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my hand in friendly token for her to what alarms you? Surely there is approach ; but she retreated, with nothing very terrible in my appearlooks of timid apprehension.
ance to excite this dread ?" I then resolved to show her that I “ Your appearance, Senor," replied came only as a friend, and advanced the old man, “ is comely enough ; but towards her. My intention, however, there are so many rogues, that " was baffled; for, in a moment, this “Hold your peace, good man; I strange being banished from my view, am no gentleman robber : no-for I like a phantom'; and I continued merely come to demand — " some moments gazing at the spot, The word demand did not tend to doubting if what I had seen were remove the anxiety of the simple real.
goatherds, and they evinced unequivoStruck at this unusual incident, I cal signs of mistrust in their still felt an intense curiosity to learn far- lengthened visages. ther particulars, as such an incident “Gently, gently ; you quite miscould not fail to make a strong im- apprehend me ;—what I wish to depression on my feelings. For some mand of you is only information-a time, therefore, I endeavored to trace cheap commodity, I imagine, and the course of the fugitive ; but all my which no doubt you can conveniently efforts proved in vain. Better ac- spare, if it indeed be that you posquainted than I with the secret passes sess it." of that complicated wilderness, she “Well, Senor," said the elder had baffled my pursuit. I was at goatherd, somewhat reassured, “ such length compelled to retrace my steps ; I may contrive to bestow.” the shadows of evening were fast de- “That's rightly spoken. Now tell scending, and I felt apprehensive lest me, do you know anything concerning a cheerless night of anxiety and pain a strange being that seems to haunt would be the probable reward of my these places ?” romantic adventure.
" Strange beings, Senor! I don't With some difficulty I regained the quite understand what you mean. little eminence, and, mounting my Sure enough, there's no lack of strange mule, I endeavored to make my way beings hereabouts. In the first place, toward Canga de Onis ; but the ani- there's that wicked tia majura, as mal did not, in any way, seem to en- great a witch as ever deserved to be ter into my views, and flatly refused burnt. Ah ! Senor, did you but see to advance with the expedition I her chin! Virgen Santa! what a wished. After an hour's peregrina- suspicious chin! Then her mustation, I descried the little hamlet of chios, and her unnatural-looking eye! Riera, chiefly composed of several Well, I always cross myself wbenever stray huts, sheltered by a small she comes into my mind; and I can wood. A thought crossed my mind, assure you that I am constantly thinkthat I might learn from the in- ing about the witch." mates of these miserable tenements “Why, then, my honest fellow, some particulars concerning the your time must be, if not very profistrange female; and, under this im- tably, at least very piously occupied, pression, I proceeded towards the in prayer against her spells." place. On arriving at the entrance of The old man returned no comment, the first hut, I found an old and a but fervently made the sign of the young goatherd, who appeared as much cross-in which devout operation be surprised at my visit there, as I was was joined by his younger companion, with their uncouth dress and bewil- whom I concluded to be his son. Afdered looks. I hastened to remove ter a short pause, the speaker contitheir suspicions.
nued :“ My good friends," said I, “you « Then there is the cripple tailor, seem startled at my approach ;- who came from Oviedo-a very ugly
little man; and then such things as he Heavens! Why, she approaches tells of the foreign parts he has visit- nearer every day.-Father, what shall ed !-and a great kingdom, called we do ?” Madrid ; to which, no doubt, he ar- The old goatherd neither answered rived in some large ship! Oh! Sir, nor moved a muscle, but preserved a he is a very learned man; but Hea- most profound gravity. ven preserve me from all his wisdom !” “Now, young friend,” said I,
“Hold, my honest fellow; I mean " your suspicions and awful looks apnot to dispute the claims of those pear to me singularly out of time and whom you mention to be called strange place : I see no cause for such debeings; but the person of whom I monstrations. What, in the name of speak is neither the witch with the wonder, can you apprehend froin a long chin, nor the learned cripple tai- poor female ? Do you know anylor.” .
