, with your permission, leave him here in

"Certainly, sir.  The officer shall be buried to-morrow morning.  I am
grieved indeed that none of my men went up the road this morning.  They
go up every other day to prevent bands of Carlists from raiding over the

The governor invited Arthur to stop in the castle.  The body of the
major was laid in a room close by, and on the following morning he was
buried with military honours.

"I will take the major’s horse with me, Roper," Arthur said when all was
over; "it is a good horse, and a spare one may be useful.  At any rate
we may as well keep him."

Accordingly, after thanking the governor for his courtesy they proceeded
on their way, Roper leading the spare horse.

"We have begun badly," Arthur said, as they rode from the town.  "The
major was a brave fellow and a good soldier.  It is sad indeed that he
should have been killed in a skirmish like this.  It leaves me in a very
awkward position.  However, I must deliver the letter.  There are two or
three British commissioners out here, and if one of them happens to be
at Madrid I shall ask him to present me and to help me on a bit."

"I hope we are not likely to meet with any more of these Carlist chaps."

"I hope not, Roper; but really I don’t know anything about it.  We got
no news at San Sebastian of what was going on elsewhere, but they can
hardly be wandering about on the flat country.  I fancy they are almost
all infantry, in which case they will not care to expose themselves to
an attack by cavalry."

They arrived at Madrid without adventure.  They put up at the Hotel
Principes, and to Arthur’s relief found upon enquiry that Colonel Wylde,
the chief British commissioner, was at present staying at the hotel.  He
at once went to his room.

"I have called, sir," he began, after introducing himself, "to ask you
if you will be good enough to give me some information as to how I had
better proceed.  I started from San Sebastian as assistant to Major
Hawkins of our Legion.  He was the bearer of a letter from General Evans
with complaints about pay and provisions.  Both officers and men are
many months in arrears.  Major Hawkins was instructed to inform the
ministers of war and finance that unless the money were sent
immediately, the general would withdraw the whole of his force into San
Sebastian, and take no further part in the fighting.  He has sent
remonstrance after remonstrance without success and feels that matters
can be allowed to drift no longer.  The men are in rags and are
half-starved.  On our way down we were attacked by Carlists, and Major
Hawkins was killed.  I carried him into Burgos, where he was buried with
military honours.  I only received my appointment as his assistant on
the day before leaving, and beyond the fact that I was to remain here to
assist him generally in acting as General Evans’s representative, I know
nothing of the duties. Considering the importance of the mission, and
the absolute necessity that money shall be sent without delay, I have
ventured to ask that you will introduce me in the first place to the two
ministers to whom I bring letters, and if you will, as far as you can,
support his application."

"I will gladly do so, Captain Hallett.  Indeed, it is my duty to aid
you.  I am not charged in any way to interfere with our Spanish Legion,
but incidentally anything that is of importance to the general cause
would, of course, be of interest to our government.  We may at present
be called benevolent neutrals.  I am well aware that General Evans has
sent repeated applications, and that practically no result whatever has
come of it.  I will therefore not only go with you, as you ask, but I
will myself urge upon them the importance of the application, pointing
out that by refusing the necessary means to General Evans they are, in
fact, breaking the terms upon which that Legion was raised; and that
being so, the general would be acting with perfect propriety in
withdrawing the troops from the field, and giving permission to all who
may choose to leave at once, which would, of course, mean a complete
break-up of the Legion.

"They will not wish that.  It was humiliating for the Spanish to be
forced to hire foreign soldiers to assist them, and no doubt that
feeling has driven them to treat the Legion very badly; but at the same
time they have themselves been continually in want of money.  A
considerable proportion of the country is in arms against them, and
their resources have been greatly diminished in consequence.  This,
however, after all, is no excuse for them.  They offered certain terms
to men to fight for them, and the bargain should have been kept. It was
the same in the Peninsular War.  We went to fight their battles, and
they threw every impediment in our way, starved our men when they
themselves had a superabundance of supplies, and so created a hatred far
greater than our men felt for the French.

"They are behaving in exactly the same way now; but, so far as our
troops are concerned, there is one broad difference. In the first war we
fought partly, at any rate, from feelings of patriotism; whereas in the
present case, although a few may have gone into it from a feeling of
sympathy for the little queen, the great proportion of the Legion are
neither more nor less than mercenaries, and would have enlisted as
readily for Don Carlos as for Isabella.  And now, sir, I will go across
to the war office with you.  I have myself many times urged that steps
should be taken to relieve the necessities of the troops, and I am not
at all sorry that General Evans has at last put his foot down."

It was but a short walk across the square, for the hotel faced the war
office.  On Colonel Wylde sending in his name he was at once admitted.

"Well, Colonel Wylde, what can I do for you?" the minister said

"I have brought across to present to you, señor, Captain Hallett, who
has just arrived from San Sebastian with a very important letter from
General Evans.  He was accompanied by an officer senior to him, but the
latter was killed by a party of Carlists as they came along."

The minister looked sharply up at Arthur, who, bowing, handed him the
letter.  He begged them to be seated, and opened the communication.  He
frowned heavily, and then with a very evident effort recovered himself.

"The matter shall be seen to," he said.  "You know, Colonel Wylde, how
straitened our resources are, and that nothing would please us more than
to comply with all General Evans’s requests.  No one can grieve more
than I do at the delays that have taken place in complying with his

"But, sir," Arthur said, "the Spanish troops are always well fed, though
it may be that their pay is sometimes in arrears.  Our troops get
neither food nor pay.  They are in rags, and many of them are barefoot.
No single promise that has been made to them since the day they landed
has been kept.  Nearly a third of their number have died of fever
brought on by cold and want, and yet in spite of this they have been
ready to fight, while so many of your own generals have held back.  You
think I am bold, sir?  I am urging the cause of some five thousand of my
countrymen, who have, confiding in Spanish honour, come out here to
fight your battles. If you could go and look at them yourself, sir, and
see their condition, you would pity them, and would marvel that they
have so long shown patience.  Feed them and pay them, and they can be
depended upon to carry out their share of the agreement.  But assuredly
they cannot be depended upon if they are starved."

"I am not surprised, sir," Colonel Wylde said, "that General Evans feels
that no more can be done.  The officers have been now nine months
without their pay, the soldiers six months.  More than a third of their
number have died or been invalided home; and the heavy list of their
killed and wounded in battle speaks for itself of the bravery with which
they fought.  I must say that I approve of General Evans’s decision.  He
owes it to the men who serve under him, and I cannot but say that the
treatment they have received has been a grave scandal and dishonour to
the government of Spain.  I have myself been four times to Madrid to
urge their claim, and absolutely nothing has been done.  I consider that
General Evans will be amply justified in carrying out his threat."

"The matter shall be seen to at once," the minister said, with an air of
frankness.  "I will consult my colleague the minister of finance, and
will see that money is forwarded very shortly.  You can assure your
general, señor," he said to Arthur, "that steps shall be taken to comply
with his request without delay."

"I will send a message to that effect.  My own orders are to remain here
until the treasure has been sent off; and that even when that is done I
am to stay here as the general’s representative to convey his wishes
personally to you, until at any rate all arrears of pay have been
cleared off.  It is not a favour that we are demanding, but a right.  I
shall do myself the honour of calling upon you every day or two, to
ascertain when the convoy with treasure will start.  Of course you can
refuse me admittance, but General Evans will know what that means."

After a few more words Colonel Wylde and Arthur left the ministry.

"You spoke out straight, Hallett," the British commissioner said with a

"I could not help doing so, sir.  The state of the men is pitiful in the
extreme.  They are scarecrows; they have practically no uniform whatever
save their greatcoats, and they are in rags.  I should have liked to
take the little man by the neck and shake him."

"They are in a bad way themselves," the colonel said.  "The court is a
perfect nest of intrigue.  There are something like half a dozen
parties, each with their own nominees to push and their own interests to
serve.  Large sums are wrung from the people, but they are for the most
part absolutely wasted in jobbery.  If it were not that the British
government have taken the part of Isabella, I should recommend them to
stand aside altogether and let the factions fight it out.  There are a
few honest men on both sides, and the Carlists indeed know what they are
fighting for.  To the other side it is a matter of indifference who
wins, provided they themselves can feather their nests.  They are not
fighting for the poor little queen, but for their own private interests.

"Well, I know a good many people here now, and shall have much pleasure
in introducing you to their houses and making things pleasant for you;
for it is evident that if, as you say, you have to stay here until all
arrears of pay are received by the Legion, you will assuredly wait for
an indefinite time.  I am going to a reception this evening at half-past
nine, and I shall be very glad to present you there if you will call for
me ten minutes earlier."

"Thank you very much, sir!  I should be very glad to make the
acquaintance of some of the people."

Soon after his return to the hotel Roper came up.  "I have seen the
horses fed, sir; what is the next job?"

"The next thing will be to get a meal, Roper; I am going to do the

"Oh, I have done that, sir, and it was the best meal I have had for some
time, I may say since I left England."

"Well, I sha’n’t want you any more at present, so I should advise you to
take a turn round.  Some of the soldiers are sure to get into
conversation with you, and as we are likely to be here for some time it
is just as well that you should make some friends.  You know enough
Spanish to get on with; I expect a little will go a long way."

"Is there any chance of our getting our money, sir?"

"I expect we shall get some.  Now that the Spaniards see that they have
got to do something or let the troops go home, they will pay up enough
to keep them quiet for a time.  I don’t suppose it will be much, but
sufficient to keep the wolf from the door at any rate."

"Well, sir, will you mind if I go out in mufti.  I picked up for a few
shillings some clothes belonging to a Spaniard, who died before I came
away.  They are respectable sort of clothes, and I thought, if I were
going to stop here, that you would let me wear them.  In this uniform I
should be a sort of show.  Everyone would be wondering who I was."

"Certainly, if you like, Roper, and I think it is a very sensible idea.
You would be able to stroll about in them without attracting any
attention, but at the same time, you know, you would not be able to make
friends with the soldiers."

"Oh, I shall get into talk with them, sir; a glass of aguardiente will
go a long way with those chaps, and of course I shall let them know that
I am a soldier myself."

"Yes, Roper, and there will be the advantage that with you in plain
clothes I can walk about with you, which will be a good deal more
pleasant for both of us; so if you will change your things while I am at
dinner, we can take a turn together afterwards."

"Thank you, sir!  I should like that very much.  It is a biggish town; I
shall feel quite lost in it for a bit."

A few minutes later the bell of the table d’hôte rang. Arthur went down
to it.  The table was full, and he speedily became engaged in talk with
people sitting next to him, who were much interested on finding that he
was a British officer. They asked him many questions as to the state of
things in the north, about which there were all sorts of contradictory
reports.  He, on his part, learned something, for he heard that it was
generally expected that Cordova was going to be made war minister.
After dinner two or three officers came up and spoke to him, and when
they heard that he was on General Evans’s staff, said that they would be
glad if he would smoke a cigar with them.  He answered, however, that he
was engaged for the evening, but would be very glad to do so on some
other occasion.  Then he went down and joined Roper, who was standing at
the door of the hotel, and walked about with him for a couple of hours.

"What hands these chaps are for cloaks!" the latter said. "In the north
I used to think that they wore them to hide their shabby clothes, but it
can’t be the same here.  There is a cold feel about the air, and I
should not be sorry to have on one myself.  This is evidently the time
they stroll about most. The square looked quite empty this morning, and
now it is full of people walking up and down."

"Well, Roper, I must be off, for I am going, as I told you, with Colonel

It was a large house, and the rooms were very full.  When they entered,
the colonel at once took Arthur up to the hostess and introduced him.

"What is your news from the front, Captain Hallett?" she asked.

"There has been nothing doing for the past month," he answered.  "San
Sebastian is very full.  The Carlists look at us from a distance, and we
look at them."

Then he passed on as another guest came up.  Colonel Wylde introduced
him to several ladies and gentlemen, and then left him to talk with a
personage who was evidently of importance.  There was no dancing going
on.  The refreshments served were of the lightest description.

"This is a change indeed to me," Arthur said.  "It seems to be another
world almost; to say that we have been living roughly would be but a
faint idea of the state of things."

"And how are things getting on up there?"

"It is dull work except when there is a fight, and we know nothing
whatever of what passes elsewhere."

"Are all your officers as young as you are?"

"No, madam.  I have been exceptionally fortunate, and owe my promotion
largely to the fact that I have, since we landed, spent all my spare
time in learning Spanish."

"You speak it very well, Captain Hallett."

"I speak it well enough for all practical purposes, señora, and should
speak it better still if it were not that the language up in the north
differs very widely from that spoken here."

Several cards were left on the following day for Arthur. In the majority
of cases these mentioned which day their owners received visitors.  On
the second day he called on the minister of war, and was told by him
that every possible effort was being made, and that he hoped in a few
days to send off a portion at least of the sum due.

Arthur then wrote a despatch to General Evans telling him of Major
Hawkins’s death, and relating his interview with the minister.  "I
think," he said, "that some money will be sent, but I anticipate that
the sum is likely to be exceedingly small.  From what I hear, I believe
that the government are really very short of money.  The minister was
evidently much alarmed at your threat to disband the Legion, and he will
make every effort to induce you to alter that determination.  I shall
endeavour to see him every other day, and shall continually repeat my
assurances that you are in earnest on the subject.  Colonel Wylde is
also using his efforts in the same direction.  He has been very kind to
me, and introduced me to many people."

It was three weeks, however, before a month’s pay was despatched, with
promises that more, should speedily follow.

By this time Arthur had become quite at home in Madrid. He knew many
officers to speak to.  Some of these belonged to the garrison; others
seemed to have no good cause for being there, but kept up the pretence
of being engaged on important business.  One of them said to him one
day, "We seem a very united family, do we not?"

"Yes; no one would dream, from the appearance of Madrid, that a civil
war was going on."

"And yet society is split up into a number of sections, each working
secretly against the others.  Outwardly there is no sign of this;
everyone goes to the receptions and looks smiling and pleasant.
Practically everyone doubts everyone else; and there are numbers of
well-known Carlists, but they hold their tongues, at any rate in public,
and rub shoulders with the men whom they would gladly kill.  It is
funny, when you are able to look behind the scenes a little.  I have no
doubt you will be able to do so before long.  I saw you chatting, for
example, with Señor Durango, a very nice young fellow.  There is no
doubt that he and his family are all Carlists; but they are well
connected, and have plenty of friends among the Christinos.

"I believe two-thirds of the people you meet don’t care a snap which
party wins.  If they are here, of course they profess to be Christinos;
if they are away in the provinces, they hold correspondence with
Carlists, that they may keep themselves safe whichever side wins.

"Altogether, I consider that the Carlists are more in earnest; the
Christinos are the more numerous, simply because they hold the capital
and the government.  If the Carlists were to gain one great success, it
would be the other way. It is a game of self-interest; Don Carlos and
Christina are merely counters.  Some want governments, others titles,
others posts in the ministry, others commands--there is nothing real
about it from beginning to end, except for the poor devils of soldiers
who have to fight.  You will see that in a short time Cordova will
retire, and that Espartero will probably take the command; that would be
certainly welcome to the army.  He is a fine fellow, and if he were
allowed he would be able to do great things; but he would no sooner be
appointed than a dead-set would be made at him, and he would be hampered
in every way.  Well, I must be going.  I dare say you are wondering what
is my motive in staying here.  Well, I am trying to get the command of a
regiment, and a regiment, if possible, stationed here in the capital.
Adieu!"  And, throwing his cloak over his shoulder, he sauntered away.

Arthur sat some time thinking.  "Well, if the Legion breaks up, which I
expect it will do before long, I think I shall stay out here.  If I take
a lodging and live quietly, I can do on my one hundred and twenty pounds
a year.  There will be a lot to see, and probably no end of fun.  I have
got eighty pounds now, so I can a little exceed my allowance.  I should
certainly like to have some fun again; I have had little enough,
goodness knows! since I left England.  Besides, if I were to go home now
I should have thrown away all the time that I have spent in getting up
Spanish.  It is funny how they all take me for at least five- or

The month’s pay had some effect.  For a short time the troops were
somewhat better off.  Arthur had received a letter from General Evans
thanking him for obtaining a small proportion of the sum due, and urging
him to continue his work.  Then he heard that there had been some more
fighting, that Irun had been captured by storm, and that several other
towns had either been taken or had surrendered.  Two months later he
received another letter from the general saying that he was going home,
and that the Legion was about to be disbanded.

"A small body of about eight hundred men have agreed to remain here to
form a new Legion; this may succeed for a time, but I have little doubt
that they will be treated in the same way as we have been.  However, it
will be open for you to join it if you are willing to do so, or you can
make your way down to Cadiz and come home by ship from there.  I enclose
an order on Madrid for forty pounds for yourself and fifteen pounds for
your man, which has been lying in the hands of the paymaster here until
you should return.  Should you wish it, you can, I have no doubt, enter
the Christino army with your present rank."

"That is something out of the fire anyhow," Arthur said, as he put the
order into his pocket-book.  "Well, if the Legion failed, it was not
from want of pluck.  Out of about six thousand, we have had over two
hundred killed and wounded officers and over two thousand three hundred
rank and file; so, though we have not achieved anything, we certainly
need not be ashamed of our fighting.  Besides, at least two thousand
five hundred have died in hospital, so that half our strength is
accounted for."

Roper shortly afterwards came in.

"The Legion is disbanded, Roper, and it is open to you to go north and
embark with the rest, or to go down to Cadiz and take a passage home
from there."

"What are you going to do, sir?"

"I am going to stay here in a private capacity; I want to see the end of
the thing.  I shall make this my head-quarters, and shall ride about and
see what goes on.  I know a good many officers now, and they can give me
letters of introduction to others; and as I have fought for them, no
doubt I shall be well received in their army.  At any rate, I have no
wish to go home at present."

"Can’t I stay with you, sir?"

"I should like to have you with me certainly, but I can’t afford to pay
your wages."

"Well, sir, my food would not come to much, and I like the place, and I
like the life, and above all, I like being with you.  You must have
someone to look after your horse.  I don’t want to go home empty-handed,
and I would certainly a great deal rather not do so, but stop here if
you would keep me."

"I would keep you willingly enough, Roper, but the only question is--can
I?  I must move out of this lodging and find a smaller one.  One
certainly could live cheaply enough here at the cafés; no one seems to
take anything but coffee or chocolate, and a cup seems to last them for
hours.  From the large number of people one meets at the cafés and sees
nowhere else, I should say that they must dine at some cheap place or at
their homes.  However, we will think it over."

A few days after his arrival at Madrid, Arthur had written home.

"My dear Uncle,

"You will be surprised to see by the heading of this letter that I am at
Madrid.  But my first piece of news is, that I am now a captain,
nominally upon the staff of General Evans, but actually on detached
duty, a duty which is likely to keep me here for some time--in fact,
until the Legion is disbanded.  Therefore you need feel no further
anxiety as to my safety.  I am here to endeavour to worry the government
into sending stores and pay for the Legion. To this end I call upon the
minister of war every few days. The first time, he saw me: since then he
has always been too busy.  I have also called upon the prime minister,
and have spoken to him with what he considered indecent warmth, and I
don’t expect to do much good in the future.  However, here I am.

"I am at present in an hotel.  The food is good, the bed is soft.  I
have with me my good friend Roper, of whom I have spoken to you in
almost every letter I have written.  When the good fellow found that I
was coming here, he threw up his sergeant’s stripes to accompany me as
my servant; it is a great comfort having him with me.  I have been made
a member of the principal club here, and have already made several
acquaintances, so I have no doubt that I shall have a pleasant time.  I
am not going to tell you about Madrid, because you can, if you choose,
find a much better description of it in books than I can give you.
Please send the next remittances, which will probably be the last, to
some mercantile house here.

"You will be glad to hear that though I failed in getting the arrears of
pay for the Legion, I have been informed that I can draw monthly for the
pay due to me while here.  As living at an hotel is not dear, this and
my allowance will suffice very well for my requirements.  I have seen
Colonel Wylde, the British commissioner, who is a very charming man.  Of
course he has been doing the very best he can for the Legion, but he is
very frequently away with the army.  I will explain how it is that I am
in charge here on a mission of real importance.  Major Hawkins, who was
chief of the mission, was killed in a skirmish with the Carlists that we
had on our way down.  He was a very nice fellow, and I was very sorry at
his death.  I don’t, of course, know yet whether they will send another
field-officer to take his place or leave me in charge.  I rather hope
they won’t send one. I don’t think they would be wrong to leave it to
me, for cheek is very useful in this sort of work, and I flatter myself
that I shall stir them up a good deal--more than an older man would be
likely to do.  Certainly I shall not be inclined to take ’No’ for an
answer.  I will write shortly again.

"With love to you all,
       "Your affectionate Nephew."

                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                        *A DESPERATE ADVENTURE*

As Roper’s desire to stay with Arthur remained unchanged, the latter
gladly accepted his offer.  One of the horses was at once sold, and they
removed into smaller lodgings, consisting only of a tiny kitchen, one
sitting-room with a fold-up bed in a corner, and a closet just large
enough to hold a bed for Roper.  Arthur was obliged to buy a suit of
dress clothes, some white shirts, and two suits of ordinary clothes.
They lived on terms of perfect equality when indoors, except that Roper
carried out their simple cooking at breakfast and supper, while in the
middle of the day they went to a quiet trattoria in the suburbs; and
after a week’s experience Arthur found to his satisfaction that, even
with the hire of stables and the horse’s forage, they were living well
within his income.

There was, of course, some surprise among his acquaintances at the
substitution of civilian clothes for his uniform.  It made no
difference, however, in the cordiality of his reception, for he had
become by this time a popular character, especially with the ladies, who
appreciated his frank boyishness and freedom from formality, so unusual
among their own people.

Colonel Wylde had taken a great fancy to the lad, and said to him one
day: "I have been thinking over your case, Hallett.  Of course I was not
empowered to offer you any specific position, but I am permitted to
despatch messengers to any point where I may be unable to go myself.  I
wrote a month since to say that operations were being carried on over so
wide a field that I found it impossible to give attention to all points.
I stated that an English officer named Captain Hallett had come down
here as General Evans’s agent. You were now unemployed, and would, I was
convinced, prove a valuable assistant; and I asked that I might be
permitted to appoint you as my aide, with the same rank as that which
you held under General Evans in the Legion.  I said that you were well
mounted, and that the expense would be so very slight that I strongly
recommended your appointment, as I was sure you would gladly act under
me without any extra appointments except the pay of your rank and forage
allowance for your horses, and the other usual field allowances, which
will altogether make your pay about one pound a day. I have to-day
received a reply authorizing your appointment with the rank of a captain
in the army."

"I am indeed obliged to you, colonel!" Arthur exclaimed in delight.  "I
would most gladly have placed myself under your orders even without the
pay, though I do not say that that will not be acceptable.  But I could
not get work that I should like better.  I cannot tell you how much I am
obliged to you."

"I feel that I spoke for myself as well as for you, Captain Hallett.  It
is impossible for me to keep my eyes everywhere, and you will, in fact,
double my utility.  There are only two other commissioners out here, a
number altogether insufficient to cope with all that is going on.
Indeed, very many regrettable things occur owing to a want of
supervision.  When one or other of us happens to be present, we can
insist upon the articles of the convention we brought about between the
parties being observed; but if we are not there, a great deal of
shooting in cold blood still takes place.  You will, of course, have to
provide yourself with an undress staff uniform.  You can send a tailor
here to see mine.  It would not do for you to use your own; that is
known to be a Christino one; and as you may have to go into the enemy’s
lines, you must therefore be easily recognized as one of us.  You had
better get high boots and breeches, and, of course, a cocked hat.  These
will not cost you anything like so much as they would at home; people
work much more cheaply here.  By the way, I have larger stables than I
require, so you may as well keep your horses there."

"I suppose I may put my man into uniform too, sir; it is more
convenient, and would look better."

"Yes, I think so.  My own two orderlies belong to the 13th Dragoons; if
you like, I will accept him as a recruit in that corps and put him on
the pay-sheet; but you must get his uniform."

With renewed thanks Arthur took his leave and hurried back to his rooms.

"I have great news, Roper," he said.  "Colonel Wylde has obtained
permission for me to act as his assistant, and you are to enlist in the
13th Dragoon Guards so as to ride with me in uniform.  So we can shift
out of these little lodgings again, and needn’t look upon every penny
before we spend it."

"That is good news indeed!" Roper exclaimed.  "And I shall be more
useful to you now, for during the past four months I have learned to
talk Spanish quite well, from having been so much in the barracks with
the soldiers."

"Well, in the first place we have to be measured for our uniforms, and
we are to send the tailor to Colonel Wylde to see the patterns.  Then we
will look out for lodgings.  The two horses are to be taken to the
colonel’s stables, so that we shall save that expense.  The whole thing
is entirely his doing, and I am tremendously obliged to him."

Three days later the arrangements were completed; comfortable lodgings
were taken, and they had shifted into them. The uniforms had come home
and been found satisfactory, and Arthur had reported himself as ready
for service.

"I shall be going up to the north again myself," the colonel said.
"When I do so, you had better start out for the east. The war is being
conducted with great ferocity there, and it is much to be desired that
the Conventions agreed to last year shall be enforced, or at any rate,
that an effort should be made to enforce them.  Cabrera is a brave and
skilful commander, but his cruelties are abominable.  He was always
cruel; but the atrocious action of Nogueras, in causing his mother to be
seized and shot, has closed his heart to all feeling of mercy.  He
shoots women who fall into his hands as well as men; and on one occasion
he shot no fewer than eighty-five sergeants in cold blood.  I fear
greatly that no remonstrances would be of any avail with a man who seems
to revel in bloodshed.  I do not say that he has not had terrible
provocation; and if he were to get hold of Nogueras, I should not blame
him if he cut him into small pieces.  I do not think, therefore, that it
will be of any use your trying to influence him.  You may, however,
attempt to persuade the various Christino chiefs in Aragon and Valencia.
I know that their position is difficult.  They are urged by the friends
and relatives of the men murdered by the Carlists to make terrible
reprisals when they get the opportunity, and in consequence the war is
becoming one of extermination.  I have no hope that you will be able to
do much, but you can at least try.  I shall be glad to be able to
report, even in one or two instances, that efforts have been made by the
Christinos to mitigate the horrors of the struggle."

The next day Arthur again wrote home.

"My dear Uncle,

"I have a wonderfully good piece of news to give you.  I told you in my
last letter that, now the Legion was disbanded, I intended to stay here
for a time on my allowance and savings.  Now all this is changed, for
Colonel Wylde has obtained for me the appointment of Assistant British
Commissioner, with the temporary rank of captain in Her Majesty’s
service.  Isn’t that splendid!  There is excellent pay and allowances,
so I shall be able to live like a fighting cock. This will be my
head-quarters, but I shall generally be with one or other of the armies
in the field; and it will be, I know, a satisfaction to you all that I
shall not be called upon to take any part in the fighting, but shall be
merely a spectator of the fray.  Now, even you will think that I am not
doing wrong in staying in Spain.  I am very much at home here, and have
many friends and acquaintances, for you know by this time I speak
Spanish really like a native.

"The family I am most intimate with is that of Count Leon de Balen.  He
is a young man of about five-and-twenty, with three young sisters, the
eldest of whom is about the age of sixteen.  Leon has been in England
and speaks English fairly, and is very English in his ways, and doesn’t
keep his sisters bottled up, as most of these Spaniards do; and I visit
there just as I should at any English house where I was intimate. Roper
is, of course, with me.  He has been nominally enlisted in an English
dragoon regiment, and wears the uniform.  I am having an English staff
uniform made for me, and were you here you would see me swaggering down
the streets as if they belonged to me; I really feel as if I were
somebody.  I hope to hear that you are all pleased, and that even you
agree that could not possibly do better for myself than remain here till
the end of the war.  How long that will be, goodness only knows!  I
shall be in no hurry, for it is just the life, of all others, to suit
me.  Love to all.

"Your affectionate Nephew."

In due time the answer arrived:

"My dear Arthur,

"We are all delighted at the receipt of your letter.  We should, of
course, be extremely glad to have you back with us, but at the same time
we cannot but recognize that you could not do better for yourself than
you are doing. I do not know that personally I am extraordinarily
gratified that you should be holding a commission as captain in Her
Majesty’s service, and as Assistant British Commissioner in Spain; but I
am bound to say that your aunt and cousins seem to be filled with an
altogether excessive pride in the position you have gained.  The girls
have been going about among their friends crowing like little gamecocks,
and even your aunt, ordinarily a tranquil and quietly-disposed woman,
appears to be quite puffed up.

"However, joking aside, we are all highly gratified--I certainly admit
that I myself am highly gratified too--and feel that you could not do
better for yourself than remain for three or four years, by which time,
I hope, the war will be finished. You will, as you say, see what is
going on without running any serious risks; and when you are in Madrid I
can quite imagine that, with your official position, you will lead a
very pleasant life.  I almost feel, Arthur, that you are getting
altogether beyond advice, and are now able to go on your own way.  I can
only say, therefore, that we shall be all very glad to have you back
again with us, and I hope that every trace of the unpleasantness which
necessarily resulted from our last interview will be altogether

"Your affectionate Uncle."

That evening Arthur called at the house of the young Count Leon de
Balen.  It was one of the houses at which he had become most intimate.
The count had little of the reserve and hauteur common to most Spanish
nobles.  He had from the first taken a great fancy to Arthur, and had
made the latter at all times welcome to his house.  It had been one of
the first to which he had been invited after his arrival at Madrid, and
was one of the few which were always open to him.

"I have been taken to task several times," the young man said one day
with a laugh, "for inviting a man, and that man a foreigner and a
heretic, so familiarly to my house.  Two years ago I was for a few
mouths with our embassy in London, and I came to like your ways very
much.  It was very pleasant to be able to make calls at houses without
ceremony, and I made many friends.  It seemed to me in all respects
better, for young people get to know each other and to like each other.
Young men and young women in your country meet and talk and dance
together, and are good friends, without thinking of marriage; whereas
here girls are for the most part shut up until a marriage is arranged
for them.  Of course I hold, as other people do, that young ladies
should not go out alone, and should always be accompanied by a duenna;
but in their own house, and under their parents’ eyes, I can see no
occasion for strictness.  I might have some hesitation in giving a young
Spaniard a general invitation to my house, because he would not
understand it, and would think that I wished to introduce him as a
suitor to one of my sisters; but with an Englishman it is different.
You laugh and talk with them as if they were your own, and I think it is
very good for them, and that they are as pleased to see you as I am."

When, therefore, Arthur had no other engagement he very often went in
for a chat in the evening to the young count’s, and he was naturally one
of the first he told of his new appointment.

"I congratulate you most heartily," Leon said.  "I have been wondering,
since I heard that your Legion had been disbanded, what you were going
to do.  I am leaving, as I told you, for one of my country estates near
Albacete, with Mercedes, and shall be away about a couple of months.  If
you chance to be coming that way, I need not say how glad I shall be to
see you.  Of course you don’t know yet where you are likely to go, but
it may as well be there as in any other direction.  Perhaps you will be
back as soon as we shall.  I hope so sincerely."

On the day when Colonel Wylde left for the north, Arthur started for
Mercia.  When out of the town he called Roper up to his side.

"I am heartily glad to be at work again, Roper."

"I am not sorry myself, sir.  I have nothing to say against Madrid, but
one gets tired of having nothing particular to do, and especially as for
the past three or four days, since I have been in this scarlet uniform,
everyone has stared at me in the street.  I shall get used to it in
time, of course, but it is rather trying at first."

"I dare say it is," Arthur laughed.  "Of course I don’t feel it so much.
There is not so much difference between officers’ uniforms as between
those of private soldiers, at any rate not between undress uniforms.  I
am a good deal more comfortable in my present dress than I was before,
for I could not but see myself that it was getting very small, and I had
almost given up wearing it."

"Yes, you keep on growing so.  You were a good bit taller than I was
when you joined the Legion two years ago, and now you are pretty nearly
a head taller.  You must be over six feet now, and I see these little
Spaniards look up to you as you walk along."

"Yes, I have been rather disgusted at shooting up so.  I don’t suppose
other people notice it; but as I was wanting to look six or seven years
older than I am, it was annoying that I should keep on growing.  Well, I
think I have pretty nearly done now."

They travelled by comfortable stages down to Mercia. Arthur had several
interviews with the general in command of the forces there, and received
assurances from him that every care should be used to mitigate the
horrors of the war, but that such a passion of rage had been excited by
the massacres perpetrated by Cabrera that it was all but impossible to
keep the people in hand.

"It is to Cabrera himself that you should address yourself, señor," the
general said.  "We are anxious to prosecute the war in the spirit of
civilization, but as long as he persists in carrying it on like a demon
it is plainly impossible for us to fight in kid gloves."

"I will go to Cabrera," Arthur said; "even he ought to have satisfied
his vengeance for the murder of his mother. Were I in his place I would
hunt Nogueras through the country until I found him, but it is simply
monstrous that he should continue to take vengeance upon innocent

After remaining four days at Mercia, Arthur therefore turned his horse’s
head north.  When he neared Albacete he heard that Cabrera had been
making a raid from the Sierra de Val de Meca, and had swept down nearly
to the city, harassing the country and carrying off much booty.  Arthur
was told that Cabrera had attacked and taken the Palazzo of the Count de
Balen, so half an hour after entering the town he rode out to enquire
after his friend.  As they approached the house they saw smoke still
rising from it.  Putting their horses to a gallop they speedily arrived
in front of the house, only, however, to find that it was a mere shell.
As Arthur alighted, a man, whom he knew by sight, came out from a small

"What has happened?  Are the count and his sister safe?"

"Alas!  no, sir," the man said.  "The Carlists burst into the house
yesterday morning.  The count opposed them and was struck down
desperately wounded.  Donna Mercedes was carried off by them.  They
sacked the palace and then set it on fire.  Three or four of the men
were killed.  I was away at Albacete.  I found that some of the women
had carried the young count out behind the house.  He is in here."

Arthur hurried in.

"My dear Leon," he said, "this is terrible news that I hear!"

"Terrible," the other said faintly.  "I am wounded badly, but that is
nothing except that it will keep me a month before I am fit to act; but
it is awful to think that Mercedes has fallen into the hands of that
ruffian Cabrera.  Thank God you have come!  I know you will do all you
can for me."

"Assuredly I will.  In the first place, do you know which way the
villains have gone?"

"Yes; they have gone up by La Roda.  They will doubtless sack that
place, and Minaya, and Villar Roblebo."

"Have you fresh horses?"

"No; they have driven every horse off."

"That is unfortunate, for I made a good long journey to Albacete.  When
I arrived I heard a rumour that your place had been sacked, so I rode
straight here.  At any rate I must give the horses four hours’ rest, and
then I will push on.  Tell me how it all happened?"

"I was at breakfast yesterday when the servants came running in with the
news that a large body of horsemen were coming up at a gallop.  I ran
down with Mercedes, but it was already too late to get to our horses.
They rode up, and their leader, who was, I believe, Cabrera, ordered the
men to seize my sister.  I drew my sword, but I was cut down almost
before I had struck a blow.  I knew nothing more until some hours later,
when I found myself lying here, where, it seems, the female servants had
brought me, and saw that the house was on fire from end to end, and that
the Carlists had gone and taken Mercedes with them.  I think I was
nearly out of my mind till nightfall, then I slept for some hours,
overpowered by exhaustion.  I found, when I awoke, that Monto had
returned in the evening and had been sitting by me all night.  I sent
him off at once to Albacete.  He returned at mid-day with a message from
the commandant there to the effect that Cabrera’s force was too strong
to be attacked, and that he expected to have to defend himself.  I
cannot say that I was surprised.  Cabrera is so dreaded that it requires
a strong man to attempt to make head against him, and indeed when I once
got over my fury I recognized that as Cabrera might be fifty miles away
by the time my messenger got to Albacete it would be hopeless to attempt
to pursue him."

"I will set out as soon as the horses have had a rest. Fortunately, I
have not been hurrying myself so far, and they are both in good
condition.  I will see Cabrera himself, and will do all in my power to
rescue your sister."

"I fear your journey will be useless, Hallett.  The wretch has become a
wild beast since the murder of his mother; but I know you will do all
you can.  If I were but able to travel I would go with you, and would
stab him to the heart if he refused to release her; but it will be long
before I shall be able to sit on a horse again."

"I should think the best thing you can do, Leon, is to have yourself
carried on a litter to Albacete, where your wounds can be properly seen

"So far I have no one but these women to carry me.  They tell me that
the whole of the men were driven off the estate and made to enter
Cabrera’s ranks."

"Well, he did not go much farther than this, and there must be men to be
had from some of the villages a few miles away.  I will send your man
off at once to get half a dozen of them to carry you."

"You must want something to eat, too.  Will you call one of the women in
here?  What have we to eat?"

"We have got some green corn, señor--some of the fields set on fire were
too green to burn--and we caught some chickens wandering about."

"Then cook some for the señor and his servant." Leon now lay for some
time without speaking.  He had lost a great deal of blood, after the
departure of the Carlists, before the women ventured to go near him, and
although he had roused himself on Arthur’s arrival he was now too
exhausted to talk further.  After a stay of four hours Arthur started
again.  It was already dark, and he would have preferred waiting till
daylight had not the count’s anxiety been so great that he thought it
would be better to go, at any rate for a few miles.  After travelling
for two hours they arrived at a farm.  An old woman was the only
occupant; as the men had gone willingly enough with the Carlists, the
house and its belongings had not been interfered with.  The horses were
put up in a shed, and the two men sat down by the fire talking.

"I have very little hope of getting Donna Mercedes out of Cabrera’s
hands by fair means; it is like asking a tiger to give up a kid.  My
great hope, Roper, lies rather in rescuing her myself.  Of course I do
not know where she is confined, or how she is guarded.  It is not likely
that they would place a very strong guard over her.  You and I together
ought to be able to get her away.  Of course I can form no plans until
we see the place.  There will be risk in the business; that can’t be
helped.  I have got in and out of my bedroom at school many a time, and
can back myself to climb anywhere. It will be your business to bring the
horses round in readiness when I get her out.  If you can possibly get
hold of a third animal it will be a great advantage, for we shall have
to reckon upon being pursued."

"I am ready for anything, captain.  The count was always very civil to
me when he called upon you, and he never came without making me a
present.  No doubt he knew by our lodging that things were not very
flourishing with you.  It is just the sort of business I should like.
We have done no fighting for the past nine months, and I shall be right
glad of a skirmish."

"I expect it will be something worse than a skirmish.  If this brute
Cabrera won’t give the young lady up, it will be a serious job to take
her, even if you can get another horse; for, good as ours may be, it is
probable that there are better ones in his camp.  However, it is all so
vague at present that it is useless to try and form plans.  One thing, I
am sure, we can say: fewer than six won’t take her from us once we have
got her.  We must not deceive ourselves that they will respect our
uniform.  Cabrera respects nothing.  And if we stand between him and his
vengeance we need not flatter ourselves that he will let us go."

"Well, sir, a man can’t die better than in trying to save a woman; that
is how I look at it."

"Quite right, Roper; it is the death of all others that I would choose.
However, I have faith in ourselves, and I fancy that we shall get
through somehow, though I am pretty sure that it will be a very close
shave.  I think we had better lie down till daybreak.  You have given
the horses a good feed, have you not?"

"Yes, sir; I have put down half a sack of beans between them.  They will
be fresh enough in the morning; till yesterday we have not travelled
more than fifteen or sixteen miles a day, and they had a week’s rest at
Mercia.  They could not be in better condition."

They started as soon as it began to be light, and on reaching La Roda
heard that Cabrera had rested there on the previous day, and had gone on
that morning to Banada and Villar do Navado.  On arriving at Banada they
found that Cabrera had ridden on half an hour before to Villar de
Navado.  This place they reached at eleven o’clock.  The place was full
of Carlists.  Arthur alighted in front of the principal house.  He was
looked at scowlingly by the men thronging the streets, but nothing was
said to him.

"I wish to see General Cabrera," he said.  "Will you say that I am one
of the British commissioners?"

After being kept waiting for two or three minutes he was asked in.
Cabrera was a powerful man with a face full of strength and energy.

"To what am I indebted for this visit, señor?" he asked as Arthur

"I have called, sir, to implore you to respect the Conventions entered
into between both parties and signed by them, and on the part of the
British government by Colonels Wylde and Lacy."

"I have nothing whatever to do with it," Cabrera said. "The Christinos
have committed great atrocities; it is my intention to revenge them
whenever possible."

"But at least, sir," Arthur said, "you do not war against women?"

"I war against my enemies, men and women.  My own mother was murdered by
them, as no doubt you are aware, and for each drop of her blood I shall
take vengeance."

"But, sir, the lady whom you carried off the day before yesterday was
not the wife of a Christino general, nor in any way connected with the

"Her brother was a well-known Christino," Cabrera replied, "and all the
enemies of Don Carlos are my enemies.  It is well that these young
nobles at the court should learn that by supporting the government
against the king they are as much our foes as if they were fighting in
the field.  I make war in toy own way; other generals may do as they
like.  I refuse to have my hands tied, and I intend to inflict a heavy
lesson upon these politicians of Madrid.  Against the young woman
herself I have no special quarrel, but as a member of a leading
Christino family she is an enemy, and as such she will be shot to-morrow
morning.  There, sir, it is useless to talk further.  My mind is
perfectly made up; and if you wish to remain till the morning to witness
the execution, you are perfectly at liberty to do so.  In fact, I should
prefer it, for I wish it to be known that prisoners who fall into my
hands will be shown no mercy."

Arthur rose.  "Well, sir, in taking my leave of you, I beg in the name
of my government to warn you of the consequences of making war in
defiance not only of all its rules and usages, but of humanity."

Cabrera simply waved his hand in scorn, and Arthur, turning, strode out
of the room.

"Find some place in the outskirts of the village and put up our horses,"
he said to Roper; "there I will talk with you."

A hut, from which its inhabitants had fled on the approach of the
Carlists, was soon found.

"You have brought a good allowance of beans with you, have you not?"

"Yes, sir; I have nearly half a sack."

"Give the horses a good feed, and then we will talk matters over."

He sat down on a broken chair.  "As I expected, Roper, the villain is
not to be turned from his purpose: the lady is to be shot to-morrow
morning.  It seems to me that there are between three and four thousand
men in and around the village.  Of these, as far as I could see as we
rode in, only a hundred or so are mounted.  We may take it that our
horses are better than the average; they have not been doing such long
marches, and they are really good animals.  I don’t know which is the
best; but I should fancy that if we get a fair start not above thirty
will keep up with us, perhaps not above twenty.  That is the number we
may have to cope with.  The first thing we shall have to find out is
where Donna Mercedes is confined, and how she is guarded.  It is
unlikely that they will have placed more than two or three sentries over
her; they would know well enough that she could not escape by herself.

"I should say that there will be one sentry outside the door, and
perhaps two inside.  If there is a door or a window at the back of the
house, we need not bother about the man in front.  I must do for the two
men inside.  You bring the two horses round within a hundred yards of
the back of the house, and we will drop out of the window, if there is
one, or walk out of the door.  First of all, we must find out the house;
then it will be your business to stroll round and choose a horse in such
a position that you can lead it off without disturbing others.  You must
get it behind the side of the street on which our house stands, so that
you will not have to lead it across the street, but simply bring it and
place it with ours."

"All right, sir!  I think I can answer for that part of the business.  I
suppose you will not begin until half-past ten or eleven; they will be
pretty nearly all asleep by that time."

"No, I sha’n’t begin before that."

They waited for a couple of hours, and then strolled out into the
village.  The Carlists, knowing that they had had an interview with
their chief, paid no great attention to them, and presently Arthur
seized the opportunity of asking a woman who was standing at her door
which was the priest’s house.

"It is the last house in the village on this side of the street, señor."

Arthur continued his stroll to the end of the village, and then turned
back and walked to the other end.  It was the heat of the day now, and
most of the men were lying down asleep in the shade of houses and trees,
and there were but few in the street.  Stopping at the priest’s house,
he knocked at the door and entered.

"I am an English officer, father," he said to the priest, who was a
tall, thin old man.  "My errand here is to save the life of the young
lady who has been carried off and brought here, and whom Cabrera is
going to shoot in the morning."

"It is terrible, señor!" the priest said; "it is terrible! but what can
we do?  I have already seen this man, and warned him of the consequences
of so dreadful an action.  He told me to mind my own business and that
he would mind his, and I was thrust bodily out of the house protesting

"Well, father, then I take it that if you had the power you would have
the will to save this poor young lady?"

"Assuredly, my son; but I am old and feeble, and what can I do?"

"You can do much, father.  I wish you to go again to Cabrera.  Say that,
as a man of God, it is your duty to receive this young lady’s
confession, and to stay with her, pray with her, and comfort her during
the night, and demand that he give you an order to do so."

"He cannot refuse such a request," the priest said.  "The worst
malefactor has the right to have the attendance of the clergy before his
death.  But how would that benefit her save by my spiritual help?"

"You will have no more to do with it, father.  You will bring me the
order here, and then as soon as it gets dark I should advise you to
leave the village and walk some twenty miles away, and wait until
Cabrera has left the neighbourhood which he doubtless will do to-morrow;
the rest of the business will be my affair.

"But do you mean--" the priest began.

"I mean father, that after it is dark I shall put on your robe and hat,
if you will lend them to me.  I shall present myself at the door with
the order, and when I am admitted and the door is dosed again, I shall
proceed to knock on the head any men who are inside.  I don’t think
there will be more than two.  Having done that, I shall go to the young
ladys room and lower her down through the window.  My man-servant will
be waiting behind with horses, and, if we are lucky, we shall get a long
start of them."

"I will do it," the priest said; "even if I were to be killed I would do
it.  Even this monster cannot refuse to allow a priest to visit one
about to die.  Possibly he might, if alone, but the very peasants under
him would call out at his refusal.  Shall I go at once!"

"No; it would be best that you should go to him just as he has finished
his dinner; doubtless six or eight of his officers will be with him.
You had best write out the order before you go, so that it will only
need his signature.  I rely upon your eloquence and authority to induce
him to grant it to you."

"I will obtain it," the priest said; "even the worst malefactor has a
right to the consolation of a priest."

"Thank you, father.  You will have the satisfaction of having saved an
innocent girl’s life.  Now, in the next place, will you tell me in which
house she is confined?  I have not liked to ask the question."

"She is in the house next to that in which Cabrera is quartered.  There
is a sentry at the door."

"What sort of a house is it?"

"It is like the others, except that the lower windows are all barred."

"Are there windows behind?"

"Yes; I believe there are."

"Do you know whether there is a sentry behind?"

The priest shook his head.  "I do not know, sir."

"Well, I must ascertain that," Arthur said.  "At eight o’clock, señor, I
will be here, and you shall give me your robe and hat, and the order.
Then I should advise you to leave at once.  Do you know which way they
are going to march?"

"They are going east; they will take refuge again in the mountains."

"In that case, father, you will not have to walk more than eight or ten
miles, and can take shelter in the nearest village. Adieu!  Surely you
will never regret the good action you are doing."

He went out into the village again, and, meeting Roper, said to him:
"You see that house next to the one where Cabrera is quartered?  In that
house Donna Mercedes is confined.  You see, there is a sentry at the
door.  I want you to stroll round carelessly behind that side of the
village, and ascertain if a sentry is posted there also.  If so, I shall
have to leave you to manage him.  You won’t be able to bring up the
horses so close as you would otherwise do.  You must leave them a short
distance away, steal up to that fellow, and silence him.  The safest way
will be to stab him to the heart.  It is unpleasant to be compelled to
take such a course, but extreme measures are necessary; for if he had
time to shout we should have the whole camp on us in five minutes."

"I will do it, sir.  I would rather not, but I see it has to be done."

"I have arranged everything else.  The priest is going to get an order
to pass the night praying with Donna Mercedes. He will hand it to me,
and I shall enter the house disguised in his robe and hat.  I don’t know
how many men there will be inside, but I should certainly say not more
than two.  Those two I have got to silence.  I hear that the house has
bars to the lower windows, but the upper ones will not be so carefully
guarded, and I shall lower the lady down to you.  Just before half-past
ten crawl up close to the sentry, and as the clock chimes, strike.  Then
go back and bring the horses up as near as possible, and come yourself
underneath the window.  I shall go in as the clock strikes, and shall be
ready for you when you come up.  I think we ought to get away before an
alarm is given, and if we have anything like luck we shall have a long
start.  It would be well if, when you are going round now, you would
observe closely where the men are bivouacked, so that we can, if
possible, get through without disturbing them in any way."

                              *CHAPTER IX*

                              *THE ESCAPE*

At five o’clock in the afternoon Roper rejoined Arthur in the hut.

"Well, what is your report?"

"The house looks all right, sir.  There are no bars on the upper
windows.  There is a sentry sitting down against the wall; as far as I
could see, he was asleep.  I don’t think it will be possible to get the
horses up close; but as each man seems to sleep just where it suits him,
I think it would be easier for us to make our way through them on foot
than to get the horses through.  I don’t think there will be any
difficulty in getting the third horse.  Do you think the lady knows how
to ride, sir?"

