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EL VERDUGO.*

The clock of the little town of Menda young Frenchman's revery. Yet how had just struck midnight. At that mo- dare to imagine the possibility that the ment, a young French officer was lean- daughter of the most haughty and fasing over the parapet of a terrace which tidious noble in Spain could ever be bordered the gardens of the castle of bestowed on the son of a Parisian Menda, plunged in a profounder depth shop-keeper ! of abstraction than seemed habitual to The French were held in detestathe thoughtlessness of military life,- tion. The marquis having been susbut never were hour, site and circum- pected by General G the governor stances more propitious to meditation. of the province, of being engaged in

Above his head, the beautiful sky of plotting an insurrection in favor of FerSpain stretched its dome of dark azure. dinand VII., the battalion commanded The twinkling of the stars and the soft by Victor Marchand had been placed radiance of the moon cast a capricious in cantonments in the little town of light over an exquisite valley which Menda, to hold in check the surroundlay in all its wealth of loveliness at his ing country, which belonged to the feet. Resting upon an orange-tree in Marquis de Léganès. A recent desfull blosson, the young chef-de-batail- patch from Marshal Ney gave

reason lon could see, a hundred feet below, even to apprehend that the English the town of Menda, which seemed to might shortly land on the coast, and have nestled itself for shelter from the pointed out the marquis as a man ennorth winds at the foot of the cliff on gaged in correspondence with the cabiwhich the castle was built. Turning net of London. So that, notwithstandhis head, he could behold the sea, ing all the hospitable welcome with whose sparkling waters enclosed the which the latter had received Victor landscape like a broad belt of silver. Marchand and his soldiers, the young The castle itself was illuminated. The officer kept himself vigilantly on his joyous confusion of sounds from a ball, guard. the music of the orchestra, the laughter While directing his steps towards of some of the officers and their part- that terrace, to which he went for the ners in the dance, reached his ear, sof- purpose of observing the state of the tened into harmony by the distance, town and the country entrusted to his and blended with the far-off murmur of supervision, he had meditated on the the waves. The fresh coolness of the problem how he ought to interpret the night infused a new energy into his friendship which the marquis had never frame exhausted by the heat of the ceased to manifest towards him, and day; while the gardens were planted how to reconcile the tranquillity of the with trees so odoriferous and flowers country with the anxieties of his geneof such exquisite sweetness, that the ral; but, for the last few minutes, all young man fancied himself, as it were, these thoughts had been driven from plunged in a bath of every delicious the mind of the young commandant by perfume.

a feeling of prudential caution and by The castle of Menda belonged to a a very legitimate curiosity. grandee of Spain, who, at that period, He had just observed a considerable was residing in it with his whole fami- number of lights in the town. Now, ly. During the whole of this evening, notwithstanding it was the festival of the eldest of his daughters had directed St. James, he had that very morning her looks towards the officer with an commanded that every fire should be interest blended with so deep a sad- extinguished at the usual hour preness, that the sentiment of pity ex- scribed by his general regulations. pressed by the beautiful Spanish girl The castle alone had been exempted might well have given rise to the from that order. He could perceive,

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indeed, here and there the gleam of his sion to light pious tapers at this hour of sentries' bayonets at their accustomed the night. They want to devour us, posts ; but there was something solemn said I to myself, -and I set about eyein the silence that prevailed, and no- ing him pretty closely. And so, mon thing announced that the Spaniards commandant, I discovered, hardly three were plunged in the intoxication of a paces from here, on a platform of rock, festival.

