“I acknowledge the truth of your remark, and that no power can save you. I lament it, Don Pedro; but what is done cannot be undone. Even now the officers of the Inquisition are at your house.” As he uttered these words, a loud knocking at the door announced that they had followed me. “This must not be, Don Pedro,” said Don Alvarez, “step this way.” He opened a panel, and desired me to go in—and he hardly had time to shut it before the officers came into the room.
“You have him here, Don Alvarez, have you not?” inquired the chief.
“No, unfortunately,” replied he, “I tried to detain him, but suspecting some discovery he forced his way out, sword in hand, and has gone I do not know in what direction; but he cannot be far—saddle all the horses in my stable and pursue the sacrilegious wretch. I would sacrifice half my worldly wealth, that he should not escape my vengeance.”
As Don Alvarez was the informant, and uttered these words with the apparent violence of rage, the inquisitors had no suspicion, but hastened to comply with his request. As soon as they had departed, he opened the panel and let me out.
“So far, Don Pedro, have I proved the sincerity of my assertion; but now, what remains to be done?”
“But one thing, Don Alvarez, to conceal the truth from my poor wife and mother. I could bear it all with firmness, but for them” (and I fell on a sofa and burst into tears). Don Alvarez was much affected.
“Oh, Don Pedro! it is too late now, or I should say, ’What a warning this ought to be to us—that honesty is the best policy!’ Had you communicated to me the mystery of your birth, this never would have occurred. Instead of having been your persecutor, I should have been your friend.—What can I do?”
“Kill me, Don Alvarez,” replied I, baring my breast, “and I will bless you for the deed. My death may afflict them, but they will recover from their grief in time; but to know that I am murdered by the Inquisition, as a sacrilegious impostor, will bring them to their grave with shame and mortification.”
“Your observation is correct, but kill you I must not. I will, however, so far comply with your wishes, that I will bear the news of your death, and their hatred of the deed, rather than the family should be disgraced.” He then went to his scrutoire, and taking out a bag of one thousand pistoles—“This is all the money that I have at present—it will serve you for some time. Put on one of my servant’s dresses, and I will accompany you to a seaport and secure your safety before I leave you. I will then state, that I met you in a fair duel, and will bribe the officers of the Inquisition to hold their tongues about the circumstances which have been communicated.”
The advice was good and I agreed to it; following him as a servant, I arrived safely at Carthagena, whence I took a passage for New Spain. We sailed, and before we were clear of the Straits of Gibraltar, we were attacked by one of the cruisers of the state. We fought desperately, but were overpowered by numbers, and they took possession after we had lost more than half of our crew. They brought us into this port, where, with the rest, I was sold as a slave.