plate his ultimate humanity, he acknowledged Don
Q. as his equal in the very characteristics in which
he held himself to be above the bulk of mankind.
On the first night of his arrival, after the moment-
ous conversation that has been already narrated,
Don Q. had called Robledo and Isabellilla into his
cave, and before the famous surgeon he had told Rob-
ledo of his sickness, and that it was possible death
might come to him during Sir William Gasterton's
stay among the mountains. No words further, no
command had passed between Don Q. and the young
mountaineer, but Gasterton had read plainly in the
nervously-closed hand of Robledo, as in the stormy
eyes of his wife, that when their beloved lord set
forth upon his long journey, short shrift would be
DON Q. AND A SURGEON loi
given to that other soul which was destined to keep
After this Don Q/s manner changed to that of
a kindly host. By slow degrees an intimacy of ideas
and of experiences grew up between the two men.
Sometimes late in the night, or perchance in the
early hours of the morning, for to neither of them
was much sleep habitual, Gasterton would be led on to
speak of the things he had seen, of men he had met,
of the struggles of his career; and Don Q., in his
turn, would narrate (and no man could tell a story
better) episodes of an earlier life, through which
sometimes the identification of a great name would
witness to the position the brigand had relinquished
on that bitter day when he rode, a self-sentenced
exile, through the snowy defiles of the sierra.
Thus for six days, and on the seventh Gasterton
found himself preferring a request. It was late
on a thunderous afternoon, and a long silence had
fallen, which was broken by Sir William's voice.
" Now that I have come to know you better," he
said, " there is a favour I would ask of you."
" Except in one particular, senor," replied Don
Q., " I am, as your are aware, quite at your service."
" Will you allow me," said Gasterton, bluntly,
" to draw a small â a small â amount of blood from
your arm ? "
Don Q.'s grey, peaked face rose from the pillow
in a stare at the extraordinary request. " You will
at least explain to me, sefior, to what end ? "
102 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
" You already know that I have spent the later
years of my life in constant endeavour to open
up the history and causes of the disease from which
you suffer. At the present moment we have, both
of us, some two to five weeks more of life. I have
never come across a more interesting instance of this
ailment than yours, and it has occurred to me that if
you will permit me to describe in manuscript exactly
the course of your case, I would bequeath my notes
to my colleagues in England, and they may prove of
very great value to humanity."
Don Q. raised himself on his elbow, and for a
moment so strange a light burned in his sunken eyes
that Sir William expected an outbreak of fury. But
the first words of the brigand convinced him of his
" Most willingly, sefior," cried Don Q., " do I
agree to your wish, and, let me say, it is one that
causes me lively emotions of gratification. It would
be something to me, seeing that I must die, to know
that the manner of my death may not be without its
uses to mankind. It will, at least, be a consolation
to one who had hoped to die in another fashion."
From that time forth a table with note-books,
instruments, and such other apparatus as he needed
was set aside for Gasterton's use. At this he sat
hour after hour writing, re-writing, often thinking,
his head buried in his hands ; he was now absorbed,
eager, now anxiously questioning, self and the im-
pending moment blotted out in ardour and the
DON Q. AND A SURGEON 103
engrossment of his work. And Don Q. lay and
watched him, or in the intervals of pain held with him
brief, pregnant conversations, from which the world
to-day draws incalculable benefit.
It was a situation such as perhaps has never before
sprung into existence in the history of man.
And now it must be confessed that the constant
sight of Don Q. stretched upon his bed of suffering,
and always uncomplaining, began to raise doubts
in the mind of Gasterton.
Day and night the insistive question surged in
his brain â was he justified in refusal â was he justi-
fied? At the outset he had held himself entirely
justified in his resentment of the fact that the instinct
of the healer which had led him to think little of
danger had been made use of to betray him.
Yet, was he justified? The answer became
clearer every day; yet here again the character of
the man balked his righteous impulse.
Since his sentence was that when Don Q. died
he also must die, there arose in him a lively fear
lest if he now consented to perform the operation
wrong motives might be attributed to him by the
man whose respect he had come to feel he would
not lightly lose or forfeit. So, that, had the
initiative remained with Gasterton, it is hard to tell
what tragedy might have resulted that advancing
summer in the Boca de Lobo. The initiative, how-
ever, came from another, perhaps nobler, source.
