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LONG the winding stony road that leads from the valley of Urnieta to the gate of Arricarte, walked Juan de Azcue, followed by a retinue of robust huntsmen, with bows slung to their shoulders, and leashed mastiffs.
From the opposite side of the gate of Arricarte, and following a more devious rough path than the already mentioned road, came another similar retinue of huntsmen and dogs headed by Roman de Alzate. This veteran knight was bending his steps towards the same spot as Juan de Azcue, an aged yet hale man.
The two old men seemed to have become youthful
again, so firmly did they step, and so rapid was their pace.
When both had reached to within a short distance of Arricarte they stopped and bade the huntsmen advance.
Those belonging to the retinue of Azcue were the first to arrive at the place of meeting.
"Are you of the house of Alzate?" they asked.
"Yes, we are. And are you of the retinue of Azcue?" the advancing troop demanded.
"Yes. Do you come in peace and good-will?"
"Yes, we do."
"In that case you are welcome."
They then unfurled small white flags, waved them in the air, and at that signal both chiefs advanced to the gateway.
"The peace of God be with you, Juan," said he of Alzate, uncovering his white head.
"I desire the same to you, Roman," replied he of Azcue, as he also removed his cap.
The retinues of the two chiefs saluted each other in silence.
"The words of the venerable cura opened my heart to reconciliation. I bless God that He has prolonged my life, that so I may be able to offer you the half of this wheaten loaf of my granary, and the half of the milk which is contained in this cup--milk that has been drawn this morning from the cows of my farm."
Juan ate the half of the bread and drank the frothy milk.
"Now here is my hand," he said, as he stretched out his arm, "in proof of the love and friendship which I feel for you. God grant that peace and good understanding may never become broken again between us!"
"Amen, with all my heart!" replied Roman, as he grasped the hand of John.
The solemn treaty of peace was ratified by both.
At a signal from the old men their respective huntsmen advanced, and warmly embraced each other with evident signs of joy.
While this scene was taking place, three men who were concealed in the crevices of the surrounding broken rocks were biting their lips, tossing their arms about in anger, and uttering fearful curses, in evident proof of their wrath on beholding that peace was being established between these two families, which had been so greatly divided until that moment.
When the old men with their respective escorts once more took the road to return to their houses, the three concealed men held a long conference together, and then wended their way to Pagollaga, following a most devious path. This path or road was not then what it is now. At that epoch, matted brushwood grew on the margins of the Urumea, where with difficulty a passage could be effected across the spontaneous vegetation that grew in
such tangled masses. The creaking noise of the windmill did not break the silence of the wilds, nor did the puffs of the forge cast on the winds clouds of brilliant sparks. No road led to the river; no bridge existed by which to cross its waters. Nature in all her pristine splendour flung her gifts and graces on the untrod woods, on the broken rocks and hillsides, and along the bubbling fountain streams. Up the river, in the direction of the town of Arano, the Urumea formed a rude angle. The reason of this was an isolated rock or cliff which formed a kind of promontory, and spread its darksome stony branches into the centre of the river.
On the heights of this rocky promontory, that resembled the ruined tower of some castle which had been reduced to ashes during an invasion, could be seen sitting a decrepit old hag known throughout the neighbouring districts by the appellation of "the witch of Pagollaga." This sibyl was at the time engaged in peeling roots, which no doubt were to be employed for some decoction. On beholding the three men advancing towards this cliff she stopped her work. A sharp whistle was heard piercing the air. The three men who had so greatly resented the reconciliation effected between the two families then stopped in their walk, and the old woman descended from the top of the rock to join them.
Nothing could be more alike than the three
who had interrupted the old woman in her task of preparing the roots. The same black, fiery eyes, the same yellow hue of countenance, mouths with coarse, red lips that barely covered the white, sharp-pointed teeth. The colour of their hair was similar; the number even of their hairs, had it been possible to count them, would have been found alike. Height, tone of voice, manner of walking--all, in one word, was so exactly alike that they had often been mistaken for each other.
On seeing the old woman, who was dressed in a green wrapper covered with red embroidery, the three men advanced a few steps to meet her.