a certain pile of faggotsAfter seeking in vain to explain this A terrible cry echoed through the general violation of his orders on the town and interrupted the soldier. A part of the inhabitants, the offence sudden glare flashed over the face of seemed to him the more strangely mys- the commandant. The poor grenadier terious as he reflected that he had en at the same instant received a bullet in trusted to some officers the charge of his head and fell dead. A fire of straw the police and the rounds of the night. and dry wood blazed like a confiagraWith the impetuosity of youth, he was tion within ten steps of the young man. about to leap down by a breach in the The musical instruments and the laughterrace to effect more rapidly the de- ing voices were hushed in the saloon scent of the rocks, and the sooner reach of the ball. The festal gaiety had a little post of the guard which was suddenly given place to a silence as of stationed at the entrance of the town, on death, interrupted only by groans. The the side next the castle, when he was report of a cannon boomed over the arrested by the sound of a slight noise. ocean's plain of light. A cold sweat He fancied that he heard the gravel started to the young officer's forehead. of the alleys grate beneath the light He was unarmed. He understood at step of a woman. He turned his head once that all his soldiers had perished back, but saw nothing; his eyes were and that the English were about to struck, however, by the extraordinary land. He saw himself dishonored if whiteness of the ocean. He suddenly he survived-he saw himself dragged perceived there so fatal a spectacle, before a council of war-and then he that he stood motionless with surprise, measured with his eye the depth of the accusing even his senses of deception. valley. He was in the act of plunging The glancing rays of the moon enabled off, when his hand was seized by that him to distinguish a crowd of sails at a of Clara. considerable distance. A thrill shot Fly!” she said, “my brothers are through his frame, and he tried to con- behind me. At the foot of the rock, vince himself that this terrible vision down there, you will find Juanito's swift was only some optical illusion produced Andalusian. Fly!" by the capricious play of the waves She pushed him forward. The and the moonlight.

young man, half stupified, looked at her At that moment a hoarse voice uttered for a moment. But presently, yielding his name. The officer looked toward to the instinct of self-preservation the breach, and he there saw the head which never abandons even the strongof the soldier by whom he had been est man, he plunged among the trees in attended to the castle raised slowly and the direction indicated, and sprang cautiously in the air.

across the wall, before trodden by no “ Is that you, mon commandant ?" other feet than those of the wild goats.

“ Yes. Well, what?" answered the He heard Clara crying to her brothers young man in a low tone, warned by a to pursue him he heard the steps of sort of presentiment to act with mystery. his assassins--he heard the bullets of

6. Those scamps down there are several shots whizzing by his ears—but twisting about like worms !-and I he succeeded in reaching the valley, have hastened to communicate to you, found the horse, leaped upon him, and if you

will permit me, the little obser- disappeared with the rapidity of lightvations I have made."

ning. “Speak,” replied Victor Marchand. In a few hours the young officer

“I have just been following one of arrived at the head-quarters of General the people of the castle who directed G- The latter was at table with his steps this way with a lantern in his his staff. hand. Now a lantern is a devilishly sus “ I bring you my head !” cried the picious thing, for I have no idea that chef-de-bataillon, as he made his apthat good Christian there has any occa pearance pale and exhausted.

He sat down, and related the horrible hands. This capitulation being agreed adventure. His narrative was received upon, the general promised to pardon with a fearful silence.

the rest of the people of the town, and You have been more unfortunate to prevent his soldiers from sacking or than criminal,” at last replied the ter- setting it on fire. An enormous conrible general. “You are not responsi- tribution was imposed on it, and the ble for the crime of the Spaniards; richest inhabitants surrendered themand unless the marshal shall decide selves as prisoners to guaranty its differently, I acquit you of blame.” payment, which was to be consummated

These words afforded but feeble con- within twenty-four hours. solation to the wretched officer.

The general, having taken every “When the Emperor shall come to precaution necessary for the safety of know this !"-he exclaimed..

his troops, and provided for the defence “ He will want to have you shot,” of the country, refused to billet his solsaid the general; “but we shall see. diers in the houses. He encamped However, no more of this,” he added, them, and then ascended to the castle, in a severe tone, “ except to draw fromí of which he took military possession. it a vengeance which shall strike a All the members of the family of Lésalutary terror upon this country of ganès, consisting of his wife, two treachery.