HOW DON Q. HAD NEED OF A SURGEON
It so happened one evening that Sir William had
gone out for a stroll, and, after climbing up to the
forehead of the gorge and listening to the winds
among the pines, he returned over their fallen
needles, and finally mounted with his quiet, sick-bed
step to the cave.
Feeling that he could not for the moment look
upon the suffering within, and, assailed by many
influences â ^by the mood of the evening, by the long
trouble of his thoughts, at the end of which was
always a black, contorted, and gigantic note of inter-
rogation, set there, it seemed to the doctor's question-
ing mind, by a Power over and above humanity.
Pausing thus, there came to him a sound of Spanish
voices â he had begun to understand that tongue
fairly well â the one dry, full of effort, the second
charged with the note of hopeless sorrow, the third
a fierce contralto, easily recognisable as that of
Robledo's tempest-hearted wife.
Before he could follow his instinct to move away,
the surgeon had heard enough to hold him prisoner.
" You will see that this caballero," Don Q. was
saying, " passes down from the sierra in safety. It
is true that he cannot cure me, for a reason that you,
DON Q. AND A SURGEON 105
my poor Robledo, could never understand. He is
a man who possesses the courage of his convictions
â but I wonder. He beheves that the hour of my
death will be his own."
"As it will, as it will! We have sworn it, Rob-
ledo and I," cried the woman's voice.
" Isabellilla, I have never yet been disobeyed."
Don Q.'s words were growing weak. *' This
caballero is a very brave man, and when the hour
comes, he must, under your protection and that of
Robledo, go down to the city in safety. When you
part with him, tell him that it was I who gave him his
life." A sob and an indistinct protest broke in, but
Don Q. resumed, " Swear to me this shall be done."
He heard no more but turned down the path, for
he must think before he faced the brigand again.
By the time he came back to the cave he found Don
Q. had fallen asleep. He hesitated a moment and
looked at his watch â it was not yet six o'clock. He
remembered that Don Q. had been able to take no
food that day, he hurried to his table â then hesitated
again, the anesthetic in his hand, for the risk that lay
before him was sufficient to make most men pause.
If Don Q. died under the operation, his own fate
was certainly sealed, as nothing would persuade the
band that Gasterton had not murdered him horribly !
Well, he must face that chance.
At 7.10 the operation was complete.
For days following, life and death battled together
for Don Q. Gasterton, watching him, saw the grey
io6 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
shadow creep and flicker across his face, then sink
again, only to return. Perhaps never in his career
had the great surgeon fought so grim a bout as now.
In his spare frame lay immense possibilities of stay-
ing power. He hardly knew whether it was night or
day. All his fundamental obstinacy came into the
struggle. He slept by snatches in his chair, and, even
through his sleep, the scene before his waking eyes
hardly left him.
The black walls, the shaded lamp, Don Q. on his
couch incongruously like some bird of the elder
world. Isabellilla, installed by the patient, brooding,
fiercely maternal, nursing back to life the man who
had gained through tortuous ways, perhaps, so great
a hold upon her affection. Over all flickered the
firelight, showing by the door the crouched figure
of Robledo, suspicious, frowning, sombre as the sad
brown hills, which were all he knew or cared to
know of the wide world.
At last there came a change and hope, and Gaster-
ton beckoned to Isabellilla. His watch-weary eyes
met hers, and he read something of doubt, something
of jealousy, even.
'' I desire," said he, " that you make me a
" I listen," said the Spanish woman.
" When he wakes," said the doctor, " when he
wakes to consciousness, as he soon will, you must tell
him nothing of all this. You must allow him to
think that he owes the continuance of his life to his
DON Q. AND A SURGEON 107
own strong constitution, not to my skill. Promise
" I promise."
Don Q. stirred, and Gasterton, bending over him,
drew back, laid his finger on the pulse, then, turning
to Isabellilla in the old ungracious way, said : " The
man will live."
The convalescence of Don Q. was necessarily slow.
By him watched Isabellilla, and Gasterton, his task
over, came rarely to the bedside â ^but twice a day,
in fact, night and morning, when he carried on with
cold accuracy his scientific observations. For the
rest of the time he wandered about the gorge, not-
ing with an idle eye the nesting of two ravens which
for twenty years had carried on the cares of family
life among the pines at the head of the ravine.
