Castle of Alvidaro,
Tales worth Telling.
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1. Castle of Savina.
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6. Twelve o’Clock.
7. Hermit of the Lakes.
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FERDINAND and Alphonso were brother officers in the same regiment. At a dinner given by their colonel, the juice of the grape having heated their spirits, and inflamed their passions, their difference of opinion on a subject which they were discussing, rose to so great a height, that a challenge was the consequence; and on quitting the table, they proceeded to a spot of rendezvous, where their dispute was to be decided by the sword.
Each had mounted his mule, and was attended only by his servant. They rode about half a league into the country; and having chose their ground, and drawn their weapons, it so chanced, that the first round Alphonso pierced the side of his antagonist, who fell; which his servant observing, instantly rode back to the city for surgical assistance.
Alphonso, meanwhile, and his servant, trembling for their own safety, mounted their beasts, to which they clapped spurs, and travelled some leagues without stopping, directing their course towards the confines of Portugal, and hoping to reach that kingdom ere they were overtaken by the alguazils of Spain, by whom they could not doubt that they should be pursued, and whose power over them would cease the moment they had entered the adjoining country.

Their road lay through a deep and intricate forest: the tumult of their feelings rendered them inaccurate in observing the path which it became them to take, and about the fall of night, their mules, which had for some time past been nearly knocked up, refused to set another step. Alphonso and his servant being compelled to dismount, resolved to endeavour to seek the path which divided the kingdoms on foot; and leaving their beasts, moved on; but the darkness in a short time became so intense, that they were scarcely able to discern each other; and rain beginning to fall to the earth, and the forked lightning to cleave the sky, their situation became as pitiable as it had before been uncomfortable.
“The very elements,” exclaimed the wretched Alphonso, “appear to conspire against us!”
“Mules, and all, Sir, I think,” returned his servant, Pedro. “Plague on them for knocking up, say I: for, in the way of pleasant travelling, methinks a journey performed by the help of one’s feet only, is the most fatiguing pastime I know of.”
“Is this a time to murmur, Pedro?” returned Alphonso, “when the preservation of my life may have depended on the exertions we have made?”
“Your pardon, Sir, your pardon,” answered Pedro, “Saint Jago forbid I should ever murmur at sharing your fortune. You know I have always been faithful to you, and I intend always to continue so; but consider, Sir, here we are in a dark wood, at near midnight, in the midst of a storm, and nothing but my foolish prattle to keep both our spirits from sinking!”
“And Heaven is conscious,” replied Alphonso, “that mine greatly require support. The reflection that I am a murderer, although the law of honor justifies my conduct, appals my heart; and in this gloom, no vision, but the form of my bleeding foe, presents itself to my imagination.”
“Oh, Sir, Sir, Sir!” cried Pedro, “for pity’s sake, don’t talk so dolefully: start any other, subject out of mercy to your poor servant, lest I should begin to fancy I see with your eyes. Let’s talk of the mules, Sir, or any thing: I wonder where they are now, poor dumb creatures!”
“Doubtless,” replied Alphonso, “they are grazing where we dismounted, and left them.”
“Aye, picking up a bit of supper,” rejoined Pedro: “would I could do the like; but I have little chance of that, without I could eat grass; and methinks if we are condemned to stay here much longer, I shall be tempted to try.”
“I would we could find some shelter for the night,” replied Alphonso: “if we could do so, and were to set forward again with the dawn, we might still reach the limits of the kingdom by sun-rise.”
A few moments silence ensued, which Alphonso broke, by exclaiming, “See I behold! a light appears before us!”
“I see it, I see it!” cried Pedro exultingly, “and am prepared to make towards it with all speed.”
“Yet stay,” rejoined Alphonso: “may not the hazard be great to which I am exposing myself, by resolving to enter any unknown habitation, of which the owner may be tempted to deliver me up into the hands of justice, for the sake of the reward which may await his treacherous action?”
“The light is vanished now,” returned Pedro; “but, from what I could distinguish, I think it proceeded from the tower of a castle.”
“Thinkest thou so?” replied Alphonso; “then I am tempted to approach it: the mind of the possessor of such an edifice must be too noble to be swayed by mercenary or dishonorable motives: we can, at all events, Pedro, advance in the direction from whence the light shone, and examine the nature of the building: come on, stick close to me.”
“Don’t fear me, Sir,” answered Pedro; “I’ll willingly obey you: depend on it, I never refuse sticking close to any friend’s elbow who will be kind enough to lead the way in a dark night.”
