Departure from Santander--The Night Alarm--The Black Pass.
I HAD ordered two hundred Testaments to be sent to Santander from Madrid: I found, however, to my great sorrow, that they had not arrived, and I supposed that they had either been seized on the way by the Carlists, or that my letter had miscarried. I then thought of applying to England for a supply, but I abandoned the idea for two reasons. In the first place, I should have to remain idly loitering, at least a month, before I could receive them, at a place where every article was excessively dear; and, secondly, I was very unwell, and unable to procure medical advice at Santander. Ever since I left Coruña I had been afflicted with a terrible dysentery, and latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the other malady. I therefore determined on returning to Madrid. To effect this, however, seemed no very easy task. Parties of the army of Don Carlos, which, in a partial degree, had been routed in Castile, were hovering about the country through which I should have to pass, more especially in that part called "The Mountains," so that all communication had ceased between Santander and the southern districts. Nevertheless, I determined to trust as usual in the Almighty, and to risk the danger. I purchased, therefore, a small horse, and sallied forth with Antonio.
Before departing, however, I entered into conference with the booksellers as to what they should do in the event of my finding an opportunity of sending them a stock of Testaments from Madrid; and, having arranged matters to my satisfaction, I committed myself to Providence. I will not dwell long on this journey of three hundred miles. We were in the midst of the fire, yet, strange to say, escaped without a hair of our heads being singed. Robberies, murders, and all kinds of atrocities were perpetrated before, behind, and on both sides of us, but not so much as a dog barked at us, though in one instance a plan had been laid to intercept us. About four leagues from Santander, whilst we were baiting our horses at a village hostelry, I saw a fellow run off after having held a whispering conversation with a boy who was dealing out barley to us. I instantly inquired of the latter what the man had said to him, but only obtained an evasive answer. It appeared afterwards that the conversation was about ourselves. Two or three leagues farther there was an inn and village where we had proposed staying, and indeed had expressed our intention of doing so; but on arriving there, finding that the sun was still far from its bourne, I determined to proceed farther, expecting to meet with a resting place at the distance of a league; though I was mistaken, as we found none until we reached Montaneda, nine leagues and a half from Santander, where was stationed a small detachment of soldiers. At the dead of night, we were aroused from our sleep by a cry that the factious were not far off. A messenger had arrived from the alcalde of the village where we had previously intended staying, who stated that a party of