How would the brigand now interpret the bargain
that they should die in the same hour? A word of
explanation, and Don Q. would doubtless have
given him liberty, but Gasterton was already half-
intolerant of his own late doings, and pride drove
him on to let events find their own issue.
The heats of summer found Don Q. again on his
terrace with Gasterton beside him.
** The disease is broken in me," began the brigand.
" It would seem, senor, that your knowledge has
for once betrayed you. And now the time has come
to renew that conversation in which you refused to
afford me the only help that seemed at the time of
io8 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
Gasterton said nothing.
"At that time, sefior," continued Don Q., " I de-
clared that we should die in the same hour. But the
situation has changed, and I have decided on the
course of action which it seems to me just to pursue.'*
Gasterton still held to his gift of silence.
" Senor, I offer you a choice." went on Don Q. ;
" for I shall still hold you to the bargain I made with
you now many weeks ago. Either you will remain
with me in the mountains, or else you shall give me
your word of honour that if I let you go to carry on
your work in the world, you will, on receiving the
well-attested news of my death, take immediate
measures to end your own life."
For a moment Gasterton kept his eyes on the
ground, then he looked up.
" To remain here," he replied, " would be to waste
not only my future, but the good of my past years
of labour. I am forced, therefore, to give the promise
you exact, and I will leave this place to-morrow by
the first light."
Travel now to London and across a month of time.
Sir William Gasterton is waiting in his consulting-
room to find words in which to pronounce the irrevo-
cable sentence upon one of those poor waifs, high-
placed and wealthy in the ordinary sense, whom
Destiny has flung broken-winged across his thresh-
The few phrases conveyed with them a sympathy,
DON Q. AND A SURGEON 109
the lack of which had once been the great surgeon's
greatest failing; their recipient was shown out into
the rainy street, and Sir William turned to find a
letter bearing the Spanish postmark lying on his
Was this his death-warrant? he thought, and
stood still with an involuntary shock of feeling. It
had seemed hard to live with that sword above him,
and now that it was about to fall, how much would
be lost, how much would be lost! But the next
moment he was opening the envelope with the care
and deliberation that attended many of his actions.
" Sir William Gasterton," he read, " among
the numerous great qualities which go to form your
character, and which have placed you in the front
rank of the noblest profession in the world, my
observation of you during your stay in the sierra led
me to conclude that one, and that a most important
one, was conspicuously absent. You, sefior, when
you travelled into the mountains in the last days of
April lacked sympathy. You were case-hardened,
it may be, or you had never yourself known anything
but health. For this reason, sefior, I have allowed
you â notwithstanding your great services to me, of
which I was all along well aware â to live for some
weeks in the Shadow. I now give you back your
word; and if you will divest yourself of prejudice,
I trust that your sense of justice will tell you that
I have perhaps not failed to render you some small
no DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
service in return. You will find in this letter a sum
of money, which if, as I apprehend, you will not
yourself accept, I beg you present to one of those
institutions for the sick, which your knowledge of
such matters tells you is most in need of it.
" So take back your promise given to me in the
sierra, and no longer dread to hear of the death of
Sir William Gasterton remained for a long time,
his head upon his hand. " A lack of sympathy,"
he said at length, half aloud. " Well, it may be he
was not wrong."
HOW DON Q. FOUGHT FOR THE VALDEREJOS
It happened on the day early in the following
summer that Don Q. descended the further side of
the sierra, where among the olive groves he pur-
posed inquiring at first-hand into the particulars of a
case about which complaint had been sent to him.
Coming one evening at nightfall to a village, he
decided to pass the night in the posada, which stood
alone, cut off by a brawling brook from the other
Over the wall of the courtyard a single palm tree
leaned in sad and ragged glory, for the inn had
embedded itself among the ruins of what had been a
spacious Moorish dwelling. It was a poor place,
with no promise of entertainment, hence the brigand,
riding through a gap in the broken wall, was sur-
prised to see a carriage standing in the litter of the
yard, while a group of villagers pressed staring
round the door of the posada. From horseback he
looked over the heads of the crowd. Within the
doorway stood a woman in deep mourning, she had
gathered her draperies about her, and her delicate
feet seemed to shrink from the dirty floor.
