The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Last Look, by W.H.G. Kingston

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Title: The Last Look
       A Tale of the Spanish Inquisition

Author: W.H.G. Kingston

Release Date: May 8, 2007 [EBook #21395]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

W.H.G. Kingston

"The Last Look"

Chapter One.

An Unwelcome Visitor.

The beauty of Seville is proverbial. “Who has not seen Seville, has not seen a wonder of loveliness,” say the Spaniards. They are proud indeed of Seville, as they are of everything else belonging to them, and of themselves especially, often with less reason. We must carry the reader back about three hundred years, to a beautiful mansion not far from the banks of the famed Guadalquiver. In the interior were two courts, open to the sky. Round the inner court were marble pillars richly carved and gilt, supporting two storeys of galleries; and in the centre a fountain threw up, as high as the topmost walls, a bright jet of water, which fell back in sparkling spray into an oval tank below, full of many-coloured fish. In the court, at a sufficient distance from the fountain to avoid its spray, which, falling around, increased the delicious coolness of the air, sat a group of ladies employed in working tapestry, the colours they used being of those bright dyes which the East alone could at that time supply. The only person who was moving was a young girl, who was frolicking round the court with a little dog, enticed to follow her by a coloured ball, which she kept jerking, now to one side, now to the other, laughing as she did so at the animal’s surprise, in all the joyousness of innocent youth. She had scarcely yet reached that age when a girl has become conscious of her charms and her power over the sterner sex. The ladies were conversing earnestly together, thinking, it was evident, very little of their work, when a servant appearing announced the approach of Don Gonzales Munebrega, Bishop of Tarragona. For the peculiar virtues he possessed in the eye of the supreme head of his Church, he was afterwards made Archbishop of the same see. Uneasy glances were exchanged among the ladies; but they had scarcely time to speak before a dignified-looking ecclesiastic entered the court, followed by two inferior priests.

One of the ladies, evidently the mistress of the house, advanced to meet him, and after the usual formal salutations had been exchanged, he seated himself on a chair which was placed for him by her side, at a distance from the rest of the party, who were joined, however, by the two priests. The young girl no sooner caught sight of the Bishop from the farther end of the hall, where the little dog had followed her among the orange trees, than all trace of her vivacity disappeared.

“Ah, Doña Mercia, your young daughter reminds me greatly of you at the same age,” observed the Bishop, with a sigh, turning to the lady, who still retained much of the beauty for which the young girl was conspicuous.

“You had not then entered the priesthood; and on entering it, and putting off the secular habit, I should have thought, my lord, that you would have put off all thoughts and feelings of the past,” answered Doña Mercia calmly.

“Not so easy a task,” replied the Bishop. “A scene like this conjures up the recollection of days gone by and never to return. You—you, Doña Mercia, might have saved me from what I now suffer.”

“You speak strangely, Don Gonzales,” said Doña Mercia. “Why address such words to me? Our feelings are not always under our own control. I know that you offered me your hand, and the cause of my rejecting your offer was that I could not give you what alone would have made my hand of value. I never deceived you, and as soon as I knew your feelings, strove to show you what were mine.”

“Indeed, you did!” exclaimed the Bishop, in a tone of bitterness. “You say truly, too, that we cannot always control our feelings. My rival is no more; and did not the office into which I rashly plunged cut me off from the domestic life I once hoped to enjoy, what happiness might yet be mine!”

“Oh, my lord, let me beg you not to utter such remarks,” said Doña Mercia, in a voice of entreaty. “The past cannot be recalled. God chasteneth whom He loveth. He may have reserved for you more happiness than any earthly prosperity can give.”

A frown passed over the brow of the priest of Rome.

The lady of the mansion, anxious to turn the current of the Bishop’s thoughts, and to put a stop to a conversation which was annoying her—fearing, indeed, from her knowledge of the man, that it might lead to some proposal still more painful and disagreeable—called her young daughter, Leonor de Cisneros, to her. Doña Leonor approached the Bishop with downcast looks.

“You are wonderfully demure now, my pretty maiden,” he remarked in a bantering tone, his countenance brightening, however, for an instant as he spoke to her; “but you were gay and frolicking enough just now, when I entered. How is that?”

“It becomes me to be grave in your presence, my lord,” was the answer.

“But you are generally happy and joyous, are you not?” asked the Bishop.

“Yes, especially when I think of the good and loving Master I desire to serve,” answered the young girl, innocently.

“Who is that?” asked the Romish priest, not guessing whom she could mean.

“The Lord Jesus Christ, who died on Calvary that I might be washed from my sins by His precious blood there shed for me,” answered the young girl, promptly.

“Ah! but you love the Holy Virgin, the immaculate Mother of God, too, do you not?” asked the priest.

“Yes, indeed, I do love the Holy Virgin, for she was blessed among women, and nurtured and brought up the dear Jesus, who died for me and for her too, that we might be saved,” said Doña Leonor, without hesitation.

“Ah! what! do not you pray to the Holy Virgin, little maiden?” asked the priest, looking at her sternly. “This must be looked to,” he muttered to himself.

“Why should I pray to her, when I have the gentle loving Jesus, to whom I may go in prayer at all times and in all places?” she asked with simplicity, and with a tone of surprise that the priest should not agree with her.

“And you do not pray to the saints either, then, perhaps?” he asked, before the girl had finished the last sentence.

“Oh, no! they are dead and cannot hear me. I pray only to the good Jesus, who always is ready to hear me; for He loves me more than my dear father did, or even than my mother can,” answered Doña Leonor.

“These are not Catholic doctrines, young lady,” said the Bishop in a tone of harshness he had not yet used. “Who taught them to you? They smack strongly of heresy.”

“I do not know what heresy means,” answered Doña Leonor, in an artless tone. “My dear father taught me what I know about the loving Jesus—that He is the only friend in whom human beings can really trust. It was the sure knowledge of this which comforted him through his illness, and made his deathbed so happy and glorious. He told us to meet him in heaven, and I do hope to meet him there some day. The thought of that makes me extremely happy, whenever it comes to my mind.”

“You hold very strange doctrines, child,” said the Bishop, sharply. “Has your mother embraced them?”

“I know nothing about doctrines, my lord,” answered Doña Leonor. “I think that my mother must hope to meet our dear father in heaven, or she would be very miserable; and I am sure she cannot hope to get there except through her trust in the blood of Jesus. I hope, my lord Bishop, that you expect to go there by that sure and only way.”

“I cannot expect to go there except by the way the Church points out, and I cannot even know that there is a heaven except through what the Church teaches,” answered the Bishop, in a voice that sounded somewhat husky. “That is the true Catholic doctrine, maiden, which it behoves all Spaniards to believe, and which they must be compelled to believe. You understand, maiden. Tell your mother what I say. But here she comes.”

Doña Mercia, wishing to escape from the remarks of her former admirer, had joined the rest of her guests, and afterwards retired to give some direction for their entertainment, little dreaming of the dangerous turn the conversation between her daughter and the Bishop would take.

“Ah, Doña Mercia, I find that your daughter is a little heretic, and holds in but slight respect the doctrines of the Church. As she tells me she was instructed in them by her late father, and as he must have imbibed such abominable principles during his visits to Germany from that arch-heretic Luther, I trust that they have proceeded no farther. But let me advise you to be cautious, Doña Mercia, and to inculcate Catholic principles into the mind of your daughter. Remember that from henceforth the eyes of the Inquisition will be upon you.”

“My lord Bishop, I have ever endeavoured to do my duty to my God, to my child, and to all around me,” answered Doña Mercia, meekly, unconsciously placing her hands across her bosom. “I trust that I have no cause to tremble, should the eyes of the whole world be upon me.”

“The eyes of the Inquisition are more piercing than those of the whole world combined,” answered Don Gonzales, in a low voice, which came hissing forth from between his almost clenched lips, in a tone which was calculated to produce more effect on the mind of the hearer than the loudest outburst of passion.

When the Bishop rose from his seat, he approached the rest of the company with a smiling aspect, and addressed them with that dignified courtesy for which Spaniards have ever been celebrated. Few would have guessed the feelings which were even then agitating his bosom; still, the party felt relieved when he and his softly-spoken, keen-eyed attendants took their departure.

Chapter Two.

The Inquisition.

At the time our story commences, the inquisitors scarcely suspected how far the opinions they so much dreaded had extended. They had satisfied themselves hitherto with burning Jews, Moors, and the poorer class of Christians, whose opinions did not agree with those of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, when Don Gonzales Munebrega, soon after his arrival at Seville on ecclesiastical business, paid the visit which has been described to Doña Mercia de Cisneros, he was considerably startled at hearing her young daughter utter expressions which showed that she had been taught doctrines of a heretical character. The whole family were in his power. He had once loved Doña Mercia; she had rejected him. How should he now use that power? Tumultuous feelings agitated his bosom as he mounted the richly-caparisoned mule which stood ready to convey him to the convent where he lodged.

This was not the only visit he paid to Doña Mercia; but, though courteous to her guest, she was ever on her guard, and carefully kept Leonor out of his way. For once in his life he was baffled. Whenever he paid his visits the same caution was observed. At length he was compelled to take his departure from Seville. Years rolled on, but he never forgot the remarks made to him by the young Leonor de Cisneros. He had hated her father, he had been rejected by her mother. It is difficult to describe the feelings with which he regarded the daughter, still less those which he had entertained for the mother. Were they holy and pure? The lives of thousands of cardinals, bishops, and priests of all degrees, is the best answer to the question.

Don Gonzales Munebrega was rising in the Church. He had become Archbishop of Tarragona. His heart had become harder and harder; in reality an infidel—an alien from God—a hater of all that was pure and holy, he thought that he was becoming devout. He was resolved that if he was not on the right way to heaven, no one else should get there by any other. The war was now to begin against heresy and schism—terms abused, especially the latter, at the present day almost as much as in the darker days of Popish supremacy. There are to be found clergymen of the Church of England who can, unconcernedly, see many of their flock going over to the Church of Rome, whom they have possibly led half-way there; and yet should any of the rest of their congregation, disgusted with their Ritualistic practices, or fearing the effect of their false teaching on their children, strive to set up an independent place of worship, or to join any already established body of Christians, anathemas are hurled at their heads, and they are told that they are guilty of the heinous crime of schism—schism, in the sense they give it, a figment of sacerdotalism, priestcraft, and imposture. But does the crime of schism not exist? Ay, it does; but it is schism from the true Church of Christ, the Church of which He is the head corner-stone, the beautified in Heaven, the sanctified on earth; from God’s people, who are with Him in glory, who are with us here below, who are yet to be born; from the glorious company of the redeemed; from Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the whole world, the risen Saviour, the one Intercessor between God and man. Those are guilty of trying to create schism who tell God’s people—trusting to the same precious blood shed on Calvary—that it is a crime to worship together, to commemorate the Lord’s death together, to put out the right hand of fellowship, to call each other brethren; ay, those are the causers of schism, against whose evil machinations Christian men have cause to pray.

But we must return to Spain. The year 1552 arrived. During it an auto-da-fé was celebrated at Seville, but as only a few poor Moors and Jews were burnt, it did not create much sensation; still there was no lack of spectators to see the burning. Several criminals were condemned to do penance on the occasion, and among them was the once celebrated preacher, Dr Egidius, whose crime was being true to his Lord and Master. The high conical cap and yellow robe in which he appeared could not make him ridiculous in the eyes of many of his fellow-citizens, even of those who did not sympathise with his opinions. At length he was liberated, and once more mixed with his friends at Seville. It was necessary, however, for him to be very cautious, lest, as his movements were watched, he should draw suspicion on them. Soon after he was released, he set out for Valladolid, where his wounded spirit was much refreshed by finding the progress the Gospel had made in that city and its neighbourhood. Over-fatigued by his return journey, he died shortly after his arrival in Seville. God, however, did not leave His Church in Seville without a minister. Constantine Ponce de la Fuente, on the death of Egidius, obtained the post of Canon-Magistrate in the Cathedral of Seville, previously held by him. This made him the principal preacher in the place, and gave him great influence, which he used in spreading the truth of the Gospel. He published numerous evangelical works suited to the understanding of the least educated of his countrymen. His system was not so much to attack the errors of Rome, as to bring the light of the Gospel to shine on their minds through his addresses and writings. In Valladolid and the surrounding towns and villages, men of talent and eminence were equally zealous in spreading Protestant opinions. They were embraced by the greater part of the nuns of Santa Clara and of the Sistercian order of San Belem, and converts were found among the class of devout women, called in Spain beatas, who are bound by no particular rule, but addict themselves to works of charity. One of the most active propagators of the reformed doctrines in the surrounding country was Don Carlos de Seso, who had for important services been held in high honour by Charles the Fifth, and had married Doña Isabella de Castilla, a descendant of the royal family of Castile and Leon. These few examples are sufficient to show the progress made by the Reformation at that time among the highest and most intelligent classes of the community in Spain—made, too, in spite of the ever-watchful eyes of the officers of the Inquisition, and notwithstanding the almost certain death with torture, and by fire, which would be the lot of any denounced by its familiars.

In Spain, in those days, as at present, it was the custom for ladies of rank to receive guests at their houses on certain days of the week. Doña Mercia de Cisneros was holding such a reception one evening. Guests of all opinions came. There were a large number of Protestants; they knew each other to be Protestants, but to the rest of the guests their opinions were unknown. Among the guests were two young men who, though apparently strangers to each other, were attracted by the same object—admiration for Doña Leonor, the youthful daughter of the house. Don Francisco de Vivers, the elder of the two, was an inhabitant of Seville, of considerable wealth and excellent family. He was considered amiable and generous; and was, moreover, handsome and agreeable in his manners, dressed well, and possessed a house and equipages surpassed by few. He was not at all insensible of his own qualifications for winning a young lady’s heart, and was, therefore, greatly puzzled at discovering that Doña Leonor seemed insensible to them. Don Francisco loved the world and his wealth far too much to give his heart to God; and Doña Leonor had resolved not to marry any one who would not make up his mind to do so. Possibly too, he might scarcely have heard of the reformed doctrines; he was a firm Roman Catholic. It was a faith which exactly suited him. He found it so easy for a person of his wealth to clear off any sins which might trouble his conscience.

