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Gilbert, W. B / Margaret Tudor A Romance of Old St. Augustine
But Padre Ignacio,
with his plausible tongue, had beguiled them ashore into his power.

"The man is a very devil for fair words and smooth deceits," declared
Mr. Collins. "In spite of all the warnings we had received, some of us
landed without first demanding hostages of the Indians; and when we
would have departed two of us were forcibly detained on pretence of our
lacking proper credentials to prove our honesty. In sooth he charged us
with piratical intentions, though we had not so much as cracked a pistol
or inveigled one barbarian aboard. The sloop lingered for three days,
but finally made off, leaving us in the hands of the padre. He
despatched us here in canoes, under a guard of some twenty half-naked
savages, with shaven crowns, who are no more converted Christians than
the fiends in hell!"

I asked, then, for news of my uncle, Dr. Scrivener, and Mr. Collins
assured me that he was most anxious for my safety, and would have come
back with them to demand us of the friar, but he had received a hurt in
the neck during the attack at Santa Catalina and was in no state to
travel, although the wound was healing well--for which God be thanked!

So far, all the prisoners, except Mr. Rivers, have the freedom of the
town; but Captain Baulk declared he would as lief be confined within the
fort.

"There be scarce two honest men--saving ourselves--in all San Augustin,"
he said. "The lodging-house where we sleep is crowded with dirty,
thieving half-breeds, who would as willingly slit a man's throat as a
pig's. Though they hold us as guests against our will, we must e'en pay
our own score; and some fine night--you mark me!--we shall find
ourselves lacking our purses."

"Then the Governor will be at the cost of our entertainment," said Mr.
Collins.

"'Twill be prison fare, sir," grunted the old sailor, "and we'll be
lucky if he doesn't find it cheaper to heave us overboard and be done
with it!"

"Tut! man,--hold your croaking tongue in the poor young lady's
presence," whispered Mr. Collins; but I heard what he said, and bade
him tell us our true case and what real hope there was of our
liberation.

"There is every certainty," he said. "When word reaches their Lordships
in England, they will not fail to make complaint to the Spanish
Council,--and they have no just cause for refusing to set us free. But I
trust we shall not have to wait for that. If we had a Governor of
spirit, instead of a timorous old man like Sayle, he would have already
sent the frigate down here to demand us of the Spaniards. There are not
lacking men to carry out the enterprise: Captain Brayne could scarce be
restrained from swooping down on the whole garrison--as Rob Searle did,
not long ago, when he rescued Dr. Woodward out of their clutches."

"Captain Brayne!--the frigate! Do you mean that the _Carolina_ has
arrived?"

"Two months ahead of our sloop," declared Mr. Collins; "but Governor
Sayle has despatched her to Virginia for provisions, of which we were
beginning to run short. The _Port Royal_ has not been heard of, so 'tis
feared she went down in the storm."

He went on to tell me of the new settlement which had been already laid
out at a place called Kiawah,--a very fair and fruitful country, which
Heaven grant I may one day see!

In my turn I related all that had befallen me since we reached this
place. They heard me out very gravely, and promised to contrive some
means of communicating with me in case of need.

Then, as it grew very late, we parted, promising to meet the following
night; and I crept softly back to the house and my little room, greatly
comforted that I now had a worthy gentleman like Mr. Collins with whom I
could advise; for with his knowledge of the Spanish tongue and his sound
judgment I hope he may influence the Governor in our favour.

* * * * *

The sun is setting now, I think, although I cannot see it from my
window; for all the sky without is faintly pink, and every ripple on the
bay turns a blushing cheek toward the west. I must lay by my pen and
watch for an opportunity to keep tryst at the gateway with my two good
friends....

Nine of the clock.

God help me! I waited in the garden till I heard a whistle, and stole
down to the gate as before.

A man put out his hand and caught at mine through the bars. It was that
vile Tomas--the wretch who would have murdered my dear love! I screamed
and fled, but he called after me in Spanish. The words were strange to
me--but the tones of his voice and the coarse laughter needed no
interpreter!

As I flew across the garden, too frightened to attempt concealment, Doņa
Orosia stepped out into the courtyard and demanded an explanation. I
knew not what to say, for I could not divulge the motive that had sent
me out; but I told her that a man had called me from the gate, and when
I went near to see who it might be I recognized the servant of Melinza.