" Can you not clean the place a little that I may
pass the night under a roof? " she was saying with
112 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
The innkeeper, a stout, insolent-looking young
fellow, protested volubly that he possessed no velvet
carpet fit for the illustrissima's feet, no couch of
down and gold â ^here he threw up his head like a
jibbing horse and halted awkwardly.
" May I offer my poor services? " At sound of
Don Q.'s suave voice the lady turned with a glance
of dismay, almost of terror.
It was very evident that she was a woman of rank
and refinement, and also still a beautiful woman,
although her hair was streaked with grey, and
a settled sadness accentuated the lines of her
'* If the seiiora will condescend to sit in her car-
riage for a moment, this hovel shall be made as fit
for her occupation as it is possible to make it."
" I thank you, sefior, but I detain you, and the
darkness will soon fall," she replied.
" My destination is yet distant, senora, and I
purposed having a meal here on my way." By
this time the lady found herself being led with all
the punctiliousness of Spanish ceremony back to her
" Sefior," she said, " I thank you for your aid,
but I cannot consent to return to the posada unless
you remain to dine there as you intended."
Once again Don Q.'s sombrero touched the
ground. " Will the sefiora honour me so greatly
as to dine with me before I ride forward ? "
So it was arranged, and the brigand returned
DON Q AND THE VALDEREJOS 113
to the inn for a word with the patron, who awaited
" What insolence is this, Tobal ? You refuse
your hospitahty to the illustrious lady ? " He cut
short Tobal's eager excuses of " much work, much
trouble," saying, " Let all be quickly prepared if
you would save yourself from punishment."
Dona Adonza in her carriage heard nothing of
this interlude, and beheld in amazement the sudden-
born activity of the whole community ; they hurried,
collided, pushed each other aside in their anxiety to
be busy, and she concluded the hidalgo who had
come to her aid must be a man of influence. Later
their acquaintance ran on smoothly, and before the
last dish was laid on the table Don Q.'s tact had
swept away most of those small social reserves that
hinder the ripening of friendly intercourse.
" I am thankful for your presence, seiior," she
was saying, " for I am terrified of these mountains."
"And why, senora ? " By mutual delicacy they
were yet ignorant of each other's names.
" Do you not know that somewhere up yonder
is the lair of the brigand, Don Q. ? " She dropped
her voice at the name.
" Why should that fact trouble you ? Surely you
have no fear of him ? "
" Do you not know ? He is a terrible person ! "
Dona Adonza shut her fan emphatically to point
The brigand shook his head. " To his enemies
114 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
perhaps he is terrible, but no story has ever reached
my ears of harshness to your sex."
" He is merciful to women, yes; but beheve me,
to men he is pitiless ! '*
A stifled sneeze broke the silence. Don Q. rose
quietly from the table, and opened the inner door as
Tobal fell back from it. Don Q. seized him by the
ear, and forced him out of sight. " Corpse of a
scullion ! " he whispered with venom, " what is it
that I find you doing? Listening? Stretching your
rabbit ears to hear? Back to your pans, animal!
Were it not for the presence of this lady I would
paunch you in your own kitchen ! "
Don Q. returned to his seat. " Pardon me, sefiora,
I fear you may have fancied I was angry. Alas, I
have gone through the world supporting the cross of
a perhaps hasty temper."
But Dona Adonza protested she had heard noth-
ing, and the brigand resumed :
" We were discussing Don Q. Has it ever struck
you that he may be a person of some culture ? That
he also may have his regrets? Living up there
among the crags, surrounded by none but barbarous
men, do you think it possible he may sigh for
days now past, and long for joys now denied
" I believe there is a tradition which declares him
to be a man of breeding," she replied, ** but it cannot
"And why not, seiiora? Pray tell me."
DON Q. AND THE VALDEREJOS 115
** Need I explain ? " she exclaimed. " The man-
ner of his life â "
" The poor bless his name," interjected Don Q.
** True. More than that, they actually seek
justice at his hands. Can it be that you know Don
" I think I may say as much."
"And you continue to think favourably of him? "
She raised her hands.
Don Q. waved the cigarette he had been permitted
to light. " He has his faults â like the rest of us,"
he observed tolerantly.
