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pears, a malcontent, and on the wrong BY HENRY SETON MERRIMAN, AUTHOR OF "THE side of the wall. You need have no unSOWERS."

easiness. Ah! your nerves; yes, I know. CHAPTER IX.

A great sufferer-yes, I remember.

Patience, dear Iñez, patience."

And he patted her stout white hand "La discrétion est l'art du mensonge." affectionately. The alcalde blew out his cheeks and

The alcalde was taking snuff with a looked at General Vincente.

stubborn air of disbelief, glancing the

Señora Barenna would with small encourage

while suspiciously at Conyngham, who ment have thrown herself into Conyng

had eyes for none but Estella.

"Alcalde," said General Vincente. ham's arms, but she received none whatever, and instead frowned at Julia. “the incident is past, as we say in the Estella was looking haughtily at her diplomatic service-a lemonade now.” father, and would not meet Conyng

"No, general, the incident is not past,

and I will not have a lemonade." ham's glance.

“Oh!" exclaimed General Vincente "I feel sure," said General Vincente, in his most conciliating manner, “that

in gentle horror. my dear Julia will see the necessity of

"Yes. This young lady must give me satisfying the good alcalde by showing the letter or I call in my men." him the letter, with, of course the con

"But your men could not touch a lady, sent of my friend Conyngham."

my dear alcalde." He laughed and slipped his hand

"You may be the alcalde of Ronda," within Conyngham's arm.

said Conyngham cheerfully, in continu"You see, my dear friend,” he said ation of the general's argument, “but in English, “these local magnates are

if you offer such an insult to Señorita a little inflated; local magnitude is a

Barenna, I throw you into the fountain little inclined to inflate-eh? Ha! ha! –in the deepest part, where it is wettest And it is so easy to conciliate them. I just there by the marble dolphin." always try to do so myself. Peace at

And Conyngham indicated the exact any price, that is my motto."

spot with his riding-whip. And he turned aside to arrange his

"Who is this gentleman?" asked the sword, which dragged on the ground.

alcalde. The question was, in the first -Tell her, my dear Conyngham, to let place, addressed to space and the gods. the old gentleman read the letter.”

After a moment the speaker turned to

General Vincente. “But it is nothing to do with me, general.”

"A prospective aide-de-camp of Gen

eral Espartero." I know that, my friend, as well as

At the mention of the great name the you do," said Vincente, with a sudden change of manner which left the En- mayor of Ronda became beautifully glishman with an uncomfortable desire less, and half bowed to Conyngham. to know what he meant. But General

“I must do my duty,” he said, with Vincente, in pursuit of that peace which the stubbornness of a small mind. had earned him such a terrible reputa

"And what do you conceive that to

be, tion in war, turned to Señora Barenna

my dear alcalde?" inquired the with his most reassuring smile.

general. “It is nothing, my dear Iñez,” he

"To place the Señorita Barenna unsaid. "In these times of trouble the

der arrest, unless she will hand to me officials are so suspicious, and our dear the letter she has in her possession.”

Julia looked at him with a smile. She alcalde knows too much. He remembers dear Julia's little affair with Este.

was a brave woman playing a dangerban Larralde, now long since lived

ous game with consummate courage, down and forgotten. Larralde is, it ap- with an effort kept his hand away from

and never glanced at Conyngham, who 1 Copyright, 1896, by Henry Seton Merriman. the pocket where the letter lay con


cealed. The manner in which she form, had appeared in the doorway of trusted bim unreservedly and entirely the house. was in itself cunning enough, for it ap- “What the deuce we are all trying to pealed to that sense of chivalry which is do I don't know,” reflected Conyngnot yet dead in men despite the advance ham, who, indeed, was sufficiently at of women.

sea to awake the most dormant sus"Place me under arrest, Señor Al- picions. calde," she said indifferently, “and The alcalde, now thoroughly aroused, when you have satisfied me that you protested his inability to neglect a parhave a right to inspect a lady's private ticle of his duty at this troubled period correspondence, I will submit to be of Spain's history, and announced his searched, but not before."

