AT the head of his table, in a palatial home in Madrid, sat the Marquis of Carillo, a man of three and fifty years. It was early autumn, and a low fire burned upon the hearth, reflecting the beautiful appointments of the room, a dining hall of noble dimensions, and very costly furnishings, panelled and ceiled with oak and richly carved with armorial bearings: in the centre of the panels were emblazoned shields bearing the arms of the Carillos, and the noble families with which they had intermarried. The knights' stalls which ran around the hall were elaborately carved, and old, gorgeous banners dropped down above them, heavy with bullion and embroideries, each one bearing the inscription of the battle-field upon which it had been won, for the Carillos had been soldiers and successful captains for
This faint sunlight fell upon a countenance, stern, haughty and repellent, a face like an old portrait, full of power and passion, which had dug sharp furrows and deep iron lines into it. The forehead though high was narrow and contracted, the brow sullenly overhung the eyes, and the nose, singularly prominent and decided, had brought out the sternness of the expression with great force.
The breakfast hour was nearly over as she entered, and approaching her uncle she imprinted a light kiss upon his brow. ‘‘I am late again, dear uncle,’’ she said playfully, ‘‘what did we decide the penalty was to be?’’
‘‘Have you forgotten already?’’ he asked, smiling upon her, as he did not often upon any other member of his household, ‘‘that is the consequence, I fear, of not enforcing penalties: they do not make much impression.’’
‘‘And so you have, dear,’’ she replied saucily, ‘‘in yourself and aunty. What marvellously prompt and regular people you are! The moralist must use an introspective glass once in a while, and see the wonderful result of all his beautiful theories upon himself. But seriously, you must forgive me once more; you remember how late I retired, I was about to say last night, but it was not last night at all, but this morning.’’
‘‘Women have played very important rôles in history, my child. It is only a few years ago that the first wife of our king, Maria Louisa of Savoy, was left Regent of Spain while Philip was in Italy, and although a child of only fourteen years, was a clever little Regent.’’
‘‘Yes; I went with Philip to Catalonia to meet her. I never shall forget it. We were mobbed by a gang of beggars as we passed through the gates, and had to fight our way out through them,’’ and the Marquis laughed heartily. ‘‘I can see the gang now. They caught hold of our bridles, the manes of the horses, and some of them dragged along on
‘‘Does she not always have the best of me?’’ he asked smiling. ‘‘I am not one of the circumstances, or facts, that she accepts; she fashions me according to her pleasure, and I have to fill the rôle that she has just assigned to the women—I have to accept.’’
‘‘She certainly cannot be much weaker than his Majesty,’’ replied his sister. ‘‘We have but just begun to taste the sweets of a peace we so much need, when the ambitions of Cardinal Alberini disturbs it with his projects, and the king weakly lends himself to them.’’
‘‘That compels France in pursuance of her treaty with the Emperor, England and Holland to assume the offensive and prevent the destruction of the tranquility of Europe. It is even said that the king has formed a conspiracy to deprive the Duc d'Orleans of the Regency of France and assume it himself,’’ said his sister.
‘‘'L'état, c'est moi,' said the French king, and other kings think it a good motto,’’ laughed the Marquis, ‘‘so they practically adopt it. We leave for Pampeluna soon, but I fear we will find a great difference in fighting with, or against, the Duke of Berwick. He will command the French forces, and is unquestionably the ablest general of Europe. It will not be so pleasant to fight against him, as heretofore we have always fought with him; but such must sometimes be the fortune of war.’’
‘‘Philip made the Duke of Berwick a grandee of Spain and Duke of Liria after the famous battle of Almanza, and with the king's consent he has transferred his title to his second son, the one you met last evening.’’
‘‘Yes,’’ replied the Marquis, ‘‘and that,’’ pointing to a very handsome standard, ‘‘I won upon the battle-field. That battle saved Philip's crown. The Duke of Berwick was a gallant commander. The English reached the very walls of Almanza, but the genius of Berwick rallied his men, repelled them, and became the assailants: they lost 4,000 killed, 8,000 prisoners, while our whole loss did not exceed 2,000: we captured one hundred and twenty standards, of which that is one, and so much booty that after the battle it was said that a horse might be bought for a mere song, and a coat or a musket for a few pence.
