AMINE had just returned from an afternoon’s walk through the streets of Goa: she had made some purchases at different shops in the bazaar, and had brought them home under her mantilla. “Here, at last, thank Heaven, I am alone and not watched,” thought Amine, as she threw herself on the couch. “Philip, Philip, where are you?” exclaimed she. “I have now the means, and I soon will know.” Little Pedro, the son of the widow, entered the room, ran up to Amine and kissed her. “Tell me, Pedro, where is your mother.”
“She is gone out to see her friends this evening, and we are alone. I will stay with you.”
“Do so, dearest. Tell me, Pedro, can you keep a secret?”
“Yes, I will—tell it me.”
“Nay, I have nothing to tell, but I wish to do something: I wish to make a play, and you shall see things in your hand.”
“Oh! yes, show me, do show me.”
“If you promise not to tell.”
“No, by the Holy Virgin, I will not.”
“Then you shall see.”
Amine lighted some charcoal in a chafing-dish, and put it at her feet; she then took a reed pen, some ink from a small bottle, and a pair of scissors, and wrote down several characters on a paper singing, or rather chanting, words which were not intelligible to her young companion. Amine then threw frankincense and coriander seed into the chafing-dish, which threw out a strong aromatic smoke; and desiring Pedro to sit down by her on a small stool, she took the boy’s right hand and held it in her own. She then drew upon the palm of his hand a square figure with characters on each side of it, and in the centre poured a small quantity of the ink, so as to form a black mirror of the size of half a crown.
“Now all is ready,” said Amine; “look, Pedro, what see you in the ink?”
“My own face,” replied the boy.
She threw more frankincense upon the chafing-dish, until the room was full of smoke, and then chaunted:—
“Turshoon, turyo-shoon—come down, come down.
“Be present, ye servants of these names.
“Remove the veil, and be correct.”
The characters she had drawn upon the paper, she had divided with the scissors, and now taking one of the pieces, she dropped it into the chafing-dish still holding the boy’s hand.
“Tell me now, Pedro, what do you see?”
“I see a man sweeping,” replied Pedro, alarmed.
“Fear not, Pedro, you shall see more. Has he done sweeping?”
“Yes, he has.”
And Amine muttered words, which were unintelligible, and threw into the chafing-dish the other half of the paper with the characters she had written down. “Say now, Pedro, ‘Philip Vanderdecken, appear.’”
“Philip Vanderdecken appear!” responded the boy, trembling.
“Tell me what thou seest, Pedro—tell me true?” said Amine anxiously.
“I see a man lying down on the white sand—(I don’t like this play).”
“Be not alarmed, Pedro, you shall have sweetmeats directly. Tell me what thou seest, how the man is dressed?”
“He has a short coat—he has white trowsers—he looks about him—he takes something out of his breast and kisses it.”
“’Tis he, ’tis he! and he lives! Heaven, I thank thee. Look again, boy.”
“He gets up—(I don’t like this play; I am frightened; indeed I am).”
“Oh, yes, I am—I cannot,” replied Pedro, falling on his knees; “pray let me go.”
Pedro had turned his hand, and spilt the ink, the charm was broken, and Amine could learn no more. She soothed the boy with presents, made him repeat his promise that he would not tell, and postponed further search into fate until the boy should appear to have recovered from his terror, and be willing to resume the ceremonies.
“My Philip lives—mother, dear mother, I thank you.”
Amine did not allow Pedro to leave the room until he appeared to have quite recovered from his fright; for some days she did not say anything to him, except to remind him of his promise not to tell his mother, or any one else, and she loaded him with presents.
One afternoon when his mother was gone out Pedro came in and asked Amine “whether they should not have the play ever again!”
Amine, who was anxious to know more, was glad of the boy’s request, and soon had everything prepared. Again was her chamber filled with the smoke of the frankincense: again was she muttering her incantations: the magic mirror was on the boy’s hand, and once more had Pedro cried out, “Philip Vanderdecken, appear!” when the door burst open, and Father Mathias, the widow, and several other people made their appearance. Amine started up—Pedro screamed and ran to his mother.
“Then I was not mistaken at what I saw in the cottage at Terneuse,” cried Father Mathias, with his arms folded over his breast, and with looks of indignation; “accursed sorceress! you are detected.”
Amine returned his gaze with scorn, and coolly replied, “I am not of your creed—you know it. Eaves-dropping appears to be a portion of your religion. This is my chamber—it is not the first time I have had to request you to leave it—I do so now—you—and those who have come in with you.”
“Take up all those implements of sorcery first,” said Father Mathias to his companions. The chafing-dish, and other articles used by Amine, were taken away; and Father Mathias and the others quitting the room: Amine was left alone.
Amine had a foreboding that she was lost; she knew that magic was a crime of the highest degree in Catholic countries, and that she had been detected in the very act. “Well, well,” thought Amine: “it is my destiny, and I can brave the worst.”
To account for the appearance of Father Mathias and the witnesses, it must be observed, that the little boy Pedro had, the day after Amine’s first attempt, forgotten his promise, and narrated to his mother all that had passed. The widow, frightened at what the boy had told her, thought it right to go to Father Mathias, and confide to him what her son had told her, as it was, in her opinion, sorcery. Father Mathias questioned Pedro closely, and, convinced that such was the case, determined to have witnesses to confront Amine. He, therefore, proposed that the boy should appear to be willing to try again, and had instructed him for the purpose, having previously arranged that they should break in upon Amine, as we have described.
About half an hour afterwards, two men dressed in black gowns came into Amine’s room, and requested that she would follow them, or that force would be used. Amine made no resistance: they crossed the square: the gate of a large building was opened, they desired her to walk in, and, in a few seconds, Amine found herself in one of the dungeons of the Inquisition.