"I was already awaiting you," said the witch, in a low, quavering voice. "Have you come for the philter?"
"Yes, we have come for it. But besides what we had ordered of you, we need a new product from your evil arts."
"Do you perchance wish to poison the girl?" she asked.
The men looked at one another in a strange way.
"Now give us the draught which is to enkindle in the heart of the girl a love for one of us."
"The draught is already prepared. But an idea has occurred to me on seeing that all you three love her with the same frenzy--what will become of the two rejected ones when she shall have chosen the one?" said the old woman.
The same strange, fierce look of theirs once more shot from the eyes of the men on hearing this question.
"That is our affair," the men replied, after they had looked at each other for a considerable time.
"Let it be so," said the witch. "But if I mistake not, I think you asked me for another beverage besides the one I have already prepared for you?
"Yes, it is so."
"What effect do you wish it to produce?
"We wish to madden the person who shall drink it," the three replied together.
Nothing easier. When I descried you coming along I was employed in peeling some roots which, on being prepared by me, will produce the desired effect."
"We shall pay you handsomely for it."
"Such is my hope. I can give you a quantity which, if properly administered, will suffice to madden one-half of the inhabitants of San Sebastian. Your idea is truly a splendid one; and I already seem to see hundreds of men, women, and children dancing about, wriggling like snakes, and uttering cries like a pack of wolves. It will indeed be a worthy scene; and I promise you that I shall not fail to preside at the feast. I repeat it--it is an excellent idea. For some good reason did your father the devil cast you into this world!"
"Do you mean to say that we are children of the evil one?
"Yes--because Satan himself told me so. He placed you three among the rushes growing on the shores of the Oria; you he called Envy, you Wrath, and you Pride. 'Some one will assuredly come and gather them,' thought your father, 'and in truth will lose nothing by this find.' And he made you so like one another that perchance he himself is unable to distinguish you."
"He of Alzate had the good fortune to find us. He treated us as his own children, and gave us other names," they replied.
"The night is approaching," said one, "and we have far to go."
"Go, then!" replied the witch.
The three men passed on. The sibyl started also behind the brothers, and the four individuals disappeared in the dark, thick wood. Half an hour later, and each of the three men could have been seen carrying in his left hand a phial containing a liquor red as the cherry, and his right hand concealed in the folds of his "capusay." They walked separated from each other by a considerable distance, but frequently looking at one another in a distrustful manner.
The witch sat down on the top of the cliff, and when she had lost sight of the three brothers in the distance she burst out in a loud peal of mocking laughter.
"Oh, arch fiend!" she cried, leaping up wildly, "now will be seen whether I cannot revenge myself upon.
you; your three sons will soon bear witness of my triumph!"
Gabriela had risen from her couch: smiling and blushing, she sought the oaken seat which was placed at the window. Seated on that ancient bench, she had listened to the first declaration of love, and there also had she avowed what she felt.
Gabriela was beautiful. Each day the first rays of the aurora had been reflected in her lovely eyes. The first gentle breezes of morning had joyfully hastened to play among the chestnut tresses of the maid of Guipuzcoa. The very flowers bent their supple stems as the maiden passed, as though the lily, the daisy, and the purple iris were saluting her the queen of the flowers.
The graceful damsel, after waiting seated for the coming of her lover for a considerable time, at last bent her head and leaned out of her window to listen with attentive ear to the noises of the night.
It was a dark night. The Oria, which drags its turbid waters along the ancient banks of Lasarte, Zubieta, and Usurbil, now and again utters a melancholy moan on breaking its waves against the wooden piers of the bridges. It is the wrath of the muddy river, but differs from the anger of the ocean, which at first moans, then displays its fury by terrific roars, and startles and
convulses nature. The tops of the lofty oaks that cover the valley of Urnieta are also moved, and produce a noise similar to the rushing of the waters of the far distant torrents. Immense clouds of dry yellow leaves had collected together from the depths of the leafy woods, and, rising up, appeared in the night-time, to be flocks of bats and nocturnal birds, formed noisy whirlwinds, spread themselves about on the night winds, and fell on the agitated waters of the Cantabrian Sea or on the rivers.
