« PreviousContinue »
the sailors for the sake of plunder. But even those Moriscos who had found a new home in the towns of Barbary were soon exposed to fresh persecution. They were repugnant to their innate fellow-believers through the European tinge of their manners; their industrial superiority excited the envy and displeasure of the Moors and Jews; their increasing prosperity aroused the covetousness of the Africans. In 1612 the Moriscos were again expelled from Scherschel and Algiers, and delivered up to the fury of the Beduins. Similar persecutions awaited those who had taken refuge in Fez. Of all the cities on the African coast, Tunis was the only one where the Moriscos found a kind and enduring reception, which they had to thank the circumstance for that a great portion of the population of Tunis had come from Granada, and had retained lively reminiscences of the Andalusian home of their forefathers.
A considerable number of Moriscos, especially from Catalonia, went to Turkey, where they settled in Constantinople and Salonichi, and gained rights of citizenship among their new countrymen by their burning hatred of Christianity. This hatred and the thirst for vengeance made corsairs and even admirals out of former shoemakers and charcoal-burners, who sought a requital for the terrible sufferings they and their nation had endured in Spain by frightfully ravaging the Italian and Spanish sea-board.
Among the Moriscos there were, however, a few sincere Christians, descendants of families which had lived for centuries isolated among the Spaniards, or persons who had been brought up from youth in Spanish houses. These doubly unfortunate beings found their lot insupportable, and many returned to Spain through some irresistible impulse. Their adherence to the Christian faith and their fatherland was rewarded by their being sent to the galleys whenever they were caught. Other Christian Moriscos took refuge beneath the protection of the Father of the Faithful, but a papal decree of 1611 banished them mercilessly from Rome, and drove them anew to Africa or Turkey.
The effect which the expulsion of the Moriscos had upon the internal condition of Spain showed itself most immediately and clearly in Valencia. In the year after their banishment a famine broke out in that province, which was hardly checked by importing immense supplies of grain from Sardinia. Many of the Valencian nobles lost the greater part of their revenue, and eighteen of the formerly richest families were so impoverished that they required pensions to support life. The Archbishop of Valencia died through grief at the measures which he had mainly carried; but the Duke of Lerma rewarded himself for their execution by taking the sum of 500,000 ducats from the proceeds of the sale of the exiles' property.
From this time Spanish history and the journals of the Inquisition are silent about the Moriscos. A few remnants remained in the most remote valleys of the Alpuxarras, and their descendants have kept themselves pure till the present day. They have forgotten the language of their ancestors, they know Mohammed scarcely by name, they have been good Catholics for ages; one proselyte among a thousand infidels-such is the final result of a war which, after the political power of Islamism was broken in Spain, the Spanish Church carried on with fire and sword, with raging fanaticism and cold-blooded tyranny, through four generations, against the believers in Islamism.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "THE UNHOLY WISH."
It was a wild, boisterous evening at the commencement of winter. The wind, howling in fearful gusts, swept the earth as with a whirlwind, booming and rushing with a force seldom met with in an inland county. The rain descended in torrents, pattering against the window-panes, especially against those of a solitary farm-house, situated several miles from the city of Worcester. In fact, it seemed a battle between the wind and the rain which should treat the house most roughly, but the wind was the worst. It roared in the chimneys, it shook the old gables on the roof, burst open the chamber casements, and fairly unseated the weathercock from its perch on the barn. The appearance of the dwelling would seem to denote that it belonged to one of the middle class of agriculturists. There was no finery about it, inside or out, but plenty of substance. A large room, partaking partly of the parlour, partly of the hall, and somewhat of the kitchen, was the general sitting-room; and in this apartment, on this same turbulent Friday evening, sat, knitting by fire-light, a middle-aged lady, homely, but very neat, in her dress.
"Eugh!" she shuddered, as the wind roared and the rain dashed against the windows, which were only protected by inside shutters, "what a night it is! I wish to goodness Robert would come home."
Laying down her knitting, she pushed the logs together on the hearth, and was resuming her employment, when a quiet, sensiblelooking girl, apparently about one or two-and-twenty, entered. Her features were not beautiful, but there was an air of truth and goodnature pervading them extremely pleasing.
"Well, Jane," said the elder lady, looking up, "how does she seem
"Her ankle is in less pain, mother," was the reply, "but it appears to me that she is getting feverish. I gave her the draught."
