CALDERON, THE COURTIER
BY EDWARD BULWER LYTTON
I. THE ANTE-CHAMBER
CHAPTER II. THE LOVER AND THE CONFIDANT
CHAPTER III. A RIVAL
CHAPTER IV. CIVIL AMBITION, AND ECCLESIASTICAL
CHAPTER V. THE TRUE FATA MORGANA
CHAPTER VI. WEB UPON WEB
CHAPTER VII. THE OPEN COUNTENANCE, THE CONCEALED
CHAPTER VIII. THE ESCAPE
CHAPTER IX. THE COUNTERPLOT
CHAPTER X. WE REAP WHAT WE SOW
CHAPTER XI. HOWSOEVER THE RIVERS WIND, THE OCEAN
RECEIVES THEM ALL
CALDERON, THE COURTIER.
CHAPTER I. THE ANTE-CHAMBER.
The Tragi-Comedy of Court Intrigue, which had ever found its principal
theatre in Spain since the accession of the House of Austria to the
throne, was represented with singular complication of incident and
brilliancy of performance during the reign of Philip the Third. That
monarch, weak, indolent, and superstitious, left the reins of government
in the hands of the Duke of Lerma. The Duke of Lerma, in his turn, mild,
easy, ostentatious, and shamefully corrupt, resigned the authority he had
thus received to Roderigo Calderon, an able and resolute upstart, whom
nature and fortune seemed equally to favour and endow. But, not more to
his talents, which were great, than to the policy of religious persecution
which he had supported and enforced, Roderigo Calderon owed his promotion.
The King and the Inquisition had, some years before our story opens,
resolved upon the general expulsion of the Moriscos the wealthiest, the
most active, the most industrious portion of the population.
"I would sooner," said the bigoted king—and his words were hallowed
by the enthusiasm of the Church—"depopulate my kingdom than suffer
it to harbour a single infidel." The Duke de Lerma entered into the scheme
that lost to Spain many of her most valuable subjects, with the zeal of a
pious Catholic expectant of the Cardinal's hat, which he afterwards
obtained. But to this scheme Calderon brought an energy, a decision, a
vehemence, and sagacity of hatred, that savoured more of personal
vengeance than religious persecution. His perseverance in this good work
established him firmly in the king's favour; and in this he was supported
by the friendship not only of Lerma, but of Fray Louis de Aliaga, a
renowned Jesuit, and confessor to the king. The disasters and distresses
occasioned by this barbarous crusade, which crippled the royal revenues,
and seriously injured the estates of the principal barons, from whose
lands the industrious and intelligent Moriscos were expelled, ultimately
concentred a deep and general hatred upon Calderon. But his extraordinary
address and vigorous energies, his perfect mastery of the science of
intrigue, not only sustained, but continued to augment, his power. Though
the king was yet in the prime of middle age, his health was infirm and his
life precarious. Calderon had contrived, while preserving the favour of
the reigning monarch, to establish himself as the friend and companion of
the heir apparent. In this, indeed, he had affected to yield to the policy
of the king himself; for Philip the Third had a wholesome terror of the
possible ambition of his son, who early evinced talents which might have
been formidable, but for passions which urged him into the most vicious
pleasures and the most extravagant excesses. The craft of the king was
satisfied by the device of placing about the person of the Infant one
devoted to himself; nor did his conscience, pious as he was, revolt at the
profligacy which his favourite was said to participate, and, perhaps, to
encourage; since the less popular the prince, the more powerful the king.
But all this while there was formed a powerful cabal against both the Duke
of Lerma and Don Roderigo Calderon in a quarter where it might least have
been anticipated. The cardinal-duke, naturally anxious to cement and
perpetuate his authority, had placed his son, the Duke d'Uzeda, in a post
that gave him constant access to the monarch. The prospect of power made
Uzeda eager to seize at once upon all its advantages; and it became the
object of his life to supplant his father. This would have been easy
enough but for the genius and vigilance of Calderon, whom he hated as a
rival, disdained as an upstart, and dreaded as a foe. Philip was soon
aware of the contest between the two factions, but, in the true spirit of
Spanish kingcraft he took care to play one against the other. Nor could
Calderon, powerful as he was, dare openly to seek the ruin of Uzeda; while
Uzeda, more rash, and, perhaps, more ingenuous, entered into a thousand
plots for the downfall of the prime favourite.
The frequent missions, principally into Portugal, in which of late
Calderon had been employed, had allowed Uzeda to encroach more and more
upon the royal confidence; while the very means which Don Roderigo had
adopted to perpetuate his influence, by attaching himself to the prince,
necessarily distracted his attention from the intrigues of his rival.
Perhaps, indeed, the greatness of Calderon's abilities made him too
arrogantly despise the machinations of the duke, who, though not without
some capacities as a courtier, was wholly incompetent to those duties of a
minister on which he had set his ambition and his grasp.
Such was the state of parties in the Court of Philip the Third at the time
in which we commence our narrative in the ante-chamber of Don Roderigo
"It is not to be endured," said Don Felix de Castro, an old noble, whose
sharp features and diminutive stature proclaimed the purity of his blood
and the antiquity of his descent.
"Just three-quarters of an hour and five minutes have I waited for
audience to a fellow who would once have thought himself honoured if I had
ordered him to call my coach," said Don Diego Sarmiento de Mendo.
"Then, if it chafe you so much, gentlemen, why come you here at all? I
dare say Don Roderigo can dispense with your attendance."
This was said bluntly by a young noble of good mien, whose impetuous and
irritable temperament betrayed itself by an impatience of gesture and
motion unusual amongst his countrymen. Sometimes he walked, with uneven
strides, to and fro the apartments, unheeding the stately groups whom he
jostled, or the reproving looks that he attracted; sometimes he paused
abruptly, raised his eyes, muttered, twitched his cloak, or played with
his sword-knot; or, turning abruptly round upon his solemn neighbours, as
some remark on his strange bearing struck his ear, brought the blood to
many a haughty cheek by his stern gaze of defiance and disdain. It was
easy to perceive that this personage belonged to the tribe—rash,
vain, and young—who are eager to take offence, and to provoke
quarrel. Nevertheless, the cavalier had noble and great qualities. A
stranger to courts, in the camp he was renowned for a chivalrous
generosity and an extravagant valour, that emulated the ancient heroes of
Spanish romaunt and song. His was a dawn that promised a hot noon and a
glorious eve. The name of this brave soldier was Martin Fonseca. He was of
an ancient but impoverished house, and related in a remote degree to the
Duke de Lerma. In his earliest youth he had had cause to consider himself
the heir to a wealthy uncle on his mother's side; and with those
expectations, while still but a boy, he had been invited to court by the
cardinal-duke. Here, however, the rude and blunt sincerity of his bearing
had so greatly shocked the formal hypocrisies of the court, and had more
than once so seriously offended the minister, that his powerful kinsman
gave up all thought of pushing Fonseca's fortunes at Madrid, and meditated
some plausible excuse for banishing him from court. At this time the rich
uncle, hitherto childless, married a second time, and was blessed with an
heir. It was no longer necessary to keep terms with Don Martin; and he
suddenly received an order to join the army on the frontiers. Here his
courage soon distinguished him; but his honest nature still stood in the
way of his promotion. Several years elapsed, and his rise had been
infinitely slower than that of men not less inferior to him in birth than
merit. Some months since, he had repaired to Madrid to enforce his claims
upon the government; but instead of advancing his suit, he had contrived
to effect a serious breach with the cardinal, and been abruptly ordered
back to the camp. Once more he appeared at Madrid; but this time it was
not to plead desert and demand honours.
In any country but Spain under the reign of Philip the Third, Martin
Fonseca would have risen early to high fortunes. But, as we have said, his
talents were not those of the flatterer or the hypocrite; and it was a
matter of astonishment to the calculators round him to see Don Martin
Fonseca in the ante-room of Roderigo Calderon, Count Oliva, Marquis de
Siete Iglesias, secretary to the King, and parasite and favourite of the
Infant of Spain.
"Why come you here at all?" repeated the young soldier.
"Senor," answered Don Felix de Castro, with great gravity, "we have
business with Don Roderigo. Men of our station must attend to the affairs
of the state, no matter by whom transacted."
"That is, you must crawl on your knees to ask for pensions and
governorships, and transact the affairs of the state by putting your hands
into its coffers."
"Senor!" growled Don Felix, angrily, as his hand played with his
"Tush!" said the young man, scornfully turning on his heel.
The folding-doors were thrown open, and all conversation ceased at the
entrance of Don Roderigo Calderon.
This remarkable personage had risen from the situation of a confidential
scribe to the Duke of Lerma to the nominal rank of secretary to the King—to
the real station of autocrat of Spain. The birth of the favourite of
fortune was exceedingly obscure. He had long affected to conceal it; but
when he found curiosity had proceeded into serious investigation of his
origin, he had suddenly appeared to make a virtue of necessity; proclaimed
of his own accord that his father was a common soldier of Valladolid, and
even invited to Madrid, and lodged in his own palace, his low-born
progenitor. This prudent frankness disarmed malevolence on the score of
birth. But when the old soldier died, rumours went abroad that he had
confessed on his death-bed that he was not in any way related to Calderon;
that he had submitted to an imposture which secured to his old age so
respectable and luxurious an asylum; and that he knew not for what end
Calderon had forced upon him the honours of spurious parentship. This
tale, which, ridiculed by most, was yet believed by some, gave rise to
darker reports concerning one on whom the eyes of all Spain were fixed. It
was supposed that he had some motive beyond that of shame at their
meanness, to conceal his real origin and name. What could be that motive,
if not the dread of discovery for some black and criminal offence
connected with his earlier youth, and for which he feared the prosecution
of the law? They who affected most to watch his exterior averred that
often, in his gayest revels and proudest triumphs, his brow would lower—his
countenance change—and it was only by a visible and painful effort
that he could restore his mind to its self-possession. His career, which
evinced an utter contempt for the ordinary rules and scruples that curb
even adventurers into a seeming of honesty and virtue, appeared in some
way to justify these reports. But, at times, flashes of sudden and
brilliant magnanimity broke forth to bewilder the curious, to puzzle the
examiners of human character, and to contrast the general tenor of his
ambitions and remorseless ascent to power. His genius was confessed by
all; but it was a genius that in no way promoted the interests of his
country. It served only to prop, defend, and advance himself—to
battle difficulties—to defeat foes—to convert every accident,
every chance, into new stepping stones in his course. Whatever his birth,
it was evident that he had received every advantage of education; and
scholars extolled his learning and boasted of his patronage. While, more
recently, if the daring and wild excesses of the profligate prince were,
on the one hand, popularly imputed to the guidance of Calderon, and
increased the hatred generally conceived against him, so, on the other
hand, his influence over the future monarch seemed to promise a new lease
to his authority, and struck fear into the councils of his foes. In fact,
the power of the upstart marquis appeared so firmly rooted, the career
before him so splendid, that there were not wanted whisperers who, in
addition to his other crimes, ascribed to Roderigo Calderon the assistance
of the black art. But the black art in which that subtle courtier was a
proficient is one that dispenses with necromancy. It was the art of
devoting the highest intellect to the most selfish purposes—an art
that thrives tolerably well for a time in the great world!
He had been for several weeks absent from Madrid on a secret mission; and
to this, his first public levee, on his return, thronged all the rank and
chivalry of Spain.
The crowd gave way, as, with haughty air, in the maturity of manhood, the
Marquis de Siete Iglesias moved along. He disdained all accessories of
dress to enhance the effect of his singularly striking exterior. His
mantle and vest of black cloth, made in the simplest fashion, were
unadorned with the jewels that then constituted the ordinary insignia of
rank. His hair, bright and glossy as the raven's plume, curled back from
the lofty and commanding brow, which, save by one deep wrinkle between the
eyes, was not only as white but as smooth as marble. His features were
aquiline and regular; and the deep olive of his complexion seemed pale and
clear when contrasted by the rich jet of the moustache and pointed beard.
The lightness of his tall and slender but muscular form made him appear
younger than he was; and had it not been for the supercilious and scornful
arrogance of air which so seldom characterises gentle birth, Calderon
might have mingled with the loftiest magnates of Europe and seemed to the
observer the stateliest of the group. It was one of those rare forms that
are made to command the one sex and fascinate the other. But, on a deeper
scrutiny, the restlessness of the brilliant eye—the quiver of the
upper lip—a certain abruptness of manner and speech, might have
shown that greatness had brought suspicion as well as pride. The
spectators beheld the huntsman on the height;—the huntsman saw the
abyss below, and respired with difficulty the air above.
The courtiers one by one approached the marquis, who received them with
very unequal courtesy. To the common herd he was sharp, dry, and bitter;
to the great he was obsequious, yet with a certain grace and manliness of
bearing that elevated even the character of servility; and all the while,
as he bowed low to a Medina or a Guzman, there was a half imperceptible
mockery lurking in the corners of his mouth, which seemed to imply that
while his policy cringed his heart despised. To two or three, whom he
either personally liked or honestly esteemed, he was familiar, but brief,
in his address; to those whom he had cause to detest or to dread—his
foes, his underminers—he assumed a yet greater frankness, mingled
with the most caressing insinuation of voice and manner.