daughters and three sons, together An hour after, a whole regiment, a with the servants, were placed under detachment of cavalry, and a train of careful guard, and pinioned. The genartillery, were on their march. The eral ordered the prisoners to be shut general and Victor marched at the head up in the saloon in which the ball had of this column. The soldiers, informed taken place. The windows of that of the massacre of their comrades, apartment embraced a view of the terwere filled with an unexampled fury. race that overhung the town. The "The distance that separated the town staff was established in a neighboring of Menda from the headquarters was gallery, where the general first held a traversed with a miraculous rapidity. council of war on the measures to be On the route the general found whole taken to oppose the landing of the villages in arms. Every one of these English. miserable hamlets was reduced to ashes, After having despatched an aide-deand their inhabitants decimated. By camp to Marshal Ney, and given orders -some inexplicable fatality, the English for the erection of batteries on the vessels had remained lying to, with- coast, the general and his staff turned out advancing, * so that the town of their attention to the prisoners. Two Menda was surrounded by the French hundred Spaniards whom the inhabitroops with scarcely a blow struck. tants had delivered up were immediThe inhabitants, seized with consterna- ately shot upon the terrace. After tion, and seeing themselves destitute of this military execution, the general that aid which the appearance of the commanded as many scaffolds to be English sails had seemed to promise planted on the terrace as there were them, offered to surrender at discretion. persons in the saloon, and the execuBy one of those acts of self-devotion tioner of the town to be brought to the which have not been rare in the Penin- spot. sula, those concerned in the assassina Taking advantage of the interval to tion of the French, foreseeing, from elapse before the service of dinner for the well-known cruelty of the general, the staff in the gallery of the castle, that Menda would probably be given to Victor Marchand went to see the pristhe flames, and its whole population put oners. Presently he returned to the to the sword, proposed to the general general. to give information against themselves. “I come,” he said in a voice of He accepted their offer, adding to it strong emotion,“ to ask favors." the condition that all the inhabitants of “ You !" answered the general, with the castle, from the lowest valet to the a tone of bitter irony. marquis, should be delivered into his " Alas!” replied Victor, “they are

• It was afterwards ascertained that these vessels carried only artillery, and that they had outsailed the rest of the transports. VOL. XIII.-NO. LXIII.

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arose.

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Juanito was led by the priest. When "Spaniards! I bestow upon my son he reached the block, the executioner, my paternal blessing! May it ever be pulling him by the sleeve, took him with him! Now, marquis, strike withaside, and probably gave him some in- out fear, as you are without reproach !" structions.

But when Juanito beheld his mother The confessor placed the victims so approach, supported by the confessthat they might not see the execution; or : but they were true Spaniards; they “ She nourished me!” he cried, and held themselves erect and firm. his voice wrung a cry of horror from

Clara rushed forward the first to- the assembly. The noise of the feast, wards her brother.-“Juanito,” she and the gay laughter of the officers said to him, “ have pity on my want of were hushed at that fearful cry. courage. Begin with me!"

The marchioness, comprehending At that moment the hasty steps of a that Juanito's strength was exhausted, man were heard approaching. Victor sprang at a bound over the balustrade, arrived on the spot of this scene. plunging down to be crushed to death Clara was already on her knees, and upon the rocks. A cry of admiration already her white neck invited the

Juanito had fallen in a swoon. cimeter. The officer grew pale ; but he found strength to hasten up to her. “General,” said an officer, half-in

“Stop!” he said, “ the general grants toxicated, “ Marchand has just been your life if you will be my wife!" telling me about that execution.- I bet

The Spanish girl flashed upon the that you did not command it." officer a glance of scorn. “Come, Juan “Do you forget, gentlemen," exito!” she said, in a deep tone of voice. claimed General G

" that in a Her head rolled at Victor's feet; month five hundred French families will and the marchioness de Léganès suf- be in tears, and that we are in Spain? fered a convulsive movement to escape Do you want to leave our bones here?" her, as she heard the heavy sound of After this speech, not a single officer the cimeter; it was the only indication was found, not even a sous-lieutenant, of her feelings.

who dared to empty his glass. “Am I right this way, my dear Nothwithstanding all the respect Juanito ?" was little Raphael's inquiry with which he is surrounded ; notwithof his brother.

standing the title of EL VERDUGO, “Ah! you weep, Mariquita ?”—said with which the King of Spain is said Juanito to his sister.

to have enriched the name of the Mar“Oh! yes!" answered the young quis de Léganès, he remains a prey to girl ; “I am thinking of you, poor grief, living in solitude, and rarely alJuanito. Ah! how unhappy you are lowing himself to be seen. Bowed going to be without us !"

down beneath the burthen of his subPresently appeared the tall figure of lime crime, he seems to await with the marquis.

He looked at the blood impatience the time when the birth of of his children; he turned towards the a second son will give him the right to mute an mo less spectators; he rejoin the shadows by whom he walks stretched out his hands toward Juanito, fore ver surrounded. and said with a strong voice :

El Verdugo, the executioner.

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