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same lady, whom the father of Ferdinand had married in spite of all the artifices of his rival to prevent it. An injury of so tender a nature was never forgiven. His resentment still continued; and he desired that it should be perpetuated to the next generation.
The struggle between contending duties plunged Sebastian into great difficulties. At leaving college, he had promised a lasting friendship to Ferdinand, and to serve him, on all occasions, to the utmost of his power. His father had extorted a reluctant assurance, that he would forbear all intercourse with the chosen friend of his bosom. To perform both engagements, seemed at first irreconcilable, but the path of virtue, though often narrow and beset with thorns, is never impassable.
He renewed his professions of regard for Ferdinand ; a sensation that was now heightened by gratitude, but determined, however contrary to his inclination, to leave his house, as soon as the establishment of his health would permit him to be removed to another situation. The idea of bidding a last adieu, was distressing to both parties, but especially to Ferdinand, who had not the consolation of knowing, that he sacrificed his inclination to the duty of obeying a parent.
Sebastian used every argument he could suggest get him to relinquish all future intercourse. said he, “shall be the guardian of my honor. I have pledged my word to my father; and you know the promise of a Spaniard is inviolable. You shall still occupy the first place in my heart, whence no injunction can ever banish you. Though I cannot enjoy
your society, shall consider your interest as my own, and serve you, on all occasions, to the utmost of my power.
Ferdinand admired his resolution, and high sense of filial duty. By his example, he was strengthened in the determination to yield without further remonstrance. They parted with the expectation of meeting
But the foresight of man is short and imperfect. Events, the least probable, often occur, and those that appear almost within our grasp, disappoint our fondest hopes.
A few years after their separation, a war broke out between Spain, and the States of Algiers, during which the father of Sebastian was appointed governor of a fortified town, on the southern coast. The Algerines, having suddenly invaded the country, and landed a considerable number of troops, had burnt several small sea-ports, plundered the villages, and excited such alarm, that vigorous measures were used in vain to repel them. They advanced from one degree of boldness to another, till elated by the unexpected success of an enterprise, undertaken chiefly for plunder, they laid siege to the town over which Don Carlos presided.
The resolution of the inhabitants, and the spirited conduct of the governor, who had determined to hold out to the last extremity, occasioned an obstinate resistance, which provoked the fierce Algerine, who was of a savage temper, to exercise his power in every act of cruelty, towards any unfortunate Spaniard, who fell into his hands. The miseries of famine were felt
now in all their horrors. The stock of wholesome provisions was almost exhausted, and the people were reduced to eat horses, dogs, and even animals that had died a natural death.
The dreadful instance of a mother's perishing with hunger, from giving the whole of the scanty pittance she could procure, to her children, roused the feelings of every soldier to exert himself, in order to rescue the inhabitants from the dire calamity that overwhelmed them. Many extraordinary examples of valor were displayed without success, especially among the officers, who looked up to Sebastian for their model, who was next in command to his father, and from the suavity of bis manners, was as much beloved, as his father was detested, on account of his harshness and pride.
It happened that Ferdinand, who had engaged in the profession of arms, was quartered in the garrison. The repugnance he naturally felt for a man, whose unjust vengeance had doubly injured him in two very tender points, the memory of his father, and a communication with his friend, rendered his situation very disagreeable; but as he was aware that his private quarrels ought not to interfere with the public interest, he determined to conform in all respects to the discipline of his station, and if possible, to conceal himself from the observation of the governor.
In that, he was not able to succeed. Don Carlos perceived that his enemy was under his command, and very ungenerously appointed him to the most dangerous enterprises. Ferdinand always obeyed without a murmur, and performed bis duty so exactly that malice itself could not suggest a complaint. This excellent conduct exasperated Don Carlos, as it gave him no opportunity to exercise that severity to which he was too prone. He determined therefore to degrade him, if he could not punish him; and with this design, he ordered him to enter the enemy's camp, under the disguise of a woman, and to bring him an account of their designs.
Ferdinand abhorred the treacherous deed. But he was under the sway of military discipline ; remonstrance was useless, and he was compelled to obey. Unused to dissimulate, he made an awkward spy. His want of adroitness raised suspicions.
He was detected in the fact, and sentenced to be hung immediately, on a gallows, before the principal gate of the town, as a revenge upon the governor for his obstinate defence of the place, on a false idea that he was the son of Don Carlos. Every preparation was making for the awful ceremony. The victim was even dragged from his prison, in order to be led to punishment, when a young Spaniard rushed through the crowd, approached the Algerine commander, and fell upon his knees before him.
“ Behold the real Sebastian,” said he, “the son of the Spanish governor, who is voluntarily come to offer himself to suffer in the stead of the young man, whom you suppose to be Sebastian.”
These words penetrated to the heart of Ferdinand. He quickened his pace, and desired the officers, who attended him, to hasten the execution. But before
they could accomplish their purpose, an order was given, to stop the proceedings, and bring the prisoner back to the commander's tent.
The Algerine, surprised at the request of Sebastian, inquired the motives of such extraordinary conduct; to which the noble youth replied, that Ferdinand was a friend, dearer to him than life itself; and that he had done no more, in voluntarily devoting himself a ransom for him, than he would have done in the same circumstances, according to a mutual engagement they had made, to serve each other in all difficulty to the utmost.
The fierce heart of the Algerine was subdued by the heroic deed of Sebastian. H: pardoned both; and agreed to honorable terms of capitulation, which afforded immediate deliverance to the townsmen. Don Carlos could no longer withhold his sanction to the friendship of Ferdinand and Sebastian ; and they maintained an uninterrupted intercourse of mutual kind offices to the day of their death.