“How late it is!” exclaimed the young girl. “Release me, cousin. I think I can walk. I am really very ill.”
“I will go upstairs with you.”
“Oh, no; on no account! I would rather drag myself to my room on my hands and feet. Don’t you hear a noise?”
Both were silent. The anxiety with which they listened made the silence intense.
“Don’t you hear any thing, Pepe?”
“Pay attention. There, there it is again. It is a noise that sounds as if it might be either very, very distant, or very near. It might either be my mother’s breathing or the creaking of the vane on the tower of the cathedral. Ah! I have a very fine ear.”
“Too fine! Well, dear cousin, I will carry you upstairs in my arms.”
“Very well; carry me to the head of the stairs. Afterward I can go alone. As soon as I rest a little I shall be as well as ever. But don’t you hear?”
They stopped on the first step.
“It is a metallic sound.”
“Your mother’s breathing?”
“No, it is not that. The noise comes from a great distance. Perhaps it is the crowing of a cock?”
“It sounds like the words, ‘I am going there, I am going there!’”
“Now, now I hear,” murmured Pepe Rey.
“It is a cry.”
“It is a cornet.”
“Yes. Let us hurry. Orbajosa is going to wake up. Now I hear it clearly. It is not a trumpet but a clarionet. The soldiers are coming.”
“I don’t know why I imagine that this military invasion is going to be advantageous to me. I feel glad. Up, quickly, Rosario!”
“I feel glad, too. Up, up!”
In an instant he had carried her upstairs, and the lovers took a whispered leave of each other.
“I will stand at the window overlooking the garden, so that you may know I have reached my room safely. Good-by.”
“Good-by, Rosario. Take care not to stumble against the furniture.”
“I can find my way here perfectly, cousin. We shall soon see each other again. Stand at your window if you wish to receive my telegraphic despatch.”
Pepe Rey did as he was bade; but he waited a long time, and Rosario did not appear at the window. The engineer fancied he heard agitated voices on the floor above him.
The inhabitants of Orbajosa heard in the twilight vagueness of their morning slumbers the same sonorous clarionet, and they opened their eyes, saying:
Some murmured to themselves between sleeping and waking:
“At last they have sent us that rabble.”
Others got out of bed hastily, growling:
“Let us go take a look at those confounded soldiers.”