Rosario fell senseless on the floor.
“Let us go down stairs,” said Dona Perfecta, without paying any attention to her daughter’s swoon.
The two women glided down stairs like two snakes. The maids and the man-servant were in the hall, not knowing what to do. Dona Perfecta passed through the dining-room into the garden, followed by Maria Remedios.
“Fortunately we have Ca-Ca-Ca-balluco there,” said the canon’s niece.
“In the garden, also. He cli-cli-climbed over the wall.”
Dona Perfecta explored the darkness with her wrathful eyes. Rage gave them the singular power of seeing in the dark peculiar to the feline race.
“I see a figure there,” she said. “It is going toward the oleanders.”
“It is he!” cried Remedios. “But there comes Ramos—Ramos!”
The colossal figure of the Centaur was plainly distinguishable.
“Toward the oleanders, Ramos! Toward the oleanders!”
Dona Perfecta took a few steps forward. Her hoarse voice, vibrating with a terrible accent, hissed forth these words:
“Cristobal, Cristobal—kill him!”
A shot was heard. Then another.
From Don Cayetano Polentinos to a friend in Madrid:
“ORBAJOSA, April 21.
“MY DEAR FRIEND:
“Send me without delay the edition of 1562 that you say you have picked up at the executor’s sale of the books of Corchuelo. I will pay any price for that copy. I have been long searching for it in vain, and I shall esteem myself the most enviable of virtuosos in possessing it. You ought to find in the colophon a helmet with a motto over the word ‘Tractado,’ and the tail of the X of the date MDLXII ought to be crooked. If your copy agrees with these signs send me a telegraphic despatch at once, for I shall be very anxious until I receive it. But now I remember that, on account of these vexatious and troublesome wars, the telegraph is not working. I shall await your answer by return of mail.
“I shall soon go to Madrid for the purpose of having my long delayed work, the ‘Genealogies of Orbajosa,’ printed. I appreciate your kindness, my dear friend, but I cannot accept your too flattering expressions. My work does not indeed deserve the high encomiums you bestow upon it; it is a work of patience and study, a rude but solid and massive monument which I shall have erected to the past glories of my beloved country. Plain and humble in its form, it is noble in the idea that inspired it, which was solely to direct the eyes of this proud and unbelieving generation to the marvellous deeds and the pure virtues of our forefathers. Would that the studious youth of our country might take the step to which with all my strength I incite them! Would that the abominable studies and methods