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ancy fell upon an audience delighted at the prospect of being entertained. "This is a play in verse" began the poet, taking a roll of manuscript from his pocket.

"A play! how charming," said Mademoiselle de Bellœil.

"It is in three acts," continued the author. "Act first, in the prison of the Luxembourg, where the young people first meet and fall deeply in love."

A rustle of approval ran through his audience.

"Act second is in the. prison yard where they are separated, she being set at liberty and he conducted to the guillotine."

"Oh, how terrible!" murmured the young damsel.

"One moment, monsieur le poëte," said Madame de Rémur. "How does it end? I warn you that I shall not like your play if it ends unhappily."

"You shall judge of that in a moment, madame," replied the poet, bowing to her graciously.

"In the third act," he continued, "the lovers are brought together under the shadow of the guillotine, whither she has followed him. The knife falls upon both of them in quick succession, and their souls are united in the next world never to be separated more."

"What a beautiful ending," cried Mademoiselle de Belloeil, and the exclamation on the part of the audience showed that her sentiment was echoed generally.

"Continue," said Madame de Rémur. "I was afraid it was going to end unhappily."

The chevalier took a pinch of snuff and settled himself back in the armchair which was accorded to him as a tribute to his advanced age; and the poet unfolded his manuscript and began to read.

It was an intensely appreciative audience that listened to the dramatic work of the poet. They followed with

breathless interest the meeting of the young lovers in the hall of the Luxembourg; assisted smilingly at their rendezvous in the corridors and shadowy corners of the old prison; and sighed gently during the most tender passages. At the scene of separation, tears of regret flowed freely, and in the meeting in the last act, tears of joy and sorrow mingled together in sympathetic unison.

As the young poet ended he folded up his manuscript and bowed his blushing acknowledgements to the storm of applause that greeted him.

The wave of approbation had not ceased to resound through the room when the outer door opened, and the jailer and some half a dozen gendarmes entered abruptly.

Instantly the hum of conversation stopped, and an icy chill fell upon the assemblage. Faces that the moment before were wreathed in smiles now became deadly pale and marked with fear.

"The call of tomorrow's list to the guillotine," rang out through the room in harsh notes.

Amid the silence of death, a captain of gendarmerie took a slip of paper from his pocket, while a comrade held a lantern under his nose. Some of those who listened wiped the clammy perspiration from their foreheads, others trembled and sat down. Some affected an air of indifference, and began a forced conversation with their neighbors; but all ears were strained. Each dreaded lest his own name or that of some loved one should be called out by that monotonous, relentless voice.

"Bertrand de Chalens."
An old man stepped forward.
"Annette Ducles."

There was a pause after each name, during which the suspense was intensified.

"Diane de Rémur."

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Madame de Rémur laid aside her work and rose.

"Diane! Diane! I cannot bear it!" cried the Countess d'Arlincourt, throwing her arms about her friend's neck. "Oh, sirs, have pity!"

"Hush, my dear," replied Madame de Rémur soothingly. "Chevalier, look to the poor child; she is hysterical." The chevalier gently drew the countess aside, then took Madame de Rémur's hand and silently bending over it, put it to his lips.

"Take your place in the line, citizeness," called out a gendarme, and Madame de Rémur stood with the others.

"André de Blois!"

As de Blois' name was called, a shrill cry echoed through the room, and Mademoiselle de Belloeil fell back into the chair from which she had just risen. She did not swoon, but sat like one in a dream, staring with wide-open eyes.

The count stepped to her side.

"Adèle," he said, bending down and speaking in a low voice, "give me one of those roses you are wearing on your breast." Mechanically she took the flower from her bosom and put it in his hand. He placed it over his heart. "It shall be here to the last," he said softly; "now farewell;" and he pressed a kiss upon her cold lips. "Maurice de Lacheville."

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"Into the line with you," was the gruff interruption. "Many would claim there was a mistake if it would avail them to do so."