"No; I think it is quite possible that she does not; but if we take
another horse I can ride double with her by turns.  I would risk a great
deal rather than go with only two horses."

"We will get one somehow, sir.  When shall I move the horses?"

"You had better take them down to the river just after dusk.  Wait with
them there for a quarter of an hour, and then walk away with them to
some quiet spot--of course, as near as possible to the house.  Then lie
down beside them; no one is likely to notice what horses they are.
Probably Cabrera’s horses are behind his house."

"Yes, they are, sir."

"Well then, get them as close to those as you can.  You might wait a
short distance off till it is time to make a move, then take them as
close to his horses as possible.  Loosen the foot-ropes of one or two of
his horses, so that when the time comes we can easily take one, and
perhaps two, of them.  We can each lead one; that will give us two

At eight o’clock they went out from the cottage, each leading a horse.
Already the number of men in the streets had begun to thin.

"Are you going?" more than one asked Arthur as they passed.

"Yes," he said; "I have tried in vain to induce your chief to spare the
life of the lady he took prisoner, and, finding my entreaties of no
avail, I am going."

"It is a pity," the man said; "but the general will have his way, and
who can blame him?"

They went down to the river, watered the horses, and then Roper took the
two bridles and started to walk some distance down the bank, so as to be
able to approach the back of the village as if he had been grazing the
horses in the fields. Arthur, on his part, went to the priest’s.

"I have succeeded, my son.  At first he would not do it, but it was
evident to him that those with him were shocked at the idea of refusing
to let the lady have the last ministrations of the Church.  ’Here is the
paper’, he said when he signed it. ’You may go in to her, father, but I
will have no goings in and out.  You may enter, but you will remain with
her till she is brought out for execution at daybreak.’  I said, ’So be
it’. Here, my son, are my hat and soutane.  May God’s blessing light
upon your brave effort to rescue her, and may you carry her off to
safety!  It seems to me a desperate enterprise, but you are young and
vigorous, and doubtless accustomed to strife.  You had best leave this
house when I have gone. The Carlists are for the most part faithful
friends of the Church.  Several have been here to-day to confess their
sins, and more are to come this evening, and it were best that they
should not find you here.  If they find the house empty, they will
suppose that I have gone to the church or on some other mission."

"I thank you for your suggestion, father, and I shall act on it.  I fear
I shall not be able to restore your things to you; therefore, I pray
that you will accept these five pieces of gold in order that you may
replace them."

The old man hesitated.  "I need no reward for doing my duty," he said.

"Nor should I think of offering it to you, but I know how very poor you
village curés are, and that it would be perhaps a serious trouble to you
to replace these things; and as I am well provided with money it is but
just and right that I should enable you to replace the goods you have
given me.  For your aid I can only give you my heartfelt thanks; and I
doubt not that, when all this trouble is over, the Count de Balen will
make a handsome offering to you for the use of your poor."

"Here are the hat and soutane, my son.  Take them and my blessing.  May
God enable you to carry out your noble object!"

The priest then put on a biretta, and went out at the back of his house.
Arthur rolled up the dress and put the hat under his arm, and also went
out behind and sat down against the wall of the house.  When he heard
the clock strike a quarter to ten, he put on the priest’s robe and large
three-cornered hat.  He took up a lantern which the priest had placed on
the table, went through the house, and out at the front door; then,
imitating the quiet walk of the priest, he went up the now deserted
street and paused before the sentry.

"Benedicite, my son!" he said.  "I bear an order, signed by your
general, authorizing me to pass the night with this poor child.  Here it
is;" and he held the paper up to the lantern. The man glanced at it.  He
could neither read nor write, but he knew Cabrera’s signature by sight,
having seen it on many proclamations.  He knocked at the door.

"Open," he said; "here is one with a permit to enter, signed by the


The bolts were drawn, and the door opened.  A rough-looking man stood by
it, another was sitting at a table; he stood up as the apparent priest
entered.  The first man shot the top bolt, and as he stooped to fasten
the bottom one Arthur drove his dagger to the hilt between his
shoulders; and then, turning, sprang upon the other man and seized him
by the throat. Taken wholly by surprise, the man could offer no
resistance. Arthur flung him back across the table, retaining his grip
upon his throat until the man became unconscious; then he thrust a piece
of wood he had brought with him between his teeth, and tied it there,
securely fastened his hands and legs, and tied these to the legs of the
table.  He had thought this all out: one man must be killed, the other
he had hoped to overcome and silence by surprise.  Then he took a candle
which was burning upon the table and went up-stairs.

A key was in the door.  He turned it and went in.  Mercedes was lying
upon a bed.  She sprang to her feet as he entered. "Hush!" he said, as
he removed his hat.  "I have come to save you, Donna Mercedes.  Hush, I
implore you!" for he saw that the girl was on the point of uttering a
scream of joy; "your life depends upon your keeping silence."

She dropped back upon the bed and burst into a passion of tears, which
he permitted for a few minutes.  Presently with a great effort she
checked herself.  "This is the first tear I have shed since I saw Leon

"He is not killed, Donna Mercedes; he is grievously wounded, but will, I
hope, recover."

"Are you sure?" she exclaimed incredulously, rising to her feet and
laying her hand on his arm.

"Quite sure; sure, at least, that he was well and sensible when I left
him, and was to be carried this morning down to Albacete.  He was only
anxious about you, and I told him that I would bring you safely back to
him.  I have got my man with me; by this time he will have slain the
sentry beneath your window, and we must be going.  Now I will let you
down.  I will take hold of your hands and lower you as far as I can
reach; it will not be more than a foot or two to drop.  First, I will
blow out this candle; possibly the opening of the window would be
noticed were it alight."

He spoke in a quiet, matter-of-fact way so as to steady the girl’s
nerves, blew out the candle, and opened the window. "Now," he said, "I
will let you down."  He lifted her through the window, and then, holding
her wrists, lowered her as far as he could reach and then let her go,
and, swinging himself out, dropped beside her.  "We must wait now," he
said, "till my man comes to fetch us to the horses.  It is as well that
your eyes should become accustomed to the darkness before we move."

In three minutes Roper came up.

"It is all right so far, Roper; here is the lady beside me. Now for the

"They are not fifty yards away, sir.  You must be careful how you walk,
for there are many asleep in the garden.  I have noted all their places,
and if you keep your hand upon my shoulder I can lead you through."

Placing the girl between himself and his follower, his hands on the
latter’s shoulders, Arthur moved quietly along.  He could vaguely make
out a dark figure lying down here and there. It was an intensely anxious
time, but all seemed perfectly quiet.  They reached the end of the
garden, and, going through a hole in the fence, came presently upon four
horses.  Arthur dropped his hat and soutane, and threw his cloak, which
he had brought with him, over his shoulder.

"Shall we mount here or walk?"

"I think we had better walk a bit, sir."

Arthur took the bridles of two of the horses, and, telling the girl to
keep close behind him, followed Roper, who led the other two horses.
They walked for four or five minutes, then Roper stopped.

"I think we are well beyond them now, sir," he said.  "I have been over
all this ground five or six times this evening, and I am pretty sure
that none of them are beyond us."

Arthur put on his cocked hat, which he had previously carried, as, if
they had been noticed, its outline would at once have provoked
curiosity.  Then he mounted one of the horses, and lifted Mercedes into
the saddle in front of him. They went at a walk for some little
distance, and then broke into a canter.

"We are safe now, are we not?" Mercedes asked.

"I hope so.  The only question is the hour at which they change the
guard.  My man killed a fellow who was under your window, and of course
this must be discovered when they do so; that was the only thing that I
could not calculate upon. However, when they discover that we have
escaped it will be some time before they mount; and as they won’t know
which way we have gone, the betting is strongly against our being
overtaken.  I think, upon the whole, we may consider ourselves pretty

They rode along by the side of the river, crossed it at a ford at
Banada, and just as day was breaking arrived at the ruins of the palace.
Arthur had twice changed horses, but few words had been spoken on the

"You must not think, Don Arthur," the girl had said once, "that I do not
feel grateful because I cannot tell you so; it is because I feel too
grateful to express it."

"Do not trouble yourself, señorita.  I know perfectly well how you must
be feeling, and it is not at all necessary for you to tell me; you must
have gone through a terrible time indeed."

"I thought more of my brother’s fate than my own," she said.  "It did
not seem to me to be so hard to die.  It was of Leon, my dear brother,
that I thought so much, and grieved for.  I could hardly think that that
terrible man really meant to kill me, and yet he seemed altogether
without pity."

"He was.  The good priest, whose dress I wore and whose place I took,
had endeavoured in vain to turn him from his determination.  I myself
saw him, and denounced the crime as being contrary to the Conventions;
but he would not hear me, and declared that, come what might, you should
be shot the first thing in the morning.  And it was only when I found
that the case was absolutely hopeless that I determined to set you free
at whatever risk.  The priest aided me.  He obtained from Cabrera an
order to spend the night with you, in order to prepare you for death.
He passed me the order, and went away himself so as to escape the
vengeance of that scoundrel, and I and my man between us managed to get
you out."

"But there were two men below, were there not?  I heard them talking."

"Yes; I had to kill one of them, and the other I gagged and tied up.  I
don’t suppose he will be any the worse when they find him in the
morning.  Now we will change horses, and then I hope you will try to
sleep.  You cannot have closed an eye since you were captured, and we
shall have plenty of time to talk later on."  The girl did as he told
her, and remained quiet in his arms, but he could see that her eyes
never closed.

"I wish I could ride," she said once, "so that I might relieve you of my

"Your weight is nothing," he said; "and each time we change horses I put
you on the other side, and so rest my arm."

As they drew up at the shed from which he had ridden thirty-six hours
before, the women ran out and cried with joy.

Arthur handed the girl down to them.

"Take her inside," he said, "and give her something to eat, and then let
her lie down for a bit; she must be desperately tired."

Then he himself got down and shook hands warmly with Roper.

"This has been as good a night’s work, Roper, as you are ever likely to
do, if you live to be a hundred."

"It has been a good business, sir, and I enjoyed it all except the
stabbing of that sentry.  It went badly against the grain, but I knew it
had to be done, for it was our lives against his."

"I had to do just the same thing; but, as you say, it was a matter of
necessity, though I wish heartily that it had been Cabrera himself.
However, the thought will not trouble me. If men choose to follow a
ruffian like that, they must take the consequences.  Those are two good
horses you got hold of."

"Yes; that one is Cabrera’s own.  Fortunately he was standing at the end
of the line.  I had noted his position before it got dark, and was
mightily pleased that I could get at him, for I thought it would rile
the scoundrel nicely to lose not only his prisoner but his horse.  The
other is a good one too."

"Well, give them a good feed all round; and then you must see what we
can get to eat ourselves, for we only had a piece of bread all yesterday
and not much the day before. We can get some beans anyhow, and, I
expect, a chicken, and I will tell the women to boil one down for Donna
Mercedes.  We may be sure that she has eaten next to nothing since she
was taken."

A woman presently came out from the hut and said that the lady had
dropped off to sleep, and that one of their number was sitting with her.
They set to work at once to carry out Arthur’s instructions.  Two
chickens were killed, dipped into boiling water to take the feathers
off, and then cut in two and put over a wood fire.  Some beans were
baked on a griddle, and another chicken was put into a pot to simmer.

"Boil it down till there is only about a pint of liquor left," was his
order; "then strain it, and keep it hot for her till she wakes.  Have
you heard how the count bore the journey?"

"Yes, sir; some of the men came back in the evening and said that he had
slept a good deal on the way."

Five hours later Donna Mercedes awoke, and, having drunk the broth
prepared for her, came out.

"Now, if you feel strong enough we will ride on to Albacete at once,"
Arthur said.  "Your brother must be in a terrible state of anxiety about
you, and your appearance will do more for him than the doctors can do."

"I am ready," she said brightly.  "The sleep and a wash have done
wonders for me."

Roper at once put the saddles on the horses.

"No," she said; "I will ride now.  I never have ridden, but I am sure
that I can do it, and you can fasten a leading rein to my horse."

"It is not easy without a side-saddle, señora; but the pommel of this
saddle is high, and if we go gently you will be able to hold on."

"At any rate I will try," she said.

The stirrups were arranged the proper length and Donna Mercedes lifted
into the saddle.

"I shall manage very well," she said, as she settled herself on it.  "I
will learn to ride after this.  I won’t be so helpless in future."

Before mounting, Arthur attached a leading rein to her horse’s bit, and
they started at a gentle canter, Roper leading the other horse.  Three
hours’ riding brought them to Albacete. They put the horses up in the
stable, and then enquired where the count had been taken.  It was to the
principal hotel, and there Arthur went at once with Donna Mercedes.
They went up to the room together, and Arthur opened the door, let the
girl pass in, and then closed it behind her and went down-stairs. A
quarter of an hour later a servant came down and said that the count
wished to see him.

"Ah, my dear Arthur," Leon exclaimed as he entered, "how can I thank you
enough, for my sister and myself, for all that you have done for us!
She seems restored to me by a miracle."

"It is not much of a miracle, Leon; it required only a little invention
and a little pluck, and the affair was managed.  I felt that it was very
hard if I could not get your sister out of the hands of that scoundrel,
and our success can scarcely have afforded you more pleasure than it has
Roper and myself."

"It is all very well to say so, but the fact is not changed. You have
rescued her from certain death, have carried her off from the centre of
four thousand men.  My sister tells me that you did it in the disguise
of a priest."

"Yes, and the good man gave me every assistance.  I have not been
ill-paid," he said with a light laugh, "for I have got hold of two very
valuable horses.  Now you will have to take care of each other.  Your
sister has been splendidly brave, but she will need rest and quiet for a
while; she could not have a better thing to do than to look after you,
and it will do you good to be cared for by her. I shall wait here for a
couple of days, for the horses have had four long days’ work.  I suppose
you have not seen anyone here yet?"

"No; a good many gentlemen of my acquaintance have left their cards, but
the doctor said I was not to see anyone at present.  He thinks it will
be nearly a month before I can move; and he said this morning that he
was afraid I should get into a high state of fever if I agitated myself.
However, I have no fear of that now.  You have done me more good than
all the doctors in Spain could do.  Now, Mercedes, you must lift your
head up from that pillow and stop crying."

"No one could have been calmer or cooler than your sister was, Leon; and
now that it is all over, and she has found that you are doing well, you
must not be surprised at her breaking down a little.  I can assure you
that from the time I entered her room till we rode fairly away she was
as quiet and composed as possible; in fact, she did not speak a single
word from the moment I lowered her down from the window till we were
able to put our horses into a canter.  To me it was just like a school
adventure.  I was always getting into scrapes at school, and master
after master refused to keep me--it was for that reason that I enlisted
in our Legion--and it really seemed to me the same sort of thing, only
with a little spice of danger and the pleasure and satisfaction of doing
some good.

"And now, Donna Mercedes, if you will take my advice you will go
straight to bed.  You will want all your strength to nurse your brother.
You have gone through frightful anxiety, and have made a long and very
fatiguing journey, and before you install yourself at your brother’s
bedside you want a long rest.  If you do not take it, you will be
breaking down badly.  You see for yourself that he is doing well, and
now that he has got you back again there is no fear of his having a
relapse.  He himself can have slept but little. Therefore, I trust that
you will at once lie down and have a good long rest, and that he will do
the same, then this evening you will be able to have a quiet chat for a
couple of hours.  I shall be quite willing to take my own prescription
and lie down till this evening."

"Arthur is right," Leon said.  "We have all gone through a painful time,
and we shall be more ourselves after a sleep. I don’t think I have slept
five minutes at a time since we were attacked.  At any rate, we must
both obey orders.  It is one o’clock now, we will meet here again at

Arthur at once went down-stairs.  He found Roper in the stables, he
having just fed the horses.

"Now, Roper, you had better turn in at once; I have arranged for a room
for you.  I shall not want anything more to-day.  You had better settle
with one of the stablemen here to feed and water the horses this

"I will come down again, sir, later."

"Well, you can do it if you wake, Roper; but I expect that when you once
shut your eyes you won’t open them again till to-morrow morning.  At any
rate, you can arrange that the horses shall be attended to if you should
not come down. I feel very uncertain myself about waking."

Arthur gave orders that he should be roused at eight o’clock, and in a
very few minutes was fast asleep.  He could hardly believe that he had
been six hours asleep when there was a knock at his door.  However, he
jumped out of bed, washed as well as he was able with the very scanty
supply of water deemed sufficient for his ablutions, and then went down
to Leon’s room.

"You look better, Leon," he said as he entered.

"I feel better.  Indeed, I have slept like a dormouse, and did not wake
till the servant came in a few minutes ago. The doctor said that I was
quite a different man from what I was this morning."

"I feel ever so much better too, and should feel better still if I could
have had a bath.  I hope your sister won’t wake; she would be all the
fresher for a complete night’s rest."

"She told me she slept a good deal on the ride."

"Yes; I think she dozed.  No wonder!  She must have had a terrible time
of it, poor girl!  It was a fearful position for her, and I quite
expected that when I got to her I should have found her completely

"I expect she will get up.  I know she wants to hear how you have
managed it all.  She has told me that she had not asked you anything.
You appeared suddenly, dressed as a priest, and after you had got away
she had felt so happy in being safe, and yet so bewildered at it all,
that she had scarcely spoken at all, and I can quite understand her

"So can I, perfectly, and on our ride to this place I could see that she
was thinking of nothing but meeting you.  I don’t think she credited my
assurance that you were not mortally wounded, and was yearning for a
sight of you.  Ah, here she is!"

"You are looking better, Leon," she said, as she came up to the bedside.

"I am feeling a hundred per cent better.  The doctor says that I am
quite a different man, and that whereas when he saw me this morning he
did not feel at all sure that I should get over it, he has no fears
whatever about me now.  So you see, Arthur, you have saved both our

"Well, don’t let us say anything more about it, Leon.  The affair has
turned out all right, and there is no more to be said on the matter."

Leon smiled.  "That is all very well for you, but it is not quite so
satisfactory to us.  Now, you must tell us all about it. For the present
I only know that you got a priest to help in some way, and I want the
full particulars."

"Well, I will tell you the whole story."

And he gave a full account of the events from the moment of his arrival
in the village.  "I would have given a good deal," he said, after
describing the scene with Cabrera, "to have got the scoundrel in a quiet
place by myself, though I am bound to say I doubt whether I should have
been found the better man.  The fellow, to do him justice, is uncommonly
vigorous and powerful, and I might have discovered that I had caught a
Tartar; but I was so furious with him that I would willingly have taken
my chance.  Of course I can make every allowance for a man whose mother
has been murdered in this war, and I can understand his showing no mercy
to men of the other party who may fall into his hands; but to take
revenge upon women, who had nothing whatever to do with the wrong he has
suffered, is monstrous.  He should know by his own feelings what their
friends would suffer.  However, as he was not to be moved I felt that I
must depend upon myself, and I decided that the only way to get at the
señora would be by the assistance of the priest, or at any rate that
that was the first plan to attempt."

He then related his interview with the priest, and the manner in which
the latter had at once agreed to aid him, the various steps he had taken
to ascertain the position of the Carlists lying about the village, and
to secure a spare horse, and how he had carried out his plans.

"I was sorry," he said, "to have to kill one of the men in the hut, but
I could see no other way of disposing of both of them before an alarm
could be given.  Of course if I had not been able to obtain the priest’s
disguise I should have had to kill the sentry at the door too, but even
then the men inside might not have opened the door to my summons,
probably they would not have done so.  Still, I own that it went
desperately against the grain to have to stab that man; that was really
the only unpleasant part of the business.  All the rest was simple, and
Donna Mercedes was very brave and very quiet.  Roper had obtained an
accurate idea of where the Carlists were all lying, so that there was
not a single hitch in the affair.  If it hadn’t been for your sister I
should have almost preferred a chase and some excitement, but as it was,
I was, of course, very thankful that everything went so perfectly."

"I will take care," Leon said, "that the priest is made comfortable for
life.  I can, at any rate, show my gratitude in that quarter, though I
must always remain in debt to you.  What are you going to do next?"

"I am going to stop here for a couple of days, and if I can get a good
price for two of the horses I shall sell them.  I shall keep that one of
Cabrera’s.  It is a splendid animal; and I think, of the others, the
best is the one that belonged to Major Hawkins.  The other two are both
good animals, and worth, I should say, from thirty to forty pounds

"I will give you that for them gladly.  Of course, Cabrera’s people
carried off all mine, and I must have two for riding back to Madrid, so
I shall be really glad to take your two off your hands."

"Very well," Arthur said; "I certainly did not want to saddle you with
them, but as you say you really want them I would rather sell them to
you than to anyone else."

"Then that is settled.  I shall get Mercedes to write to-morrow for two
of my servants to come here; the men who accompanied us were both
killed.  Besides, I must get Donna Martha, her duenna, and her maid to
join us, to keep her company.  It would not be seemly for her to be here
alone while I am laid up."

Arthur laughed.

"By the way, Mercedes, you will have to write to Don Silvio, telling him
what you have gone through."

The girl looked earnestly at her brother, but made no answer, and he
turned again to Arthur.

"But you did not say what you were going to do?"

"I hardly know.  My instructions were to go to Mercia and see the
governor there, and to endeavour to impress upon him the importance of
observing the Conventions strictly.  I was not altogether successful.
He repeated his desire to do so, but pointed out to me that Cabrera so
persistently refused to observe them in any way, and committed such
atrocities, that the people were roused beyond control.  However much,
therefore, he might wish to carry on the war humanely, public opinion
was too strong for him, and the friends of the people murdered by
Cabrera naturally clamoured for reprisals.  It was my intention, when I
arrived, to proceed to Cabrera’s camp and endeavour to persuade him to
carry on the war less ruthlessly.  Well, I have been to him, and see
that remonstrances are not of the slightest avail.  I shall now go to
Madrid and request the minister of war to send a formal despatch to him
calling upon him to conduct the war more humanely, and saying that
unless he does so, all his followers who fall into the hands of the
royal troops must be put to the sword, however painful it would be to
him to give orders to that effect.  I don’t suppose such a communication
would influence him in any way, but it might influence his followers,
who can scarcely like to fight with, as it were, halters round their
necks.  It is extraordinary to me that people of one nation should fight
so ferociously, and should refuse quarter to each other.  Against a
foreign invader one can imagine such a spirit, as, for example, when you
were invaded by the French; but that people of one blood should, on a
mere difference of opinion as to who should be king, hate each other so
venomously beats me altogether."

"I cannot give any reason for it," Leon said.  "I am in favour of
Christina, and should not mind doing a little fighting, though, as I am
not a soldier I don’t feel called upon to take up arms.  Still, it seems
to me that the matter might be as well settled by everyone giving a vote
one way or the other, and the minority then yielding gracefully."

They chatted for some time, the conversation being principally kept up
by Arthur.  Mercedes scarcely opened her lips, but sat by her brother’s
side holding his hand.  At ten o’clock his nurse came in and said that
he must now be quiet for the night, and the others again went off to
their rooms. After breakfasting by himself, Arthur went down to the

"I have sold those two horses to Count Leon."

"Yes, so he has been telling me."

"Oh, you have seen him, have you?"

"Yes, sir; he sent down for me half an hour ago.  He looks a deal better
than when we left him three days back."

"Yes; he will do now.  He has lost a lot of blood, and it will be some
time before he gains strength again; but the doctor said yesterday that
he had no fears whatever as to his getting through."

"Well, he has quite taken away my breath this morning."

"Has he?  In what way?"

"Well, sir, he has told me that when he gets to Madrid he will make me a
present of five hundred pounds."

"I am glad indeed to hear it, Roper.  You have done him an enormous
service at a good deal of risk.  I have always understood that he is a
wealthy young noble, and I have no doubt he can very well afford to do

"I told him, sir, that really I had nothing to do with it, and that I
had simply done what you had ordered me, never having seen the young
lady myself.  But he would not allow that that made any difference.  I
had assisted in saving his sister’s life, and he was very pleased to be
able to make such an acknowledgment of my services.  I should not mind
how many ladies’ lives I saved on such terms."

"Well, I am heartily glad, Roper.  It always has been a source of
annoyance to me that I was not able to do more for you when we have been
such friends together."

"That is all right, sir.  We were friends together for a time, but I was
in my right position and you were not. That, of course, was soon put
right, and we have stood ever since in the proper relation towards each
other.  I am only too glad to work for you, and now you have put me in
for a very good thing.  If I were to go home now, everyone would say
that I had done mightily well for myself, and I should go in for farming
again; I made a mistake in leaving it.

"Well, when we get home, Roper, I will see that you have the first farm
that is vacant on my estate."

"Why, I did not know that you had an estate!" Roper said in surprise.

"Yes, I have an estate, and, I believe, a pretty good one; but I am not
to come into it till I am five-and-twenty.  I think my father saw that I
was a harum-scarum sort of chap, so he settled it in that way.  But
though I am not to come in for it till I am twenty-five, I have an uncle
who manages it for me, and I can certainly persuade him to give you the
first farm that is vacant.  I had intended to do so before, but I
thought there might be some difficulty about it, because you would
require capital to work it, but this five hundred pounds would give you
a fair start on a small farm."

"That would be splendid, sir!  That will give me something to look
forward to.  As long as you stay out here I shall stay with you, if it
were for another ten years; but it makes all the difference having
something to look forward to afterwards, for I have wondered sometimes
what on earth I should do when I went back again, I should feel so
strange.  I have thought, too, sometimes, about you, and what you would
do when this affair had come to an end.  Well, I am as glad to know that
you will be all right as I am about myself."

Arthur went upstairs.  As he entered the room Mercedes got up from her
brother’s bedside and went out.

"I am a little upset, Arthur," Leon said.

"Are you?  What is the matter? you are not feeling worse, I hope?"

"No; it is nothing about myself, it is about Mercedes. You know that
three months ago she was betrothed--not formally, you know, but the
matter was arranged--to Count Silvio de Mora.  It was a suitable match
in all respects.  He was some fourteen years older than Mercedes, and a
worthy cavalier. Of course he asked her hand of me, and I gave my
consent, and she offered no more objection than a well-brought-up maiden
should do.  Now she turns round and tells me that she has resolved not
to marry; that after being so near to death and saved as by a miracle,
she is resolved to live single. She does not wish to enter a convent or
anything of that sort, but at any rate to live single for some years--in
fact until I marry, and then she will probably go into a religious

"Well, it all seems so unnatural, because she has always had very high
spirits and been fond of gaiety.  I have asked her to think the matter
over, but she declares that nothing can influence her, and implores me
to let her have her own way.  I can understand her feelings.  Of course
she is greatly shaken by what she has gone through; I hope though in
time she will recover her spirits.  But she has declared that nothing
will move her; and after such a terrible experience as she has had, I
feel that at present, at any rate, I must let her have her own way.  I
cannot hold a pen yet, and I shall be greatly obliged if you will write
in my name to the count.  The thought of this engagement evidently preys
upon her mind. She says she did not sleep all night, and I see that she
will have no peace until I carry out her wishes."

"Of course I will do as you wish, Leon, and will write from your
dictation.  It seems to me natural, poor girl, that she should be
terribly shaken by what she has gone through."

                              *CHAPTER X*

                            *A GOOD SERVICE*

The letter took some time to write.  It began with an account of the
attack upon the chateau, and the manner in which the count and his
servants were struck down and Donna Mercedes carried off.  It then
described how Cabrera had sentenced her to be shot, and how, a few hours
before the sentence could be carried out, she was rescued by Captain
Hallett and brought safely to Albacete, where the count himself was
lying wounded.

"My sister is greatly prostrated by the terrible trials that she has
passed through.  She considers that she has been preserved by a miracle,
and that she must dedicate her life to good works.  She has expressed to
me, my dear count, her irresistible repugnance to the plans we had
formed, and has implored me to ask you to relieve her from her
engagement to you.

"I have argued with her in vain, and I beg of you not to take it amiss
that I should ask you to release her.  She is profoundly shaken, and
will not, I am sure, for a long time be fit to be at the head of an
establishment like yours; and, indeed, as I have said, she talks of
entering a religious house. I trust, my dear count, that this
unfortunate circumstance will not cause any breach in our friendship, or
the long-established good feeling between our families.  With assurances
of my deep regret at this severance of a tie to which we had both looked
forward, and of my regard and appreciation, I sign myself yours most

Here Leon took the pen in his own hands and feebly added his signature.

"Between ourselves," he said, "I am not altogether sorry that the
engagement is broken off.  I have a great esteem for Don Silvio, but I
am not sure that he and Mercedes are quite suited to each other.  He is
somewhat grave and is in the thick of politics, and I fancy that
Mercedes has a little resented the small share of attention he has paid
her. However, undoubtedly the affair would have gone on in its usual
course had it not been for this matter."

Arthur took his departure on the following day.  It seemed to him that
Donna Mercedes shunned her brother’s room while he was there.  He
thought it natural that she should be embarrassed by the feeling that
she owed so much to him, and that, as the letter he had written for Leon
showed, she should be profoundly affected by the events through which
she had passed.  It was, too, natural that she should desire to be alone
with her brother, as at present she was without a maid or companion, and
would, of course, wish to act as his nurse.  He therefore said good-bye
to them in the evening, as he intended to start early.

"I hope I shall see you in the course of a month or so, Leon," he said.

"Yes, I hope so."

"And I trust, Donna Mercedes, that you will be looking more yourself,
and will have shaken off the effects of the trial you have gone

The girl put her hand in his, and looked as if she would have spoken,
but she was evidently too much moved for words.  So he turned and left

"I should hardly have thought that she would have felt it so much," he
said to himself as he went up to his room; "though, of course, it has
been a most terrible trial, what with the anxiety about her brother and
herself.  However, I hope she will soon shake it off.  I know she has
plenty of spirit, and nothing could have been more plucky than the way
in which she behaved until we were fairly away from her prison. No doubt
she feels it more now that it is all over and she has nothing to keep up
for.  I wonder how the count will take her breaking off the engagement!
I am not sorry she has done it.  He is extremely courteous and, I
suppose, attentive, but he was always formal, and did not seem to me to
really care for her.  Not that I know anything of such matters; still, I
think myself that if I were engaged to an extremely nice girl, I should
not content myself with pressing the tips of her fingers.  However, that
may be the Spanish custom.  How my cousins would have laughed if I had
treated them in such a ceremonious sort of way!"

It was nearly a month before Arthur returned to Madrid, for he was with
the Christinos when they were defeated by Cabrera with great loss near
Tortosa.  He had taken no actual part in the fight, though he had ridden
with the Christino general, and as soon as he saw that the battle was
lost he rode away.

"It is quite evident, Roper," he said, "that the Christinos do not fight
so well as the Carlists.  They seem to be plucky, too, but the Carlists
fight with greater fury.  They have much less discipline, but they hurl
themselves upon their foes with such a disregard for death that there is
no withstanding them. Now, our fellows beat the Carlists at their own
game; they were equally ready to go at the enemy, and had a good deal
more discipline.  It is evidently useless for us to remain here. Cabrera
won’t observe the conventions, and kills every officer who falls into
his hands.  The Christinos would be quite willing to show mercy, but
they don’t often get the chance of doing so.  We will go up to Madrid
and report to Colonel Wylde, who will, I dare say, be back by the time
we get there."

"I sha’n’t be sorry, sir, for it is not pleasant being with troops who
always get licked.  It seems to me, sir, that the Carlists are likely to
win in the long run."

"I don’t think so, Roper.  You see, they will never remain long in the
field.  Their villages are everywhere in the mountains, and they can’t
be kept together any time, for there is the difficulty of provisions.
They rush down, defeat or avoid the Christinos, and collect a
considerable amount of spoil, and then go off to their homes again.
They are a sort of semi-organized guerrillas, and although guerrillas
can maintain warfare for a long time, they must in the long run be
defeated. They have been fortunate in having wonderfully active leaders.
They first of all had Zumalacarreguy, and now they have Cabrera, both of
whom have the faculty of inspiring their men with an intense enthusiasm
and a willingness to endure all hardship.  But neither of these generals
has succeeded in introducing anything like discipline, and though
splendid guerrilla chiefs, they are not the men for moulding a whole
people into regular soldiers."

Two days after his return to Madrid, Arthur was delighted to see Leon
enter his room.  He still looked pale and thin, but his expression was
bright and cheerful.

"Well, old Paladin," he exclaimed, "here I am, well and getting strong
again.  We have travelled by easy stages, and taken ten days to come
from Albacete."

"That is right.  I felt sure that when you had nothing to do but eat and
drink you would soon pick up again.  And your sister, I hope she has
recovered also?"

"Partly, not altogether.  I hope she has given up the idea of becoming a
religieuse.  It would be a thousand pities if she were to shut herself
up in a convent, and I am sure she would bitterly regret it afterwards.
She has had a great shock, of course, but the effect will pass off in
time.  I could see that it was a great relief to her when she received
an answer from Don Silvio releasing her from her engagement. It was
written in excellent language, and was really irreproachable in tone;
but between ourselves I don’t think his feelings were very deeply
touched.  She has certainly picked up faster since she received it.  She
broke down a good deal when we arrived to-day, and she had her sisters
and Donna Martha to cry over and coddle her.  I won’t ask you to come to
us this evening.  I think she had better be quiet.  What have you been
doing since you left us?"

Arthur gave an account of his journeying.

"I am thinking," the count said, "of raising two companies from among
the tenants of my estate near Seville.  I shall not be happy until I
have crossed swords with that fellow Cabrera."

"I can understand that.  But, you see, Cabrera is not a fellow to be
found so easily; he is here to-day and gone to-morrow; strikes a blow in
one place, and then two days afterwards falls upon a column a hundred
miles away.  I think, Leon, if I were you I would give up the idea.  You
have everything that one can wish for; you are rich, and popular, and
happy in your family.  It is all very well for people who want the pay
and position of generals to go into the army, but you have nothing to
gain by it.  And at any rate, as long as your party hold their own
against the Carlists, I don’t see that you have any business to put on a

"Every word you say is as applicable to yourself as it is to me.  This
is no affair of yours.  It doesn’t matter a snap of the finger to you
whether Don Carlos or Christina reigns in Spain."

"That is true enough, but I have got my living to get.  I like the life
and excitement."

"That is well enough at present, but this war is not going to last for

"No; and if it were, I should not remain out here.  I have some years to
kill.  When that is over, I shall go home and live on my own land."

"Oh, I didn’t know you had land! you never told me so."

"No, Leon, I am not given to talk about my own private affairs.  I was
wild as a boy, and my father thought it was well that I should not come
into my fortune until I arrived at years of discretion, and he very
wisely tied it up so that I could not touch it until then.  I don’t mean
that I shall ever be a great magnate as you are, but I shall have a very
nice estate, which will be all the larger for having waited fifteen
years for me."

"I am very glad to hear it, very glad; though it does seem to me very
hard that you should be kept so long out of it. Still, I am the last who
ought to complain, for if you had not been obliged to become a sort of
knight-errant I should have lost my sister."

"Nor have I anything to grumble at, though I do wish I had remained at
school a couple of years longer and finished my education."

"Education!" Leon laughed; "you must have done with that long ago."

"I am not so old as I look," Arthur said.

"Well, you look as old as I do, anyhow."

"I am not so old by a good many years.  I won’t tell you how many, for I
don’t want to be treated like a little boy."

"I don’t think I should do that if you said that you were only ten."

"Well, I can tell you, as a great secret, that I am more than ten."

"Well," Leon said, getting up with a laugh, "now I must be off.
Mercedes, who has developed into a regular tyrant, only gave me leave to
come out on condition that I would not stop more than five minutes, and
if it had been anybody but yourself she would not have let me come at
all; not, I think, even if the Queen Regent had sent for me."

"She is quite right, Leon, though I should like to keep you here; but I
am sure that after riding in here this morning you ought not to have
moved out again.  Well, I will walk with you back to your own door."

Arthur, on calling on the following morning, was received with great
enthusiasm by Mercedes’ two younger sisters, with whom he had become a
great favourite, and also by the young count.  Mercedes, however, seemed
painfully shy with him.

"I don’t think I shall ever feel comfortable with you again, señor," she
said with a great effort.  "I feel quite overpowered with the sense of
what I owe you."

"Then, señora, you will oblige me to regret that I ever interfered in
your behalf," Arthur said with a smile.  "The sooner you get that idea
out of your head the sooner I shall feel comfortable again.  It was a
great pleasure to me to be of service to you, but you will take the
pleasure out of it altogether if you are going to be unnatural with me."

"But I can’t help it," she said.

"Then I sha’n’t rescue you another time when you get into a scrape.
Once I picked a young cousin of mine out of the water.  The ice was
thin, and I had no right to take her on; but as I scarcely ever did what
was right I took her, and she went through.  Of course I went in after
her, and we were both nearly drowned.  Well, I did not hear the last of
that for a long time; it was always being thrown up in my teeth, till I
declared that I would never take a girl out skating again.  And now it
seems that you are going to make it just as disagreeable for me."

The girl laughed.

"Well, I will really try hard not to.  I will tell myself that anyone
else would have done just the same as you did, and that there was no
danger in it, and that it was altogether a most commonplace affair."

"Good!" he said.  "That will make us both much more comfortable."

"And how old was this cousin of yours?"

"Two years younger than I was.  That was the last time we had a bit of
fun together.  My aunt entertained the idea that I was making the girls
into regular tomboys, and I don’t think they ever went out with me again
afterwards.  I am afraid I was not so sorry as I ought to have been at
losing their society, for I was getting to the evil age when boys think
girls rather nuisances."

"And what age may that be, señor?" one of the younger girls asked with a

"Well, in England I think it begins about fourteen and lasts till about

"Oh, then we may flatter ourselves that you will not regard us as

"No; you are very well-behaved little girls, and you don’t expect me to
play with you."

"Play with us, indeed!" the girl said scornfully; "I should think not.
Why, I am fifteen."

"A very grave and reverent age, señorina.  I have not got my hat on, or
I would take it off to you in token of my respect, not to say

"How different you are from Spaniards!" the girl said.  "A young Spanish
gentleman would lift his hat courteously if he passed us in the street,
but, unless he were very, very intimate, would hardly think of speaking
to us even in the house, whereas you actually laugh at us and make fun
of us.  I have to laugh sometimes when I think I ought to be very

"You should practise looking indignant before a glass, señorina, else I
am afraid it would be a failure and I should not be properly impressed.
Now, Donna Mercedes," he said, turning to her, "I hope you have found
Leon a very good patient."

"He was very good the first fortnight, but after that he was by no means
so easy to manage.  I had very often to appeal to Donna Martha, and
sometimes he absolutely set her at defiance."

"At any rate he has done credit to your nursing."

Then they settled down for a quiet talk, and Arthur heard how they had
at first travelled by very short stages, and had gradually increased the
length of the journeys.

"It was very tedious," Leon said, "and I could have come a good deal
faster if I had been allowed.  And now about yourself: I suppose you
came back a fortnight ago?"

"No; I only came back the day before you.  I changed my mind and went
down to Tortosa, as I heard that a battle was imminent there, and to my
disgust I saw the Christinos utterly routed by Cabrera.  Fortunately the
Carlists were not strong in cavalry; if they had been, the Royalists
would have been entirely destroyed."

After chatting for some time longer he took his leave.  In half an hour
he returned.

"I have just heard very bad news.  I can assure you it is very serious.
You know that Don Carlos completely defeated General Buerens at Herrera,
killing ninety-two officers and inflicting a loss of two thousand six
hundred men killed, wounded, and prisoners.  Espartero hurried up to
rejoin Oraa. The Carlists affected to retreat, but really joined
Cabrera, gave Espartero the slip, and are this morning within four
leagues of Madrid."

An exclamation of dismay broke from his hearers.

"And we have no troops here!"

"None but the Urban Guards, who have just been called out; but I should
say they could not stand an hour before a Carlist attack; and, moreover,
there are, as you know, a large number of Carlist sympathizers who will
be certain to rise as soon as they attack the walls."

"Then I had better send the ladies off at once," Leon said, rising to
his feet; "if they leave the other side of the city they may get away."

"I think it would be safer for them to stay here; the Carlist cavalry
may be round the town in a couple of hours. They might be cut off, so
that they would certainly be safer here.  It is true that Cabrera is
with Don Carlos, but he will not be supreme, as the latter would, I am
convinced, restrain his cruelty.  He would know well enough that nothing
could be worse for his cause than for his entry into his capital to be
marked by scenes of bloodshed.  I think the greatest danger will be from
a rising of the mob before the Carlists enter, and I should strongly
advise you to arm all your men, to barricade all the windows not
protected by bars, and prepare to beat off any assault.  The house is
very strong and solid, and the mob would hardly be able to capture it in
the face of a firm resistance, for we may calculate that Don Carlos will
enter the town within an hour at most after any disturbance breaks out

"I will have it done at once."

"I would certainly set about it.  It is scarcely likely that Don Carlos
will be before the town till to-morrow morning, which will give you
ample time to make your preparations. How many men have you?"

"With the stablemen and all, I have eighteen."

"That should be sufficient.  I will help you to set them to work, and
will then go out into the town and bring you in the latest news."

The men were at once collected.  Leon sent some of them out to buy some
crowbars, and set them to work to get up the paving-stones in the hall
and the yard, and with these to block up all the windows on the ground
floor.  When they had fairly begun Arthur went out, and, finding Roper,
asked him to saddle the horses; and, having done that, rode out to see
the state of things prevailing.  The streets were in an uproar.  Some of
the people appeared almost out of their minds with fear, and the dreaded
name of Cabrera was on everyone’s lips.  A large mob had assembled
before the head-quarters of government, and with many gestures abused
the ministers for leaving the capital undefended.  Others among the
crowd with difficulty concealed their exultation. Many of the public
offices were pelted with stones.  A deputation of influential citizens
went to the palace and had an interview with Christina, who maintained a
firm countenance, and told them that Espartero with his army was
following hard on the track of Don Carlos, and that the city would at
most have to resist for a few hours.

Presently there was a rush to the walls, and the Carlist cavalry could
be seen galloping towards the town.  Arthur mounted his horse and,
followed by Roper, rode to the gate towards which the horsemen were
approaching.  A regiment of the Urban Guards was drawn up here.  He rode
up to the colonel, who was personally known to him.  "Colonel," he said,
"may I suggest to you that if you were to lead your men outside, they
could drive off the Carlist cavalry?  They could not stand against
infantry, and would probably ride off after a short exchange of shots;
and the result would greatly raise the spirits of the townspeople, and
perhaps lead them to decide upon their making a resistance.  Of course I
have not a shadow of authority, but as one of the British commissioners
I feel it my duty to point out to you the very great advantage of such a
step.  I am ready myself to ride out with you and take my share in the

"I will do it, sir," the colonel answered.  "I see the truth of what you

He addressed a few words to the men, and then, ordering the gates to be
thrown open, marched out leading the regiment, Arthur riding beside him.
The cavalry were but four hundred yards away, and as the infantry
marched out they formed up in companies and opened fire upon the
horsemen.  The latter answered in a straggling and undetermined manner,
and then in two or three minutes turned and rode off.

"I congratulate you, señor," Arthur said.  "I think it is quite probable
that you have saved the capital.  The troopers will carry back word that
the garrison are determined to resist.  This is sure to cause hesitation
in the councils of Don Carlos, and we may feel certain that at least for
to-day nothing will be done, and every hour that passes will bring
Espartero nearer to our assistance."

The regiment were enthusiastically cheered as they returned to the city,
and they received a great ovation as they entered the Puerto del Sol,
the great square of the town.  The minister of war himself came down and
thanked the colonel, and bestowed upon him the rank of general.  The
latter generously said that he had acted in accordance with the advice
given him by the British commissioner, that he would not have thought of
taking the step but for that advice, and that the British officer had
ridden out with him.  Thereupon Arthur, who had, when they entered the
city, gone off to his lodging, was sent for, and received the formal
thanks of the minister. This incident seemed to greatly inspirit the
defenders; the noisy crowds now dispersed, and preparations for the
defence were carried on vigorously.

After leaving the Ministry Arthur went back to aid the count in his
preparations.  Already a great deal had been done, and by evening the
house was placed in a position to make a stout defence against any
attack by an undisciplined force.

In the afternoon the count went out for a short time, and on his return
said to his sisters: "Young ladies, you will please salute the hidalgo,
Captain Arthur Hallett, as the saviour of this city.  He told us he had
been out through the gate with a regiment that went and fired a few
shots at the Carlist cavalry; but it now appears that it was he who
advised the officer in command of the regiment to go out, and that he
gallantly rode with the colonel at their head, for which service he has
been publicly thanked by the minister of war."

"Yes, and I was ashamed of being thanked," Arthur said. "I went to have
a look at the Carlist cavalry.  Seeing a regiment of infantry at the
gate, I suggested to the colonel that it would be a good thing to go out
and drive them off, as even a little thing like that would tend to
restore confidence; so we went out and fired half a dozen volleys.  The
Carlists fired a few shots in return and made off.  There is the
beginning and the end of it."

"At any rate, Arthur, everyone at the club agreed that it has had a
great effect in restoring confidence.  The crowd demonstrating in front
of the various Ministries dispersed. Many of the men who had absented
themselves from the muster of their companies have now joined them, and
it seems probable that if Don Carlos attacks us to-morrow, which
everyone supposes he will do, a stout defence will be made."

"Well, I dare say it may have had that effect, Leon.  That is just what
I expected when I suggested the move, but it is nonsense to make such a
fuss about it; and it was as much as I could do not to laugh in the
minister’s face when he talked about it as a very valiant business."

"I think, seriously, Arthur, that the affair may have a good deal of
consequence.  Probably the cavalry were sent on to ascertain the
disposition of the town, and see whether it was likely to surrender
without a blow; and the fact that this little sortie was made will give
the idea that we are prepared for a desperate resistance.  Everyone
knows that Don Carlos is a man who can never quite make up his mind, and
several men at the club agree in thinking that it is quite possible he
may march away again without attempting anything."

"If he does, Leon, it will be a death-blow to his own cause. By throwing
Espartero off his track, effecting a junction with Cabrera, and marching
within striking distance of the capital, he has got an opportunity that
he will never have again. He ought to have attacked to-day.  The news
that he had captured Madrid would have roused his partisans to great
enthusiasm, and brought all the doubters over to his side; whereas, if
he throws away this opportunity he will disgust the men who have come so
far from their homes, will certainly infuriate Cabrera, and will show
that he is utterly unfit to be the head of a well-nigh desperate cause."

All night the work of preparation went on.  Cannon were got out of the
arsenal and mounted in commanding positions. The gates were blocked up
with stones, ammunition piled on the walls, and the whole population
toiled at making preparations for defence.  In the morning every point
from which a view over the country could be obtained was thronged in
anticipation of seeing the enemy advancing, but to the general delight
the plain seemed to be absolutely deserted.  Very speedily a party of
mounted gentlemen sallied out from one of the gates, and rode out to
reconnoitre the country.  Arthur went with them.  They rode to within
two miles of the Carlist camp, but no signs of movement were
discernible.  They watched for three hours.  At the end of that time
they saw the royal tent and those around it lowered, and an hour later
could make out the whole army drawing off.  With exultant shouts they
mounted and rode back to the city, where their news excited a wild
enthusiasm.  The fickle crowd shouted and applauded the ministers as
furiously as they had the morning before denounced them.  Leon had, to
his great disgust, to abandon the idea of joining the party riding out,
and had awaited at home the return of Arthur with the news.

"They have gone!" Arthur exclaimed as he ran upstairs.


"Yes! horse, foot, and baggage."

"Exit Don Carlos!" the count shouted.  "Yesterday he literally had the
game in his hands, to-day he has thrown it away.  There, girls, please
each make a curtsy to Don Arthur, he has saved Spain."

"What ridiculous nonsense, Leon!" Arthur said almost angrily.

"It is good sober sense, and not nonsense at all.  Don Carlos had no
doubt been assured that he had only to elude the armies in the field and
show himself before Madrid, when the town would open its gates to him,
and the authorities come out to surrender the capital.  The fact that
the troops sallied out and attacked his cavalry has completely
overthrown his hopes.  I believe that the town would have surrendered
without resistance if he had marched straight on yesterday. To-day it
would have fought, but it could not have offered any strong resistance.
The walls are rotten, and the Carlist cannon would have made a breach in
them in no time.  In fact, I don’t suppose they would have troubled to
do that, but would have carried the place by storm.  Now the chance has
gone, and for ever; for after this fiasco he will never be able to
persuade the mountaineers to make this long march again.  They may go on
fighting for a long time before the thing is over, but we shall never
see the Carlist army before Madrid again.  Call it a happy inspiration
if you like, my friend, but it was a happy inspiration that saved the
Christino cause."

An hour later a royal messenger came to the house, saying that on
calling at the English officer’s lodging he was told that he should
probably find him at Count de Balen’s, and that the queen regent desired
his attendance at the palace.

"I have led my first and last sortie," Arthur exclaimed in a tone of
despair.  "As far as I am concerned, the Carlists may occupy Madrid
without my moving from my rooms to prevent them.  Was there ever such a
fuss made over such a ridiculous affair?  Still, I suppose I must go."