intention of placing Julia Barenna un. She made a little signal to Conyng der surveillance until she handed to ham not to interfere.

him the letter she had received from Señora Barenna took this opportunity Conyngham. of asserting herself and

She "I am quite prepared," he added, sat heavily down on a stone seat and “to give this caballero the benefit of the wept. She could hardly have done doubt, and assume that he has been in better, for she was a countess in her this matter the tool of unscrupulous own right, and the sight of high- persons. Seeing that he is a friend of born tears distinctly unnerved the General Vincente's, and has an introalcalde.

duction to his excellency the Duke of "Well," he said, "the señorita has Vittoria, he is without the pale of my made her own choice. In these times jurisdiction." (ne glanced nervously at the weeping The alcalde made Conyngham a prolady) one must do one's duty."

found bow, and proceeded to conduct "My dear Julia," protested the gen- Julia and her indignant mother to their eral, "you who are so sensible" carriage.

Julia shrugged her shoulders and “There goes," said General Vincente, laughed. She not only trusted Conyng- with his most optimistic little chuckle, ham, but relied upon his intelligence. "a young woman whose head will alIt is, as a rule, safer to confide in the ways be endangered by her heart.” honesty of one's neighbor than in his And he nodded toward Julia's retreatwit. Better still, trust in neither. Co- ing form. nyngham, who was quick enough when Estella turned and walked away by the moment required it, knew that she herself. was fostering the belief that the letter Come," said the general to Conyngat that moment in his pocket was in her ham, “let us sit down; I have news for possession. He suspected also that he you. But what a susceptible heart, my and Julia Barenna were playing with dear young friend—what a susceptible life and death. Further, he recognized heart! Julia is, I admit, a very her and her voice. This was the pretty girl-la beauté du diable-eh? woman who had shown discrimination But on so short an acquaintance rather and calmness in face of a great danger rapid-rather rapid!” on the Garonne. Had this Englishman, As he spoke he was searching among owning as he did to a strain of Irish some letters, which he had produced blood, turned his back upon her and from his pocket, and at length found an danger at such a moment, he would as- official envelope that had already been suredly have proved himself untrue to opened. the annals of that race which has made "I have here,” he said. "a letter from a mark upon the world that will never Madrid. You have only to proceed to be wiped out. He looked at the alcalde the captain, and there, I hope, a post and smiled, whereupon that official awaits you. Your duties will at present turned and made a signal with his hand be of a semi-military character, but to a man who, dressed in a quiet uni- later, I hope, we can show you some fighting. This pestilential Cabrera is "When does his excellency take the not yet quelled, and Morella still holds road again ?" he said. “I am ready. out. Yes, there will be fighting." The guardia civile were mistaken this

He closed the letter and looked at time; the judge said there was no stain Conyngham.

upon my name." "If that is what you want," he added. He shrugged his shoulder and waived “Yes, that is what I want.”

away the slight put upon him with the The general nodded and rose, pausing magnanimity of one who can forgive to brush a few grains of dust from his and forget. dapper riding breeches.

“I take the road to-morrow; but our “Come,” he said, “I have seen a horse contract ceased at Ronda. I had no inwhich will suit you, at the cavalry tention of taking you on." quarters in the Calle de Bobadilla. "You are not satisfied with me?" in. Shall we go and look at him?"

quired Concepcion, offering his interConyngham expressed his readiness locutor the cigarette he had just made. to do as the general proposed.

“Oh, yes." "When shall I start for Madrid ?” he "Buen! We take the road together." asked.

“Then there is nothing more to be "Oh, to-morrow morning will be time said?" inquired Conyngham, with a enough," was the reply, uttered in an good-natured laugh. easy-going, indolent tone, “if you are "Nothing, except the hour at which early astir. You see, it is now nearly your excellency starts." five o'clock, and you could scarcely be "Six o'clock,” put in General Vinin the saddle before sunset.”

cente quietly. “Let me see; your name "No," laughed Conyngham; "scarcely, is Concepcion Vara.” considering that I have not yet bought “Yes, excellency, of Algeciras.” the saddle or the horse.”

