The Actress in High Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 372 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.

They had not ridden much further, when they drew near to the ruinous walls of a considerable town, situated in a fertile and delightful region, and retaining amidst its dilapidation many marks of grandeur.  Entering through a ruinous gateway, they paused in the grand praca.  “This,” said L’Isle, “is Ville Vicosa, ‘the delightful city.’  What a pity we have but time to take a hasty glance at this ducal seat of the house of Braganza.  Two sides of the praca, as you see, are occupied by the classic and imposing front of the palace in which the dukes of Braganza lived during the sixty years of the Spanish usurpation, before the heroism of the nation restored the royal line to the throne.”

“Even in its declining fortunes,” said Lady Mabel, “Villa Vicosa has not forgotten its connection with Portuguese royalty and nationality.  Was it not the first place in Alentejo to resist the French robbers, who were lording it over them?”

“Yes.  But it was neither loyalty nor patriotism that spurred them on.  You must not look to the royal palace before you, nor even to that ancient and noble church, founded by the illustrious Constable, Alvarez Pereira, which you see yonder, aspiring to heaven, nor to the associations immediately connected with them, for the impulse which at length stirred up these people to resist the oppressor.  You must rather seek it in that chapel, devoted to ’Nossa senhora dos Remedios,’ and containing her miraculous image.  They had submitted to robbery, insult, and outrage without stint.  They had seen Portuguese soldiers seized on by regiments, and marched off to serve under French eagles.  They had heard Junot’s insolent order to their priests, commanding them to preach submission.  They had witnessed the utter degradation of their country.  They had just seen the plate of the churches, and the plunder of individuals, collected throughout the neighboring comarcas, escorted through the town, and, though groaning in spirit, they stood by with folded arms.  But when the godless French soldiers went so far as to offer insults and indignities to Nossa Senhora dos Remedios on her own holy day, on which she yearly displays her miraculous powers, it was more than Portuguese nature could bear.  They broke out into open resistance, at first successful—­but which here and elsewhere led to woful slaughter of the patriotic but half-armed mob.”

“Heretic as you are,” said Lady Mabel, “you must admit, that as ’Our Lady of the Pillar’ proved a tower of strength to the Saragossans in their first siege, so here, either the patron saints of the Portuguese, or their faith in them, has often done them yeoman’s service.”

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The Actress in High Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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