Apart from the herd, with folded arms, and an expression of countenance in
which much admiration was blent with some curiosity and a little contempt,
Don Martin Fonseca gazed upon the favourite.
"I have done this man a favour," thought he; "I have contributed towards
his first rise—I am now his suppliant. Faith! I, who have never
found sincerity or gratitude in the camp, come to seek those hidden
treasures at a court! Well, we are strange puppets, we mortals!"
Don Diego Sarmiento de Mendoza had just received the smiling salutation of
Calderon, when the eye of the latter fell upon the handsome features of
Fonseca. The blood mounted to his brow; he hastily promised Don Diego all
that he desired, and hurrying back through the crowd, retired to his
private cabinet. The levee was broken up.
As Fonseca, who had caught the glance of the secretary, and who drew no
favourable omen from his sudden evanishment, slowly turned to depart with
the rest, a young man, plainly dressed, touched him on the shoulder.
"You are Senior Don Martin Fonseca?"
"Follow me, if it please you, senor, to my master, Lou Roderigo Calderon."
Fonseca's face brightened; he obeyed the summons; and in another moment he
was in the cabinet of the Sejanus of Spain.
CHAPTER II. THE LOVER AND THE CONFIDANT.
Calderon received the young soldier at the door of his chamber with marked
and almost affectionate respect. "Don Martin," said he, and there seemed a
touch of true feeling in the tremor of his rich sweet voice, "I owe you
the greatest debt one man can incur to another—it was your hand that
set before my feet their first stepping-stone to power. I date my fortunes
from the hour in which I was placed in your father's house as your
preceptor. When the cardinal-duke invited you to Madrid, I was your
companion; and when, afterwards, you joined the army, and required no
longer the services of the peaceful scholar, you demanded of your
illustrious kinsman the single favour—to provide for Calderon. I had
already been fortunate enough to win the countenance of the duke, and from
that day my rise was rapid. Since then we have never met. Dare I hope that
it is now in the power of Calderon to prove himself not ungrateful?"
"Yes," said Fonseca, eagerly; "it is in your power to save me from the
most absolute wretchedness that can befall me. It is in your power, at
least I think so, to render me the happiest of men!"
"Be seated, I pray you, senor. And how? I am your servant."
"Thou knowest," said Fonseca, "that, though the kinsman, I am not the
favourite, of the Duke of Lerma?"
"Nay, nay," interrupted Calderon, softly, and with a bland smile; "you
misunderstand my illustrious patron: he loves you, but not your
"Yes, honesty is very indiscreet! I cannot stoop to the life of the
ante-chamber. I cannot, like the Duke of Lerma, detest my nearest relative
if his shadow cross the line of my interests. I am of the race of Pelayo,
not Oppas; and my profession, rather that of an ancient Persian than a
modern Spaniard, is to manage the steed, to wield the sword, and to speak
There was an earnestness and gallantry in the young man's aspect, manner,
and voice, as he thus spoke, which afforded the strongest contrast to the
inscrutable brow and artificial softness of Calderon; and which, indeed,
for the moment, occasioned that crafty and profound adventurer an
involuntary feeling of self-humiliation.
"But," continued Fonseca, "let this pass: I come to my story and my
request. Do you, or do you not know, that I have been for some time
attached to Beatriz Coello!"
"Beatriz," replied Calderon, abstractedly, with an altered countenance,
"it is a sweet name—it was my mother's!"
"Your mother's! I thought to have heard her name was Mary Sandalen?"
"True—Mary Beatriz Sandalen," replied Calderon, indifferently. "But
proceed. I heard, after your last visit to Madrid, when, owing to my own
absence in Portugal, I was not fortunate enough to see you, that you had
offended the duke by desiring an alliance unsuitable to your birth. Who,
then, is this Beatriz Coello?"
"An orphan of humble origin and calling. In infancy she was left to the
care of a woman who, I believe, had been her nurse; they were settled in
Seville, and the old gouvernante's labours in embroidery maintained them
both till Beatriz was fourteen. At that time the poor woman was disabled
by a stroke of palsy from continuing her labours, and Beatriz, good child,
yearning to repay the obligation she had received, in her turn sought to
maintain her protectress. She possessed the gift of a voice wonderful for
its sweetness. This gift came to the knowledge of the superintendent of
the theatre at Seville: he made her the most advantageous proposals to
enter upon the stage. Beatriz; innocent child, was unaware of the perils
of that profession: she accepted eagerly the means that would give comfort
to the declining life of her only friend—she became an actress. At
that time we were quartered in Seville, to keep guard on the suspected
"Ah, the hated infidels!" muttered Calderon, fiercely, through his teeth.
"I saw Beatriz, and loved her at first sight. I do not say," added
Fonseca, with a blush, "that my suit, at the outset, was that which alone
was worthy of her; but her virtue soon won my esteem as well as love. I
left Seville to seek my father and obtain his consent to a marriage with
Beatriz. You know a hidalgo's prejudices—they are insuperable.
Meanwhile, the fame of the beauty and voice of the young actress reached
Madrid, and hither she was removed from Seville by royal command. To
Madrid, then, I hastened, on the pretence of demanding promotion. You, as
you have stated, were absent in Portugal on some state mission. I sought
the Duke de Lerma. I implored him to give me some post, anywhere—I
recked not beneath what sky, in the vast empire of Spain—in which,
removed from the prejudices of birth and of class, and provided with other
means, less precarious than those that depend on the sword, I might make
Beatriz my wife. The polished duke was more inexorable than the stern
hidalgo. I flew to Beatriz; I told her I had nothing but my heart and
right hand to offer. She wept, and she refused me."
"Because you were not rich?"
"Shame on you, no! but because she would not consent to mar my fortunes,
and banish me from my native land. The next day I received a peremptory
order to rejoin the army, and with that order came a brevet of promotion.
Lover though I be, I am a Spaniard: to have disobeyed the order would have
been dishonour. Hope dawned upon me—I might rise, I might become
rich. We exchanged our vows of fidelity. I returned to the camp. We
corresponded. At last her letters alarmed me. Through all her reserve, I
saw that she was revolted by her profession, and terrified at the
persecutions to which it exposed her: the old woman, her sole guide and
companion, was dying: she was dejected and unhappy: she despaired of our
union: she expressed a desire for the refuge of the cloister. At last came
this letter, bidding me farewell for ever. Her relation was dead; and,
with the little money she had amassed, she had bought her entrance into
the convent of St. Mary of the White Sword. Imagine my despair! I obtained
leave of absence—I flew to Madrid. Beatriz is already immured in
that dreary asylum; she has entered on her novitiate."
"Is that the letter you refer to?" said Calderon, extending his hand.
Fonseca gave him the letter.
Hard and cold as Calderon's character had grown, there was something in
the tone of this letter—its pure and noble sentiments, its
innocence, its affection—that touched some mystic chord in his
heart. He sighed as he laid it down.
"You are, like all of us, Don Martin," said he, with a bitter smile, "the
dupe of a woman's faith. But you must purchase experience for yourself,
and if, indeed, you ask my services to procure you present bliss and
future disappointment, those services are yours. It will not, I think, be
difficult to interest the queen in your favour: leave me this letter, it
is one to touch the heart of a woman. If we succeed with the queen, who is
the patroness of the convent, we may be sure to obtain an order from court
for the liberation of the novice: the next step is one more arduous. It is
not enough to restore Beatriz to freedom—we must reconcile your
family to the marriage. This cannot be done while she is not noble; but
letters patent (here Calderon smiled) could ennoble a mushroom itself—your
humble servant is an example. Such letters may be bought or begged; I will
undertake to procure them. Your father, too, may find a dowry accompanying
the title, in the shape of a high and honourable post for yourself. You
deserve much; you are beloved in the army; you have won a high name in the
world. I take shame on myself that your fortunes have been overlooked.
'Out of sight out of mind;' alas! it is a true proverb. I confess that,
when I beheld you in the ante room, I blushed for my past forgetfulness.
No matter—I will repair my fault. Men say that my patronage is
misapplied—I will prove the contrary by your promotion."
"Generous Calderon!" said Fonseca, falteringly; "I ever hated the
judgments of the vulgar. They calumniate you; it is from envy."
"No," said Calderon, coldly; "I am bad enough, but I am still human.
Besides, gratitude is my policy. I have always found that it is a good way
to get on in the world to serve those who serve us."
"But the duke?"
"Fear not; I have an oil that will smooth all the billows on that surface.
As for the letter, I say, leave it with me; I will show it to the queen.
Let me see you again tomorrow."
CHAPTER III. A RIVAL.
Calderon's eyes were fixed musingly on the door which closed on Fonseca's
martial and noble form.
"Great contrasts among men!" said he, half aloud. "All the classes into
which naturalists ever divided the animal world contained not the variety
that exists between man and man. And yet, we all agree in one object of
our being—all prey on each other! Glory, which is but the thirst of
blood, makes yon soldier the tiger of his kind; other passions have made
me the serpent: both fierce, relentless, unscrupulous—both! hero and
courtier, valour and craft! Hein! I will serve this young man—he has
served me. When all other affection was torn from me, he, then a boy,
smiled on me and bade me love him. Why has he been so long forgotten? He
is not of the race that I abhor; no Moorish blood flows in his veins;
neither is he of the great and powerful, whom I dread; nor of the
crouching and the servile, whom I despise: he is one whom I can aid
without a blush."
While Calderon thus soliloquised, the arras was lifted aside, and a
cavalier, on whose cheek was the first down of manhood, entered the
"So, Roderigo, alone! welcome back to Madrid. Nay, seat thyself, man—seat
Calderon bowed with the deepest reverence; and, placing a large fauteuil
before the stranger, seated himself on stool, at a little distance.
The new comer was of sallow complexion; his gorgeous dress sparkled with
prodigal jewels. Boy as he was, there was a yet a careless loftiness, a
haughty ease, in the gesture—the bend of the neck, the wave of the
hand, which, coupled with the almost servile homage of the arrogant
favourite, would have convinced the most superficial observer that he was
born of the highest rank. A second glance would have betrayed, in the full
Austrian lip—the high, but narrow forehead—the dark,
voluptuous, but crafty and sinister eye, the features of the descendant of
Charles V. It was the Infant of Spain that stood in the chamber of his
"This is convenient, this private entrance into thy penetralia, Roderigo.
It shelters me from the prying eyes of Uzeda, who ever seeks to cozen the
sire by spying on the Son. We will pay him off one of these days. He loves
you no less than he does his prince."
"I bear no malice to him for that, your highness. He covets the smiles of
the rising sun and rails at the humble object which, he thinks, obstructs
"He might be easy on that score: I hate the man, and his cold formalities.
He is ever fancying that we princes are intent on the affairs of state,
and forgets that we are mortal and that youth is the age for the bower,
not the council. My precious Calderon, life would be dull without thee:
how I rejoice at thy return, thou best inventor of pleasure that satiety
ever prayed for! Nay, blush not: some men despise thee for thy talents: I
do thee homage. By my great grandsire's beard, it will be a merry time at
court when I am monarch, and thou minister!"
Calderon looked earnestly at the prince, but his scrutiny did not serve to
dispel a certain suspicion of the royal sincerity that ever and anon came
across the favourite's most sanguine dreams. With all Philip's gaiety,
there was something restrained and latent in his ambiguous smile, and his
calm, deep, brilliant eye. Calderon, immeasurably above his lord in
genius, was scarcely, perhaps, the equal of that beardless boy in
hypocrisy and craft, in selfish coldness, in matured depravity.
"Well," resumed the prince, "I pay you not these compliments without an
object. I have need of you—great need; never did I so require your
services as at this moment; never was there so great demand on your
invention, your courage, your skill. Know, Calderon, I love!"
"My prince," said the marquis, smiling, "it is certainly not first love.
How often has your highness—"
"No," interrupted the prince, hastily,—"no, I never loved till now.
We never can love what we can easily win; but this, Calderon, this heart
would be a conquest. Listen. I was at the convent chapel of St. Mary of
the White Sword yesterday with the queen. Thou knowest that the abbess
once was a lady of the chamber, and the queen loves her."
"Both of us were moved and astonished by the voice of one of the choir—it
was that of a novice. After the ceremony the queen made inquiries touching
this new Santa Cecilia; and who dost thou think she is? No; thou wilt
never guess!—the once celebrated singer—the beautiful, the
inimitable Beatriz Coello! Ah! you may well look surprised; when actresses
turn nuns, it is well-nigh time for Calderon and Philip to turn monks.