The other young man who has been spoken of seemed to be a stranger in the place, though several affectionate greetings which he received showed that he was not so altogether. He was dressed in black, the usual costume of a lawyer in those days, and though not so handsome as Don Francisco, his broad forehead, clear eye, and firm mouth, showed that he was far his superior in intellect. Doña Leonor no longer turned away her head when he approached her, as she had done when Don Francisco drew near, but received him with a friendly smile, while an acute observer might have discovered that a blush suffused her cheek while he spoke. Don Francisco watched him at a distance, and an expression denoting angry jealousy came over his countenance as he saw the intimate terms which existed between the two. He little dreamed, however, of the cause of the earnest love which one felt for the other: it was the pure holy faith which both enjoyed, the same common trust, the same hope, the same confidence in the one ever-loving Saviour. They believed that they were to be united, not only for a time, but for eternity. Their acquaintance had commenced during a visit Doña Leonor had paid to some relatives residing in the town of Toro, of which place Antonio Herezuelo, the young man who has been described, was an advocate. It soon ripened into affection. No barrier existed between them, for the acute lawyer had already been converted to the truth, and, head and heart alike convinced, held firmly to it as the anchor of his soul. Doña Mercia did not oppose their union, for she perceived that Antonio Herezuelo possessed courage, determination, and a superior intellect, beside a gentle and loving disposition—qualities calculated to secure her daughter’s happiness, and which would enable him to protect her during the troublous times which she feared might be coming on Spain. She knew well what had happened, and what was occurring in the Netherlands, as did all the educated persons in Spain; but that did not prevent those who had the Gospel offered to them from accepting its truths, or from endeavouring to make them known among their companions. Those who were in the Church, and whose position enabled them to preach, promulgated Gospel truth openly, while laymen spoke of it to their friends in private, or addressed small assemblies of persons who appeared disposed to receive it.

Chapter Three.

A Narrow Escape.

The young couple, now formally betrothed, appeared everywhere together in public, and it was understood that before long their marriage would be solemnised. Many of the places, however, frequented by people of their rank, they avoided—the bull-fights and the religious spectacles—the one tending to brutalise the people, the other to foster the grossest superstition. Among the houses at which they visited at Seville was that of the widow Doña Isabel de Baena. Her guests, however, it was understood, only came by invitation. Most of them approached her house cautiously—sometimes alone, or only two or three together—generally when it grew dusk, and muffled in their cloaks so that their features could not be discerned. Often there was a large assemblage of persons at Doña Isabel’s house thus collected, though the spies of the Inquisition had not observed them assembling. Though sedate and generally serious in their manner, they were neither sad nor cast down; indeed, a cheerfulness prevailed among the company not often seen in a Spanish assembly. Doña Leonor was there with her mother. Don Antonio Herezuelo set out from his lodgings with the purpose of going there also. He had not gone far when, suddenly turning his head, he found that he was closely followed. Under ordinary circumstances this would have caused him little concern, but at present he knew the importance of being cautious. He remembered that by going down a lane near at hand he might return home again. This he did, and walking on rapidly, got rid, as he supposed, of his pursuer. After remaining a short time he again sallied forth, and taking a circuitous way to Doña Isabel’s house, arrived there safely, and, as he hoped, without being observed. Leonor had become anxious about him. She told him so when he arrived.

“Do not on similar occasions fear, my beloved,” he answered, with that brave smile which frequently lighted up his countenance. “God protects those who put their whole trust in Him—not a half trust, but the whole entire trust.”

“Yes, I know, and yet surely many of those who were tortured and suffered in the flames in the Low Countries put their trust in Him,” answered Leonor. “I shudder when I think of the agonies those poor people must have endured.”

Again that smile came over Herezuelo’s countenance. “Sometimes He requires those whom He loves best, and who love Him, to suffer for Him here, that He may give them a brighter crown, eternal in the heavens—the martyr’s crown of glory,” he answered.

“Ah, yes, I know that thought should sustain a person,” she remarked; “yet all tortures must be hard for poor, frail human bodies to bear.”

“Yes, if people trust to their own strength and courage they will mostly shrink at the time of trial, but if they trust to the strength God gives them, they will as surely bear with fortitude whatever He may allow to be layed on them,” was the answer. “Not one, but a hundred such assurances He gives us in His holy Word. ‘My grace is sufficient for thee,’ He says to all who trust in Him, as He said to the Apostle Paul. It is not moral, nor is it physical courage which will sustain a person under such circumstances. No, dear one, it is only courage which firm faith, or rather, the Holy Spirit of God, can give.”

“I know that—I feel that; yet it is very dreadful to think that those we love and honour may be brought to undergo such suffering.”

“Not if we remember that they may thus be enabled to honour and glorify their loving Lord and Master,” answered Herezuelo. “But see, here comes Don Carlos de Seso, one of the noblest of our band of evangelists. I heard that he was about to visit Seville. To him I owe my knowledge of the truth. He has, since his marriage with Doña Isabella de Castilla, who is, you know, a descendant of the royal family of Castile and Leon, settled at Villamediana, near Logrono. His evangelistic efforts at that place have been as greatly blessed as they were at Valladolid; and among many others, the parish priest of his own village has been converted to the truth. At Pedroso also, the parish priest, Pedro de Cazalla, has been brought to a knowledge of the truth, and now preaches it freely in his own and the neighbouring villages. Oh, it is glorious work; would that this whole nation might receive the Gospel!”

“Say rather the whole earth,” said Leonor. “If Spain becomes the mistress of the world, she will spread everywhere the glorious light of truth.”

“But if she puts out that light, she will as surely spread darkness and error,” observed Antonio, with a sigh. “See, De Seso is about to address us. Let us pray that, whatever God in His wisdom orders, we may believe in His justice, and submit to His will.”

A large number of persons had by this time assembled in Doña Isabel de Baena’s rooms. Among them, strange as it may seem, were a considerable number of monks, and even several nuns, though such rather in their outward garb than in reality. The latter belonged to the nunnery of Saint Elizabeth, while the monks had come from the Hieronomite convent of San Isidoro del Campo, situated about two miles from Seville. There was also present Domingo de Guzman, a son of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and preacher of the Dominican monastery of Saint Paul. As soon as he had embraced the reformed principles, he became more zealous in propagating them. Such, indeed, was generally the case with all those in prominent positions who embraced the Gospel. They were in earnest. They had counted the cost, and well knew that should the Inquisition discover their proceedings, the stake would be their doom. Both Don Carlos de Seso and Don Domingo de Guzman addressed the congregation of earnest believers on this occasion. They prayed also with all the fervour of true believers, and hymns were sung of praise to Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. Don Carlos had deplored the want of books, and of Bibles especially, by which the truth might the more rapidly be made known, and had prayed that God would supply that want. Scarcely was the service concluded, when there was a commotion among the guests, and it was announced that a brave Christian friend, Julian Hernandez, after undergoing many dangers and difficulties, and great fatigue, had arrived with a supply of the books which were so much required.

A short time afterwards there was a cry of Julianillo, or little Julian, and a remarkably small but stoutly built man, dressed as a muleteer, entered the room. The guests crowded eagerly around him to hear his adventures. He had many to relate. How often he had narrowly escaped capture with his precious burden! but the Lord had preserved him. Had he been taken, he and his books together would have been committed to the flames. God had determined that the seed of those books should take root in the hearts of many natives of Spain, to bring forth fruit to His glory. Julianillo’s success made him resolve to set forth again to bring a fresh supply across the Pyrenees. Some of the more timid of his friends advised him not to make the attempt. “Satan and his priests will not like me to bring them,” he answered laughingly. “Those Testaments and Luther’s writings are the arms they dread more than anything else. That makes me feel sure that I am doing God’s work in bringing them, and that He will take care of me while I am so employed.” A brave and faithful answer, little Julian. Oh, what noble, true hearts there were in Spain in those days! and though many were crushed and destroyed, still some survived, and their descendants at the present day may yet become the salt of their native land—lights set on a hill to enlighten their long benighted countrymen.

Before the guests separated another short prayer was offered up, and a Gospel hymn was sung. Scarcely had the notes of the last verse died away, when a servant who had been sent out on a message hurried into the room. “Bad news! bad news!” he exclaimed. “We are all lost; the cause of the pure faith is lost; the inquisitors will have their way.”

The guests gathered round the man with anxious looks, for they knew well that at any moment they might be placed in the perilous position he announced.

“The widow Doña Maria Gomez is the cause of it all,” the man answered, to the eager questions put to him. “She is acquainted with every one of us, and we all thought her a true Christian. Every one here is also acquainted with the learned Doctor Francisco Zafra. The poor lady had, it appears, gone mad, and had been placed by her friends under Doctor Francisco’s care. As he is with us, this would not have been of much consequence, had not Doña Maria managed to escape from his custody. Now, horrible to relate, she has made her way to the Inquisition at Triana, and has denounced all the Protestants in Seville. As she was making her way to the Inquisition, she cried out what she was going to do, accusing all her former friends, and declaring that she should have no rest till she had seen every one of them committed to the flames. Doctor Zafra has never even been suspected by the inquisitors of favouring the Lutherans. Now, as he will be among the first denounced by the wretched widow, he has no chance of escaping. What shall we do? what shall we do?”

“Do!” exclaimed a voice; “put our trust in God, and act like men! Do! pardon me for speaking, señors—keep together and defy our enemies!”

It was Julianillo who uttered these brave words.

“But then we may all be captured together like fish by one net,” observed a gentleman.

“Let us pray, friends, for guidance and protection to the loving Saviour whom we serve,” said Don Carlos de Seso. “He will direct us, and enable us to undergo whatever He may think right for His own honour and glory.”

Don Carlos setting the example, the whole party sank on their knees, while he offered up a deeply fervent, though short, prayer for the assistance all needed. Refreshed, the company arose.

“I cannot agree with our friend Julianillo that it will be wise to keep together,” observed the lawyer Herezuelo. “Should the unhappy widow bring the accusation she threatened, and the officers of the Inquisition find us all together, they will naturally suspect that the information is well founded. No; let us retire each one to his own house, avoiding observation as much as we can. There let us be together in spirit, praying for each other. We should fear no harm when God is with us.”

Another short prayer was offered up and the Christian friends left the house as they had come—two and three together, in different directions, hoping thus to avoid observation. The monks returned to their convent, not, however, without having first been supplied with books from the rich stores which Julianillo had brought, and for which their brethren within its walls were eagerly looking. All the other guests went laden in the same way, and thus the Holy Bible and the works of Luther and others were quietly and secretly distributed throughout the surrounding towns and villages. Herezuelo begged that he might accompany Doña Mercia and her daughter to their home, for it was fearfully possible that even on their way they might be seized by the officers of the Inquisition and carried off to its dungeons. The last to leave the house was Julianillo. The lady of the house inquired where he was going.

“To bring to my famishing countrymen a fresh supply of food for the soul,” he answered.

“But surely you have done enough, Julianillo. You run a fearful risk of losing your life,” observed the lady.

“Enough, Signora! enough service to our loving Lord and Master!” exclaimed the little muleteer. “Oh, no, no! As long as there are persons in Spain desiring to learn about the blessed Jesus, so long will I try to bring them books which tell them about Him. And as to fearing the dangers which may overtake me, I am in the hands of One who can protect me through far greater than are in my path at present; and should He ever require me to witness to the truth of His gospel, I know that He will give me strength to undergo all the trials and torments with which its foes may seek to afflict me.”

Brave Julianillo! He went along the street singing a joyous air. To the words, however, he wisely did not give utterance. He took the way to the lodgings of the advocate, Herezuelo. Don Antonio had not arrived. After waiting some time, Julian became anxious. Could he have been seized by the officers of the Inquisition? It was too likely. Herezuelo had, he knew, openly preached the doctrines of the Reformation in his part of the country. At last, Julian thought that he might possibly be at Doña Mercia’s. “Why did not that occur to me before?” he said to himself. “Of course, if I knew that there was danger, I should stay by the side of my intended wife.”

He hurried off to Doña Mercia’s abode. He was at once admitted. He found the family in some consternation, for it was reported that Doctor Zafra had himself been seized, and, if so, there could be little doubt that he would be put to the torture and made to confess that the persons denounced by the poor mad woman were really guilty of entertaining Lutheran opinions. Herezuelo was endeavouring to comfort his friends. He could not but feel that the reports were possibly true. Of human help, therefore, he could not speak. An attempt to flee from the country would be hopeless, but he could point to Jesus Christ, to the God of mercy and love.

“Ah, my dear friends,” observed Don Antonio, “never let us forget that He has redeemed us and washed our sins away; and if He thinks fit to call us to Himself, even through fiery trials, He will give us strength to endure all that we may be called on to suffer, that we may glorify His name.”

“Just the remark I lately made, señors,” observed Julianillo, who at that moment entered the room. “Satan tries to frighten us, and to make us believe that He is stronger than our Master; but praised be God, we know that we serve One all-powerful to save, and who can, if He will, crush Satan under His foot.”

“The truth, brave Julianillo,” exclaimed Herezuelo, who in the volunteer muleteer found one whose heart sympathised cordially with his own. “And what do you propose doing?”

“Wait till daylight, and see what comes of this matter,” answered Julianillo. “Those who fly will be the first suspected. Doctor Zafra is a wise man. Sense may be given to him to outwit the inquisitors, or should he fail to do that, he will, I have hopes, suffer torture rather than betray his friends. In the meantime, cavalheros, let us be wise, and seek for strength and endurance from the Giver of all power and might.”

Following the advice of the muleteer, or rather the example of the apostles of old, those assembled knelt down in prayer, thus gaining strength and courage for what they might have to undergo. Oh, that Christians at the present day would remember that by earnest, frequent, persevering prayer, mountains will be removed, guidance obtained, difficulties overcome!

