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Title: The Mysterious Spaniard
Author: Anonymous
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606731.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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The Mysterious Spaniard
Anonymous


THE Chevalier Franval, and his sister Amarylla, were the only children
of a French General of great reputation, who died at the beginning of
the last century, at an elegant villa to which he had retired in the
evening of his days, at the distance of a few leagues from the city of
Paris.

At the time of her father's death, Amarylla was receiving her
education in the convent of St. Ann at Aurillac. The Chevalier watched
the death-bed of his parent with the most anxious and tender
affection; and the most solemn injunction which that parent bestowed
on him, was, to supply his place, by every care and attention in his
power, to his orphan sister; a command so congenial to the feelings of
the Chevalier, that it was a satisfaction to himself to pronounce a
vow to this effect on the ear of his expiring father.

Six months after the death of the General, was the time appointed for
Amarylla to quit her convent; and the period being arrived, her
brother set out for Aurillac, resolved himself to be her protector on
her journey home. He travelled leisurely, and stopping one evening in
a small town, where he was informed that the church was a handsome
structure, he strolled towards it, intending to amuse an hour by
viewing it. On his return to his inn, he perceived loitering before
it, a gentleman whom he had seen examining the beauties of the church
at the same time that he had been engaged in observing them himself;
and concluding that he was a stranger in the place, and his fellow
lodger at the inn, addressed himself to him. The young man (for he did
not appear above twenty years of age) met Franval's advances towards
an acquaintance with evident pleasure, and entered into conversation
with him in a manner which displayed him to have added a liberal
education to a good natural understanding. He proved (as Franval had
supposed) to be a lodger at the same inn, and they agreed to sup
together. The stranger informed Franval, that he was a Spaniard by
birth; his name Don Manuel di Vadilla; and that he was travelling,
attended by only one servant, solely for his amusement and
improvement. After an evening pleasantly spent by both parties, they
separated for the night; and on the following morning, took a friendly
leave of each other previously to pursuing their respective journies.

The conciliating manners of Don Manuel had made a very favorable
impression in his behalf on the mind of the Chevalier; and often, as
he rode along, did he reflect on the agreeable hours which he had
passed in the society of the young Spaniard. At length he reached the
convent of Saint Ann, where a meeting of the most joyful and
affectionate nature took place between him and his sister.

Amarylla had always been handsome whilst a girl; but during the four
years that her brother had been separated from her, he beheld a great
augmentation of her charms to have taken place. She was become tall
and graceful; her eyes were of a sparkling blue, and expressive of the
sweetness of her disposition; her cheeks, twin roses; her lips a bed
of coral, within which reposed a double row of pearls.

After remaining three days at Aurillac, the Chevalier and his sister
commenced their journey towards home. As they travelled, he remarked
that Amarylla, notwithstanding the sweetness of her temper, which was
never for a moment interrupted, appeared to have some object, either
of regret or melancholy, for her private thoughts. She would
frequently fall into short fits of absence, and heave sighs, which
appeared to be accompanied with some tender emotion. The Chevalier
entreated her, by the love which he bore her, as the only remnant of
his revered parents, to confide to him the secrets of her heart. For
some time Amarylla, with blushes, evaded a direct reply: at length she
confessed that a young man, of whom she had a few weeks before caught
an accidental view from the seat appointed in the chapel of her
convent for the boarders, had made an impression on her heart, which
she could not obliterate from it.

Her brother smiled at the warmth of the innocent Amarylla's first
sensation of the imperious passion of love, and told her, that as her
acquaintance with society increased, which it would do as soon as she
was introduced, on her return home, to the world, she would herself
laugh at the serious manner in which she now treated a recollection of
this nature.

In apologizing for her confession, Amarylla urged that the youth had
beheld her, not withstanding her retired situation; and that his eyes
had beamed with an expression which had eloquently declared his wish
of approaching her; and that he had left the church with a last gaze,
which she had understood as entreating her to remember him. Still the
Chevalier continued to smile, and Amarylla to sigh.

A journey free from all disasters brought them to the Chevalier's
villa: it was the family mansion, a house of considerable elegance,
and furnished in a style of magnificence which rivalled those of most
of the nobles: in particular, one of its saloons, and a breakfast
apartment on the second story, which were ornamented with paintings of
so great value and excellence as frequently to attract strangers to
inspect them; an indulgence which was always readily granted to
persons of a respectable rank.

On entering the house, the Chevalier was met by his housekeeper, who
informed him, that he had a gentleman, a stranger, lodging in one of
the chambers. Franval requested an explanation of her words. She
answered, that the gentleman of whom she spoke, had come to the villa
about a week before, to view the pictures; that his foot having
slipped as he was descending the stairs, he had had the misfortune of
breaking one of his legs, and that she had been compelled by humanity,
to offer him a bed in the house. The Chevalier, with the natural
generosity and feeling of his heart, commended the conduct she had
pursued; and, after a short time, went to visit the stranger, and make
him personal offers of his services, when, to his great surprise, he
beheld in the invalid, Don Manuel di Vadilla.

The nature of their remarks on this extraordinary meeting may be
easily imagined: nor can it be doubted, that the Chevalier caused
every attention to be paid to the recovery of a young man, his first
acquaintance with whom had created for him a favorable prejudice in
his heart.

Franval passed many hours in each day by the bedside of his guest; and
as their acquaintance increased, he learnt from him the following
particulars of his history: that he was an orphan; that the few
relatives whom he possessed, were all distant ones; that Spain was a
country of which the manners and the inhabitants were not congenial to
his feelings, and that he had therefore quitted it, and resolved to
settle in France; but he had not yet fixed on any spot as a residence:
that his fortune, which was ample, he had placed in the hands of a
banker in Paris; and had a servant, who was his only attendant, a man
apparently about forty-five years of age, named Rodalvo, to whom he
expressed himself particularly attached, as he had been in his service
from the hour of his birth.

In their conversation, one day, it chanced that Franval mentioned to
Don Manuel, his having brought home his sister from the convent of
Saint Ann at Aurillac. At the name of the convent the Spaniard smiled;
and when Franval enquired the cause of his doing so, he confessed to
him, that, having one evening attended vespers in the Chapel of that
convent, he had been particularly struck by the beauty of one of the
boarders; that, at the time, he had not believed the impression made
by her charms on his heart to have been so deep as he had since found
it; but that with each succeeding day, he now desired more earnestly
to see her again.

The Chevalier recollected the confession which his sister had made to
him, of her having beheld with the eye of partiality, a stranger in
the church of Saint Ann, who she believed had viewed her with the same
emotions as she had seen him; and from the similarity of her account
to that of the young Spaniard, he doubted not that they were
reciprocally the hero and heroine of each others' adventures. He buried
his suspicions in his breast but the progress of time proved them to
have been correct.

When Don Manuel was sufficiently recovered from his hurt to quit his
chamber, and descend into the apartments in the daily use of the
family, the first moment of his encountering Amarylla, was attended
with an emotion of joy and surprise on the part of each, which clearly
explained to Franval the justice of his conjectures. The enamoured
pair were in raptures at this unexpected introduction to each other;
and when the perfect use of Don Manuel's limbs was again restored to
him, he still lingered at the villa of the Chevalier Franval, unable
to quit the adorable object who possessed his heart.

Thus passed on six months, at the expiration of which, Amarylla
requested her brother's permission to bestow her hand on Don Manuel.
The Chevalier saw that her affections were placed on him, and that he
appeared devoted to her. He had now gained, he believed, a thorough
knowledge of Don Manuel's heart and principles; he regarded them
calculated to ensure happiness to his beloved sister; and their union
was accordingly sanctioned by his approbation.

Never were two amiable hearts more happy than were those of Don Manuel
and his Amarylla in the possession of each other; and the Chevalier
Franval, unwilling to lose the pleasure of their society, invited them
to make his villa their abode. Two years rolled on in happiness
uninterrupted, during the course of which two lovely infants
strengthened the bond of affection between their parents. Shortly
after the birth of their second child, Don Manuel, one morning at
breakfast, expressed an intention of riding that day to Paris, and
returning again in the evening: this was by no means an unusual thing
either with him or his brother-in-law Franval; and when the coffee was
removed, he set out for the metropolis, attended by his servant
Rodalvo.

The evening closed without the return of Don Manuel; the night
advanced, and still he did not arrive. His wife consoled herself with
the idea that some engagement, which he had been unable to decline,
might have detained him to sleep at Paris, and that the morning would
bring him home; but alas! her hope was fallacious; the morning came
unaccompanied by Don Manuel; and once more the veil of night descended
to the earth, without witnessing his return to his disconsolate
Amarylla.

The Chevalier Franval was not less anxious for the fate of his
brother-in-law, than distressed at beholding the misery which Don
Manuel's mysterious absence caused his sister; and immediately
repaired to Paris, to make enquiries concerning him. But in vain were
all his attempts at discovering the truth; not a breath of
intelligence could be obtained by him, either of Don Manuel, or his
servant Rodalvo. The endeavors of the Chevalier to gain some light
upon this dark occurrence, were unabating, and utterly unsuccessful.
The days crept on; these grew into weeks, and still the adored husband
of Amarylla did not return; and her grief and despondency were almost
raised to madness.

At length a vague account reached the Chevalier and his sister, that
her lost husband had been seen travelling in a carriage, which was
moving at an extremely swift pace, upon one of the high roads at the
southern extremity of the kingdom which led across the Pyrenees into
Spain. From the first moment of his disappearance, Amarylla had
constantly repeated her conviction, that not infidelity to her, but
some misfortune, which he had not been able to counteract, had torn
him from her; and she now declared her intention of endeavoring to
trace his steps. With much entreaty and persuasion, her brother over-
ruled her purpose, and prevailed upon her to remain the guardian of
her children, whilst he undertook the office of following the track
that had been described to them as the one pursued by Don Manuel.

