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THE WOOD-RANGERS.



(FBOM THE FRENCH OF LUIS DE BELLEMARE.)



CAPTAIN MAYNE REID,

AUTHOR OP "THE SCALP HUNTERS," "O9EOLA,"
&c., &c.



IN THKEE VOLUMES.
VOL. H.



LONDON:

HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS,
SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN,

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
1860.



LONDON :

PRINTED BY R. BORN, GLOUCESTER STREET,
REGENT'S PARK.



THE WOOD-RANGERS.



CHAPTER I.

LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW.

FOR a time the listeners heard nothing beyond
those common-place speeches exchanged be-
tween lovers, when the young man, doubtful
of his position, makes himself heard in
reproaches, or arguments, which to him appear
all powerful, while the responses which he
meets will show too plainly that he is either
not loved at all, or that the advantages are
on the side of the girl. But was this really
the position of Tiburcio with Rosarita? It
remains to be known.

VOL. ii. 688276 B



2 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

According to the custom of country houses
throughout Mexico, the window of Rosarita's
chamber was unglazed. Strong iron bars,
forming what is called the reja, hindered an
entrance from without ; and behind this reja,
lit up by the lamp in the chamber, the young
girl was standing in an attitude of graceful
ease. In the calm and perfumed night she
appeared even more charming than when seen
in the brilliant saloon ; for it is behind the rail-
ing of these balconies that the women of
Spanish race appear to the greatest advan-
tage.

A reboso of silk was thrown over her head,
falling over her shoulders in graceful un-
dulations. The window, running quite down
to the level of the floor, concealed nothing of
her person ; she was visible from the crown of
her head to the satin slipper that covered
her pretty little foot ; and the outline of her
figure formed a graceful silhouette against the
light burning within.

Tiburcio, his forehead resting against the



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 3

bars, appeared to struggle with a painful con-
viction that was fast forcing itself upon him.

" Ah !" said he, "I have not forgotten, as
you, Rosarita, the day when I first saw you in
the forest. The twilight was so sombre I
could scarce make out your form, which ap-
peared like the graceful shadow of some siren
of the woods. Your voice I could hear, and
there was something in it that charmed my
soul something I had never heard till that
moment."

" I have never forgotten the service you
rendered us," said the young girl ; " but why
recall those times ? they are long past."

" Long past ! no, not to me, Rosarita
that scene appears to me as if it had happened
yesterday. Yes," continued the young man hi
a tone of melancholy, " when the light of the
camp fire by little and little enabled me to
observe the radiant beauty of your face, I can
scarce describe the emotion which it gave me."

Had Tiburcio, instead of looking to the
ground, but raised his eyes at that moment, he

B2



4: THE WOOD-RANGERS.

might have noticed upon the countenance of
Rosarita an expression of interest, while a
slight blush reddened her cheeks. Perhaps
her heart was scarce touched, but rarely does
woman listen, without pleasure, to those im-
passioned tones that speak the praises of her
beauty.

Tiburcio continued in a voice still softer
and more marked by emotion : " I have not
forgotten the flowers of the lianas which I
gathered for you, and that seemed to give
forth a sweeter perfume when mingled with the
tresses of your hair. Ah ! it was a subtle
poison that was entering into my heart, and
which has resulted in filling it with an incura-
ble passion. Ah ! fool that I have been. Is
it possible, Rosarita, that you have forgotten
those sweet souvenirs upon which I have lived
from that day up to the present hour ?"

There are certain moments of indiscretion
in the life of most women, of which they have
a dislike to be reminded. Was it so with
Rosarita ? She was silent for a while, as if



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 5

her rebellious memory could not recall the
particulars mentioned by Tiburcio.

" No," at length answered she, in a tone so
low as not to betray a slight trembling of her
voice, "I do not forget, but we were then
only children to-day "

" To-day," interrupted Tiburcio in a tone
of bitter reproach, " to-day that is all for-
gotten, since a Senator from Arispe has con-
descended to comprise you in his projects
of ambition."

The melodious voice of Rosarita was now
heard in a tone of disdainful anger. Tiburcio
had wounded her pride.

" Comprise me in his projects of ambition,"
said she, her beautiful nostrils curving
scornfully as she spoke ; " and who has told
you, senor, that it is not I who condescend ?"