Now, you must know, Roderigo, that I, unworthy though I be, am the cause
of this conversion. There is a certain Martin Fonseca, a kinsman of
Lerma's—thou knowest him well. I learned, some time since, from the
duke, that this young Orlando was most madly enamoured of a low-born girl—nay,
desired to wed her. The duke's story moved my curiosity. I found that it
was the young Beatriz Coello, whom I had already admired on the stage. Ah,
Calderon, she blazed and set during thy dull mission to Lisbon! I sought
an opportunity to visit her. I was astonished at her beauty, that seemed
more dazzling in the chamber than on the stage. I pressed my suit-in vain.
Calderon, hear you that?—in vain! Why wert thou not by? Thy arts
never fail, my friend! She was living with an old relation, or governante.
The old relation died suddenly—I took advantage of her loneliness—I
entered her house at night. By St. Jago, her virtue baffled and defeated
me. The next morning she was gone; nor could my researches discover her,
until, at the convent of St. Mary, I recognised the lost actress in the
young novice. She has fled to the convent to be true to Fonseca; she must
fly from the convent to bless the prince. This is my tale: I want thy
"Prince," said Calderon, gravely, "thou knowest the laws of Spain; the
rigour of the Church. I dare not—"
"Pshaw. No scruples—my rank will bear thee harmless. Nay, look not
so demure; why, even thou, see, hast thy Armida. This billet in a female
hand—Heaven and earth Calderon! What name is this? Beatriz Coello!
Darest thou have crossed my path? Speak, sir!—speak!"
"Your highness," said Calderon, with a mixture of respect and dignity in
his manner—"your highness, hear me. My first benefactor, my beloved
pupil, my earliest patron, was the same Don Martin Fonseca who seeks this
girl with an honest love. This morning he has visited me, to implore my
intercession on his behalf. Oh, prince! turn not away: thou knowest not
half his merit. Thou knowest not the value of such subjects—men of
the old iron race of Spain. Thou hast a noble and royal heart: be not the
rival to the defender of thy crown. Bless this brave soldier—spare
this poor orphan—and one generous act of self-denial shall give thee
absolution for a thousand pleasures."
"This from Roderigo Calderon!" said the prince, with bitter sneer. "Man,
know thy station and thy profession. When I want homilies, I seek my
confessor; when I have resolved on a vice, I come to thee. A truce with
this bombast. For Fonseca, he shall be consoled; and when he shall learn
who is his rival, he is a traitor if he remain discontented with his lot.
Thou shalt aid me, Calderon!"
"Your highness will pardon me—no!"
"Do I hear right? No! Art thou not my minion—my instrument? Can I
not destroy as I have helped to raise thee? Thy fortunes have turned thy
brain. The king already suspects and dislikes thee; thy foe, Uzeda, has
his ear. The people execrate thee. If I abandon thee, thou art lost. Look
Calderon remained mute and erect, with his arms folded on his breast, and
his cheek flushed with suppressed passions. Philip gazed at him earnestly,
and then, muttering to himself, approached the favourite with an altered
"Come, Calderon—I have been hasty-you maddened me; I meant not to
wound you. Thou art honest, I think thou lovest me; and I will own, that
in ordinary circumstances thy advice would be good, and thy scruples
laudable. But I tell thee that I adore this girl; that I have set all my
hopes upon her; that, at whatever cost, whatever risks, she must be mine.
Wilt thou desert me? Wilt thou on whose faith I have ever leaned so
trustingly, forsake thy friend and thy prince for this brawling soldier?
No; I wrong thee."
"Oh!" said Calderon, with much semblance of emotion, "I would lay down my
life in your service, and I have often surrendered my conscience to your
lightest will. But this would be so base a perfidy in me! He has confided
his life of life to my hands. How canst even thou count on my faith if
thou knowest me false to another?"
"False! art thou not false to me? Have I not confided to thee, and dost
thou not desert me—nay, perhaps, betray? How wouldst thou serve this
Fonseca? How liberate the novice?"
"By an order of the court. Your royal mother—"
"Enough!" said the prince, fiercely; "do so. Thou shalt have leisure for
As he spoke, Philip strode to the door. Calderon, alarmed and anxious,
sought to detain him; but the prince broke disdainfully away, and Calderon
was again alone.
CHAPTER IV. CIVIL AMBITION, AND ECCLESIASTICAL.
Scarcely had the prince vanished, before the door that led from the
anteroom was opened, and an old man, in the ecclesiastical garb, entered
the secretary's cabinet.
"Do I intrude, my son?" said the churchman.
"No, father, no; I never more desired your presence—your counsel. It
is not often that I stand halting and irresolute between the two magnets
of interest and conscience: this is one of those rare dilemmas."
Here Calderon rapidly narrated the substance of his conversation with
Fonseca, and of the subsequent communication with the prince.
"You see," he said, in conclusion, "how critical is my position. On one
side, my obligations to Fonseca, my promise to a benefactor, a friend to
the boy I assisted to rear. Nor is that all: the prince asks me to connive
at the abstraction of a novice from a consecrated house. What peril—what
hazard! On the other side, if I refuse, the displeasure, the vengeance of
the prince, for whose favour I have already half forfeited that of the
king; and who, were he once to frown upon me, would encourage all my
enemies—in other phrase, the whole court—in one united attempt
at my ruin."
"It is a stern trial," said the monk, gravely; "and one that may well
excite your fear."
"Fear, Aliaga!—ha! ha!—fear!" said Calderon, laughing
scornfully. "Did true ambition ever know fear? Have we not the old
Castilian proverb, that tells us 'He who has climbed the first step to
power has left terror a thousand leagues behind'? No, it is not fear that
renders me irresolute; it is wisdom, and some touch, some remnant of human
nature—philosophers would call it virtue; you priests, religion."
"Son," said the priest, "when, as one of that sublime calling, which
enables us to place our unshodden feet upon the necks of kings, I felt
that I had the power to serve and to exalt you; when as confessor to
Philip, I backed the patronage of Lerma, recommended you to the royal
notice, and brought you into the sunshine of the royal favour—it was
because I had read in your heart and brain those qualities of which the
spiritual masters of the world ever seek to avail their cause. I knew thee
brave, crafty, aspiring, unscrupulous. I knew that thou wouldest not
shrink at the means that could secure to thee a noble end. Yea, when,
years ago, in the valley of the Xenil, I saw thee bathe thy hands in the
blood of thy foe, and heard thy laugh of exulting scorn;—when I,
alone master of thy secret, beheld thee afterwards flying from thy home
stained with a second murder, but still calm, stern, and lord of thine own
reason, my knowledge of mankind told me, 'Of such men are high converts
and mighty instruments made!'"
The priest paused; for Calderon heard him not. His cheek was livid, his
eyes closed, his chest heaved wildly. "Horrible remembrance!" he muttered;
"fatal love—dread revenge! Inez—Inez, what hast thou to answer
"Be soothed, my son; I meant not to tear the bandage from thy wounds."
"Who speaks?" cried Calderon, starting. "Ha, priest! priest! I thought I
heard the Dead. Talk on, talk on: talk of the world—the Inquisition—thy
plots—the torture—the rack! Talk of aught that will lead me
back from the past."
"No; let me for a moment lead thee thither, in order to portray the future
that awaits thee. When, at night, I found thee—the blood-stained
fugitive—cowering beneath the shadow of the forest, dost thou
remember that I laid my hand upon thine arm, and said to thee, 'Thy life
is in my power'? From that hour, thy disdain of my threats, of myself, of
thine own life—all made me view thee as one born to advance our
immortal cause. I led thee to safety far away; I won thy friendship and
thy confidence. Thou becamest one of us—one of the great Order of
Jesus. Subsequently, I placed thee as the tutor to young Fonseca, then
heir to great fortunes. The second marriage of his uncle, and the heir
that by that marriage interposed between him and the honour of his house,
rendered the probable alliance of the youth profitless to us. But thou
hadst procured his friendship. He presented thee to the Duke of Lerma. I
was just then appointed confessor to the king; I found that years had
ripened thy genius, and memory had blunted in thee all the affections of
the flesh. Above all, hating, as thou didst, the very name of the Moor,
thou wert the man of men to aid in our great design of expelling the
accursed race from the land of Spain. Enough—I served thee, and thou
didst repay us. Thou hast washed out thy crime in the blood of the infidel—thou
art safe from detection. In Roderigo Calderon, Marquis de Siete Iglesias,
who will suspect the Roderigo Nunez—the murderous student of
Salamanca? Our device of the false father stifled even curiosity. Thou
mayest wake to the future, nor tremble at one shadow in the past. The
brightest hopes are before us both; but to realise them, we must continue
the same path. We must never halt at an obstacle in our way. We must hold
that to be no crime which advances our common objects. Mesh upon mesh we
must entangle the future monarch in our web: thou, by the nets of
pleasure; I, by those of superstition. The day that sees Philip the Fourth
upon the throne, must be a day of jubilee for the Brotherhood and the
Inquisition. When thou art prime minister, and I grand inquisitor—that
time must come—we shall have the power to extend the sway of the
sect of Loyola to the ends of the Christian world. The Inquisition itself
our tool, posterity shall regard us as the apostles of intellectual faith.
And thinkest thou, that, for the attainment of these great ends, we can
have the tender scruples of common men? Perish a thousand Fonsecas—ten
thousand novices, ere thou lose, by the strength of a hair, thy hold over
the senses and soul of the licentious Philip! At whatever hazard, save thy
power; for with it are bound, as mariners to a plank, the hopes of those
who make the mind a sceptre."
"Thy enthusiasm blinds and misleads thee, Aliaga," said Calderon, coldly.
"For me, I tell thee now, as I have told thee before, that I care not a
rush for thy grand objects. Let mankind serve itself—I look to
myself alone. But fear not my faith; my interests and my very life are
identified with thee and thy fellow-fanatics. If I desert thee, thou art
too deep in my secrets not to undo me; and were I to slay thee, in order
to silence thy testimony, I know enough of thy fraternity to know that I
should but raise up a multitude of avengers. As for this matter, you give
me wise, if not pious counsel. I will consider well of it. Adieu! The hour
summons me to attend the king."
CHAPTER V. THE TRUE FATA MORGANA.
In the royal chamber, before a table covered with papers, sat the King and
his secretary. Grave, sullen, and taciturn, there was little in the
habitual manner of Philip the Third that could betray to the most
experienced courtier the outward symptoms of favour or caprice. Education
had fitted him for the cloister, but the necessities of despotism had
added acute cunning to slavish superstition. The business for which
Calderon had been summoned was despatched, with a silence broken but by
monosyllables from the king, and brief explanations from the secretary;
and Philip, rising, gave the signal for Calderon to retire. It was then
that the king, turning a dull but steadfast eye upon the marquis, said,
with a kind of effort, as if speech were painful to him,
"The prince left me but a minute before your entrance—have you seen
him since your return?"
"Your majesty, yes. He honoured me this morning with his presence."
"On state affairs?"
"Your majesty knows, I trust, that your servant treats of state affairs
only with your August self, or your appointed ministers."
"The prince has favoured you, Don Roderigo."
"Your majesty commanded me to seek that favour."
"It is true. Happy the monarch whose faithful servant is the confidant of
the heir to his crown!"
"Could the prince harbour one thought displeasing to your majesty, I think
I could detect and quell it at its birth. But your majesty is blessed in a
"I believe it. His love of pleasure decoys him from ambition—so it
should be. I am not an austere parent. Keep his favour, Don Roderigo; it
pleases me. Hast thou offended him in aught?"
"I trust I have not incurred so great a misfortune."
"He spoke not of thee with his usual praises—I noticed it. I tell
thee this that thou mayest rectify what is wrong. Thou canst not serve me
more than by guarding him from all friendships save with those whose
affection to myself I can trust. I have said enough."
"Such has ever been my object. Bat I have not the youth of the prince, and
men speak ill of me, that, in order to gain his confidence, I share in his
"It matters not what they say of thee. Faithful ministers are rarely
eulogised by the populace or the court. Thou knowest my mind: I repeat,
lose not the prince's favour." Calderon bowed low, and withdrew. As he
passed through the apartments of the palace, he crossed a gallery, in
which he perceived, stationed by a window, the young prince and his own
arch-foe, the Duke d'Uzeda. At the same instant, from an opposite door,
entered the Cardinal-Duke de Lerma; and the same unwelcome conjunction of
hostile planets smote the eyes of that intriguing minister. Precisely
because Uzeda was the duke's son was he the man in the world whom the duke
most dreaded and suspected.
Whoever is acquainted with the Spanish comedy will not fail to have
remarked the prodigality of intrigue and counter-intrigue upon which its
interest is made to depend. In this, the Spanish comedy was the faithful
mirror of the Spanish life, especially in the circles of a court. Men
lived in a perfect labyrinth of plot and counter-plot. The spirit of
finesse, manoeuvre, subtlety, and double-dealing pervaded every family.
Not a house that was not divided against itself.
As Lerma turned his eyes from the unwelcome spectacle of such sudden
familiarity between Uzeda and the heir-apparent—a familiarity which
it had been his chief care to guard against—his glance fell on
Calderon. He beckoned to him in silence, and retired, unobserved by the
two confabulators, through the same door by which he had entered. Calderon
took the hint, and followed him. The duke entered a small room, and
carefully closed the door.