Instant preparation was accordingly made for the Chevalier's journey,
and, after a most melancholy scene of separation from his sister, he
set out, accompanied by a friend named Montreville, whom he had
requested to become the partner of his undertaking; and attended his
Henri, a confidential servant of his own.

Their journey was pursued with the greatest alacrity till they reached
the southern extremity of the kingdom: here they proceeded more
slowly, being frequently delayed by their uncertainty of what road to
take, and by the inquiries which they made after the object of their
search. Not a gleam of success smiled on them, but still they pursued
their way with unabating energy. About noon of a gloomy and
uncomfortable day, they reached the foot of the rugged Pyrenees.
Franval had already determined to proceed into Spain, and accordingly
having refreshed themselves at an inn upon the borders of the kingdom
they were about to quit, they began to ascend the rough path which led
across the mountains.

They rode on till the shades of evening, which were beginning to fall
on the earth, warned them to seek shelter for the night. The gloom of
an overclouded sky, rendered the coming darkness more rapid than usual
in its approach; and the light of day was almost entirely expelled
from the Heavens, when the Chevalier Franval was so fortunate as to
descry a light in a distant habitation.

"See there," he cried, on observing it, "a light at length appears!
Thank Heaven, we shall now get housed for the night; for it is
doubtless a post-house from whence it shines."

The light appeared in view till they were arrived within a short
distance of the house, and it then vanished in a sudden manner, as if
it had been blown out.

They rode up to the door: Henri applied the butt-end of his whip to it
in lieu of a knocker; at the same time remarking, 'That if the
inhabitants were in bed, every one could scarcely be asleep, except
the lamp they had seen had gone out of itself.'

For a time they were led to conjecture that this had been the case,
for no reply was returned to their repeated knockings: but at length,
after another salute on the part of Henri with his leaden-headed whip
upon the hollow door, which was loud enough to have raised the dead,
if they were ever to be raised by mortal means, a window in the upper
part of the house was opened, and a head thrust out. "What is it you
want?" asked the voice of a female.

"Meat, drink, and repose," replied Montreville; "have you them to
sell?"

"I am no conjurer, to sell sleep," replied the woman, in a tone
between pleasantry and sulkiness. "If you mean that you want to lodge
here, I have not a pallet in my house that is unoccupied;" and with
these uncourteous words she drew in her head again, and shut the
window.

"I wish we had not travelled so late," said Franval.

"Phoo, nonsense," cried Montreville, who was a young man, and whose
good spirits, and gaiety of heart, never forsook him, "they must at
all events allow us to sit up in the house, if they can't put us to
bed in it. I'll be satisfied with a chair to repose in, if they will
but open the larder to me."

"And the cellar, Monsieur," said Henri.

"And the cellar, as you say," replied Montreville. "So, at them again,
Henri; beat another rattatatoo upon the door, and let us learn if we
can't come to terms, now we agree to put beds out of the question."

Henri had again recourse to his leaden-headed whip and in about ten
minutes the same casement was again opened, and the rough voice of a
man called out, "Whoever ye are, if ye do not go quietly about your
business, and cease to disturb the peace of my house, I'll find means
to make you answer for your behaviour."

"Our business, friend, is here," replied Montreville. "We are three
half-starved travellers, who request to be allowed to shelter
ourselves in your house during the night."

"Half-starved travellers, indeed," grumbled out the host: "it is worth
while raising a man out of his sleep, to attend to half-starved
travellers, truly."

"But my friend only means," said Franval, "that we are very hungry
travellers, not very poor ones; and I add in his name, and my own,
that we will reward you very liberally for any accommodation you may
grant us."

"Upon the word of a Christian," said Henri, "there is gold in the
saddle bags of both these gentlemen."

"All the better for them," returned the host, "but as I am no robber,
nor can admit them into my house, none of it is likely to fall to my
share."

"Why can you not admit us?" enquired Franval. "We are not robbers any
more than yourself."

"It cannot be," returned the host.

"So you have told us before," replied the Chevalier; "and still do not
inform us by what motive you are actuated, in refusing us shelter
beneath your roof."

The host was silent.

"Yours is a post-house, is it not?" continued Franval.

"Yes," was the reply.

"Then let me tell you, friend," rejoined Montreville, "that as you
live by keeping open house, the travellers upon whom you shut your
door, have a just right to receive a very good reason, for your
conduct, or to open the door for themselves."

"Are ye Catholics, gentlemen?" demanded the landlord.

"Yes, we are," both answered.

"Do you respect an oath as sacred?" enquired the host.

"Yes, yes; we do, we do," replied all three; imagining that some terms
for their entrance into the house were about to be proposed to them.

"Then know," replied the host, "that I have already once to-night
sworn by Saint Francis not to open my door; and I now swear by him a
second time, to keep my first oath sacred."

Montreville was beginning to fly into a passion. The host stopped him,
by raising his voice and continuing to speak; "But if I can render you
any other service; if a flask of wine, a loaf of bread, or a lanthorn
to light you on your way, are of any use to you, you shall have them."

"Let us taste the wine," said Montreville, whilst Franval sat
meditating on the strangeness of the host's conduct.

A flask of good wine for the production of a post-house was handed out
to them, and with it some cakes of newly-baked bread. Hunger is a keen
sensation, that requires much less parade in its gratification than
custom usually assigns to it; and, seated upon their saddles, they
found the bread and wine very refreshing and comfortable.

"You have dealt so far honorably by us," said Franval, "and shall
experience the same honor from us. Here," added be, throwing a demi-
louis d'or at the window as he spoke, "this for your bread and wine,
and twenty more shall follow it, if you will let us in."

"It is a good price, Messieurs; but I am better paid to keep you out,"
said the host.

"Us!" cried Montreville, "to keep us out?"

"Not you in particular," returned the man; "for I know you not; every
one, I mean."

A woman now advanced to the window with a lanthorn, which had a lamp
burning in it; the man received it at her hands, and lowering it out
of the casement, asked if they chose to have it?

Henri received it; and the host then drew in his head, and was upon
the point of shutting the casement.

"Stay, hear us an instant, I beg," said Franval. "Cannot you direct us
to any cottage, any dwellings, where we might pass the night?"

"There are stray cottages scattered about," answered the host; "but
you would find it impossible to gain admittance into any one of them:
their inhabitants would take you for robbers, and nothing you could
say would convince them to the contrary, at this time of the night:
they live in so great fear of banditti, that they might even, perhaps,
fire upon you without enquiring your business."

"To cut the matter short at once," exclaimed Montreville, "tell us
how much you have received to keep out visitors, and if our purse is
rich enough, we will outbid your guests."

"Gentlemen," said, the host, gravely, "you said you were Catholics,
and respected an oath. Remember mine--You shall not come in."

"But if the inhabitants of cottages are afraid of three men, probably
those of castles will not have the same apprehensions, as they are
provided both with numbers and arms; so cannot you direct us to one of
them?" enquired Franval.

"Why this is a part of the country where there are but few buildings
of that description," answered the host; "there is but one within ten
leagues of us, and that is at the distance of nearly four from this
spot; and were you near it, I would not by any means advise you to
attempt to enter it."

"Why so? who inhabits it?" asked Montreville.

"He is known by the name of Don Bazilio," replied the host, "and is by
some reputed to be a nobleman of great wealth; others believe him to
be Belzebub himself."

Montreville laughed at the manner of the host's expressing himself;
and Franval's eye was at that moment attracted by a faint light which
proceeded from an upper casement of the house, at which he perceived
standing, a tall, lank form, of a swarthy and terrific countenance,
which almost corresponded with his idea of the being which the host
had just named, and caused him an undescribable sensation for the
moment he beheld it; and it was but a moment that his eye had fixed on
it, ere the shutter was pulled up, and closed it from his sight.

Franval made no observation on what he had seen to his companions; and
Henri, addressing the host, said, "I suppose you mean to let us
understand that it is haunted."

"Dreadfully, dreadfully haunted, is the Castle of Virandola," replied
the landlord; "at least so it is reported. I never went to see, nor
ever intend it."

"What shall we do in this cursed dilemma?" exclaimed Montreville.

"I have done all it is in my power to do for you," said the host; "and
so I wish you safe travelling; and a good night, Messieurs;" and with
these words he shut the casement.

Montreville was again on the point of calling him back, when Franval
stopped him, by saying, "Come, let us ride on."

"Ride on! but whither?" cried Montreville.

"We can have no choice; the road lies before us," replied Franval;
then, in an under tone, he added, "I'll explain myself to you
presently;" and as he spoke, he clapped spurs to his horse, and set
forward; and his companions followed his example.

"Why did you so suddenly leave the house which you were a quarter of
an hour ago as eager as myself to enter?" enquired Montreville of his
friend, before they had ridden an hundred yards away from the post-
house.

Franval did not slacken his horse's pace till Montreville a second
time urged his enquiry; and Franval then replied, "I have no doubt but
that the reason of our being refused admittance into that house, is,
that a gang of banditti, or at least some members of a lawless
community of that nature, are concealed within it; perhaps in the very
act of flying from justice;" and he then described the terrific visage
which he had seen peeping through the window, and which, he said, if
it had been a human countenance, he could only suppose to be that of a
savage and bloodthirsty plunderer.

"Thank Heaven, I did not see him," cried Henri.

"We all owe our thanks to Heaven, that we were not admitted into the
house, if such are its guests, as I conjecture them to be," said
Franval.