"Of course you must go," Leon said.  "Don’t be foolish, Arthur!  You can
insist on getting off being thanked by Mercedes and me, but there is no
getting off being thanked by the queen."

With a shrug of the shoulders Arthur went down-stairs and, mounting his
horse, rode by the side of the mounted messenger to the palace.  Here he
was at once escorted to the apartment of the queen regent.  A number of
her ministers were gathered there.  By her side was the little Queen
Isabella, a child of between five and six years old.  Her minister of
war stepped forward, and, taking Arthur’s hand, led him up to the two

"Your Majesty," he said, "I beg to present to you Captain Arthur
Hallett, one of Her Britannic Majesty’s commissioners. I have already
had the honour to inform you that to him it is due that Colonel, now
General de Layer, conceived the idea of leading out on his own
responsibility his regiment, which was on guard, against the Carlist
cavalry.  He accompanied the colonel at the head of his regiment, and
they drove off the Carlist cavalry with loss.  It is doubtless largely
due to that proof of the courage and resolution of Her Majesty’s troops
that the Pretender abandoned his idea of attacking the town, and has
marched away with his force--a confession of defeat which will
undoubtedly have a very desirable effect in establishing your daughter
on the throne, by animating your faithful followers throughout the
country, and by dispiriting those of Don Carlos."


Queen Christina held out her hand to Arthur, who, not being sure of what
was the right thing to do, knelt on one knee and kissed it.  "Give this
gentleman your hand," the queen said to the child; "he has done you a
very, very great service."

The child did as she was told, and said: "Thank you; I think I shall
like you very much."

"I am told also, Captain Hallett," Christina said, "that you performed
an act of extreme valour which is at present the talk of our court,
namely, that you went alone into the camp of Cabrera and effected the
rescue, from that ruthless leader, of the sister of Count Leon de Balen,
who had been condemned to death by him--an act which in itself stamps
you as an officer of the most distinguished bravery.  Taking into
consideration that act, performed on behalf of a sister of a nobleman of
our court, and the service you have now performed for us, I have
pleasure in handing you the Cross of the First Class of San Fernando and
Knight of Isabella the Catholic."

"I thank your majesty most deeply for the honour you have been pleased
to bestow upon me, and which I feel I have done little indeed to

"That is for my counsellors and for myself to judge, Captain Hallett,"
she said graciously.  "I trust that we shall see you sometimes at our

Arthur then retired, the court chamberlain having placed round his neck
the sash and insignia of the Order.  "I suppose I must wear this thing,"
he said as he went back, "but it is really too ridiculous.  I don’t say
that the action had not an effect, no doubt it had; but there was
nothing in the doing of it."

He had promised Leon to return and tell him what the queen said to him,
and he went up to the drawing-room with quite a rueful expression on his
face.  The girls were still there with their brother, and as he entered
with the decoration all clapped their hands.

"It is all very well for you to applaud," he said, "but it makes me feel
downright ridiculous.  If I had done anything worth doing, I don’t say
that I should not feel gratified at such an honour, but for merely
saying ’Let’s come out and fire a few shots’ it is absurd."

"It is you that are absurd, Arthur," Leon said, laughing. "Now please
tell us exactly what her majesty said.  Exactly."

"Well, she said that I had done her great service, and then that she had
heard also about my rescue of Donna Mercedes, and that for that service,
performed for the sister of a nobleman of her court, and for the service
done to herself, she bestowed this honour upon me."

"I am glad," Mercedes said in a tone of delight.  "You would not let us
thank you, but you have been thanked by Queen Christina.  I am pleased
more than I can say."

"So am I," Leon said, shaking hands heartily with him.

"It is very good of you to say so, Leon," Arthur said in a depressed
tone; "and I don’t say that I shouldn’t value the honour immensely if I
had really done any exceptionally brave thing.  Thank goodness!  I shall
only have to wear this ribbon and star on very special occasions."

"Yes; but you will always have to wear the rosette, you must remember
that.  In this country you are now the Cavalier Arthur Hallett, with a
right of entry to the royal court at all times, and many other
privileges, concerning which I will make enquiry and inform you."

Arthur laughed uneasily.  "It is all very well for you to joke about it,
Leon, but I can assure you that I find it rather a heavy infliction."

"You should not," Leon said earnestly.  "It is a real honour, and, let
me tell you, a high one; and to us it is a special and very great
pleasure that the service you did us has been considered in the bestowal
of it upon you."

"Well, I won’t grumble any more, and will specially regard it as a
souvenir of the service I was enabled to render to your sister, which it
will be one of my greatest pleasures to remember all my life."

"That is well spoken," Leon said; "and, like yourself, I can assure you
that it is an immense pleasure to us that, although we are powerless to
show the gratitude we owe you, the action has been recognized by our

"And now, Leon," Arthur said, to turn the conversation, "you have all
the work of putting down your pavements again."

"Yes.  As I don’t think we shall hear Don Carlos knocking at our doors
again, I have already set the men to work, and we shall soon have things
tidy once more."

"Well now, I will be going, Leon."

"Well, don’t forget that you are engaged to dine here to-day. We shall
have quite a gathering to celebrate our return."

                              *CHAPTER XI*

                           *A THWARTED PLOT*

Espartero marched in on the following day, and after spending three days
in resting and refitting his army, started on the 17th of September in
pursuit of Don Carlos, and, pressing upon his rear, obtained the welcome
news that Cabrera, utterly disgusted with his irresolution, had left him
with his command and gone back to the mountains.  Colonel Wylde had
returned on the day after Espartero arrived.

"I hear you have been doing good service, Captain Hallett," he said,
when Arthur called upon him.

"The service was really nothing, sir: it was not worth talking about.
Some Carlist cavalry came galloping up against one of the gates, and as
there was a regiment of the Urban Guards drawn up there, I advised their
colonel to go out and drive them off.  He took my advice, and went out
and fired two volleys, and the Carlists bolted."

"Yes, I quite admit that the affair was unimportant in itself; but there
can be equally no doubt that it had very wide consequences.  No doubt
Don Carlos sent on his cavalry in hopes that the town would open its
gates to him, as we may be sure his partisans had promised to do.  When
they were so roughly received, he imagined that he had been altogether
misinformed, and that he would meet with a desperate resistance.
Knowing how close Espartero was behind him, he concluded that he would
not be able to capture the place before that general arrived, and so
drew off.  There can be no doubt that his hesitation at this critical
moment has sealed his fate. He will never get the Basques to come down
from their mountains again.  I am told, also, that you did a very
gallant action down in the south, and it was that as well as the affair
here that induced Christina to give you the Order of San Fernando and
knighthood.  I shall have pleasure in recommending to the government at
home that you be permitted to accept and wear the decorations, which you
could not do at home without such permission."

"I certainly should not want to wear them at home.  They may be very
useful to me in this country, though indeed I should hardly like to wear
them even here, for I have certainly done nothing to deserve such
honour.  I shall really be glad, sir, if you will send me off again as
speedily as possible, for I shall be glad to escape from the
congratulations which I shall have to receive if I remain in Madrid."

"Things are likely to be quiet for a time," the colonel said. "Espartero
has applied for another army to be raised, but the ministry are so
jealous of him that there is little chance that the request will be
granted, and he will have to set off in pursuit of Don Carlos with but a
small force.  At present the real point of interest in Spain is the
struggle between Espartero and the government, a body of men utterly
incapable and wholly corrupt.  Their weakness and unpopularity
constitute the greatest danger that threatens the country, now that Don
Carlos has retired.  I have the honour to be in the confidence of
Christina, and she feels deeply the situation in which she is placed by
the intrigues and jealousies of these men.  Unfortunately she is
powerless in their hands, and can only endeavour to keep matters going,
and to prevent an open outbreak between the various parties.  However,
as you want to get away, you may as well go with Espartero; I will
introduce you to him to-morrow."

"Thank you very much!  I would far rather be moving about than staying
here, for I feel that I am drawing my pay and doing very little for it."

The colonel smiled.  "It is evident, Hallett, that patience is not one
of your virtues.  You have just been away for two months, and only
returned three days ago.  However, I can understand that Madrid has no
great attractions for you, and that you prefer being actively employed.
I have seen Espartero this morning, and he intends to start again in two
days’ time, so you will not have long to wait."

Espartero received Arthur warmly when Colonel Wylde presented him on the
following day, and spoke strongly of the service he had rendered in
getting the regiment to go out and meet the Carlist horse.  "I wish," he
said, "that I had a few young officers ready to take the initiative.
There is no lack of bravery among my troops; they obey orders and fight
well, but I have to see to everything myself.  Doubtless things will
improve in time; and I think that this action of yours may have some
influence in showing the officers of the army that opportunities present
themselves sometimes, when even the youngest can make their mark.  I
shall be very glad indeed to have you with me, and I trust that you will
consider yourself on my staff."

"Captain Hallett could very well do so," Colonel Wylde said; "the
alliance is becoming closer between the two nations. British marines and
sailors have been fighting in the north, and it is more than probable
that a force of regular troops will be sent from England, only Captain
Hallett must recollect that if he takes any active part in an engagement
he forfeits his privileges as a British commissioner, and will
certainly, if captured, be treated as a prisoner of war."

"I am quite ready to risk that, sir," Arthur said.

"Yes; but you must bear in mind that I must at any moment be able to
recall you if I need your services elsewhere."

"Certainly, sir; I shall always hold myself at your orders."

Loud regrets were expressed by Leon and his sisters when they heard that
their friend was leaving them so soon.

"You can do us good service here, Leon, if you choose."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, it is clear enough that the ministry, divided as they are on all
other points, are united in their jealousy of Espartero, who seems to me
the one honest and capable man in Spain. Now, if you would endeavour to
get up a party to support him, and to move public opinion so strongly in
his favour that they will compel the ministry either to give him
adequate support or expose themselves to be kicked out, you will be
doing a great service to the country.  You saw yourself the condition of
his force when they marched in yesterday, utterly worn out and fatigued,
almost in rags--deficient in everything that makes up an army.  If you
speak of this on all occasions, stir up feeling among men of your own
class, denounce the government for refusing to supply him with the men
and means to carry on the war on a proper scale, you will be doing an
immense amount of good."

"I will do so; I will become a conspirator.  I thoroughly agree with you
as to Espartero, and will really devote myself to supporting him.
Henceforth I will become a public man, and make government tremble;" and
he struck his breast theatrically.  His sisters and Arthur all broke
into a laugh. "Seriously, I will devote myself to the business, Arthur.
I have felt for some time that I ought to be doing something for my
country.  I know nothing of soldiering, and cannot very well ask for a
musket and go out and fight; but I do think I could be doing some good
in working for the downfall of this government, for which no one but its
hangers-on and followers have a good word to say.  I will begin by
speaking indignantly of the state of Espartero’s army, and directly he
openly breaks with government I will work heart and soul to second his

"Don’t be in too much of a hurry, Leon; you know that men who have
spoken out too loudly have been either sent to their estates or
imprisoned.  Begin at first by declaring that the state of the army is
disgraceful; do not attack the government until Espartero himself takes
the field against them.  When he once does so, I am convinced that the
dissatisfaction that exists will find a voice, and that the government
will not dare to set themselves against it."

Two days afterwards Arthur and his follower started with Espartero.
Four days later they found that Don Carlos was only three leagues in
advance; and believing that his force were resting for the day,
Espartero at once moved forward. But he was ignorant of the nature of
the country; had he been aware of it, he could have caught them in a
trap, and Don Carlos himself would have fallen into his hands.
Unfortunately, as he had to feel his way down a deep defile, the
Carlists discovered his approach and retired precipitately. On the 28th
it was found that Don Carlos had been joined by another division, but
Espartero had also been strengthened. He therefore divided his army into
two corps, one commanded by General Lorenzo with fourteen battalions,
while he retained the command of the other and larger division.  A few
days later the former force was attacked suddenly by a superior Carlist
army.  It defended itself with great obstinacy.

Espartero started instantly when he heard the sound of the firing, and
arrived in time to save Lorenzo, and, attacking the left and centre of
the Carlist force, sent them flying in disorder. He was, however, unable
to follow up his victory, being forced to await the arrival of some
convoys of clothing and provisions. These arrived two days later, and,
pressing forward, he picked up many deserters from the Carlist ranks.
These all declared that discord and confusion raged in the Carlist army,
and that the Basques and Navarrese had declared their determination to
return to their provinces whether Don Carlos was willing or not.  In the
course of two or three days their army broke up altogether, crossing the
Ebro at various points under their respective chiefs, and making their
way off to the mountains. Espartero devoted the remainder of the year to
organizing transport and supply, and punishing acts of indiscipline and
insubordination that had broken out at various places.

As soon as the operations ceased Colonel Wylde wrote to Arthur
requesting him to go down to join General Flinter, an English officer in
the service of Spain, who was about to be sent down to Toledo at the
request of the deputies of Estremadura.  He at once left Espartero and
rode to Toledo, where he arrived on the same day as General Flinter.

"Colonel Wylde told me that he had sent you to join me, Captain Hallett,
and spoke very highly of your energy and courage.  I shall be very glad
to have your assistance.  This place is a nest of Carlism.  Their
central Junta is here, and although at the present moment I cannot take
any steps against them while they remain quiet, it will not be very long
before I shall be able to do so."

Arthur took up his quarters at the same hotel as the general, and for
the next fortnight aided him in restoring discipline and order among the
troops, who had been in garrison there for some time, and had fallen
into a slack state.  At the end of that time news was brought that a
Carlist force under Basilio Garcia was approaching on a raiding
expedition, and Flinter persuaded the authorities of the town to join
him in declaring it in a state of siege.

"Now," he said, "I may be able to lay hands on some of these Carlist
fellows, if I can but obtain evidence against them.  There is no doubt
that among them are some of the leading men of the province, and I am
afraid that, even if I catch them, they will slip through my fingers.
The government at Madrid are, as you know, very hostile to the English.
Sir George Villiers, our minister, is constantly urging them to support
Espartero, and is in close communication with that general, therefore
they are opposed to us all.  It was only because they did not see how
they could refuse the request of the deputies of Estremadura that I was
allowed to come here. You may be sure that, what with the personal
objections of ministers to me, and the fact that these men are all
wealthy enough to bribe right and left, they will take no action against
them, however clear the evidence I may be able to bring forward.  Still,
that makes no difference in my duty, and I shall certainly lay hands on
them if I can obtain anything like certain evidence."

"Who is considered the principal?"

"The Duke de Ladra."

"It is at his house they are likely to meet, I suppose?"

"Yes, I should say so."

"I will set my man to work; he is a sharp fellow, and he may be able to
find out something about these meetings."

Roper had had his time entirely on his hands since their arrival at
Toledo, and, being of a chatty disposition, had already made a great
many acquaintances.  He was a good-looking young fellow, and his scarlet
uniform opened the doors of a good many houses to him.

"Roper," Arthur said to him that evening, "I know that you are
constantly getting up flirtations wherever you go."

"Well, sir," Roper said, "I must do something, and sometimes it has been
hard work to kill time.  Did you say that for any particular reason?"

"Yes.  Do you happen to know anyone in the household of the Duke de

"Well, yes, sir; I do know a young woman there.  She went with me to a
festa yesterday evening."

"Well, I wish you could find out in some way when any meetings of
leading men of the place are held there, and whether they meet on any
particular day."

"I know that there was a meeting last night, sir, because she said it
was what she called a men’s evening, and therefore she could get out."

"Well, when you see her again, Roper, you might perhaps find out when
the next meeting will take place, by asking her when she can come out

"I can manage that easily enough, sir;" and he looked enquiringly at his

"I want to be present at it, Roper."

"You do, sir?"

"Yes.  These men are Carlist conspirators.  We cannot seize them without
some evidence against them, and if I could only overhear their talk we
should be able to lay hands upon them."

"That would not be easy, sir."

"No; I quite see that.  But don’t you think that if you were to say that
you know a cavalero who is very anxious to be present at one of these
meetings, and would willingly pay ten golden pieces to anyone who would
smuggle him up a back stair to a point where he could see what goes on,
she would be likely to accept the money?"

"I can’t tell you, sir.  Ten pounds is a large sum to one of these
servants, who don’t get more than two or three pounds a year.  I should
tell her, of course, that it would never be known who had admitted you,
and you would take an oath not to betray her if anything happened.
Possibly she might consent; at any rate I could sound her carefully.  It
would be quite a marriage dot to her; but it would be a dangerous
business for you, sir, if you were caught."

"Yes; but when everything was arranged I should get General Flinter to
send down a body of troops under an officer to surround the house, with
a warrant for the arrest of all persons found within it.  If I were
discovered I should at once fire a pistol, and that would be the signal
for the officer to rush in with the soldiers, and run upstairs to the
room.  As soon as they heard the noise, they would cease attacking me.
You might possibly be up there with me.  If so, I think we could
certainly rely upon holding our own against a dozen conspirators for
three or four minutes."

"Yes, I should say so, sir.  Half of them are likely to be oldish men,
and would be so surprised and confounded at seeing us that they would
lose some time before making the attack."

Two days later Roper brought news that he had met the young woman again;
she was not unwilling to help, but that she held out for twenty pounds;
that the meetings were held once a week, and that there was likely to be
another in four days.  "She is to meet me again to-morrow evening.  I am
to tell her whether you are willing to pay twenty pounds, and to hand it
to her when she lets us in."

"Yes, I will pay that.  It is worth it; for if these fellows organize a
rising in the town at the same time as the Carlists attack it, we shall
be in a very bad way.  When you see her to-morrow, I will tell the

On the next evening Roper brought news that everything was arranged, and
that they were to be at a certain back-door of the duke’s mansion at
nine o’clock on the following Thursday.

Arthur then went in and told the general.

"It is a capital plan, Captain Hallett, and I am deeply indebted to you;
at the same time, it is a dangerous one as far as you are concerned."

"I don’t think there is much danger in it, sir.  In the first place, we
are not likely to be discovered, and if we are, my man and I can defend
ourselves till the troops come up."

"Well, if you are ready to take the risk there is no question that the
scheme is an advantageous one, and will remove a very serious danger.  I
will, on the morning of Thursday, draw up an order for the arrest of all
persons found at the duke’s, and will, soon after nine, myself bring
down a hundred picked men.  You may be sure that if I hear a pistol-shot
I shall instantly demand admittance, and rush up to your assistance.
You had better get me information as to the precise position of the
room, so that we may be able to make straight for it, and not waste time
in entering other rooms."

The preparations all worked smoothly.  At six o’clock in the evening
there was a meeting of deputies and the warrants for arrest were signed,
and a few minutes before nine Arthur and Roper, both wrapped up in
cloaks, and carrying pistols as well as swords, went round to a door
that the woman had shown to the latter.  Roper knocked three times, and
the door was opened.  They entered, and Arthur handed to the woman the
money he had promised her.

"You follow me very quietly," she said.  "There is no fear of our
meeting anyone, these stairs are never used after dark. I will take you
to the room, but you must arrange about your own hiding-place.  Mind
your promise that, whatever happens, you will not betray me."

"Do not be afraid," Arthur said, "we will keep good faith with you."

Going up very cautiously in the dark, they came presently to a small
landing.  "This is the door," she said.  "I believe they have all
arrived, and will come here in a few minutes."

She opened the door carefully and looked in.  "Those curtains are the
best hiding-place," she said, pointing to some drawn across the window.
"I don’t think there is any chance that they will move them."

She closed the door behind them, and they walked across to the window
and took their places behind the curtains.  It was a room of
considerable size.  A table stood in the middle, and at this twelve
chairs were placed, with writing materials before each.  They talked
together in a low whisper.

"If a row takes place we will both run to the corner to the left.  In
that way only two persons can attack us at once, and as they will
probably have nothing but knives about them, we ought to be able to keep
them off easily enough."

Presently the door opened, and twelve gentlemen entered. The last to
come in turned the key in the door, and one of them went to the door by
which Arthur had entered and locked that also; then they sat down and
began to talk. They were, as the general had thought probable, arranging
a plan by which parties of men should seize the various gates.  They
were to wait till the major part of the troops had issued out to meet
the Carlists, and then the bands were to fall upon those that remained.
Each of those present gave in a list of the number of followers and
friends he could answer for.  The total amounted to about six hundred,
but they agreed that this number would probably be multiplied by four,
as it was certain that a large number of the lower class of the town
would join them, though it would not be prudent to take them into the
plot till the moment for action arrived.

Arthur had heard enough, and he was sure that by this time the house
would be surrounded and the general ready to enter.  He whispered to
Roper to be ready, and then, turning round, thrust his pistol through
the window and pulled the trigger.  Then, as the people at the table
sprang to their feet, he and Roper leapt out and took their places in
the corner, Arthur saying: "You had better surrender, gentlemen!  The
house is surrounded, and there are no means of escape."

Several of the younger men drew their knives, but shrank back as Arthur
and his follower dropped their cloaks, drew their swords, and levelled
their pistols.  "You will only be throwing away your lives," Arthur said
sternly.  "Armed as we are, we are a match for the whole of you.
Listen! you can hear blows on the door below."

There was indeed a sound of loud knocking, which suddenly ceased.  The
conspirators spoke hastily together.  One man ran to the table and
caught up some of the papers, but Arthur fired at his hand.  Almost
immediately afterwards there was a loud knocking at the door.  Shrugging
his shoulders, the duke walked to it and turned the key.  The general,
followed by a dozen soldiers, entered.  "Duke de Ladra," he said, "you
are my prisoner, together with all in this room.  I hold a warrant of
arrest against the whole of you, on a charge of treason against the
queen and government."

"I have no power to resist you, sir," the duke said, "but you will
repent this outrage."

"I think not, duke.  The town being in a state of siege, I have full
authority to act as I have done.  But the warrant is also signed by ten
of the deputies of Estremadura.  Now, gentlemen, I do not wish to use
violence.  I will allow you all to take your hats and cloaks, and must
then march you to a place of detention.  The matter will then be looked
into, and you will be tried by court-martial."

The duke bowed coldly.  "Gentlemen," he said to his friends, "for the
present we must yield to force.  We shall doubtless have a reckoning
with this gentleman later on."

Quietly they walked down-stairs.  The general directed four soldiers to
remain with Arthur until he returned.  He marched the prisoners to the
jail and placed a strong guard over them, and then returned to the

"Your plan has worked splendidly," he said to Arthur, "and it has been
managed without bloodshed."

"Altogether, except that I had to put a bullet through the hand of one
of them, who was about to destroy those papers--they are lists of the
number of men that each bound himself to produce when the rising took

"And you heard all that was said?"

"Yes;" and he related the conversation which he had overheard.  The room
was then searched carefully, and a number of papers and letters to
friends throughout the country were discovered, showing that
preparations had been made for a very formidable rising throughout the
province directly Toledo fell into the hands of the Carlists.

"It is well that we nipped the thing in the bud," General Flinter said
when he examined the papers, which were carried for that purpose to his
rooms.  "Now, I dare say you think that these men will all be executed;
you were never more mistaken.  We shall try them by court-martial and
condemn them to death: the government will smother the whole thing up
and release them."


"It is not only possible, but certain.  These men are all playing a
double game.  In the first place, they wish to keep well with both
sides; in the second place, they hate me, first as an Englishman, and
secondly as a strong adherent of Espartero; in the third place, these
men will bribe the government largely, and money will do anything in
Spain. However, one good thing will come of the discovery of the plot:
it will excite immense alarm among all connected with it.  Many, when
they hear of the seizure of these compromising letters, will move away
from their homes at once until they think that the storm has passed
over, or keep quiet, and instead of having the whole country in a flame
we shall only have Basilio’s force to deal with."

Two days later the court-martial was held, the general and his officers
sitting upon it.  Arthur and Roper both repeated what they had heard;
the lists of men that would be supplied, and the work for which they
were to be told off, were brought forward, together with some
arrangements that had been made between the duke and Basilio; and the
prisoners were found guilty and condemned to death.  The proceedings of
the court-martial and the sentences were sent off to Madrid for
confirmation by the government.

"Now, that is off our hands," the general said to Arthur when the
tribunal broke up, "and we can turn our attention to Basilio without any
fear of leaving the city unguarded."

Two days later, however, a messenger arrived post-haste from Madrid
saying that the proceedings had been most high-handed, and that the
prisoners were merely to be kept in confinement for the present.  At the
same time half of General Flinter’s little force was at once to march
for the capital.

"What did I tell you?" the general said, as he threw the order across
the table to Arthur.  "What do you think of that for a government?"

"If I had my way, I should like to march to Madrid, seize the whole of
those scoundrels, and hang them from their own balconies."

"Well, I have nothing to do but obey orders; but if they think they have
prepared the way for the Carlists to enter Toledo they are greatly
mistaken.  I shall obey the order and send off the troops.  I shall
refrain from executing these traitors; but I shall not let that part of
the order be known, and so shall keep their friends throughout the
country on thorns."

The conspirators, indeed, had taken advantage of the laxity of the
prison arrangements to send off large sums of money to members of the
government to endeavour to procure the removal of General Flinter.  The
government journals prepared the way by violent abuse of the general,
who had maltreated harmless men, and was a brutal Englishman; and in a
few days orders were issued for his removal.  The Carlists, who were
kept well informed of what was going on, approached Toledo and actually
obtained possession of the bridge, but Flinter was still there, although
he had received the notice of his removal.  He had but three hundred men
under his command, but with these he sallied out and, after hard
fighting, drove the enemy off.  He started in pursuit, and received some
reinforcements as he went, and being perfectly well acquainted with the
country he was enabled to continue his march all night.  In the morning
he came upon a large body of Carlists, and, taking them completely by
surprise, fell upon them and utterly routed them.

No more brilliant act had been performed during the war. The government
in vain endeavoured to belittle it, but the people were not to be
deceived, and by them Flinter’s victory was regarded at its true value.
They pronounced so strongly in favour of him that the government was
reluctantly obliged to yield, made him a Marshal de Campo, and placed
him in charge of the provinces of La Mancha and Toledo.  The action had
a great effect upon the course of the war in Estremadura.  It completely
disorganized the Carlists among the mountains of Toledo, set free an
important province, and robbed the enemy of a base for the operations
which they had arranged should take place there during the approaching

Arthur had ridden out with the general to the attack of the party who
had occupied the bridge, and took part in the night march and in the
concluding victory, and the general in his report spoke very highly of
his courage and services, and, moreover, gave him full credit for the
discovery of the plot and capture of the plotters.  The government
complained both to Sir George Villiers and Colonel Wylde of the share he
had taken in the operations, but both replied that British officers were
perfectly at liberty to take part in operations that would strengthen
the Royal cause, and that the government were only too glad of the
assistance of British seamen and marines in the operations in the north.

The government then endeavoured to sow dissension between Espartero and
Cordova.  The latter had now left the army and returned to Madrid, where
he had entered the Cortes.  But Cordova remained firm, and refused to be
brought into these intrigues.  They further endeavoured to annoy
Espartero by displacing the chief of his staff, in whom he had implicit
trust, without consulting him.

Arthur had, after the defeat of the Carlists by General Flinter,
returned to Madrid and gone to join Espartero, who on the 28th of
January arrived at Villa Nueva de Mena and found the enemy strongly
posted and entrenched on the right bank of the river Cadagua.  On the
morning of the 30th he attacked them in three columns under a heavy
fire, and after hard fighting succeeded in driving them from four
villages they had occupied.

They fell back to a still stronger position in the rear, but from this
they were also driven, and by one o’clock they were in disorderly
retreat; but owing to the difficult country no pursuit was attempted
that day.  The next morning Espartero moved with eight battalions to
Berron, Iriarte going to the right with four battalions.  After marching
half a league he found the enemy strongly entrenched, but they
retreated, on his approach, to the fortified convent of Santa Isabel,
where they had the support of two Biscayan regiments and four battalions
of Navarrese, and occupied the formidable heights in heavy masses.  As
soon as Iriarte’s column became engaged with the Carlist left, Espartero
attacked the position of Santa Isabel, and, in spite of a very heavy
fire with which he was met, carried it with a rush and advanced against
the heights, on which the chief force of the enemy was posted.

Here an obstinate resistance was made; but before dark the Carlists had
been dislodged at the point of the bayonet, and were in full retreat
into the mountains.  The Christinos remained near Berron to protect the
evacuation of Balmaseda. This place was at such a distance from the base
that it was considered impracticable to hold it, as its supply of
provisions could only be kept up by means of large escorts and at
considerable loss of life.  It was therefore decided to blow up the fort
and withdraw the garrison, strengthening, however, the fort at Villa
Nueva de Mena, which now became the most advanced post of the
Christinos.  This was left in charge of General Latré, Espartero
returning to Logrono.

In the meantime, however, matters were going badly elsewhere. The
fortresses of Morella and Benicarlo had just fallen into Cabrera’s
hands, and Oraa, who was opposing him, was calling loudly for
reinforcements.  Basilio Garcia was plundering Castile.  Espartero, now
sickened by the abuse which had been poured upon him by the orders of
the government at Madrid, determined to match himself against them, and
issued a proclamation giving an account of the state of the army, the
sufferings of the soldiers--who were without pay, and often without
food--and the contempt with which the government, while wringing money
in every manner from the country, turned a deaf ear to all his requests
and left the army to starve.  This proclamation had an immense effect
throughout the country.  The people had been so sedulously taught to
believe that everything was going on well, that the troops were well fed
and regularly paid, that this exposition by the general whom all trusted
and believed came like a thunder-clap, and eventually brought about the
downfall of the ministry.

From this moment they felt that Espartero was their master, and,
although still putting many difficulties in his way, did not venture
openly to oppose him.  Espartero’s next movement of any consequence was
in connection with a Carlist expedition under Negri, which had been
despatched with the intention of wasting the hitherto unmolested
provinces of Galicia and the Asturias.  It was extremely important that
this expedition should be crushed; because if the Carlists were
permitted to lay waste these provinces, which were both rich and
well-affected to the Christino cause, there would be so great a falling
off in the contributions that it would be difficult in the extreme to
maintain the armies in the field.  Espartero set out with nine
battalions and fourteen guns, but without cavalry, while General Latré,
who was to follow him by a separate route, had also nine battalions.  He
was in total ignorance of the movements of Negri, who entered Castile on
the 15th of March at Soucillo, but he discovered on the 24th that he had
gone into the Asturias. Latré came up with him on the 21st, and,
although inferior in force, had the advantage.  Espartero marched on
Leon to prevent their entering Galicia or uniting with Don Basilio.
Under a good leader the men had confidence.  The Christinos were capable
of very long marches, and on this occasion they travelled two hundred
miles in nine days, and a short time afterwards marched ninety-two
leagues in fourteen days.

While they were doing this good service, Iriarte, with a division twice
as strong as that of Negri, was resting quietly at Alcobendas with the
apparent intention only of avoiding the enemy.  Had the Carlists
remained in the Asturias after their defeat by Latré, they would have
found great difficulty in escaping from the united action of that
general and Espartero; but on hearing of Espartero’s movement on Leon
they counter-marched, and on the 27th of March were at Belorado, with
Latré’s division--now under Iriarte--a day’s march in their rear.
Espartero had also returned by forced marches to Palencia, and reckoned
on finding himself, after two or three short marches, in front of the
enemy, with Iriarte only a short distance in the rear; but on the night
of the 30th of March he received a despatch saying that another Carlist
expedition had passed into Castile.  This, like much of the information
he obtained, turned out to be untrue, but it compelled him to march in
that direction, leaving the pursuit of Negri to Iriarte.

                             *CHAPTER XII*

                               *A FIASCO*

While Espartero was waiting for news that Negri was approaching, he
learned that Iriarte had inflicted a check upon the Carlist leader, and
that the latter had again countermarched.  He at once concluded that the
Carlists would make for the Sierra de Burgos, and, marching with all
speed in that direction, at one o’clock on the morning of the 22nd
instant he came within sight of their camp-fires.  They retreated, and
he did not overtake them for some time. Espartero, with his staff, a few
mounted officers, and a little escort of forty cavalry of the guard and
twenty-five English lancers, had pressed on ahead of his troops, and,
fearing that the enemy would outmarch his men and get away, placed
himself at the head of the little party and charged furiously down upon

Taken wholly by surprise at this sudden attack, and not knowing what
force he had at his back, two thousand men surrendered to him without
resistance.  There was a scene of wild enthusiasm among the troops when
they came up and saw what had been effected.  It was little wonder,
indeed, that Espartero’s troops were so devoted to him, so ready to make
any exertion when called upon to do so, and to attack any force of the
enemy against whom they might be directed. Espartero possessed, indeed,
all the attributes required of a great general--quick in decision,
prompt in action, firm under disappointment, ready to delay until the
right moment arrived for striking, or to hurl his troops impetuously at
any point required; taking the greatest care for the comfort of his men,
able to bear calmly the factious opposition of political antagonists,
and to be patient under the repeated blunders or obstinate lethargy of
the military commanders serving under him.  A great and strong man in
every way, the only really great man that Spain has produced for the
past two centuries.

The enthusiasm excited by this daring action greatly strengthened
Espartero’s hold upon the people in general. The destruction of Negri’s
expedition was complete, for, in addition to those who had fallen in
battle or who had been taken prisoners, no fewer than two thousand had
deserted during the pursuit by Iriarte, or had, after being captured,
consented to join the queen’s service.

"It was worth while to take part in this affair, Roper. One might live a
century and not have a chance of being one of seventy or eighty men who
charged an army of two thousand and took them all prisoners.  It does
one good to serve under such men as Espartero and General Flinter."

"That it does, sir; they are both splendid fellows and no mistake.  It
seems to me that the Carlists are fools to go on with this war; they are
always on the run.  I don’t say that they don’t fight bravely sometimes,
but they must have lost all real hope of success.  Everyone says they
are sick of Don Carlos."

"Yes; he is the last sort of man with whom brave people could have any
sympathy.  He is surrounded by mere adventurers, holds himself entirely
aloof from his own generals, and treats them as haughtily as if he were
a king who could bestow all honours and rewards.  I should think that
they are no longer really fighting to put him on the throne.  The
northern provinces are still holding out for their privileges. As to
Valencia and Aragon, I should say that they are fighting from sheer
obstinacy.  I do not see what they have to hope for.  They have been
struggling for four years, and so far have certainly held their own,
thanks to the energy of Cabrera; but there must be an end to it sooner
or later, when they will find that they have gained nothing by all their
losses and sacrifices."

Espartero moved up to Vittoria, and in June laid siege to the fortified
town of Alava, on the high-road from Vittoria to Pena-Cerrada.  This
town had been taken by the Carlists ten months previously, and these had
placed a strong garrison in it.  He arrived in front of the town on the
morning of 19th June, and was immediately attacked on the left by six
Carlist battalions under Guergue.  Fighting went on all day.  During the
night some heavy guns were placed on a battery against a strong stone
redoubt.  This had been lately constructed by the Carlists on a hill to
the north of the town, which it completely commanded.  The distance was
found, however, to be too great, and in the morning Espartero, observing
that his skirmishers had been allowed to approach close to the fort,
determined to carry it by storm.  He at once launched his troops against
it.  The fort was gallantly defended--grenades, stones, and other
missiles were hurled on the attacking party; but numbers and enthusiasm
prevailed.  Espartero was looking on, and his soldiers, feeling
themselves invincible, finally swarmed over the parapets, and the fort

The town was now summoned to surrender.  It had been abandoned by the
governor, who left a garrison of only four hundred men to defend it.
These fired upon the bearer of the message, and on the following morning
the guns opened upon them.  The firing lasted from seven in the morning
till two in the afternoon.  Many of the houses were demolished, but the
losses of the besiegers were heavy, for they were all this time exposed
to a serious attack on the left, led by Guergue’s force, which had been
reinforced during the morning by four battalions from Navarre.
Espartero therefore decided upon another dashing step.  Leaving half his
force to continue the bombardment of the town, he formed the rest into
four battalions, and with this force and his cavalry he attacked
Guergue, who was strongly entrenched on a wooded height, supported by
four guns.  As the Christinos entered the wood they were exposed to a
very destructive fire from the Navarre battalions, but advanced steadily
without firing a shot.  As they pushed forward, a hail of round shot,
grape, and musketry swept them at a distance of three hundred yards; but
they crossed a small ravine and fell upon the enemy, while Espartero
launched his cavalry against the Carlist column that was opposed to him.
This abandoned its artillery, and broke and fled in all directions.

The battle had lasted but half an hour.  In that time the four guns and
four hundred prisoners fell into the hands of the queen’s troops, and a
far larger number would have been taken had their escape not been
facilitated by the intricate mountainous country.  As soon as the
defenders of the town saw that the force on which they had relied for
protection was defeated, they abandoned the place and made their escape
into the woods behind.  A garrison was placed in the town, and the army
proceeded to Logrono and prepared for the siege of Estella, and while
doing so had a successful engagement with the Carlist

Colonel Wylde had joined Espartero a day or two after the capture of
Pena-Cerrada, and he at once sent Arthur south to join the force with
which Oraa was preparing to besiege Morella.  Here he found three other
English officers, commissioners of the British government, who were to
report the doings of the army, and above all to urge that the Convention
regarding the treatment of prisoners should be observed. Morella was a
town of great natural strength.  It lay in the very heart of the
mountains, was built on rising ground, and defended by twenty guns.
This town and Canta-Vieja, some twelve miles distant, formed the
head-quarters of Cabrera, whose force amounted to a little over ten
thousand men. Oraa had his head-quarters at Teruel, and believed that
the Carlist troops would not venture to defend Morella.

Cabrera’s troops differed materially from those against whom Espartero
was fighting.  The latter were peasants, animated by a desperate
determination to defend what they considered their rights and
privileges; the others were rough, idle fellows, fugitives from justice,
men who preferred a life of adventure and a chance of plunder to work,
but the iron discipline maintained by their leader welded them into a
whole, and inspired them with vigour and bravery.  Cabrera was in his
way as remarkable a military genius as Espartero; but while one carried
on war mercifully, the other tarnished his reputation by countless acts
of cruelty and cold-blooded murder.

The force was arranged in three divisions, and the advance was planned
so that all should arrive at the same time in the neighbourhood of
Morella.  On the 24th of July Oraa left Teruel, and was joined on the
28th by General Baltho’s division, and on the following day by San
Miguel.  On the 8th of August he was immediately in front of Morella.
The united force amounted to sixteen thousand infantry and twelve
thousand cavalry.  Matters began badly.  Oraa was well aware that his
supply of provisions was a scanty one, and yet he allowed the waste of a
store of grain that would have supplied the army for some time.  The
wheat had been cut, but was lying in the fields, and instead of having
it collected and placed under cover, he permitted the troops to take the
corn to sleep on and feed their horses.  Much of it was used as fuel,
and all that was not consumed was spoiled, and yet there were mills on
the ground and also ovens.  But even from the commencement of the march,
the commissariat arrangements for the troops were anything but lavish.

When the force left Teruel they were supplied with four days’ bread and
seven days’ rice.  No meat was issued to them for six days, and then
they only received half a pound a man; and yet during the march the
troops were ascending to high ground, the rain fell in torrents, and the
temperature was much lower than that to which they were accustomed.  By
the 13th of August the allowance fell to six ounces of rice and two
ounces of bread; and on the 17th, the last day of the siege, the troops
were almost without food.  The cavalry horses and other animals,
numbering at least three thousand, had already been two days without
forage, and had had no barley since they started, twenty-four days
before.  The other divisions were no better off.  Even these scanty
supplies had been maintained with the greatest difficulty.  Five
battalions had to be employed in keeping the road open.  The siege
artillery should have been brought up in two days, but seven were found
necessary.  The army being assembled moved round to the other side of
Morella, having to fight hard to gain the position.

San Miguel’s division did not bring up their guns till the 9th of
August, the operation being conducted so carelessly that the road was
left open for the Carlists, who kept up a constant fire and killed one
hundred and fifty men.  On the 10th the siege began.  The troops took up
their position, and drove a portion of the Carlist levies back on
Morella.  Next day, however, San Miguel was ordered to make an attack
upon a position occupied by the Carlists, which interfered with the
movements of a body of troops about to proceed down to escort a convoy
of provisions.  Cabrera reinforced the threatened point.  San Miguel
attacked boldly, and carried three positions one after another; at the
fourth, however, he was so strongly opposed that Oraa ordered him to
retreat, as he did not consider the position of sufficient importance to
justify further fighting.  The attack, however, was so far successful
that the force sent to escort the convoy managed to make its way down.

On the 12th the heavy artillery was taken to the places fixed upon for
the establishment of the batteries.  The guns were placed about five
hundred yards away from the walls, the mortars twice that distance.  The
next day was devoted to erecting the batteries, and these opened fire at
daybreak on the 14th of August.  The shooting was far from accurate, and
the enemy’s return was steady.  The spot selected to be breached was a
gate between and flanked by two towers, known as the gate of San Miguel.
Directly Cabrera saw the point about to be attacked, he began to
construct a strong retrenchment behind it, with a parapet and ditch,
defended by _chevaux-de-frise_; and the following day, when the breach
began to be formed, he heaped up on it a great quantity of combustibles.
Although the breach was very imperfect, Oraa issued orders for an
assault on the evening of the l5th.  To the English officers with the
besiegers it looked like an act of madness, but Oraa felt that success
must be instant, or the siege must be given up on account of the
impossibility of feeding the troops.

The attacking columns were formed in rear of the batteries, where they
remained for three hours, and then advanced, with bands playing, to
within a hundred and fifty yards of the breach.  The broken nature of
the ground threw them into confusion.  It was midnight before they
arrived at the breach, and up to this time dead silence had reigned in
Morella.  By the music, if by no other means, the garrison were kept
perfectly informed of the motion and progress of their enemies, but
Cabrera had issued strict orders that they should remain silent until
the troops had reached the foot of the breach.

The moment they arrived there a brilliant flame darted up from the
breach, and a tremendous fire of bullets, hand-grenades, and stones
burst upon them.  The red glare rose higher and higher, and the men,
enfeebled by hunger and fatigue, stood appalled.  Many, however, rushed
forward with desperate bravery, only to fall under the storm of
missiles; and at last they fell back, finding it absolutely impossible
to surmount the obstacles posted there.  Never were men sent upon a more
hopeless task.

That evening the earnestly-looked-for convoy arrived.  It had had to
fight the whole distance up.  Half the waggons had been lost and over
eighty men.  The next day passed quietly, and then it was decided to
make another assault at daybreak on the 17th, although no attempt had
been made to enlarge the breach or render it more practicable.

Fifteen hundred men advanced at daybreak in two columns, provided with
ladders and sand-bags with which to climb the bottom of the breach,
where the wall had not been destroyed. As they advanced they were
received with a heavy fire of artillery and musketry; the fire again
blazed upon the breach. The left column, on reaching the foot of the
wall and climbing the ladders, found them too short, and fell back in
great disorder.  The right column in front of the breach found it
impossible to ascend unassisted, and the space was too confined to admit
of the formation of any number of troops.  At only one place, and this
very narrow and steep, was it possible to climb, and many officers and
men who tried to make their way up died in the attempt.

Seeing the absolute hopelessness of the attack, Oraa ordered a retreat,
and the troops fell back, having lost two hundred and seventy-six killed
and wounded.  It was at once decided to raise the siege.  Without
provisions or ammunition it would have been madness to persevere.  The
retreat was accompanied by terrible hardships.  They were continuously
harassed by swarms of guerrillas; the marches were slow and short; the
wounded were carried in hundreds on doors and window-shutters; and when,
five days later, the army reached Alcaniz, it was found that it brought
down fifteen hundred wounded in addition to the dead left behind.

Arthur had not been present at the two assaults.  He had ridden down
with the troops that left on the 12th, and when these were attacked had,
at the request of the officer in command, ridden up to a small tower
where twenty men were posted to keep down the fire of the surrounding
Carlists. They were to have been drawn off as the troops passed, but the
Carlists interposed in such great force between them and the main body
that it was impossible for them to sally out.

"There is nothing to do," Arthur said to the officer in command of the
little party, "but to defend ourselves here.  They may leave us alone.
Pardenas will be back with the convoy to-morrow, and then we shall be

"It is a pity that you did not bring your horse with you, sir; you might
then have managed to escape."

"I certainly should not have left you in the lurch.  I did not bring the
horses with me because I knew that, as our pace would be very slow, it
would be easier to go on foot.  Now, we had better set to work at once;
as soon as the Carlists have finished with the convoy they will come
back to us."

The place was an old fortified house, now almost a ruin. Stones were
piled in the doorway, and all prepared for a desperate defence.  It was
not long before parties of Carlists drew off from those harassing the
column and approached the house.  They shouted to the soldiers to
surrender, but these replied with musket shots.  When some two hundred
men had assembled round the place the assault began.  The men defended
themselves bravely, and many of the assailants fell, and all drew off
several times.  When darkness came on, however, they crawled up to the
house and set to work to pull down the barricade at the entrance.  The
defenders went up to the top of the house and dropped stones down upon
them. For some time the fight went on, but gradually the stones of the
barricade were dislodged, and a storm of fire drove away its defenders.
The officer in command had fallen, and Arthur called the men up into the
story above.  Here the defence continued until only five men were left.
The Carlists, however, had suffered so heavily that they drew back once
more, and summoned the defenders to surrender.

"It is no use fighting any longer, Roper," Arthur said to his follower,
who was sitting on the floor with a bullet through his leg.  "What do
you say, lads?"

"We have done all we can do," they said.  "They have promised us our
lives.  We are ready to surrender.  We can be no worse off even if they
don’t keep their word.  We shall certainly be killed if we hold out any

"We will surrender," Arthur called down, "if you will swear to spare our
lives.  If you won’t do that, we will fight on; and it will cost you a
good many lives before you overpower us."

There was a consultation below, and then an officer came forward and

"We promise you your lives if you surrender."

Arthur at once went down the stairs and handed his sword to the officer.
The men followed him, leaving their muskets above, two of them assisting
Roper downstairs.

"You are brave fellows," the Carlist said, "and have cost us dearly.
However, you did your duty as we have done ours. How many of you have

"Fifteen and the officer commanding."

"You have cost us double that number.  Well, we will stop here for the

The bodies of those who had fallen were carried out of the house, and
some fifty of the Carlists established themselves there.  The prisoners
were ordered into the room above, and four of their captors were told
off with muskets to watch at the foot of the stairs.  Arthur had now
time to examine and bandage Roper’s leg.  The ball had broken his ankle,
and Arthur first put some rolls of cloth round it, and then cut some
pieces of wood and put his foot into splints and bandaged them with his

"I am awfully sorry, Roper.  I am afraid you will have to go through a
good deal of agony before you can get your leg properly attended to."

"It cannot be helped," the man said.  "I have no reason to grumble.  I
have been through a good many fights, and this is the first time I have
been hit."

"Well, I wish we had been caught anywhere else.  It would have been a
nuisance being made prisoner in any other part of Spain, but I certainly
do not fancy falling into Cabrera’s hands again.  After the way we
robbed him of his prey last time, we can expect no mercy from him now.
Of course, the fact that we have been taken actually fighting against
him does away with any claim one might set up on the ground of being
neutrals.  I don’t suppose they can take us to Cabrera yet at any rate,
and we may have some chance of making our escape before they do.  I
certainly shall not try to get away unless you are well enough to make
off with me. I am afraid that that is not likely to be for some time."

"No, I hope you will not think of such a thing as that," Roper said
earnestly.  "In the first place, your remaining here with me could do me
no good; on the contrary, it might do me harm, for Cabrera will probably
recognize you, and I should be sure to share your fate.  On the other
hand, if you were away he certainly would not know me, and I should have
as good a chance as any of the others."

"I don’t think that would make any difference, and indeed, if you were
alone the chances are that you would be shot at once, as these men would
not trouble to carry a wounded prisoner along with them, whereas with me
a prisoner, they would consider that you should receive as good
treatment as I until Cabrera gives some orders respecting us."

In the morning the prisoners were marched up into the mountains, and the
next day the party, which was now swollen by many others, went down to
the brow of a hill near Morella. The Christino prisoners were made to
carry Roper, who suffered a great deal from pain in his ankle.  Here
they remained for a week.  The greater portion of the Carlists went off
every day to take part in the fighting; and on the occasion of the two
assaults on the fortress all watched with intense interest the struggles
at the breach, and went into ecstasies of delight at each repulse of the


When the army began its retreat a guard of ten men remained with the
prisoners, and the rest went away to join in harassing the retreating
foe, and it was a week before they returned.  The inflammation in
Roper’s leg had now somewhat subsided.  Arthur kept it continually
bathed, and it had twice been dressed by a surgeon who came up to attend
to the wounded Carlists who were also there.  Two days passed, and then,
just as it was getting dusk one evening, Cabrera rode in. He chatted for
some time to the men, and then said:

"I hear that you have an officer a prisoner here.  Let me see him."

Arthur was brought up to the light of the fire.  Cabrera started on
seeing his uniform, and then, seizing a brand, held it close to the
prisoner’s face.

