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One cannot call it fighting. There may be a disturbance in the streets,' he answered.
Concha, quiet in his corner, with his back to the horses, watched the girl and saw that her eyes were wide with anxiety pow—quite suddenly. She, who had never thought of fear till this moment. She moved uneasily in her seat, fidgeting as the young ever do when troubled. It is only with years that we learn to bear a burden quietly.
'Who is that ?' she asked shortly, pointing to the other window, which was closed.
Concepcion Vara-Conyngham's servant,' replied the General, who for some reason was inclined to curtness in his speech.
They were approaching Toledo, and passed through a village from time to time, where the cafés were still lighted up, and people seemed to be astir in the shadow of the houses. At last, in the main thoroughfare of a larger village within a stage of Toledo, a final halt was made to change horses. The street, dimly lighted by a couple of oil lamps swinging from gibbets at the corners of a cross-road, seemed to be peopled by shadows surreptitiously lurking in doorways. There was a false air of quiet in the houses, and peeping eyes looked out from behind the bars that covered every window, for even modern Spanish houses are barred as if for a siege, and in the ancient villages every man's house is indeed his castle.
The driver had left the box, and seemed to be having some trouble with the ostlers and stable-helps ; for his voice could be heard raised in anger and urging them to greater haste.
Conyngham, motionless in the saddle, touched his horse with his heel, advancing a few paces so as to screen the window. Concepcion, on the other side, did the same, so that the travellers in the interior of the vehicle saw but the dark shape of the horses and the long cloaks of their riders. They could perceive Conyngham quickly throw back his cape in order to have a free hand. Then there came the sound of scuffling feet and an indefinable sense of strife in the very air.
But we will see—we will see who is in the carriage !' cried a shrill voice, and a hoarse shout from many bibulous throats confirmed the desire.
Quick!' said Conyngham's voice. 'Quick-take your reins -never mind the lamps.'
And the carriage swayed as the man leapt to his place. Estella
made a movement to look out of the window, but Concha had stood up against it, opposing his broad back alike to curious glances or a knife or a bullet. At the other window the General, better versed in such matters, held the leather cushion upon which he had been sitting across the sash. With his left hand he restrained Estella.
Keep still,' he said. Sit back. Conyngham can take care of himself.'
The carriage swayed forward and a volley of stones rattled on it like hail. It rose jerkily on one side and bumped over some obstacle.
• One who has his quietus,' said Concha. "These royal carriages are heavy.
The horses were galloping now. Concha sat down rubbing his back. Conyngham was galloping by the window, and they could see his spur flashing in the moonlight as he used it. The reins hung loose, and both his hands were employed elsewhere, for he had a man half across the saddle in front of him, who held to him with one arm thrown round his neck while the other was raised and a gleam of steel was at the end of it. Concepcion, from the other side, threw a knife over the roof of the carriage—he could hit a cork at twenty paces, but he missed this time.
The General, from within, leant across Estella, sword in hand, with gleaming eyes. But Conyngham seemed to have got the hold he desired, for his assailant came suddenly swinging over the horse's neck, and one of his flying heels crashed through the window by Concha's head, making that ecclesiastic swear like any layman. The carriage was lifted on one side again and bumped heavily.
' Another,' said Concha, looking for broken glass in the folds of his cassock. That is a pretty trick of Conyngham's.'
· And the man is a horseman,' added the General, sheathing his sword-'a horseman. It warms the heart to see it.'
Then he leant out of the window and asked if any were hurt.
'I am afraid, Excellency, that I hurt one,' answered Vara. • Where the neck joins the shoulder. It is a pretty spot for the knife-nothing to turn a point.'
He rubbed a sulphur match on the leg of his trousers, and lighted a cigarette as he rode along.
On our side no accidents, continued Vara, with a careless grandeur, 'unless the Reverendo received a kick in the face.'
The Reverendo received a stone in the small of the back,' Towled Concha, pessimistically, 'where there was already a corner of lumbago.'