"But in my opinion," returned Montreville, "we are far from safe now:
don't it appear likely to you, that we were turned from the house, in
order that these fellows, of whom you saw one, might pursue and
plunder, perhaps murder, us? The rascal of a host would not lose the
credit of his house, by suffering us to be assailed in it, lest any of
us should have the good fortune to escape from their clutches, and
relate the story; so he artfully takes a deeper share in the plot, by
sending us forward."

"I have no fears of that kind," rejoined Franval; "our horses are
fleet-footed, and will outstrip many animals."

"Of what use is their fleetness in this gloom?" said Montreville:
"don't you perceive that the night is become so dark, that when we are
half a dozen paces before or behind Henri and his lanthorn, we cannot
discover the road? Thus, in such an emergency, the fleetness of their
feet would, in all probability, only serve to carry us headlong down a
precipice. The farther we get away from the post-house, however, the
better, I think; so let us lose no time in debating."

This was agreed to by Franval; and they again spurred their horses
into a trot, which they continued for about half a league, when a
rocky break in the ground obliged them to move with caution, and at
foot's pace. Whilst they were crossing this uneven track of ground,
"Hark! Messieurs, hark!" cried Henri.

"What! what do you hear?" asked Montreville impatiently.

"The trampling of horses, Messieurs: don't you?" was the reply.

"I do, I do," cried Montreville: "they are coming upon us! Franval,
don't you hear them?"

A pause of silence ensued: Franval broke it: "I did hear them," he
said, "but they are no longer audible."

"They have stopped," said Montreville, "perhaps till some more of
their comrades have joined them."

"Or, perhaps," said Henri, "they have turned out of the road upon the
grass, that we may not hear their approach: they must judge that their
horses hoofs cannot escape our hearing on the beaten pathway, as our
lanthorn informs them exactly at what distance we are from them."

"Oh, curse the lanthorn; blow it out," cried Montreville.

"No, no," interrupted Franval: "in the course of our necessities this
night, its light may prove as beneficial to us, as we now consider it
injurious to our safety; therefore give it to me, Henri, and I'll hide
it under my cloak."

"The sounds do not return," said Henri.

"It is as dark as pitch," cried Montreville.

"I can distinguish a knot of trees to our right," said Franval: "my
plan is, that we ride in amongst them, and keep ourselves concealed
there for a short time, during which period it is not improbable that
they may pass us, supposing us to be gone on.--What think you of my
scheme?"

"I do not disapprove it," said Montreville; "but we will load our
pistols."

"Undoubtedly," replied Franval; "but the expedient I have proposed may
save us from the necessity of spilling human blood, or suffering our
own to be spilt."

They rode swiftly up to the trees, which were not above two score in
number, planted in a shallow declivity at the mouth of the valley.
Partial clumps of underwood formed a tolerable screen between them and
the road they had just quitted, and they sat scarcely allowing
themselves to respire, lest the suspiration of their breath should
prevent their hearing any other sound which it might be important to
them not to lose.

Nearly a quarter of an hour was thus spent, without the least noise of
any kind meeting their ears, when they heard a sound resembling the
leaves of a bush, when pressed upon by a person who is endeavoring to
force himself a passage through them.

"There, there!" whispered Montreville.

Franval cocked his pistol, but did not speak.

Several minutes again passed away in silence. "It was only the wind,"
again whispered Montreville; but scarcely had he spoken, ere the noise
was repeated; and in the following instant a voice exclaimed, "Proceed
to the Castle of Virandola."

Montreville immediately discharged his pistol towards the spot from
whence the voice had proceeded, and Henri fired off his in the same
direction.

When the report of the pistols had died away, universal silence again
prevailed; no groan announced the bullets to have inflicted a wound:
no flying step discovered the discharge of their tubes to have
inspired any object with fear. "What can this mean?" exclaimed
Franval.

"It is, doubtless, a lure to draw us into the power of some enemy. Ten
to one but the Castle of Virandola is the residence of a banditti, who
hope by this stratagem to inveigle us into their power," replied
Montreville. "A likely story, indeed, that we should proceed to a
place we have the account of, which the landlord gave us of this
castle, upon such an obscure invitation. You would not certainly be so
rash as to think of it?"

"The voice appeared more than human," said Franval.

"Nonsense," exclaimed Montreville; "I say it is some trick; and
whatever your opinion may be, I swear that if I go to the castle"--

"Swear not, but go," interrupted the voice which had before been
heard; and it now spoke from the opposite direction to that whence it
had before proceeded.

"There again," cried Franval.

"'Tis solemn, I confess," said Montreville; "but still, I think it is
mortal."

"Let us search whether we can discover some one hidden amongst the
bushes," rejoined Franval, drawing the lanthorn from under his cloak;
and as he spoke, he vaulted from his horse. Montreville followed his
example; and Henri taking the bridles of their horses, they proceeded
towards the spot where the speaker had appeared to be concealed the
second time they had been addressed by him.

Nothing was to be seen; nothing was to be heard. They moved on towards
the place from whence the voice had proceeded the first time of their
hearing it. Equally unsuccessful was their pursuit.

After a considerable time thus spent in fruitless researches after
the mysterious speaker by whom they had been addressed, they returned
to their horses. "Nobody is to be found," said Montreville, addressing
Henri.

"I feared as much, Monsieur," returned the valet.

"Feared!" echoed Montreville.

"Yes, Monsieur: I cannot help thinking that the voice resembled one
that was heard the night before an old lady I once lived with in
Alsace died," was the reply.

Franval had already said that the voice had appeared to him to be more
than human. Henri's opinion strengthened his; and the light of the
lanthorn was just sufficient to shew each that his companions' minds
were occupied with unpleasant and undefined sensations.

The temper of Franval was steady, firm, and cool; and although
transactions of an unexplained nature had lately occurred in his
family, such as might also prepare him for a voice of warning or
instruction, he did not choose to let it appear to his friend and
servant, that he was moved by the occurrence just past; and therefore,
with as much composure as he was able to command, he mounted his
saddle, and said "As we appear to have no immediate cause to apprehend
the approach of banditti, let us ride on; let us return to the road,
and pursue our way."

Montreville was a young man not deficient in courage, but his
disposition was tinctured with a dislike to forming acquaintance with
any of the members of the world of spirits. Henri resembled him in
this particular; and therefore they joyfully followed Franval's
proposition of quitting the spot, where they firmly believed one of
the members of the aerial community to have been flitting around them.

They continued to ride on for a considerable time without
interruption; their conversation consisting merely of occasional
remarks on the extraordinary adventure which they had encountered that
night. When they had proceeded about a league and a half, Montreville
said, "My horse knocks up; he can't go much farther without rest, I am
certain; indeed, I expect that our beasts and ourselves will all be
material sufferers by our want of repose, and shelter from the night
air. If we could discover any habitations I should be tempted to knock
at the door, in spite of what the master of the post-house said."

This observation had not been long made on the part of Montreville,
ere a vivid flash of lightning passed before their eyes.

"I have foreseen a tempest some time," said Henri, "and a heavy one I
think it will be; only look at the awful blackness of the clouds over
our heads, Messieurs."

Franval and his friend raised their faces to the sky and felt upon
them a few partial drops of rain, which announced a shower at hand.
Again the lightning flashed its resplendent brilliancy upon the earth,
and the thunder rolled in solemn grandeur through the sky; with each
flash the tempest appeared to gather strength; with each succeeding
moment the rain fell in greater quantities: and the situation of our
travellers became of the most pitiable kind.

"Can we espy no cavity in the earth, no rocky dell, no place of any
kind which may afford us a temporary shelter?" said Montreville; "not
only the clothes we have on, but those in our saddle-bags likewise
must be drenched with this heavy rain."

The mingled hail and rain, driven along by the current of a powerful
north-east wind, met them full in the face; and the horses of our
travellers kept continually turning to the right and to the left, in
order to avoid it. At the moment Franval's horse was making a movement
of this nature, a sudden flash of lightning enabled his master to
descry what he could merely distinguish to be part of a wall. He
communicated the observation he had made to his friend, and they
immediately turned their horses towards it, in the hope of its forming
part of a building which might afford them the enviable blessing of
shelter from the inclemency of the weather.

As they moved on, they observed many fragments of stone scatted upon
the ground, which appeared to be the ruins of a building that had
either fallen into natural decay, or been crumbled by the hand of
violence; and when they gained the wall which had been descried by
Franval, their conjectures were confirmed, for they found that it
formed a part of the ruin of an ancient monastic building.

A considerable part of the front of the edifice was still standing;
but, on looking through the archway in which the gate of the entrance
had once been swung, the observations which they were enable to make
by the momentary illumination of the passing lightning presented them
only with a long perspective of gloomy ruins.

It appeared, however, probable that these ruins might afford some nook
to protect them from the weather; and in this hope they dismounted;
and leading their horses through the gateway, they tied them by their
bridles to the remains of a massive pillar, by the side of which the
wall was sufficiently high to protect them, in some measure, from the
driving blast; and by the help of the lanthorn, they then proceeded to
seek out for some spot which was supplied with a covering for their
own heads.

A high and narrow door-way attracted them towards it: they passed
through it, and found themselves within a passage partially sheltered
by a roof. On one side appeared three steps of a dark marble; these
they ascended, and entered an apartment which had in all probability,
been the chamber of the superior at the time that the mansion had been
in a state of habitation; its walls were now bare; the floor of a
black oak, and in many parts broken through; and the hearth filled
with fragments of stone, which had fallen upon it from the chimney.

From this apartment a single step led into a small closet, formed in
the shape of an alcove, of which the floor corresponded with the
former; but the walls were intersected by niches and slender pillars
of stone, surmounted with compartments in fret-work, which now
exhibited a striking picture of former elegance sinking under the
ravaging hand of decay.