"Ah," he said, "so I have laid hands on you at last!  This is your
second visit to our camp, señor Englishman.  Last time you were received
as a British commissioner, and you abused the permission by interfering
in my plans, by killing two of my men, and by carrying off a prisoner
condemned to death.  I hear that you were captured this time when
fighting with the Christinos, and have therefore forfeited all right to
protection from your uniform.  Tie this man to a tree, and shoot him at

His instructions were at once followed, and Arthur was fastened by a
leathern thong wound tightly round and round his body.

"His servant is also here," one of the men said; "he has a broken leg."

"Put him by the side of his master.  Shoot them both in the morning!"

"I don’t ask mercy for myself, Cabrera.  I know that it would be
hopeless to do so from such a bloodthirsty ruffian as yourself; but this
poor fellow has only acted under my orders, and is entitled to fair

Cabrera, who was standing by the fire a few yards away, turned round

"You dare to insult me before my soldiers?" he said furiously. "Dog of
an Englishman!"

"Insult you?" Arthur repeated.  "Is it possible to insult you?  Do you
not glory in your crimes?  Is there a true man in Spain who does not
spit on the ground when he hears the name of such a monster?"

Cabrera caught a musket from the hand of one of his men, levelled it,
and fired.  Arthur felt a stinging pain in his arm; then he felt the
leathern thong that bound him slacken, unwind itself, and fall off--it
had been cut by the bullet. Quick as thought he slipped round the tree
and dashed off at the top of his speed.  So quickly had this taken place
that it was a few seconds before the Carlists understood what had
happened; and he had gained forty or fifty yards before, with a yell,
the whole of them started after him.  But night had now completely
fallen, and he was already almost out of sight. A dozen muskets were
discharged at random, but he was untouched, and, running at the top of
his speed, he began to descend the slope behind the hill.  Going uphill
he knew that the Carlists, sturdy mountaineers, would have speedily
overtaken him, but he felt sure that downhill he could leave them;
hampered by their muskets and their heavy shoes they would have little
chance of catching him.  He ran for a few hundred yards.  The mob of men
behind him were now out of sight, and when he came to a great rock he
threw himself down behind it.

In half a minute the crowd of men ran past.  As soon as they had done
so, he got up and listened.  There were none behind him, and he turned
and ran up the hill again.  When he reached the place he saw, as he
expected, Cabrera standing alone by the fire, the whole of the men
having joined in the chase.  Had he been armed he would have rushed to
attack him, but being without a weapon he broke into a walk, and, making
a slight circuit, kept the tree by which Roper had been placed between
him and the fire.  Stepping very quietly he moved up to it.

"Hush, Roper!" he whispered, "it is I."

Roper in his excitement had managed to raise himself up, and had worked
himself round the tree, where he was standing listening to the shots in
the distance.

"Put your arms round my neck," Arthur said, "and get on my back."

"No, no, sir; don’t you hamper yourself with me."

"Shut up!" Arthur said, "and do as I tell you.  I am not going without

Roper did as he was told, got on to Arthur’s back, and held on with his
knees and his arms.

"Get up as high as you can," Arthur said, and putting his arms under the
man’s knees he started off as he had come, still keeping the tree
between him and the fire.  When he felt that he was beyond the circle of
light, he turned off and made away in the other direction.  For three
hours he walked on, stopping occasionally and putting Roper down, and
then after a quarter of an hour’s rest going on.  His progress was slow,
as he had to pick his way between rocks and bushes; but at the end of
three hours he felt certain that he was out of sight of anyone on the
hills above Morella, and he lay down in a thick clump of bushes.

"That will do for to-night, Roper," he said.  "I don’t think I can go
any farther, and I think we are fairly safe here.  We shall have to lie
quiet all to-morrow, for there may still be some parties hanging about
or harassing the troops. I think it has been a pretty-well-managed

"First-rate, sir; but I am sorry you have burdened yourself with me."

"Don’t talk nonsense, Roper; we are just as likely to make off thus, as
if I had been by myself.  Now the first thing to do is to put a
handkerchief round my arm.  That ball went between it and my body, and
it is not much more than a graze; still, I fancy it has been bleeding a
good deal, for I have felt weaker for the last hour or so."

He took off his coat and cut off the sleeve of the shirt, and Roper then
tore it up and bound it round the wound.  Then he put on his coat again,
and they lay down together for warmth.

"How furious Cabrera will be when they all come back and say they cannot
find me!  I don’t suppose they will think anything about you till the
morning.  They will hardly guess that I came back for you, but will
think that you crawled away a short distance, and will hunt about for
you in the neighbourhood.  I should like to hear Cabrera’s remarks when
they come back empty-handed.  Well, I shall not want rocking to sleep, I
fancy that five minutes will do for me."

When they woke up it was broad daylight.  Arthur got up, went to the
edge of the bushes, and looked out.

"I see nobody about," he said; "but at any rate we must wait here till
it gets dark.  Cabrera will keep the men looking for me all day.  There
is a patch of uncut wheat a short distance away.  I will go and cut an
armful, it will be something for us to munch;" and he went out and broke
off the heads of as much grain as he could carry, and brought it back to
their shelter.  They passed the day munching the wheat and talking, and
sometimes sleeping.

"There is a house that looks as if it were in ruins on a rise two miles
away.  I will try to get there to-night.  It is not at all likely to be
visited by the Carlists.  As we go we will cut as much wheat as we can
carry in our clothes, and take up our station there."

"Well, I have been thinking, sir, that if you could cut a good strong
sapling with a fork, for me to use as a crutch, I could make shift to
get along."

"I can carry you very well, Roper."

"I would much rather that you made me a crutch, sir. Your arm is
certainly not fit for use, and I would much rather try the other way;
then, if I find I can’t get on, you could carry me."

Searching about among the clump Arthur found a suitable sapling.  He had
been deprived of his sword when captured, but his pockets had not been
searched, and he had still his knife with him.  He cut and trimmed a
stick, and, with Roper’s cloak wound round and round it, it answered
well as a crutch.

They started as soon as it was dark, gathered a sufficient quantity of
grain to last them for some days, and then made their way to the house.
They crossed a little stream a quarter of a mile away, and there drank
heartily.  Arthur had gathered a faggot of dry sticks on the way, and
when they arrived at the house they made a fire in a corner and sat
there talking for an hour or two, then, wrapping themselves in their
cloaks, lay down to sleep.

Next morning they explored the place.  The roof was gone, but they found
that there was a staircase leading up to a turret, and that the upper
chamber of this was still intact. Here they determined to establish

"We had better wait here for a fortnight, Roper; by that time you may be
able to walk.  It is certain that Carlists will be moving about between
here and Alcaniz, and it would be very dangerous to try and make our way
down there.  We shall be losing nothing, for we may be sure that it will
be some time before Oraa will make another advance again.  When I go out
next, I will cut a couple of good clubs. If only two or three Carlists
happen to drop in here, we may be able to defend ourselves; at any rate
it will be a comfort to have some means of making a fight for our lives.
We will carry away the ashes of our fire, so that any party that comes
in will not discover that the place has been inhabited.  It is not
likely that anyone entering will take the trouble to come up here."

Four days passed.  Each day Arthur collected sufficient faggots for
their fire in the evening.  As long as this burned, he kept their coats
hanging against the loophole to prevent the glow from being seen from
without.  Every morning at daybreak, and every evening after dark, he
went down to the stream and brought up with him, full of water, a broken
vessel he had found.  On the third evening they saw a party of twenty
men approaching.  They at once went up to their turret-room.  Roper was
now getting accustomed to the use of the crutch, and was able to make
his way about with some little activity.  The men came in, and Arthur,
descending the stairs, heard them agree to sleep there for the night.
Several went out to get wood, and presently a great bonfire was burning
within, and some meat was cut from a calf they had brought in, and
cooked.  After eating their supper the men sat chatting around the fire.
Later on one of them said:

"They say this old house is haunted.  Years ago a robber lived here who
preyed on travellers.  They say that he once carried off a maiden in the
night.  Screams were heard, and the girl jumped off the top of the
turret and was killed. After that her spirit haunted the place, groans
and cries were heard nightly in the turret; and as even robbers would
not stop here, the house fell into decay.  Once or twice travellers have
spent the night here, and have always been obliged to leave it owing to
the dreadful noises.  This was a hundred years ago."

Silence followed this recital, then one said:

"No doubt the ghost is laid by this time, and I for one vote against
leaving this good fire and going outside to shiver all night."

Two or three others agreed, and the talk went on as before; but, as
Arthur could detect, there was no longer the same tone of jollity, and
pauses in the conversation were frequent. At about eleven o’clock the
talk died away, and it was evident that the men were lying down to
sleep.  He went up to Roper and told him of what he had heard.

"I tell you what, Roper; I have set my mind on having some of that calf.
We have been living on grain for the past fortnight, and the smell of
the meat cooking has worked me up to such a point that I feel I must get
a share of it whatever happens.  I have been thinking it over, and I
feel sure we can manage it.  What they have been saying has put the idea
into my head.  We will give them a scare.  If they hear nothing they may
station themselves in this house for for some days, and in the morning
one of them may take it into his head to come up here.  First of all, I
will strike twelve heavy blows with my stick on the floor, then we will
give some deep groans and shriek in as unearthly tones as we can.  You
may be sure that will send them flying out."

                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                         *A DESPERATE ATTEMPT*

Arthur struck as hard as he could twelve blows with his stick.  He
listened; there was a dead silence below. Then he gave three deep
groans, while Roper followed with a succession of such wild screams and
cat-calls that Arthur found himself unable for a minute to continue.
Then he relieved himself with some loud quavering laughter, and the two
kept up an almost demoniac noise for two or three minutes.  They had
heard a wild rush below, and Arthur, going to the loophole, heard the
men shouting and running terror-stricken in the distance.  Then they had
a good laugh over the fright they had given the Carlists, and knew that
they could now lie down and sleep till morning.

"The peasants are fearfully superstitious, and would not come near this
place again to-night if they were offered fifty guineas apiece.
However, I would not answer for them in the morning, so as soon as it
begins to be light we will go out at that gap at the back of the house,
and hide up for a bit in the bushes.  They may muster up courage enough
to come back, but I don’t think they will."

Accordingly they went out in the morning and hid in some bushes a
hundred yards from the house.  Three hours passed, and as there were no
signs of the Carlists, they went down to the house again.  Here they
found that the Carlists had left half the calf behind them, and they
cooked some slices and made a hearty breakfast.

Four more days passed, and then Roper said that although he could not
yet put his foot to the ground, he was quite sure that with the help of
the crutch he could hobble at any rate four or five miles.

"We cannot try to get across this rough country.  We must take to the
road; we know it runs something like a mile in front of the house.  We
shall have to keep our ears open, in case any Carlists should be near;
but if we hear a party coming, as there is no moon we shall only have to
go thirty or forty yards from the road and lie down till they have

They slept all day, and started as soon as night fell. Roper found it
harder work than he had expected, but he hobbled on, stopping every two
or three hundred yards to rest.  After going, as near as they could
calculate, four miles, they saw a light on the road ahead of them, and
felt sure that it was a Carlist outpost.  They accordingly left the
road, and, going some four or five hundred yards to the left, lay down
among some rough rocks.  In the morning they could make out ten
Carlists.  They kept quiet all day, and during that time made a careful
examination of the ground in front of them, as it was evident that they
would have to keep off the road until well past the Carlist outpost,
which was, no doubt, close to a spot from which it could command a view
of a long stretch of the road ahead.

When darkness was coming on, they made a meal of veal, which they had
cooked before starting, and corn.  As soon as it was quite dark they
started.  The ground was rough, and Arthur had to support Roper for a
considerable distance. The fire was an indication of the exact point
where the out-post was keeping watch, but as two sentries might be
thrown out a mile farther ahead, they did not dare go down on to the
road.  By morning they had not gone more than two miles, so painful had
been the work of making their way along through the rocks.  They could
see no one on the road, and lay down in shelter with the firm belief
that they should get to Alcaniz the next night.  That evening they
started again, and, taking to the road, kept on steadily all night, and
to their satisfaction saw, when morning dawned, the town of Alcaniz but
a mile away.

Arthur was heartily greeted on his arrival, and found to his great
satisfaction that his two horses had been brought down by an English
officer.  "I had really very little hope of your returning.  I quite
gave you up when it was found that you were not with us when we got
here, and my hopes faded altogether when you failed to come in after our
miserable failure to take the place.  Your man seems to have fared very

"Yes.  He had an ankle broken by a musket-shot the day we were cut off;
however, it is healing nicely, though I don’t think he will ever have
the use of the joint again."

"Well, come into my quarters and bring him with you.  I should think,
probably, that you are wanting something to eat?"

"That I am.  I may say that since we have been taken prisoners we have
had nothing but corn to eat, till three days ago, when we were lucky
enough to get some veal which we frightened a party of Carlists into
leaving behind for us."

Giving Roper into the hands of an orderly, who was charged to give him
something to eat as soon as possible, Lieutenant Lines took Arthur up to
his quarters.  In half an hour an ample meal was set before him.

"Now, tell me your adventures," Arthur’s host said, as they lit their

Arthur gave a full account of them.

"Well, you are not born to be shot, Hallett, that is quite evident.
That fight in the old house was a hard one, as you lost fifteen out of
twenty, but to come out of that unharmed was nothing to your escape from
Cabrera’s shot at thirty yards’ distance.  And your rescue of your man
was splendid. The poor fellow must have had a bad time of it."

"Yes; and he never complained once, though I could see at times that he
was suffering abominably.  I was horribly afraid, as we made our way
down, that he would fall among the rocks, much as I tried to steady him;
and if he had done so, I have no doubt that he would have lost his foot.
As it is, I hope it will not be long before he is riding behind me
again.  I suppose there is nothing new here?"

"Nothing whatever, except grumbling.  The artillery declare that they
did their work well; everyone else says that they did it badly.  They
declare that the infantry ought to have carried the place, which we know
the best troops in the world could not have done; and the cavalry and
infantry declare that every man-jack of the engineers ought to be

"Well, I don’t know that they are not all right," Arthur laughed.  "From
the place where I was standing you could see straight into town.  There
was a great retrenchment behind the breach, and had they got up the
breach, and through the fire at the top, they would simply have been
mown down like sheep.  But, after all, the man who ought to be hanged is
Oraa; he blundered hideously from the moment we started. We arrived
before the town without provisions, and he acted as if he had only a
village with a mud wall to storm instead of a really formidable
fortress.  He certainly would be tried by court-martial and shot in any
other European country. As it is, I hope he may never be employed again.
At any rate, there is no chance of anything being done for some time.
This business has ruined Espartero’s plans in the north, where he was,
as you know, preparing to besiege Estella; but there can be little doubt
that this affair will compel him to break off his preparations and come
down here.  Our force is practically _hors do combat_ for the present,
while the enormous prestige that Cabrera will acquire will bring the
peasantry flocking to his banner in crowds, and the news will be
received with enthusiasm by the Carlists all over Spain.  It will,
therefore, be necessary to concentrate every man who can be brought up
to strike a heavy blow at him.  As it will probably be two or three
months before Espartero can be in a position to do that, I shall leave
for Madrid.  I lost a good deal of blood from this wound in my arm, and
for the past three weeks have had a very rough time."

"I shall leave also," the other said.  "This town is one great hospital.
I am especially attached to this army, and must remain near it, but I
shall move off some twenty or thirty miles."

"The first thing I must do is to get a surgeon to examine Roper’s leg.
I don’t think for a moment that anything can be done for it, but he can
bandage it more skilfully and better than I have been able to do, and
make it more comfortable for the poor fellow."

The next day Arthur mounted.  Roper would not hear of being left behind.
"I can’t put my foot in the stirrup," he said, "but I can ride with the
other leg only, and get a loop over from that stirrup to go under the
other knee, and make a sort of sling for it; if I get tired of riding
that way, I can get my leg over the saddle and ride like a woman.  I
will do anything rather than be left behind."

So by easy stages they rode to Madrid, where Arthur was joyfully greeted
by Count Leon and his sisters.  Roper’s leg was again examined by a
surgeon, who said that it was going on very well, but that the ankle
would always be stiff.

"That won’t matter," Roper said; "it will only be like having a wooden
leg with all the appearance of a natural one. It won’t interfere with my
riding at all, and I don’t suppose I shall feel it much when I get
accustomed to it."

When Arthur came to recount his adventures his friends were horrified at
the risks he had run, and Donna Mercedes turned pale when she heard that
he had been in the power of Cabrera.

"What an escape!  What an escape!" Leon said.  "To think that his bullet
should have set you free!  It seems almost miraculous."

"It was noble of you to go back to fetch your soldier," Donna Inez said,
clapping her hands.  "Oh, it was splendid!"

"He is always doing splendid things," Mercedes said.  "You must promise
me, Señor Arthur, that you will never run the risk of falling into
Cabrera’s hands again.  Twice you have escaped him, but the third time
will assuredly be fatal."

"It would certainly be fatal to one of us.  If I had had a weapon when I
went back, we should have finished our quarrel then and there.  However,
I will willingly promise you not to run the risk of falling into his
hands again if I can help it."

"We shall be very unhappy if you go that way again," Donna Inez said;
"sha’n’t we, Mercedes?"

Mercedes only nodded her head, she was evidently too moved to speak.

"Well, go on with your story," Leon said.  "You left us with your man
riding on your back."

They laughed heartily when he told them how he had obtained meat by
acting on the superstition of the natives.

"It was running a great risk, and you had no right to do it," Mercedes

"If you had been keeping life together on raw corn for three weeks, I
think that you would think yourself perfectly justified in running a
good deal of risk in obtaining a supply of meat.  But really we did not
consider that there was any risk at all, knowing how superstitious the
peasants are; and I think, Donna Mercedes, that you yourself, after
having heard that story, with such surroundings would have felt more
than a little uncomfortable when you heard the gruesome noises which
were made by Roper and myself--especially, I may say, by Roper."

"I am so sorry to hear of his injury!" Mercedes said in a tone of great

"I am very sorry too.  It is a sad thing, but he makes light of it
himself.  There is little doubt that though he will be able to walk, the
joint will always be stiff; but he will certainly be able to ride."

"Leon, you must take me round to have a chat with him. We must see if
there is anything we can do to make him comfortable.  Is he up, señor?"

"Oh yes, he’s up, and lying on the sofa.  He thinks himself that he
could hobble along with a stick if he tried, but of course he will not
be allowed to make the experiment."

"And how long are you going to stay here, Arthur?"

"I should think a fortnight or three weeks."

A week later, however, Roper was able to walk with a stick, and could
ride again without discomfort, keeping both legs in the stirrups, but
putting his weight entirely on his left leg.

The repulse at Morella had brought to a climax the indignation of the
populace against the government, and the Duke de Frias had been called
upon to form a ministry; but he was as much influenced by jealousy of
Espartero as his predecessor, and kept Narvaez at the head of a new army
of reserve he formed in the neighbourhood of the capital.  All sorts of
rumours were current of plots and conspiracies.

One day, a fortnight after their return to Madrid, Arthur was riding
through the streets, followed by Roper, when the two queens drove past.
As usual when driving about the city, they had no guards or outriders,
but merely a coachman on the box and two footmen standing behind.
Arthur saluted as they passed.  The carriage was a closed one, and he
could see that only the queen and the queen-mother were inside.

He and Roper rode out some miles into the country, and were turning to
come back when four or five gentlemen rode along in a party.  Arthur
knew two or three of them by sight, and bows were exchanged as they

"A party of pleasure, I suppose," he said to Roper, "though the weather
is beginning to get cold for excursions to country mansions."

A minute later a carriage came along.  The blinds were drawn; there were
two footmen behind.

"I wonder what they have got the blinds down for?  It is not often one
sees that, even if there is no one in the carriage."

Two or three hundred yards farther back another party of gentlemen came

"That is curious, Roper.  One would think that those two parties of
gentlemen were acting as escorts to the carriage."

He rode along for another half-mile, and then checked his horse
suddenly.  "I have it!" he exclaimed.  "Did you notice that the near
horse in that carriage has a curious mark in the centre of its
forehead--a sort of crescent?  It seemed familiar to me, and I have been
wondering where I saw it before.  Now I have it.  It was one of the
horses in the Queen’s carriage that passed us to-day.  It is not the
same carriage, but it is certainly the same horse.  There is something
wrong.  Why should the carriage be going along with the blinds down?
Why should half-a-dozen men be riding a quarter of a mile in front, and
as many more behind?

"I tell you what, Roper; the thing looks to me very serious.  The three
men I knew in the first lot were generally believed to be Carlist
sympathizers.  It is possible that they have carried the queens off.
Their disappearance just at the present moment, when things have been
going so badly, would cause a turmoil throughout the country.  If they
were missing, Don Carlos would seem to be the only possible successor.
We must follow the thing up, and find out at all risks whether my
suspicions are correct.  It is a grievous pity we are not in uniform,
and have no weapons with us.  However, we can buy swords and pistols
somewhere as we go along.  Probably they will change horses somewhere
farther on.  They may have relays at various points on the road.  I
don’t mean, of course, that we can fight all the escort; but if we can
find out for certain that they have captured the queens, we can give
information at some town where there is a garrison, and swoop down upon
them.  At any rate we must follow them, if necessary to the French
frontier, though it is not likely that they intend to go so long a
distance; they will probably carry their captives to some country
chateau in a retired spot, perhaps a hundred and fifty or two hundred
miles away.  Of course I may be wrong altogether, but if we find that
they have relays it will be a matter of certainty that they are carrying
off someone of importance.  That mark on the horse would certainly seem
to point to the fact that they have taken the queen herself.  However,
we may make up our minds that we have a long ride before us, Roper."

"All right, sir!  I am willing to ride through Spain, though I wish my
leg was all right again.  I think I could go on all night on horseback,
but should not be of much use dismounted."

"I don’t think it is likely to come to fighting.  We know that there are
some twelve of them, and probably the man on the box and the two men
behind also belong to the party. There will be servants and retainers at
the house where they stop, and we could not think of attacking such a
force as that by ourselves.  What we have to do is to find out who they
are carrying off.  If it is the queen, we can get help; if it isn’t, we
may still rescue some damsel of importance."

By this time they were galloping along the road.

"We must time our pace well by theirs."  They were going at a sharp
trot.  "Whatever we do, we must not show on the road behind them.  You
had better drop back and ride a good quarter of a mile behind me.  If
they see one solitary horseman far in the rear they would not think much
of it, but if they saw two of us they might possibly suppose that we
were following them.  I must get a sight of them occasionally, no matter
how far off, so as to be sure that they have not turned off from the
main road."

Roper reined in his horse, and Arthur rode forward until he came to the
crest of a slight brow, and as his head rose above this he could make
out the horsemen a mile and a half in advance.  The instant he did so he
checked his horse and dismounted for a few minutes.  When he went
forward he saw that the group of horsemen were a mere black mass on the
road.  Feeling certain that a single figure could not be made out at
that distance, he rode on at a gallop.  Now and then he caught sight of
them, but when he did so he always checked his horse for a time.  At
last, on reaching the crest of a hill he stopped suddenly and
dismounted, for he saw a group gathered in front of a wayside inn not
more than half a mile away.  He left his horse behind him, and stood
against a wall so that his figure should not be seen against the

As he looked he saw the party start again, so, waiting until they were
well away, he followed.  Five miles farther, when at some distance from
a small town, he observed that they turned off, and had no doubt that
they intended to make a circuit, so as to pass round it unobserved.  He
waited until Roper came up.  "They have turned off here," he said.  "I
shall ride straight through the town, and post myself near the next road
that comes in on this side.  You follow them and watch the road closely.
You can’t help seeing the tracks of so large a party.  Ride pretty fast
till you sight them.  If, as I expect, they take a turn again and come
down upon the main road, you will know that I have followed them.  If
they turn off in any other direction you must trace them to their
halting-place, and then ride to the junction of the two roads where I
shall be waiting you.  I shall remain there until you come, however long
that may be, unless I follow them along the main road."

"I understand, sir.  It is a comfort to know that as long as it is
daylight we cannot miss them.  It is when it gets dark that we shall
have a difficulty."

"When it does get dark, Roper, we must muffle the feet of our horses and
then close up till we can hear them; in that way we shall keep them in

Arthur rode quietly through the town and halted a mile beyond it, where
a road came in on the side on which he had seen the carriage turn off.
He placed his horse behind a wall a few yards from the junction, and
himself went forward until, stooping down behind some bushes, he could
obtain sight of them as they passed.  Ten minutes later he heard the
clatter of horses.  The advance-guard passed, and then he heard the
wheels of the carriage.  As it came along he could see that the blinds
were still down.  As he had expected, the horses had been changed.  Five
minutes after the last party of horsemen had passed, Roper came up.

"Stop there, Roper," Arthur said, standing up; "we must wait till they
have gone a bit farther before we go out into the road.  Well, I am more
than ever convinced that there is someone of the very greatest
importance in that carriage.  The mere fact that they have taken the
trouble to make this detour is sufficient in itself to show that I am
afraid we are in for a long ride."

"It can’t be helped, sir; it is a real bit of excitement, though not
quite so exciting as it was when you carried me on your back."

"No; but the excitement will come when we have to undertake the job of
finding out for certain who it is they have carried off.  The fact,
though, that five or six at any rate of the riders are men of importance
in itself points most strongly to the idea that they have carried off
the queens.  I have no doubt many of them have changed horses.  If it is
intended to take them a long distance they will all have sent off a
relay of horses, probably placed in twos and threes, to small roadside
inns.  We shall have to change horses too somewhere. Our animals have
both had easy times, and can be reckoned upon for fifty miles; but as we
have no time to give them a rest, we cannot ride them farther than that.
We have gone a good twenty-five miles already.  At the next wayside inn
we come to we will halt for five minutes, take the bits out of their
mouths, and give them some bread dipped in wine, and do the same at the
end of another ten miles.

"By the road they are going they are making for the Ebro, and will
strike it at Alcola.  I think that Medinaceli lies about fifty or sixty
miles from there, but I know of no large town between this and Alcola.
The latter place is only about twenty miles from Saragossa, so we can
get troops from there, and from Tudela if they turn north; so I hope
they will hold on as far as that.  I fancy it is a little over a hundred
miles from here."

It was dark when they rode into a small town, which they had seen the
party ahead enter without attempting to make a detour; and, waiting for
a few minutes, they rode in to the principal hotel.

"Landlord," Arthur said, "a number of our friends have just ridden
through the town, have they not?"

"Yes, sir; about ten minutes ago, but they made no stay here."

"We have been trying to overtake them, and our horses are done up.  Can
you procure us a couple of fresh ones? We are willing to pay well for
their hire, but they must be good."

"Yes, sir; I happen to have a couple of good ones in the stable."

"Well, tell your men to slip the saddles and bridles on to them at once.
See that our horses are well attended to.  If you have something hot
ready, please set it on the table at once; we have not a moment to

In a quarter of an hour they were on their way again, and rode hard for
the next ten miles.  They had bought a blanket at the town, and now cut
it into strips and muffled their horses’ feet.  Then they rode on again,
and in another half-hour could plainly hear the sound of horses’ feet
ahead.  All night the chase continued.  They were more comfortable now,
as they had no fear whatever of missing those of whom they were in
pursuit, and could keep on at a regular pace.  The carriage changed
horses about every fifteen miles, and just as morning was breaking, and
they were beginning to fall behind again, they arrived at Alcola.  As
they expected, the party went straight down to the ferry.  Arthur again
obtained a change of horses, and he and Roper took another hasty meal of
boiled eggs and bread.  They then rode down to the ferry, which was
coming back after having taken the last batch of horsemen across.

"You are rather late, gentlemen; that is, if you belong to the party
that have just crossed."

"Yes; we have stopped to change horses.  However, we shall soon overtake
them.  Did you hear them say how far they were going?"

"I heard one of them say ’It is only twenty miles farther’, but that was

"Ah! that is about the distance I thought it was," Arthur said
carelessly.  "I suppose the roads are not very good?"

"I don’t know which way they went, sir; the road by the river is good
enough, the others are not much to speak of."

When they landed they went up to the village.  There were some people
about in the streets, and from them they learned that the party had
taken the road to the north-east. They did not hurry now, the marks of
the numerous horses feet were quite sufficient guide.  Arthur judged
that there would be no possibility of approaching the place where they
stopped before nightfall.  They therefore did not attempt to lessen the
start the party had obtained.  After riding for about twenty-five miles
they found that the tracks turned off the main road at a village, and
they could see a large mansion standing some two miles away.

"That is where they are bound for, I have no doubt whatever," Arthur
said.  "We will stop at this little inn here."

He went in and ordered a meal to be prepared.  "I shall stop here for
to-day," he said to the host.  "I suppose we can have a couple of

"Yes, señor," the man said with an air of much reverence, for guests of
his quality were unusual.

In half an hour the host himself brought in the meal.

"You have surely had a good many horsemen along here recently?  I have
noticed a great many footmarks on the road," Arthur said carelessly;
"has a troop of cavalry passed along?"

"No, señor; it was a party of gentlemen riding with the Count de

"Quite a large party of guests.  It is not often that they have the
house full at this time of the year?"

"No; it is getting late for that."

"Well, you can get our rooms ready.  We have had a very long ride, and
will sleep for a bit."  At the place where they dined they had bought
swords, and two brace of pistols with ammunition.  Both were dead tired,
for they had ridden something like a hundred and forty miles.

"I expect some of those men ahead must be even more tired than we are;
indeed, I have noticed that the tracks are fewer this morning than they
were yesterday evening."

"I noticed that too, sir.  I expect they tailed off by the way and took
to their beds.  However, I don’t suppose that will make any difference
to us; there are sure to be a number of retainers in such a big
house--too many for us to cope with."

"Well, I can hardly keep my eyes open.  I will order dinner for six
o’clock.  It is just ten now, so that will give us eight hours.  There
is one thing in our favour: the others will be as tired as we are, and
the chances are that they will most of them take to their beds and
remain there till the morning."

Both slept until the landlord knocked at the door and said that dinner
was served, and then, after bathing their heads to wake themselves
thoroughly, they went downstairs and ate a hearty meal.  It was arranged
that they should take the horses as near as they dared to the house, so
that in case of discovery they could at once ride away, and so get a
sufficient start to defy pursuit.  Leaving his horse with Roper at a
distance of three or four hundred yards from the house, Arthur went up
to it and walked slowly round it.

The shutters in the front of the house were not closed, but the curtains
were drawn.  By looking between them, however, he could see that the
party were at dinner.  There were lights in two or three windows
upstairs.  It was probable that in one of these rooms the prisoners were
placed.  Going round the house again, still more carefully, he saw that
the shutters of one of the lower windows were closed, and it struck him
as possible that the captives were here, and being served with a meal at
the same time as their captors.

"At any rate," he said to himself, "I can try here.  If the curtains are
drawn and the shutters closed, they are not likely to hear me open the

He had no ladder by which to reach the upper windows, so he determined
to take advantage of the men being all at dinner and attempt a bold
stroke.  It was certain that many of the guests would be strangers to
the servants in the house, and that any who met him in the passages
would take him for one of them.  He went to the front door and tried it.
It was open, and he peered in.  The hall was deserted.  He watched for a
minute or two, and as he saw no servants pass or repass, he guessed that
the kitchen was on the same side of the house as the dining-room,
whereas the closed window was on the other side.  He dropped his hat and
cloak, slipped into the hall, closed the door, walked across, and turned
in the direction of the room he wanted.  He saw that two men were
standing at the door, evidently on guard. He walked boldly up to them.
As he had hoped, he was evidently taken to be one of the count’s guests,
and they drew aside and allowed him to turn the handle and enter the
room. In the centre stood a table.  A child was asleep on a sofa, and a
lady sat beside her.  The latter rose to her feet immediately.

"I thought," she said sternly, "that it was promised that no intrusion
should take place on my privacy."

"Your majesty," Arthur said, stepping forward to her, "does not
recognize me.  I am Captain Hallett, whom your majesty graciously made a
first class member of the Order of Fernando.  I have followed your
majesty from Madrid, keeping your carriage in sight the whole way.  I
had only a suspicion that it was you that had been carried off, and
before I could verify it by seeing you, I had nothing to go upon.  Now
that I have ascertained it, I will at once leave you, for we may be
interrupted at any moment.  I will go to seek a rescuing force.  Tudela
is the nearest point at which there are troops.  I have written an order
in anticipation to the senior officer there, commanding him to place
himself under my orders.  Here is pen and ink.  I pray your majesty to
sign it at once."

He placed the paper on the table, and the queen at once signed it.

"I will thank you afterwards, señor," she said, "for myself and my
daughter.  I will not detain you for a moment now. Your life would be
forfeited instantly were you found here."

Arthur bent on one knee, kissed her hand, and then without a word left
her and went out of the room, saying as he opened the door: "Your wishes
shall be respected, madam."  Then he walked quietly down the passage,
across the hall, and out at the front door.  In his delight he ran full
speed to the spot where Roper was holding horses.

"It is as we thought: the queen and the regent are prisoners there, and
I have seen them.  Now we must ride to Tudela--it cannot be much more
than thirty miles--and we must get the troops here by daylight if we

As they galloped away he told Roper how he had managed to see the queen.

"It was a bold stroke, sir, but succeeded splendidly.  I only hope they
won’t ask the men on guard if anyone has been there."

"I thought of that, Roper, but the chance of it is very small.  They
could not imagine that there was anyone who wanted to see the queens,
and it is improbable that the conspirators have mentioned to anyone in
the house who their prisoners are.  It is likely that the guards were
only told, when they were placed there, that the ladies were fatigued
with their journey and must not be disturbed.  The secret is too
important to trust anyone with it.  At the first village we come to we
must engage a man with a horse to act as our guide; we shall never find
our way across country without one."

In a quarter of an hour they came to a village and stopped at the inn.

"Landlord," Arthur said, "we want a man on horseback to guide us to
Tudela; it is important that we should get there this evening.  Of
course we shall be ready to pay well for such service."

"What do you call well, señor?" the landlord said.

"I will give three pounds."

"Then I will go myself with you.  My horse is not very fast, but he is
strong, and can do the journey easily."

"Very well, then; saddle him at once.  Don’t waste a minute about it."

In five minutes the landlord rode out of the yard.  He carried a couple
of lanterns.

"You take one of them, Roper.  I will ride between you and this good

The road was bad, and it was well that the landlord had brought
lanterns, for it was a cross-road, and often nothing but a mere track.
It was one o’clock in the morning before they rode into Tudela.  The
little town was asleep, but they roused the people at the principal inn.

"Does the colonel commanding the troops stop here?"

"No, sir; he stays at the large house fourth down the road on the
right-hand side."

"Well, landlord, I want you to get supper for us, and I shall require
two fresh horses in the course of an hour, and also one for this man who
has come with me.  I shall have to arrange with you to send these horses
to the place where I borrowed them.  I will pay you well for your

"I will manage it, señor," the man said, much impressed with the decided
manner of his guest.  "I have no horses myself, but will get them for

Arthur went to the house indicated, and rang loudly at the bell.  He had
to ring two or three times before there was any answer; then a head was
thrust from an upper window.

"Who is making that noise?"

"I am a royal messenger," Arthur said, "and must see the colonel

Presently the door was opened by a man with a light.  He showed Arthur
into a room upstairs.

"The colonel will be in in a minute or two," he said, lighting two
candles on the table.

In three minutes the colonel came down, buttoning up his tunic.

"What is it, señor?"

"I am the cavalero Captain Hallett, and I am the bearer of a message to
you from the queen."

"From her majesty?" the colonel exclaimed in surprise.

"Yes.  Now, colonel, before I hand you the letter I wish to impress upon
you the necessity for absolute secrecy in this affair.  It must be
mentioned to no one, unless you have Donna Christina’s permission to do
so.  I need scarcely say that the matter is likely to be of considerable
benefit to you. Here is her majesty’s order."

"This is a strange message," the colonel said, after reading it through
two or three times.  "It has no official seal, and is altogether unlike
a document one would expect to receive from her majesty."

"That is so, colonel.  Her majesty was not in a position to affix her
seal, but the signature is hers, which is all that is important.  Now,
sir, I will tell you what has happened. Her Majesty Queen Christina and
her daughter have been carried off from Madrid by a party of armed
conspirators. She is at the present moment at the château of the Count
de Monteroy, and is held a prisoner in his house.  I have had an
interview with her there, and have received this order from her.  What
force of cavalry have you here?"

"I have only fifty men, señor."

"That will be sufficient.  You will at once call them under arms and
start back with me.  We must surround the château before daylight if
possible, and if we ride fast we may succeed in doing so.  You will
there arrest the count and all his guests, who are ten in number, but
who may by to-morrow morning be still stronger.  You will then form an
escort for the queens, and conduct them back to Madrid.  I don’t know
what is happening there, but at any rate we will contrive to ride in
after nightfall, so as to get them back to their palace unseen.  After
that the matter will be in her hands and that of her government."

                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                               *A RESCUE*

The colonel, who had given an exclamation of astonishment on hearing of
the outrage upon the queens, was evidently a man of action.  He ran to
the door and shouted "Thomasso! Stephano!" in tones of thunder.  Two men
came running downstairs in their night attire.  "Run to Captain Zeno,
and order him to have his troop at my door in a quarter of an hour from
the present time.  Tell him that it is a matter of life and death.
Don’t stop to dress; throw on your cloaks and run to him at once."  Then
he turned to Arthur.  "They may not be here in a quarter of an hour, but
they won’t be many minutes longer.  The captain sleeps at the barracks,
and he will turn his men out at once."

Another man was wakened and ordered to saddle the colonel’s horse at
once.  "How did this monstrous thing happen, cavalero, if I may ask?"

"I do not know how the queen was carried off; but I was riding on the
road seven miles outside Madrid when I saw a carriage coming along with
closed blinds.  Accompanied as it was by twelve gentlemen I should have
thought that it was a pleasure-party going to some country château, but
that the carriage had closed blinds struck me as strange.  Still, I
should have thought no more of the matter had I not noticed a peculiar
white mark on the head of one of the horses--a mark which I had that
very morning noticed on the head of one of those in the queen’s
carriage.  The matter struck me as being so strange that I determined to
follow.  I kept near them all the way.  They had relays of horses at
various points on the road, and changed them quickly.  I managed also to
change mine and that of a servant with me, and finally traced them to
Count de Monterey’s.  I was still in doubt as to whether it was her
majesty who was in the coach, but I succeeded in obtaining a private
interview.  I saw her but a minute.  I had prepared this document for
her signature, which I was lucky enough to obtain.  Now, colonel, you
know as much about the matter as I do."

Arthur could see that the officer was highly delighted at the thought of
the opportunity that had fallen in his way. He ran back to his room and
made a more elaborate toilet. Arthur went off at once to the hotel to
see if the arrangements there were going on satisfactorily.  The three
horses were at the door, so he sat down with Roper and ate a hasty

"Now, landlord," he said, "I want you to send these two horses to this
address; here are a couple of pounds for your trouble.  The horse ridden
by the landlord who acted as my guide here must be kept till to-morrow.
He says he will come over and fetch it himself."

Hearing a clatter of hoofs at this moment he went out and found the
troop just arriving at the colonel’s door.  He mounted his horse and
rode there at once.  The colonel had come out, and was in the act of

"They have only been five minutes over the quarter," the latter said.
"You have done very smartly, Captain Zeno. You know the way, cavalero?"

"No; but this man with the lantern does.  He guided me here."

The guide and Roper, with their lanterns, rode off at the head of the
column; the colonel and Arthur followed, the former calling up the
captain to his side.  "I dare say you are wondering what you are called
up so suddenly for, Captain Zeno; but this gentleman is the bearer of an
order for the arrest of the Count de Monteroy and some persons in his
house.  We must ride fast, for it is important that we shall get there
in time to take all in the house by surprise.  It will be light at six,
so I hope we shall get there by that time; but if not, it is likely that
we shall arrive before anyone is stirring.  It is, I understand,
important that none of the people there shall escape."

"Carlists, I suppose, señor?" the captain asked.

"I don’t know," the colonel replied; "there are no particulars whatever
in my orders, which is simply for their arrest."

The innkeeper was now better mounted than before, and the journey was
done in a little over five hours.  The day had broken, but as they
approached the house they could see no signs of life.  The colonel
posted forty of the men round the house, with orders to cut down anyone
who tried to escape; then with the other ten men, their captain, and
Arthur, he went up to the hall door and knocked loudly. A minute or two
later he knocked again, and it was opened by a servant, who had
evidently but just risen.  He started at the appearance of the soldiers.

"You will lead me at once to your master’s bedroom," Arthur said.
Seeing that the colonel and he had both drawn their swords, the servant
without a moment’s hesitation conducted them to Count de Monterey’s
room.  Arthur, accompanied by the colonel, went in.  The count opened
his eyes, and then sprang suddenly out of bed.  "I arrest you, Count
Juan de Monteroy, on a charge of high treason!  Resistance, señor, is
useless; I have fifty soldiers round the house and ten of them behind me

The count swore a deep oath, and then shrugged his shoulders. "So there
is a traitor among us?" he said scornfully.

"No, señor; your party have all been true to you," Arthur said.

The colonel called in two men.  "You will remain here with this
gentleman.  You will allow him to dress, but see that he touches no
paper or documents of any kind.  When he has finished, you can bring him
below, and there keep strict watch over him until further orders."

The colonel went from door to door with his men, and arrested the whole
party without resistance.  There were twelve of them; those who had been
left behind on the way having arrived late the previous evening.  After
seeing to the arrest of the count, Arthur, followed by two soldiers,
ordered one of the trembling domestics, who had now come down, to take
him to the room of the lady and child who had arrived the day before.
Two guards stood beside it.

"Do you know why you are placed here?" he asked sternly.

"No, señor; except that we came on guard at eleven last night and were
ordered to allow no one to enter the room, and to refuse to allow the
lady inside to come out unless escorted by the count himself."

"Well, you are relieved from that duty now.  You will go downstairs and
remain there; we may want to question you again presently."

Then he knocked at the door.  It was immediately opened, and Queen
Christina came out.  "I was expecting you this morning, señor; and,
looking out of the window, saw you ride up with the troop."

Arthur waved the two soldiers to move away.  "Madam," he said, "I do not
know what your wishes may be; but I thought it as well to keep the
knowledge of your identity from all save the colonel."

"Come in here.  The Queen is dressed.  Before we say anything else,
señor, I must thank you with all my heart for the inestimable service
that you have rendered me.  I thank you in the name of the queen, of
myself, and of Spain.  I am obliged to you for having kept our identity
a secret.  I have been thinking the matter over since I saw you last
night and learned that there was a chance of rescue.  I should certainly
prefer that we should return to Madrid as we have come, incognito.  What
has passed there I know not, but I think it possible that my government
have kept the fact of our disappearance from the knowledge of the
people, and I should wish to consult with them when I get back as to the
advisability of continuing to do so.  I shall, of course, take better
precautions in future; but the news that I had once been carried off
might lead desperate men to repeat the attempt.  However, we shall have
time to talk this all over on the journey.  I should certainly wish to
start as soon as possible."

"You can leave in half an hour, madam, and can travel as fast as you
came here.  There are relays of horses on the way. Your escort cannot
keep up with you, as there would be no possibility of procuring remounts
for so many men.  There would be no occasion for an escort, because you
can ride with the blinds up, and by keeping your veil down there will be
no risk of your being recognized.  What do you wish done with regard to
the prisoners, madam?"

The queen hesitated.

"I have not thought.  What do you say, Captain Hallett? You have done so
much in this matter that I will trust to your opinion."

"I should think, madam, that it might perhaps be as well to send them
all under charge of the colonel who has come with this troop to Tudela,
or to leave them here in his charge, in either case holding him
responsible for their safety.  Then you could consult with your
ministers as to what steps should be taken.  It might seem preferable to
them that their trial--if trial there should be--should take place at a
provincial town rather than the capital.  I should think they could be
better guarded at the barracks at Tudela than here.  Shall I order
breakfast to be brought up here, madam, or will you take it below?"

"I would rather have it here."

"It is a quarter to seven now; shall you be ready to start at eight?
May I present the colonel to you, madam, before you start?  He was most
zealous, and started with his troop of cavalry in an extremely short
time after hearing my message.  He is the only one of those here who
knows of your majesty’s identity."

"Certainly, present him to me.  I shall, of course, see that he receives

"Does your majesty wish me to accompany you?"

"Of course I do, señor.  I thought that so much a matter of course that
I did not mention it.  I have very, very much to say to you, for I know
nothing at present as to how you came to be here."

At the appointed hour the queens came downstairs and went into the
drawing-room, where the Spanish colonel was presented to them.
Christina spoke to him very graciously and thanked him for his services,
which she said should be shortly recognized.

"I should wish you," she said, "to keep the prisoners in entire
seclusion; let them have no communication with anyone. Let the men who
supply their wants be distinctly warned on no account to exchange a word
with them.  I think the best plan might be for you to have a house
cleared out for them, so that they can be placed in rooms apart, with a
sentry at each door, and sentries round the house to see that they
communicate with no one.  It might be better for you to requisition the
prison, and see that the present inmates are placed elsewhere.  I rely
upon your absolute secrecy, colonel, as to myself and my daughter having
been here.  I cannot say what course government will take in the matter;
therefore I rely upon you to keep them absolutely apart from all
communication until you receive orders from Madrid."  She held out her
hand to the colonel, who kissed it and retired much gratified. The
carriage was at the door.  The count’s coachman, who had driven them
down, was placed on the box, and Roper took his place beside him.  Two
soldiers dressed in plain clothes took their places behind, and one
other, similarly dressed, mounted one of the count’s horses and led
those that had been ridden by Arthur and Roper.  Arthur himself had been
commanded by the queen to take his place in the carriage with her.

"You know this gentleman, do you not, Isabella?" the regent said as they
drove off.

The child had been gazing fixedly at Arthur.

"Yes, mamma, I think I do.  He is the handsome gentleman, isn’t he, who
was presented to me some time ago for doing something very brave?"

"Yes, my dear; you said you liked him, you know."

"Yes I did, mother."

"You ought to like him a great deal more now, Isabella, for he has done
something very great for us.  You are too young yet to understand it,
but I can tell you that he has done a very, very great service, one that
you should never forget as long as you live.  Now, señor, I have been in
vain wondering how it was that you should have arrived in our room in
the manner of a good fairy last night."

"It was almost by an accident, madam, and that I was there was due to
the fact that the Count de Monterey made the mistake of putting the
horses out of your carriage into his own instead of taking others."  He
then related fully the manner in which his suspicion had been aroused,
and how he had, with his man, followed the carriage.  "Of course, your
majesty, if I had been in any way sure that you were in the carriage, I
should have closed up at the first town you came to, and called upon the
authorities for aid to rescue you; but beyond the mark on the horse--and
there may be more than one horse so marked in Spain--I had nothing upon
which I could act.  The carriage evidently belonged to the party who
rode with it, but the mere fact that the blinds were drawn down was in
itself no proof that any prisoner was in it.  It might have been merely
full of wine and provisions for the use of the party going down to stay
at a château.

"It was, therefore, absolutely necessary for me to assure myself that
you were prisoners.  That might have been a most difficult thing to find
out, and I had in vain, on the journey, thought over some plan.  As it
turned out, it was, as I have told you, simply a matter of good fortune.
The closed shutters pointed out the room where you were likely to be,
and from the fact that dinner was going on I was able to get to the door
of your room unchallenged.  Your guards took me for one of the count’s
guests, and thus everything was easy and simple.  Of course the moment I
left your majesty I rode straight to Tudela, and started with the troop
on the return journey twenty minutes after I arrived."

"Well, señor, I hardly know which to admire most: your recognition of
the horse, your quickness of perception that something very unusual was
being done, and the manner in which, in spite of the immense fatigue of
the journey, you kept in sight of us until you traced us here; or the
fearlessness with which you risked your life, as you certainly did, to
ascertain whether your suspicions were correct.  Now I will tell you how
we were seized.  Of course our coachman and footmen must have been
heavily bribed.  We were driving through the town when suddenly we
turned in at the gateway of a house in a quiet street.  I could not now
say where the house was, for I was talking to Isabella, and paid no
particular attention to the route by which we were proceeding to the

"The moment we entered, a number of gentlemen came round, the door was
opened, and one said:

"’Madam, I must trouble you to alight.’

"I began to demand what he meant by such insolence, but he cut me short
by saying:

"’Madam, I repeat that you and the queen must alight. We have no time to
spare.  Unless you at once descend and enter this carriage standing
here, we shall most reluctantly be obliged to use force.’

"It seemed to me that it would be useless to resist, for it was evident
that these men were desperately in earnest and would not hesitate to
carry out their threats; so we did as we were ordered.  A lady--I
believe she was a relation of the count’s, from what she
said--afterwards got into the carriage, followed by a gentleman.  The
blinds were then pulled down, and the man took out a long dagger and

"’If you move, madam, or attempt to pull up the blinds or to give the
alarm, I shall not hesitate to stab you and your daughter to the heart,
as our safety, and that of a score of other people, would demand it.  I
should deplore the necessity, but I should not hesitate to act.’