"This stranger, too," continued Tiburcio,
still preserving his reproachful manner, " this
Don Estevan whom I hate even worse than
the Senator has talked to you of the plea-
sures of Madrid of the wonderful countries



6 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

that lie beyond the sea and you wish to see
them with your own eyes ! "

" Indeed, I acknowlege," answered Rosarita,
" that in these deserts life appears to me dull
enough. Something tells me that I was not made
to die without taking part in those splendours
of the world of which I have heard so much.
What can you offer to me to my father ? "

" I understand now," cried Tiburcio, with
despairing bitterness ; " to be poor, an orphan,
unhappy these are not the titles to win the
heart of a woman."

" You are unjust, Tiburcio. It is almost
always the very reverse that happens for it is
the instinct of a woman to prefer those who are
as you say ; but it is different with fathers,
who, alas ! rarely share this preference with
their daughters."

There was in these last words a sort of tacit
avowal which Tiburcio evidently did not com-
prehend, for he continued his reproaches and
bitter recriminations, causing the young girl
many a sigh as she listened to them.



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 7

" Of course you love this Senator," said he.
" Do not talk, then, of being compelled.

"Who talks of being compelled?" said
Kosarita, hastily interrupting the young man.
" I said nothing of compulsion I only spoke
of the desire which my father has already
manifested ; and against his will, the hopes
you may have conceived would be nothing
more than chimeras or idle dreams."

" And this will of your father is to throw
you into the arms of a ruined prodigal, who
has no other aim than to build up the
fortune he has squandered in dissipation, and
satisfy his ambitious desires ! Say, Rosarita,
say ! is this will in consonance with your
own ? Does your heart agree to it ? If it is
not, and there is the least compulsion upon
you, how happy should I be to contest for you
with this rival. Ah ! you do not make answer
you love him, Rosarita? And I Oh, why
did they not leave me to die upon the
road ? "

At this moment a slight rustling was heard



8 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

in the grove of oranges, where Don Estevan
and Cuchillo were crouching in concealment.

" Hush ! " said the young girl, did you not
hear a noise ? "

Tiburcio turned himself quickly, his eye on
fire, his heart beating joyfully with the hope
of having some one upon whom to vent the
terrible anger that tortured it but the rays
of the moon shone only upon the silvery
foliage all was quiet around.

He then resumed his gloomy and pensive
attitude. Sadness had again taken possession
of his soul, through which the quick burst of
anger had passed as lightning through a
sombre sky.

" Very likely," said he, with a melancholy
smile, " it is the spirit of some poor lover who
has died from despair."

" Santissima Virgen ! " exclaimed Rosarita,
making the sign of the cross. " You make
me afraid, Tiburcio. Do you believe that one
could die of love ? " she inquired in a tone of
naivete.



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 9

" It may be," replied Tiburcio, with a sad
smile still playing upon his lips. Then chang-
ing his tone, he continued, " Hear me, Rosa-
rita ; you are ambitious, you have said so
hear me, then. Supposing I could give you
all that has been promised you hitherto I
have preferred to plead the cause of Tiburcio
poor and an orphan I shall now advocate that
of Tiburcio Arellanos, on the eve of becoming
rich and powerful noble, too, I shall become,
for I shall make myself an illustrious name to
offer to you."

As he said these words, the young man
raised his eyes towards heaven ; his counte-
nance exhibited an altered expression, as if
there was revived in his soul the pride of an
ancient race.

For the first time since the commencement
of the interview, Tiburcio was talking sensibly,
and the daughter of Eve appeared to listen
with more attention than she had hitherto
exhibited.

Meanwhile the two spies were also listening



10 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

attentively from their hiding-place among the
oranges. Not a word of what was said, not
a gesture, escaped them. The last speech of
Tiburcio had caused them to exchange a rapid
glance. The countenance of the outlaw be-
trayed an expression of rage mingled with
shame. After the impudent manner in which
he had boasted of his penetration, he felt
confounded in the presence of Don Estevan,
whose eyes were fixed upon him with a look
of implacable raillery.

" We shall see now," whispered the Spaniard,
" whether this young fellow knows no more of
the situation of the GoldenValley than he does
of the garden of Eden."

Cuchillo quailed under this terrible irony,
but made no reply.

As yet Don Estevan had learned nothing
new. The essential object with him was to dis-
cover whether Tiburcio's passion was recipro-
cated; the rest was of little importance. In the
behaviour of Rosarita there was certainly some-
thing that betrayed a tender compassion for



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 11

the adopted son of Arellanos ; but was this a
sign of love ? That was the question to which
Don Estevan desired to have the answer.

