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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 6. The Arrest
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The Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 6. The Arrest Post by :trevorjoy Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :738

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The Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 6. The Arrest

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.

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