"After we had driven for half an hour he got out.  I could hear a horse
brought up to the door, and he mounted.  I had no doubt that the
carriage was accompanied by mounted men. The woman was of powerful
build, and after we had once started I gave up all idea of trying to
give the alarm, which would, I felt sure, be fatal.  When the blinds
were first pulled down I heard one of the men speak furiously because
the horses were not in our carriage.  Someone else said something, and
he said:

"’What does it matter if it is half an hour earlier than we expected?
They ought to have been ready.  Take the horses out of that carriage.’

"There was a running about, and the pair of horses were put in.  Then
one said:

"Be sure that, directly we have gone, that carriage is broken up and
burnt.  There must not be a splinter of it left--nothing to show that
anyone has ever been here.  You see to it, Ferdinand; you have got saws
and everything else. Remember the safety of all of us may depend upon
its being done thoroughly.’

"Three minutes later we started.  It almost seemed to me that I was in a
nightmare from which I did not awake till I got to the end of the
journey.  I chatted with Isabella, but I did not exchange a single word
with the woman in the carriage with us.  From time to time when we
stopped to change horses a tray of food was handed in, and we ate and
drank, though I had little appetite; but I felt that I must keep up my
strength, for I had no idea how long this strange journey would last, or
what would happen at the end of it. That we had been captured by
adherents of Don Carlos I had, of course, no doubt.  I did not fear that
we should be injured; but I did think that we might be kept for many
years, perhaps for life, in close confinement, in which case, doubtless,
all parties would at last accept Don Carlos as king.  There would, no
doubt, be a general search for us; there would be great troubles; but
when it seemed to all that we should never be found, even our best
friends would be willing to accept Don Carlos.  What do you think will
have taken place at Madrid?

"I should certainly say, madam, that when you are missed every effort
will be made by government to keep your disappearance a secret, while
attempts will be made in all directions to find out the mystery.  It
will appear almost incredible, that you and your carriage, horses,
coachman, and footmen should suddenly and mysteriously have disappeared.
No doubt your captors did not ride out in a body.  Some of those you saw
there doubtless remained to destroy the carriage; possibly others may
have waited a mile or two outside the town.  Two, perhaps, would keep
some distance ahead of the carriage, and two would follow.  No
particular attention would be attracted by a carriage, with the blinds
down and apparently empty, being driven through the street at a
leisurely pace."

"After the man got out of the carriage," said the queen, "we went very
much faster.  For a time I wondered which way we were going, and where
we were to be taken; but as hour after hour went on I ceased to trouble
over it, and was principally occupied in endeavouring to appease
Isabella’s curiosity concerning the strange method of travelling, and by
telling her stories to keep her amused.  As soon as it became dark she
fell asleep with her head in my lap.  I dozed occasionally, waking up
when the horses were changed.  When morning came I felt that we were
being ferried across a river; then in a couple of hours we arrived here.
The carriage drew up and the door was opened.  Several gentlemen were
standing there, and all took off their hats as we dismounted, and
expressed their regret at having given us so long and fatiguing a

"The Count de Monteroy assured me that every attention should be paid to
our comfort, that we should be treated with every respect, and that we
should be in no way intruded upon. Three times during the day servants
brought in food, and we were requested to come down to dinner.  I was in
half a mind to refuse, but I thought it was better that Isabella should
have a change, and I might learn something of the arrangement of the
house.  It is fortunate, indeed, that I did so, for if I had been kept a
prisoner upstairs, I do not think that even your ingenuity and courage
could have enabled you to obtain an interview with me."

The coachman had been ordered to take exactly the same road as that by
which they had come, and to stop to change horses at the same places.

"By the way, señor, is the servant who rode with you the same as
accompanied you on the occasion when you rescued Count Leon de Balen’s

"He is, your majesty.  He is at present riding on the box with the
coachman, as he has been lamed in a fight with the Carlists; and
although his ankle, which was broken, is now nearly healed, the fatigue
of the long ride has been so great that I took the liberty of placing
him upon the box to keep his eye on the coachman, while one of the
troopers leads our horses."

"The first time we stop I beg that you will present the brave fellow to
me.  He must have suffered greatly from the long ride."

"I have no doubt that he has suffered, madam, but he has said nothing
about it.  He rode with that leg loose in the stirrup, only using the
other.  However, he acknowledged this morning that he could not sit the
horse going back, and said he would remain with the troops for two days,
resting. It was then I decided to put him on the box instead of one of
the soldiers, as I had intended."

"Where did he get wounded, and how?"

"If it is your majesty’s pleasure I will tell you.  It is a long story,
and if I mistake not we shall be changing horses in a short time, so I
had better leave it until we start again.

"Very well," the regent said; "the longer the story the better, for we
have a long journey before us."

When the carriage stopped, Roper was called to the door.

"This is my man, your majesty, who has ridden from Madrid with me."

"I thank you most heartily," the queen regent said. "Isabella, give your
hand to this brave soldier.  It is he who has helped this gentleman to
get us away from that house. He rode all the way behind us."

"You are a very good man," the child said, as she held out her hand to
Roper, who kissed it somewhat awkwardly.  "It was a very nasty, long
journey for mamma and me, and it must have been much worse for you, as
you had to ride all the way."

"Yes; and he helped his master to get that pretty young lady, Donna
Mercedes de Balen, out of the hands of the wicked Carlists, who were
going to kill her.

"I had very little to do with it, madam; I simply did what my master
told me."

"I know Donna Mercedes well," the child said.  "She has been several
times with her two sisters to play with me.  I am glad you did not let
them kill her."

Roper bowed and retired.

"Is he a private soldier?" the regent asked.

"He is a private soldier for my sake, madam.  He was a sergeant in the
regiment of the British Legion to which I belonged, and when I was sent
to Madrid to enquire about the pay due to the Legion, he gave up his
rank in order to accompany me as my servant, which was the more
meritorious as we had been private soldiers together."

"But you could never have been a private soldier?" the regent said in

"I was, madam.  I had got into a scrape at school, and my guardian
offered to allow me one hundred and twenty pounds a year till I came of
an age to become possessor of the estate of my late father; and as they
were recruiting at the time for the Legion, I thought I should like to
see something of the world, and therefore I enlisted."

"A Spanish nobleman would never think of doing that," the regent said.

"I was not a nobleman, madam.  My father was what you would call a
country gentleman, living on his estate, which was, I believe, a fair
one.  He died when I was only ten years old, and left me to the care of
an uncle.  I only propose remaining in Spain until I come of age to
inherit the estate."

"At what age do you inherit?"

"We generally inherit at twenty-one, madam.  My father considered, and
very rightly, that I was not of a disposition to settle down, and
therefore stated in his will that I was not to come into the estate
until I was twenty-five."

"Then I suppose it will not be long before you go?"

"It will be some little time yet: I am a good deal younger than I look."

The regent smiled.  "That is because you are so big and strong, I
suppose, Captain Hallett.  And are you thinking of taking a Spanish lady
home as your wife?  There, I ought not to have asked you," she said;
"only I remember that when a certain young lady told me a story of what
had happened to her, she coloured up very prettily when she mentioned
your name.  But there, I won’t say anything more about it.  Now, as we
are off again, perhaps you will tell us that story of how your follower
was wounded?"

Arthur told the story.  Both the regent and her daughter were greatly
interested, and insisted upon hearing much fuller particulars than he
wished to give of the manner of his escape from Cabrera, and of his
return to carry off Roper.

"No wonder the man is attached to you," Christina said warmly; "it would
be strange indeed if he were not.  It was a grand action, Captain
Hallett, however much you may make light of it.  Now, sir, I own that I
feel sleepy; I scarcely closed an eye last night.  Would you mind riding
for a time?"

"Certainly not, madam."

They were just stopping to put in fresh horses, and Arthur was by no
means sorry at the change.  He glanced into the carriage at the next
halting-place, and saw that the regent and her child wore both asleep.
Another fifteen miles and they changed again.

"We have some food, have we not, Captain Hallett?" asked the regent.

"Yes, your majesty; we have a large hamper behind the carriage."

"Then have it brought in here, and please come in yourself. How far have
we gone?"

"About forty-five miles, madam."

"What time shall we get to Madrid?"

"About one o’clock in the morning, madam."

"Well, we will dine now.  Then we will talk for an hour or two, and I
will try to get to sleep again, for I know that I shall have no sleep
to-night after I get in, but shall be up all night with my ministers.  I
hope all the men are getting food?"

"Yes, madam; I brought a basket of food for them too, otherwise there
must have been much delay when we changed horses."

"You seem to think of everything, Captain Hallett," she said, as he
moved away to get the hamper.

"I had better open it and pass the things in, madam."

"No, bring it inside; we can put it on the seat by you. It will be an
amusement to open it.  It is many, many years since I enjoyed an
impromptu meal like this."

The carriage rolled on and the hamper was opened.  It contained every
necessary for a meal.  There were several bottles of the count’s best
wine, cold fowls, pasties, and a variety of sweets, together with
glasses, plates, and other necessaries.  The regent and the little queen
entered into the spirit of the thing with great zest.  To the former it
was a relief indeed to be eating without ceremony, and able for the
moment to put aside all the cares of state, which weighed so heavily
upon her; to the little queen it was something perfectly delightful, and
both laughed and chatted with a freedom and abandon that set Arthur
quite at his ease. The meal lasted for a long time, the regent declaring
that she had not eaten so much nor enjoyed a meal so thoroughly for

The queen was enchanted.  "Why can’t we always eat like this, mamma,"
she said, "instead of having to sit up, with three or four servants to
wait upon us, and everyone staring disagreeably?  I do so wish we

"Well, we can’t have it quite like this, Isabella; but I will make up my
mind that once a week we will dine together in my closet, and then we
will have everything put upon the table and help ourselves, and try and
think that we are not queens, or anything else disagreeable."

"That will be nice, mamma!  And you won’t say once to me, ’You mustn’t
take this, Isabella’, or ’You must sit upright’, but just let me do as I

Her mother nodded.  "Yes, that shall be the agreement."

The child clapped her hands.  "That will be nice!" she said. "I am so
tired of my governess saying, ’You mustn’t do that’, and ’You ought to
do this’.  It will be nice, mamma!  When shall we begin--this day week?"

Her mother nodded.

"And will Captain Hallett always dine with us?"

"No, my dear; Captain Hallett has other things to do; but perhaps
sometimes, when he is in Madrid, he will come as a special treat for

The child nodded contentedly.  "I shall be very angry with him if he
does not come often," she said.

The meal lasted until they arrived at the next changing place.  Here
Arthur got out, again, and was glad to regain his own horse.  It was
just one o’clock when they rode into Madrid.  There were lights in the
palace, and the gates were still open.  They did not drive up to the
principal entrance. The regent decided that she would enter at a side
door, and try to make her way to her apartments unnoticed, as it was
possible that the news of their disappearance had been kept from most of
the servants of the palace.

"Come up with me, if you please, Captain Hallett," she said.

The door was unbolted, and after giving orders that the carriage should
be taken round to the stables, and that the soldiers should put up at an
inn for the night and come round for orders in the morning, she entered,
with Arthur carrying the child, sound asleep, in his arms.  They climbed
some stairs to the first floor.  Up to this time the queen had been in
ignorance as to her whereabouts, but she now knew where she was, and
made her way to her own chamber.  Leaving Arthur outside, she went in
for a minute or two, laid the child on a bed, took off her wraps, and
then came out.

"Now we will go to the council-chamber," she said; "I expect we shall
find some of the ministers there in consultation."

She led the way along a gallery, and, opening a door, went in.  Eight
men were sitting there, and they leapt to their feet with a cry of
astonishment as the regent entered, followed by a young gentleman who
was unknown to them.

"Why--your majesty!" her minister said.

"Yes; I understand that you are surprised to see me," she interrupted.
"Now, gentlemen," she went on, as she went to her seat at the head of
the table, "I will, in the first place, ask you what has happened here
since I have been away; after that I will tell you where I have been.
Has my absence been known?"

"To very few people, your majesty.  Fortunately, I was here awaiting
your return.  As the time passed and you did not arrive, I became
anxious.  When you were two hours late, I sent for my colleagues and we
had a consultation, but we were unable to form any idea of what had
become of you. Your carriage had not returned.  It was not possible that
any accident could have occurred, for if so, we should have heard of it.
At nine o’clock we became seriously alarmed, and all went out to
different parts of the city to make cautious enquiries as to where your
carriage had been last seen, and whether a report was current that an
accident had taken place.  We met here again at eleven.  None of us had
heard of any news.  Your carriage had been seen in various parts of the
town early in the afternoon, but where it had been last noticed we could
not find out.  We set the whole police to search quietly--no one was
told of your disappearance.  A search was made for the carriage.  In the
meantime it was given out that the queen was unwell, and that you were
remaining with her and nursing her.  Your majesty’s surgeon was called
in and sworn to secrecy, and he has twice a day come to the palace.  We
have been, as your majesty may well imagine, at our wits’ end to know
what to do.  To announce that you had disappeared would cause a
disturbance in the city, and an enormous state of unrest throughout the
kingdom. We have met to-night to consider how long the secret could be
kept, and whether it would be expedient at once to offer a very large
reward for news concerning you."

"Happily, duke, I am in a position to settle the matter and to relieve
your disquietude."

She then related how she had been kidnapped, and how she was taken to
the house of the Count de Monterey and confined there.  Many were the
exclamations of anger as she went on.

"It is monstrous!  Incredible!" were among the exclamations when she

"Then how, madam, did you obtain your freedom from the hands of these
malefactors?  It would certainly seem that they had taken every
precaution to keep the place of your confinement secret."

"Precautions they did take that would have deceived most people," the
regent said, "but which, happily, failed to deceive this gentleman here.
Now, Captain Hallett, perhaps you will please tell these gentlemen how
it happened that you traced and rescued me.  I request that you will
tell it in full detail."

Thus commanded, Arthur gave a full account of the way in which his
suspicions had been aroused, of his pursuit, the manner in which he had
discovered that his suspicions were correct, and the steps he had taken
to obtain the release of the prisoners.

"Well, sir," the premier said, when Arthur had brought the story to a
conclusion, "I have to congratulate you most heartily, in my own name
and on behalf of the other members of her majesty’s government, upon the
manner in which you have rescued the queen and the queen regent from the
hands of their captors.  You have shown an amount of acuteness, of
steadfastness of purpose, and of courage, in venturing into this den of
conspirators, that does you an extraordinary amount of credit.  We can
hardly imagine what would have happened had the place of confinement of
the queen remained undiscovered.  The whole kingdom would have been in
uproar; civil strife would have been more rampant than ever. We thank
you most heartily, in the name of Spain, for what you have done for her.
Have you the list, señor, of the men who have been arrested?"

"Yes, señor, this is it."

The premier ran his eye over it, and passed it on to his colleagues.

"It is difficult to believe," he said, "that some of the gentlemen here
mentioned could have been engaged in such a conspiracy; however, we
cannot at present decide upon so important a question."

"I may say, señor," Christina said, "that for my own part I should
vastly prefer that there should be neither scandal nor trial.  I prefer
that they should be ordered to leave the kingdom at once, with the
understanding that if they return they will be arrested on the charge of
high treason.  It would be most unfortunate if this matter should be
made public. The plot has failed; but the mere fact that it has been
tried might lead others to repeat the attempt.  In the next place, most
of these men who have been engaged in the matter bear historic names,
and have wide connections.  It would therefore be one of the gravest
scandals ever known in Spanish history were they to be tried and
punished on such a charge. This is my opinion on the subject.  I submit
it to your judgment, and I think that when you come to take into
consideration the magnitude of the interests involved, you will agree
with me that it would be advisable to let the matter pass unnoticed.

"In time, when these troubles are all brought to an end, it will be
possible to extend to these conspirators the hand of mercy, and allow
them to return to such portion of their estates as may be deemed
fitting.  And now, gentlemen, I will leave you.  I have had four days of
great fatigue and anxiety.  I should say that to-morrow a notification
should be issued to the effect that the queen has recovered from her
passing indisposition, and that in the course of the day we should show
ourselves in the streets as usual."  So saying she rose; the members of
the council also stood up, and bowed deeply as she left the room
followed by Arthur.

                              *CHAPTER XV*

                             *A CHALLENGE*

On leaving the palace Arthur went to his room, where he found supper
awaiting him, Roper having confiscated to his use the contents of the
royal hamper.

"I thought you would want something before you went to bed, and I was
sure that I did.  I have already eaten mine, but here is a fowl, sir,
and two bottles of wine."

"Well, I am not sorry to have them, though it is three o’clock in the
morning; however, we can sleep as late as we like."

At twelve o’clock, however, Arthur was awakened by Leon entering his

"We have been quite uneasy about you, Arthur.  Where have you been?
What have you been doing with yourself? I came round here four days ago;
the concierge said you were out.  I called again in the evening, and
next morning I learned that, when you left, you had said nothing about
any intention of going away; that you had certainly taken no clothes
with you, but had gone out with Roper in attendance, just as if you were
going for an ordinary ride."

"That was just the intention with which I did go out, but circumstances
were too much for me.  Now, what I am going to tell you is a complete
secret, and before I say anything about it you must give me your promise
that it shall not, on any account whatever, go beyond yourself and your

Leon looked at Arthur in surprise, but, seeing that he was quite in
earnest, gave the required pledge.

"Well, you will be surprised to hear that in the four days I have been
away I have ridden over three hundred miles."

"Over three hundred miles!"

"Yes.  That is not bad for what was really three and a half days’ work,
for I arrived here at three o’clock this morning."

"You stupefy me," the young count said.  "Why, no horse could have done

"No, and no horse did it; I had relays about every fifteen miles."

"You travelled post?  What did you carry?  A despatch for Espartero, or
a cartel to Cabrera?"

"Prepare yourself for a surprise, Leon.  I carried in my hand the safety
of the queen and the regent."

"The safety of the queen and regent!  You are not joking, are you?  How
could you have to ride three hundred miles on such an errand?"

"Well, briefly, Leon, the queen and the queen regent were carried away a
hundred and fifty miles, and I brought them back again."

Leon looked seriously at his friend.

"You are not quite well, are you?" he said; "you are a little upset, my
dear fellow, about something.  You are talking nonsense, you know; the
queen has not been out of Madrid.  She has been unwell, and her mother
has been nursing her."

"So you were led to believe, but the facts are as I have stated.  The
queen and her mother were seized when driving through the streets of
Madrid four days ago.  They were placed in a carriage with closed
blinds, and were carried to a place some twenty-five miles beyond the
Ebro and some thirty miles from Tudela.  I followed them with Roper.  I
had the luck to obtain an interview with her majesty, rode to Tudela,
and brought back a squadron of horse, surrounded the house where they
were imprisoned, captured all the conspirators, and brought the queen
and her mother back to Madrid at one o’clock this morning."

"You seem to be talking sensibly," Leon said, "but I really cannot take
in what you say.  It’s a hundred and thirty miles good to the Ebro, and
you say it was twenty-five miles farther; then you rode from there to
Tudela and back, a distance of sixty miles, so that you have, in fact,
covered some four hundred miles.  Where have you slept?"

"I think I slept a little on horseback on the way to Tudela and back,
and I have slept since three o’clock this morning, as I was some time at
the palace.  I have no doubt that in addition I dozed occasionally for
some minutes in succession in the saddle during the return journey, and
I had a sleep of eight hours in the daytime the day before yesterday;
and if you had not come in I dare say I should have had as many more
before I woke to-day."

Leon looked so serious that Arthur burst into a hearty laugh.

"That is good," he said, "and will wake me up.  Now, Leon, if you will
wait for five minutes I will get up and dress. Did you see Roper when
you came in?"

"Yes; he opened the door to me as usual."

"Well, if you will tell him that I shall be out in ten minutes, and want
some coffee and something to eat, he will make it for me; but mind,
don’t ask him any questions.  I am not going to have the story spoilt by
anyone else telling you about it; not that I think you would get
anything out of him, for he is absolutely trustworthy, and I told him
last night that no whisper must pass his lips of what has taken place."

In ten minutes Arthur went into the sitting-room, and as he entered,
Leon said: "If you are going to eat your breakfast before you tell me
anything, I will go away.  I cannot repress my curiosity, and I will
take a ride or do something to keep my brain steady until you are ready
to unburden yourself."

"I will begin at once, and tell you while I am eating.

"Now," he began, as he sat down and poured out some coffee, "the thing
in a nut-shell is precisely what I told you. And now as to
particulars:--I was riding with Roper, and had gone about seven miles
out.  As we returned I met a party of gentlemen on horseback.  At some
little distance behind them was a carriage with the blinds down.  Again,
at a distance behind the carriage was another party of gentlemen.
Altogether there were twelve men.  It struck me as rather curious;
still, they might have been going down to spend the day at some château,
and carrying provisions or something of that sort in the carriage.  I
should not have thought much more about the matter, if it had not been
for one thing: as the carriage passed me, it struck me that I knew one
of the horses by a rather curious white mark on its forehead.

"As I rode on, it suddenly occurred to me where I had seen a horse
similarly marked: it was in the carriage in which the queen was driving
when I saw her in the street, just as we were starting.  Naturally this
led me to review the position. Who was in the carriage?  Why were the
blinds down?  How was it that six men were riding in front of it and
other six behind it?  It struck me that possibly they were carrying off
the queen, and I resolved to follow and see where they went. They rode
much farther than I expected, changing horses at quiet places every
twelve miles or so, and going very fast, till, as I told you, they
crossed the Ebro between Saragossa and Tudela, and went some twenty-five
miles farther to a mansion, which I had no difficulty in learning
belonged to Count Juan de Monterey.

"Having found that out, we stopped at an inn in a village two miles from
it, and had that sleep I mentioned, as it was ten o’clock in the day,
and I could do nothing till dark.  Then I went to the mansion and found,
by looking through the curtains, that the party were at dinner.  I found
also that the windows of another room on the ground floor had closed
shutters.  The two rooms lay on opposite sides of the grand entrance.
The door was open.  I peeped in, and could see no one about; so I took
heart, walked boldly in, and turned along the corridor to the room with
the closed shutters.

"Two men were standing on guard at the door, but of course they took me
for one of their master’s guests, and I walked coolly past them, and
found in the room the queen and her mother.  I got the regent to sign an
order that I had written out, for the officer commanding at Tudela to
place himself under my orders.  Then I rode over there and fetched a
squadron of cavalry, which arrived at daybreak.  We surrounded the
house, took the twelve men there prisoners, started an hour later with
the queens, and arrived here at one o’clock this morning."

Leon gazed at him in open-eyed astonishment.

"You are certainly a most surprising fellow, a most astonishing fellow!
I don’t know what to say to you.  Here, single-handed, you have thwarted
a plot that might have brought ruin to the country; you have saved a
couple of queens; you have captured, too, the leaders of the plot; you
have ridden, what with your journey to Tudela and back, four hundred
miles at least, in the course of three days and a half; and here you
are, telling me all this as if it had been a natural and everyday

"It certainly was not an everyday occurrence, Leon, but it was an affair
that might have happened to anyone who kept his eyes open and possessed
a certain amount of endurance."

"So this is the real history of the young queen’s indisposition?"

"Yes.  I think the ministers acted very wisely in keeping the thing a

"It is the first wise thing they have done," Leon said. "I don’t see
that they are a bit better than the last ministry. However, never mind
that now.  And about yourself? you must be fearfully stiff."

"I am very stiff, but that will wear off by to-morrow."

"And did your man perform this marvellous journey in spite of his broken

"He rode there with me, and when I went to fetch the troops, but he came
back on the box of the queen’s carriage. His leg hurt him a good deal
last night, but I hope no real harm is done, though no doubt he will
have to keep quiet for a few days."

"Well, they ought to make a duke and grandee of Spain of you for it."

"I sincerely hope they won’t think of anything of the sort," Arthur
laughed.  "Fancy my going back to England with such a title as the Duc
de Miraflores!  The thing would be absolutely ludicrous!"

"Well, they will have to do something big anyhow," Leon said.  "Now,
tell me the story more fully.  You have got nothing to do, and may as
well gratify my curiosity."

"There is really very little to tell, but I will give it to you;" and he
then told the story in detail.

"Well, it is really remarkable that you should have been able to keep
them under your observation during all that long journey without letting
them know that they were followed."

"You see, they could have had no idea that there was anyone after them;
if they had, they would no doubt have left a couple of their number to
follow at a distance of two or three miles.  They no doubt felt quite
sure that the absence of the queen was entirely unsuspected, that no
search could be made for her for at least six hours, and that assuredly
no parties would be sent off in any case to scour the country till next
day, by which time they would have crossed the Ebro. If, instead of
taking the horses from the queen’s carriage, they had waited five
minutes till their own were yoked, their plot would have been
successful.  Their plan was uncommonly well laid, and they could hardly
have conceived it possible that one of the queen’s horses would be
recognized in a private carriage; nor would it have been had I not
happened to observe that peculiar mark that very morning."

"Well," Leon said, "I will be off now to tell my sisters."

"I shall not stir out to-day, Leon.  I really feel that I should enjoy a
day’s rest, and it is possible that I may be sent for to the palace."

"That is almost certain; the ministers must have many things to question
you about, as the queen last night can only have given them a general
account of the affair."

Indeed, a court messenger rode up an hour later and requested Arthur’s
attendance at the palace.  He dressed himself fully and went there.  On
his arrival he was conducted to the council-chamber.

"The queens have not yet risen, Captain Hallett.  I should be glad if
you would give us much fuller details than the regent was able to give
us last night; perhaps, too, in addition to what you yourself know of
it, you may have heard from Queen Christina the particulars of her

Arthur gave the particulars at full length, both of the queen’s capture
and of his own proceedings.

"Thank you, Captain Hallett!" the premier said.  "It is the most
audacious attempt against the person of a Queen of Spain that I have
ever heard of; and the manner in which you thwarted it is no less
remarkable.  We have already despatched a courier with orders to Colonel
Queredo, ordering him to bring the prisoners to Madrid under the escort
of the troop of cavalry, and to accomplish this with all possible speed,
placing them in three carriages and keeping the most careful guard over
them, confining them by day in some suitable apartment where they can
communicate with no one, and travelling after dark only.  They will be
tried privately.  I may tell you that although their lives are
unquestionably forfeited, we do not intend to carry out the extreme
penalty, as this could not be done without the whole affair becoming
known--a matter that we are most anxious to avoid.  In the first place,
the men are all members of good families, and could not be so disposed
of without the whole matter being known; and the attempt so nearly
succeeded that it might be again tried.  Their estates will, of course,
be forfeited, and they will be taken to the frontier and forbidden ever
to cross it again, under penalty of incurring the death-sentence that
will be passed upon them.  And now, sir, may we ask you what shape you
would like our gratitude to take, for this great service you have

"I have no desire for a reward in any shape, sir," Arthur replied.  "I
am an English gentleman with an estate in my own country, and am well
pleased that I have been able to render a service to the Queen of Spain
and her mother.  That is ample reward for my efforts, and I can assure
you that I shall be best pleased if nothing else is done in the matter.
I feel personally thankful to you that you have decided not to execute
the men concerned in the matter; it would be a pain for me to know that
the lives of twelve men, who were doubtless actuated by what they
believed, however mistakenly, to be the good of their country, should be
forfeited through me.  May I enquire if you have arrested the coachman
and footmen?  I do not ask that mercy should be extended to them.  They
were, of course, bribed heavily, and I do not think any punishment too
severe for men who could so betray their mistress."

"The police are in search of them, Captain Hallett.  We can hardly
expect to find them for some time, for they would naturally leave within
an hour after the perpetration of their crime, and as they have four
days’ start they will by this time be far away.  No efforts, however,
will be spared in tracing them.  As to what you have said, we shall, of
course, inform the regent of your declaration, which doubtless does you
the highest credit, but which, as you must see, can hardly be
entertained by us, as it would be impossible for the queen to remain
under so deep an obligation to a gentleman, however honourable and

"Well, sir, I can only say that I spoke in earnest.  I shall always be
pleased to look back at having been able to render a service to the
Queen of Spain, who had already honoured me by creating me a Knight of
the Isabella of the first class and a Companion of the Order of San
Fernando the Catholic."

He was again sent for to the palace by the queen that afternoon.

"I have been for a drive with my daughter," she said, "and have been
acclaimed by the populace, who were evidently pleased that Isabella has
recovered from her indisposition; and things will now, I hope, go on as
before.  I feel that at present I have not thanked you as you deserve
for what you did for us. Believe me, that I am not ungrateful.  My
little daughter is not old enough to understand the service you have
rendered us, but in her name I thank you most deeply, and shall ever
retain a deep feeling of obligation towards you."

"The service was one that any gentleman might have performed.  The sight
of that carriage with the blinds down, and the knowledge that one of the
horses that was drawing it belonged to your majesty, might well have
excited the suspicion in anyone that something was wrong.  That idea
once entertained, he would have taken steps to get to the bottom of the

The regent smiled.  "I can assure you, Captain Hallett, that few of my
countrymen would have troubled their heads about such a matter one way
or another, or have put themselves out of the way to investigate it.
The premier tells me that he has informed you of the course they intend
to take as to these traitors.  Has it your approval?"

"Entirely so.  I am very little qualified to judge such matters, but it
certainly seems to me in the highest degree desirable that this attempt
on your person should not be generally known.  People may guess as they
choose when they hear that these men have been banished for life, but
they may merely suppose that they have been concerned in some plot or
other.  Anything would be better than to let it be known that you had
been actually carried off."

That evening Arthur paid a visit to Leon’s, and was received with
enthusiasm by the three girls.  "Leon has been telling us all about your
doings, Señor Arthur," Inez exclaimed.  "So you have saved the two
queens and brought them safely back from Madrid?  It was splendid!  You
can’t tell how proud we feel of you, as we flatter ourselves that we are
your greatest friends here."

"That you certainly are, Donna Inez.  I have no very intimate friends
here except yourselves."

"As for Mercedes, she regularly cried," the girl went on.

"You should not tell such things, Inez," Mercedes said, colouring hotly.
"I know that it was silly of me, but it did seem so brave and so

"There was no bravery in it.  The only time when there was ever real
danger was when I entered the house and discovered the queens;
otherwise, the question was only one of sitting so many hours in the

"I won’t have you belittle yourself," Mercedes said, with an attempt at
playfulness.  "It was just the same thing when you rescued me: you tried
to make out that anyone could have done it.  It was altogether a
splendid deed."

In a short time guests began to arrive, for it was the evening on which
they entertained.  Arthur could not help being amused at the talk, which
turned partly on the young queen’s illness, her rapid recovery, and what
would have happened had her illness been a serious one.

A week later Arthur appeared at the trial of the traitors, and gave
evidence as to their proceedings.  Christina’s account of her capture
was read aloud.  The prisoners attempted no defence, as the complicity
of the whole of them in the affair was too evident to dispute.  They
were all sentenced to death, with the confiscation of their estates.
The death-sentence, however, was commuted by the queen regent into
banishment for life, and they were taken to the frontier and there

On the day after the trial the estates of Count de Monteroy were
bestowed upon Arthur by decree signed by the queen regent and the queen.
He went at once to the palace to receive the document, and implored the
regent to take back the gift.  "I have no intention, your majesty, of
remaining in Spain after the conclusion of the war, and the gift would
be a burden to me.  I could not look after the estates, nor see to the
welfare of my tenants.  I hope that in time, when all these matters are
settled, your majesty will be able to recall these unhappy men and
replace them on their estates. Doubtless an amnesty will be granted at
the end of the war, and I trust that your majesty will be able to
include even these malefactors, who will, we may be sure, be moved by
your clemency to become faithful servants of yours."

"But a queen cannot be ungrateful, cavalero."

"Your majesty, it is sufficient for me to know that I have your
gratitude, and I shall always be proud to know that I have been able to
do you and your daughter service, therefore I implore you to take back
this gift."

"I cannot refuse any petition from you," the regent said, and, taking
the deed of gift in her hands, she tore it in two; "but in some way, at
least, we must manifest our gratitude."

Three days later Arthur received a business notification from a banker
in the city stating that the sum of a hundred thousand crowns had been
paid by royal order to his account, and five thousand crowns to that of
the soldier, John Roper. He felt that he could not refuse this gift, and
called at the palace and sincerely thanked the two queens for it.

"We feel, and shall always feel, that we are under the deepest
obligation to you, señor; and we have been permitted to show you but a
very small portion of it."

Roper was in the highest degree delighted.  He had now thrown away his
stick, and was able to walk fairly well.

"Well, Captain Hallett," he said, "I never thought, when I sailed on
that expedition from Liverpool, that I should come home at the end of a
few years with fifteen hundred pounds in my pocket; nor, when we sat
down to dinner on board that hulk, that through you I was to have such
good fortune."

"You must not put it in that way, Roper.  It has come to you through the
friendship that led you to give up your stripes in order to follow me,
and for the service you did in both the affairs in which we were engaged

"It is mighty little I did beyond following your orders. Now, sir, I
don’t care how soon we go back to England."

"Nor do I, Roper; but we must see this business out. From what I hear,
Maroto, Don Carlos’ commander-in-chief in the north, who appears to be
an unmixed scoundrel, is negotiating with Espartero for surrender.  He
has already seized and murdered six of the Carlists’ best generals, who
would, he knew, be opposed to his projects.  If the negotiations do not
fall through, there is an end to the Carlist cause in the north, and
Espartero will be able to move with his whole force into Aragon, in
which case he will speedily bring the contest to an end."

A week later Arthur was at a reception at Leon’s, when he observed a man
scowling at him, and, asking his name from a friend, learned that he was
Count Silvio de Mora.  He thought no more of the matter at the time, but
on the following morning a card, with the name of Don Pedro de Verderas,
was brought in to him.  He at once ordered Roper to show him up.  A
young man entered and bowed courteously, but waved his hand aside when
Arthur offered him a chair.

"I have come to you, señor, on the part of my friend Count Silvio de
Mora, who conceives himself to be seriously aggrieved by you."

"Indeed, sir! in what way?  I have never exchanged a word with him that
I am aware of, though I certainly observed that he was looking
unpleasantly at me last night."

"The count’s grievance is a very clear and distinct one, señor.  He was,
as you are doubtless aware, betrothed to Donna Mercedes de Balen.  That
young lady, as a consequence, he tells me, of her being captured by the
Carlists, wrote by the hand of her brother to say that the shock had
been so great that she was determined never to marry, but to spend her
life in good works.  The count, my friend, assented, though deeply
troubled by the decision.  The count now finds that by common report
Donna Mercedes--"

"Stay, sir," Arthur said sternly, "don’t let the name of Donna Mercedes
de Balen be brought into this matter.  The Count Silvio de Mora
conceives that he has a quarrel with me and demands satisfaction.  That
is quite enough as between two gentlemen.  I shall be perfectly prepared
to give him that satisfaction.  A friend of mine will wait upon you to
arrange the preliminaries."

"Nothing can be more satisfactory," the Spaniard said.  He and Arthur
exchanged deep bows, and he went out.

Arthur sat down to think deeply.  He was now twenty, with an experience
that made him feel years older.  Donna Mercedes was a year younger, and
gradually for a long time past he had been aware of the fact that it was
more than the friendship brought about by their close intimacy that he
felt towards her.  She was in all respects a charming girl.  She was
bright, pleasant, and natural, one of the acknowledged beauties of
Madrid.  He had often told himself that it would be wrong of him to
presume, on the friendship of Count Leon, to raise his eyes to his
sister, who was co-heiress with her sisters to large estates which had
been the property of her mother.  The queen’s remark about her blushes
when she mentioned him had often recurred to him, and had suggested to
him that possibly it was not mere gratitude she felt for him.  The
queen’s gift had placed him in a better position than before, so that it
would not be necessary to ask her to wait five years before he would be
able to support her in the style of life to which she had been
accustomed.  He had been intimate with the family in a manner altogether
contrary to Spanish customs, and it might well be that she had come to
care for him.

"Well, I will speak to her brother about it after this affair is over,"
he concluded; "and now I will send word to Don Lopez Parona.  I have
seen a good deal of him, and no doubt he will act for me."

He sent Roper off with a note, and an hour later the young man came in.

"Don Lopez," he said, "Count Silvio de Mora has forced a quarrel upon
me, and it is necessary that I should fight him. I have sent for you to
ask if you will be my second in the affair.

"With pleasure, Captain Hallett.  What arrangements do you wish made?"

"Well, I have been thinking it over.  I don’t pretend to be a really
good shot with the pistol, though I have practised a bit.  Do you know
whether the count is a good swordsman?"

"He has the reputation of being an excellent one."

"Well, I took lessons with the sword four years ago when I was at
Vittoria, but I have never used a straight sword since.  I don’t suppose
he is a better shot with the pistol than I am.  I wish you to say that I
have not touched a sword for years, but that if he will give me a
fortnight to practise I will choose that weapon; if he objects to that,
I will take pistols.  I fenced for nearly six months at Vittoria and
worked very hard, and my master said that I was really a good swordsman,
and had learned as much as a Spaniard would in two years.  I think with
hard work that I can get it back again in a fortnight."

Three hours later Don Lopez returned.  "I have arranged it as you
desired.  It seems the count knows nothing of pistols, and he is quite
willing to give you a fortnight to prepare for the encounter."

"Very well, then.  I will go this evening to a fencing school, and will
put in six hours’ work a day, divided into three lessons of two hours

"But that would be prodigious, señor!"

"If you feel my muscles you will, I think, admit that they can stand
pretty hard work."

Arthur went to the man who was considered to be the first teacher of
fencing in Madrid, and arranged to go to him three times a day--at eight
in the morning, at two in the afternoon, and at seven in the evening.
The master at first said that it would be impossible for him to practise
for so long a time.

"Well, at any rate, professor, I will try.  It is quite possible that
for the first three or four days I shall have to rest a bit sometimes,
but I think at the end of the fortnight I shall be able to work the six
hours a day without difficulty."

Arthur took off his coat and waistcoat, and turned up his shirt-sleeves.

"By San Martin, you have a wonderful arm!" the professor said.

"We play hard at school in England.  All our games demand strength and
activity, and it is not wonderful that our muscles are vastly harder and
stronger than those of your gentlemen, who would consider it _infra
dig._, when boys, to engage in any sport that would make them warm."

The professor felt the muscles of his right arm.  "Well, señor, if you
fence, as your muscles would seem to show, you need only a little
teaching to be one of the best swordsmen in Spain.  Then, too, your
height and age give you great advantage.  Well, señor, take the foil and
let me see what you know."

"Very good," he said, after a bout of two or three minutes. "You have
been well taught.  I can see that you are out of practice, and your
returns are not as quick as might be. However, if you work as you say,
that will soon be put right."

After the lesson, Arthur found his wrist recovering its suppleness, but
he was glad to stop before the second bout was finished.

"You will do, señor," the professor said, when he acknowledged that he
had had enough.  "I suppose you are working in this way for a purpose,
and I can tell you that I should be sorry to be your opponent."

Arthur’s wrist and arm were stiff the next morning, and he was not sorry
to follow his teacher’s advice and content himself with an hour and a
half at each lesson.

The first week Leon in vain endeavoured to find out from him where he
had spent his time.  "I used almost always to find you in," he said,
"but now, whether it is the morning or the afternoon, I find you away.
Of an evening you have often dropped in, but later than usual."

"I am rather busy just now, Leon, and of course go in every morning from
ten to one to Colonel Wylde’s office, and generally for an hour in the
afternoon; but things are so quiet, both up in the north and the east,
that he does not consider it necessary for me to start again at

"Well, the girls are always saying, ’What has come over Captain Hallett
the last few days?’"

"Tell them, please, that nothing has come over me, but that I have some
work that keeps me particularly busy.  In another ten days I shall have
brought it to a conclusion."

Arthur had no doubt that his antagonist had not altogether thrown away
his time, and that he too had been practising; but he thought that in
all probability this was confined to a little dilettante work lasting
perhaps for an hour a day.

At the end of the fortnight the professor announced that never in his
experience had he seen so strong an arm and so supple a wrist, and that
he believed Arthur could easily hold his own against even the strongest

"I myself am considered a good blade," he said, "but during the past two
or three days I have with difficulty held my own with you, and indeed
you have hit me oftener than I have hit you; so now you have done with

"Yes, professor; and I am greatly indebted to you for the time you have
spent upon me, and the trouble you have taken."

The professor shrugged his shoulders.  "You have paid me well for it,
señor; but it has been a real pleasure to me.  A teacher is always
interested in his pupil, and when he is fortunate enough to have a pupil
like you, he does not care what trouble he bestows upon him.  Your
fencing has been a revelation to me of what your countrymen can do.  I
speak not of the skill, but of the power to sustain fatigue.  When I
compare, señor, your earnestness, strength of muscle, and quickness of
wrist with the work of the young nobles and cavaliers who come to me and
flatter themselves that they are learning to fence, I can well
understand why you Englishmen are such great soldiers, and why you
spread yourselves over the world and conquer it.  Three centuries ago
the men of my race were great soldiers.  They were strong and hardy, and
they conquered well-nigh all Europe, till, unfortunately for themselves,
they fell across you, and from that time their downfall began.  You
fought against us in Holland, you fought with the Huguenot King of
Navarre at Ivry, you fought with us on the seas, destroyed our Armada,
captured Cadiz, and demolished our mercantile marine, and, as it would
seem, broke the spirit of our people; for from that time we have
steadily gone down.  It makes one sad to think of it."

                             *CHAPTER XVI*


On the morning of the fifteenth day after Arthur had received Count
Silvio’s challenge, the two seconds met and arranged for the duel to
take place at a distance of a mile from the town.  It was to be at seven
in the morning, so that there would be no fear of interruption.  Each of
the gentlemen was provided with a piece of string, the length of the
sword of his principal.  These were found to be as nearly as possible
the same length.  It was agreed that the count should bring a surgeon
with him, and that no other, save the seconds, should be present at the
encounter.  Don Lopez went round to Arthur’s chambers half an hour
before the time to start. Arthur had, the night before, told Roper of
what was going to happen, and given him instructions as to the disposal
of his horses.  "Take anything you like yourself, Roper.  What money I
have will be in that desk; you may take that to pay for your journey
home.  You will want it, as we both sent to England the sums we had in
the bank."

"I have no fear, captain, that I shall have to take any such step.  I
feel sure that no Spaniard is a match for you."

"You can’t know that, and certainly I have no reason to believe so.  If
it came to downright hard hitting I fancy I could hold my own against
most Spaniards, but in fencing it is a different thing; it is not a
question of strength only by a long way."

"Some of the Spaniards are good hardy men, captain, no doubt; but very
few of these will be found among the gentry, who pass the day in
sleeping, dawdling about, and smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
Well, I suppose, sir, there is no harm in my going out and taking up a
place where I can see what goes on?"

"None at all, Roper; I have no doubt that the count will have a number
of his friends to look on.  I am sure he expects to run me through
without trouble, and he will like to show off his prowess before his

They drove in a carriage to the place fixed upon for the encounter.  As
Arthur had expected, a score or two of gentlemen had collected near.  He
spoke to his second, who went up to that of his antagonist and said: "My
principal understood that this matter was to be kept private, and that
none but ourselves should be informed of it."

This was repeated to the count, who shrugged his shoulders and said: "I
mentioned it to a few friends, and no doubt they told others, but it
makes no difference whatever."


Arthur pressed his lips tightly together when the answer was repeated to
him.  "You want your performances to be seen, eh?" he muttered.
"Perhaps you will be sorry you have got so many witnesses before you
have done."

The preliminaries were speedily settled, and the two antagonists removed
their coats and waistcoats, and faced each other. The count began with a
few preliminary flourishes, intended to show off his swordsmanship, and
how lightly he thought of the encounter.  He was fully half a head
shorter than his antagonist, and the latter’s much longer reach would
have given him a decided advantage had they been equal in other
respects.  Arthur stood firmly on guard, contenting himself with putting
aside almost contemptuously the other’s play. He waited till the count
steadied down and began in earnest. Then, to the astonishment of his
antagonist, he took the offensive. In vain the latter tried to get
within his point; in vain he exerted himself to the utmost, springing in
and out; with scarce a movement of his wrist Arthur’s point played in a
little menacing circle.  There were no fierce lunges to be turned aside,
no openings left to be taken advantage of. Steadily Arthur advanced, and
foot by foot his antagonist had to give way.

In vain the count exerted himself to his utmost.  The perspiration
streamed from his face, and his expression changed from that of
half-contemptuous superiority to rage and uneasiness.  Again and again
the count felt that his adversary was but playing with him, and that he
avoided taking advantage of openings that had been left him.  His
opponent’s face was grave and earnest, but without any other emotion.
Little by little Arthur’s advance was accelerated.  In vain the Spaniard
attempted to stand his ground against the menacing point.  In spite of
his greatest efforts he had to give way, and was driven backwards across
the green sward on which the encounter was taking place, till he was
close to its boundary.  Then there was a sudden wrench, and his sword
was sent flying through the air.

Arthur lowered his point, and said in a quiet, deliberate voice that
could be heard by all the astonished spectators: "You seem to be a
little out of breath, señor; perhaps you would like to wait for three or
four minutes before we begin again?"

The count, white with rage and shame, walked and picked up his sword.

"Now, señor," Arthur went on, after a pause of two or three minutes, "we
will recommence the affair.  Hitherto I have but played with you, now I
warn you that I shall run you through the shoulder when I get you to the
other side of the field."

Again the singular scene began.  In vain the count endeavoured to circle
round his foe; in vain he tried to arrest his own steady retreat.  Move
as he would to change his position, Arthur with his long stride and
quick spring always kept in front of him.  In a quarter of an hour he
was driven back across the field; then for the first time Arthur lunged.
His antagonist’s sword dropped useless by his side as he ran him through
the upper part of the arm and shoulder.

"This may perhaps serve as a lesson to you, count, not to pick quarrels
gratuitously with strangers of whose force you are unacquainted.  Your
life has been in my hands a hundred times had I chosen to avail myself
of the openings, but I did not wish seriously to injure you.  You have
brought a number of gentlemen here to-day to witness your triumph: I
trust that they have been amused."

So saying, he turned and walked back to the spot where he had left his
clothes, put them on, and entered the carriage with his second,
beckoning to Roper, who was standing a short distance away, to get up on
the box.

"Truly you have astounded me!" Don Lopez said.  "I thought that with
your height and length of arm you would give him some trouble, but such
an exhibition as this was never seen!" and he burst into a fit of
laughter.  "The count won’t be able to show his face in Madrid again for
I know not how long.  The wound to his body is nothing, but that to his
pride is terrible.  He will never hear the end of it. To think that he
was driven right across a field as if he had been a pig under a
peasant’s goad, without a possibility of stopping; that he should have
been disarmed and played with, is too funny.  Of course, the thing will
get about all over Madrid.  You will have to be careful, though, Don
Arthur, how you go out after dark, or you may find yourself with a
dagger between your shoulders.  It would scarcely be in human nature for
a man to put up with being made a public laughing-stock without trying
to get his revenge, and certainly Don Silvio is not, from what I know of
him, likely to be an exception to the rule."

"Yes; no doubt I shall have to be careful.  I suppose one can buy such a
thing as a shirt of link armour in Madrid?"

"Oh, yes! there are plenty of them to be picked up in the shops where
they keep old weapons and curiosities; a good one costs money though."

"Money is nothing," Arthur said.  "If one gets such a thing one wants to
have as good a one, and at the same time as light a one, as money can
buy.  Would you mind getting one for me, Lopez?  I would rather not be
seen buying such a thing myself."

"With pleasure.  I will make a tour of all the shops where they are
likely to keep such things, and pick out the best that I can find for
you, and it is hard if I don’t manage to get you one by this evening;
although I think you are safe for a few days, for were you found stabbed
now, everyone would put it down to Don Silvio at once.  I should say
that he would hardly attempt such a thing in Madrid.  You are likely to
be in much greater danger when you go off to join the army again."

"Yes, I think that would be the case; but still, I would rather not risk
his beginning at once."

"Quite right!  I certainly should not if I were in your place."

On reaching his apartments Arthur sat down to breakfast with his friend.
Not until the latter had left did Roper make any allusion to the scene
he had witnessed.

"Now, Captain Hallett," he said, on returning to the room after letting
the visitor out, "what did I tell you it would be? I stayed at a
distance and roared with laughter.  It was the funniest thing I ever
saw--to see him dancing with rage, and you pushing him steadily
backwards with scarcely a movement of your sword.  It was worse than a
fight I once saw in the streets of Liverpool.  One of those bullying
fellows who stand at the corners of streets and insult passers-by pushed
against a quiet-looking chap that was passing him.  Well, sir, this
happened to be a noted prize-fighter, and the way he gave that fellow
pepper was worth walking a good many miles to see.  There is no fear of
your having to fight another duel while you are out here."

"I think not, Roper; but at the same time I shall have to be careful.
When a Spaniard cannot get revenge any other way, sometimes he hires an
assassin to put a dagger between his enemy’s shoulders."

"Well, sir, I must take to going out with you, and we must not be out
after dark."

"I am going to have even a better guard than you would be.  I have asked
Don Lopez to get me a shirt of mail.  People used to wear them a good
deal in olden times, and I feel that I shall be all the safer for using
one for a bit."

"That will be a good plan, sir; still, at the same time, it might be
advisable for me to keep near you.  I may as well be doing that as
anything else, and if there is to be any sticking with knives I should
like to have a hand in it."