"How is this, Calderon?" he asked, but in a timid tone, for the weak old
man stood in awe of his favourite. "Whence this new and most ill-boding
"I know not, your eminence; remember that I am but just returned to
Madrid: it amazes me no less than it does your eminence."
"Learn the cause of it, my good Calderon: the prince ever professed to
hate Uzeda. Restore him to those feelings thou art all in all with his
highness! If Uzeda once gain his ear, thou art lost."
"Not so," cried Calderon, proudly. "My service is to the king; I have a
right to his royal protection, for I have a claim on his royal gratitude."
"Do not deceive thyself," said the duke, in a whisper. "The king cannot
live long: I have it from the best authority, his physician; nor is this
all—a formidable conspiracy against thee exists at court. But for
myself and the king's confessor, Philip would consent to thy ruin. The
strong hold thou hast over him is in thy influence with the Infanta—influence
which he knows to be exerted on behalf of his own fearful and jealous
policy; that influence gone, neither I nor Aliaga could suffice to protect
thee. Enough! Shut every access to Philip's heart against Uzeda." Calderon
bowed in silence, and the duke hastened to the royal cabinet.
"What a fool was I to think that I could still wear a conscience!"
muttered Calderon, with a sneering lip; "but, Uzeda, I will baffle thee
The next morning, the Marquis de Siete Iglesias presented himself at the
levee of the prince of Spain.
Around the favourite, as his proud stature towered above the rest, flocked
the obsequious grandees. The haughty smile was yet on his lip when the
door opened and the prince entered. The crowd, in parting suddenly, left
Calderon immediately in front of Philip; who, after gazing on him sternly
for a moment, turned away, with marked discourtesy, from the favourite's
profound reverence, and began a low and smiling conversation with Gonsalez
de Leon, one of Calderon's open foes.
The crowd exchanged looks of delight and surprise; and each or the nobles,
before so wooing in their civilities to the minister, edged cautiously
His mortification had but begun. Presently Uzeda, hitherto almost a
stranger to those apartments, appeared; the prince hastened to him, and in
a few minutes the duke was seen following the prince into his private
chamber. The sun of Calderon's favour seemed set. So thought the
courtiers: not so the haughty favourite. There was even a smile of triumph
on his lip—a sanguine flush upon his pale cheek, as he turned
unheeding from the throng, and then entering his carriage, regained his
He had scarcely re-entered his cabinet, ere, faithful to his appointment,
Fonseca was announced.
"What tidings, my best of friends?" exclaimed the soldier.
Calderon shook his head mournfully.
"My dear pupil," said he, in accents of well-affected sympathy, "there is
no hope for thee. Forget this vain dream—return to the army. I can
promise thee promotion, rank, honours; but the hand of Beatriz is beyond
"How?" said Fonseca, turning pale and sinking into a seat. "How is this?
Why so sudden a change? Has the queen—"
"I have not seen her majesty; but the king is resolved upon this matter:
so are the Inquisition. The Church complains of recent and numerous
examples of unholy and im politic relaxation of her dread power. The court
dare not interfere. The novice must be left to her own choice."
"And there is no hope?"
"None! Return to the excitement of thy brave career."
"Never!" cried Fonseca, with great vehemence. "If, in requital of all my
services—of life risked, blood spilt, I cannot obtain a boon so easy
to accord me, I renounce a service in which even fame has lost its charm.
And hark you, Calderon, I tell you that I will not forego this pursuit. So
fair, so innocent a victim shall not be condemned to that living tomb.
Through the walls of the nunnery, through the spies of the Inquisition,
love will find out its way; and in some distant land I will yet unite
happiness and honour. I fear not exile; I fear not reverse; I no longer
fear poverty itself. All lands, where the sound of the trumpet is not
unknown, can afford career to the soldier, who asks from Heaven no other
boon but his mistress and his sword."
"You will seek to abstract Beatriz, then?" said Calderon, calmly and
musingly. "Yes—it may be your best course, if you take the requisite
precautions. But can you see her? can you concert with her?"
"I think so. I trust I have already paved the way to an interview.
Yesterday, after I quitted thee, I sought the convent; and, as the chapel
is one of the public sights of the city, I made my curiosity my excuse.
Happily, I recognised in the porter of the convent an old servitor of my
father's; he had known me from a child—he dislikes his calling—he
will consent to accompany our flight, to share our fortunes: he has
promised to convey a letter from me to Beatriz, and to transmit to me her
"The stars smile on thee, Don Martin. When thou hast learned more, consult
with me again. Now, I see a way to assist thee."
CHAPTER VI. WEB UPON WEB.
The next day, to the discomfiture of the courtiers, Calderon and the
Infant of Spain were seen together, publicly, on the parade; and the
secretary made one of the favoured few who attended the prince at the
theatre. His favour was greater, his power more dazzling than ever it had
been known before. No cause for the breach and reconciliation being known,
some attributed it to caprice, others to the wily design of the astute
Calderon for the humiliation of Uzeda, who seemed only to have been
admitted to one smile from the rising sun in order more signally to be
reconsigned to the shade.
Meanwhile, Fonseca prospered almost beyond his hopes. Young, ardent,
sanguine, the poor novice had fled from her quiet home and the indulgence
of her free thoughts, to the chill solitude of the cloister, little
dreaming of the extent of the change. With a heart that overflowed with
the warm thoughts of love and youth, the ghostlike shapes that flitted
round her, the icy forms, the rigid ceremonials of that life, which is but
the mimicry of death, appalled and shocked her. That she had preserved
against a royal and most perilous, because unscrupulous suitor, her
fidelity to the absent Fonseca, was her sole consolation.
Another circumstance had combined with the loss of her protectress and the
absence of Don Martin to sadden her heart and dispose her to the cloister.
On the deathbed of the old woman, who had been to her as a mother, she had
learned a secret hitherto concealed from her tender youth. Dark and tragic
were the influences of the star which had shone upon her birth, gloomy the
heritage of memories associated with her parentage. A letter, of which she
now became the guardian and treasurer—a letter, in her mother's
hand-woke tears more deep and bitter than she had ever shed for herself.
In that letter she read the strength and the fidelity, the sorrow and the
gloom, of woman's love; and a dreary foreboding told her that the shadow
of the mother's fate was cast over the child's. Such were the thoughts
that made the cloister welcome, till the desolation of the shelter was
tried and known. But when, through the agency of the porter, Fonseca's
letter reached her, all other feelings gave way to the burst of natural
and passionate emotion. The absent had returned, again wooed, was still
faithful. The awful vow was not spoken—she might yet be his. She
answered; she chided; she spoke of doubt, of peril, of fear for him, of
maiden shame; but her affection coloured every word, and the letter was
full of hope. The correspondence continued; the energetic remonstrances of
Fonseca, the pure and fervent attachment of the novice, led more and more
rapidly and surely to the inevitable result. Beatriz yielded to the prayer
of her lover; she consented to the scheme of escape and flight that he
Late at evening Fonseca sought Calderon. The marquis was in the gardens of
his splendid mansion.
The moonlight streamed over many a row of orange-trees and pomegranates—many
a white and richly sculptured vase, on its marble pedestal—many a
fountain, that scattered its low music round the breathless air. Upon a
terrace that commanded a stately view of the spires and palaces of Madrid
stood Calderon, alone; beside him, one solitary and gigantic aloe cast its
deep gloom of shade and his motionless attitude, his folded arms, his face
partially lifted to the starlit heavens, bespoke the earnestness and
concentration of his thoughts.
"Why does this shudder come over me?" said, he, half aloud. "It was thus
in that dismal hour which preceded the knowledge of my shame—the
deed of a dark revenge—the revolution of my eventful and wondrous
life! Ah! how happy was I once! a contented and tranquil student; a
believer in those eyes that were to me as the stars to the astrologer. But
the golden age passed into that of iron. And now," added Calderon, with a
self-mocking sneer, "comes the era which the poets have not chronicled;
for fraud, and hypocrisy, and vice, know no poets!"
The quick step of Fonseca interrupted the courtier's reverie. He turned,
knit his brow, and sighed heavily, as if nerving himself to some effort;
but his brow was smooth, and his aspect cheerful, ere Fonseca reached his
"Give me joy—give me joy, dear Calderon! she has consented. Now,
then, your promised aid."
"You can depend upon the fidelity of your friendly porter?
"With my life."
"A master key to the back-door of the chapel has been made?"
"See, I have it."
"And Beatriz can contrive to secrete herself in the confessional at the
hour of the night prayers?"
"There is no doubt of her doing so with safety. The number of the novices
is so great, that one of them cannot well be missed."
"So much, then, for your part of the enterprise. Now for mine. You know
that solitary house in the suburbs, on the high road to Fuencarral, which
I pointed out to you yesterday? Well, the owner is a creature of mine.
There, horses shall be in waiting; there, disguises shall be prepared.
Beatriz must necessarily divest herself of the professional dress; you had
better choose meaner garments for yourself. Drop those hidalgo titles of
which your father is so proud, and pass off yourself and the novice as a
notary and his wife, about to visit France on a lawsuit of inheritance.
One of my secretaries shall provide you with a pass. Meanwhile, to-morrow,
I shall be the first officially to hear of the flight of the novice, and I
will set the pursuers on a wrong scent. Have I not arranged all things
properly, my Fonseca?"
"You are our guardian angel!" cried Don Martin, fervently. "The prayers of
Beatriz will be registered in your behalf above—prayers that will
reach the Great Throne as easily from the open valleys of France as in the
gloomy cloisters of Madrid. At midnight, to-morrow, then, we seek the
house you have described to us."
"Ay, at midnight, all shall be prepared."
With a light step and exulting heart, Fonseca turned from the palace of
Calderon. Naturally sanguine and high-spirited, visions of hope and joy
floated before his eyes, and the future seemed to him a land owning but
the twin deities of Glory and Love.
He had reached about the centre of the streets in which Calderon's abode
was placed, when six men, who for some moments had been watching him from
a little distance, approached.
"I believe," said the one who appeared the chief of the band, "that I have
the honor to address Senior Don Martin Fonseca?"
"Such is my name."
"In the name of the king we arrest you. Follow us."
"Arrest! on what plea? What is my offence?"
"It is stated on this writ, signed by his Eminence the Cardinal-Duke de
Lerma. You are charged with the crime of desertion."
"Thou liest, knave! I had the general's free permission to quit the camp."
"We have said all—follow!"
Fonseca, naturally of the most impetuous and passionate character, was
not, in that moment, in a mood to calculate coldly all the consequences of
resistance. Arrest—imprisonment—on the eve before that which
was to see him the deliverer of Beatriz, constituted a sentence of such
despair, that all other considerations vanished before it. He set his
teeth firmly, drew his sword, dashed aside the alguazil who attempted to
obstruct his path, and strode grimly on, shaking one clenched hand in
defiance, while, with the other, he waved the good Toledo that had often
blazed in the van of battle, at the war-cry of "St. Iago and Spain!"
The alguazils closed round the soldier, and the clash of swords was
already heard; when suddenly torches borne on high threw their glare
across the moonlit street, and two running footmen called out, "Make way
for the most noble the Marquis de Siete Iglesias!" At that name, Fonseca
dropped the point of his weapon; the alguazils themselves drew aside; and
the tall figure and pale countenance of Calderon were visible amongst the
"What means this brawl in the open streets at this late hour?" said the
"Calderon!" exclaimed Fonseca; "this is indeed fortunate. These caitiffs
have dared to lay hands on a soldier of Spain, and to forge for their
villany the name of his own kinsman, the Duke de Lerma."
"Your charge against this gentleman?" asked Calderon, calmly, turning to
the principal alguazil, who placed the writ of arrest in the secretary's
hand. Calderon read it leisurely, and raised his hat as he returned it to
the alguazil: he then drew aside Fonseca.
"Are you mad?" said he, in a whisper. "Do you think you can resist the
law? Had I not arrived so opportunely you would have converted a slight
accusation into a capital offence. Go with these men: do not fear; I will
see the duke, and obtain your immediate release. To-morrow I will visit
and accompany you home."
Fonseca, still half beside himself with rage, would have replied, but
Calderon significantly placed his finger on his lip and turned to the
"There is a mistake here: it will be rectified to-morrow. Treat this
cavalier with all the respect and worship due to his birth and merits. Go,
Don Martin, go," he added, in a lower voice; "go, unless you desire to
lose Beatriz for ever. Nothing but obedience can save you from the
imprisonment of half a life!"
Awed and subdued by this threat, Fonseca, in gloomy silence, placed his
sword in its sheath, and sullenly followed the alguazils. Calderon watched
them depart with a thoughtful and absent look; then, starting from his
reverie, he bade his torchbearers proceed, and resumed his way to the
Prince of Spain.
CHAPTER VII. THE OPEN COUNTENANCE, THE CONCEALED THOUGHTS
The next day, at noon, Calderon visited Fonseca in his place of
confinement. The young man was seated by a window that overlooked a large
dull court-yard, with a neglected and broken fountain in the centre,
leaning his cheek upon his hand. His long hair was dishevelled, his dress
disordered, and a gloomy frown darkened features naturally open and
ingenuous. He started to his feet as Calderon approached. "My release—you
have brought my release—let us forth!"