The thunder still rolled in hoarse and awful peals; and the refulgence
of the forked lightning blazed at intervals through a narrow arch in
the wall, which had once been the frame of a gothic and spiral window,
and of which no remnants, but the iron bars, which had intersected the
glass, were now remaining.

At length, after full an hour had passed in tedious expectation, the
lightning became scarcely visible, and the thunder receded in gentle
murmurs to the distant mountains. "Shall we return to our horses, and
proceed?" said Franval.

"It still rains violently," replied Montreville; "and the darkness
appears almost impenetrable."

"It is quite so, Monsieurs," said Henri. "If I might take the liberty
of advising, I think it would be infinitely better, now we have a roof
over our heads, to keep under it till day begins to dawn."

"But this is a sad, uncomfortable place," resumed Franval; "and if we
could reconcile ourselves to enduring it in preference to being
exposed to the pelting of the merciless elements, our horses must
remain suffering in the wet and cold."

"They will not be the worse for that, Monsieur," returned Henri; "they
are used to all weathers when they are out at pasture; and I left them
bridle-room enough to enable them to pick up the grass as they stand."

"Upon my life," cried Montreville, "I am very much of Henri's opinion
about remaining here till dawn of day. We are now become tolerably dry
again; and should we issue out from this retreat, we shall be certain
of getting wet through once more; and perhaps, after all, may not be
lucky enough to find a house to refresh ourselves at. I think it would
be very possible to get a comfortable nap here, wrapped up in our
cloaks."

After a good deal of debate upon the subject, it was agreed that any
shelter was preferable to encountering the heavy rain which continued
to fall; and Montreville having wound his horseman's cloak tightly
around him, lay down in one corner of the apartment with the intention
beguiling an hour or two in sleep, and advised his companions to do
the same.

"Had you not better, Monsieur, endeavor to compose yourself to sleep?"
said Henri to his master; "this place seems to be perfectly quiet, and
free from danger; and a little repose will render you the better able
to bear the fatigue of travelling tomorrow."

"No," replied Franval; "I don't feel inclined to sleep; but lie you
down, and take a nap, if you please." Henri availed himself of his
master's permission, and stretched himself out by the side of
Montreville, placing the lanthorn at his head.

Franval continued for some time to wander about the apartment where
his friend and servant lay locked in the arms of sleep, till the wind,
beginning to blow from another quarter to what it had before done,
pierced through the stone arch of the window with chilly gusts, that
induced him to seek a more sheltered situation in the adjoining
closet.

In spite of those anxieties of mind which rendered him less impressive
to the attacks of sleep than his companions, Franval began to feel
rather weary; and seating himself upon the floor, he rested his head
in niche between two of the pillars of the stone-work.

The minute he desisted from bodily exercise, the influence of sleep
began to steal over his senses, and ideas to fade away under its
advances. Suddenly a momentary crash made him start, and this was
followed by a rumbling noise, which he had no hesitation in supposing
to be caused by some mouldering fragments of the building, which had
been precipitated upon the ruins below by the violence of the wind;
and he again leant back his head, and closed his eyes.

Again his thoughts were wandering from the world into that confusion
of ideas which accompanied the approach of sleep to a mind ill at ease
within itself, when he was startled by the sound of a lengthened sigh.
He sprang upon his feet; but instantly recollecting how near to him
were Montreville, and his servant, he made no doubt that the sound he
had heard, had been an exclamation uttered by one of them in his
sleep.

He approached the door of the room where they lay, and, by the light
of the lanthorn, he perceived them both still extended on the floor;
and as he stood observing them, he heard Henri exclaim, "Oh, Marie!
Marie!" which he knew to be the name of a little peasant girl in
Brittany, who had won his heart and not doubting that the sigh he had
hears, had been one which Henri had addressed to her image, which had
appeared to him in his dreams, he returned to his resting place, and a
third time composed himself to sleep.

He sunk to repose; but how long he had slept he was uncertain, when he
was awakened by a noise resembling a gust of wind rushing through a
narrow aperture; he hastily opened his eyes, and beheld object, at the
sight of which the blood ran cold and trembling through his veins--He
beheld the very countenance of savage expression, which he had seen
through the window of the post-house; its eyes were fixed upon him,
and assisted in their observation by a lighted firebrand, which the
terrific form held in one of its hands. The figure of the unknown was
tall and lank: the long black cloak in which it was enveloped was
insufficient to hide the sharp angles of its bony stature; a hat of
dark brown fur pulled down below its ears, gave a very finish of
horror to its savage aspect; thus the horrible being appeared, bending
forward as it stood, to gain a better view of Franval's person.

Franval started, but had not power to rise, or to speak. Instantly
upon this motion on his part, with one rapid stride, the figure
vanished from his sight. Its disappearance was followed by a loud
clap, resembling the echo which runs through a hollow passage, after a
door at its extremity has been hastily closed.

Franval attempted to call to his friend and Henri, but his tongue
clove to his mouth, and refused its office. He staggered to the door
of the apartment where he had left them asleep; the light which had
been burning by their side, was now extinguished, or the lanthorn
gone. A few minutes recovered to him the power of speech, and he
called upon them both by name. Henri immediately replied to his call;
and very soon after, Montreville enquired "what was the matter?"

Through an arched window, Franval had a view of the Heavens; and he
perceived that the light of day was already beginning to streak the
sky. "Be not alarmed," he replied, in answer to their enquiries;
"follow me into the air; I stand in need of its refreshment; and I
will then explain to you what agitates me."

He darted out of the apartments and they followed him as quickly as
the darkness of the place would permit; for their lamp had died in the
socket, and the light of day was still so feeble, as to render objects
scarcely discernible.

They found him leaning against a broken pillar, which stood in an open
space apart from the mass of ruins. They approached him, renewed their
enquiries; and he satisfied them with an account of what he had
witnessed.

Montreville heard him with patience, but persisted in endeavoring to
persuade him that the whole had been a dream, caused by the impression
which had been made on his mind by the strangeness of the voice that
had addressed them when amongst the trees, and the ghastly countenance
which he had seen peeping through a window of the post-house. But
Franval replied, "that he was certain that the figure which he had
seen standing over him with a firebrand in its hand, and which he knew
to be the same that he had beheld with a sensation approaching to
horror when looking through the window of the post-house, had been a
reality.

"Well," returned Montreville, "it is possible that this ruin may be
the haunt of a banditti, of which he is one."

"I do not believe him to be a robber," replied Franval.

"Why not? What has changed your opinion of him?" asked his friend.

"I cannot say why," answered Franval; "and yet I feel my sentiments
utterly changed with regard to him."

"Your ideas are bewildered by the events of the night," said
Montreville.

"And then that strange voice commanding us to go to the Castle of
Virandola," said Henri; "it rings in my ears yet."

"Strange indeed!" breathed forth Franval in solemn accents; and he
added, "Can it be connected with him whom we seek?"

"Whithersoever we go," rejoined Montreville, "I think we had better be
jogging from hence; this is not a place favorable to the combating of
gloomy reflections, whether they proceed from imagination, or fact."

"No," resumed Franval; "I can't, I will not quit this spot, till I
have made some investigation of the closet where I slept: I must
examine whether there is a door in that particular part of the wall,
at which the strange figure, whose countenance rests so forcibly on my
memory, could have departed from the place: if I find any outlet, my
ideas of its mortality will be confirmed."

"And if you do not?" said Montreville

"I shall still be very much tempted to believe that there is some mode
of egress from the place which is not discernible to me, though known
to that person, whoever he may be," answered the Chevalier.

Franval could not be argued out of his resolution of examining the
closet in which he had passed the night, as soon as the light of the
day should be sufficiently powerful to assist him in his
investigation. Indeed, Montreville had promised to accompany Franval
on his present journey from motives of pure friendship, and therefore
was easily won to desist from any opposition to such plans as his
friend conceived to be for his happiness.

A drizzling rain was still falling to the earth; and although the wind
had much abated in strength, it still blew cold and cheerless through
the long avenues of ruins; and as Franval was unwilling to return to
the shelter of the apartment they had just quitted, they wandered
about in order to preserve themselves from the ill effects of the
cold.

After some time, Henri was, in the course of their movements,
separated from his master and Montreville; and scarcely had they
noticed his absence, ere they heard a pistol fired at a short distance
from them. Supposing Henri to be attacked, they flew to the spot where
they had parted from him, and observed him standing with his arm
extended into the air, and his pistol still in it.

"Was it you who fired?" asked Franval.

"Yes," replied Henri; "and I have either brought him down, or he is
run away."

"Who? who?" Impatiently demanded Franval and his friend.

"A tall fellow, wrapped in a black cloak," answered Henri, "exactly
corresponding with the description my master gives of the rascal who
stood gazing upon him with the firebrand in his hand. The moment that
you had turned the angle of the range of pillars behind us, I observed
him mounted upon the high wall; and the instant I observed him, I saw
him stretch his arm towards me, and was ignorant to what end, till I
saw some sparks, which convinced me that he had directed at me a
pistol that had missed fire. I immediately drew mine from my girdle,
and fired it at him in my own defence; and he directly disappeared;
but I cannot tell whether he fell by my bullet or fled from a
repetition of my fire."

"We will go to the spot, and ascertain," said Franval boldly; and
immediately began to climb a pile of the ruins which led to the wall
whereon Henri had seen the form. Nothing that had motion, was visible
to any one of the party, when they had reached the height, which had
once been a terrace projecting from the second range of windows on the
side of the monastery. Many delusive shapes were to be seen, which, on
close investigation, proved to be only broken arches, and decapitated
pillars, which, beheld at a short distance in the twilight of the
morning, appeared in certain directions to assume the form of men.