The greater part of the night was thus spent in prayer. As soon as the morning dawned, and people were once more passing to and fro in the streets, Herezuelo and Julianillo went forth to try and ascertain the fate of Doctor Zafra, on which apparently their own and that of so many of their friends depended. Should the mad widow’s story be believed, there could be no doubt that such an auto-da-fé would take place as had seldom been witnessed in Spain. They kept at a distance from each other, lest being seen together they might be suspected; thus, though fearless for themselves, wisely taking every precaution to avoid danger.

Herezuelo, as he walked along, thought of his beloved Leonor, so delicate, so gentle, so faithful. He himself was ready to undergo any torture the cruel inquisitors might think fit to inflict on him, but how would she be able to endure their barbarities? His heart rose in his bosom as he thought of this, and he could not help praying that a power might arise by which the foes of freedom would be driven from the land. At first he thought of an arm of flesh, carnal weapons—that some hero might arise who would liberate long-enslaved Spain; but, by degrees, a better spirit exerted its influence. “Through the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, can error, superstition, tyranny alone be conquered.” He said to himself, “Ah! Julianillo is a greater hero than I am or can ever become, inasmuch as he does more to spread the Holy Bible throughout Spain than any other man.”

Hour after hour the friends waited in the neighbourhood of the Inquisition, in vain endeavouring to ascertain what had become of the widow and Doctor Zafra. In despair, they were about returning, when a calèche appeared, in which sat the doctor, with the widow by his side. He seemed calm and unconcerned, his attention being apparently wholly occupied in calming the agitation of the poor woman. Not a glance did he bestow on either the advocate or Julianillo. They had good hopes that the inquisitors had been satisfied; or, thought Herezuelo, “Can the doctor have become a traitor; and is he allowed by the inquisitors to go free that he may the more readily entrap others into their toils?” It was too probable that such an idea was correct; but Herezuelo quickly banished it as ungenerous from his mind, and hurried back to Doña Mercia’s house with the satisfactory information that Doctor Zafra was free. Julianillo arrived soon after, and expressing his belief that all were safe, stated that he intended to re-commence his perilous expedition to Germany. Still some hours must elapse before the truth could be ascertained for a certainty, as it would not be safe to visit Doctor Zafra’s house till dark. Much of the interval was spent in reading the Scriptures and in prayer. At length the truth was known. The sagacious Zafra, on being summoned, went boldly to the inquisitors, with a fearless, self-satisfied countenance. He laughed when the names of those denounced by the widow were read over to him.

“She has been mad for many a day, and a strong proof of her madness is that she should have picked out persons the most unlikely in Spain to be guilty of such heresies,” he replied. “Devout and exemplary I know they are; and those among them with whom I am acquainted are especially lovers of the true faith, and are persons in whom I have unbounded confidence.” The inquisitors, on hearing this, were so fully convinced that the poor widow’s representations had no other foundation than the visionary workings of a disordered brain, that they allowed the learned doctor to depart with her under his charge. Thus was the danger to the infant Church at Seville for the time mercifully removed, and while it gained strength to endure the coming persecutions, the number of Christ’s true disciples was much increased.

Chapter Four.

Signs of Danger.

Two years had passed away. Leonor de Cisneros had become the wife of Antonio Herezuelo, the advocate; they had settled at Toro, but occasionally made visits to Seville and to Valladolid, where they enjoyed the society of other Protestants—many of them illustrious, both by birth and talents, among the nobles of Spain.

The year 1558, fearfully memorable in Spain, at length commenced. Philip was about to return to his paternal dominions. Charles the Fifth was in his retirement in the convent of Saint Juste. The Inquisitor-general, Valdes, became more than ever certain that heresy was extending. Herezuelo and Doña Leonor were at Valladolid. They were at their lodgings in that city when a certain Juan Garcia, a goldsmith, was announced. He was well-known there as a sincere Protestant. It was his office to summon the brethren to meet together for prayer and sermon. The advocate, who knew him to be a true man, welcomed him cordially, and promised to attend the meeting. It was to be held at the house once occupied by Doña Leonor de Vibero, the mother of Doctor Cazalla. She herself had been dead for some few years, as were several of her children; but her house had been continued to be used, as it now was, as a meeting place for Protestants. Juan Garcia had a good deal of information to communicate with regard to the progress made by Protestant principles. He was very sanguine as to the success of the cause; and as the members of the Church had so long evaded the lynx eye of the inquisitors, he had every reason to hope that they would continue to do so. In his rounds he encountered Julian Hernandez, the persevering Bible importer. A warm greeting passed between the two friends. Julianillo was on the point of starting on another expedition, and could not attend the meeting that night. His heart would be with his co-religionists, and his prayers would ascend with theirs as he followed his mules over the sierra.

“The time may come, ere long, when we may worship together in public, and the books which I now bring in small numbers with difficulty and danger, may arrive in shiploads and be sold openly,” he added, as he shook his friend’s hand.

The goldsmith shook his head.

“That time is, I fear, a long way off,” he answered; “yet it behoves us, nevertheless, to pray for it.”

Juan Garcia, having performed his duties, returned to his home. He was not happy there. His wife, Maria Vallanegra, did not entertain his opinions. Now, it could have mattered very little what Maria thought on the subject, had she not gone to confession, where, not content with confessing her own sins, she took upon herself, at the instigation of the priest, to confess her husband’s also. What the priest said to her it is not necessary to repeat. She had had the same sort of things said before, and had not been shocked. He now, however, before he allowed her to depart, brought the enormity of her conduct fully before her, and told her that he could not afford her absolution, because she was married to one who held heretical notions, unless she could manage to get him duly punished. She had made her confession; but, after all, she had to go home without receiving absolution. She had observed that her husband was away from home occasionally for some hours, and not engaged in business; also, he occasionally remained out at night for a considerable time, and declined telling her where he had been. She had made a statement to that effect to the priest, together with her suspicions that Lutheranism had something to do with the matter.

“Then obtain all the information you can; and if you discover anything of importance, not only shall you receive absolution for all your yet unpardoned sins, but you shall receive a handsome reward, and a plenary indulgence for the future,” answered the confessor. “Exert your woman’s wit. Think of the indulgence you will obtain, and if your husband is, as you suspect, a heretic, he is utterly unworthy of your consideration. You cannot wish to associate with him in this world; and in the next, if you go to heaven, you must be ever separated from him.”

Thus exhorted, the wretched Maria returned to her home. She knew that her husband had a secret, and she resolved to discover it. If he should prove to be a Lutheran, it would be a pious act for her to deliver him up to justice. She procured a mantilla, such as is worn occasionally by tradesmen’s wives, and even ladies when going to confession, of a manufacture different from that which her husband was accustomed to see her wear. To throw him off his guard, she lavished on him far more affection than was her custom, and pretended to forget that she had ever complained of his leaving home without telling her where he was going. More than once she put on her mantilla to follow him, but before he had got far she lost sight of him in the crowd. At length, one evening, when the weather was rainy, and there were fewer people abroad than usual, she saw he was preparing to go out; and managing to leave the house before him, she concealed herself within an archway, whence she could watch which way he went. He came out; she followed him stealthily, but quickly. He called at several houses, she noted them carefully; then he went on till he came to the mansion of the Cazalla family. He was admitted at a side door. She took up her post at a spot whence she could watch the door. Her labours were to be rewarded. Scarcely had her husband entered than several other persons arrived, and then more and more, by twos and threes. Many of them she saw by their dress and carriage, as the lights their servants carried fell on them, were evidently persons of rank. She wished that she could venture to follow them into the house, to learn more about the matter. Still, the information she had gained might prove of the greatest value. The next morning she hurried off to inform her father confessor of her discovery. He told her to keep secret what she had seen; and the next time her husband went out at that hour, to come instantly and let him know.

The next prayer-meeting took place, and Maria gave timely notice of it to her father confessor, Fre Antonio Lobo. Had he been addicted to giving expression to his feelings, he would have rubbed his hands with satisfaction; he merely cautioned Maria to be silent as the grave as to what she had told him, and immediately set off to give the long wished-for information to his superiors. The Chief Inquisitor, the stern Archbishop, three other dignitaries appointed by the Holy Father the Pope to assist him in the extirpation of heresy by the destruction of heretics with fire and sword, and several other high officers, were seated in the council hall of the Inquisition when Father Antonio Lobo appeared among them. Some of them, like anglers, who, having been long unsuccessful in their attempts to hook their finny prey, declare that there are no fish in the lake, had inclined to the opinion that their countrymen were too staunch adherents of the Pope ever to be led astray by the doctrines of Luther.

“It may be as you suppose, Fre Ignacio,” observed the Grand Inquisitor to one of his assistants, who had made a remark to that effect. “But remember that it is our duty to seek diligently for all who may be opposed to our order and system, and to destroy them without compunction, with their wives and children, so that none of the viper’s brood remains to sting us.”

The stern expression visible on the countenances of those he addressed, as the light from the brass lamp which hung from the vaulted roof fell on them, showed that they were fully ready to carry out his advice to the extreme. A grim smile played over their features when Fre Antonio made his report.

“I knew that before long we should gain the tidings we desired,” observed the Chief Inquisitor. “In capturing a few we must take care that the rest do not escape us. Officers must be placed to watch all those who come forth from the Cazalla palace, and they must be followed to their homes and never again lost sight of. Meantime, messengers must be despatched forthwith throughout the kingdom, and all the ramifications of this most accursed heresy traced out, so that on a given day all the heretics which exist in it may be seized together and brought to punishment. We must surround the whole brood with our nets, and let not one escape.”

The proposal was thoroughly in accordance with the wishes of most of the council. No time was lost in carrying out the proposed plan. Through the assistance of the artful Maria, who continued, in spite of his caution, to worm out some important secrets from Juan Garcia, every Protestant in Valladolid was discovered and marked for destruction. Officers and familiars of the Inquisition were also placed on the highways leading to the frontiers, so that any suspected person attempting to escape from the country might be captured.

The Protestants, meantime, continued to preach the truth, and hold their meetings as before, not, however, without a sense of the danger in which they were placed. How the feeling came on them they were not aware. Still it did not make even the most timid wish to abandon their principles, but rather drew them nearer to God, and made them more and more sensible of their entire dependence on Him. The difficulties encountered by those attempting to escape from the country were very great. Few persons experienced greater than did the monks of San Isidoro, near Seville. Nearly all the convents in its neighbourhood had been leavened with the reforming principles. They had been originally introduced into that of San Isidoro by the celebrated Doctor Blanco, who afterwards for a time abandoned them, or rather, it may be said that a timid disposition made him conceal them. He taught his brethren that true religion was very different from what it was vulgarly supposed to be; that it did not consist in chanting matins and vespers, or in performing any of those acts of bodily service in which their time was occupied, and that if they desired to have the approbation of God, it behoved them to have recourse to the Scriptures to know His mind. After a few years a still more decided change took place in the internal state of the monastery. An ample supply of copies of the Scriptures, and of Protestant books in the Spanish language having been received, they were read with avidity by the monks, and contributed at once to confirm those who had been enlightened, and to extricate others from the prejudices by which they were enthralled. In consequence of this, they and their Prior agreed to reform their religious institute. Their hours of prayer, as they were called, which had been spent in solemn mummeries, were appointed for hearing prelections on the Scriptures; prayers for the dead were omitted, or converted into lessons for the living; papal indulgences and pardons, which had formed a lucrative and engrossing traffic, were entirely abolished; images were allowed to remain, as they could not have been removed without attracting notice, though they received no homage; habitual temperance was substituted in the room of superstitious fasting; and novices were instructed in the principles of true piety, instead of being initiated into the idle and debasing habits of monachism. By their conversation also abroad, and by the circulation of books, these zealous monks diffused the knowledge of the truth through the adjacent country, and imparted it to many individuals who resided in towns at a considerable distance from Seville.

Chapter Five.

The Storm Breaks.

The advocate Herezuelo returned one afternoon to his lodgings in good spirits. He had been pleading an important cause, which he had gained—right against wrong—the cause of a widow and her children; on one side helplessness and poverty, on the other power and wealth. It had been held that the widow had no prospect of success till the young advocate undertook her cause.

Leonor rejoiced with her husband. He had been prompted by no expectation of fee or reward; but simply from a desire, through love of his blessed Master, to assist the distressed. It was a happy evening to both of them. They sat in a balcony overlooking an orange-grove, the soft air they breathed made fragrant by the sweet-scented flowers. The stars shone brilliantly in the clear sky; and as, their hands clasped together, they gazed upwards into the immeasurable space, they felt what happiness would be theirs, could they be allowed to wing their flight in company to that blessed region where all is peace, and quiet, and joy.

“But we may yet have work to do on earth in our Master’s service, dear one,” observed Antonio. “Let us be content to remain till He calls us, and let our earnest prayer be that He will then, in His loving mercy, summon us together. It would be grievous to be parted from you, my beloved Leonor, even for a brief season.”

“I pray that, through God’s mercy, that day may never come,” said Leonor, looking with deep affection at her husband. “Oh, let us not think even such an event possible.”

They were interrupted by the arrival of a visitor. Several other friends had called to congratulate Herezuelo on his success. The fresh visitor was in the garb of a laic; but when he threw back the cloak which concealed his features, the advocate and Doña Leonor saw before them their friend Don Domingo de Roxas, the well-known prior and preacher, a son of the Marquis de Poza.

“I have come to bid you farewell, dear friends,” he said. “It may be for a short time—it may be for ever. This is no safe country for one who has preached the truth openly as I have done, and I have, therefore, resolved to escape to Geneva, where I hope to remain till happier times come for our poor benighted Spain. On my way I must visit our beloved brother, Don Carlos de Seso, and, it may be, induce him to accompany me, for I fear that neither is he safe while the inquisitors are seeking for victims to satisfy their thirst for blood.”

“We may say, rather, that while those miserable slaves to the tyranny and superstition of Rome think that any remain who have been freed from that hideous system they will endeavour, by every cruelty they can devise, to destroy them, if they cannot bring them back to slavery,” observed Herezuelo. “Of all the men in existence, I pity the officials of the papal system, and more especially the inquisitors and their families, be they cardinals, bishops, or other ecclesiastics, however wealthy and powerful. While we endeavour to counteract their designs, and to escape from their power, let us pray that their hearts may be turned from darkness to light, and that they may learn to know, love, and imitate that same Jesus whom they now persecute.”

