Notwithstanding, Jack cast his eyes to the window where Gascoigne and the senora were in converse, and perceiving that the old lady’s back was turned, he pressed Agnes to his bosom before he released her. The gentlemen then returned with all the firearms and destructive weapons they could collect.

“We have enough,” observed Don Philip, “to arm all the people we have with us.”

“And we are well armed,” replied Jack, who had left Agnes standing alone. “What now are your plans?”

“Those we must now consult about. It appears”—but at this moment the conversation was interrupted by the sudden entrance of Pedro, who had been despatched to the town with the load of wine. He rushed in, flurried and heated, with his red cap in his hand.

“How now, Pedro, back so early!”

“O, signor!” exclaimed the man, “they have taken the cart and the wine, and have drawn it away, up to the mountains.”

“Who?” inquired Don Rebiera.

“The galley-slaves who have been let loose—and by the body of our blessed saint, they have done pretty mischief—they have broken into the houses, robbed everything—murdered many—clothed themselves with the best—collected all the arms, provisions, and wine they could lay their hands on, and have marched away into the mountains. This took place last night. As I was coming down within a mile of the town, they met me with my loaded cart, and they turned the bullocks round and drove them away along with the rest. By the blessed Virgin! but they are stained with blood, but not altogether of men, for they have cut up some of the oxen. I heard this from one of the herdsmen, but he too fled and could not tell me more. But, signor, I heard them mention your name.”

“I have no doubt of it,” replied Don Rebiera. “As for the wine, I only hope they will drink too much of it to-night. But, Pedro, they will be here, and we must defend ourselves—so call the men together; I must speak to them.”

“We shall never see the bullocks again,” observed Pedro, mournfully.

“No: but we shall never see one another again if we do not take care. I have information they come here to-night.”

“Holy Saint Francis! and they say there are a thousand of them.”

“Not quite so many, to my knowledge,” observed Jack.

“They told me that a great many were killed in their attack upon the town, before they mastered it.”

“So much the better. Go now, Pedro, drink a cup of wine, and then call the other men.”

The house was barricaded as well as circumstances would permit; the first story was also made a fortress by loading the landing-place with armoires and chests of drawers. The upper story, or attic, if it might be so called, was defended in the same way, that they might retreat from one to the other if the doors were forced.

It was eight o’clock in the evening before all was ready, and they were still occupied with the last defence, under the superintendence of Mesty, who showed himself an able engineer, when they heard the sound of an approaching multitude. They looked out of one of the windows, and perceived the house surrounded by the galley-slaves, in number, apparently, about a hundred. They were all dressed in a most fantastic manner with whatever they could pick up: some had firearms, but the most of them were supplied with only swords or knives. With them came also their cortège of plunder: carts of various descriptions, loaded

  By PanEris using Melati.

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