"My dear pupil, be ruled, be calm. I have seen the duke: the cause of your
imprisonment is as I suspected. Some imprudent words, overheard, perhaps,
but by your valet, have escaped you; words intimating your resolution not
to abandon Beatriz. You know your kinsman, a mail of doubts and fears,—of
forms, ceremonies, and scruples. From very affection for his kindred and
yourself he has contrived your arrest; all my expostulations have been in
vain. I fear your imprisonment may continue, either until you give a
solemn promise to renounce all endeavor to dissuade Beatriz from the final
vows, or until she herself has pronounced them."
Fonseca, as if stupefied, stared a moment at Calderon, and then burst into
a wild laugh. Calderon continued:
"Nevertheless, do not despair. Be patient; I am ever about the duke; nay,
I have the courage, in your cause, to appeal even to the king himself."
"And to-night she expects me—to-night she was to be free!"
"We can convey the intelligence of your mischance to her: the porter will
"Away, false friend, or powerless protector, that you are! Are your
promises of aid come to this? But I care not; my case, my wrongs, shall be
laid before the king; I will inquire if it be thus that Philip the Third
treats the defenders of his crown. Don Roderigo Calderon, will you place
my memorial in the hands of your royal master? Do this, and I will thank
"No, Fonseca, I will not ruin you; the king would pass your memorial to
the Duke de Lerma. Tush! this is not the way that men of sense deal with
misfortune. Think you I should be what I now am, if, in every reverse, I
had raved, and not reflected? Sit down, and let us think of what can now
"Nothing, unless the prison door open by sunset!"
"Stay, a thought strikes me. The term of your imprisonment ceases when you
relinquish the hope of Beatriz. But what if the duke could believe that
Beatriz relinquished you? What, for instance, if she fled from the
convent, as you proposed, and we could persuade the duke that it was with
"Ah! be silent!"
"Nay, what advantages in this scheme—what safety! If she fly alone,
or, as supposed, with another lover, the duke will have no interest in
pursuit, in punishment. She is not of that birth that the state will take
the trouble, very actively, to interfere: she may reach France in safety;
ay, a thousand times more safely than if she fled with you, a hidalgo and
a man of rank, whom the state would have an interest to reclaim, and to
whom the Inquisition, hating the nobles, would impute the crime of
sacrilege. It is an excellent thought! Your imprisonment may be the
salvation of you both: your plan may succeed still better without your
intervention; and, after a few days, the duke, believing that your
resentment must necessarily replace your love, will order your release;
you can join Beatriz on the frontier, and escape with her to France."
"But," said Fonseca, struck, but not convinced, by the suggestion of
Calderon, "who will take my place with Beatriz? who penetrate into the
gardens? who bear her from the convent?"
"That, for your sake, will I do. Perhaps," added Calderon, smiling, "a
courtier may manage such an intrigue with even more dexterity than a
soldier. I will bear her to the house we spoke of; there I know she can
lie hid in safety, till the languid pursuit of uninterested officials
shall cease, and thence I can easily find means to transport her, under
safe and honourable escort, to any place it may please you to appoint."
"And think you Beatriz will fly with you, a stranger? Impossible! Your
plan pleases me not."
"Nor does it please me," said Calderon, coldly; "the risks I proposed to
run are too imminent to be contemplated complacently: I thank you for
releasing me from my offer; nor should I have made it, Fonseca, but from
this fear, what if to-morrow the duke himself (he is a churchman,
remember) see the novice? what if he terrify her with threats against
yourself? what if he induce the abbess and the Church to abridge the
novitiate? what if Beatriz be compelled or awed into taking the veil? what
if you be released even next week and find her lost to you for ever?"
"They cannot—they dare not!"
"The duke dares all things for ambition; your alliance with Beatriz he
would hold a disgrace to his house. Think not my warnings are without
foundation—I speak from authority; such is the course the Duke de
Lerma has resolved upon. Nothing else could have induced me to offer to
brave for your sake all the hazard of outraging the law and braving the
terrors of the Inquisition. But let us think of some other plan. Is your
escape possible? I fear not. No; you must trust to my chance of persuading
the duke into prosecuting the matter no further; trust to some mightier
scheme engrossing all his thoughts; to a fit of good-humour after his
siesta; or, perhaps, an attack of the gout, or a stroke of apoplexy. Such,
after all, are the chances of human felicity, the pivots on which turns
the solemn wheel of human life."
Fonseca made no reply for some moments; he traversed the room with hasty
and disordered strides, and at last stopped abruptly.
"Calderon, there is no option; I must throw myself on your generosity,
your faith, your friendship. I will write to Beatriz; I will tell her, for
my sake, to confide in you."
As he spoke, Don Martin turned to the table, and wrote a hasty and
impassioned note, in which he implored the novice to trust herself to the
directions of Don Roderigo Calderon, his best, his only friend; and, as he
placed this letter in the hands of the courtier he turned aside to conceal
his emotions. Calderon himself was deeply moved: his cheek was flushed,
and his hand seemed tremulous as it took the letter.
"Remember," said Fonseca, "that I trust to you my life of life. As you are
true to me, may Heaven be merciful to you!"
Calderon made no answer, but turned to the door. "Stay," said Fonseca; "I
had forgot this—here is the master key."
"True; how dull I was! And the porter—will he attend to thy proxy?"
"Doubt it not. Accost him with the word, 'Grenada.' But he expects to
share the flight."
"That can be arranged. To-morrow you will hear of my success. Farewell!"
CHAPTER VIII. THE ESCAPE
It was midnight in the chapel of the convent.
The moonlight shone with exceeding lustre through the tall casements, and
lit into a ghastly semblance of life the marble images of saint and
martyr, that threw their long shadows over the consecrated floor. Nothing
could well be conceived more dreary, solemn, and sepulchral than that holy
place: its distained and time-hallowed walls; the impenetrable mass of
darkness that gathered into those recesses which the moonlight failed to
reach; its antique and massive tombs, above which reclined the sculptured
effigies of some departed patroness or abbess, who had exchanged a living
grave for the Mansions of the Blest. But there—oh, wonderful human
heart!—even there, in that spot, the very homily and warning against
earthly affections and mortal hopes—even there, couldst thou beat
with as wild, as bright, and as pure a passion as ever heaved the breast
and shone in the eyes of Beauty, in the free air that ripples the
Guadiana, or amidst the twilight dance of Castilian maids.
A tall figure, wrapped from head to foot in a cloak, passed slowly up the
aisle. But light and cautious though the footstep, it woke a low, hollow,
ominous echo, that seemed more than the step itself to disturb the
sanctity of the place. It paused opposite to a confessional, which was but
dimly visible through the shadows around it. And then there emerged
timidly a female form; and a soft voice whispered "It is thou, Fonseca!"
"Hist!" was the answer; "he waits without. Be quick; speak not—come."
Beatriz recoiled in surprise and alarm at the voice of a stranger; but the
man, seizing her by the hand, drew her hastily from the chapel, and
hurried her across the garden, through a small postern door, which stood
ajar, into an obscure street bordering the convent wall. Here stood the
expectant porter, with a bundle in his hand, which he opened, and took
thence a long cloak, such as the women of middling rank in Madrid wore in
the winter season, with the customary mantilla or veil. With these, still
without speaking, the stranger hastily shrouded the form of the novice,
and once more hurried her on till about a hundred yards from the garden
gate he came to a carriage, into which he lifted Beatriz, whispered a few
words to the porter, seated himself by the side of the novice, and the
vehicle drove rapidly away.
It was some moments before Beatriz could sufficiently recover from her
first agitation and terror, to feel alive to all the strangeness of her
situation. She was alone with a stranger; where was Fonseca? She turned
towards her companion.
"Who art thou?" she said, "whither art thou leading me-and why—"
"Why is not Don Martin by thy side? Pardon me, senora: I have a billet for
thee from Fonseca; in a few minutes thou wilt know all."
At this time the vehicle came suddenly in the midst of a train of footmen
and equipages that choked up the way. There was a brilliant entertainment
at the French embassy; and thither flocked, all the rank and chivalry of
Madrid. Calderon drew down the blind and hastily enjoined silence on
Beatriz. It was some minutes before the driver extricated himself from the
throng; and then, as if to make amends for the delay, he put his horses to
their full speed, and carefully selected the most obscure and solitary
thoroughfares. At length, the carriage entered the range of suburbs which
still at this day the traveller passes on his road from Madrid to France.
The horses stopped before a lonely house that stood a little apart from
the road, and which from the fashion of its architecture appeared of
considerable antiquity. The stranger descended and knocked twice at the
door: it was opened by an old man, whose exaggerated features, bended
frame, and long beard, proclaimed him of the race of Israel. After a short
and whispered parley, the stranger returned to Beatriz, gravely assisted
her from the carriage, and, leading her across the threshold, and up a
flight of rude stairs, dimly lighted, entered a chamber richly furnished.
The walls were hung with stuffs of gorgeous colouring and elaborate
design. Pedestals of the whitest marble placed at each corner of the room
supported candelabra of silver. The sofas and couches were of the heavy
but sumptuous fashion which then prevailed in the palaces of France and
Spain; and of which Venice (the true model of the barbaric decorations
with which Louis the Fourteenth corrupted the taste of Paris) was probably
the original inventor. In an alcove, beneath a silken canopy, was prepared
a table, laden with wines, fruits, and viands; and altogether the elegance
and luxury that characterised the apartment were in strong and strange
contrast with the half-ruined exterior of the abode, the gloomy and rude
approach to the chamber, and the mean and servile aspect of the Jew, who
stood, or rather cowered by the door, as if waiting for further orders.
With a wave of the hand the stranger dismissed the Israelite; and then,
approaching Beatriz, presented to her Fonseca's letter.
As with an enchanting mixture of modesty and eagerness Beatriz, half
averting her face, bent over the well-known characters, Calderon gazed
upon her with a scrutinising and curious eye.
The courtier was not, in this instance, altogether the villain that from
outward appearances the reader may have deemed him. His plan was this: he
had resolved on compliance with the wishes of the prince—his safety
rested on that compliance. But Fonseca was not to be sacrificed without
reserve. Profoundly despising womankind, and firmly persuaded of their
constitutional treachery and deceit, Calderon could not believe the
actress that angel of light and purity which she seemed to the enamoured
Fonseca. He had resolved to subject her to the ordeal of the prince's
addresses. If she fell, should he not save his friend from being the dupe
of an artful intriguante?—should he not deserve the thanks of
Don Martin for the very temptation to which Beatriz was now to be
submitted? If he could convince Fonseca of her falsehood, he should stand
acquitted to his friend, while he should have secured his interest with
the prince. But if, on the other hand, Beatriz came spotless through the
trial; if the prince, stung by her obstinate virtue, should menace to sink
courtship into violence, Calderon knew that it would not be in the first
or second interview that the novice would have any real danger to
apprehend; and he should have leisure to concert her escape by such means
as would completely conceal from the prince his own connivance at her
flight. Such was the compromise that Calderon had effected between his
conscience and his ambition. But while he gazed upon the novice, though
her features were turned from him, and half veiled by the headdress she
had assumed, strange feelings, ominous and startling, like those
remembrances of the Past which sometimes come in the guise of prophecies
of the Future, thronged, indistinct and dim, upon his breast. The
unconscious and exquisite grace of her form, its touching youth, an air of
innocence diffused around it, a something helpless, and pleading to man's
protection, in the very slightness of her beautiful but fairy-like
proportions, seemed to reproach his treachery, and to awaken whatever of
pity or human softness remained in his heart.
The novice had read the letter; and turning, in the impulse of surprise
and alarm, to Calderon for explanation, for the first time she remarked
his features and his aspect; for he had then laid aside his cloak, and the
broad Spanish hat with its heavy plume. It was thus that their eyes met,
and, as they did so, Beatriz, starting from her seat, uttered a wild cry—
"And thy name is Calderon—Don Roderigo Calderon?—is it
possible? Hadst thou never another name?" she exclaimed; and, as she
spoke, she approached him slowly and fearfully.
"Lady, Calderon is my name," replied the marquis: but his voice faltered.
"But thine—thine—is it, in truth, Beatriz Coello?"
Beatriz made no reply, but continued to advance, till her very breath came
upon his cheek; she then laid her hand upon his arm, and looked up into
his face with a gaze so earnest, so intent, so prolonged, that Calderon,
but for a strange and terrible thought—half of wonder, half of
suspicion, which had gradually crept into his soul, and now usurped it—might
have doubted whether the reason of the poor novice was not unsettled.
