+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

place! And she devoured me with her
fishy eyes. If I had not had the consciousness
of being thoroughly well dressed she
would have given me a nervous fever."

"Well, that consciousness must support
you on Saturday next. For we must go.
Andlisten, Georgymake yourself
pleasant to Miss Desmond."


IF the period that immediately follows a
great revolution is not unfrequently marked
with crimes of unusual magnitude and daring,
it is not to be inferred either that the law has
been suffered to fall asleep, or that those
intrusted with the public safety relax in
vigilance and zeal. It may happen, on the
contrary, that the professed marauder finds
himself pursuing his vocation under augmented
difficulties. The organised bodies called into
existence for political ends, often form excellent
auxiliaries to the ordinary police, while,
lacking something of the coolness which
familiarity with scenes of crime and violence
imparts, they are apt to save the state
considerable time and cost in dealing with the
detected ill-doer.

In the case of which we speak, the ranks of
crime are swelled by several classes of recruits
the ruined, the dismissed, the proscribed,
the suspected, the liable to be suspectedno
less than by determined spirits, resolved at all
hazards to evade the operation of some new,
and to them oppressive, law. Add to these, the
individuals who, already at odds with justice,
usually prefer the seclusion of mountain and
forest; but, in troublous times, draw nearer to
the centres of humanity, as kites hover round
the scene of a possible battle.

The city from which we write (Barcelona)
has, within the last few months, witnessed more
than one strange exploit indicating the presence
of an element superior to that of your common
robber. That two hundred persons, chiefly
members of a harmless-looking club, near one
of the principal hotels, should make arrangements
for the pillage of the bank, guarded day
and night, and within a hundred yards of a
barrack containing a thousand men, displays
both courage and mutual confidence.

That another band should rent a small
mansion some distance from the shop of a rich
jeweller, and construct a tunnel conducting to
the very counter of the latter, which, when
discovered, extorted the admiration of a
professed engineer, evinced both patience and
skill. This attempt succeeded. Plate (gold
alone) and jewels, to the value of five thousand
pounds, vanished through the tunnel;
the "estéra " (straw matting) was even drawn
back neatly over the opening. It was a poor
consolation to the proprietor to remember the
kind but impatient señor who had made so
many unimportant purchases at his shop, and
who was always tapping with his cane upon
the floor, exactly at the spot where the tunnel
was subsequently to open!

These, however, are trifling incidents
compared with that which, on the ninth of
September last, created an extraordinary sensation

Close beside the Paseo de Gracia, the Rotten-
row of Barcelona, stands, within its garden,
strongly railed and protected by a porter's
lodge, the beautiful mansion of the Conde de
Peñalver. Very wealthy is the count, and,
without reckoning that (according to public
rumour) his voluntary yearly tribute to the
papal coffers touches eight thousand pounds,
and his charities to the poor of this large city
nearly half that sum, he expends a vast amount
in objects of art. Sculptures and pictures,
antique vases, porcelain, tapestry, cunning work
of every description abound; and, as if in very
plethora of wealth, the plate, vessels, &c., in
ordinary use in the house, are of massive gold
and silver.

For the service of such a household trusty
attendants above temptation are a necessity;
above all, a steward, or major-domo, upon
whose supervision of the rest the master, in his
frequent absences, could rely.

Such a man the conde imagined he had found
in Diaz Perez, who, for some years, fulfilled
the functions aforesaid with apparent
integrity. What precise causes led to his
dismissal is not known; but that the conde's
trust was not rudely shaken is proved by the
fact that he was soon afterwards reinstated.
There was, subsequently, a second dismissal,
and a second return to office, until a third
misunderstanding induced the conde finally to
eliminate Diaz Perez from his household.

A few days later the ex-steward called upon
his master, and urged him once more to recal
his dismissal. The conde unhesitatingly
refused. Finding him inexorable, Perez
sullenly quitted the room, muttering, as he did so,
that within a week the other would have cause
to repent his determination.

Fortunately for Peñalver the words were
sufficiently audible. Quietly, but without loss
of time, he applied to the police authorities for
assistance to protect his house.

Here there arose a difficulty, which threatened
to become a public quarrel, and thus to
betray the precautions about to be taken. The
alcalde declared the business his, the commander
of the " seguridad publica," whose aid was
required, insisted that it was his. Precedence
having been given to the police, seven picked
men, cool and resolute fellows, were detailed
for the service, and lodged, every night, in the
threatened mansion. The conde sent his family
into the country, and, at the earnest instance
of his friends, followed himself. There were,
it seems, strong grounds for believing that to
take the conde's life, or, at best, to seize his
person, with a view to ransom, was no less an
object with the expected assailants, than the
plunder of the house.

It was on the third night of the watch, at
nine in the evening, when the Rambla, the