TEN years have passed since we last saw the Marquis de Carillo, and although now but a little past sixty years of age, he has aged greatly. When he learned of the loss of the vessel upon which his son had embarked for Spain, he was crushed, heart-broken, beyond all description, but so much pride and obstinacy was mixed with his love that when he also learned that he had married Manuelita several weeks before sailing, his anger was uncontrollable, and he forbade his name ever to be mentioned to him again.
‘‘He has dishonoured and blighted my closing years, he has brought ignominy upon my ancestral name and house, which nothing can ever efface. My race is run, and must end with me.’’ And he grew sterner and sterner, and was seen to smile but seldom.
Many months later, when Louis Ramirez wrote him of the birth of his grandson, he was in an agony of despair and rage at his maternal parentage; and an intense desire for something of his own blood to bear his name and fortune, struggling hard within him.
In this interval the King of Spain had abdicated the throne in favour of his son Louis, Prince of the Asturias, that he might be enabled to claim the throne of France in the event of the death of the young King Louis XV., a delicate child, under the Regency of his uncle, the Duke d'Orleans. The young Louis of Spain died in the eighth month of his reign, and the health of the young Louis of France having so materially improved that there was but little probability of his throne becoming vacant, Philip resumed the crown of Spain, much to the disappointment of his people, who had grown weary of his weak and vacillating government.
So weak and restless was King Philip at this time, that he had again changed his allies, and the two branches of the Bourbons were again united, Austria and the maritime nations making common cause against them. A new war had just broken out between the houses of Bourbon and Austria, occasioned by the death of the King of Poland, Augustus II., who had devised the throne to his son, while the Polish nobles, jealous of the privileges of their elective monarchy, opposed him and elected Stanislaus Lezinsky to fill the throne. Austria and Russia expelled him and forced the Poles to acknowledge Augustus III. Elector of Saxony. Louis XV., having married a daughter of Stanislaus, formed an alliance with Spain and Sardinia to secure the throne to him.
The Marquis de Carillo was to go with the King of Spain in this campaign: his sister had been dead several years, and Isabella, still unmarried, presided over his household. The Marquis had often urged her to marry, and had offered to obtain the consent of the King and the Cortes to transfer his title and estates to her male issue, or to confer them upon her husband, but she had steadily refused to marry, and had several times sought to soften his heart to his son's memory and to bring before him the thought of the possibility of finding an heir in his son's son.
Isabella, upon becoming of age and mistress of her own fortune, had written to Father Ramirez and asked for tidings of both the child and his mother; she had continued in correspondence with him, and sent him yearly
It was again the breakfast hour, and except to the inmates, the past decade had wrought but little change in this palatial home: half a dozen more standards hung above the oaken panels, the aged sister no longer sat opposite the Marquis, and Isabella, who now occupied this seat, had conquered her old indolence and was always here to greet her uncle's entrance.
Isabella had developed into a beautiful woman of eight and twenty; the flight of these years had brought to her perfection of loveliness: the silence of endurance, the passion of suffering had left in her face a heroism and a power that gave her tenfold more beauty than she could have claimed during her "première jeunesse." Her soft tender dark eyes had grown more serious and thoughtful, her voice still possessed the same seductive sweetness, and the beauty of soul compelled the face to express its lightest meaning. Her disregarded love had not turned to bitterness, but had left sweet tender memories that clung with a consecrating tendency to his son and the woman he had loved: if he had not died she would have thought it her duty to overcome the wistful, tender love for him, which
‘‘Why, I am a young man still, child, you surely would not consider sixty-three an age to shelve a soldier? Why, military rank has become a right more inviolably observed than any other in Europe now.’’
‘‘Seriously, my child, I do not think he ever will, but when we look at these,’’ he said, pointing with pride at the score of splendid standards hanging above the elaborately carved panels, ‘‘one does not regret it.’’
‘‘Ah, but, uncle dear, look at the other side of the picture, that is not so brilliant, but very, very sad: we must think of the many noble lives sacrificed, the homes left desolate, the widows and orphans made.’’
‘‘The soldier, child, when he goes into battle, does not think of the men he is going to kill or even of his own chances of being shot down, but of his country he is going to fight for. Happily he never knows, directly or definitely, whether he does kill anyone. Everything in this age, child, is swallowed up
‘‘Yes, my child, our men cannot live without excitement, and this is the only kind that offers. You must not subject to too close an analysis the infirmities of the age, and the tulmuts of the passions; women are fortunately saved all this.’’