Conyngham, standing in his stirrups, was looking back. A nan lay motionless on the road, and beyond, at the cross-roads, nother was riding up a hill to the right at a hand gallop.
It is the road to Madrid,' said Concepcion, noting the direction of the Englishman's glance.
The General, leaning out of the carriage window, was also lookng back anxiously.
*They have sent a messenger to Madrid, Excellency, with the aews that the Queen is on the road to Toledo,' said Concepcion.
It is well,' answered Vincente, with a laugh.
As they journeyed, although it was nearly midnight, there appeared from time to time, and for the most part in the neighbourhood of a village, one who seemed to have been awaiting their passage, and immediately set out on foot or horseback by one of the shorter bridle paths that abound in Spain. No one of these spies escaped the notice of Concepcion, whose training amid the mountains of Andalusia had sharpened his eyesight and added keenness to every sense.
'It is like a cat walking down an alley full of dogs,' he muttered.
At last the lights of Toledo hove in sight, and across the river came the sound of the city clocks tolling the hour.
Midnight,' said Concha. “And all respectable folk are in their beds. At night all cats are grey.'
No one heeded him. Estella was sitting upright, bright-eyed and wakeful. The General looked out of the window at every moment. Across the river they could see lights moving, and many houses that had been illuminated were suddenly dark.
'See,' said the General, leaning out of the window and speaking to Conyngham. “They have heard the sound of our wheels.'
At the farther end of the Bridge of Alcantara, on the road which now leads to the railway station, two horsemen were stationed, hidden in the shadow of the trees that border the pathway.
* Those should be Guardias Civiles,' said Concepcion, who had studied the ways of those gentry all his life. But they are not. They have horses that have never been taught to stand still.'
As he spoke the men vanished, moving noiselessly in the thick dust which lay on the Madrid road.
The General saw them go-and smiled. These men carried word to their fellows in Madrid for the seizure of the little Queen. ! But before they could reach the capital the Queen Regent herself would be there—a woman in a thousand, of inflexible nerve, of infinite resource.
The carriage rattled over the narrow bridge which rings hollow to the sound of wheels. It passed under the gate that Wamba built and up the tree-girt incline to the city. The streets were deserted, and no window showed a light. A watchman in his shelter, at the corner by the synagogue, peered at them over the folds of his cloak, and, noting the clank of scabbard against spur, paid no further heed to a traveller who took the road with such outward signs of authority.
'It is still enough—and quiet,' said Concha, looking out. * As quiet as a watching cat,' replied Vincente.
(To be concluded.)
CORNHILL MAGAZINE. .
THE ENGLISHMAN'S CALENDAR.
1 Dr. John Blow, musician, d. 1708.
John Rennie, engineer, d. 1821.
Horace Walpole b. 1717. 6 Jesse Ramsden, mechanician, b. 1735.
Alfred Tennyson, poet, d. 1892. 7 The lines of Torres Vedras, 1810. 8 Henry Fielding, novelist, d. 1754. 9 Sir John Maynard, judge, d. 1690. 100. Duns Scotus, schoolman, 1265-1308. 11 Battle of Camperdown, Admiral Lord Duncan, 1797.
J. P. Joule, physicist, d. 1889. 12 Novum Organon licensed, 1620.
Vincent Wallace, musician, d. 1865. 13 Matthew Paris, historian, 1247. 14 Battle of Hastings, 1066.
Francis Glisson, physician, d. 1677. 15 Robert Herrick, poet, buried, 1674. 16 Bishops Latimer and Ridley burnt, 1555.
John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist, d. 1793. 17 Sir Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, 1397, 1406, 1419. 18 Charles Babbage, scientific inventor, d. 1871. 19 Sir Thomas Browne, physician and author, b. 1605, d. 1682. 20 Thomas Linacre, physician and scholar, d. 1524. 21 Henry Lawes, musician, d. 1662.
Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson, 1805. 22 John Hough, President of Magdalen, 1687. 23 Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel d. 1707. 24 Archbishop Tillotson d. 1694. 25 Geoffrey Chaucer, poet, d. 1400. VOL. III.—NO. 16, N.S.