"A most unfortunate thing!" ejaculated Mrs. Armstrong. "Benjamin at home ill, and now Susan must get doing some of his work, that she has no business to attempt, and falls down the loft, poor girl, and sprains her ankle. Why could she not have trusted to Wilson? I do believe," broke off Mrs. Armstrong, abruptly, and suspending her knitting to listen, "that your father is coming. The wind howls so one can scarcely hear, but it sounds to me like a horse's hoofs."
"I do not think it is a horse," returned Jane; "it is like some one walking round to the house-door."
"Well, child, your ears are younger than mine; it may be as you say."
"I hope it is not Darnley!" cried Jane, involuntarily.
"Jane," rebuked her mother, "you are very obstinate to persist in this dislike of a neighbour. A wealthy young man, with a long lease
The occurrences about to be related in this tale of the "Self-Convicted," took place many years ago in Worcestershire. An author's license has been taken with the details, and the names are changed; but the chief facts are perfectly authentic.
of one of the best farms in the county over his head, is not to be sneezed at. What is there to dislike in James Darnley ?"
"I-I don't know that there is anything particular to dislike in him," hesitated Jane, "but I cannot see what there is to like."
"Don't talk foolishly, but go and open the door," interposed Mrs. Armstrong; "you hear the knocking.
Jane made her way to the house-door, and, withdrawing the chain and bolt, a rush of wind, a shower of rain, and a fine-looking young man, sprang in together. The latter clasped Jane round the waist, and—if the truth must be told-brought his lips into contact with hers.
"Hush, hush, Ronald," she whispered; "my mother is in the hall alone-what if she should hear!"
"I will fasten the door," was all the answer she got; and Jane disengaged herself, and walked towards the hall.
"Who is it?" asked Mrs. Armstrong, as her daughter reappeared. "Mr. Darnley?"
"It is Ronald Payne," answered Jane, in a timid voice. "Oh!" said Mrs. Armstrong, in a very short tone. "Get those shirts of your father's, Jane, and look to the buttons; there they lie, on the sideboard. And light the candles; you cannot see to work by
"How are you, Mrs. Armstrong ?" inquired the young man, in a cheerful tone, as he entered and seated himself on the opposite side of the large fireplace. "What an awful night! I am not deficient in strength, but it was as much as I could do to keep my feet coming across the land."
"Ah!" said Mrs. Armstrong, plying her knitting-needles with great energy, "you would have been better at home.'
"Home is dull for me now," was the answering remark of Ronald Payne. "Last winter my poor mother was alive to bear me company, but this, I have no one to care for."
"Go up-stairs, Jane, and see if Susan has dropped asleep," interrupted Mrs. Armstrong, who did not seem to be in the most pleasant humour; "and as you will have the beds to turn down to-night, you can do that." Jane rose, and departed on her errand.
"And lonely my
home is likely to be," continued Ronald, “until I follow good example and marry."
"It would be the very thing for you, Mr. Payne," replied the lady; 'why don't you set about it?"
"I wish I dare. But I fear it will take time and trouble to win the wife I should like to have."
"There's a deal of trouble in getting a wife-a good one; as for the bad ones, they are as plentiful as blackberries. There have been two or three young blades lately wanting to be after Jane," continued the shrewd Mrs. Armstrong, "but I put a stop to them at once, for she is promised already."
"Promised!" echoed Ronald.
"Of course she is. Her father has promised her to Mr. Darnley; and a good match it will be."
"A wretched sacrifice," exclaimed Payne, indignantly. "Jane hates
"How do you know that?" demanded Mrs. Armstrong, sharply. "I hate him too," continued the excited Ronald. "I wish he was a thousand miles away."
And the conversation continued in this strain until Jane returned, when another loud knocking at the house-door was heard above the wind.
"Allow me to open it," cried Mr. Payne, starting up; and a second stranger entered the sitting-room.
"How are you, Mr. Darnley? I am very glad to see you," was the cordial salutation of Mrs. Armstrong. "Come to the fire; and, Jane, go and draw a tankard of ale. Susan has managed to sprain her ankle to-night, and cannot stir a step," she explained. "An unlucky time for it to happen, for our in-door man went home ill three days ago, and is not back yet. Did you ever know such weather?"
Scarcely," returned the new comer.
"As I rode home from the fair, I thought the wind could not be higher, but it gets worse every hour."
"You have been to the fair, then ?"