They did not relax in their search, because many disappointments
attended it; but it proved wholly unsuccessful; no human being was to
be discerned in any part of the ruins; nor did it appear probable that
Henri's pistol had wounded the one he had beheld; for as the light of
day rose, they found that no spots of blood stained any part of the
stone-work upon which he had appeared.

They again descended to the lower range of dilapidated grandeur, which
presented itself in the romantic fragments of the mouldering abbey;
and judging it now to be sufficiently light for the examination of the
closet upon which Franval had resolved, they returned to that part of
the building where they had passed the hours of sleep.

Montreville was the first who entered the chamber leading to the
closet, and directly on stepping into it, he exclaimed, "Why, what
have we here?--See--behold--characters traced upon the floor!"

Franval darted hastily forward, and beheld upon the black oak floor,
these words, "Quit this place." Wrapt in astonishment and thought, he
stood with his eyes fixed on the letters.

"Surely, Monsieur," cried Henri, half trembling, "it can only be a
devil who plays these pranks with us."

"It is a friendly devil, however," returned Montreville, "for he warns
us to get our of the way of danger; if there is any in staying here."

"I will not quit this place," cried Franval sternly, after a pause of
reflective silence. "This command is to my senses, a sufficient
conviction that there is some mystery to be developed by staying; and
I feel impelled by a stronger sentiment than curiosity, to exert
myself in order to make that discovery."

Franval rubbed one of the letters on the floor with his finger, and
found that they were only written in chalk, and could easily be
effaced.

"Come, pray, let us depart," said Montreville, after another pause.

"Not, at all events, till I have examined the walls of the closet,"
said Franval, and moved forward to the investigation. His companions
followed him, and assisted in the scrutiny; but it produced only
disappointment; there were an infinite number of cracks in the stone-
work of the walls, but none of sufficient regularity, or length, to
flatter them with the idea that it could form any part of a door, or
an opening of any kind.

"I would wager my life," said Franval, "that these words were written
by that horrible figure which I twice beheld in the course of last
night. Surely this ruin cannot be the Castle of Virandola, of which
the host spoke."

"I should imagine not," replied Montreville: "this place does not bear
the appearance of ever having been a castle; every thing about it
denotes it to have been a religious building."

A silence ensued; Montreville broke it: "Franval," he said, "I am
certain you cannot doubt my friendship; prove to me that you have not
lost that respect for the admonitions of your friend, with which you
have so frequently received them at my lips: let us for the present
quit this abode of mystery; let us seek some house where our bodily
necessities may be attended to; and let us also employ some time in
making enquiry into the report which this ruinous fabric bears in the
world; and should you then still have any cause, or merely feel any
wish, to make a future investigation of its secrets, I pledge my
honour, that I will return with you to it, and even risk my life in
assisting you through your adventure."

For a considerable time the entreaties of Montreville, seconded by
those of Henri, produced no effect upon the mind of Franval: at
length, after he had received a renewal of his friend's promise to
return with him at some future period, if it should be his desire to
make a second visit to the place they were now in, he agreed to
accompany them in quest of refreshment; and information, if any were
to be gained, which could assist in throwing light upon the strange
adventures which had marked the last twelve hours.

Having mounted their horses, they turned into the road, and pursued
the path along which they had on the former evening been journeying:
at the distance of rather more than half a league from the ruin, they
descried a cottage apart from the high road, and immediately rode up
to it.

Before they reached the humble dwelling, the door was opened by a
peasant girl of about twelve years old, who, it appeared, had seen
them through a window, and been attracted by curiosity to behold
travellers of so different an order of beings to those amongst whom
she was accustomed to live.

Montreville called to her, and enquired whether there was any body in
the cottage besides herself, and whether they would sell them any milk
and bread.

The girl replied that her mother and grandmother were both within; and
directly called the former, who quickly made her appearance. Having
heard our travellers wants, she readily agreed to supply them in the
best manner she was able; and invited them to alight, and walk in:
this Montreville and Franval did: and Henri, conducted by the girl,
led the horses to a stable behind the cottage, where he found a
welcome of sweet, although coarse provender, for his beasts.

Franval and his friend took seats. The woman, with the garrulity
natural to her sex, and her rank in life, began to inform them of her
own family affairs: her husband and her sons, she said, were gone to
labour on a distant part of the mountains, and she was anticipating
their return with much pleasure, because they had promised to beg some
grapes of the master of the vineyard for her mother, who was
particularly fond of them, and who being now far advanced in years,
and totally blind, had no enjoyment left her but that of the palate,
which she had the least opportunity of gratifying.

This decripit old female sat in one corner of the cottage, with her
feet rested on a large stone, in order to shorten the distance at
which they would else have hung from the ground, and with her chin
nearly bent upon her knees.

The peasant's wife having finished the little history of her family,
began to speak of the tempestuous night which was just past; and to
enquire whether our travellers had rested in any part to which the
tempest had extended?

"We had, indeed, a most uncomfortable lodging," replied Montreville,
and informed the good woman where they had passed the night.

"It must have been uncomfortable lodging in the ruins of Saint Luke's
Abbey," said the woman.

"Extremely so, I assure you," returned Montreville; "but on what
account do you particularly mean?"

"The want of accommodation for sleep," she answered; "I should imagine
there is scarcely a nook about it furnished with a roof."

"Yes, there is," replied Montreville, and gave a short account of the
apartment they had found, with this necessary appendage for comfort
against the peltings of a storm.

"But is there no other account on which you consider that it might be
an unpleasant resting place?" enquired Franval.

"I dare say it is full of night birds, that shriek and scream, and
make it dismal enough," replied the woman.

"Is it never disturbed with those spirits which, like the birds you
speak of, do no leave their retirement, except in the shades of
night?"

"What, haunted, do you mean, Messieurs?" cried the woman. "O no,
blessed be the Virgin, I never heard that of the Abbey of Saint Luke.
I am sure, I hardly durst live here, if such were the case;" and she
crossed herself as she spoke. "No, no; one house possessed by the
Devil is enough for any district."

"And have you a house of that description in your district?" asked
Franval.

"You must be a stranger in these parts to ask that question, I am
certain," she returned. "The Castle of Virandola, about half a league
from this house, is, as I may say, a very receptacle for Satan's
legions."

Franval drew his chair nearer to the woman's, and enquired of her who
was its possessor.

She replied, that his name was Don Bazilio; that he and his castle
were the terror of the neighbourhood; that not an individual durst
approach within a considerable distance of it after dark; and that Don
Bazilio was by some supposed to be a Frenchman, by some a Spaniard,
and by others a Moor. Farther information on the subject she was
unable to give him.

A comfortable meal was now set before them. Franval scarcely tasted
it; and the perturbation of his mind appeared to increase with every
minute; at length, drawing aside his friend Montreville, he told him,
that he could not divest himself of the idea of the voice which had
warned them to proceed to the castle of Virandola, having some
connexion with the fate of Don Manuel; and that he could not satisfy
himself without approaching the edifice, over which hung the
impenetrable veil of mystery with which they had on the preceding
evening become acquainted.

Montreville had promised to second every endeavor of his friend
towards the development of Don Manuel's fate, and accordingly agreed
to accompany him. As the castle was but a short distance from the
cottage, they resolved to walk towards it. Franval had not yet
determined to ask admittance; his present design was confined to
inspecting the outside of the building, and proving whether he should
receive any intimation of his being expected at it by the person whose
voice had admonished him to approach it. The friends informed Henri of
their design, and bade him prepare to accompany them; and Franval
pretending to the cottagers, that curiosity impelled him and his
companions to take a view of the outside of the castle of the
mysterious Don Bazilio, they asked Ricardo's grand-daughter to conduct
them into the road to it. She readily complied with their request; and
as they proceeded, they learnt from her replies to the questions which
they had advanced to her, that there was no idea existing of Don
Bazilio being himself a robber, or his castle the haunt of banditti;
but that he had the repute for dealing in the black art, and that
midnight was the preferred hour of his orgies, at which period strange
lights had been seen flitting about the castle, and dreadful noises
heard within it, by those few who at that solemn hour had ventured to
approach it; but that no one, of whom she had heard, had ever
attempted to gain admittance.

When the towers of the castle, rising above a rocky eminence of the
rugged mountains, rendered a guide no longer necessary to the
travellers, the girl ran back to her cottage; and Franval and his
companions pursued their way. As they advanced towards the castle,
they perceived that it had once been strongly fortified, but that its
bulwarks were now fallen to decay: it presented to their view a huge
pile of ancient stonework, black with age, and partially mouldering
under the destructive hand of Time: gloom and awfulness were its
characteristic features, and not any sign of its containing
inhabitants was to be discovered about it: the drawbridge appeared no
longer capable of being raised; and the moat was nearly choked up.

Our friends walked several times round its gloomy walls, and were on
the point of quitting the spot, when a key, thrown from some
considerable eminence, fell at the feet of the Chevalier Franval. He
picked it hastily up, for he perceived that there was fastened to it a
paper, on which he could distinguish the marks of hand-writing: with
the most tremulous agitation he read the following words; "This key
opens the door in the western turret; enter it at the return of
night." If these words excited the astonishment of the Chevalier
Franval, what was the emotion with which he beheld the paper signed by
the name of Rodalvo, the faithful and respected servant of Don Manuel!

The paper fastened to the key, by directing them to return at night,
appeared to warn them to retire for the present from the site of the
castle, which they accordingly did.

