Gabriel felt himself deeply moved; the sweet silence, the absolute calm, the feeling almost of non-existence overpowered him; and beyond those walls was the world, but here it could not be seen, it could not be felt; it remained respectful but indifferent before that monument of the past, that splendid sepulchre, in whose interior nothing excited its curiosity. Who would ever imagine he was there? That growth of seven centuries, built by vanished greatness for a dying faith, should be his last refuge. In the full tide of unbelief the church should be his sanctuary, as it had been in former days to those great criminals of the Middle Ages, who, from the height of the cloister mocked at justice, detained at the doors like the beggars. Here should be consummated in silence and calm the slow decay of his body, here he would die with the serene satisfaction of having died to the world long before. At last he realised his hope of ending his days in a corner of the sleepy Spanish Cathedral, the only hope that had sustained him as he wandered on foot along the highways of Europe, hiding himself from the civil guards and the police, spending his nights in ditches, huddled up, his head on his knees, fearing every moment to die of cold.
He clung to the Cathedral as a shipwrecked and drowning man clings to the spar of a sinking ship; this had been his hope, and he was beginning to realise it. The church would receive him, like an old and infirm mother, unable to smile, but who could still stretch out her arms.
“At last! At last!” murmured Luna.
And he smiled, thinking of the world of sorrows and persecutions that he was leaving behind him, as though he were going to some remote place, situated in another planet, from which he would never return; the Cathedral would shelter him for ever.
In the profound stillness of the cloister, that the sound of the street could not reach, the “companion” Luna thought he heard far off, very far off, the shrill sound of a trumpet and the muffled roll of drums, then he remembered the Alcazar of Toledo, dominating the Cathedral from its height, intimidating it with the enormous mass of its towers; they were the drums and trumpets of the Military Academy.
These sounds were painful to Gabriel; the world had faded from his sight, and when he thought himself so very far from it, he could still feel its presence only a little way beyond the roof of the temple.
Since the times of the second Cardinal de Bourbon Senior Esteban Luna had been gardener of the Cathedral, by the right that seemed firmly established in his family. Who was the first Luna that entered the service of the Holy Metropolitan Church? As the gardener asked himself this question he smiled complacently, raising his eyes to heaven, as though he would inquire of the immensity of space. The Lunas were as ancient as the foundations of the church; a great many