“Amen! I pray for them likewise,” said Don Domingo. “But I must not delay. I came to advise you, my friend, to quit Valladolid. It is no longer a safe place for you, for even were your religious opinions not suspected, you have made mortal enemies of those whom you so signally defeated at law this morning.”

“You are right, my friend; and we purpose, God willing, leaving this city for Toro to-morrow morning by daybreak,” answered Herezuelo. “We shall not be out of danger even there; but I have duties to perform at that place, and I shall at all events be at my post.”

“I wish you had arranged to start to-night,” said Don Domingo. “The delay of a few hours is dangerous. If, indeed, you can discover an excuse for leaving the country altogether, let me entreat you to do so. The storm I see coming may blow over; but you are a man of note, and as the tallest trees are the most quickly blown down, you would be the first assailed.”

“I have no fancy for fleeing from danger, and feel disposed rather to face my enemies, and argue the case with them,” observed the advocate.

“The only arguments they trust to are the rack and the stake,” answered Don Domingo. “Against them your eloquence will avail you nothing. Trust not to any one of the Romish priesthood, nor to those under their influence; they are sworn foes of true religion and liberty, and the more enlightened they believe you to be the more eager they will be for your destruction.”

These and other arguments used by Don Domingo at length induced Herezuelo to agree to set forth on his journey immediately that he could procure a conveyance for his wife and her attendant. Don Domingo himself offered, indeed, to remain and assist them; but of this the advocate would not hear, and the friends departed, the former taking the road for Calahora, where he hoped to meet with De Seso.

Don Domingo, who was dressed as a Spanish cavalier of rank, attended by a servant, pushed on at a rapid rate. He was no coward, but he knew full well what the Inquisition had in store for him should he be taken, and he wished to escape their treatment. He avoided as much as possible all inns and places resorted to by the public, and kept, when he could, out of the high road. He hoped thus to reach De Seso, and to persuade him to bear him company in his flight.

Calahora was reached without interruption. The noble De Seso was very unwilling to believe the reports which Don Domingo brought him.

“You go, my friend; but I cannot carry my wife and young children, and will not desert them,” he answered.

No arguments would move him. He did not even think that the inquisitors would venture to interfere with persons in his position.

Reluctantly Don Domingo left his friends to proceed on his journey. Hoping to avoid observation, he turned out of the high road, with the intention of continuing his journey during the moonlit hours of the night. He had not gone far when he saw approaching him a man riding a tall mule, and leading a string of five or six pack mules.

The muleteer was jogging on, to all appearance, carelessly singing what sounded like one of the plaintive ditties then become common in Spain, though learned from the Moors. There was something, however, in the tone, and in a few of the words that reached the ear of Don Domingo, which made him look hard at the muleteer.

“My friend, if I mistake not, Julianillo!” he exclaimed. “What brings you this way?”

“Evil times, Don Domingo; for I know you in spite of your disguise,” answered Julianillo. “I received notice from a trusty friend that all the passes are guarded, and that I shall not have a chance of escaping, nor will you. For the present, if we would be safe, we must lie concealed. Come with me; we shall not be the first Christians compelled, for the truth’s sake, to take shelter in the caves of the earth; nor shall we be the last. I wish that we could give notice to more of our brethren, who might join us.”

The arrangements proposed by Julianillo were now concluded; and, followed by Don Domingo, he led the way down a road, or bridle path rather, which branched off to the right. Scarcely had he turned aside when the noise of horses’ feet coming rapidly along the road was heard. Don Domingo’s servant, who was some little way behind, came spurring on crying out, “Flee, master, flee! They are officers of justice! They are in pursuit of us!”

The advice was followed, but the path was rough. Don Domingo’s horse stumbled, and in another instant he and his servant found themselves in the power of the officers of the Inquisition. Their mouths were instantly gagged, and a dark cloak and hood were thrown over their heads, completely concealing their figures and features. Some of the horsemen pushed on, but after a short time returned, and Don Domingo had the satisfaction of believing, from some of the expressions they let fall, that Julianillo had escaped. As far as he could judge, his steps were retraced till the party reached the neighbourhood of Calahora; they were then joined by another band of horsemen escorting prisoners. He had too much reason to fear that his friend De Seso was one of them. Among the prisoners were several females—of that he was certain. He longed to ascertain if his suspicions were correct. So strictly, however, was each individual prisoner guarded, that he might never have ascertained the truth, had not a storm suddenly burst on the heads of the escort. Shelter was not far off, and while the horsemen were pushing on to gain it, one of the party made a bold attempt to escape. He had grasped the rein of one of the female’s horses, when a flash of lightning made it rear, and he had great difficulty in saving the rider from being thrown to the ground. In doing so, his hood became disarranged, and the features of De Seso were revealed. The officers of the Inquisition immediately seized him and secured him more carefully, while he and the lady were separated.

“Alas! my noble friend is in the same condition as myself,” thought Domingo. “May God in His mercy support him; but he suffers not alone. He will feel the sufferings of his beloved wife even more than his own. And we, alas! alas! are but a few, perhaps, out of many hundred Christians now in the power of these monsters of the Inquisition.”

The unfortunate prisoners were allowed no rest, were permitted to communicate with no one, but were hurried on till they reached the portals of that mansion of horror and despair—the Inquisition. But was it to them an abode of despair? No! A power more than human supported them. That strength which never fails those who put their faith in God held them up; for God has promised that His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will be with them who trust in Him in all their troubles and afflictions.

As soon as they passed through the gates, each of the prisoners was conducted blindfolded to separate cells. Into these dark and foul holes delicate women and men, accustomed to all the refinements the age afforded, were thrust indiscriminately. No couch, no chairs, even, were allowed them; when weary of standing, they were compelled to sit down on the hard, cold and damp flag-stones. Scarcely a ray of light was admitted into their dens; the only sounds which ever reached their ears being occasionally the groans and cries of their companions in suffering. The system pursued by the inquisitors was too generally known to allow them a ray of hope that they would escape without the most fearful torture, or the alternative of giving evidence to condemn those nearest and dearest to them.

Chapter Six.

The Arrest.

Antonio Herezuelo and his wife Leonor knelt in prayer after their friend had left them. On rising from their knees, they decided not to make the attempt to escape.

“We cannot flee from the country, and the alguazils of the Inquisition can as easily find us at our house as in the city of Valladolid, should they suspect us of holding to the true faith,” said Antonio, calmly. “Our Heavenly Father knows what is best, and He may require us to testify to the truth of the doctrine we have learned of Him through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and let us rejoice rather than grieve if we are so honoured. Oh, my beloved Leonor, be firm, whatever happens; cling to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Never allow that saint in heaven or priest on earth has the power to come between us and our one great loving Mediator, who stands at the right hand of God, pleading that He paid once and for all a full and complete ransom for us. Never acknowledge that by the word of a man bread and wine can be changed into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, of that Lord who is now in heaven, standing at the right hand of God, pleading that body broken, that blood flowing freely for all of us; pleading that all-sufficient, all-perfect, all-complete sacrifice made once, and never to be repeated, on Calvary. Never dishonour that Saviour, that precious blood-shedding, by acknowledging that it was insufficient to wash away all stains of sin, and that the fires of purgatory are required to cleanse the soul from sin, and to make it pure and holy, and fit to enter the presence of God. Oh, never acknowledge that any being in heaven or in earth has a heart more loving, more gentle, more merciful than the heart of Jesus, or that there exists a being, create or uncreate, who will more willingly hear our prayers, and bear them to the throne of grace—not even His mortal mother, who, though blessed among women, herself required, as being a daughter of Adam, to be sprinkled by His blood to obtain salvation. Do not own that sinful man, though he be called a priest, can absolve his fellow-sinner from sin, or that prayers can avail for those who have passed away without accepting the perfect salvation offered them here on earth. Die rather than be guilty of that gross idolatry of worshipping the elements of bread and wine, unchanged and unchangeable as they must ever be; and above all things hold fast to God’s blessed testament to fallen man, and refuse to acknowledge any doctrine which cannot be clearly proved from its whole and entire tenor.”

“Husband, dear husband, I will,” answered Leonor, solemnly. “Set me the example, and I shall be firm.”

“Dear wife, trust not to my example, but seek strength from the Holy Spirit. He will guide and support you. Your husband is but a frail man. Dearly as I love you, there is One who loves you more; trust Him.”

Much more passed between them. How solemn was that conversation! What deep, earnest, true love did Herezuelo exhibit to his young wife! It was interrupted by a sound which a quick ear only could have detected. It was that of footsteps stealthily ascending the stairs. Herezuelo arose, and unconsciously placed his hand on his sword, as the door burst open, and several dark and masked figures entered the room.

“Antonio Herezuelo and Leonor de Cisneros, you are our prisoners,” said one who appeared to be in command of the rest; “you are summoned to appear before the tribunal of the Holy Office to answer to certain charges which will there be made known to you.”

Antonio, though brave as a lion, saw that resistance was useless. “If you will allow my wife time to put on her walking dress, we shall be ready to accompany you,” he answered, with as firm a voice as he could command; but when he turned round to speak to Leonor, she was not to be seen, though he caught sight of a figure closely enveloped in a dark cloak, borne rapidly along a passage leading from the room by two of the alguazils. He attempted to follow, being sure that it was his wife thus forcibly carried off; but the moment he moved he found himself seized, and his arms pinioned behind him, while two men stood on either side of him with pistols presented at his head. In vain he struggled; in vain he attempted to free himself. The cords which bound him were drawn tighter and tighter. He was in the hands of those who had long utterly disregarded human misery and suffering.

In vain he pleaded, in vain he petitioned that he might see his beloved wife, even for a few moments, that he might have some parting words with her. He spoke as to men who were deaf. Not the slightest answer by word or sign did they give him, but immediately proceeded to examine all the cases and drawers and boxes in the room. They then went to the sleeping apartment, searching it throughout, and taking possession of every scrap of written paper, as well as of all the books they could find. There were gestures of triumph and satisfaction exhibited when a Bible and hymn-book were drawn forth. Antonio fancied that he could see the dark eyes of the familiars flashing under their hoods as they handed the books to each other. The advocate knew well the language those eyes spoke. “Here we have evidence which will convict him without doubt; no hope for him, no prospect of escape.” Yet he stood calm and motionless, striving by a mighty effort to quell the agitated feelings of his bosom, and to seek strength from the only Source whence it could be obtained. He seemed as though he had succeeded, when a faint cry reached his ear. He knew the voice; it was that of his wife. In an instant he had torn asunder the bonds which held him; he had dashed on either side the cowled alguazils who crowded round, and at a bound dashed through the doorway, down the passage whence the sound proceeded.

“Leonor! Leonor! I come to you,” he cried out; but as he uttered the words, a blow from a heavy staff on the forehead laid him senseless on the ground. When he returned to consciousness, it was to find himself in a narrow, dark, and noisome cell, which he well knew must be one of the secret prisons of that fearful institution, the Inquisition. He had often heard of the horrors those gloomy walls could reveal. He knew that thousands of his fellow-creatures had been confined within them; that very many had never again seen the light of day; that others had been brought forth as spectacles to be mocked at, dressed in fantastic costumes, and thus had been committed to the flames.

On the hard flag-stones he knelt down, and then, in close communion with his God, he obtained a strength and courage which no human power could have given him. Hour after hour, and day after day, passed away, and he remained alone in darkness, a cowled figure entering occasionally, and as quickly retiring, without uttering a word or making a sign. When not engaged in prayer, his thoughts were with Leonor; and even when thus engaged, they often turned to her, and she became their chief and absorbing subject, that she might have strength, that she might have courage to hold to the truth.

At length the moment arrived when his powers of endurance were to be put to the test—his faith, his courage. The door opened, and six familiars, with their countenances masked, and their figures concealed by dark robes, entered his cell. His eyes, long accustomed to darkness, could scarcely endure the light from a torch which one of them carried, but he saw that they made signs to him to rise and accompany them. He knew that to disobey would be useless. Rising from the ground on which he had been resting, he endeavoured by earnest prayer to nerve himself for the fearful ordeal through which he might have to go.

Chapter Seven.

The Torture.

Antonio Herezuelo was only one of many who on that unhappy night were seized by the officers of the Inquisition and dragged off to prison. In consequence of the information given by the wife of Juan Garcia, eighty persons were immediately apprehended in Valladolid, among those who had been present at the meetings; and in Seville and its neighbourhood two hundred were betrayed into the hands of the inquisitors by the treachery of a pretended member of the Protestant Church, and the superstitious fears of another. The first, suspecting that some of his acquaintances entertained Lutheran opinions, insinuated himself into their confidence for the express purpose of learning their secrets and of betraying them. The latter, hearing Lutheran principles denounced in the most fearful language, as the only means of saving himself from the results of the anathemas, hurried off and informed against all those he knew to be Protestants. Dismay seized upon large numbers of the most timid of the Protestants; and as people are often panic-struck when a ship strikes the rocks, and leap overboard into the raging surf, so some of them hurried off to the Triana, and accused themselves to the inquisitors of entertaining doctrines for which the stake was the sure punishment. Others, who had been before unsuspected, betrayed themselves by the hurried manner of their flight. Thus in a few days the chief members of all the Protestant Churches throughout Spain were either in prison, or fugitives, or hiding in the caves of the earth, among mountains and forests. In no place, however, were they safe, and many even of those abroad were betrayed into the hands of the emissaries of the Inquisition, and dragged back to Spain to suffer death at the stake. The inquisitors were not content with those who denounced themselves. Every possible means was employed to discover heretics, and to assist the object Philip renewed a royal ordinance—fallen into desuetude—allowing to informers the fourth part of the property of those guilty of heresy. This abominable edict greatly increased the zeal and activity of the vile tribe. Pope Paul the Fourth also assisted with eagerness in the object, and issued a bull enjoining all confessors to examine their penitents, from the highest to the lowest, and to charge them to denounce all whom they knew to be guilty of buying, selling, reading, or possessing any book prohibited by the Holy Office, the punishment being death. The great aim of the papists was to strike terror into the minds of the whole nation; and while they had not the most distant intention of extending mercy to those who professed themselves penitent, they were nevertheless anxious to secure a triumph to the Catholic faith (as they called their system of idolatry and tyranny), by having in it their power to read, in the public auto-da-fé, the forced retractions of those who had embraced the truth.

