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he unlocked an iron-bound box which he had placed which we see is cut zigzag (indented the lawyers call it) upon the table. “But, first, have you witten to Father across the top-fits that in his lordship's possession, as Ortiz—the bishop, that is to say?"

well as matches it in grain, there cannot be the shadow . “Yes, and I have his letter in reply with me. He of the shade of a doubt that we are in possession of the perfectly remembers the death of the Lady Constancia, original bona fide document. Eh, friend Juan, is not and witnessing the document you speak of, although he that so ?”. can remember only its general tenor."

| The man was breathing freely again, and the natural "Is this like the signature in the letter ?" said color had returned to his cheeks. “Certainly, cerAlvarez, placing his finger upon a name at the bottom tainly," he said : “ the device was excellent, admirable. of a parchment he had unrolled.

The test can be applied as soon as you please." “My eyes are not as good as they were. Have the “Bravo, my friend ! I knew you would say so. Thus, goodness to compare the two signatures,” said Señor then, let it be : the bishop happens to be at Sevilla just Manuel, placing the letter in my hands.

| now. Let the document be sent there, officially, for “ The signatures,” I said, “ which are very peculiar, registration at the Chancellaria, which, I am advised, are identical. There can, I think, be no doubt of that." is in all cases the proper course : his lordship will then

“And there are no erasures, no blots, no alterations, have an opportunity of verifying it. In the meantime, señor ?"

for I now throw all doubt and hesitation to the winds, * None whatever."

let us have the marriage-contract drawn up, and signed " Then have the goodness, my dear sir, to read the and sealed without delay, according to the terms you document aloud."

proposed, and I cheerfully agree to." I did so. The first part related to some testamentary Juan Alvarez joyfully assented; and now all obstacles dispositions regarding the child ; then came a list of smoothed away, all doubts removed, Señor Manuel's some family ornaments. “ Here they are,” said Alva- self and cigar kindled into unwonted irradiation, as rez, taking them out of the box and placing them on emitting an extraordinary cloud of smoke, while I the table. “They precisely corresponded with the slipped out, just to take a turn or two, and ask myself inventory. The next and important lines, in my view a few questions. What could be the true meaning of of the matter, described the child's person minutely: that which I had just seen and heard ? That both “ Brunette complexion, black eyes and hair, and long Alvarez and Manuel were playing a part more or less eyelashes; small feet, one pockmark over the right eye-deceitful, I had not the slightest doubt; and as to the brow, and two moles about an inch apart at the back latter, I guessed pretty well where his secret lay El of the neck.” Katerina, unquestionably! There could Crónica de Cadiz had informed him of the death of be no question upon the matter. She was a Goth, then, Don Lopez de Gonsalvo; and, having thoroughly satisby descent! So much for iny conceit in ethnological fied himself that Katerina was the true Constancia, he science.

was desirous of hurrying on the match before the news “ Capital !” exclaimed the merchant; “Katerina's reached Alvarez, and induced him either to insist upon exact portrait. The moles saw half an hour since. more onerous conditions, or possibly to break off the Still, friend Juan, your document inight be a forgery; negotiation altogether. This I mentally booked as cernay, don't look so fierce, man; it might, I say, be a clever tain, with regard to Señor Manuel. But Alvarez imitation of the original instrument, altered only in a puzzled me. My first vague impression had been, that material part—the description of the child, for instance.” | he was endeavoring to palm off his own daughter upon

" Señor Manuel,” said Alvarez, faintly, “what, what the wealthy merchant as the Lady Constancia de Goncan you mean ?” The man's countenance was as white salvo, under which hypothesis his conduct was intellias a tombstone, either with consternation or anger, gible, and might arise from a natural anxiety to provide I could not for the moment decide which. Presently, I handsomely for Katerina, in case the Gonsalvo house felt assured that it could have been from anger only. of cards fell to pieces. Yet the document I had seen

“I say,” resumed Manuel, “ that such a charge, but if verified by the attesting bishop, and, from the confifor the forethought of the excellent bishop, might have dence exhibited by Alvarez, I had no doubt that it been insinuated, especially by that scamp of a nephew, could be—seemed to establish beyond question that she Antonio de Gonsalvo. But that will be hereafter was the true heiress; but, if so, why was Alvarez so impossible if you agree--and I am sure you will readily eager for the conclusion of the match ? so desirous of —to submit the parchment to another test."