She seemed to doubt me at first, till I described him closely; then she
was greatly angered and forbade me the garden altogether.

"If I find you here alone again," she hissed, seizing my shoulder with
no gentle grasp, "if I find you here again, I will turn the key upon you
and keep you prisoner in your chamber."

So now I dare not venture beyond the court and the balconies; and there
will be no chance of speaking with Mr. Collins unless he dares to come
under my window, and there is little hope of his doing that unseen, for
'tis in full view from the ramparts of the fort, where a sentry paces
day and night.




CHAPTER XI.


August, the 7th day.

When I began this tale of our captivity it was with the hope that I
might find some means of sending it to friends, in this country or in
England, who would interest themselves in obtaining our release.
However, from what Mr. Collins told me, I feel assured that news of Mr.
Rivers's capture has already been sent to their Lordships the
proprietors, and this record of mine seems now but wasted labour. Yet
from time to time, for my own solace, I shall add to it; and perchance,
some day in safety and freedom, I and----another----may together read
its tear-stained pages.

This day I have completed the seventeenth year of my age. It is a double
anniversary, for one year ago this night--it being the eve of our
departure from England--I first set eyes upon my dear love.

Can it be possible that he, in his dolorous prison, has taken account of
the passing days and remembers that night--a year ago? 'Twould be liker
a man if he took no thought of the date till it was past,--yet I do
greatly wonder if he has forgotten.

As for me, the memory has lived with me all these hours since I unclosed
my eyes at dawn.

I can see now the brightly lighted cabin of the _Carolina_, where the
long supper-table was laid for the many passengers who were to set out
on the morrow for a new world. I had been somehow parted from my uncle,
Dr. Scrivener, and I stood in the cabin doorway half afraid to venture
in and meet the eyes of all the strangers present. I felt the colour
mounting warmly in my cheek, and my feet were very fain to run away,
when Captain Henry Brayne, the brave and cheery commander of the
frigate, caught sight of me, and, rising hastily, led me to a seat at
his own right hand.

(I do recollect that I wore a new gown of fine blue cloth--a soft and
tender colour, that became me well.)

As I took my place I glanced shyly round, and saw, at the farther end of
the long table, the gallantest gentleman I had ever set eyes upon in all
my sixteen years of life. He was looking directly at me, and presently
he lifted his glass and said:

"Captain Brayne, I give you _the Carolina and every treasure she
contains_!"

There was some laughter as the toast was drunk, and my uncle--who had
only that moment entered and taken his seat beside me--asked of me an
explanation.

"Nay, Dr. Scrivener," said the jovial captain, "'tis not likely the
little lady was attending. But now I give you--_the health of Mistress
Tudor!_ (and it will not be the first time it has been proposed
to-night!)"

And that was but a year ago. I would never have guessed that at
seventeen I could feel so very old.




CHAPTER XII.


San Augustin's Day--August, the 28th.

Oh! but I have been angered this day!

What? when my betrothed lies in prison, ill, perhaps, or fretting his
brave heart away, am I to be dragged forth to make part of a pageant for
the entertainment of his jailers? I would sooner have the lowest cell in
the dungeon--aye! and starve and stifle for lack of food and air, than
be forced to deck myself out in borrowed bravery, and sit mowing and
smiling in a gay pavilion, and clap hands in transport over the fine
cavalier airs of the man I hold most in abhorrence!

Do they take me for so vapid a little fool that I may be compelled to
any course they choose? Nay, then, they have learned a lesson. Oh, but
it is good to be in a fair rage for once!

I had grown so weary and sick at heart that the blood crawled sluggishly
in my veins; my eyes were dull and heavy; I had sat listlessly, with
idle hands, day after day, waiting--waiting for I knew not what!
Therefore it was that I had no will or courage to oppose the Governor's
wife when she came to me this morning and bade me wear the gown she
brought, and pin a flower in my hair, and sit with her in the Governor's
pavilion to see the fine parade go by.

"This is a great day in San Augustin," she said, "being the
one-hundred-and-fifth anniversary of its founding by the Spanish."

As the captives of olden times made part of the triumph of their
conquerors, 'twas very fit that I, forsooth, should lend what little I
possessed of youth and fairness to the making of a Spanish holiday!