Antonio Herezuelo stood before the council of inquisitors. So well-known is the scene that it scarcely requires description. It is too true a picture—an exhibition of devilish ingenuity of man when he desires to tyrannise over his fellow-creatures, unsurpassed in cruelty by the heathen or most barbarous nations of ancient or modern days. There sat the inquisitors in a gloomy vaulted chamber—on one side the fearful rack, with grim, savage executioners ready to perform their office, a black curtain only partly concealing other instruments of torture, with hooded familiars standing silently round; while at the table sat two secretaries, ready to note every word uttered by the prisoner, to be wrested, if possible, to his destruction. The only person whose countenance could have been regarded with satisfaction was the prisoner. He stood calm and undaunted amidst those cruel men, who had resolved on his death. Hark! the president addresses him in a harsh, pitiless voice:

“Antonio Herezuelo, you have been accused by most credible witnesses of holding in disrespect many of the principal articles of our most holy faith. What have you to answer for yourself?”

“That I hold most sincerely and truly all the doctrines necessary for my eternal salvation, and all other doctrines which I find clearly set forth in God’s blessed Word, sent in His mercy and love as a sure guide to perishing man,” answered Antonio, boldly.

“Then you consider the Bible, by which so many are misled, as the only guide and rule of faith?” said the Chief Inquisitor. “You set at nought the authority of the Church?”

“I bow with all submission to the authority of the Church in all points in which she is clearly guided by Holy Scripture,” answered Herezuelo, who still clung, as did many of the Protestants of those days, to the false idea that there exists only one sole visible Church on earth; and believing that such a Church does exist, supposed it to be, in spite of all its errors, the Church of Rome.

“Then, heretic, you dare to say that the Bible is above the Church?” exclaimed the Inquisitor. “Why, fool, it is through the Church that you have a Bible; but it is not fit that the laity should possess it, for they can only, as we have evidence that you and others have done, make a most improper use of it. Therefore it is a prohibited book, and yet you dare to acknowledge that you have both possessed one and studied it. Ay, you have done so, and to your own utter destruction of body and soul.”

“To the salvation of my soul,” said Antonio, boldly. “Our blessed Lord Himself appealed to Scripture on many occasions, and to Scripture I appeal and trust.”

“Then you reject the traditions of the Church?” said the Inquisitor, looking towards the secretary, who was busily noting down all the questions he put, and the answers made by the prisoner.

“By tradition we may be deceived. Scripture is a sure guide, which, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, will lead us infallibly aright,” answered Herezuelo.

“Oh, what abominable—what terrible heresy!” exclaimed the Inquisitor. “You deny, too, that the Blessed Virgin should be adored and honoured above Christ, as, being His mother, and, from being a woman, more ready to hear the prayers of the faithful than He can be?”

“The Virgin Mary was blessed in that she became the earthly mother of Jesus, and thus she was peculiarly honoured among women; but I find nowhere in Scripture that prayers should be made to her; on the contrary, at the marriage feast of Cana of Galilee, our Lord says, ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee?’ when she ventured to interfere in a matter she was incapable of understanding. Saint Mark tells us of the remark made by our Lord when told that His mother and His brethren waited without: ‘Who is My mother or My brethren? Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.’ When hanging on the cross, too, and looking down on Mary and His beloved disciple John, He said, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ and then, addressing His disciple, He said, ‘Behold thy mother!’ ‘And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.’ Not a word more does the Holy Spirit reveal to us of the history of the mortal mother of Jesus. All we know is, that, as a mortal child of Adam, she must have been saved by His precious blood shed on Calvary, for without that blood shed there is no remission of sins.”

The Inquisitor rose from his seat as if he would tear off his clothes, and sat down again, exclaiming, “Blasphemy! blasphemy! You deny, too, I hear, the necessity of confession and of priestly absolution?”

“I nowhere find it written that we are to confess our sins to man, but always to God. ‘A broken and a contrite heart, O Lord, Thou wilt not despise.’ In the Epistle of James (chapter verse 16), he says, ‘Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed’; that is to say, if you have trespassed one against another, or if one brother has offended another. Nowhere do I find, however, that on sinners coming in faith to our blessed Lord, does He require them to confess their sins to Him before He will hear them. He says, simply, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole; go, and sin no more.’ I find it also written, ‘Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name given among men whereby we may be saved!’ When our Lord sent out His disciples, He said to them that all those who would accept the offers of the Gospel would be forgiven, or would have their sins remitted through them, or rather through their preaching; and those who, in spite of the preaching, refused to accept the offer, would have their sins retained. Through faith in Jesus Christ only can a person obtain forgiveness of sins; and John says, ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ This great truth a minister has the power to declare, but in no other way has he, according to the Scriptures, the right to absolve any persons from their sins. I hold that when our Lord said to His disciples, ‘Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained,’ He said it not only to all the ministers of the Gospel, but to all Christian men who go forth with the Bible in their hands, that they should declare the glorious Gospel truth that all who trust in Him, Jesus Christ, are forgiven; but that all who refuse to trust in Him still remain in their sins—their sins are retained.”

“Oh, what hideous blasphemy!” exclaimed the Inquisitor, he and his associates lifting up their hands as if in horror at what Antonio had said. “But go on, go on, fill up the measure of your iniquities. How do you interpret, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’?”

“Much in the simple way that I interpret the previous passage. The apostles, as employed in preaching the Christian doctrine among the Jews, were to release or loose them from certain obligations of the Mosaic law; but as they were not to release them from them all, they were to pronounce what were to be retained, or by what they were still to be bound; in other words, when a thing might lawfully be done among the Jews, it was a common mode of expression to say that that thing was loosed to them, and that if anything was unlawful for them to do, it was bound to them. The meaning of the expression was thus very clear to the Jews who heard Him. So Peter understood the same expression, and he knew perfectly well that he was simply to declare, both to Jew and Gentile, what was to be believed, and what was not to be believed, thus unlocking to them the doors of the kingdom of heaven, inviting them to come in, to become subjects of Christ. Such are his keys. On the great truth which he had confessed, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ was Christ’s spiritual Church to be founded, as on a rock against which the powers of hell are never to prevail.”

“Most horrible! most horrible!” cried the Inquisitor. “Then you do not acknowledge the authority of the Church, that his Holiness the Pope is the successor of Saint Peter, that the priesthood have power to forgive sins?”

“The Scriptures speak nowhere of Saint Peter having a successor, nor does our Lord give authority to him to appoint one,” said Herezuelo, boldly. “No Church can have authority with regard to spiritual matters except such as is clearly derived from the Bible, which is equally open to all men, while the only priest a Christian can acknowledge is the one great High Priest standing at the right hand of God, ever making intercession for us.”

“Horrible! horrible!” again cried the Inquisitor. “Then, if you do not acknowledge the priesthood, you deny the doctrine of transubstantiation, the great work performed at the Mass, the chief glory of the Church?”

“Certainly, I deny that the bread and wine at the Mass are changed in any way into the body and blood of Christ, with the soul and deity, the bones and sinews,” answered Herezuelo, solemnly. “I deny that when Jesus said, ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven,’ He was even speaking of the Last Supper, or that He intended that it should be supposed that He was to become literally bread and wine, or rather that bread and wine should become Him, any more than that He should become a door, or a shepherd, or a rock, to all of which He likens Himself. He says, ‘The words that I speak unto you they are spirit, and they are life’; and then He continues, as if he would say, ‘Come to Me, and believe on Me, for that is what I mean by eating My flesh and drinking My blood; He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst. As by eating bread and drinking wine your physical body is sustained, so by believing that My body was broken for you on the accursed tree, and that My blood was shed for you, will your spiritual life be sustained; and I enjoin you to meet together occasionally to break bread and to drink wine in remembrance of Me. Moreover, I promise you that as oft as you do this in My name, through love of Me, I will be spiritually in the midst of you.’ No other construction can I put on these words of our Lord, and in that faith I am prepared to die.”

“And die you shall, audacious heretic!” exclaimed the Inquisitor, who was no other than the infamous Munebrega, Archbishop of Tarragona, who had come over from Seville in consequence of the illness of his colleague. His eyes rolled; he gnashed with his teeth in fury at finding himself unable to intimidate the prisoner—he, before whom so many men of rank and condition had been compelled to humble themselves. He remembered, too, whose husband the prisoner was—the daughter of one who had despised and rejected him. “To the rack with him! to the rack! We must learn from him what other persons hold these abominable opinions, while we teach him to abandon them himself. Spare him not: for his soul’s good his body must be afflicted.”

Antonio Herezuelo cast his eyes to heaven, and from the depths of his heart there came up a prayer, earnest, solemn, of mighty power. Not for himself he prayed—not even for the beloved wife of his bosom; but he prayed that in the fiery trial he was to undergo he might not dishonour his holy faith; that he might hold fast to the truth; that the love of Christ, by which He keeps His own, might be exhibited through him. To resist would have been useless; and yet it cost him a hard struggle to submit to the indignities to which he was subjected by the brutal executioners ordered to carry out the Inquisitor’s sentence. There he stood, full of life and strength and energy, capable of enjoying to the full all the blessings that God has bestowed in this life on man. Even the confinement to which he had been subjected had not been able sensibly to diminish the strength of his well-knit frame. In another instant he was thrown, naked, and bound hand and foot, on to the cruel rack, every sinew and muscle of his body extended to the utmost, whilst agonising wrenches were given of the most fearful character, as the screws and ropes of the horrid instrument were set in motion. Not a word did he utter; scarcely a groan escaped from his bosom, though every limb was suffering the most excruciating torture; the blood gushed from his nostrils and mouth, his eyes well nigh started from their sockets. His physical nature at length gave way, though his courage did not fail him. He fainted. Death would have been a happy release, but his torturers took pains not to allow him that boon; restoratives were administered, and consciousness again returned. The surgeon who stood by, however, gave notice that he must not be subjected, for a time, to equal torture, or he would sink under it. He was therefore removed on a blood-besprinkled stretcher to another chamber, and the inquisitors proceeded with callous indifference to examine a fresh prisoner who was now brought forward.

The person who was next led before the inquisitors was of a character very different from that of Herezuelo. A glance at the rack made him tremble in every limb. The inquisitors saw immediately that he would afford them but little trouble, though, at the same time, that he might be made useful by his giving information regarding others. He might have passed in the world in quiet times as an earnest true Christian, but now alarm for his personal safety overcame every other consideration. He at once incriminated himself, and was soon induced to bring damnatory accusations against his friends. When all the information which could thus be obtained from him was secured, he was dismissed, though still ignorant of the fate which awaited him—it might be, if victims were required, to be consigned to the flames, or perhaps to add to the sad band of penitents supposed to have recanted their errors. Such was the character of several of those accused of heresy, though by far the larger number of persons seized by the Inquisition gladly suffered death rather than deny the truth. And now another prisoner appears—a female. She is clothed in black from head to foot. As the light from the lamp which hangs from the roof falls on her countenance, it is seen to be very pale, but not enough so to detract from the beauty of those young and fair features.

“Leonor de Cisneros, you are brought here accused of holding opinions which, if generally entertained, would be subversive of the opinions of our holy faith,” said the Inquisitor, in a peculiarly harsh voice. “Have you become sensible of your errors? and are you prepared to recant them?”

“I hold to the doctrines which I have been taught from my earliest days, and which I find clearly set forth in the blessed Word of God. I am, therefore, not aware that I hold any errors,” answered Leonor, calmly.

“What do you mean by God’s holy Word?” asked the Inquisitor.

“The Bible,” said Leonor, firmly.

“Are you aware that the Bible is prohibited to the laity, and that, were it not so, it is not susceptible of any private interpretation?” asked the Inquisitor.

“I am aware that without the aid of God’s Holy Spirit, which when Christ ascended up on High, He promised to us as our Instructor and Enlightener, we cannot expect to read aright this blessed Gospel,” said Leonor. “I am aware that in the Second Epistle of Saint Peter, 1st chapter, 20th verse, there is this expression—‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.’ 21st, ‘For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ I am aware, however, that the Greek word epilusis, which has been translated interpretation, means rather impetus, impulse; and therefore that the clear meaning is that no writer of the Scripture wrote according to his own mind or thoughts, but entirely as he was moved or impelled by the Holy Spirit. Therefore Peter in no respect contradicts his Lord, who says, addressing the people, ‘Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which speak of me.’ Oh, my lords, what I have done—what thousands have done in Spain—has simply been to obey our loving Saviour in reading His holy Word, in striving to carry out His precepts by assembling ourselves together in prayer, by exhorting and comforting one another. If this be a crime, I am a criminal; but if not, why imprison us? why torture us? why kill us?”

She stretched out her hand as she spoke. Her youth and beauty, her pathetic look, the truth which came from her lips, might have moved hearts of stone, but nothing could move the demon-inspired minds of the Inquisitors of Spain—the base instruments of the Pope and his supporters, Valdes and Philip. They compressed their lips as Leonor spoke.

“You have disobeyed the Church,” answered the Inquisitor, with an unmoved countenance. “Unless you recant your errors, your punishment is certain. It may be that you will see the wisdom of so doing, and follow the example of those you love best. Remove the woman.”

So ended the first trial of Leonor de Cisneros. The inquisitors consulted together how she should be treated. She was evidently not likely to change her opinions by argument; the Archbishop was unwilling to have her subjected to torture. He had made up his mind that her husband must die. He was too clever a heretic, even should he recant, to be allowed to live. He was not likely ever to recant. But Leonor, she must be won over; her life must be saved. Notwithstanding her knowledge of Scripture, the clear declaration she had made of Protestant principles, the Archbishop did not despair. He had seen many who, firm at first, had, after a few weeks’ solitary confinement and scanty food, with occasional visits from friends desirous of saving them, completely recanted, and acknowledged their errors. He knew, too, the subtle arguments, the system of deception, the threats, the promises, the various artful methods of proceeding which could be brought to bear on a prisoner. Should these fail, he had other means in store by which he hoped to make her give up what he honestly thought her folly. How could a weak woman venture to set herself up in opposition to the Church? Many others, to be sure, had ventured to do the same, but few had spoken as she had done, and several had at sight of the rack recanted, and given all the information required of them.