thing of her ?” " Then," quoth the son, “ mayhap “ No, Senor; we know nothing ; you mean, Senor, the mischievous and there precisely lies the mischief. hunchback who made his appearance How came she bere ?-what does she amongst us some days ago. He was want? No good, I trow! Depend full of tricks, the wicked, deformed upon it, my very honored master, she monster! But he is no longer here. is possessed-she has an evil spirit. Some say that he returned to Oviedo, Yes, yes! I would take my oath she seeing how roughly he was treated, has a demon in her body.” . and how carefully shunned, by all “Indeed! that's a curious guest, honest people. For my part, Senor, to be sure. I suppose you have some I verily think he was carried away by very powerful proof to support your the devil, one of whose imps he sure- opinion ?” ly is. Certainly, bis sudden coming «She has often been heard comand going was very mysterious.” muning with some one, very mysteri
“Well, well, if his Satanic majesty ously, when no living soul was near. got hold of his promising subject, and Perico Matos, a shrewd fellow, saw carried him to the regions below, it is her twice; and I think that I once not likely he should send him back heard her myself. Now, it is very to a place where his first mission clear, Senor, that she was communing was attended with such indifferent with the wicked sprite. Oh! never success. Besides, the strange being go near that horrid woman-that mato whom I allude is neither old, ugly, lignant being, I should say ! for the nor, do I believe, mischievous—but a female form is only a deceit; and I young, beautiful female, whose sud- would swear that she is no more a den apparition in these wild passes, no woman than I am inyself.” less than the strangeness of her de- “ Hush ! Anton, thou foolish boy !" meanor, have naturally excited my interposed the father, in a reproring deepest interest and curiosity to learn tone, “how long wilt thou indulge in the particulars of her history.” that silly belief? I have often told
The son retreated in visible dismay thee she is no devil, but a poor woman as I pronounced these words. I per- out of her wits—a wild maniac, who ceived that I had touched upon a very has no doubt committed some grievous tender topic, and this circumstance crime, for which she is tormented only only tended to heighten my curiosity by the demon of remorse. Perhaps she
“ Ah! Senor," cried the young wanders in these solitudes to do pegoatherd, crossing himself, « Dios nos nance for her sin, and obtain mercy defrenda ! when did you meet with from above." her ? was she very near this place ?” I thought the father's account of the
“Not far, certainly ; perhaps a female the most reasonable of the mile or so.”
two; but the son favored us with a “A mile ? only a mile? Good very incredulous shake of the head,
accompanied by a sagacious smile, of her coming here at all is a mystery. which, translated into words, I be- She was found weeping by the side of lieve meant-"Oh! but I know bet- a brook, looking very afflicted, and, at ter.”
other times, she startles the passing “ Besides,” resumed the old goat- stranger with her sad groans and herd, “how can she be thought a cries. Poor thing! she is certainly wicked, unearthly thing, being, as she suffering great agony. When we first is, so young and handsome ?”
perceived her, we attempted to apI considered this argument none of proach her; but she fled precipitately the worst; and I certainly admired from us with signs of terror, and the ingenious method which the old never since has she permitted any one man had of guiding his judgment in to come near her.” matters of witchcraft and diabolical in- “How does she contrive to proterposition. I moreover concluded cure a subsistence in her wandering that the tia majura, the cripple tailor, life? These places seem not much and the hunchback, were indebted for adapted to the maintenance of rational their supposed magical powers to beings.”. their extreme ugliness and superfluity « Alack! Senor, she feeds OR of back. Ugliness and shrewdness acorns, like a wild boar; she eats are, indeed, regarded amongst ig- anything she can find ; and often, too, norant people as sure tokens of mis- when she approaches the hamlet, some chief; and the inference is not, per- of us take care to leave food in her haps, devoid of some shadow of rea- way, which she snatches up greedily, son. The devil is depicted, by some and then disappears." learned divines, as an extremely ugly “And this is all you can tell me and remarkably clever personage ; and concerning the poor female ?” people naturally enough conclude that “ As I am a Christian, it is.” persons who possess those two quali- Now the information I received, ties in an eminent degree, must of ne- instead of satisfying, naturally enough cessity have some connexion with the tended to heighten my desire of knowcommon enemy of mankind ;-a hint ing more of the story of the unfortuthis to every old, ugly woman, de- nate wanderer. Night had closed in formed wight, and sharp wit, speedily unusual darkness, and I became apto remove from scanty villages to prehensive I should not be able to large towns, where anything passes find my way back to the town. In muster, and is not subject to special this dilemına, I requested the young observation.
