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Carmen Ariza   By: (1873-)

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[Illustration: In the name of the Church he would serve these humble people. Book 2, Page 77.]

CARMEN ARIZA

BY

CHARLES FRANCIS STOCKING, E. M.

Author of THE DIARY OF JEAN EVARTS, THE MAYOR OF FILBERT, Etc.

CHICAGO

THE MAESTRO CO.

1921

Copyright 1915

BY

CHARLES FRANCIS STOCKING

ISSUED JANUARY 1916

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

TWENTY FIFTH EDITION

PRINTED IN U. S. A.

CARMEN ARIZA

BOOK 1

Doth this offend you? the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Jesus.

CARMEN ARIZA

CHAPTER 1

The tropical sun mounted the rim of the golden Caribbean, quivered for a moment like a fledgeling preening its wings for flight, then launched forth boldly into the vault of heaven, shattering the lowering vapors of night into a myriad fleecy clouds of every form and color, and driving them before it into the abysmal blue above. Leaping the sullen walls of old Cartagena, the morning beams began to glow in roseate hues on the red tiled roofs of this ancient metropolis of New Granada, and glance in shafts of fire from her glittering domes and towers. Swiftly they climbed the moss grown sides of church and convent, and glided over the dull white walls of prison and monastery alike. Pouring through half turned shutters, they plashed upon floors in floods of gold. Tapping noiselessly on closed portals, they seemed to bid tardy sleepers arise, lest the hurrying midday siesta overtake them with tasks unfinished. The dormitory of the ecclesiastical college, just within the east wall of the city, glowed brilliantly in the clear light which it was reflecting to the mirror of waters without. Its huge bulk had caught the first rays of the rising sun, most of which had rebounded from its drab, incrusted walls and sped out again over the dancing sea. A few, however, escaped reflection by stealing through the slanting shutters of a window close under the roof of the building. Within, they fell upon a man kneeling on the tiled floor beside a rude cot bed.

In appearance the man was not more than twenty five years of age. His black, close curling hair, oval face, and skin of deep olive tint indicated a Latin origin. His clerical garb proclaimed him a son of the Church. The room was a small, whitewashed cell of stone, musty with the dampness which had swept in from the sea during the night. It was furnished with Spartan simplicity. Neither image, crucifix, nor painting adorned its walls the occupant's dress alone suggested his calling. A hanging shelf held a few books, all evidently used as texts in the adjoining college. A table, much littered; a wooden dressing stand, with a small mirror; and an old fashioned, haircloth trunk, bearing numerous foreign labels, eked out the paucity of furnishings.

If the man prayed, there was only his reverent attitude to indicate it, for no words escaped his lips. But the frequent straining of his tense body, and the fierce clenching of his thin hands, as he threw his arms out over the unopened bed, were abundant evidence of a soul tugging violently at its moorings. His was the attitude of one who has ceased to inveigh against fate, who kneels dumbly before the cup of Destiny, knowing that it must be drained.

With the break of day the bells awoke in the church towers throughout the old city, and began to peal forth their noisy reminder of the virility of the Holy Catholic faith. Then the man raised his head, seemingly startled into awareness of his material environment. For a few moments he listened confusedly to the insistent clatter but he made no sign of the cross, nor did his head bend with the weight of a hollow Ave on his bloodless lips while the clamoring muezzins filled the warm, tropical air with their jangling appeal. Rising with an air of weary indifference, he slowly crossed the room and threw wide the shutters of the solitary window, admitting a torrent of sunlight... Continue reading book >>




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