uniting the representative of an illustrious house with a "Test! what test ?" murmured Juan Alvarez, still | merchant's son? he, one of a nation, too, who for the white, trembling, nerveless as it seemed.

most part are so absurdly prejudiced in favor of birth "The bishop says in his letter,” replied Señor Manuel, and rank? It was altogether too profound a puzzle for " that being strongly impressed with the importance of me; so I gave it up, comforting myself with the pleathe document he was witnessing, and having no time to sant reflection, that Katerina, in whose favor I felt copy it, he took a penknife and cut off in a zigzag direc- extremely prepossessed, would, however matters turned, tion a strip of blank parchment about two inches wide, have an amiable and attached husband, and a wealthy right across the top of the instrument, and just above home. As to Alvarez and Señor Manuel, I cared but where the writing commenced. He has preserved that little how prosperously or otherwise their selfish ven. strip. Now, if this your sheet or skin of parchment- tures reached port or suffered wreck.

We—that is, Señor Manuel, his son, and myself— | the maladie de mer, to excessively weak and sensitive slopt at San Lucar that night, and the next day the organizations, but, like that also in another respect, it is marriage-contract was drawn up and executed. Señor cruelly distressing whilst it lasts; and I consented, after Manuel, Alvarez, and the lover, of course, were extreme- a little hesitation, to do my best to set the troubled ly anxious that the wedding should take place immedi- course of true love smooth again. Two hours afterately after the messenger, who had been dispatched to wards, I was on the road to San Lucar. Sevilla with the precious document, upon which so I found Alvarez alone, and in very disconsolate, or, much depended. But Katerina-I beg pardon, Con- more properly speaking, oppressed mood. I don't know stancia de Gonsalvo—was inexorably determined on any other word that better expresses the sullen angry procrastination, and was warmly supported in her dejection he appeared to labor under; whilst the quickresolve by her friend and confidante Luïsa, upon the glancing flurried expression I had at first remarked, shot ground of some Spanish etiquette, decorum, or punc- more frequently than ever from out the depths of his tilio, which, they made clearly out to their own satis- dark, deep-set, cunningly-intelligent eyes. He appeared faction, necessitated the delay of a month at the very glad to see me; but so hesitating, disjointed, and often least. We were obliged to yield the point, or nearly so; contradictory was his talk, that I had great difficulty in and it was finally settled that the 18th of October next arriving at the following facts and semi-conclusions :ensuing should be the happy day.

The nephew of Don Lopez was gone to Sevilla, to exaAlas for the folly of human hopes and aspirations ! mine the document registered there, the authenticity The world had lived only to the morning of the 3rd of of which he had the audacity, according to Alvarez, to that month, when a panting messenger informed me dispute, notwithstanding the bishop's voucher, which, I that my presence was requested at Señor Manuel's have omitted to mention, had reached Señor Manuel in without a moment's delay. It occurred to me that pos- due course of post. If Katerina, however, was the sibly the gout, which I knew had attacked his pedal daughter of Enrique and Constancia de Gonsalvo, then extremities, might have assailed the more delicate and he, the nephew, assumed to be her legal guardian; and sensitive machinery of his stomach ; but the first glimpse as to her marriage with a vulgar trader's son, however of the merchant and his son dispelled this fear. Señor rich, that he would not hear of; and till the young lady Manuel was stamping up and down the counting-house, came of age—and it wanted nearly four years of thatupon his flannelled legs, in a towering passion, cursing, his, Antonio de Gonsalvo's word, would be law in the lamenting, and screaming with pain, all in a breath ; matter. He had also, I partly gathered by dint of and poor Alfonso, utterly aghast and woebegone, sat, a searching cross-examination, made other overtures statue-like, beside his desk. Señor Manuel had an open and conditions, though of what precise nature Alvarez letter in his hand. “Read that, sir,” he exclaimed, would not divulge; except that, for the present, the checking the ebullition of his wrath sufficiently to be existence of the said heiress should be kept, as far as intelligible ; " read that, ny good friend, and give your possible, after what had passed, a close secret from the advice. By San Jago! my head turns round like a top; world. “You had better, therefore,” Alvarez was sayha! ho!-and Alfonso there never had one. The ing, at the close of a long, unsatisfactory interview, infamous caròjo ! the rascal! ho! ha! read, my friend - "not attempt to see Katerina-Doña Constancia, I read !”

