Page:Yule Logs.djvu/280

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264
THE KING OF SPAIN'S WILL

the man. But I ordered them back. I alone would save her, I said, I alone. Princess or stroller, noble or crafty adherent of a wronged monarchy, whichever she might be, I had taken a liking to this girl; she had called on me to save her, and I would do it. Wherefore, up the ladder I went as quickly as the weight of my great riding boots and trappings would permit me, while all the time the flames were shooting out from the lower windows—up, until I stood at the top one and received her in my arms, telling the woman and the man they should be saved immediately, which they were, the troopers fetching down the woman, and the man following directly after by himself; yet none too soon either, for, even as he came down, the flames had set the lower part of the ladder afire, so that it fell down and he got singed as he came to earth. But, nevertheless, all were now saved; and Damaris stood trembling by my side, and pouring out her thanks to, and blessings upon, me.

"I—I—did not mean what I said," stammered Marcieu. "I meant you should be saved. But I meant also to have that will, and I have got it." While, as his eye roved around us, he saw the disgust written upon all our faces, on the faces alike of officers and men.

"You have got it," she answered contemptuously. "You have! Much good may it do you, animal!" and again I saw the beautiful white teeth gleam between her lips.

"But why here, Dama-Señorita?" I whispered; "why here? You came the wrong way if you wished to escape with the precious document."

She gave me somewhat of a nervous, tremulous smile, and was about to answer me, and give me some explanation, when, lo! there came an interruption to all our talk. The long-expected Cardinal was approaching. Alberoni had crossed the Pyrenees.

But in what a way to come! We could scarcely