"Very well, Roper; at any rate, you can walk with me when I am going
anywhere.  Of course, I cannot tell always at what hour I may be
returning, and I should not like to keep you waiting about for hours."

"Oh, you could tell me the hour before which you would not be leaving,
captain, then I would be at hand at that time. I may as well smoke my
pipe there as anywhere else.  The chances are that I should always find
someone to talk to."

Three hours later Leon came in.

"What is this you have been doing?" he said excitedly.  "I have been to
the club, and nothing else is being talked about but a duel between you
and Count Silvio de Mora.  They say it was the strangest fight ever
seen--that you drove him across the meadow, then disarmed him, and told
him to get his breath; then drove him back again; and finally, after
sparing him fifty times, you ran him through the shoulder."

"These are about the facts of the case," Arthur replied quietly.  "I
should have been very glad if nothing had been said about the affair,
and I arranged that no one but our seconds and the surgeon should be
present.  Instead of that, the count chose to tell some thirty or forty
of his friends; no doubt he thought to make an example of me.  The
consequence is, as you say, that the affair has got all over the town,
to my great annoyance."

"But what was the quarrel about?"

"It was about a private matter, and I would rather that you did not ask
me to tell you more; enough that he forced it upon me."

"But, my dear Arthur, it seems to me that this must affect me.  Why
should the count have fixed a quarrel upon you? If he had forced one
upon me, on account of Mercedes throwing him over a year ago, I should
not have been surprised; though I don’t know why he should have done so,
as he appeared to have taken his dismissal in very good part.  Why
should he quarrel with you?"

"Because it was his fancy, I suppose, Leon."

"Tut, tut!" the other said warmly.  "It seems to me that this is a
matter that concerns my family, and I must really ask you, my dear
Arthur, to tell me frankly how it occurred."

Arthur sat silent for a minute.

"Well, Leon, I may as well ask you a question now which I should have
asked you shortly.  I have long loved your sister Mercedes.  I have
refrained from speaking, for three reasons.  In the first place, because
I am very young.  You have chosen to laugh at me when I said so, but in
point of fact I am only twenty."

"Only twenty!" Leon said incredulously; "I have always taken you to be
as old as myself."

"And I have told you that I was not so.  I repeat, I am not yet twenty,
and am therefore only a year older than your sister.  The second reason
I have regarded as more serious: I am an Englishman, and should
necessarily take her home if she married me.  In the third place, I was
not in a position pecuniarily to ask her to be my wife until I was
five-and-twenty and came into my estate.  The last of these reasons has
ceased to exist by my having received from the queens a present of one
hundred thousand crowns for the service I rendered them.  I had begged
them very strongly not to offer me any reward for that service, but
Christina said that it was impossible for them to remain under so great
an obligation to me.  In spite of that I should have still refused, or,
if I found that I could not do so, have handed over the money for the
benefit of the poor; but the thought that it would at least remove one
of the obstacles that stood in the way of my asking you for your
sister’s hand, decided me in accepting it, as it would enable me to keep
her in a position similar to that which she has held at home, until I
come into my estate.  That estate was worth at my father’s death about
one thousand English pounds a year.  Then there is, of course, a good
house and grounds, and the accumulation of the income during the past
ten years will have amounted to a sum which would enable me to double
the size of the estate. Therefore, I have only the first two
difficulties.  It is for you to decide whether these are insuperable.
So, Leon, I ask you now for the hand of your sister, and I can promise
that, if you grant it and she consents, I will do all in my power to
make her happy."

Leon rose and grasped Arthur by the hand.  "Nothing can give me greater
pleasure, my clear fellow, than to grant the request you have made.  I
shall, of course, be sorry to lose her, but England is not so far from
Spain, and I doubt not that you will bring her over to see us sometimes.
I and my sisters may even visit you occasionally in England.  There is
no one to whom I would so gladly see her united, for you have fairly won
her.  You saved her from death, and I have ever since hoped that some
day you would claim her.  As to her feelings I can, of course, say
nothing, but I am not altogether blind, and it has long been evident to
me that she thinks of no one but you.  As to money, it is a secondary
matter, though I do not say that it is not an advantage that you should
have an income of your own, and not owe everything to her.  She has,
however, a not inadequate portion, as my mother was an only daughter and
a wealthy heiress, and her fortune will be divided between my three
sisters: her share would amount roughly to some seven or eight thousand
crowns a year.  There is but one drawback to the match, and that is the
difference of religion.  You know how bigoted we Spaniards are; we do
not allow any Protestant place of worship to exist, save only the
private chapel of your ambassador; and the priesthood will move heaven
and earth to prevent this marriage taking place.  Indeed, it seems to me
that the only plan will be for me to take her to England, and for her to
be married there. However, the obstacle is not a serious one in my eyes.
That you are a Protestant is amply sufficient to show that there are as
good men of one religion as of another.  Well, will you come with me at

"I will come this evening, Leon.  I would rather it had not been settled
to-day, when I have just been engaged in shedding blood.  However, that
was not my fault.  Will you be alone this evening?"

"Yes, so far as I know."

"Then I will come in after dinner.  I am more nervous about this than I
was before meeting Count Silvio.  You see, you have so long made up your
mind that I was a man, while I have been thinking, and still feel, that
I am only a boy."

"Nonsense, Arthur! you stand over six feet.  You have the strength of
two ordinary Spaniards.  You have accomplished marvels and won the
gratitude of queens.  It is perfectly ridiculous for you to talk in that
way.  Well, then, I shall expect you this evening.  Mercedes and the
girls have gone out this morning, and no doubt she will, in the course
of her visits, have heard of your prowess to-day, which will be a good
introduction, although I do not think she will be surprised in any way,
as her confidence in your abilities to do anything you undertake is

Don Lopez came in late that afternoon.  "I have seen quite a perfect
coat of mail," he said.  "It was made for a bishop of Toledo who had
many enemies, and is a hundred and fifty years old.  It is very light,
and can withstand any dagger thrust.  It is dear: the man wants five
hundred crowns for it, and declares that he will not take a penny less."

"Thank you, Lopez! that will suit me admirably.  I will give you an
order for that sum.  Will you ask him to send it round to me in the

Arthur was very nervous when he started that evening for Count Leon’s.
He still felt in many respects a boy, and in spite of Leon’s report, he
felt it hardly possible that Donna Mercedes could have come to love him.
He dressed himself in his evening suit with unusual care, but did not
start till the last moment.  He was shown up into the drawing-room as
usual.  Mercedes and her two sisters were in the room.

"I have to quarrel with you," the former said laughingly. "I hear that
you have been cruelly ill-treating a gentleman in whom I had once great
interest;--not only ill-treating him, but turning him into a
laughing-stock.  Now, señor, I demand that you tell us what it was
about, and why you have thus assailed a gentleman to whom, as you know,
I was once much attached."

"Were you much attached to him, Donna Mercedes?"

"Well," she said, pouting, "you know I was all but affianced to him."

"By your own wishes, señora?"

"Well, never mind about my own wishes," she said; "it is quite
sufficient that I was almost affianced to him.  Now I demand from you
again a true and complete history how this came about."

"Well," he said, "you can hardly expect, señora, that I should go into
particulars of this kind before your sisters--young ladies, who cannot
but be horrified by deeds of violence."

Mercedes laughed.  "Well, you will tell me some day, won’t you, what it
was all about, and why you so ill-treated him?  I hear that he will not
be able to show his face for some time in Madrid."

"I will tell you all that is good for you to learn," he said in a tone
of banter.  "I know that you must be grieving terribly over it."

"Of course I am, dreadfully!" the girl said.  "When I heard how you had
been treating him, I almost made up my mind not to speak to you again.
Ah! here is Leon, and looking as serious as a judge."

Leon came up to Mercedes, and to her surprise took her by the hand.

"Little sister," he said, "I have a very serious duty to perform.  I
have had another request for your hand."

The girl turned pale.  "You know," she said, "that I do not intend to
marry, Leon; I have told you so over and over again."

"That may be so, sister; but I believe that ladies change their minds in
these matters not infrequently.  The gentleman who is your suitor is not
unknown to you.  He is of good blood and honourable position.  You will,
perhaps, anticipate his name.  It is the Cavalero Captain Arthur
Hallett, a Knight of Isabella of the first class, and a Companion of the
order of Fernando the Catholic."

The girl’s face, which had been set with a mutinous expression, changed
suddenly, a deep wave of colour rushed over her face, and her head

"He has my willing consent to the alliance, Mercedes; indeed, I know of
no one in the world to whom I could so willingly commit you and your

"I know, señora," Arthur said, "that I am very unworthy of so great a
gift, but at least I can promise to do my best to make you happy."

The girl lifted her head suddenly.  "Do not say that you are unworthy,"
she said.  "It is I who should say that.  Have you not saved me from
death?  Have you not saved Spain from being ruined?  It is I who feel,
above all things, honoured by your love."

Then Leon said, with a slight smile: "I don’t think that there is any
occasion for me to lay my orders upon you on the subject.  Take her,
Arthur.  I can trust her happiness in your hands with a certainty that
my confidence will not be abused;" and he gave her hand to Arthur, who
bent down and kissed her.

The two younger girls clapped their hands loudly.  "Oh, Arthur!" Inez
exclaimed, "I shall never call you Don Arthur again.  We are pleased!
We always knew that Mercedes was fond of you--anyone could have seen
that with half an eye, but we did not know what you felt towards her.
We are pleased, I cannot tell you how much!  I believe we are more
pleased than she is."

"Now, you madcap!" her brother said; "suppose you two come in with me to
the next room, and let us leave these two young people alone."

"And did you really doubt that I loved you?" Mercedes said a short time
afterwards.  "I have been so afraid of showing it too much; but after
being carried in your arms all that journey, I knew that I could never
marry anyone else.  If you had not asked for me before you went away, I
should have assuredly gone into a convent."

Half an hour later the others returned to the room, and they held a long
conversation together.  It was finally agreed, in view of the opposition
that would be raised by the Spanish clergy on the ground of the
difference of religion, that the engagement should be kept quiet for a
time, and that things should go on as they were.

"It cannot be many months before this war is over," Leon said, "and you
will be returning to England.  You will necessarily be away a great
deal, and it will avoid much trouble and argument if you assent to the
matter being kept quiet."

Both Mercedes and Arthur agreed that it would be better so, as they felt
sure that there would be a vehement opposition on the part of the clergy
if a member of a noble family contracted a marriage with a heretic.

To Arthur’s surprise, when he called next morning, Mercedes, who
received him alone, said with a flush, "Good-morning, Arthur!" in
English.  He looked at her with surprise.

"Do you mean to say that you understand English, Mercedes?"

"I have been learning it for the past year," she said in imperfect
English, but with a pretty accent.  "I loved you, Arthur, after you had
saved me, and so I loved everything English; and as I had plenty of time
upon my hands I have spent two hours a day ever since in learning it.  I
had no difficulty in finding a mistress, for several English families
settled in the town after the last war."

"And you thought, perhaps, that it would come in useful, Mercedes?"

"I did not quite like to think that," she said, glancing at him; "but it
seemed to me that perhaps, as I loved you so much, you might some day
come to love me.  I never quite thought so, you know, but I could not
help sometimes hoping it.  Anyhow, sir, it is quite enough for you that,
whatever was the reason, I have learned English; and now, when we are
together alone you must always talk it with me.  I want to get to speak
quite perfectly before I go to England and meet your friends."

"You really talk it very fairly now," he said, "and you must not be in
the least afraid that anyone will find fault with you."

"I suppose you have heard," Leon said a few days later, "that Don Silvio
is still in Madrid.  They say he will see no one."

"I shall feel rather glad when he is gone, Leon.  He is evidently a
revengeful fellow; that is quite clear by the way in which he fixed a
quarrel upon me.  He won’t do anything himself, but I think he is quite
capable of hiring a ruffian to put me out of the way.  I know that
plenty of unprincipled characters are to be found in the city who would
willingly do the job for a few dollars."

"I have no doubt about that, and I was intending to speak seriously to
you on the subject.  Things are still very quiet, but I dare say Colonel
Wylde would send you to one or other of the armies if you were to ask

"I am not at all disposed to go until I am obliged to; I am enjoying
myself a great deal too much for that.  But I have taken precautions.
Roper comes with me every evening to your house, and meets me at the
door when I go away; and, moreover, I have bought a shirt of mail.  It
is a splendid example of the best sort of work of that kind.  I have put
it on the table and tried to drive a knife through it, but, striking
with all my force, I simply broke the weapon and did not injure the
chain.  I put it on now whenever I go out after dark."

"I am very glad to hear it.  No amount of strength or bravery can save a
man from the hands of an assassin, and a good mail shirt is worth a
score of guards, for a man who bides his time will always find a chance
sooner or later."

"That is how I look at it, and I can assure you that I am far too happy
at the present time to be willing to throw away the smallest chance."

Three days later Don Lopez called at Arthur’s rooms.

"I have heard this morning that Don Silvio has gone out of town.  Now
you will have to look to yourself.  So long as he was here I considered
that you were safe, for if anything happened to you suspicion would at
once fall upon him. Now that he is away, people might suspect as much as
they liked, but it would be extremely difficult to bring the matter home
to him."

"But I should hardly think he will do anything more in the matter,"
Arthur said.

"I think quite the contrary," Lopez replied.  "If you had simply met him
and wounded him, the thing might have passed off quietly.  That would
have shown that you were the better swordsman, and there would have been
an end of it.  But you have made him the laughing-stock of the town.  It
will be a joke against him all his life that he was driven about like a
sheep by a man whom he boasted he was going to kill like a dog, and he
will never get over it.  No one could stand such disgrace with
equanimity, but of course it is infinitely worse for a man as proud and
as touchy about his family as he is."

"I will look out, but I don’t think any precautions will be of much
value.  If a man wants to stab you, he is sure to find an opportunity
sooner or later.  However, I have my coat of mail, and I rely more upon
that than on any vigilance on my part or on Roper’s."

Two days later, when Arthur was returning home from Leon’s, two men
sprang out from a dark entry and struck at his back.  Sharp exclamations
broke from them as, instead of their knives burying themselves to the
hilt, they struck on a hard substance.  Arthur was nearly knocked down
by the force of the blows, but, springing round, he seized both men by
the throat before they could recover from their surprise.  Roper, who
was walking some ten paces in the rear, rushed up.

"All right, Roper, I have got them!" Arthur cried, and, squeezing their
throats, he dashed their heads together with all his strength two or
three times, with the result that as he released his hold they fell to
the ground insensible.

"I think we will walk on, Roper.  I must have pretty nearly broken their
skulls, to say nothing of half-choking them. If we were to give them
into custody it would be an endless affair, and I might be kept here for
months.  They will certainly not repeat the experiment, and whatever
attempt Don Silvio may make next, it will not be in the same direction."

The next morning he told Leon of what had happened.

"I don’t know whether you did right to let them go, Arthur. There is
nothing to prevent this fellow from trying again in some other way."

"Nor would there have been if I had given them into custody.  You may be
sure that his bribes would be large enough to secure their silence as to
who had employed them, and they would simply have declared that they
only attacked me to obtain possession of any valuables I might have
about me. Don Silvio is rich, and it is a hundred to one that, before
the trial came on, the men would have escaped.  A hundred pounds would
bribe any jailer in Spain.  If by accident this failed, he would bribe
the judges, so that nothing would ever come out against the villain who
set the men on me, and I might be kept dancing attendance on the courts
for months."

"That is true enough, Arthur.  Still, the matter would be kept hanging
over his head, and until it was settled he would be hardly likely to
make another attempt upon you.  However, we need not discuss it now that
you have let the fellows go scot-free."

"I have not let them go scot-free, I can assure you.  In the first place
I nearly strangled them, and in the second I am by no means sure that I
did not fracture their skulls."

"That sort of man has got a very hard skull," Leon answered. "Probably
you would have fractured mine if you had dashed it against somebody
else’s with those muscular arms of yours, but I have doubts whether the
head of a professional bravo would not stand even such a blow as that--I
won’t say with impunity, but at least without any very serious damage."

"Don’t say anything to Mercedes about it, it would only fidget her.  And
I can assure you it does not disquiet me. The mail shirt has
indisputably proved that it is knife-proof, and when Don Silvio receives
the reports from these two gentlemen he will see that all attempts to
dispose of me in that way will be in vain.  I give him credit for
ingenuity, and it is quite possible he will hit upon some other idea.
However, I trust that I shall be able to meet it, whatever it is; and
indeed I shall be somewhat interested to see what his next plan may be."

"What do you say, Arthur, to my mentioning this affair at the club, and
saying loudly that I have no doubt whatever it is the outcome of your
duel with him?"

"My dear Leon, that would simply entail his challenging you, and the man
really doesn’t fence badly.  It was only my superior length of arm and
sheer strength that overbore him."

"I could refuse to fight him," Leon said.

"No, I don’t think you could, and certainly I should not like you to do
so.  You and I may feel perfectly convinced that this attack upon me
last night was his work, but we have no absolute proof of it.  The fact
that I beat him in a duel simply shows that I am a much better swordsman
than he is, and is no reflection upon his character.  So you see, if you
were to bring this accusation against him, without having a shadow of
real proof, I doubt if you could refuse to meet him.  You see, the man
has a large circle of friends and relatives, and possesses much
influence.  You were willing to accept him as a brother-in-law, and
although just at present the town has a laugh against him, that would
not prevent his friends from rallying round him were you to bring such a
terrible accusation against him as that of his setting assassins on me."

"No, I suppose not," Leon said regretfully.  "You know, Arthur, I feel
more grateful to you than ever, for it is evident now that you not only
saved Mercedes from death, but from marriage with a man of whose real
character I was altogether ignorant.  How grieved I should have been had
she been tied to such a man, who would assuredly have shown himself in
his true colours sooner or later!"

"Yes, she has certainly had a narrow escape, Leon, though I cannot help
thinking that in any case you would have learned more of him before the
marriage came off."

Leon shook his head.

"I don’t see how I could.  He bore a very respectable character, and
indeed was thought highly of.  That he should have picked a quarrel with
you is not altogether unnatural in the circumstances, and really this
attempt upon your life is the only thing I have against him.  It is a
thousand pities now that, instead of treating him as you did, you did
not run him through and have done with him."

"I don’t know that it has made much difference, Leon.  He has, as you
say, powerful friends and connections, and whereas, if he had fallen in
a duel with yourself or any other noble of his own rank, they would have
thought no more of the matter, they would certainly have attempted to
avenge his death if I, a foreigner and a heretic, had killed him.  The
Church counts for a great deal, and I believe he is a very rigid
Catholic; therefore the chances are that there would have been a
terrible row over it, and I might have had to leave the kingdom, which,
in the present circumstances, would be particularly disagreeable to me."

"Well, perhaps you are right," Leon said.  "The really unfortunate part
of the affair is that he should have taken it into his head to resent
the fact that Mercedes did not keep to her resolution of remaining
single and perhaps going into a convent."

"But you did not guarantee that she would, Leon?"

"No; but you know, in that letter that you wrote and I signed, we
certainly gave him to understand that she broke on the engagement on
those terms."

"Yes, that was so.  But I imagine that a young lady has the right to
change her mind without being called to account for it."

"Yes, that is all very well, but, you see, the gentleman has also some
sort of right to resent it.  Well, it is useless to say any more about
it.  You have let the fellows go, and whether for good or evil the
matter is concluded as far as they are concerned."

                             *CHAPTER XVII*


A priest was sitting at a table in a second-class café when a gentleman
entered and came up to the table.

"Good-morning, count!" the priest said.  "I received your note asking me
to meet you at this place, and here I am."

"Thanks, father!" the other said, as he took a seat beside him and
ordered coffee.  He waited till it was brought, and then went on: "I
wanted to see you about a rather delicate matter that concerns you, and,
I may say, the Church."

The priest looked surprised.

"You are, I know," the count went on, "the spiritual adviser of Count
Leon de Balen and his family."

"I can hardly say of the count," the priest said with a smile, "for,
like too many young noblemen of his age, he does not trouble me with his
confessions; but of the ladies, yes."

"May I ask if Donna Mercedes comes very often to confession?"

"Well, my son, unless you ask for some very particular reason, that is a
question I should not care to answer."

There was a ring of dissatisfaction in the priest’s answer that the
count was not slow to notice.

"I have a reason for asking," he said.  "You know, father, that I was at
one time, I will not say actually betrothed, but very nearly so, to
Donna Mercedes.  She broke off the affair under the plea that she had
made up her mind to remain single and to devote herself to good works."

"So she told me," the priest said, "and I highly approved of her

"May I ask, father, if she has repeated that statement to you of late?"

"She has not come to me frequently of late," the priest said in a tone
that showed it was a sore point with him.

"I thought so," the count went on.  "Well, father, you can hardly help
noticing that for some time past a young English adventurer has been
frequently at the house."

The priest nodded.

"He is a friend of her brother’s.  It is a matter that I have regretted,
as I have considered that so close an intimacy with a heretic is not
seemly; but this cannot affect Donna Mercedes."

"I should say, father, that it does, very seriously.  I have information
of what takes place in the house, and I can assure you that if not
already engaged, it is certain that Donna Mercedes will be betrothed to
this adventurer before long."

The priest uttered an angry exclamation.

"It would be a grave scandal, a terrible scandal," he said, "for the
daughter of a noble house to be betrothed to a heretic!"

"And a serious loss to the Church too," the count said smoothly.  "If
this marriage could be prevented, doubtless she would revert to her
previous intention of entering a convent; and I need hardly say that she
is an heiress, and that her revenues would be better employed in the
Church than by this young heretic."

The priest nodded.  The fact was too evident to need argument.

"I have done my best to prevent it," the count went on, "by challenging
this young upstart to a duel; but, as you may perhaps have heard, he
proved himself the better swordsman. I have, therefore, resolved to lay
the matter frankly before you, in order that you may, if you choose, put
a stop to what, as you say, would be a grievous scandal."

"I do not see how I could do so," the priest said gloomily. "It would be
useless for me to speak to her brother, who is most to blame, for he
should not have permitted so close an intimacy to arise.  Nor do I think
that I should succeed with Donna Mercedes herself.  She is, I regret to
say, of a somewhat headstrong disposition.  I have more than once spoken
to her about this strange intimacy between her brother and a gentleman
who is at once a foreigner and a heretic, but she has always replied
that it was a matter on which I should speak to her brother and not to
her, as it was he who had brought him to the house.  And once when I
tried to press the matter she said, in a tone that was not altogether
seemly, that he had saved her life, as of course I had heard--though,
for my part, I doubt whether Cabrera would have carried his threat into
execution--and that she certainly would not take any step to induce her
brother to close his doors to his visits."

"No, father, I did not think for a moment that any persuasions would
turn this unhappy girl from the course on which she seems to be bent."

"What, then, do you propose?  I am willing to take any steps that would
put a stop to this deplorable state of things."

"Well, father, you know that, although some laxity has been shown of
late years, the laws against infidelity to the Church are still in

"That is so," he said.  "But this young man is, it appears, an agent of
his government; and though we could assuredly use these laws against a
native, we could scarcely put them in force against a commissioner of a
friendly country."

"That I foresaw," the count said; "but what cannot be done openly can be
done privately.  There can be little doubt that if this young adventurer
were shut up in a cell in a monastery for a few years, Donna Mercedes,
when all trace of him was lost, would revert to her original intention
and enter a convent, in which case her property would go to the Church."

The priest was silent for some time.

"It is a daring plan," he said, "one of which I certainly could not
approve did I see any other way of saving this unfortunate girl from
eternal perdition, which would doubtless befall her.  Were she to marry
this English stranger, no doubt she would in time adopt his religion.  I
must think it over. It would be a grave step to take, and if it were to
be discovered it might cause a serious scandal; at the same time
something might be risked for the sake of this young lady’s eternal

"I do not think that the risk would be worth taking into consideration,"
the count said.  "There must be plenty of cells in your monasteries
where he could be confined without the smallest fear of discovery.  He
would, of course, be well treated; and after Donna Mercedes had taken
the veil he might even be released on taking an oath never to divulge
where he had been, or to make any complaint as to his treatment.  He
would, doubtless, be glad enough to regain his liberty on those terms.

"When he disappeared, suspicion would naturally fall upon me, for it is
well known that I have great cause of complaint against him.  People
would say that I had had him quietly removed--a grievous suspicion to
have to bear; but I would do so cheerfully in order to save Donna
Mercedes from this young adventurer, whom her brother has so foolishly
and incautiously allowed to lead her away.  I have no doubt that I shall
be watched for a long time; but assuredly no suspicion whatever could
fall upon the Church of having come to the lady’s rescue."

"Certainly her marriage to this heretic would be a terrible scandal,"
the priest said, "and one to be avoided by every possible means.  Well,
my son, I will think it over, and will lay the matter before higher
authorities.  Will you meet me here again in a few days’ time, when I
shall probably be able to give you an answer?"

"Good, father!  I feel at any rate that I have only done my duty in
endeavouring to save this young lady, whom I sincerely esteem and
respect, although there are no longer any relations between us.  It
appeared to me that it was a matter in which the Church should
interfere; and having now laid it before you, I feel that my conscience
is relieved, and that I have no further interest in the matter."

"I see, my son, that your opinion is an entirely disinterested one, and
that you are acting simply in the interest of this young lady and of the
Holy Church."

The count and the priest met again two days later.

"My son, the matter has been decided upon.  I have laid it before my
bishop, and he agrees with me that it is incumbent on the Church to take
every means to prevent this young lady from going to eternal perdition.
The monastery in which this young man shall be confined has been settled
upon.  Perhaps you can tell us the best way in which he can be secured,
for he is assuredly a man of exceptional strength and not likely to
suffer himself to be carried away without a severe struggle."

"That is so, father.  The matter is not without difficulty," the count
said.  "After nightfall he never goes out without being attended by a
pestilent knave, his servant, and the two could not be overcome without
a veritable battle.  He must, therefore, be taken in the daytime.  If
you like, father, I will undertake that part of the business, although
it is not to be done without some difficulty and danger.  He must be
enticed by a fictitious message to some quiet house.  Here six men will
be waiting for him, and as soon as he enters they will fling themselves
upon him and overpower him.  They will then bind him, and leave him;
then, when it is dark, either a carriage, or a stretcher carried by four
lay brothers of the monastery, can come for him and carry him off, it
makes but little difference to me whither, and I would rather not know,
so that I may be able to swear that I have not seen him since the day we
met, and that I am wholly ignorant of his whereabouts. If you will be
here every day at this hour, I will come and tell you when the bird is

"So be it, my son, and indeed we shall all feel grateful to you for the
service you will have rendered the Church."

The next morning Arthur received the following letter:--

"Señor Hallett, the writer of this letter has become aware of a plot
against you and a certain young lady in whom you have a great interest.
If you will call on him at twelve o’clock, he will be awaiting you on
the second _étage_ of the Number 2 Strada de Barcelona, the first door
to the right. He prays you to be silent as to this rendezvous, as his
life would be forfeited were it known that he had made this
communication to you."

The street was a central one and largely frequented, so no thought
entered Arthur’s mind that there could be any danger in attending at the
rendezvous; and accordingly at a quarter to twelve he left his house,
carrying, however, a brace of pistols in his pocket.  On arriving at the
place indicated, he passed through the open doorway and ascended the
stairs to the second floor, then he rang the bell of the door to the
right.  It was opened by a little old woman.

"Come in, señor," she said; "you are expected."

He entered; she closed the door behind him, and led the way to an inner
room.  He was about to go in, when there was a rush of footsteps behind
him, and four men flung themselves suddenly on to his back, the weight
and impetus of the charge throwing him forward on to his face.  Before
he could recover from his surprise and attempt to struggle, a rope was
thrown over his head, pulled down to his elbows, and then tightened, and
in a minute he was bound and helpless.  He was carried into the room and
the knots more securely fastened, his wrists being bound tightly behind
his back, and his ankles lashed together.  Then two of the men left the
room, and the others remained sitting with their knives in their hands.

Arthur cursed his own folly in not having let Roper know where he was
going; and yet, as he told himself, it was but natural that, having been
informed that the plot affected Mercedes, he should have kept the matter
to himself.  That he had fallen into the power of Count Silvio he did
not doubt for a moment; and yet he thought that, unscrupulous and
revengeful as he might be, he would hardly venture to put him to death.
Every moment he expected him to appear, but the hours went slowly by.
He had been gagged as soon as he was bound, and no effort he had made
had sufficed to get the gag from his mouth.  From time to time he heard
footsteps as people went up and down to the floor above, and if he could
have freed his mouth he would have shouted, in spite of the knives with
which his guards menaced him.  At length the light faded and the room
presently became dark.

Half an hour after night had fallen he heard a ring at the bell.  One of
the guards answered it, and four figures in monks’ clothes and with
hoods over their heads entered. They brought a stretcher and laid it
down beside Arthur, lifted him upon it, and fastened a strap across his
shoulders and another across his legs; then they lifted the stretcher
and bore him away.  He was greatly puzzled by the proceedings. These
might be men employed by the count and disguised as monks--he could
hardly believe that they were really monks. He was carried for a long
time, but as a cloth had been thrown over him, he could form no idea
whatever as to the direction in which his bearers were proceeding.  When
they stopped and knocked at a door, however, he calculated that the
journey had occupied at least three hours.  They might therefore have
come miles from the city, but on the other hand they might have wound
about, and so might not be a hundred yards from the place where he was
captured.  A door opened, and after a pause they moved on again.  Then
Arthur felt that they were descending some stairs.  When they reached
the bottom they turned into another door, lowered the stretcher to the
ground, and took off the cloth.  The ropes that bound Arthur were
loosed, a lantern was placed on the floor, and without a word the whole
party of monks left the cell and locked the door behind.

Arthur got up at once, picked up the lantern, and examined his prison.
It was a cell some ten feet square.  At one side was a stone pallet, on
which some straw had been thrown, otherwise the floor was perfectly
bare.  The only window was an opening near the ceiling about a foot long
and six inches wide, with two strong bars across it.

"Well," he said to himself, "this certainly looks like a monk’s cell, or
rather the prison cell of a monastery, and it appears as if I had not
fallen into the hands of the count after all.  Things are bad enough in
all conscience, but even to be in the grip of the Inquisition, which
does not, so far as I know, exist now, would be better than to be in the
hands of such a scoundrel.  Still, it is strange that the Church should
have interfered with me.  I know how bigoted the clergy are, and how
unscrupulous, but I should not have thought that they would have dared
to meddle with a British officer. However, I can hardly believe that
they will attempt my life; I don’t see what good it could do them.  I
would give a good deal to know what their game is.  Well, I suppose it
is useless to bother about it at present.  I am so stiff both in the
wrists and ankles that I can scarcely stand.  At any rate, it is civil
of them to leave me a light."

In a quarter of an hour the door opened again, and two monks came in.
They put a large jug of water and a dish of fried beans on the floor,
and retired without speaking.

"Let me think," Arthur said to himself.  "This is Friday, so I suppose
it is fast day.  I hope this is not a sample of their ordinary fare.
However, as I have had nothing since breakfast, it is not to be

He ate a hearty meal, and then lay down on the stone bench, and was soon
asleep.  When he awoke, daylight was shining through the little window,
and he got up and looked round again.  Certainly the prospect was not a
cheering one; the walls were perfectly bare, and broken only by the door
and the window.  As the cell was twelve feet high, the window was
altogether beyond his reach.  He would have given a good deal to be able
to look out and see whether he was in a town or in the country, and
whether or not the window opened into a courtyard.  This question was,
however, presently settled by the sound of the rumble of distant
vehicles.  At long intervals one passed the window, and occasionally a
foot-passenger went by.  Arthur therefore concluded that he was in a
town, and was equally certain that the window looked into a quiet and
little-frequented street, and was probably level with the pavement.
This, however, gave him but little clue to the position of the
monastery, for there were, he knew, at least a dozen such buildings in
the town.  Still, it was something to know that he was within reach of
human beings.


By standing against the opposite wall he could now obtain a glimpse
through the window.  He saw that the wall of the building must be at
least two feet thick.  Having made what observations he could, he sat
down on his bed and waited for what should come next.  Presently his
breakfast was brought in; it consisted of bread, some fried meat, and,
to his satisfaction, some coffee.  An hour later the door opened again,
and a tall man with a harsh ascetic face entered.

"You perhaps wonder why you are confined here," he said. "I have come to
tell you.  You are an obstacle to the designs of the Church.  You have
seduced the affections of one of her daughters, and in order that she
may be saved from perdition, which would be her doom if she were to many
a heretic, it has been thought necessary to seclude you here.
Doubtless, in time she will recover from the glamour that you have
thrown over her, and will deeply regret her passing aberration; will
again become an obedient daughter of the Church, and perhaps find a
happy refuge in its cloisters.  When this takes place you will be
released, but not until then.  We do not desire to be harsh with you;
you may be supplied with books and other indulgences, but a prisoner you
will remain until she enters the walls of a cloister."

"I understand, señor," Arthur said quietly; "and perceive that it is the
lady’s revenues, and not her soul, which are the main object of your
care.  Well, señor, you have made me a prisoner, but I have sufficient
faith in the young lady’s affection to believe that until she is
absolutely convinced of my death she will not turn her thoughts towards
the cloister, and that therefore you are likely to have me on your hands
for a very considerable time.  At least, I am grateful to you for your
offer of books, and shall be glad if you will furnish me with a

"I may say further," the man said, "that you will be instructed in the
tenets of our religion, and that should you see the error of your ways
and ask to be received into the bosom of the Church, possibly all
further objection to your union with the young lady in question may be

Arthur laughed.  "Your opinion of my principles must be a very low one
if you can suppose that I shall be tempted to abandon them even with
such a bait as you have been good enough to hold out."

"Naturally that is your opinion at present," the monk said coldly; "it
may alter after a few months of confinement."

"I fancy not, señor; and I warn you that no more serious offence can be
committed than the capture and imprisonment of an officer in the British

"I am prepared to take that risk, señor, and you are not likely to be
released, whatever happens, until matters are arranged.  I will now
leave you to yourself."

When the door had opened Arthur observed that a number of monks were
grouped in the passage outside, evidently prepared to fall upon him
should he offer any violence to their prior, or attempt to make his

When the prior had left, Arthur sat down and thought the matter over.
The look-out was certainly not bright.  He saw that he had very little
chance of making his escape from the monastery.  It was no doubt a large
building, with any number of passages and corridors, in which, if he
could escape from the cell, he would simply be lost, so that long before
he could find his way to the gate, he would be overtaken and captured
again.  One thing, however, he might do.  No doubt for a short time the
two monks who brought him provisions would be accompanied by others, but
when they found that he showed no signs of trying to effect his escape,
they would become less vigilant.  In that case he might possibly
overcome these two men, make his escape to the story above, and drop out
a note from the window which might be taken to Leon, who would assuredly
obtain his release without delay.  He could tear a blank page out of one
of the books with which he was to be provided, and write a message upon
it.  His pencil had not been taken from him, nor his pocket-knife.

The days went on.  He had no reason to complain of his treatment; the
food was good and wholesome; the monks who attended to him brought a can
of water daily, carried away his basin and emptied it, and swept out his
cell.  A mattress and blankets had been substituted for the straw, a
supply of such books as he asked for had been brought to him, and it was
evident that his captors desired that he should have nothing to complain
of save his loss of liberty.

After ten days he resolved to carry his plan into execution. Tearing out
a blank leaf carefully, he wrote upon it:

"I am confined in a monastery.  I can give no information as to its
position save that it is in the town.  Apply to regent for an order to

He then signed his name, folded up the slip of paper, and on the outside

"One hundred dollars will be paid by the Count Leon de Balen to anyone
who will bring this note to him."

He then waited for a favourable opportunity.

He had, one day when meat was served to him, abstracted the knife and
hidden it in his stocking.  The monks, when they removed the tray, did
not notice that anything was missing, but he observed that on the
following day they carefully felt the mattress.  By this he guessed that
the loss of the knife had not been discovered till that morning.  The
monks, fearing that they would be blamed for carelessness, had very
likely protested that they had brought it as usual into the kitchen with
the tray; and had only for their own satisfaction looked to see if it
were hidden there.  Arthur had taken it without any definite view of
using it; but he thought that if this attempt to obtain succour failed,
it might come in useful in any future plan he might devise.

Next day, when his attendant monks were bending to place his basin and
tray on the floor, he suddenly rushed at them and hurled them both to
the ground.  Then he hurried out of the cell.

Four monks were standing in the passage.  Running at full speed he
dashed at them.  Two of them were levelled to the ground; he cast the
other two aside, and ran on.  At the end of the passage was a staircase.
Up this he darted, and found himself in a corridor similar to that
below.  A number of doors opened from it.  He turned the handle of one
of these, ran across the room to the window, pushed his hands through
the bars, and dropped the note.  A moment later he heard a bell ring
loudly and sharply.  Doubtless one of the men he had overthrown had at
once run to it, and was giving the alarm, which would send all the monks
to the entrance. He had done what he had to do, so he walked quietly
downstairs again.  Five of the monks were huddled in the passage, and at
his approach they took to headlong flight.  With a laugh Arthur entered
his cell and sat down.  Presently a terrified face appeared at the door
and looked in.

"Come in," Arthur said cheerfully.  "I trust I did not hurt any of you.
I merely wished to see whether my muscles were in working order.  I find
that they are quite right, thank you, and, having ascertained that, have
come back to my cell.  You can, if you like, shut the door again, for
this room is rather draughty when it is open."

The door was immediately shut, and the bolts shot.  Arthur wondered what
the next move would be.  No one came near him for two hours; then to his
surprise he heard a grinding sound against the door, and half a minute
later the head of an auger appeared.  Another hole was made touching the
first, then a fine saw was thrust through.  This began to work, and
presently a piece was cut out of the door some six inches wide and
eighteen inches long.  After a pause the piece was fitted in again.
Next he heard a sound of screws being driven in, and then he saw that
hinges had been fastened to the flap, so that it could be opened and
closed from the other side at will.  Then he heard two bolts fixed to
it.  The noise went on for some time, and he knew by the sound that two
more bolts had been screwed on to the door itself.

He saw at once that the monks intended in future to pass his food in to
him, instead of entering his cell.  This proved to be the case.  The
flap was opened and his tray handed in, together with a basin of water.
"They are determined that the monks shall not be exposed to assault and
battery again," he laughed.  "I have evidently given them a scare.  Now,
I have nothing to do but wait and see if anything comes of my note."

A fortnight of anxious waiting passed.  His food, books, and water were
handed in regularly, but no one entered his cell.  He listened anxiously
whenever he heard the slightest stir in the monastery that would tell
him that search was being made, but no such sound met his ear.  At last
he came to the conclusion that his note could never have reached Leon’s
hands.  Being but a scrap of paper, it might have escaped the eyes of
passers-by and been trodden in the mud; or again, the prior might at
once have suspected the reason of his strange conduct and despatched a
monk to pick up the note.  Several times he wrote the same message on
pieces of paper, rolled them up into a small ball, and threw them
through the window in the hope that some passer-by might be attracted by
the sight of the pellet, and open it to see what was in it.

Till the end of a fortnight he remained patient, spending most of his
time in reading; but when he finally determined that the letter had gone
astray, he threw aside his books and decided that he must rely upon
himself.  It was evident that if he was to escape at all, it must be
through the wall under the window.  He had read of escapes by prisoners,
and some of these had been performed in circumstances at least as
difficult as those that confronted him, and with means no better than
the knife he had in his possession.  Much must, of course, depend upon
the thickness of the wall and the materials of which it was built.  He
could see by the window that it must be at least two feet thick, and if
constructed of solid blocks of stone there would be no possibility of
getting them out, as his knife was but some six inches long in the
blade, so that it would be necessary to wear the wall away into dust.
Of course, if there were no other way, this is what he must attempt.

But for the precaution that had been taken to prevent his escape, this
would not have been possible, for the monks, when they came in, could
not have failed to notice the gradual crumbling away of the wall.  There
was, however, one other chance.  As this was a subterranean, or almost
subterranean room, there was not likely to be a vault under it;
therefore it was probable that the wall was not continued far under the
bottom of his cell.  It might be one foot, it might be two, but the
solid stonework would not go much deeper; it would rest upon a bed of
concrete, or possibly of loose rubble.  Once through that, he would
probably find nothing but earth between him and the pavement above.
These pavements were in most of the side streets mere cobble stones.  He
therefore set to work now to examine the stones forming the floor.  They
were about two feet square, and after some consideration he determined
that the best to operate upon would be that at the foot of his bed, as
this would be hidden from the sight of anyone looking through the trap.
His greatest difficulty would be to get rid of the materials that must
necessarily be removed.  Stones he might manage to clear out by throwing
them through the window with sufficient force to carry them across the
street; earth, he finally concluded, he would have to dispose of in the
same way.

In order to do this, however, he would have to reach the window.  Of
course, if he were certain that the cell would never be entered, he
could pile it up against the wall to the right and left of the door, for
the hole was too narrow to admit a head.  However, this was a risk that
he would not like to run.  The excavation would occupy many weeks,
possibly many months, and it was hardly likely that so long a time would
elapse before a visit was made to his cell.  After much thinking he
concluded that if he took up two of the slabs, and placed one against
the wall and the other upon it, he could just reach the window.  Then,
by fastening the end of a blanket to one of the bars, he could easily
pull himself up by it and throw the mould outside.

This was certain to be slow work, and a few handfuls of soil scattered
on the road would not be likely to attract any attention.  Examining the
floor carefully, he saw that the slabs of stone were by no means even,
from which he concluded that they were not laid in cement, probably not
even in concrete, but that the ground had been simply smoothed down and
the flags laid on it, and perhaps hammered down. The cells had probably
not been intended as living rooms, but were used as prisons, perhaps as
far back as the days of the Inquisition.

Having once made up his mind and carefully examined the stones, Arthur
lay down on the floor and prepared to act. He had just finished his
breakfast and handed out the tray as usual, so he would not be disturbed
again for at least four hours.  He began with his knife to loosen the
stone at the foot of his bed, which was on the left-hand side of the
cell, and found to his satisfaction that the slabs were laid close
together, but not so closely that the knife would not in most places go
down between them.

The crevices were filled up with the dust of many years, and it took him
till dinner-time to clear this out.  He was gratified at finding,
however, that while in some places his knife encountered stones when he
thrust it deep, at other points he could push it down to the hilt
without encountering any obstacle.  This showed him that his conjecture
was correct.  The ground had simply been smoothed down, chips of stone
from the building thrown upon it and mixed with the sand, and on this
the paving had been laid down. Beyond the fact that his knife went lower
than the bottom of the stone, he could not tell how thick the floor was,
but he judged that it would probably be three or four inches.  It was
evident that he could not get this up by the mere leverage of the knife,
and he would only break the tool if he attempted it.

This he had expected would be the case, and after the dinner interval he
began what he knew would be one of the most tedious parts of the
undertaking.  It was necessary that he should scrape away part of the
stone in order to get his fingers under.  His pocket-knife was evidently
a better tool for this than the dinner knife he had hitherto used.  The
slab, so far as he could make out, was a sandstone, but how hard he
could not tell.  He began by dipping his handkerchief into his basin and
letting fall a few drops at the place upon which he intended to operate,
namely, next his bed.  He started very carefully, giving a sort of
rotatory motion to his knife.  Gradually the water he had dropped there
became a little turbid; this afforded him some encouragement, and he
worked steadily on till evening, by which time he had succeeded in
removing a piece of the stone an eighth of an inch deep.

After supper he began again, and continued the work far into the night,
for he was always furnished with a lamp.  At last he had increased the
hole to a depth of fully a quarter of an inch, and a width equal to that
of his four fingers.  Well satisfied with this result, he threw himself
on his pallet and slept soundly until the flap was opened and his
breakfast tray thrust in.  As soon as he had finished his breakfast he
set to work again, this time using the knife that had been handed in
with his breakfast, and which would not be demanded of him until he
returned the tray when he received his dinner. He was glad to make the
change, for his hands were blistered badly by the previous day’s work,
and the smoothness of the dinner knife was a relief to him; besides, he
saw that he had already worn away the point of his pocket-knife.

After a fortnight’s steady work he had the satisfaction of feeling the
knife go through.  In two more days he was able to get his hand in.  He
now cleared out some of the earth at the bottom, and then, putting his
hand below the stone, exerted his strength to the utmost, and was
delighted to find that it yielded.  He laid it down and executed a dance
of triumph, which would have astonished the monks had they looked in.

                            *CHAPTER XVIII*


It was evening when Arthur got up the stone, so he put it into its place
again after his delight had a little subsided, rubbed some dust into the
crevices, and then flung himself down for a long night’s sleep.  The
next morning after breakfast he set to work to remove the dust round the
next stone. When he had done this, he made a hole under it with his
fingers even more easily than in the case of the first.  He then
replaced it, and waited until his dinner had been handed in. Having
eaten this, he took up the two stones again, laid one upright against
the wall under the window, placed the other on the top of it, then took
a running jump on to this, at the same moment stretching his arm as high
up above his head as he could.  To his delight he found that he was able
to grasp one of the bars.  He got down, took one of the blankets, and,
again leaping up, passed an end round the bar and managed to grasp it
before he fell backwards.

This pulled the blanket half-way round the bar.  He caught hold of both
parts when he next sprang up, and was able without difficulty to raise
himself until his face was level with the window.  The look-out was
better than he had expected.  In front of him was a street, but on the
other side was a piece of waste ground.  Nothing could have been handier
for his purpose, as the stones and earth thrown on to this would
certainly attract no notice.  Having taken a good look he lowered
himself to the floor, relaid the second stone he had raised, and put the
other alongside it so that he could replace it in an instant if he
should hear footsteps coming down the passage.  Then he took the
mattress and bedding off the bench, for he resolved to spread upon the
bed all the earth and rubble he got out during the day, as it would be
dangerous to throw it out until dark.

After this he set to work with the dinner knife, and it was not long
before he had loosened the earth and rubble some inches deep.  This he
removed, and by night had excavated a hole two feet deep, spreading the
rubbish carefully, as he got it out, on the bed.  He had not made the
hole quite so wide as the stone, in order that this might have a support
when it was replaced.  Then he hung up one blanket as before, and placed
a considerable quantity of the earth in the other blanket and hauled
this up to the window, so as to save himself the labour of climbing up
afresh with each handful. Listening attentively, so as to be sure that
no one was coming along, he flung it with all his force through the
window. When he had disposed of all he had brought up he filled the
blanket again, and so continued until he had thrown out the whole.

On the following day he not only got out the earth to a greater depth,
but was able to push the trench under the adjoining slab, which was in
contact with the wall.  He got rid of the earth and stones as before.
Next morning he worked with renewed vigour, for the result of the day’s
labour would be to show whether the stone-work was carried down below
the level of the floor, or whether the wall rested upon concrete. The
third slab came up without difficulty, and, digging down by the wall, to
his great satisfaction he found that it rested on a foundation of coarse
concrete, which would no doubt be troublesome, but by no means
impervious.  He soon cleared out the earth and rubble to the same level
as the other part of the trench, and after spreading it as usual under
his mattress, he began the important task of picking out the concrete.
He had not been at work long before he found that in order to get room
to use both arms he must widen it out at the end against the wall.  This
caused a whole day’s delay.  The cutting of the concrete was toilsome,
and it took a week of almost incessant labour to make a passage
sufficiently large for him to crawl through.  Having ascertained that,
as he had expected, the ground beyond this was composed of mixed soil,
as that within the wall had been, with fragments of stone, he gave
himself a day’s rest before proceeding further.  It was now six weeks
since his imprisonment began, and he felt sure that it would require
only three or four days’ more work to get to the surface outside.

He wondered what his friends had been doing, and worried greatly about
the anxiety that Mercedes would have experienced.  This thought indeed
had frequently kept him to his work when he would otherwise have
desisted, from the fatigue he felt in working in the cramped position
which was necessary while getting through the concrete.  Roper, too,
would be in a terrible way, and Leon would be moving heaven and earth to
find some clue to his fate.  He wondered what they had been doing, and
in what direction they had been searching, for he would have disappeared
as suddenly as if the earth had opened and swallowed him, without
leaving a single clue.

One thing was certain: suspicion would fall upon Don Silvio.  Leon would
probably lay the case before the queen regent, and Don Silvio might not
impossibly be arrested on the charge of being concerned in his
disappearance.  He could not help believing that this man was at the
bottom of it, for, think how he would, no other reason for his seizure
presented itself.  Ostensibly he had been imprisoned in order that his
connection with Mercedes might be broken off, in which case she might
enter a convent, to the great advantage of its revenues.  But the
knowledge that there was an engagement between them was at present
confined to Leon and his sisters, for it had been agreed that it would
be much better to keep it quiet until the time approached for their
marriage, as Leon felt that the Church would use every effort to prevent
this from taking place.