Gabriela listened attentively to all these noises and confused rumours, that are no more than the breathing of sleepy nature. But amid all these noises the "lecayo" 1 of Antonio de Azcue, the best beloved of her heart, does not reach her ear. One hour passed away, and then another; the hermitage of Saint Barbara erected on a height like a stork's nest, begins to lose its vague outline, and becomes enveloped in a white mist, in whose centre are held mysterious meetings by beings still more mysterious. Gabriela suddenly shudders. The colour faded from her cheeks, and her countenance lost that tender smile of loving expectation, and a strange look of inquietude takes its place, caused by the delay of her lover. The far distant sound of bells begins to fill space. It is not the joyous ringing announcing a festival day; neither is it the thundering
peal which proclaims a fire. The slow movement and measured compass of the tongues of bronze has something sad about it. Gabriela had forgotten that the first hour of the second of November had heralded the day when the Church commemorates the faithful departed. Trembling, and visibly agitated, nay, in terror, does she listen to the tolling of the bells, which now has distinctly reached her ears, and then, in a troubled, vague manner, she was about to quit the window, when she heard a sharp, piercing cry, which above the moaning of the river, the rustling of the oak, the whirl of the dry flying leaves, and the doleful tolling of the bells, caused her to shudder. That cry announced the arrival of her lover.
"On what a day and at what hour does he come to speak to me of love!" she exclaimed. "My God, protect the holy souls!"
Gabriela cast herself down on her knees to the ground. Another hour passed away, and another; yet the youth did not appear. And the river continued to moan, the oaks to sway in the night winds, the dry leaves to fly in a whirlwind, and the bells to toll.
Have you ever seen in some Eastern city the sharp pointed spire of a mosque rising up in space? Have you seen on the tranquil waters of a bay the uplifted
mast of a battle-ship in full array? Have you seen in the far distance, standing out in the blue horizon, the towering branches of a proud oak of the forest rising majestically above all the other trees?
Very well. The highest minaret of an Eastern mosque, the handsomest mast of a full-rigged ship on the waters, or the loveliest waving branches of the regal oak, were not more beautiful and graceful than was Antonio de Azcue. He had just finished to replenish the mangers of the curral; his aged father had repeated the prayers for the eternal repose of the soul of her who had been his loving wife; the sisters of Antonio had saluted him with a loving kiss. All things were calm and quiet in the house of Azcue.
The youth wrapped himself up in his "capusay," he grasped the knotty staff, and, closing the house door, he ran at full speed across the fields. The rough broken ascents of Goiburu did not offer any difficulties to his rapid speed; the darksome valley in which they terminated did not stop his speedy walk. In this manner was he crossing the open space upon which stands the noble town of Urnieta; swiftly, agile, and joyfully he had commenced to clamber over the stony road which leads to the gate of Arricarte. On reaching that height he could descry before him, across the darksome shades of night, the pale reflection of the murmuring waves of the Oria; to the right, the ancient hermitage
of Saint Barbara; to the left, the bleak bare ridge of mountains which abruptly ends near the houses of Andoaina. Then, removing his cap and wiping his heated brow, he uttered the "lecayo," which was his lover's signal to Gabriela.
He was preparing to descend towards Lasarte, when the sad tolling of the bells reached his ears. The youth involuntarily shuddered. He remembered that his mother had died on the second of November. The agitation of Antonio, on remembering that it was "All Souls' Day" was, however, fleeting. Gabriela was waiting for him--Gabriela, whom he had not seen for a long time by reason of the feud existing between the two families, but which happily had now quite disappeared, and good relationship was established among them. Hence, stopping a few moments to say a short prayer, he soon started, brimming over with love and joy.
The path he was crossing continued for a great distance, far into the forest of ancient oaks and chestnut trees, with their huge worm-eaten trunks and spreading branches. When he entered its confines, the night was completely dark. It was necessary to grope along carefully. Suddenly a small light seemed to emerge from the centre of the aged trees, a light of an undefinable colour, a bluish-white gleam. After this it sped and appeared before the astonished gaze of the youth, who had stopped his walk on beholding this phenomena
[paragraph continues] --a shifting light which flitted about, yet without moving from the path; a light without colour or brilliancy; a light bereft of that luminous circle which radiates from other lights; a light which was not a fire gleam; a fit light for pervading a graveyard--one which could only be either enkindled or put out by the breath of the dead.