mean-as there is a servant left here who would no I did as well as I could, but so ill spelt a scrawl took doubt inform his master. Ab! here he is! Prudence some time to decipher. It was, I found, from Juan -silence !” he added in a hurried whisper, " or all will Alvarez; and the confused and confusing purport seemed go wrong.” This sudden break in our colloquy was to be, that the writer had heard of the death of occasioned by the entrance, by a gate opening from the Don Lopez de Gonsalvo; that the deceased's nephew, Sevilla high-road, of a gentleman handsomely habited Antonio de Gonsalvo, had arrived at San Lucar de in deep mourning. It was Antonio de Gonsalvo, just Barrameda, and claimed the guardianship of Doña Oon- / returned from that city, and not looking, as it struck stancia, notwithstanding the clause in the testamentary me from the slight glance I obtained of his jaundiced act of her mother which, by implication at least, con- and bloated countenance, particularly well pleased with ferred that right on Alvarez. He—the nephew-more-the result of his journey. He beckoned to Alvarez over, insisted that not only should the proposed mar- with the air of a master, and I heard the latter say, riage be deferred, but all intercourse between the par-deprecatingly: “ An Englishman in the wine and olive ties be peremptorily forbidden. The note concluded trade, on business." In another minute they disapwith the expression of a wish, that some one in whom peared within the house; and I turned away for a stroll Señor Manuel could confide, should come over and con- through the grounds, but had not taken a dozen steps fer with him, Juan Alvarez, as if upon business.

when Pedro, a sharp lad whom I had seen about "Well, what do you say, my friend ?" said Senor the place, and who, I believe, was gardener, groom, Manuel. “I know that till your next letters arrive, you waiter, errand-man, and housemaid to the establishwill have plenty of leisure; and as to expenses, I shall ment, smilingly confronted me. He had a remarkably of course be liberal-ha, ho!”

speaking countenance, had Pedro—so much so that Alfonso's miserable phiz influenced me more than the I instantly, in reply to his mute but quite intelligible merchant's proffered liberality. The disappointment he query, said: “To be sure I have a letter-here it is; was suffering under is, I quite well know, fatal only, like and mind you tell the señoretta, to whom it is addressed, that I must have an answer within an hour from They, it was plain, had not observed her when conversthis, as I do not intend remaining later than that." ing with me. He nodded with quick intelligence, and disappeared, but “I will see you presently, and endeavor to conclude returned again very shortly with a flask of wine, a bundle our bargain,” said Alvarez, as he passed me with his of cigars, and some choice fruit, which he arrayed upon a sinister-looking companion. I bowed, and they went rustic table, near which I stood. This done, he merely away by the outer gate. Alvarez returned alone. He said: “You will have the answer, señor, in good time,” | looked, as it seemed to me, still more perplexed and and once more disappeared.

cowed, and was certainly quite as unintelligible as at · I do not know when I have passed a much pleasanter our previous interview; and all I could make out with hour than the immediately succeeding one. The tolerable distinctness was, that he, Alvarez, should be weather was delightful; and I had fallen into a drowsy rather pleased than otherwise, if the young people could mood, when my ear became slowly conscious of the manage to make a stolen match of it in such a way that tones of Luïsa's rich voice, somewhat angrily sharpened, | he could not be suspected of complicity in the proceedexclaiming : “ Hist! hist! señor! Madre de Dios ! he ing; but else, not for the world. Antonio de Gonsalvo must be asleep. And at such a time, too! Señor, had, he said, suddenly determined upon going to Madrid, hist! hist!” —

and would not return before a fortnight had passed at "I beg a thousand pardons, señoretta; but really this the earliest. charming weather, and”.

The few scraps of information and conjecture with “Hush! Step this way, if you please. They can see which I returned to Cadiz, greatly annoyed, as I anticiyou from the house."

pated, my expectant friends there. But as neither the I obeyed, and Luïsa, placing a letter in my hand, said angry irritation of Señor Manuel, nor the fretful dessoftly : “From Doña Constancia-Isabella de Gonsalvo, pondency of his son, appeared likely to avail anything for you know whom."

in the way of remedy to the actual state of things, I “It shall be delivered safely, be assured ; but you withdrew as speedily as I could from the bootless conhave some more important communication to make ference. than any contained in the letter, or I misread the mean | A few days after my return, we heard through Pedro, ing of two of the brightest eyes in Spain.”