‘‘One of the most singular features of this battle,’’ laughed the Marquis, ‘‘was that the English army was commanded by a Frenchman, Lord Galway, and the French by an Englishman, the Duke of Berwick.’’
‘‘No,’’ said the Marquis, ‘‘but he was a Frenchman by birth, and a Huguenot in faith: he was the Marquis of Ruvigny and left France at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He entered the English army, was made an earl, not so much, I fancy, for his military talent as his zeal for the Protestant religion.’’
‘‘How strange the fortunes of war are,’’ continued the Marquis. ‘‘Now as we are to give battle to the French the Duke of Berwick, our old commander, and we loved him well, will be on the other side.’’
‘‘Yes,’’ replied the Marquis, joining in her merriment, ‘‘don't you remember what Lieutenant Bernal told us a few days ago about the handsome girl that Father Kino, the Jesuit priest, had found twenty years ago and adopted, and who was so clever?’’
Two hours later, when Isabella descended to the library for an unfinished novel, that she had left there the day before, she saw her uncle seated beside the table, his head bowed and his brow very dark and stern. In his hand he held an open letter. ‘‘Infamous, infamous,’’ she heard him ejaculate, as she entered.
Isabella read the letter in semi-audible tones. Balthazar Carillo wrote first of Manuelita's beauty, her worth and accomplishments, and his great love for her, then he told his father of his approaching marriage, and begged both his consent and forgiveness.
‘‘Oh, the same old story, that she is good, beautiful, and well educated and two-thirds Spanish, as if I cared to know anything about her. I shall disown him, disinherit him if he marries her. I shall order him home at once. He asks my forgiveness and blessing, my blessing, forsooth, for bringing such disgrace and shame upon my name, for disappointing my every hope and wish, and it is for this that I have won honors, and wealth and station, to
‘‘Never, never, if he marries this girl. I thought him at least safe from this out there. I will never see him again, unless he at once breaks off this disreputable connection, and returns to a sense of his duty.’’
‘‘But, uncle, if he loves her, one cannot love at command, you know,’’ and a soft blush overspread her face, for she well knew that her uncle's idea of his son's ‘‘sense of duty,’’ was that he should return and marry her.
‘‘What business has he to love a miserable Indian woman, when his duty lies here at home? Has he no ambition to fill my place honourably? He will be the Marquis de Carillo. He well knew that I had other views for him.’’
‘‘That does not always bring love; it must all go with the face and form a man loves, to win his love. Let us hope, dear uncle,’’ she replied, putting her arms around him, ‘‘for the best; one often finds, where it is to be least expected rare conjunctions of nature under the most unfavorable circumstances; they depend upon conditions that we cannot see or understand, and bring strange results often. If this young girl has been educated by Father Kino she may be very lovely and worthy.’’
‘‘Because, uncle, you loved there. Balthazar is refined and cultured: he could not love a woman who was otherwise. Ah, uncle, if we only loved where reason dictated, how soon love would die out of the world: it is all that makes life beautiful, or sanctifies it.’’
‘‘He may love her now out there, and think, no doubt, that it involves his happiness for life that he should make her his wife; a few months hence he will find that it has insured his misery; it would soon become a memory that he would be glad to have escaped.’’
‘‘If he marries this girl he will have so far forgotten his duty to me, to his family, that I will consider him no son of mine longer. I will never see him again,’’ and his brow grew darker and darker.
‘‘Enough, child, enough; I have determined, and not even you can change me. A marriage of this kind perverts a man's most ambitious hopes, his entire nature in fact. He will soon, I presume, be dressed up in paint and feathers, to please her, like the other Indians, and in a couple of generations we would not know them from the rest of the savages out there. This Baucis and Philemon idea of marriage is all well enough in romance, but no one in our world marries that way now. I don't say that people are not to love one another, but it is only in the 'petit monde,' as we call it, that such nonsense is tolerated now: love in a cottage is well enough for Juan and the maid, but with Balthazar and this Indian girl it will have to be love in a
Isabella Carillo had loved her cousin ever since she had been old enough to know what love meant, and would have gladly consigned her happiness to his keeping at any moment that he had asked it; her heart was very sad and heavy at the prospect of the desolation and wretchedness that now threatened them, but the one thought and wish that filled her gentle, loving soul was to mitigate the despair and agony that possessed her uncle, and to soften his anger and severity against Balthazar. Hers was that pure, unselfish love that seeks the happiness and wellbeing of the