They proceeded onwards, and as they moved along, the rain began to abate; and the light of the moon beginning to peer forth from the clouds, after a time, enabled them to distinguish a stupendous and extensive fabric, whose lofty towers bespoke it to be a castle of superior eminence. Alphonso’s fears rendered him for a while irresolute, whether to demand admittance: he considered that his appearance at that hour of the night and on foot, in any mansion where he was a stranger, must immediately create suspicions in the minds of those who should behold him; which, however honorable the disposition of the owner of the castle, might enable his domestics to betray him, if any inquiries were made after him by the officers of justice.
Whilst they continued wandering round the edifice, Pedro suddenly addressed his master, by exclaiming “Why, Sir, why, my dear Signior Alphonso! by all the saints, the castle gate is wide open!”
“Open!” echoed Alphonso, advancing towards his servant as he spoke.
“Upon my life it is, Sir: we have nothing to do but to walk in, without the trouble of blowing the horn,” answered Pedro.
Alphonso was now convinced, by his own observation, of the truth of Pedro’s assertion; and said, “It is strange that the gate of a stately edifice like this, should be open at this hour of the night; his very strange indeed!”
“But mightily convenient, Sir,” returned Pedro; “for if you are determined on not going in, I may sleep in the entry, and not be out of call.”
“But I am determined to enter,” replied Alphonso: “the chances are in my favor, that if the alguazils are apprised of the death of my antagonist, they may not have pursued the same road which we have taken; or, if they have, their expedition may not have equalled ours; and should the owner of this castle prove a man of benevolent feeling, (and I will learn his nature ere I discover to him my situation,) he may be willing to assist me in effecting my escape from this kingdom. Should I find him of an uncharitable disposition, an excuse is easily formed for leaving his mansion, as I entered it.”

“Wisely resolved, Sir, by my hopes of a supper!” cried Pedro; “let us enter directly.”
“Hold!” said Alphonso; “first blow the bugle, and let us ask admittance.”
“Dear Sir,” cried Pedro, “why make so much ceremony without, when the state of the gate plainly shews they make none within? Besides, the blowing of the bugle may do more mischief than you think for; if any of your pursuers should be within sound, and hear it.”
“True,” cried Alphonso, interrupting him: “I perceive the danger which you apprehend: let us, therefore, enter; the open gate invites us; and I doubt not, from the circumstance of its being so, that we shall encounter some member of the household the moment we enter the walls.”
Leading the way as before, Alphonso stepped over the threshold, and entered the castle hall, across which his way was indistinctly pointed out to him by the faint illumination of the moon beams, which played upon its spiral windows.
This uncertain light was by no means sufficient for the comfort of poor Pedro. “Oh dear, Sir,” he cried, “how do I hate silence and darkness in a strange house! Oh, that I could but see the shine of a glow-worm, or hear the music of a cricket?” At this instant a clock in one of the towers of the building struck one; and Pedro, whose senses were confused by alarm, unconscious of the nature of the sound which he heard, exclaimed, “Oh, my dear master, what can that be?”
“What should it be?” returned Alphonso, “but a clock, proclaiming morning?” He paused a moment, then added, “if this mansion is inhabited, (and but for the light which we awhile ago perceived to shine from it, and the voice of the clock which we have just heard, I should pronounce it were not,) its inhabitants must surely be at rest; and yet, methinks, it appears unaccountable that they should sleep with open gates.”
“Look there! look there!” ejaculated Pedro, catching hold of his master’s arm; who turning his eyes in the direction in which his finger was pointed, beheld a gleam of light issuing from an arched corridor at the head of a staircase, which led from the extremity of the hall. “Ah! behold another sign of habitation!” he cried; “let us proceed boldly, and no doubt but our labours will be rewarded.”
“If you think so, Sir!” answered the quivering Pedro, “pray step forward as quick as you please; for if I am but rewarded in proportion to one quarter of what I have suffered this last night, I am sure I shall be ten times richer than ever I was in my life before.”
Alphonso ascended the stairs; Pedro still following close at his heels, like his shadow. Arrived at the top, he beheld at the entrance of the corridor, approaching towards him, an elegant female figure, habited in a loosely-flowing night dross of white drapery: in one of her hands she bore a lamp: the greatest surprise was depicted on her beautiful countenance; and she was attended by a man, whose snow-white locks expressed the greatness of his age.
Quitting Alphonso for a few moments, we must give a short account of the inhabitants of the castle, of whom this fair being was one. Don Sancho des Alfara, the noble possessor of thy castle of Alvidaro, was a widower, the parent of two daughters; the elder of whom was named Hortensia; the younger, Leonora. A few weeks only had elapsed since Don Sancho had indulged his daughters, by taking them on a visit to the castle of a neighbouring grandee; amidst the other amusements of the place, one evening had been devoted to the pleasures of a masquerade; at this entertainment, it had so chanced that the two young officers, Ferdinand and Alphonso, had been present, and fate had so directed it, that they attached themselves to one of the sisters.