Slowly Beatriz withdrew her eyes, and they fell upon a large mirror
opposite, which reflected in full light the features of Calderon and
herself. It was then—her natural bloom having faded into a paleness
scarcely less statue-like than that which characterised the cheek of
Calderon himself, and all the sweet play and mobility of feature that
belong to first youth being replaced by a rigid and marble stillness of
expression—it was then that a remarkable resemblance between these
two persons became visible and startling. That resemblance struck alike,
and in the same instant, both Beatriz and Calderon; and both, gazing on
the mirror, uttered an involuntary and simultaneous exclamation.
With a trembling and hasty hand the novice searched amidst the folds of
her robe, and drew forth a small leathern case, closed with clasps of
silver. She touched the spring, and took out a miniature, upon which she
cast a rapid and wild glance; then, lifting her eyes to Calderon, she
cried, "It must be so—it is, it is my father!" and fell motionless
at his feet.
Calderon did not for some moments heed the condition of the novice: that
chamber, the meditated victim, the present time, the coming evil—all
were swept away from his soul; he was transported back into the past, with
the two dread Spirits, Memory and Conscience! His knees knocked together,
his aspect was livid, the cold drops stood upon his brow; he muttered
incoherently and then bent down, and took up the picture. It was the face
of a man in the plain garb of a Salamanca student, and in the first flush
of youth; the noble brow, serene and calm, and stamped alike with candour
and courage; the smooth cheek, rich with the hues of health; the lips,
parting in a happy smile, and eloquent of joy and hope; it was the face of
that wily, grasping, ambitious, unscrupulous man, when life had yet
brought no sin; it was, as if the ghost of youth were come back to accuse
the crimes of manhood! The miniature fell from his hand—he groaned
aloud. Then gazing on the prostrate form of the novice, he said—"Poor
wretch! can I believe that thou art indeed of mine own race and blood; or
rather, does not nature, that stamped these lineaments on thy countenance,
deceive and mock me? If she, thy mother, lied, why not nature herself?"
He raised the novice in his arms, and gazed long and wistfully upon her
lifeless, but almost lovely features. She moved not—she scarcely
seemed to breathe; yet he fancied he felt her embrace tightening round him—he
fancied he heard again the voice that had hailed him "FATHER!" His heart
beat aloud, the divine instinct overpowered all things, he pressed a
passionate kiss upon her forehead, and his tears fell fast and warm upon
her cheek. But again the dark remembrance crossed him, and he shuddered,
placed the novice hastily on one of the couches, and shouted aloud.
The Jew appeared and was ordered to summon Jacinta. A young woman of the
same persuasion, and of harsh and forbidding exterior, entered, and to her
care Calderon briefly consigned the yet insensible Beatriz.
While Jacinta unlaced the dress, and chafed the temples, of the novice,
Calderon seemed buried in gloomy thought. At last he strode slowly away,
as if to quit the chamber, when his foot struck against the case of the
picture, and his eye rested upon a paper which lay therein, folded and
embedded. He took it up, and, lifting aside the hangings, hurried into a
small cabinet lighted by a single lamp. Here, alone and unseen, Calderon
read the following letter:
"TO RODERIGO NUNEZ.
"Will this letter ever meet thine eyes? I know not; but it is comfort to
write to thee on the bed of death; and were it not for that horrible and
haunting thought that thou believest me—me whose very life was in
thy love—faithless and dishonoured, even death itself would be the
sweeter because it comes from the loss of thee. Yes, something tells me
that these lines will not be written in vain; that thou wilt read them
yet, when this hand is still and this brain at rest, and that then thou
wilt feel that I could not have dared to write to thee if I were not
innocent; that in every word thou wilt recognise the evidence that is
strong as the voice of thousands,—the simple but solemn evidence of
faith and truth. What! when for thee I deserted all—home, and a
father's love, wealth, and the name I had inherited from Moors who had
been monarchs in their day—couldst thou think that I had not made
the love of thee the core, and life, and principle of my very being! And
one short year, could that suffice to shake my faith?—one year of
marriage, but two months of absence? You left me, left that dear home, by
the silver Xenil. For love did not suffice to you; ambition began to stir
within you, and you called it 'love.' You said, 'It grieved you that I was
poor; that you could not restore to me the luxury and wealth I had lost.'
(Alas! why did you turn so incredulously from my assurance, that in you,
and you alone, were centred my ambition and pride?) You declared that the
vain readers of the stars had foretold at your cradle that you were
predestined to lofty honours and dazzling power, and that the prophecy
would work out its own fulfilment. You left me to seek in Madrid your
relation who had risen into the favour of a minister, and from whose love
you expected to gain an opening to your career. Do you remember how we
parted? how you kissed away my tears, and how they gushed forth again? how
again and again you said, 'Farewell!' and again and again returned as if
we could never part? And I took my babe, but a few weeks born, from her
cradle, and placed her in thy arms, and bade thee see that she had already
learned thy smile; and were these the signs of falsehood? Oh, how I pined
for the sound of thy footstep when thou wert gone! how all the summer had
vanished from the landscape; and how, turning to thy child, I fancied I
again beheld thee! The day after thou hadst left me there was a knock at
the cottage; the nurse opened it, and there entered your former rival,
whom my father had sought to force upon me, the richest of the descendants
of the Moor, Arraez Ferrares. Why linger on this hateful subject? He had
tracked us to our home, he had learned thy absence, he came to insult me
with his vows. By the Blessed Mother, whom thou hast taught me to adore,
by the terror and pang of death, by my hopes of Heaven, I am innocent,
Roderigo, I am innocent! Oh, how couldst thou be so deceived? He quitted
the cottage, discomfited and enraged; again he sought me, and again and
again; and when the door was closed upon him, he waylaid my steps. Lone
and defenceless as we were, thy wife and child, with but one attendant I
feared him not; but I trembled at thy return, for I knew that thou went a
Spaniard, a Castilian, and that beneath thy calm and gentle seeming lurked
pride, and jealousy, and revenge. Thy letter came, the only letter since
thy absence, the last letter from thee I may ever weep over, and lay upon
my heart. Thy relation was dead, and his wealth enriched a nearer heir.
Thou wert to return. The day in which I might expect thee approached—it
arrived. During the last week I had seen and heard no more of Ferrares. I
trusted that he had at length discovered the vanity of his pursuit. I
walked into the valley, thy child in my arms, to meet thee; but thou didst
not come. The sun set, and the light of thine eyes replaced not the
declining day. I returned home, and watched for thee all night, but in
vain. The next morning again I went forth into the valley, and again, with
a sick heart, returned to my desolate home. It was then noon. As I
approached the door I perceived Ferrares. He forced his entrance. I told
him of thy expected return, and threatened him with thy resentment. He
left me; and, terrified with a thousand vague forebodings, I sat down to
weep. The nurse, Leonarda, was watching by the cradle of our child in the
"I was alone. Suddenly the door opened. I heard thy step; I knew it; I
knew its music. I started up. Saints of Heaven! what a meeting—what
a return! Pale, haggard, thine hands and garments dripping blood, thine
eyes blazing with insane fire, a terrible smile of mockery on thy lip,
thou stoodst before me. I would have thrown myself on thy breast; thou
didst cast me from thee; I fell on my knees, and thy blade was pointed at
my heart—the heart so full of thee! 'He is dead,' didst thou say, in
a hollow voice; 'he is dead—thy paramour—take thy bed beside
him!' I know not what I said, but it seemed to move thee; thy hand
trembled, and the point of thy weapon dropped. It was then that, hearing
thy voice, Leonarda hastened into the room, and bore in her arms thy
child. 'See,' I exclaimed, 'see thy daughter; see, she stretches her hands
to thee—she pleads for her mother!' At that sight thy brow became
dark, the demon seized upon thee again. 'Mine!' were thy cruel words—they
ring in my ear still—'no! she was born before the time—ha! ha!—thou
didst betray me from the first!' With that thou didst raise thy sword;
but, even then (ah, blessed thought! even then) remorse and love palsied
thy hand, and averted thy gaze: the blow was not that of death. I fell
senseless to the ground, and when I recovered thou wert gone. Delirium
succeeded; and when once more my senses and reason returned to me, I found
by my side a holy priest, and from him, gradually, I learned all that till
then was dare. Ferrares had been found in the valley, weltering in his
blood. Borne to a neighbouring monastery, he lingered a few days, to
confess the treachery he had practised on thee; to adopt, in his last
hours, the Christian faith; and to attest his crime with his own
signature. He enjoined the monk, who had converted and confessed him, to
place this proof of my innocence in my hands. Behold it enclosed within.
If this letter ever reach thee, thou wilt learn how thy wife was true to
thee in life, and has therefore the right to bless thee in death."
At this passage, Calderon dropped the letter, and was seized with a kind
of paralysis, which for some moments seemed to deprive him of life itself.
When he recovered he eagerly grasped a scroll that was enclosed in the
letter, but which, hitherto, he had disregarded. Even then, so strong were
his emotions, that sight itself was obscured and dimmed, and it was long
before he could read the characters, which were already discoloured by
"I have but a few hours to live,—let me spend them in atonement and
in prayer, less for myself than thee. Thou knowest not how madly I adored
thee; and how thy hatred or indifference stung every passion into torture.
Let this pass. When I saw thee again—the forsaker of thy faith—poor,
obscure, and doomed to a peasant's lot—daring hopes shaped
themselves into fierce resolves. Finding that thou wert inexorable, I
turned my arts upon thy husband. I knew his poverty and his ambition: we
Moors have had ample knowledge of the avarice of the Christians'. I bade
one whom I could trust to seek him out at Madrid. Wealth—lavish
wealth—wealth that could open to a Spaniard all the gates of power
was offered to him if he would renounce thee forever. Nay, in order to
crush out all love from his breast, it was told him that mine was the
prior right—that thou hadst yielded to my suit ere thou didst fly
with him—that thou didst use his love as an escape from thine own
dishonour—that thy very child owned another father. I had learned,
and I availed myself of the knowledge, that it was born before its time.
We had miscalculated the effect of this representation, backed and
supported by forged letters: instead of abandoning thee, he thought only
of revenge for his shame. As I left thy house, the last time I gazed upon
thine indignant eyes, I found the avenger, on my path! He had seen me quit
thy roof—he needed no other confirmation of the tale. I fell into
the pit which I had digged for thee. Conscience unnerved my hand and
blunted my sword: our blades scarcely crossed before his weapon stretched
me on the ground. They tell me he has fled from the anger of the law; let
him return without a fear Solemnly, and from the bed of death, and in the
sight of the last tribunal, I proclaim to justice and the world that we
fought fairly, and I perish justly. I have adopted thy faith, though I
cannot comprehend its mysteries. It is enough that it holds out to me the
only hope that we shall meet again. I direct these lines to be transmitted
to thee—an eternal proof of thy innocence and my guilt. Ah, canst
thou forgive me? I knew no sin till I knew thee.
Calderon paused ere he turned to the concluding lines of his wife's
letter; and, though he remained motionless and speechless, never were
agony and despair stamped more terribly on the face of man.
CONCLUSION OF THE LETTER OF INEZ.
"And what avails to me this testimony of my faith? thou art fled; they
cannot track thy footsteps; I shall see thee no more on earth. I am dying
fast, but not of the wound I took from thee; let not that thought darken
thy soul, my husband! No, that wound is healed. Thought is sharper than
the sword. I have pilled away for the loss of thee and thy love! Can the
shadow live without the sun? And wilt thou never place thy hands on my
daughter's head, and bless her for her mother's sake? Ah, yes—yes!
The saints that watch over our human destinies will one day cast her in
thy way: and the same hour that gives thee a daughter shall redeem and
hallow the memory of a wife.... Leonarda has vowed to be a mother to our
child; to tend her, work for her, rear her, though in poverty, to virtue.
I consign these letters to Leonarda's charge, with thy picture—never
to be removed from my breast till the heart within has ceased to beat. Not
till Beatriz (I have so baptised her—it was thy mother's name!) has
attained to the age when reason can wrestle with the knowledge of sorrow,
shall her years be shadowed with the knowledge of our fate. Leonarda has
persuaded me that Beatriz shall not take thy name of Nunez. Our tale has
excited horror—for it is not understood—and thou art called
the murderer of thy wife; and the story of our misfortunes would cling to
our daughter's life, and reach her ears, and perhaps mar her fate. But I
know that thou wilt discover her not the less, for Nature has a Providence
of its own. When at last you meet her, protect, guard, love her—sacred
to you as she is, and shall be—the pure but mournful legacy of love
and death. I have done: I die blessing thee!" "INEZ."
Scarce had he finished those last words, ere the clock struck: it was the
hour in which the prince was to arrive. The thought restored Calderon to
the sense of the present time—the approaching peril. All the cold
calculations he had formed for the stranger-novice vanished now. He kissed
the letter passionately, placed it in his breast, and hurried into the
chamber where he had left his child. Our tale returns to Fonseca.
CHAPTER IX. THE COUNTERPLOT.
Calderon had not long left the young soldier before the governor of the
prison entered to pay his respects to a captive of such high birth and
Fonseca, always blunt and impatient of mood, was not in a humour to
receive and return compliments; but the governor had scarcely seated
himself ere he struck a chord in the conversation which immediately
arrested the attention and engaged the interest of the prisoner.
