90 THE STORY OF THE YARA
fancied that perhaps it was my friend who was playing a trick on me, but there was not a creature to be seen; and when I reached home I found my friend fast asleep.'
As Julia listened her face grew deadly white, and her whole body shivered as if with cold. From her childhood she had heard stories of the terrible beings that lived in the forests and were hidden under the banks of the rivers, and could only be kept off by powerful charms. Could the voice which had bewitched Alonzo have come from one of these ? Perhaps, who knows, it might be the voice of the dreaded Yara herself, who sought young men on the eve of their marriage as her prey.
For a moment the girl sat choked with fear, as these thoughts rushed through her; then she said : ' Alonzo, will you promise me something ? '
' What is that ? ' asked he.
' It is something that has to do with our future happiness.'
' Oh ! it is serious, then ? Well, of course I promise. Now tell me ! '
' I want you to promise,' she answered, lowering her voice to a whisper, ' never to bathe in those pools again.'
' But why not, queen of my soul; have I not gone there always, and nothing has harmed me, flower of my heart ?'
' No; but perhaps something will. If you will not promise I shall go mad with fright. Promise me.'
' Why, what is the matter ? You look so pale ! Tell me why you are so frightened ?'
' Did you not hear the song ?' she asked, trembling.
' Suppose I did, how could that hurt me ? It was the loveliest song I ever heard ! '
' Yes, and after the song will come the apparition ; and after that—after that-----'
' I don't understand. Well—after that ? '
' After that—death.'
Alonzo stared at her. Had she really gone mad?