Meanwhile, having excited the evil passions
of the outlaw to the highest pitch, he judged
it prudent to moderate them again ; an explo-
sion at that moment would not have been po-
litic on his part. A murder committed before
his face, even though he had not ordered it
either by word or gesture, would at least ex-
hibit a certain complicity with the assassin,
and deprive him of that authority which he
now exercised over Cuchillo.

"Not for your life! " said he, firmly grasping
the arm of the outlaw, whose hand rested upon
his knife, " Not for your soul's safety.
Remember ! till I give the word, the life of
this young man is sacred. Hush ! " he con-
tinued, "listen!" and still holding the outlaw
by the arm, he turned his eyes upon Tiburcio,
who had again commenced speaking.

" Why should I conceal it from you longer? "
exclaimed the young man, in a tone to which the



12 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

attentive attitude of Rosarita lent animation.
Hear me, then ! Honours riches power I can
lay at your feet, but you alone can enable me
to effect this miracle."

Rosarita fixed her eyes upon the speaker
with an interrogatory expression.

" Perhaps I should have told you sooner,"
continued Tiburcio, " that my adopted mother
no longer lives "

" I know it," interrupted the young girl,
" you are alone in the world I heard it this
evening from my father."

The voice of Rosarita, in pronouncing these
words, was soft as the breeze that sighed
through the grove of oranges ; and her hand,
falling as if by chance into that of Tiburcio,
did not appear to shun the pressure given to it.

At sight of this, the hand of Don Estevan
gradually relaxed its hold upon the arm of
Cuchillo.

" Yes," continued Tiburcio, " my mother
died in poverty, though she has left me a valu-
able inheritance, and at the same time a legacy



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 13

of vengeance. True, it is a dangerous secret
of which I am the heir, for it has already been
death to those who possessed it ; nevertheless
it will furnish the means to raise myself to an
opulence like your own. The vengeance which
I have sworn to accomplish must be delayed,
but it shall not be forgotten. I shall yet seek
the murderer of Arellanos."

At these words Cuchillo turned pale, impa-
tiently grinding his teeth. His arm was no
longer restrained, Don Estevan grasped it no
more for he saw that the hand of Rosarita was
still pressed by that of Tiburcio.

"Hear me further!" continued the young
man. " About sixty leagues from here, in
the heart of the Indian country, there is a
placer of gold of incalculable richness ; it was
discovered by my adopted father. My mother,
on her death-bed, gave me full directions to
find the place ; and all this gold may be mine,
Rosarita, if you will only love me. Without
your love, I care nothing for it. What should
I do with such riches ? "



14 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

Tiburcio awaited the answer of Rosarita.
That answer fell upon his heart like the tolling
of a funeral knell.

" I hope, Tiburcio," said she, with a signifi-
cant smile, " that this is only a ruse on your
part to put me to the proof I hope so, because
I do not wish to believe that you have acted so
vile a part as to make yourself master of a
secret that belongs to another."

" The secret of another ! " cried the young
man in a voice hoarse with astonishment.

" Yes, a secret which belongs only to Don
Estevan. I know it "

Tiburcio at once fell from the summit of his
dreams. So his secret, too, was lost to him,
as well as she whom he loved this secret
upon which he had built his sweetest hopes ;
and to add to the bitterness of his disappoint-
ment, she too for whose sake alone he had
valued it she to accuse him of treason !

" Ah ! " cried he, " Don Estevan knows of
the Golden Valley ? Perhaps then he can tell
me who murdered my father ! Oh ! my God !"



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 15

cried he, striking the ground with his heel,
" perhaps it was himself! "

" Pray God rather to protect you you will
need all his grace ! " cried a rough voice which
caused Rosarita to utter a cry of terror as she
saw the dark form that of a man rushing
forward and flinging himself upon Tiburcio.

The young man, before he could place him-
self in an attitude of defence, received a
severe wound, and, losing his balance, fell
to the ground. The next moment his enemy
was over him. For some minutes the two
struggled together in silence nothing was
heard but their loud, quick breathing. The
knife of Cuchillo, already stained with blood,
had escaped from his hand, and lay gleaming
upon the ground, without his being able to
reach it.

