The Spanish Brothers: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century

The Spanish Brothers: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century

Author:
Deborah Alcock
Author:
Deborah Alcock
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Alcock, Deborah, 1835-1913
Historical fiction
Brothers — Juvenile fiction
Inquisition — Spain — Juvenile fiction
Spain — History — Juvenile fiction
Reformation — Spain — Juvenile fiction
The Spanish Brothers: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century


THE ALGUAZILS PRODUCING THEIR WARRANT FOR ARREST.
page 215

T. NELSON AND SONS
LONDON, EDINBURGH AND NEW YORK.


THE

Spanish Brothers

A Tale of the Sixteenth Century
By the Author of
“THE CZAR: A TALE OF THE FIRST NAPOLEON.”

&c. &c.


“Thy loving-kindness is better than life.”


London:
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.


1888.


CONTENTS.

I. BOYHOOD, 9
II. THE MONK’S LETTER, 18
III. SWORD AND CASSOCK, 22
IV. ALCALA DE HENAREZ, 28
V. DON CARLOS FORGETS HIMSELF, 34
VI. DON CARLOS FORGETS HIMSELF STILL FURTHER, 44
VII. THE DESENGANO, 49
VIII. THE MULETEER, 58
IX. EL DORADO FOUND, 70
X. DOLORES, 78
XI. THE LIGHT ENJOYED, 88
XII. THE LIGHT DIVIDED FROM THE DARKNESS, 91
XIII. SEVILLE, 105
XIV. THE MONKS OF SAN ISODRO, 116
XV. THE GREAT SANBENITO, 124
XVI. WELCOME HOME, 131
XVII. DISCLOSURES, 138
XVIII. THE AGED MONK, 148
XIX. TRUTH AND FREEDOM, 152
XX. THE FIRST DROP OF A THUNDER SHOWER, 160
XXI. BY THE GUADALQUIVIR, 166
XXII. THE FLOOD-GATES OPENED, 173
XXIII. THE REIGN OF TERROR, 181
XXIV. A GLEAM OF LIGHT, 191
XXV. WAITING, 198
XXVI. DON GONSALVO’S REVENGE, 205
XXVII. MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, 217
XXVIII. REAPING THE WHIRLWIND, 226
XXIX. A FRIEND AT COURT, 233
XXX. THE CAPTIVE, 248
XXXI. MINISTERING ANGELS, 255
XXXII. THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, 260
XXXIII. ON THE OTHER SIDE, 271
XXXIV. FRAY SEBASTIAN’S TROUBLE, 282
XXXV. THE EVE OF THE AUTO, 290
XXXVI. “THE HORRIBLE AND TREMENDOUS SPECTACLE,” 300
XXXVII. SOMETHING ENDED AND SOMETHING BEGUN, 307
XXXVIII. NUERA AGAIN, 313
XXXIX. LEFT BEHIND, 321
XL. “A SATISFACTORY PENITENT,” 329
XLI. MORE ABOUT THE PENITENT, 338
XLII. QUIET DAYS, 347
XLIII. EL DORADO FOUND AGAIN, 357
XLIV. ONE PRISONER SET FREE, 367
XLV. TRIUMPHANT, 374
XLVI. IS IT TOO LATE? 382
XLVII. THE DOMINICAN PRIOR, 390
XLVIII. SAN ISODRO ONCE MORE, 399
XLIX. FAREWELL, 409

THE SPANISH BROTHERS.

I.

Boyhood.

“A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

Longfellow.

On one of the green slopes of the Sierra Morena, shaded by a few cork-trees, and with wild craggy heights and bare brown wastes stretching far above, there stood, about the middle of the sixteenth century, a castle even then old and rather dilapidated. It had once been a strong place, but was not very spacious; and certainly, according to our modern ideas of comfort, the interior could not have been a particularly comfortable dwelling-place. A large proportion of it was occupied by the great hall, which was hung with faded, well-repaired tapestry, and furnished with oaken tables, settles, and benches, very elaborately carved, but bearing evident marks of age. Narrow unglazed slits in the thick wall admitted the light and air; and beside one of these, on a gloomy autumn morning, two boys stood together, watching the rain that pored down without intermission.