The emotion of Franval's soul was so great at the belief that he had
discovered the retreat of his beloved sister's husband, that he was
incapable of expressing his feelings. Equally tongue-tied by
astonishment were his friend Montreville, and his servant Henri. They
returned to the cottage, and seated themselves on a bench by the door,
where some degree of composure gradually returning to their minds,
they at length began to give expression to their ideas: but to form
conjectures was all they were still able to do; it was impossible for
them to decide by what power Don Manuel was detained an inmate of the
Mysterious Castle of Virandola, as his servant's being an inhabitant
of it seemed to bespeak that he was; or to ascertain what connexion
there could be between him and the universally dreaded Don Bazilio.

They now doubted not that the voice which had on the preceding evening
admonished them to proceed to the Castle of Virandola, had been that
of Rodalvo; but they were at a loss whether or not to suppose that the
terrific being who had twice been seen by Franval, and once by his
servant Henri, was the owner of the castle.

The agitation of mind in which the day was passed by them all,
especially by the Chevalier Franval, may be easily conjectured. They
were entertained with hospitality and kindness at the cottage, but the
attentions of their hostess and her family were often unheeded by
them; and the natural impatience of their minds, rendered the day, in
appearance, the longest they had ever known.

When the shades of night had fallen to the earth, Franval and his
companions set out on their mysterious expedition. The night was
cloudy, scarcely a star gemmed the face of Heaven; the crescent of an
infant moon rising above the distant mountains, threw a faint and
silvery light upon partial spots of the landscape. Having reached the
castle, they sought out the western turret, of which the situation
could not be mistaken; and Franval applied the key to the lock: with
little difficulty the door was opened by him, and they all three
entered. Total darkness prevailed within, and they stood debating, how
to proceed. Suddenly a distant light gleamed upon the scene, and they
perceived that it was reflected through a spiral window of stained
glass, at the extremity of a spacious hall in which they were
standing. The light was no sooner beheld, than it again vanished: it
had, however, been sufficient to shew our adventurers that they might
proceed for a considerable space without the danger of falling, as the
momentary illumination had been sufficient for them to perceive that
there were no intervening steps between the door which they had
entered and the opposite wall. Franval drew his sword; and extending
before him the arm which bore it, as a protection to his person, he
moved cautiously on. He continued his progress for some time, till a
flaming firebrand, carried in the hand of some being whose pace was so
swift as not to give him time to behold its person, darted across his
path; and he observed, by the temporary influence of the light, that
he had wandered into a lofty and narrow passage.

He stopped a moment, and listened; no sound met his ear; and he
concluded, from the silence, that he had strayed from his companions.
He, however, resolved not to suffer his courage to forsake him, or to
relax in his attempt at developing the mystery of the place, to which
act he had been summoned by one connected with a man whom he did not
esteem less on his own account, than as the nearest relative of his
beloved sister: using, therefore, every precaution which his perilous
situation permitted him to do for guarding against accident, he still
proceeded.

Suddenly a deep groan struck his ear; it was followed by a stifled
shriek; and these sounds were succeeded by several voices, uttering
such tones as might have been expected from demons uttering
expressions of delight. Again all was still; and the next moment the
Chevalier, moving a step or two from the spot where he had been
standing, found himself upon so rapid a declivity, as obliged him to
move on, whether it met his inclination or not.

This declivity continued, as nearly as Franval could conjecture, for
at least the space of an hundred feet; and whilst descending it, he
heard a repetition of the dreadful sounds to which he had before
listened.

At length he felt himself again upon even ground; there was now no
longer any pavement under his feet, but a loose and crumbling earth.
Here he paused an instant: he wished for the society of his friend and
Henri, but the wish was in vain: it was now evident that the darkness
of the place had separated them from each other. An infinite
satisfaction would it have been to his feelings, had Rodalvo now
appeared to him, and either directed his progress, or given him some
explanation of the existing mystery. Whilst he stood debating thus
with his own mind, he heard the voice of some one either in solemn
prayer, or reading emphatically aloud; which of the two he could not
distinguish; and turning his eyes around on every side, a faint light,
playing on a distant wall, met his sight; he moved towards it, and
pursuing the direction in which it shone, ascended a few steps, cut,
as it seemed, out of the rugged earth, which led him to an eminence,
from whence he looked down upon a scene which almost froze his blood
in its current to his heart.

Some few feet below the surface of the spot on which he stood, was
what appeared to him a spacious cavern; it was illuminated by several
firebrands, which were stuck into the earth at certain distances from
each other, and of which the pitchy tops sent forth darting flames,
which climbed like fiery serpents towards the dusky roof. At the
extremity of the place, in letters which appeared the colour of
transparent blood, was decyphered the word "VENGEANCE;" and
immediately under this inscription, in a chair, on the back of which
were fixed three human skulls, and on either side of which stood a
ghastly skeleton, sat the very being whom Franval had on the preceding
evening beheld, first through the window of the post-house, and next
bending over him with a lighted firebrand in his hand, amidst the
ruins of Saint Luke's Abbey; the being whom, from the account which he
had heard of the possessor of the castle, he could not doubt to be Don
Bazilio himself nor were his suspicions incorrect.

On either side of him, seated around a table of a semi-circular form,
were several other persons, habited like himself, in loose garments,
with hats of dark fur, of which the brims were drawn down around their
faces, and added to the terrific appearance of their countenances,
already sufficiently dreadful to the view.

Before the table, and immediately opposite to Don Bazilio, knelt a
human figure, nearly naked, and whose limbs were shaking with a
violent trembling, produced either by cold or apprehension; and
judging, from his own feelings, at the scene before him, Franval could
not doubt it to be the latter. Around him were placed six familiars,
in the habits of demons, each directing at him an instrument of death,
which they were prepared to thrust to his heart, if a signal were
given them to that effect.

A few moments observation clearly proved to Franval, that the kneeling
man was a recipient, about to be admitted a member of some secret
community, the lawless transactions of which he was to be terrified
from divulging. The solemn voice which he had heard on his approach to
the spot of terror which he was now contemplating, he found to have
been that of Don Bazilio, who was still reading from a volume,
extended before him on the table, the obligations to which the novice,
at that moment initiating into the mysteries of the community, was
called upon to swear observance.

The first of these obligations to which Franval heard Don Bazilio call
upon the recipient to subscribe, contained these words: "Swear to
divulge no secret with which you are made acquainted by the community,
to any being unconnected with it; and to report every one with which
you may be entrusted by other persons to it."

"I swear," replied the recipient: and the expression of satisfaction
with which the assembly received his acquiescence, explained to
Franval what had been the shouts of joy that had before heard when at
a distance from the cavern.

Again Don Bazilio read; "If thou refuse to comply with any command
issued to thee by the authority before whom thou kneelest, recollect
that the sword of their revenge will fall on thee quicker than the
lightning; remember this; and swear that, in assisting the vengeance
they are leagued to perpetrate, neither the life of thy father,
mother, wife, nor child, of thy dearest friend, or nearest connection,
shall be regarded by thee."

The recipient did not immediately reply. "Swear instantly," cried Don
Bazilio, "or I pronounce the signal that shall seal thy death." He
raised himself upon his seat as he spoke. Franval believed the last
moment of the kneeling man to be at hand, and the exclamation of "Oh,
merciful God!" burst from his lips.

His voice was heard by the members of the assembly; and turning their
eyes to the spot from whence it had proceeded, they no sooner beheld
him, than several of them sprang from their seats, and flying up to an
ascent which led to the eminence where Franval stood, they seized his
person, and dragged him down into the centre of the cavern.

"Who art thou?" exclaimed Don Bazilio, "who hast dared intrude upon
our privacy? and by what means hast thou gained access to this spot?"
Whilst speaking, he advanced towards Franval; and when he had
approached sufficiently near to him to distinguish his features, he
added, "Ha! I have beheld thee before in a situation to which I cannot
doubt thou camest as a spy upon my actions. The ruined Abbey of St.
Luke is the spot to which I refer. Under the impression which thy
conduct has raised in my mind, thou can'st not live." Then turning to
the familiars around him, he cried, "Bring the cord, and do your
duty."

No sooner had Don Bazilio issued this command, than the recipient,
moving forward, threw himself on his knees before him, and, in a voice
of the humblest supplication, he exclaimed, "Oh spare him! I entreat,
I implore you, for my sake spare him; he is the brother of my beloved
wife!"

The tones in which the kneeling man spoke, were familiar to the ear of
Franval; he turned his eyes upon him, and, to his utter astonishment,
beheld in him Don Manuel di Vadilla!

After a few instants of private conversation with another member of
the occult community, Don Bazilio commanded Franval to be led to the
grated cell. The familiars immediately seized his arms, and, preceded
by one of their fellows, who lighted them with a torch which he had torn
up from its station in the floor of the cavern, they forced him along
several winding passages, which ultimately brought them to the grated
dungeon, into which they thrust him, and then departed, taking away
with them the light.

The torturing and perplexing sensations which at this period filled
the breast of the Chevalier Franval, may be easily imagined. What
could he suppose would be the event of his present situation? what
could be the mystery which bound together the community before whose
authority he had beheld the unfortunate Don Manuel, kneeling an
apparent victim? Where now, he wondered, were his friends Montreville
and Henri: had they, like himself, fallen into the power of the mystic
band by whom the castle was habited, had they escaped their toils?

About the midnight hour, through the grating of his prison, he beheld
a light approaching: in a few minutes it drew sufficiently near to him
for him to distinguish that it was borne in the hand of Don Bazilio;
he placed himself opposite to the grated window of Franval's cell, and
thus addressed him: "Stranger, having beheld as much as you have done
of the mysteries of this place, there is but one point left for you to
decide upon; you must either forfeit your life to our safety, or bind
yourself by the vows which connect our community."

"Your terms," replied Franval, "appear as extraordinary as your
mysteries; you must inform me what the latter are, and to what purpose
they are maintained, ere I can consent, or refuse, to subscribe to
them."