The disposition of Leonora was gay, and incautious; her light form gliding through the mazes of the dance, captivated the heart of Ferdinand, and he implored to behold her countenance. He had already case aside his own mask: his features had pleased her; she confessed that they did so; and with little reluctance permitted him to behold her own; the sequel of which action was a declaration of an unalterable passion on his part; and an avowal on hers, that her sentiments were congenial to his own.
Hortensia, on the contrary, more prudent in her conduct, although not less pleased with the vows of affection which Alphonso breathed into her ear, than was her sister with those whispered to her by Ferdinand, and also well satisfied with the handsome countenance which he displayed to her observation, could not still be prevailed on by him to take off her mask: she knew that her father entertained a prejudice against men of a military profession; and, persuaded that his consent would never ratify her choice if it fell on Alphonso, she endeavoured, on her return home, to drive him from her thoughts.
Not so Leonora; determined to please herself, if she pleased no one else, she immediately entered into a correspondence with her beloved Ferdinand; and promissed to elope with him on the first opportunity which should present itself for so doing.
At the expiration of five weeks after their acquaintance had commenced, Don Sancho announced to his family, that he should pay a visit of a couple of days to an acquaintance in the neighbourhood. Of this period accordingly Leonora resolved to avail herself for flying to her lover; and immediately wrote to him the joyful intelligence, that she would, on a certain day, meet him at midnight, on a particular spot in the neighbouring forest; to which, for security, she would come disguised in male attire; and bring her her waiting maid, habited like herself, for a companion.
Ten o’clock of the appointed evening being arrived, Leonora called her maid Jacintha into her apartment, who started with surprise on beholding her mistress in the dress of a young cavalier; and became more astonished still, when she was required to habit herself in a similar suit; and informed, that they were going instantly to quit the castle, probably for ever.
Leonora had cautiously concealed her love affair, even from her faithful domestic; and Jacintha, utterly at a loss to comprehend her conduct, exclaimed, “Why whither can we be going?”
“You must stifle your curiosity,” replied Leonora “till we arrive at the place of our destination; or at least till we have quitted these walls.”
‘“I would not refuse to follow you,” returned Jacintha, "if you were to swear I should never know more of your concerns than I do at this moment; but I confess I am curious; and I’ll tell you why, my lady; because I always set more heartily about an enterprize when I am acquainted with all its particulars, than when I am working my way like a mole in the dark."
Leonora smiled, and Jacintha added, “I am sure is love, though I can’t for my life divine of whom.”
“That I will confess to you,” replied Leonora.
“Then answer me one question, Ma’am,” returned Jacintha, “and after that I will be silent as long as you wish me.”
“Propose it,” said Leonora.
“Are you a lover in hope or despair, Ma’am?” answered Jacintha.
“Hope and expectation now bear me on the wings of love, to meet the only man on earth I value,” answered Leonora.
“Then, Ma’am, I am at your service,” answered Jacintha. “I began to be afraid despair might be sending to you to shut yourself up in a nunnery, and that is the only place where I must have begged of you to have excused my attendance.”
Jacintha now became silent, according to her promise; and when the clock had struck the midnight hour, and Leonora believed all the inhabitants to be wrapt in sleep, they descended together into the castle hall. With little difficulty, and without noise, they succeeded in opening the gate; and resolved not to close it again, lest its sound should rouse any one within the building from repose. They congratulated themselves on their safe escape, and proceeded with all speed towards the spot of Leonora’s appointment with her Ferdinand.

Having now accounted for the light which had been beheld by Alphonso and his servant, and which had shone from the chamber of Leonora, and also explained cause of their having found the gate open at that dead hour of the night, at which their fate led them to the walls of Alvidaro, we proceed to inform our readers, that the beautiful female whom Alphonso encountered at the top of the stairs, leading from the great hall of the castle, was that very Hortensia whose form and conversation had captivated his heart at the masquerade; and whose delicate sense and propriety had restrained her from displaying to him her countenance, and from keeping up any communication with him after the amusement of that evening had ceased.
Hortensia had been reading till a late hour in her chamber: the cautious steps of Leonora and Jacintha, as they had quitted the castle, had not been heard by her; but the voices of Alphonso and his servant in conversation had reached her ear; and knowing the neighbouring forest to contain a banditti, and apprehending that they might be apprised of her fathers absence, and have fixed on this night for the plunder of his castle, she immediately flew to the chamber of the old steward Jerome; and summoning him to rise, whilst she explained to him her fears, besought him to be speedy in calling up the other members of the house.
