Page:Yule Logs.djvu/277

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261
THE KING OF SPAIN'S WILL

alight with the flames of war again. She had got it, and when Alberoni was searched it would not be found. Perhaps, after all, it was not strange that Marcieu's expressions were writ in a good round hand. He had missed the chance of his life!

"I know her," he stormed in the morning, when he found how abortive his attempts to arrest her had proved, "I know her. Dubois sent me intelligence of everything. She is the Princesa Ana de Carbajal, of an ancient and illustrious Catalonian house, a house faithful to all the interests of Austria before the days of Charles V. and of Philip. May the pest seize her! She came ahead of Alberoni disguised thus, and never thought she would encounter us. And I do believe she has the will in that accursed red ball. Such things have been used as hiding-places before. Even Alberoni once used his crook as a receptacle wherein to hide a slip of paper. And the late King's last will in favour of Philippe was itself but a slip of paper, signed when he was close to death." Then, again, he used strong language.

However, she was gone, and, on the frail chance of his being misinformed after all, and because he also had orders to meet Alberoni in any circumstances, and to escort him to the Mediterranean coast without allowing him to hold converse with any one, we set off to find him. For Dubois' spies had met us and said that Alberoni was on his way, that he was close at hand.

So we rode along, nearing rapidly the pass into Spain by which he was coming, and expecting every moment to meet the Cardinal's coach attended by all his servants and following. But suddenly, while we marched, there happened something which put all thoughts of the Cardinal and his devoted friend, the Princess Ana, out of our heads—something terrible—awful—to behold.

A house, an inn, on fire, blazing fiercely, as we could see, even as we all struck spurs into our horses and