goatherd to be my guide; but the tiBut to return.--The old goatherd, morous bumpkin would as soon have well satisfied with the approving looks condescended to conduct me into a which I bestowed upon his reasoning, lion's den. He exhibited a most vavery contentedly continued
cant and prodigious dismay at the "No, no ; there is nothing to indi- bare proposal ; and even the persuacate supernatural practices in that sive eloquence of a purse shown to young woman. I think I ought to him was entirely thrown away upon know something of these matters, his unenlightened mind. for I am an old man; and, besides, “ Keep your money, Senor," he our curate agrees with me in opinion; replied peevishly, “and do not come and sure enough the holy man is the to tempt poor honest folks with it. I most proper person to consult con- want none of your gold, if I am to cerning these sort of affairs.”
procure it at the peril of my life, and, - How long has she been a wander- what is worse, by endangering my er about these places ?" I then in- salvation. A goodly company are we quired.
likely to find in these places at night “ It is about a week since we saw and a night like this withal !” her for the first time; but the motive The old man seemed more accom
modating ; he did not, indeed, offer brilliant hopes, which were unhappily himself as a guide, but frankly invited rendered abortive. This was a new me to pass the night in his hut. In inducement to make me prefer the my situation, I thought the most pru- solitude and obscurity of my paternal dent course to pursue was to accept home to the glittering scene of the bis hospitality, which I accordingly court of Madrid. On the day after did, and, dismounting, went to inspect my arrival at Oviedo, I was awakened what accommodation I was to hope early in the morning by a visit from for. A very frugal supper served as Don Lorenzo Navas, my intimate a prologue to a bed, composed of a friend. After the first greetings, I in. mattress of dry straw, and tattered quired of him the cause of a confused rags for a coverlid. I slept, however, rumor that I had heard in the street. very soundly, and, strange to say, I "What!” said Don Lorenzo, “ you was not visited by any dreams of the don't know anything then of the strange female maniac. But, if absent in my event which is about to take place ?" sleep, she was the first subject to “ Not I, indeed; how, in the name occupy my imagination when I awoke. of fortune, should I, arriving but yes
I left the hut early in the morning, terday, after an absence of ten years? and pursued my journey to
, But what is this strange event ?” where I arrived full of the adventure « They are going to hang a poor which had marked my visit to the fa- helpless female.” mous vale and chapel of Covadonga. " And that you call a strange event! I was here, however, equally unable Upon my word, your affairs at Ovieto gather any satisfactory account do must go on upon a very momotoconcerning the mysterious female who nous, uninteresting footing, since a had so strangely crossed my path. public execution is calculated to proTime, that general destroyer of every- duce such an effect." thing human, gradually obliterated “It is not, my good friend, the exefrom my mind the recollection of my cution in itself that occasions this unadventure; and in less than a month usual excitement in the public inind, I had scarcely a thought to bestow on but the strange circumstances conan incident which had absorbed all the nected with the unfortunate culprit.” powers of my imagination but a short “Well, well, let me hear her story." time before.
“ It is, in sooth, a mournful one.
