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At the close of the first day they brought Baruch into the great Hall of the Oblates, sometime called the Hall of the Unexpected. The young man walked with eyes downcast. Aloft in the vast spaces the swinging domes of light made more reddish his curly beard, deepened the hollows on either side of his sweetly pointed nose, and accented the determined corners of his firmly modelled lips. He was dressed in a simple tunic and wore no Talith; and as he slowly moved up the wide aisle the Grand Inquisitor, visibly annoyed by the resemblance, said to his famulus, "The heretic dares to imitate the Master." He crossed himself and shuddered.

Mendoza abated not his reserve as he drew near the long table before the Throne. Like a quarry that is at last hemmed in, the Jew was quickly surrounded by a half thousand black-robed monks. The silence—sick, profound, and awful—was punctuated by the low, sullen tapping of a drum. Its droning sound reminded the prisoner of life-blood dripping from some single pore; the tone was B, and its insistent, muffled, funereal blow at rhythmic intervals would in time have worn away rock. Mendoza felt a prevision of his fate; being a musician he knew of music's woes and warnings. And he lifted eyes for the first time since his arrest in a gloomy, star-lit street of Lisbon.

He saw bleached, shaven faces in a half circle; they seemed like skulls fastened on black dummies—so immobile their expression, so deadly staring their eyes. The brilliant and festal appearance of the scene oppressed him and his eyeballs ached. Symphonies of light were massed over the great high walls; glistening and pendulous, they illuminated remote ceilings. There was color and taunting gaiety in the decoration; the lofty panels contained pictures from the classic poets which seemed profane in so sacred an edifice, and just over the Throne gleamed the golden tubes of a mighty organ. Then Baruch Mendoza's eyes, half blinded by the strange glory of the place to which he had been haled, encountered the joyful and ferocious gaze of the Grand Inquisitor. Again echoed dolefully the tap of the drum in the key of B, and the prisoner shuddered.

A voice was heard: "Baruch Mendoza, thou art before the Throne, and one of the humblest of God's creatures asks thee to renounce thy vile heresies." Baruch made no answer. The voice again modulated high, its menace sweetly hidden.

"Baruch Mendoza, dost thou renounce?" The drum counted two taps. Baruch did not reply. For the third time the voice issued from the lips of the Grand Inquisitor, as he drew the hood over his face.

"Baruch Mendoza, dog of a Jew, dog of a heretic, believer in no creed, wilt thou recant the evil words of thy unspeakable book, prostrate thyself before the altar of the Only God, and ask His forgiveness? Answer, Baruch Mendoza!"

The man thus interrogated wondered why the Hall of the Oblates was adorned with laughing Bacchantes, but he responded not. The drum tapped thrice, and there was a burst of choral music from the death-like monks; they chaunted the Dies Iræ, and the sonorous choir was antiphonally answered with anxious rectitude from the gallery, while the organ blazed out its frescoed tones....