"It is well. Then serve this gentleThe general led the way into the man well, or else" the general house, and Conyngham thought of the paused and laughed in his most depreletter in his pocket. He had not yet cating manner. read the address. Julia relied upon Concepcion seemed to understand, for him to deliver it, and her conduct he took off his hat and turned gravely toward the alcalde had the evident ob- away. The general and Conyngham ject of gaining time for him to do so. walked rapidly through the streets of She had unhesitatingly thrust herself Ronda, than which there are into a position of danger to screen him cleaner in the whole world, and duly and further her own indomitable pur- bought a great black horse at a price pose. He thought of her, still as from a which seemed moderate enough to the distance at which Estella had placed Englishman, though the vendor exhim, and knew that she not only had a plained that the long war had made disquieting beauty, but cleverness and horseflesh rise in value. Conyngham, courage, which are qualities that out at no time a keen bargainer, hurried last beauty and make a woman power- the matter to an end, and scarce exam. ful forever.

ined the saddle. He was anxious to get When he and his companion emerged back to the garden of the great house from the great doorway of the house in the Calle Mayor before the cool of into the sunlight of the Calle Mayor a the evening came to drive Estella inman came forward from the shade of a doors. neighboring doorway. It was Con- "You will doubtless wish to pack cepcion Vara, leisurely and dignified, your portmanteau," said the general twirling a cigarette between his brown rather breathlessly, as he hurried along fingers. He saluted the general with with small steps beside Conyngham. one finger to the brim of his shabby “Yes," answered that Englishman infelt bat, as one great man might salute genuously-"yes, of course." another. He nodded to Conyngham. "Then I will not detain you,” said


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General Vincente; "I have affairs at waistcloth, a spotless shirt, and a flower headquarters. We meet at dinner, of in the ribbon of his hat. course.”

He was dignified and leisurely, but so He waved a little salutation with his far forgot himself as to sing as he threw whip, and took a side turning.

his leg across his horse. A dark-eyed The sun had not set when Conyng maiden had come as far as the corner ham with a beating heart made his way of the Calle Veija, and stood there through the house into the garden. He watching him with mournful eyes. He had never been so serious about any- waved her salutation as he passed. thing in his life; indeed, his life seemed “It is the waiting-maid at the venta only to have begun in that garden. where I stay in Ronda. What will Estella was there. He saw her black you?” he explained to Conyngham dress and mantilla through the trees, with a modest air, as he cocked his hat and the gleam of her golden hair made further on one side. his eyes almost fierce for a moment. The sun rose as they emerged from

"I am going to-morrow morning," the narrow streets into the open counhe said bluntly, when he reached her try that borders the road to Bobadilla, where she sat in the shade of a mi- A pastoral country this, where the land

needs little care to make it give more She raised her eyes for a moment, than man requires for his daily food. deep velvet eyes, with a glowing depth The evergreen oak studded over the of passion in them that made his heart whole plain supplies food for countless leap within his breast.

pigs, and shade, where the herdsmen “And I love you, Estella,” he added. may dream away the sunny days. The "You may be offended, you may de- rich soil would yield two or even three spise me, you may distrust me; but crops in the year were the necessary nothing can alter me. I love you now seed and labor forthcoming. Under and ever.”

ground the mineral wealth outvies the She drew a deep breath and sat mo- richness of the surface, but national intionless.

dolence leaves it unexplored. "How many women does an English- "Before General Vincente one could man love at once?" she asked coldly at not explain one's self," said Concepcion, length.

urging his horse to keep pace with the "Only one, señorita."

trot of Conyngham's mount. He stood looking at her for a moment. "Ah!" Then she rose and walked past him "No," pursued Concepcion; "and yet into the house.

it is simple. In Algeciras I have a wife. It is well that a

should CHAPTER X.

travel at times. So"-he paused and bowed toward his companion with a

gesture of infinite condescension-"so “En paroles ou en actions, être discret, c'est

we take the road together." s'abstenir."