"Now, villain, we are quits," cried
Tiburcio, who, with an effort of supreme
strength, had got uppermost, and was now
kneeling on the breast of the outlaw.
" Villain !" repeated he, as he endeavoured



16 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

to get hold of his poniard ; " you shall
die the death of an assassin."

Places had suddenly changed Tiburcio was
now the aggressor ; but at this moment a third
personage appeared upon the scene. It was
Don Estevan.

"Hold!" screamed Rosarita, "hold, for the
love of the Holy Virgin ! This young man
is my father's guest ; his life is sacred under
our roof."

Don Estevan grasped the arm that was
raised to strike Cuchillo, and as Tiburcio
turned to see who thus interposed between
him and his vengeance, the outlaw glided
from under him.

Tiburcio now sprang up, rolled his serape
round his left arm, and holding it as a shield,
stood with his body inclined backward, his
left leg advanced, and his right hand firmly
grasping his weapon in the attitude of an an-
cient gladiator. He appeared for a moment
as if choosing upon which of his antagonists he
would first launch himself.



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 17

" You call this being quits !" cried Cuchillo,
his breast still heaving from the pressure of
Tiburcio's knee. " Your life belongs to me
I only lent it to you, and I shall now take it
back."

" Come on, dog," shouted Tiburcio in an-
swer ; " and you too, Don Estevan, you
cowardly assassin ! you who pay for the mur-
der of defenceless people."

The countenance of the Spaniard turned
livid pale at this unexpected accusation. He
instantly drew his dagger, and crying out,
" Down with him, Cuchillo ! " rushed furiously
forward to the attack.

No doubt Tiburcio would soon have suc-
cumbed before two such formidable antago-
nists, but at this moment a red light flashed
upon the combatants, as Dona Eosarita, with
a flaming torch in her hand, rushed forward
between them.

The aspect of Tiburcio, who, despite the
odds against him, and the blood that was run-
ning from his arm, still fearlessly maintained

VOL. II. C



18 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

his defensive attitude, caused the heart of
Rosarita to beat with sympathetic admiration.
This sanguinary denouement to their interview
was pleading the cause of the lover far more elo-
quently than either his reproaches or promises.

The first impulse of Rosarita was to fling
herself into the arms of the young man so
daring and beautiful. She was restrained
only from following this impulse by a feeling
of female delicacy, and for an instant Tiburcio
seemed the one about whom she was least
concerned.

" Oh ! my God !" cried she, " are you
wounded ? Don Estevan ! Senor Cuchillo !
Sefior Arechiza ! retire ; for the love of the
Virgin, let not the world know that a crime
has been committed in our house."

The excited bearing of the young girl, her
bosom heaving under the light tissue of her
dress, her reboso floating behind her, mingled
with the long dark tresses of her dishevelled
hair all these, added to the proud, savage
beauty of her countenance, commanded



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 19

respect, and as if by enchantment, the wea-
pons of the combatants were restorer) to their
sheaths.

Cuchillo growled like a dog newly muzzled,
while Don Estevan preserved a sombre silence.
Both walked away from the ground, and their
forms were soon lost in the darkness.

Tiburcio, with face upturned, his eyes still
flashing with rage, his features illuminated
with the red light of the torch, remained
for some moments without changing his
attitude. His features exhibited that su-
perb expression that danger only magnifies
into grandeur. Gradually, however, their
tone became softened, and an air of melan-
choly succeeded it, as his eyes rested upon
Rosarita. The young girl had suddenly be-
come pale under the reaction of such vivid
emotions, as well as under the influence of the
powerful sentiment now rekindled within her
heart. Acting under this influence as well,
she hastily arranged her scarf, in order to cover
her nude shoulders, and the palpitating move-

c2



20 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

ments of her bosom. Even her motive for
this was misunderstood by Tiburcio.

" Rosarita," he said, speaking with perfect
calmness, " I might have doubted your words,
but your actions have spoken more plainly.
It was to my enemies you first ran ; though
my blood was spilling, all your fears appeared
to be for Don Estevan."

" God knows that I do not deserve this
reproach," said the young girl, as with a look
of terror she saw the blood streaming to the
ground. At the same instant, she advanced
to examine the wound.

Tiburcio repulsed her by stepping back-
ward.

" It is too late," said he, with a bitter
smile, " the evil is done. Adieu ! I have
been too longy our guest. The hospitality of
your house is fatal to me. Under your roof
my life has been threatened, my dearest hopes
have been crushed! Adieu, Rosarita! Adieu!"