Chapter Eight.

The Stake.

It was midnight. Eighteen days had passed since Antonio Herezuelo had been stretched on the rack. His lacerated flesh had healed, his stretched sinews had recovered somewhat of their original strength. His cheeks were still pale, his voice, when he spoke to himself, was hollow, his eye had lost its brightness, yet his mind retained much of its usual vigour; his spiritual life had never flagged nor had his faith grown dim. He was pacing slowly and still painfully up and down his cell, when the door silently opened, and a friar stood before him.

A harsh voice uttered these words: “Antonio Herezuelo, I have come to announce to you that unless you renounce your errors, and are forthwith reconciled to the Church, you will to-morrow suffer the just punishment of your infidelity, your blasphemies, your crimes.”

“I have confessed myself to God, who can alone forgive sins, as a lost, undone sinner, though washed in the precious blood of Jesus, and redeemed through faith in His perfect and complete sacrifice. I have, therefore, become one of the Church of the first-born. I am reconciled to God, from whom I was once separated,” answered Herezuelo. “What more would you have me do?”

“The Church knows nothing of the expressions you utter. Be reconciled to her; that is what you have to do, or you and your errors will be burnt together.”

“I cannot abandon the faith I hold, even to escape the cruel death you threaten,” answered the advocate.

“Prepare, then, obstinate heretic, to meet it!” answered the friar, savagely. “Be assured that there will be no mitigation of your sentence unless you recant; and then, in her loving mercy and kindness, if you are reconciled and confess, you will enjoy the privilege of being strangled before the flames reach your body.”

A scornful smile came over the features of the prisoner.

“A gracious boon, forsooth! And this Church calls itself after the name of the gentle, loving Saviour, who went about doing acts of kindness and mercy, and saving from physical suffering all who came to Him desiring to be cured!”

“I came not to bandy words with you,” cried the monk; “the flames which you will feel to-morrow will give you a foretaste of those you will have to endure throughout eternity as the consequence of your obduracy.”

“Our blessed Lord says, ‘I say unto you, My friends, be not afraid of them which kill the body, and after that have no more than that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear Him.’” Herezuelo spoke these words calmly, and added, “Now, friar, I own that you and those you serve can kill my body, but you can do no more: my soul is in the keeping of my loving Saviour; neither the powers of earth nor hell can prevail against it; therefore I am fearless.”

With a curse, the friar turned and left the cell. Herezuelo sought strength in prayer for the fiery trial he was to go through. “It will endure but for a few minutes, and oh, then the eternity of bliss which will follow!” he ejaculated. “Why should I fear? why should I tremble? My trust is in God.”

Ere the sun, rising in a cloudless sky, gilded the spires of the numerous churches of Valladolid, on the 21st of May, 1559, their bells began to toll solemnly, and crowds to assemble in vast numbers in the streets. It was Trinity Sunday; but it was not because it was the Sabbath that the citizens were so early afoot, but there was to be a grand spectacle, looked for with almost the same eagerness as a bull-fight. The first grand auto-da-fé of Protestants was to take place that day, and all the people were eager to gaze at it—most of them for the sake of seeing so many lost and abandoned monsters put out of the world.

For this it was that the people came from all parts of the city and surrounding country into the grand square of Valladolid to witness the spectacle which had been prepared for them by those who impiously called themselves ministers of the loving Jesus. In a short time the whole of the grand square was filled with impatient spectators, except that space occupied by two large platforms between the church of Saint Francis and the house of the Consistory. In front of the town-house, and close to the platform intended for the inquisitors, a large box or deep-covered balcony had been erected for the use of the Royal Family, which they could enter without interruption from the crowd, and from whence they could enjoy a full view of the prisoners. Near it was a high altar, with the usual crucifixes, candlesticks, vases, and other ornaments of the Romish worship, made on this occasion as imposing as possible. In the box sat Doña Juana, Queen-Dowager of Portugal, and governess of the kingdom during the absence of her brother, Philip the Second, in the Netherlands. She was accompanied by her unhappy nephew, Don Carlos, heir-apparent to the throne, then a lad only of fourteen. It is said that on that occasion he vowed an implacable hatred to the Inquisition. To that fell tribunal, there can be little doubt, he became a helpless victim. Intimation of the intended festival had publicly been made in all the churches and religious houses in the neighbourhood. The attendance of the civil authorities and of the clergy was requested; and that the multitude might be encouraged to come, an indulgence of forty days was proclaimed to all who should witness the ceremonies of the act.

While outside preparations were going forward, the officials of the Inquisition were busy within the walls of the prison. The prisoners, being assembled, were clothed in the several dresses in which they were to make their appearance in public. Those who had erred only in a slight degree were clothed simply in black. The other prisoners wore a san-benito, a loose garment of yellow cloth, called in Spanish zamara, and on their heads was placed a high conical pasteboard cap, called coroza. On the dresses of those who were to be strangled were painted flames burning downwards, called fuego revolto, to intimate that they had escaped the fire; while the san-benito and coroza of those doomed to be burnt alive were covered with flames burning upwards, around which were painted devils carrying the faggots or fanning the fire.

Now, on that bright May morning, a procession was to be seen moving forth from the Inquisition of Valladolid. First marched a band of soldiers to clear the way, and then came a number of priests in their gaudy robes—alb, chasuble, tunic, and other garments, the names of which are familiar to modern ears. They were attended by acolytes and boys of various theological colleges, chanting the Litany in alternate choruses. Then came the mournful band of prisoners—those in black first, those marked with the fuego revolto following, and those destined to the flames walking last. Each prisoner was attended by two familiars of the Inquisition, and each of those destined to die, in addition, was accompanied by two friars, who employed all the arguments they could bring forward, all the eloquence they could command, in endeavouring to induce the prisoners to recant and confess their errors. Among the last of the sad band came Antonio Herezuelo. Though his face was pale, he walked with a firm step, and he replied now with a smile, now with a few gentle words, to the exhortations of the two friars. He, as was the case with his companions, had a halter round his neck, and in his hand he carried an extinguished torch, while his companions destined to the stake also carried extinguished torches or crosses. Many trembled and tottered as they moved along; indeed, no one bore himself more bravely than the young advocate. After the prisoners came the local magistrates, the judges, and officers of state, accompanied by a train of nobility on horseback. Then came the secular and monastic clergy; and at some distance, as if they were too great and important to mingle with ordinary people, rode in slow and solemn pomp the members of the Holy Office, preceded by their fiscal, bearing the standard of the Inquisition. That accursed bloodstained banner was composed of red silk damask, on which the names and insignia of Pope Sextus the Fourth, and Ferdinand the Catholic, the founders of the hellish tribunal, were conspicuous; and it was surmounted by a crucifix of massive silver overlaid with gold, which the ignorant populace had been taught to hold in the highest veneration. These were the persons who were to take the chief part in the performances of the day; they were followed by their familiars on horseback, who, with many of the principal gentry of the country, formed their body-guard.

With a few years’ judicious educating by the Jesuits, and a continuance of supineness and incredulity as to Rome’s designs on the part of British Protestants, of which all denominations are guilty, it is not at all impossible that similar scenes may be enacted in England. Ritualistic forms and ceremonies, and public processions, and, still more, the insidious teaching of numbers professing to be ministers of religion, are accustoming the people to a system which must end in their subjugation to sacerdotal despotism.

An immense concourse of people of the lower ranks closed the procession, vociferating to one another, with open eyes and necks stretched out eager to catch a sight of the condemned prisoners and the grand inquisitors as they ascended their respective platforms. The latter took their places, and then the Queen-Regent and the young prince took their places in the royal box, or bed of state, as it was called, surrounded by a number of the chief nobility of the kingdom.

It was six o’clock in the morning, and the sun was already glittering on the gilded crosses and other devices on the tops of the banners, when, the company having taken their places, Francisco Baca, the presiding inquisitor, was seen advancing to the bed of state on which the Regent and her nephew were seated; and then, in an authoritative tone, he proffered to them an oath to support the Holy Office, and to reveal to it everything contrary to the faith which might come to their knowledge. The Prince was seen to hesitate, and not till urged by his aunt would he consent to take the oath. It was the first time such an oath had been exacted from any of the Royal Family. Poor Prince! that look of his sealed his fate!

Antonio Herezuelo, from the moment he saw his wife dragged off by the familiars of the Inquisition, had been kept in utter ignorance of what had become of her. Not a reply could he get from any of the stern familiars who attended him. It vain he petitioned to be told whether she was in their power—whether she was well in health—whether she had been placed under examination. A sinister look was the only answer he received.

“Ay, I must trust in God!” Yes, Antonio, you—all who are in trouble, sickness, or any other adversity—may trust in Him with confidence, assured that He in His good time will bring you out of all your troubles.

As the familiars were clothing the prisoners in their habits of infamy, Herezuelo thought to himself, “How can I more advantageously employ the last moments of my life than by declaring to the misguided people the glad tidings of salvation, by telling them of the Saviour’s love, and that they require no other priest, no other intercessor than He?” Thus resolved to speak, he walked firmly onward to death, like a soldier to the fatal breach; but ere he reached the platform, at a sign from the monks, who had in vain, with all the sophistries they could utter, been endeavouring to shake his faith, one of the familiars thrust a gag into his mouth, which the other secured, and he was rendered speechless. Bitter for an instant was the anguish he felt, but prayer quickly restored to him his serenity.

“See! see! there is his lordship Melchior Cano, Bishop of the Canaries, mounting the pulpit. Listen! he is to preach the sermon,” was repeated by many in the crowd.

In flowing language and sonorous tones the Bishop put forth the claims of the Church of Rome to infallibility. He spoke of the importance of unity, of the crime of heresy and schism; and, finally, he enlarged on the duty of all Catholics to deliver over to justice all who were in the slightest degree guilty of those crimes. The sermon concluded, the clerk of the tribunal read the sentence of the penitents, who, on their knees, and with their hands laid on the Missal, repeated the confession. Those around them stood aside as the presiding inquisitor, descending from his throne, advances to the altar, and absolves the penitents a culpa under the obligation to bear the several punishments which have been awarded, whether banishments, penances, whipping, hard labour, or imprisonment—the deprivation of property being in all cases rigidly enforced, to the great advantage of the inquisitors. The Bishop, then, in a loud voice, administered to all present on the platform, as well as to the surrounding multitude, an oath binding them to live and die in the communion of the Roman Church, and to uphold and defend against all adversaries the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition.

As he spoke the multitude fell on their knees, lowly bowing their heads. Of the vast assemblage two men only were standing, with heads erect and arms folded on their bosoms. They were the martyrs resolved to undergo the fiery trial of the stake rather than disavow one article of their holy faith. They were Antonio Herezuelo, the advocate, and Francisco de Vibero Cazalla, parish priest of Hermigos, who was likewise gagged. There were twelve other unhappy persons condemned to death, but, having confessed, they were allowed the poor favour of being strangled before their bodies were committed to the flames. They, less courageous than the advocate and Francisco Cazalla, were compelled to kneel. But why does Antonio Herezuelo start and cast an inquiring look towards the group of black penitents kneeling near the altar? Before he could cast a second look they were hid from his sight; and now the Bishop of Placencia advances towards the group of those sentenced to death, and with a knife commences the operation of degrading the priests by scraping off the crown of the head the part which was supposed to have received the holy oil at their consecration. Then garment after garment was torn from them, the Bishop pronouncing all the time terrible curses on their heads. This done, the secular judges were summoned to receive the prisoners, and the Inquisitor formally delivered them over into their hands, saying, as he did so, in a hypocritical tone of compassion, “We beseech you to treat these poor people with the utmost commiseration—not to break a bone of their bodies, nor to shed a drop of their blood.” He said this, not only knowing that the prisoners were to be executed, but having especially arranged that they should be so—having, indeed, a few days before, acquainted the judge with the number of prisoners to be delivered over to him, in order that the required quantity of stakes, faggots, and other things necessary for the execution might be in readiness. The canons of the Romish Church, however, denounced against ecclesiastics who should be accessory to the inflicting of any bodily injury, and the above-mentioned expressions were used to avoid the censure of irregularity. The magistrates, on their part, swore that they would faithfully execute the sentences against the persons of the heretics delivered over to them.

All these ceremonies—audacious mockery of justice—occupied several hours; and now the condemned prisoners were compelled to march in front of the royal box, and pass those who had by recanting escaped the extreme penalty of the law. Again Antonio Herezuelo looked eagerly at the black penitents. What an expression of agony was seen to rise on his countenance as he beheld among them his beloved Leonor, the wife of his bosom, formerly united to him, as he supposed, in the one blessed faith and hope which animated his own soul. Who could paint the feelings which passed through his swelling heart? He would have given worlds to have been able to utter a loving entreaty to her again to take hold of the blessed truths of which he was even then reaping the fruition; but the gag prevented him. One prayer he breathed from the depths of his soul for her, and as he passed he cast at her a look of such unutterable agony, yet of such loving reproof and regret, that, like the lightning’s flash, it went to her heart. Well she understood its meaning. “Oh, my beloved Leonor,” it seemed to say, “why did you not seek for grace to hold fast to the truth, and for strength to go through the fiery trial, that, as we have lived happily together on earth, we might have ascended together to be ever with our risen Lord and Saviour?”

Full well she understood that silent appeal. It sunk into her heart. “Yes, yes, my Antonio, I will join you,” she exclaimed, stretching out her hands towards him. In vain she made the attempt to rush into his arms, for the cruel familiars held her back. In vain she struggled. She saw that to join her beloved lord in life was hopeless. She drew herself up with dignity. “Inquisitors, I will die with my husband,” she exclaimed. “I renounce for ever the gross errors of the Romish faith, which I have been induced to assume. I am ready to die as a true Protestant—a believer in the simple truths of the Gospel.”