I had a heavy lot of stock to sell. I saw Mr. Armstrong there; he was buying, I think."
I wish he would make haste home," was Mrs. Armstrong's answer. "It is not a desirable night to be out in."
"A pretty prospect for going to Worcester market to-morrow!" observed Darnley.
"I shall go if it rains cats and dogs," was the gentleman's reply. "My business to-day was to sell stock-to-morrow, it will be to buy."
Jane entered with the silver tankard, its contents foaming above its brim like a mountain of snow, and placed it on a small, round table between the two young men. They sat there, sipping the ale occasionally, now one, now the other, but angry words passed continually between them. Darnley was fuming at the evident preference Jane accorded to his rival, and Payne fretted and chafed at Darnley's suit being favoured by Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong. They did not quite come to a quarrel, but it was little short of it, and when they left the house together, it was in anything but a cordial humour.
"Jane, what can have become of your father?" exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong, as the door closed upon the two young men ; "it is hard upon ten o'clock. How late it will be for him to go to Wilson's: he will have, as it is, to knock him up, for the man must have been in bed an hour ago."
Now it is universally known that farmers in general, even the most steady, have an irresistible propensity to yield to one temptation-that of taking a little drop too much on a fair or market night. Mr. Armstrong was not wholly exempt from this failing, though it was rare indeed that he fell into the snare. For a twelvemonth, at the least, had his family not seen him the worse for liquor, yet, as ill-luck would have it, he came in on this night stumbling and staggering, his legs reeling one way, and his head flying the other. How he got home was a mystery to Mrs. Armstrong, and to himself also when he came to his senses. As to making him comprehend that an accident had befallen Susan, and
that, in consequence, he was wanted to go and tell one of the out-door men to be at the house early in the morning, it was not to be thought of. All that could be done with him was to get him up-stairs-a feat that was at length accomplished.
"This is a pretty business, Jane!" cried the indignant Mrs. Armstrong. "You will be, obliged to milk the cows in the morning now." "Milk the cows!" returned Jane, aghast at the suggestion.
"What else can be done? Neither you nor I can go to tell Wilson at this time of night, and in such a storm: and the cows must be milked. You can milk, I suppose ?"
"Oh, mother!" was Jane's remonstrance.
"I ask if you can milk?" repeated Mrs. Armstrong, impatiently—she was by far too much put out to speak otherwise.
"I have never tried since I was a child," was Jane's reply. “I had sometimes used to do it then, for pastime."
"Then, my dear, you must do it once for use. It would be a mercy," continued the excited lady, "if all the public-houses and their drinkables were at the bottom of the sea."
Jane Armstrong was a girl of sound sense and right feeling. Unpalatable as the employment was, she nevertheless saw that it was her duty, under the present circumstances, to perform it, so she quietly made her mind to the task, and requested her mother to call her at the necessary hour in the morning.
They were highly respectable and respected people, Robert Armstrong and his wife, though not moving in the sphere exclusive to gentlefolks. Jane had been brought up well. Perfectly conversant with all household duties, her education in other respects would scarcely have disgraced the first lady in the county-for it must be remembered that education then was not what it is now-and her parents could afford to spend money upon their only child. Amply she repaid them by her duty and affection. One little matter only did they disagree upon, and that not openly. Very indignant was Mrs. Armstrong at Ronald Payne's presuming to look up to her, and exceedingly sore did she feel with Jane for not checking this presumption. But she could urge nothing against Ronald, excepting that he was a poor, rather than a rich, man, and that the farm he rented was regarded as an unproductive one. His pretensions created a very ill-feeling towards him in Mrs. Armstrong's mind, for she believed that, but for him, her daughter would consent to marry the wealthy James Darnley, and so become mistress of his splendid farm.
Before it was light the next morning, Jane left the house with her milk-pail: only the faintest glimmering of light was appearing in the east. There was no rain, and the wind had dropped to a calm; but it was a cold, raw morning. Jane wrapped her woollen shawl closely round her, and made good speed.
The field in which the cow-sheds were situated was bounded on the left by a lonely lane, leading from the main road. It branched off in various directions, passing some of the farm-houses. Jane had reached the field, and was putting down her milk-pail, when a strange noise on the other side of the hedge caused her to start, and listen.
A violent struggle, as for life or death, was taking place. A voice that was certainly familiar to her twice called out "Murder!" with a