But I was too spiritless, then, to dare a refusal. I bowed my head
meekly enough while Chépa--the smiling, good-natured negress--gathered
up the rustling folds of the green silk petticoat and slipped it over my
shoulders. I made no demur while she looped and twisted the long tresses
of my yellow hair, fastening it high with a tall comb, and tying a knot
of black velvet riband upon each of the wilful little bunches of curls
that ever come tumbling about my ears.

When all was finished, and the lace mantilla fastened to my comb and
draped about my shoulders, I was moved by Barbara's cries of admiration
to cast one glance upon the mirror. 'Twas an unfamiliar picture that I
saw there, and my pale face blushed with some mortification that it
should have lent itself so kindly to a foreign fashion.

I would have thrown off all the braveries that minute; but just then
came a message from Doņa Orosia, bidding me hasten.

"What matters anything to me now?" I thought wearily; and, slowly
descending to the courtyard, I took my place in the closed chair that
waited, and was borne after the Governor's lady to the Plaza, where, at
the western end facing upon the little open square, was the gay
pavilion.

Its red and yellow banners shone gaudily in the hot sunlight of the
summer afternoon, and the fresh sea breeze kept the tassels and
streamers all a-flutter, like butterflies hovering over a bed of
flowers.

Three sides of the Plaza were lined with spectators, but the eastern
end--which opened out toward the bay--was kept clear for the troops to
enter.

Against the slight railing of the little pavilion leaned Doņa Orosia,
strangely fair in a gown of black lace and primrose yellow, that
transformed the soft contours of her throat and cheek from pale olive to
the purest pearl. She deigned to bestow but a single cold, unfriendly
glance upon me; then she bent forward as before, her lifted fan
shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun-kissed sea.

Presently, with the blare of trumpets and the deep rolling of the drums,
the King's troops came in sight, three hundred strong.

At the head of the little band, which marched afoot, rode Melinza and
the Governor. 'Twas the first time I had seen a horse in the town.

Old Seņor de Colis was mounted on a handsome bay that pranced and
curvetted beneath him, to his most evident discomfort; but Melinza's
seat was superb. It was a dappled gray he rode, with flowing mane and
tail of silvery white; a crimson rosette was fastened to its crimped
forelock, and the long saddle-cloth was richly embroidered.

As the little company swept round the square, the two horsemen saluted
our pavilion. Don Pedro lifted his plumed hat high, and I saw that his
face was pale from his recent wound, but the bold black eyes were as
bright as ever they had been before.

I drew back hastily from the front of the pavilion and made no pretence
of returning his salute. Then, for the first time since I had taken my
seat beside her, Doņa Orosia spoke to me.

"Why such scant courtesy?" she asked, with lifted brows.

"Madame," I answered, "had my betrothed been here at my side, an
honoured guest, I would have had more graciousness at my command."

"What!" she exclaimed, "have you not yet had time to forget your
quarrelsome cavalier?"

"I will forget him, madame, when I cease to remember the treachery of
those who called themselves his entertainers."

She flushed angrily. "Your tongue has more of spirit than your face. I
wonder that you have the courage to say this to me."

"I dare, because I have nothing more to lose, madame!"

"Say you so? Would you rather I gave you into Melinza's keeping?"

"Nay!" I cried, "you could not--such unfaith would surpass the limits of
even Spanish treachery! And you would not--it would please you better
_if he never set eyes upon my face again_! I only wonder that you should
have brought me here to-day!"

She opened her lips to speak; but the blare of the trumpets drowned the
words, and she turned away from me.

The troops were drawn in line across the square: on the right, the
Spanish regulars of the garrison; on the left, the militia companies,
which had come up while we were speaking. These last were made up, for
the most part, of mulattoes and half-breed Indians,--a swarthy-faced,
ill-looking band that appeared fitter for savage warfare of stealth and
ambuscade and poisoned arrows than for valorous exploits and honest
sword-play.

The various man[oe]uvres of the troops, under the skilled leadership of
Don Pedro, occupied our attention for upward of an hour, during all
which time my companion appeared quite unconscious of my presence. She
sat motionless save for the swaying of her fan. Only once did her face
express aught but fixed attention--and that was when a sudden fanfare of
the trumpets caused the Governor's horse to plunge, and the old man
lurched forward on the pommel of his saddle, his plumed hat slipping
down over his eyes.

For an instant the swaying fan was still; a low laugh sounded in my ear,
and, turning, I saw the red lips of the Governor's lady take on a very
scornful curve.

She received him graciously enough, however, when--the review being
over--he dismounted and joined us in the pavilion.