When the "Arguiduna" appears, the graves are opened, the corpses show their fleshless faces, and fling to each other this nocturnal moth, like tennis players throw with the racket the ball to one another. It is the sport of the dead during the first hours of the second of November.
On the spot where stood Antonio de Azcue, a great battle had been fought in ancient times. The youth in terror looked to the right and to the left, expecting every moment to see the ground beneath him opened, and the victims of war that are buried there rise up and show their white skulls, to come and join in this dismal festival.
But the forest and all its surroundings continued dark and silent, and the earth refused to reveal its dead. Encouraged by that silence and calm, he took heart, and continued to intern himself further into the wood.
The "Arguiduna," however, sped back, and in view of its flitting movements, which appeared to increase gradually, evidently implied that it wished to oppose the progress of the young man.
"Unhappy mother!" he cried, "you are doubtless unaware that the feuds which existed between the two families are at an end. Allow me to pass, dear mother; Gabriela is waiting for me."
Nevertheless, "Arguiduna" obstinately remained on the same spot.
Antonio, removing his cap, saluted the light, left the beaten track, and continued to walk along the brushwood. But the light also shifted, and placed itself in front of the youth, This time there was no doubt.
"I love Gabriela," he said. "I obeyed you during life, my mother; it is but just that I should respect and obey you also after death. Good-night, dear mother, good-night!"
And Antonio retired by the same way as he had come. The light followed him, and only left his presence after he had crossed the narrow valley of Goiburu.
In the meantime an extraordinary scene was taking place in the centre of the forest of chestnut trees. The branches were swaying about, moved by a mysterious power which was not due to the winds, since the wind had gone down. And noises were heard, vague and undefined, as though the trees, dowered with life, were murmuring some words; and perchance he who would believe that they spoke would not be far wrong.
The air which was breathed in that wood seemed to be impregnated with poisonous vapours; the ground exhaled a hoarse wailing; in the atmosphere something was noticed which presaged some dire calamity. And in truth, on the winds was heard like the flapping of huge wings, as though the air, agitated by these wings, had acquired the force of a sudden whirlwind, which swept in a frightful manner the chestnut plantation; the moaning of the Oria was rising and increasing in fury; the tolling of the bells became more piercing and dismal. Wailings were heard which did not belong to this world of ours; the beating together of strange bodies could be felt in space; it seemed as though the sea in all its fury was rushing to inundate the wood, wrenching up the aged chestnuts, beating down the lime bushes, and crumbling up the granite steeps with which God had surrounded it.
Then in space resounded a powerful ringing voice.
"Art thou there?" it asked.
"We are," replied the trees--so it appeared.
"Ye were vanquished once, ye cursed, cursed ones!"
"It will be the last time, my father; we have come to avenge ourselves."
"Tis well; I deliver into your hands 'Discord,' your sister, that she may help you."
Once more the beating of wings was heard; the clouds and mist which had enveloped the hermitage of Saint
[paragraph continues] Barbara were rent open, and swiftly, as though impelled by a supernatural power, they crossed the Oriamendi, passed on, grating against the promontory of Igueldo, slipped over the surface of the sea, swelling the billows, and became lost in the far distance on the uttermost limits of the dark horizon.
By degrees the wailing of the earth ceased, the swaying of the trees, the sinister noises of the air all disappeared, as though the atmosphere had become purified. Then in the dark began the mysterious dialogue which follows:
"Do each of you occupy your places?"
"Yes," replied a voice close by.
"Yes," repeated another voice, like its echo.
"Where are you, Envy?"
"Here I am."
At that moment two lights gleamed among the branches of a chestnut tree. They were the eyes of one of the brothers. This light was soon extinguished.
"And you Pride--where are you?
"I am here."
Two more lights gleamed like the former from the branches of a second tree, and these were the eyes of the second brother, and they also became quickly extinguished.
"And you, Wrath, my, favourite brother--where are you?"
"Here I am."