“Away with her! Away with her to prison!” cried the Inquisitor. “She is mad; she is beside herself!”

“I am a Protestant. I will die with my husband,” exclaimed Leonor; but before she could say more a gag was thrust into her mouth, and she was surrounded by friars and familiars, so as to conceal her from the public view.

The look Herezuelo cast towards Leonor was the last he gave her on earth. Not another was allowed him. He was hurried off by the stony-hearted familiars, with his brother martyrs and their companions in affliction. The first part of the exhibition had been a cruel, a blasphemous mockery—that which was to follow was to be a diabolical reality.

Those condemned to death, either by fire or strangulation, were now formed into a melancholy procession, each person accompanied as before by familiars and monks, the latter disturbing the last moments of their yellow-robed victims by their senseless exhortations. Thus they proceeded slowly through the gates, accompanied by nearly all those who had witnessed the first part of the proceedings; the eager crowd making their observations on the appearance and bearing of the sufferers, many of the more brutal mocking and jeering, especially as they caught sight of the two principal martyrs. It might have seemed strange to them that of all the human beings collected they should have appeared the calmest, though the look of agony which arose on Herezuelo’s brow at the sight of his wife had not yet left it.

Arrived at the spot where the stakes were erected and the faggots piled up, further efforts were made to induce Cazalla and Herezuelo to recant. The former, seeing his brother Augustine not at the stake, but among those who were to be strangled before being burned, signified his sorrow by an expressive motion of his hands. The latter remained firm as before, unmoved by all the exhortations of the priests and monks. Even when instigated by his tempters, the unhappy Doctor Augustine Cazalla urged him to be reconciled to the Church of Rome, he turned on him a look of sorrow and compassion, mingled with contempt, which at once silenced the recreant from the truth. Herezuelo’s calmness seemed to excite the rage and all the evil passions of the priests and soldiers. They cursed and swore and reviled him in every possible way. “Ah! ah! in a short time, in spite of your bold looks, you will be in hell with your associate, Luther,” they shouted. To these and similar expressions he made no sign of complaints—only turning his eyes to that blue sky to which his beautified spirit was about to wing its flight towards the martyr’s crown of glory awaiting him in the realms of the blessed.

The faggots were lighted, the flames ascended, when one of the soldiers, enraged at his constancy, plunged his lance into his body, and thus saved him from the pangs he might otherwise have had to suffer. His fellow-martyr died with equal firmness, and the other victims were strangled before their bodies were cast into the flames. With them at the same time were also cast the bones and effigy of Doña Leonor de Vibero, which had appeared at the auto. This was done because at her house the Protestants had frequently assembled for prayer and praise. In a short time, of the fourteen human beings who had dragged their tortured, lacerated limbs to the spot, a few ashes alone remained. Such was the termination of the first great auto-da-fé of Protestants in Spain.

There was yet another spectacle to be witnessed that day. It was to see the house of Doña Leonor de Vibero, the mother of the Cazallas, razed to the ground, and the place on which it stood sown with salt. On the spot a pillar, with an inscription stating the cause of its demolition, was immediately afterwards erected, and stood till the commencement of the present century.

It is easy to conceive how Doña Leonor de Cisneros had been induced apparently to abandon the faith to which she had so long adhered. Falsehoods and devices of all sorts had been employed to induce her to make her peace with Rome. Every argument which sophistry could invent had been brought forward to shake her belief. There was a rack, with other fearful tortures, and the stake, on the one hand, and forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church on the other—ay, and a happy life with her Antonio. When at last the inquisitors found her stubborn, they did not hesitate to assure her that she had less wisdom than her husband, who had lately—convinced that the Protestant cause was lost in Spain—agreed heartily to conform to the faith of Rome, and to be reconciled to the Church. A rigid course of penance was prescribed for her, and after its performance she was told that she would be set free, and allowed to join her husband, who, as had been some others, would be banished the kingdom, though possibly a milder punishment might be awarded him.

Could it be possible that her husband would abjure his principles? Her faith wavered. If she remained obstinate, he might, she was assured, be brought out to witness her death. She was meditating on these things in her solitary cell when the door opened, and the Archbishop Munebrega stood before her. He spoke to her gently and kindly, as an old family friend. He would urge her to take his advice, and conform at once. Long she thought on the subject, but she could not pray for guidance. Why? Her conscience revolted against the act she contemplated. In a husky voice she told the Archbishop that she would yield.

“We will endeavour, then, to induce the advocate Herezuelo to yield also, lovely Leonor,” said the Archbishop, taking her hand and pressing it to his lips.

“Why, you told me that my husband had already yielded!” exclaimed Leonor, scarcely conscious of the act.

“I surely could not have said so, as I am not cognisant of the fact,” answered Munebrega blandly. “Be assured that for your sake I will endeavour to win him over to the truth.” Much more was urged by the Archbishop, but poor Leonor’s mind was in too great a whirl to understand the meaning of what he said. Cruel indeed was the conflict going on within her. “For the sake of appearances you will have to undergo some penances; but I will take care that they shall be as light as possible, that your health may be in no way injured,” he remarked; and with a treacherous smile the tempter left her.

No words can describe the unhappy Leonor’s feelings at seeing her husband among those condemned to the stake. It had been hoped by Munebrega, from the position in which she was placed, that she would not have discovered him. The effect has been described. On being conducted back to the convent to which she had been removed, she at once refused to continue the penances which had been prescribed. No persuasions could make her alter her determination; and therefore, as an obstinate heretic, she was returned to a cell in the Inquisition. Munebrega was soon in her presence. He reminded her that she was a widow and helpless—that he had the power of setting her at liberty. He entreated her on his knees once more to recant—to preserve her life—not to allow her beauty to be marred by a long imprisonment. She turned from him with loathing. Munebrega well knew the importance of caution. His chief and brother inquisitors were very indifferent what means were made use of (even the most abominable), provided they contributed to bring about the objects they had in view; but they would allow no private interests to be gratified. Day after day Munebrega visited the unhappy lady. His protestations, his arguments, every subject he introduced, only tended to strengthen her resolution. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” was her daily ejaculation when he appeared. She did not trust to her own strength, but hourly sought strength and grace from above to withstand all the trials and temptations to which she was exposed. Like Peter, she had fallen once; severe was the lesson she had learned. Like Peter’s repentance, hers had been deep and truly sincere. No longer did she trust to herself. Munebrega at last retired, gnashing his teeth at having been foiled by a weak woman, utterly incapable of comprehending the mighty power which had been fighting on her side against him. He now allowed other persons to attempt to move her.

Among others, her former admirer, Don Francisco de Vivers, was induced to visit her. He was still unmarried. What arguments he used it is not necessary to state. He was not hardened to the craft of the priests, and he left the prison abashed and confused. He visited her again more than once, and the idea was entertained by the inquisitors that he was moving her obdurate heart. At length, however, he was missing from Valladolid, and some of his friends feared, from some words that he had let drop, that he had offended the inquisitors, and was immured in their prisons.

It would be impossible to imagine, much less to describe, the cruelties practised on Leonor de Cisneros; and yet there were many hundreds of delicately-nurtured females and hidalgos of high rank suffering as she was physically in the numerous prisons of the Inquisition throughout Spain—many shut up in loathsome dungeons, destined never again to see the light of day.

Numerous autos-da-fé succeeded each other for the purpose of stamping out Protestant principles from Spain. The second celebrated at Valladolid took place on the 8th of October, 1559, for the purpose of celebrating the return of Philip the Second, husband of Queen Mary of England, who was employed at that time in burning her own bishops and other subjects for the same cause. King Philip was himself present, enjoying the spectacle, with his unhappy son Carlos, his sister, the Prince of Parma, three ambassadors from France, and a numerous assembly of prelates and nobility of both sexes.

The Inquisitor-General, Valdes, advancing to the bed of state, administered the same oath which had been taken by Don Carlos and the Queen of Portugal. Philip took it without hesitation, and, rising from his seat, drew his sword, in token of his determination to use it in support of the Holy Office.

A similar group to that before described, clothed in yellow garments covered with pictures of flames and devils, stood on the platform before the King and his court. The most noble-looking and highest in rank was Don Carlos de Seso, the upturning flames on whose robe showed that he was doomed to the stake. With him was Domingo de Roxas, Pedro de Cazalla, parish priest of Pedroso, who was destined to share the fate of his family. Doña Isabella de Castilla, wife of Don Carlos de Seso, was there, and her niece, Doña Catalina—condemned to lose all their property, to wear the san-benito, and to be imprisoned for life. There were also three nuns of San Belem; one of them, Doña Mariana de Guevara, was condemned to be strangled and then thrown into the flames; she was highly born, and even connected with Valdes, the Chief Inquisitor, but he could not save her from the consequences of her opinions. His subordinates resisted the applications he was said to have made on her behalf as an interference with their jurisdiction, and a proof of partiality and weakness unworthy of one of those whose office required him to be insensible to the feelings of nature and friendship.

The death of Don Carlos de Seso was worthy of his life; though gagged on the platform and on the way to execution, the instrument was removed when he was bound to the stake by the friars, who stood round exhorting him to confess. He replied in a loud voice, “I could demonstrate to you, unhappy men, that you ruin yourselves by not imitating my example; but there is no time. Executioners, light the pile which is to consume me.” These were his last words. The order was instantly obeyed, and, looking up, he died without a groan.

Another martyr was Juan Sanchez. Entrapped in the Low Countries by the emissaries of the Inquisition, he was brought a prisoner to Valladolid, and condemned to the stake. The cords which bound him having rapidly been consumed, he leaped unconsciously on to the stage where the friars were confessing some who had recanted at the last moment. The friars immediately collected round him, and urged him to retract his errors. Looking at the unhappy penitents who were risking their salvation to escape a few moments’ suffering, and then at the noble De Seso, standing unmoved amid the rising flames, he walked deliberately back to the stake, exclaiming, “I will die like De Seso.” More fuel was brought, and he was quickly in the joy of his Lord.

Numbers bore testimony to “the truth as it is in Jesus” by dying fearlessly like De Seso. At the same time, eight females, of irreproachable character, some of them of high rank, were burned alive; among them Maria Gomez, who so nearly betrayed the Protestants during a sudden fit of insanity. Having recovered her senses she returned to the Protestant faith, and soon was brought before the Inquisitors. She suffered with her three daughters and a sister. So hardened had the populace become by similar scenes, that not a single expression of sympathy escaped them as they thus witnessed the destruction of a whole family. Year after year passed away, and the same horrors continued to be enacted; the bloody-minded inquisitors being hounded on to their work of death by the bigot king; that king who, it has truly been said, was busily engaged in making Spain what she in a few years became, the lowest and least influential among the nations of Europe; while as truly was Elizabeth, by her wise measures, laying the foundation of England’s greatness and power.

Chapter Nine.


We must return once more to the unhappy Leonor de Cisneros. She was seated on a rough bench in her dungeon beneath the halls of the Inquisition. One gleam of light only was admitted by a small aperture, leading into a courtyard, far above her head.

The gleam fell on her marble countenance, pale as that of one who has ceased to breathe. Her once rich hair, now glistening like snow, hung over her shoulders, while her figure was draped in the dark robe she was doomed to wear. Heavy chains hung on her arms, which she could with difficulty lift to her head, whenever she strove to press her hands upon her burning brow. Even the agony of mind and body which she had endured had scarcely dimmed her beauty. Though her eyes had lost their lustre, yet in them was a fixed look of courage and resignation. Now she knelt down on the cold stones before the stool, and lifted up her manacled hands to heaven, towards which her countenance was turned, earnestly imploring strength and resolution to withstand the fearful temptations to which she was exposed. She was not disappointed. While she thus knelt, the door of her dungeon grated on its hinges. Slowly, and not without difficulty, she rose from her knees, and stood prepared to receive her visitor, whoever he might prove to be. She dreaded lest she should see the arch-fiend Munebrega; but instead of him, Don Francisco de Vivers stood before her. He advanced a few paces into the vault, and placed the lantern he bore on a stone shelf projecting from the wall on one side of the cell. He did not speak till the door closed behind him. He then stood before her with his plumed hat held in his hand, keeping still at the distance of a few paces.

“Doña Leonor,” he said, “I come to bid you farewell. The words you spoke to me during my last visits to you sunk deep down in my heart. The glorious truths you explained took root, and have since by God’s grace been abundantly watered. I obtained a copy of His blessed Word. I sought for instruction from those able to give it, and I am now ready, if it is His will, to add my testimony to the truth by my blood. I was sent here to win you back to life, and to gain you over to the false faith of Rome. You have been the cause of my becoming a thorough Protestant, and being made willing, if called upon, to suffer death—such death, that is, as man is able to inflict upon his fellow-man. Yet I am young, and do not desire to die. I have therefore resolved to quit my country for another land, where I may freely worship God according to the dictates of my conscience. I knew that you would rejoice to hear this. I therefore resolved, at every risk, to seek another interview with you. Dear lady, you will pardon me for the words I spoke to you on my former visits. I uttered them in my ignorance. I thought that I was thus benefiting you, instead of endeavouring to deprive you of that joy unspeakable which is prepared for those who truly love the Lord, and are ready to give up all for Him.”

“Oh, believe me, Don Francisco, when I say it, I have nothing to pardon,” replied Doña Leonor. “I rejoice to hear of your determination. Alas! I fear you would not benefit our unhappy countrymen by remaining among them. The spirit of evil has gained the supremacy; and while he reigns, with the sanguinary inquisitors as his ministers, the truth can never make progress in the country. Go, then, Don Francisco; my prayers, day and night, will be offered up to the throne of mercy that you may be protected from the dangers of your journey, and safely reach the haven of rest. It is mockery to speak of joy, but such joy as I am now capable of feeling will be mine when I hear that you have safely reached your destination. And oh, Don Francisco, pray for me, not that my life may be prolonged, but that I may have courage and support in the trials I may be called upon henceforth to bear; and that it may be God’s will that I may, ere long, be emancipated from my bondage, not to go forth into the world, but to be raised on wings of light to join my martyred husband, now singing praises with the heavenly choir before the great white throne of our loving Father.”

