THIS priest who was murdered and thrown over the bridge, Señor, was a very good man, and there was very little excuse for murdering him. Moreover, he belonged to a most respectable family, and so did the gentleman who murdered him, and so did the young lady; and because of all that, and because at the best of times the killing of a priest is sacrilege, the scandal of that murder made a stir in the whole town.
At that time--it was some hundreds of years ago, Señor--there lived in the street that now is called, because of it all, the street of the Puente del Clérigo, a very beautiful young lady who was named Doña Margarita Jáuregui. And she, being an orphan, dwelt with her uncle, this priest: who was named Don Juan de Nava and was a person of rank, being a caballero of the orders of Santiago and Calatrava. In those days there were few houses upon that street, which was the causeway between the City and the Indian town of Tlaltelolco; and for the greater safety of the Spaniards dwelling in the City there was a wide ditch, that this bridge crossed, between them and the Indian town. Long ago, Señor, Tlaltelolco became a part of the City; and the ditch, and the bridge over it, are gone.
Now it happened that at the court of the Viceroy was a noble young Portuguese gentleman, who had great riches and two titles, named Don Duarte de Sarraza; and the Viceroy, who was the Conde de Salvatierra, very much esteemed him because he was of a loyal nature and of good heart. Therefore this noble young gentleman fell in love with Doña Margarita, and she with him; but her uncle, the Padre Don Juan, knowing that Don Duarte was a vicious young man--a gambler, and in other ways what he should not have been--forbade his niece to have anything to do with him. So things rested for a while on those terms, and Don Duarte did not like it at all.
Well, it happened on a night, Señor, that Don Duarte was at the window of Doña Margarita, telling his love for her through the grating; and while he was so engaged he saw Padre Don Juan coming home along the causeway by the light of the stars. Then that wicked young man went to where the bridge was, and when the Padre was come to the bridge he sprang upon him and drove his dagger deep into his skull. The dagger was nailed so fast there, Señor, that he could not drag it loose again; and so he bundled the dead priest over the wall of the bridge and into the water with the dagger still sticking in the skull of him; and then he went his way to his home.
Not wishing to have it thought that he had committed that murder, Don Duarte did not go near Doña Margarita for almost a whole year. And then--because his love for her would not suffer him to wait away from her longer--he went in the night-time to meet her once more at her window; and he had in his heart the wicked purpose to make her come out to him, and then to carry her off.
That did not happen--and what did happen is a terrible mystery. All that is known about it is this: Very early in the morning the neighbors living thereabout found Don Duarte dead on the Bridge of the Cleric; and holding him fast, a bony knee on his breast and two bony hands at his throat strangling him, was a skeleton. And the skeleton, Señor, was dressed in a black cassock, such as only clerics wear, and in the skull of it a rusty dagger was nailed fast. Therefore it became generally known that Don Duarte had murdered the Padre Don Juan; and that the skeleton of the Padre Don Juan had killed Don Duarte in just revenge.