And, like to the two previous trees, two lights flashed from out a third chestnut. These three trees formed a perfect triangle; and, as before, the two lights were soon put out.
"The place, my brothers, is a capital one."
"We sought a suitable position with all care."
"Will Antonio pass this way to-night?"
"So Gabriela believes."
"And our father also."
"Then it is an arranged affair?
"Have we not already arranged it all?"
"Nevertheless, we have not decided upon the manner of effecting it."
"I vow by my axe."
"I by my arrow."
"I by my dagger."
"At length we are agreed."
"But do not agree as to the means."
"It is strange, because we have always had similar thoughts and ideas!"
"The same hatreds and the same loves!
"We three hate peace."
"All of us hate Antonio Azcue."
"All three are in love with Gabriela."
"And Gabriela in return does not love any of us."
Three red flashes shot from the branches of the ancient chestnut trees, and crossed in space.
"And the philter?"
"It is in the fountain."
"After to-morrow she will drink it."
"At the dawn------"
"That is to say, that towards night------"
"She will love one of us!"
"If in spite of all this she should persist in her dislike of us all three--what then?
"It will be worse for us."
"It will be worse for her!"
"Discord," who was listening to this dialogue, made a horrible gesture, and flapped her black wings with joy and satisfaction. Then she cautiously approached each of her brothers, whispered some words in his ear, rose up in the air, and said--
"Silence, my brothers! Your enemy will not be long coming now."
All things lapsed into silence; and, excepting the moaning of the waters of the Oria, and the measured tolling of the far distant bells, no voice or sound came to break the silence and calm of that dreadful night.
The "Arguiduna" had fulfilled half its mission. Scarcely had Antonio returned home than it traced a
blue line on the horizon, and then disappeared in the forest of chestnuts and oaks. And the wood continued immersed in darkness and silence.
"Arguiduna," fleeting, unquiet, like the capricious bee which flits from flower to flower, drinking the nectar enclosed in their corollas, formed moving circles around the branches of the trees. It hovered for a moment above the robust top of a chestnut, and the small reflection of Arguiduna illumined for a brief moment a human face. A sharp cry rent the air at that moment; the human face closed its eyes, a long arrow pierced from side to side that head; then was heard the gnashing of teeth, followed by a heavy fall, and lastly, a metallic, hoarse laugh.
And the little pale light, swift and unquiet like the capricious bee that hovers from flower to flower, placed itself between two gigantic trees. This time the small reflection of "Arguiduna" illumined two human faces, which were very like each other.
Two sharp cries interrupted the silence of the night; the two faces closed their gleaming eyes, long arrows pierced those two heads; then was heard terrible gnashing of teeth from both, two heavy falls, two fiendish bursts of laughter, and finally in space resounded the following words
"Rest in peace, my brothers; it is the first time that 'Discord' desires you this."
After this was heard the heavy flight of the fabulous bird, which, crossing the Oriamendi, touched the promontory of Igueldo, slid over the agitated waves of the sea, and became lost in the dark distance of the infinite. And the light, lively, brisk, and unquiet, like the capricious bee that flies from flower to flower, proceeded to poise itself on a leaf of the walnut tree which stood over the spring of limpid waters.
On the hearth in the house of Azcue crackles the fire fed by huge beech faggots. The comfortable warmth which is diffused throughout that hall also sheds a beneficent influence on the curral. This curral, or cow-house, is separated from the kitchen by a boarding, along which runs a manger, and above are long slits or grating, through which are seen the cattle when housed for the night. From the walls are suspended bundles of arrows, polished bows, racks of arms, hatchets, hoes, and implements and weapons of all descriptions. In a word, all kinds of arms which symbolize warfare, and implements of agriculture that are emblems of peace.
Juan de Azcue is reciting the Litanies; his daughters reply in chorus without ceasing from their work, and directing from time to time anxious though tender glances toward their brother Antonio, who, sad and pensive, replies mechanically to the family prayers.
The cattle show their horned heads across the open spaces of the kitchen partition, and glance around with their large, soft eyes now on Antonio, now on his sisters, as though they would wish to ask an explanation for the sadness of the one and of the loving solicitude of the latter. The mobile, elastic muzzle of the cows move, as though they also were murmuring a response to the litany of the patriarch of the family; the bells hanging around their necks remain quiet and dumb. To this calm scene is added a touch of sweet sadness by the cooing of a dove which is heard at intervals. A simple yet sympathetic challenge; a token of a pure, constant love.