They were dressed exactly alike, in loose jackets of blue cloth, homespun, indeed, but so fresh and neatly-fashioned as to look more becoming than many a costlier dress. Their long stockings were of silk, and their cuffs and wide shirt-frills of fine Holland, carefully starched and plaited. The elder—a very handsome lad, who looked fourteen at least, but was really a year younger—had raven hair, black sparkling eager eyes, good but strongly-marked features, and a complexion originally dark, and well-tanned by exposure to sun and wind. A broader forehead, wider nostrils, and a weaker mouth, distinguished the more delicate-looking younger brother, whose hair was also less dark, and his complexion fairer.
“Rain—rain! Will it rain for ever?” cried, in a tone of impatience, the elder, whose name was Juan; or rather, his proper style and title (and very angry would he have felt had any part been curtailed or omitted) was Don Juan Rodrigo Alvarez de Santillanos y Menaya. He was of the purest blood in Spain; by the father’s side, of noblest Castilian lineage; by the mother’s, of an ancient Asturian family. Well he knew it, and proudly he held up his young head in consequence, in spite of poverty, and of what was still worse, the mysterious blight that had fallen on the name and fortunes of his house, bringing poverty in its train, as the least of its attendant evils.
“‘Rising early will not make the daylight come sooner,’ nor watching bring the sunshine,” said the quick-witted Carlos, who, apt in learning whatever he heard, was already an adept in the proverbial philosophy which was then, and is now, the inheritance of his race.
“True enough. So let us fetch the canes, and have a merry play. Or, better still, the foils for a fencing match.”
Carlos acquiesced readily, though apparently without pleasure. In all outward things, such as the choice of pursuits and games, Juan was the unquestioned leader; Carlos never dreamed of disputing his fiat. Yet in other, and really more important matters, it was Carlos who, quite unconsciously to himself, performed the part of guide to his stronger-willed but less thoughtful brother.
Juan now fetched the carefully guarded foils with which the boys were accustomed to practise fencing; either, as now, simply for their own amusement, or under the instructions of the gray-haired Diego, who had served with their father in the Emperor’s wars, and was now mayor-domo, butler, and seneschal, all in one. He it was, moreover, from whom Carlos had learned his store of proverbs.
“Now stand up. Oh, you are too low; wait a moment.” Juan left the hall again, but quickly returned with a large heavy volume, which he threw on the floor, directing his brother to take his stand upon it.
Carlos hesitated. “But what if the Fray should catch us using our great Horace after such a fashion?”
“I just wish he might,” answered Juan, with a mischievous sparkle in his black eyes.
The matter of height being thus satisfactorily adjusted, the game began, and for some time went merrily forward. To do the elder brother justice, he gave every advantage to his less active and less skilful companion; often shouting (with very unnecessary exertion of his lungs) words of direction or warning about fore-thrust, side-thrust, back-hand strokes, hitting, and parrying. At last, however, in an unlucky moment, Carlos, through some awkward movement of his own in violation of the rules of the game, received a blow on the cheek from his brother’s foil, severe enough to make the blood flow. Juan instantly sprang forward, full of vexation, with an “Ay de mi!” on his lips. But Carlos turned away from him, covering his face with both hands; and Juan, much to his disgust, soon heard the sound of a heavy sob.
“You little coward!” he exclaimed, “to weep for a blow. Shame—shame upon you.”

“Coward yourself, to call me ill names when I cannot fight you,” retorted Carlos, as soon as he could speak for weeping.
“That is ever your way, little tearful. You to talk of going to find our father! A brave man you would make to sail to the Indies and fight the savages. Better sit at home and spin, with Mother Dolores.”
Far too deeply stung to find a proverb suited to the occasion, or indeed to make any answer whatever, Carlos, still in tears, left the hall with hasty footsteps, and took refuge in a smaller apartment that opened into it.
The hangings of this room were comparatively new and very beautiful, being tastefully wrought with the needle; and the furniture was much more costly than that in the hall. There was also a glazed window, and near this Carlos took his stand, looking moodily out on the falling rain, and thinking hard thoughts of his brother, who had first hurt him so sorely, then called him coward, and last, and far worst of all, had taunted him with his unfitness for the task which, child as he was, his whole heart and soul were bent on attempting.
But he could not quarrel very seriously with Juan, nor indeed could he for any considerable time do without him. Before long his anger began to give way to utter loneliness and discomfort, and a great longing to “be friends” again.
Nor was Juan much more comfortable, though he told himself he was quite right to reprove his brother sharply for his lack of manliness; and that he would be ready to die for shame if Carlos, when he went to Seville, should disgrace himself before his cousins by crying when he was hurt, like a baby or a girl. It is true that in his heart he rather wished he himself had held his peace, or at least had spoken more gently; but he braved it out, and stamped up and down the hall, singing, in as cheery a voice as he could command,—

“The Cid rode through the horse-shoe gate, Omega like it stood,
 A symbol of the moon that waned before the Christian rood.
 He was all sheathed in golden mail, his cloak was white as shroud;
 His vizor down, his sword unsheathed, corpse still he rode, and proud.”