that Antonio de Gonsalvo bad returned from Madrid ,“No silly compliments, señor, if you please," retorted before he was expected, and that a furious quarrel had the offended maiden. “That which I have further to immediately ensued between him and Juan Alvarez, say," she continued, “concerns, though as yet I have which was, however, made up a few hours afterwards, not spoken to her of it, the Lady Constancia-Isabella de and the two worthies had become more closely intimate Gonsalvo intimately, deeply."

than ever. Three days subsequent to this news, a hur"Bless your pretty, affectionate punctilio !" thought ried note reached Señor Manuel in Luïsa's handwriting, I, as she ceased speaking. “You would not, I think, but not subscribed by her, stating, in general terms, abate a syllable of one of Katerina's new names and that a great peril was suspended over the head of Contitles if they reached the length of a racer's pedigree." stancia, and that no time ought to be lost in extri

“I would say," resumed Luïsa Alvarez in a quick cating her from the custody of her unscrupulous beating voice, “that a dark cloud menaces not only her guardian. so lately brilliant prospects, but”—the voice sank so It was immediately resolved, in compliance with low that I could hardly hear the words—" but her very Alfonso's passionate entreaties, that an eminent lawyer life!"

of Cadiz should be consulted as to the steps it would “Merciful heaven!”

be advisable to take. Alfonso and the gout still “Listen to me. This Antonio de Gonsalvo is a bad, held the señor in durance--proceeded forthwith to the reckless man. I have overheard words that—I have legal gentleman's office, and laid the entire matter overheard him, I say,” faintly continued the terrified before him as clearly as possible. The man of pleas girl, who was momently becoming paler and paler, and precedents listened to all we had to say ; remark“ make half suggestions to my father, which induce me ing, when finished, that it seemed a hard case for the to believe that the least evil she may have to dread will young couple; but such wrinkles in one's lot always be confinement, perhaps for ever, in a convent; and smooth out with time and patience; that Antonio de even if that were all, she has, I assure you, señor, not Gonsalvo bore, he knew, a very indifferent reputation, the slightest vocation for such a life.”

and might certainly, under the influence of so strong a "That, I will be sworn, she has not."

temptation, exceed even our worst anticipations: never"I might say more; but this is enough to put you, theless, he was undoubtedly the young lady's natural her friends, I mean-upon their guard. Nothing must guardian; and he, Martino Gomez, did not at all see be done, however, rashly, as he is her legal guardian. how she could be got out of his hands. "Even this Should there be necessity, I will send Pedro for you, note which has so frightened you," he added, "is not for you, who would not perhaps, be suspected ; and if you perceive, signed; and if it were, it could not avail, you were, you would not, I think, be afraid of this bad confined as it is to mere vague, indefinite assertion." man — Sancta Maria ora pro me !!” she added, cross- This was cold comfort; but as nothing better seemed ing herself, suddenly breaking off, and hurrying away; to be forthcoming, we were taking, quite chop-fallen, for Antonio, with her father, caine that minute in view. | leave, when Martino Gomez, relaxing his wrinkles, said:

"Stay a moment. Why do you not apply to the young story. Constancia had reason, whilst lier uncle lived, lady's maternal aunt, the Lady Inez de Calderon? She for not confiding in me, but that so many years should is, all Spain knows, very powerful at court--the queen- have been permitted to pass is I cannot,” she conregent's favorite lady, in fact. She could interfere with tinued, with quite audible abruptness, “I cannot recogeffect; and it strikes me, from what I have heard of the nise any resemblance to the families on either side in character of Doña Inez, that she would do so."

the description you give of the supposed niece of mine. This was quite a new as well as luminous idea. Have the goodness to follow me, and I will show you Alfonso caught at it eagerly, and so did his father, the an admirable likeness of my sister, taken previous to moment we reported it, not a little thereby surprising her marriage.” Her companion hastened to open a me; for should the great court-lady interpose in behalf door at the further end of the apartment, through of her youthful niece, it would not be, I guessed, in which the great lady sailed with stately grace, the order to narry her to Alfonso Manuel. This view of attendant and myself following. The Lady Inez de the subject, I, however, kept to myself; and it was at | Calderon led the way to a picture-gallery, and pausing length arranged that I should at once proceed to Madrid before a full-length figure, said, in a slightly agitated -obtain, if possible, an interview with this Lady Inez voice: “ That is Doña Constancia de Gonsalvo's likede Calderon, and endeavor to interest her in favor of ness, taken when she was, I think, not more than ninethe distressed lovers.