The wretched being, who is to Ten years had now elapsed—ten be the heroine of the tragedy of this years full of variety of incident and day, - was once well known to me, peril. I had left my native city, as one of the most beautiful and Oviedo, with the intention of seeing innocent lasses of a neighboring vilthe world; I witnessed the stirring lage. Maria Sanchez was, indeed, a scenes rehearsed in France during the most amiable creature, until she fell despotic period of Napoleon's gigantic into the power of the ruffian who power; and I had taken arms in de- wrought her ruin. Maria was the fence of my country, when that mighty daughter of a reduced farmer, a tenant conqueror ventured upon his impru- of the Bishop of
The nedent invasion. After the downfal of phew of this prelate found means to that great man-for great I must call insinuate himself into the heart of him, although my hated enemy—at the unsuspecting girl. His servent the ever-memorable field of Water- protestations were listened to-his reloo, I returned to Oviedo to enjoy a iterated promises of inarriage believed. life of tranquillity, after the many In the seclusion of her retired life, it disasters, troubles, and perplexities, could not be expected that Maria which had until now distinguished it should in any way have become aware
The restoration of Ferdinand to of the plot and artifices of an experithe throne of Spain gave birth to many enced seducer. She confided implicitly in the honor of her adınirer, and dered for some time in unfrequented in an evil bour she fell. Too late she solitude ; but suspicion had already deplored her error; the assiduities of been awakened by her strange conher lover became less frequent; his duct, and she did not long elude the caresses were no longer continued avenging and awful pursuit of justice, with the warmth of a fervent heart. which tracked her with slow but sure He grew cold-indifferent; and she steps. She was at length taken, and could only weep over the change. conducted to the jail of this city,
« She was alarmed, but could not where she was tried, convicted of inas yet surmise the whole extent of fanticide, and condemned to death. the dreadful fate that awaited her. At this awful moment, it seems that She became a mother; and this cir- a pang of remorse visited the heart of cumstance, which she considered the merciless seducer. He could not, would endear her to her neglectful without shuddering, contemplate the lover, seemed only to estrange his af- misery of which he was the sole aufections more and more. His indif- thor. He passionately appealed to ference soon grew into disgust; he his uncle, the bishop, whose influence saw but seldom the unfortunate girl ; at court was immense. His applicaand her tears and agony growing daily tion did not prove fruitless. The more irksome, he ultimately abandon- prelate was himself eager to prevent ed her to her wretched lot. The heavy the fulfilment of the sentence, and weight of her misfortunes and her obtained a royal decree to have the shame now glaringly flashed upon the cause investigated by the Council of aching sight of poor Maria. She fled Castile. The French invasion suc. from the village, where she had been ceeded, and, in the confusion of those the idol of all around her; she was times, the sentence was suspended, now become a by-word of contumely and Maria lingered in prison. After
an object of pity or abhorrence; a lapse of ten years, new judges hare she soon grew frantic with her sor- ordered the award of justice to be rows, and for some time continued a carried into execution.” houseless wanderer. Once more she “Can this be possible ? Is such chanced to meet with her heartless an instance of barbarity offered by a seducer; but her agonising expostula- civilized nation ? Methinks the ten tions and scalding tears were poured years' confinement is ample punishin vain. He was grown callous even ment for the unfortunate girl." to the voice of pity ; and some new “ Well, but they say that strict amour in which he was now engaged justice requires her life.” completely alienated from his mind " Then strict justice ought to have even the memory of the affection required that life ten years ago. But which he had once professed for the I don't see how we can reconcile this unfortunate Maria. This last proof double punishment with ideas of jasof unkindness drove the wretched vic- tice.” tim to the verge of insanity. In a fit A sullen murmur interrupted our of despair she committed a dreadful, conversation, and the bell tolled soan unnatural crime, which rendered lemnly-the moment for the execution doubly horrible her already too mise- was arrived. An instinctive impulse rable fate. She deprived of life the hurried me to the place; an immense wretched offspring of her guilty affec- crowd surrounded the scaffold. tion. From that fatal moment, the Presently the wretched victim appangs of her remorse and woe were peared, supported by two friars ; she augmented. The common instinct of seemed ready to drop into the earth. personal safety made her at first soli- I shuddered at the sight of the poor citous to conceal the perpetration of maniac prisoner; but my astonishthe fearful act, and to avoid observa- ment, my horror increased, when I tion. In a distracted state, she wan recognised, in the unfortunate culprit,