"I intend to do so," returned Don Bazilio. "I fear not to entrust to
you the secret, because within the next twenty hours, you must, as I
have already declared to you, become one of us, or cease to exist. Had
it not been for the intercession of the young man who is known to you
by the name of Don Manuel, you had not at this moment been alive to
receive my offer. Now then attend: I am not a Spaniard, as my name
implies me to be; I am by birth a Frenchman. My elder brother was the
Marquis de la Croix; myself the Chevalier of the same name. It is now
about eighteen years since by brother, and another gentleman, were
alike suppliants to the crown for the permission of acceding to a
Duchy which at that moment lay dormant; and, in the line of succession
to which, they both stood with apparently equal rights; it rested
consequently on the breast of the monarch on whom the honor should be
conferred; and, after having deceived my brother with false hopes, the
King bestowed the contested title on his competitor. Was not this a
disappointment sufficiently strong to drive almost to madness a man of
proud spirit? for such was my brother; and whose pride was supported
by a consciousness of having devoted not only his active services, but
his purse, to his King and his country. He immediately quitted the
course, vowing never to return to it again.

"My brother was, at the period of which I am speaking, a widower; from
his wife, who had been a Spanish lady of considerable distinction, he
had inherited this castle of Virandola; and hither he retired,
accompanied by myself, and three other friends, peculiarly attached to
his interests.

"We had not been here many days ere he thus addressed us. 'My friends,
I am sufficiently well acquainted with your attachment to me, to be
conscious that I may disclose to you the inmost sentiments of my hear
in full assurance of your secrecy. Listen, then to my words: as we
have not in our power any present means of revenging the failure of my
just and high-raised expectation, let us have the glory of founding a
sect, which shall grow by our rearing, privately and unsuspectedly,
from the small number here collected, into a magnitude which shall
eventually crush the exercise of such unlimited power as I have been a
sufferer from."

"We applauded his idea, and entered with fervor into his plan: we
immediately bound ourselves by the most solemn oath which could pass
the lips of man, to act by every exertion of our ability towards the
subversion of every earthly power, by the possession of which one man
is raised to a superiority over his fellows: we swore that not even
the peace or safety of our dearest connections should obstruct us in
the progress of our design; and moreover, that we would use every
means of adding members to our secret community."

"From that instant we became a sect of Illuminati; we frequented
lodges of masonry, and all public societies; we probed the hearts of
their members, and when we found individuals suited to our purpose, we
conducted them hither; and in the cavern which you have this night
beheld, we initiated them into our mysteries.

"At the expiration of twelve years, my brother died; he fell the
victim of a disorder which was slow in its progress; and as he was
conscious of the approach of death, he appointed me the guardian of
his only child, who was a son named Lewis, at that time in his
fifteenth year; and concerning the future conduct of whose life he
gave me the most particular and impressive directions.

"For many reasons, my brother and myself had for some time assumed the
name of Vadilla, and professed ourselves to be Spaniards; and that of
Lewis had, for the sake of accordance with our own, been changed to
Manuel. Thus you perceive that the husband of your sister is my
nephew."

Franval did not reply, and Don Bazilio continued thus:

"My deceased brother had enjoined me to initiate his son into the
mysteries of our society when he had attained the age of twenty-one
years, and to inform him that it had been the dying request of his
father, that he would never form any connections in life, above all,
that of marriage; but devote himself entirely to the forwarding of
those views which had been planned by his parent; and which that
parent conceived he might be less strenuous in pursuing, if he were
bound by any other ties, which might claim at least an equal share of
his feelings.

"At the age of eighteen, I informed him of his father's wish that he
should lead a life of celibacy; and informed him that, at the age of
twenty-one, a secret of the utmost importance would be entrusted to
him, and business of the most interesting and peculiar nature placed
in his hands; for devoting himself entirely to the services of which,
I wished him, in the intermediate time, to prepare his mind, as it had
been the dying request of his father that he should do so. He was
become accustomed, by habit, to behold an air of mystery pervading the
countenances of such inhabitants of the castle as were in my
confidence, and had been in that of his deceased father; and my words
did not appear so much to surprise him, as I had expected they would.
He had hitherto not been the distance of more than four or five
leagues from the Castle of Virandola, and he petitioned me to suffer
him to travel for two or three years: to this request I consented, on
condition of his promising to return to me against the period of his
completing his twenty-first year, and of his forming no connection, or
engagement, in the world, upon which he was about to enter. He gave me
his promise to this effect. I furnished him with a most liberal supply
of money, which I was with the greatest ease enabled to do, from the
wealth of my deceased brother; and placing him under the care of a man
named Rodalvo, the only domestic in my brother's service who had been
admitted into our secret community, I permitted him to depart.

"By mutual agreement, I was not to receive any letter from my nephew
during his absence. At length arrived his twenty-first birthday, and
he was not returned. Several months passed on, and still he came not.
I felt dissatisfied at the apparently ungrateful use which he had made
of my indulgence; and I employed spies to discover for me where he
loitered. Judge my disappointment and anger, when I learnt, in the
course of time, from these persons, that he had broken through every
injunction which I had given him, and was become a husband and a
father. Against Rodalvo, also, was my rage excited, for not having
withheld him from forming ties so opposite to the will of his late
father.

"Having gained the knowledge of his retreat, I commissioned some of
the inferior members of our occult society to lie in ambush for him
and Rodalvo, to seize their persons, and to reconduct them to this
castle. On their way to your villa, my emissaries were so fortunate as
to meet them in Paris; where, having hurried them into a closed
carriage, they set off with them, without delay, for the frontiers of
the kingdom.

"Several accidents, which they met with on the road, so materially
delayed their progress, that they did not till the afternoon of
yesterday, reach the post-house before which you and your companions
stopped last night.

"Impatience to behold my nephew, and reason with him on his
disobedience to my injunctions, had brought me to the post-house to
meet him; and as I found that he could not be prevailed upon, although
in my power, by gentle means, to proceed to the Castle of Virandola, I
resolved not to conduct him to it till the dead hour of midnight, when
we should not be liable to encounter any observers of his conduct; and
having resolved to remain till that hour at the post-house, I bound
the host by a handsome bribe, and an oath, not to admit any one into
it whilst we continued his inmates: how faithfully he performed his
trust, you are already acquainted.

"Whilst we remained in the post-house, I questioned my nephew on the
reason which had induced him to act in opposition to the conduct I had
marked out for him to follow; and he confessed to me, that he had, by
his supplications and entreaties, won Rodalvo into confessing to him,
the cause for which he had been so earnestly enjoined to return, at
the age of twenty-one, to the Castle of Virandola; and that abhorring,
as he expressed himself, the nature and object of our community,
immediately on having gained this knowledge, he determined never to
accede to the plan which had been proposed for his future life, but to
strike out one which he himself deemed more capable of producing his
happiness. Having done this, he procured Rodalvo's promise never to
quit his service; and in the course of time, he became the husband of
your sister. Sufficient honor, however, was still left to him to
resolve never to betray the secret of our community, out of respect to
the safety of me, his uncle.

"In the Ruins of Saint Luke's Abbey, where you last night found
shelter from the storm, is the entrance to a subterranean passage
which leads into vaults beneath the Castle of Virandola; and this
passage is in constant use by the members of our secret community, in
order to protect them from being seen, and recognised, in entering or
quitting the castle, as might chance to occur were they always to pass
through its gates. By this passage I had last night resolved to
reconduct my nephew; and having seen him safely guarded through it's
entrance, I was about to follow him, when, hearing the sound of a
voice amidst the ruins, I judged it not impossible that it might
proceed from some brother of our society, who might have lost his way
in the darkness amongst them. Lighted by the firebrand which I carried
in my hand, I proceeded towards the spot from whence the sound had
proceeded, and discovered you and your companions stretched on the
ground asleep. The moment I beheld you, I believed you to be one of
the travellers whom I had before seen refused admittance into the
post-house: and as I bent over you, to ascertain if my conjecture were
just, you awoke, and turned upon me your eyes. To avoid, as much as
possible, your observation, I darted precipitately through a concealed
door in the wall, which led to a branch in the subterranean passage of
which I have already spoken to you.

"When I had quitted your sight, I began to doubt whether you and your
companions were really weary travellers, or spies upon me, or the
place ye were in, and counterfeiting sleep, the better to cover you
purpose: I accordingly determined to watch your actions. From the spot
of my concealment, I heard your footsteps quitting the dilapidated
chamber, and I followed you amidst the ruin. Your servant beheld me
turn an angle of the walls: I levelled my pistol at him, and it missed
fire: my aim had not been to wound him, but to alarm you all, and send
you away from the spot. I was foiled in this attempt: but still I
pursued your steps unseen by you, and hearing you express a desire of
returning to the apartment where you had slept, I resolved to repair
thither before you and to mark the floor with the words of warning
which you found upon it. 'Quit this place,' was the sentence I wrote;
and seeing you shortly after mount your horses and depart, I
congratulated myself on having procured the end I desired, by means
which, probably, appeared to you of the greatest mystery; and having
done so, I immediately proceeded to the castle.

"I thought of you no more throughout the day: it was passed by me in
preparations for the admission of Don Manuel into our secret
community; to be present at which ceremony, I had invited all the
principal members of our society. The initiation was proceeding
successfully, though I confess with evident reluctance on the part of
the recipient, when the exclamation you uttered assailed our ears. I
instantly recognised your person; and another minute would have sealed
your fate in death, had not Don Manuel, to my utter astonishment,
pleaded for mercy to be shewn to you, as the brother of his wife.

"A request made to the community by one of its members, is never
refused to him without due deliberation being first given to it; and
as we deemed Don Manuel to have proceeded so far in his initiation, as
to be entitled to rank as one of us, his petition was heard, and you
conveyed to prison.