“As long as you are pleased, Señor “There is," observed Frederick Co- Vara," said Conyngham, “I am sure I nyngham to himself, as he climbed into can but feel honored. You know I the saddle in the grey dawn of the fol. have no money." lowing morning, “there is a certain The Spaniard shrugged his shoulders. picturesqueness about these proceed- “What matter?" he said “what ings which pleases me."

matter? We can keep an account-a Concepcion Vara, indeed, supplied a mere piece of paper-so, Concepcion portion of this romantic atmosphere, Vara, of Algeciras, in account current for he was dressed in the height of con- with F. Conyngham, Englishman. One trabandista fashion, with a bright-col- month's wages at one hundred pesetas. ored handkerchief folded round his head It is simple." underneath his black hat, a scarlet “Very,” acquiesced Conyngham; "it






is only when pay-day comes that things have refused his assistance to a man, will get complicated.”

however hard pressed. Concepcion laughed.

“Cannot leave the girl in a hole," he "You

caballero after my had said to himself, and proceeded to own heart,” he said. "We shall act upon this resolution with a steadi. enjoy ourselves in Madrid. I ness of purpose for which some may that."

blame him. Conyngham did not answer. He had It was evening when the two travel. remembered the letter and Julia Baren- lers reached Xeres, after some weary na's danger. He rose in his stirrups hours of monotonous progress through and looked behind him. Ronda was al- the vine-clad plains of this country. ready hidden by intervening hills, and "It is no wonder,” said Concepcion, the bare line of the roadway was un- “that the men of Xeres are malcontents broken by the form of any other travels when they live in a country as flat as ler.

the palm of my hand." “We are not going to Madrid yet," It happened to be a fête day, which in said Conyngham; "we are going to Spain, as in other countries farther Xeres, where I have business. Do you north, is synonymous with mischief. know the road to Xeres?"

The men of Xeres had taken advantage "As well that as any other, excel- of this holiday to demonstrate their delency."

sire for more. They had marched "What do you mean?'

through the streets with banner and "I know no roads north of Ronda. song, arrayed in their best clothes, fosI am of Andalusia, I," replied Con- tering their worst thoughts. They had cepcion easily, and he looked round consumed marvellous quantities of that about him with an air of interest which small amontillado, which is, as it were, was more to the credit of his intelli- as thin fire to the blood, heating and gence as a traveller than his reliability degenerating at once. They had talked as a guide.

much nonsense and listened to more. “But you engaged to guide me to Ma. Carlist or Christino, it was all the same drid."

to them so long as they had a change “Yes, excellency, by asking the way,” of some sort. In the mean time they replied Concepcion with an easy laugh, had a desire to break something, if only and he struck a sulphur match on the to assert their liberty. neck of his horse to light a fresh cigar- A few minutes before Conyngham and

his guide rode into the market-place, Thus with an easy heart Frederick which in Xeres is as long as a street, Conyngham set out on his journey, some of the free sons of Spain had having for companion one as irresponsi- thought fit to shout insulting remarks ble as himself. He had determined to to a passer-by. With a fire too bright go to Xeres, though that town of ill- for his years, this old gentleman, with repate lay far to the westward of his fierce white moustache and imperial, road toward the capital. It would have had turned on them, calling them goodbeen simple enough to destroy the letter for-nothings and sons of pigs. entrusted to him by Julia Barenna, a Conyngham rode up just in time to stranger whom he was likely never to see the ruffians rise as one man and rush see again-simple enough and infinitely at the victim of their humor. The safer, as he suspected, for the billets old man with his back to the wall beat doux of Mr. Larralde smelt of grimmer back his assailants with a sort of fierce things than love. But Julia Barenna, joy in his attitude which betokened the wittingly or in all innocence, appealed old soldier. to that sense of chivalry which is essen- "Come on, Concepcion,” cried Cotially the quality of lonely men who nyngham, with a dig of the spurs that have never had sisters, and Conyngham made his tired horse leap into the air. was ready to help Julia where he would He charged down upon the gathering


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