Mercedes might indeed have spoken of it in confession, but it was far
more likely that Count Silvio, whose jealousy had been clearly aroused,
and who hated him for the result of the duel, had set the Church
authorities to work.  It was not probable that the prior of the
monastery had acted on his own responsibility.  It was not a monastery
that would benefit by Mercedes’ fortune, and mere zeal would scarcely
have prompted the prior to take so strong a step as to have him carried
off; doubtless, therefore, he was acting under superior authority.
Although the Inquisition had died out, and heretics could no longer be
tortured or brought to the stake, the Roman Church in Spain was still
almost as bigoted as in the olden days, and would assuredly not hesitate
to take steps to prevent what would be considered as the backsliding of
one of its faith. Knowing the enormous influence the priests still
exercised, the measure that had been taken with reference to himself
scarcely seemed extraordinary to Arthur, and he resented it rather
because he believed that Don Silvio was at the bottom of it than on
account of the outrage against himself.

After a rest of thirty-six hours, Arthur set to work as soon as he had
eaten his supper.  The lamp contained enough oil to burn all night, and
it was only by its light that he was able to work.  Lying on his stomach
in the hole he gradually drove the tunnel forward, being obliged
frequently to come out with the earth and rubble as he dug it down.
When he had got two feet beyond the wall he turned on his back and,
placing the lamp on his chest, began to bring down the earth above him.
Luckily the mould was firm and tightly packed, for while there was thus
no fear of sudden falls the walls stood upright and the earth dug out
like putty.  He had not the trouble of taking it out; as it fell he
merely pushed it back into the open trench.

By morning he could stand upright to his work.  As the bottom of the
hole was two feet below the floor he was now some four feet above it.
The labour had been very great, and although he had worked stripped to
the waist he had suffered much from the heat.  He rubbed himself with
his blanket, as he had done ever since he began the work, for had he
washed the appearance of the water would at once have aroused suspicions
that he was engaged upon work of this kind.  He dressed again, and was
ready to receive his breakfast, and after eating this he went soundly to
sleep.  He could scarce rouse himself sufficiently to get up and take in
his dinner when it came, and putting the tray down he at once went off
to sleep again.  At five o’clock he woke and ate his dinner, and when
his supper arrived he put that by till midnight.

He now set to work with renewed vigour, for if all went well he should
be free by morning.  He put two of the paving-stones against the sides
of his shaft, and, standing upon these, was able to bring down the earth
rapidly.  When he had dug two feet higher he trod the earth that had
fallen firmly down, and placing the stones on these, again mounted on
them. By twelve o’clock he could no longer reach overhead, and,
measuring from the level of the floor of the cell, found that the cavity
was now seven feet above it.  He now pulled out the paving-stones, and
set to work to dig some holes on each side of the shaft, in which he
could place his feet.  Having gained another foot by this means he went
out, ate his supper, and dressed himself.

He was certain now that he should be out before daybreak. Again he set
to work.  The earth came down fast under the strokes of his knife.  At
last, at about four o’clock in the morning, the blade struck against a
stone.  This he felt was round, and differed altogether from those he
had met with embedded in the earth.  Gradually he cleared the space
beneath it, and then found that a layer of stones closely packed
together formed the ceiling of his shaft.  He worked with renewed energy
until the whole of the earth beneath was cleared away, then he dug two
more foot-holes two feet higher than those he had last rested on.
Taking his place in these, he pushed with all his force with both hands.
The stones gave way at once, and his hands were in the air.  In another
minute the rest were cleared off, and, putting his hands on the edge of
the hole, he hauled himself up and was a free man.

In the joy of his heart he set off to run, but presently steadied down
into a walk.  It was a quarter of an hour before he came upon a church
familiar to him, and he was then able to direct his course to his
lodgings.  He had a key of the outer door, and, opening this, he felt
his way up the stairs until he reached his door.  Another key gave him
admittance here.  Opening the door of the sitting-room, he felt his way
to the mantel.  Here were always placed a flint and steel and a bundle
of slips of rag dipped in sulphur, for although phosphorus matches were
rapidly making their way in England, they were as yet unknown in Madrid.
At the first blow of the flint against the steel he heard a movement in
the next room, and as the sparks flew on to the tinder by the stroke, he
heard Roper exclaim "Who is that?" as he jumped out of bed.

"It is I, Roper!"

There was a perfect shout of joy, and then he heard the honest fellow
burst into a fit of hysterical sobbing.  A moment later the sulphur
ignited the tinder, and he lighted a candle.  The door of Roper’s
bedroom was open, and Arthur saw that he had sunk back on to his bed
again with his hands before his face.  He went in to him and put his
hand upon his shoulder.

"Roper, old friend," he said, "compose yourself.  Thank God, I am back
again safe and sound!"

"The Lord be praised!" Roper said, as, brushing his tears aside, he
stood up and grasped Arthur’s hands.  "It is almost as if you had come
back from the dead, sir.  I have kept on saying you would return, though
I knew in ray heart that I had lost all hope.  Why," he said, as they
went back to the light, "you are as black as a coal.  What has happened
to you?"

"It is only honest dirt, Roper.  I will go and have a thorough wash,
then I will tell you about it;" and he went into his own room, which
opened on the other side of the sitting-room.  By the time he came back
Roper had lighted three more candles, had partly dressed himself, and
had got out a bottle of wine and a glass.

"Get out another glass, Roper, and light the fire, then we will sit down
and talk it all over.  By the way, if you have anything to eat you may
as well put it on the table.  It is five hours since I have had supper,
and I have been doing some hard work since."

Roper hurried away to get the things together while Arthur changed his
clothes entirely.  Two or three shirts had been handed in each week to
him while he was confined in his prison, but he was glad enough of a
complete change.

"Now, Roper," he said, as he sat down, "we will eat and talk.  In the
first place, tell me about my friends."

"The count has been looking for you everywhere, sir. He has had the
whole police in search of you.  They have got Don Silvio under arrest,
but they cannot find out that he was concerned in your disappearance,
though nobody has any doubt about it.  Miss Mercedes has been ill.  She
was, I was told, in bed for a month; she is up now, but, as the servants
tell me, looking like a ghost.  However, I have no doubt she will soon
get round, now that you are back.

"The difficulty has been to know where to start looking for you.  No one
had seen you since you left this house one morning, some two months ago,
shortly after breakfast.  From that time you had disappeared as if the
earth had swallowed you up.  I always said, ’The captain will come back
if he is alive--bolts and bars won’t hold him’.  And I really believed
so for three or four weeks; but when time went on and there were no
signs of you, I began to think that you must have gone under.  If you
had, I knew it must have been directly you were taken, for before two
days had passed Don Silvio had been caught.  He was down at his place in
the country, and was able to prove that he was there at the date of your
capture.  Well, they kept him under arrest, thinking that if you did
come back you would be able to prove that he had a hand in it somehow."

"I believe he had, Roper, though I may say I have no shadow of proof.
Now I will tell you all about it;" and he went into a full history of
his capture, of his imprisonment, of his interview with the prior, and
of the manner in which he had made his escape.

"You have done well indeed, sir, to get out of that place as you did!
If I had been there, I should never have come out again alive.  Lord,
how you must have worked!  So the priests were at the bottom of it after

"Not quite at the bottom; for I have no doubt whatever that Don Silvio
put them up to it.  No doubt he said to them: ’Here is a young lady of
noble family with a fine income.  She wants to throw herself away on a
Protestant and a foreigner; if you can manage to keep him away from her,
she is pretty sure to go into a convent.  She said, when she threw me
over a year and a half ago, that it was her intention not to marry, but
to lead a religious life; therefore if you get her lover removed now, no
doubt she will do so.’  You see, there were two motives for getting me
shut up--one to avoid the grievous scandal of a Catholic lady of good
family marrying a heretic, and the second, that of getting possession of
her dowry.  Well, thank goodness, I have baulked them!  Has Colonel
Wylde been here?"

"No, sir; he has been up in the north ever since you disappeared."

"Has there been much fighting there?"

"None at all.  Maroto turned traitor and sold Don Carlos. He surrendered
on condition of a big grant of money.  His army dispersed, and Don
Carlos has crossed the frontier."

"And Espartero?"

"He has been made Duke of Vittoria, and is still in the north settling
things.  In the east there has been fighting, but only small affairs, so
you have not lost anything that way."

It was seven o’clock in the morning before Arthur had brought his story
to a close, and he now said: "You had better go at once across to Count
Leon’s--I dare say he will be up by this time.  Take him aside quietly,
and tell him that I am here, and that I leave it to him to break the
news to his sister as he thinks best.  When he has done so, I will, of
course, go round and see her."

Roper returned in half an hour with the count.

"My dear Arthur!  My dear Arthur!" the latter exclaimed, as he ran into
the room and embraced his friend.  "Thank God that you are back again!
I had given up all hope, and had no question at all in my mind that you
had been murdered quietly by the orders of Don Silvio, and been buried
in some obscure spot where your body would never be found.  I could not
at first believe what your man told me half an hour ago.  I fancy I took
him by the shoulders and shook him, and told him he was either mad or a
liar.  At last I was convinced that he was sane, and we hurried off
together.  We came too fast for talk, but I gathered from him that you
had been confined in a monastery."

"Yes, Leon; and except that I was kept a solitary prisoner in a cell, I
had nothing much to complain of.  I was frankly told by the prior that I
should remain there, however long a time it might be, until Mercedes had
taken the veil."

"The rascal!" Leon said wrathfully.  "That is just what we feared, or at
least something like it, when we agreed that your engagement to her had
better be kept private for a time.  Not, of course, that I ever dreamt
that they would attempt to carry you off, but I knew that they would
move heaven and earth to break off the match.  Now, please tell me all
about it."

Arthur again went through the story, and gave his reasons for believing
that Don Silvio was at the bottom of it.

"I regard that as certain," Leon said; "but that does not alter the
facts.  I shall have to take every care of Mercedes; they may try to
suppress her as they have tried to suppress you.  I have seen Queen
Christina several times, and she is intensely interested in your case.
We must go and see her this afternoon, and lay all the facts before her,
and I shall ask her to take Mercedes under her protection, which I am
sure she will do.  Even the Church would not venture to drag her from
the palace.  As to your affair, it will require a good deal of talking
over.  Of course, if you report what has happened to your government
they will kick up a tremendous row about it, but I don’t know that that
would be of any advantage either to her or to us."

"No, I can quite understand that, Leon; and it is the last thing I
should wish to do.  As you say, it will require a lot of thinking about
and talking over; but at the first blush it certainly seems to me that,
now that I have got away without further damage or injury than being
shut up for a couple of months, the best policy is to say nothing about
it; but, of course, we shall have to consider whether there will be any
repetition of it, and still more, whether your sister is likely to
suffer any persecution or to incur any risk of being kidnapped.  Of
course you have not told her yet that I have turned up again?"

"No.  She does not get up till ten o clock, and I thought it as well not
to disturb her; besides, I really knew nothing about it myself beyond
the fact that you had reappeared, and even of that I felt scarcely
assured until I saw you myself, for I had not entertained a shadow of
hope that you were alive. I will go and break the news to her now.  You
may come across in half an hour."

"Very well, but I shall not expect to see her; perhaps I had better not
see her at all to-day.  It may be well to break it to her very
gradually.  If you were to tell her that this morning you had obtained a
clue, and thought it possible that I had been carried away and shut up
in a monastery; then this afternoon you could further say that you
believed you knew which monastery it was in which I was imprisoned, and
that you intended at once to take steps to obtain my release; then
either this evening or to-morrow morning you could tell her the truth,
and take me in to her."

"I believe that would be the best plan, Arthur.  She has been very ill,
and is at present a mere ghost of herself; but she is of a cheerful
disposition, and although she has come to despair of ever seeing you
again, I am sure that she would eagerly grasp at any shadow of hope, and
once she has you again she will soon pick up."

"In that case I had better not come round to your house, Leon."

"No, I think not.  If any of the servants were to see you they might, in
spite of any orders that I might issue, make a hash of it in some way or
other.  I doubt whether they would be able to help doing so--by their
looks if not by their tongues, for you are a general favourite in the
house; and although no one has ever been told, I should think that many
must have some idea how matters stand between you and Mercedes.  As
Colonel Wylde is away, there can be no reason for your leaving the
house, and it is better that you should not do so, because you would be
sure to meet somebody who would know you; and as your disappearance has
been the talk of the town, they would carry the news home to their
families, and some of the ladies might take it across to Mercedes.  I
will be back again in an hour.  I will come round in my carriage, and
then we will drive together to the palace. To prevent any possibility of
someone spreading the news from there, I will give strict orders that
whoever calls to-day--no matter who it is--is not to be allowed to see
my sister.  Of course I shall not tell either of the girls, their looks
would let the secret out before they had been with her for two minutes."

Leon was back in the course of an hour.  "I have administered the first
dose of hope," he said, "and the effect has been wonderful.  Before that
she was sitting absolutely listless, taking no interest whatever in
anything that went on around her; now she is all flushed and excited.  I
began by saying that information had reached me that led me to believe
that you had been carried to a monastery.  I did this very gently and in
a roundabout way, but she leapt to her feet with her eyes blazing, and
insisted on knowing what were the grounds of my belief.  I was obliged
to tell her that I knew for almost a certainty that on the evening of
the day on which you disappeared, monks were noticed carrying a litter
through the streets.  I said that of course this might mean nothing, but
that it was certainly singular, and that I had already set a number of
men to work to find out where the monks had been last seen, and the
direction in which they were proceeding, and that I hoped by this
afternoon to get certain news.  I promised her that I would let her know
directly I did so. I argued that four monks would hardly be carrying a
dead man, nor could I see any reason why they should be carrying a
living one.  I said that a cloth had been thrown over the litter and
that no one could see who or what was beneath it. I left her walking up
and down the room in a state of great agitation, and I rather think it
would be better to change our plans and let her know the whole truth

"Perhaps so, Leon.  We will sit here for another half-hour, and then you
can go in and break the news to her little by little, till at last you
can tell her that I am in the house waiting to see her.  But I should
advise you, as we go along, to call at your doctor’s and take him with
you, in case the shock is too much for her."

"Perhaps that would be advisable," Leon said; "the anxiety and
excitement might be worse for her than the sudden joy would be."

Accordingly they drove back to Leon’s, and the count went into his
sister’s room, while Arthur went into the drawing-room, where the two
younger girls were sitting.  These leapt up with a scream as he entered,
and looked at him as if doubting the evidence of their senses.  He held
up his hand.  "It is I myself," he said, "but do not make a noise.  Your
brother has gone in to break the news to Mercedes."  Convinced that
their eyes had not deceived them, the girls ran forward and embraced him
affectionately, pouring out questions as to where he had been, and how
it was that he had returned.

"It is a long story," he said, "and I cannot tell it all now. I have
been shut up to prevent me from marrying Mercedes, and I have managed to
make my way out again; and as you can see by looking at my hands," and
he held them out, "I have done a lot of hard work in breaking out."

Both girls uttered exclamations at the blistered state of his hands.

"They are nothing to what they were after the first four or five days’
work," he said; "they really were bad then.  They have got pretty horny

"But who could have wanted to interfere between you and Mercedes?  No
one has any right to interfere with her except Leon."

"There are people who think they have a right to interfere," he said,
"and do interfere in most matters in this country."

"You look very white, Arthur," the elder girl said.

"Yes, I dare say; I have been two months in a cell with very little

"In a cell?" they repeated.

"Yes.  There was no great hardship in it.  I had books to read and very
decent food, so the only thing I had to complain of was my loss of

He chatted for a few minutes longer, and then the door opened and Leon
appeared and beckoned to Arthur to follow him.  "She knows that you are
in Madrid and free, and that you will be here in a few minutes.  You had
better leave her to herself for a little while to get calm.  Of course
she is greatly shaken, but she stood it better than I had expected, when
I went in.  I found that she believed I had not told her all, and was
prepared to find that I had really got some important clue as to your
whereabouts.  Of course that made it easier for me to tell her the truth

They talked for a short time and then Leon went out of the room, and a
minute later Mercedes ran in, and with a cry of joy rushed into Arthur’s
arms.  Leon came in ten minutes later, and found her sitting on a sofa
with her head on Arthur’s shoulder.

"It is almost worth while having been so unhappy, Leon," she said, "to
feel such joy as I do now."

"Well, I won’t say that, Mercedes; at the same time I admit that it is
very joyful to have him back again."

"I know nothing yet," she said, "of what has happened, or what has kept
him away from us.  I have been too perfectly happy at having him back,
to think of asking what he has been doing."

"He has been shut up to keep him away from you."

"To keep him away from me?" Mercedes repeated.

"Yes, dear.  It seems that it occurred to some of the worthy fathers of
the church that it would be a very sinful thing for you to marry a
heretic; and also that if this heretic were to disappear, possibly you
might take it into your head to enter a convent and bestow your wealth
upon the church.  Accordingly they seized him and put him into a cell in
a monastery, and informed him that he would have to remain there until
you had entered a convent.  As Arthur entertained quite different views
he set to work to escape from his cell, and after six weeks’ hard
digging underground, he this morning made his way out, and here he is."

"Is it possible," the girl said, standing up with wide open eyes, "that
it was the church that took Arthur from me?"

"Yes, dear; some unworthy members of the church."

"Arthur," she said, "when we are married and you take me to England, you
shall teach me what your church believes. I will never remain in a
church that has treated us so."

"We will talk about that, dear, later on," Arthur said soothingly.
"There are bad people and good in every church, and there is no reason
for changing because some of them may do wrong things.  If, some day,
you really come to think that our religion is the best, I shall be very
pleased, but it must not be because some men, in an excess of zeal for
their church, have somewhat ill-treated me."

Leon nodded approvingly.  "You speak rightly, Arthur. Many evil things
have been done in Spain by the priests. I believe myself that the
misfortunes that have befallen us are a punishment for the evil deeds
done in the name of religion here.  But, as you say, it is not because
evil deeds are mistakenly done in its name that the religion itself is
bad. I myself am no bigot--there are very few educated men in this
country who are so--and I fully recognized, when I first saw what
Mercedes’ feelings were towards you, that if she became your wife it was
possible that in time she would adopt your religion.  In all their main
features there is no great difference between the two creeds, and
certainly I should feel no great grief should Mercedes adopt your faith;
but I agree with you that it should be as the result of conviction, and
not merely because she has reason to complain of the action towards you
of certain fanatics.  Now, we will go in to the girls, who will be dying
to know what has taken place."

                             *CHAPTER XIX*

                          *MILITARY MOVEMENTS*

"Now, girls," Leon said, when Arthur had given a full relation of his
adventure, "you must understand that this story must not go beyond
ourselves.  Whether any steps will be taken in the matter must depend
largely upon what the queen regent and her advisers decide.  It is a
grave matter for the state to embroil itself with the church, and Arthur
has already told me that he will be guided entirely by their wishes in
the matter.  I thank him for his consideration. Angry as I am at what
has taken place, I feel that we ourselves could not but suffer were such
a grave scandal to get abroad, for whatever might be the results to the
people who have been concerned in this, we should undoubtedly be held in
some respects accountable for them; and it is certainly a serious matter
to quarrel with the church.

"The results might be very far-reaching.  If this outrage upon a British
officer were known in England, it would produce a most unfavourable
impression.  The cause of the queen has received warm support there,
British soldiers and sailors have been fighting for us; but there is
still a strong Carlist party in England, and these would certainly take
advantage of this affair to stir up public feeling against us.
Therefore I feel that we are all under a great obligation to Arthur for
volunteering to put himself in the hands of the regent, and to consent
to allow this business to be hushed up.  At any rate, you must preserve
absolute silence until we know what is to be done.  I am going to drive
to the palace now to lay the matter before the regent, and shall be able
to tell you more this afternoon.  Now, Mercedes, if you will take my
advice you will lie down for a bit; you have been ill, you know, and are
not yet strong."

"I shall soon be strong again," she said; "still, I shall take your
advice, for I do feel shaken, and I want to be bright this afternoon
when you come back."

Leon drove with Arthur to the palace, and the former sent in word to the
queen regent that he begged to see her in private audience.  A quarter
of an hour later they were shown into the room where she was sitting.
She rose with an exclamation of surprise on seeing Arthur.

"Why, where have you been, Captain Hallett?" she exclaimed. "I began to
give up all hope of ever seeing you again."

"It is a somewhat long story, your majesty, but if you will condescend
to listen to it I will tell it to you in full.  I have come not to
demand justice at your hands, but to leave the matter entirely to you,
to take any steps or no steps at all, as you may decide."

He then told the story, his narrative being frequently interrupted by
exclamations of anger from Christina.

"It is infamous!" she exclaimed, when he brought the story to an end;
"most infamous!  I thank you most heartily for having come direct to me
instead of sending your complaint home.  It is a very serious matter.
The church is already by no means well disposed towards me, and the
priests throughout the country have largely thrown their influence on to
the side of my enemies.  I have a council this afternoon, and shall
bring the matter before them; you have indeed added greatly to the
obligation I am already under to you by offering to leave the matter in
my hands.  Of course you have a right to large compensation for this
illegal imprisonment."

"I can assure you that I desire no compensation at all, your majesty; I
have already benefited very largely by your bounty.  The only thing I
would ask is, that if nothing is done, you will receive Donna Mercedes
at your palace and take her under your protection until we are married.
Having failed with me, the next attempt will be made upon her, and she
would find it a much harder task than I have to free herself from their

"That I will very gladly do, señor; and I don’t think that even the
church would venture to interfere with a lady under my protection.  If
it did, it would find me far less forgiving than you are."

The next morning Arthur received a message requesting him to go to the

"Your case was fully discussed yesterday, Captain Hallett," the queen
regent said, "and my council are all grateful for your magnanimity in
placing yourself in their hands.  They are fully sensible of the great
wrong that has been inflicted upon you, and of the very serious
consequences that might have ensued if you had chosen to place your case
in the hands of the British government.  I had sent to the prior of the
monastery of St. Isidore, and he was called before the council and
ordered to explain his conduct.  He did not in any way attempt to deny
the facts as stated by you, but declared that he was acting under the
orders of the bishop, whereupon an order was sent the latter to leave
the country at once and take up his residence at Rome until he shall
have received permission to return.  The council proposed to pay you ten
thousand pounds as an indemnity for the treatment you have received.  I
told them that I would inform you of their decision, but that you had
already expressed to me your determination not to accept one.  They were
a little incredulous," she said with a slight smile, "which is not to be
wondered at, considering that there was not one of them who would, in
similar circumstances, have felt the slightest hesitation in accepting
such an offer.  However, I told them I would see you to-day and lay the
offer before you."

"Which I need hardly say, your majesty, I decline.  I own that I am well
pleased to hear that the author of this affair has received some
punishment.  After that, madam, I do not think it will be necessary for
Donna Mercedes to avail herself of your kind protection.  The issue of
this order for the bishop to go into exile will be so strong a mark of
your majesty’s displeasure that there can, I think, be no fear whatever
of any further steps being taken by my enemies.  Donna Mercedes has been
very ill, and I think she will be more likely to recover her health
speedily in the society of her brother and sisters than in the
atmosphere of the palace, where, however great your majesty’s kindness,
there must be a certain amount of stiffness and ceremony."

"I should have been glad to have her with me," Christina said, "but
there is no doubt a certain amount of truth in what you say.  However, I
will have her here frequently, so that it may be understood that she is
a special friend of mine, in which case I am sure no one will try to
interfere with her."

Colonel Wylde returned that evening, and after hearing the whole story
from Arthur, expressed his warm approval of the course he had taken.

"It would have been most damaging to the royal cause," he said, "if this
affair had been made public in England; and though I think you would
have been more than justified in accepting the amount offered as an
indemnity, I can but admire your disinterestedness in refusing it."

"And now, colonel, I am ready to start for any point where you may
require my services; I have been idle too long already."

"Well, the war is practically over in the north.  That scoundrel Maroto
has arranged terms for himself, and for a few of his friends, with
Espartero, but has made no conditions whatever for the soldiers who have
fought so hard for Don Carlos.  However, these have been permitted to
return to their homes, and at present Espartero is occupied in settling
affairs there and in preparing his army to take the field in the spring
against Cabrera.  A number of small isolated campaigns are going on in
Aragon.  We have already three or four commissioners there, but it is
perhaps as well that you should proceed there at once, as it is now
three months since I have had any reports from you to send in with mine.
I have, of course, been obliged to report your disappearance, and shall
now mention that you had been pounced upon by some enemies of the queen
and held in confinement, but that you had effected your escape."

That evening Arthur heard from Leon that Count Silvio had been released
from the close observation he had been subjected to for the past two
months.  "It is believed," he said, "that he was the instigator of the
action against you, but there is no proof whatever that this is so, and
there is therefore no excuse for keeping him further under arrest. He
has, however, been ordered to retire to his estates, as there is at
least the strongest ground for suspecting that he was concerned in the
attack upon you by those street ruffians, and his whole conduct has been
in the highest degree suspicious."

"I shall be glad to know that he is away, Leon.  Of course I am not sure
that he was really concerned in my imprisonment; the priest who is
Mercedes’ confessor is likely enough to be at the bottom of it."

"I think so too, and have told Mercedes that she had better choose some
other confessor."

"I think the two men were set upon me by him; but I am inclined to own
that I was in the wrong in the matter of that duel.  It was somewhat
reasonable that he should have been jealous, and it would have been fair
if I had contented myself with running him through the shoulder instead
of making him a perfect laughing-stock.  I was irritated by his manner,
and by the way in which he had brought two or three dozen of his friends
to see him run me through. Still, I own that I was wrong, and if the man
would come and offer to shake hands I would not refuse to do so."

"Then you are a good deal more forgiving than I should be," Leon said
heartily; "and I should like nothing better than to fight him myself.
However, I admit that there is something in what you say; certainly he
had some ground of complaint against Mercedes.  I felt that it was hard
upon him when I wrote begging him to break off the engagement. Of
course, I have been glad that I did so since I have come to know him
better, and feel that Mercedes had a very fortunate escape."

"Don’t let her go out unless she is accompanied by one of her sisters as
well as her duenna."

"No, I will take care of that; she shall be well looked after, I promise
you, and I don’t suppose she herself will care for going out except to
the palace.  It will be well for her to go there pretty often.  She is
fond of Christina, and she will feel herself that her intimacy there
will be a great protection to her."

In Catalonia the Carlists were still very strong.  The royal army
numbered at least fifty-five thousand men.  About seventeen
thousand--half of whom were regular troops--garrisoned the permanent
forts, and of the remainder twenty-five thousand belonging to the local
militia were scattered among no fewer than two hundred and seventeen
fortified villages and small towns.  These were of no military
importance, but if they had not been defended, Cabrera’s forces, which
were marching about the country, would have swept them bare of their
inhabitants, carrying off all the stores they contained, and burning
them to the ground.  It was therefore necessary to garrison them, not
only because this diminished the supply of stores available for the use
of the enemy, but because it enabled contributions to be levied for the
queen’s cause. Undoubtedly the holding of these places answered those
purposes, but, upon the other hand, the employment in this manner of
practically the whole army in Catalonia completely unfitted it for all
operations in the field, and enabled Cabrera to carry on his operations
without meeting with any efficient opposition.

In this way he captured place after place, massacring the greater
portion of the inhabitants and striking terror into the others.  Arthur
had been despatched to join the command of General Van Halen, who was
occupied principally in endeavouring to victual Lucena, and in trying in
a feeble way to fortify the castle of Onda.  The operation progressed
slowly, for although the war had been going on for years no tools were
available, and it was necessary to send to Cadiz to purchase them.
Colonels Lacy and Alderson were with Van Halen when Arthur arrived, and
after staying here for a short time he joined the command of General
Ayerbe, who was endeavouring to mitigate the Carlist system of
atrocities.  On this subject Arthur exchanged several letters with
Cabrera.  General Ayerbe was also endeavouring to prevent the Carlists
from carrying out the fortification of Segura, an important place In
Aragon, as it lay on the line of march to Teruel and Alcaniz. Parra was
lying near, but refused to co-operate with Ayerbe, and Van Halen
determined to march on Segura himself and lay siege to it.

Before he arrived, however, Ayerbe, having been reinforced, defeated the
Carlists at a place two hours’ march from the town, drove them back from
their new works, and in his report of the action mentioned that Captain
Hallett had rendered material services and had led a small party of
cavalry in a brilliant charge which decided the fate of the day. Serrano
brought up a battering train from Saragossa.  It consisted, however, of
only three 16-pounders, a 12-inch mortar, and a 9-inch howitzer, and all
the ammunition he could obtain amounted to fifteen hundred shot and one
thousand shell. It was a long business to bring up even this feeble
train. The weather was inclement in the extreme, and when he arrived in
front of Segura--the garrison of which had been very strongly reinforced
by Cabrera--he found that his force was wholly insufficient for the
attack upon the place, and that the town itself had been burnt by the
Carlists to prevent it from affording any shelter to the besiegers.

The surrounding country had been wasted for many miles, and large bodies
of Carlists were seen upon some adjoining heights.  He therefore
consulted with the officers commanding the various armies, and these
unanimously declared that it would be madness to attempt a siege in such
circumstances. Abandoning the idea, therefore, he embarked upon a series
of long and fatiguing marches, by which he caused the Carlists to give
up the siege of several places.  He did not, however, mitigate the
animosity of his rivals, who succeeded in obtaining his recall on the
ground of his having abandoned the siege of Segura, which they said
might easily have fallen into his hands.  Nogueras succeeded him, but
was speedily displaced by Ayerbe.  He, however, did not long retain the
command, which was given to O’Donnell, an active and energetic young

Owing to the absence of any decisive action Arthur remained at
head-quarters, receiving orders from Colonel Lacy, who was the principal
of the four English commissioners attached to the armies of Catalonia
and Aragon.  They hailed the appointment of O’Donnell as affording some
grounds for hope that at last something like vigour would be shown in
the operations of the army, which was at present scattered about the
country, employed rather in collecting provisions for their own
subsistence than in harassing the enemy.

"If it wasn’t that the fighting in the north is finished, and that a few
more months will see the end of the whole affair, I should throw up my
commission and go home," Arthur said one day to Roper.  "This really is
sickening; but having gone through so much of it, I should not like to
leave until it was all over."

"No, sir; I should like to see the Carlists smashed up altogether before
we go.  Still, it is dull work.  Of course, while we are staying down
here in Saragossa we get plenty to eat and drink, but when we are away
in the country it is pretty rough work, and a beggar would turn up his
nose at the food we have to eat.  I should not mind if there was really
anything to do, but these Spaniards are so pig-headed that they won’t
take advice.  They have a big army if they would but gather it together
and go at the Carlists."

"Yes, it certainly seems like that, Roper; but you must remember that a
big army requires a tremendous transport train, for it would have to
carry everything with it.  At this time of year little food is to be
obtained, and in fact the people of these villages and little towns
scarcely do any cultivation of the land, for they cannot tell who will
reap what they have sown.  Then, too, most of the country is
mountainous, the roads are everywhere abominable, and even if we had a
train sufficient to carry the supplies, it would be so large and
cumbrous that its tail would not have left the halting-place when the
head arrived at its destination; and you must remember, that if we
concentrate, the Carlists would do the same.  A portion of them would
harass us along the whole line of march, while another would make
excursions wherever they pleased, for they march light, and could go
three miles to every one that we can cover.  There is no doubt that this
dispersal of our force over so large an extent of country, and among so
many towns and villages, is a grievous mistake; but it is very difficult
to see what else can be done, for if we gave them no defence these
places would all lie at the mercy of the Carlists, and would be obliged
in self-preservation to go over to them, thus enormously increasing
their recruiting-ground, and enabling them to get stores wherever they
marched.  If Cabrera would but gather the whole of his force together
and allow us to do the same, and risk everything on a pitched battle,
the matter would soon be brought to an end.  But, as it is, I am afraid
we shall have to wait till Espartero arrives before the business can be
wound up."


The first step General O’Donnell had to undertake was the relief of
General Asnar, who was shut up by the Carlists in Lucena.  Having
received large reinforcements he started for that place, marching
unencumbered by baggage.  The enemy’s first position near Lucena was
easily carried.  Five battalions then attacked the enemy’s left, which
occupied a position that would enable them to take the Christino advance
in flank. When this movement was successful, two battalions attacked the
right of the Carlist position, while O’Donnell placed himself at the
head of the rest of the troops, who advanced with loud cheers to the
charge over very rugged ground and under a very heavy fire.  The
Carlists would not wait to stand a bayonet charge, and abandoned their
ground, leaving the road open to Lucena, where Asnar with his troops had
been imprisoned for twenty-two days.

This was a brilliant piece of fighting, and immensely raised the spirits
of the royal troops, who found that they were at last commanded by a
man, and not by incapable and almost imbecile dummies.  On the following
day O’Donnell marched to Murviedro, though he had not had more than
three hours’ continuous rest since he had left Saragossa.

A fortnight later he proceeded to take possession of the heights beyond
Arteza, his intention being to besiege Tales, which was important
because it commanded the water-supply of the town of Onda.  The position
of the enemy was a strong one: his right was on a hill called the Pena
Negro, and on a round hill on a slope between it and Tales; his centre
was upon the Castle of Tales; and his left on precipitous heights. From
the last-mentioned the Carlists were driven without loss, after offering
but a very slight resistance.

Arthur had been requested by Colonel Alderson--an engineer officer, who
was now senior commissioner--to reconnoitre the ground beyond these
heights to ascertain whether the place could be better bombarded from
the rear.  Roper, as usual, rode with him.  They had gone some distance
when they saw two horsemen approaching at full gallop.  As these were
apparently unaccompanied, Arthur paid but little attention to them, and
rode on until he heard a loud and imperious order to stop.  Reining in
their horses they awaited the arrival of the two unknown men.  They were
within fifty yards when Arthur exclaimed, "It is Cabrera himself!  Well,
I am not sorry to meet him."

Cabrera, as he approached, gave a shout of satisfaction as he recognized
Arthur.  "Well," he exclaimed, "you have got the better of me twice;
this time it will be my turn!"

"That is as it may be," Arthur replied.  He saw Cabrera draw a pistol
from his holster and he did the same, and the two weapons flashed out
together.  Arthur felt a stinging pain, as if a red-hot iron had crossed
his cheek.  Cabrera dropped his pistol, having evidently received a shot
in his right arm, but he drew his sword with his left, and rode at
Arthur.  Both combatants fought with fury--Cabrera animated by a burning
desire for vengeance, Arthur by the thought of the importance of killing
Cabrera, for he was the spirit of the war, and after his death the
Carlist movement would soon come to an end.

The combat was short but desperate.  The disadvantage of having to use
his left arm greatly hampered Cabrera.  In point of skill he would have
been in any case inferior to his opponent, but for a time the fury of
his assault counterbalanced this.  Parrying three or four furious cuts,
Arthur delivered a heavy blow on his antagonist’s left shoulder,
inflicting a severe wound and striking him from his saddle.  Cabrera
leapt to his feet again.  Arthur dismounted and demanded his surrender.

"Never!" the Carlist said.  "Cabrera will never be taken alive!"

Roper had by this time disembarrassed himself of his antagonist by
running him through the body, and he now rode up. Cabrera was half-mad
with rage.  Both his arms were useless. Just as Arthur was about to
throw himself upon him and overpower him, Roper shouted, "Mount, master!
mount and ride!  Fifty of his fellows are upon us."

Looking round, Arthur saw that a body of men were riding furiously
towards them, and were a little over fifty yards away.  He hesitated a
moment, and then leapt on to his horse, shouting to Cabrera: "Next time,
señor, we will finish what we have begun!" and then rode off.  Several
shots were fired, but, leaning low in their saddles, they galloped away
at full speed, and, both being well mounted, were speedily beyond
pursuit; and, indeed, most of the Carlists had gathered round their

On regaining their camp Arthur reported what had taken place to Colonel
Alderson, who at once took him across to O’Donnell.

"You have done well indeed, Captain Hallett," said the general; "and
though it is a grievous pity that you did not kill him, which would have
been more to our advantage than the winning of a pitched battle, it will
lay him up for a time, and that will be more to us than a reinforcement
of ten thousand men.  I thank you most heartily, sir, in the name of the

Cabrera, indeed, after his wounds were attended to, still gave his
orders for the defence of the town, and inspired his troops by his
presence.  Under his eye they made several desperate sorties against the
battery which was being prepared for breaching the wall.  The battery
was placed and but feebly worked, for throughout the war the Christino
operations in the way of sieges were always unskilfully managed, owing
to the utter incompetence of their engineers.  However, a week after
their appearance before the town, fire was opened. The siege was delayed
for a time owing to the necessity for sending reinforcements to a body
of the queen’s troops which had suffered a severe defeat at Chulilla.
The battering train was small and indifferent, and several of the guns
gave way during the bombardment, which lasted seven days.  At the end of
that time an assault was ordered.

The engineers obstinately refused to accept Colonel Alderson’s advice to
make ladders, although it was evident that the breach could not be
scaled without them.  Resisting very strongly, the enemy’s left was at
last turned, and the round tower on the right captured.  The garrison,
however, fought desperately, and made continuous efforts to retake it.
All day the battle continued.  The breach in the castle was found to be
impracticable, but was at last enlarged, and the enemy were compelled to
surrender.  The day’s fighting, however, had cost the queen’s troops a
loss of at least four hundred killed and wounded, almost all of which
might have been spared had Colonel Alderson’s advice been taken.
Cabrera had left the town before the attack began, being too much
injured to take the command himself.  The defence, however, had been a
gallant one, and although the capture of the place gave great
encouragement to the Christinos, the stubbornness of the defence and the
loss they had inflicted served to show the Carlists that the conquest of
the number of strongly-fortified positions they held was beyond their
opponents’ power.

O’Donnell destroyed the castle and tower, and then retired, as the town
could no longer be held by the Carlists for the purpose of harassing the
garrison of Onda.  He decided now to reduce a number of the Carlists’
fortified places and wait for the arrival of Espartero; but the Carlists
took the offensive, and their columns moved about with such activity
that the army was kept constantly on the march to encounter them and
drive them back again into the mountains.  It was not till October that
Espartero arrived at Saragossa and met O’Donnell there.  Then it was
decided that, until the arrival of reinforcements which were coming from
the north, O’Donnell should continue in command, his force being
strengthened by seven battalions of the army of the north.  Espartero
advanced with the rest of his own force. Their plans, however, were
altered by the early setting in of winter.  The roads speedily became
impassable, provisions were terribly scarce, and the movements of the
armies paralysed.  All the energies of the commanders were indeed
required to maintain the supply of provisions for the troops.

The English commissioners for the most part returned to Madrid.  Among
these was Arthur, who spent four months there very happily.  Nothing had
been heard of Don Silvio, who was still living on his estates.  It was
evident to all that the war would speedily come to a close; bodies of
troops from all parts of Spain were moving to the scene of action, and
when the season opened Espartero would be at the head of an army against
which even Cabrera could not hope to make head.  That indefatigable
fighter was lying ill at Morella, the result of his wounds, which,
although not serious in themselves, had been rendered so by the
incessant energy and activity with which he had persisted in moving
about.  The news of the retirement of Don Carlos had for a long time
been kept from the peasantry, but even when it became known it had but
little effect upon them.  They cared little for Don Carlos; but they
almost worshipped Cabrera, and were ready to follow to the death; and
when spring came and operations could be resumed, they flocked to his
standard again in as large numbers as before.

In February the campaign reopened and Arthur started to rejoin the army.
At one of the towns at which they stopped, Roper came in an hour after
their arrival and said: "Captain, do you know I feel pretty sure that I
have seen Don Silvio. It was only his back, it is true, but I am
convinced that it was he.  I was walking along when I saw a man who was
coming the other way suddenly turn off down a aide street. When I got to
the end of it I looked down, for I saw by the sudden turn he had taken
that he wished to avoid me.  By the distance he had gone it seemed to me
that he must have been running.  He was too far away from me to speak of
his identity with any certainty, but I thought, and still think, that it
was Don Silvio."

"But what should he be doing here, Roper?"

"That I cannot say, sir.  At any rate it seems to me that his presence
here just at the moment when we are coming through looks like mischief."

"Well, of course anyone at Madrid watching me might have found out the
day on which we were going to start, and might have sent a message to
Don Silvio in time to enable him to ride here before we came along.  He
may, of course, have brought three or four men with him; he is more
likely to have done that than to have trusted to recruiting some fellows
here.  It is just as well--if it is the man--that you should have
recognized him, Roper, for at any rate we shall not be taken by

"Perhaps, sir, it would be as well to stop a few days here, or to change
our route; there are two or three roads by which we might get to
Saragossa.  They would certainly be farther than the direct one; but it
would make little difference whether we arrived there two or three days
earlier or later."

"That is true enough, Roper; but if he is watching us here, he could
follow us by one road as well as another.  We have our pistols and
swords, and I should say that we could render a pretty good account of
four or five of them."

"I have no doubt we could, captain; still, I would rather not fight
against long odds if I could avoid it.  You see, sir, since I got that
fifteen hundred pounds banked to my credit in England I feel more
careful about my life than before. It did not much matter then whether I
went down or not; now it seems to me that my life has a distinct value,
and I don’t want to throw it away."

"Well, I can say the same, Roper.  Of course I always knew I was coming
into an estate some day, but I don’t know that I thought much about it.
Now my life is of great value because it is of value to Donna Mercedes.
I don’t say anything about the money I have acquired, but certainly for
her sake I do hold to life pretty strongly; at the same time I cannot
turn back from my duty for an unknown danger and merely because you
think you have recognized Don Silvio.  I have proved that I am a far
better swordsman than he.  Since my duel with him I have practised a
good deal with my pistols, and can, I think, account with them for two
or three assailants.  You have practised as well, and I fancy that you
ought to be able to settle with two of them in your four shots.  Let us
suppose that Don Silvio has six fellows with him--I should hardly say
that he would bring more.  Well, if we can each dispose of two, that
only leaves us with three, counting Don Silvio himself, to manage."

"Well, captain, that is all right; but if these six men are lying in
ambush and fire together, they may upset our calculations altogether."

"That is certainly so, Roper.  But unless we are going to turn tail and
ride back to Madrid on the strength of your belief that you saw Don
Silvio, I do not see how that is to be helped.  Mind, it is I and not
you whom Don Silvio wants to kill.  I have got my shirt of mail, and I
do not think that a pistol bullet would go through it; so that if they
direct their fire at me, unless I am shot through the head I reckon that
I shall still be in fighting order after their first discharge.  At any
rate, Roper, I do not mean to turn back."

"Well, if you go on, of course I go on, sir," Roper said doggedly;
"there is no question at all about that."

"I think, Roper, the best thing for us to do would be, when we have
taken our meal, to sally out in different directions with our cloaks on
and our caps over our faces.  Possibly one or other of us may alight
upon him if he is here.  If we meet him, we will talk the matter over
again.  I don’t want to do anything headstrong; and if we ascertain that
the count is here, we will discuss whether we can make a detour that
will throw him off the scent, though I say honestly I don’t think such
an attempt would be of any use.  If he has men with him they will
certainly be posted on watch round this hotel, and he will learn all
that there is to be learned of our movements; and whatever we do, we
shall have to fight for it. If he has more than six men I should say
that if we are attacked we had better trust to our horses and not to the
strength of our arms, and ride for it.  There is nothing cowardly in
running away from a greatly superior force, and certainly I shall not
hesitate to do so if I see that they are too strong for us."

Accordingly, after dinner they put on their cloaks and sallied out.

"Don’t move out of the main street of the town, Roper," Arthur said.
"They will not attack us there; but if we were to turn down any side
street they might fall upon us suddenly.  We had better be back here in
an hour’s time, and we will then exchange notes."

At the end of that time they met again at the door of the inn.

"I think you are right, Roper.  I am sure that one man at least has
followed me all the time I have been out."

"I thought so at first, captain; but the fellow I suspected brushed
against me roughly before I had been out very long, and then apologized.
It struck me that he wanted to look at my face; anyhow, I did not see
anything of him afterwards. Don Silvio could not have given them a very
accurate description of us; for, as you stand six feet one and I am not
more than five feet eight, no one who knew anything about us could very
well mistake you."

"I have certainly been followed," said Arthur, "and I feel sure that if
I had moved out of the main street I should have been attacked.  There
were two fellows who kept together, and another who followed close
behind.  I suspected all three, as they generally kept at about the same
distance from me. Well, I have no doubt now that you were right about
Don Silvio.  I will see if they have got such a thing as a map in the
hotel.  I don’t suppose they have; but at any rate I will ask the
landlord to send up some man who knows the roads well to my room, and I
will find out as much as I can of the different routes, and then we can
decide on what we had best do."

                              *CHAPTER XX*

                          *THE END OF A FEUD*

The result of Arthur’s enquiries was that the three roads by which he
could travel to Saragossa were about equally bad, and that upon all of
them there were places along the face of the hills at which attacks
might be made.

"I had half a mind," he said to Roper afterwards, "to hire a couple of
men as guides, telling them that they had better bring weapons with
them.  But it is likely enough that one or two of Don Silvio’s men may
be stationed in the hotel, and you may be sure they would question
anyone who had been up to my room.  Don Silvio might afterwards see them
and hire their services, and we might be shot in the back when the
others opened fire at us from an ambush.  So I think we cannot do better
than go forward by the main road.  If we once get a start of them they
may not be able to catch us, for they are certainly not likely to be
better mounted than we are; and they cannot go on before us, for then
they could not know which road we should take."

Accordingly in the morning, as soon as they had mounted, they took the
straight road and travelled fast.  They kept a keen look-out at all
spots where an ambush was likely to be planted, but everything was
quiet, and they reached their destination that evening without

"It will be more dangerous to-morrow, Roper," Arthur said as they sat at
supper together.  "We are fairly started on this road now, and there is
no choice open to us as to which route we can take.  They will know
that, and may start before we do, and choose their position for
attacking us."

"Well, I almost hope they will do so, sir.  I am not afraid of a fight,
but it makes one jumpy keeping always on the look-out, and expecting a
shot from every bush we pass."

"I feel that myself, Roper.  If we must fight I would rather do so now,
and have done with it."

Next morning, feeling that if their enemies had started in front of them
it would be useless to try to evade them, they proceeded at a much
slower pace than on the previous day. After riding three hours they came
to a spot where the road was cut along the face of an almost
perpendicular hill, with a torrent running at its foot.  As they began
to ascend this, Arthur unbuckled the covers of the holsters, so that the
pistols were ready for instant use.  He directed Roper to do the same.

"Now," he said, "will you ride on my left, keeping exactly alongside?
It is I whom they will fire at, but as this mail shirt of mine will keep
out ordinary pistol balls I am not afraid that I shall be hurt.
Directly they have fired, they will be sure to jump out from the place
where they may be lying; then empty your pistols among them and go at
them. There is no place for them to hide here, but there maybe farther
on.  At any rate, do as I tell you.  Keep your horse’s head in a line
with mine."

Holding his rein in his left hand, and keeping his right close on the
handle of a pistol, Arthur rode on.  Roper had attempted to remonstrate
against the order he had given, but Arthur silenced him.

"You must just do as you are ordered, Roper.  One or two might shoot at
you if you were riding behind me, and then I should be left alone to
fight the whole of them.  I shall certainly want your help."

They rode along until they came to a spot where the cliff fell away,
leaving a semicircular depression which was filled with low bush.

"They are here, if anywhere," said Arthur.  "Get your pistol ready,

As they rode along past the place, a number of men sprang up and fired a
volley.  Arthur felt a sudden and acute pain in the ribs, and was nearly
knocked from his horse. Recovering himself with a great effort, he fired
twice, and two of the men dropped.  A moment later his horse staggered
and fell.  As it did so he dragged the other pistol out and shot a man
who was rushing at him with a clubbed musket.  He heard Roper’s pistols
go off, but was too much engaged with a fourth man who rushed at him, to
see what was the result.  He had just run his antagonist through, when
Don Silvio leapt upon him.  Arthur parried the thrust aimed at him, and
at once engaged in a furious combat.  Don Silvio leapt round him with
the agility of a cat, springing in and out, and delivering fierce lunges
as he did so.  Otherwise there was silence.  He was vaguely conscious
that Roper was down, but that he had disposed of the last of his
antagonists, and that the issue remained solely between himself and the
count.  He was at a disadvantage with the latter, for while he himself
was armed only with the regulation cutting sword, his antagonist had a
long, straight, duelling rapier.

For a time he contented himself with standing on his guard, but was
several times narrowly touched.  At last, seizing his opportunity, he
struck at his opponent’s rapier with all his force.  The blade shivered
in the count’s hand, but before he could raise his guard again the
latter sprung upon him like a wild cat and grasped him by the throat,
trying to hurl him over the precipice.  Arthur dropped his sword, which
was useless to him now, and, grasping his antagonist’s wrists, tried to
drag them from his throat; but rage had given Don Silvio strength, while
Arthur himself was almost choking under the pressure.  At last, with a
mighty effort he succeeded, and in turn gained a grip on the throat of
his antagonist.  He dragged him to the edge of the precipice, and,
holding one hand on his throat and with the other grasping him by the
middle, raised him from the ground to hurl him over.  Another instant
and Don Silvio’s career would have come to an end, but almost in the act
of throwing Arthur paused.

