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Max Nordau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about The Malady of the Century.
handed it to Pilar.  He then opened the door, and permitted his followers to enter.  They came in in single file, and ranged themselves silently along the wall.  They were tall, lean men in great circular Spanish cloaks of brown or bottle-green, defective in the matter of footgear, and with shapeless greasy hats in their ungloved hands.  Their deportment was as dignified as if they had been the chapter of a religious order, and every face was turned with an air of contemplative solemnity toward the countess.  With nervous haste she wrote a few lines at the foot of the document, read it over three or four times and altered a word here and there; she then folded the paper, returned it to the envelope, and handed it back to the consul.  She sealed it with her seal and wrote something on it, the seven men then advanced one by one to the table, and with extreme gravity and precision put their signatures on the envelope.  The casket was then relocked and resealed, and the company withdrew with a ceremonious bow, not, however, without leaving behind them such a piercing smell of garlic that the yellow salon was still full of it next day.

When Pilar found herself alone with Wilhelm, she asked:  “I suppose you would like to know what all this means?”

“Well, yes.”

“We have in Spain what we call mysterious wills, the contents of which may be kept secret.  A will of that kind is valid if an official person and seven witnesses vouch for it by their signatures on the envelope that it has been written or altered in their presence.  To-day I have added something to my secret will.”

He made a movement, but she would not give him time to speak.

“Do not be afraid, I have not acted against your wishes nor wounded your pride.  On our Vega de Henares in Old Castile, we have a family tomb where my ancestors have been laid to rest since the sixteenth century.  It is the Renaissance mausoleum of the picture hanging in your room.  The marble tomb stands in the middle of an oak wood, not far from a little brook, and it is cool and still there.  I shall lie there some day, wherever I may die, and I have assigned you a place beside me.  Promise me, Wilhelm, that you will accept it.  Promise me that you, in your turn, will make the necessary arrangements for your remains to be brought at last to our vega.  I do not know if I may ever belong to you as your wife in my lifetime, but in death I want to have you forever at my side.  Grant me this consolation.  Give me your hand upon it.”

Great tears welled slowly into the hazel eyes, and it was plainly of such sacred and earnest import to her that Wilhelm had not the heart to smile at her strained and sentimental idea.  Moved and touched, he clasped her to his heart in silence.

CHAPTER XII.

Tannhauser’s flight.

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