"Do not fear, sir," said he, "that you will be long detained; the power of
your enemy is great, but it will not be of duration. The storm is already
gathering round him; he must be more than man if he escapes the
"Do you speak to me thus of my kinsman, the Cardinal-Duke de Lerma?"
"No, Don Martin, pardon me. I spoke of the Marquis de Siete Iglesias. Are
you so great a stranger to Madrid and to the court as to suppose that the
Cardinal de Lerma ever signs a paper but at the instance of Don Roderigo?
Nay, that he ever looks over the paper to which he sets his hand? Depend
upon it, you are here to gratify the avarice or revenge of the Scourge of
"Impossible!" cried Fonseca. "Don Roderigo is my friend—my
intercessor. He overwhelms me with his kindness."
"Then you are indeed lost," said the governor, in accents of compassion;
"the tiger always caresses his prey before he devours it. What have you
done to provoke his kindness?"
"Senor," said Fonseca, suspiciously, "you speak with a strange want of
caution to a stranger, and against a man whose power you confess."
"Because I am safe from his revenge; because the Inquisition have already
fixed their fatal eyes upon him; because by that Inquisition I am not
unknown nor unprotected; because I see with joy and triumph the hour
approaching that must render up to justice the pander of the prince, the
betrayer of the king, the robber of the people; because I have an interest
in thee, Don Martin, of which thou wilt be aware when thou hast learned my
name. I am Juan de la Nuza, the father of the young officer whose life you
saved in the assault of the Moriscos, in Valentia, and I owe you an
There was something in the frank and hearty tone of the governor which at
once won Fonseca's confidence. He became agitated and distracted with
suspicions of his former tutor and present patron.
"What, I ask, hast thou done to attract his notice? Calderon is not
capricious in cruelty. Art thou rich, and does he hope that thou wilt
purchase freedom with five thousand pistoles? No! Hast thou crossed the
path of his ambition? Hast thou been seen with Uzeda? or art thou in
favour with the prince? No, again! Then hast thou some wife, some sister,
some mistress, of rare accomplishments and beauty, with whom Calderon
would gorge the fancy and retain the esteem of the profligate Infant? Ah,
thou changest colour."
"By Heaven! you madden me with these devilish surmises. Speak plainly."
"I see thou knowest not Calderon," said the governor, with a bitter smile.
"I do—for my niece was beautiful, and the prince wooed her—.
But enough of that: at his scaffold, or at the rack, I shall be avenged on
Roderigo Calderon. You said the Cardinal was your kinsman; you are, then,
equally related to his son, the Duke d'Uzeda. Apply not to Lerma; he is
the tool of Calderon. Apply yourself to Uzeda; he is Calderon's mortal
foe. While Calderon gains ground with the prince, Uzeda advances with the
king. Uzeda by a word can procure thy release. The duke knows and trusts
me. Shall I be commissioned to acquaint him with thy arrest, and entreat
his intercession with Philip?"
"You give me new life! But not an hour is to be lost; this night—this
day-oh, Mother of Mercy! what image have you conjured up! fly to Uzeda, if
you would save my very reason. I myself have scarcely seen him since my
boyhood—Lerma forbade me seek his friendship. But I am of his race—his
"Be cheered, I shall see the duke to-day. I have business with him where
you wot not. We are bringing strange events to a crisis. Hope the best."
With this the governor took his leave.
At the dusk of the evening, Don Juan de la Nuza, wrapped in a dark mantle,
stood before a small door deep-set in a massive and gloomy wall, that
stretched along one side of a shunned and deserted street. Without sign of
living hand, the door opened at his knock, and the governor entered a long
and narrow passage that conducted to chambers more associated with images
of awe than any in his own prison. Here he suddenly encountered the
Jesuit, Fray Louis de Aliaga, confessor to the king.
"How fares the Grand Inquisitor?" asked De la Nuza. "He has just breathed
his last," answered the Jesuit. "His illness—so sudden—defied
all aid. Sandoval y Roxas is with the saints."
The governor, who was, as the reader may suppose, one of the sacred body,
crossed himself, and answered.—"With whom will rest the appointment
of the successor? Who will be first to gain the ear of the king?"
"I know not," replied the Jesuit; "but I am at this instant summoned to
Uzeda. Pardon my haste."
So saying, Aliaga glided away.
"With Sandoval y Roxas," muttered Don Juan, "dies the last protector of
Calderon and Lerma: unless, indeed, the wily marquis can persuade the king
to make Aliaga, his friend, the late cardinal's successor. But Aliaga
seeks Uzeda—Uzeda his foe and rival. What can this portend?"
Thus soliloquising, the governor silently continued his way till he came
to a door by which stood two men, masked, who saluted him with a mute
inclination of the head. The door opened and again closed, as the governor
entered. Meanwhile, the confessor had gained the palace of the Duke d'
Uzeda. Uzeda was not alone: with him was a man whose sallow complexion,
ill-favoured features, and simple dress strangely contrasted the showy
person and sumptuous habiliments of the duke. But the instant this
personage opened his lips, the comparison was no longer to his prejudice.
Something in the sparkle of his deep-set eye-in the singular enchantment
of his smile—and above all, in the tone of a very musical and
earnest voice, chained attention at once to his words. And, whatever those
words, there was about the man, and his mode of thought and expression,
the stamp of a mind at once crafty and commanding. This personage was
Gaspar de Guzman, then but a gentleman of the Prince's chamber (which post
he owed to Calderon, whose creature he was supposed to be), afterwards so
celebrated in the history of Philip IV., as Count of Olivares and prime
minister of Spain.
The conversation between Guzman and Uzeda, just before the Jesuit entered,
was drawing to a close.
"You see," said Uzeda, "that if we desire to crush Calderon, it is on the
Inquisition that we must depend. Now is the time to elect, in the
successor of Sandoval y Roxas, one pledged to the favourite's ruin. The
reason I choose Aliaga is this,—Calderon will never suspect his
friendship, and will not, therefore, thwart us with the king. The Jesuit,
who would sell all Christendom for the sake of advancement to his order or
himself will gladly sell Calderon to obtain the chair of the Inquisition."
"I believe it," replied Guzman. "I approve your choice; and you may rely
on me to destroy Calderon with the prince. I have found out the way to
rule Philip; it is by never giving him a right to despise his favourites—it
is to flatter his vanity, but not to share his vices. Trust me, you alone—if
you follow my suggestions—can be minister to the Fourth Philip."
Here a page entered to announce Don Fray Louis de Aliaga. Uzeda advanced
to the door, and received the holy man with profound respect.
"Be seated, father, and let me at once to business; for time presses, and
all must be despatched to-night. Before interest is made by others with
the king, we must be prompt in gaining the appointment of Sandoval's
"Report says that the cardinal-duke, your father, himself desires the
vacant chair of the Inquisition."
"My poor father, he is old—his sun has set. No, Aliaga; I have
thought of one fitter for that high and stern office in a word, that
appointment rests with yourself. I can make you Grand Inquisitor of Spain—!"
"Me!" said the Jesuit, and he turned aside his face. "You jest with me,
"I am serious—hear me. We have been foes and rivals; why should not
our path be the same? Calderon has deprived you of friends more powerful
than himself. His hour is come. The Duke de Lerma's downfall cannot be
avoided; if it could, I, his son, would not as, you may suppose, withhold
my hand. But business fatigues him—he is old—the affairs of
Spain are in a deplorable condition—they need younger and abler
hands. My father will not repine at a retirement suited to his years, and
which shall be made honourable to his gray hairs. But some victim must
glut the rage of the people; that victim must be the upstart Calderon; the
means of his punishment, the Inquisition. Now, you understand me. On one
condition, you shall be the successor to Sandoval. Know that I do not
promise without the power to fulfill. The instant I learned that the late
cardinal's death was certain, I repaired to the king. I have the promise
of the appointment; and this night your name shall, if you accept the
condition, and Calderon does not, in the interim, see the king and prevent
the nomination, receive the royal sanction."
"Our excellent Aliaga cannot hesitate," said Don Gaspar de Guzman. "The
order of Loyola rests upon shoulders that can well support the load."
Before that trio separated, the compact was completed. Aliaga practised
against his friend the lesson he had preached to him—that the end
sanctifies all means. Scarce had Aliaga departed ere Juan de la Nuza
entered; for Uzeda, who sought to make the Inquisition his chief
instrument of power, courted the friendship of all its officers. He
readily promised to obtain the release of Fonseca; and, in effect, it was
but little after midnight when an order arrived at the prison for the
release of Don Martin de Fonseca, accompanied by a note from the duke to
the prisoner, full of affectionate professions, and requesting to see him
the next morning.
Late as the hour was, and in spite of the expostulations of the governor,
who wished him to remain the night within the prison, in the hope to
extract from him his secret, Fonseca no sooner received the order than he
claimed and obtained his liberation.
CHAPTER X. WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.
With emotions of joy and triumph, such as had never yet agitated his
reckless and abandoned youth, the Infant of Spain bent his way towards the
lonely house on the road to Fuencarral. He descended from his carriage
when about a hundred yards from the abode, and proceeded on foot to the
The Jew opened the door to the prince with a hideous grin on his hollow
cheek; and Philip hastened up the stairs, and entering the chamber we have
before described, beheld, to his inconceivable consternation and dismay,
the form of Beatriz clasped in the arms of Calderon, her head leaning on
his bosom; while his voice half choked with passionate sobs called upon
her in the most endearing terms.
For a moment the prince stood, spell-bound and speechless, at the
threshold; then, striking the hilt of his sword fiercely, he exclaimed,
"Traitor! is it thus that thou hast kept thy promise? Dost thou not
tremble at my vengeance?"
"Peace! peace!" said Calderon, in an imperious, but sepulchral tone, and
waving one hand with a gesture of impatience and rebuke, while with the
other he removed the long clustering hair that fell over the pale face of
the still insensible novice. "Peace, prince of Spain; thy voice scares
back the struggling life—peace! Look up, image and relic of the lost—the
murdered—the martyr! Hush! do you hear her breathe, or is she with
her mother in that heaven which is closed on me? Live! live! my daughter—my
child—live! For thy life in the World Hereafter will not be
"What means this?" said the prince, falteringly. "What delusion do thy
wiles practise upon me?"
Calderon made no answer; and at that instant Beatriz sighed heavily, and
her eyes opened.
"My child! my child!—thou art my child! Speak—let me hear thy
voice—again let it call me 'father!'"
And Calderon dropped on his knees, and, clasping his hands fervently,
looked up imploringly in her face. The novice, now slowly returning to
life and consciousness, strove to speak: her voice failed her, but her
lips smiled arms fell feebly but endearingly upon Calderon, and her round
"Bless thee! bless thee!" exclaimed Calderon. "Bless thee in thy sweet
While he spoke, the eyes of Beatriz caught the form of Philip, who stood
by, leaning on his sword; his face working with various passions, and his
lip curling with stern and intense disdain. Accustomed to know human life
but in its worst shapes, and Calderon only by his vices and his arts, the
voice of nature uttered no language intelligible to the prince. He
regarded the whole as some well got-up device—some trick of the
stage; and waited, with impatience and scorn, the denouement of the
At the sight of that mocking face, Beatriz shuddered, and fell back; but
her very alarm revived her, and, starting to her feet, she exclaimed,
"Save me from that bad man—save me! My father, I am safe with thee!"
"Safe!" echoed Calderon;—"ay, safe against the world. But not," he
added, looking round, and in a low and muttered tone, "not in this foul
abode; its very air pollutes thee. Let us hence: come—come—my
daughter!" and winding his arm round her waist, he hurried her towards the
"Back, traitor!" cried Philip, placing himself full in the path of the
distracted and half delirious father, "Back! thinkest thou that I, thy
master and thy prince, am to be thus duped and thus insulted? Not for
thine own pleasures hast thou snatched her whom I have honoured with my
love from the sanctuary of the Church. Go, if thou wilt; but Beatriz
remains. This roof is sacred to my will. Back! or thy next step is on the
point of my sword."
"Menace not, speak not, Philip—I am desperate. I am beside myself—I
cannot parley with thee. Away! by thy hopes of Heaven away! I am no longer
thy minion—thy tool. I am a father, and the protector of my child."
"Brave device—notable tale!" cried Philip, scornfully, and placing
his back against the door. "The little actress plays her part well, it
must be owned,—it is her trade; but thou art a bungler, my gentle
For a moment the courtier stood, not irresolute, but overcome with the
passions that shook to their centre a nature, the stormy and stern
elements of which the habit of years had rather mastered than quelled. At
last, with a fierce cry, he suddenly grasped the prince by the collar of
his vest; and, ere Philip could avail himself of his weapon, swung him
aside with such violence that he lost his balance and (his foot slipping
on the polished floor) fell to the ground. Calderon then opened the door,
lifted Beatriz in both his arms, and fled precipitately down the stairs.
