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Ashby, however, had something to say which was very much to the purpose.
It seems that Dolores had found the bonds, had kept them, and had finally handed them over to Ashby for safe-keeping. He at once concluded that they were Katie's, and was waiting for a convenient opportunity to restore them. The opportunity had now come. This was his simple story, but as it was told to Don Carlos in Spanish, Russell did not understand one word.
"Where are they now?" asked Don Carlos.
"Here," said Ashby, and he produced the package from his coat-pocket.
"Give them to me," said Don Carlos. "I will arrange it all. Do you know, gentlemen, this is the happiest moment of my life. I seem like a kind of _Deus ex machina_ coming in at the right time at the end of a series of adventures to produce universal peace and harmony."
"I hope and trust," said Ashby, "that 'Your Majesty' may be the _Deus ex machina_ for all Spain, and interpose at last to produce universal peace and harmony here."
"Senor," said Don Carlos, "you talk like a born courtier; yet at the same time," he added, in a solemn tone, "what you have just said is the high hope and aspiration of my life."
After this creditable little speech Ashby handed over the package, and Don Carlos took it. At this sight the lower jaw of the venerable Russell fell several inches. This Don Carlos seemed to him not one whit better than the other. The bonds were now lost to him forever. That was plain enough. Yet he dared not say a word. After all, they were not his, but Katie's. Harry knew that, and Ashby also. What could he say? He was dumb, and so he crawled back, discomfited and despairing, to his seat.
"Gentlemen," said Don Carlos, "you must use your utmost efforts with the ladies. Everything shall be done that can be most fitting to the occasion.
We shall have music and festivities. It is not often that I have adventures like these. Let the old castle renew its youth. Let these walls ring to music and song. Don't let the ladies escape you, gentlemen. If anything is wanting to your persuasions, tell them--as that rascal O'Toole, my double, would say--tell them that it is 'our royal will.'"
Another burst of applause, mingled with laughter, followed, after which Harry, Ashby, and Brooke hurried off to see the ladies.
What pa.s.sed between the different couples on that memorable occasion, what objections were made, on the one hand, by shrinking modesty, and what arguments and entreaties were put forth, on the other hand, by the ardent lovers, need not be narrated here. Whether it was meek compliance with a loved one's wish, or dread of Spanish etiquette, or respect for the "royal will," or whatever else it may have been, suffice it to say that at last the delighted swains won a consent from the blus.h.i.+ng maidens; after which they rushed forth in wild rapture to spend the remainder of the night in prolonged festivities with their gallant host and his festive band of cavaliers.
There was one, however, who took no part in all this. Excusing himself from the festive board on the plea of ill health, he held aloof, a prey to dark and gloomy suspicions. These he communicated to Harry before the "evening session" began. It seemed that the much afflicted Russell, believing the true Don Carlos to be no better than the false one, held the firm conviction that the bonds had been appropriated by him for his own purposes, and that their proceeds would be squandered on the extravagant schemes of the hopeless Carlist insurrection. But Harry scouted the idea.
"Keep them? He keep them?" he cried. "Never! Don Carlos is a gentleman."
At this Russell groaned and turned away.
Meanwhile the preparations for the coming event were diligently carried on. Before morning the ancient chapel of the h.o.a.ry castle was decked out with evergreens brought from the neighboring forest, and everything was made ready for the marriage-feast.
Morning came. All gathered in the chapel, which in its robe of evergreens looked like a bower.
The three buglers and one drummer belonging to the troop played in magnificent strains the stirring notes of the "Wedding March."
The Cure of Santa Cruz presented an unexceptionable appearance in his ecclesiastical robes.
There, too, was the man who claimed to be the rightful King of Spain, surrounded by men who represented some of the n.o.blest families of the nation--an ill.u.s.trious company, the like of which none of the princ.i.p.als in this ceremony had ever dreamed of as likely to be present at his wedding.
The bridegrooms came, looking, it must be confessed, slightly seedy.
Then came the brides, resplendent in their best attire, procured from the luggage which had been brought here at the time of their capture by O'Toole.
There were no bride'smaids. But Mrs. Russell was present, leaning on the arm of her beloved husband, all in tears. And why? Was it from regrets for the lost crown of Spain? or was it merely from the tender sentiment which is usually called forth on such an occasion? or was it from the thought of that one whose fortunes she had followed for many eventful hours with a view to such a conclusion as this?
Reader, let us draw a veil over the emotions of this afflicted lady.
The marriages went on. The knots were all tied.
Then came the wedding breakfast.
Don Carlos was in his best mood. He jested, he laughed, he paid innumerable compliments to the ladies, and finally gave the whole party an invitation to visit him on some future day at his royal court in Madrid.
Which invitation, it may be stated parenthetically, has not yet been accepted.
After this little speech Don Carlos handed over to Harry the Spanish bonds.
"I understand," said he, "that your lady will soon be of age, but, under any circ.u.mstances, according to Spanish law the husband is ent.i.tled to receive all the property of his wife. Take this, therefore, and you will thus relieve our aged friend yonder, the venerable Senor Russell, from all further responsibility as guardian."
Harry took it, and could not help casting a triumphant glance at Russell, but that good man looked away. He afterward told his wife that he had lost all faith in Providence, and felt but little desire to live any longer in such an evil world. Since the bonds were lost to him it mattered not who gained them--whether Bourbon, bandit, or bridegroom.
At length the hour of their departure came. The luggage was heaped up in a huge wagon. Another wagon was ready to take the ladies, and horses were prepared for the gentlemen. With these a troop of hors.e.m.e.n was sent as a guard.
As they pa.s.sed out through the gates Don Carlos stood and bade them all farewell.
So they pa.s.sed forth on their way to liberty, and home, and happiness; and so they moved along, until at length the Castle, with its h.o.a.ry walls, its lofty towers, its weather-beaten turrets and battlements, was lost in the distance.