Melinza had retired with the troops; but just as the last rank
disappeared from view he came galloping back at full speed, flung
himself from the saddle, and, throwing the reins to an attendant,
mounted the pavilion stair.

I felt that Doņa Orosia's eyes were upon me, and I believed that she
liked me none the less for my hostility to the man. It may have been
this that gave me courage--I do not know--I think I would not have
touched his hand in any case.

He flushed deeply when I put both of mine behind my back; then, with the
utmost effrontery, he leaned forward and plucked away one little black
rosette that had fallen loose from my curls and was slipping down upon
my shoulder. This he raised to his lips with a laugh, and then fastened
upon his breast.

I was deeply angered, and I cast about for some means of retaliation
that would show him the scorn I held him in.

At the foot of the pavilion stood the youth who was holding Melinza's
horse.

I leaned over the railing, and, loosing quickly from my hair the fellow
to the rosette Don Pedro wore, I tossed it to the lad below, saying, in
almost the only Spanish words I knew,--

"It is a gift!"

Melinza's face grew white with anger; he tore off the bit of riband and
ground it under his heel; then he strode down the stair, mounted his
horse, and rode away.

The Governor's lady watched him till he was out of sight; then, with a
strange smile, she said to me,--

"I never knew before that blue eyes had so much of fire in them. I
think, my little saint, 'tis time I sent you back to your old duenna."

"I would thank you for so much grace!" was my reply. And back to Barbara
I was despatched forthwith.

But though I have been some hours in my chamber, my indignation has not
cooled. The very sight of that man's countenance is more than I can
endure!

I am resolved that I will never set foot outside my door when there is
any chance of my encountering him, and so I shall inform the Governor's
wife when she returns....

She laughs at me! She declares I shall do whatever is her pleasure! And
what is my puny strength to hers? With all the will in the world to
resist her, I am as wax in her hands!




CHAPTER XIII.


The first day of March.

For six months I have added nothing to this record; though time and
again I have taken up my pen to write, and then laid it by, with no mark
upon the fresh page. Can heartache be written down in words? Can
loneliness and longing,--the desolation of one who has no human creature
on whom to lavish love and care,--the dull misery that is known only to
those whose best beloved are suffering the worst woes of this woeful
life,--can all these be told? Ah, no! one can only feel them--bear
them--and be crushed by them.

If it had not been for the good old dame, I know not what would have
become of me. Many a day and many a night I have clung to her for hours,
weeping--crying aloud, "I cannot bear it! I cannot!" What choice had I
but to bear it? And tears cannot flow forever; the calm of utter
weariness succeeds.

'Tis not that I have been ill treated. I am well housed, and daintily
clothed and fed. Unless Melinza--or some other guest--is present, I sit
at the Governor's own table. His wife makes of me something between a
companion and a plaything: one moment I have to bear with her capricious
kindness; the next, I am teased or driven away from her with as little
courtesy as she shows to the noble hound that follows her like her own
shadow.

Until lately I have seen little of Melinza. Early in the winter he went
away to the Habana and remained absent two months, during which time I
had more peace of mind than I have known since first we came here. But
since his return he has tried in various ways to force himself into my
presence; and Doņa Orosia,--who could so easily shield me if she
chose,--before she comes to my relief, permits him to annoy me until I
am roused to the point of passionate repulse. One could almost think she
loves to see me suffer--unless it is the sight of his discomfiture that
affords her such satisfaction.

But all of this I could endure if only my dear love were free! I have
heard that he is ill. It may not be true,--God grant that it is not!
Still, though the rumour came to me by devious ways, and through old
Barbara's lips at last (and she is ever prone to think the worst), it is
more than possible! I, myself, have suffered somewhat from this long
confinement; and in how much worse case is he!

I have tried to occupy myself, that I may keep my thoughts from dwelling
forever on our unhappy state. In the past six months I have so far
mastered the Spanish tongue that now I can converse in it with more ease
than in the French. The Governor declares that I have the true
intonation; and even Doņa Orosia admits that I have shown some aptitude.
I care nothing for it as a mere accomplishment; but I hope that the
knowledge may be of use if ever we attempt escape. (Though what chance
of escape is there when Mr. Rivers is within stone walls and I have no
means of even holding converse with Mr. Collins?)

I have one other accomplishment that has won me more favour with the
Governor's wife than aught else.



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