Nevertheless a form is wanting to complete that family picture--the form of greatest interest. Among that group of maidens is not seen the form of the mother. In that group is wanting the being all abnegation, all love, the greatest emanation of the love of God; because nothing approaches so nearly to Divine love as the love of the mother. The seat she usually occupied is now vacant; that seat no one dares to fill; it is a sacred thing, which will be religiously respected from age to age.
Eight o'clock has struck; the patriarch has finished his prayer; he blesses his family, and slowly retires to his chamber. As soon as the old man left the room, the young women rose up and surrounded the young man, who was sadly caressing the cooing dove. One
sister flung her arms around the neck of the beloved brother; another leaned over the back of his chair and touched his brow with her lips; a third stood before him with folded arms silently watching him; whilst a fourth put her hands under his chin and made him lift up his face. A charming group, worthy of the brush of a Michael Angelo!
"From what proceeds this sadness, dear brother?" they lovingly asked. "Did not Gabriela receive you last night? Did she perchance tell you some bad news? Is there any obstacle to mar your happiness? Answer us, dear brother, answer us."
"Last night I saw our mother in the chestnut plantation of Arricarte," replied the young man.
The group of women gave a sudden start, and the girls, pale with terror, and eyes streaming with tears, repeated in a low voice:
"Did you see our mother?"
"Yes, my sisters, and she opposed the way, that I might not go to where love was calling me."
"Is it possible?" they cried in one voice.
"Yes; listen how this happened. You know that a mother does not only love her children while she remains in the world, but even from the next world she still encircles them with her love, and watches over them with tenderness and solicitude, so that no harm should befall them."
"It is true," replied the maidens, unconsciously approaching to their brother.
"You also know that of all mothers, ours was the best."
"That is very true," replied the girls.
"I was walking lightly and swiftly, full of joy, because peace had been established between the family of Alzate and ours, and been solemnly ratified. On reaching the wood, the 'Arguiduna' appeared before me. I saluted her lovingly, judging that it was the spirit of our beloved mother. The 'Arguiduna' never departed from the path. I retired from the track of the beaten path," continued the youth, "and decided to walk along the brushwood. The 'Arguiduna' turned also and stood before me!"
"Ah! some evil was threatening you, my brother," said the youngest sister.
"Perhaps so, Juana, perhaps so."
"This is quite certain. When the 'Arguiduna' places itself before any one, it is to warn him of some danger which lies before him, should he not turn back."
"I obeyed the order she gave me. I returned home, followed by the light, which only left me when I had traversed the marsh of Goiburu.''
"Do not doubt it, Antonio, our good mother has saved you from some grave danger."
"Or else she has wished to save me from some great affliction, Beatrice," murmured the youth.
"Oh, good gracious!" they all cried in one voice, "do you think------"
"I know that I dearly love Gabriela, my sisters, and also am aware that I am hapless!"
"My brother! do not depreciate one who will so soon be our sister. Gabriela has sworn love to you; and Gabriela, like a true Guipuzcoan, will never be wanting to her vows."
"I shall know that to-night," replied Antonio, rising up. "I shall go to Alzate, and will cross the chestnut plantation; I shall see Gabriela, so good-night, my sisters, good-night."
"May the Lord guide you on your way, and may our good mother defend you, my brother!" reverently replied the young damsels.
An hour later, Antonio de Azcue was uttering his sharp "lecayo," which awakened the echoes of the mountains.
Antonio began to descend quickly the mountain, and entered the plantation. The last hours of the second day of November had not yet struck. The chestnut wood was enveloped in darkness--intensely dark. A sepulchral silence reigned throughout space, in strange contrast to what had occurred on the previous night. No sound crossed its leafy luxuriance, the
branches of the huge trees remained motionless; even the moaning of the Oria had subsided, and its waters seemed to have lost their power; the bronze tongues of the bells hung silent within their concave hollows; not even a breath of air stirred the dry leaves which covered the ground.
