“What a valiant spirit!” said Don Inocencio.
“What a fist you have!”
Every one was looking at the table, which had been split in two by the blow.
Then they looked at the never-enough-to-be-admired Renialdos or Caballuco. Undoubtedly there was in his handsome countenance, in his green eyes animated by a strange, feline glow, in his black hair, in his herculean frame, a certain expression and air of grandeur—a trace, or rather a memory, of the grand races that dominated the world. But his general aspect was one of pitiable degeneration, and it was difficult to discover the noble and heroic filiation in the brutality of the present. He resembled Don Cayetano’s great men as the mule resembles the horse.
The conference lasted for some time longer, but we omit what followed as not being necessary to a clear understanding of our story. At last they separated, Senor Don Inocencio remaining to the last, as usual. Before the canon and Dona Perfecta had had time to exchange a word, an elderly woman, Dona Perfecta’s confidential servant and her right hand, entered the dining-room, and her mistress, seeing that she looked disturbed and anxious, was at once filled with disquietude, suspecting that something wrong was going on in the house.
“I can’t find the senorita anywhere,” said the servant, in answer to her mistress’ questions.
“Good Heavens—Rosario! Where is my daughter?”
“Virgin of Succor protect us!” cried the Penitentiary, taking up his hat and preparing to hurry out with Dona Perfecta.
“Search for her well. But was she not with you in her room?”
“Yes, senora,” answered the old woman, trembling, “but the devil tempted me, and I fell asleep.”
“A curse upon your sleep! What is this? Rosario, Rosario! Librada!”
They went upstairs and came down again, they went up a second time and came down again; carrying a light and looking carefully in all the rooms. At last the voice of the Penitentiary was heard saying joyfully from the stairs:
“Here she is, here she is! She has been found.”
A moment later mother and daughter were standing face to face in the hall.
“Where were you?” asked Dona Perfecta, in a severe voice, scrutinizing her daughter’s face closely.
“In the garden,” answered the girl, more dead than alive.
“In the garden at this hour? Rosario!”
“I was warm, I went to the window, my handkerchief dropped out, and I came down stairs for it!”
“Why didn’t you ask Librada to get it for you? Librada! Where is that girl? Has she fallen asleep too?”
Librada at last made her appearance. Her pale face revealed the consternation and the apprehension of the delinquent.
“What is this? Where were you?” asked her mistress, with terrible anger.