teen." I had fallen in with this proposal the more easily, I started with uncontrollable surprise, and blurted that I had a great desire to see the Spanish capital ; out: "Good Heaven! why, that is Luïsa Alvarez !" and I did so for the first time on the 21st of Novem- "Luïsa Alvarez !" echoed the lady. “The daughter ber, 1833.

of the man you spoke of ?" The day after my arrival in Madrid, I dispatched a “Yes, lady, so it is said; but this portrait-for the carefully and elaborately worded missive to the palace, likeness is too complete, too tinmistakable, to admit of addressed to Her Excellency, the Lady Inez de Calderon. a doubt on the matter-revives a suspicion I had before Three days passed without an answer—a fourth, up till entertained, that Katerina is the true daughter of Juan a late hour in the afternoon, when I was met, on Alvarez-Luïsa the true Constancia de Gonsalvo." returning from a walk, with the intelligence that a “Yours is not a nation of plotters," said the lady, court-messenger had been waiting upwards of an hour after fixedly, almost sternly, regarding me for one or for me, and was stamping the floor with impatience. two embarrassing minutes ; “nor have you the air of This was, I found, quite true; and the irate and hasty either a dupe or a tool, or I should imagine But gentleman would not even allow me five minutes to follow me: we will talk further on this matter, which change my dress—a short, rough, winter's coat, cloth shall, at all events, be thoroughly sifted.” knees, and continuations ditto—the Lady Inez de Cal. “I remember," said the lady-attendant, as soon as deron, who had just returned with the court from La we had regained the apartment into which I was first Granja, would, he said, excuse my strange attire. I shown, and Doña Inez was seated—“I remember that, was preciously flurried, I know; and this feeling in- about ten days, or, it may be, a fortnight ago, a gentlecreased to an intensely uncomfortable pitch, as I hastily | man calling himself Antonio de Gonsalvo, called at the traversed the spacious quadrangle, ascended one of the palace, and obtained permission to see the Lady Conmagnificent staircases, and shuffled along the stately stancia's portrait.'' corridors of the gorgeously solemn palace. At length, “Who gave permission in my absence, and without my conductor stopped at the door of an anteroom, and my leave ?" rang a small silver bell lying on a marble table just on "The Camerera Mayor," replied the lady. the outside. A page admitted us, and in another “This is a significant circumstance, coupled with minute I was in the presence of Doña Inez de Calderon But your letter, sir, states — and you confirmed the and another lady, whose name I did not hear. The statement just now—that the paper or parchment, the novel and imposing aspect of the magnificent apart-authenticity of which the bishop, whose testimony ment, with its pillars, statues, and massively gorgeous cannot be for an instant questioned, vouches for, desfurniture, brilliantly lit up from innumerable antique cribes the person of Katerina with the nicest accuracy, candelabra, so dazzled and confounded me, that it was even to a slight scar on the forehead, and moles in the some minutes before I was fully conscious that the neck." Lady Inez, painfully agitated, and holding my letter in “That is strictly true; and, since I have seen tho her hand, was assailing me with an avalanche of ques- Lady Constancia's portrait, utterly confounds me.” tions, which, spoken as they were with intense volu- “ There are no erasures in the document, you say? bility, and in a tongue which, though I knew very well, Clever tricks of that sort are sometimes played.” was not my own vernacular, I should have had con- “I examined it with scrupulous, I may say, suspi. siderable difficulty in following at any time. Presently, cious care, and I am positive there are no erasures or the speaker, perceiving my embarrassment, gave her- alterations no "self breath, and me a few moments to rally my bewil- A bustle at the entrance from the grand corridor, and dered faculties. I succeeded in doing so more quickly the exclamation of the attendant, “El Reyna Christhan I expected, and replied to the lady's renewed and tina,” interrupted me. still impetuous interrogatory pretty well. “A strange

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WAS the night before Christmas, when, all through

the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced thro' their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap-
When out in the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whispr'd and shout'd and call'd them by name:
"Now Dasher! now Dancer now Prancer! now

Vixen;
On Comet! on Cupid! on Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all !"
As the leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house top, the coursers they flew
With a sleigh full of toys-and St. Nicholas too;
And then, in a twinkling. I heard or the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

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