“Doña Leonor, your wishes shall ever be a law to me,” answered Don Francisco. “I shall see you no more on earth. Even should I be successful in escaping from this unhappy country, I believe that I shall never again return to it; and even if I did, I should not be permitted to see you. I hear that many Spanish Protestants are assembled at Genoa, among whom are several who were once monks at San Isidoro. Thither I have resolved to bend my steps, that I may worship with them, and gain from them instruction and counsel.”

“I thank our Heavenly Father that you have resolved on this step,” answered Leonor, “and I pray that you may be more successful than were my beloved Herezuelo and myself. Oh, that I had not believed the falsehoods that were told me before that dreadful day when I last met him on earth! Bitterly have I repented my weakness and want of faith. I should have known that no human power would have induced him to deny his Lord and Master, even for the sake of saving his life and being reunited with me. Ah, how weak and faithless was I! but I thank my God that, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, I had strength and power given me boldly to declare my faith in the truth, even though my so doing has brought me into this dungeon, and will ere long cast my body amid those flames which consumed the mortal frame of my husband. Oh, believe me, Don Francisco, to that day I look forward with eagerness and joy. My heart will bound with thankfulness when I am told to prepare for going forth to the stake.”

Don Francisco stepped forward and raised the manacled hand of the speaker to his lips. Then, casting one more glance of respect and sorrow at that still lovely countenance before him, he hastened from the cell, drawing his hat over his brow to conceal his agitation; then wrapping his cloak around him, he took his way through the narrow passages which led to the vaults, guided by one of the familiars of the Inquisition, till he reached the door of an apartment, at which his guide stopped and knocked. A voice desired him to enter. Don Francisco passed through the doorway, and stood in the presence of the Archbishop Munebrega.

“Do you expect to move her, Don Francisco?” asked the Archbishop, eyeing him narrowly.

“My lord, I do not,” answered Don Francisco, firmly; “yet I warn you that severe treatment will not effect your purpose. For myself, I would beg that I might not be again requested to visit her; but I yet entreat that her chains may be removed, and that she may be placed in a room where the light of day is allowed to enter, and be supplied with food such as her delicate nature requires.”

“Don Francisco, you ask what it may be impossible for me to grant,” answered the Archbishop, again casting a penetrating glance towards him; “but I will make known your request to my coadjutors, and, should they see fit, it may be granted.”

Don Francisco was glad when the interview with the Archbishop came to a close. He well knew the character of the man with whom he had to deal, and he dreaded lest any word he might incautiously drop should betray him. He hurried home. Already he had made every preparation which was possible for his journey. As the shades of evening drew on he left his house, and all the comforts and luxuries it contained, feeling that he should never return. Keeping his countenance concealed with his cloak, he passed unquestioned through the gates. Now he hurried on at a rapid pace for a league or more from the city. Then, turning on one side, he entered a small wood. He had not gone far when he found, standing under the trees, two horses, held by a short man in the costume of a muleteer.

“Ah! my friend Julianillo, I knew that I could trust you, and I am thankful that you have not failed me. It is time, if I would save my life, that I should leave Valladolid. Already the savage Munebrega suspects me, and I have bidden farewell to her for whose sake alone I should desire to remain in Spain. I could not bear to see her die; and yet, knowing the savage hearts of her persecutors, and her own firm resolve, I feel sure that, ere long, she will add another to the glorious list of martyrs. She has bidden farewell to the world and her fellow-creatures, and places her trust in One who alone can give her strength to undergo the trials she may be called upon to endure.”

“True, Don Francisco, true,” answered Julianillo; “but we must not delay. A few minutes may make the difference between life and safety, and imprisonment and death. When our brother Don Domingo de Roxas attempted to escape, from a short delay caused by his visit to the noble De Seso, he fell into the power of the inquisitors. But you, I trust, are not suspected, and we may in safety gain the borders of Spain without impediment. It will be necessary, however, to use caution, and above all things to trust to no one. There are guards on all the roads, and spies at every inn, ready to entrap the unwary.”

Saying this Julianillo held the stirrup while Don Francisco threw himself into the saddle. He then mounted his own horse, and together they rode out of the wood, and took the road towards the frontier.

Julianillo knew every part of the country. Each highway and every by-path was as familiar to him as if he had it mapped down before his eyes. Often and often he had travelled those roads, with his bales of goods surrounding the copies of the Bible and the works of Luther and others, which he had brought across the Pyrenees into Spain. He had, of late, however, been compelled to give up bringing any more copies of God’s Word into the country. He had, instead, devoted himself to assisting Protestants to escape from their persecutors. Those who had trusted themselves entirely to his care and guidance he had never failed to convey safely to their destination.

Their horses were fresh, and they were thus able to gallop in the greater part of the night. When morning broke, Valladolid was many miles behind them. As soon as the horses were rested they again proceeded on their journey. They thus continued till they were within a half-day’s journey of the frontier.

“We are now approaching the most dangerous part of the road,” observed Julianillo to Don Francisco. “It would be safer for you not to appear to be under my guidance. I may possibly be suspected, and as I am well-known, I should certainly be seized, while you might be allowed to continue your journey. But whatever happens, take no notice of me, and let us appear to be total strangers to each other.”

These remarks were made when the travellers were yet some distance from the inn where they intended to stop. Julianillo rode on ahead, Don Francisco following at a distance, so as just to keep him in view.

When Don Francisco entered the common room of the inn, Julianillo was already there, seated among a number of muleteers and other persons, laughing and joking with them. Don Francisco, on entering, took no notice of him, but placed himself at an unoccupied part of the long table, at the other end of the room. The guests were waiting for dinner, and in a short time large dishes of fried beans and pork were placed on the table. Don Francisco could with difficulty partake of the rough fare put before him. He ordered, however, a flagon of wine, and requested the host to partake of it, who, nothing loth, accepted his offer.

The guests had only just seated themselves when a party of mounted alguazils arrived at the inn, and, having stabled their horses, walked in to partake of the dinner going forward. Julianillo appeared in no way to be disconcerted. It was an anxious time for Don Francisco, for he could not help fearing that the alguazils were in search of suspected persons.

Having allowed time for the horses to rest, Julianillo started up, and beginning to sing a well-known comic air, sauntered out of the inn towards the stables. Don Francisco waited till he supposed his companion was on the road, and then, paying his reckoning to the landlord, begged that his horse might be brought round. Just as he was mounting, the landlord whispered in his ear—

“Stop not till you have gained the other side of the border, and then be not content till you are many leagues from it.”

“I know not what you mean,” answered Don Francisco, carelessly; “but supposing the advice to be of value, I should be truly grateful to you for it.” Saying this he rode quietly through the street of the village.

He had not gone far when he heard the mounted guards who had entered the inn following close behind. Instead of attempting to escape them he drew in his rein to allow them to come up with him. It was a moment to try the nerves of most men. They, however, rode by, saluting him as they passed, when they continued at a rapid rate. Fearing, should he show any inclination to push on, he might be stopped, he continued at a leisurely pace in the direction taken by Julianillo.

In a short time the sound of horses approaching him reached his ears, and he saw the very same party he had met before returning with someone among them. As he drew near, great was his grief to recognise Julianillo. Following the advice given him by that brave man, he approached the troop with as unconcerned a countenance as he could assume.

“Who have you got there?” he asked in a calm tone.

“A culprit who has long eluded us, but who has been caught at last, as many others who now think themselves safe will be ere long,” was the answer.

Anxious as he felt to assist Julianillo, he was well aware of the uselessness of making the attempt; the words he had just heard making him more anxious than ever to escape from the country. He therefore rode forward with the same unconcerned air which he had assumed on approaching the emissaries of the Inquisition. Following the advice of the innkeeper, as soon as he was out of sight of the party he put spurs to his horse, and ere night closed in he was many leagues within the territory of France. His adventures were like those of others who made their escape from the Inquisition. Being well supplied with money, he had, however, less difficulty than many others. He ultimately succeeded in reaching Genoa. There, though he was at first looked upon with suspicion, he was soon able to prove the sincerity of his conversion, and was received as a faithful Protestant among the brethren assembled in that city.

Meantime Julianillo was led by his captors to Seville. He was there brought before the Inquisitors. With undaunted eye and firm countenance he confronted his judges, who were at the same time his accusers. He denied nothing. He was accused of having been one of the chief instruments in disseminating the Gospel throughout Spain. He smiled calmly at the words addressed to him.

“I should indeed be proud to have performed so excellent a work,” he answered; “but those who have far more influence than I possess have had that honour. If I brought the Word of Life to those perishing for lack of it, I merely performed the part of the baker’s boy who brings the loaves to the door. It depended upon the people whether they would take the Bread of Life; and if they took it, whether they would feed on it. Hear me, ye ministers of tyranny and falsehood: I glory in declaring that I believe the only knowledge we possess of the perfect and all-sufficient sacrifice which Christ offered up once for all on Calvary, is that revealed to us in the Bible, and applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Pope and priests of Rome are ignorant of this great and glorious truth, that ‘the just shall live by faith,’ and faith alone. In this belief I have now for many years lived, rejoicing also.”

“Silence him! away with him!” cried the inquisitors, in deep and angry voices. “He is hopelessly contumacious. A speedy death by fire must be his doom.”

Julianillo smiled calmly as he heard these words pronounced.

“For many years I have been prepared for this,” he answered. “When I undertook the work in which I have been engaged, I counted the cost. I knew that I should have a rich reward, and all you can do is to hasten the time when I am to wear that crown of glory prepared for me in the skies; and, humble though I am, I feel well assured that it is a brilliant and a glorious crown.”

Before Julianillo could say more he was hurried away from the hall of the Inquisition, and thrown into a dark and noisome dungeon, there to remain till the day fixed for the next auto-da-fé, at which he was to suffer the extreme penalty inflicted by the Inquisition. He was among those who suffered on the day already described, when Don Carlo de Seso received the crown of martyrdom. Though he boasted of no exalted rank or lineage, yet, bold in the faith, he died as bravely as the most noble.

On the morning of the auto, addressing his fellow-prisoners, he exclaimed, “Courage, comrades! This is the hour in which we may show ourselves valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ. Let us now bear faithful testimony to His truth before men, and within a few hours we shall receive the testimony of His approbation before angels, and triumph with Him in heaven.”

These words were repeated to the inquisitors, and they, knowing full well his courage and determination, ordered him to be gagged, lest, when marching forth among the other condemned criminals, he should address the multitude, and perhaps gain their sympathy, or induce them to accept the truth, for holding which he was condemned to suffer. In spite of the gag, he continued by his gestures to encourage his companions condemned to death with himself; and thus until the flames rose up fiercely around him, he bore witness to the truth, and endeavoured to support them to the last.

Meantime the unhappy Leonor de Cisneros lingered on in prison. Every effort was made by the inquisitors and their familiars of high and low degree to induce her to recant, but she continued contumacious. Once only a gleam of satisfaction was seen to pass over her countenance; it was when a few words, incautiously let drop by one of her visitors, informed her that Don Francisco de Vivers had escaped from Spain, and had arrived safely at Genoa.

Was it in mercy, because her bigoted persecutors yet hoped that she would recant, that her life was still spared? or was it because their vindictive feelings made them unwilling to liberate their captive, and terminate her sufferings by consigning her to that death for which she waited longingly? Often she exclaimed with the Apostle Paul, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the just to happiness unspeakable, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Year after year passed by, and still she remained a prisoner in those dreadful dungeons. She had but numbered twenty-two summers when consigned to them, and eight long winters of existence passed afterwards over her head. During those weary years that heroic woman, with the most perfect constancy, endured insults, torture, starvation, while compelled to listen to all the arguments which cunning priests could adduce to make her change her faith.

At length, once more she stood before the judgment-seat of the inquisitors, among whom the Archbishop Munebrega presided. Did no recollection of that young woman’s mother, whom he had once fondly loved, or thought he loved, cross his mind? Did he not remember Doña Leonor herself, when in her early youth, radiant in beauty, he first beheld her, and heard from her lips the startling acknowledgment that she believed the simple Word of God and trusted to it? Now she stood before him a pale wan woman, weighed down with grief and physical suffering.

Again she was asked if she would recant, and reminded that it was for the last time.

“Oh, no, no!” she answered, her heart bounding with joy at the announcement. The captive was to be set free.

Now, in solemn mockery, the inquisitors arose, and pronounced Doña Leonor de Cisneros hopelessly contumacious, and condemned her to the flames.

A bright gleam rested on her countenance as she heard her sentence, but she uttered not a word, she made not a movement till summoned to return to her cell.

The 26th of September, 1568, at length arrived. Ere the dawn had broken in the outer world she rose from her hard pallet. Yet, hard as it was, her slumber had been calm and sweet. She knew not that it was her last day on earth. Kneeling, she lifted up her hands in prayer. She prayed for her persecutors. She prayed that the day-star might yet arise over Spain, and the Gospel be preached throughout the length and breadth of the land.

The door opened. A harsh voice ordered her to rise from her knees; prayer was not for one whom the Church had excommunicated. She obeyed. A monk, with a savage gleam in his eyes, stood before her. At the door were several familiars.

The monk’s errand was soon told. He had come to conduct her to the courtyard where the victims destined to appear in the auto-da-fé were collecting. The cruelties, the mockeries, the blasphemies of those hideous spectacles have often been described. All, all, Leonor endured, not only with patience and courage, but with a rejoicing heart. Calm and unmoved she listened to the long sermon poured forth by the Bishop of Zamora, who, from a lofty pulpit, addressed himself both to the victims and the populace.

When the blasphemous ceremonies were brought to a conclusion, joy lighted up her countenance. Firmly she walked to the place of execution, and submitted without a murmur to be bound to the stake. The moment she had longed for had arrived! The flames rose up around her, and her emancipated spirit flew to rejoin her beloved husband, and to be for ever with their Lord.

The End.

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