He could no longer trust to chance and delay against the dangers of that
CHAPTER XI. HOWSOEVER THE RIVERS WIND, THE OCEAN RECEIVES THEM ALL.
Meanwhile Fonseca had reached the convent; had found the porter gone; and,
with a mind convulsed with apprehension and doubt, had flown on the wings
of love and fear to the house indicated by Calderon. The grim and solitary
mansion came just in sight—the moon streaming sadly over its gray
and antique walls—when he heard his name pronounced; and the convent
porter emerged from the shadow of a wall beside which he had ensconced
"Don Martin! it is thou indeed; blessed be the saints! I began to fear—nay,
I fear now, that we were deceived."
"Speak, man, but stop me not! Speak! what horrors hast thou to utter?"
"I knew the cavalier whom thou didst send in thy place! Who knows not
Roderigo Calderon? I trembled when I saw him lift the novice into the
carriage; but I thought I should, as agreed, be companion in the flight.
Not so. Don Roderigo briefly told me to hide where I could this night; and
that to-morrow he would arrange preparations for my flight from Madrid. My
mind misgave me, for Calderon's name is blackened by many curses. I
resolved to follow the carriage. I did so; but my breath and speed nearly
failed, when, fortunately, the carriage was stopped and entangled by a
crowd in the street. No lackeys were behind; I mounted the footboard
unobserved, and descended and hid myself when the carriage stopped. I knew
not the house, but I knew the neighbourhood, a brother of mine lives at
hand. I sought my relative for a night's shelter. I learned that dark
stories had given to that house an evil name. It was one of those which
the Prince of Spain had consecrated to the pursuits that had dishonoured
so many families in Madrid. I resolved again to go forth and watch. Scarce
had I reached this very spot when I saw a carriage approach rapidly. I
secreted myself behind a buttress, and saw the carriage halt; and a man
descended, and walked to the house. See there—there, by yon
crossing, the carriage still waits. The man was wrapped in a mantle. I
know not whom he may be; but—"
"Heavens!" cried Fonseca, as they were now close before the door of the
house at which Calderon's carriage still stood; "I hear a noise, a shriek,
Scarce had he spoken when the door opened. Voices were heard in loud
altercation; presently the form of the Jew was thrown on the pavement, and
dashing aside another man, who seemed striving to detain him, Calderon
appeared,—his drawn sword in his right hand, his left arm clasped
Fonseca darted forward.
"My lover! my betrothed!" exclaimed the voice of the novice: "thou are
come to save us—to save thy Beatriz!"
"Yes; and to chastise the betrayer!" exclaimed Fonseca, in a voice of
thunder. "Leave thy victim, villain! Defend thyself!"
He made a desperate lunge at Calderon while he spoke. The marquis feebly
parried the stroke.
"Hold!" he cried. "Not on me!"
"No—no!" exclaimed Beatriz, throwing herself on her father's breast.
The words came too late. Blinded and deafened with rage, Fonseca had
again, with more sure and deadly aim, directed his weapon against his
supposed foe. The blade struck home, but not to the heart of Calderon. It
was Beatriz, bathed in her blood, who fell at the feet of her frenzied
"Daughter and mother both!" muttered Calderon; and he fell as if the steel
had pierced his own heart, beside his child. "Wretch! what hast thou
done?" muttered a voice strange to the ear of Fonseca; a voice half
stifled with Horror and, perhaps, remorse. The Prince of Spain stood on
the spot, and his feet were dabbled in the blood of the virgin martyr. The
moonlight alone lighted that spectacle of crime and death; and the faces
of all seemed ghastly beneath its beams. Beatriz turned her eyes upon her
lover, with an expression of celestial compassion and divine forgiveness;
then sinking upon Calderon's breast, she muttered, "Pardon him! pardon
him, father! I shall tell my mother that thou hast blessed me!"
It was not for several days after that night of terror that Calderon was
heard of at the court. His absence was unaccountable; for, though the
flight of the novice was of course known, her fate was not suspected; and
her rank had been too insignificant to create much interest in her escape
or much vigilance in pursuit. But of that absence the courtier's enemies
well availed themselves. The plans of the cabal were ripe; and the aid of
the Inquisition by the appointment of Aliaga was added to the machinations
of Uzeda's partisans. The king was deeply incensed at the mysterious
absence of Calderon, for which a thousand ingenious conjectures were
invented. The Duke of Lerma, infirm and enfeebled by years, was unable to
confront his foes. With imbecile despair he called on the name of
Calderon; and, when no trace of that powerful ally could be discovered, he
forbore even to seek an interview with the king. Suddenly the storm broke.
One evening Lerma received the royal order to surrender his posts, and to
quit the court by daybreak. It was in this very hour that the door of
Lerma's chamber opened, and Roderigo Calderon stood before him. But how
changed—how blasted from his former self! His eyes were sunk deep in
their sockets, and their fire was quenched; his cheeks were hollow, his
frame bent, and when he spoke his voice was as that of one calling from
"Behold me, Duke de Lerma, I am returned at last!"
"Returned—blessings on thee! Where hast thou been? Why didst thou
desert me?—no matter, thou art returned! Fly to the king—tell
him I am not old! I do not want repose. Defeat the villany of my unnatural
son! They would banish me, Calderon; banish me in the very prime of my
years! My son says I am old—old! ha! ha! Fly to the prince; he too
has immured himself in his apartment. He would not see me; he will see
"Ay—the prince! we have cause to love each other!"
"Ye have indeed! Hasten, Calderon; not a moment is to be lost! Banished!
Calderon, shall I be banished?" And the old man, bursting into tears, fell
at the feet of Calderon, and clasped his knees.
"Go, go, I implore thee! Save me; I loved thee, Calderon, I always loved
thee. Shall our foes triumph? Shall the horn of the wicked be exalted?"
For a moment (so great is the mechanical power of habit) there returned to
Calderon something of his wonted energy and spirit; a light broke from his
sunken eyes; he drew himself up to the full of his stately height: "I
thought I had done with courts and with life," said he; "but I will make
one more effort; I will not forsake you in your hour of need. Yes, Uzeda
shall be baffled; I will seek the king. Fear not, my lord, fear not; the
charm of my power is not yet broken."
So saying, Calderon raised the cardinal from the ground, and extricating
himself from the old man's grasp strode, with his customary air of
majestic self-reliance, to the door. Just ere he reached it, three low,
but regular knocks sounded on the panel: the door opened, and the space
without was filled with the dark forms of the officers of the Inquisition.
"Stand!" said a deep voice; "stand, Roderigo Calderon, Marquis de Siete
Iglesias; in the name of the most Holy Inquisition, we arrest thee!"
"Aliaga!" muttered Calderon, falling back.
"Peace!" interrupted the Jesuit. "Officers, remove your prisoner."
"Poor old man," said Calderon, turning towards the cardinal, who stood
spell-bound and speechless, "thy life at least is safe. For me, I defy
fate! Lead on!"
The Prince of Spain soon recovered from the shock which the death of
Beatriz at first occasioned him. New pleasures chased away even remorse.
He appeared again in public a few days after the arrest of Calderon; and
he made strong intercession on behalf of his former favourite. But even
had the Inquisition desired to relax its grasp, or Uzeda to forego his
vengeance, so great was the exultation of the people at the fall of the
dreaded and obnoxious secretary, and so numerous the charges which party
malignity added to those which truth could lay at his door, that it would
have required a far bolder monarch than Philip the Third to have braved
the voice of a whole nation for the sake of a disgraced minister. The
prince himself was soon induced, by new favourites, to consider any
further interference on his part equally impolitic and vain; and the Duke
d'Uzeda and Don Gaspar de Guzman were minions quite as supple, while they
were companions infinitely more respectable.
One day, an officer, attending the levee of the prince, with whom he was a
special favourite, presented a memorial requesting the interest of his
highness for an appointment in the royal armies, that, he had just learned
by an express was vacant.
"And whose death comes so opportunely for thy rise, Don Alvar?" asked the
"Don Martin Fonseca. He fell in the late skirmish, pierced by a hundred
The prince started and turned hastily away. The officer lost all favour
from that hour, and never learned his offence.
Meanwhile months passed, and Calderon still languished in his dungeon. At
last the Inquisition opened against him its dark register of accusations.
First of these charges was that of sorcery, practised on the king; the
rest were for the most part equally grotesque and extravagant. These
accusations Calderon met with a dignity which confounded his foes, and
belied the popular belief in the elements of his character. Submitted to
the rack, he bore its tortures without a groan; and all historians have
accorded concurrent testimony to the patience and heroism which
characterised the close of his wild and meteoric career. At length Philip
the Third died: the Infant ascended the throne; that prince, for whom the
ambitious courtier had perilled alike life and soul! The people now
believed that they should be defrauded of their victim. They were
mistaken. The new king, by this time, had forgotten even the existence of
the favourite of the prince. But Guzman, who, while affecting to minister
to the interests of Uzeda, was secretly aiming at the monopoly of the
royal favour, felt himself insecure while Calderon yet lived. The
operations of the Inquisition were too slow for the impatience of his
fears; and as that dread tribunal affected never to inflict death until
the accused had confessed his guilt, the firmness of Calderon baffled the
vengeance of the ecclesiastical law. New inquiries were set on foot: a
corpse was discovered, buried in Calderon's garden—the corpse of a
female. He was accused of the murder. Upon that charge he was transferred
from the Inquisition to the regular courts of justice. No evidence could
be produced against him; but, to the astonishment of all, he made no
defence, and his silence was held the witness of his crime. He was
adjudged to the scaffold—he smiled when he heard the sentence.
An immense crowd, one bright day in summer, were assembled in the place of
execution. A shout of savage exultation rent the air as Roderigo Calderon,
Marquis de Siete Iglesias, appeared upon the scaffold But, when the eyes
of the multitude rested—not upon that lofty and stately form, in all
the pride of manhood, which they had been accustomed to associate with
their fears of the stern genius and iron power of the favourite—but
upon a bent and spectral figure, that seemed already on the verge of a
natural grave, with a face ploughed deep with traces of unutterable woe,
and hollow eyes that looked with dim and scarce conscious light over the
human sea that murmured and swayed below, the tide of the popular emotion
changed; to rage and triumph succeeded shame and pity. Not a hand was
lifted up in accusation—not a voice was raised in rebuke or joy.
Beside Calderon stood the appointed priest, whispering cheer and
"Fear not, my son," said the holy man. "The pang of the body strikes years
of purgatory from thy doom. Think of this, and bless even the agony of
"Yes," muttered Calderon; "I do bless this hour. Inez, thy daughter has
avenged thy murder! May Heaven accept the sacrifice! and may my eyes, even
athwart the fiery gulf, awaken upon thee!"
With that a serene and contented smile passed over the face on which the
crowd gazed with breathless awe. A minute more, and a groan, a cry, broke
from that countless multitude; and a gory and ghastly head, severed from
its trunk, was raised on high.
Two spectators of that execution were in one of the balconies that
commanded a full view of its terrors.
"So perishes my worst foe!" said Uzeda.
"We must sacrifice all things, friends as foes, in the ruthless march of
the Great Cause," rejoined the Grand Inquisitor; but he sighed as he
"Guzman is now with the king," said Uzeda, turning into the chamber. "I
expect every instant a summons into the royal presence."
"I cannot share thy sanguine hopes, my son," said Aliaga, shaking his
head. "My profession has made me a deep reader of human character. Gaspar
de Guzman will remove every rival from his path."
While he spoke, there entered a gentleman of the royal chamber. He
presented to the Grand Inquisitor and the expectant duke two letters
signed by the royal hand. They were the mandates of banishment and
disgrace. Not even the ghostly rank of the Grand Inquisitor, not even the
profound manoeuvres of the son of Lerma, availed them against the
vigilance and vigour of the new favourite. Simultaneously, a shout from
the changeable crowd below proclaimed that the king's choice of his new
minister was published and approved.
And Aliaga and Uzeda exchanged glances that bespoke all the passions that
make defeated ambition the worst fiend, as they heard the mighty cry,
"LONG LIVE OLIVAREZ THE REFORMER!"
That cry came, faint and muffled, to the ears of Philip the Fourth, as he
sate in his palace with his new minister. "Whence that shout?" said the
"It rises, doubtless, from the honest hearts of your loyal people at the
execution of Calderon."
Philip shaded his face with his hand, and mused a moment: then, turning to
Olivarez with a sarcastic smile, he said: "Behold the moral of the life of
a courtier, count! What do they say of the new opera?"
At the close of his life, in disgrace and banishment, the count-duke, for
the first time since they had been uttered, called to his recollection
those words of his royal master.
'The fate of Calderon has given rise to many tales and legends. Amongst
those who have best availed themselves of so fruitful a subject may be
ranked the late versatile and ingenious Telesforo de Trueba, in his work
on "The Romances of Spain." In a few of the incidents, and in some of the
names, his sketch, called "The Fortunes of Calderon," has a resemblance to
the story just concluded. The plot, characters, and principal events, are,
however, widely distinct in our several adaptations of an ambiguous and
unsatisfactory portion of Spanish history.