"My immediate concern was then to examine by what means you had gained
admittance into this castle; and to cause a diligent search to be made
for your companions, who I supposed might also have entered it: they
could not be discovered; but a paper, tied to a key found in the door
of the western turret, directing you to return at night, and signed
Rodalvo, explained at once how you had gained entrance, and who was
the traitor that merited the vengeance of the community.

"I caused him instantly to be dragged by my familiars to my feet: the
fact of his own handwriting he could not deny; his every nerve
appeared to be unstrung with terror; and instead of attempting to
exculpate himself, he increased my knowledge of his guilt, by
confessing, that, having recognized your voice last night on the
outside of the post-house, his desire of informing you where to find
Don Manuel, of whom he could not doubt that you were in search, led
him to steal out of the post-house, and to pursue you on a mule, which
he took from one of the stables; and that, having overtaken you, he
enjoined you to proceed to the Castle of Virandola; but durst not stay
to converse with you, lest his absence from the post-house should have
been discovered by me, and punished with death."

"Whatever my fate may be," exclaimed Franval, "let me entreat your
mercy to that kind old man."

"It is too late," returned Don Bazilio; "he had twice been faithless
to his trust: my poniard has drunk his blood."

"Unhappy man!" replied the Chevalier: "he will be rewarded in Heaven;
for his errors were on the side of Virtue."

Don Bazilio uttered an exclamation of contempt, and, after a momentary
pause, spoke thus:

"Now, to my most important business with you, Chevalier: by the
interference of my nephew, your life has hitherto been miraculously
preserved to you; it now rests entirely with yourself, how long you
wish to retain that blessing of yours. To-morrow night you must either
become a member of this community, or share the fate of Rodalvo: the
intervening twenty-four hours will be give you for forming your
determination."

"I require not an instant," returned Franval: "the vows which bind
your infamous society can never pass my lips: truth and loyalty to my
sovereign, and his adherents, glow with true fervor in my breast.
Beneath the authority which sways this land, my father prospered; he
conducted the battles which upheld it: and his son will sooner expire
on the rack, than nourish a thought towards its destruction."

"The hour of proof will come," replied Don Bazilio. "To-morrow night
at twelve--Remember!" and he departed.

No one again appeared to disturb the silence of Franval's prison
throughout the night; and the rugged earth, barely covered with a lock
of straw, was his resting-place. In the morning Don Bazilio again
appeared; he was followed by an attendant, who, through the gratings
of Franval's prison, placed upon a shelf immediately below the opening
a small loaf of coarse bread, and a cup of muddy water.

"Under the resolution by which I left you swayed last night," said Don
Bazilio, "this wretched fare must be yours; if you are become a
proselyte to my opinion, you may command whatever your please."

"I am not become so, nor shall I ever," returned Franval.

"Remember what is to be the issue of the approaching night," said Don
Bazilio emphatically, and again retired.

In the utmost wretchedness passed the hours of the Chevalier Franval:
he had no other fate to expect from the merciless beings into whose
hands he had fallen, than a death of savage torture; and no
consolation under his affliction, except that which he derived from
the conviction that it was better to die, than to lay a load of guilt
upon his conscience.

At last arrived the hour of Franval's trial; it was announced to him
by the beams of torches playing on the walls of his prison, and
numerous footsteps approaching towards it. Several men, dressed in
similar habits to those whom he had beheld on the preceding night, led
him forth, and conducted him into the cavern of horrors, where he
found the blood-thirsty community over whom Don Bazilio presided,
assembled: He looked anxiously around, in the hope of espying amongst
the number Don Manuel, but he saw him not.

Savageness, horror, and malignancy, were portrayed on every
countenance; and each appeared to grin with exultation, and a mixture
of contempt, on Franval. The place was lighted by firebrands, as on
the preceding night, and every regulation appeared the same. After a
short pause, Don Bazilio spoke; he repeated to Franval, that his life
could only be preserved to him by his accepting the vows of the
society; and concluded by informing him, that three questions were
about to be proposed to him, and that if his replies to them all were
unsatisfactory to the community, his death would immediately ensue.

Franval still answered with the same firmness and resolution which his
conscience had before dictated to him.

Warning him once more to consider well his intention ere he drew upon
himself the sword of vengeance, Don Bazilio proposed to him the first
question; pointing, as he spoke, to the inscription above the chair
upon which he sat.

"Wilt thou," said he, "bend thy body in obedience to the attribute of
our society, Vengeance?"

"I will not," Franval replied.

"Wilt thou kneel, and pray for the approach of that day which shall
give equality to men?" was the second question.

"I will not," again replied Franval.

"Hadst thou rather submit to death thyself, than cause the death of
one placed in a situation of power over thee?" was the substance of
the third question.

"I had," replied Franval firmly.

"Take then the reward of thy stubbornness," cried Don Bazilio.
"Familiars, do your duty."

Instantly Franval felt himself seized by many hands: a cloth was
thrown over his head; and he expected immediately to feel the steel
piercing his heart; when, at the very instant, a crash like thunder
rent the castle: it was repeated a second, a third, and a fourth time,
with increased violence.

"We are betrayed!" cried Don Bazilio. "Comrades, defend yourselves."

"The hands which held Franval, were now withdrawn; and, snatching the
cloth from his head, he beheld the cavern entered by a band of
soldiery, who, rushing upon the Illuminati, made them in a few minutes
their prisoners; and the next instant Montreville and Henri were by
the side of Franval."

The tide of joy which rushed into the heart of the Chevalier Franval,
every breast of feeling must be capable of estimating; but it is
necessary that we should give a detail of the happy cause which led to
this unexpected event.

When Montreville and Henri had, on the preceding night, been separated
by the darkness in the castle hall from Franval, they wandered about
for a considerable time, without being able to make any progress into
the building. Franval did not return to them. Strange noises met their
ears: their sight was started by one of the familiars of the secret
community in his demon's dress, passing before them with a lighted
firebrand in his hand; and their apprehensions being raised, not only
for their companion, but for themselves, they resolved to seek
assistance for enquiring into the fate of him from whom they had been
separated.

Thus determined, they precipitately quitted the castle, and returning
to the cottage where they had been entertained throughout the day,
they took their horses from the stable, and having mounted them, rode
with all speed towards the nearest garrison town on the frontiers of
France: they reached it early in the morning, and having laid an
account of their adventure before the police in terms which excited
them to an immediate investigation of the truth, they selected fifty
of the soldiery, under the command of a trusty officer, to accompany
Montreville without delay to the Castle of Virandola. They marched
with as much expedition as a body of men bearing arms were able to do,
and reached the castle about the hour of midnight: they immediately
forced themselves an entrance into the building; and dispersing
different ways, a considerable number of them met in the cavern of
horrors, as has already been related, at the critical moment of
Franval's fate.

As soon as the members of the infamous community of vengeance were
secured, and Franval convinced of his safety from the mouths of his
friend and servant, a search was made in the castle, in order to
ascertain whether it contained any unhappy beings suffering beneath
the inhumanity of the terrific horde by which it had been infested:
the first object of horror which was discovered by the scrutineers,
was the body of the unfortunate Rodalvo, who had fallen the victim of
his affection for his master: the next was Don Manuel himself, who was
chained to the walls of a flinty dungeon, where he had been fated by
his relentless uncle to remain till the Chevalier Franval had either
pronounced the vows which were to constitute him a member of the
society, or paid the forfeit of his refusal in death.

The grief which Don Manuel had experienced at being torn from the arms
of his beloved wife, and dragged to the execution of a purpose at
which his soul revolted, could only be equalled by the ecstacy with
which he beheld himself and Franval again at liberty, and dwelt on his
return to his adored Amarylla, and his infant children.

The rage of Don Bazilio's disappointed soul expressed itself solely in
sullen silence. By the command of the police in the town from whence
Montreville had procured military assistance, the band of Illuminati
were conveyed in chains to Paris, to take their public trial; and on
their arrival there, the Chevalier Franval, Montreville, and Don
Manuel, whom we must now know by his real name of the Marquis de la
Croix, were detained to give evidence against them.

Before the day of trial arrived, Don Bazilio gave a most
unquestionable proof of his consciousness of his past guilt, and of
the present wretched state of his mind, by putting an end to his own
existence in prison. By the voice of the law, his associates in
iniquity were adjudged to die beneath the hand of the executioner;
which sentence was put into effect on the third day after their
condemnation.

On the Chevalier Franval, and the Marquis de la Croix, the King, in
addition to other high marks of his favor, bestowed an immense
pecuniary reward from the coffers of the state. And the united voice
of a rejoicing people bestowed on them the tribute of public applause,
for having been the instruments through which retribution and
punishment had been inflicted on a set of beings, sufficiently
depraved and worthless, to have been brooding the subversion of a
prosperous state, and the fall of a virtuous monarch.

Happy in the consciousness of having acted as it became virtuous and
loyal subjects to have done, and grateful to Providence for its
invisible interposition in the fate of the excellent young Marquis,
they returned to the Chevalier's villa crowned with triumph and
delight, where the caresses they received from an affectionate sister,
and adored wife, rendered them the most enviable men whom the kingdom
of France could boast. The society of vengeance being scattered to the
winds, the Chevalier and his brother instituted a community of
Benevolence to celebrate its destruction. Great was the honor of being
admitted a member, and unsullied the virtuous principles of those who
became so.

The children of de la Croix, as they grew to manhood, considered it
their glory to be descended from those who had sown the seeds of so
praiseworthy a society; and their lovely mother, stretching over them
in affection and joy, appeared the earthly representative of that
goddess of Benevolence, to whom a temple was raised in all their
hearts.



THE END



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