As he pronounced the last words, he turned
and walked hastily away. There was a broken



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 21

place in the wall of the enclosure, and towards
this he directed his steps. A hundred paces
beyond the forest commenced, and the
dark sombre trees were visible through
the opening. The mysterious light he had
already noticed was still glimmering feebly
above their tops.

" Where are you going, Tiburcio ? " cried
the young girl, her hands joined and her eyes
filling with tears ; " my father's roof will pro-
tect you."

Tiburcio only answered by a negative shake
of the head.

" But yonder," continued Rosarita, pointing
to the woods, " yonder alone and without de-
fence danger death will await you."

" God will send me friends," answered
Tiburcio, glancing towards the distant light.
" The hospitality of the wandering traveller
a sleep by his camp fire will be safer for me
than that of your father's roof." And Tibur-
cio continued to advance towards the breach,
with a gentle but resolute step.



22 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

" For the love of heaven, do not expose
yourself to dangers that may perhaps arise
when I am no longer present to protect you !
I tell you, out yonder you will be risking
your life." Then giving to her voice a
tone of persuasive softness, she continued,
" In what place, Tiburcio, will you be better
than with me ? "

Tiburcio's resolution was for a moment
shaken, and he paused to make answer.
" One word, Rosarita," said he ; " say that
you hate my rival as I hate him say this,
and I remain."

A violent conflict appeared to arise in the
breast of Rosarita. Her bosom swelled with
conflicting emotions, as she fixed upon Tibur-
cio a glance of tender reproach, but she re-
mained silent.

To a man at Tiburcio's age, the heart of a
woman is a sealed book. Not till we have
lost the attractions of youth so powerful, de-
spite its inexperience are we able to penetrate
the mysteries of the female heart a sad com-



LOVE THROUGH THE WINDOW. 23

pensation which God accords to the maturity
of age. At thirty years Tiburcio would have
remained, but he was yet only twenty-four ;
he had spent his whole life in the desert, and
this was his first love.

" You will not say it f Adieu, then," cried
he, " I am no longer your guest," and saying
this, he leaped over the broken wall, before the
young girl could offer any opposition to his
departure.

Stupefied by this unexpected movement,
she mounted upon the fragments that lay at
the bottom of the wall, and stretching her
arms out toward the forest, she cried out, " Ti-
burcio, Tiburcio ! do not leave us so ; do you
wish to bring upon our house the malediction
of heaven?" But her voice was either lost
to his ears, or he disdained to reply. She
listened a moment, she could hear the sound
of his footsteps fast dying in the distance,
until they could be heard no more.

" Oh, my God," cried she, falling upon her
knees in an attitude of prayer, " protect this



24 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

young man from the dangers that threaten
him. Oh, God, watch over him, for alas ! he
carries with him my heart." Then, forgetting
in her grief her projects of ambition, the will
of her father, all that deceptive confidence,
which had kept silent the voice of a love, of
the existence of which she was hitherto almost
ignorant, the young girl rose hastily from her
knees, once more mounted upon the wall, and
in a heart-rending voice called out, " Come back,
Tiburcio ; come back, I love only you" But
no answer was returned, and the young girl,
wrapping her face in her reboso, sat down and
wept.

Before returning to her chamber, she cast
one more look in the direction of the forest,
but the woods were still enveloped in
the obscurity of night ; all was sombre and
silent, though in the distance the feeble light
was still glimmering over the tree-tops. All at
once it appeared for an instant to flash more
brightly, as if offering a welcome to him who
had no longer a home.



25



CHAPTER II.

AN ABRUPT DEPARTURE.

DON ESTEVAN and Cuchillo, on leaving the
ground of the combat, returned to the alley of
granadines ; but for some time not a word
passed between them. Don Estevan was
buried in a profound meditation. More skilled
than his coarse companion in the mysteries of
the female heart, he had divined, before the
end of the dialogue between Rosarita and
Tiburcio, that the young girl felt for the latter
a tender sentiment. It was true it was just
germinating in her soul ; but the accents of
her voice, her gestures, and other signs, dis-
covered to the experienced intelligence of



26 THE WOOD-RANGERS.

Don Estevan that she really loved Tiburcio,
though herself not yet aware of the extent of
that love.

For Tiburcio knowing the secret of the
Golden Valley, Don Estevan cared little that
was a matter of secondary importance ; but
Tiburcio's love, reciprocated by Dona Rosarita,


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