"He is well bom?"
" So I should judge."
Don Q. started. " I should not call him precisely
â handsome," he responded, ** perhaps distinguished-
looking would be the more accurate epithet."
" I wonder then he should lead so â strange a
" Do you wonder, seiiora? " her companion spoke
in a softened tone, '* for I see you also have known
grief â do you wonder, you who perhaps understand
that destiny drives some of us with an implacable
Her pale face was stricken grey. " You say
truly, seiior, for I who speak to you was once as
other women are â merciful to all the world. But
not now! My life is broken!" using the pathetic
phrase so frequent on Spanish lips.
Il6 DON Q. IN THE SIERRA
Don Q. sat mute, his head bent, as he listened.
She went on in a low voice. " I had a son, he was
my life â he was my all in the world. He loved me
as I loved him. The future promised everything.
Juan was capable, noble, ambitious â "
A long and troubled silence fell between them.
This vision of a shattered life appealed peculiarly to
Don Q., but he was not prepared for the next words.
" I have lost him â ^lost my son ! He was assas-
sinated ! And what is left for me ? I weep, I weep,
The poignant repetition pierced Don Q. He
rose abruptly. " Seiiora, by whom was this crime
committed ? "
" By one who could use the cloak of the law, even
that of the code of honour. Count Julowski is a
professed duellist. It happened in Vienna. Juan,
only that morning arrived in the city, was mounting
the steps of the club; the Count, coming out in an
ill-humour, insulted him. They met at dawn. It
was over in a moment. Juan was only a lad,
sefior! ... I was in Paris. I flew to his side.
Alas! he lay there very cold and peaceful, for the
first time in all his life unanswering to my love.
Juan, Juan ! " She stood up, and moved restlessly
from end to end of the room.
Don Q., with fixed eyes, seemed not to Â§ee her.
Then, in a scarcely audible voice, he asked : " This
assassin â ^he still lives?"
The tall %ure in its sweeping robes of black
DON Q. AND THE VALDEREJOS 117
halted at once. She turned her head to one side,
as one who hears a sound and waits for its repetition.
Then she moved slowly back to the table.
" Look at me ! '* She stretched out her arms. " I
am a mother ravaged by sorrow ! That crime is yet
unavenged. My friends, all on whom I relied,
have failed me! There is not one man amongst
them but gives me his pity, his tears, but not one
who will give me his aid ! "
Don Q. uttered an exclamation.
" I have kept the sword of Juan," she went on.
" I will bestow it on his avenger, for it is a sword
of honour. Once, seiior, it belonged to a distant
kinsman long dead, but whose courage and chivalry
can never be forgotten. Had he lived my vengeance
would have been secure.'*
"Lady, may I venture to utter your name? I
know it now. You are the Dona Adonza de Val-
derejo," said the brigand very humbly. " I have
a boon to beg of you. My birth is not obscure, and
I still can draw a sword. I lay it at your feet."
She drew back, trembling violently. " What is
it you mean? You are noble? "
" Of the noblest blood in Spain. Do not ask
my name; if I succeed on your errand you shall
know it. Yet be assured your revenge rests in hands
not altogether unworthy, and, it may be, strong
enough to compel justice in your cause."
HOW DON Q. FOUGHT FOR THE VALDEREJOS â
After settling the dispute among the olive groves,
in the patriarchal fashion for which he was famed
throughout the countryside, imagine Don Q. setting
forth by the Andalucian railway upon this journey
From the very beginning the adventure attracted
him, and this for several reasons. First, danger
was always his magnet ; second, to his haunted mind
action was the chloroform of thought. He was never
so apt to undertake one of his freakish escapades as
when he had for a period been dwelling alone with
his memories in the mountains, then at the moment
when other men would have turned to grosser
pleasure, Don Q. would plunge into some exploit
in which he flung his life upon the gaming-table of
the world, and played all comers for it.
These were two of his reasons. The third was as
strong as either, for this mission promised to lead
him back into a brief contact with those of his own
class. " To hear again the music of voices I used to
know, to mix once more with my equals, to pass an
hour amongst those who can appreciate the turn of
a phrase, even the bow of ceremony of a gentleman
of Spain â these things I am inclined to seek, it may
DON Q. AND THE VALDEREJOS 119