“The storm increases fearfully,” observed the aged Duke of Murcia, a kinsman of the King, as a flash of lightning blazed through the casements, of such extraordinary length and brilliance, that even the numerous lustres, with which the room was lighted, looked dark when it disappeared. It was followed by a peal of thunder, loud as if a hundred cannons had been discharged above their heads, and causing several glasses to be shivered on the board. “Unhappy those compelled to brave it.”
“Nay, better out than in,” observed another. “There is excitement in witnessing its fury, and gloom most depressing in listening to it thus.”
“Perchance ’tis the shadow of the coming evil,” rejoined Don Felix d’Estaban. “Old legends say, there is never a storm like this, without bringing some national evil on its wings.”
“Ha! say they so?” demanded the King, suddenly, that his guests started. “And is there truth in it?”
“The lovers of such marvels would bring your Grace many proofs that, some calamity always followed such a tempest,” replied Don Felix. “It may or may not be. For my own part, I credit not such things. We are ourselves the workers of evil—no fatality lurking in storms.”
“Fated or casual, if evil has occurred to Don Ferdinand Morales, monarch and subject will alike have cause to associate this tempest with national calamity,” answered the King, betraying at once the unspoken, but engrossing subject of his thoughts. “Who saw him last?”
Don Felix d’Estaban replied that he had seen him that day two hours before sunset.
“And where, my Lord—at home or abroad?”
“In his own mansion, which he said he had not quitted that day,” was the rejoinder.