The faithful and aged Jerome had just issued from his chamber, and placed himself by the side of his alarmed mistress, when Alphonso and Pedro reached the tap of the stairs. Hortensia immediately recollected the person of Alphonso; but his presence did not throw her off her guard: what could she suppose him, but one leagued with robbers, to behold him enter her father’s house clandestinely at that hour of the night?
Alphonso had never seen her face, of course he did not recollect her person; but falling on his knee before her, he exclaimed, “Pardon, lady, this abrupt intrusion into your presence, and stifle your resentment till you learn the cause: by Heaven you wrong me, if you regard me other than as a man without the will, or the ability, to injure you: driven by a recent misfortune quit the kingdom, my servant and myself, overtaken on our journey by a storm, our mules unable to proceed had wandered many hours bewildered in the forest when chance led us to this castle.”
“On the faith of a weary traveller, Madam,” said Pedro, “what my master tells you is true; and the open gate invited us to enter.”
“Your master owes you much, fellow,” rejoined Hortensia, “for your ready conclusion of his tale; he had forgot to tell me how he gained admission.”
“On the honor of a Spanish soldier,” replied Alphonso, “you have heard only the truth from either of us: if you doubt it, and require our absence, we instantly leave this castle; if compassion moves you to give us shelter for the night, we rest your grateful debtors!”
“I will confess, Signior,” said Hortensia, “that there is a nobleness in your manner, which seems tally with your words; and, but for the mystery of your entrance here——”
Alphonso interrupted her; “hear my unfortunate story, and I doubt not fully to convince you of my manor,” he said.
“Then speak it briefly,” replied Hortensia.
“It must be private,” said Alphonso, casting his eyes upon Jerome.
“You trespass too much upon my favor, by such request,” answered Hortensia.
“Then send me hence,” cried Alphonso; “my life depends upon the tale I would impart to you remaining secret.”
“Since you petition thus earnestly,” answered Hortensia, after a moment’s pause, "I will awake my sister; she is my second self; you cannot be more reluctant to admit her to your confidence, than you are me when she is by, I will hear your tale;‘’ and with these words, she proceeded to Leonora’s chamber.
Returning in a few seconds, with a look of composure, and satisfaction in her countenance, she said

“Forgive me, Signior, my suspicions; I have found in my sisters apartment a paper, written by her own band, which explains the manner by which you have gained admission: taking advantage of my father’s absence from his castle, she has this night fled to meet a cavalier, to her marriage with whom my father had denied his assent; and in her haste to escape, doubtless left the castle gate open, as you describe yourself to have found it.”
Alphonso was not less relieved by this elucidation of his honor, than was Hortensia delighted with the cause she had received to believe the man whom she secretly loved an honorable character: she now consented to listen in private to his communication, and dismissed Jerome, whom she directed to take the weary Pedro into the kitchen, and give him some refreshment.
The moment they were left alone, Alphonso proceeded to state his unfortunate case to Hortensia: but he did not mention the name of his antagonist; he merely spoke of him as an officer in the same regiment in which he himself bore a commission. Having heard his explanation, Hortensia replied, “My father, Signior, is a man not less eminent for the honorable principles of his heart, than the benevolence of his mind: I am conscious, therefore, that I am acting agreeably to his will, when I assure you of such protection as this castle can afford, and I promise you faithfully that you shall enjoy it.”
Scarcely had Alphonso pronounced those effusions of gratitude which this declaration drew from his lips, ere they were alarmed by a loud knocking at the gate of the castle: it revived Alphonso’s fears; and Hortensia calling to Jerome, commanded him not to open the gate, but to receive the business of those without through the grate.
Jerome promised obedience, and returning in a few minutes, put into the hands of Hortensia a letter, which, he said, a courier, whose horse was panting with fatigue, had brought for her from her father. She hastily broke the seal, and found the contents to be these: “Dearest Hortensia, a young cavalier has this day mortally wounded his brother officer in a duel: the unfortunate youth who has fallen beneath the sword of his antagonist, is nearly related to the Duke of Padriva; his assassin is suspected to have fled towards Portugal, and will of course attempt to cross the narrow path eastward of our castle: my long established friendship for the Duke, commands me to be active in seeking the redress of his relative’s untimely death. Arm instantly, therefore, all my vassals, and send them out with orders to bring every straggler whom they meet to my castle, where I shall myself shortly arrive.
Your affectionate father,
“Wretched injunction!” exclaimed Alphonso; “then I am lost!”
“Lost!” echoed Hortensia; “have I not pledged my word that I would protect you?”
“You knew not then,” returned Alphonso, “the opposite command which you were to receive from your father!”
“True,” replied Hortensia; "but my sacred word has

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