"But in my case it is true," pleaded de Lacheville. "Send word to Robespierre; he promised-"

"Into the line, I tell you!" cried the exasperated gendarme. "There is no mistake; your name is written here. You go with the rest."

"One moment, one little moment," implored the wretched marquis in an agony of fear. "Oh, messieurs the gendarmes, if you will but hear me, I have an important communication to make." All this time he was fighting desperately as the two officers of the law dragged him toward the door.

"Silence, idiot!" yelled the angry captain, "or I will have you bound and gagged. Take example from these women, who put you to shame."

"Idiot that I was," cried de Lacheville, "why did I ever return from a place of safety? None but a fool would have trusted the word of Robespierre."

"Bind him," ordered the captain.

With a strength no one would have believed that he possessed, de Lacheville threw off those who held him.

"Stand back!" he shouted wildly, as the officers endeavored to seize him. He drew an object quickly from his pocket.

"Take care, Jean. He has a weapon," cried one.

There was a report of a pistol, and the marquis fell forward to the floor. A murmur of horror filled the prison hall. Women fainted, and men turned away their heads. The gendarmes hastened to bend over him.

"I believe he is dead, captain," said one after a brief examination.

"Carry him out with the others just the same," ordered the captain. "Pierre, continue with the list." "Bertrand de Tourin."

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In the King's antechamber the preliminaries for the aristocratic ceremony had begun, which was instituted by the Emperor Charles V, when the privilege of keeping on their hats in the King's presence, formerly common to all titles, was limited by him to only twelve grandees of Spain, who have since been called first class grandees, and who were the Dukes of Medina Sidonia, Albuquerque, Infantado, Alba, Frias, Medina de Rioseco, Escalona, Benavente, Najera, Arcos, Medinaceli, and the Marquis of Astorga. From that time to this, there has scarcely been any change in this ceremony, which it is customary to celebrate, like the majority of State rites, in the King's antechamber.

This room forms a vast square of severe

magnificence, whose ceiling, painted by Maella, represents an allegory capable of striking terror into the hearts of all those great personages destined to figure in history who gaze upon it: Truth discovered by Time. To the right of the door of the Saleta which gives entrance to the antechamber, open out two balconies which overlook the Armory Square, and on the left are two doors leading to the interior rooms, while a screen at the op*Currita, Countess of Albornoz. Translated by Estelle Huyck Attwell from the Spanish of Luis Coloma. Copyright, 1900. Little, Brown & Co.

posite end directly communicates with the King's Chamber.

The whole room was tapestried in rich, dark-blue cloth, covered with large fleur-de-lis, and the interlaced initials A and B in embossed velvet. Four large portraits of Charles IV and Marie Louise, Ferdinand VII and Queen Amelie, filled the niches on either side of the two doors between the Saleta and the King's Chamber. Along the walls, benches of the same tapestry were placed, broken at intervals by five magnificent consoles of marble and bronze sustaining candelabra, and the busts of Isabella II, Francis of Assisi, Philip V and Ferdinand VI.

Between the two balconies, upon one of these consoles, and opposite a marble mantelpiece adorned with a colossal mirror, was a large bust of Charles III, covered with the royal mantle, and whose armor was richly chiselled. All the doors of the antechamber were thrown open, except that of the Saleta, and crowded together behind the curtains were the families and friends of the grandees, anxious to witness the lordly spectacle. Before the door of the King's Chamber was a table covered with rich crimson velvet, and a large seat of honor intended for the King.

At two o'clock exactly, the latter entered through the door of his chamber, followed by the chief majordomo, the grandee on guard, the adjutants and grandees who had already received the hat. The King was dressed in the uniform of a captain-general, and carried the three-cornered hat in his hand. He seated himself and covered his head: the grandees covered their heads and remained standing on either side of the Saleta. The ceremony was about to begin. The Keeper of the Royal Seal, whose duty it was to attest the act, now threw open the large door of solid mahogany, saying:

"Your Majesty!-the Marquis of Benhacel!"

