Rainbow's End eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 437 pages of information about Rainbow's End.

“A ghost, my Colonel, nothing else.  La Cumbre is no place for an honest Christian.”

The colonel burst into a mocking laugh.  “An honest Christian!  You!  Of all my vile ruffians, you are the vilest.  Why, you’re a thief, a liar, and an assassin!  You are lying to me now.  Come—­the truth for once, before I give you the componte.”

“As God is my judge, I’m telling you the truth,” protested the soldier.  “Flog me if you will—­rather the componte than another night in those trenches.  You know that old quinta?”

“Where Pancho Cueto made a goat of himself?  Perfectly.  Do you mean to say that you saw old Esteban Varona walking with his head in his hands?”

“No, but I saw that she-devil who fell in the well and broke her neck.”

“Eh?  When did you behold this—­this marvel?”

“Two nights ago.  She was there beside the well and her face shone through the night like a lantern.  Christ!  There was fire upon it.  She came and went, like a moth in the lamplight.  I tell you I repented of my sins.  Some of the men laughed at me when I told them, as they had laughed at the others.  But last night two of the doubters went up there.”

“Exactly.  And they saw nothing.”

“Your pardon, my Colonel.  They came back in a cold sweat, and they spent the night on their knees.  The woman was there again.  You have seen the salt sea at night?  Well, her face was aglow, like that, so they said.  They heard the clanking of chains, too, and the sound of hammers, coming from the very bowels of the earth.  It is all plain enough, when you know the story.  But it is terrifying.”

“This is indeed amazing,” Cobo acknowledged, “but of course there is some simple explanation.  Spirits, if indeed there are such things, are made of nothing—­they are like thin air.  How, then, could they rattle chains?  You probably saw some wretched pacificos in search of food and imagined the rest.”

“Indeed!  Then what did I hear with these very ears?  Whispers, murmurs, groans, and the clinkety-clink of old Sebastian’s chisel.  For his sins that old slave is chained in some cavern of the mountain.  Soundless!  I’m no baby!  I know when I’m asleep, and I know when I’m awake.  That place is accursed, and I want no more of it.”

Cobo fell into frowning meditation, allowing his cigarette to smolder down until it burned his thick fingers.  He was not a superstitious man and he put no faith in the supernatural, nevertheless he was convinced that his sergeant was not lying, and reference to Pancho Cueto had set his mind to working along strange channels.  He had known Cueto well, and the latter’s stubborn belief in the existence of that Varona treasure had more than once impressed him.  He wondered now if others shared that faith, or if by chance they had discovered a clue to the whereabouts of the money and were conducting a secret search.  It was a fantastic idea, nevertheless Cobo told himself that if people were prying about those deserted premises it was with some object, and their actions would warrant observation.  The presence of the woman—­a woman—­with the glow of phosphorus upon her face was puzzling, but the whole affair was puzzling.  He determined to investigate.  After a time he murmured, “I should like to see this spirit.”

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Rainbow's End from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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