Suddenly, as on the previous evening, he saw among the moss-covered trunks of the trees the same pale light of undefinable colour, bluish-white. But on this occasion the light was behind him; he turned his face, and noticed that the "Arguiduna" was following him at about two yards' distance.
"Good-night, my mother, good-night," said Antonio, saluting and uncovering his head. "This night we have prayed longer for the eternal repose of your soul."
The gleam of light visibly twinkled, and for a brief moment shed a more vivid reflection around.
"Pass on before me, mother; your son desires that you should guide him after death across the dark path of life, in the same way as you guided him when you lived."
But the light twinkled more then ever, then approached the youth, yet kept behind him. Antonio continued walking, followed by the "Arguiduna." He had reached the densest part of the wood, when he noticed that the pale light which had illumined his path was gradually diminishing its intensity; he turned
quickly round, fearing lest the light should disappear altogether before he had time to bid it a loving farewell; but a horrible scene presented itself to his view. Three livid heads with rough matted hair and wild glassy eyes occupied a small opening in the wood, and formed a triangle. On the forehead of one was written in red characters the word "Pride," on the next the word "Wrath," and upon the third, "Envy." Sharp arrows pierced through their foreheads, and a fearful expression of pain and rage contracted the muscles of those three blood-stained heads. The flickering light had poised itself in the centre of the triangle of heads "Pride" then curled its vicious mouth and blew. "Arguiduna" swiftly flew until it touched the red lips of the head upon the brow of which was written the word "Wrath." This one also blew at the light, and the colourless flame flew away and stumbled against "Envy." This game was very rapid. The light faded by moments; its swift movements lessened visibly, the volume of its bluish flame was fast weakening.
The heads meanwhile, without losing the contraction of features produced by acute pain, laughed in a mute manner, nervously and inwardly, and formed a frightful contrast to the visible suffering which could be remarked on their drawn faces. And the light faded more and more, its movements slower, its flame grew sensibly smaller.
"Arguiduna" appeared to suffer acutely; "Arguiduna " was asking assistance in its own mysterious language; it was evidently wrestling with those inexorable heads, which were redoubling their puffs on beholding and enjoying the sufferings of the little flame. The light was now almost extinguished; the laughter of those three heads became more frightfully significative.
"My mother! my dearest mother!" cried Antonio in despairing accents, as he flew towards the open space.
The three heads suddenly turned round towards the young man. Their glassy eyes were darting undefinable flames of wrath. The light flickered once--took form, and swift as thought leaped over the space occupied by the three heads, and came to place itself at the feet of Antonio, casting around a luminous resplendency.
A noise and rumble similar to that which nature will utter at the moment of its complete destruction shook the neighbouring mountains to their very foundations. The Oria stopped its course; the bell-tower shook and broke out in dismal tolling; the waves of the Cantabrian Sea stayed its rapid threatening march. Antonio looked towards the open space. The three heads had disappeared. The "Arguiduna" was moving gracefully, and displayed its relief and joy by shedding around soft yet bright beams.
* * * * * *
Since that memorable night, never was "Discord"
seen again in the Guipuzcoan territory. From that night also the three evil creatures, Pride, Wrath, and Envy, are unknown on that noble soil.
On the following morning, Gabriela and Antonio left the house of Alzate together, and bent their steps towards the fountain spring over which towers the walnut tree.
The two lovers, on approaching to drink of its waters, noticed a strange thing. The pure water of the spring was tinged with a red colour. The philter of the "witch of Pagollaga" was mixed in its streams. In course of time, whenever Antonio crossed the chestnut plantation of Arricarte, the "Arguiduna," swift, joyful, like the capricious bee that flits from flower to flower, would always accompany him with watchful solicitude and care, flickering brightly and casting around brilliant resplendencies, and then the youthful heir of Azcue would lovingly say to it:
"My dearest mother, Gabriela and prayed last night fervently for the eternal repose of your soul. Gabriela and I love you tenderly, and we shall teach our children to love you also most lovingly, even as we do."
52:1 Fatuous fire, or Will-o'-the-Wisp."
60:1 Lecayo--a cry of joy which is used as a signal.