“Ruy!” Carlos called at last, just a little timidly, from the next room—”Ruy!”
Ruy is the Spanish diminutive of Rodrigo, Juan’s second name, and the one by which, for reasons of his own, it pleased him best to be called; so the very use of it by Carlos was a kind of overture for peace. Juan came right gladly at the call; and having convinced himself, by a moment’s inspection, that his brother’s hurt signified nothing, he completed the reconciliation by putting his arm, in familiar boyish fashion, round his neck. Thus, without a word spoken, the brief quarrel was at an end. It happened that the rain was over also, and the sun just beginning to shine out again. It was, indeed, an effect of the sunlight which had given Carlos a pretext for calling Juan again to his side.
“Look, Ruy,” he said, “the sun shines on our father’s words!”
These children had a secret of their own, carefully guarded, with the strange reticence of childhood, even from Dolores, who had been the faithful nurse of their infancy, and who still cast upon their young lives the only shadow of motherly love they had ever known—a shadow, it is true, pale and faint, yet the best thing that had fallen to their lot: for even Juan could remember neither parent; while Carlos had never seen his father’s face, and his mother had died at his birth.
Yet it happened that in the imaginary world which the children had created around them, and where they chiefly lived, their unknown father was by far the most important personage. All great nations in their childhood have their legends, their epics, written or unwritten, and their hero, one or many of them, upon whose exploits Fancy rings its changes at will during the ages when national language, literature, and character are in process of development. So it is with individuals. Children of imagination—especially if they are brought up in seclusion, and guarded from coarse and worldly companionship—are sure to have their legends, perhaps their unwritten epic, certainly their hero. Nor are these dreams of childhood idle fancies. In their time they are good and beautiful gifts of God—healthful for the present, helpful for after-years. There is deep truth in the poets words, “When thou art a man, reverence the dreams of thy youth.”
The Cid Campeador, the Charlemagne, and the King Arthur of our youthful Spanish brothers, was no other than Don Juan Alvarez de Menaya, second and last Conde de Nuera. And as the historical foundation of national romance is apt to be of the slightest—nay, the testimony of credible history is often ruthlessly set at defiance—so it is with the romances of children; nor did the present instance form any exception. All the world said that their father’s bones lay bleaching on a wild Araucanian battle-field; but this went for nothing in the eyes of Juan and Carlos Alvarez. Quite enough to build their childish faith upon was a confidential whisper of Dolores—when she thought them sleeping—to the village barber-surgeon, who was helping her to tend them through some childish malady: “Dead? Would to all the Saints, and the blessed Queen of Heaven, that we only had assurance of it!”
They had, however, more than this. Almost every day they read and re-read those mysterious words, traced with a diamond by their father’s hand—as it never entered their heads to doubt—on the window of the room which had once been his favourite place of retirement:—

“El Dorado
 Yo hé trovado.”
“I have found El Dorado.”

No eyes but their own had ever noticed this inscription; and marvellous indeed was the superstructure their fancy contrived to raise on the slight and airy foundation of its enigmatical five words. They had heard from the lips of Diego many of the fables current at the period about the “golden country” of which Spanish adventurers dreamed so wildly, and which they sought so vainly in the New World. They were aware that their father in his early days had actually made a voyage to the Indies: and they had thoroughly persuaded themselves, therefore, of nothing less than that he was the fortunate discoverer of El Dorado; that he had returned thither, and was reigning there as a king, rich and happy—only, perhaps, longing for his brave boys to come and join him. And join him one day they surely would, even though unheard of dangers (of which giants twelve feet high and fiery dragons—things in which they quite believed—were among the least) might lie in their way, thick as the leaves of the cork-trees when the autumn winds swept down through the mountain gorges.
“Look, Ruy,” said Carlos, “the light is on our father’s words!”
“So it is! What good fortune is coming now? Something always comes to us when they look like that.”
“What do you wish for most?”
“A new bow, and a set of real arrows tipped with steel. And you?”
“Well—the ‘Chronicles of the Cid,’ I think.”
“I should like that too. But I should like better still—”
“What?”
“That Fray Sebastian would fall ill of the rheum, and find the mountain air too cold for his health; or get some kind of good place at his beloved Complutum.”
“We might go farther and fare worse, like those that go to look for better bread than wheaten,” returned Carlos, laughing. “Wish again, Juan; and truly this time—your wish of wishes.”
“What else but to find my father?”
“I mean, next to that.”
“Well, truly, to go once more to Seville, to see the shops, and the bull-fights, and the great Church; to tilt with our cousins, and dance the cachuca with Doña Beatriz.”

“That would not I. There be folk that go out for wool, and come home shorn. Though I like Doña Beatriz as well as any one.”
“Hush! here comes Dolores.”
A tall, slender woman, robed in black serge, relieved by a neat white head-dress, entered the room. Dark hair, threaded with silver, and pale, sunken, care-worn features, made her look older than she reall

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