The latter, whose family was oldest among the grandees, must therefore receive the hat first. A young man entered the room, his right hand in that of an old gentleman, and his left in that of the acting majordomo. The young Marquis was attired in the gala uniform of an artillery captain, and the old gentleman, decrepit and bent, in that of an admiral of the navy, his breast covered with crosses. He was the Duke of Algar, grandfather and sponsor upon this occasion to the young Marquis of Benhacel, about to receive the hat. The old gentleman had on his three-cornered hat, and the young man carried his in his hand, leaving exposed to view an energetic and characteristic Spanish head, with a somewhat sun-burned complexion and brilliant black eyes, which seemed to reflect the steel temperament of a valiant race.

His entrance was magnificent, and a murmur of respectful sympathy greeted the illustrious pair, who appeared in the doorway, old age leaning upon youth, like Hope, evoking a memory, or an allegory of Experience leading Valor by the hand, to lay a sword without spot upon the steps of the throne. On the very threshold of the

room they both made the first court bow; the second was given in the centre of the room; and the last when directly in front of the King. They then saluted the grandees to the right and left, and the latter immediaely responded by raising their hats. The old Duke and the majordomo now fell back a step, leaving the young grandee alone in the middle of the hall. Then the King, giving a military salute, said:

"Marquis of Benhacel, put on your hat and speak."

The Marquis at once obeyed, and addressing the King, delivered a brief discourse, in which, as was customary, he gave a vigorous sketch of the glorious history of his family, which originated with Fortu of Torres, who fought with Alonzo the Wise and died in the Alcazar of Jerez, holding between his teeth his King's flag, unable longer to sustain or defend it with his two mutilated hands. The voice of the artillery officer, timid and hesitating at first, became gradually stronger, as if these glorious actions found an echo in his heart sufficient to imitate them, and when he finally began to describe an episode of Trafalgar, which he called his family's last feat, his voice vibrated with those mysterious inflections of sentiment which always seem to elevate the orator to a higher sphere, lending him not only the faculty to persuade and the power to move, but even the right to command.

"Gravina was dying in his chamber, and the ship Prince of Asturia was returning to Cadiz, stripped of her rigging, and under command of a man who had engaged in the battle, with his three sons, and was returning home with only one, the youngest, an inexperienced midshipman. The storm increased toward midnight, and it became necessary to cut loose a mast which ill-luck held fast to the roundtop of the vessel by a cable, causing

the ship to lop over, in imminent danger of sinking at any moment: three seamen climbed up one by one to cut the cable, and all three were struck down by the tempest and buried in the waves. Then this man of iron, who saw his surviving crew tremble before the duty of inexorable obedience, turned to the only son left him, the idol of his heart and last hope of a grand family, and said to him simply:

""Sir Midshipman! it is your turn!' "The boy, with the hatchet between his teeth, climbed to the round-top, and because Our Blessed Lady helped him, cut the cable."

In the midst of the profound silence which seals men's lips and moistens their eyes when the feeling of the sublime inundates the heart and makes the breast heave with sobs, Benhacel turned slowly towards the old Duke and added, pointing him out:

"That boy midshipman was my grandfather; the hero was his father. My own father," he continued in a voice in which symptoms of tears were

visible, "also served his King in the Royal Navy, until the year '68, when in the month of September he discarded his uniform and broke his sword: I, Sire, unsheathed mine for the first time in the battle of Alcolea, and faithful to the traditions of my race, I come to offer you to-day, as grandee, what I have already given you as a soldier."

Upon saying this, he clasped the hilt of his sword with his right hand, everybody remarking the absence of his two middle fingers. A vat of powder had blown them off in Alcolea.

Benhacel ceased speaking, and in the midst of a profound silence, the greatest homage which admiration and respect can render, he uncovered his head, bent his knee to the ground, and kissed the King's hand. He then saluted the grandees on either side of him and, accompanied by his grandfather, took his place among them. The old man cried like a child; one of them said:

"The admiral weeps, but the midshipman did not."

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