The sight of the count’s convulsed face and eyes moved him from his
purpose, and he set him down again on the road, releasing him as he did

"Don Silvio," he said sternly, "I had you at my mercy, but thoughts came
into my mind that caused me to change my purpose.  I feel, as I have all
along felt, that I have not been altogether blameless in this matter.
It was natural that you should have been exasperated by the belief that
I had gained the affections of Donna Mercedes, and that you should
thereupon have forced a duel upon me.  I feel that I was wrong in the
way in which I fought you.  I might have contented myself with merely
wounding you, whereas I played with you first and made you the
laughing-stock of the friends you had brought to witness your triumph.
Considering that you are a Spaniard and have your ideas of revenge, I
can pardon the attempt of those two men, whom, I doubt not, you bribed
to stab me.  I do not know what share you had in getting me into prison,
nor do I care to enquire.  I have now again worsted you, and have you at
my mercy; but, looking back, and seeing that I have been myself to some
extent wrong, I give you your life.  Go home, señor, and retrieve the
past.  I believe that you were an honourable gentleman before you were
led astray by your anger at being superseded in the affections of Donna
Mercedes.  That quarrel has been fought out and come to an end.  Go home
and try to forget what has passed.  You will never hear of it from me."

Don Silvio staggered back and stared in bewildered incredulity at
Arthur, who, turning away, at once went to Roper’s side.  The latter was
insensible, evidently from the effects of a tremendous blow from the
butt-end of a musket delivered by a man who lay dead beside him.  Roper
had indeed fired and inflicted a mortal wound upon his adversary, who
was in the act of striking.  The blow had fallen, but it was the last
effort of the striker.  The two had fallen side by side. Arthur went to
his dead horse, pulled out a flask from the wallet, poured some brandy
and water between Roper’s lips and rubbed some on his forehead, and soon
he had the satisfaction of seeing his follower open his eyes.

"It is all right, Roper," he said, "we have thrashed them all.  You have
had a nasty knock on the head.  Fortunately your crown is pretty thick,
and you will be all right again in a few minutes;" then, as he saw that
Roper was rallying, he turned to the count, who was sitting on a fallen
rock with his head in his hands.  Seven dead bodies lay in the road.
The count got up as he approached.

"Englishman," he said in a low voice, "you have indeed proved my
conqueror in every way, in fighting and in generosity.  I can scarcely
even now believe that I am alive, and that you have spared me when I was
wholly at your mercy. I do not deserve life at your hands."

"Say no more about it," Arthur said.  "I injured you first unconsciously
and then consciously; you have tried to strike back hard, and this is
the result.  Let all animosity be at an end between us.  Go back to your
estate, live there quietly for a while, and then let the memory of our
duel and all connected with it pass away--such matters are soon
forgotten--and return to Madrid.  I shall no longer be there.  In a few
months I shall be back in England.  Now," he said in a different tone,
"where are these men’s horses?  They must have ridden here; and as they
have killed my favourite, I must provide myself with another."

"They are all round the next turn," Don Silvio said.  "I can at least
make reparation to you in the matter of the horse, for mine is as good
as yours was.  I will take one of the others, which indeed are all my

"What is to be done with these bodies?"

"There is a man with the horses.  I will get him to throw them over into
the gorge.  It may be months before anyone finds them.  We shall lead
four of the best of the horses back, and the others can be left for the
first comer."

"But the man will be a trouble to you in the future, will he not?"

"No; he is my steward, and devoted to the family.  It was he who
arranged for the services of these men, at a town twelve miles from my
place.  He fetched them over and provided them with horses.  They will
not be missed from their homes, and indeed the town will have some
reason to rejoice over their disappearance."

By this time Roper was sufficiently recovered to be able to stand, but
he was still a good deal dazed and bewildered. Arthur assisted him to
mount, took the saddle and bridle off his own horse, and, carrying them
with him and leading Roper’s horse, he followed the count round the
corner.  Here was a group of nine horses ready saddled, with a tall old
man standing beside them.

"Raphael," the count said, "take the saddle off my horse and put this
gentleman’s on to it.  I have had a heavy lesson, and one that will last
me all my life.  This gentleman, whose life I strove to take, has spared
mine when he had it at his mercy.  I must get you to help me to throw
into the gorge below the seven bodies of the men who went with me.  They
have all been killed.  Put my saddle on to one of theirs. What do you
think we had better do with the others?"

"I would leave them here, señor.  I picked out the worst lot on the
estate.  They are not worth the trouble of taking home; and if I were to
lead three or four horses for the five days it will take us to get
there, it would be remarked upon. People are sure to come along the road
in the course of the day, and you may be certain that the horses will
all be appropriated before night, and that nothing will be said about

"Very well; perhaps that will be the best way."

The count’s horse had by this time been saddled.  Arthur mounted.

"Well, count, I will say good-bye.  Our feud has been a fierce one while
it lasted, but it is well over now, and I think it may have done both of
us good."

"I am sure it will do me good," the count said humbly. "Adieu! may the
good fortune you deserve always attend you!"

Arthur waved his hand, touched his horse with his spur, and went on with

"How are you feeling, Roper?"

"I am getting all right, sir, though my head still seems to hum.  I
hardly know how it came about.  I fired right at a man close to me.  He
was in the act of striking at me, and I thought he would have dropped;
but before I had time to throw up my hand or parry in any way, the blow
came down, and I remember nothing else till I found you pouring brandy
down my throat."

"You fired a second too late.  I found the man lying dead beside you,
but I suppose the blow was already falling when you hit him, and it came
down on to your head without any further effort on his part."

"And we killed the whole of them, sir?"

"Yes; I brought down three with my pistols and one with my sword.  You
must have accounted for the other three."

"Yes; I fired four times, sir.  I know I shot the two first men, but
before I could get my pistol fairly out of the other holster the third
man was on me.  I missed him the first time, but hit him with the second
barrel just as he was in the act of striking me down.  He was the only
man, I think, who had a gun, all the others used pistols."

"Now I think of it, Roper, I have a strong suspicion, by the pain I am
feeling, that one or two of my ribs are broken. I felt a very sharp pang
for a moment.  That mail shirt kept the bullets from penetrating, but it
did not keep them from hitting me very hard.  I think I will dismount
now and strip to the waist, and get you--if you feel up to it--to
bandage me tightly.  I know you always carry a couple of bandages in
your valise."

"Oh, I am well enough for that, sir!" Roper said, dismounting. Then,
leaving his horse, he went across to Arthur and assisted him to dismount
and to take off his coat and shirt.

"Here are the two bullets, sir, jammed tightly in the coat of mail; one
is about an inch above the other.  I am afraid two of the ribs are
broken.  I will make a shift to bandage you up as tightly as I can, and
we will stop at the next town, which can only be six or seven miles
away, and get a surgeon to attend to you properly.  We will walk our
horses all the way, it would never do to trot."

When Arthur had dressed again they continued on their journey at a very
quiet pace, and arrived two hours later at a town.  They put up at the
principal inn and sent for a surgeon, who, on examining Arthur, at once
found that the two ribs were broken.

"How long shall I be kept here?"

"It will depend how quickly the bones knit.  I should say that you ought
to stay for at least three weeks; but possibly you may go on before
that, provided you take matters quietly. I shall, of course, bandage you
up so tightly that they cannot shift unless you give yourself a wrench."

Arthur was detained ten days, but at the end of that time he insisted on
proceeding.  He was tightly enveloped in broad bandages, and, as he
said, felt as if he were in a stiff pair of stays.  He promised the
surgeon that he would not let his horse go beyond a walk.  However, they
accomplished the journey to Saragossa at a pretty fair rate, travelling
from eight to nine hours a day, making an average of twenty-five miles.
By the time they got there Arthur no longer felt any acute pain, and was
confident that the bones were healing. However, he resolved to follow
the surgeon’s advice and not attempt to remove the bandages for another

He found Saragossa a scene of great preparations.  Espartero had
determined not to move, as Oraa had done, with an insufficient
siege-train, and during the months of comparative inactivity he had
collected a battering train of forty pieces, of which eight were
24-pounders, twelve 16-pounders, ten mortars, and ten howitzers.  Each
gun was provided with a thousand rounds of ammunition.

Besides the siege-train he had also with him three field batteries armed
with heavy guns.  Transport had been collected with immense difficulty,
for to carry the ammunition alone five hundred carts and two thousand
mules were required, besides the waggons of the commissariat train and
those for regimental transport.  The force that was to accompany these
amounted to twenty thousand men, while some eight thousand others were
posted on the road and as garrisons in various villages.  On the 18th of
May the battering train moved forward, and was followed the next day by
the main body.  The first division advanced to the height of San Marcos,
within sight of Morella.  The main body with the head-quarters and
artillery halted a few miles short of this on the heights above Pobleta.

During the night the weather changed suddenly.  A very heavy snow-storm
set in, and several men and mules were frozen to death.  There was no
change on the next day, but on the 23rd the army again advanced, and
arrived early in the afternoon within range of the fort of San Pedro.
It halted about two thousand yards from the town on its north side. The
fort stood on a commanding height and was surrounded by a deep ditch.
On its south and west sides it was inaccessible; on its north front it
was well covered by a glacis.  Its only exposed face was visible from
another height, called San Marcos, at a distance of a thousand yards on
the same level on the opposite side of the valley.  Owing to the
distance at which San Pedro stood from the city, Cabrera had since the
last siege erected another strong redoubt called La Querola to protect
the communications.  He had made a great mistake, however, in not
erecting another fortification on the heights facing La Querola.  The
two would have protected each other, and their fire crossing the road
between them would have enabled them to hold out, even against the
powerful artillery brought against them, for at least a fortnight.

Cabrera, however, who was no engineer, instead of covering the
approaches with fortifications, had wasted much time in forming
entrenchments in the town which would be of little or no use after an
entry was once made.  He himself was still suffering from the effects of
the wounds Arthur had inflicted upon him, and was unable to undertake
the defence of the place; and when the besieging army drew near he left
the town with some eight thousand men in order to harass communications,
and interfere as far as possible with the progress of the siege.

Espartero found that it was necessary to take La Querola before the city
itself could be attacked, because it commanded the road by which the
siege artillery was brought up.  There was too, in the valley along
which the road ran, an aqueduct which supplied the city with water, and
behind this a large body of troops could form up without being seen from
the city.

It was also desirable that this should be effected because the weakest
part of the wall was between the castle and the gate of San Miguel; and
were a breach effected there, the whole of the interior entrenchments
would be commanded from it.  The army encamped in front and on the
flanks of San Pedro, the stores and heavy guns being placed on the
height of San Marcos.  On the 24th of May the engineers commenced an
approach against the north front of San Pedro, and the artillery on the
opposite height opened fire upon it. The work of the sappers was
arduous; an incessant musketry fire was kept up upon them, and the
ground was so rocky that it was very difficult to obtain shelter.
Finding, therefore, that the approach could not be made in a regular
way, the sappers went forward at a run to within two hundred yards of
the fort, and then covered themselves by hurriedly throwing up a stone

Behind this they kept up so rapid and heavy a fire that they silenced
that of the defenders, and during the night carried forward the work to
within a hundred yards of the wall, and completed a little battery of
three 16-pounders, which were to fire at the very small part of the work
which was not covered by the glacis.  They opened fire at daybreak, but
did very little damage.  It was otherwise, however, on the eastern side,
where the wall was so effectually pounded by the heavy guns on the
opposite heights that the whole of the parapet on that face was
destroyed, and there was therefore no shelter for the defenders.  Some
of the light troops, seeing this, crept up close to the ditch.  The
defenders, thinking that an assault was intended, rushed to oppose them,
but suffered terribly from the fire from San Marcos.

Again and again they exposed themselves in the most gallant manner, but
the fire from the guns was so excellent that they fell in great numbers.
At eight o’clock the garrison sounded a parley, and the governor offered
to surrender on condition that the survivors should be permitted to
retreat to Morella.  Espartero refused, and as the garrison could not
any longer continue the hopeless defence, the governor surrendered at
discretion.  In the meantime Espartero had moved some light infantry
against La Querola, the newly-raised fort built to keep up the
communications between San Pedro and the city.  The garrison here showed
none of the same spirit that had animated the defenders of San Pedro.
Notwithstanding the assistance rendered by a strong sortie from Morella,
they resisted the attack for only half an hour and then abandoned the
fort, being cut up as they retired by Espartero’s cavalry.

Thus the way was opened for an advance of the besiegers to the
neighbourhood of the city itself, and the whole army moved forward.  A
natural ridge, at a distance of from seven to eight hundred yards from
the city, covered their movements, and here the batteries were at once
commenced.  By the 29th all was ready--thirty-five guns were in
position--and a tremendous fire was opened against the town.  The
mortars did not effect the expected damage, for the town was almost
entirely composed of stone, and but few houses were set on fire. The
destruction wrought by the other guns was, however, very great: the wall
between the castle and the gate of San Miguel crumbled rapidly, while
the fire from the castle was almost wholly silenced, and a very
destructive explosion took place in one of the principal magazines.  The
northern defences of the castle were almost destroyed, and communication
could no longer be held by daylight between it and the town.

At half-past two in the afternoon an officer let himself down by a rope
from the western wall and informed Espartero that a meeting of the
principal officers of the town had been held, and that it had been
determined that the troops in the city should that night endeavour to
escape through the besieging army and join Cabrera, who was with the
field force and very ill.  The garrison of the castle was to remain and
cover the escape of their comrades.  Espartero at once took precautions
to frustrate the attempt to escape.  Directing an incessant fire to be
kept up by all the guns, he despatched officers to the different
divisions to order that the investment, which had not hitherto been
complete, should at once be carefully closed, and that at nightfall the
troops should draw nearer to the town and occupy in force all the roads,
particularly that towards the gate of the Puerta del Estudio, which
alone had not been blocked before the siege began.  As, however, he was
by no means certain that the information brought by the deserter was
true, he directed the erection of two new batteries at the north-west
angle of the wall, while another battery was erected at the south-west
side of the city, a couple of field-batteries being also sent round

At ten o’clock in the evening fire was opened all round Morella.  This
seemed to show that the information that had been received was correct,
and that this outburst of firing was intended to show that the garrison
was vigilant and active. At dawn the troops, ignorant that their scheme
had been betrayed, marched down, headed by the governor.  To their
surprise they were encountered by an overwhelming force, and in the
hasty struggle that ensued three hundred and fifty of the Carlists were
made prisoners.  The rest of the column endeavoured to regain the town,
but a shell fell on the drawbridge and destroyed it.  A terrible scene
now ensued.  A great many of the wives and children of the troops had
marched out with them, believing that the road was perfectly clear.
These were pressed back by the retreating troops.  Numbers of men,
women, and children were forced into the moat, which soon became filled
with a mass of struggling, suffocating people.

To add to the horror of the scene, those of the garrison who still
remained within the walls, hearing the shouts of the Christinos--"Viva
la Reyna!"--fired miscellaneously, in a panic, upon friends and foes.
At six o’clock in the morning the officer second in command, and now
acting as governor, sent out to offer to capitulate on the condition
that the garrison should be allowed to withdraw to a foreign country.
This was peremptorily refused by Espartero, and at eight o’clock the
place surrendered unconditionally.  The remainder of the garrison
marched out and piled arms under the castle, their number exceeding
three thousand.  In both the city and the castle the magazines were
found stored with provisions sufficient to enable them to hold out for
several months.  The defence was, on the whole, quite unworthy of the
traditions of the Carlists--in fact the little garrison of San Pedro
alone behaved well.

There could be no doubt that the defenders had been cowed by the
overwhelming powers of the siege artillery.  They had relied upon being
able to repulse any assault that might be made, but were utterly
unprepared for a bombardment such as they had to endure.  There was no
precedent for the collection of so great a force of artillery.  At the
unsuccessful siege by Oraa only some eight to ten small pieces had been
used; these had been badly placed and badly handled, and time had not
even been allowed for them to complete the breaches. When, therefore,
the walls were swept by the fire of fifty or sixty guns, and the
garrison saw their defences in one day crumble before them, they thought
only of escape.  The lamentable part of the affair was the fearful
destruction of life outside the gate.

This was a worthy conclusion of a struggle that had been conducted on
both sides with an amount of ferocity, brutality, and bloodshed
altogether without precedent in modern warfare; indeed, to find a
parallel it is necessary to go back to the wholesale slaughter committed
by Alva in the Low Countries.

The English officers, after order was restored, called upon Espartero to
congratulate him on his complete success, and two or three of them took
leave of him at once, as it was certain that although some guerrilla
skirmishing might still go on, the war was practically at an end.  They
then rode back to the hut which had formed their head-quarters during
the siege.

The general expression was that of joy that their arduous and thankless
work was at an end.  They had been, in some cases, for years travelling
almost constantly with flying columns, which moved aimlessly through the
country, or remained for months together inactive without making an
effort to get in touch with the enemy.  It was not their business to
give advice unless it was asked for: their mission was to endeavour to
humanize the war.  And although at times one or another of the
commanders would act with some little humanity, these were quite
exceptional cases, and as a rule little quarter was given on either
side, both insisting that these atrocities were but reprisals for acts
of the other party.

In vain had the British commissioners urged, in the name not only of
humanity but of good policy, that the customs of war should be followed,
and that their antagonists should not be excited to madness by the
wanton destruction of life, the wholesale devastation of the country,
and the razing to the ground of villages and homesteads.  Both parties
admitted the justice of their reasons, both bewailed the necessity for
such actions, but both continued to commit them to the end of the war.
There was, then, a feeling of deep satisfaction among the three or four
British officers, at the capture of Morella and its garrison.  As long
as that city remained in the hands of the Carlists, it was a rallying
centre for them--a reminder of the signal defeat of the army that had
besieged it.  Now it had fallen after a resistance that could not but be
considered as feeble.  The Carlists had, it is true, other strongholds
in different parts of the country, but these were comparatively
insignificant, and would doubtless open their gates as soon as
detachments of Espartero’s army appeared before them.

Indeed, the weakness of the defence of Morella showed that the spirit of
the Carlists was already broken.  Had Cabrera remained among them to
cheer and encourage them, the defence would have been much more
desperate, though it could not have been very much more prolonged, for
another day or two would have seen the defences so destroyed that the
place would have been untenable; but the fact that Cabrera was away
wounded and sick took all the spirit out of the defence.  The first
offer of the governor to surrender if the garrison were allowed to march
out and cross a foreign frontier, was no doubt the result of an order
that Cabrera had given him before he left, when he found that he was no
longer able to defend the place, and probably foreshadowed the plan that
Cabrera himself thought it likely he would be compelled to adopt.

Espartero’s triumph had been complete.  He had, indeed, proved the
saviour of Spain.  When he began--one among half a dozen generals--he
found jealousy and jobbery everywhere rampant.  Most of the generals
thought only of avoiding defeat, and not of gaining victory.  So long as
the Carlists left them alone they were well content to allow them to
march almost at will through the country.  The army, which was
ill-clothed and ill-fed, was wholly deficient in artillery, and had but
a very small body of cavalry.  Worst of all, the government was rotten
to the core.  Corruption prevailed in every office, and positions were
only secured through favouritism, merit counting not at all.  Little by
little Espartero changed all this.  His honesty, his talent, and dogged
perseverance triumphed over his adversaries.  The people at large came
to regard him as their one hope, and answered his appeal to them by
overthrowing the government that had thwarted him, and making him
towards the end of the war practically Dictator of Spain.

He had all along distinguished himself by the courtesy with which he had
treated the British commissioners.  He had relied a great deal upon the
advice of Colonel Wylde, who was senior of that body, and had himself
set, as a rule, an example of clemency to the captives except when he
was driven by the massacre of prisoners taken by the Carlists to carry
out striking reprisals.  Many of the other generals, on the other hand,
kept the commissioners at arm’s-length, and would not only give them no
information themselves, but ordered their officers not to do so.  It is
not difficult to understand the feeling that actuated them.  These
officers were unwelcome at their head-quarters not because they were
there to plead the cause of humanity, but because they furnished the
British government with accurate reports of the movements and conduct of
the army, and thus exposed the falsity of their own bombastic reports of
their doings.

"For my part, I am heartily glad it is over," Arthur said. "I certainly
do not mean to remain to witness the expulsion of Cabrera and the
stamping out of the last embers of disaffection.  I have had six years
of it, and I intend to send in my resignation as soon as I arrive at
Madrid.  When I came out it was with the intention of serving merely for
the term of my enlistment, a couple of years; then I had the good
fortune to be transferred to the army when the Legion was broken up,
though I still thought that it was but for another year or so.  However,
I have no reason to regret that I have seen it through.  I have been
fortunate in all respects--very fortunate in serving under so kind and
good a chief as Colonel Wylde."

"What are you thinking of doing if you leave the army?"

"I have a small estate waiting for me at home, which has been little by
little piling up capital for me during my absence.  I shall be a good
deal more fit to take charge of it now, and to settle down, than I
should have been if I had never come out here."

"It seems a pity, too," Colonel Lacy said.  "You have done very good
service, and Colonel Wylde has always reported well of you.  You have
been a captain now for four years, and you will be sure to get your
majority as a reward for your work here."

"Yes, sir; if I had entered the army for the purpose of staying in it, I
should have every reason for congratulating myself on my good fortune;
but as I did not, I should not value the majority, for which indeed I
feel myself much too young. Besides, I should be altogether unfit for
it.  I learned the work of a subaltern for a year in a hard, rough
school, where there was no occasion to know more than the simplest
movements.  For the past four years I have not commanded a corporal’s
guard, and I could no more drill a battalion of British troops on a
parade-ground than fly, so I have quite made up my mind to leave, and
have indeed only held on for the past two years in the belief that the
war would speedily come to an end."

"Well, Hallett, of course you know your own business best; and I am
quite sure that if I had a nice little estate waiting for me in England,
I should take the same course as you are going to do."

                             *CHAPTER XXI*


The next day Arthur mounted, and, after saying good-bye to his friends,
started for Madrid.  He was still wearing his bandages, but as a measure
of precaution rather than as a necessity, for the bones had knit well,
and Espartero’s surgeon had told him that he could safely give them up.
Arthur, however, said that he was accustomed to them now, and as they
were no great inconvenience it would be folly to run the smallest risk,
and he would therefore keep them on for another month.  Roper was in
high glee at the thought that he was going to return home.

"When we get to Madrid," Arthur said, "we will both lay aside our
uniforms, and you will cease to be my servant. We can return to the
position we formerly occupied towards each other, that of good friends,
though of course much closer ones than of old.  We have gone through
many dangers together, and it will only be a matter of regret to me that
you should have been in the position of my servant."

"I won’t give it up when we get to Madrid, sir.  At any rate I shall
remain your servant till we embark on board ship for England, after
which you will have no more occasion for me, and I shall be proud to
become your humble friend. I suppose, sir," he said with a quiet smile,
"you are not thinking of going back to England alone?"

"Not if I can help it," Arthur answered.  "Of course nothing is settled,
but I don’t fancy that I shall have to go back alone.  If I do I shall
return shortly, but I hope to manage everything satisfactorily before I

Arthur had heard regularly every six months from his uncle, who had of
late said he hoped he would soon leave the army and return home, and in
his last letter, written after he had come of age, had said: "I may now
tell you, my dear Arthur, that the will of your father contains a secret
clause giving me the power, if I considered you fit to undertake the
responsibility, of handing your estates over to you when you came of
age.  I must say that it seems to me you are quite fit to assume that
responsibility.  Your letters do not tell me a very great deal about
yourself, but it is clear that, as in these five years you have won your
way from being a private to holding a commission as a captain, you ought
certainly to possess a sufficient amount of steadiness and knowledge of
the world to fit you for the not very onerous duties of a country
squire.  You do not toll us very much about yourself, and we all
consider your letters in that respect very unsatisfactory; but it is
evident that you have seen a great deal of service, and must have cured
yourself of that tendency to wildness that caused us such trouble before
you left.  In fact we all feel proud of you, holding, as you do, the
appointment as one of the British assistant commissioners.

"I own that it has been a surprise to me, but my wife declares that she
was always sure you would do well, and I need hardly say that the girls
are very fond of parading their cousin, a captain in the army and royal
commissioner in Spain, among their acquaintances.  Of course I do not
urge you to return--that is a question entirely for you to decide; but I
say that, in virtue of the power given to me by your father, I shall
have no hesitation in placing you, on your return, in possession of your
father’s estates and the accumulation of rents during your minority."

Communication was slow, and this letter had only been received by Arthur
a few days before his seizure by the monks.  It had been a great
satisfaction to him, as he would now be able to maintain Mercedes in a
position not altogether inferior to that to which she had been
accustomed.  He had, however, not spoken on the subject even to Leon,
preferring to continue to stand on the same basis as before.  He
travelled by easy stages to Madrid, and was most warmly greeted on his
return there by Leon and the girls.

"Rather a curious thing has happened since you have been away," Leon
said, when they were chatting together on the first evening after his
return.  "I have received a letter from Don Silvio.  I don’t understand
it, but it is, as far as it goes, very satisfactory; still, I cannot
quite make it out.  He writes to say that he regrets very deeply his
conduct towards us and you, and implores our pardon.  He says that
henceforth we need fear no annoyance whatever from him, and that he can
only hope that some day he may resume his former position as a friend of
our family.  He says that of course we shall have heard from you the
reasons that have brought about this entire change in his sentiments,
and that we can easily understand that after your treatment of him he is
an entirely changed man.  I received this letter a fortnight ago.  I
really did not know how to answer it, so have waited to get some
explanation from you as to the circumstances that have brought about
this change in his sentiments, in which I own I have no belief whatever.
Indeed I consider that the letter was only written to put us off our
guard.  Certainly in the letters you have written since you left there
has been nothing that would explain the matter, except indeed that you
said you had had a trifling affair with some brigands and had got the
better of them, though at the cost of a slight wound.  Had this anything
to do with it?"

"It had, Leon.  It was not worth writing about, although the affair was
a somewhat sharp one, and I had not intended to say anything about it;
but as it has apparently brought about a very satisfactory state of
things, I suppose I had better tell it."

He then related how Roper had, as he thought, recognized Don Silvio; how
they had discovered that they were really watched; the precautions they
had taken against attack; and gave an account of the fight, telling how
the seven men who had attacked them had been killed in the encounter.
"Don Silvio fought hard," he said carelessly, "but I had him at my
mercy.  Reflecting, however, that I had injured him by winning the
affections of Mercedes, and that I had certainly behaved wrongly in
fooling with him in that duel, I let him go."

"You let him go!" Leon said in astonishment.  "Do you mean to say that
when you had him at your mercy you actually let him go?"

"That is what it came to, I suppose," Arthur admitted. "I had him by the
throat at the edge of the precipice, then it occurred to me that the man
had good grounds for complaint against me.  But for me he might have
married Mercedes, and as, over and above this, I had made him the
laughing-stock of Madrid, it was natural that he should have endeavoured
to get rid of me.  I therefore concluded that I ought not to take his
life; so I released him and explained this to him, and we parted, I
think, very good friends."

Leon gazed at him in astonishment.  "By San Paolo, Arthur, but you are
an extraordinary man!  The idea of sparing that fellow when you had him
at your mercy!  You astound me."

"It was good of you, Arthur, wonderfully good!" Mercedes exclaimed, "but
just the thing that you would do.  I am proud of you!  Of course I have
always been proud of you, but more now than ever.  And do you think he
is sincere in this letter he wrote to Leon?"

"I do think so.  From the way in which he spoke to me I believe that he
was thoroughly sincere, and that he felt that he had been in the wrong,
and that the feud between us was now at an end.  I think, Leon, you can
now answer his letter, saying that you have seen me and heard my
explanation, and that you are heartily glad that the feud is over, and
are ready again to receive him as a friend."

"As to that I should be only too glad," Leon said.  "Until this thing
happened I always esteemed him, as you may suppose by my consenting to
give Mercedes to him.  He has not injured me, and if you have brought
yourself to forgive his attempts upon your life it is little enough for
me to shake hands with him again.  I will write and tell him so
to-morrow morning, and express my willingness that bygones shall be
bygones, and that our friendship can be again renewed.  And now to
return to a still more interesting subject.  What are your plans?"

"As I have already told you, I shall to-morrow send in my resignation.
The next step must necessarily depend upon you a great deal.  It seems
to me that it would be exceedingly difficult for Mercedes and myself to
be married here.  The ceremony could be performed at the British
Embassy, but for my part I would much rather that it took place in
England; and I should think, Leon, that that would also be most pleasant
for you all.  Our marriage here would undoubtedly cause a considerable
amount of feeling.  You would be blamed very strongly for giving your
sister to a foreigner and a heretic, and things might be made very
unpleasant for you and the girls.  My own idea is, that the best thing
possible would be for us all to travel quietly down to Cadiz, and thence
take ship to England.  There we could be married comfortably. While
preparing for that, I could see that my place was made ready to receive
us; then I hope you would stay with us for some time before returning
home.  In that way you would avoid all trouble here, for whereas a
wedding in the face of the public of Madrid would cause no end of
scandal, a quiet marriage in England would scarcely be noticed."

Leon was silent for a minute, and then said: "I think a good deal is to
be said in favour of your plan.  There can be no doubt that the marriage
would create much less comment and talk than if it were to take place
here.  Secondly, I should like to see the new home in which Mercedes is
to be established--not to say that I should certainly like to see
something more of England; but I don’t know about the girls."

"Oh, Leon!" both exclaimed, "you would never leave us behind!  Why, of
course we should want just as much as you do to be at Mercedes’ wedding.
You never can really think of leaving us here.  What reason could there
be why we shouldn’t go with you?"

"Well, you see, in the first place you don’t speak English."

"Nor do you, Leon, at least not well."

"Well, you know that in point of fact I do speak it pretty fairly.
However, it’s too important a matter to be settled offhand, girls.
Suppose, for example, that one of you took it into your head to marry an
English gentleman?"

"Well, Leon," Inez said mischievously, "as it appears to us that you are
likely before long to enter the married state yourself, I should have
thought that you would be very glad to get us off your hands, even to
Englishmen.  I am sure if all Englishmen were like Arthur I should have
no objection at all.  I have always been lamenting that I did not go
with you, instead of Mercedes, to our country place, and then perhaps I
might have had the chance that Mercedes has had."

They all laughed.

"Well, really, I will think it over, Inez.  It might be managed, and the
three months’ trip would do us all good after the stormy time we have
been having here."

"I am sure it would," Arthur said; "so I think, girls, we can consider
that settled."

"Well, of course we could not think of going for a month yet," Mercedes
said.  "You must remember that we shall all have preparations to make."

"But you can get things made in England," Arthur urged.

"No, sir," Mercedes said.  "We are not going away without a sufficient
supply of clothes.  At any rate, we shall want travelling suits, and a
lot of other things, though I admit that I should prefer getting some of
my dresses in England.  I don’t want to have everyone staring at me,
when I go about, as a foreigner."

"Well, of course you must have time, Mercedes, and I don’t think a month
is very unreasonable; besides, all sorts of papers will have to be got
ready and drawn up."

"Certainly," Leon said.  "As Mercedes’ guardian and the head of the
family, it is my duty to see that everything is done regularly.  As far
as you are concerned, Arthur, I should be quite content to have no
settlements of any kind; but it would be unseemly for a daughter of our
house to marry in the haphazard way of a small farmer’s daughter."

"I agree with you thoroughly, Leon, but I think it would be better for
you to have the settlements drawn up in England.  You may calculate that
it will be a month after my return before things will be ready, which
will give plenty of time for you to have the deeds drawn up there.  You
see, the laws of your country are not the same as ours."

"I should say they had better be drawn up in both countries," Leon said.
"Mercedes’ income is a charge upon a Spanish estate, and the people
acting as her trustees here would be bound by Spanish law only.  I think
that when these troubles are all over, and land rises in value again, it
would be best that the estates should be sold.  Mercedes could then
invest her money in England.  The other girls’ shares would be held in
trust for them till they marry."

"That would certainly be a very good plan, Leon.  You will understand,
of course, that I wish Mercedes’ fortune to be entirely under her own

Arthur spent a very pleasant month in Madrid.  He was, at the regent’s
request, very frequently at the palace, and when he informed her that
Mercedes was going to England to be married to him, she presented her
with a splendid suite of diamonds.

"You see, Captain Hallett," she said, "you would not let me do for you a
quarter of what I wished to do; but at least you cannot interfere
between me and Donna Mercedes de Balen.  I wish greatly that you had
permanently settled here.  I would have made you a Grand Duke of Spain,
and there would be pleasure in knowing that my daughter would have one
absolutely disinterested and faithful friend. My own health is not good.
I have had a terribly anxious time for the past eight years.  I have
been surrounded by men whom I despise.  I have seen how few of them care
for the cause to which they profess to be devoted, and think only of
themselves and their own interests.  Fortunately, should anything happen
to me, I shall leave her in Espartero’s hands with a certain knowledge
that he will protect and guard her during her minority."

"I trust sincerely, madam, that there will be no occasion for him to
assume such a charge; but I thoroughly agree with you that should he
have to do so, he will perform it well and honourably."

Before leaving, Leon and the girls made no formal farewell visits to
their friends.  They knew that if their intentions were announced there
would be a storm of opposition, and that all their friends and the
members of the families with which they were connected would move heaven
and earth to try and dissuade them.  Mercedes’ engagement had never been
formally announced, and although her attachment for Arthur might be
suspected by the intimates of the family, nothing could be said until
their betrothal was made public.

At last the preparations were all complete, and the deeds drawn up and
signed.  Leon had made the usual stipulation that while any boys born of
the marriage should be brought up in their father’s religion, the girls
should be brought up in that of their mother.

They journeyed by easy stages--the men on horseback, the girls in the
family coach--down to Cadiz, whore berths had already been secured on
board a ship sailing for England.  The voyage was a slow but fair one.
After the first day or two none of the party suffered from sea-sickness.
Roper had refused to allow a passage to be taken for him aft with the

"It is kind of you to wish it, sir, but I should not be comfortable.  If
you were travelling alone it would be different, but the count and his
sisters have only been accustomed to look upon me as your servant.  They
are always very kind and friendly to me.  They know that we have gone
through a very great deal together, but I think they would feel--and I
am sure I should be--very uncomfortable if I were to sit at table with
them on terms of equality."

"Well, it must be as you wish, Roper, but I am quite sure they do not
feel it so.  They know that I regard you, and always have done so, as a
friend; that we have gone through many adventures together, besides the
one in which you aided me to save Mercedes from Cabrera.  However, it
shall be as you like."

The girls and Leon, after the first two days, thoroughly enjoyed the
voyage, which was a novelty to them.  On arriving in London the count
took private rooms at an hotel, and for two or three days Arthur went
about with them, enjoying the sights as much as they did, as he had
never before been to London.  Then he travelled down to Liverpool by the
North-Western Railway--then only recently opened.

He had written briefly to his uncle on his arrival, mentioning the day
on which he should come down.  When he reached Liverpool, therefore, he
drove from the station to his house.

Although he had written home regularly once every three or four months,
he had simply mentioned the positions he held and the scenes he had
witnessed, and had said but very little as to his private adventures.

When he drove up to the door his uncle and aunt both came out to meet
him.  They paused in astonishment.  "Is it possible that you are
Arthur?" Mr. Hallett asked.

"Not only possible, but a fact, uncle."

"Well, we are delighted to see you home again, my boy; but we certainly
did not expect to see a giant."

"Nor do you, uncle, I am only six feet one, not at all an out-of-the-way

"Well, I must kiss you, my dear," his aunt said; "but I almost feel as
if I were taking a liberty."

"Nonsense, aunt!  I don’t think I have changed much since I went away;
but of course in six years I have grown a bit bigger.  And how are you,
girls?  How are you both?"

They went into the house.

"Well, Arthur," his uncle said, looking at him closely, "it may have
been only six years since you left us, but by your appearance I should
have thought that it was ten."

"I suppose I do look older than I am, uncle.  Everyone takes me for
three or four years older, but I can tell you it has been a most
fortunate thing for me.  I should never have been made a captain if they
had had an idea that I was only eighteen years old."

"Well, Arthur, I suppose you have quite given up your tendency to get
into scrapes," his aunt said.

"I don’t think I have, aunt," Arthur laughed.  "I have been in a good
many of what you might call scrapes since I went away, but, as you see,
I have come all right through them. The only casualty that I have had
is, that I got a couple of ribs broken in a fight with some brigands
three months ago. And now I am going to astonish you.  I am going to get

There was a general exclamation of astonishment.  "You are not serious,

"Never was more serious in my life."

"And is it to a Spanish lady?"

"Yes, uncle.  She is the sister of a count who is a great friend of
mine, and I am sure you will say, when you see her, that she is a most
charming young lady.  She is a year younger than I am, and is reasonably
endowed with the world’s goods."

His aunt was the first to rally from her astonishment.  "It sounds very
nice, Arthur," she said, "and I have no doubt that we shall congratulate
you very much when we get to know her; but of course it has come as a
little shock to us."

"I expected it would, aunt.  I know that English people are prejudiced
against foreigners.  Of course, I have been living in Spain for six
years, and have got over any ideas of that sort."

"But is she a Catholic, Arthur?" his aunt asked in rather an awed tone.

"All Spanish ladies are Catholics, aunt; but as this particular one is
by no means a bigoted one, we are not likely to quarrel over it.  She
already speaks English well, and I can assure you that you will find her

"And you say she has a fortune?"

"Yes, she has about twenty-five thousand pounds in her own right."

"Well, that is comfortable; anyhow, you will not do badly in the money
way.  Your own estate was worth about one thousand pounds a year, but as
it has been accumulating since you were ten years old, and as I have
always invested the rents carefully, it will bring you in about as much

"That is not bad at all, uncle; and I may add that I have twenty
thousand pounds of my own lying to my order at the Bank of Liverpool."

"Twenty thousand, Arthur!  Why, how in the world did you get that?"

"I did a little service to the queen.  It really was not worth troubling
about, but she and the government between them insisted on making me a
present of that sum.  I may mention also that I am a member of the first
class of the Order of San Fernando and a Knight of Isabella the
Catholic. Now, girls, I should like to see you curtsy to me.  So you
see, uncle, that my running away and joining the British Legion has not
turned out so badly."

"No, indeed, Arthur.  Of course, you will tell us all about it
presently; as yet we can only wonder.  I suppose you intend to go back
to Spain shortly to fetch your wife home?"

"No, I have no idea of returning to Spain for an indefinite time.  Donna
Mercedes de Balen--that is her full name, uncle--accompanied me home to
England under the protection of her brother, the Count Leon de Balen,
whose name I have more than once mentioned in my letters, and with them
came their two sisters, Donna Inez and Donna Dolores, two very charming
young ladies.  They will return home with their brother in three or four
months’ time.  After our marriage takes place they will travel about

"You certainly seem to have the whole thing arranged, Arthur, and it
appears to me that you are as headstrong as you were when a boy."

"I don’t think so, uncle.  I have been doing a man’s work for six years,
and, though I say it myself, have done it fairly well.  Now I have
finished wandering, and am going to settle down for good."

They talked until a very late hour in the evening.  Arthur refused to
satisfy their curiosity as to the service he had rendered to the queen,
and said nothing about his private adventures.  He told them principally
about his work in the Legion, and afterwards as an assistant

"Now, what is your first business going to be, Arthur?" his uncle asked
when they met the next morning.

"The very first thing is to go over to my place.  I have no doubt you
have had it kept in good order; but it is certain that great changes
will be needed before I bring Mercedes home there.  I should wish you
and aunt and the girls to go over there with me, and give me the benefit
of your opinions as to the alterations to be made.  It will save time if
we drive first to some of the best builders and upholsterers in town,
and get them to send out men an hour and a half or so after we start, to
meet us there.  I think," he said, turning to his aunt, "that the
wedding will take place in London, and hope that you will all come up
and be present."

"You quite take my breath away, Arthur, with your impetuosity."

"Well, aunt, when a thing has to be done, it seems to me that the sooner
it is done the better.  When it is over we shall go away for a fortnight
or so, and when we come home the count and his sisters will meet us.
The idea is, that they shall spend about three weeks with us, and that
we shall then travel with them for a month."

"Well, James," Mrs. Hallett said, "it seems to me that the programme is
a very good one.  The girls have never been up to London, and I have not
been up there since we were married.  It is nothing of a journey now
that the railway is open.  I am sure you want a holiday too; you have
not had one for years.  Arthur will no doubt get nice lodgings for us,
and I am sure we shall enjoy the trip immensely. When is the marriage to
come off, Arthur?"

"I should say in about a week or ten days; there is no conceivable
reason why we should wait any longer."

"In that case it is only three weeks till your home-coming. You don’t
suppose that the alterations you propose to make could be carried out in
that time?"

"A lot can be done with money, uncle, and I don’t care what I spend.  At
any rate, a portion of the house large enough to hold our party can be
in good order by that time, and the rest must be finished while we are

"I don’t know how I can give up my work," Mr. Hallett began; but Arthur
broke in:

"My dear uncle, you need not say that.  Your head clerk can surely
manage the business for ten days.  If he cannot, I should advise you to
sack him and get another.  Now, if you will give me the address of the
builder and upholsterer, I will drive round and see them, and arrange
for them to send men, and will bring the carriage to the door in an
hour’s time."

"Well, I cannot go to-day anyhow, Arthur."

"Well, I am sorry for that, uncle, because I should have liked your
opinion.  However, in the matter of furnishing and so on, I know that I
can rely upon aunt."

"But I cannot understand," Mr. Hallett said, "why you didn’t get married
out there."

"My dear uncle, if you lived in Spain you would very soon find out the
amount of pressure that is used to prevent a young lady of noble family
from marrying a Protestant and a stranger.  It is simply enormous; and
therefore we agreed that it would be infinitely better for us to come
over to England. When a thing is once done, it is useless to say
anything against it.  The priests may tear their hair over what they
will consider an act of backsliding on the part of Mercedes, but she
won’t hear anything of it."

On reaching his house Arthur found that, although it was in a fair state
of repair, a great deal must be done to meet his requirements.  It was a
good country house, but not a large one, and he decided that the
dining-room must be enlarged, the drawing-room doubled in size, a
boudoir built adjoining it, and several new bedrooms added.  It was
clearly impossible to do all this in three weeks, and it was decided
that the dining-room should be left for the present as it stood, and the
builder promised to put so many hands to work that the drawing-room and
boudoir, and rooms over them, should be finished in time.  The stables
were altogether condemned and would have to be rebuilt, and orders were
given to have the gardens put in perfect order and planted with flowers
before Arthur returned with his wife.

"It is a large order," the builder said, "but as you say that I can put
on any number of men, I think I can guarantee to get it finished."

The order for the upholsterer was very large, as the whole house was to
be refurnished, and there was much consultation between Mrs. Hallett and
the girls as to the patterns, etc. However, they returned in the evening
very well satisfied with the work they had done, and next morning Arthur
went to town again.

He found that a special licence could be obtained at once, and therefore
wrote to his uncle and aunt to come up on the following day by an
afternoon train.  He met them at the station and drove with them to
lodgings he had taken for them in Clarges Street.

"These must be rather expensive rooms," Mr. Hallett said gravely.

"My dear uncle, that makes no difference to you; I am going to pay the
piper.  While you are here, you will be my guests.  I am very flush of
money, for I have in my bank six hundred pounds of the money you sent
me, for twenty pounds a year in addition to my pay quite sufficed for my

Arthur had secured a room for himself in the same house, and next
morning after breakfast took his friends to visit Leon and his sisters.
They were mutually pleased with each other, and the girls pronounced
Mercedes to be charming, and the other girls almost as nice, though they
were unable to get on so well with them, as Arthur had to act as
interpreter.  After talking for an hour the ladies decided to go
shopping together, while Leon, Arthur, and his uncle strolled through
the town.

"Well, have you done your shopping to your satisfaction, aunt?" Arthur
said when they met again.

"Yes, we have bought loads of things.  I am quite frightened to think
what your uncle will say when he gets the bill."

"He won’t get the bill at all," Arthur said quietly.  "You are my
guests, and I am going to stand paymaster."

"Oh, but that is impossible, Arthur!  We have bought almost everything
new.  I have reckoned it roughly up, and it will come to over a hundred
and twenty pounds."

"If it would come to two hundred and forty it would be all the better,"
Arthur said.  "You don’t understand, aunt. This allowance money is
burning in my pocket.  I have had no means of spending it till now, and
I am going to indulge myself.  Please say no more about it, but just
hand me the bills and I will see them paid.  Now, you will really hurt
me if you say any more."

Leon and his party came round to dinner, which Arthur had ordered to be
sent in from a restaurant in Bond Street.

"How did you and Arthur get to know each other, Mercedes?" one of the
girls asked.

"Well, we only knew each other from his knowing our brother, up to the
time when he saved my life."

"Saved your life!  He never told us anything about that."

"That is just like him!" Mercedes said impetuously.  "It is too bad of
him, everyone ought to know it;" and she gave them a vivid account of
the manner in which he had rescued her.  "After that," she said, "what
could I do but marry him? I was engaged to someone else.  I did not love
him, you know; but it was a proper sort of engagement.  The count was a
man of good family and a friend of my brother’s.  He had asked Leon’s
consent, and Leon had given it, so there was nothing for me to say.  But
after Arthur had saved my life, of course it was different altogether,
and I broke off the engagement.  It was more than a year after that
before I became engaged to Arthur.  He declares that he never suspected
I cared for him, though really I am afraid I showed it very much.  Then
Arthur had to fight a duel with the count and wounded him, and the count
made two attempts on his life, and then you know the Church interfered
and shut Arthur up in a dungeon, and he dug his way out in a wonderful
way.  Have you not heard all this before?"

"No, he never said a word about it in his letters," Mrs. Hallett said.

"Mercedes, you are chattering too much," Arthur said. "You thought a
great deal about these things, but there was nothing worth telling."

"I am the best judge of that, sir," Mercedes said, tossing her head.
"You go on talking to Leon and my sisters."

"And haven’t you heard, Mrs. Hallett," she said, "of the wonderful way
in which he rescued the Regent of Spain and the little Queen when they
were carried off?"

"Not a word, dear."

"Well, then, I shall scold him very much," Mercedes said. "When he has
done so many splendid things, why should he not speak of them?"

"I think he might have told us, my dear," Mrs. Hallett said gently, "but
I suppose he thought it would look like bragging, and there is nothing
Englishmen hate more than that.  Men who do great things are the very
last to speak of them."

"Ah well, I will tell you some day all about them!" Mercedes said, "and
then you will not be surprised that I say he is one of the most
wonderful men in the world, and why I, and Leon and my sisters, love him

The two girls looked at Arthur with wondering eyes.  He had always been
rather a hero with them in his young days, and they could quite imagine
that he would be a brave soldier, but they had never dreamt of his
performing such deeds as these.

At the wedding, Roper, who had at once on his arrival gone down to see
his family, and who had now come up for the purpose, acted as Arthur’s
best man.  He had vainly endeavoured to excuse himself.  Arthur insisted
that, having for six years been his best friend, he should certainly
occupy that place on this important occasion.

In spite of the effort of the builders the house was not ready for
habitation at the time fixed on, and it was two months before the whole
party returned together from their tour.  Roper was by this time
installed on a farm on the estate.  When Leon returned to Spain he left
Inez with her sister, and six months later she married a neighbour of
Arthur’s, to the great satisfaction of Mercedes; and neither of them has
once regretted that she has exchanged the troubles and struggles of her
native land for the peace and quiet of England.  As to Arthur, he has
always said that the day he enlisted in the British Legion was the most
fortunate one in his life.

                                THE END.

           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

                   *HISTORICAL TALES BY G. A. HENTY*

THE CAT OF BUBASTES: A Story of Ancient Egypt.
FOR THE TEMPLE: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem.
THE DRAGON AND THE RAVEN: or, The Days of King Alfred.
THE LION OF ST. MARK: A Story of Venice in the 14th Century.
A MARCH ON LONDON: A Story of Wat Tyler.
AT AGINCOURT: A Tale of the White Hoods of Paris.
ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S EVE: A Tale of the Huguenot Wars.
BY ENGLAND’S AID: or, The Freeing of the Netherlands.
THE LION OF THE NORTH: A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus.
WHEN LONDON BURNED: A Story of the Great Fire.
A JACOBITE EXILE: In the Service of Charles XII.
BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden.
AT THE POINT OP THE BAYONET: A Tale of the Mahratta War.
TRUE TO THE OLD FLAG: The American War of Independence.
IN THE REIGN OF TERROR: The French Revolution.
A ROVING COMMISSION: A Story of the Hayti Insurrection.
AT ABOUKIR AND ACRE: Napoleon’s Invasion of Egypt.
THROUGH THE FRAY: A Story of the Luddite Riots.
ONE OF THE 28TH: A Story of Waterloo.
ON THE IRRAWADDY: A Story of the First Burmese War.
MAORI AND SETTLER: A Story of the New Zealand War.
BY SHEER PLUCK: A Tale of the Ashanti War.
OUT WITH GARIBALDI: A Story of the Liberation of Italy.
THE DASH FOR KHARTOUM: A Tale of the Nile Expedition.
WITH ROBERTS TO PRETORIA: A Tale of the South African War.


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