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A man and a woman entered the hotel of the widow De Cuzco a little after ten o'clock, and left it at half-past eleven.
"Now, Senora Dona Maria," said the man, "I will take you to your house, for I have something to do."
"Wait, Senor Ramos, for the love of God!" she answered. "Why don't we go to the Casino to see if he comes out? You heard just now that Estebanillo, the boy that works in the garden, was talking with him this afternoon."
"But are you looking for Don Jose?" asked the Centaur, with ill-humor. "What have we to do with him? The courtship with Dona Rosario ended as it was bound to end, and now there is nothing for it but for my mother to marry them. That is my opinion."
"You are a fool!" said Remedios angrily.
"Senora, I am going."
"Why, you rude man, are you going to leave me alone in the street?"
"Yes, senora, unless you go home at once."
"That's right—leave me alone, exposed to be insulted! Listen to me, Senor Ramos. Don Jose will come out of the Casino in a moment, as usual. I want to see whether he goes into his hotel or goes past it. It is a fancy of mine, only a fancy."
"What I know is that I have something to do, and that it is near twelve o'clock."
"Silence!" said Remedios. "Let us hide ourselves around the corner. A man is coming down the Calle de la Triperia Alta. It is he!"
"Don Jose! I know him by his walk."
"Let us follow him," said Maria Remedios with anxiety. "Let us follow him at a little distance, Ramos."
"Only a minute, then, Dona Remedios. After that I must go."
They walked on about thirty paces, keeping at a moderate distance behind the man they were watching. The Penitentiary's niece stopped then and said:
"He is not going into his hotel."
"He may be going to the brigadier's."
"The brigadier lives up the street, and Don Pepe is going down in the direction of the senora's house."
"Of the senora's house!" exclaimed Caballuco, quickening his steps.
But they were mistaken. The man whom they were watching passed the house of Polentinos and walked on.
"Do you see that you were wrong?"
"Senor Ramos, let us follow him!" said Remedios, pressing the Centaur's hand convulsively. "I have a foreboding."
"We shall soon know, for we are near the end of the town."
"Don't go so fast—he may see us. It is as I thought, Senor Ramos; he is going into the garden by the condemned door."
"Senora, you have lost your senses!"
"Come on, and we shall see."
The night was dark, and the watchers could not tell precisely at what point Senor de Rey had entered; but a grating of rusty hinges which they heard, and the circumstance of not meeting the young man in the whole length of the garden wall, convinced them that he had entered the garden. Caballuco looked at his companion with stupefaction. He seemed bewildered.
"What are you thinking about? Do you still doubt?"
"What ought I to do?" asked the bravo, covered with confusion. "Shall we give him a fright? I don't know what the senora would think about it. I say that because I was at her house this evening, and it seemed to me that the mother and daughter had become reconciled."
"Don't be a fool! Why don't you go in?"
"Now I remember that the armed men are not there; I told them to leave this evening."
"And this block of marble still doubts what he ought to do! Ramos, go into the garden and don't be a coward."
"How can I go in if the door is closed?"
"Get over the wall. What a snail! If I were a man——"
"Well, then, up! There are some broken bricks here where the boys climb over the wall to steal the fruit."
"Up quickly! I will go and knock at the front door to waken the senora, if she should be asleep."
The Centaur climbed up, not without difficulty. He sat astride on the wall for an instant, and then disappeared among the dark foliage of the trees. Maria Remedios ran desperately toward the Calle del Condestable, and, seizing the knocker of the front door, knocked—knocked three times with all her heart and soul.
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