‘‘Well, we cannot, like Don Quixote, laugh away the institutions and manners of the world. When a soldier takes his oath of fealty to his king, he cannot say—Thus far will I go with you, and no farther, and I will be the judge of whether your wars are just and right or not. He who desires to make a Utopia of this world would have to do away with all hope of another one.’’
‘‘We have a great deal of the wild beast in us still, which is only partially suppressed by mild, civilizing circumstances. It comes uppermost in scenes of excitement like battle, and man loses consciousness of its cruelty, I presume. But a man loves his country, my child, as a young maiden the ideal of her dreams, with mind and soul as well as body, and we could not remain absent from her battle-fields any more than she could from his heart when opened to her.’’
‘‘For her children, to aggrandise them. So you see, my dear,’’ he continued playfully, ‘‘that, when women have the power, they are not less cruel and aggressive than we men I am afraid we must attribute much of their superior gentleness and mercy to restricted power.’’
‘‘Ah, but she had just begun to taste power then. It is very easy to be good when one has no temptation or opportunity to be otherwise; ten years and more of power would not leave many women unspoiled: it is only human nature, child, the faculties and impulses all centered in one great passion—gain.’’
‘‘But that is their idea of justice,’’ he laughed; ‘‘that they should have all they can get, and call it patriotism, love of one's country, to make it great and powerful; it is easy to deceive oneself with sophisms when they are gratifying to one's ambition or cupidity, and to find justifiable motives, other than the real ones, for one's conduct.’’ Taking her hand gently in his for a moment he continued, ‘‘Enjoy what life gives you, my child, and do not take too much to heart the world's shortcomings, nor try to put yourself in a position to sympathise too deeply with them.’’
Still holding her hand gently in his, he said, ‘‘Isabella, I would speak to you once more of what lies very near my heart always; you are as dear to me as an own daughter could have been, and it makes me very unhappy to think each time I leave you, that should I never return, there is no one to protect you, no one upon whom you have a right to lean.
‘‘He is noble, wealthy, high in favor at court. This must be a lonely life for you, shut up here with a churlish old man. I have seen much of life, child, the excitements of society, the glory of war, but, believe me, the only true and lasting happiness for woman is in domestic life.’’
‘‘Oh! uncle, do not urge upon me a loveless marriage. All other marriage, save that for love, is misery to think of—a living death. My heart is dead to all such feeling. Had it not been for leaving you, I would long ago have entered a convent.’’
‘‘What, child, could any love have been to mine? all my pride, my hopes centered in him; he was to marry, to inherit my name, my fortune; you cannot understand, child, how lonely and desolate it has made my whole life. My ancestors seem to me like the old Roman Lares, as they look down upon me from their portraits on the wall,
Isabella had never known him so gentle as he now seemed; for months she had vainly endeavoured to broach this subject to him, but the moment had never been so propitious before. ‘‘Uncle,’’ she said, ‘‘there is one to bear your name, to hand down your title and estates, who knows but perhaps to add to its renown and brilliancy?’’
‘‘Hush, hush, my child, you cannot understand—a man's heart is so different from a woman's; there is a soldier's courage, there must be a parent's—a man of honour cannot accept a blot upon his escutcheon.’’
‘‘For some months I have had his likeness, for which I wrote to Father Ramirez. May I show it to you?’’ And drawing it from a portfolio which she held in her other hand, she laid it before him. Long and earnestly he looked at it, ‘‘It is he indeed,’’ she heard him say, and she slipped away quietly and left him alone with the memory of his dead son, in the living grandson.
When we slowly awaken from the tumult and passion excited by awakened memories, a great stillness falls upon the mind; so it was with the Marquis when he had looked long at his grandson's picture: he fought and wrestled bitterly with his anguish, before putting it from him. How much wretchedness this marriage and the birth of this boy had caused him! and then memory took him
This old knightly race had so wished to ally itself with its own rank and fortune; vainly had he sought in the activity of the battle-field relief and forgetfulness for an over-burdened heart: from each campaign he had returned with increased sadness and bitterness. Rising, he walked to the window and looked out upon the beautiful gardens that lay stretched out beneath him, at the loved acres that reached far beyond the limits of his
Returning to his former seat, he took the picture again into his hands, and seemed to absorb from it food for his hungry heart. ‘‘How like, how like,’’ he muttered again and again, and long he sat in contemplation of this beautiful face, until finally, unconsciously, his brow relaxed, the stern lines around the mouth melted away, a gentle smile lit up his eyes, and in a low subdued voice, he said, ‘‘I will, I will forgive the dead, and take both him and the living to my heart.’’